…a review of about 200 different temperature studies was published in 2003 by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas…likewise reaffirmed the longstanding consensus that there have been large temperature variations over the past millennium.
The S&B “lit review’ had all the global multiproxy studies in it that were available at the time. These studies showed the past 50 years’ warmth was anomalous. S&B ‘forgot’ to mention this in the text of their paper.
Anyway, looks like the WSJ had a ghostwriter on this editorial.
Thank you for this truly remarksble climate site!
It is my personal view that behind the WSJ views loom the shadows of “faith based science” , the same shadows that appear in the White House war rooms ;there is an origin for the shadows and it is called CNP- the Council for National Policy- What is it? Google it and find out.You will find the personalia who cast the shadows; it is where Sen. Inhofe, Tim LaHaye, Pat Robertson, Dick Chenney,Bob Jones ,John Ashcroft , James Dobson ,Coors ,Bill Frist,Falwell and Rumsfeld hang out.
Comment by Rev. Peter Chilstrom — 22 Jun 2005 @ 6:10 PM
I love your site and it’s content as always.
I would not be the LEAST bit surprised if it is later discovered that some hack, somewhere, was commissioned to write that drivel for the OPED pages.
Keep up the great work!
Comment by Jim Spitzenberger — 22 Jun 2005 @ 6:32 PM
This remark does not address the science — which RC has already done in this post — but rather the timing of the editorial since it is hard to avoid politics on this one. Note: I have not been able to read the editorial.
The editorial came out this week when 3 separate bills were up in the Senate to address climate change. Today, the McCain/Lieberman bill, the strongest of the three bills, failed. Yesterday, the Senate passed the Hagel/Pryor bill, the weakest proposed bill. Just for entertainment value, Senator Inhofe (OK-R) called global warming a religion.
Although it is quite disappointing that the WSJ should come out with this misleading and demonstrably false editorial, the timing, at least from their point of view, is clear enough.
None of these bills are expected to get ratified in the House.
Thank you for the piece by piece rebuttal of the WSJ op-ed. This is one for sons, friends who don’t normally concern themselves with these matters, and my brother. But the detailed rebuttal is more: it characterizes as nothing else could have done the depth of anti science ideology that is at work behind the scenes in government policy setting today.
It is also astonishing that the Journal would have submitted to have such things published, without the opportunity (among the climate community) to question or review it. Perhaps that will still occur.
Thanks, Dano, for the link. I see my remarks in #4 were correct.
I have to wonder — and I would like to solicit opinions on this from the RC scientists who initiate the posts — why Michael Mann’s “Hockey Stick” and he himself are always such scapegoats when these people launch yet another propoganda crusade against actions to counter destructive climate change.
Any ideas? I’ll understand if you want to avoid the subject — but, there are many, many results that give evidence of dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate. Yet, time and time again they focus in on Mann, disregarding most other results pointing to the same conclusions.
Their narrow focus in itself is evidence that they don’t know what they are talking about, but making the “Hockey Stick” results the poster boy for economic calamity if we do anything about GHG emissions is strange, is it not?
As usual, a lucid, concise and unarguable (for those who care to listen) debunking of the standard global warming sceptics’ arguments. I have already linked your site to my homepage. The politics of global warming just won’t go away and you must find it very hard to keep to the science and refrain from obvious comment. The politics around this issue are truly Machiavellian. It is a pity that American businesses can’t emulate those from the UK who have written an open letter to the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, asking that the government taking global warming more seriously and urgently, pledging their support for such action, and recognising the likelihood of great business opportunities. If they did, you might have less scepticism in the financial press, once they too realise the economic gains from the low carbon economy, and you would be spared having to write further rebuttals. (Prince of Wales’s Business and the Environment Programme http://www.cpi.cam.ac.uk/bep/downloads/CLG_pressrelease_letter.pdf)
I figure the WSJ, concerned with Wall Street, a big gambling joint, is mainly concerned with people buying stocks at high prices & having stocks go up. Since stocks are increasingly detached from the full economy (only what value people put on things & money & phoney-balony), the WSJ is likely unconcerned about the economy, productivity, the environment (on which the economy rests), human life, or any other aspect of the world regular people are concerned about. It certainly is not concerned with moral values, such as telling the truth & helping the world.
I would hope the WSJ would do some more interviews with Amory Lovins.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 23 Jun 2005 @ 3:14 AM
Wasn’t that against your own policy? To dissect a politics and economics journal oped? I think this was one of your statements on this page and it was already the second exception (after Mr. Crichtons novel).
[Response:Nope. We’re allowed to dissect science (or, in the case of WSJ, something masquerading as science) wherever it appears – William]
I think you might have a point on this one, if those National Institutes are truly independent.
However, I don’t like the prospect that some government full of people not even remotely aware of science (given the other bills against science that have been entered) has the right to restrict anything. The costs for this would be too high…
“I have to wonder — and I would like to solicit opinions on this from the RC scientists who initiate the posts — why Michael Mann’s “Hockey Stick” and he himself are always such scapegoats when these people launch yet another propoganda crusade against actions to counter destructive climate change.”
The denialists like to personalize things, attack a few people and their research over and over again. For one thing, it makes it look like there are just a few people one the GW side, when there are really a large number. It also feeds a fantasy, if it weren’t for Mann and a few others nobody would have heard of global warming.
Re #8 (and to expand on #13): I also think that a basic strategy of the global warming deniers is to focus on one aspect of the science over which there is some combination of real and manufactured dispute and then try to make people think that this is the one crucial piece of evidence on which the whole theory of anthropogenic warming rests…and thus that the dispute over this aspect throws the whole theory into question. (Before Mann, the attacks seemed to be leveled primarily on the discrepancy between surface and satellite observations of warming.)
Readers of RealClimate may know that the theory rests on several independent lines of evidence so that even if one single piece of evidence is found to be incorrect, it will do little to undermine the foundation of the theory. However, the general public probably does not understand this.
It would be difficult for the deniers to attack all of the pillars upon which the theory rests at the same time…Much easier to pick one pillar and launch a concerted attack, along with a PR campaign to make the public believe that this is the crucial piece of evidence on which the theory rests.
why [is] Michael Mann’s “Hockey Stick” and he himself are always such scapegoats when these people launch yet another propaganda crusade against actions to counter destructive climate change[?]
The propaganda campaign creates an icon around which emotional responses are formulated. Enlightenment principles are not used, rather emotional reactions are solicited. That is the nature of what is happening here.
If you carefully read the WSJ op-ed, you’ll see some fairly careful crafting of half-truths and phrases designed to elicit emotion: you’re supposed to be astonished at the initial political reference, laughing at the ridiculousness of skating on the Thames, and then – lastly – outraged at the duplicitousness of those darned scientists – gosh, don’t they know climate is always changing?!?
Outraged is enough, and is what the IndyFundeds are trying to do when they attack a created icon. Of course there are other studies, but they are doing the domino-falling strategy: knock down the icon and all the others will fall too (politically).
The Internets has grown enormously since the strategy began, which is starting to negate the whole disinformation campaign. Information moves both horizontally (out to you and me) and vertically (up to policy-makers). Ideas are shared on the Internets, and as a result scientists are becoming more effective at distributing useful information upwards. This site is on the cusp of this information movement, and can be said to be both emergent and adaptive; both of these terms we should become more familiar with, BTW.
I think as all the comments and I can tell you that the situation in France (and undoubtely overall in Europe) is the same than in US concerning the sceptics arguments.
From another side your answers to the satellites measurements and to the Arctic sea ice are not very convincing.
What are for you the definition of lower troposphere (0-7800m?) and what is the consensus about the satellite-derived temperature increasing in the lower troposhere(0.132 °C/decade?).If these numbers are right how can we compare surface temperatures and 4000m (mean altitude of lower troposphere) temperatures?
For the Arctic ice what is the actual consensus concerning the mean evolution of ice area and its thickness?
And why are you mentioning Antarctic peninsula when WSJ is speaking of Arctic zone?
I think that some of your arguments should be ” a little” improved.
But I’m recognizing also that this is not your only job.
Ugh. Not surprising really from the WSJ editorial page. They are true right-wing zealots. But still contemptible. What is most disturbing is the reach of so many disinformation outlets – the WSJ, Fox News, on and on, compared to the tiny reach of a few blogs. It is no wonder there are so many skeptics in the public, when maintstream media outlets broadcast this garbage.
Well, as I see it, we have relatively good arguments on both sides and I count it that size doesn’t matter. So, there are deniers and affirmers, both politicing with the passion of true believers.
A few years ago, any dispute wasn’t even taken serious, so I don’t think that the Global Warming advocates are somehow in the minority or disrepresented in the media.
However, the one thing I want to have is a climate programm that could predict the next 10 years pretty neat to the actual temperature. If it can do so, it’d be easier to trust statistics.
Since I have seen that even weather-forecast (only a limited number of days and then accuracy goes down) can’t produce such things, why can the MBH do an even more complex thing, calculating the mean temperature curve for the whole planet?
[Response:The IPCC Scientific Assessment in 1995 predicted continued warming, which has happened. Hansen forecast the cooling to be caused by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, got it dead on. Climate is different from weather, it is more predictable while weather is chaotic.]
I acknowledge that it can reconstruct the past and that we can try to work on a hypothesis of the future out of that, but more it can’t be.
Statistics are not self-evident scientific facts as I have just learned in my course on quantum mechanics.
And even if the MBH is correct, how much reduction of which molecules do we speak of? (CO2, NO etc. and what amount (basically compared to factory/power plant/civil traffic output))
This is called threat assessment and I can’t read anything about it, anywhere. If this violates your discussion topics (because it tends to be a bit political, but imo still very scientific), I am sorry. there is no need to answer it :)
This is scientifically undisputed and well-established physics, which has been known since in the year 1896 the Swedish Nobel prize winner Svante Arrhenius calculated the climatic effect of a rise in CO2.
Only his calculations were a factor four higher than using modern day calculations (eg Modtran). The reason? Poor data handling of infrared observations. But nobody audited as he was a Nobel Prize winner.
[Response: The physics was correct. The input data were not sufficient for the precision we have now. – gavin] [Addendum: Arrhenius paper from 1896 states 4-6 ºC warming for CO2-doubling; the uncertainty range in the last IPCC report is 1.5-4.5 ºC. – stefan]
Wall Street is indeed a gambling joint, and unlike, say, Las Vegas, it provides an immensly valuable service to the world economy in moving capital flows where they will be most useful. The Wall Street Journal understands this; and understands that a lot of people on Wall Street are betting a lot of money on their best estimate of the odds.
There are now very long odds that human activity is warming the atmosphere; and it is substantially odds-on that this warming is increasing the risk of damaging extreme weather events. Trying to persuade their readers to bet against long odds is not expected activity from a Journal that is a leading and relatively very authoritative guide to the markets. They rightly publish commentators “contrarian” views of market trends because these are part of the necessary give and take in forming the market’s conclusions. But “contrarian” views are rarely found in the Wall Street Journal’s editorials, and never when the mainstream view is so painstakingly solidly founded in analysis.
Whether the Wall Street Journal is right-wing, flying wing, left-wing or whatever is irrelevant: if they go on lending their authority to proven bad analysis, their authority will melt like the snows on Mount Kilimanjaro.
Re #17: “The Wall Street Journal has its areas of excellence, and it is sad to see those dragged down by such blatant propaganda.”
I think it is important to distinguish between the WSJ’s reporting and their editorials. Yes, their reporting is often very good (as the article on the whole Soon/Baliunas fiasco that was linked to in this post shows). However, their editorials are quite uniformly the sort of garbage that one sees deconstructed here. I have almost never met a WSJ editorial on a subject that I know enough about to judge that wasn’t chock full of lies, distortions, and half-truths. So, this editorial is no surprise to those of us who are familiar with the WSJ editorial page.
WSJ=WALLSTREET=CIA=Iraq=911+(more of the same forever after). So duh?
Excellent work! You remind me that the tribe of those who know is growing and that together we will bring about the rise of democracy once again. And next time ’round she will be more robust and resilient. Thank you so much for your clearheadedness and bravery.
Comment by Nicole V. Langley — 23 Jun 2005 @ 7:38 PM
I second the comments of Joel Shore above.
The news reporting of the WSJ tends to be very good, while the editorial writing is laughable.
It’s actually an interesting question why the Dow Jones Company (which owns the WSJ) publishes the kind of BS that that one always finds in their editorials. The editorials are so uniformly absurd and contain so many obvious falsehoods that they surely do nothing to advance the right wing causes that the Dow Jones company evidently supports.
Anyway, the WSJ’s circulation is lagging and I for one refuse to give them a dime of my money – I subscribe to the Financial Times which has good news analysis and reasonable editorials.
“We will staunchly defend the science against distortions and misrepresentations, be they intentional or not”.
This is the major reason I like RealClimate. IMO this is the biggest reason that Dr Mann is being singled out.
Climate scientists have the unfortunate role of being the bearers of bad news. Simply advancing accurate climate science makes scientists unpopular to some. WSJ and the political interests it is allied with are worried about the regulatory implications of accurate climate science. Industry/conservatives would prefer that this bad news not be known ergo the campaign against the science that is showcased in this WSJ editorial. In the current political climate extremism is seen as no vice by the climate science contrarians. One of the things that seems to draw their ire is speaking out the way Dr Mann and RealClimate is. They also seem to beat on Paul Erhlich like he is a pinata.
Because an editorial it is an opinion piece it is technically not factual reporting and different standards apply. That is why the WSJ straight reporting is more accurate and moderate but the WSJ editorials can be so extreme.
RealClimate keep fighting for the truth and the scientific method!
Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 23 Jun 2005 @ 9:29 PM
WRT 21 22 and 24, the WSJ editorial page speaks to the heart, the news pages to the head. This has been very carefully thought out.
Did you get my recent post. It was a question related to the last paragraph in your article, i.e.
The WSJ editors then try to reverse nearly two decades of scientific research by promoting a qualitative graph (which is not actually based on any real data) that was offered simply as a schematic by the IPCC back in 1990:
So what would be a fair representation of how most scientists view the climate of the past 1,000 years? We’d suggest the graph nearby, which we reprint exactly as it appeared in the first report of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (hardly a group of oil-funded hacks) in 1990. It shows that our own warming period is neither unique nor all that hot.
The WSJ may prefer to use 15 year-old guesses on which to base their opinion, but the scientific community has an understandable preference towards up-to-date and quantitified research.
I was interested to know what data became available post 1990 that wasn’t available before 1990. I think this is important because whatever it was it appears to have completely overturned the well-established scientific and historical thinking on past climate.
#19: “This is called threat assessment and I can’t read anything about it, anywhere.”
There was a conference held at the begining of this year that went over this sort of thing, it was subtitled “Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change” and you can find the presentation [slides] that were presented at http://www.stabilisation2005.com/programme.html
There’s a lot of interesting things about possible thresholds, stabilisation levels for CO2 and emission reduction pathways and the potential costs.
Also I remember an American climate researcher [Schlesinger I think] was going around giving a presentation on reducing CO2 [and spending money to do so] as a form of Insurance policy against the risk of climate change. In particular he showed that it would be a lot cheaper to make a determined start now, rather than to wait for another decade or so and then have to reduce emissions much more quickly.
So there is plenty of that sort of stuff around in the scientific literature/community.
It is puzzling that critics of M&M (McIntyre and McKitrick)repeatedly refer to their work as an alternative reconstruction. I base this on two ideas:
1. M&M say they are not offering an alternative reconstruction.
2. The logic that seems to be offered on RealClimate about this issue sounds like “your graph is wrong, so my graph must be right”
I suggest that neophytes to the hockey stick debate reread the relevant portions of the above rebuttle of the Wall Street Journal editorial with these ideas in mind. The main critique of M&M begins about halfway down the article portion of this page.
[Response: I wouldn’t characterise the WSJ as ‘critics’ and yet they clearly think that M&M are offering an alternate reconstruction. It’s just one more thing they get wrong… -gavin]
Re #28: The citation for a paper that Schlesinger coauthored on this work is G. Yohe, N. Andronova, and M. Schlesinger, “To Hedge or Not Against an Uncertain Climate Future?”, Science, Vol. 306, pp. 416-417 (October 15, 2004). It’s an interesting paper. Basically, what they did is assumed that in another 30 years (2035), we would know enough to have a temperature target that we would know we want to stay below. (This finesses the problem of the costs associated with a given amount of climate change because they don’t try to calculate any such costs directly but instead just assume that there is a temperature above which the costs climb steeply enough that we don’t want to go there!)
They then used an integrated climate-economic model and calculated the optimal price that we should put on emissions now in order to minimize the costs associated with meeting such a temperature target. They did this for a variety of different temperature targets and values of the climate sensitivity. What they showed is that “Hedging effectively ‘buys insurance’ against future adjustment costs and is extremely robust across most possible futures, especially when compared with a wait-and-see strategy that would eschew mitigation over the first third of this century.” They also found that the cost
I have got a question regarding the rate of adaption to new temperatures by plants and ecospheres in general. F.e. if an Ice Age were about us, how long did the fauna and flora need to adapt to the new circumstances?Â´
Is there an estimation of how long this would take?
I agree with much of what Jeff Miller says in post 24 above. But I don’t think that one conclude that, merely because the WSJ editorial pages advance obvious falsehoods, this therefore does nothing to advance right wing causes.
Eli Rabbett is on track in comment 26, though this WSJ editorial appeals to something baser than “the heart”.
In the end, I hope David Heigham’s analysis in conclusion of post 21 proves correct. But it won’t happen without a lot of effort.
[Response: I wouldn’t characterise the WSJ as ‘critics’ and yet they clearly think that M&M are offering an alternate reconstruction. It’s just one more thing they get wrong… -gavin]
Are you now saying M&M don’t offer an alternate reconstruction? (What else could this one more thing they got wrong be?)
RealClimate’s WSJ rebuttle clearly describes the M&M critique as a reconstruction.
[Response: M&M specifically disclaim that their work is a reconstruction (likely because it does predict rather odd things if you take it literally). They do claim that their work is what you get if you do MBH “correctly” (MBH, of course, say that M&M have simply got it wrong) – William]
Plants move in response to temps for which they are not adapted. The speed of movement is dependent upon many factors – type of seed dispersal [wind, bird, gravity], soil types, climate, etc. There is no one time.
By the way, I was able to find this study very quickly using Google Scholar at http://scholar.google.com. It’s still in beta, but I’ve found it very useful. In particular for us amateurs, the feature that shows all citations of each article with a single click is not only a real time-saver, but gives an indication of the level of related research activity and to some degree the importance (or level of controversy) of the cited study’s findings. Can I suggest to the RC team that Google Scholar be added to the Science Links list?
“I have got a question regarding the rate of adaption to new temperatures by plants and ecospheres in general. F.e. if an Ice Age were about us, how long did the fauna and flora need to adapt to the new circumstances? –
Is there an estimation of how long this would take? ”
Flora and fauna appear, in certain cases, to have responded pretty quickly to rapid climate changes. Take for example, the response to the Younger Dryas (a cold snap at the end of the last ice age in case anyone is wondering). At two lake sites in Europe, there seems to be a reaction that tracks the changes in the ice cores by as little as a decade and at most a couple of hundred years.
One little summary paper of this research (though a cautionary note to anyone who reads this paper – there are some minor inconsistencies with the detailed reports on the Krakenes and Gerzensee projects):
Birks, H.H. and Ammann, B. (2000) Two terrestrial records of rapid climatic change during the glacial-Holocene transition (14,000-9,000 calendar years BP) from Europe. PNAS, 97, 1390-1394.
Two independent multidisciplinary studies of climatic change during the glacial-Holocene transition (ca, 14,000-9,000 calendar yr B.P.) from Norway and Switzerland have assessed organism responses to the rapid climatic changes and made quantitative temperature reconstructions with modern calibration data sets (transfer functions). Chronology at Krakenes, western Norway, was derived from calibration of a high-resolution series of C-14 dates. Chronologies at Gerzensee and Leysin, Switzerland, were derived by comparison of delta(18)O in lake carbonates with the delta(18)O record from the Greenland Ice Core Project, Both studies demonstrate the sensitivity of terrestrial and aquatic organisms to rapid temperature changes and their value for quantitative reconstruction of the magnitudes and rates of the climatic changes. The rates in these two terrestrial records are comparable to those in Greenland ice cores, but the actual temperatures inferred apply to the terrestrial environments of the two regions.
Regarding ecosystemic adaptation to climate change: (sorry, no links for anything I’m going to write here, but you can probably look up these ideas)
1. Note that many mobile animal species will be pressured to change their distributions, but the plants they depend upon for habitat, food, etc, are unlikely to move so quickly.
2. There is a lot of evidence already of behavioural ‘adaptation’ (at least changes in spatial and temporal distributions [e.g., flowering time]) to the last couple of decades’ warmth. One that I would like to hear about is coral. There are many species, undoubtedly with differing tolerances for temperature, salinity, acidity, depth, etc. I think some research shows corals expelling their symbiotic algae at higher temperatures, which will make growing more difficult, leading to greater difficulties in keeping the productive population at the proper depth, and they’ve got decreased ability to build their calcareous skeletons (due to the dissolving CO2) on top of all that. Many corals are unlikely to adapt; the selection we should see most will be for variants among species that tolerate the stresses better than those that may have been better competitors and dominant (and providing the most habitat) under recent conditions. I hope there is a lot of work documenting changing species compositions in and around coral reefs.
Re #31 and others
I have wondered about the ecological effects of anthropogenic climate change (ACC) also. For the non-scientist or non-ecologist, climate change in the past has led to geographical sifts in ecological communities, some species adapting, others not. Climate change is considered to have been a driver of evolutionary changes where some species have gone extinct and some others changed. The rate of change is a good question.
I have asked about ACC and ecological changes here on Realclimate. Realclimate and other commenters gave me some links, to return the favor here is some of the info I was given and I found myself.
The NRDC website does have a list of climate change studies. Because the NRDC is a political advocacy group there is some spin but it does list a variety of studies from peer-reviewed journals like Science and Nature and from groups like the National Academy of Science from 2000 to 2004 and its easier to have a lot of papers on one site. Global Warming Studies an Annotated Bibliography- A Summary of Recent Findings on Changing Global Climate is at: http://www.nrdc.org/globalWarming/fgwscience.asp
Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 24 Jun 2005 @ 10:28 PM
With a personal focus on the sciences of cosmology, astrophysics, electromagnetics and astrophysics I am quite convinced that the warming of our planet is quite natural and inevitable. Ice ages and global warming are the result of natural forces beyond man’s control. The fact is that the earth routinely goes these cycles and has done so long before human life entered the scene. Few realize that our entire solar system is swinging through space passing through areas of greater or lesser energy fields from cosmic particles and background radiation. The pattern of the frequency with which we pass through these fields and the effects they have on our magnetosphere and mean temperatures can be measured in the geologic and ice core samples across our planet. Our own sun impacts upon our magnetosphere and consequently our ozone layer depletion as well. Holes in the ozone can be directly attributed to coronal mass ejections that blast away these holes and excite the molecules in our upper atmosphere such that they rise and escape into space. I won’t argue that our added gases may contribute to the warming to some very, very small degree, but keep in mind, the ash plume from a good volcanic eruption such as the last big Pinatubo eruption eclipses into insignificants the amount of pollutants added to the atmosphere by human activity.
Frankly, it seems apparent to me that the human activity blaming segment of the Global warming debate is a thinly veiled segment of the Green Society types who hate any human activity that distorts; pollutes; or in any way defaces the planet, treating it like a sacred goddess rather than a non sentient thing. This is way they resort to news reporting rather than scientific proof with peer reviewed data. They want to win the debate of public sentiment because the scientific community (of which I am a member) is not on their side. They simply lack credible evidence that this warming cycle is anything but natural and normal. Having said that however, pollution is a threat to life and health and needs to be curtailed down to healthful levels. This does NOT mean that industry and technology need to be curtailed, only made cleaner.
[Response: You make the same mistake that underlies the WSJ editorial, you appear to associate scientific results with political agendas and subsequently dismiss results that appear to conflict with your world view. Unfortunately, radiative transfer is immune to political pressure and exists independently of any plan people propose to deal (or not) with the situation. The physics of the greenhouse effect are well understood. Unprecedented amounts of greenhouse gases (at least over the last few hundred thousand years) continue to accumulate in the atmosphere and the global climate (land surface, ocean, glaciers, stratosphere) continues to respond as predicted by theory and models. You can choose to dismiss all this as coincidence, but the balance of evidence is clear. What you decide to do about it is up to you, but denying there is a ongoing and growing impact of anthropogenic climate change is foolish. This is, however, a long term problem and it isn’t going to go away, so you will probably have to face it at some point. -gavin]
[Response 2: The comment suggests that ice ages and global warming have the same cause. Ice ages are caused by periodic variations in the Earth’s orbit around the sun (that’s basic textbook material that I need not explain to an astrophysicist). These are called Milankovich cycles. As astronomical cycles they are predictable into the future and will cause another ice age probably in around 50,000 years (that depends on where the threshold for glaciation is, and what future CO2 levels will be at that time), but there is no way the Milankovich cycles could explain the current global warming. A simplistic conclusion of the style “if ice ages are natural, the current global warming must also be natural” is not science (sorry). -stefan]
The author’s comments reflects a common confusion that appears to be widespread in the general public. Namely, that ozone depletion and global warming (the green house effect) are the same or almost the same thing. While it is true that changing stratospheric ozone levels do impact the planets radiative balance (and vica versa) it is a 2nd order issue and global warming and ozone depletion should be viewed as two separate issues.
Regarding Ozone depletion.
The mechanism behind polar ozone depletion is VERY WELL UNDERSTOOD and has nothing at all to do with solar flares somehow selectively blasting stratospheric ozone molecules into space. it is well-established (through satellite, aircraft, and ground-based measurements, as well as laboratory measurements and modelling studies)
that chlorine containing compounds (mainly CFC’s) that find their way into the stratosphere are the main factor (which are Not released by volcanoes).
The reason that most ozone depletion occurs around the poles (mainly the Antarctic pole) is really the result of a complex interlay between natural and anthropogenic factors. Chlorine is quite reactive so if you release it in the lower atmosphere
it quickly reacts with something and gets effectively neutralised. CFS contain chlorine and are quite inactive, which is one of the reasons they found widespread use in industry. So if one releases CFC’s in the lower atmosphere they can survive to be transported into the stratosphere (the region of the atmosphere starting 12-14 km). One thing that does break down CFC’s is ultra-violet light which increases in intensity as one moved higher in the atmosphere. This will breakdown the CFC molecules releasing chlorine or producing chlorine compounds which can then can attack ozone molecules. One Cl atom can destroy numerous O3 molecules in a catalytic cycle but under normal conditions the CL will eventually react with
other molecules present and form an inert compound, a so-called chlorine resovior.
This limits the amount of damage Cl can do in the tropics and mid-latitudes.
In the polar regions other factors come into play. Each winter the sun goes away and a strong ‘polar vortex’ forms. This vortex can isolate polar stratospheric air from mixing with mid-latitude air. Additionally, temperatures in the polar stratosphere become so cold that nitrate compounds and water can condense to form so-called polar stratospheric clouds. These cloud particles act as converters. Heterogeneous chemical reactions occurring on and in these particles actually act to convert inactive forms of Cl into active forms. This goes on all winter. The degree of processing depend allot on the meteorological conditions in and around the vortex but especially around the souther pole it can be a efficient process. No O3 depletion occurs yet though. Sunlight is needed to drive the ozone cycle. However when the sun returns one can have a sitution where alot of active Cl componds have built up and wammo they then do to town on the ozone.
This picture I described (in a highly simplified fashion) has been known in essence for over 15 years now has been put togther through the proper process of peer-reviewed research involving numereous researchers and independent lines of evidence. I would say the same about the current picture of greenhouse gasses and climate shange.
-We know we release more CO2 than volcanos.
-Volcans do not add much in the way of ozone depleting chemicals into the stratosphere.
-The ash (even that lofted into the stratospherc by a big erruption) settles out pretty quickly (days to weeks)-
-What stays around for months (years) is the hase of small H2SO4/H2O droplets that form as a result of sulfur compounds that volcanos are prone to releasing. These can have a limited effect on ozone levels (by serving as hetrogeneous reaction sites) and can reflect enough of the sun’s light back into space to cause a notable global cooling. It is work noting that the eruption of Mt. Pinitubo mentioned by the author of post 41 served as a very nice `test case’ for those researchs in the fields of atmosperic chemistry and radiative transfer.
#41, Hi, my English is rather elemental, so I cannot express as I would like:
although you are partially right, system Earth has never never had in the past the same chemical composition like it has today. It means a lot, because these changes in physical and chemical features lead to different ways of thermodynamic behaviour.
The Earth is not a closed system. But many man-made changes produce more changes, and most of the new chemical compunds cannot escape.
Of course natural events are not the point of discussion. They are there, we know that.
It happens that the Earth is much more sensitive to man-made changes than it was considered not so long ago. I remember in the 70Â´s some colleagues saying the Sea has infinite capacity to clean itself, and so the atmosphere, and so on.
The issue is not only GHG. Is much more than that. Albedo, for example, changes with land, ice, and other component changes. There are so many factors we are not able to take in account
What has to do I do not know what green society with common sense? There are lots of crazy people everywhere, so please do not put all those who care about doing things rationally in the same bag with those who believe Earth is a godess.
Why is not people questioning chemists for their models? Because we cannot see atoms nor molecules. Climate Scientists are too much attacked because of their field of activity, which is so difficult to understand.
I am no climatologist, so I apologize for my possible mistaken views.
Maybe one of the reasons why so many are so virulent against Earth Science scientists, is that we never had Environmental Education as subject when we were kids.
Personally, I believe that before mankind makes something to stop the disastrous behaviour, an asteroid will hit us, or a major earthquake and tsunamis, volcanoes, etc., will end with the World as we know.
Meanwhile, people like me, who do not believe in Earth as a godess, but think man is acting as a stupid being, we have to try to understand which is the best way to interact with this system Earth.
[Last week, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and 10 other leading world bodies expressed the consensus view that “there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring” and that “It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities”. And just last week, USA Today editorialized that “not only is the science in, it is also overwhelming”.
It is puzzling then that the WSJ editors could claim that “the scientific case….looks weaker all the time”.]
In the paragraph above, you say “consensus view” – That is not science, but just a bunch who have not done the work agreeing to something. You note that “USA editorialized” – again another newspaper’s view is not a scientific argument against WSJ. USA Today did not do an “overwhelming” study. The statement “it is likely” is not a strong scientific argument.
Later on I see the words “patently incorrect”. I have yet to figure out what that means.
The guys at the WSJ are not stupid. They are not in denial. They are just milking the oil and coal cow until it dies, and then they figure they will find some way to make money solving the problem they are currently choosing to deny exists. But they skipped their science courses in school and don’t know that it will be too late, The show is over. The frog is in the pot, the heat is on, and the water is starting to boil, and the frog still has not jumpted and will not jump. It will die, along with millions of people, animals, plants, etc..
And what is all this crap about whether or not it is a natural occurence or a one caused by humans? Who cares? What does it matter?
We are all going to cook no matter what the cause. Unless your are fundamentalist and are happily awaiting the end of days, everyone who is capable of thinking more than a five years ahead, knows already that the world is doomed. Our politicians won’t say it, it is too much of downer.
Your children will not go to the beach in the summer. They will be living underground if they are rich enough. The beach itself will be somewhere 10-20 miles inland from the current shoreline. 95% of the world’s population will be homeless because of the rise in sea level.
How long do you think your air conditioner is going to keep running?
Eli, you are right about one part – I am not and do not pretend to do climate research. I am just reading commentary by many who are also not doing it, and I would like to find a good study somewhere. When I said most have not done the work, I meant that very few have actually done a thorough study of Global Climate. I stand by that. One of the references you made in your response (indicated below) is exactly what I meant. They are just quoting the IPCC Report, which is being questioned significantly now. So they go around in circles repeating reports
[Climate Change – What we know and what we need to know
25 Aug 2002
Royal Society meeting held on 12 and 13 December 2001:]
Since the early Miocene (about 24Myr ago), atmospheric CO2 concentrations appear to have remained below 500 p.p.m. and were more stable than before, although transient intervals of CO2 reduction may have occurred during periods of rapid cooling approximately 15 and 3 Myr ago.
So, when we double to ~550 CO2 ppm, and we almost certainly will double under business as usual scenarios, our current knowledge says that these will be the highest levels in many millions of years. Maybe this doesn’t impress the close-minded, but it always amazes me….
It should be added that terrestrial wildlife ecosystems have been badly fragmented by human habitation, worldwide. This prevents many areas from reconstituting species lost in normal local extinctions (from an extreme winter, loss of food supply, etc.) because the normal immigration of plants and animals from other regions is stymied. Global warming will accelerate this fragmentation-extinction, as mobile species seeking to emigrate to another, more comfortable range are extinguished when they come up against, or try to make it through, the expanses of human habitat. A network of greenbelts interconnecting the largest wildlife areas will be necessary for some creatures.
And it is absolutely necessary that all people everywhere stop the reduction of wildlife land area, and learn to engage in economic development by redevelopment and density concentration, instead of spreading out further. Despite decades of nonsense on the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, nothing in economic theory says otherwise.
#49, Gerald, I am less than impressed by your logic. First of all, the sites I referred you to were full of reports on different aspects of climate. Read some of them and you will begin to figure out what is going on. You can even just dip in and look at the executive summaries OTOH, there are many textbooks, but, of course, they will not have much of the latest research. Still, they are good places to start. I like books on atmospheric chemistry (Wayne, chemistry of atmospheres, Brasseur, Orlando and Tyndall atmospheric chemistry and global change). Might be useful for our hosts to put out a reading list for us. It is summer, a great time for reading.
The IPCC TAR is what is called an expert critical review. The US National Academy of Sciences was asked by the government for a quick review of the TAR. I pointed you to their report. They agreed that the TAR pretty much got it right. You and GB appear not to like the NAS and IPCC opinion but why do you expect others who might have a clue to ignore them?
If you are shopping for something that meets your expectations wander over to sepp.
Re #49: Gerald, you say with repsect to the various national academies that “they are just quoting the IPCC Report, which is being questioned significantly now.” What do you mean by “now”? The IPCC is being questioned by nearly the same small, not especially well-qualified and (to a great extent) fossil fuel industry-funded crowd that was questioning it when the TAR first came out. If these “skeptics” are right, why haven’t they convinced anyone not already disposed toward their arguments? The fact is that both the consensus and those persuaded by it (which is where the USA Today editorial comes in; there is no chance they would have written anything of the sort in 2002) are continuing to grow.
Please be aware that the posts (as distinct from the comments, many of which are from climate amateurs) to this site are from highly-qualified climate scientists, all of whom are thoroughly engaged in a study of global climate. (To check their qualifications, click on their names in the right-hand column of this page.) The posts variously cite and link to a surfeit of “thorough studies.” It sounds like you need to see that for yourself, so please have a look.
About the movement of ecosystems:
#52 makes very good points about the fragmentation of habitats and the geographically immobile way that conservation is currently made by way of National Parks and wildlife reserves.
Also with reference ot #37. I’m sorry not to have a link for this, but I remember seeing something which stated that the rate of climate change now was so fast compared to previous glacial-interglacial changes that it could outpace the ability of the ecosystem to respond. I think they were specifically considering the northward movement expected of the Boreal forest regions in Russia and the worry from this study was that the precipitation and temperature changes would overtake the forests and ‘leave them behind’ so to speak such that they wouldn’t be able to keep up and would be lost. Clearly this would be something we could intervene in were we so inclined, but, nevertheless, it doesn’t look good.
RE #54 -The British Royal Society reference was not a study. They referred to various points in the IPCC Report. I do not intend to question the qualifications of the various scientists – each has his specialty. I will note that the Canadian government has not been able to provide me with any study in Canada confirming man-caused warming. They have just quoted IPCC. I am more concerned with pollution of the air, land, and water and the food we eat than the temperature variation which may be a cycle. I agree with industry cleaning up the emissions in the air and surface. In the mid-1970’s many scientists were worried about the coming deep freeze. I will also note that Dr. Landsea left IPCC because his presentation on hurricane activity was being “misquoted” for lack of a better word.
Comment by Gerald Machnee — 27 Jun 2005 @ 10:50 AM
> It will die, along with millions of people
Millions was last century. This century will quite probably see billions of deaths. Be fruitful and multiply…
Comment by Florifulgurator — 27 Jun 2005 @ 10:57 AM
Sorry about political (as opposed to scientific) angle here, but it looks like that WSJ editorial has inspired a bit of a GOP-based inquisition:
Check out http://energycommerce.house.gov/108/Letters/06232005_1570.htm (Rep. Joe Barton’s web-site) see what sort of trouble that WSJ editorial has stirred up for the scientific community. There are some rather disturbing “letters of inquisition” (PDF documents) addressed to IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, NSF director Arden Bement, and Dr’s Mann, Bradley, and Hughes.
Perhaps it would be a good idea (if it hasn’t been done already) to get RealClimate’s rebuttal here into the hands of the “good guys” in Congress ASAP…
You state that there is a “consensus” view and cite the Joint Science Academic’s statement as evidence. How then do you exmplain the 17,000+ scientists and related professionals who signed the Oregon Petition thereby going on record as believing “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”
How also do you reconcile your statement with the recent survey by Dennis Bray of Germany’s GKSS National Research Centre conducted among his colleagues, which found that any ‘consensus’ on the causes and effects of Global Warming is “not that strong.”
[Response: Easy. The ‘Oregon Petitition’ is years old and even when it was current the number of confirmed names on the list who could be said to be actual climate scientists was tiny. The Bray survey had a number of flaws – first and foremost the question being asked was ambiguous and it wasn’t clear whether recent climate change was being discussed, secondly, the methodology was flawed in that the access to the survey was posted on a number of mesage boards which allowed many people (not just climate scientists) to vote early (and potentially, often). The IPCC was specifically tasked with providing a consensus report – it had thousands of authors (all of whom are in the field), thousands of reviewers (ditto) and exhaustive drafts and revisions until most people were happy. Go to any relevant meeting (AGU, EGU etc.) and you will find at most one or two posters or presentations (out of hundreds to thousands in relevant fields) that question the ‘consensus’. It is just not controversial anymore among scientists. -gavin]
How then do you exmplain the 17,000+ scientists and related professionals who signed the Oregon Petition thereby going on record as believing “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”
Now take a close look at the names on that petition. Are those MD’s, DDS’s, and DVM’s (veterinarians!) that you see? Why yes, they are!
Now ask yourself, “what the heck would a dentist or veterinarian know about climatology?”. I mean, if you needed root-canal work, would you trust a climatologist to take on the job? Do you think that a climatologist would be qualified to lop off Fido’s gonads?
“In short, given natural forcing factors alone, we should have basically remained in the “Little Ice Age”. The only way to explain the upturn in temperatures during the 20th century, as shown by Crowley (2000) and many others, is indeed through the additional impact of anthropogenic (i.e., human) factors, on top of the natural factors”
This seems like a good argument, yet it’s the first I’ve heard of it. Can it be found elsewhere on this site stated so concisely?
I am unconvinced by your rebuttal to the Oregon Petition, although your responses are noted and have already been considered. The timeframe is not large enough so as to be significant, and the criteria of being an “actual climatologist scientists” is questionable when you consider that James L. McCarthy is considered to be an authority on global warming, yet his bio gives no indication he is a climate scientist.
Jeff, James McCarthy has a Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Oceanographers study climatology. If not, they would not be oceanographers.
And the link you provide shows indeed he has authority to talk about global warming. You have read about what is his research dealing with..
at least what we can see from the link you kindly give us:
” His research interests have focused on the regulation of plankton productivity in the sea. He has worked extensively on the upper ocean nitrogen cycle in many areas of the world’s oceans, and in the past decade has directed these efforts primarily towards regions that are strongly forced by physical processes, such as annual mixing processes, monsoonal cycles and the ENSO system; processes likely to be altered temporally or spatially by global climate change. Over the past two decades he has become increasingly involved in the planning and implementation of interdisciplinary research efforts. In the mid 1980s he was the founding editor for the American Geophysical Union’s Global Biogeochemical Cycles…….”
Re #61 and 65: Another fact about the Oregon Petition is the deceptive way in which it was circulated. Basically, a mass mailing was sent out to various science departments with a “paper” that was full of deception and half-truths but was formatted to look like a paper appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It was accompanied by a letter from Frederick Seitz, who is an elderly physicist and was a former President of NAS some 30 years ago but is now frankly an extreme anti-environmentalist.
The deception was so extreme that NAS took the unusual step of issuing a statement noting that the paper being circulated had not appeared in the Proceedings of the NAS, the mailing was in no way associated with NAS, and furthermore that the paper’s conclusions were not in line with studies by the Academy.
Basically, this petition was run like an old Soviet-style election: The recipients were bombarded with propaganda and then asked to vote but only the YES votes were recorded.
And, despite what you claim, the time difference between when this all happened and now is significant because back in 1997-1998, scientists outside of climate science were unlikely to know what the general opinion of the peer-reviewed scientific community was and thus more likely to be deceived by such a stunt. Now, there has been enough coverage of the NAS studies and so forth that hopefully that situation is changing.
Re #63: There may not be another such statement, but it sounds like what you’re looking for is the analysis to back it up. Start with the site FAQs and then read through the “hockey stick”-related posts. It may be that you need to look at the Crowley study, which may or may not be available on-line (although the abstract will be, and maybe that’s enough). There’s the IPCC TAR itself, which certainly includes a discussion on this point but may well not be all that concise. You might also try some of the links at climateark.org.
Re #64: You quote the petition (written at a time when the science on various potential catastrophic climate events was much less advanced than now) as saying “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” As one of those alarmists, I’m not sure I could disagree with that statement even given the current science. This is because the concern for the future is in part a matter of catastrophic risks that necessarily have some uncertainty associated with them (for the straightforward reason that we haven’t been around to observe the various risked events actually happen), and in part a matter of cumulative harmful changes that are bad enough in themselves even if they never rise to the level of catastrophe.
To list just two examples of potential catastrophic (in my opinion) change, we know that with a sufficient rise in temperature the Arctic Ocean clathrate deposits will release and the Greenland ice sheet will melt. The problem is that nobody knows exactly what increased temperature sustained over what period of time will commit us to those events. What is known is that we are risking both of them now (to different degrees). But even given that, are the consequences of either of these events necessarily catastrophic? That would be in the eye of the beholder.
Analogizing to insurance, people who own houses are well-advised to buy fire insurance even though they believe it is highly unlikely that a catastrophe (i.e., a fire that burns their house down) will occur during the time they own a given house. Should they be advised to drop their insurance unless there is “convincing evidence” that their house “will” burn down? We can talk adaptation to some degree, but our basic insurance against the risks of climate is to reduce the level of GHGs.
Looking at the petition language again, I see another problem in that it postulates combined conditions of catastrophic heating *and* global climate disruption. I’m not sure what that means. Is there some condition where we could have catastrophic heating *without* such disruption? Hard to imagine. On the flip side, could we have substantial climate disruption without catastrophic heating? That’s a lot easier to imagine. As well, what is meant by the addition of “forseeable” to “future”? It seems to me that it’s meant to imply “near” without saying so directly.
Finally, let’s not forget that there is a major non-climate risk (ocean acidifcation) associated with CO2 increases. So you see that the problems with the Oregon petition aren’t just that it’s old.
Regarding “It is puzzling then that the WSJ editors could claim that “the scientific case….looks weaker all the time”,” I think I know what they are referring to. Research into natural variability has mushroomed, so the theory of anthro-GHG warming has a lot of new competition. In fact I notice that you seem to claim to be able to explain everything from the MWP-LIA cycle to the solar-climate link. I imagine a lot of experts in those things would disagree. My read on the science is that the uncertainties have increased with the research. Science is like that.
You’re right, Jeff – the MD stands for Meteorological Doctor, and the DDS is Doctor of Dendrochronological Science – all able to speak to the science. You’ve been duped. Here is a good breakdown of the story, easily Googleable, plus 1.
Your alarm bells, however, should sound when you see no affiliations in the OISM – where the heck are these people from?!? Where are their credentials? Every scientific petition you see has affiliation. Every one. Look at the NAS, for example.
The OISM petition also came under fire for being deceptively packaged: The petition was accompanied by an article purporting to debunk global warming that was formatted to look as though it had been published in the journal of the respected National Academy of Sciences. The resemblance was so close that the NAS issued a public statement that the OISM petition “does not reflect the conclusions of expert reports of the Academy.”
We are reaching a pretty disturbing point in our society where not only do the right and left disagree about the conclusions of scientific facts, they disagree about the facts themselves.
The right has developed its own information sources – Fox news, WSJ editorial page, Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute – to name just a very few – and these sources all quote each other, and none of them seem to care where their “facts” came from in the first place. All of the cross-quoting still creates an imprimatur of legitimacy.
Followers of these information outlets no longer need to test their “facts” against any broader information source.
Further, as soon as a piece of rightwing pseudo-science has been generated, mainstream news outlets feel obligated to present “both sides” even though one side has no credibility whatever. The public in general concludes that there is likely to be some truth on both sides, just because there are two sides that disagree.
We were all supposed to believe that Terry Schiavo was capable of rehabilitation. That Intelligent Design (i.e., Yahweh) directs evolution. That, although temperatures are rising, and carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere is rising rapidly, and increased CO2 is sure, according to the known laws of physics, to raise global temperature, by some miracle, the CO2 increase is not the cause of our rising temperatures. Some other, non-human factor (Yahweh again?) is at work.
Re #66: “I imagine a lot of experts in those things would disagree.” Based on the published peer-reviewed studies in the field, that would indeed have to involve your imagination. Also contrary to your impression, increased knowledge about natural variability has confirmed the consensus view. There is little to cite to the contrary, and to my knowledge what little there is has been debunked. You say that the “theory of anthro-GHG warming has a lot of new competition.” Please post published, peer-reviewed examples to back up your claim.
“Also with reference ot #37. I’m sorry not to have a link for this, but I remember seeing something which stated that the rate of climate change now was so fast compared to previous glacial-interglacial changes that it could outpace the ability of the ecosystem to respond. I think they were specifically considering the northward movement expected of the Boreal forest regions in Russia and the worry from this study was that the precipitation and temperature changes would overtake the forests and ‘leave them behind’ so to speak such that they wouldn’t be able to keep up and would be lost. Clearly this would be something we could intervene in were we so inclined, but, nevertheless, it doesn’t look good.”
The climate change I referred to, the Younger Dryas, occurred more rapidly and was of greater magnitude than those predicted for global warming. The ecosystem response was pretty rapid to this, including the response of certain tree species. Some aquatic organisms responded in a couple of decade and the vegetation only in a few decades more in the above study I referred to.
This is not to say that, for example, the boreal forest would keep up with climate change. The situation at the Younger Dryas boundary is not exactly analagous. However, the results of multiproxy studies such as Gerzensee and Krakenes were surprising and indicated that certain ecosystems are sensitive and can respond quickly. You could look at this in two ways – species could migrate to survive or, many of our local eosystems will be lost as climate gets warmer.
[Response: Make sure to not confuse changes in global mean temperature with regional changes; the latter can be much larger and faster, as they can be caused by changes in heat transport by ocean or atmosphere. Global mean warming at the end of the last ice age amounted to 4-7 ºC and took about 5,000 years i.e., an average rate of about 0.1 ºC per century. Current and future warming looks very rapid compared to that.
Regionally, especially in north Atlantic high-latitude areas, larger and especially much faster climate changes have occurred (such as the Younger Dryas cold event), most likely due to rapid ocean circulation changes.
Concerning the response of ecosystems, two further factors must be considered. First, humans are now using much of the Earth’s surface; natural ecosystems are fragmented in many places, species live in small pockets of remnant natural ecosystem surrounded by agricultural lands etc., and cannot simply move. Second, for the past several million years (a time scale relevant for evolution), climate has oscillated between predominantly colder conditions (ice ages) and shorter intervals with conditions roughly like the present (interglacials). Species are adapted to this. Many survive the warm times high in the mountains, on islands of cold in a sea of warmth, so to speak. Now we’re moving into much warmer climate, unlike anything seen for several million years. The cold-adapted species will have nowhere to go – they move upwards along the mountains (as a recent article in Science put it) “until they reach the top and go to heaven”. -stefan]
This may be inappropriate place to do this, but I would like to pass on my support to Dr Mann at this time. I have read that the Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has started what I can only call a witch hunt over the original 1998 study.
As an non-technical policy advisor working in the area of climate change I highly value the science and science communiciation work done by Dr Mann and all the other Realclimate contributors.
Keep up the great work and don’t let the bastards grind you under.
An additional note on anthropogenic climate change’s (ACC) effect on ecosystems, there were a couple of more links to studies I should have included. They both discuss widespread signs of ACC on ecosystems that have already occurred they are widely cited in scientific literature. Both are in Nature but they are on non-subscription sites.
It is important to note as Lee Arnold and Timothy have earlier that ACC will act together with other anthropogenic effects like fragmentation to compound the impact on ecosystems. Steve Bloom thanks for pointing to google scholar it is very useful.
Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 27 Jun 2005 @ 11:12 PM
Would anyone care to comment on any of the statements made in the following essay? I am very puzzled to find one of three Vice Chairs of the IPCC is the author.
Here is what I sent NRDC & Environmental Defense (of which I’m a member). Included is the beginning rough draft of a letter I plan to send to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce & a copy to my own rep:
It has come to my attention that a climate scientist, Dr. Michael Mann (of the hockey stick fame), is being harassed by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. He has done nothing wrong, but some unsigned editorial(s) in the Wall Street Journal (6/21/05 & 6/14/05?) have accused him of scientific wrong-doings, prompting the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to request that he and several others answer various obnoxious questions, almost like an inquisition. See the letters at http://energycommerce.house.gov/108/Letters/06232005_1570.htm
You can also go to http://www.realclimate.org for information. Their entry on “Wall Street Journal v. Scientific Consensus” has some information that may help (or you can contact them & Dr. Mann, who is a contributor to the site).
I feel the environmental community needs to be informed about this inquisition, and we need to write letters to the Committee on Energy & Commerce, and to our reps. I would hope that you might inform our members about this. The science and issues are fairly complex–I, for one, trust the scientists and journals like Science, Nature, and Scientific American–but now it seems we all need to learn more, so as to refute the contrarians in government & industry, who are becoming more vicious the more evidence there is of climate change.
I haven’t written my own letter yet, but the gist would be something like this:
“I am quite dismayed that you are harassing the well respected climate scientist, Dr. Michael Mann, by requesting information from him that is a matter of public record, and/or available to anyone who wishes to have it. Furthermore, I am greatly astonished that you are getting your scientific information from the Wall Street Journal, and from a few select global warming contrarians. I had imagined that at least someone in our government on someone’s staff had enough scientific knowledge and had been keeping up on the climate change literature to know that your request of Dr. Mann was unnecessary and amounts to harassment. It is further unnecessary, because even without Dr. Mann’s studies, many other scientific studies from a variety of perspectives have conclusively proven anthropogenic climate change. His studies are not linchpin evidence of climate change, but only give further support for it.
Might I remind you that your duty is to serve the American people and your constituents. Global warming is a very serious problem that is having adverse consequences even now, and threatens to greatly harm Americans in the future. Scientists require high levels of certainty to claim there is a problem; they need to avoid false positives to protect their reputation, so that people will continue to believe them in the future. Your goal should be to avoid false negatives (claiming global warming is not happening when in fact it is happening), so as to protect Americans and the world. It is unconscionable to take a more conservative, do-nothing stance, requiring higher levels of certainty than scientists, when such a grave potential (and current) problem faces us.
Furthermore, since I am sure you must know America can significantly reduce its CO2 emissions by half, through energy/resource efficiency/conservation and alternative energy, in cost-effective ways that help the economy, there is absolutely no reason at all not to pursue vigorously solutions to global warming (that would also solve many other problems & reduce harm/costs in other areas). I, for one, reduced my energy consumption since 1990 by one-third cost-effectively without lowering our living standard, and even raising it in areas, and now we are on 100% wind-generated electricity, lowering our CO2 even further and saving $1 a month over conventional fossil energy. For cost-effective energy/resource reduction at the national level, please refer to works by Amory Lovins and Rocky Mountain Institute.
I would hope that you focus more on Main Street USA, and how global warming will negatively affect it, than on Wall Street and its very narrow foci and inability to comprehend that the environment is fundamental, the economy contingent. Without adequate sustenance provided by the environment people cannot survive.”
I still have to work on this….
Hope you will alert our members.
If anyone has suggestions for improvements in the letter to the House Committee, let me know. I plan to send the letter sometime next week. I already sent this as an email to NRDC & ED, and hope they will do something about it.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 28 Jun 2005 @ 9:13 AM
thanks, H.D. Larsson
I am astonished.. What does RC group think happened to Y. Izrael? Is there something strange behind this?
I see, Izrael already did not have a definite position a couple of years ago:
As Dr. Yury Izrael, chair of the organizing committee for the conference, sums it up: “The most important issue is whether ratifying the Kyoto Protocol would improve the climate, stabilize it or make it worse. This is not very clear.”
Comment by Michael Jankowski — 28 Jun 2005 @ 10:50 AM
Some RealClimate participants may want to have a look at the following commentary rebutting the WSJ editorial. It was posted this morning by The American Prospect:
DEBUNKING THE DEBUNKERS
By Chris Mooney
The Wall Street Journal’s take on global warming
gets more desperate all the time. http://taponline.c.topica.com/maadGtlabic2Db7WYiabaehosu/
The commentary links to the RealClimate posting that’s being discussed here. Chris Mooney is identified at the end of the rebuttal as the author of “The Republican War on Science,” to be published in September by Basic Books.
Comment by Steven T. Corneliussen — 28 Jun 2005 @ 11:19 AM
Wall Street Journal: Lying liars on global warming
Finally (via Atrios), this act of intimidation against a scientist by a Congressman is simply stunning, and shows why all reasonable people oppose the Bush regime and the Republicans.
Representative Barton, a conservative politician with close ties to oil and gas industries and a demonstrated hostility to environmental regulation, is launching an investigation of climate science. This is again about the regulatory implications of accurate science. With the recent passage of the resolution in the senate that accepts anthropogenic climate change, the climate change regulation opponents are getting worried. This is in no small part accounts for the timing and content of the WSJ editorial. IMO Dr Mann and Realclimate are being targeted for publicly standing up for accurate science.
There is something that we can do to stop Barton’s attempts to suppress accurate climate science and to support science and the scientists. We should contact our representatives in congress by e-mail, fax, printed letter or even by calling on the phone. These things definitely influence our congressmen. See these sites for contact information: http://www.house.gov/ http://www.senate.gov/
What should we tell them? Focus on one issue. Legislators receive a lot of mail, so keep it short and to the point. Tell them you are unhappy about this. Let them know that congress’ attempts to suppress accurate science and harassment of the scientists who work to find accurate science is not acceptable especially when such actions are motivated by some members of congress dislike for regulation. Let them know your vote could depend on or be influenced by their decision on this matter. Of course tell them about what the accurate science is and why these questions do not need to be asked again.
Also e-mail the letter to your local paper and to politically active groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists. Lynn Vincentnathan the NRDC is a good choice; they have been active on the issue of undue political influence on science. Climate change contrarians like to cast the major environmental groups in the U.S as radical but in reality they are quite moderate and are also sophisticated political operators. Their political success has made them a target of the contrarians. Yes, contacting a politically active group is inherently politically partisan, but on the issue of political pressure we do need the help of politically active groups.
I do find climate science to be a challenging topic and as challenging it can be, it is much easier when the politics are removed from it. Getting back to the science, thanks Stefan for bringing up the magnitude of the warming and it’s effect on ecosystems. When I consider anthropogenic climate change’s effect on ecosystems I compare anthropogenic climate change’s effects to the climate changes during the recent glacial/interglacial periods, but I forget that current warming is beyond that and can have serious and unforeseen effects on ecosystems. I learned something new from Realclimate.
Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 28 Jun 2005 @ 12:27 PM
Well, what can I say?
Having read the letters (thanks for the link, Lynn) I would suggest that the Committee on Energy and Commerce are just about to find themselves in a corner from which there is but one escape…and the best bit is that they will only be able to blame themselves when they realise what they’ve done.
By calling for comprehensive statements from Mike et al I would suggest that they will actually have to listen to what they are being told. If this committee have been content to rely on peer-reviewed (sic) publications like ‘E&E’ and the WSJ for their ‘facts’ up until now, it’s about time they discovered what PEER-review actually means.
I trust I am not being too optimistic…I am after all from a country whose Government at least attempts to confront the ACC issue with a substantial amount of rhetoric (if questionably little else).
My thoughts and support are with you chaps from across the pond.
I don’t have any personal knowledge about Y. Izrael, but that essay is full of misinformation and non-sequiturs. It doesn’t even do much to support its own headline. Maybe he was a political appointee to the IPCC?
– Early on he says “There is no proven link between human activity and global warming”, but later agrees that “Global temperatures will likely rise by 1.4-5.8 degrees during the next 100 years.” Why would that be then?
– He says “Many specialists estimate the peak atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration at 400 PPM.” We should be so lucky as to have such effective emissions controls. We’ll probably pass 400ppm at full speed.
– Next he says “Our calculations show that carbon-dioxide concentrations would increase by just 800 PPM if all known and produced fuel were incinerated in the space of a few hours.” Off the top of my head, that corresponds with fossil resources of something like 1500 gigatons carbon, which is a ridiculously low estimate. China’s ultimate coal resource alone is estimated at about 5000 gigatons (raw coal, not carbon, admittedly including very deep seams).
– Immediately after, he writes “In other words, we must comprehend what will happen while the carbon-dioxide levels will grow from the current 378 PPM to 800 PPM, that will hypothetically occur when all the fuel on earth is burned.” That implies a resource only half as big. Which is it?
– I’m sure the citizens of Bangladesh will be relieved to know that relocating a third of their country will be quite cheap.
He did get one thing right: “Unfortunately, some political decisions disregard the opinion of science.”
At a minimum this appears to not be a very good translation, as there is a fair amount of self-contradictory language. But, taking the article on its face:
He indeed says “There is no proven link between human activity and global warming.” But after some discussion, he then concludes “Therefore I believe that the link between man’s activities and rising temperatures has not been proved completely. Natural factors and the impact of man seem to be interlinked.” The contradiction is obvious.
Pointing out a couple of other problems, he says “The European Union has established by fiat that a two-degree rise in global temperatures would be quite dangerous. However, this data is not scientifically sound.” Well, for one thing it’s not data. As any careful reader of this site will know, it’s not possible to make hard and fast predictions of exact effects that will be associated with a given increase in temperature. Rather, risk assessment is involved. Later on, he dismisses concerns about sea level rise (which I believe was a big part of the basis for the EU’s two degree figure) by saying a) it won’t happen soon enough for us to worry about and b) rebuilding ports and relocating low-lying populations will be cheaper that Kyoto compliance. The first point is a value judgement that we can disagree with or not; my personal view is that we ought to be worried about whether a temperature rise now will commit us to, e.g., Greenland melting even if we’re confident the major sea level rise won’t happen for hundreds of years. The second point, I think, is just plain wrong (taken on its own terms, that is, since compliance with Kyoto alone won’t do much to halt the sea level rise).
He also makes the curious claim that “Many specialists estimate the peak atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration at 400 PPM.” I don’t recall hearing this from even one specialist. We’re at 378 now, are increasing at roughly 2 ppm annually and there’s nothing in emissions trends for the next decade would cause a significant reduction in the rate of increase. The impression I have is that the most wildly optimisitic hopes are for a leveling out at 450 ppm, and that even that level assumes strong governmental action we don’t appear likely to get soon enough.
There’s lots more, but I’ll stop there other than to make the general comment that this article may have a somewhat political basis given the unusual circumstances under which Russia signed on to Kyoto. I would be curious to know if the RC authors can shed any light on this guy.
Re#71, you say “increased knowledge about natural variability has confirmed the consensus view.” I disagree completely. I think our increased knowledge has confirmed two things. First, natural variability is much larger and more prevalent than was suspected just 10 years ago. Second, we do not understand it. My evidence is the great deal of work and speculation that is going on. It fills the peer reviewed journals.
There are a host of natural mechanisms and phenomena under intensive study, any one of which can in principle explain the recent surface warming record. Indirect solar forcing, for example, or abrupt events, even just emergence from the LIA. We don’t know that they do, but we also don’t know that they don’t, singly or in combination, that’s why we are studying them. The uncertainty has increased dramatically. Or do you think this research is all a waste of time?
On the topic of (plant) ecosystem responses to climate change, Louis Pitelka et al. have written an interesting article on “Plant migration and climate change” for American Scientist (vol. 85 (1997) pp. 463-473) that can be accessed (albeit without figures) on a non-subscription site.
I found the discussions in the paper on the timescales of dispersal vs establishment especially enlightening – even though individual seeds of a given species are able to germinate far away from its parent plant, that does not guarantee a successful colonization of new territory even if the environmental characteristics of the new site in principle would be well suited for that species. Thus the ability of e.g. a tree species to “migrate” (i.e. change its typical distribution zone) in response to climate change may well be smaller than one might think. The successful movement of entire complex ecosystems – built up from a wide range of plants and animals – could be well-nigh impossible, even if the change is slow.
Re #82: At risk of repeating myself: A link to published, peer-reviewed studies in support of your argument would be nice. (When I say in support of your argument, I mean studies that have analyzed one of the factors you mention, have concluded that the analysis creates additional uncertainty with respect to the consensus view, and have indications of some breadth of support in the field. This latter condition is to cut out some of the more speculative stuff like the “celestial climate driver” discussed in a May 15 RC post.) Before you say I should do the same, first have a look at all of the posts on this site relating to this subject (and which generally are pretty thoroughly footnoted and linked to the relevant studies.) Be sure to include the one on global dimming (May 19).
Return of the Inquisition
More kudos to RealClimate. In case you missed it, their response to this recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal, once again, makes it clear that the arguments raised by climate contrarians have nothing to do with real science, and…
I can not for the life of me understand why everyone in the scientific and political world is concerned whether global warming is due to natural events or human beings. The climate is warming! We need to start working on doing what ever we can to slow the process down regardless of it’s cause!
I am simply pointing-out that Dr. Izrael had a similar stance to years ago, which conflicts with the “what happened to him” post of #80. I’m not quite sure how your responses relate to this. Was there another post #82 which was later deleted and replaced with mine?
Comment by Michael Jankowski — 28 Jun 2005 @ 8:05 PM
Re #96: I’m not sure what happened, but the comment numbers do appear to have changed. What was #82 is now #90, and going farther back my #71 was in response to a #66 that is now #68. I wonder if there’s some problem with the software when there are too many posts in the queue at once?
[Response:Sorry about that. If there is a back-up for approvals the numbering can get confused. -gavin]
Bravo for Real Climate, much needed in responding to ignorance like this WSJ article which seem to thrive on apathy and a low sense of esteem for the scientific community. A newspaper such as the Wall Street Journal and many other outlets seem to utterly fail in simply reporting facts. Being from the High Arctic for the last 20 years, right at the front line of AGW, and having personally witnessed rapid changes in our climate, I gladly like to state that some medias are suprisingly good, by reporting just facts, something WSJ might like to do one day, such as increase in twilight brightness due to thermal inversions, the incomprehension by aboriginal elders on what is going on with a massive change in dominant winds everywhere in the Arctic and in some cases with all this open water. But I find WSJ 6/21 editorial completely off base, totally out of sync with our times, in particular with respect to 2005 being yet another very warm year (if not the warmest), amongst a whole lot of recent historical highs all within the last 20 years. Last May WSJ journalists obviously failed to report 30 degree C weather over most of Arctic Quebec with its numerous lakes still frozen, I wonder if they would have written this editorial if they only knew?
Re #93, responding to my old #82, now #90 (last I looked). You say “A link to published, peer-reviewed studies in support of your argument would be nice. (When I say in support of your argument, I mean studies that have analyzed one of the factors you mention, have concluded that the analysis creates additional uncertainty with respect to the consensus view, and have indications of some breadth of support in the field.”
I am not referring to studies that have concluded that the analysis creates additional uncertainty for the anthro GHG theory. In point of fact some studies of natural variability do mention inter alia that the theory of anthro warming might have to be rethought, but most do not. Scientific studies almost never explicitly contradict one another, even when that is the intention of the authors, which is not the case here. (I think this is where Oreskes went wrong. She apparently looked for abstracts explicitly contradicting the anthro theory, and found none.)
The judgement that a study creates additional uncertainty for the anthro theory is mine, not the authors. The logic is simple. If a study provides new evidence, or a new mechanism, for natural variability, that is consistent with what we observe, then that supports the theory that the present warming is natural, not caused by human emissions. Such results are quite numerous.
Right now the global climate research budget is about $4 billion per year, world-wide. Peer reviewed publications run maybe 10,000 pages per year. A lot of that research is in natural variability, and the results are impressive. The biggest growth area is indirect solar forcing of climate, but other contenders are coming on strong. So it is not a matter of citing this or that study, it is a matter of the direction of climate research taken as a whole.
Let me draw an analogy. The arguments for the anthro theory are like showing that a suspect in a crime had motive and opportunity. This is a necessary condition for conviction, but it is not sufficient if there are other suspects who also had motive and opportunity. As I read the science there are now several kinds of natural variability under investigation, each of which is capable in principle of explaining the warming in the surface record. Each has its problems, but so does the anthro theory. The jury is still out, because the science is still vibrant.
[Response: Which kind of natural variability could explain the 20th Century warming?
Solar variability? Shows no trend since 1940 – see this post.
Orbital changes? They caused the ice ages, but recent orbital changes are very weak and could not explain warming.
Volcanoes? Can only explain temporary cooling episodes.
Internal variability modes of the ocean-atmosphere system? Can cause regional changes that locally mask the global warming trend, but can only cause small fluctuations in the global mean temperature, certainly not a global warming trend of 0.7 ºC over 100 years.
Concerning the suspect CO2: The gun has been fired, the CO2 is in the air – that’s a measured fact. That increased CO2 leads to warming is not just a “suspicion”, it is a fact of physics that has been known for over 100 years. The amount of warming expected from the CO2 happens to be just right to explain the observed warming.
For more details on how natural and anthropogenic factors work together in the 20th Century, see the recent paper by Hansen et al. 2005 in Science, presented in this post. See also the further discussion of this under the subheading “A strange temperature graph” here. -stefan]
Re David Wojick’s post (#100 as of June 29, 2005):
David, I don’t think you can look at the number of papers on a particular topic and then infer that views about the underlying science are changing. Although authors of peer reviewed articles don’t often write in the abstract, “Joe Blow is wrong,” if they have the opportunity they will say something like, “Recent publications regarding [some topic] suggest that x is related to y such that we can predict or explain z [a list of citations would be given here]. Because this is an important idea with far-reaching consequences, we used an independent or better method or data set and found that x, y, and z are actually related to each other in a different manner or only under some other circumstances p, q, and r.” Therefore I think that you should try to satisfy Steve Bloom’s request and include some citations that support your point. (Please especially consider naming the peer-reviewed studies that say natural variation in given conditions could explain current trends on their own — this is of particular interest to me because climatologists have stated several times on this website that the natural variation in non-anthro forcings including solar activity would actually be negative [i.e., cooling] over the last few decades.)
Here’s how efforts are directed at the fisheries agency where I work. First a lot of data are collected. From historical estimates of the number of reproducing parents in the previous generation, a number of salmon from a given stock is expected to return. They mix with different stocks which have their own somewhat independent abundances. The abundances of all of these stocks combine to define an acceptable amount of fishing. The problem is that the actual abundances are not known ‘perfectly’ until after the fishery when everything can be tallied up in the end. (I hope this is more relevant regarding uncertainty than the courtroom analogy.) How do we deal with that uncertainty? Well, first of all, best predictions for the abundances of each stock are made. These have implications, as I’ve indicated, and parties who don’t like those implications tell us to throw out some data or include some other variables. Rarely those other variables appear to be informative and the best estimates evolve; usually it turns out to be a sensitivity analysis showing that the predictions are robust. Eventually everyone agrees that, given the available data, we have a best set of predictions. That consensus is the painless part. The next part by far represents the greater amount of work — risk analysis. This is the part where the variability around our best estimates is thoroughly examined. Various fishing plans are submitted and simulation after simulation is done to determine how often, under each scenario, with differing sets of assumptions, catch and escapement objectives are reached. Eventually, again, there is agreement on which are the best fishing plans for dealing with the uncertainties under various scenarios. Finally, as fishing begins, the fishing yields some new information, further narrowing the range of possibilities, and so more work is done to further quantify benefits and risks of various approaches.
It is very rare that the new data radically change the early predictions — usually we simply home in on more accurate quantification. If you were simply to focus on the amount of work done examining some variables over that period of time, you would erroneously think that the number of adults spawning in the previous generation was thought not to be as important as all of the other details that receive attention later in the process. Yet, with every new years’ data, the most important variable in the subsequent forecast is the number of spawners in the previous generation. Generalized, this is the process: science examines some apparent correlations, examines mechanisms, and determines that some causative relationship exists. Then someone determines this knowledge has implications for policy. The scientists figure out that refining the nature of the relationship to make more precise predictions would be helpful, so they work on it. Because this involves studying all of the minor influences that cause variance in the more obvious relationship, they have to do a lot of work to quantify those influences. I suspect this is what you are seeing in climate science.
Pressure of work has kept me away from this site for some weeks but last nights incredible BBC Newsnight feature on contrarians has brought me back. It was by far the most partisan BBC programme ever. Why was all the bile heaped upon us poor sceptics? Now I see. President Bush does not plan to be humiliated by our Tony next week and has been keeping his powder dry.
Referring to David Wojick’s comment — post #100 : “If a study provides new evidence, or a new mechanism, for natural variability, that is consistent with what we observe, then that supports the theory that the present warming is natural, not caused by human emissions”.
How can you come to this conclusion?? The fact that we may find a new mechanism for natural variability does *not* mean that this will necessarily explain the current surface temperature trend, let alone support the theory that the present warming is natural, it only suggests that climate is more complex than we thought. So this leap of faith is extremely puzzling to me. Current climate sensitivity studies comparing model results and the paleo record suggest quite strongly that most feedbacks have probably been included in models. So it is highly unlikely (though not impossible) that we’ll suddenly discover a feedback mechanism which will be able to counter the greenhouse radiative forcing currently underway.
So far, *no* contrarian to the anthropogenic nature of global warming has come up with convincing arguments. I second Steve Bloom’s request that you provide hard evidence of your claims about natural variability.
Finally, obsessing about the fact that we should wait until more evidence about climate change comes in is foolish and irresponsible. The evidence so far accumulated is sufficient to justify action.
Comment by Richard Harvey — 30 Jun 2005 @ 12:32 PM
Extagen @ #95: having followed the debate for some years, it appears that the issue of causality is merely the fallback for the contrarians. They’ve finally had to give up arguing that it wasn’t happening at all.
Actually, there was a very amusing period about six years ago where some contrarians would argue the two cases alternately, i.e., that it wasn’t happening, but it wasn’t our fault anyway.
Furthermore, it was at about that time that the Coal Lobby’s astroturf group “The Greening Earth Society” flirted with a third way: that it was indeed happening and it was going to feed the poor and make us all rich. I wonder what happened to them?
Science, as I’m sure all here are aware but some would never admit, is only one dog in this fight.
[Response: The three main types of sceptics are called trend sceptics, attribution sceptics and impact sceptics. I discuss these three types and their main arguments in this article. -stefan]
Re#106. Different skeptics argue different things. The argument for the anthro GHG theory of dangerous warming is complex, involving several big steps and numerous subarguments. Different skeptics question different steps in that argument. For example, Fred Singer questions the warming in the surface record, so argues that there is no significant warming to explain, or fear. At the other extreme, Pat Michaels accepts the anthro GHG theory but argues that the warming is not dangerous. He claims the warming in the next 100 years will be about the same as in the last 100. Greening Earth’s argument was that (1) warming is net beneficial to humans and (2) the CO2 increase is beneficial to all life because atmospheric CO2 is the world’s food supply. There are lots of other skeptics, who object to other specific moves in the logic of the anthro ghg theory. It would be fun to map them.
But these are all scientific issues. The complexity of the climate system, including our role, makes the science complex. The complexity of the science makes the logic of the anthro ghg dangerous warming theory complex, which in turn makes the debate wonderfully complex. It is a fascinating situation, probably unique in history.
Mr. Wojick, you exagerate the complexity of the issue in the sense that we basically don’t know *anything*. This allows you and other skeptics to argue for more coal and oil burning until we know for sure. But this will *never* happen as we all know. The key is that we know enough now to have big *concerns* about dangerous anthpogenic influence.
RE#107, yeah it may be cooling up there where the satellites are, but down here under the greenhouse blanket it’s getting a bit too snug. Maybe (this is just a guess) because the greenhouse blanket keeps the heat close to earth, the heat isn’t been radiated up to the satellites as much anymore.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 1 Jul 2005 @ 3:25 AM
Re #107 (Manny): Presumably you are referring to the MSU channel 2 data, which measures temperatures throughout the troposphere. If so, which analysis are you using? Mears and Weltz? Vinnikov and Grody? Fu et al? Spencer and Christy? If the latter, is it the old version 5.1, or the new version 5.2, which has just been released and shows a higher trend since 1979?
I also find it interesting that you specify 7 years. Why not 6 years? Or 8 years? It wouldn’t have anything to do with the very strong El Nino of 1998 would it? You know, the one that caused a big 0.5 deg C spike in the tropospheric temperature that year?
Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas conclude in their paper from 2003 “Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years” (SB2003), that
“However, considered as an ensemble of individual expert opinions, the assemblage of local representations of climate establishes both the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period as climatic anomalies with worldwide imprintsâ?¦â??
Across the world, many records reveal that the 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millennium.”
Properly analyzed, the paper shows no conclusion on existence of LIA and MWP as a worldwide phenomenon, and their paper indicates the 20th century temperature is the highest during the last 1000 years. This is in contradiction to their conclusions.
The following remarks are given totally within the framework of their paper without questioning in any way the purpose of the paper, the methods, the data definitions, the data, their observations on the proxies and their link between an anomaly and LIA /MWP. However, I disagree with the conclusions for the following statistical reasons.
Soon and Baliunas try to show by asking the following questions in respect of the individual proxies using 50 years average, that an indication of the LIA and the MWP can be found in most proxies and that the 20th century is not the warmest period of time over the last 1000 years. A summary of their findings is given in the following lines:
Is 20th century warmer than the previous 900 years?
Out of 104 proxy data they have found a “yes” in 22 cases and “no” in 82 cases.
An anomaly is identified during 800-1300?
Out of 125 proxy data they have found a “yes” in 123 cases and “no” in 2 cases.
An anomaly is identified during 1300 -1900?
Out of 115 proxy data they have found a “yes” in 108 cases and “no” in 7 cases.
Without any statistical judgment these results looks at firsthand as at confirmation of their conclusion. However, in all three cases it is a matter of misusing the maximum or the minimum of series of measurements with different length and not defining a null hypothesis and not testing it at all.
Please note that an anomaly in a statistical sense is an observation, which is smaller than the p%-percentile or larger than the (1-p) % percentiles, where p<50%. In a given data set an anomaly is found by finding the maximum or the minimum of the observations over a given number of years. This is the key to understand the methods used by Soon and Baliunas.
In respect of question A is possible to show under very general condition in theory and by simulations, that if there is no trend in the temperature, then the probability of observing a higher temperature during the period 1000-1850 compared to the period 1900-1950 are close to 94.4%=850/(50+850).
Using the binomial distribution with 104 trials and p=0.944 it follows, that the probability of observing “no” in 82 out of 104 trials is less then 0.0001%. This means that we have observed significant fewer “no”s than expected. The 95% confidence interval for p equals [70.5%; 81.1%]. This indicates that the 20th century is the warmest during the last 1000 years.
In respect of question B and C it follows from simulation experiments using a 1% percentile to define an anomaly and a red noise with coefficient 0.2, that the probability of observing an anomaly for one proxy during 450 and 550 years respectively is round about 98%. Using the binomial distribution it follows, that the observed values under question B and C are as expected and in no way significant.
There is no basis to support their conclusion from a statistical point of view in the data they have used. However, their conclusion might be correct, but for other reasons than they have presented in SB2003.
Its is unbelievably that WSJ and others are using this paper as an argument against global warming, when it actually is in favor of global warming !
I have worked this analysis out in more details, but have no access to a webblog to publish it on. Writing a scientific paper about is not relevant since SB2003 previously have been discredited. However, as an educational example within statistics and probability theory, the SB2003 paper might be useful.
Willie Soon, Sallie Baliunas: Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years. Climate Research 23:89-110, 2003.
Mike Mann et al: On Past Temperatures and Anomalous late – 20th Century Warmth, EOS, Vol 84, No 27, page 256, 8.july 2003.
Julius Solnes: Stochastic Processes and Random Vibration: Theory and Practice, page 34, Wiley 1977.
Thomas Mikosch et al: Modeling Extremal Events, page 307, Springer 1999.
Comment by Klaus Flemloese, Denmark — 1 Jul 2005 @ 3:56 PM
Interesting letter on the politics side of things:
[Response: The three main types of sceptics are called trend sceptics, attribution sceptics and impact sceptics. I discuss these three types and their main arguments in this article. -stefan]
Stefan, it’s intriguing you quote a climate sensitivity of 3K as central value, whereas radiative equilibrium comes no further than 1K. Climate models have a range of 1K to 3K for CO2 doubling, the 1.5 to 4.5 K range is completely depending on the assumed slowness of the system, with equilibrium times of several centuries!
The CSM model as used recently by CKO in the Dutch Challenge Project has an reported sensitivity of 1K for CO2 doubling.
[Response: S-B is only valid for black bodies. Since the Earth is not a black body, it isn’t a good estimate for the surface air temperature. This has been discussed here. The model range for the current IPCC round is from 2.7 to 4.1 deg C for a doubling of CO2. -gavin]
Stefan’s comments and the linked in paper are very informative. The subject of “natural variability” deserves a separate post and comment thread all by itself. Invariably, no matter what the subject, there are comments citing some unspecified natural variability hypothesis to explain the current warming. Part of the “official” climate change language of the current government is “climate variability”. I hope RC will address the issue directly and ask those “skeptics” to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak.
One the idea that cosmic ray flux is s source of climate variability doesn’t mean that CO2 doesn’t equally have an electrical meaning. It does. CO2 impacts conductivity w/ surface lows and gas exchanges which occur as a result.
Two complexity strongly suggests responsive design. Which brings us back to gaia, to ecology, to stewardship.
Re#109 et al, I am not saying we “know nothing,” quite the opposite. We now have $40 billion worth of new knowledge. This is a lot given that the US cancer research program is about $5 billion per year. The point is that in science new knowledge often increases uncertainty among competing theories. Astronomy and cosmology are in just that boat right now. Results from Hubble and other new instruments have called much of the theoretical framework into question, so hypotheses have blossomed.
By far the biggest result from the 15 year climate research program is the discovery of natural variability. When the program started (along with the FCCC treaty) it was believed that climate was relatively stable and so anthro GHGs must be causing the warming in the surface record. That stability assumption was found not to be true and the research has become quite complex as a result.
Below are two quotes that make the point nicely. These two reports are good studies in the research issues, even today. They can be read online. They are much better than the 1995 and 2001 IPCC reports, because the latter are really arguments for the anthro GHG dangerous warming theory.
“The evidence of natural variations in the climate system — which was once assumed to be relatively stable — clearly reveals that climate has changed, is changing, and will continue to do so with or without anthropogenic influences.” (Dec-Cen Variability, Summary)
“Climate research on decade to century (“dec-cen”) timescales is relatively new. Only recently have we obtained sufficient high-resolution paleoclimate records, and acquired faster computers and improved models allowing long-term simulations, to examine past change on these timescales. This research has led to genuinely novel insights, most notably that the past assumption of a relatively stable climate state on dec-cen timescales since the last glaciation is no longer a viable tenant. The paleorecords reveal considerable variability occurring over all timescales, while modeling and theoretical studies indicate modes of internal and coupled variability driving variations over dec-cen timescales as well.
“Thus, dec-cen climate research is only at the beginning of its learning curve, with dramatic findings appearing at an impressive rate. In this area even the most fundamental scientific issues are evolving rapidly. Adaptability to new directions and opportunities is therefore imperative to advance understanding of climate variability and change on these timescales.” (Pathways, p. 129)
I heartily agree with Klaus (the first comment is this thread is my proof :o) ).
S&B didn’t bother to mention the multiproxy studies, they just cherry-picked the local studies that supported their contention. Plus, using a 50-year time frame effectively narrows the warming episodes.
Re#101 (and part of the #100 Response). To see where solar-climate research is going, here are two fairly recent workshops. Some of the presentations provide references. The basic point is that we do not understand the sun-climate link, certainly not enough to rule it out as the main driver of the 20th Century surface temperature record.
The first workshop is “Solar Variability on Decadal to Millennial Timescales: Influences on Earth Climate Change and Prediction,” hosted by the Universities Space Research Association. USRA includes 95 universities that do space research, mostly from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. USRA says it has “launched an initiative to develop the means to increase understanding and improve prediction of solar variability and its effects on Earth, especially its climate.” http://www.usra.edu/hq/meetings/scw/
According to USRA, the research issues are broad. They say, “This multi-disciplinary workshop was designed to open communication and forge collaborations between the disparate realms of policy and science, and to provide a platform for scientists of varied fields (climatology, paleoclimatology, atmospheric chemistry, solar and stellar astrophysics, etc.) to present their measurements and models in an effort to more precisely define problems scientists face when trying to show the causal link of multi-decadal variability of the Sunâs output and Earthâs climate. Uncertainties remain not only regarding the solar measurements, but also on the climate response to solar changes by virtue of the complexities of the climate system.”
Another major workshop is “Decadal Variability in the Sun and Climate,” the annual meeting of the Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment. SORCE is a NASA-sponsored satellite mission that provides new measurements of incoming x-ray, ultraviolet, visible, near-infrared, and total solar radiation. http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce/2004ScienceMeeting/Meeting_Review.html
SORCE explains the research issue this way: “Discerning the role of the Sun in climate variations on time scales of decades is a challenging task. That climate forcing is well correlated with variations in the Sunâs energy output is now relatively well established for total and UV irradiance using high-precision, space-based solar measurements spanning more than two decades. When the Sun is near the maximum of its activity cycle, it is about 0.1 percent brighter overall, with much greater changes at UV wavelengths. SORCE measures these variations with unprecedented accuracy, precision, and spectral coverage across the UV, visible, and IR. But the climate response to these measured solar variations presents a major puzzle.”
[Response: We all agree that there are interesting issues in solar-climate links, and there is a large uncertainty in how to calibrate solar activity to climate forcings. However, there is no evidence for a large role for solar forcing over the last 50 years or so. No indices related to solar activity show any significant rise over this period. -gavin]
What an exceptional letter, cutting to the heart of what is going on in the US Government. What is really occurring is a sort of inquisition, trying to smear and destroy the careers of outstanding scientists, perpetrated by the fossil fuel industry. Ross Gelbspan’s The Heat is On and Boiling Point provide even more evidence of this “crime taking place,” (as Mr. Gelbspan says so succinctly).
As far as I’m concerned, the debate is pretty much over. Climate change is happening. The numerous threads on RealClimate and scientific reports that seem to be a daily occurrence are stacking the evidence heavily in favour of this conclusion. Therefore, the time for action is now before our existence on this planet is put in jeopardy.
Re comment 118 ” Results from Hubble and other new instruments have called much of the theoretical framework into question, so hypotheses have blossomed.”
This is off topic, but this claim is wrong. These results have vastly narrowed the uncertainties in
the parameters used in the theoretical framework, and spawned a large number of further
directions for research. They did not cast the previous theoretical framework into doubt. On
the contrary, they allowed us to rule out many previously viable alternatives.
If this is your best analogy then your argument is in trouble.
Gavin, I am a bit puzzled about your response
Firstly, the Stefan Boltzmann equation contains an emissivity term which has been accounted for. see eg http://hanserren.cwhoutwijk.nl/co2/sb.htm
Secondly, the CSM model used by Dutch climatologists has a proven sensitivity of 1 K/2xCO2; why is this model not considered “state of the art”?
Thirdly, the analysis of CGM models by Lawrence Livermore has a range of 1 to 3 deg C for a doubling of CO2.
[Response: First, SB even using an emissivity still doesn’t account for any feedbacks – which we know exist. Secondly, CSM is not state of the art because it was superceded by CSM2 and now by CSM3. And thirdly, and most importantly, you confuse the transient climate response (TCR) at time of CO2 doubling in the 1% increasing CO2 CMIP runs with the equilibrium climate response to CO2 doubling (which is always larger). You should assume that it is the equilibrium sensitivity (IPCC likely range 1.5-4.5, current models (for the IPCC AR4) range 2.7-4.1) that people are talking about unless they specifically state that they aren’t. – gavin]
Here are a couple of quotes from a “peer reviewed” report published a few hours ago.
para 22 “We sought evidence that refuted the claims of McIntyre and McKitrick, but have not come across any detailed rebuttal.”
Para 23 “We are in no position to determine who is right and who is wrong in the growing debate on the hockey stick. If there are historical periods of marked temperature increase, it seems to us it is important to know why these occurred. Overall, we can only urge that the issue is pursued in the next IPCC Assessment.”
Re #120, you say “However, there is no evidence for a large role for solar forcing over the last 50 years or so. No indices related to solar activity show any significant rise over this period.”
I am surprised you would attempt to dismiss an entire scientific community with a simple formula like this, but I notice they appear frequently on these pages.
[Response: I have no idea what you mean here. I have published a number of papers on solar-climate connections and am involved in a number of ongoing related projects. Presumably I am therefore part of the community that I am dismissing? You confuse interest in solar connections with a dismissal of anthropogenic forcings. These things are actually independent. – gavin]
First, the surface temperature record has not increased for the last 50 years, only half of that, before which it cooled (while CO2 levels went up). Second the solar parameter need not increase with warming. We are looking for an indirect mechanism which could as easily be driven by a solar parameter decrease, such as a reduced solar wind. Third, since an indirect effect by definition involves other parameters, this is not a simple correlation exercise. Any more than CO2 forcing is, since CO2 levels do not correlate with the globally averaged surface temperature record.
The reason we are looking is because there is lots of strong long term statistical evidence for a sun-climate link. Since we do not understand the mechanism, we do not know what to look for over the recent decadal timescale. This is not a lack of evidence, it is a lack of understanding. It is probably the biggest uncertainty is climate science today.
As far as there not being any correlation over the last 50 years, I am quite sure that is not true. However, I do not follow the literature that closely, because I am tracking the whole of the science. But I recently came across this:
Finally, our indices and solar irradiance co-vary with long-term averages in global temperature of the lower atmosphere until approximately 1990, when the temperature curve sharply diverges upward. This lends support to the proposal that an anthropogenic component to the change in climate may not have been the dominant effect until the last decade of the XXth century.”
Ref: Le Mouel, Jean-Louis, Vladimir Kossobokova, and Vincent Courtillot, 2005. On long-term variations of simple geomagnetic indices and slow changes in magnetospheric currents: The emergence of anthropogenic global warming
after 1990? Earth and Planetary Science Letters Vol. 232, No 3-4, pp. 273-286, April 15, 2005
It is amusing that they think demonstrating a solar explanation ONLY through 1990 is an argument for anthropogenic warming. The IPCC SAR claimed that solar played no role for the last 145 years. According to these folks (I do not claim they are right) it explains everything except the last 15 years. The scientific trend, as opposed to the temperature trend, is clearly in the direction of a complete solar explanation. That is my only point in all of this, except that other communities are working on other explanations as well. Thus the uncertainty is increasing.
#ref. 124 Thanks for that link David H
I find it hard to believe that the Commons Committee felt it appropriate to make specific comment on ‘the hockey-stick’ and were prepared to listen to Ross McKitrick’s evidence about it’s uncertainty (sic) in person…without inviting comment from the actual author?
[Mildly edited to prevent inadvertent embarrassment – gavin]
You forgot to include the last line of the para 22 you like so much: One curious feature of the debate over Professor Mann’s time series is that the critics appear to ignore other studies which secure similar hockey stick Pictures. [footnote omitted]
“First, the surface temperature record has not increased for the last 50 years[…]”
“[…] CO2 levels do not correlate with the globally averaged surface temperature record”
These statements are akin now to pretending that the Earth is flat. Since Mr. Wojick is not a climatologist nor atmospheric scientist, but only an observer of the science of climate, I’d suggest that he’d refrain from such gratuitous phrases, unless he can come up with hard evidence for them, which he (or anybody else) has not done so far.
Re: #122 by Ethan : I also was appalled at that claim that Hubble has increased uncertainty in the astrophysical field. That statement is utterly false. We now know the age of the universe to within a few 100’s of millions of years…
They invited submissions on the Internet – anyone and everyone was invited to submit. If you read the published evidence many did on all sides of the debate. I wish Prof. Mann had testified. Reading between the lines I think they asked and got the usual brush off but if I am wrong I apologise to Prof. Mann. He only ever answered one of my emails!
If you read the evidence on their web site you can see some “schoolboy howlers” from the so called experts. Guess who said “Basically, if there was no CO2, we would be as cold as Mars or somewhere like that, and we would not have human life”. You can also see spin at its very best, for example: “Then, if you get to the middle of the century, you find the temperature rise stops somewhat from1950-1970, “??
Re #127 (Dano)
No, I was being selective you can all read the full report. But many of the so called other independent studies are far from independent and are also under scrutiny for lack of any audit trail. However they are not the IPCC trademark.
[Response: With all due respect to the House of Lords, putting up a website and expecting the world to come visit is not really a sufficient strategy to get a well rounded impression of the science. -gavin]
Re #124: I’ll stifle the urge to make fun of some of the titles of these folks. In any case, this was the Lords, not a very representative body to begin with, and more to the point it was the Economics Committee (a nest of Thatcherites, perhaps?) rather than the Science Committee. From a quick perusal of their web page, the latter seem strangely supportive of stronger action on global warming. Also, note that the advisor to the Economics Committee for this report was David Pearce, an economist, and that, based on the CVs provided, none of the Economics Committee members seem to have any scientific expertise. The evidence-gathering process seems also to have been a little over-solicitous of skeptics. I know we’re all shocked.
‘The ex-minister chairs the Lords economic affairs committee
Siberia will become a “rather nice place to live” and Europe will benefit “on balance” from global warming, says ex-Enron director Lord Wakeham.’
Enron, eh? It’s a small world after all.
Re #125: It’s a little strange to cite a study (actually just the abstract) in support of your position but reject the authors’ conclusions, but I suppose consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. To point out one obvious and very large flaw in your reasoning, one would have to look carefully at the effects of aerosols (global dimming) before drawing any firm conclusions that insolation changes rather than anthropogenic factors were the principal cause of the warming from 1900 to 1990, even given an apparent correlation. There’s nothing in the abstract to indicate that aerosols were considered. Finally, just who are these other “communities” you refer to? Name some names, please.
Re your comment in #130, are you suggesting that only the contrarians have a well organised network to inform each other of what’s going on in the climate debate and time their press releases for maximum impact? The witnesses included Dr Pachauri, Sir John Houghton, Sir David King etc, who obviously took the enquiry very seriously and am willing to wager they made sure you all knew about it.
Re 131, I think you are whistling in the dark. You need to understand our peculiar system of government, then you should read all their CV’s and bear in mind that all three major parties in the UK are very pro Kyoto. What has happened here is the first independent look at Kyoto in the UK. The report overall is not contrarian but, in my view correctly, points out the weakness in the Kyoto process. Its conclusions will have been factored into the shifting stance of Tony Blair at the G8.
They quote one witness:
“Consensus is the stuff of politics, not science. Science proceeds by observation, hypothesis and experiment. Professional scientists rarely draw firm conclusions from a single article, but consider its contribution in the context of other publications and their own experience, knowledge and speculations”.
and they conclude:
“We are concerned that there may be political interference in the nomination of scientists whose credentials should rest solely with their scientific qualifications for the tasks involved”.
I am sure none of the professionals here will disagree.
But many of the so called other independent studies are far from independent and are also under scrutiny for lack of any audit trail. [#130]
Using the underlying premise of Steve Bloom’s post above (131), I must point out that there is no evidence given for this assertion. Please, in the future, give details of studies that are so-called not independent, and be specific in pointing out the methodology or conclusion that suffers, and be so good as to show what the conclusion would be if it were so-called independent (presumably from a study that is so-called independent).
I see a lot of such assertions, none of which give specifics. I invite you to be the first.