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  1. Thanks for this essay; it speaks to the nature of science in general, which is probably the most important lesson I can teach my students.

    Comment by CraigM — 3 Dec 2009 @ 11:19 PM

  2. Er, yes. If the science was settled, then we would stop asking for all those massive big research grants to do more research. Has anyone ever seen a published paper that didn’t say “more research is needed”? Oh, I forgot. The people that write for the WSJ never read the primary literature.

    Comment by Steve — 3 Dec 2009 @ 11:31 PM

  3. “Climategate” story is falling apart. The scientist were right, the public and the critics made a mess of the emails. It has only created confusion. But perhaps in the end this debate in the media needed to happen.

    We’re about to make a major commitment to changes in our economy, and whenever a big decision like this is made, there is a natural need of double checking and appropriate “look-back”. We (in the US) have been snookered before with tall tales of global catastrophe if we did not fall in-line behind newly laid out plans and accept a new paradigm for living.

    But for me, reading about Climategate, reading the blogs from McIntyre, other deniers and yes RealClimate has only solidified my confidence in AGW. The science behind climate change isn’t a fad and it isn’t new. I had no idea that it started back with Fourier (amazing). The point is, there has been nothing rushed about this science. The CRU emails show that it has slowly plodded along with each avenue and nuance carefully examined. The CRU emails are also no different than any other form of electronic discussion. Is there an internet discussion site that doesn’t have emotional debates, hyperbole, and unfulfillable threats?

    The only fault I find with CRU and the AGW crowd is the sheer lack of PR skills and ability to take on the highly charged right wing media machine. But, then again, perhaps thats a good thing that scientists are so hapless when it comes to PR and shaping public opinion. Oooops, another conspiracy theory implodes on itself.

    Comment by matt — 3 Dec 2009 @ 11:48 PM

  4. Not only is the science not settled, anthropogenic global warming is a theory, not a fact. Once the general public realizes that the last 500 years of human civilization has been built on theory – whether it was Newton’s, or Darwin’s or Einstein’s – we might actually move forward and learn. As wise man once said “There is no knowledge without theory.”

    Comment by Andrew J McKeon — 3 Dec 2009 @ 11:48 PM

  5. Umm, ‘unequivocal’ does not allow for doubt. I guess it depends on context?

    Main Entry: un·equiv·o·cal
    Pronunciation: \ˌən-i-ˈkwi-və-kəl\
    Function: adjective

    1 : leaving no doubt : clear, unambiguous
    2 : unquestionable

    Comment by debreuil — 3 Dec 2009 @ 11:49 PM

  6. “The existence of the greenhouse effect, the increase in CO2 (and other GHGs) over the last hundred years and its human cause, and the fact the planet warmed significantly over the 20th Century are not much in doubt. IPCC described these factors as ‘virtually certain’ or ‘unequivocal’.”

    …agree there

    “The attribution of the warming over the last 50 years to human activity is also pretty well established – that is ‘highly likely’ and the anticipation that further warming will continue as CO2 levels continue to rise is a well supported conclusion.”

    …Well let’s just say that the fact you can’t account for the recent lack of warming is a travesty and it points to a lack of consensus on this point, even I dare say within the hallowed halls of climate research institutions. (only during private conversations of course)

    :Gasp: perhaps the magniture of natural variation hasn’t been accounted for?

    Comment by Jack Handy — 3 Dec 2009 @ 11:51 PM

  7. forgot to mention

    “and the fact the planet warmed significantly over the 20th Century are not much in doubt.”

    …but the 21st century warming is very much nonexistant

    Comment by Jack Handy — 3 Dec 2009 @ 11:55 PM

  8. Origins of the phrase and the dispute:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Sbandrews/the_science_is_settled

    Comment by Don Shor — 3 Dec 2009 @ 11:58 PM

  9. What will be the effect of modest reductions in manmade CO2? Most proposals only hope to decrease the rate of increase of CO2. Let’s assume all of the promises made at Copenhagen are kept, what will be the net effect on manmade CO2 and more importantly, what will be the impact on the climate? The old “something is better than nothing” answer is not very satifying (nor scientific).

    Comment by Pete — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:05 AM

  10. Gavin:
    If you are saying that some of the science is settled and some is far from settled, then it is hard to disagree. You note that the claim that the “science is settled” is a rhetorical device used by contrarians. That is certainly partly the case. Your essay, hoever, seems to miss a key point. It doesn’t address the question as to why contrarians employ such rhetorical devices. Isn’t it in part to counter those looking to push public policy solutions that ignore the unsettled parts of the science namely all the uncertainties around the scope and net impact of AGW and downplay the tremendous costs and risks associated with such policies and the highly debatable long term benefits?

    Comment by Bernie — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:07 AM

  11. Why can’t you go ahead and state the author–Richard Lindzen–and link his essay?

    The science is not settled in very fundamental ways as Lindzen’s piece indicates.

    Take the IPCC 2x warming range of 2C-4.5C, a range that could be wholly wrong. Would you admit that the science is unsettled in that the 2x warming could be below 2C as Lindzen and others believe?

    [Response: No. The standard range is well supported by paleo-climate studies and a small sensitivity is not. Lindzen's latest paper will not turn out to be robust (I predict), and even Roy Spencer has said he can't get the same results with only modest differences in approach. You might like to think that a single paper from Lindzen overturns everything, but it doesn't. - gavin]

    Comment by Rob Bradley — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:12 AM

  12. This article is right on the mark. As a student of physics, I can relate to this. There’s an interesting anecdote concerning Max Planck which is related to this. His physics professor, Philipp von Jolly, actually advised Planck against going into physics, stating that: “in this field, almost everything is already discovered, and all that remains is to fill a few holes”. That was before 1874, 31 years before Einstein’s Annus Mirabilis and 41 years before his publication of his general theory of relativity. I’m not even mentioning the advent of quantum mechanics, the standard model, big-bang theory, string theory etc. etc.

    Although there certainly is an established body of theories and conjectures (that are verified by experiments very well) in every field, science is never settled. It’s even downright arrogant to presume it ever will be. To quote Feynmann: “I think Nature’s imagination is so much greater than man’s; She is never going to let us relax”.

    Comment by BartH — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:25 AM

  13. Very good post.

    Would love to see you take this to the next step and expand specifically on what are considered to be the most important aspects of AGW theory that are not “settled” — most importantly, a focus on those aspects, if understood and properly modeled, that could have the greatest impact on climate model accuracy / reliability.

    Comment by ERJohnson — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:29 AM

  14. Unsettling journalism at the WSJ.

    Comment by Richard Pauli — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:30 AM

  15. Seems as if Steve McIntyre would agree with most of your points, so why the animosity towards him?

    Comment by alf — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:32 AM

  16. Steve: You might want to check who wrote that piece for the WSJ. Not having read the primary literature isn’t the issue with this author. That said, gavin was actually being charitable in his description of the op/ed.

    “The IPCC reports should be required reading for anyone…”

    I’d have ended the sentence right there.

    Comment by tharanga — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:48 AM

  17. As Joe Romm pointed out: if we proceed business as usual, and I add given enough time, then it is pretty settled that we’ll end up with a dystopian world. Perhaps a best available description of the world about 55 million years ago would be a good primer for what’s at stake.

    Comment by Andrew — 4 Dec 2009 @ 1:03 AM

  18. Hi Gavin:
    “…there are a number of issues which are no longer subject to fundamental debate in the community. The existence of the greenhouse effect…and its human cause…”

    I thought the IPCC put a >90% likelihood on human action being behind climate change in AR4. Are you saying this has since moved to an “almost certain” level?

    Comment by Bruce Tabor — 4 Dec 2009 @ 1:14 AM

  19. The author of the WSJ piece is Richard Siegmund Lindzen, an American atmospheric physicist and a professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I daresay he’s read the primary literature.

    Comment by Phil — 4 Dec 2009 @ 1:44 AM

  20. Gavin,
    Next time when Al Gore says the science is settled, why don’t you ask him to clarify what he means by “settled”?
    The key question is: Is it “settled” enough for the world to spend billions of dollars on cap-and-trade or emissions trading schemes or is it not? I would hazard to guess that by this definition of “settled”, you would say “yes”, but the WSJ would say “no”, and neither do many others, yours truly included. I don’t believe that the magnitude of natural variations other than CO2 is fully understood or taken into account. Given that, how can anyone say that CO2 is the major cause?

    [Response: Read Chapter 9 in IPCC AR4 - it explains exactly how they they can say that (with the minor caveat that there are more forcings than just CO2). - gavin]

    Comment by Dan Wang — 4 Dec 2009 @ 1:44 AM

  21. “The phrase “the science is settled” is associated almost 100% with contrarian comments on climate and is usually a paraphrase of what ’some scientists’ are supposed to have said”

    Where is this heard virtually non-stop, is from the mouths of politicians, journalists, eco-campaigners and members of the public demanding action on AGW. And scientists persuaded of AGW are guilty of letting this go on uncountered for far too long. Indeed some have even actively sanctioned a culture of distortion and exaggeration on the grounds that the public needs to be ‘woken up’. I welcome this attempt to put things right – better late than never.

    Comment by PeterK — 4 Dec 2009 @ 1:58 AM

  22. The Wall Street Journal opinion writer takes care to intimate that the emails represent the whole science, and he disregards the other independent evidence. What this “Climategate” affair mostly means is that these tut-tutting skeptics are actually going to have to learn the science, themselves. It’s “put up, or shut up” time. (Also a bit of the history and philosophy of science, since they appear to misunderstand what Galileo did, and are wading into nonsense about “post-modernism.”) Of course they were hoping not to do any work at all, rather just cast aspersions on the science, to protect their insistence that climate mitigation policy must be economically costly. Indeed the Journal opinion writer intimates that, too. Yet that is another big and unscientific mistake, though we hear it repeatedly from the skeptics. The economic models are in terrible shape, compared to climate models. That is because we can’t predict human creativity in innovation. Climate mitigation could have greater economic benefits than costs, i.e. it could be a net plus. In fact that is likely to be the case.

    Comment by Lee A. Arnold — 4 Dec 2009 @ 2:02 AM

  23. Your thoughts are appreciated as always, Gavin, but I’m a little surprised at your quote of Mike Hulme’s astonishingly naive opinion piece.

    As you know, early on the science became a target of a denial industry whose skills had been perfected in campaigns dating back many decades to the efforts to keep lead in paint and gasoline, and more lately to obscure the ill effects of tobacco. I don’t know about risk management, but for a long time it’s been an ineluctable fact that when valuation and political ideology enter into it, the side on whose side the science isn’t will attack it in order to obscure the case for action. What we need is advice about how best to move forward under those circumstances, and Hulme provides none.

    But beyond being merely useless, a couple of Hulme’s comments had the flavor of throwing his UEA colleagues under the bus (e.g. when he states that the science has been undermined). Neither they nor their correspondents have been demonstrated to be bad actors to any degree, and Hulme’s insinuations otherwise are offensive.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 4 Dec 2009 @ 2:07 AM

  24. “In the climate field, there are a number of issues which are no longer subject to fundamental debate in the community. The existence of the greenhouse effect,…”
    This is presumably a correct statement, if by “community” one means a certain large group of researchers who identify themselves as “the climate researchers”. However, there are a few outsiders who seems seriously to think that this “community” are simply not doing proper natural science. The most obvious example of such harsh critics are the physicists Gerlich and Tscheuschner. For human psychological reasons it is easily understood if their attacks would arouse anger and scorn within “the community”. But emotional reactions and scornful journalism aside, what is in fact the crisp scientific argument showing that Gerlich and Tscheuschner are fundamentally wrong? Perhaps the answer is simple, perhaps it is not, I personally cannot say. However, I am pretty convinced that the challenged “community” has to come up with a clear scientific (as opposed to popular) answer to this question, unless it will lose respect in the eyes of concerned but climate-agnostic scientists who are neither climate researchers nor physicist, i.e. after all the vast majority of the large “scientific community”. So, what’s the scientific answer?

    [Response: Read the rebuttal by Arthur Smith. G&T are cranks. - gavin]

    Comment by Inge-Bert Täljedal — 4 Dec 2009 @ 2:10 AM

  25. I would say the ‘science’ is unsettled (and becoming more so by the day), what with the IPCC now announcing its own investigation into Climategate:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8394483.stm

    The truth is in there, Gavin, and it’s coming out…

    Comment by Terry — 4 Dec 2009 @ 2:29 AM

  26. Re : Arguments over whether a single brick should be blue or yellow don’t change the building from a skyscraper to a mud hut.

    It might if CO2 was somehow shown to be responsible for (say) 0.02C/decade temperature rise rather than the 0.2C as is believed right now.

    Comment by TimTheToolMan — 4 Dec 2009 @ 2:44 AM

  27. Now, the WSJ has published Richard Henninger’s commentary that claims (among other things) that the episode shows the futility/fallacy (not entirely clear what he intends) of the entire scientific enterprise. Has he never read Watson’s “Double Helix” on the discovery of the structure of DNA? Has he never read about the controversies about deserved credit for identifying the HIV virus as the cause of AIDS? The willful misrepresentations of the “expose’” and its implications are truly breathtaking.

    Comment by David Graves — 4 Dec 2009 @ 2:44 AM

  28. I read this site regularly and really appreciate how the moderator has handled this crisis. There’s a lot here to share with students and friends/relatives to help explain what’s going on, because they have a lot of questions. It struck me however that, while it is easy to create a cast of ‘denialist’ characters from the RC discussion and archives, there must be researchers on the ‘alarmist’ side who are doing egregiously bad science to promote AGW that make it uncomfortable for those doing careful rigorous work.

    Can someone on the list (maybe not the overworked moderator) point out some published papers -or labs/individuals- that have bent the data/models to the other extreme, overstating their results for personal or professional gain in a way that RC readers thought actually hurt the credibility of the argument for AGW?

    Thanks,
    Paul

    Comment by Paul — 4 Dec 2009 @ 2:46 AM

  29. Guys,

    You have been feeding the idea that the science is settled to the media. If you suddenly agree now that the science isnt settled then you should properly disseminate that message to your media pal so they stop miselading the public.

    [Response: Read the post again. - gavin]

    Comment by Mike M — 4 Dec 2009 @ 2:58 AM

  30. The Science is not settled, for most people it never will be. The analogy of Relativity and Newtonian Physics doesn’t apply in the case of Climate Change. This is because unlike other hypotheses, the AGW hypothesis has profound implications for the behaviour of every person on the planet. There hasn’t been a comparable situation where fundamental change may be required on the personal level. Change is painful. For most people the symptoms of climate change are vague, unless you happen to be a scientist and understand climatology. A hot summer here or there is not convincing. As for the Maldives — where are they? AGW is, frankly an abstraction, something that most people hope is not happening, and would rather not think about. Hence the 65% of people in recent polls who do not believe in AGW. It’s not the fault of RealClimate for not mustering a better case, or ExxonMobil for working against it. But unless we change our overall strategy that focuses on hard science, believers in AGW will be restricted to green-issue people, a scientific elite, and some progressive politicians. When the waters rise and cities are flooded, attitudes still may not change. Most people will say that the changes are inevitable. Natural. We aren’t much disposed to blame ourselves when something goes wrong.

    As Mike Hulme correctly points out, social scientists (including psychologists) have an important contribution in developing a strategy to deal with climate change. To convince people to make fundamental changes will take a lot more than presenting the science or debating “hockey sticks.”

    Comment by PaulK — 4 Dec 2009 @ 3:01 AM

  31. It’s important to consider whether an expression is used in a scientific or colloquial sense. As you note, scientifically nothing is ever “settled,” colloquially much of science IS completely settled.

    Making the distinction between colloquial and scientific usage is very important to presenting the findings of climate science, and as a fundamental demand of scientific communication is clarity, scientists should respond to the WSJ op-ed piece by noting that, in the sense by which the vast majority of WSJ readers use and understand the word “settled,” climate climate science, as it relates to climate change, is completely settled.

    For a scientist to agree with the WSJ article’s statement “Climate Science Isn’t Settled” would simply be wrong because it does not address precisely what the author meant by “settled.”

    Comment by George Ortega — 4 Dec 2009 @ 3:10 AM

  32. While its nice to try to characterise the claim of “settled science” as another paranoia of the skeptics, it doesn’t match reality. The term settled science is used as an appeal to a higher authority by warming alarmists particularly politicians and environmental groups.
    Apparently the term was recently used by Obama and has been used by Gore in the past if newspaper reports are reliable. Australian PM Rudd said it in 2007.
    Stanford professor Stephen H. Schneider talking to media execs: “The science is very settled.” So too is the attribution of an important part of that warming to humans, he said.

    So trying to blame skeptics for pointing out the stupidity of this term and its use by alarmists as a way of ending debate doesn’t seem to be very credible.

    Comment by harry — 4 Dec 2009 @ 3:28 AM

  33. That is a very good article Professor, but there are problems, not with you or your article:

    The first problem is that the required course [Probability and Statistics for undergraduate Physics majors] requires a math IQ over 150. I passed the course myself, but it was the most difficult course I ever passed. That means that very few people will ever understand what you are talking about. You are correct, but to most people, the article above is just noise. At best, your article sounds like doublespeak. There is no hope of ever communicating Prob&Stat to the average person. A few may just accept what you say, but very few. They SHOULD accept what you say because you are correct. The Physics Prob&Stat course is transformative: It makes you into a different person, like virgin versus adult, but a much bigger change. There is no going back and there is no explaining it to a humanities major. I have no idea how to help you. If I were the dictator, I would require that probability be introduced to all students in the 4th grade. There is a probability book for that level. That sort of thing would make the transition easier.

    The second problem is that the WSJ type of person is TERRIFIED of the new idea of global warming BECAUSE IT IS A NEW IDEA.

    The third WSJ problem is, of course, $$MONEY$$$. Those who have it want to keep it.

    Thank you for trying.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 4 Dec 2009 @ 3:35 AM

  34. You’re right “Playing rhetorical games . . . is no answer at all to the real issues we face.” I always wonder what makes someone care whether the science is “settled” or not. What difference does that make? There are other issues besides AGW. I have a theory that there are some people who worry about the price of gas because they are fearful of having to walk or drive a bicycle. Actually I believe that environmental concerns need to be extended to include psychology. Without that extension we will be fooling ourselves about what can be done.

    Comment by Ole Juul — 4 Dec 2009 @ 3:39 AM

  35. Scientists may say this. Engineers are applying the lessons of science all the time. They would say that the theory is applicable within certain boundaries. That it is useful for the task at hand. they would then apply a safety factor to allow for the uncertainties.

    This is what we must do with AGW. Within the boundaries of the need for action, we define a limit, say 2 deg C, and set targets to reach it. All very logical. BUT as you say, it is based on a best guess and not on something that is fundamentally a PROVEN scientific fact.

    This does not change the need for action, as there is sufficient evidence to recognize the hazard. For me, the turning point of proof came when reports from other disciplines bagen to see the light.

    For example, movement of species, melting of glaciers, change in disease patterns, forest dieback, etc. the most convincing nail in the coffin was ocean acidity. This has nothing to do with any change in the climate and simply reflects the scale of change we have begun by pumping huge amounts of gases into our atmosphere.

    Ricki

    Comment by Ricki (Australia) — 4 Dec 2009 @ 3:47 AM

  36. I don’t know where the phrase “the science is settled” came from, but I have certainly heard it from several of my friends, and I’ve read it on many discussion forums.

    If you reject the phrase, then surely you must also stop calling people who don’t think the science is settled “denialists”.

    Comment by Annabelle — 4 Dec 2009 @ 3:51 AM

  37. Reasonable people will agree to your essay. Unfortunately I get quite different information about the science of climatechange here in Germany. I´m told what kind of catastrophies will happen and when. And the journalists quote Gore,Rahmstorff,Schellnhuber…
    Now what is this? Are 90% of our journalists incapable of doing their job? Where do our media have their informations from? Certainly not from Steve McIntire

    Comment by Reinhard Bösch — 4 Dec 2009 @ 4:14 AM

  38. I’ve started an ongoing conversation with a climate change skeptic (and I think they *are* a skeptic rather than denier), and it’s the realm of uncertainty where I think the most trouble is going to come. I’m in the process of trying to satisfy myself about as much of the science as possible, and this is the trickiest area. Everyone knows boundary conditions for seasonal change: the angle of the Earth to the sun. I *don’t* know century-long boundary conditions for the climate,
    quite how various forcings change these, and indeed whether talk of ‘boundary conditions’ analogous to seasonal forcings is even plausible, given the range of possible feedbacks involved. I would love to have some straightforward way of visualising the range of possibilities. (Even feedbacks are contained within boundaries – what are they? How do we know?)

    It’s an easy attack point for someone like Monckton: the climate is chaotic, therefore it’s inherently uncertain. It’s incredibly annoying: there are large chunks of climate science that are too technical for most people (myself included) to come to a judgement. Extracting trends from tree ring data is waaay beyond me. (Perhaps a reason why some people choose that particular point to apply their pseudo-scientific water torture…) But chaos and boundary conditions? Everyone can get that: today may have been warmer than last week, but you wouldn’t claim that meant Spring was coming. Just because we can’t be sure what the weather will be *next* week, that doesn’t meant we don’t know which season we’re going towards. Boundary conditions!

    Every time someone like Monckton makes his ‘chaos’ argument (all very scientific sounding), this sort of low-hanging fruit should be picked
    and thrown at them. I’m hoping, as I carry on learning, that I’ll find analogies to ‘seasonal forcing’ that can allow myself and others get a better intuitive grasp of where boundaries are, and where chaos might poke a nose in, so we have more fruit-based projectiles to throw at this growing ‘uncertainty’ meme. Any pointers gratefully received.

    Comment by Dan Olner — 4 Dec 2009 @ 4:24 AM

  39. Obama has said something to the effect that, the science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear. Of course, this is not quite the same as “the science is settled”, but obviously he needs some advice. Maybe he should talk to scientists.

    Comment by Matti Virtanen — 4 Dec 2009 @ 4:34 AM

  40. Steve:

    If the science was settled, then we would stop asking for all those massive big research grants to do more research. Has anyone ever seen a published paper that didn’t say “more research is needed”? Oh, I forgot. The people that write for the WSJ never read the primary literature.

    Apparently you haven’t either. I’ve read thousands of academic papers and can’t recall that particular phrase being used in any of them.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 4 Dec 2009 @ 4:37 AM

  41. 2. Steve says: 3 December 2009 at 11:31 PM

    Your post is a little incoherent, but I think you are arguing for LESS climate research. Unique.

    Comment by Bert Logg — 4 Dec 2009 @ 4:41 AM

  42. The “science isn’t settled” is a very pervasive non-argument. Clive James, the Australian critic, novelist, TV presenter, poet and essayist, made a very similar statement on UK radio a few weeks ago. I emailed him in response and, hopefully, many others did as well.

    Comment by Paul A — 4 Dec 2009 @ 4:42 AM

  43. Well said, Gavin! I will be sending this to a few scientifically illiterate fence-sitters I know, in the hope that they will then understand how and why they have misunderstood the scientific debate. Then, with any luck, they will hop down off the fence and start doing something useful.
    Thanks,
    Malcolm

    Comment by MalcolmT — 4 Dec 2009 @ 4:52 AM

  44. It’s impossible to change any other person’s behavior – short of killing him. There’s nothing that’s going to sway the confidence of the truly ignorant – but the scientific community keep refusing to ‘observe the behavior’ and then figure out a real strategy for dealing with it. Verbal tantrums thrown by scientists in the public light cast an unbelievable pall of ludicrous over any and every valid scientific statement they make. I’m frustrated that many of them won’t put their faces into the sun and figure out that continuing to be pissed off at the enemy and then hurling counter-accusations (even if they’re true) about motive and affiliation are no match for the well-lubricated propaganda machines funded by oil and coal companies.

    Where is the ‘scientific’ strategy for dealing with one of the most successful disinformation campaigns in human history? Who is the grownup here???

    The stakes being what they are, surely WINNING – not whose fault the problem is – should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind….

    Comment by Erica Rex — 4 Dec 2009 @ 4:52 AM

  45. Gavin,

    Thanks for that. It’s *almost* stated in a way that the average Joe can understand without saying, “SEE! THEY REALLY DON’T KNOW!” You say, “The existence of the greenhouse effect, the increase in CO2 (and other GHGs) over the last hundred years and its human cause, and the fact the planet warmed significantly over the 20th Century are not much in doubt.”

    Huh? There’s doubt in the scientific community that the planet warmed significantly? News to me.

    You can’t be colloquial without being careful, but must be colloquial to be understood by A. Joes. Is it incorrect to state, “…and the fact the planet warmed significantly over the 20th Century are not in doubt.” Using “much” here acts as a qualifier, of course, which is read by those ignorant of the science, scared out of their wits or ideologically blinded to read that these issues actually ARE in doubt.

    Also, while your analogy is fine, all the verbiage takes away its power. And, you need to give examples in order to make clear that the points that cannot be stated as settled are also not fundamental and don’t change the understanding of climate trends. Perhaps you cite that we can’t identify tipping points – which makes them more dangerous than if we could – before they happen at all really, but we know they are coming.

    Or you could discuss that we know clouds don’t have a significant impact on warming, and that we can be reasonably sure of that because ways of constraining that data, but that we don’t really understand the smallest details.

    Or anything. But example are always good when teaching. The analogy helps with the concept, examples bring it back to the topic and illustrate the actual mechanism… or whatever.

    Moving on. Another thing you might like to do is pull out the key points on the e-mail thing as a condensed post, without comments perhaps. There’s too much text there. Reading through them it’s obvious a lot of people missed important points. There are some nice rebuttals floating about you incorporate into such a post.

    I’m hoping this whole e-mail thing has awakened the Average Scientist to one simple reality: You’re going to have to come out from behind your desks and engage the public actively, and critics strongly, if you (collectively) wish to help avoid the 6C scenarios.

    Personally, I think the President needs to do a major policy statement on TV complete with supporting evidence (and scientists) – hours, not minutes – and let the scientists have their shot at turning this thing around.

    Cheers

    Comment by ccpo — 4 Dec 2009 @ 5:10 AM

  46. Actually, it will depend on where you draw the boundaries of the system. Take the field of physical optics, I’d say this field has been wrapped up with a line drawn under it for a long time. More recently optics forged ahead into the brave new world of adaptive optics – a very different field from physical optics. Whilst this is the only field of completed science I can think of – I think it is a good example.

    Comment by Mike Chapman — 4 Dec 2009 @ 5:20 AM

  47. ooh, “it’s author” –> “its author”

    Comment by t.plan — 4 Dec 2009 @ 5:28 AM

  48. Thanks for this essay.
    It’s good to read quality material.

    Regarding Richard Lindzen, he has already an informative Wikipedia page,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Lindzen

    Comment by Firkas — 4 Dec 2009 @ 5:38 AM

  49. #2. What embarassing rubbish from another hit and run poster. The big money comes from the Exxon/Mobils of the world, the anti-AGWers. Stop simply regurgitating what others have told you and use some critical thinking. We just had 8 years of an anti-AGW administration in the US so if you think that is where the big money was from, you are completely mistaken. Have you read the peer-reviewed science? Obviously not. Your comment could not be more wrong if you tried. Learn how science has always been conducted! And seen when has anyone at the WSJ had a clue about climate science? If you beleive them then I guess you consult your plumber for serious medical issues, right?

    Comment by Dan — 4 Dec 2009 @ 5:43 AM

  50. Nicely stated and basically what I’ve thought when I read the “science is settled” comment. There are, however, some basic and key issues that are “settled”, like the recent rapid increases in temperature and CO2 and that fact that the global CO2 increase can be clearly attributed to humans and mainly to the burning of fossil fuels. What used to surprise me is that many of the “skeptics/cynics” keep raising questions about these “settled” issues. If nothing is settled, then science makes no progress.

    As an ecologist, I have been surprised by the strength and breadth of climate warming signals from ecosystems and natural populations. My first publication on “climate change” just appeared in a special issue of Limnology and Oceanography (top ranked journal in aquatic sciences) with the theme “Lakes and Reservoirs as Sentinels, Integrators and Regulators of Climate change.” I contributed to the data analysis and writing for a study of the food chain of a large and beautiful lake at the foot of the Alps on the Italian and Swiss border. Even though I have had a long career in lake food chain studies I needed to read about 120 journal articles to be able to feel confident about placing our 21 years of data in a well reasoned, scientific context.

    Authors of Limnology and Oceanography papers have the option of paying a fee to make their articles open access. More than two-thirds of the papers are open access at the ASLO web site.

    http://www.aslo.org/lo/toc/vol_54/issue_6_part_2/index.html

    The special issue includes work on recent changes in lake temperature, chemistry and food chains, interpretation of paleo/sediment data, and data and models on the roles of lakes in carbon and methane cycles. Anyone who things that the land temperature records are too flawed to give confidence in recent warming should take a look at temperature data from lakes scattered around the world. The issue starts with five synthesis/review papers and then papers with new data. For a review of temperature data, see the paper with Rita Adrian as lead author.

    Comment by Bill DeMott — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:25 AM

  51. The brick versus building analogy is quite good! Although it implies a steady, linear progress towards the ultimate truth (which is often not how things happen), the argument that we can know the shape of the building without having laid all bricks is very descriptive.

    Comment by Ville Koskinen — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:29 AM

  52. Gavin, another fantastic post.

    Having come from the other side, the old denier, your work over the past week has been a delight to me. You are a champion and I wish you and all your readers a wonderful christmas.

    Let us all take a nice break once Copenhagen is done and get back into it in the new year. You can be sure that I will be doing what I can to argue against any so called backlash. It is hardly the point. So bravo to you mate from downunder

    Comment by Jimi Bostock — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:37 AM

  53. Google for “science is settled”

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9047642

    The science is settled, Gore told the lawmakers. Carbon-dioxide emissions — from cars, power plants, buildings and other sources — are heating the Earth’s atmosphere.

    Comment by asdf — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:40 AM

  54. Gavin, perhaps you could answer a quick question.

    Regarding the CRU data which “cannot be released because of agreements with National Metrological Services” (I paraphrase).

    Shouldn’t the various international partners obviously allow open access to this data as the first part of any climate change agreement? Would you support writing something like that into the next climate bill or bringing that up at Copenhagen?

    [Response: Sure. That would be a big step forward. - gavin]

    Comment by antik — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:43 AM

  55. “The article below is the same mix of innuendo and misrepresentation that it’s author normally…”

    Surely “..that its author..”

    Possesive pronoun and all that 4th grade stuff?

    [Response: Pedant! - gavin]

    Comment by Tom Donnelly — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:48 AM

  56. The article makes the following statement:

    “So how do models with high sensitivity manage to simulate the currently small response to a forcing that is almost as large as a doubling of CO2? Jeff Kiehl notes in a 2007 article from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the models use another quantity that the IPCC lists as poorly known (namely aerosols) to arbitrarily cancel as much greenhouse warming as needed to match the data, with each model choosing a different degree of cancellation according to the sensitivity of that model.” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703939404574567423917025400.html

    I wonder if one of the modelers here could comment on this assertion?

    [Response: There is uncertainty in both climate sensitivity and the degree of aerosol forcing (see figure 2.20). No model simulation can 'prove' that it has exactly the right sensitivity and aerosol forcing, but each of the simulations that match the 20th Century trends are plausible estimates of what might have happened. Projections going forward are obviously going to be a little different depending on that balance, but that is a real part of the uncertainty in those projections and shouldn't be swept under the rug. - gavin]

    Comment by PaulD — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:50 AM

  57. I was please to read the non-existence of any (competent) scientist using the precise words “The science is settled”. Thanks

    Comment by Theo Hopkins — 4 Dec 2009 @ 7:28 AM

  58. The appearance of this editorial in the Wall Street Journal brought to mind a particularly odd aspect of the “skeptical” ideology among those who question anthropogenic global warming. Many of these skeptics are quite well versed in both economics and evaluation of energy resources. Poorly constrained forecasts and estimates are typical of the sort of science practiced by experts in these areas. In fact, I would hold that climate science has a far stronger basis in physics. Few question our assumption that the underlying phenomena obey invariant laws or models. Meteorologists and climatologists are far more consistent in their assessments, and they have produced more accurate forecasts and models than have economists studying financial events.

    Comment by Don Thieme — 4 Dec 2009 @ 7:28 AM

  59. My first visit here and linked to it through the Infidel753 website. I tought this piece explaining especially why “science” isnt ever settled is damn good.I personally am sick and tired of seeing the conflict caused or supported against scientist’s in this field by those who’s only science is “making a buck” ..because that is what all of this is about … companies that want to business as usual and just keep trashing the earth, atmosphere and water’s. Even “if” we didnt have global warming …none of them ever give any reason as to why it is so important to act with such disregard for the only place we have to live … it’s nauseating.

    Comment by Thomas.H.Pickering — 4 Dec 2009 @ 7:29 AM

  60. http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=site:www.realclimate.org+Climate+Science+Is+Settled&sourceid=navclient-ff&rlz=1B3GGGL_enGB317GB317&ie=UTF-8&hl=en-GB

    Plenty of examples of its use on this site.

    Comment by Nick — 4 Dec 2009 @ 7:37 AM

  61. But if something isn’t settled, that means it’s not true, which in turn means that it’s a lie.
    Right?
    A fallacy by no means limited to perceptions of science, I’m afraid.

    Comment by Sufferin' Succotash — 4 Dec 2009 @ 7:39 AM

  62. Look, the WSJ editorial is in response to politicians who claim the science is settled. Clearly if the politics of this issue weren’t so one sided, AL Gore wouldn’t have won the Noble Prize.

    Politicians, at least in the US, repeatedly state “the science is settled” and “only a fringe group of non-peer reviewed scientists are ‘sceptical’”.

    The WSJ KNOWS FULL WELL that prominent scientist such as RICHARD S. LINDZEN of MIT do not consider it settled, but how many of your readers here know it is NOT settled.

    I will be STARTLED if you allow this post, but not suprised that you allowed a slur like post 2 by Steve at 3 December 2009 at 11:31 PM.

    Dan in NJ, USA.

    Comment by Danimals — 4 Dec 2009 @ 8:03 AM

  63. (OT) Even gravity
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allais_effect

    Comment by o — 4 Dec 2009 @ 8:20 AM

  64. Thanks for this post. I’m fed up with deniers spouting the “The science is settled” meme. In future I will direct them here.

    Comment by turbobloke — 4 Dec 2009 @ 8:51 AM

  65. Interesting discussion.

    You point to the conservation of energy and the theory of gravity in your article. The great thing about these disciplines is there are readily repeated experiments to demonstrate these principles. In fact, high school (and perhaps grade school) science classes do experiments that show these principles – even recreating some of Galileo’s famed experiments. The data and the techniques to do these experiments is well-known and constantly being repeated throughout the school year at grade school, middle school, high school and more completely in colleges across the world.

    But you did not discuss the the law of computational prediction. This would be the law that I could feed whatever data I wanted to into a computer and the correct answer would pop out. Obviously, I am in jest as we all know that computers are only as good as the programmers that program them, the mathematical models behind those programs, and the integrity of the data sets.

    You may not have actually read the WSJ article that you cite but when I read it, it is pointing out that the law of computational prediction has again been proven to be false. That just because a computer predicted something does not mean that it is true.

    For years, we have assumed that the scientists of the world were cross checking each other with regards to computational prediction. We assumed that since the typical science student and science lab could not reproduce the claims of global warming, that others with greater knowledge, greater resources, and more time were reproducing the claims of their peers. Not just in reviewing their work within peer reviewed literature but reproducing their efforts with similar or duplicate results. The WSJ article calls this to question and therefore calls the unverified and non-repeated conclusions to question.

    Surely, everyone will understand if all scientists would question the validity of any conclusion resulting from the work of the CRU in East Anglia and in particular Drs. Jones and Mann. This should not be a big deal if other, more open and transparent work is available to produce the same conclusions. We simply throw out the work of East Anglia as tainted and rely on the better work of others.

    If the high school student is recreating the famed work of Galileo but instead attaches a parachute to one of the rocks therefore concluding that Galileo was wrong, we would simply throw out that data as obviously not following the methods required to test the hypothesis. The teacher would likely award poor grade to the student as well. The same should be done for the work of those involved in the East Anglia scam – throw out their work and move on.

    [Response: This is a typical comment from ignorance. How many computer models do you think Mann and Jones are involved with? 10? 5? 1? zero? (Answer is zero). You are simply taking the opportunity provided by this incident to simply pile on with some completely unconnected issue that you happen to have a pet peeve about. Your assessment of this, and of the science in general is woefullly uninformed by anything except your desire for a pre-determined conclusion. Please try a little harder in future. - gavin]

    Comment by Sean O — 4 Dec 2009 @ 8:56 AM

  66. It’s too bad that this needs to be said, but I thought you said it with a beautiful clarity.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 4 Dec 2009 @ 8:59 AM

  67. In inorganic chemistry reactionsA+B always equals C+D.In organic reactions A+B can equalC+D & E+F & G+H but we can make it reasonably sure by controlling temp. pressure and introducing a catalyst.In biological reactions A+B can equal an enormous number of possibilities because of the complexities of the reactions.There is therefore the certainty of science and areas of science which are becoming speculative almost like a faith or religion which is ‘evidence of things hoped for and substance of things not yet seen’.We need to make a distinction between the two and the latter to be held of equal value with other ‘prophecy’whether religious or secular on the basis of ‘your guess is as good as mine’.However i do commend those people who are braving the elements to bring us such exciting evidence of things that may be, what we are heading for though is anybodies guess.

    Comment by donald moore — 4 Dec 2009 @ 8:59 AM

  68. Wll Al Gore testified before Congress that the “Science was settled”. See http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9047642

    Perhaps if you had not allowed a politician to ‘lead the charge’ you would not be dealing with issues you currently have.

    Comment by Denbo — 4 Dec 2009 @ 9:01 AM

  69. This is excellent, thank you. I am not a scientist, but have read much of the IPCC reports and many other scientific documents related to climate change. When trying to discuss science with the skeptics I know (and there are far too many), I usually have to fall back to the types of discussions you describe here. The problem is they will always jump on uncertainties and pounce on that as proof. The rhetorical device that seems to stop them is my asking why their emphasis on “uncertainty” plays no role in their decisions to not smoke, to not ingest their bodies with mercury, etc. I’d like it if some scientists could assemble a list of items that are “settled” in the same way as climate science that no sane person would disagree with. As a non-scientist, I;ve started with the first two I can think of.

    Comment by Dennis — 4 Dec 2009 @ 9:01 AM

  70. Thanks for this thoughtful piece. I’d like to see it printed on the op-ed page of the WSJ.

    Comment by Nathan — 4 Dec 2009 @ 9:04 AM

  71. I think you’re guilty of your own brand of misrepresentation here. “Settled Science” in the cited WSJ article almost certainly refers not to AGW as established fact but rather a degree of certainty sufficient to justify large-scale policy change.

    Comment by Richard — 4 Dec 2009 @ 9:07 AM

  72. Unfortunately, I have heard many environmental activists use the phrase “the science is settled” – and the media in general, not just contrarian journalists – tend to conflate environmental lobbyists with mainstream climate scientists.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 4 Dec 2009 @ 9:08 AM

  73. When I checked the link to WSJ they have a bunch of OP/ED pieces on AGW. Pretty depressing reading.

    Thanks to all at Real Climate for your work containing the stolen e-mail issue. Apparently WSJ only needs accuations and not evidence of wrongdoing.

    I would like to see a (guest?) blog on Real Climate about what needs to be done to set up a carbon free electrical system. Scientific American recently had two articles. In the more recent issue (November?) they also had an article on skyscraper farms. I find it hard to believe the farms so I wondered about the electricity. Can you suggest what mainstream scientists think could be done for electricity generation?

    I saw newspaper reports last spring that Spain got 40% of their electricity one month from wind (It was a windy month). Surely the US with its much greater wind resources can equal or better that effort.

    Comment by Michael Sweet — 4 Dec 2009 @ 9:11 AM

  74. I believe the term “the science is settled” is commonly attributed to Al Gore. Mr. Gore has positioned himself as the liaison between scientists and the public. He has repeated this line on numerous occasions. I will let you ascribe his motives for such a comment.

    one such example –
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9047642

    Comment by john — 4 Dec 2009 @ 9:25 AM

  75. Semantics. Of course it’s not settled, but then you bandy about terms like “scientific consensus” which are functionally and logically equivalent.

    [Response: Kind of, but you need to know where there is consensus and where there isn't. It is not contradictory or confusing that on some things there is more agreement and supporting evidence than on others. It really isn't that hard a concept. - gavin]

    The reason this debate is so poisonous is that it really isn’t about science, it’s about politics. I believe there is some warming, but I also believe that the political agenda favored by the current AGW side is far more destructive than the warming will be.

    And your assertions that only the skeptics engage in hyperbole while the scientists are engaged in calm pursuit of the truth does not hold water for me. Just look at the Copenhagen report that was linked on this blog. The first thing I noticed about that report is that almost every image in that report of of some scary weather phenomena, which may or may not be related to AGW. You even went so far as to produce a computer-rendered picture of an angry-ocean for the cover. Why? It is a piece of advocacy, designed to produce an emotional response.

    A calm scientific pursuit of truth wouldn’t need computer-rendered oceans and out-of-context pictures of tornadoes if it was truly independent and objective.

    Comment by Mark Gibb — 4 Dec 2009 @ 9:35 AM

  76. Gavin, I had a very difficult time figuring out that you were referring, at the beginning anyway, to a recent WSJ opinion piece by Lindzen (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703939404574567423917025400.html).

    I thought you were taking Mike Hulme to task. Some clarification might be in order.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 4 Dec 2009 @ 9:37 AM

  77. The terrain of science is not knowledge, but ignorance. Scientists spend little time with what they already know, except perhaps in the classroom. They are obssessed with what they don’t know.

    I may call the advancing edge of science — in every direction — the epistemological foam. Here is where scientists dredge through mountains of observations for sparks of concordance; where they conjecture, dispute, and squabble; build long and fragile chains of inference; criticize each other’s equipment, methods, analysis, and conclusions; clobber each other with contradictory theories and apparently inconsistent observations. Here, instead of knowledge, is the foam of uncertainty, a whirling boil of beliefs that are constantly merging, dividing, dissolving, devouring one another.

    Start to move back from the edge, and the foam becomes less active. The bubbles of belief grow fewer, larger, more stable. At last they dissolve into a single fluid, at first turbulent, then rippled, then placid. Here is the Lagoon of Knowledge, whose warm and perfumed waters make us feel langorous and happy. (Some of us anyway. There are those afraid to swim who huddle on the icebergs of faith. Sorry, my metaphors are getting out of hand.)

    Swim back out into the foam, and the skin begins to tingle. It’s exhilarating, energizing, but also uncomfortable, stinging us with doubt, dissatisfaction, confusion. Out there on the agonizing edge, the foam dissolves truth out of the rock face of the universe, which distills out of the foam and flows back into the ever-growing lagoon.

    Wow. Sorry about that. But I hope it makes the point. There is a great deal that we know, far more than we knew even a decade ago, incomprehensibly more than the biblical scribes could ever have imagined. Nevertheless, where science is most active, we know the least, and we are usually wrong.

    Comment by cervantes — 4 Dec 2009 @ 10:04 AM

  78. If the science truly isn’t settled, that certainly hasn’t been the
    message in recent years. True, the media and politicians have translated scientific
    publications into an indisputable vision of imminent Armageddon, but the climate
    science community has said and done very little to discourage them.

    [Response: Have you read any of the postings here over the past 5 years? Please do so. - gavin]

    Comment by NJ Tom — 4 Dec 2009 @ 10:05 AM

  79. More lambastic rubbish: http://www.forbes.com/2009/12/03/climate-science-gore-intelligent-technology-sutton.html?partner=alerts

    Comment by Jan Theodore Galkowski — 4 Dec 2009 @ 10:21 AM

  80. Anyone with an undergraduate degree in a hard science discipline understands that science is never “fully settled.” It just depends on how many more questions you want to ask, and if the answers are worth time and funding.

    But that’s an intellectual/academic issue, not something for a policy decision the way certain contrarians like to spin. Even in Congress, things are never “fully settled.” You only need 60 out of a 100 senators to end a filibuster and vote on a bill.

    So 60 percent is good enough for law makers, but contrarians would have you believe that we need 100 percent of scientists in agreement before taking action.

    Comment by Paul — 4 Dec 2009 @ 10:22 AM

  81. Perhaps it would be beneficial for Gavin or someone at the CRU to write a little one-page paper essentially stating that while they believe the research indicates climate change is being influenced by man, it is by no means conclusive and the science is not settled? Basically state in a paragraph or two that more research is needed, and that Governmental or intra-Governmental actions are not justified on the basis of the still unsettled science?

    [Response: Why would I write something I don't agree with? I think that there is plenty of evidence that justifies reductions in emissions to reduce risks associated with further climate change. - gavin]

    Comment by Dan — 4 Dec 2009 @ 10:31 AM

  82. The statements “the science is settled” and “the science is not settled” are both vacuous. The only proper response to either is to ask “what ‘science’ are you talking about, exactly and specifically?”

    As far as I am concerned the major question that is not settled is whether we have already put in motion irrevocable and irreversible processes that are driving the Earth’s biosphere towards global collapse that we can no longer prevent no matter what we do.

    I tend to think that the preponderance of evidence supports the view that we have indeed done so.

    The possibility that we have not yet done so is of course the compelling reason for urgent action to reduce emissions to near zero as quickly as possible, so that a rapid decline in emissions begins within perhaps five years.

    Setting aside the climate science, and turning to human behavior, I tend to think the preponderance of evidence supports the view that human societies will most likely fail to take the actions necessary to do that, and whatever small chance there may be to prevent global catastrophe will be lost.

    For that we can thank the deniers and obstructors who have successfully delayed for an entire generation — and continue to successfully delay — the actions that we already knew were needed, twenty years ago.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 4 Dec 2009 @ 10:32 AM

  83. Hear it!

    Comment by Reinhard Bösch — 4 Dec 2009 @ 10:35 AM

  84. The post could be construed as an act of obfuscation.

    The warming attributed to AGW and CO2 took place from ~1975 – ~2000. That’s ~25 years.

    The gist of the debate is “How much did it actually warm? How much of that is due to AGW? How much of that is due to CO2?”

    “NONE of the warming from 1975-2000 could be due to natural variations [that aren't yet understood]. However the lack of warming and lack of accelerated warming in the 21st century well that IS due to natural variations [that aren't yet understood].”

    Comment by D. Robinson — 4 Dec 2009 @ 10:56 AM

  85. Gavin,

    I do not disagree with one thing you wrote here. The fact is however, that what you have written in this particular weblog is not at all the tenor which is actually reflected by a certain group within the climate science community, as exposed by the recent e-mail controversy. There has been a clear infiltration of political advocacy into the public statements and casual private discussions of certain members of community (your boss included), while attempting to hide behind the cloak of science. This has damaged the credibility of all scientists, and many of us are deeply offended by this. Judy Curry for one has been courageous enough to call this as it is, and I would bet many scientists at least privately agree with her.

    I will now risk over-personalizing the following to make a point: As evidence of my claim, on your very own website, it is almost impossible to come here and actually discuss and debate some of the finer points of the science without being called names like denialist, contrarian, or skeptic, sometimes by the moderators, and almost always by some of the regulars. The fact is, I am none of these, and certainly adhere to the science as you have laid out in the above commentary. All must ask themselves then, what is driving this clear attempt to discourage genuine scientific inquiry? In my opinion, it is politics plain and simple. Many associated with this website do not want to openly discuss the finer details of the science because they greatly fear certain “untidy” scientific discussion might un-necessarily swirl into the public mix, and delay certain political action which they advocate. This view is a political judgment plain and simple.

    You have political beliefs, I do, we all do. The problem comes when someone proclaims that it is “only about the science”, then goes on to make politically charged statements. Please step back from this a little and ask yourself honestly whether some of this criticism derived from these e-mails is justified. You risk coming across as an unwavering apologist for every aspect of this process, and Gavin, that is just not credible.

    Respectfully,

    Bryan

    Comment by Bryan S — 4 Dec 2009 @ 10:58 AM

  86. The subtitle to Lindzen’s op-ed is: “Confident predictions of catastrophe are unwarranted.”

    Would you care to clarify for us your opinion on that?

    On the one hand I read the quote from Hulme:

    “[...] but we don’t know the full scale of the risks involved, nor how rapidly they will evolve, nor indeed—with clear insight—the relative roles of all the forcing agents involved at different scales.”

    On the other hand you say:

    “Science has led to a great deal of well-supported concern that increasing emissions of CO2 (in particular) are posing a substantial risk to human society.”

    Comment by John E. — 4 Dec 2009 @ 11:01 AM

  87. I agree that the IPCC report clearly acknowledges areas of climate science where the “science is not settled”. With due respect, however, I can also understand where Richard Lindzen is coming from. In the “climate debates” he is frequently labeled a “denier”, suggesting that he denies facts about climate that are as well-settled by climate scientists as the historicity of the holocaust. The label is applied even though he agrees with the basic physics of greenhouse gasses, he agrees that there has been a significant increase in greenhouse gases cause by emissions and he agrees that this increase has made a significant contribution to current warming. In short, I think he agrees with all the facts that you cite as being well-settled. Where he is skeptical is on the issue of climate sensitivity, based on many of the questions that the IPCC acknowledges as unsettled, such as cloud feedbacks and the modeling of precipitation. If you agree that there are many areas where the science is not settled, do you also agree that is unfair and unreasonable to label Richard Lindzen a “denier”?

    Comment by PaulD — 4 Dec 2009 @ 11:06 AM

  88. @ Steve in response #2

    Robert A. Heinlein once wrote the following:

    Seriously, following Steve’s line of reasoning, it is obvious that spending money on research is bad and should be stopped immediately. Of course, without research, he probably wouldn’t have that nifty computer with which to share his thoughtful insights, and this blog wouldn’t exist because the funding for the science that led to the internet would have been cut off long ago because, well, those pesky scientists and engineers keep saying more research is needed and we all know they are just trying to line their pockets with ill-gotten gains, eh, Steve? For that matter, so many things Steve no doubt takes for granted, like the latest medicines and medical procedures, electronics, developments in automobile safety, cell phones and all the other electronic toys and endless medical and technological developments that we take for granted and so forth … well, if we’d just cut off that stupid research these developments simply wouldn’t exist and Steve wouldn’t have to worry about those sneaky scientists and their ill-gotten gains.

    Here’s some softballs for you, Steve, given as you seem to be in the know: where does most scientific research funding come from – the private or public sector? What percentage of those monies go into climate research, and who is funding it? What do you think the biggest threat to independent research might be (aside from rhetorical fallacies promoted by a willingness to embrace ignorance, of course)?

    Thanks in advance.

    I’ll leave it with this thought from the late Robert A. Heinlein:

    “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded – here and there, now and then – are all the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

    “This is know as “bad luck”.”

    That said, on a more serious note, I also want to thank RC for the essay …

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 4 Dec 2009 @ 11:16 AM

  89. re my previous … sorry about the first Heinlein mention – bad C&P on my part.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 4 Dec 2009 @ 11:18 AM

  90. “…right wing media machine” Satire, I assume? It is an objective fact, proven by their own admission (polling data) that the mainstream media in America is ideologically liberal. As for non-experts politicizing AGW in the media, I present to you Mr. Al Gore. One can’t be any more scientifically hapless and ideological driven than him. So let’s leave that nonsense behind.

    Your skyscraper analogy has one problem, Gavin. You say it was built brick by brick with a foundation dating back to the 19th century. A much more realistic picture is a skyscraper of infamous instability that has burned down and collapsed multiple times through the years. Much of the rubble has been picked through and used as building material for the next incarnation, each of which is higher and more impressive than the last. The engineers in charge of this building are supremely confident in its stability, yet it continues to collapse and require rebuilding, time after time. I give you a few examples:

    - Mainstream science referred to William Harvey as “crack-brained” upon offering his new theory of blood circulation

    - The Royal Society rejected and discredited Dr. Edward Jenner’s paper describing the smallpox vaccine.

    - Mainstream science scoffed at Louis Pasteur and ate crow when his cure for rabies worked.

    - Mainstream science castigated Joseph Lister and rubbed their operating tools in dirt as confidence that “bad air” was responsible for infection. Lister introduced antiseptics to medicine.

    - Lord Kelvin (president of the Royal Society) declared X-rays to be a hoax. Kelvin also said “heavier than air machines are impossible” and followed up with a prediction that “radio has no future”

    - Meteorologist Alfred Wegener was the butt of ridicule and derided during his lifetime by his geologist colleagues for his theory of continental drift.

    - Many mainstream science found Albert Einstein’s theory of General Relativity incomprehensible and loathsome.

    - In 1932, Albert Einstein himself confidently declared “There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable.”

    - Great Britain’s Astronomer Royal, Richard van der Riet Wooley declared “space travel is utter bilge”…only a decade before Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.

    Now I happen to agree with just about everything the AGW community has put forth, as it pertains to the physical mechanisms of global warming. What has NOT been demonstrated by any reasonable measure, is impending catastrophe to the human race. What HAS been demonstrated is the historical narcissism of the scientific community (of which I am a part). The human frailties evident in the quotes above in people like Al Gore have been on display through this whole email dustup and all over this message board. “The Climate Science Isn’t Settled” is an understatement, and your community would do well to acknowledge it.

    Comment by AJ — 4 Dec 2009 @ 11:25 AM

  91. The author of the WSJ piece is Richard Siegmund Lindzen, an American atmospheric physicist and a professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I daresay he’s read the primary literature.

    Yes, and it would be nice if he would start being honest about it.

    Comment by JM — 4 Dec 2009 @ 11:28 AM

  92. I would say the ’science’ is unsettled (and becoming more so by the day), what with the IPCC now announcing its own investigation into Climategate

    Good. The more time that scientifically literate people spend actually reading the emails, rather than the usual suspects alleging what they “prove,” the better. That’s been the fundamental weakness of this denialist attack: it survives on innuendo and credulity.

    Sunlight is the best cure.

    Comment by JM — 4 Dec 2009 @ 11:33 AM

  93. Harry, are the glaciers melting on your planet? because they sure are on mine.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 4 Dec 2009 @ 11:40 AM

  94. Bernie said in 10:
    “Your essay, hoever, seems to miss a key point. It doesn’t address the question as to why contrarians employ such rhetorical devices. Isn’t it in part to counter those looking to push public policy solutions that ignore the unsettled parts of the science namely all the uncertainties around the scope and net impact of AGW and downplay the tremendous costs and risks associated with such policies and the highly debatable long term benefits?”

    If you actually did a real risk analysis, then you would take action even if the science wasn’t 100% certain.
    Debatable long term benefits??
    So reduced resource use isn’t a long term benefit?
    Using energy and materials wisely isn’t a long term benefit?
    You seem to be suggested that you shouldn’t take responsibility and leave the problem to someone else in the future.
    Is most science unsettled?
    But we still use what is settled to build things and make decisions, eg. we base risks taken on what we do know not on what we don’t know. If we didn’t do this you wouldn’t drive a car because it was designed using Newtonian science which isn’t complete!

    Comment by Paul UK — 4 Dec 2009 @ 11:44 AM

  95. Nice strawman you have here.

    ‘Settled science’ is a PR matter and the primary cheerleader is Al “the debate is over” Gore.

    Nobody assumes SCIENTISTS say this; even the very notion is anti-science.

    Lindzen is correct to point out that science is unsettled. He’s making the case against Gore and public perception and politics. And he’s correct to phrase it as he does given that climate change is felt to be a club politicians will wield to enforce possibly unecessary (and unwanted) change. If not for the political overtones of all of this, climate would merely be an academic endeavour and your blog traffic would be somewhere near zero. Lindzen is addressing the politics, and you misinterpreted.

    [Response: Lindzen is declaring that any degree of uncertainty (no matter how small) should be enough to prevent any action. This is not an argument anyone would use in any other field, and certainly the opposite has been argued on those pages many times (Remember Cheney's 1% doctrine?). - gavin]

    Comment by G.L. Alston — 4 Dec 2009 @ 11:47 AM

  96. re: 68

    I like (terrible word) “Desdemona Despair” (the name of the blog linked to in Jim Galasyn’s post), but I can’t read it more than once a week. At first it would make me extraordinarily anxious, but I got narcotized to it a little too fast. Dire things need to stay dire. They need to use images of lesser quality.

    There’s a disturbing novel by Kevin Brockmeier called “The Brief History of the Dead” that has an absolutely horrifying conclusion. Reading “Desdemona Despair” reminds me of that book.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:00 PM

  97. “Sunlight is the best cure,” says JM. Yes, indeed. Too bad the erstwhile paragons at the CRU and others didn’t heed that dictum from the get-go. Now they will reap what they sowed.

    The emails give you merely an impression of their mindset. Not pretty, but not determinative of the key questions either. Whether the science was distorted will only be known when someone goes through the data and the codes to see how the data was normalized, massaged, etc. That is happening now, and the recent posts I have seen elsewhere about embedded ‘fudge factors’ — so called by the programmers in the code comments — do not inspire confidence. Perhaps that will all turn out to be just the occasional fluke serving to prove the solidity of the rest. Only time and detailed — and fully transparent– analysis will tell.

    What is utterly beyond debate is how badly science was served by those at CRU who thought they could engage in the tactics detailed in those emails supposedly in service of higher goals.

    Comment by RHD — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:08 PM

  98. Congratulations to Gavin and Mike

    Plus ca change–
    http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/a_war_against_fire/

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:11 PM

  99. Gavin,

    Although I agree with the sentiment of the essay to refute another straw man argument put on the table by the “climate skeptics”, I think your house building analogy isn’t fully appropriate. We shouldn’t forget that history of science is not just adding smaller or larger pieces to a foundation reaching far back, the house is also being fully replaced, including the foundations, now and then. The new house still fulfills the functions of the old one, but with a new understanding of the how, with a new apparatus, and much more comprehensively so that it also can provide something, of which we even hadn’t be aware before. Newton’s physics was replaced by the theory of relativity and quantum physics, not just complemented. Lets not be fooled by that we still use some tools from the old apparatus in certain special situations, just because they are useful due to their (relatively) easy design. And there isn’t any reason to believe that the whole house won’t be replaced again, eventually.

    Comment by Jan Perlwitz — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:11 PM

  100. Gavin, like most people I much appreciate your efforts to provide context and and respond to criticism derived from the emails. However, as I’m sure you understand, the important part of the leaked data is not emails, it’s code. I understand it’s not your code, but I’m sure you’ve read by now about the sloppiness, the mess, the inconsistencies, the lack of documentation and tests, things that look like artificial adjustments to fit the desired results (for example, http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=1447 ). I think a post or a series of posts with some context on that would be extremely helpful. Even more helpful, now that the code is effectively in the public domain, would be an effort to take advantage of the open source development process to clean it up (or perhaps rewrite it) in a way that would make maintainable and understandable.

    Comment by vg28 — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:25 PM

  101. Dr. Schmidt,
    Very nice piece. Don’t be dismayed, I think you show exceptional patience and tolerance in the way you respond to comments. As a conservative and a believer in the science behind AGW, I appreciate the work you and others have done to uncover what has been happening regarding the climate. I’m astonished at the lack of rationality in the contrary arguments posted here and wonder why anyone put spew out a statement before checking their sources or even doing any basic research. It’s like watching a bunch of addicts react to the idea that their source of crack is about to dry up except the drug is actually a hydrocarbon.
    Thanks again.

    Comment by dlharman — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:26 PM

  102. Gavin,

    Thanks for another great post. I was wondering if you could comment about the ‘settled-ness’ of the science in a different way. I but have never actually seen reported the percentage of climate change researchers that are actually climate contrarians (like Richard Lindzen, etc). Obviously this would not change the overall conclusions, but I’d be very interested to know how many skeptics are out there. Despite being pretty well read on the topic (I’m a graduate student doing paleoclimatology research) the closest I can seem to find is the level of certainty from the IPCC reports that humans are causing climate change – which is a slightly different story.

    Comment by Willie Guerra — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:32 PM

  103. 11:06 AM

    To: “If you agree that there are many areas where the science is not settled, do you also agree that is unfair and unreasonable to label Richard Lindzen a ‘denier’?”

    I would argue that this business of calling people “deniers” is unfair and unreasonable to ANYONE. The term is clearly used in reference to the Holocaust to imply that skepticism regarding AGW theory is tantamount to Ahmadinejad’s rantings. At the very least, it is a tactical error on the part of AGW theory proponents to label those with whom they disagree using this noxious term. Those of us who in good faith have come to disagree with the mainstream point of view (as though that were in and of itself a sin) become suspicious of motives when slapped with the epithet “denier”. You hear arguments that to use the word is simply to apply the dictionary, but since it is certain not be received as such, why not find another word?

    In the past on RC, I have not been able to publish this complaint, the response being it was boring and off-topic. Fair enough, I suppose, but in light of the damage being wrought by the careless emails, perhaps now is the time to stop using such careless speech as lay folks try to work through the uncertainties Schmidt and Lindzen are analyzing differently.

    Comment by Walter Manny — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:38 PM

  104. Steve:

    “If the science was settled, then we would stop asking for all those massive big research grants to do more research. Has anyone ever seen a published paper that didn’t say “more research is needed”?”

    Well, when you’re stuffed into the ass-end of the pantomime horse of climate science contrarian belief there’s a lot you cannot see. From the less suffocating outside perspective you can for instance see that on the one hand there is an enormous industrial sector with literally trillions of dollars in future profits at stake, versus a disorganized rabble of researchers turning out scientific findings that will be discovered and published regardless of consequences and quite without any particular goal in mind other than puzzle solving.

    Who has the greater incentive here to organize their efforts around getting money? People with trillions of dollars at stake, or people who are going to follow their curiosity even if it means permanently adopting an existence that is positively monkish in its selective choice of relative poverty versus optimum income?

    Hopefully the tiny but richly financed front half of the pantomime horse deeply appreciates the sacrifice of dignity and comfort the enormous rear end is making on its behalf.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:38 PM

  105. Let me allow some break in the serious discussion:
    “Massive Asian Carp Found Near Lake Michigan”
    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/WorldNews/invasive-species-asian-carp-threaten-lake-michigan/story?id=9248830
    So, the fish traveled _north_ the Mississippi system, don’t you see the pattern there?

    Comment by Tegiri Nenashi — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:38 PM

  106. Gavin,

    Does increases in CO2 cause temperatures to rise? Or, does increases in temperature cause CO2 concentrations to rise?

    [Response: Both. - gavin]

    How does the Medieval Warm Period fit into human-induced global warming?

    [Response: It doesn't. - gavin]

    Comment by ADR — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:45 PM

  107. Excellent tiny essay Dr. Schmidt on the philosophy and practice of science.

    I think there is a decent chance that the global response to the UEA CRU email hacking incident will provide a positive push to crafting national and international agreements, even if post-Copenhagen, that will begin to transform humanity’s fossil-fuel based economies and societies.

    To a certain degree, the denialist ideologues and the doubt creation orchestration that’s taking place are aiming at the wrong targets–the climatologists. That’s because they may not realize how deeply the executive agencies of governments around the world alrady appreciate the science and the future risk spectrum being delineated. (Or they do and thus realize it is unlikely they can directly take on and diffuse the momentum and partnering building up in relevant public authorities in US and elsewhere.)

    They also may realize that this incident may energize executive authorities to respond more energetically and effectively to the public disinformation efforts and hence are targeting political authorities as a last ditch effort. Of course we need political leadership and new legal frameworks; but there are politicians working on climate change responses who get it and much can be done within existing legal and management institutions for energy and environment, and, to repeat a point I made a while back and A. Lovins made more elegantly this week here, there are other good reasons to reduce substantially and eventually eliminate fossil fuel-based sources of energy. Eg., save the oil for plastics instead of powering motor vehicles with it.

    I speculate that executive authorities in particular have held back and allowed climatologists and their research outputs to be hammered brutally (going back to the beginning of the M&M-inspired hockey stick fiasco) in order to have the management doubt campaign run its course, figure out how to respond to it strategically, and set the table for prudent policy making and long-term implementation. Hence, as uncomfortable, frustrating, and tortuous as it is to argue endlessly with folks who cannot or will not seek to understand and ponder the science, the discussions surrounding this incident, both informed and not, are likely educating many people who genuinely wish to understand, and thus will help policy makers and implementers establish robust social, political, and management consensus for action.

    Finally, as alarmed as I am by the latest climatological, ecological, oceanographic findings regarding the progression and multiple impacts of atmospheric/ocean/climate change (it is in a physical, ecological, and economic crisis), I also appreciate Dr. Hulme’s provocative theses about the diverse social, political, and cultural responses to the climate change phenomenon as delineated in the WSJ column you cite today and in his 2009 book, “Why We Disagree About Climate Change”.

    (But currently I’m skeptical of the theory Hulme and Curry have recently advanced that we have a problem with “tribalism” in the discipline of climatology. Such a theory (which I’ve yet to find fully delineated by them) seems naïve and smacks of hurt feelings. As someone who must assess and utilize the science, and not engage in research, I could care less about whether good scientists are bossy or thin-skinned, or about rivalries and nastiness within the scientific community. I’ve little doubt may talented, dedicated scientists, such as yourself, can argue and act like arrogant bullies, especially when dealing with ignorance or ideology. But such behaviors are not relevant to my own responsibility to understand the science and act prudently in response in order to protect and uphold public interests and values,present and future. In fact, within reason, the more of a blood sport it is the more useful the debates are for management. On the other hand, there is little value in listening to professional scientists destroy the arguments of non-scientists.)

    Back to Hulme’s theses: Humanity will have to adapt a great deal to climate change; it will suffer a lot; and the planet and humanity together will probably fall over a couple of ‘tipping points’. Who we are and how we live is too dependent on and intertwined with oil and other fossil fuels for us as a planet to adapt quickly enough to avoid breaking through the 2 degree ‘guard rail’. And a number of climatological, ecological, and socio-economic surprises are possible and even likely.

    That’s tragic beyond words, but honesty about what we face is a pre-requisite to begin adapting to our most likely futures as best as we are able to by taking action now.

    Comment by Sloop — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:51 PM

  108. Ed Miliband, the UK Climate Minister was quoted in the Times Online today as saying “The science is clear and settled. ” Al Gore has been quoted as making similar remarks.

    Can anyone point me to a quote from climate scientist disowning or reprimanding such policicians?

    [Response: It depends on what the context is. If they are talking about hurricanes and climate change, then there are plenty. If they are talking about attribution of recent warming to human activity they are fine. The only error is when people either pro or con overextend such statements to encompass the whole scientific enterprise. - gavin]

    Comment by Ron — 4 Dec 2009 @ 12:54 PM

  109. Could you recommend any specific resources, books, or other blogs on this topic?

    Comment by Gail Honeyman — 4 Dec 2009 @ 1:05 PM

  110. I keep coming back to the intrinsic variability argument, and we seem well within the one standard deviation band of that over the past century. The only thing that might modify that is if the thermometer record from 1910-1940 significantly overstated warming. However we have plenty of evidence of arctic melting then, as now. [and if the thermometer record form that period is inaccurate, i think we need to scrub the whole thng down again]. So, I think that’s the real problem modelers have to address:

    1. How do you account for the 1910-1940 warming without CO2.

    2. How do you account for the lack of warming over past 10 yrs.

    3. If the answers are some combination of inaccurate temperature record and/or natural variability (which they seem to be, as CO2 is the only large positive forcing in the GISS database), then it’s understandable why there are a lot of questions about the sensitivity estimates.

    Comment by Mesa — 4 Dec 2009 @ 1:12 PM

  111. It’s snowing on December 4, 2009 in HOUSTON TX. ‘Nuff Said. Start looking for grant money to study the new thing (old I guess if you look at the 70s) Global Cooling.

    Wow.. The climate changes… Somehow I am not surprised. It’s been changing for millions of years and will continue to do so.. With or Without the influence of man. One Volcano alone can change the global climate. This has been proven scientifically without cherry picked and massaged data.

    Comment by Michael D. — 4 Dec 2009 @ 1:13 PM

  112. Gavin’s commentary is a good discussion of science, but it misses the point. The CRU email affair should serve as a wake-up call to the scientific community, but unfortunately there is little evidence that it is having that effect. This shows that the scientific community has failed to understand the true nature of the manufactured doubt industry that has been so nicely described by Jeff Masters:

    The Manufactured Doubt Industry and the hacked email controversy
    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1389

    As a result of this failure to understand the problem, the scientific community has also failed to come up with an appropriate and effective response to the manufactured doubt industry.

    The contrarians know they can’t “win” the scientific debate, but they don’t have to. All they need to do is to create doubt. This is very easy to do because most politicians and members of the public lack the time, inclination, and/or ability to discriminate between good science and bad science. The misrepresentations and outright lies of the contrarians present a real dilemma for scientists and others in the reality-based community. If there is no response, then incorrect information is left unchallenged. However, if it is challenged, then politicians and the public will just roll their eyes and think, “The scientists are still arguing about it. If they ever figure it out and stop squabbling, maybe then I will worry about it.”

    This problem was illustrated by the “debate” on global warming that Gavin participated in a couple years ago:

    Adventures on the East Side
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/03/adventures-on-the-east-side/

    I’m sure Gavin did a fine job of presenting the science, but apparently he “lost” the debate to Lindzen and Michael Crichton. At the end, fewer people thought that global warming is a problem they need to worry about. Recent polls indicate that people continue to incorrectly think there is still a legitimate scientific debate about whether or not climate change is a problem:

    Americans Skeptical of Science Behind Global Warming
    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/environment_energy/americans_skeptical_of_science_behind_global_warming

    There was a start on discussing these issues in your post on the role of flawed science:

    Something Is X in the State of Denmark
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/11/something-is-x-in-the-state-of-denmark/

    George Ortega proposed consideration of a Climate Change Misinformation Act (CCMA) as a way to respond to the manufactured doubt industry. However, most people quickly rejected this in favor of “quite persuasion and presentation of the evidence.” The scientists favor this because it is what they have always done, and the contrarians favor it because it perpetuates the myth that there is a legitimate scientific debate about whether or not climate change is a problem.

    Scientists have been quietly presenting the evidence for decades (since at least Hansen’s 1988 testimony to congress), and the response of society to the climate change problem has been almost negligible. I’m not sure if I would fully support the CCMA proposal, but continuing to do nothing other than quietly presenting the evidence would be appropriate only if climate scientists are only interested in allowing events to prove that they were right about the science. Some other response to the manufactured doubt industry is needed if climate change is a problem that requires a response from society.

    Steve Easterbrook has written a good perspective on the CRU email affair:

    Open Climate Science or Denial of Service attacks?
    http://www.easterbrook.ca/steve/?p=1001

    A recent WSJ editorial discusses the problems now faced by science:

    Climategate: Science Is Dying
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704107104574572091993737848.html?mod=djemEditorialPage

    Although I do not agree with everything he says about science, many people will probably agree. But perhaps his conclusion is worth considering: “Everyone working in science, no matter their politics, has an (sic) stake in cleaning up the mess revealed by the East Anglia emails. Science is on the credibility bubble. If it pops, centuries of what we understand to be the role of science go with it.”

    It is time for the scientific community to devise an appropriate and effective response to the manufactured doubt industry.

    Comment by Jim Torson — 4 Dec 2009 @ 1:16 PM

  113. So, hypotehetically, the top NEO researchers around the world conclude that there is a 90% chance that a new asteroid of significant size and potential for global damage will strke Earth in 2034… The people who frequent “contrarian” blogs are heard to respond “But, like, doesn’t that mean that there’s uncertainty in the science? You’re a fearmonger! An alarmist! Why should we trust these NEO researchers? They’re a small group of like-minded pals who read each other’s papers and want grant money! Why should we create a NEO diverting mission costing millions and millions of dollars if there’s uncertainty?”

    Duh.

    *grabs bottle of scotch*

    Comment by Susann — 4 Dec 2009 @ 1:20 PM

  114. #83 With respect to the anecdotal evidence of glaciers melting. It seems from casual reading that this melting is occuring at a faster rate than would be expected from the actual temperature increases over the past 50 years. Does anyone know why this is?

    Comment by Krog — 4 Dec 2009 @ 1:30 PM

  115. #24, re: gavin’s reply. Not good enough. Firstly, anyone taking comfort in Smith must defeat Kramm et al. (http://arxiv.org/abs/0904.2767). Has hardly been done, has it? Secondly, calling people names will neither settle scientific issues nor win public-oriented battles of rhetoric.

    [Response: Not really. There is a law of diminishing returns in dealing with cranks - they can keep on going for ever. You don't need to believe me, but the neither G&T nor Kramm et al will convince anyone with an ounce of knowledge in this field. - gavin]

    Comment by Inge-Bert Täljedal — 4 Dec 2009 @ 1:30 PM

  116. Physics is a matter of probability and approximation – and any theory used to make predictions is going to be probabilistic. This is fundamental feature of all science – ask Richard Feynman:

    Are we therefore reduced to this horror, that physics is reduced to, not these wonderful predictions, but to probability? Yes we have – that’s the situation today – in spite of the fact that philosophers have said, “It is a necessary requirement for science that setting up an experiment exactly similar will produce results that are exactly the same the second time” – not at all.

    The main thing that differentiates math and physics is the role of approximations in physics. For example, consider the classic physics example, throwing a ball at a given angle and a given force and calculating where the ball lands. The simplest approach neglects any effect of wind speed and even frictional resistance from the air, and it assumes the ground is perfectly flat as well – so does that mean the equation is “wrong”?

    No, it’s just the first level of approximation – you can build more and more complicated models that improve the approximation. Physics, however, is always a matter of approximations.

    Take the issue of the accumulation and distribution of fossil carbon in the active Earth system – where does it all end up after we dig it up and burn it?

    Carbon, you know, is an element – like mercury. If you dig up mercury-laden coal and burn it, you have injected both carbon and mercury into the actively recirculating system, which means the atmosphere, the water bodies, the soil and the biosphere. The only way to remove carbon and mercury from this system is to bury it in sedimentary accumulation zones – which is a very very slow process.

    For example, mercury is enters the atmosphere during coal combustion, and often comes down in the rain, and that rain drains into rivers and lakes, where algae bind some of the mercury. Insects eat the algae, but the mercury bioaccumulates, and so insect mercury concentrations are higher – and fish that eat those insects also accumulate the mercury, and hence on to humans. If a human with a high mercury body load dies and is incinerated, the mercury returns to the atmosphere and the cycle begins again. Carbon behaves the same way.

    Is that science settled? Yes, it is called mass balance – even the medieval alchemists knew about it.

    If we can estimate the future concentration of infrared-absorbing gases in the atmosphere, we can then calculate what the global surface temperature range will be – as an approximation. Take the best estimate of global warming ten years from now – what unknown factors might alter that forecast? The obvious one is a large volcanic eruption that dumps aerosols into the stratosphere. However, our physical approximation of the lifetime of those aerosols in the atmosphere, vs. our approximation of the lifetime of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, tells us that when the aerosols fall out, the CO2 will still be there.

    The greatest myths about physics are that it is an exact, deterministic science – a 19th century perspective that denies the existence of radioactivity or of quantum mechanics – but that appears to be the level of understanding on the denialist side.

    The deceptionist side is even worse, because this group doesn’t represent crackpots, but rather established researchers at various government institutions – these are the people who claim that you can burn coal in zero-emission gigawatt-scale plants and capture everything that comes out.

    Can we get an approximate idea of the physics of this process? Consider a hot combustion stream from a major power plant that burns 10 million tons of coal a year.

    A conventional 1 Gigawatt pulverized coal plant (same power as a medium nuclear plant for today’s standards) burns 416 metric tons of coal per hour and generates more than 127 metric tons per hour of solid and liquid wastes (see the MIT report The Future of Coal , Appendix 3.B).

    The difference there is about 300 tons per hour – but it’s not pure CO2 coming out the mix, there’s a lot of air and sulfur and smaller amounts of mercury and arsenic.

    So, what would it take to process a hot combustion waste stream delivering 300 tons of CO2 per hour? It should be obvious that the effort is doomed to failure, because the amount of energy needed to separate the CO2 from everything else is massive – even the simple IGCC cycle, aimed only at maximizing conversion to CO2 (like your car’s EGR valve), sucks up an addition 10% of the power plant’s output.

    Nevertheless, you see some climate scientists running around promoting coal carbon sequestration, and you see the Department of Energy boosting it to the tune of $2 billion in direct subsidies, and you see the coal and tar sands industries claiming it will solve all problems…

    So why hasn’t realclimate ever delved into the lack of substance here? Is it “outside your field of expertise” or something? Or are you just unwilling to criticize your scientific colleagues who rely on those coal-carbon DOE grants to stay in business?

    Comment by Ike Solem — 4 Dec 2009 @ 1:47 PM

  117. [Response @ 72: Why would I write something I don't agree with? I think that there is plenty of evidence that justifies reductions in emissions to reduce risks associated with further climate change. - gavin]

    I see. So the science is settled as far as you’re concerned? Must be, since you’re now ready to commit to pretty significant changes in the world economies…

    [Response: What is it with people refusing to stop playing semantic games? - gavin]

    Comment by Dan — 4 Dec 2009 @ 1:56 PM

  118. Dan,

    “Every time someone like Monckton makes his ‘chaos’ argument (all very scientific sounding), this sort of low-hanging fruit should be picked
    and thrown at them. I’m hoping, as I carry on learning, that I’ll find analogies to ’seasonal forcing’ that can allow myself and others get a better intuitive grasp of where boundaries are, and where chaos might poke a nose in, so we have more fruit-based projectiles to throw at this growing ‘uncertainty’ meme. Any pointers gratefully received.”

    Yes this is a major foundational problem for agw prediction, and hence why Gavin and other climate modellers ignore the chaotic properties of the climate system. You’ll notice the overall agenda from them is to sort of say “we dont know if the climate is chaotic”. Then their models take a pass on the usual natural limits faced by trying to make long-range predictions about the climate.

    fact is it is chaotic and weather is it’s subset, making it chaotic because of the non-linear interactions between a probably infinite amount of factors but obvious ones like the atmosphere, oceans, land etc, a fraction of which we are aware. Then there’s the problem of the accuracy in measuring and setting all those initial conditions so they are not just some simplistic idealisation of the real world.

    It goes on and on.

    And dont let them fool you into the idea that they can make reasonably accurate predictions over a short period of time, because thats rubbish too. Any system as comlex as the climate will diverge from their model after the first few seconds on the clock.

    Thats the nature of the system they attempt to model, and they dare not speak its name; chaos.

    Comment by Mike M — 4 Dec 2009 @ 2:00 PM

  119. NOT FOR PUBLICATION

    I made the mistake of referring to another post by number. So, please cancel my posting of 12/4/2009 12:00PM.

    Thanks.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 4 Dec 2009 @ 2:04 PM

  120. Yes, thank you.

    The various feedback effects and sinks (I recently went to a SOI talk where they’d discovered a completely new CO2 interaction in coastal wetlands) are NOT settled science, and I’m glad that RC.org admits that.

    There’s a lot of climate skeptics that are simply rebelling against the Science-is-Settled/Al Gore crowd, because we know better.

    I think a good analogy for global warming is nutrition. People say losing weight is easy: calories in minus calories out get made up by the body. Likewise, watts in minus watts out determine the temperature of the planet. However, it’s not as simple as either of those camps want you to believe, simply because there’s very complicated feedback loops (both positive and negative) into the terms of the equation.

    At some point, sure, eating a lot more will make you weigh more, and dumping a lot of CO2 into the air will tend to make the planet warm, but the actual amounts are tough to calculate with accuracy.

    Comment by Bill — 4 Dec 2009 @ 2:25 PM

  121. Please show me the scientists — not industry-funded frauds and cranks, but real climate scientists — who are telling us that “the science is not settled” with regard to the need to rapidly phase out anthropogenic GHG emissions.

    Please show me the climate scientists who are saying that the science on that question is so unsettled, that we should continue burning fossil fuels at our current, business-as-usual, ever-increasing rate for as many more decades as economically recoverable supplies can be extracted, because there is no “settled science” that gives us any reason to do anything different.

    The fact is that the science has been settled on the need to phase out anthropogenic GHG emissions for a long time — that’s what Al Gore was talking about, and he was and is 100 percent correct. And the most current and best science is quite settled that emissions reductions need to start soon, and proceed rapidly, if we are to have any hope of avoiding far worse effects than those that are already, very visibly, and very shockingly, under way all over the planet.

    When the fossil fuel industry-funded deniers and obstructors prattle about what is “settled” and what is not “settled”, that is what they are lying about. They are pretending that no one knows or can say for sure whether the world should stop buying their products, so it is best to just carry on with business as usual.

    Look, folks: what is at stake here is not “science”. What is at stake is the survival of human civilization, very likely the survival of the human species, and quite possibly the survival of anything resembling the rich, diverse, resilient, thriving biosphere in which the human species has evolved.

    The deniers and obstructors don’t care about “science”. They are driven by greed. Period. The only thing they care about is keeping those hundreds of billions of dollars in profit rolling in, for as long as they can.

    That’s what is behind the phony-baloney pseudo-skeptics, from Fred Singer to every random Ditto-Head who regurgitates Rush Limbaugh’s vomit on a blog. The actual climate scientists need to realize this is not a debate between scientists, within the scientific community, over legitimate questions of science. This is an all-out assault on the future of the human race being waged, ultimately, by a very small number of very wealthy, very powerful, and unimaginably greedy people. I don’t doubt for a moment that if they thought they could get away with luring all the world’s climate scientists into one spot and then dropping a bomb on them to assassinate them all at once, they would do it. That’s what you are up against — that’s what all of humanity is up against.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 4 Dec 2009 @ 2:30 PM

  122. IPCC ar4:

    “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures
    since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the
    observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations.”

    With “very likely” defined by the IPCC as >90%.

    So then the science is isn’t settled, it’s just “very likely” settled?

    [Response: Whatever. - gavin]

    Quite the distinction, Gavin.

    Comment by John S — 4 Dec 2009 @ 2:34 PM

  123. Gavin:

    You haven’t helped as much as you think.

    Those ‘partly’ in the know, are bothered by 90% or 95% confidence intervals associated with various individual observed climatic trends. They ‘know’ that that means there’s a 10% or 5% chance that a ‘real’ trend may be outside the projected envelopes. What they generally don’t understand is that climate savvy scientists, as ‘experts’, take the ‘congruence’ of many different, but related, trends into consideration when they make statements about AGW ‘as if’ the science were settled. Unfortunately, there are no ‘legitimate’ procedures for calculating effective ‘combined confidence intervals’ for very disparate data. And until the public becomes more nearly ‘as educated’ as the experts, they’ll have to take the experts’ judgment, somewhat ‘on faith’;-) That will always provide the deniers with an unfair advantage.

    Comment by Leonard Ornstein — 4 Dec 2009 @ 2:37 PM

  124. I don’t know what each and every environmental group has said in response to “skeptic” science, but I know what mine did back in the 1990s when I was a full-time activist. We said the science was good enough to warrant a policy of huge cuts in carbon emissions. We said that the public debate needed to move on to getting the policy right, not to discuss the science. The science, we said, was best left to the scientists. The public should not listen to us on the science, and it should not look to individual scientists — whether “skeptics”, or scientists working for “our” side. The public and the policy-makers should listen to the IPCC because the IPCC process aggregated all the individual work, filtered out the noise and provided the best overview of the *current* state of scientific knowledge. What to do with that knowledge was a political question and the proper subject of public debate.

    I don’t think we ever said the science was settled.

    It was a good position then. Even better now.

    Comment by CM — 4 Dec 2009 @ 2:40 PM

  125. Your problem is that you’re focusing on the wrong word. The science IS settled, with settled being the operative word. “Settled” means “settled to the point of making the particular decision at hand.” By pretending that “settled” means to the end of an asymptote, you’re simply destroying the meaning of the word. The ANSWER is to ask, “Settled to what degree? … Oh, that, well, YES the science IS settled.”

    Comment by RichardC — 4 Dec 2009 @ 2:51 PM

  126. Bruce Tabor wrote earlier, “I thought the IPCC put a >90% likelihood on human action being behind climate change in AR4. Are you saying this has since moved to an “almost certain” level?”

    I have frequently heard that line of thinking trumpeted by groups who don’t think policy changes are justified unless there is 100% certainty, which this article explains does not exist in science. I find it interesting that some people claim a >90% likelihood is not sufficient to make massive policy changes. If someone told you there was a >90% likelihood that you would be struck by a bus if you continued on your course and crossed the street, would you cross the street? I would imagine that most people would change their course and not cross that street. Clearly, >90% likelihood is enough certainty to impact the decision making process.

    Comment by Russ — 4 Dec 2009 @ 2:52 PM

  127. Great post. What I think is interesting is how deniers focus on the uncertainties of climate models, even though their own predictions of economic doom rest on even more uncertain ECONOMIC models. I posted this comment on Andy Revkin’s blog the other day, wondering, why not focus on those economic uncertainties as well? After all, economists are notoriously bad at predicting the future, given that their models rely on the most unpredictable of variables: human behavior. Why should we trust uncertain economic models over uncertain climate models?

    For starters, economic models hardly agree on the costs of cap-and-trade. The CBO estimates that with cap-and-trade, US GDP will grow about 0.03%-0.09% per year more slowly. On the more alarmist end of the spectrum, the National Association of Manufacturers’ worst-case estimate is 0.15% slower growth. We must also consider that like past cost analyses of environmental regulations (most of which have overestimated costs), neither of these models include the effects of technological change – breakthroughs spurred by higher carbon prices that allow us to produce the same level of output with less energy (e.g. efficient manufacturing processes, cheaper solar panels, etc.).

    In other words, economic models don’t agree on the exact costs of cap-and-trade, but they do agree that such costs will be relatively modest. And the dimensions of uncertainty – namely, how technology will respond to higher carbon prices – give us reason to believe that the costs will be smaller than predicted.

    The costs of global warming are also uncertain. However, there’s much more variation in these estimates. They range from modest (e.g. money spent building sea walls) to catastrophic (e.g. massive water shortages and famine in India), and are distributed unevenly around the world. And unlike economic costs, these catastrophic costs can’t be reversed or solved by spending money. Higher fuel prices may make growing crops more expensive for farmers, but 10 degree warming and long-term drought prevents crops from growing altogether – and you can’t negotiate a better price with the rain. Inventing cheaper solar power seems a much lower cost solution than inventing a way to make rain fall during a drought.

    Further, it’s harder to estimate the non-monetary aspects costs of climate change. How many flat screens is the extinction of polar bears worth? And unlike economic costs, which are well understood and fall within a defined scope (higher input costs, short-term job losses), our inability to predict with certainty how the natural world responds to human activity means there are many costs we may not have even imagined yet. If economists get it wrong, we may lose more jobs than we thought. But what happens if ocean acidification kills coral reefs and causes ocean food chains to collapse? If, as critics point out, humans lack the foresight to predict how interventions in the market affect national wealth, why would anyone trust our ability to engineer the workings of Nature to our likings?

    I’m not making a claim about the scientific validity of these musings, but rather using them to illustrate the point that while the costs of climate legislation are modest and fall within well-understood bounds, the costs of climate change range from moderate to worse-than-expected to literally unimaginable. The economic crisis has taught us to ignore these long-tail probabilities at our own risk.

    Comment by WAG — 4 Dec 2009 @ 3:04 PM

  128. For the last couple of decades, it’s been getting more and more difficult to believe that anthropogenic global warming isn’t happening AT ALL. The evidence keeps mounting: temperature, rising sea levels, melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica, retreating glaciers. Are there unanswered questions about modern anthropogenic global warming? Of course, about the details. Including important details. But not: is it happening AT ALL?

    If current trends continue, the skeptics will end up like creationists. Is the science of evolutionary biology “settled”? Of course not. Are there unanswered questions about evolution? Of course, but they are about the details (including important details). The basic question of whether evolution is happening or not happening has been settled over a century ago, at least in the minds of scientists. Among nonscientists, it’s a different story. There are some people who for religious reasons cannot accept evolution.

    Comment by John Farley — 4 Dec 2009 @ 3:05 PM

  129. This is what happens when scientists stop merely giving advice and start actively lobbying government for particular legislation. This is what happens when climatologists try to educate laymen about trends without also giving a geological perspective. This is what happens when “scientists” look for data to support a particular hypothesis instead of testing it. Surely the current models are not perfect even if they are mostly correct. Where are the problems with them? This site is like a car salesman’s ad instead of a scholarly work. Take the title: “RealClimate.” That is like using the adjective “fair.” Its meaningless. When AGW’er (whatever that means – I only know what it means in context of its usage above) start admitting the warts of the climate models in something other than private and hidden emails, I’ll open my mind to their arguments and conclusions. Until then credibility is at issue. And no, I’m not a republican or employed by Exxon.

    Comment by Steve Smith — 4 Dec 2009 @ 3:18 PM

  130. To label denialists “skeptics” is a complete misuse of the term. Good scientists are “skeptics” – that is really the point made in this post. Denialists are NOT “skeptics” because they have made a firm conclusion. We should not honor these folks with an honorable term.

    Comment by Geno Canto del Halcon — 4 Dec 2009 @ 3:24 PM

  131. Gavin, I have a question for you. You wrote:

    I’m in complete agreement with a recent headline on the Wall Street Journal op-ed page:
    “The Climate Science Isn’t Settled”

    Here’s my question:

    Are you in complete agreement that climate science gives us no reason at all to believe there is any need, let alone an urgent need, to reduce anthropogenic GHG emissions?

    Because when the Wall Street Journal op-ed page says “the climate science isn’t settled”, that’s exactly what they mean.

    [Response: Of course not. And I am very aware of why the WSJ uses that headline. - gavin]

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 4 Dec 2009 @ 3:32 PM

  132. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1_eaZ74Z_A&feature=PlayList&p=AB8D69F1FF1797C6&index=2

    At the fifty second mark of that video:

    “The science is agreed upon…”
    Gavin Schmidt

    Comment by Terry Comeau — 4 Dec 2009 @ 3:32 PM

  133. “Science has led to a great deal of well-supported concern that increasing emissions of CO2 (in particular) are posing a substantial risk to human society. Playing rhetorical games in the face of this, while momentarily satisfying for blog commenters, is no answer at all to the real issues we face.”

    The “real issue we face” is what “emissions of CO2 (in particular) are posing a SUBSTANTIAL risk to human society.” Give us a number that will assure that the risk becomes an INSIGNIFICANT one. Give us a number so that it becomes NO risk at all. Give us a number that would be the “natural” number for humans to emit. If this is the end of the world as we know it, we need the dire prognosis of how much carbon we actually need to sequester, not some abstract goal or best practice that we should strive for. In short, what is the optimum level of atmospheric carbon? The world needs to know.

    Comment by Steve Smith — 4 Dec 2009 @ 3:37 PM

  134. What exactly is a “denialist”? I can’t find that in the dictionary.

    Comment by Michael — 4 Dec 2009 @ 3:41 PM

  135. I just need to get in a comment that with all the revelations and now the shame coming up for a few scientists – we should not back down. I just read another infuriating article about CRU links to Shell Oil and I am crushed. These are the people we are trying to defeat! When will this end and the bad apples resign so we can get back to cleaning the air??

    Comment by richard — 4 Dec 2009 @ 3:44 PM

  136. I have always imagined the scientific enterprise as a swamp, extending out into the sea of ignorance. Scientists add firmness to the swamp, they link isolated clumps and consolidate the land. Further back in the mists the technologists are farming the really firm land but out at the frontier where somewhere firm to stand is hard to find building up some firmness of knowledge is a slow and patient business. Occasionally some useful idiots will attempt to build a marquee with balloons and stuff and parade around in their bit of the swamp pretending that it is both new and really firm ground, but sooner or later they either sink or someone points out they’re wearing waders or flippers on their feet. Even more occasionally than that someone disturbs something and a whole unsuspected island rises up before us and has the effect of stabilising much land around it. They are called Kuhn islands.

    Comment by Muscleguy — 4 Dec 2009 @ 3:54 PM

  137. This article seems helpful and constructive. The re-affirmation that “science,” as such, doesn’t dictate policy, because there are issues to be addressed that are external to the science, is important. But since this has long been conceded, and since we can also now agree that there are unsettled questions beyond the mere existence of AGW, the justification for continued shouts of “Denier!” (not to mention even more heated language) is hard to understand. And, honestly, the justification for the petty gamesmanship that exists plainly on the surface of the newly revealed correspondence and other files, can’t be found at all. But on the positive side, there is reason to carry the even-handed tone of this piece forward into future discussions, and for scientists to redouble efforts in the direction of fairness and transparency.

    Comment by Leighton — 4 Dec 2009 @ 3:59 PM

  138. I believe in changing our ways, to reduce our impact on the earth. I work hard at this–harder than most. This is in part due to the awareness that has been brought about by global warming.

    But, I believe that the scientists releasing papers which prove dire predictions for the earth are charlatans. Perhaps these scientists want to help the earth, and this is their way to do it–to manipulate results. They can go to sleep at night, knowing they are doing the wrong thing for the right reason. Or, they are simply chasing grant money, proving what they know they need to prove to make the granter happy, either consciously or unconsciously. Or, they want to fit in with their peers and not rock the boat. Or, I figure they must be incompetent.

    As an engineer with no knowledge of climate science, it is clear to me that the science is not remotely settled. When someone tells the world that the science is settled, on something that is as complex and dynamic as the earth’s weather, warning bells go off. No, the science isn’t settled. The models in the latest scandle don’t even appear to represent science at all. Global warming is a carefully orchestrated plot to get the world to wake up to the impact it is having on the earth. It is doing the wrong thing for the right reason–to save the earth.

    [Response: There are no models implicated in the emails. Where do you get that idea? - gavin]

    Comment by Brian — 4 Dec 2009 @ 4:01 PM

  139. Nice strawman arguement. I believe the headline refers to both Al Gore’s comments on how climate change is “settled science” AND the recent comments from the White House muppet Robert Gibbs on how the climate change is “settled science”.

    Comment by Tony — 4 Dec 2009 @ 4:05 PM

  140. I am afraid that the “narrative” that Global Warming is all a hoax based on corrupted data as become fixed among the center-right media “commanding heights,” also called “The Village” based on browsing various blogss at the Atlantic, Politico, Washington Post, and N.Y. Times. I think this whole thing is one big non sequiter, but lay people who believe in science and that human caused global warming is going to affect have some pretty sever effects on the environment in which human civilization arose and where whe have to support 9 billion people are going to have step forward and vigourously defend climate scienctists because they are about to be ACORNED.

    Comment by rickster — 4 Dec 2009 @ 4:15 PM

  141. Jeff Kiehl notes in a 2007 article from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the models use another quantity that the IPCC lists as poorly known (namely aerosols) to arbitrarily cancel as much greenhouse warming as needed to match the data, with each model choosing a different degree of cancellation according to the sensitivity of that model.

    Is that even accurate? Models don’t normally work like that. It’s a multivariate analysis. The analysis will give you variable coefficients that produce the best fit possible. If negative aerosol forcing is a better fit for the model, that’s what you’ll get. If it’s a poor fit, you won’t get that. The quote above makes it sound like the coefficients are tweaked by hand to get what the modelers want.

    Comment by Joseph — 4 Dec 2009 @ 4:21 PM

  142. I think this is my first time posting on RealClimate. Just a layperson here.

    Somewhat tangental to the central point here but: With all the conservative/business opposition to cap and trade, does no one remember that, in the US, cap and trade was first proposed and implemented by Republicans during the Bush I administration in the early 90s (and opposed by most of the left and environmentalists who saw it as a sop to business) as a “market based” solution to SO2 emissions/acid rain? Back then, we heard the same Chicken Little cries from the right wing and business that it would Ruin The Economy. Yet, it (a) worked and (b) affected the economy not at all. An article in a recent Smithsonian brought that all back for me.

    Granted, the current cap and trade plans are so watered down to let coal burning power plants off the hook that one wonders if they will do anything for CO2 emissions at all – yet neither that nor the history above keeps the usual suspects on the Right from braying that cap and trade will be the ruin of us all. And to be fair, some on the left and enviros seem just as blind.

    Comment by bcoppola — 4 Dec 2009 @ 4:23 PM

  143. Jack Handy:

    the recent lack of warming

    BPL: There isn’t any.

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Ball.html

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Reber.html

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/VV.html

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 4 Dec 2009 @ 4:35 PM

  144. This is all such déja vu common sense that many are getting bored with the settled and the unsettled. Time to start calling by the real name: all media bullshit.

    Comment by Errico — 4 Dec 2009 @ 4:43 PM

  145. re: 76. “There has been a clear infiltration of political advocacy into the public statements and casual private discussions of certain members of community”

    Proof of “political advocacy”? Documentation to support that absurd statement? Sorry, but your politically-driven, non-science opinion does not count as proof at all or have any validity. Furthermore, the “debate” you refer to has occurred over and over again through peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. You know, how science is actually done. And always has been done.

    Comment by Dan — 4 Dec 2009 @ 5:12 PM

  146. donald moore (59) & John E. (77) — One way is to look at what the climate and all were like in the remote past when it was warmer. Mark Lynas did th3e library research and presents the results of that year in the Oxford libraries in his book, “Six Degrees”. Here is a link to a review:
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article1480669.ece

    Max Anacker — Here is a link to yet another page which refultes your falsehood about recent global temperatures:
    http://climateprogress.org/2008/08/21/debunking-the-myth-global-warming-stopped-in-1998/

    Comment by David B. Benson — 4 Dec 2009 @ 5:21 PM

  147. Yep, science is never settled, and yet we have to make decisions. However, the question is should scientists be involved with advocating policy? You seem to conclude that scientists should be promoting policy. This is slippery slope that can easily lead to bias. Combine that with group think, and well there goes objective science. If you explain the science clearly, others will push the policy.

    For instance many times you link to papers to prove a point. I would instead take the time to very clearly show step by step the science and mathematics behind a paper. I would not worry so much about persuading people. Just educate.

    Comment by Jonathan Fischoff — 4 Dec 2009 @ 5:52 PM

  148. Maybe some post on emissions target should we calculate methane for 100 year potential or less?
    Some frightening post on tipping points? Some people don’t know nothing on methane permafrost PETM…. another source can help maybe
    Or only I look at CO2 records from the past 800 kyr* see that the scale and at 300 ppm and start to feel some Unsettled feeling? The unsettled bits of climate science only make me feel more unsettled.
    It can be useful this days. Especially this 14 days.

    PS any one know on reasonable accomdetion in Copenhagen

    *High-resolution carbon dioxide concentration record 650,000–800,000 years before present
    Vol45315May2008 | doi:10.1038/nature06949

    Comment by Eyal Morag — 4 Dec 2009 @ 5:53 PM

  149. ccpo – “I’m hoping this whole e-mail thing has awakened the Average Scientist to one simple reality: You’re going to have to come out from behind your desks and engage the public actively, and critics strongly, if you (collectively) wish to help avoid the 6C scenarios.”

    Who then does the research. I am sure that this foolishness has cost climate researchers much time and on his job.

    This is not about the science. Gavin can come out from his desk as much as he likes however now, due the brilliant and utterly ruthless climate opposition, we now have two sound bites to deny warming. First it was “the hockey stick is broken therefore AGW is wrong. Now we have added an even more potent meme of “the CRU emails prove all AGW research is faked therefore AGW is wrong”

    I am not sure anybody realised what we were up against when the whole AGW thing first started impinging on rich people making lots of money. Those people are utterly without morals and using stolen private emails simply shows what lengths they will go to to continue to get rich or help their friends get rich. If this does not do the trick, to coin a phrase, they will simply hack something else that does.

    I think that this indicates that nothing will be done until the people calling the shots are sufficiently compromised by climate change to make such things impossible. What this means to the rest of the planet they do not care as they will be rich and/or dead.

    Comment by Stephen Gloor (Ender) — 4 Dec 2009 @ 5:54 PM

  150. I have now spent about forty hours perusing this site–and specifically the current discussions (i.e., since the CRU scandal broke). I’m a reasonably literate person, with two college degrees, but in no way competent to judge hard-science literature, much less a ‘new science’ philosophy that has evolved since I last studied hard science.

    One skill I do have is in assessing–for lack of a better phrase–social commentary. Clearly, many of the (Climate) scientists posting on this site prefer to ignore their fundamental advocacy for their outcomes, nor for the cultural differences between scientists of different nations / societies.

    In sum, Bryan S in post 77 gets it about right. The mere fact that Al Gore became the popular mouthpiece for AGW created significant obstructions to a better understanding of the impact of political advocacy for AGW. Add to that the Nobel Prize for him–and you have the makings of political advocacy all over this subject.

    It would be good, I think, for some of the hard scientists posting here to understand that.

    Jim H.

    Comment by Jim Hanson (a different one) — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:16 PM

  151. Re Dennis no. 61 (theories from other areas of science that lay people don’t go round arguing about)

    How about: DNA is a double helix

    It is well established science, but like all scientific theories not without nuances. For example, it is known that more complex DNA structures are possible and present within cells (ie: cruciform DNA) and that DNA segments from different chromosomes can contact each other and perhaps form structures.

    However just because certain segments of DNA may not be in a standard double helix at all times doesn’t mean DNA is not a double helix generally. Thankfully molecular biology does not suffer from “helix skeptics” claiming that the presence of cruciform DNA means that all atomic structures of DNA and of proteins interacting with DNA are wrong and evidence of some mass fraud.

    Comment by Mike — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:17 PM

  152. Gavin:

    If they are talking about attribution of recent warming to human activity they are fine. The only error is when people either pro or con overextend such statements to encompass the whole scientific enterprise.

    Maybe they could be trained to say “enough of the science is settled”.

    After all, the science regarding lung cancer and cigarette smoking isn’t “settled” – we still can’t attribute each individual case to smoking or some other cause (unlike some cancers where the cause can be positively attributed).

    Yet we know that smoking – even second-hand smoking – increases the odds of lung cancer to the point where it makes sense to not smoke. Enough of the science is settled to make it clear that not smoking is an intelligent choice.

    More Gavin:

    Lindzen is declaring that any degree of uncertainty (no matter how small) should be enough to prevent any action. This is not an argument anyone would use in any other field

    Lindzen’s a smoker, come to think of it, and opposed taking action on second-hand smoke if I’m not mistaken …

    Comment by dhogaza — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:25 PM

  153. The climate warming matter has turned into an issue of good and bad – we and them. And in that battle the quest for scientic clarity has almost disappeard. I say: Michael Mann and Gavin Smith send all your data and data models to Steve McIntyre for verification. If you believe that the AGW matter is the most vital question of our generation you should take every effort to remove all possible doubts. Everything else would show that you really don’t believe in what you are saying.

    [Response: All my code and output is online. Mike's latest paper came with 20mb of supplementary data and code. So now do you believe what we are saying? -gavin]

    Comment by Svempa — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:30 PM

  154. By the way,on the deviation from tree-ring thickness from the recent instrumental temperature record, see this report:

    The rising level of atmospheric carbon dioxide may be fueling more than climate change. It could also be making some trees grow like crazy.

    That is the finding of a new study of natural stands of quaking aspen, one of North America’s most important and widespread deciduous trees. The study, by scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Minnesota at Morris (UMM) and published December 4 in the journal Global Change Biology, shows that elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide during the past 50 years have boosted aspen growth rates by an astonishing 50 percent.

    If this phenomenon is widespread (clearly, water and nutrients also have to be present in adequate supplies in each case) than it would seem to account for the deviation from the instrument record over the past 50 years, wouldn’t it?

    I think this is where Phil Jones and Michael Mann did make a big blunder – rather than looking for an explanation for the deviation in tree ring thickness, they just truncated the dataset at the point where the deviation began and then stuck on the instrumental record.

    By the way, Michael Mann’s efforts to distance himself from Phil Jones on this are a bit silly. Destruction of emails is quite common these days – maybe Jones thought there was no problem with it:

    White House: Millions of e-mails may be missing, April 13, 2007

    “I wouldn’t rule out that there were a potential 5 million e-mails lost,” Perino told reporters.”

    I wonder how many of those emails related to efforts to sabotage climate science (Triana and other satellites), block scientists like Hansen from speaking to the public, and so on – and on – and on?

    Comment by Ike Solem — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:30 PM

  155. If the high school student is recreating the famed work of Galileo but instead attaches a parachute to one of the rocks therefore concluding that Galileo was wrong, we would simply throw out that data as obviously not following the methods required to test the hypothesis. The teacher would likely award poor grade to the student as well.

    If I were the student, I’d scream and find myself a new teacher.

    After all, we have no evidence that Galileo did the experiment. But he did come up with the following thought experiment:

    Imagine two objects, one light and one heavier than the other one, are connected to each other by a string. Drop this system of objects from the top of a tower. If we assume heavier objects do indeed fall faster than lighter ones (and conversely, lighter objects fall slower), the string will soon pull taut as the lighter object retards the fall of the heavier object. But the system considered as a whole is heavier than the heavy object alone, and therefore should fall faster. This contradiction leads one to conclude the assumption is false.

    Well, if I attach a parachute to a rock, then, the string *will* soon pull taut, something every parachutist is thankful for every time they jump. Galileo’s claim is false.

    Of course, Galileo would be right if the tower was in a vacuum but he never mentions that.

    On earth, where we have an atmosphere, it’s actually very common for lighter objects to fall more slowly than heavier objects …

    Things aren’t as simple as you imagine.

    The same should be done for the work of those involved in the East Anglia scam – throw out their work and move on.

    Most assuredly not.

    Comment by dhogaza — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:32 PM

  156. Please, please tell that to the politicians – especially those over here in the UK. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear, ‘the science is settled!’

    Comment by Peter — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:37 PM

  157. When AGW’er (whatever that means – I only know what it means in context of its usage above) start admitting the warts of the climate models in something other than private and hidden emails

    Wow, I never realized the various IPCC documents like AR4 were hidden from the public and policy makers in private and hidden e-mails.

    Ya learn sumthin’ every day ’round here! :)

    Comment by dhogaza — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:39 PM

  158. #121

    That’s a policy statement based on known science (a response based on science).

    There is still a huge amount of uncertainty in climate science, which needs to be reduced. The critical distinction is that a decrease in uncertainty may lead to the IPCC statement becoming more uncertain.

    That’s science.

    Comment by isotopious — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:42 PM

  159. Gavin – Thanks for all the answers and post monitoring. Quick question, if we all agree that there is more work to be done, if you were to double your research budget, where would you put the extra money [ie computers, researchers, etc]? Also, what additional instrumentation would you like to see in terms of climate monitoring? What would that cost? It seems to me that there is some high utility money to be spent right now in terms of moving the debate forward….letting time slip by without accurate data gathering seems pretty silly at this point (not that some isn’t being gathered, but maybe we need more).

    Comment by Mesa — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:43 PM

  160. The scientific picture is all said here:

    http://www.ccrc.unsw.edu.au/Copenhagen/Copenhagen_Diagnosis_HIGH.pdf

    This email saga is now once again distracting us from tackling the task of reducing emissions. If we project BAU scenarios of 2.5% annual growth in fossil fuel usage then by 2045 we would have released an additional 1.5 trillion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Sinks have wekened 5% according to report although perhaps the jury is still out on this subject (be nice to get an update on this subject)but I will take the reports value so its around 900 trillion tonnes left in the atmosphere almost which 4.5x that which has been left in the atmosphere so far by us.

    Thats 250 ppmv of CO2 added and hence its must mean over 3C of average atmospheric warming.

    Comment by pete best — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:54 PM

  161. Unfortunately, WAG, cap-and-trade will do nothing to reduce fossil fuel CO2 emissions. This is why Hansen suggested that failure at Copenhagen this year is necessary, because the proposed solutions – such as cap-and-trade and coal carbon sequestration, which are being heavily pushed by the U.S., Canadian and British governments – are deceptive nonsense.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/02/copenhagen-climate-change-james-hansen

    He has irked some environmentalists by espousing a direct carbon tax on fuel use. Some see that as a distraction from rallying support in Congress for cap-and-trade legislation that is on the table.

    Such environmentalists are either fools or frauds – but Hansen’s suggestion for a carbon tax should be rephrased as a feed-in tariff / renewable energy-linked carbon tax, used to guarantee rates for renewable energy investors and producers. In this scheme, fossil fuels are taxed and those taxes then delivered to renewable power producers in the form of guaranteed rates – and this removes market volatility from the equation, so investors feel safer dumping hundreds of millions of dollars into projects that pay back over 10 years or so.

    Yes, governments SHOULD intervene in markets when there is an obvious social benefit to doing so – I mean, that’s why we have the FDA and other regulatory agencies, right? Drugs that kill people also get removed from the market – is that also a violation of “economic science principles”?

    P.S. I made an error in that coal carbon dioxide estimate…

    A conventional 1 Gigawatt pulverized coal plant burns 416 metric tons of coal per hour and generates more than 127 metric tons per hour of solid and liquid wastes.

    The difference there is about 300 tons per hour, yes, but there’s a big error in that mass estimate – guess what it is? I neglected the fact that it’s not pure carbon exiting the smokestack, but rather carbon dioxide – for each carbon atom there are two oxygen atoms so the mass ratio of C:CO2 is 12:44, or 3.66

    Thus, one ton of carbon is converted to 3.66 tons of CO2; hence 300 tons of carbon dioxide is very wrong; the real answer is closer to 1100 tons of CO2 per hour!

    As an amusing example of how ridiculous the whole project is, the NYT and other press outlets have been championing some coal project in West Virgina:

    West Virginia carbon-capture test gets $334 million from DOE, December 4, 2009″

    They are going to capture 1% of their emissions, but they are not going to report what % of the power plant output that requires… now, that’s clearly distortion and deception, if not outright fraud. It’s highly unlikely they could even break even – and who is going to audit the data? It’s a private concern, so it probably doesn’t have to report anything, just like FutureGen. As noted, the emails and correspondence surrounding this would be far more interesting to read than the CRU hack.

    If anything ever needed an independent scientific review by an outside agency (NAS, maybe), these DOE coal projects are it.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:57 PM

  162. Re: 111

    The snow was nice today in Houston. My kids loved it. But read this: NCAR report – record highs beat record lows. Says it all.

    http://www.ucar.edu/news/releases/2009/maxmin.jsp#

    Comment by Andy — 4 Dec 2009 @ 6:59 PM

  163. Re Mike (151) and Dennis (69):
    I have been thinking about about the slow general acceptance of some scientific knowledge recently, prompted by reading Dawkins’ ‘Greatest Show on Earth’. The book lays out the evidence for evolution but is peppered with Dawkins’ attacks on creationism (he says he doesn’t want to repeat ‘The God Delusion’ but it reads as though he can’t help himself).
    Evolution is 150 years old and still 40% of Americans reject it outright. Relativity is 100 years old and, as far as I know, everyone accepts it. Genetics is 90 years old and universally accepted. The toxic environmental effects of DDT were noticed 50 years ago and everyone not only accepted the evidence but acted on it. Climate change is 50 years old (I date the first public knowledge of AGW to Revelle and Keeling) and still rejected by about half the population, even without religious obstacles.
    Why are evolution and climate change special?
    (1) They are too slow to observe directly, so they are deniable by ‘common sense’.
    (2) They require a very deep rethinking of our relationship with the world. Evolution said we’re not really all that special, but are just smart(ish!) animals – a huge blow to our self-esteem as well as a near-fatal blow to established religion. Climate change says we’ve got to stop treating the world as an infinitely exploitable resource and start caring for it – and that will cost serious money as well as forcing us to accept responsibility for our actions.

    Comment by MalcolmT — 4 Dec 2009 @ 7:00 PM

  164. Steve Smith (133) — Ok, here are my amateur estimates:
    insignificant risk, anyway small and advocated as an upper bound in Hanson et al., 350 ppm CO2;
    no risk, anyway very small, 300 ppm CO2ewa (CO2 equivalent with aerosols);
    pre-industrial revolution, about 270 CO2ewa (but I think there are more risks when that low).

    Michael(134) — Web trawling finds “Web definitions for Denialist: Denialism is the term used to describe the position of governments, political parties, business groups, interest groups, or individuals who reject propositions on which a scientific or scholarly consensus exists.”

    Brian (138) — But on at least five occasions in the remote past, it was most dire. For the end-Perian mass extinction, read Peter D. Ward’s “Under a Green Sky” to note that BAU might well lead to similar conditions once again.
    In any case I do encourage you to read “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart, linked on the sidebar, first under WSccience links.

    Joseph (141) — Here are some resources regarding GCMs:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/11/faq-on-climate-models/
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/01/faq-on-climate-models-part-ii/langswitch_lang/tk
    http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap3-1/final-report/sap3-1-final-all.pdf

    Comment by David B. Benson — 4 Dec 2009 @ 7:03 PM

  165. Jim H — Can you clarify your point? You seem to imply that political advocacy by scientists is a bad thing, but when scientists leave the advocacy to Al Gore, that’s also a bad thing?

    Comment by pointer — 4 Dec 2009 @ 7:11 PM

  166. RE: 114 – why the glaciers are melting quicker than rising temps should predict? Well, the cat’s out of the bag. Each year the AGU (American Geophysical Union) holds their annual meeting in some glacier-rich hotspot. During the first evening social, once everyone is well souced and impervious to cold, they hike up into the mountains and melt glacial beast’s icy hearts with battery powered blowdriers. All scientists must blow and melt until the batteries are dead. This is required for the initiates wherein newcoming scientists are given their pointy tinfoil hats so as to better pick up their alien overlord’s instructions.

    Sorry, I’m sure your question was serious but for those of us who have to work with research scientists, the whole conspiracy thing is absurd.

    I think it has something to do with temperatures being expected to rise more quickly at elevation (another AGW prediction proving up quite well). Maybe there is a blog entry in the archives – Lonnie Thompson, I think is the glacier guru.

    Comment by Andy — 4 Dec 2009 @ 7:16 PM

  167. I’m a non-scientist who doesn’t understand most of what the climate scientists are talking about, and I certainly can’t judge for myself the merits of what they say, but I do know that I dislike Al Gore, so I guess I’ll just go with that and conclude that the scientists must be wrong.

    Also, if scientists do sincerely believe that global warming is a serious problem that threatens the lives and well-being of billions of people and maybe even threatens the continuation of human civilization, they most certainly should NOT publicly advocate policies to do anything about it, because that would be “political”, and that makes me think of Al Gore again, who as I mentioned I don’t like.

    You know, we’ve been through these baseless “political” scare tactics before. I remember back in the mid-twentieth century hearing scientist types going on and on about these supposed “nuclear weapons” that could destroy the Earth. Well, THAT never happened did it? Just another hoax to scare us all, and there never were any such things as “nuclear weapons” after all. It was just made up, to scare us into giving up our freedom. Now here we go again with “global warming”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 4 Dec 2009 @ 7:16 PM

  168. “I would not worry so much about persuading people. Just educate.” – Jonathan Fischoff – 147

    By now it should be clear to everyone that you will have zero success at educating the wilfully ignorant.

    Isn’t it said that the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result?

    Comment by Vendicar Decarian — 4 Dec 2009 @ 7:30 PM

  169. Jeffrey Davis says of my blog: “There’s a disturbing novel by Kevin Brockmeier called The Brief History of the Dead that has an absolutely horrifying conclusion. Reading ‘Desdemona Despair‘ reminds me of that book.”

    Jeffrey, that’s just about the nicest thing you could have said; you made my day!

    As to getting desensitized to Doom, that’s a very interesting observation. I try to pick visually compelling images to show what’s at stake. I’ll have to give your comment some thought…

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 4 Dec 2009 @ 7:32 PM

  170. Oh heck, italics fail in my last post. :(

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 4 Dec 2009 @ 7:36 PM

  171. I have this feeling that there is some heavy trolling on this blog.

    For example, #150 starts off as a somewhat reasonable post, and then it concludes with a jab against Al Gore.

    This pattern, the starting off with claims that the poster has scientific degrees, makes effort to understand and concludes with a denialist attack, is terribly suspicious.

    For me, this would be reason to research for organised trolling.

    Comment by Firkas — 4 Dec 2009 @ 8:01 PM

  172. What I learned from redaing RC this week: 1. The word “settled” is the most contentious word in the English language, followed closely by “denialist” 2. Despite all appearances to the contrary, American Mass Media is liberal. And most dumdfounding,3. If society does nothing to ameliorate or mitigate AGW, it’s the fault of climate scientists, because they were so mean to skeptics.

    Comment by Paul — 4 Dec 2009 @ 8:04 PM

  173. Hey Gavin,
    OT if I may. I noticed that there were some data issues with GISS EH/ER. I’ve updated my data for GISS EH2 for 20C3M and A1B from data contained in the modelE-H2a/modelE-H2b folders on the GISS FTP site. I see that GISS ER has a misspecification of stratospheric ozone depletion and that the models were re-run for 20C3M. Is there an update for the A1B runs for GISS ER? I looked around on the FTP server and didn’t find anything that would indicate a re-run of the model initialized with the end conditions from the new 20C3M runs. Does such data exists?

    [Response: Sorry, no. -gavin ]

    Comment by Chad — 4 Dec 2009 @ 9:02 PM

  174. What I don’t understand is that if roughly half the world’s supply of fossil fuels, at least coal and oil created over 100′s of millions of years by the sequestration of hydrocarbons in the ground have been dug up, drilled up and burned in the last 160 years of industrial civilization, the resulting CO2 well recognized as a heat trapping gas and climate forcing agent, how anyone could rationally imagine that human kind is not the primary, nay virtually exclusive cause of current global warming, especially absent the proof of any other significant climate forcing during this period. I think the science is quite well settled except for exactly how many minutes will occur at the rate we’re going before our goose is cooked.

    Comment by Tim Jones — 4 Dec 2009 @ 9:25 PM

  175. Michael@134

    “What exactly is a “denialist”? I can’t find that in the dictionary.”

    I guess you could call it a kind of clueless social pathology that causes lacunae in reasoning.
    Denialist:
    “What is Denialism”

    Crank:
    “Unified theory of the crank”

    Crackpot:
    “How I found glaring errors in Einstein’s calculations”

    Comment by Radge Havers — 4 Dec 2009 @ 9:41 PM

  176. Jim Hanson (a different one)@150

    “…Al Gore…the makings of political advocacy all over this subject.”

    That makes a sort of sense just with hindsight. But then any attempt to address AGW that shows signs of being effective will come under intense fire. While one should always be ready to re-examine one’s position and where it went wrong, you should also avoid indulging in self-flogging. That’s just another distraction.

    We’re still learning how to build good firewalls between science and policy. That said, it is perfectly legitimate for people with policy expertise and communications skill to present to the public where, why, and how they think the science should influence political decisions. I’d argue that they’re obliged to do so. Al Gore isn’t a lightning rod because he’s a fat liberal. It’s because he’s articulate and not merely glib.

    The other, other Jim Hanson has taken his share of lumps too, btw, and just about every other climate scientist with a public voice I dare say, starting well before Gore weighed in.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 4 Dec 2009 @ 10:08 PM

  177. Gavin:

    You said (comment#2):

    [Response: No. The standard range is well supported by paleo-climate studies and a small sensitivity is not. Lindzen's latest paper will not turn out to be robust (I predict), and even Roy Spencer has said he can't get the same results with only modest differences in approach. You might like to think that a single paper from Lindzen overturns everything, but it doesn't. - gavin]

    This response misses my point. I am not saying that Lindzen’s paper is right and that the sensitivity is 0.5C. I am saying that Spencer is also below 2C and that a partially right Lindzen falsifies the whole IPCC range.

    Jerry North at Texas A&M is right at 2C, the very bottom of the iconic range.

    To pretend that sensitivity is ‘settled,’ even within a range, is a pretense of knowledge given how little we know and the temperature records that might have to go through a reconstruction.

    By the way, a take by an economist on the real climategate debate that you are missing by attacking the ultra-skeptics is here: http://www.masterresource.org/2009/12/sarcastic-responses-to-climategate-misconstrue-the-real-debate/

    Comment by Rob Bradley — 4 Dec 2009 @ 10:15 PM

  178. Gavin, this is a bit of a personal question, but you are sort of putting yourself out there…. Do you receive research funding or consulting fees from “Big oil and gas”?

    [Response: Not even little oil and gas. ;) -gavin]

    Comment by Garrett Jones — 4 Dec 2009 @ 10:19 PM

  179. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v462/n7273/full/462545a.html

    Comment by Courtney — 4 Dec 2009 @ 10:20 PM

  180. Richard says:
    4 December 2009 at 9:07 AM

    I think you’re guilty of your own brand of misrepresentation here. “Settled Science” in the cited WSJ article almost certainly refers not to AGW as established fact but rather a degree of certainty sufficient to justify large-scale policy change.

    Even if so, they would still be wrong. Apparently, we need to start teaching risk assessment in grade school. See if this informs you at all:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/apr/14/scientists-global-warming-conference-poll

    Of more than 250 experts surveyed, more than half said the 2C target could still be achieved but only 18 thought that it would be. By the end of the century, most thought average temperatures would rise by some 4C.

    …The Guardian poll merely highlights a belief that the warning has simply failed to penetrate. As one said: “I think a full understanding of what must be done quickly, and the consequences of insufficient action, is lacking among the policy makers and the public.” Another said: “Current government actions are playing into the hands of … an electorate that doesn’t quite understand how serious climate change is.”

    Survey respondents were promised anonymity. Many scientists are reluctant to admit publicly that the 2C target is unrealistic, and several warned that simply raising the subject was sensitive.

    Here’s a companion slide show. A little scarier than the above quote.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/interactive/2009/apr/14/climate-change-experts-predictions

    The BASE science is settled. Deal with it.

    Comment by ccpo — 4 Dec 2009 @ 10:26 PM

  181. What’s with all the pearl-clutching about scientists “advocating policy” anyway? Aren’t scientists citizens too? Last I heard, citizens of democracies have that right.

    Comment by bcoppola — 4 Dec 2009 @ 10:53 PM

  182. Sorry for coming to the discussion late, but I have a few questions that I would like someone to answer; terribly sorry if they are redundant. I obviously fully support the brilliant scientists at CRU and almost everything I’ve read supports their honesty here.
    My questions:

    1. Sources differ from “Phil Jones lost data in the 80′s”, to “CRU releases 95% of its data”, to “The other 5% is from the arctic”, to “The other 5% wasn’t even recorded/was thrown out”, to: “All of the processed data has been made public, but not the raw data”.

    Can Gavin or someone else please explain the exact state of CRU’s data?

    Was any thrown away, and if so, why?

    What isn’t being made public and why?

    Is the 95% of data released figure true, and does this apply to raw data or processed data? What exactly is the difference between the two?

    Is the 5% from the arctic region? I’m confused on this; one source tells me that CRU does not have arctic stations, and the other source tells me that CRU does not release the arctic data.

    2. Can someone please explain the exact state of Phil Jones’ FOI request problems? What requests did he decline, exactly? Were there valid reasons? How does the situation look for him right now? What will probably be the outcome of the independent review of the emails?

    Thanks, I really hope someone can answer these.

    Comment by Llama Cheese — 4 Dec 2009 @ 11:01 PM

  183. I would argue that this business of calling people “deniers” is unfair and unreasonable to ANYONE.

    I realize “deniers” are pretty much immune to logic. After all, we aren’t really wired for it, as studies often show. But here goes, anyway. It is eminently fair. There is a reason deniers (of all varieties) never discuss physical, observable changes, right? You can’t blame that on biased scientists (97% is bias? Sounds like consensus to me.) You can’t blame it on climate models. You can’t blame it on bad data. So you don’t talk about it. Anyway, the reason contrarians or sceptics or deniers or just the deluded are treated as, well, what they are is because we know where there opinions come from, and it ain’t science in the vast majority of cases. For your pleasure:

    http://www.uctv.tv/search-details.aspx?showID=13459

    http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/global_warming/exxon_report.pdf

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/science/earth/24deny.html?_r=1

    If you can show where any of the above are false, I’ll listen. (Not really. I prefer the ice measurements, etc., to denying reality.)

    Comment by ccpo — 4 Dec 2009 @ 11:06 PM

  184. I love this site. It is always goog for a chuckle before bed.

    Comment by walter — 4 Dec 2009 @ 11:37 PM

  185. 165, 171, 176: I’ll elaborate, but be patient; I want to squirt a magnum opus in here about cultural conflict.

    For 171 / Firkas: Nope, not a troll, nor a denialist. I am who I say I am. Never posted here before, never been to a denialist website, blah, blah, blah. I am a sceptic, however–of a sorts. Meanwhile, I am trying to get up to speed on intelligent discussion here, so I am off to 183 / ccpo’s link to the Oreske’s video…

    Jim H.

    Comment by Jim Hanson (a different one) — 4 Dec 2009 @ 11:46 PM

  186. Why not invest in more thermometers?

    If 100 (or so) thermometers would be enough, why not publish a list of the 100 (or so) thermometers that would, putatively, be sufficient and then track their results versus the total set of extant thermometers?

    Referrring to this comment discussion – http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=1994#comment-146121

    Comment by Mark V Wilson — 4 Dec 2009 @ 11:47 PM

  187. [Response: What is it with people refusing to stop playing semantic games? - gavin]

    Good question. Take your opening post, stating that the science isn’t settled, but you want to act like it is… Words mean things, people who write papers know that, and use words for specific reasons.

    If you truly believe that the science is not settled, then I think a letter stating as such – and providing the logical follow-on that more study is needed before drastic measures are taken – would go a long way towards rebuilding trust in much of the public’s eyes.

    Science is to be skeptical, and unless the evidence is conclusive, actions should be taken with care and trepidation. If you’re so sure that action is demanded and what that action should be, then apparently – as a good scientist – you believe the evidence IS conclusive. Meaning the science is settled.

    So which is it? Is it settled, or not?

    [Response: I write a whole post about why binary distinctions are misleading, and you respond by demanding I make a binary choice. Oh the irony. - gavin]

    Comment by Dan — 4 Dec 2009 @ 11:56 PM

  188. Mesa says:
    4 December 2009 at 1:12 PM

    I keep coming back to the intrinsic variability argument… If the answers are some combination of inaccurate temperature record and/or natural variability (which they seem to be, as CO2 is the only large positive forcing in the GISS database), then it’s understandable why there are a lot of questions about the sensitivity estimates.

    Again, the obvious escapes a poster: Do we care overmuch about history when current experience has observed natural events outpacing the sensitivity? In other words, you’re standing next to a river that was supposed to be at flood stage according to the science we have thus far, but is 5 feet over that, and asking whether the measurements taken in 1940 were correct. The question is, why are we seeing things we didn’t expect to see for decades, or even centuries?

    Comment by ccpo — 5 Dec 2009 @ 12:03 AM

  189. The American opposition to science is simply a matter of immaturity. It’s the belief in manifest destiny: that God gave us a good continent with a good climate. A God who would give it to us just a couple of centuries ago, and then snatch it away – that’s worse than accepting astronomical space-time scales or evolution. In both of those perspectives there’s still nothing that forces an acceptance that we are not the children of some being quite larger than us that will love and protect us. This, more than anything suggested by science, requires we be ready not to be children any more.

    Science asks us to grow up. Political and business “leaders” ask us to be children. It’s the converse to their taking on their “leadership” positions, as it were to either side of God. (There are no true religious leaders in this age. It’s all politics and business. Perhaps the Dali Lama’s the only exception.) The implication of the denialists is “Don’t worry, children, God will never let the climate get out of His control.” The motivation is the denialist leaders don’t want us to get out of their control, to grow up and take over the running of the adult world from them. They say as much, accuse us of conspiracy to do that. Let us openly engage in that conspiracy. Anything less is childish.

    And they are themselves childish. Many scientists are too, individually. Still, the step to maturity is scarier for many people than is utter destruction, than is death itself, even for their own children. We must push them to maturity anyway. We must be without mercy in this, except in dealing with the elderly, whose battle this will not be anyway. I’m not speaking as a scientist. Humanly though, this is where we’re at.

    Comment by Whit Blauvelt — 5 Dec 2009 @ 12:14 AM

  190. The toxic environmental effects of DDT were noticed 50 years ago and everyone not only accepted the evidence but acted on it.

    Actually, they’re still fighting it, and indeed, some of those who fight it also fight modern climate science.

    That should tell you something, no?

    (if you want an example of someone who is both a DDT and AGW denialist, go to junkscience.com)

    (if you want an example of a global warming and HIV/AIDS denialist who is also a far right wingnut, go visit Eric Raymond’s blog)

    Comment by dhogaza — 5 Dec 2009 @ 12:30 AM

  191. Apparently the Met Office has decided to reassess its temperature records. It is also promising that this time it will do the reconstruction in a more open and transparent way. It seems like somebody has been taking a close look at what was actually being done at CRU. They say that the reassessment will take them about 3 years.
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6945445.ece

    Comment by Bernie — 5 Dec 2009 @ 12:30 AM

  192. John S says:
    4 December 2009 at 2:34 PM

    IPCC ar4:

    “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures
    since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the
    observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations.”

    With “very likely” defined by the IPCC as >90%.

    So then the science is isn’t settled, it’s just “very likely” settled?

    [Response: Whatever. - gavin]

    Quite the distinction, Gavin.

    Yet another who asks so little of every other danger they face, but asks the highest possible – absolute certainty – of the one risk that can actually end civilization.

    Chance of death in car accident: roughly 1 in 100.

    Airplane: In general your chances are about 1 in 10.5 million.

    Fire: 1 in 1,062

    Earthquake: 77,326

    All of these have insurance available, some are mandatory. I’m betting you have some or all of these. Most ***who can afford it*** do. Yet, about Anthropogenically-forced Climate Change, which is essentially guaranteed to disrupt society and very likely to cause its breakdown if not mitigated, nothing should be done till we’re more sure. Even though
    the odds are far greater than any of those above.

    If that’s not denial, what is?

    Comment by ccpo — 5 Dec 2009 @ 12:33 AM

  193. Stephen Gloor (Ender) says:
    4 December 2009 at 5:54 PM

    ccpo – “I’m hoping this whole e-mail thing has awakened the Average Scientist to one simple reality: You’re going to have to come out from behind your desks and engage the public actively, and critics strongly, if you (collectively) wish to help avoid the 6C scenarios.”

    Who then does the research. I am sure that this foolishness has cost climate researchers much time and on his job.

    There are a LOT of climate scientists. A concerted effort – after all, the misrepresenters are utterly organized – would also go a long way. I’m serious. We need a few hours of TV time, live broadcast, led by the President, lots of scientists, even the handful of legitimate(?) naysayers, and show the public why the naysayers are misleading the public. This needs to include the well-documented funding and support as outlined by Oreskes, et al.

    Besides, we know all we need to know as far as how big the risks are. Beyond a certain point, it’s an academic issue. After, say, 4C, do you really think things will be anything like they are now?

    Comment by ccpo — 5 Dec 2009 @ 12:50 AM

  194. Thank you Gavin for your endurance on answering the issues raised over this widely publicized and endorsed criminal activity (also known as CruHack). But here you say now the science isn’t settled. So what are the non-settled issues? Is one of them by any change the observed lack of day-time and summer-time warming over the last 10 years? Has the ‘natural variability’-factor in the climate models been underestimated? If not, how are the limits of ‘natural variability’ on the models determined? I presume they have something to do with the vorticity of the dynamics in the system, so could there be an error on the way the models treat f.e. the deep ocean? I’d like to see these things written out somewhere, there once was a page on NASA that described some of the problems in climate models, but since it was moved or deleted I’m somewhat at loss discussing about the models with people interested on them. I know the simpler models people built during the first half of the 90s have been replaced by more accurate ones, but are there still some problems arising from the beginning of the climate modelling that have not been improved? I was pleased to find Taminos explanations on very early statistical (two-box) models but could there be a story (or a set of stories?) of a more complex (intermediate?) model, explained with as little maths as possible, if that’s possible? Again, thank you.

    Comment by jyyh — 5 Dec 2009 @ 1:02 AM

  195. The most unsettled science, the greatest unknown, lies with the human psychology and perception. … Humans have blind spots, lapses in hearing, and a general unwillingness to face the unpleasant. Compared to other animals, our senses are limited, while our hubris is unlimited.

    This is not meant to trivialize — the unknown and undiscovered aspects of global warming are now due to human reticence, fear, and political unwillingness to face the issue.

    Comment by Richard Pauli — 5 Dec 2009 @ 1:08 AM

  196. “The reason why no scientist has said this is because they know full well that knowledge about science is not binary – science isn’t either settled or not settled.”

    Silly hyperbola and obfuscatory rhetoric, Gavin.

    From: “Michael E. Mann”
    “In this one respect (sea level rise) I agree with today’s Journal editorial that the science is not yet settled.”

    http://www.eastangliaemails.com/emails.php?eid=776&filename=1170724434.txt

    Comment by Glenn — 5 Dec 2009 @ 3:03 AM

  197. Re MalcolmT (163)

    I think a lot of it has to with evolution and climate change butting heads with deeply held ideologies, be they economic, political or religious.
    After all the evidence for evolution is overwhelming and it underpins huge areas of science, including areas which people who deny evolution probably accept such as DNA testing, the emergence of drug resistant diseases etc. But a lot of people deny it.

    I don’t know if it matters whether people understand it, I doubt many people understand relativity but everyone agrees Einstein was a scientific genius.
    And I would argue that climate change is occurring fast enough for people to observe it (take the melt of the arctic ice for example). Although the western lifestyle does insulate us somewhat from changes in our environment.

    The denial industry is good at PR and has fairly successfully painted areas of science and perhaps science itself as a left vs right political issue. Personally I think if your personal or political ideology is incompatible with the laws of nature it’s time to change your ideology. But for someone who mistrusts science already and can find people who will tell them what they want to hear, then I’d imagine ideology will always trump the laws of nature.
    How else to explain the denial of evolution, one of the most fundamental aspects of modern science, 150 years after its discovery?

    Comment by Mike — 5 Dec 2009 @ 3:29 AM

  198. Looking at the data from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/anomalies/index.html, there has been no warming for 10 years. My question is how many years do we have to go without warming in order for climatologists to conclude that global warming has ended?

    Comment by just-curious — 5 Dec 2009 @ 3:30 AM

  199. Because the meme ‘The Earth has been cooling since 1998′ is becoming more wide spread again (even otherwise sensible newspaper articles seem to feel obliged to add a sentence like ‘but scientists cannot explain the cooling over the last 10 yeasr’) I would like to ask a question to the experts here.

    As I understand it, the fluctuations we see in yearly temperature are mainly due to the fact that we measure the atmosphere’s temperature only. The atmosphere is exchanging heat with the oceans, which have a much larger heat capacity. Heat exchange is dependent on things like weather and El Nino. Therefore the atmosphere’s yearly average temperature is somewhat random.

    Now it seems to me that if we could somehow integrate the total amount of energy in atmosphere, land mass and oceans, this energy (or some average equivalent temperature) should show a steady rise, because yearly solar input is approximately constant (apart from some influence from cloud and ice cover).

    In fact I would contend that this average temperature must be monotonously rising, and cooling is impossible as long as the amout nof greenhouse gas goes up.

    Is this correct?

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 5 Dec 2009 @ 4:55 AM

  200. Thinking a bit more about ‘warming’, I wonder to what extent the climate system shifts by going through a series of step changes, rather like the step-pool sequences one observes of streams and rivers in upland regions.

    In this respect, it seems to me that ‘warming’ can be taking place without much noticeable change in temperature – sensible heat – because much of the heat is going into changing phase i.e. melting ice into liquid water, or changing liquid water into vapour. I wonder therefore whether the apparent cessation of ‘warming’ over the last ten or so years, which the skeptics like to cite so often, is actually the system adapting by a series of phase changes for a while; once these have occurred for a period, the warming then is made evident again by temperature changes, then again a while later by phase changes, and so on, stepping from one energetic manifestation to another. A bit simplistic, I know, but looking at the changes in Arctic ice, and the recent data on Pine Island and more recently in the Eastern Antarctic ice sheet, I susupect that’s where we are at the moment. If this is correct, at some point, the temperature warming trend will be resumed, possibly with quite a large jump compared with what we experienced during the 1990s.

    Comment by Nick O — 5 Dec 2009 @ 6:06 AM

  201. Russ @ 126
    >”Bruce Tabor wrote earlier, “I thought the IPCC put a >90% likelihood on >human action being behind climate change in AR4. Are you saying this has >since moved to an “almost certain” level?”

    >I have frequently heard that line of thinking trumpeted by groups who >don’t think policy changes are justified unless there is 100% certainty…

    I’m definitely NOT arguing arguing that lack of 100% certainty should stop a determined policy response. Far from it. As far as I’m concerned it’s up around the “beyond reasonable doubt level” (or 95% – the old p<0.05) which should compel a response on the basis that it is proven.

    Comment by Bruce Tabor — 5 Dec 2009 @ 6:18 AM

  202. Brian at 138,
    “As an engineer with no knowledge of climate science, it is clear to me that the science is not remotely settled.”

    Does the phrase “non sequitur” mean anything to you? If you have no knowledge of climate science you are hardly in a position to make an assessment on that science on the basis of anything other than prejudice.

    Comment by Bruce Tabor — 5 Dec 2009 @ 6:23 AM

  203. Some silver lining may exist in all this if both sides try to make a positive impact in this situation and here may be that opportunity.
    Met Office to re-examine 160 years of climate data” (hope I have the syntax right to get a link in here)

    My hope is the raw data, unadjusted gets up early along with methodology. If the everyone is sincere about just wanting to make sure the science is right, now they prove it. I don’t have the scientific chops for the data crunching, but I will provide any help I can to people on both sides of the debate to help this work. It would be nice in this case to free up some funding to get this to happen even faster then 3 years and IS an appropriate use of my tax dollars. I think, since this is so important, this should be handled like the race to the moon and the resources needed dumped into this should flow post haste.

    I am a skeptic, but am really not an obstructionist. Get people in this process and give them what they need to reduce the time needed to complete this. Let the blogs start focusing on networking people together to work on the problem instead of bickering with each other.

    Of course that is what would happen in an ideal world, I have a great fear that it is going to degrade to sniping very quickly by people on both sides with a vested interest one way or another.

    Comment by Chris MCV — 5 Dec 2009 @ 6:25 AM

  204. 153: Response: All my code and output is online. Mike’s latest paper came with 20mb of supplementary data and code. So now do you believe what we are saying? -gavin
    twenty meg? That’s it???

    [Response: Do you even know what the paper was about? Or what was archived? Please try and keep the knee jerk reactions to a minimum. - gavin]

    Comment by Gerard Tyrrell — 5 Dec 2009 @ 6:26 AM

  205. #133 – I’ll have a crack too.

    “The “real issue we face” is what “emissions of CO2 (in particular) are posing a SUBSTANTIAL risk to human society.” Give us a number that will assure that the risk becomes an INSIGNIFICANT one. Give us a number so that it becomes NO risk at all. Give us a number that would be the “natural” number for humans to emit. If this is the end of the world as we know it, we need the dire prognosis of how much carbon we actually need to sequester, not some abstract goal or best practice that we should strive for. In short, what is the optimum level of atmospheric carbon? The world needs to know.”

    There is MASSES of work on this.

    The easiest and most accessible is probably The Stern Review.

    IPCC Working Group 3 goes into some detail but because it’s ultimately about providing information, rather than making policy recomendations, I cannot say what “safe” CO2 is. That’s up to the reader to decide.

    UKs Climate Change Committee Report “Building a low-carbon economy – the UK’s contribution to tackling climate change ” sets out a convincing argument for reducing global emissions by at least 50% by 2050.

    In short, however, I can give you a political answer.

    There is no ‘safe’ level of CO2, because of uncertainty. The three big uncertaincies are climate sensitity, what impact T has on human society and what runaway events we might trigger. Current CO2 levels might trigger feedbacks we can’t stop. We don’t /know/.

    The politicians have therefore decided that 450ppm CO2e is the level we should not increase because 450ppm is /possibly/ achievable, practically and politically. 350ppm is not politically achievable, and maybe not practically.

    But the best science suggests that if you go above 450ppm, bad things happen, that they get worse the higher you go and that there is a no neglidible probability that very bad things happen.

    So, in short, the current political feeling (at least in Europe) is that we shouldn’t go above 450ppm.

    Hope that helps.

    Comment by Silk — 5 Dec 2009 @ 6:43 AM

  206. This may be a little Off-Topic. BBC reports that the IPCC’s 2007 report regarding Himalayan glaciers is “wildly inaccurate”…by 300 years!!! It turns out that the IPCC’s finding that 80% of the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 was based on, as RK Pachauri is quoted saying, “voodoo science”. The correct year should have been 2335! The mistake was made because it turns out the IPCC relied on “unpublished” documents. I don’t want to be alarmist about this but the science wildly unsettling. It took two years to identify and report the error. Truly worrying, no?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8387737.stm

    Comment by sHx — 5 Dec 2009 @ 6:56 AM

  207. AJ:

    It is an objective fact, proven by their own admission (polling data) that the mainstream media in America is ideologically liberal.

    BPL: Except that the “mainstream media” is now not the mainstream. Most Americans get their data from Fox News, which is a creation of GOP strategist Roger Ailes. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly are all Ailes creations, and Ann Coulter is certainly a close ally. And people like you get their ideas on science from these incompetents instead of from the people who actually do science for a living.

    These are the facts, pal: Global warming is happening. It’s caused by human technology. And it’s the biggest crisis modern society has ever faced outside of nuclear war.

    Deal with it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 Dec 2009 @ 7:00 AM

  208. Walter Manny:

    I would argue that this business of calling people “deniers” is unfair and unreasonable to ANYONE. The term is clearly used in reference to the Holocaust to imply that skepticism regarding AGW theory is tantamount to Ahmadinejad’s rantings. At the very least, it is a tactical error on the part of AGW theory proponents to label those with whom they disagree using this noxious term.

    BPL: Then perhaps you agree that it’s wrong for the anti-AGW-theory posters on amazon.com, AOL, and pretty much all over the internet, to call climate scientists and those who support them Communists, Fascists, “Liberal Fascists” (whatever that means), Nazis, “Commie attack dogs,” “enviro-Commies,” etc.? Did you object to Christopher Monckton’s comment that “the greens are too yellow to admit they’re red?” Did you object when the people at WUWT and CA and the rest continually called climate scientists frauds, criminals, hoaxers? Did you object, for that matter, when Rush Limbaugh and Breitbart called for climate scientists to be executed?

    And you claim the scientists and their supporters are using inflammatory language because they refer to people who deny reality as deniers?

    Stick your head out the window and take a look around.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 Dec 2009 @ 7:05 AM

  209. Gail Honeyman:

    Could you recommend any specific resources, books, or other blogs on this topic?

    BPL: Check out Spencer Weart’s “The Discovery of Global Warming” (2nd ed. 2008), or George S. Philander’s “Is the Temperature Rising?” (1998). These give a good non-mathematical overview of the issue. If you want to understand the science in more detail, try Dennis Hartmann’s “Global Physical Climatology” (1994), or, with a lot more math, John T. Houghton’s “The Physics of Atmospheres” (3rd ed. 2002) or Grant W. Petty’s “A First Course in Atmosphere Radiation” (2nd ed. 2006).

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 Dec 2009 @ 7:09 AM

  210. Inge-Bert Täljedal:

    Firstly, anyone taking comfort in Smith must defeat Kramm et al. (http://arxiv.org/abs/0904.2767). Has hardly been done, has it?

    BPL: Yes it has, and I and many others have done it. Check out Eli Rabbett’s “Rabett Run” blog. In brief, Kramm is a scientific illiterate and G&T are incompetent.

    They are saying the greenhouse effect violates the second law of thermodynamics because a cooler object cannot transfer heat to a warmer one. This is just plain, flat-out wrong, according to well-established science dating to the 19th century. What the 2LOT actually says is that in an ISOLATED system, a cooler object cannot transfer NET heat to a warmer one. Here are some details:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/JJandJ.html

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 Dec 2009 @ 7:15 AM

  211. Mike M: Any system as comlex as the climate will diverge from their model after the first few seconds on the clock.

    BPL: “Complex.” And you’re wrong. You’re confusing weather with climate. Until you understand the difference, you’ll continue to make this mistake.

    When you understand how a ca si no can stay in business even though any given hand of bla ckj ack or spin of the ro ull ette wheel is unpredictable, you will start to understand the difference between weather and climate.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 Dec 2009 @ 7:18 AM

  212. I am not a scientist, but most scientists supposedly believe in AGW. Still, these scientists don’t seem very honest to hide their data and to bully other scientists.

    I was interested to see the CRU e-mails were posted on an ftp server in Tomsk.

    There are some bad hackers in Tomsk. They are called “patroitic hackers” and sometimes Russian hackers are guided by the intelligence services.

    Some early Russian media reports seemed quite sure that the hacking came from Russia and seem quite proud of this.

    http://legendofpineridge.blogspot.com/2009/11/russias-hacker-patriots-embarrass.html

    Comment by Zinaida Zalyotchik — 5 Dec 2009 @ 7:22 AM

  213. Brian:

    I believe that the scientists releasing papers which prove dire predictions for the earth are charlatans.

    How would you know? Do you know enough climatology to intelligently critique what they’re saying? Or are you just going by your political ideology?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 Dec 2009 @ 7:24 AM

  214. MalcolmT,

    There’s a whole subculture of relativity deniers. Check out “crank.net” in your browser’s address window.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 Dec 2009 @ 8:07 AM

  215. Rob Bradley,

    Read and learn:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/ClimateSensitivity.html

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 Dec 2009 @ 8:12 AM

  216. #183 – Ice measurements from where? Your fridge? Greenland? Alaska? Antarctic ice shelves? Antarctic mountains? Kilamanjaro? Mt Fuji? Chile? Patagonia? They’ll all give you different data – local and global.

    Comment by Gerard Tyrrell — 5 Dec 2009 @ 8:13 AM

  217. Llama Cheese,

    All the data still exists. 95% is publicly available. CRU destroyed their own COPIES of the raw data from assorted National Meteorological Services (NMSs), which prohibit CRU or anyone else from further distributing the data. You can get that data by applying to those services and paying the appropriate charges.

    The FOI judge involved found that CRU complied adequately and did not do anything illegal. The FOI requests that could be filled were, the others were legitimately turned down.

    Jones said a lot of nasty things about the deniers. He was a little ticked off that A) he had gotten 58 FOI requests over one weeked, and B) when he had previously given data to Steve McIntyre in particular, SM had misused it, misrepresented it, and lied about it, about CRU, and about Phil Jones. It would be nice if Dr. Jones had the patience of St. Francis of Assisi, but that’s in short supply.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 Dec 2009 @ 8:17 AM

  218. Does the present shortfall in ice extent in the Barnets Sea help settle it?
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/recent365.anom.region.6.html

    What’s that doing to temperatures on the methane-filled swamps of the tundra and precipitation in northern Europe?

    Comment by Nigel Williams — 5 Dec 2009 @ 8:21 AM

  219. RE: 153 “The climate warming matter has turned into an issue of good and bad – we and them. And in that battle the quest for scientic clarity has almost disappeard. I say: Michael Mann and Gavin Smith send all your data and data models to Steve McIntyre for verification. If you believe that the AGW matter is the most vital question of our generation you should take every effort to remove all possible doubts. Everything else would show that you really don’t believe in what you are saying.

    [Response: All my code and output is online. Mike's latest paper came with 20mb of supplementary data and code. So now do you believe what we are saying? -gavin]”

    Permit me to be blunt and throrougly redundant, and to assume for the sake of argument that you are not a compensated/organized troll. The data related to greenhouse gases and climate are and always have been available to utilities and the oil, gas, and coal companies to do their own analyses. Beyond that, those industries have enough money and have had enough time to collect data, run parallel research programs, and even to launch and operate their own satellites. They don’t need to rely on others to do the research–they certainly do large amounts of expensive high level research on location, extraction, and transportation of their fossil fuel products. The scientists that are part of the AGW consensus DO NOT have a monopoly on basic climate change research. If the industries could generate a legitimate counter, how long do you suppose it would take to destroy the AGW consensus–a minute, a day? So, what legitimate research have the carbon industries generated over the decades that counters the AGW consensus? NONE (if you want to be laughably charitable, “VIRTUALLY NONE”)!!! The same goes for the so-called scientist-critics; rather than attacking peer-reviewed published research, they’ve had decades to do their own basic research, yet have nothing or next-to-nothing to show for it. Some carbon companies apparently have joined the consensus, at least for PR purposes, but most of them have gone the route of using PR to undercut public opinion, or to remain silent as their mouthpieces do that for them. Does it not affect your view of the issue that the carbon industries–even entire petro-countries such as Russia and the OPEC members–have not been able to generate legitimate counters to the AGW consensus despite their enormous financial resources, research capacity, and decades of time to do it? Each year that passes without significant research countering the consensus makes the denial position more laughable and hysterical. The only things we’ve gotten from (most of) them after decades of opportunity is a combination of radio silence and PR static (similar to the oil companies’ blizzard of propaganda and attacks over the removal of tetraethyl lead from gasoline). Propaganda is many things, but it isn’t a substitute for research. PR means never having to admit you are wrong, and we’ve had enough anti-AGW PR to flood the planet. At what point do you recognize that your friendly local narcotics salesman is lying to you about the negative effect of his products, and that the news about those effects is true?

    Comment by ghost — 5 Dec 2009 @ 8:45 AM

  220. Re my comment 153 and gavins response. Don’t hide behind data and output being public somewhere. The way to do it is to send the raw data, adjusted data, code etc. to McIntyre for verification. If you can’t extend yourselves doing that in the light of what seems to have been taking place at UEA then you put yourselves in doubt. This is not a matter of academic infighting it is a matter that may affect billions of peoples economy and everday life.

    Comment by Svempa — 5 Dec 2009 @ 8:48 AM

  221. Gavin,

    Why do you continue to wriggle about the lack of validity of climate models?

    Below are various papers i have found falsifying the credibility of climate predictions (at least those based on these climate models).

    http://www.itia.ntua.gr/getfile/850/3/documents/2008EGU_ClimatePredictionPrSm.pdf

    http://www.atypon-link.com/IAHS/doi/pdf/10.1623/hysj.53.4.671?cookieSet=1

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/318/5850/629

    http://www.nature.com/news/2007/071025/full/news.2007.198.html

    Comment by Mike M — 5 Dec 2009 @ 9:02 AM

  222. well, this is interesting to note. Looks like the Met office is going to re-evaluate some of those temperatures you like to refer too so often:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6945445.ece

    Comment by Pat — 5 Dec 2009 @ 9:03 AM

  223. It’s currently snowing here in Bethesda.
    And you know what that means–Al Gore is fat.

    Comment by Sufferin' Succotash — 5 Dec 2009 @ 10:21 AM

  224. Whit,

    Your statement is hard to reconcile with 86 leading US evangelicals signing a statement saying Christians need to do more about global warming, or Pat Robertson and Al Sharpton, who have never agreed on anything in their lives, doing a joint commercial about the importance of fighting AGW. Then there’s the fact that John T. Houghton, former IPCC chairman and the author of “The Physics of Atmospheres,” is an evangelical. As am I.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 Dec 2009 @ 10:25 AM

  225. To post #188, there is a second possibility about the religious motive the goal is to hasten the end of the world. Many say the Iranian religious leaders are acting to hasten the return of the Mahdi (not sure about the spelling), so its likely that some US religious leaders want to see the end of the world hastened also. To many people religion is the most important thing in their lives bar none (why do disputes in churches go so long and strong, to the point that people get really burned about it (actually in the past more rhetorically now) If you listen to the there are more earthquakes than before etc rant the people could say it is the coming end of time, and we must not slow down the coming of it.

    Comment by Lyle — 5 Dec 2009 @ 10:43 AM

  226. Mark V Wilson, you missed the point. The point is that there already are far more than the required 100 thermometers, distributed more than sufficiently.

    Comment by Tom Dayton — 5 Dec 2009 @ 10:49 AM

  227. I’m sorry that the CRU has been involved in this silliness. However, I view this whole thing as the last stand of the deniers. They have no compelling science to explain observations so now they’ve been reduced to attacking the data (which shouldn’t even be an issue because the raw data still exists).

    What to do about this? Welcome it. Certainly, this has disrupted research at the CRU and some peoples’ lives have been turned upside down but if the science is solid (as I find it to be) all will be vindicated in the end. It will be the deniers last stand. Skeptics will certainly remain but the gainsaying deniers will be squelched once and for all.

    Keep your chins up CRU and forge ahead.

    Comment by M. Joyce — 5 Dec 2009 @ 11:01 AM

  228. Denialism is fading, because the basic science is irrefutable. Denialists can’t even come up with simple physical explanations of any kind that would support their views. Nor do they have any datasets that support their views. All you have is a PR program aimed at sowing doubt and halting government action.

    The deceptionists are now the ones in charge – for example, see this story:

    West Texas coal project gets $350 million federal grant
    Saturday, December 5, 2009

    By ELIZABETH SOUDER / The Dallas Morning News

    A West Texas coal gasification power plant led by former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller has won a $350 million federal grant.

    The coal plant was proposed by Summit Power, based in Washington state, for the former oil boomtown of Penwell, near Odessa. The company plans to build a plant that turns coal into gas rather than burns it, cutting down on pollution. Summit will include equipment to gather carbon dioxide emissions.

    Will it really? And why isn’t the press asking about the details? Has ANY prototype – even a benchtop lab model – ever been built that is capable of using its own energy output to capture its emissions? NO! And yet the media institutions, and the government science institutions, blithely move forward under prompting from coal-state politicians, such as Richard Durbin of Illinois, who is essentially playing the same role for coal interests that Dick Cheney did in the last election.

    Big Oil Recruits No. 2 U.S. Senator’s Nephew to Lobby Congress
    By Joe Carroll

    Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) — The lobbying group for oil companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. hired a nephew of U.S. Senator Richard Durbin to argue the industry’s case against climate-change legislation that threatens to slash profits.

    and this as well:

    Durbin confident in future of FutureGen, 11/13/09, Denver News:

    The federal commitment of $1.1 billion and the work of the FutureGen Alliance bolsters U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin’s confidence about the FutureGen plant’s pending arrival to Mattoon in the distant future.

    Durbin, D-Ill., said in a press conference Friday at Mattoon that the U.S. Department of Energy is expected to make an announcement about proceeding with the FutureGen project in the coming weeks.

    Entrenched political interests are still doing all they can to boost coal and block renewable energy – a pattern of behavior that began in the late 1970s and which still continues today, despite the fact that the public supports rapid renewable development by a 75% margin – if that’s not a failure of democracy, what is?

    The DOE is also refusing to fund ANY basic science approaches at public universities, but rather is trying to direct all the money to the government-owned contractor-managed facilities – the National Labs, for example. The vast chunck are managed by Battelle for the DOE, and Battelle is the main private coordinator of FutureGen – but since Battelle is a private entity, you can’t submit FOIA requests to them. All in all, Obama’s DOE is not any better than Bush’s DOE – and that’s a statement based on analysis of the budget. Not even Bush’s DOE would okay nonsense like FutureGen!

    As another example, solar companies are being forced to seek complicated lo-an guarantees, while multiple coal projects are being given direct grants – and grants don’t need to be repaid! Face the facts: this administration is as dedicated to coal interests as the previous one was to international oil interests.

    Denialism is dead; welcome to the new era of deception.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 5 Dec 2009 @ 11:28 AM

  229. Dan said “Science is to be skeptical, and unless the evidence is conclusive, actions should be taken with care and trepidation.”

    It all depends on what you mean by “conclusive” and “care and trepidation,” which in turn are dictated partially by circumstances. If conclusive means 100% certain, nothing much is ever likely to get done. But if you mean 90% confidence within the known error limits and with catastrophic consequences if nothing is done, then that is pretty conclusive. That’s about where we are. It is a form of insanity not to act.

    Suppose you are diagnosed by medical experts to have diabetes. But you read on a blog that you cannot really trust lab data and that many things could be causing your symptoms. You love desserts, so you choose to believe the blog. For every new test that comes in, your favorite blog has a comforting alternative explanation. After a couple of years, your organs begin to fail, you go blind and then…

    People would rather believe a convenient, comforting lie than a difficult truth. Our problem is that huge amounts of money are being spent to promote a convenient lie (actually, lies), which just happen to be in the interest of the fossil fuels industry. Imagine that.

    Comment by Ron Taylor — 5 Dec 2009 @ 11:37 AM

  230. just-curious (198) says, “Looking at the data … , there has been no warming for 10 years. …How many years do we have to go without warming in order for climatologists to conclude that global warming has ended?”

    As a skeptic I’ll offer an answer because it allows me to get my position in. IMO, if you would have said ‘how long before the forcing and sensitivity equations and theory must be modified, I’d say 10-15 years; but before AGW can be declared dead, probably at least a couple of hundred or more.

    Dick Veldkamp (199), you have an interesting point/question. My difficulty stems from the fact that the atmospheric temperature is NOT random, even if it is not linear for the reasons you state. What is sometimes hard to answer is the specifics of why CO2 and air temperature seem to track closely sometime and not at other times over constrained time periods.

    Comment by Rod B — 5 Dec 2009 @ 11:39 AM

  231. “The reason why no scientist has said this is because they know full well that knowledge about science is not binary – science isn’t either settled or not settled. ”

    Please tell this to the IPCC who findings in the Fourth Assessment Report state “The warming of the climate system is unequivocal.” There must be a consensus then, it’s without question. But is it due to humans?

    Comment by Tim Yates — 5 Dec 2009 @ 11:45 AM

  232. Mike M: you’ve scored a goal in the other side’s net there:
    “falsifying the credibility”?? You are using those words wrong.

    Did you even read the material you cited?
    I’d guess you got those from some site that tells you what they want them to mean and lies about it. Co2Science for example.

    Yes, there are limits to certainty in modeling.
    No, that’s not a reason to delay taking action.

    Read the citing papers and think, please. Try here and the papers it cites:
    http://www.pnas.org/content/105/38/14239.full

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Dec 2009 @ 11:49 AM

  233. Re 220:
    Swempa wrote:
    “Don’t hide behind data and output being public somewhere. The way to do it is to send the raw data, adjusted data, code etc. to McIntyre for verification.”

    Who the he** anointed McIntyre King of climate data research? Even if he did perform legitimate, unbiased analysis of data (which we know from history isn’t his style), there is ZERO obligation for any scientist in any field to make sure HE is happy with their science! Good grief, do you hear what you’re saying? McIntyre, a blogger with no credible academic training or scientific research experience, is somehow the worlds arbiter of scientific truth?

    Comment by Ken W — 5 Dec 2009 @ 12:11 PM

  234. Gavin, you can quibble about semantics, but there is no doubt that politicians have picked up the ball and run with the notion that life as we know it will certainly cease if we don’t take immediate and drastic measures. Never mind that cooler heads have shown that even the drastic measures suggested will not succeed. As George Will points out, Obama’s promise that “U.S. emissions in 2050 will be 83 percent below 2005 levels…means that per capita emissions then will be about what they were in 1875. That. Will. Not. Happen.”

    Now I know that scientists don’t like to get onto politics, but take some responsibility. The unrealistic things that these guys say is in response to what you say.

    And what about Kevin Trenberth’s revealing diatribe when he asked “Where did the heat go?” None of you can explain where it went and you know it.

    So I recommend two things:

    EXPOSE: Call out the likes of Al Gore when he makes wild and irresponsible claims.

    DISCLOSE: Admit that, despite heroic efforts, there is an an awful lot that you don’t know about what determines the Earth’s temperature. Admit that those exceedingly complex climate models aren’t ready for prime time yet.

    If you start doing those two things, people may begin to trust you.

    [Response: Try reading our archives.... - gavin]

    Comment by Jim Ogden — 5 Dec 2009 @ 12:11 PM

  235. BPL, despite the rationalization, tap dancing, and, dare I say it, denials of AGWers, “denialist” is an ad hominem of the worst kind. Then again so are the counter ad homs that you mention. But, there is a faction of AGW proponents that are using CC to aid their socia_list and trees-over-men agendas; and there are a few who are distinctly fascists (though not the others groups you state). I do not blame the mainstream AGW scientists for them though, and you might wish they would go away, but they’re there none-the-less, and even occasionally post on RC.

    Rush Limbaugh is a creation of Ailes?? Limbaugh called for execution of climate scientists???? Can you back that up??

    Comment by Rod B — 5 Dec 2009 @ 12:17 PM

  236. Re: 222
    “well, this is interesting to note. Looks like the Met office is going to re-evaluate some of those temperatures you like to refer too so often:”

    From the article:
    “The Government is attempting to stop the Met Office from carrying out the re-examination, arguing that it would be seized upon by climate change sceptics.”

    They are right. The sceptics will seize upon it whether it’s done or not. If they reanalyze the sceptics will say “see, even they don’t trust it”. If they don’t reanalyze the sceptics will say “see, they are continuing their cover-up”. If they partially reanalyze the sceptics will say “see, they refuse to analyze all of it because they know it’s bad”. That’s the “game” the sceptics play.

    From the article:
    “The Met Office is confident that its analysis will eventually be shown to be correct.”

    They are right too.

    Clearly, this reanalysis isn’t based on anything in the e-mails or the data which undermines the correctness of the data. It’s based entirely on the amount of public noise the “skeptics” have been making and the press has all too often bought into without checking their facts.

    Comment by Ken W — 5 Dec 2009 @ 12:22 PM

  237. [Response: I write a whole post about why binary distinctions are misleading, and you respond by demanding I make a binary choice. Oh the irony. - gavin]

    And you’re being disingenous. You want to paint the discussion and the related science as a continuum of gray, yet the solutions proposed and apparently supported by you (those pushed by the IPCC) are quite black-and-white.

    You want to live in the world of gradations, and decry those who seek for more concrete, binary results. Yet you’re quite comfortable supporting binary results from your own research, and apparently do not want to make a point of stressing your belief the science is not settled.

    Pot, meet kettle…

    [Response: Have you even read any of my research? All papers are online at my work page. Please read them and then tell me exactly where I do all the terrible things you accuse me of. -gavin]

    Comment by Dan — 5 Dec 2009 @ 12:46 PM

  238. http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/12/febrile_nitwits_and_the_hacked.php

    The video is the best coverage of this whole issue I’ve seen.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Dec 2009 @ 12:49 PM

  239. #139 – “I believe the headline refers to both Al Gore’s comments on how climate change is “settled science” AND the recent comments from the White House muppet Robert Gibbs on how the climate change is “settled science”. ”

    That is indeed the case, and it has been a clear them from proponents of the theory of ACC in the political world that they have pushed the meme that the scientists have done their work and it’s settled.

    http://townhall.com/blog/g/16a8ef80-39c5-4d2b-9cf8-a5139545ada0
    Gibbs – “climate change is happening, I dont think that’s in dispute anymore”

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9047642
    “The science is settled, Gore told the lawmakers.” (in 2007)

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/25/climate-czar-says-e-mails-dont-change-anything/
    “Obama administration climate czar Carol Browner on Wednesday rejected claims that e-mails stolen from a British university show climate scientists trumped up global warming numbers, saying she considers the science settled. “I’m sticking with the 2,500 scientists. These people have been studying this issue for a very long time and agree this problem is real,” said Ms. Browner… ”

    In light of these sorts of pronouncements, the Lindzen oped headline is not at all inappropriate, as a rejoinder not to climate scientists but to the politicians.

    Comment by Patrick M. — 5 Dec 2009 @ 12:51 PM

  240. Here’s the direct link.

    For those who haven’t watched the nitwittery about this, some of it’s captured –both network commentators and some guy with a webcam frothing about their misunderstandings, then an explanation of the text and context

    http://www.youtube.com/v/7nnVQ2fROOg

    Dry British humor. Excellent.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Dec 2009 @ 12:53 PM

  241. As a previously uninterested simple tax payer my first question is where are the long term analysis for temp & co2? There seems to be much sparing and talk about short term changes.

    The series of charts I came across for the past 400,000 years show cyclical changes:
    1/ both CO2 and temp peaks seem to track each other
    2/ The period between past events seems to suggest the current event is around due
    3/ past temp peaks seem to be about where we currently are.

    I believe reducing co2 output is a sound goal for better air quality, but interestingly the only thing that will solve the debate (and provide sound insight) is doing nothing and see if the planetary systems correct

    Regards
    chris

    Comment by chris — 5 Dec 2009 @ 1:07 PM

  242. “Not even little oil and gas. ;) -gavin”

    Maybe they’ll give you a lump of coal for Christmas.

    I got a lump of coal once. It had interesting fossils in it, so I was grateful.

    Svempa@220

    “The way to do it is to send the raw data, adjusted data, code etc. to McIntyre for verification. If you can’t extend yourselves doing that in the light of what seems to have been taking place at UEA then you put yourselves in doubt.”

    Sounds dire! If McIntyre is that helpless, how does he manage to stand up and feed himself let alone muster the energy to form an opinion? Somebody better call him an ambulance!

    Comment by Radge Havers — 5 Dec 2009 @ 1:18 PM

  243. @220 Svempa:
    There’s nothing holding YOU back sending it to McIntyre…
    Besides, do you really think McIntyre is not looking at Mann’s latest paper already? The man has an obsession, and that obsession is Mike Mann and proxy reconstructions that don’t fit his desired outcome (note that he never went deep into Loehle, getting others to correct the HUGE errors in the first version).

    Comment by Marco — 5 Dec 2009 @ 1:25 PM

  244. Svempa (#220) thinks the way to deal with “a matter that may affect billions of peoples economy and everday life” is for the science to be verified by one (1) retired mining consultant with a blog. The mind boggles.

    Comment by CM — 5 Dec 2009 @ 2:12 PM

  245. google searches

    Your search – ‘”the science is settled” site:sciencemag.org – did not match any documents.
    Your search – ‘”the science is settled” site:pnas.org – did not match any documents.
    Your search – ‘”the science is settled” site:agu.org – did not match any documents. (~14 journals)
    Your search – ‘”the science is settled” site:multi-science.co.uk – did not match any documents. (publishes Energy and Environment + ~28 other journals)
    Your search – “the science is settled” site:eastangliaemails.com – did not match any documents. (You’d think they would have let it slip at least once in 60Mbytes)

    Your search – “the science is settled” site:wallstreetjournal.com – did not match any documents.
    Your search – “climate change” site:wallstreetjournal.com – did not match any documents.
    Results 1 – 1 of 1 from wallstreetjournal.com for “global warming”.
    Results 1 – 10 of about 3,730 for “the science is settled” “george will”.

    Predictably;
    Results 1 – 10 of about 379 from wattsupwiththat.com for “the science is settled”.
    Results 1 – 10 of about 114 from climateaudit.org for “the science is settled”
    Results 1 – 10 of about 78 from heartland.org for “the science is settled”
    Results 1 – 10 of about 14 from foxnews.com for “the science is settled”.
    Results 1 – 5 of 5 from cei.org for “the science is settled”.

    Results 1 – 2 of 2 from sierraclub.org for “the science is settled”. (I expected more)
    Your search – “the science is settled” site:greenpeace.org – did not match any documents. (no “alarmists” here, right?)

    Results 1 – 1 of 1 from nature.org for ‘”the science is settled”.
    http://blog.nature.org/2009/04/cool-green-morning-thursday-april-30/ repjy from a skeptic who starts with “All humans will suffer from controls on global warming emissions.” segues into “The Arctic is beginning to see a net increase this year.” and ends with “despite claims “the science is settled,” thousands of scientists disagree with forecasts of dangerous manmade global warming.’

    Results 1 – 9 of 9 from nature.com for ‘”the science is settled”
    8 from blogs.nature.com/
    1 from http://scintilla.nature.com/items/598696,596972,597229 discussing claims made by unidentified bloggers on http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/19/flawed-science-advice-for-obama/
    “In both cases skepticism is not tolerated ( the science is “settled”) and skeptics run the risk of losing their jobs. On top of that, prominent alarmists like James Hansen en David Suzuki want “climate criminals” on trial.”

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 5 Dec 2009 @ 2:19 PM

  246. Settle:
    Etymology: Middle English, to seat, bring to rest, come to rest, from Old English setlan, from setl seat
    Date: 1515
    5 a : to fix or resolve conclusively
    from
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/SETTLE

    Now read the summary from the Charney et al. 1979 NAS/NRC report regarding CO2 and climate:
    http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12181&page=1
    I don’t seem to me that much has changed in the intervening 30 years; I’d say that part is settled.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 5 Dec 2009 @ 2:22 PM

  247. This is the first proper response I have seen to this debacle so far.

    Will others follow?

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6945445.ece

    “The Met Office plans to re-examine 160 years of temperature data after admitting that public confidence in the science on man-made global warming has been shattered by leaked e-mails.

    The Met Office is confident that its analysis will eventually be shown to be correct. However, it says it wants to create a new and fully open method of analysing temperature data.”

    Comment by John MacQueen — 5 Dec 2009 @ 2:40 PM

  248. Re #227:
    I hope you are correct, thought I doubt it. Fully agree with what you say though. Not a shred of science is left, so hacking, theft and character-assassination attempts are the bones at the bottom of the stewpot that they are left with.

    Bad science is one thing: willful anti-science is quite another thing altogether. For that, the term Denier is exactly correct: meaning – he or she who would willingly spread deception.

    And a lot of us are well fed-up with the deniers right now!!

    Cheers – John

    Comment by John Mason — 5 Dec 2009 @ 3:14 PM

  249. Gavin Schmidt RC: “But if you ask me whether the CO2 rise in anthropogenic, or whether CO2 was a greenhouse gas or whether it’s increase has been the predominant cause of temperature rises in recent decades, then yes – these things are pretty much ‘settled’ (in the popular understanding of the word).”

    Yes or no?

    Comment by Magnus — 5 Dec 2009 @ 3:25 PM

  250. This is a good post Gavin. My observation is that most of the “real” arguments are more about interpretations of good science rather than bad science. Unfortunately critics and alarmists both paint this as a debate about “the science”.

    This obliqueness leads, for example, to skeptics suggesting stupidly that the CRU hacked emails “undermine” key points of AGW which they certainly do not. However it also leads to less transparency than is ideal, especially in the paleo dendro community. Great science requires greater transparency. You don’t agree this is an important issue to address, but even if it’s not affecting the science it is certainly affecting the public perception of scientists.

    Comment by Joe Hunkins — 5 Dec 2009 @ 3:36 PM

  251. BPL: Your argument therefore is that AGW proponents are justified in using the term ‘denialists’. Everyone uses abusive terms – your choice is the word ‘denialist’. Why this word? I believe that was the question.

    Why talk about balance? Posts here get deleted, moulded. The emails say that a close watch will be kept on the posts.

    Do you know how a deleted post can read? I reads the exact opposite way it was meant to be read.

    If you guys will go to such lengths as to keep track of individual posts, imagine what you would do with papers.

    Those who are confident of their own science wouldn’t bother so much about prevailing counterpoints and their ‘public impact’ Bothering too much about public impact is not a scientist’s job. Like I’ve said before, keep your nose down.

    The minute you guys publish your papers, you want to wave photocopies of your papers in front of government officials and polar bears. And then pretend to be shocked that people have different opinions. Or do not share the same intensity of belief that you do. Grow up.

    The opposite viewpoint is shocking only to a fundamentalist. There are all kinds of idiots and geniuses in this world. Nothing prevents them from using their brains and speaking out their thoughts. If I were a AGW denier, RealClimate comments would look horrid to me too.

    Comment by Anand Rajan KD — 5 Dec 2009 @ 4:23 PM

  252. oops wrong thread (re: previous comment)

    Comment by Anand Rajan KD — 5 Dec 2009 @ 4:23 PM

  253. RE#166
    I don’t understand your response to my question.

    Comment by Krog — 5 Dec 2009 @ 4:50 PM

  254. The science will never be persuasive for those whose interests conflict with the actions necessary to act upon its conclusions. Even if scientists were 99.9% sure that our current path will lead us to extinction, this will not be worth the risk, for some, of having any short term impact on their bottom line. Unfortunately, those who argue we should do nothing will be long since gone when our descendents have to pay the piper. Life may go on, but it will be nasty, brutish, and short, just like the old days.

    While good scientists are very careful in conducting their science, they need to learn to be more careful in expressing themselves and speak as if they have just been read the Miranda notice. Anything you say can and will be used against you.

    We have all had our emails misunderstood, even by those not out to get us. It is no surprise that release of thousands of emails would result in some that seem to cast a bad light on the climate scientists who wrote them.

    Comment by Tom Street — 5 Dec 2009 @ 5:14 PM

  255. “Below are various papers I have found falsifying the credibility of climate predictions (at least those based on these climate models).”
    [snip]
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/318/5850/629
    [snip]
    Mike M — 5 December 2009 @ 9:02 AM

    If you think this paper is “falsifying the credibility” you either haven’t actually read it, or don’t understand the math.
    “Moreover, the data that we have on extreme climates [for example, the Eocene warmth and Proterozoic "snowball Earth" (20, 21)] suggest that the climate system may have been acutely sensitive to radiative forcing during some intervals of Earth’s history. Our results imply that dramatic changes in physical processes are not necessary for dramatic changes in climate sensitivity, provided that those changes in processes can all align in the same direction toward increased sensitivity. These are events of low but not zero probability.”
    “However, the probability that {Delta}T lies in the interval immediately outside the range of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (say, 4.5°C ≤ {Delta}T ≤ 8°C) is very insensitive to {sigma}f and f and changes little with {Delta}Tc. ”
    According to their Figure 3, there is ZERO probability that the sensitivity is less than 1.5 deg C, maximum probability that the sensitivity is 2.5-3 deg C and a greater than 10% probability that the sensitivity is 5 deg C for doubling CO2.
    “We have shown that the uncertainty in the climate sensitivity in 2 x CO2 studies is a direct and general result of the fact that the sum of the underlying climate feedbacks is substantially positive. Our derivation of hT ({Delta}T) did not depend on nonlinear, chaotic behavior of the climate system and was independent of details in cloud and other feedbacks.” What might change the probability? Positive feedbacks – yep; makes things worse. Chaotic behavior – nope. Clouds – nope.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 5 Dec 2009 @ 5:14 PM

  256. Sorry to bug you Gavin, but could you write a line or two in response to my #199 ? I could use the info to debunk the notion of ‘cooling since 1998′ in some other web discussions. Thanks.

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 5 Dec 2009 @ 6:29 PM

  257. Regarding:
    #202: Good point.
    #213:”How would you know? Do you know enough climatology to intelligently critique what they’re saying? Or are you just going by your political ideology?”:

    Why don’t I believe the proof of global warming? One reason is the data that exists to create the models. If there existed data going back a million years, made with tons of accurate thermometers placed all over the world–in the oceans and in the air, then I’m inclined to believe it is possible to model the future of the world’s weather accurately, given that we also understand what caused temperature fluctuations during those past years. But, my understanding is that we don’t have that data.

    I don’t believe that it is my political ideology that affects my opinion on global warming. As I said, I believe in reducing our impact on the earth, and I appreciate that global warming has increased awareness on the impact we have.

    Comment by Brian — 5 Dec 2009 @ 6:43 PM

  258. Dick Veldkamp (256) — BPL has done a good job of that on another thread recently.

    Brian (257) — Data is not used to “create” the models; physics is:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/11/faq-on-climate-models/
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/01/faq-on-climate-models-part-ii/langswitch_lang/tk

    We also have hundreds of thousands of years worth of proxy data from Antarctic ice cores and many millions of years from benthic cores, compiled into the LR04 benthic stack. So it appears you need to read some more about reality. I suggest starting with “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:
    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html
    after reading Andy Revkin’s review:
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F04E7DF153DF936A35753C1A9659C8B63

    Comment by David B. Benson — 5 Dec 2009 @ 7:15 PM

  259. One reason is the data that exists to create the models. If there existed data going back a million years, made with tons of accurate thermometers placed all over the world–in the oceans and in the air, then I’m inclined to believe it is possible to model the future of the world’s weather accurately, given that we also understand what caused temperature fluctuations during those past years. But, my understanding is that we don’t have that data.

    What you *really* don’t understand is how the models are constructed, and how they work, which unfortunately makes your statement nonsensical.

    Climate science seems to be one area where people feel that they’re qualified to judge without putting in the effort to learn the first thing about whatever it is they’re pontificating about.

    Comment by dhogaza — 5 Dec 2009 @ 7:53 PM

  260. Great! So Gerlich and Tscheuschner are “cranks”. Isn’t that precisely the attitude revealed in the climategate emails that has turned so many heads to look crab-eyed at ‘climate scientists’?

    Terms like ‘deniers’ and ‘cranks’ aren’t winning you any friends, and it’s precisely that kind of snotty arrogance that has brought you to this sad place. When the Jon Stewarts of the world mock that sort of thing, you know you are on the down slope of your influence.

    [Response: I'm sorry if it bothers you that science is not a democracy. But cranks exist in all fields (medicine, physics, climate etc.) and if you think they should be treated as scientific equals might I suggest a leach treatment the next time you have a cold? This is not 'arrogance', this is science. - gavin]

    Comment by Krumhorn — 5 Dec 2009 @ 7:55 PM

  261. re: 234
    Gavin, your response of “Try reading our archives” is rather flippant. What you don’t seem to understand is that the public has lost trust in climate scientists. Perhaps you have been occasionally critical of Al Gore on this obscure website. Maybe you’ve even been critical of climate models, but that won’t cut it at this point. Rasmussen says “Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Americans say it’s at least somewhat likely that some scientists have falsified research data to support their own theories and beliefs about global warming.” You need need to be contrite, not flippant. You need to get out in front of this publicly. The public doesn’t read this website. Your profession is under siege. You are probably a fine, honest scientist.
    [edit]
    The time has come for you and others to speak out and clean up climatology. It’s not good enough to let politicians deceive while you quietly snicker amongst yourselves.

    Comment by Jim Ogden — 5 Dec 2009 @ 8:52 PM

  262. What do you think are the most unsettled issues and how do they affect our plans and actions for the future?

    A Partial list:

    1. The models are unsettled. There isn’t an AGW model that correctly predicted the lack of warming after 1998, and none of the GCM models even predict the recent past from earlier years. Some relatively simple statistical extrapolations of the past trends (with periodic terms to represent the apparent cycles of warming and non-warming) predicted a reduction in warming after 2000, but these are not widely respected among the climate science community. Shouldn’t they gain some credibility from their evidently correct prediction?

    [Response: Not true in any respect. But I'll put up a post on this soon. - gavin]

    2. How big is solar forcing really? The energy change is small, but the effect of the solar wind on cosmic rays is greater. If it is big enough, which is not known, then we are in for some decades of cooling, or at least non-warming.

    [Response: Very unlikely for all the reasons discussed in solar-related posts in the archive. - gavin]

    3. What is the residence time of anthropogenic CO2 (and others)? IPCC assumed a residence time much in excess of published measured residence times. How much does this affect predictions?

    [Response: Not true either. Residence time for a single molecule in the atmosphere (~5years) is not the same as perturbation time of atmospheric CO2 because of the rapid equlibration with the small terrestrial and upper ocean reservoirs. Those processes lead to very much longer timescales, with uptake regulated by the transport into the deep ocean which is much slower. - gavin]

    4. What is the effect of increasing H2O? Estimates are all over the place. IPCC assumed that the H2O effect was a positive feedback, but the feedback could be negative.

    [Response: A positive water vapour feedback is an observed fact (ENSO, volcanoes, long term trend), not an assumption. - gavin]

    5. What is the effect of increased growth rates and drought resistance that higher CO2 concentrations have on plants? Do higher CO2 concentrations in seas and lakes increase the plant growth rates?

    [Response: This is more interesting - but it is isn't any reason to discount any other problem with increasing CO2 (or other GHGs) - including issues associated with increasing acidification in the oceans. - gavin]

    6. Last, for now, If you propose to spend $2Trillion in 10 years, what ways of spending it would really be of most benefit to the Earth’s poor people? Rapidly rebuilding the energy infrastructure of the rich nations does not seem to be the best way to spend the money.

    [Response: Spending money on the developing world to provide clean drinking water to everyone would cost $50bn and would be a great thing to spend money on. Given that the Iraq war cost $1Tr, it isn't climate policy that is holding this spending back. - gavin]

    Those are just a few.

    “The science is settled” has come mostly from Al Gore and like-minded individuals. Scientists have drawn attention to areas needing research, and the global warming skeptics have drawn attention to the ways in which “The science is settled” isn’t a true statement.

    Comment by Matthew — 5 Dec 2009 @ 9:26 PM

  263. As a previously uninterested simple tax payer my first question is where are the long term analysis for temp & co2? There seems to be much sparing and talk about short term changes.

    The series of charts I came across for the past 400,000 years show cyclical changes:
    1/ both CO2 and temp peaks seem to track each other
    2/ The period between past events seems to suggest the current event is around due
    3/ past temp peaks seem to be about where we currently are…

    Regards
    chris

    Comment by chris — 5 December 2009 @ 1:07 PM

    Apparently we’re back in Climate Change Kindergarten.

    Why don’t I believe the proof of global warming? One reason is the data that exists to create the models.

    Yes, because the climate models are ALL WE HAVE!

    The ice all over the planet isn’t melting.

    The permafrost isn’t melting.

    The sea floor clathrates aren’t melting.

    Creatures and their habitats aren’t getting out of sync.

    The Jet Stream isn’t migrating northward.

    There isn’t a 2:1 ratio of record warm temperatures to record cold temperatures.

    There are no island nations threatened by inundation.

    CO2 does not have a greenhouse effect.

    Desertification is not spreading.

    Glaciers are not speeding up in various places.

    CO2 is not now higher than at any time during any part of the glacial/inter-glacial era, i.e. over 300 ppm.

    No extinctions are happening, and certainly not at an alarming rate.

    The intensity of weather phenomena like droughts, storms, floods are not increasing.

    Animals, plants, etc. are not moving to higher latitudes or higher elevations.

    Criminy…

    Comment by ccpo — 6 Dec 2009 @ 2:01 AM

  264. This essay definitely hits important points that are further elaborated in the follow-up postings, but ultimately misses the point why global warming is so fiercely debated. First let’s realize that not only science is not binary (“settled” or “unsettled”) but the opposition to AGW has gradients too. On one end of the spectrum are those who flatly reject the idea of humans causing global warming, and the other end are those, who recognize human’s responsibility in recent global warming, but doubts if it warrants immediate actions.
    The next question in the spectrum of accepting or denying scientific theories is what we can do with it. I guess the primary reason for nobody disputing Newton’s gravity is that engineers can use this theory comfortably to design houses and bridges that don’t collapse. Scientists and engineers also found ways to deal with “know unknowns” (to borrow for Donald Rumsfeld) reasonable well, which is the primary basis for managing risks of floods or other disasters.

    The core problem of AGW is that we don’t know, where we are heading and what would we avoid if we took the suggested actions. AGW proponent are claiming that there is a tipping point, a point of no return, but they can’t tell, where is that point and where we end up if we pass that point, but vehemently argue that we have to avoid passing that point. Evidently, if global warming leads us turning our planet into Venus (with runaway greenhouse) or Mars (practically without greenhouse effect) that would worth everything to prevent. If global warming leads us to an ice-free world just like when dinosaurs roamed “happily” or a world with some ice but truly green Greenland than we might be less concerned.

    At first glance the elevated awareness about global warming was appealing since it seemed to point to the right direction in achieving sustainability even if it was for the wrong reason. Undoubtedly, there are plenty of reasons to move beyond the borrowed energy from the past and replace the inevitably finite fossil fuels resources with renewable energy, but at some point the climate debate went horribly wrong. The cap-and-trade agreement to curb carbon emission is likely to be a big scam. I can’t wait to hear reports of corrupt scientist providing bogus “evidences” to phony carbon sequestration projects to cash in “carbon credits”. The push for bio fuels is likely to be more destructive to ecosystem than anything humans did in the past. Signs like “another environmentalist for nuclear power” seems to be more concerning than global warming. AGW proponents owe the rest of us, what would any of the proposed arbitrary carbon emission caps will buy. Will it let us to prevent passing any of the imaginary tipping points or just merely delay reaching the climate nirvana of an ice free world, where the dream North-West passage is navigable all year around.

    AGW proponent like to paint the energy industry as the big corporations, which spread false claims to secure their profits. I highly doubt energy companies actually care. There is no way renewable energy will overtake fossil fuels anytime soon and their profits are safe regardless of the outcome of the upcoming meeting in Copenhagen. It is enough to compare, how far one can get with the 6 pound battery in a car compared to the same amount of gasoline. There is a big difference between energy and tobacco. While people can live without tobacco, comfortable life is not possible without energy. Substantial reduction of carbon emission would need to go far beyond changing lightbulbs or riding bicycles that not many of us is willing to take without clear explanation why it is needed.

    Perhaps the biggest mistake of all that the scientific community made in the last two decades was shying away to push for more monitoring. I have been sitting on various WMO meetings for almost a decade primarily focusing on the state of monitoring river discharge (which is perhaps the most accurately measured element of the water cycle). I have been telling WMO representatives that they should pursue more aggressively the need to operate adequate monitoring. I argued at every single meeting that just like most of us beyond certain age start to visit the doctors more often for regular checkup, the scientific community should have taken a closer look at the state of Earth observation and design strategies for adequate monitoring if we are worried about its current health. The first IPCC report almost two decades ago claimed that the observational records are too short to show warming trends with statistical certainties. Twenty years later our records are not much longer and we witnessed a steady decline (both ground based and satellites). While NASA and ESA are busy pursuing new “research” missions well established programs like Landsat are in constant jeopardy. At a meeting earlier this year, I talked to Kevin “travesty” Trenberth (from NCAR) and described that the current state of global warming is like a doctor who shows a plastic dummy to his patient explaining it has signs of an imminent heart attack and use that as an evidence to talk the patient to go through by-pass surgery without even taking an X-ray.

    Comment by Balazs Fekete — 6 Dec 2009 @ 2:24 AM

  265. I don’t understand what the problem is. If people think that the climatologists’ statistical and modelling techniques were spurious, why not just invite in a group of computer programmers and statisticians to review the work? Then they’ll give their honest assessment, and the climate skeptics won’t have a leg to stand on, will they?

    So just let the math people see the whole code, they’ll exonerate you. Where’s the problem?

    [Response: They can already look at the GISS ModelE code or NCAR CCSM code, but your faith in the ability of mathematicians to work out what is going in a model of the climate system is I think rather optimistic. The issue is not the mathematical correctness of the code, but rather the appropriateness of the model to the real world. - gavin]

    Comment by Chris — 6 Dec 2009 @ 4:28 AM

  266. Brian,

    “If you think this paper is “falsifying the credibility” you either haven’t actually read it, or don’t understand the math”

    You’re right about that paper, i included it in error – my bad – apolologies.

    However that paper does not validate GCMs, so it is of no use if you are attempting to argue the predictive ability of GCMs.

    Comment by Mike M — 6 Dec 2009 @ 5:19 AM

  267. Re 199, 256 Dick

    I’m no expert but here are some thoughts.
    Temperature measurements are made of both the atmosphere and the ocean, including the Argo network, which measures ocean temperature at the surface and at depth.
    But you are correct that there is a lot of inter-annual variability in the temperatures due to ENSO and other factors.

    Studies of the earth’s energy balance show that the Earth’s heat content has continued to rise since 1998. John Cook over at Skeptical science has a good explanation of the published literature.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/How-do-we-know-global-warming-is-still-happening.html
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/How-we-know-global-warming-is-happening-Part-2.html

    Comment by Mike — 6 Dec 2009 @ 5:42 AM

  268. RE Jim Ogden

    Rasmussen says “Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Americans say it’s at least somewhat likely that some scientists have falsified research data to support their own theories and beliefs about global warming.” You need need to be contrite, not flippant. You need to get out in front of this publicly. The public doesn’t read this website. Your profession is under siege. You are probably a fine, honest scientist.

    What is Gavin supposed to be contrite about? If people believe something for which there is no evidence, isn’t it important to speak the truth instead of issuing apologies for something they are not doing? The scientists have been out there and Gavin has spent a great deal of time here responding to critics, but the scientists do not control the media.

    BTW, when “under siege”, circling the wagons may be an appropriate response. Just sayin’.

    Comment by Deech56 — 6 Dec 2009 @ 8:05 AM

  269. Reviews of scientific manuscripts are just about never about whether the math is correct or whether the data are “fake.” I’ve reviewed or edited over 500 manuscripts for over 30 journals in my career, and neither of these issues has ever been a factor (I need to keep tallies for my annual reports). Instead, reviews focus on how well the data support the conclusions and whether a paper provides new “anything new.” Quite often the statistical analysis is critcized and quite often authors are required to highlight uncertainties in their analysis.

    In general, reviewers do not have the time to review the raw data and to reconstruct the original analysis. Reviewers need to have a degree of trust in the competence and honesty of authors. Verifying raw data is not really feasible or possible. A cynic will first request data in a computer file (and in recent years more and more supplementary data are being supplied in on line appendices). If the data file is not to be believed what is the next step? Please sent notorized copies of your lab note books (?) The biggest uncertainty about studies in my field (ecology) is not whether the results are “valid” but how broadly they can be generalized to nature. This is where a discussion of results and their relevance to the current literature is especially important. Good studies help explain uncertainties and apparent contradictions in the literature

    Comment by Bill D — 6 Dec 2009 @ 9:35 AM

  270. Okay, the nature of science is that it is never really “settled”.

    So, if we are 90% certain temperatures will rise 2-4 degrees without changes in human activity based upon current science, where does this leave us with mitigating actions?

    The problem is there uncertainty in mitigating actions. Will governments really enforce changes? Will the changes have the desired effect? Will unexpected growth in China or India undo whatever the industrialized countries do? Will Greenland melt or not? Will a super volcano or series of big ones upset the calculations?

    Once you multiply up the other uncertainties, you are left with something very unsettled – which is the problem.

    Comment by Jim Cross — 6 Dec 2009 @ 10:23 AM

  271. What about the factoid that has been wandering around the blogosphere and media that “‘Global Warming’ has been deliberatley morphed into ‘Climate Change’”? Sceptics delight in saying this.

    The origin, or rather lack of origin of, “The science is settled” has been well covered here, and I thank posters for the useful, and usable, comments or links.

    However, I would be grateful if someone could point to when this expression “climate change” first came into public use.

    Clearly it was being used when the first IPCC was set up in 1986(quite some time ago!) – but before that, when was it first commonly used?

    Comment by Theo Hopkins — 6 Dec 2009 @ 11:06 AM

  272. Steady warming of the Earth?

    Mike (#267) Thanks for your input, very useful link. The upshot seem to be that my understanding was correct (#199). I need to study the references some more though.

    David (#256) You (or Barton) wouldn’t happen to remember in which thread BPL’s nalysis is?

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 6 Dec 2009 @ 11:47 AM

  273. Walter Manny wrote: “I would argue that this business of calling people “deniers” is unfair and unreasonable to ANYONE. The term is clearly used in reference to the Holocaust to imply that skepticism regarding AGW theory is tantamount to Ahmadinejad’s rantings.”

    To be quite clear, when I personally use the term “denier” in reference to those who deny the existence of dangerous anthropogenic global warming, I intend an explicit allusion to Holocaust deniers.

    The difference being that global warming deniers are worse, for one simple reason: Holocaust deniers will not cause any more people to be killed in the Holocaust by denying that it occurred, but global warming deniers contribute to causing suffering and death for many millions of people, far more than suffered and died in the Holocaust and all the wars of the 20th century combined, to the extent that their denial and deceit delays and obstructs the urgent action needed to phase out GHG emissions.

    Indeed, by successfully delaying action for a couple of decades already, the AGW deniers have already caused suffering and death for millions, which could have been prevented had we taken appropriate action when we first understood the nature of the problem. There are people needlessly dying right now, this very minute, and many more whose needless deaths are now assured, as a direct result of the world’s failure to act on this problem for a whole generation.

    And as for implying that “skepticism regarding AGW theory is tantamount to Ahmadinejad’s rantings”, it is the AGW deniers who have blackened the name of “skepticism” by dishonestly appropriating that term as a facade for their financially and/or ideologically driven dishonesty and arrogant, belligerent ignorance.

    And it is the rhetoric from the deniers about a supposed “global conspiracy of climate scientists” in cahoots with “liberals” to control us all that has sickening echoes of the anti-Semitic scapegoating rants of Ahmadinejad and like-minded dictators.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Dec 2009 @ 12:48 PM

  274. Although the scientists who run this site have made important conntributions to climate issues, some “skeptics” here have a very limited view of the strength and volume of publication in this field. Schmidt and Mann are making important contributions, but climate science is a large group effort. How many climae papers are published each year? One might count up the number of climate journals and then add a percentage to account for climate papers published in general journals. Perhaps the number of publications is 500 or 1,000 or 2,000 per year.(?) This represents an enormous amount of data collected, analyzed by many scientists. The evidence is not based on a few scientists whose papers might be reviewed and vetted by computer scientists or retired statisticians.

    Comment by Bill D — 6 Dec 2009 @ 2:03 PM

  275. About dualism

    Dualistic mode of thinking is no great friend, especially in science.
    The “either this or that” leads to correlations magically turning to causations: so if Venus is bright and that star is bright, than Venus must be star. Well, they are both bright objects but it doesn’t imply that what is causing them to be bright is the same.

    What about absolutism?

    That’s another problem, and for many climate deniers it is the tool of choice. To take one infinitely small flaw in a well-built hypothesis and bring to whole edifice down. If one of the bricks is yellow instead of red, then the house must be condemned. So let’s go back to Venus.

    Let’s assume that Venus is not a star because:
    - it is way too small to be a star according to nuclear fusion process requirements, measuring its mass through Newton’s third law
    -it does not emit solar particles
    -it has a solid rocky surface
    -it does not have a solar surface temperature (here; Venus; 500C)
    -it is not at the center of our solar system
    -as close as it is from the Earth, it would turn nights in days
    -it….

    We could go on and on. I think it’s pretty well accepted that Venus isn’t a star. But let’s suppose that some Venus planet deniers would come up with the following point:

    Well the Russians got their satellite there, but it collapsed so that doesn’t count. But in all cases, we have never been to the core, therefore there is no way whatsever we can absolutly be sure there is no fusion.

    That’s the whole point. We can never be absolutely certain in science. But we build framework of interpretation one can metaphorically see as a house or a building to improve our understanding.

    Absolutism and dualism are no good pals to anyone.

    Comment by Cremenoire — 6 Dec 2009 @ 3:57 PM

  276. Mike M to Gavin: Why do you continue to wriggle about the lack of validity of climate models?

    BPL: Probably because Gavin is a climate modeler himeslf and knows that the lack of validity you describe exists mostly in your mind. Read and learn:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/ModelsReliable.html

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 Dec 2009 @ 4:30 PM

  277. Rod B: Rush Limbaugh is a creation of Ailes?? Limbaugh called for execution of climate scientists???? Can you back that up??

    BPL:

    Rush Limbaugh is a creation of Ailes

    “In 1991, Ailes convinced a syndicator to bring Rush Limbaugh from radio to television and became executive producer of the late-night show.” –Wikipedia entry on “Roger Ailes.”

    “Rush and Roger Ailes Speak at Boy Scouts Awards Dinner
    November 11, 2009″ –Rush Limbaugh’s web site

    “The executive producer of Limbaugh’s TV show, Roger Ailes (a Republican campaign consultant and president of the CNBC cable network), didn’t claim that his star had debunked the rumor–he boasted that Limbaugh’s report of “a suicide coverup, possibly murder” was a scoop.” -”Koppel Covers for Limbaugh’s Rumor-Mongering,” http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1236, accessed 12/06/2009.

    Limbaugh called for execution of climate scientists

    Limbaugh: Scientists involved in global warming “hoax” should be “named and fired, drawn and quartered, or whatever it is.” -The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/24/2009.

    Breitbart: “Capital punishment for Dr James Hansen. Climategate is high treason” -Twittered by Andrew Breitbart, 11/29/2009.

    Did you think I was making it up?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 Dec 2009 @ 4:41 PM

  278. chris: As a previously uninterested simple tax payer my first question is where are the long term analysis for temp & co2?

    BPL: Try here:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Correlation.html

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 Dec 2009 @ 4:44 PM

  279. Brian: If there existed data going back a million years, made with tons of accurate thermometers placed all over the world–in the oceans and in the air, then I’m inclined to believe it is possible to model the future of the world’s weather accurately, given that we also understand what caused temperature fluctuations during those past years. But, my understanding is that we don’t have that data.

    BPL: Google the following terms:

    paleoclimatology
    ice cores
    sediments
    varves
    palynology (NB: This is nothing to do with Sarah Palin)

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 Dec 2009 @ 5:11 PM

  280. Krumhorn: Great! So Gerlich and Tscheuschner are “cranks”. Isn’t that precisely the attitude revealed in the climategate emails that has turned so many heads to look crab-eyed at ‘climate scientists’?

    Terms like ‘deniers’ and ‘cranks’ aren’t winning you any friends, and it’s precisely that kind of snotty arrogance that has brought you to this sad place.

    BPL: Gerlich and Tscheuschner are pseudoscientists, or at least their most famous paper is a work of pseudoscience. They misstate the second law of thermodynamics, a scientific generalization that is very well understood, and base their conclusions on their misstatement. That is the act of a crank. Deal with it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 Dec 2009 @ 5:18 PM

  281. Jim Ogden: You need need to be contrite, not flippant.

    BPL: What do climate scientists need to be contrite ABOUT, precisely? “Contrite” implies they did something wrong, transgressed the moral code, committed a crime. Care to give details?

    If the crime is “suppressing data,” it didn’t happen.
    If it is “destroying original data,” that didn’t happen either.
    If it is “illegally blocking FOI requests,” that didn’t happen either.

    So what do they have to be contrite about? The fact that 59% of Americans think they’re frauds? I’m sure there was a time, and not so long ago, that 59% of Americans thought blacks were less intelligent than whites. Majority vote doesn’t determine truth.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 Dec 2009 @ 5:23 PM

  282. Comment by ghost — 5 December 2009 @ 8:45 AM

    If I may paraphrase the post — Where’s the beef?

    Insubstantial dead person:

    Excellent logic! All denial groups (e.g. evolution, holocaust, or the fake moon landings) mostly tear down the arguments of others while rarely producing anything new. I don’t think you will have to defend your statement in this, rather empty, denial idea space.

    The only legitimate refutation of an established scientific theory that already explains a majority of the data, is a better one that elaborates new information AND also explains already existing data.

    Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 6 Dec 2009 @ 6:03 PM

  283. has anyone here yet on any of these threads posted all the emails and code from the stolen/hacked CRU stuff?

    seems to me if not maybe they should be, a little sunlight would do wonders to dispel any myths there may be

    not sure if the major media can due to possible legal issues but as of yet I haven’y seen any do so

    Comment by carl — 6 Dec 2009 @ 8:07 PM

  284. Comment by Mike M — 5 December 2009 @ 9:02 AM:

    I think your admonition to Gavin suggesting that he continues “to wriggle about the lack of validity of climate models..,” is more than a bit an overstatement. I checked your first reference and it was a “Rapid Communication” in a hydrology journal that checked to see if global climate models could be used to predict precipitation in 8 individual stations in various parts of the world. As global climate models don’t pretend to predict on this scale, the findings of the study are not surprising. I am pretty sure that the authors would agree. Because this one example is very inappropriate in relation to the “wriggle” comment, anything else you say on the subject is suspect.

    Just in the case that you are not just trolling this site, why don’t you spend some time to study this topic in order to avoid the embarrassment of inappropriate posts?

    Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 6 Dec 2009 @ 8:47 PM

  285. Barton Paul Levenson — 5 December 2009 @ 10:25 AM:

    Your belief system is very (very) different from mine, but when it comes to accurate (non professional) climate information, you are the man!

    Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 6 Dec 2009 @ 9:35 PM

  286. BPL (277), I still don’t buy the Limbaugh quote — misquoting Rush has become something of a national pastime; Hell, Reid even does it on the floor of the Senate! However, I can’t explicitly refute it nor am I inclined to spend the time chasing it down.

    I didn’t say anything about Breitbart; I don’t even know who he is. If that’s what he said, he’s an idiot — even if part of it (the treason part) does sound close to what Hanson said before Congress.

    A minor point, but your backup support for claiming Ailes created Limbaugh, did no such thing. If you had said (as your rebuttal did) Ailes initiated and produced Rush’s TV show, that would have been accurate, but just would not have had the zing and ring of “creation”!

    Comment by Rod B — 6 Dec 2009 @ 11:57 PM

  287. “The issue is not the mathematical correctness of the code, but rather the appropriateness of the model to the real world. – gavin”

    I don’t understand – how can a model be appropriate for the real world, but not mathematically correct? I would assume mathematical correctness is antecedant – that mathematical correctness must be shown before we can say if a model reflects the real world. Is this wrong?

    [Response: Other way round. Mathematical correctness is not a demonstration of relevance. - gavin]

    Comment by Chris — 7 Dec 2009 @ 1:27 AM

  288. CO2 can be so toxic. Just don’t tell the vegetation.

    “Greenhouse gas carbon dioxide ramps up aspen growth” “…elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide during the past 50 years have boosted aspen growth rates by an astonishing 50 percent.”

    http://www.news.wisc.edu/17436
    http://aspenface.mtu.edu/

    Comment by Jimbo — 7 Dec 2009 @ 4:19 AM

  289. Re 271 Theo Hopkins

    I seem to recall that the term ‘climate change’ is an invention of the deniers. They brought it up because it sounds less alarming than ‘global warming’ (‘climate has always been changing, so there’s nothing special happening now’). I think it is in that infamous memo from some communication strategist (sorry, can’t remember the name just now), in which it is argued that the deniers cannot win the debate using facts, but they should focus on ‘the science isn’t settled’ instead.

    Searching for presentations by Naomi Oreskes is probably be a good start to find the reference.

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 7 Dec 2009 @ 8:50 AM

  290. Re your Response: No. The standard range is well supported by paleo-climate studies and a small sensitivity is not. Lindzen’s latest paper will not turn out to be robust (I predict), and even Roy Spencer has said he can’t get the same results with only modest differences in approach. You might like to think that a single paper from Lindzen overturns everything, but it doesn’t.

    But as Einstein said – No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.

    So, given the right paper and argument I think it does only take one. It’s called science.

    [Response: You are playing games. There are many papers using different approaches that give numbers around 3 deg C, there is one new one that gives a smaller number. There is clearly a mismatch. So you need to explain why all of the others are wrong if you except the new one. Or explain why the new one is wrong. The amount of work in the latter case is clearly going to be less, and so my Bayesian prior is that the Lindzen paper will turn out not to be robust. Feel free to come back in six months to hold me to my prediction. - gavin]

    Comment by Mike — 7 Dec 2009 @ 9:33 AM

  291. As I have stated here previously I think much of the problem is that the science of prediction that is required here will never be ‘settled’ until the prediction becomes history.

    The least we can do is to make sure that the history we do have is as well documented as possible. We are being asked by our political representatives to make huge life-changing decisions on replacing fossil fuels as our primary energy source. The massive cost in technological research and productive effort required on energy conservation and to replace those fuels with non-fossil sources will require a herculean physical and financial effort from every government and individual the world over.

    From the posts on this blog it seems we cannot even agree what has happened over the last decade, let alone the last 150 years.

    For a start, is it possible to state that the most accurate (or at least consistent) measurement of the temperature of the lower troposphere is available from satellites? It also seems to require less adjustment than the surface record and it is the extent of adjustments that seems to be creating most heat around this leak. If the satellite record is recording the trend accurately, then surely we can stop arguing at least about what has happened since 1979?

    One good thing that might come out of all this is political pressure on Government met offices to release data, and maybe to create a single repository for all the basic raw temperature data available including the temperature series, grid reference, and altitude of each weather station. Once this is available it will then be possible to propose adjustments for technological changes, urban heat island etc.

    I am sure even that will not ‘settle’ the arguments once and for all, but it should at least dampen some of the accusations of cover-up and fudge.

    Short update on where I have got to. I now have quite a good grasp of the greenhouse gas forcing effect of CO2 on air temperatures in the lower troposphere (for a layman!). I have also read widely enough to know that the only real argument amongst legitimate scientists is not whether anthropogenic global warming will happen, but how much. This is dependent mainly on how the various positive and negative feedback effects work to effect the temperature of the lower troposphere.

    The consensus seems to be that the positive effects will dominate and we can expect a 3 – 6 deg K temperature change resulting from an initial 1 – 2 deg K forcing from CO2. If the feedbacks cancel out we could probably cope with a circa 2 deg change in temperatures over 100 years. But if the positive feedbacks dominate and 6 deg change results, we are all doomed.

    Such a massively wide variation in potential outcomes between ‘cope’ and ‘doom’ makes it very difficult to create political consensus on the actions needed.

    One of the few ‘real’ scientists out there with any kind of coherent argument against the positive feedback effect is Roy Spencer. Being one of the gatekeepers of the satellite temperature record, he seems to be the one sceptic worth at least listening to.

    In his 6 December blog entry he outlines his theory that he has found a fundamental flaw in the way current methods quantify feedbacks from the historical data and the way this is coped with in climate models. Most of this goes way over my head but I am hoping that his presentation due on 16 December might prompt a discussion that would help me to clarify the issues.

    Thanks for keeping this blog commentary so open, Gavin, and your efforts to moderate the discussion. It is good to hear both sides of the argument in one place rather than have to jump around between pro and anti sites.

    Comment by Matthew L. — 7 Dec 2009 @ 10:03 AM

  292. Have Gerlich and Tscheuschner published a retraction, or admitted they wrote the paper as a prank? Neither action would do much for their careers – maybe they could finesse it, by publishing a retraction(so they wouldn’t be seen as pranksters lacking the judgment not to know where it’s OK to make fun of/embarass your peers(emails,blogs yes – costly journals, no)), while contritely telling their colleagues it was a prank that they’re sorry went too far(so they wouldn’t be seen as complete idiots). Or maybe they can just lay low, hope people forget about it, and in the meantime work quietly and anonymously for Exxon/Mobil, or join CFACT (http://www.cfact.org/about/1551/CFACT-Board-of-Advisors).

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 7 Dec 2009 @ 10:36 AM

  293. I’ve read I think three WSJ articles recently on the issue. In each case the article was scurrilous the author anonymous and the ability to comment turned off. That makes the WSJ little better than Hearst tabloid yellow journalism IMO. In one case though there was a name only on the comment page (switched off), the smirking face of one Gordon Crovitz.

    Comment by Ron R. — 7 Dec 2009 @ 11:10 AM

  294. Daniel J. Lunt, Alan M. Haywood, Gavin A. Schmidt, Ulrich Salzmann, Paul J. Valdes & Harry J. Dowsett:

    Earth system sensitivity inferred from Pliocene modelling and data.

    Nature Geoscience, Published online: 6 December 2009, doi:10.1038/ngeo706

    Abstract

    Quantifying the equilibrium response of global temperatures to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations is one of the cornerstones of climate research. Components of the Earth’s climate system that vary over long timescales, such as ice sheets and vegetation, could have an important effect on this temperature sensitivity, but have often been neglected. Here we use a coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation model to simulate the climate of the mid-Pliocene warm period (about three million years ago), and analyse the forcings and feedbacks that contributed to the relatively warm temperatures. Furthermore, we compare our simulation with proxy records of mid-Pliocene sea surface temperature. Taking these lines of evidence together, we estimate that the response of the Earth system to elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations is 30–50% greater than the response based on those fast-adjusting components of the climate system that are used traditionally to estimate climate sensitivity. We conclude that targets for the long-term stabilization of atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations aimed at preventing a dangerous human interference with the climate system should take into account this higher sensitivity of the Earth system.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 7 Dec 2009 @ 12:59 PM

  295. Gavin,

    I really like your analogy of the “construction of a building”. I too view science, inlcuding the subject of debate, as adding a “brick” to the building. Of course, orginally the “building” was designed and as the shape of the building takes form, the view becomes more obvious as to the “quality” of the orginal design. Such metaphors are well understood for so many of us scientists and engineers who know God.

    Comment by Yoda — 7 Dec 2009 @ 1:22 PM

  296. Since Eric Steig shut down comments on the thread “Who you gonna call?” I reproduce the informative discussion in here hopes that the moderators will post.

    Gavin Schmidt writes: [Response: “I’ve stated that I advocate for the proper appreciation of climate science and against it’s abuse in political arguments, but RPJr has decided arbitrarily that this is somehow impossible and that I’m advocating for something else (also undefined). Maybe I’m naive, but I feel that education outside of classroom is still worthwhile”-Gavin Schmidt

    Bryan S comments:
    "Only you know if this is true Gavin. The only thing the rest of the rest of us can judge you on are your actions, not just your words. When you choose to appear with a group of blatant political operatives who clearly advocate Keynesian-type economic policy, it is not “arbitrary” that some might conclude that you concur with their policy recommendations. Clearly, the fact that a particular political action group is willing to sponsor your appearance serves as compelling evidence that *they* themselves have made the judgement that you will help bolster their political advocacy. Gavin, surely you are not so naive as to fail to realize that when you appear in these types of forums, your claim to political neutrality is compromised (fairly or unfairly). You can’t bash Limbaugh or however, then appear on a platform with the other side of the political spectrum, and still maintain your claim to political indifference. That will not fly with the public. You have willingly offered yourself as a public intellectual on the issue of climate change, and like it or not, it is high time you wise up about how to operate effectively in this arena.
    P.S. please post this comment, and I would sincerely appreciate a serious response
    Thanks, Bryan"

    Eric Steig responds to Bryan S:
    [Response: I don't see the contradiction here. First, the fact that any particular group likes what RC has to say doesn't say anything about RC's politics. Second, Limbaugh (for example) abuses science in political arguments and if any of us have 'bashed' him, that is the only reason why. Third, this post -- by me, not Gavin -- is complaining about someone who is identified as a liberal by most! Fourth, I'm aware of nothing negative we've said about any conservatives -- or anyone else -- who present the science honestly. As for us being naive: yes, clearly we are naive. It never occurred to us -- or at least not to me -- that so many people were so intellectually bankrupt that they would resort to the tactics they are using now.--eric]

    Bryan S responds to Eric Steig:
    “Eric says: “First, the fact that any particular group likes what RC has to say doesn’t say anything about RC’s politics”-Eric
    Bryan S says: No, but when RealClimate (Gavin and Mike) choose to appear on their (a political advocacy group’s) platform in the midst of a political firestorm, and by inference, “Joe Public” draws the conclusion (rightly or wrongly) that RealClimate supports their (the think tank’s) political position, “Joe Public’s” conclusion is not “arbitrary” as Gavin stated. Quite to the contrary, it is supported by some pretty darn good circumstantial evidence, at least in the mind of Joe Public. That damages (rightly or wrongly) your claims of political neutrality, and compromises (in the mind of the public) your position as an honest broker of the science.

    Furthermore, RealClimate (at least all of its individual members that I have read) makes no bones that governments should compel immediate action from its citizenry and private enterprise to curb carbon emissions to combat dangerous climate change, whether through direct carbon taxation or other regulatory/hybrid government-free enterprise methods. Eric, that is a broad policy position reflecting a certain philosophy in political economy, just like arguing in favor of no regulation is also an opposing statement in political economy. Yes, your expert knowledge of the science may have informed that position, but please don’t try to argue that it is an a-political stance, and that RealClimate is indifferent to politics. You fool nobody.

    Finally, Gavin may not want to respond, but my request was for his views on this, since he is the one who chose to appear at the politically staged event a couple of days ago. Maybe he feels my question is not worth a response, but I really think a bunch of people might be interested in his comment.

    [Response: Read the transcript of the conference and see what I actually said. Pretty much the same thing I've said in other forums. I very rarely turn down a request to contribute a scientific perspective in whatever venue. But let's imagine that the Cato Institute asked me to write a piece, or that the Republicans in the Senate asked me to testify about my research (neither things that have ever happened FWIW), would that imply that I was hopelessly compromised? - gavin]

    Comment by Bryan S — 7 Dec 2009 @ 1:41 PM

  297. Of course, orginally the “building” was designed and as the shape of the building takes form, the view becomes more obvious as to the “quality” of the original design

    Uh, that’s not what he meant with the analogy. He was referring to the fact that scientific knowledge comes predominantly in small increments, just like the growth in size of a building. Regarding some “original building design” the analogy fails utterly.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 7 Dec 2009 @ 2:40 PM

  298. This is a good place to offer the following for rebuttals if anyone bugs you about “Climategate.” (Sadly, appreciating rebuttals takes intelligence and admitting to them takes honesty …):

    1. The modern theory of AGW (increasing CO2 absorbs more IR and leads to warmer temperatures) was laid out way back in 1896 in a notable paper by future Nobel Prize winner Svante Arrhenius. He wasn’t promoting statism or to be a flunky for Al Gore; indeed SA thought the warming would be beneficial – so he didn’t promote the theory to scare people.

    2. Even in a case of actual cheating and cover-up, or even fabrication don’t disprove an idea itself. Look at prosecutors “framing guilty men” by “improving” evidence to ensure conviction, look at the Piltdown hoax which sure doesn’t mean evolution is false and other evidence couldn’t be rounded up. (BTW what CRU did wasn’t even that bad anyway, this just emphasizes the irrelevancy of ad hominem issues to the material point. In my bitter experience conservatives are very into projecting from personal factors onto imagined objective ones.)

    3. CO2 is a stimulus similar to lowering interest rates are for an economy: the effect is not direct and linear, there are variations and other influences. Tell someone who says, “how come it got cooler during the last ten years” (it may not have, but play along here): How come we had a cool spell e.g. during April, before summer came along? Does that make you doubt the idea that changing axis angle causes seasons?!

    4. Most of the things we would do to lower CO2 are good for the economy and national interest anyway: save money on gas and other non-renewables, reduce dependency on other nations (including Muslim ones, conservartives!), it will run out anyway in decades to centuries, etc.

    5. An effect doesn’t have to be “certain” or uniformly and highly damaging to be worth trying to avoid anyway – what about terrorist threats, the irony of Cheney et al’s “One percent doctrine” etc.

    6. The skeptics and doubters are way more dishonest and controlled by money interests.

    Comment by Neil B ♪ — 7 Dec 2009 @ 2:58 PM

  299. Gavin, I suggest my favorite analogy is better.

    Science grows like kudzu–it’s not like a building or a wall, nor like a mighty oak with a single deep taproot.

    Science grows at the new ends, in all directions, creating fresh new roots as well as new leaves and flowers, wherever it finds a chance. It leaves its origins behind.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Dec 2009 @ 3:14 PM

  300. Well, here’s something that’s unsettled — how agriculture in higher latitudes is going to be affected by GW (& increased CO2).

    This is actually in response to #98 on “Who You Gonna Call?”:

    Will you get equal credit for Siberia and Canada coming more online as crop producing countries?

    There are tons of issues here, not to mention negative impacts from CO2 — it diminishing, if not cancelling out altogether carbon fertilization — such as by lower crop nutrition, lower productivity from floret harm to rice, more pest & weed damage as C3 weeds do better than C4 crops (and the need for more pesticides), and increasing plant toxicity, just to mention the iceberg’s tip on negative CO2 effects (and what about all that seafood being harmed by ocean acidification — Exxon may call CO2 life, but it could also spell death).

    Okay, onto the more specifically GW issues, such as longer growing seasons, but think of the heat stress in mid-summer right in the middle of the growing season from superhot (and long) days, increased flooding that can wipe out crops altogether, & flooding amidst drought, since warm air holds more moisture, sucking it up out of the soil and plants. And did I mention that the soil is a lot poorer up in the arctic region (personal communication from someone who actually lives up there). And if you have a globe, you will notice there is not as much land as it looks like on a map. Think of Greenland, it’s not only much smaller than it appears on a map, but once melted I read somewhere it will be like an atoll around a huge lake…not as much land there for farming as one might imagine on first glance.

    Scientists predict that there will be greater agricultural productivity in the higher northern latitutdes up until about 2050, after which there will be a sharp decline due to GW and its effects.

    But the science isn’t really settled….the decline could start much sooner. And I’m just wondering if they’ve figured in ALL the factors and if there really will be any increase at all, or if they even know at present what all the factors are.

    Sort of reminds me of the peace dividend after the cold war collapse that was supposed to make our nation rich. Or nuclear power that would be too cheap to meter.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 7 Dec 2009 @ 3:29 PM

  301. > just like arguing in favor of no regulation is also
    > an opposing statement in political economy.

    Well, no.

    http://www.ginandtacos.com/2008/08/31/atheistsfoxholes-libertariansairplanes/

    “… There is no insult I can take seriously from people who are so fanatically devoted to free-market idolatry that they would rather see lives lost and ruined than controvert its sacred principles. People who care more about free market ideology than human life prove themselves remarkably undeserving of either.

    That, I suppose, is the simplest statement of my political philosophy.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Dec 2009 @ 3:49 PM

  302. And along the same line:
    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2009/12/technological-progress.html

    “… This video shows the collision, and the driver crash test dummies, between a 1959 and 2009 car. The 2009 car undoubtedly weighed far less than the 1959.

    … there are quite a few climate-related technology issues that exist regarding efficiency of old technologies, or new technologies to develop, that we’re being told would drive companies out of business, cost jobs, and other alarmist statements — as there were in the 50s and 60s regarding automobile safety. Yet the engineers found ways of improving safety even as we drove more, drove lighter cars, and so on. And the companies didn’t go out of business, indeed make quite a lot of money.”

    —– Car crash regulations happened because people organized for their own mutual benefit: ‘government’.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Dec 2009 @ 3:55 PM

  303. Re: 296
    “That damages (rightly or wrongly) your claims of political neutrality, and compromises (in the mind of the public) your position as an honest broker of the science. ”

    On the contrary, I (being one “mind of the public”) think scientists should take any opportunity they have to communicate good science to the public. That’s a great service and should be encouraged. While I’m sure some will interpret such acts wrongly (i.e. those who themselves are zealously political), unless the scientists speaks politics their service will be construed as information base and not advocacy based.

    Comment by Ken W — 7 Dec 2009 @ 4:45 PM

  304. I am a scientist who works for a big oil company and lean decisively libertarian politically, but probably hold my nose and vote for some pretty stupid Republicans too often. Does that imply that I am hopelessly compromised? I bet many of your readers would answer that it does. The point is that now that it is out in the open, they get to decide. If you accept the challenge to disclose your own political leanings, then the public can decide on their own if your public science statements are colored by your politics. I tell you, you will feel much better to get it out in the open, and then you can move on and engage in a candid professional discussion of the science (where everyone agrees you have expertise) and your own layman’s opinion on the best policy response (where your expertise may not be much better than the next guy). Just ask your boss.

    Comment by Bryan S — 7 Dec 2009 @ 4:53 PM

  305. Even HuffPo gets it:
    Decade Of 2000s Was Warmest Ever, Scientists Say
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/07/decade-of-2000s-was-warme_n_382414.html

    Comment by David B. Benson — 7 Dec 2009 @ 4:56 PM

  306. Matthew L: Roy Spencer… one of the gatekeepers of the satellite temperature record, he seems to be the one sceptic worth at least listening to.

    BPL: Do you listen to his endorsement of creationism as well? How about his unbelievably dishonest argument that CO2 is too small a fraction of the atmosphere to matter, a statement HE KNOWS VERY WELL is not true, since his job requires him to understand Beer’s Law? Still worth listening to? How much of a crackpot does someone have to be before you stop taking him seriously?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 Dec 2009 @ 5:18 PM

  307. Bryan S wrote: “I am a scientist who works for a big oil company and lean decisively libertarian politically, but probably hold my nose and vote for some pretty stupid Republicans too often. Does that imply that I am hopelessly compromised?”

    That depends on whether or not you understand that your political inclinations have absolutely nothing whatever to do with the scientific reality of anthropogenic global warming.

    It’s entirely appropriate for “conservatives” and “libertarians” to propose policies to address AGW that are in accord with their political and ideological preferences.

    That so many “conservatives” and “libertarians” refuse to do so, and instead prefer to pretend that the problem doesn’t exist, suggest that they themselves believe that their ideology has nothing to offer in the way of solutions.

    Is that the case with you?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 7 Dec 2009 @ 5:19 PM

  308. SecularAnimist,

    The next time you see me drop by and get into a detailed discussion on the Paleocene/Eocene Thermal Maximum or some science issues where I think I may have a little knowledge, you can judge the merrits of my science arguments. The point is that you can now judge them in the backdrop of whether you think my political views are coloring my professionalism. The wonderful thing about this is that you now have the power of full disclosure which can keep me accountable as a scientist to the science. Gavin and the gang have not done this *yet* (they inevitably will), instead choosing to intentionally cloud their political views so that the public is denied this power of knowledge. It is all about influence and power, and they are scared to death to lose theirs.

    [Response: Bollocks. We have no power, and precious little influence. Why you think a declaration of my voting record would make any difference to that is very strange. But if you want to know, I haven't voted in over a decade. How does that change the credibility of my discussions of climate modelling? - gavin]

    Comment by Bryan S — 7 Dec 2009 @ 5:38 PM

  309. Well bullocks right back at you Gavin. When the New York Times and London Daily Telegraph are calling you up to get your take on issues, you have power and influence, and you love it. They don’t call me. Political think tanks are not hosting me to make public statements at press conferences. Again Gavin, you strain your credibility with these types of humorous statements.

    [Response: You have absolutely no idea what 'power' entails. Let me assure you, it is not being on a journalist's rolodex. - gavin]

    Comment by Bryan S — 7 Dec 2009 @ 5:52 PM

  310. Since there are so few science articles on realclimate.org these days, I take the liberty of posting on this thread.

    Two papers I read recently raised these thoughts”

    1)Trenberth 2009 (Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, v1, pp19-27, 2009) available in many places on the web (http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2009/11/energydiagnostics09final.pdf) attempts to track the energy imbalance in the various parts of climate systems. The missing energy is on the order of 1e22J over the period 2004-2008, and from Table 1 and associated text, it seems to me that the only possible sink for such an amount is the deep ocean. Although such heating of the ocean ought to reveal itself in sea level rise, Trenberth also points out that the rise might be masked by changes in precipitation patterns due to La Nina, which could result in a 6.0 mm sea level drop. Is this a plausible explanation for the ‘missing’ heat sink ?

    2)USGS (including realclimate’s Gavin Schmidt) just published an estimate for Earth System Sensitivity (ESS) 30-50% higher than Charney sensitivity(CS), which contrasts with Hansen’s estimate of ESS being twice as large as CS. The USGS study is based on the Pliocene, (3 MYr before present) while Hansen uses data from 400Kyr b.p. Is there a simple reason for the disagreement ? The USGS paper is Lunt et al., Nature Geoscience,NGEO 706, doi:10.1038, and the Hansen paper is available on the web at
    http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/climate_law_institute/legislating_for_a_new_climate/pdfs/co2_where_should_humanity_aim.pdf

    Comment by sidd — 7 Dec 2009 @ 5:55 PM

  311. Undocumented Volcano Contributed to Extremely Cold Decade from 1810-1819:
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091205105844.htm

    Comment by David B. Benson — 7 Dec 2009 @ 6:08 PM

  312. But Gavin, what did you eat for breakfast, in that non-voting decade?
    Lunch?
    Dinner?
    Why?
    Who did you sleep with?
    When did you get married?
    What’s your favorite color? (Do you have any hard evidence to back that up?)
    How many breaths do you take per minute?
    Did you ever run a marathon?
    Are you left-handed?
    Release ALL your personal data!
    Baby photos!
    School concerts!

    Or else the “public’s trust” will be “damaged” by ALL of YOU having “overstated” the case and “falsified” the data, or at least by the media falsely, shamefully, or rather shamelessly, saying you did that.

    Comment by paulina — 7 Dec 2009 @ 6:22 PM

  313. BPL #306
    I have read many posts on Roy Spencer’s blog and have seen no discussion or endorsement of creationism. I will take another look. If he does have such views it would certainly colour my view of his judgement.

    I have also seen no comment that “CO2 is too small a proportion to matter”. Reading his blog it is quite clear that he fully understands the forcing affect of CO2. His argument is with the effect of positive feedback assumptions used in climate models. This seems to me to be a perfectly valid line of enquiry.

    He clearly has a bias towards ‘scepticism’ but then so do I (in a very general sense – not necessarily related to climate science). I think it is a good thing that there are people out there testing and picking holes in the theory. If the theory is robust it will withstand those tests. It might be good for politicians and policy makers for there to be scientific unanimity, but it is truly bad for science – particularly when dealing with such an inherently uncertain and complex system as the climate.

    Comment by Matthew L. — 7 Dec 2009 @ 6:39 PM

  314. Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic is evidently not a reader of the Real Climate blog. Perhaps, a climate scientist, preferably Gavin Schmidt, should write to The Atlantic editor and remind them that climate science is unsettled.

    Copenhagen: The Science Is Settled; The Policy And Politics Aren’t
    http://politics.theatlantic.com/2009/12/the_timing_isnt_coincidental_as.php

    [Response: Actually, that's a very good article. One can quibble with the title, as you are doing, but it is clear from the text that he and Gavin would have no disagreement on this. Quote: "However valid one's feeling of exclusion is, it isn't a substitute for what science does: test and try to falsify. The theory of anthropogenic climate change has not been disproven. It is stronger today than ever before." --eric]

    Comment by sHx — 7 Dec 2009 @ 6:44 PM

  315. Although no-one is going to deny that the climate changes and has warmed up over the last few decades of the 20th century, there is the question of whether this current phase is unique.

    If it is unique then we can look for a unique driver and human industrial emissions of CO2 fits the bill

    But if the Earth has warmed before industry got started then until we can explain that the more likely explanation is that the earth is doing the same thing – even if we have no idea what the mechanism is.

    History indicates that the Medieval Warm and the Little-Ice-Age were real and significant periods in the last 1000 years.

    Looking at the famous hockey-stick graph these periods are not visible and their absence makes the graph very scary and points towards CO2 as the driving force.

    Although the elimination of these periods comes as a surprise to many historians, if the science of climate reconstruction was very sound then so be it.

    Unfortunately, recent information indicates that the proxy data diverged from the actual temperatures towards the end of the 20th century (re the infamous “hide the decline”). If the proxy data is shown to be divergent in recent years this casts doubt on historical reconstruction from tree rings. Given that the techniques used at CRU have these anomalies and they appear to remove two known historical periods this surely casts doubt as to the validity of the entire historical reconstruction and therefore the impact of Anthropogenic CO2.

    You can tell me I don’t understand the science or that I’m a “denier” but once the MWP and LIC are put back into the temperature records, the case for AGW becomes far weaker and any science that I’d need to understand it becomes irrelevant as there is nothing to understand. With these periods put back into the temperature records then it is your side that has to explain why CO2 is effectively the sole driving force.

    I suspect many people on this site may have criticisms of Jasper Kirkby but I find the lecture at this link far more convincing.

    http://seekingalpha.com/article/175641-climategate-revolt-of-the-physicists

    [Response: Your logic makes no sense. You write: 'But if the Earth has warmed before industry got started then ... the more likely explanation is that the earth is doing the same thing." This is like saying -- after ramming your car into a kid on a bicycle -- "well, the last time I saw a kid fall off a bicycle, I wasn't even driving, so clearly, the cars-knock-over-bicycle theory is wrong." Get it? No one has ever said "only CO2 can change climate" and no one has ever said "the only way for a bicycle to fall is if a car hits it."

    As for Professor Kirby, I think the blog post you refer to actually sums up the state of that 'theory' rather nicely: "They haven't completely worked out the mechanism yet..." Uh huh... And I've got some stock to sell you. I haven't quite worked out how the guy we're buying it from is investing it but... trust me.

    Call us back when you have worked out the mechansism, will ya?

    --eric]

    Comment by phil c — 7 Dec 2009 @ 6:44 PM

  316. Right, I have had a dig around and I can see that Roy Spencer is a ‘born again’ Christian. He also seems to put some credence on the theory of intelligent design. However his views do not seem particularly extreme or ‘crackpot’, or at least no more crackpot than most other Christians.

    It must take a certain amount of ‘cognitive dissonance’ to be both a Christian and a scientist. However, I know several successful and sincere scientists (mainly in the medical profession) who are also Christians and who don’t let their faith interfere with their professional judgement.

    Not being religious, those are not views I would subscribe to, and it does provide a bit of context for his scepticism. Thanks for the heads-up.

    Comment by Matthew L. — 7 Dec 2009 @ 7:08 PM

  317. Hi Gavin,

    How about playing fair and posting my reply to your comment for the sake of a very good discussion. I really did not believe all those folks that said you screened comments to shut off discussion, since you have most of the time posted my comments in the past.
    I see your friend Dr. Steig is now replying to callers, so maybe he held it up. Please let him know what a good guy I am, and post my comment.

    Bryan

    Comment by Bryan S — 7 Dec 2009 @ 7:38 PM

  318. Eric really!

    If the earth has gone through previous similar warming before then it would be a natural cycle – if so why do you need to invoke a new driving force for this one.

    Your analogy is silly – more likely, if the kid keeps coming into the house smashed up with his bike all twisted up I’d say he’d been hit by a car – again.

    I note that you didn’t bother to explain how the MWP and LIA have now been removed from history by Phil Jones etc.

    “Call us back when you have worked out the mechanism, will ya?”
    why- if he can show a strong correlation between cosmic rays, cloud formation and historical temperatures then even without knowing what the mechanism is I’d say that is at least indicative of a possible connection. If you are a scientist, are you not even curious – if not why?

    [Response: Sigh.. You really aren't listening, but I'll try once more before I give up. Nobody 'invoked' anthropogenic CO2. What is being 'invoked' is the cosmic ray / temperature correlation (which in any case is not convincing, even as a correlation. Read up on the basics, please.... -eric]

    Comment by phil c — 7 Dec 2009 @ 7:56 PM

  319. Re: 304
    Bryan, the ONLY reason you want Gavin to start talking about his politics is because you can’t adquately criticize his science. So you’re trying to get some leverage (obviously you assume he’s liberal leaning) where you can use personal attacks (vs. science) to attempt to discredit him. While that might be a nice debators tactic, it won’t fool anyone that comes here for actual climate science information.

    The motivation of Gavin for studying Climate and reporting on it here is irrelevent. Is his science honest and doesn’t it stand up to scrutiny is all that matters. There have been many great scientists from all over the political and religious spectrums.

    Comment by Ken W — 7 Dec 2009 @ 8:20 PM

  320. phil c, is it possible that someone can be murdered by gunshot, and then a month later another person can be murdered by stabbing?

    Comment by Chris Colose — 7 Dec 2009 @ 8:28 PM

  321. Phil C., Uh, Dude, you are SOOOOO lost. First, warming is a PREDICTION of climate science when the CO2 content rises. Arrhenius knew it back around the turn of the last century, long before the current, rapid warming. Please, please, please, might I suggest a little history to dilute your ignorance?

    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Dec 2009 @ 8:34 PM

  322. I appreciate the effort of RC members.

    The term of “scientific” and “uncertainty” have often been abused when decision making is needed. In 1960-1970, Japan experienced many environmental pollution jugments. The defence counsel always insisted that “There are many uncertainties. The mechanism is scientifically proven.” even if the data enoughly suggested the relationship. Minamata disease, thalidmide, etc are all the cases.

    In my view, what is important is “Do we have enough knowledge to give the decision in spite of the remaining uncertainty?”. The climate science has already reached the discussion stage of “mechanism and causality” rather than the “observation and correlation” and provided enough information on AGW though scientific uncertainty remains.

    thanks

    Comment by Mr Sh — 7 Dec 2009 @ 8:38 PM

  323. phil c (311) — Nobody is claiming that MWP didn’t happen (mostly in the northern hemisphere) and the evidence for LIA is global. It is just that neither was the result of a very large temperature excursion in comparison to the warming of the last century or so.

    Plase do follow Eric’s advice; I suggest reading “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart, first link in the Science Links section of the sidebar.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 7 Dec 2009 @ 8:39 PM

  324. I note that you didn’t bother to explain how the MWP and LIA have now been removed from history by Phil Jones etc

    This explains how that works.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 7 Dec 2009 @ 8:48 PM

  325. gavin, reply to 308: Great, now you’ve just given them another far-fetched idea on how to harass you. It’s a matter of public record whether you’ve voted or not, so now they’ll go scurrying to check up on that, and then put some weird spin on it.

    When can we return to the regularly-scheduled programming of discussing interesting new papers? You could spend the rest of your lives answering the same elementary or ill-posed questions over and over again. The same with the conspiracy theorists. At some point, we need to move on.

    Comment by tharanga — 7 Dec 2009 @ 9:09 PM

  326. “1. How do you account for the 1910-1940 warming without CO2.”

    We don’t have to. The industrial revolution began in the mid-19th Century, long before 1910, and human emissions of greenhouse gases due to industry, including CO2, began at that period. The fact that human influence on climate change was being discussed by scientists before 1910 indicates that your question is pointless.

    2. How do you account for the lack of warming over past 10 yrs.”

    The actual lack of warming began in 2006, three years ago, not 10. And at that time, the Sun went quiet, offsetting the increases in CO2 over the past few decades. Again, this would be obvious to anyone who did his homework.

    Comment by Dale Husband — 7 Dec 2009 @ 9:14 PM

  327. It’s a challenge to explain to the public not only the science but the scientific method and what “scientific uncertainty” means.

    I read a “news opinion” article about the so-called “Climategate” (the recent e-mail hack) and there was a forum for the public to post comments, similar to this one. That crowd’s response was mostly negative towards the climate scientists, with opinions ranging from a benign “the science is not settled” to more extreme claims of fraud, data corruption, and scientific misconduct ! Knowing what I do about the culture of science, I realize those claims obviously cannot be true in any widespread way, and it would be frustrating to me if I worked in your field. Maybe it doesn’t matter what some people think, but it is important to have an outreach like this to help the public understand the issues. I appreciate the effort.

    Comment by Robert — 7 Dec 2009 @ 9:46 PM

  328. Gavin,

    Thanks for your responses to my 262.

    I’ll keep them for reference.

    But, What do you think are the most unsettled issues and how do they affect our plans and actions for the future? Do you have them somewhere else that I have missed?

    Comment by Matthew — 7 Dec 2009 @ 10:11 PM

  329. I am an educated American but:
    1)Big or small the individual will be affected by the whole.
    2)A “fever” is typically 2-3 deg hotter than those around the sick one.
    3) When the Earth is that hot we all die! – see trapped CH4.
    4)”Smoke” does its damage downwind while its source stupidly profits.
    5) as another inconsequential sig but flies out a window – “FU” it says.
    6) Ignorance is only Blissful to the ignorant!

    Comment by JEFF LOCKE — 7 Dec 2009 @ 10:16 PM

  330. Comment by Bryan S — 7 December 2009 @ 4:53 PM:

    Arithmetic is nonpartisan. Chemistry is nonpartisan. Physics is nonpartisan.

    Can you describe exactly how and where you see political leanings manifesting themselves in scientific publications by scientists publishing on climate-related topics? Something more than a vague suspicion with no evidence on offer?

    Every month I get royalty checks from various little divisions of producing oil and gas wells. In your worldview, what does that say about my attitude to AGW and what I’m likely to say about it from my layman’s perspective?

    I thank the clowns driving spotless Range Rovers around town, helping to keep $/bbl as high as possible. I profit from stupidity. At the same time those same bozos paradoxically help to discourage consumption via their disproportionate effects on the part of the economy not having to do with Serengeti Fantasy Island. I think it’s tragic that we’re still stuck w/our love for burning natural resources which could be better used for other purposes. I’m worried about our reluctance to grow up and work on a more permanent means of powering our civilization.

    Which statement do you trust?

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 7 Dec 2009 @ 10:51 PM

  331. 300, Lynn Vincent Nathan: and what about all that seafood being harmed by ocean acidification

    Considering how rapidly mosquitoes adapted to DDT, malaria adapted to quinidine, TB and SA adapted to just about all antibiotics, and HIV has adapted to anti-retroviral medications, I’d bet that wildlife will adapt to increased ocean acidification quite well. Random variation, natural selection, and all that. If the results of land studies are indicative, then oceanic vegetation will grow faster with higher CO2 concentrations where low CO2 is the rate-limiting factor. DDT cause problems higher up the food chain because it accumulated and was ingested, but CO2 doesn’t accumulate and ingesting CO2 doesn’t cause problems.

    Even more, shellfish and diatoms use CO2 as the ingredient in making their (exo- and endo-) skeletons, so they have stronger skeletons when raised in CO2-rich water, according to a recently published study.

    Land surface may suffer from AGW, but ocean life will almost certainly adjust, as it has in previous eons.

    Comment by Matthew — 7 Dec 2009 @ 10:55 PM

  332. 323, David B. Benson: Nobody is claiming that MWP didn’t happen (mostly in the northern hemisphere) and the evidence for LIA is global. It is just that neither was the result of a very large temperature excursion in comparison to the warming of the last century or so.

    That is a matter that is still disputed. The original Mann “hockey stick” purported to show it, but other analyses (and the most recent Mann et al Science paper) show the MWP to be warmer than the “hockey stick” showed. Depending on which estimate of the temp during the MWP is accurate, and which estimate of future warming is accurate, it may take another half century to a century of warming to achieve the temp of the MWP.

    326, Dale Husband: The actual lack of warming began in 2006, three years ago, not 10. And at that time, the Sun went quiet, offsetting the increases in CO2 over the past few decades.

    Don’t most scientists agree with Kenneth Trenberth that there has been no net warming since 1998? The sun did not, of course, suddenly go quiet — but if it’s continued quiet is that powerful, there may be no new warming for decades. I maintained (and I think Gavin Schmidt disputed) that the relative strengths of the solar and CO2 forcings are not known.

    Comment by Matthew — 7 Dec 2009 @ 11:14 PM

  333. #304, Bryan & “If you accept the challenge to disclose your own political leanings, then the public can decide on their own if your public science statements are colored by your politics.”

    I actually think folks from the hard sciences might (sans AGW) be a bit more conservative on the whole that us social science folks. I myself started out as a Republican concerned about life, but due to racism and other social evils I eventually became a Democrat. I know of at least one very famous climate scientist who was conservative, libertarian … until the conservatives went (it seems) completely over to the dark side, pro-death, earth destruction.

    The only good conservatives now, it seems to me, are those who really don’t understand climate science, so narrowly focused they are on saving babies from a very narrow range of threats, but not from all threats. The rest of the conservatives seem to me to be misinformed selfish people out to save their own (economic or political) skins, but unwittingly harming themselves…as GW will bring both economic and political hardships and evils we can bearly imagine now.

    …except, of course, for those in the oil and other such industries who are wittingly helping themselves at least for the present.

    The upshot, I think, is that AGW has caused honest & informed folks to change or solidify their politics to the left (which was actually about where the old right used to be — it’s almost as if some folks stayed in place while the politics shifted); politics has not informed their science.

    It’s the denialists who appear to decide their science based on their political views. Which I find very horrible, horrifying….worse than IDIOCRACY.

    Because the AGW science really has been settled for some 20 years now for non-scientists concerned about life of planet earth, the folks who seek to avoid the false negative. (Scientist are such a conservative lot!) We non-scientists have much lower standards for deciding something is threatening and harmful, maybe a p-value of .50, certainly not .05, bec we want to avoid great harms. And it’s good we can also save money and strengthen the economy by mitigating GW, so it’s a win-win, laughing all the way to the bank!

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 7 Dec 2009 @ 11:20 PM

  334. Don’t most scientists agree with Kenneth Trenberth that there has been no net warming since 1998?

    Uh, no. I doubt Trenberth means what you think he means, but I could be wrong. And, do you not understand that by the more complete data set that includes Arctic temps, 2005 was warmer than 1998, and that 1998 was an outlier for obvious reasons?

    Also, the net energy in the system is pointed to by the average for the decade. the present decade has been warmer than any previously going all the way back to the Eemian. Your assertion that the MWP was warmer is, at best, controversial and most likely wrong. In fact, there have been studies this past year saying temps are the highest for at least 1000 to 1000 years, right?

    Let me give you an analogy. Let’s say it’s 85 degrees in your house at 10 AM on a summer day. You turn on the AC for a few minutes to cool the house, but not too long because you want to conserve energy/save money. The temperature drops to, say, 79 before you turn it off.

    Tell me, is it going to be warmer or cooler than 85 in your house by 3 PM?

    The energy is accumulating. We can’t track every calorie of energy, but rest assured, if the balance is + for the system, it’s accumulating somewhere. The average for the decade tells you this is so.

    Comment by ccpo — 8 Dec 2009 @ 12:19 AM

  335. 332 Matthew, no, most scientists do not agree that there has been no net warming since 1998. Tamino has a new post on this.

    Comment by Tom Dayton — 8 Dec 2009 @ 12:24 AM

  336. The politicians keep stepping on the scientists’ toes, claiming this science is ‘settled’ … Here’s Gibbs today:

    “Gibbs responded, “It shouldn’t, because the science is clear.”
    “And settled?” Gibbs was asked. “And settled.”

    Some smart-aleck journalist needs to ask the followup “if the science is settled, why do we need more research?”

    [Response: And he would have no doubt answered that we still want more details. - gavin]

    Comment by Patrick M. — 8 Dec 2009 @ 12:39 AM

  337. “Science has led to a great deal of well-supported concern that increasing emissions of CO2 (in particular) are posing a substantial risk to human society.”

    And of course, after making statements that are settled, like an increase in CO2, a rise in temperature, CO2 is a greenhouse gas; you can’t help but jump in with a statement that is not only not settled, but is most likely false.

    No important question is actually settled. For example, how much of a rise in temperature is there. Taking the 5 year average for the beginning of the HadCrut3 record and the 5 year average for the end of the HadCrut3 record shows a 150 year temperature rise of about 0.8C. When HadCrut3 began, we were coming out of the LIA. So some warming could be expected. Additionally, the ENSO charts since 78 shows a dominance of El Nino events, while prior to then La Nina dominated. That could also add to the recent warming. And, the strength of Solar Cycles has risen for most of the 20th century. On average, 20th Century Solar Cycles were much stronger than 19th century Solar Cycles. And we have no idea if the urban heat island effect is correctly compensated for. Given these questions, questions like “how much of that .8C over 150 years is natural” still arise. And that is not a settle issue. Climate sensitivity is not a settled issue. Even the sign of the feedback is not a settled issue. No models have yet been proven to have any robustness for any significant period of time. Their results are not a settled issue. The recent 11 year flat spell in the temperature record is also unexplained by any elements of natural variation. That is also not a settled issue. Given the remainder of the unsettled issues, we have no right to ask the world to shell out trillions of dollars on unsubstantiated claims about future climate disaster.

    [Response: You aren't parsing the statement right. The issue is that there is a risk. That is well supported - the best estimates for the sensitivity (and even the range) clearly indicate the likelihood of significant climate changes under BAU scenarios. This isn't a 'claim' of future disaster, but rather a warning. (The difference is some telling you that you will be knocked down by a car, and someone telling to look both ways before crossing the road). Your other statements are just wishful thinking; the models are robust over different lengths of time, net feedbacks are clearly positive, and natural variability is expected around any long-term trend. - gavin]

    Comment by Tilo Reber — 8 Dec 2009 @ 12:49 AM

  338. #183 – “Anyway, the reason contrarians or sceptics or deniers or just the deluded are treated as, well, what they are is because we know where there opinions come from, and it ain’t science in the vast majority of cases.”

    Really, you know where they are coming from? Without even talking to them about it? You should got to WattsUpWithThat or ClimateAudit or the Blackboard or Peilke’s or Motl’s website and tell those folks that. You might be surprised at the diversity of thought (both sensible and not). Saying it here is like telling a congregation of Baptists how heretical the Mormons are.

    Comment by Patrick M. — 8 Dec 2009 @ 12:51 AM

  339. Global concern over climate change cools off but rising in India. Indians are ”very concerned” about climate change, believe that the main responsibility to address global warming issues rests with the government. 54 percent Indian consumers said they were “very concerned” about climate change.

    Comment by gopakumar — 8 Dec 2009 @ 1:01 AM

  340. Mathew:
    “Don’t most scientists agree with Kenneth Trenberth that there has been no net warming since 1998?”

    I have charts that show no warming for HadCru3, UAH, and RSS since 1998. GISS shows slight warming. I also have an ENSO compensated chart for HadCrut3 which also shows no warming. But they won’t allow me to post the links here.

    “I maintained (and I think Gavin Schmidt disputed) that the relative strengths of the solar and CO2 forcings are not known.”

    Gavin is most likely right on that issue. I think that solar forcing is one element of warming, but it is a very small one. More important is the lack of a strong magnetic field around our solar system when the sun is quiet. This exposes the earth to more cosmic rays which in turn causes more cloud formation that then causes more albedo. The AGW people deny this because of the lag response that happened after solar cycles topped out. But a kettle of water doesn’t rise to the level of heat that you put under it immediatly. It takes time. And the ocean is a big kettle of water.

    Comment by Tilo Reber — 8 Dec 2009 @ 1:09 AM

  341. 331 Matthew:

    Excellent. We just wave our hands and POOF! all the problems go away.

    I’d find still more comfort in your words if you could actually point to some real world evidence to support the abracadabra part, something along the lines of “Here’s the absolute acidification increase we expect to cause and here’s the interval of time during which acidification will rise, and here are some past examples of organisms that have successfully tracked a similar chemical and temporal shift without a die-off that rippled up the food chain causing a geologically transient but in human terms massive dislocation.”

    Can you do that?

    I’m absolutely confident we’re not going to cause anything worse than what a multi-kilometer ET impactor or perhaps a nearby supernova would produce and indeed life has apparently seen its way through a number of such events. It’s a comforting thought really, that we’re no more unkind or stupid than a mindless cosmological catastrophe, worst case. However, if memory serves me correctly that’s the kind of event that would likely stop our supply of fish and chips for a few human lifetimes.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 8 Dec 2009 @ 1:10 AM

  342. I had the fortune of listening to an interview by James Hansen to our ABC Australia on Lateline last night. Went for a good 20mins and Dr Hansen elequently and logically crushed the main contrarians arguments which was presented to him..such as the anomaly regarding whether 1998 or 2005 was the hottest year on record. Simple answer 2005 because that also took into account the accurate temps of both polar regions which the british study failed to include. Also the pathetic one thats keeps cropping up..that water wapor is the main climate driver and not CO2..well stupid ones..listen up..yes water vapour is indeed a potent climate driver but is the ‘direct’ result of a warmer climate caused by an increase in CO2..as the planet heats up..the oceans warm and evaporate more water vapour near the surface into the atmosphere which results in more severe precipitation..year 9-10 hyrologic cycle homework..did any of these contarians actually attend school??. Oh Yes! this classic..that the temp data is taken from urban areas and so give a distorted result..no dummies! that temp data used by NASA Goddard is taken largely sourced from rural/wilderness and maritime sources..not urban areas which any idiot knows gives an artificially elevated figure. Not only that but the many areas in siberia, alaska, the oceans and about as far as you can get from humanity actually show a disturbing higher than average figure..higher even than most urban areas!
    Dr Hansen said also that all input data used in climate modelling should always be made available to anyone and that that process be kept transparent. That also means reading into it that the data must be kept uncorrupted and ‘uncorruptable’ when it’s stored in university hard drives and data bases. His appearence on lateline was so important as it will hopefully cause program editors to report the science and not some crackpot contrarians misguided view to somehow ‘balance’ the topic. 4500 climate scientists can’t be wrong when whey say with one voice..YES CLIMATE CHANGE IS HAPPENING and that there is a 98% probabilty that it’s cause is ANTRHOPOGENIC.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 8 Dec 2009 @ 1:54 AM

  343. @Matthew:
    You may wish to read that study on ocean life and exoskeletons again. It noted that several species benefitted, whereas others did not. In fact, there were some examples where the prey would lose out to the hunter. Guess what happens to a tiger when he suddenly is much faster and stronger, and capable of eating all the gazelles and buffalos who got slower and weaker?
    Moreover, the same study noted that it was a controlled experiment, where CO2 was the only limiting factor. Give children in the West extra growth hormone and they will grow faster and bigger. Give children in the Third World extra growth hormone, and you’ll probably see some really freaky effects.

    Comment by Marco — 8 Dec 2009 @ 1:58 AM

  344. more rubbish from bob carter
    he wants you all dead
    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2764827.htm

    ” only geologists capable of doing the science “

    Comment by john byatt — 8 Dec 2009 @ 2:06 AM

  345. #321
    Phil C., “Uh, Dude, you are SOOOOO lost. First, warming is a PREDICTION of climate science when the CO2 content rises.”

    except CO2 has risen since 1998 whilst temperatures appear to have stayed level – even dropped
    in which case the prediction has failed.

    I really suggest you watch Kirby’s lecture and then try to dismiss the strong correlations between cosmic rays/cloud formation/climate
    http://seekingalpha.com/article/175641-climategate-revolt-of-the-physicists
    once you’ve watched it, then come back and we’ll talk science which is rather more relevant than history.

    [Response: You should try reading this and then any of this. Then come back and we can talk science. - gavin]

    Comment by phil c — 8 Dec 2009 @ 2:11 AM

  346. As far as Copenhagen goes..trying go get a hard hitting (one that the IPCC say is essential to stabilise the climate) using the due ‘democratic’ process employed in Copenhagen will most certainly fail. Democracy = compromise..trying to find the acceptable middle ground. Surely even Eric can see how ineffective that will be. Climate Change cannot be averted through due democratic process! Put it this way..say there were 10000 huge fragments of a exploding comet heading for the earth..time of impact 12 hours. A hurredly convened meeting of world leaders, polititians, scientists was arranged. But each missile costs $1B a shot..and you will need 10000 of them. America says ‘darn’ we only have enough funds in reserve to launch 4000. China is still undecided..because their findings is that there is a 2.5% chance that they will miss the earth and only commits to 1000..after all they have their booming econmomy to consider. So the result of that meeting only makes available 5000 missiles. 6 hours later the earth is wiped out! There is no difference between that scenario and CC apart from 100 or so years. Can’t anybody see that point and stop clinging so tightly to mommy democracy’s apron strings.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 8 Dec 2009 @ 2:15 AM

  347. I’d like to help pull the discourse back to the issue at hand; how will scientists succeed in communicating to the public that the “science” of climate change has been settled for years now, and action is long overdue. Given that banning opposing voices is not an acceptable enough option, what can climate scientists do to reach the public before the warming gets far more serious and far more expensive to solve?

    Addressing this challenge from a scientific perspective, I would first suggest that climate scientists acknowledge that communicating for public acceptance is not within their expertise. There are, however, various scientific disciplines like psychology, sociology, and political science that are designed to far more directly address this communications issue.

    Perhaps it is time for the IPCC and other climate science organizations to recognize that in addressing climate change, the science of public communications of the scientific findings is just as important as the actual climate science. Perhaps it is time for these organizations to actively recruit and form working relationships with experts from these other fields. My understanding is that the IPCC is now comprised of over 2,500 scientists. Does it seem unreasonable that two or three hundred of these scientists be public communications experts who assist climate scientists in dealing with the absolutely indispensable issue of communicating the climate science findings to the public in ways that will earn their understanding and acceptance?

    Doctors determined several decades ago that an integral part of being a good doctor, at least on the level of general practitioner, was to cultivate what they refer to as an effective “bedside manner.” In other words, doctors today are routinely taught not just how to heal their patients, but how to communicate with them in ways that make such healing much more effective.

    I know that climate scientists did not get into the field to study the popular psychology as it relates to distant, unspecific threats of the kind climate change poses. But if the current reality provides the choice between continuing to amass more and more findings that are ultimately ignored by the public and taking on, by collaboration if necessary, the SCIENCE of public communication of climate change findings, it seems that scientific method would highly favor the latter option.

    Comment by George Ortega — 8 Dec 2009 @ 2:51 AM

  348. #332, Matthew

    The Permian-Triassic extinction event may have related to a massive surge in atmospheric CO2 levels due to volcanism. I’m not an academic or anything, but according this paper, marine extinction patterns were in line with what might be expected if ocean acidification were driving the extinctions.

    http://pangea.stanford.edu/~jlpayne/Knoll%20et%20al%202007%20EPSL%20Permian%20Triassic%20paleophysiology.pdf

    It’s an interesting read, either way. A decrease in biodiversity is something we should be concerned about; we are changing the planet at a geologically rapid rate, and even if some of the simpler life forms can adapt rapidly, it’s entirely too likely that many can’t.

    Comment by Greg — 8 Dec 2009 @ 3:51 AM

  349. The “about” page of this site notes the following:
    “The discussion here is restricted to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science.”
    Understandably, the comments get into that, but it’s quite obvious that the initial posts do so on many occasions. You might consider scratching that sentence.

    Comment by elheebo — 8 Dec 2009 @ 4:06 AM

  350. CNN just started a week-long series “Global Warming: Trick or Truth?” on Campbell Brown’s 8pm EST time-slot. Last night they had Michael Oppenheimer up against Stephen McIntyre(!) and(!) Chris Horner(?!?). Why two contrarians? This isn’t even false balance. In fact Dr. Oppenheimer held his own pretty well.
    In other segments, they’ve interviewed other climate scientists including Ken Caldeira and Peter Liss. Dr. Caldeira hit back pretty hard; Dr. Liss came across pretty reserved and genteel, giving little sense of the atrocious violation against CRU.
    I think the key point to get across any time someone asks about this is that there is no ‘decline’ to ‘hide’ in the ‘real temps’, only in a few tree-rings. There are over 10,000 stations with direct temperature measurements today, and that’s the data that Prof. Briffa showed to ‘hide the decline’ in the tree ring proxy. If he’d done this the other way around, that would be something to complain about.
    What a spectacle of spin!

    Comment by Jim Prall — 8 Dec 2009 @ 4:37 AM

  351. Jim Prall, In fact, McIntyre and Horner were outnumbered. Oppenheimer had truth and evidence on his side–hardly a fair fight.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Dec 2009 @ 5:48 AM

  352. elheebo,
    How are attempted character assassination of scientists and attempts to distort science not scientific matters?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Dec 2009 @ 5:50 AM

  353. Matthew L: It must take a certain amount of ‘cognitive dissonance’ to be both a Christian and a scientist.

    BPL: Not at all. I am a born-again Christian with a physics degree and I have no problem with evolution, or with AGW theory, for that matter. My objection to Spencer is his embrace of nutty fringe ideas, and the dishonestly of his January 2009 blog post on how small the CO2 fraction is–and for that matter, his waiting for a year to acknowledge that people had found a sign error in his satellite analysis that invalidated his conclusion about the world cooling.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 8 Dec 2009 @ 6:50 AM

  354. more rubbish from bob carter
    he wants you all dead

    Everyone dead by teatime.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 8 Dec 2009 @ 6:50 AM

  355. Matthew: Don’t most scientists agree with Kenneth Trenberth that there has been no net warming since 1998?

    BPL: No. No scientist agrees with that. Nor would anyone who understands statistical analysis. Nor does Kevin (not Kenneth) Trenberth. Read what he actually said and the context in which he said it. The Earth is still warming.

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Ball.html

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Reber.html

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/VV.html

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 8 Dec 2009 @ 6:56 AM

  356. TR: More important is the lack of a strong magnetic field around our solar system when the sun is quiet. This exposes the earth to more cosmic rays which in turn causes more cloud formation that then causes more albedo. The AGW people deny this because of the lag response that happened after solar cycles topped out. But a kettle of water doesn’t rise to the level of heat that you put under it immediatly. It takes time. And the ocean is a big kettle of water.

    BPL: So tell me how cosmic ray irradiation causes clouds to form seven hours later… when the average cumulus cloud, for instance, lasts 20 to 30 minutes.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 8 Dec 2009 @ 7:00 AM

  357. “Anyway, the reason contrarians or sceptics or deniers or just the deluded are treated as, well, what they are is because we know where there opinions come from, and it ain’t science in the vast majority of cases.”

    Really, you know where they are coming from? Without even talking to them about it? You should got to WattsUpWithThat or ClimateAudit or the Blackboard or Peilke’s or Motl’s website and tell those folks that.

    Comment by Patrick M. — 8 December 2009 @ 12:51 AM

    Short answer, “Yes.” Long answer, “Yes, Patrick.” You can search for my handle in any of these recent e-mail-related posts or visit my blog for links and details. Do keep in mind the 6 degrees of separation concept. Not all of you have been paid by Exxon, et al., and not all of you are selling your souls, but the vast bulk of denialism has its roots there. They’ve written books on the topic! (I’d bet there’s no more than 2 degrees of separation for most deniers, three at the outside. I’m just 2 from James Coburn…)

    You might be surprised at the diversity of thought (both sensible and not).

    I might (would) not. Been there, done that.

    Comment by ccpo — 8 Dec 2009 @ 7:05 AM

  358. Gavin, thanks for the links

    I’ll ignore the first one as the article was a satire.

    [Response: You can learn from satire - specifically that there are predictable things in the climate system despite the chaotic nature of the weather well beyond your 3 day cutoff. - gavin]

    The others seem only to show that Real-Climate (and others) have looked at solar output and cosmic rays and decided it’s not important.

    So, I go back to Kirkby’s lecture. He shows a good number of very interesting graphs that show strong correlations between cosmic ray intensity and various climatic events.

    From what I understand it is not an argument for any major change due to solar output itself but that cosmic ray intensity effect the formation of clouds which would have major impact on temperatures.

    He is not some quack you can just dismiss, I believe he has worked at CERN for many years and CERN are funding his experiment, he has presented what looks like serious information.

    Do you think that he is talking nonsense?

    [Response: Nonsense? no. Is he weighting the scale a little in favour of his hypothesis? perhaps a little. My position is certainly not that solar forcing is unimportant (read papers I've co-authored on the subject - all online), but that a) it isn't of much significance in attribution of recent trends, and b) not some kind of magic solution for all decadal and centennial variability in the climate record. Unfortunately, solar forcing has attracted a lot of bogus correlation studies which have ended up not showing any predictability, it has also attracted many cranks, and so serious people working in this field need to be scrupulous to avoid the mistakes that have been made before. - gavin]

    Comment by phil c — 8 Dec 2009 @ 7:53 AM

  359. For a good chuckle on the topic of balanced views with regards to settled science.”Well science doesn’t know everything…”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIaV8swc-fo

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 8 Dec 2009 @ 8:40 AM

  360. A bit OT, but worth noting:

    http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/12/06/un-copenhagen-summit-poll.html

    Evidently, you really can’t fool all the people all the time. . .

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 8 Dec 2009 @ 9:28 AM

  361. Evolution, neutrality and the greenhouse gas theory of global warming.

    Yesterday archaeologist Tony Robinson launched Channel 4′s (UK) new series “Man on Earth”.

    This is what he has written about the series. “Climate change is part of our heritage, and throughout various moments of history, we’ve either adapted to the changing climate and have ultimately been successful, or we have failed to adapt, and ignored it, in which case disaster has arisen. We can choose either to deal with it or not. We have in the past, and it’s there to see.”

    This appears to emphasise adaptation over mitigation. The first programme dealt with past episodes of global warming and cooling and involved interviewing paleoclimatologists and visits to museums containing human skulls. So why am I still grumbling, at least about the first programme?

    Because these huge natural climate swings were dealt with in some detail without once mentioning the greenhouse gas contribution. This is so often how this topic is taught. There was nothing in the last 50 minutes (I missed the beginning) which might have displeased Fred Singer who propagates the “climate is always changing” mantra.

    It is just as if some editor had said that ‘we’ll leave out greenhouse gases because they are controversial’ and we should have to put on opposing programme if they were included. This was combined with another fault, i.e that the whole story was presented as if it was 100% certain. Just history. When will greenhouse gas mechanisms take their rightful place in the teaching of science instead of being segregated as part of green environmentalism and entertaining controversy? Perhaps later in the series?

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 8 Dec 2009 @ 10:43 AM

  362. What a spectacle of spin!”

    There’s an odd kind of obliviousness that’s crept into journalism over the past couple of decades that’s now a full blown eruption. They report the controversy because the controversy is news. The controversy is reported by rote or embedded in a comfortable but energetic environment of middle-brow cliches. That keeps the controversy going by giving it false legitimacy — so they have to turn around and report the controversy some more because the controversy is news. The controversy is reported by rote…

    It’s a sort of fantasy perpetual motion machine that lays golden eggs, part of the fantasy being that it’s consequence-free.

    You see it in many of the comments here. There’s lots of amped up chatter and hopping around from talking point to talking point, but there’s a stubborn refusal to dig deeper or to try to view a problem from different angles.

    It’s mad nonsense even by my standards.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 8 Dec 2009 @ 11:04 AM

  363. Above Matthew 7 December 2009 at 10:55 PM
    tries to spin a vague handwaving reference to this story, getting the species and habitat wrong, and faking the outcome to pretend it’s good news. Look it up (if he thought he was telling the truth, he’d provide the cite instead of the spin).
    http://blogs.nationalgeographic.com/blogs/news/chiefeditor/2009/12/538-ocean-acidification-causes-shellfish-to-grow.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Dec 2009 @ 12:00 PM

  364. RE #331 & “I’d bet that wildlife will adapt to increased ocean acidification quite well..”

    Well, if it happens too fast there may not be time for natural selection to work its wonders, and in a geological timeframe, it’s happening lickity-split. That is one of the most serious issues, the rapidity of the warming and acidification, not giving enough time for species to adapat.

    And there are other ocean issues, such as the innundation of fresh water slowing the ocean conveyor. Now perhaps we won’t get DAY AFTER TOMORROW bec the warming might offset the regional cooling (tho apparently new studies indicate is could happen very fast). But there is this other issue — the upwelling of nutrients may be slowed (I think there is already evidence this is happening), and if the base of the ocean food chain doesn’t get its nurishment, that would be bad indeed…nothing could adapt to that. Also the warming ocean is bad new for much of sealife, including our seafood sources. I think Lovelock makes much of this in his THE REVENGE OF GAIA, and I have other peer-reviewed sources on this, as well.

    What we need is a holistic approach (with all the major threats to life on earth), and I’m very glad to note that NATURE had a good issue on that topic last month, and PNAS is coming out soon with one (I happened to meet a PNAS guy at an anthro conference I just attended).

    Of course, with a host of more variables thrown in the pot, this only makes the science that much less settled, but for laypersons concerned about life on planet earth & striving to avoid false negatives, it’s more like the final nails in the coffin of the science being super-settled.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 8 Dec 2009 @ 12:51 PM

  365. I notice Eric shut down comments for the top story because too high a fraction were simply rude. This could be a mistake since this allows a sort of denial of service attack on Real Climate. Better to have two comment queues where previously rejected posters sit in purgatory which may or may not get moderated if there is time. A Purgatory Queue might get people to mind their Ps&Qs so that useful discussion can continue.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 8 Dec 2009 @ 1:20 PM

  366. RE #336, & “Some smart-aleck journalist needs to ask the followup ‘if the science is settled, why do we need more research?’”

    I’m just thinking that “settled” has different meanings for different folks. I’ve considered the science settled since 1990, 5 years before scientific studies reached .05 on AGW. That’s when I began mitigating, eventually down to 2/3 GHG reductions while saving money & not lowering living standards…improving them a bit.

    Science is on-going, so it is never settled for scientists, and I did tune in now & then just to see how it was going, but I figured even if they came to the conclusion that GW was not happening or not threatening our future, or that humans were not the cause, I’d still go on mitigating it not only for the $avings, but also bec it mitigates many other problems.

    What’s unsettled for me is that others have not joined in full force to mitigate AGW. I had naively thought back in 1990 that all I had to do was pass the word on, and others would join in & pass the word on, then I could get back to my regularly scheduled life. But I ran into a brick wall of resistence…even to save money or solve the other problems. So until the solution aspect is settled, and everyone is doing his/her part, then my conscience requires that I keep struggling to get people to do the right thing.

    So for me the science is long past settled, but implementing the needed solutions is not settled. And I would suggest that for all policy-makers and journalists the science is also settled, long past settled. It’s settled for everyone on earth, except for scientists (who are also still studying evolution and other things that for most folks are settled). And that’s that.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 8 Dec 2009 @ 1:49 PM

  367. Jim Prall #350:
    “There are over 10,000 stations with direct temperature measurements today, and that’s the data that Prof. Briffa showed to ‘hide the decline’ in the tree ring proxy.”

    You are right, the hide the decline has nothing to do with surface temperature. And there is no reason to use trees when you have instruments. But you also misunderstand the significance of hiding the tree ring decline. The importance of linking up the surface temp record with the proxy record is to show the validity of the proxy record. If the proxy record does not reflect the warming of the second half of the twentieth century, then there is no reason to believe that it reflected the warming of the MWP. Then you have a problem with claiming that the temperature record is unique within the last 2000 years. The claim that the divergence is a characteristic that is unique to the later half of the twentieth century is nothing more than an empty claim. We don’t know the reason for the divergence, so we cannot say that the same thing didn’t happen during the MWP. That is also why Edward Cook’s 2003 email to Keith Briffa, regarding reconstruction uncertainties for data more than 100 years old, is so important.

    Comment by Tilo Reber — 8 Dec 2009 @ 1:59 PM

  368. It’s obvious to all that climate change denialists are playing up the stolen email controversy for all they’re worth so I’m throwing in on a salient point.

    When I was on the City of Austin, Texas Environmental Advisory Board someone climbed over a barbed wire fence onto ranch land being developed into tract housing to videotape erosion pollution of a local recreational creek.

    When I tried to present the information to the board so we could help codify mitigation to prevent such pollution one of the members vociferously objected to any information collected during the alleged commission of a crime. (Climbing over a fence is a very big deal in Texas) Her insistence suppressed the effort to share compelling evidence for what happens with unbridled development during rain events.

    It’s ironic that the businesswoman on our little board had the moral rectitude to demand that illegally obtained information be disallowed while a US Senator representing the coal and oil industries doesn’t hesitate to demand a full blown Senate investigation of allegations arising from the theft and distortion of scientists’ private emails in order to officially embarrass climate scientists and question the underpinnings of much of climate science.

    Seems to me there’s a real issue here regarding an unprincipled and unscrupulous US Senator having crossed an ethical
    line to condone and thus encourage illegal thievery of private email communications while the rest of us are supposed to play by the rules.

    Comment by Tim Jones — 8 Dec 2009 @ 2:01 PM

  369. @Matthew — 7 December 2009 @ 10:55 PM
    google
    “Results 1 – 10 of about 201 for petm “benthic foraminifera” “mass extinctions” acidification.”

    # 4 – http://www.pnas.org/content/106/42/17655.full (the authors are all geologists – any comments, Dr. Carter?)
    “The PETM is one of the best analogs for modern global warming because both share similar magnitudes and rates of pCO2 and temperature increases (6).”
    “Significant changes in marine and continental biotic communities are reported for the PETM, including significant test-size reductions and mass extinctions of benthic foraminifera” (there goes the bottom of the pelagic food chain)
    “and a dramatic turnover in fossil mammal faunas in North America” (bye-bye Angus burgers, hello rat burgers – For those of you not up to speed on this snarky reference, google PETM mammal body size reduction).

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 8 Dec 2009 @ 2:02 PM

  370. Another way to look at differential degrees of “settled” is to consider the university. As freshmen taking introductory courses we learn God’s truth about the various subjects, then at the upper division we learn there are various schools of thought and different views and angles on a subject or issue. Then as graduates we learn that the whole thing is in debate, and we’re expected to take sides and work on proving our position, or disproving the other fellow’s. We learn that everything is unsettled and in a state of bitter conflict and acrimony. The carpet of God’s truth is pulled out from under our feet, and we’re expected to fly in the air of unsettlement.

    But for those of us not majoring in climate science, AGW has now pretty much been established as God’s truth for all of our intents and purposes.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 8 Dec 2009 @ 2:08 PM

  371. Matthew,
    7 December 2009 at 10:55 PM

    I’d bet that wildlife will adapt to increased ocean acidification quite well.

    Do you have anything more on offer than your best bet? I’d rather have something solid like ‘evidence’. I hope you understand that I think ocean acidification is a big risk rather than a small bet.

    Comment by Anne van der Bom — 8 Dec 2009 @ 2:45 PM

  372. #350

    “I think the key point to get across any time someone asks about this is that there is no ‘decline’ to ‘hide’ in the ‘real temps’, only in a few tree-rings.”

    Of course there is a decline to hide, that is the point. “Only in a few tree rings?” Are you kidding? Do you even understand the issue? If we had real temps going back 2,000 yrs there would be no issue today. The fact that many of you don’t have a problem grafting “real” temperature data to proxies and then presenting this as a reconstruction is simply unbelievable to me. I don’t recall reading anything about it in the IPCC report. I don’t recall a detailed explanation of this “trick” in the IPCC report.

    Now even “real” temperature data has problems with consistency. Has every temperature station remained unchanged over the last 20-30-40-50 yrs? Or are they now covered with blacktop and surrounded by buildings trapping heat and therefore altering the “real” temperatures?

    Comment by Doug — 8 Dec 2009 @ 2:52 PM

  373. Matthew (334) — I fear you have it very wrong regarding MWP; just look at the borehole data, for example. Both you and Tilo Reber (337) ought to see
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/12/07/riddle-me-this/
    regarding recent global temperatures.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 8 Dec 2009 @ 2:54 PM

  374. Tilo Reber,
    8 December 2009 at 12:49 AM

    Given the remainder of the unsettled issues, we have no right to ask the world to shell out trillions of dollars on unsubstantiated claims about future climate disaster.

    Given the remainder of the unsettled issues, we have no right to let the world dump billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere on unsubstantiated claims about future climate stability.

    Comment by Anne van der Bom — 8 Dec 2009 @ 3:02 PM

  375. Doug Bostrom, 341. There is nothing magical or hand-waving about random variation and natural selection, and the examples I gave are all real.

    cepo, Tom Dayton, Tilo Reber, Marco, Greg, thanks for your comments and links.

    The scientific method sometimes takes decades to get the right answer (as with Wegener and plate tectonics), and I think that this is one of those times. Almost always, everyone is wrong about something, though not the same thing.

    Paraphrasing Gavin Schmidt above (comment to #337), I do not think that we know the relative risks of global cooling and global warming.

    Comment by Matthew — 8 Dec 2009 @ 4:08 PM

  376. Tilo Reber said:

    I have charts that show no warming for HadCru3, UAH, and RSS since 1998.

    This is probably the most common error made by denialists – and the most frequently shown to be wrong. You don’t work out the trend by picking the warmest year! Tamino explained the facts just yesterday, better than I ever could. With graphs, too. What mainstream climate scientists expected to happen. He also calculates the short term trends, and shows a) why they don’t show what the deniers want, and b) why relying on them at all is foolish.

    Comment by Didactylos — 8 Dec 2009 @ 4:24 PM

  377. I managed to find a source (Vardavas and Taylor 2007) that gives an expression for the extinction cross-section due to Rayleigh scattering for nitrogen, oxygen, argon, and CO2, listing fitting constants A and B and a “depolarization factor” for each. Unforunately, it doesn’t give figures for water vapor! Can anyone point me to that data? I can’t really do the Earth’s atmosphere without accounting for water vapor.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 8 Dec 2009 @ 5:30 PM

  378. “The phrase “the science is settled” is associated almost 100% with contrarian comments on climate and is usually a paraphrase of what ’some scientists’ are supposed to have said.”

    So where are the AGW scientests when their biggest supporter makes the same claims?

    “The science is settled, Gore told the lawmakers. Carbon-dioxide emissions — from cars, power plants, buildings and other sources — are heating the Earth’s atmosphere.”
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9047642

    If the media and politicians took a more rational view, like we don’t know for sure, but have a good idea, you’d have a lot less skeptics and deniers getting bent out of shape. But, its hard to pass the largest tax in the history of the country based on a good idea… and might be a bit stupid too.

    Comment by Clay — 8 Dec 2009 @ 5:53 PM

  379. http://www.environment.harvard.edu/docs/faculty_pubs/huybers_feedback.pdf

    Excellent essay, indeed!!…composed like a true fence straddler ..rivaling the the professionals in the halls of congress..just one statement gives me pause? “anthropogenic warming is real”..”and say this with high confidence”…well ..sorry but the the antropogenic warming is not a high confidence explanation to many…but remains with the author.
    This is fine, just explain where natural occuring event place in youre anthropogenic confidence…as I really do not see any “hypothesis” with the componet of “volcanic activity” sub-terrestrial or terrestrial in any explaintion this site has ever offered..but i vist here only once a week..so I am sure I am mistaken.
    Visit the link above?..maybe the anthrpogenic role in your summation will be lees then “high confidence”..
    But excellent essay!!..indeed.

    David G. Freeman

    Comment by dfree — 8 Dec 2009 @ 7:46 PM

  380. Hi Gavin,

    First of all, thanks for sharing your knowledge on here with everyone. Its greatly appreciated.

    I was hoping you could comment on the following article, and in particular this paper which is to be published in ‘Nature’ soon. Are you aware of this research and if so, is there any basis to its claims that basically state this new research dispoves the AGW argument or that Co2 is primarily responsible for warming?

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/climate-claims-fail-science-test/story-e6frg6zo-1225808398627

    Comment by Luke — 8 Dec 2009 @ 8:45 PM

  381. Sure, the WSJ is bad, but none can compare to Canada’s own “contrarian newspaper of record”, the National Post. My latest post, the second of the “In the beginning” series, focuses on the collaboration since 1998 (!) between editor Terence Corcoran and PR spinmeister Tom Harris.

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/12/08/in-the-beginning-the-national-post-terence-corcoran-and-tom-harris/

    There’s more to come, too, including the real story behind the Bali open letter of 2007, and what Tom Harris is up to now in Copenhagen. Stay tuned …

    Comment by Deep Climate — 8 Dec 2009 @ 8:56 PM

  382. Yes I just watched the latest and Bill Nye dueled with Patrick Michaels. Michaels, with Brown’s expert help, got the better of him blabbering about lost data, and 6 degree anomalies in some Australian dataset, as if there actually are falsified data out there. We’ll get better science, Michaels said. Nye took Brown to task about the screen crawl of 50/50 emails from viewers on both sides that gives the impression of an equal debate when there isn’t. She hammered him about how to solve this PR problem! Yeah, how about getting off the false balance meme for a start?

    Comment by Mark A. York — 8 Dec 2009 @ 8:58 PM

  383. re:331 Matthew. Ocean acidification has very far reaching effects indeed. Nothing can adapt in time to the disintegration of exoskeleton whether it be krill and other plankton, shrimp, crab, molluscs etc. Solid evidence is now available that shows the calcium carbonate structure of many ocean dwellers exoskeleton is getting thinner and icreased deformation of the shell and are thus more prone to disease and stress. No adaptation is possible when you are swimming in a medium that is slowly dissolving you from the outside in. You can directly link ocean acidification to ocean temp and in particular the effects of coral bleaching and die off. Coral reefs are the breeding ground and sanctuary for a very high percentage of ocean dwellers. Increase of sea temp kills the upper layer of coral, exposing it to the likes of crown of thorns starfish and others which goes on and erodes the rest of the reef leaving a desolate wasteland in their wake. The acidification also erodes the structure of the coral polyps making it a double whammy. What ititially is at greatest risk is the creatures at the bottom of the food chain and then as the sea becomes more acidic it spreads up the food chain until their is collapse of whole vast ecosystems supporting 10s of thousands of species. We will also have changes to the themohaline system which will quite quickly alter the flow of millions of years old ocean currents. So no the ocean cannot survive without the inverebrates simple as that. Another thing I forgot is that the vast waste disposal system of the oceans is manned mainly by..you guessed it..invertebrates!..less garbage disposal..more waste accumulating and decaying to produce even more CO2 and CH4. It is terribly viscious and for the medium and long term an unstoppable +ve feedback system. Have I educated you now Matthew!

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 8 Dec 2009 @ 10:51 PM

  384. A lot of comments here about “whistleblowers” leaking from East Anglia. In fact, some RC correspondents with the gift of second sight or plain old tunnel vision (Hi, Max!) seem entirely convinced it was an inside job by some heroic, conscience-stricken individual.

    Given that the material in question apparently showed up first on servers belonging to a Russian IT security firm, it seems said “whistleblowers” chose a rather strange means of publicizing their alarm. It’s rather an odd choice to make for anybody seeking to establish credibility. Next to Saudi Arabia, I can hardly think of a country that leans more heavily and crucially on petroleum earnings than does Russia; both countries would implode if faced with a serious loss of earnings via petroleum exports.

    Of course, in turn if the somebody commissioning a theft of the material were Russian, seeking to release it in a strategically timed fashion immediately prior to Copenhagen, the appearance of the material in Russia would seem to be an elementary mistake for a Russian interest.

    It would be almost as interesting to know -when- the material was stolen as opposed to by whom.

    How about a hybrid theory? The material was lifted from EA by a person with access who was paid by a third party with a strong interest in upsetting the applecart. Perhaps the only conscience in question is a very guilty one, lying awake at night and hoping no mistakes were committed while cleaning up access logs.

    Whatever. It does not seem like this imbroglio is having a jot of influence in the minds of decision makers so whatever the motivation, the effort was wasted.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 9 Dec 2009 @ 12:07 AM

  385. “My question is how many years do we have to go without warming in order for climatologists to conclude that global warming has ended?” – 198

    10 to 20

    This last decade has been the warmest in recorded human history, and it looks like 2010 is going to be yet another very warm year.

    Comment by Vendicar Decarian — 9 Dec 2009 @ 12:46 AM

  386. luke #380

    always conduct a search back to the source , it proved enlightening

    Comment by john byatt — 9 Dec 2009 @ 1:55 AM

  387. Surely some comment is needed on the finding that the HADCRUT temperatures have, in at least one case, been manually adjusted to reverse the measured temperature trend? http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/08/the-smoking-gun-at-darwin-zero/ If that data is suspect, then science is REALLY unsettled

    [Response: First off, that post is not discussing the HadCRU data at all (GHCN is from NOAA). Second, just because the writer can't work out why something changed, it does not mean it was 'manually adjusted'. Third, homogeneity adjustments are needed to deal with station moves, equipment changes, time of observation shifts etc. and some of these can be difficult to estimate. But the Australian Bureau of Meteorology is the best bet for detailed discussions of what is and is not appropriate at Darwin, and their record looks very much like the HadCRU one. Forgive me if I trust the relevant weather bureau over a guy on a blog. Perhaps reading the literature on the subject might help (e.g. Torok and Nicholls, 1996; Della-Marta et al, 2004). - gavin]

    Comment by Philip Lloyd — 9 Dec 2009 @ 4:03 AM

  388. [Response: Nonsense? no. Is he weighting the scale a little in favour of his hypothesis? perhaps a little. My position is certainly not that solar forcing is unimportant (read papers I've co-authored on the subject - all online), but that a) it isn't of much significance in attribution of recent trends, and b) not some kind of magic solution for all decadal and centennial variability in the climate record. Unfortunately, solar forcing has attracted a lot of bogus correlation studies which have ended up not showing any predictability, it has also attracted many cranks, and so serious people working in this field need to be scrupulous to avoid the mistakes that have been made before. - gavin]

    Gavin,
    I’m glad you don’t quickly dismiss him or his work.

    Most scientific theories attract cranks (even AGW) so that is no sign of a problem in itself and I would hope all scientists are at all times scrupulous to avoid mistakes.

    In his lecture Kirkby shows graphs that indicate a very strong correlation between cosmic ray intensity and climate variations – even the MWP and LIA. Can I take it that his corrections are not part of the ‘bogus correlations’ that you mentioned.

    Could you also explain how he is “weighting the scale a little in favour of his hypothesis”.

    I get the impression that you don’t want to say his work is valid but can’t quite say it’s not.

    [Response: None of those correlations are 'his work'. I assume that 'his work' is based on getting the CERN project to produce results and so I have no opinion of it as yet. Many graphs showing impressive solar/climate correlations are not all they appear to be. Timescales have sometimes been tuned to fit the solar theory (Neff et al, Mangini et al), some non-obvious processing has occasionally been done (Lassen and F-C), and sometimes completely unjustified 'corrections' have been added to improve the correlation (March and Svensmark). More subtly the solar forcing functions often used are out of date and have no basis in today's understanding (Hoyt and Schatten). Kirkby's use of some of this material is, to say the least, rather uncritical. Thus while I think there is evidence for solar forcing of climate, it is nothing like as strong or as dominant as some would have it. Going to the LIA for instance, our last paper on the subject (Shindell et al, 2003), came up with a rough 50/50 attribution of the cooling to solar effects and volcanic effects - but there is still a lot of ambiguity there. - gavin]

    Comment by phil c — 9 Dec 2009 @ 6:48 AM

  389. Matthew: I do not think that we know the relative risks of global cooling and global warming.

    BPL: I’ll quantify them for you. The risks of global cooling are zero since global cooling isn’t happening and isn’t going to happen. The risks of global warming are greater than zero and are probably very, very large.

    There, now was that hard?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 Dec 2009 @ 7:43 AM

  390. Matthew, 7 December 2009 at 10:55 PM

    “Considering how rapidly mosquitoes adapted to DDT, malaria adapted to quinidine, TB and SA adapted to just about all antibiotics, and HIV has adapted to anti-retroviral medications, I’d bet that wildlife would adapt quite well…”
    If the best example of “wildlife” you can come up with is a bunch of rapidly dividing viruses, bacteria and parasites (it was the malarial Plasmodium parasite that adapted to both DDT and quinine, not the mosquito) that paints a pretty scary picture of the future!

    Comment by Adrian — 9 Dec 2009 @ 11:00 AM

  391. This seems to be the latest line of attack: Attack the data. Any opinions?

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/08/the-smoking-gun-at-darwin-zero/

    [Response: See here. - gavin]

    Comment by Zachariah — 9 Dec 2009 @ 11:29 AM

  392. Gavin
    I do appreciate the replies and that you are willing to engage with this matter.

    Where I referred to “his (Kirkby’s) work” I should have specified “his lecture”

    http://seekingalpha.com/article/175641-climategate-revolt-of-the-physicists

    Are cloud formations a significant factor in global temperatures with respect to CO2 concentrations?

    [Response: Not sure what you are asking. Clouds are obviously important in climate. As is CO2. - gavin]

    Do cosmic rays play a role in their formation?

    [Response: Possibly. But clouds form in many ways, including via aerosol nucleation, and aerosols get to be cloud condensation nuclei in many ways, and ionization plays a small role there, and ionization can arise from many factors (natural radioactivity as well as GCR). But the impact that changes in GCR can have on clouds, let alone on climate, is very much at the edge of detectability. Read our recent pieces on this for background. - gavin]

    Is the formation of clouds effected by CO2 levels? (I think the answer is no)

    [Response: Not directly. - gavin]

    Could it be possible that over time the effect of cosmic ray intensity temp is significant with respect to CO2?

    [Response: At different periods in Earth history I guess it would be possible, but for the recent 40 odd years the answer is very clearly no (since there hasn't been a long term change in GCR over that time). - gavin]

    thanks again

    Comment by phil c — 9 Dec 2009 @ 12:03 PM

  393. So we can look at two possible driving forces that are independent of each other.
    a) CO2 is a greenhouse gas
    b) Cosmic rays have some (possible) role in cloud formation
    as clouds are not (directly) formed by CO2 we shouldn’t have to consider any linked effects or feedback.

    So, the question is: what is the relative significance between cloud formation and CO2

    The consensus view is that the significance of CO2 is pretty well understood

    In Kirkby’s lecture the correlations for Cosmic rays looked very strong – and would also give a reasonable (though not proven) explanation for the LIA and why the climate began warming before any major CO2 emissions could be blamed.

    Going back to my original point #315
    But if the Earth has warmed before industry got started then until we can explain that, the more likely explanation is that the earth is doing the same thing – even if we have no idea what the mechanism is.

    Cosmic Rays are by your admission a possible mechanism different periods in Earth history I guess it would be possible
    If I’d never heard of either theory, I would start by looking at the theory which explained more of the earth’s climate as this is the more obvious fit. Anthropogenic CO2 could then explain some of the differences over the last 40 years, although it would downplay the effect of CO2 in the overall process.

    This is not denying AGW – although it would require an acceptance that it is less significant

    Thanks again

    Comment by phil c — 9 Dec 2009 @ 3:50 PM

  394. Luke #380: the article is here:
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v461/n7267/full/nature08447.html
    Make up your own mind on The Oz’s traditional fair and accurate reporting ;-(

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 9 Dec 2009 @ 3:56 PM

  395. Replying to Luke — 8 December 2009 @ 8:0 PM
    who links to a newspaper story in the Australian

    You can look this stuff up for yourself, rather than relying on some guy on a blog (or in a newspaper) to tell you what it means. The Australian has a point of view.

    Look at the authors’ work, here’s an example:
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?sourceid=Mozilla-search&q=Paul+Pearson+of+Cardiff+University+

    Then get the cite by checking the journal (the first-mentioned paper was published weeks ago, it’s not in the future). (Oh, and the second-mentioned paper in the newspaper article– that was in Energy and Environment. That’s not peer-reviewed, and not a reliable source; lack of response is not, as the Australian guy claims, evidence that it convinced everybody, or anybody. It’s a publication widely ignored. You can look that up for yourself, same methods)

    Once you have the cite you can search on that and find, for example, this kind of discussion, which directly quotes the authors of the recent Nature study.

    The Australian got it entirely wrong. No surprise:
    http://www.google.com/search?q=Australian+war+on+science

    http://www.physorg.com/news172072921.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Dec 2009 @ 4:46 PM

  396. Nice quotes from authors here:
    http://www.physorg.com/news172072921.html

    The study’s findings, published in Nature online, confirm that atmospheric CO2 declined during the Eocene – Oligocene climate transition and that the Antarctic ice sheet began to form when CO2 in the atmosphere reached a tipping point of around 760 parts per million (by volume).

    Professor Paul Pearson from Cardiff University’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, who led the mission to the remote East Africa village of Stakishari said: “About 34 million years ago the Earth experienced a mysterious cooling trend. Glaciers and small ice sheets developed in Antarctica, sea levels fell and temperate forests began to displace tropical-type vegetation in many areas.

    “The period, known to geologists as the Eocene – Oligocene transition, culminated in the rapid development of a continental-scale ice sheet on Antarctica, which has been there ever since.

    “We therefore set out to establish whether there was a substantial decline in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels as the Antarctic ice sheet began to grow.”

    Dr Bridget Wade:
    “Our study is the first to provide a direct link between the establishment of an ice sheet on Antarctica and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and therefore confirms the relationship between carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and global climate.”

    —–

    And if 700ppm doesn’t worry you, remember the nature of ‘tipping points’ isn’t a simple, delicate, precision balance where a tiny change around a single number reverses a trend.

    Here, an example any old guy has experienced once or twice, of how a tipping point going UP can be at a very different number than the tipping point going DOWN:

    Once you get your engine to a certain temperature, your car radiator will start to blow steam out in a huge cloud. Having reached that point, it will boil dry very quickly even as it is cooling down. You can’t just open the radiator cap and start hosing in replacement water, you’ll lose your eyebrows, and crack your block — the whole system has to reach a different tipping point, a whole lot cooler, before you can replace the water in the engine.

    How long til we hit 700ppm CO2?

    Do ya feel lucky? Well, do ya?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Dec 2009 @ 4:56 PM

  397. > Matthew, 7 December 2009 at 10:55 PM
    Matthew, rate of change; microorganisms evolve under any changed selection pressure far faster than larger organisms. Do you understand why?
    It’s not the individual that evolves, you know. I hope you know.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Dec 2009 @ 5:38 PM

  398. Gavin, in response to 388: Thus while I think there is evidence for solar forcing of climate, it is nothing like as strong or as dominant as some would have it. Going to the LIA for instance, our last paper on the subject (Shindell et al, 2003), came up with a rough 50/50 attribution of the cooling to solar effects and volcanic effects – but there is still a lot of ambiguity there.

    1. How much of the warming/oscillation before the mid 70′s (warnings of cooling) was due to the (fluctuating) increased solar activity? If the answer is in the paper, I’ll get the paper.

    2. If the current low solar activity persists (as you know, there are competing forecasts/models), how much might that ameliorate the warming effects of CO2 forcing?

    3. What do you think of Norm Kalmanovitch’s claim that most of the outgoing radiation that could be absorbed is already absorbed? (I have a guess.) Is there a published rebuttal somewhere, or else a published paper addressing the issue that he raised? His work seems to be entirely non-peer-reviewed.

    Comment by Matthew — 9 Dec 2009 @ 5:51 PM

  399. Gavin, response inline to #388:

    Many graphs showing impressive solar/climate correlations are not all they appear to be. Timescales have sometimes been tuned to fit the solar theory (Neff et al, Mangini et al), some non-obvious processing has occasionally been done (Lassen and F-C), and sometimes completely unjustified ‘corrections’ have been added to improve the correlation (March and Svensmark).

    You mean to tell us that “skeptical” scientists have engaged in the same kind of data manipulations the CRU crew are accused of? Who’d have thought?!

    [Response: It's called projection. If the contrarians are happy to cheat and manipulate and come up with results according to who is paying them, they assume the mainstream climate science does the same. Except they are wrong. - gavin]

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 9 Dec 2009 @ 6:02 PM

  400. 383, Lawrence Coleman. Just to be clear, I am not actually in favor of increasing the acidity of the ocean. However, if the tiny plants and animals whose skeletons are harmed by acidity can survive long enough to have offspring, and if those offspring can survive long enough to have offspring, then the populations will adapt. I would be more worried about large, slow-growing gill-breathing (is that what they call it?) animals that reproduce slowly: sharks, tuna, octopus, manta rays.

    On land, high CO2 promotes crop growth. It will be interesting to see what happens when they do experiments on kelp, sargassum, algae in CO2-enriched water. The biofuels folks may have answered the question wrt algae — they grow much faster.

    Comment by Matthew — 9 Dec 2009 @ 6:04 PM

  401. Just when you think that AGW is real and you read the link Gavin posted on the need to homogenize temp data to smooth it, a 6 year-old and his Dad kind of show the opposite conclusion and back it up with reasonable evidence. Link to the 5 minute video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_G_-SdAN04&feature=player_embedded#

    [Response: Don't get it. Why does repeating the correction for urban biases that is already in the GISTEMP analysis affect anything? And this has nothing to do with homogenisation issues either. - gavin]

    Comment by Norman — 9 Dec 2009 @ 7:53 PM

  402. #386 John Byatt

    Sorry, I dont understand though. This article claims that this research has been peer review in what are some pretty respectable journals… What am I missing here?

    Comment by Luke — 9 Dec 2009 @ 8:11 PM

  403. Barton: #356
    “BPL: So tell me how cosmic ray irradiation causes clouds to form seven hours later… when the average cumulus cloud, for instance, lasts 20 to 30 minutes.”

    It’s not a one step process Barton. If I remember right, the sequence goes something like this: The cosmic rays create isotopes. The isotopes create aerosols, the aerosols form droplets, the droplets form clouds. Now what do you propose as the connection for the time it takes to create clouds and the time that they last. Are you saying that clouds cannot take longer to create than they last? Why? You obviously have in mind something that you read somewhere. Maybe you could provide me a link so we can discuss more clearly.

    [Response: ions, not isotopes. (they create (a much smaller amount of) isotopes too, but that isn't the issue here). Read Bart's post. - gavin]

    Comment by Tilo Reber — 10 Dec 2009 @ 12:23 AM

  404. Luke, you’re wrong–either you’re misreading the Australian or you’re being fooled.
    The Australian mentions two journals — one is Nature, the other is Energy and Environment.

    Some of what Nature publishes is peer-reviewed research. E’n'E

    Nature also publish what’s called a “Letter” — that’s what the Australian is describing.
    Have another look at my earlier reply to you:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/unsettled-science/comment-page-8/#comment-148138
    Look at the last link there and read the quotes from the authors of that Letter to Nature.

    Then look at Nature’s description here:
    http://www.nature.com/authors/author_services/how_publish.html and from the links there the details on the various different sorts of article you’ll find. Again, that was a Letter:

    “Letters are short reports of original research focused on an outstanding finding whose importance means that it will be of interest to scientists in other fields”

    So, did you read the PhysOrg quotes from the authors of the Nature Letter? Do you see how the Australian pasted their stock interpretation on the story, but it’s not what the scientists are talking about?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Dec 2009 @ 12:54 AM

  405. Gavin:#392
    [Response: At different periods in Earth history I guess it would be possible, but for the recent 40 odd years the answer is very clearly no (since there hasn't been a long term change in GCR over that time). - gavin]

    I’m not following you here. There was definitely a change before that time. A strong rise in solar cycles, and therefore a decrease in GCRs. Since the level changed from the previous level, why can’t the climate (with the oceans as a heat sync) take that 30 or 40 years to catch up to the decreased level of GCRs.

    [Response: Actually, no - there wasn't definitely a decrease before that time. Dye3 shows a trend in 10Be (a cosmogenic isotope), but that doesn't show up in South Pole or at NGRIP. And even if there was a rise, you would except the greatest rate of change in the response at the time and a slow relaxation as the ocean adapted. But that is completely the opposite of what was actually observed. - gavin]

    Comment by Tilo Reber — 10 Dec 2009 @ 2:20 AM

  406. [Response: It's called projection. If the contrarians are happy to cheat and manipulate and come up with results according to who is paying them, they assume the mainstream climate science does the same. Except they are wrong. - gavin]

    So, “the contrarians” (including ALL scientists who challenge the ‘consensus’) “cheat and manipulate” , i.e. are frauds

    [Response: No. But there has been a 'pattern of strange errors' let us say in a certain class of paper. - gavin]

    Careful, Gavin, I’m sure you wouldn’t imply Kirkby is a cheat but it could easily be read that way.

    A lot of people are going to watch Jasper Kirkby’s lecture and have similar questions to mine. He cannot be dismissed as a crank, he’s a professional physicist and so it is highly unlikely that he would risk throwing away his career by falsifying data etc.

    [Response: I never said he did. However, his reading of the literature is rather uncritical. - gavin]

    Even allowing for a bit of (unconscious) data tweaking here and there his lecture implies an explanation for.

    The Medieval Warm Period
    The Little Ice Age
    Most of the temperature variation through the 20th century
    He includes a role for CO2, albeit less significant.
    and quite a bit more.

    Either this lecture is totally wrong or there is some validity to it.

    If there is validity then not only is the science not settled but it may be missing a key ingredient and yet, people who even question the consensus are labelled deniers, contrarians, flat-earthers etc.

    I suspect that many professional scientists not involved in climate research have gone along with the consensus view because while they were not qualified they naturally assumed that their colleagues in climate science would be working to the same professional standards (which most of them will be).

    However, despite the desire to sweep the CRU leaks/hacks under the carpet, many professional scientists will have been shocked to core by what they have seen and will now be looking much more carefully at the subject in general.

    I expect to see far more main stream scientists starting to challenge the ‘consensus’ view

    [Response: It takes more than correlations to provide 'explanations' for climate events. Kirkby is being very selective in what he shows. For instance, he uses one 10Be record (Dye3) that has a trend in the 20th Century to conclude there is a 20th C trend in GCR, but doesn't note that other 10Be records (NGRIP, South Pole) don't show the same thing. Similarly, for every record that seems to show a correlation to solar, there are many more that don't. Note too that the regressions vary wildly in magnitude and sometimes in sign. For sea level he takes one record, but ignores others that don't fit his thesis as well. His description of the tropical hotspot issue is very simplistic (it is not a function of the greenhouse effect) and out of date. He confuses internal variability and natural forcing etc. It's all very well to that this is 'suggestive' rather than conclusive, but ignoring counter arguments coming from the same literature leaves a misleading impression. And given the history of 'strange errors' in this field, he needs to be far more scrupulous if he wants to be taken seriously outside the ABC (Anything-But-Carbon) crew. - gavin]

    Comment by phil c — 10 Dec 2009 @ 3:43 AM

  407. Luke, The Australian is fooling you. The article in Nature does not say what they claim it does, and the other article is in a poorly regarded journal (Energy and Environment) and the results are rejected by all the climate scientists I have heard from.

    The Nature paper is discussing climate 33 million years ago. I haven’t looked at the paper myself, but I know that climate then was very different to climate now. The results that the journalist claim simply can’t be derived from such an article.

    This is why you should be very sceptical of secondary sources. You should be doubly sceptical of known biased sources such as The Australian.

    Comment by Didactylos — 10 Dec 2009 @ 4:57 AM

  408. re:400 Matthew Unfortuantely usually one of the first biological systems to fail under sustained sress conditions is the reproductive system, invertebrates are not different. Matthew what you must understand is if the acididity fell by 1/2 of 1 ph increment and it stayed that way for a long time then gradually species would adapt. The situation here is that with increased rate of CO2 in the air the ocean is forced to sequester a higher rate of CO2 to keep the gradient. Thus the ocean is every day becomming more acidic. So these poor creatures not only have to adapt to current conditions but to keep adapting as the rate of acidification increases. The oceans can only hold so much CO2 however and there is evidence that this process may be slowing down, still by the time that process has stopped completely the seas wont be able to sustain anything anyway. Since the oceans sequester about 1/2 of all the CO2 in ther air that would mean that atmospheric CO2 will have gone well beyond a major tipping point and actually will be increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere at twice the current rate. Elevated levels of CO2 do cause plants to grow faster up to a point but it also depends on how much nitrogen there is in the soil to begin with. Low levels of nitrogen compounds in the soil..little or no effect from CO2. Another thing if that was to cause accelerated growth of oceananic flora that would be very dangerous since that process is very finely balanced. Too much algae or seaweed will cause widespread death of fish due to light depletion and oxygen starvation. As you can see everything in nature is perfectely balanced.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 10 Dec 2009 @ 5:35 AM

  409. Can you elaborate on that youtube video – it’s compelling in a simple, populist way and looks like the kind of thing that spreads (I think “viral” is the phrase du jour). If it were true that only urban temperatures showed increases over last 100 years in the US with respect to nearby rural areas, would that mean anything about global average temperatures in the same time period?

    This seems a classic case of the change in modern information exchange – equal or greater weight given to youtube vs. peer-reviewed research.

    Comment by JB, Portland Oregon — 10 Dec 2009 @ 6:04 AM

  410. “What do you think of Norm Kalmanovitch’s claim that most of the outgoing radiation that could be absorbed is already absorbed?”

    BPL: It’s completely wrong.

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Saturation.html

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Dec 2009 @ 6:27 AM

  411. phil c – Re CO2 vs Cosmic Rays

    There is a very strong body of evidence to suggest that climate sensitivity to CO2 is around 3 degrees. i.e. that every time you double CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, the temperature goes up 3 degrees.

    Irrespective of what the cosmic ray people come up with, none of that evidence goes away.

    In short, reach 550ppm CO2 and global mean temperature is extremely likely to increase by between 1.5 and 4.5 deg C. And nothing Svensmark or anyone else has done on cosmic rays impacts upon that.

    Comment by Silk — 10 Dec 2009 @ 8:12 AM

  412. phil c says, “So, “the contrarians” (including ALL scientists who challenge the ‘consensus’) “cheat and manipulate” , i.e. are frauds…”

    That’s hardly fair. Some of them are stupid. Some are both. John Christy and Spencer are creationists who actually think intelligent design is science.

    Some are contrarians (e.g. Lindzen, Svensmark), who feel their pet theories have gotten short shrift. Unfortunately, this latter category often overpromotes their ideas to unsuspecting lay audiences.

    He then adds, “I expect to see far more main stream scientists starting to challenge the ‘consensus’ view.”

    Ya know, I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. It’s about evidence. The climate scientists have it. The denialists don’t.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Dec 2009 @ 8:25 AM

  413. It takes more than correlations to provide ‘explanations’ for climate events.

    But the constant message is the climate has warmed as anthropogenic CO2 has risen – “anyone can see it, only an idiot would deny the link”.
    .
    But apart from this correlation, where is the actual evidence that CO2 is the primary cause of any warming – especially as this warming has happened before.

    and, Kirky presented an explanation – you may not agree but that does not count.

    This is not scientific, but having lived in/around London for over 30 years, if they held ice-fairs on the Thames then it has **seriously** warmed up since then. A lot more than 0.8C and not a drop of anthropogenic CO2 in sight, and I doubt Urban Heating can explain it either.

    There is 0% chance that AGW can explain the LIA (or any earlier historical event) whereas Cosmic ray interactions are possibly correct.

    Every time a problem is identified with AGW such as
    Cooling after 2nd world war
    LIA, MWP
    Lack of (much if any) warming since 2000
    etc.

    Another “epicycle” has to be added to explain it all.
    We need a Copernicus

    I still appreciate the responses Gavin but we have to disagree – I don’t believe CO2 is the real problem. The real problem now is that the public have been told it is. Look at all those people on Climate-Change protests – if you’re wrong, you are going to have a lot of angry people to deal with.

    Comment by phil c — 10 Dec 2009 @ 8:29 AM

  414. phil c, the evidence for CO2 causing the observed warming exists in (by now) thousands of papers–check the AR4 bibliography. Needless to say, the sheer volume of research poses a problem for the layman who wishes to evaluate the state of the science. The IPCC actually was created to address this problem (not, as is claimed by the tin-hat brigade, as part of a conspiracy to force you to take the bus.)

    If that’s not working for you for whatever reason, there’s a lot on this very site–try the “start here” in the top header of the page. Weart’s “Discovery of Global Warming” is an often-recommended resource, for very good reason. My favorite, though, is to look at the historical science on the topic. Doing so really builds the context for you, and the papers are relatively easy to understand, since much of the science has become part of our world view since it was originally done.

    Classic global warming science can be accessed here:

    http://wiki.nsdl.org/index.php/PALE:ClassicArticles/GlobalWarming

    Try some of these resources, phil, and I think you’ll come to see that “belief” (your word, in form of the verb “believe”) may not be the best noun to describe the states of mind involved on each side of this debate.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 10 Dec 2009 @ 9:30 AM

  415. Please, could you post an article explaining why, with rising CO2 levels, The temperature is in a decline the last 9 years?

    [Response: We did. -gavin]

    Comment by Jonathan — 10 Dec 2009 @ 9:33 AM

  416. oh, and phil, I forgot to mention that your LIA concerns are a logical non sequitur: since significant AGW post-dates the LIA, of course it can’t explain it.

    However, mainstream science can. See:

    http://bartonpaullevenson.com/LeanTSI.html

    (Check the graph at the bottom of the page, and the associated comments–you’ll have to scroll down past the data table.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 10 Dec 2009 @ 9:37 AM

  417. phil c, 413:

    If after all this time of reading and posting on climate blogs, you think the connection between CO2 and climate is based on some sort of statistical correlation and not a well-described physical mechanism, I simply don’t know what to say to you.

    Likewise for your other point, which is basically ‘climate scientists think CO2 is the only forcing, ever’. No they don’t.

    It should take all of ten minutes for a newcomer to the topic to see the fallacies in your statements in 413.

    Comment by tharanga — 10 Dec 2009 @ 9:37 AM

  418. phil c says

    I expect to see far more main stream scientists starting to challenge the ‘consensus’ view

    Oh yeah! Wrong!

    Comment by P. Lewis — 10 Dec 2009 @ 9:54 AM

  419. Philc “But the constant message is the climate has warmed as anthropogenic CO2 has risen – “anyone can see it, only an idiot would deny the link”.”

    And there is more than just that.

    Read the IPCC reports.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 10 Dec 2009 @ 9:57 AM

  420. phil c says, “So, “the contrarians” (including ALL scientists who challenge the ‘consensus’) “cheat and manipulate” , i.e. are frauds…”
    That’s hardly fair. Some of them are stupid. Some are both. John Christy and Spencer are creationists who actually think intelligent design is science.

    My point was that by creating a group called contrarians and saying “they” cheat and manipulate, Gavin could be accused of implying Jasper Kirkby was also a cheat – although I dont think Gavin would.

    Ya know, I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. It’s about evidence. The climate scientists have it. The denialists don’t.

    here’s a challenge for you. Watch the lecture then tell me Jasper Kirkby is a “denier”
    and also tell me what he is denying.
    http://seekingalpha.com/article/175641-climategate-revolt-of-the-physicists

    Comment by phil c — 10 Dec 2009 @ 10:37 AM

  421. phil: But apart from this correlation, where is the actual evidence that CO2 is the primary cause of any warming

    BPL: Radiation physics.

    I recommend you read Houghton’s “The Physics of Atmospheres” and work the problems.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Dec 2009 @ 11:07 AM

  422. Gavin: #405
    “[Response: Actually, no – there wasn’t definitely a decrease before that time. Dye3 shows a trend in 10Be (a cosmogenic isotope), but that doesn’t show up in South Pole or at NGRIP. ”

    Okay, I’m assuming that solar cycle strength will be a good inverse proxy for GCRs. And solar cycle strength clearly increased up to roughly 1960. This is shown in the following cart:

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/__VkzVMn3cHA/SIFs9m3EmII/AAAAAAAAADM/q1Zk0U-n0YI/s1600-h/Sun+Spots.bmp

    Here is a chart from Svalgaard that shows a rise in geomagnetic activity from his starting point to about 1960. Again, I’m assuming that an increase in the geomagnetic index means a decrease in GCRs.

    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/ap-bgs-svalgaard.png

    Gavin:
    “And even if there was a rise, you would except the greatest rate of change in the response at the time and a slow relaxation as the ocean adapted.”

    I agree with your conclusion here, but I’m not so sure that it’s not what actually happened. I believe that the network for measuring ocean heat content is post 1960. So I’m not sure what was happening to the heat content prior to that. The surface temperature acceleration from 1978 to 1998 was probably effected by ENSO as shown in this chart.

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/people/klaus.wolter/MEI/ts.gif

    It also looks like surface temperature adjustments were mostly biased to increasing the temperature – especially in the second half of the twentieth century. The warming is not nearly as large in the raw data. NCDC has a chart showing the effects of their adjustments over time, but I can’t seem to locate it at the moment. But it does point to a heavy warming bias in the adjustments. On top of that, we have the tree ring proxy divergence from the surface record and we have an IPCC spagetti graph where non of the poxies are able to match the increase in the surface temperature record. I’m not suggesting that poxies are better for measuring temperature than instruments, but given the much smaller increase in the raw data and given the lack of support for the adjusted increase by the proxies, I’m not sure that the acceleration is as large as claimed. Additionally, the relaxation that you are talking about does seem to have happened since 1998 in the surface temps and for about the last 6 or 7 years in ocean heat content.

    Comment by Tilo Reber — 10 Dec 2009 @ 11:49 AM

  423. 408, Lawrence Coleman: As you can see everything in nature is perfectely balanced.

    Up till then you were plausible. But everything in nature experiences wild oscillations, and nothing is ever balanced. Predator-prey, Lottka-Volterra and all that. The appearance of balance is an illusion based on observations of isolated bits over short intervals.

    Antibiotics prevented infectious bacteria from reproducing, and extremely effectively at that, allowing the body’s immune system to kill and clear the bacteria. But the bacteria lineages and populations adapted anyway. All of the evidence is in favor of adaptation by random variation and natural selection. The threat is to large animals, but sharks and tuna have survived enormous oscillations in CO2 and temp.

    406, Gavin’s comment: It takes more than correlations to provide ‘explanations’ for climate events

    Glad to hear it. With solar changes, CO2 (H2O, methane, et al) changes, land use changes and possibly unknown changes all occurring at the same time that temperature rose in the late 70s to late 90s, and with all of them having plausible and partially researched mechanisms, there might not be sufficient evidence now to estimate the actual independent forcings of any particular mechanism. All the parameter estimates are highly correlated.

    Global warming “alarmism” is a product of the two-decades long concomitant rise of CO2 and temp after the advent of global cooling “alarmism”. Without the correlation, no one would care, although there was a minor bout of global warming “alarmism” in the 30s.

    410, BPL, thanks for the link.

    399, Gavin’s response: It’s called projection. If the contrarians are happy to cheat and manipulate and come up with results according to who is paying them,. I wish everyone would stay away from the motivational “insights”. Psychoanalysis isn’t well-grounded in research, and there’s lots of money to be made promoting global warming “alarmism”. Right now, for example, businesses in China and India (including coal-fired power plants and steel mills) get lots of money from the EU carbon credits, and Al Gore could lose a fortune if the bottom were to fall out of the carbon credit business. Granted the big oil companies don’t want interference in producing oil, but ADM and others reap huge rewards from govt subsidized biofuels. There are also turbine and PV cell manufacturers in China making huge profits selling to the US.

    Comment by Matthew — 10 Dec 2009 @ 1:16 PM

  424. 408, Lawrence Coleman: Too much algae or seaweed will cause widespread death of fish due to light depletion and oxygen starvation.

    Well, light is pretty depleted already except near the surface, and the algae that would benefit from more CO2 would be the photosynthesizing type, such as the varieties used to make biofuel.

    Comment by Matthew — 10 Dec 2009 @ 1:32 PM

  425. 389, BPL: BPL: I’ll quantify them for you. The risks of global cooling are zero since global cooling isn’t happening and isn’t going to happen. The risks of global warming are greater than zero and are probably very, very large.

    I view that as a religious statement, like an interpretation of the Revelation of St. John.

    Consider: according to AGW:
    1. we don’t know what caused the Roman warm period;
    2. we don’t know what caused the Roman warm period to end;
    3. we don’t know what caused the Medieval Warm Period;
    4. we don’t know what caused the Medieval Warm Period to end and produce the Little Ice Age;
    5. we don’t know what caused the Little Ice Age to end;
    6. we don’t know what caused the oscillation of warming (1850s-1880s, 1915-1935 appx, 19770-1997 appx) and non-warming (1885-1915 appx, 1940-1977 appx, 1997-2009 appx) (though we have some good estimates of the ENSO, volcanic aerosol, and other aerosol effects for the last few decades, and for a few outstanding epochs earlier);

    Nevertheless, we know for certain by AGW that the warming of 1997-2007 was caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gases, and it will resume at a catastrophic rate, though that might be a few decades in the future yet.

    Whatever “known unknowns” were responsible for 1 – 6 might still be at work, and for all we can tell now they might be more powerful than anthropogenic greenhouse gases. The risk of catastrophic cooling is not zero; if the dominant forcing mechanism for 1-6 was the the solar cycles (of multiple periodicities), and if the sun remains in its current low activity state, then the risk of catastrophic cooling (like the LIA) is substantial.

    Your testimony is as you wrote, but my testimony is that “the science is not settled”.

    410, BPL. That’s a good paper (or at least a good web page.) Can you calculate the net change in the rate of inflowing energy to outgoing energy, assuming a doubling of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, averaged over a year, based on your analysis? Because of gravity, even most CO2 is within 2km of the earth’s surface, but the effect of AGG is at higher altitudes. If AGGs doubled, what would be the increase in AGG mass above 2 km?

    I repeat, that’s a significant improvement on Hessinghigh, who I gather is the source for Kalmanovitch.

    Comment by Matthew — 10 Dec 2009 @ 2:21 PM

  426. 399
    “[Response: It's called projection. If the contrarians are happy to cheat and manipulate and come up with results according to who is paying them, they assume the mainstream climate science does the same. Except they are wrong. - gavin]”

    The various stunts usually combine both mechanisms. For example the Swindle opened with a bold assertion “You are being told lies” and then proceeded to manipulate everything including the witnesses, the graphs and even the calendar by labelling ~ 1975 “NOW” so to remove all the recent warming.

    In the case of the Emails stunt, the procedure has been a variation on this theme. Unlike the Swindle, this was not necessarily a single ‘production’ but that is of little importance. The method was first to assume fraud so as to motivate a campaign of harrassment, then burgle (or exploit a burglary) then cheat to manufacture the evidence which had failed to turn up.

    One example of the latter is the circulation of emails to which ‘helpful’ interpretations have been added at the top. Another is ‘over the top’ allegations made on UK TV by Inhofe and Morano. I hope these and many other examples have been recorded by the various pro-science bloggers. They can then be reminded of their errors later , but I doubt if it will stop the practice any more than the arrival of more CO2 and more warming.

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 10 Dec 2009 @ 2:24 PM

  427. phil c (413) — I urge reading climatologist W.F. Ruddimans popular “Plows, Plagues and Petroleum” regarding the anthropomorhic part of LIA. To go further, explore “1491″.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 10 Dec 2009 @ 2:24 PM

  428. “But the constant message is the climate has warmed as anthropogenic CO2 has risen – “anyone can see it, only an idiot would deny the link”.”

    Wrong. We didn’t say “Temperature has risen. CO2 has risen. Therefore the latter caused the former.”

    We (or rather, the scientists, not me) said, back in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s “If CO2 keeps rising temperature increased”. And lo! In 1992 the countries of the world said this was a problem. And the 90s were the warmest decade on record, and the 00s warmer than that.

    Scientist warns of problem. Problem is observed. Nothing to see here.

    “But apart from this correlation, where is the actual evidence that CO2 is the primary cause of any warming – especially as this warming has happened before.”

    Have you /READ/ anything on this site? Try “Start here”.

    “There is 0% chance that AGW can explain the LIA (or any earlier historical event) whereas Cosmic ray interactions are possibly correct.”

    Irrelevant. The knife in the corpse can’t explain the death of my great-grandfather, therefore it can be the cause of death. Logic fail.

    “Every time a problem is identified with AGW such as
    Cooling after 2nd world war LIA, MWP
    Lack of (much if any) warming since 2000
    etc.”

    There is no lack of warming since 2000. How much warming were you expecting? With confidence intervals, please.

    LIA, MWP, 40s are not ‘problems with AGW’.

    “I don’t believe CO2 is the real problem.”

    You are wrong.

    “The real problem now is that the public have been told it is.”

    You are wrong

    “Look at all those people on Climate-Change protests – if you’re wrong, you are going to have a lot of angry people to deal with.”

    And if /you/ are wrong, millions will die prematurely due to famine and disease. The global economy will contract significantly. Development gains will be rolled back. Refugees will flood into Europe and Canada. US and Australia will be a dustbowl.

    And you are wrong.

    So Copenhagen had better get it right.

    Comment by Silk — 10 Dec 2009 @ 4:48 PM

  429. > Because of gravity, even most CO2 is within 2km of the
    > earth’s surface, but the effect of AGG is at higher f
    > altitudes. If AGGs doubled, what would be the increase
    > in AGG mass above 2 km?

    You should start with the “Start Here” button at the top of the page, then the first link under Science in the right sidebar. Or, you should stop asking what you may imagine is a trick question, if you already have read the basics.

    When you post questions like that under a common name like “Matthew” you poison the well for the next kid along with the same name, who may be mistaken for you.

    Get a real name and ask for actual help understanding this stuff and people here, including other ordinary readers like me, will make a sincere effort to help. Don’t waste time and attention.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Dec 2009 @ 6:07 PM

  430. I’ve tried every which way to get Gavin (or anyone else) to come flat out and say Jasper Kirkby is wrong and if so why is he wrong

    So, I have to assume that Gavin accepts that there is a chance (albeit small) that the idea Kirkby presents may be right – care to step in here Gavin?

    We are told to trust the scientists

    In one corner we have the AGW team.
    In the other we have Jasper Kirkby etc.

    All very professional highly educated and qualified to speak on their subjects. But they don’t agree.

    Unless Kirkby etc are definitely wrong and can be shown to be wrong, until that possibility is eliminated then there is a chance that AGW is wrong.

    I accept it may be a very small possibility but we are about to begin spending $X trillion dollars – don’t you think it would be a good idea to be really, really sure?

    I know how strong you feel “your” evidence is but here’s a question to anyone here…

    Is Kirkby wrong and if so why?

    [Response: But why do you think that scientists need to agree on every little thing? They don't. Kirkby might well think that CLOUD will find something interesting and that it will be relevant to climate. I don't think that likely, but who knows, I could be wrong! That's how we get ahead - different scientists with different theories predict different outcomes of an experiment. The experiment is done, and one or none of them is vindicated. We learn something. But even if Kirkby is right, it doesn't mean that the physics of CO2 is wrong - he isn't testing that at all. - gavin]

    Comment by phil c — 10 Dec 2009 @ 6:40 PM

  431. Phil C.,

    Your approach reveals a vast misunderstanding of how science and scientists operate. First, CLOUD in no way impacts what we already know about CO2. The two effects are not in any way coupled. It could reveal something interesting and leave models largely unchanged except for that aspect.

    Second, why should one prejudge an experimental outcome before doing the experiment? Climate science is about a lot more than global warming–that is just the aspect of it that is going to severely impact our lives, regardless of how CLOUD comes out.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Dec 2009 @ 7:06 PM

  432. [Response: But why do you think that scientists need to agree on every little thing? They don't. Kirkby might well think that CLOUD will find something interesting and that it will be relevant to climate. I don't think that likely, but who knows, I could be wrong! That's how we get ahead - different scientists with different theories predict different outcomes of an experiment. The experiment is done, and one or none of them is vindicated. We learn something. But even if Kirby is right, it doesn't mean that the physics of CO2 is wrong - he isn't testing that at all. - gavin]

    Well this “little thing” that you don’t agree on could turn out to be rather important

    So we spend a few trillion and create havoc around the world. Then it turns out CLOUD shows (somehow) that CO2 is not that significant, it’s OK “we learn(t) something”

    Come on Gavin, I saw you on the TV the other day and was no swaying there – full on confidence. Would you go back on CNN and let them know that “hey, who knows, I could be wrong!”

    [Response: Of course. Do you think I'm the pope or something? But you are still confused - there is no way that CLOUD is going to show anything about the radiative effect of CO2. Nothing. Nada. Zip. - gavin]

    Comment by phil c — 10 Dec 2009 @ 7:19 PM

  433. Agreed the physics of CO2 is not going to change.
    But the Earth’s atmosphere is not a test tube and its response to a bit more CO2 may be far more subtle than anyone currently expects. Much stranger things have turned out to be true.

    Comment by phil c — 10 Dec 2009 @ 7:24 PM

  434. phil c #430,

    I accept it may be a very small possibility but we are about to
    begin spending $X trillion dollars – don’t you think it would be a
    good idea to be really, really sure?

    The usual ‘don’t bet unless you’re certain’ fallacy, ignoring that we are
    betting already, for high stakes. Like, we’re betting the future of
    our civilization
    on the ‘null model’, i.e., nothing bad is going to
    happen to us under business as usual — a ‘model’ that both violates
    century-old text book physics, and contradicts the observations from
    multiple independent sources. Its only redeeming grace is that it gives
    a warm and fuzzy feeling…

    We need to learn to make better bets, quickly.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 10 Dec 2009 @ 8:07 PM

  435. Your approach reveals a vast misunderstanding of how science and scientists operate. First, CLOUD in no way impacts what we already know about CO2. The two effects are not in any way coupled. It could reveal something interesting and leave models largely unchanged except for that aspect.
    Second, why should one prejudge an experimental outcome before doing the experiment? Climate science is about a lot more than global warming–that is just the aspect of it that is going to severely impact our lives, regardless of how CLOUD comes out.
    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 December 2009 @ 7:06 PM

    consider this as a thought experiment

    You work in laboratory and establish the physics of CO2
    You extrapolate your knowledge up to the earth’s atmosphere do the maths and make the following prediction

    X-Tons CO2 will give Y degrees warming
    then we put X-Tons up there and the temperature indeed goes up Y degrees
    So, we have “proved” AGW

    except, someone comes along and shows that actually
    another mechanism (possibly clouds) can be shown to have caused Z degrees of warming.

    But the total amount of warming is still Y degrees.
    So, all things being equal, this can only mean that
    X-Tons CO2 actually only caused Y-Z degrees of the total warming.

    This does not mean that the physics of CO2 has to be revised. All that stuff worked out in the 19th century etc is still perfectly valid. What it would mean is that our understanding of the atmosphere’s response to additional CO2 was wrong – and I think this is possible

    This is why the outcome of CLOUD is significant because it could show CO2 was less significant, and maybe not such a threat in terms of Global Warming

    No one is trying to re-write the laws of CO2 physics, but it would mean that the atmosphere was a more subtle than you think it is.

    [Response: It will have no impact on the attribution of climate change whatsoever because there isn't a recent trend in GCR. Z is very close to zero. - gavin]

    Comment by phil c — 10 Dec 2009 @ 8:08 PM

  436. You may be correct that not scienctist has ever claimed that the science is 100% settled. Politicians on the other hand make this claim on an incredibly regular basis. I am yet to ever see a politician publicly rebuffed for making this false claim.

    Comment by Dave — 10 Dec 2009 @ 9:00 PM

  437. 425, Matthew: the warming of 1997-2007

    That’s probably a Freudian slip. I meant the warming of 1977-1997.

    Comment by Matthew — 10 Dec 2009 @ 9:31 PM

  438. I tried posting this in the newer comments….maybe you are no longer accepting challenges to your “interpretation” of the “trick”?

    Anyone have anything to say about this analysis by Mr. McIntyre? Seems pretty straightforward how they “hid the decline” and why they needed to do it (excellent reconstruction of emails along with real time events)

    [edit]

    http://climateaudit.org/2009/12/10/ipcc-and-the-trick/

    [Response: They are confused. The mismatch that they were concerned with is seen in the first figure where the Briffa and Jones reconstructions are substantially higher and lower than Mann's through the LIA (1500 - 1900AD). Note the line "Keith’s series .. differs in large part in exactly the opposite direction that Phil’s does from ours. This is the problem we all picked up on... ". It has nothing to do with the post 1960 issue. The full email is a much clearer read than McIntyre's cherry-picking. - gavin]

    Comment by Sandra Kay — 10 Dec 2009 @ 9:39 PM

  439. As a non-scientist, I found this paper very informative on climate science practice (as well as on other computationally intensive sciences):

    Engineering the Software for Understanding Climate Change
    Steve M. Easterbrook, Timothy C. Johns
    http://www.cs.toronto.edu/~sme/papers/2008/Easterbrook-Johns-2008.pdf

    It outlines in an approachable way the workings of one of the major centers of climate reasearch. There are several other centers, of course, each having its own structures and methods.

    In the end it boils down to a simple choice: You either trust or you don’t trust the process and its built-in quality controls and validation sub-systems. You can not re-run the experiments without access to a major management and science team and (possibly) months of time at a supercomputing center. Talk of “releasing the code and data” is very much idle and ignorant. Just a theory without practical application. Some of the models have been available on-line for years but apparently nobody has done anything useful with them.

    These software systems are the basis of hundreds of scientific papers each year both by the center staff and by outside users, each paper with its unique configuration of a million line Fortran code, the code evolving through some 5 new releases annually. The output is then verified in peer review and subsequent science.

    There are more than ten research centers doing the same job. Fundamentally they exist to try and generate a competition advantage for the national governments funding them. Being first with the best science brings benefits socially, economically and in terms of national security. Assuming, of course, that the scientific discoveries are not ignored.

    Comment by Pekka Kostamo — 10 Dec 2009 @ 10:39 PM

  440. 438, Gavin’s comment. “The full email” (http://www.eastangliaemails.com/emails.php?eid=136) is definitely worth the read. If you follow the links in the email, you can find the graphs of the reconstructions, like this one:
    (1) http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/ei/ei_nodendro.html

    (note: there are many such that are discussed)

    And you can find a graph of the tree-ring reconstructions (up to 1960) with the 20th century instrumentally recorded temperatures grafted in:
    (2) http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/ei/ei_reconsa.html

    These are evidently the graphs that were in the MBH98 paper (that’s what Mann calls it in the email) that was critiqued by the Wegman report. Note, there was a lot of work done by the authors, not all of which could possibly be published, and the technical discussions are worth reading. You have to admire Mann et al’s work, and the scholarly discussion in the email. It takes a great deal of time to analyse all those spatial time series with their non-overlapping sampling times, not to mention all the time it takes to perform the laboratory work and collect the samples.

    That said, this does seem to be Mann’s “trick” that Phil Jones used to “hide the decline”. Isn’t it?

    It is curious that a technique considered unreliable enough to reconstruct the recent past (this is the famous “divergence”) was considered reliable enough to reconstruct the distant past. You would have to know for certain what caused the divergence, and that nothing that large had happened before.

    Comment by Matthew — 10 Dec 2009 @ 11:54 PM

  441. Thanks for the link to the full email, Gavin–I think. (I’d been ignoring anything except the denialist “talking points” since the emails, after all, were supposed to be private.)

    However, I must nominate Chris Folland’s statement for “Hacked Email Least Likely To Appear In A Skeptic Blog.”

    That statement: “We want the truth.”

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 11 Dec 2009 @ 12:32 AM

  442. 439, Pekka Kostamo: each paper with its unique configuration of a million line Fortran code,

    One thing I have been glad to learn from this episode is that Fortran is still a living language.

    Comment by Matthew — 11 Dec 2009 @ 12:51 AM

  443. [Response: It will have no impact on the attribution of climate change whatsoever because there isn't a recent trend in GCR. Z is very close to zero. - gavin]

    I quote from a quote about Kirkby taken from http://www.canada.com/story.html?id=975f250d-ca5d-4f40-b687-a1672ed1f684

    … the sun and cosmic rays “will probably be able to account for somewhere between a half and the whole of the increase in the Earth’s temperature that we have seen in the last century.”

    Which reads to me that he feels “Z” might be quite significant which would be interesting – to say the least.

    But then again, he couldn’t possibly be right – could he?

    [Response: People can make any claim they like. But if they want to convince other scientists they have to show some convincing evidence to support it. I see no evidence in his presentation or other work that would lead to Z being anything like that large. - gavin]

    Comment by phil c — 11 Dec 2009 @ 3:39 AM

  444. I figure I’d post this here since it’s I have uncertainty about my calculations. Based on here
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/04/water-vapour-feedback-or-forcing/
    you claim that “CO2 alone makes up between 9 and 26%” of the greenhouse effect. I was wondering if
    A) that was a measure of uncertainty about the percentage or if that was a range given the variability of earth regions in time.
    (when I was asked this question I thought of it as a range since areas such as the polar icecaps have less water vapor in the air due to condensation and would therefore have a lower GW effect, a percentage water vapor GW effect, and a higher percentage CO2 effect. But I could easily be mistaken.)

    [Response: No, it's the range you get if you don't go into the overlaps. If you do and attribute them properly, the answer you get is just under 20% (clouds 25%, water vapour 50%). - gavin]

    B) if you could express rising CO2′s rising contribution temperature by taking its percentage of GW (9% to 26%) multiplying it by the total GW effect (+33°) and multiplying that by the percentage of the rise in CO2 since preindustrial period (387ppm – 280ppm / 280ppm)? Is this a productive calculation or am I missing a bunch of stuff and therefore the resulting calculation is garbage? Is it productive to use such a calculation to picture the potential of double in preindustrial CO2?

    [Response: It's not that easy unfortunately because the feedbacks caused by changes in CO2 also change the water vapour, temperature structure and clouds and so the calculations change. - gavin]

    Comment by Thimbles — 11 Dec 2009 @ 4:25 AM

  445. [Response: Of course. Do you think I'm the pope or something? But you are still confused - there is no way that CLOUD is going to show anything about the radiative effect of CO2. Nothing. Nada. Zip. - gavin]

    No you are not the pope – but I found this on Wikipedia
    “But you are still confused there is no way that Galileo is going to show us anything about celestial bodies. Nothing. Nada. Zip. – Pope Urban] ”

    Although you are safe to say the physics of CO2 is fixed (I agree) you are on shakier ground when you say that its role in the atmosphere is fully understood.

    If CLOUD does turn out to “account for somewhere between a half and the whole of the increase in the Earth’s temperature that we have seen in the last century” (Kirkby’s words not mine) then, unfortunately for you, it would show the effect of CO2 In the overall atmosphere could not be the same as you currently think.

    You cannot end up with both AGW and CLOUD somehow explaining the majority of the warming.

    Gavin, I really appreciate the fact that you’ve taken the time to post replies – and although you may be right I still see a possibility that other work may show you are seriously wrong.

    thanks again, I wont post anything more (unless a reply is too tempting)

    [Response: But CLOUD can't possibly show anything of the sort. Kirbky is talking about attribution of climate change - something which is not calculated in smog chamber, however expensive. - gavin]

    Comment by phil c — 11 Dec 2009 @ 4:36 AM

  446. Matthew: Because of gravity, even most CO2 is within 2km of the earth’s surface

    BPL: Huh? CO2 is well mixed all the way up through the stratosphere.

    [Response: Well-mixed refers to concentration, not mass. But Matthew is confused, pressure at 2km is about 800 hPa, and so only about one fifth of the CO2 is in the lower 2km. - gavin]

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 11 Dec 2009 @ 4:59 AM

  447. Phil C,

    Let’s put things in perspective here. CLOUD is a smog chamber study, not at all unimportant, but staking the future of the earth and the decision to spend (or not spend) billions of dollars on one smog chamber study seems not warranted.

    CLOUD will not be the last word on the cosmic ray – climate question, even though it’s an important and noteworthy experiment. Its results will still have to be combined with what’s already known about the various topics at hand (see http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/04/aerosol-effects-and-climate-part-ii-the-role-of-nucleation-and-cosmic-rays/) and withstand the test of time, e.g. through replication efforts with different means. Its results may add something to the puzzle of what we know about climate, but it won’t replace everything we know.

    You may have seen the paper describing the initial results from the CERN experiment: http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/9/18235/2009/acpd-9-18235-2009.html The results are rather inconclusive one could say: Some experiments suggest a role of ion induced nucleation; many more don’t. And it’s still a long journey to bridge the gap between aerosol nucleation and climate effects via cloud activation.

    Science doesn’t work by providing absolute proof. It works by searching for the most likely explanation. Waiting for absolute proof is like waiting for Godot. And since you consider the stakes of spending lots of money while perhaps (not very likely according to the science) being wrong, would you also consider the reverse: Not dealing with the problem, when it later turns out the science was right (most likely), or wrong in the other direction: understating the seriousness of the problem (not very likely, but perhaps on equal footing as the first outcome)?

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 11 Dec 2009 @ 5:16 AM

  448. Phil C – This is getting very boring.

    Let me make it simple.

    If CLOUD proves that changes in GCR cause temperature changes on earth, THIS IS NO WAY IMPACTS on the statement

    “If CO2 reaches 550ppm or greater, global mean temperature will increase by 1.5 to 4.5 degrees (95% confidence)”

    THERE IS NO LINK between CLOUD and this statement.

    None.

    Zero.

    Zip.

    CO2 will reach 550ppm or higher this century, unless we intervene reduce emissions.

    Therefore there is only (from a policy perspective) one question worth asking. “Is the cost of reducing emissions greater or less than the cost of not doing so, and letting temperature increase?”

    The body of evidence suggests inaction is more damaging that action.

    Therefore, the policymakers should act.

    The interesting questions are then, “what are the best actions to take?”, “how can they best be implemented (in a way that maxmises impact at minimum cost and disruption)?” and “how much action is needed?”

    You diversion into GCR is completely meaningless. And rather dull.

    Comment by Silk — 11 Dec 2009 @ 6:38 AM

  449. 446, Gavin: Well-mixed refers to concentration, not mass. But Matthew is confused, pressure at 2km is about 800 hPa, and so only about one fifth of the CO2 is in the lower 2km.

    That is interesting. What is the altitude above which there is only 20% of the CO2 total?

    [Response: ~200 hPa level, which is 12 km or so up. - gavin]

    448, Silk: Therefore there is only (from a policy perspective) one question worth asking. “Is the cost of reducing emissions greater or less than the cost of not doing so, and letting temperature increase?”

    That might deserve its own thread. For one economic opinion, a dollar of prevention might be worth 2 cents of care. That’s a paraphrase of Bjorn Lomborg. This is analogous to a variation on Pascal’s wager: if you accepted Pascal’s logic, would you bet on the Allah of Mohammed or the God of the Old Testament? To get really far-fetched, the analysis of periodicities of past past glaciations suggest that we are past the expected end of the current inter-glacial epoch (a detail that was mentioned in the global cooling alarmism of the 70s.) In light of the observed decline of solar activity, global cooling should not be assigned a “known” probability of 0.

    Comment by Matthew — 11 Dec 2009 @ 1:00 PM

  450. #415 Jonathan

    You might also enjoy:

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/global-warming-stopped

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 11 Dec 2009 @ 1:03 PM

  451. Philip Llyod (387) and Zachariah (391)

    You will find a great debunking here
    http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2009/12/trust_scientists

    Comment by o — 11 Dec 2009 @ 1:11 PM

  452. Gavin, I was wondering if you’ve read this paper. if you did what you think about it. Could this be what affects the tree ring data after 1960?

    A relationship between galactic cosmic radiation and tree rings
    Sigrid Dengel, Dominik Aeby and John Grace
    Institute of Atmospheric and Environmental Science, School of GeoSciences, Crew Building, University of Edinburgh, EH9 3JN, UK

    ABSTRACT
    • Here, we investigated the interannual variation in the growth rings formed by Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) trees in northern Britain (55°N, 3°W) over the period 1961–2005 in an attempt to disentangle the influence of atmospheric variables acting at different times of year.

    • Annual growth rings, measured along the north radius of freshly cut (frozen) tree discs and climatological data recorded at an adjacent site were used in the study. Correlations were based on Pearson product–moment correlation coefficients between the annual growth anomaly and these climatic and atmospheric factors.

    • Rather weak correlations between these variables and growth were found. However, there was a consistent and statistically significant relationship between growth of the trees and the flux density of galactic cosmic radiation. Moreover, there was an underlying periodicity in growth, with four minima since 1961, resembling the period cycle of galactic cosmic radiation.

    • We discuss the hypotheses that might explain this correlation: the tendency of galactic cosmic radiation to produce cloud condensation nuclei, which in turn increases the diffuse component of solar radiation, and thus increases the photosynthesis of the forest canopy.

    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122597017/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

    Comment by Brian — 11 Dec 2009 @ 1:35 PM

  453. I have a couple of questions which I can’t find answers to anywhere and people here seem very knowledgeable.

    First, as I understand it, the primary driver in global warming is not the greenhouse gases themselves, but the various feedbacks that amplify the effect of the greenhouse gases themselves. Are these feedbacks determined empirically or theoretically or some combination? What are the relative contributions?

    Second, since most of the warming is due to feedbacks and as we have seen, natural variations are in the short term larger than variations due to global warming, why havent’ the feedbacks been triggered by natural perturbations at some time in the past?

    Thanks.

    Comment by Tom Graney — 11 Dec 2009 @ 2:05 PM

  454. 449, Gavin comment. Thank you. That helps in the appreciation of the paper that BPL linked to.

    459, Brian. Thanks for the link.

    Comment by Matthew — 11 Dec 2009 @ 5:03 PM

  455. Tom Graney asked:”Second, since most of the warming is due to feedbacks and as we have seen, natural variations are in the short term larger than variations due to global warming, why havent’ the feedbacks been triggered by natural perturbations at some time in the past?”

    Feedbacks have operated in the past big time. For example, slight increases in solar insolation from orbital changes result in slight warming, which releases some CO2 and raises water vapor, which warms the planet some more, which releases some CO2 and raises water vapor, which raises temperatures, etc.

    For your first question, in modern times the increase in warming from increased CO2 and resulting water vapor feedback are roughly equal.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 11 Dec 2009 @ 5:39 PM

  456. [Freezingly:] Thank you, Gavin, I am aware that concentration is not the same as mass. I was under the impression that the OP thought CO2 had a different scale height from the rest of the atmosphere.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 11 Dec 2009 @ 8:03 PM

  457. “First, as I understand it, the primary driver in global warming is not the greenhouse gases themselves, but the various feedbacks that amplify the effect of the greenhouse gases themselves. Are these feedbacks determined empirically or theoretically or some combination? What are the relative contributions?”

    Read IPCC working group 1 report, http://www.ipcc.ch

    Or google “how climate models work”

    Note also that evidence for the sensivitiy of climate to CO2 does not depend on models. There is actual evidence, from paleoclimate, that shows if you double CO2, T goes up 3 degrees.

    “Second, since most of the warming is due to feedbacks and as we have seen, natural variations are in the short term larger than variations due to global warming, why havent’ the feedbacks been triggered by natural perturbations at some time in the past?”

    Ice ages? CO2 in the precambian period? The earth’s climate has been VERY different in the past.

    What was the coal, before it was coal?

    Comment by Silk — 12 Dec 2009 @ 3:28 AM

  458. Gavin – you are losing credibility by not admitting that the facts, circumstances and aura of the emails looks bad – sorry….it’s not playing well with the intelligentsia that are not inside the game….this should not be in dispute with reasonable people – and it doesn’t hurt the general case for AGW, or mean that there is a huge conspiracy – but it’s pretty clear to most everyone who has looked at these things that a dangerous brew of politics and science has produced a bad result – and it needs to be accepted and fixed by the insiders, or the outsiders will fix it in a way that is not to your liking i’m afraid…and they will be justified.

    [Response: 'circumstances' and 'auras' whipped up by the blogosphere may well be designed to look bad, but I try and actually keep track of what the truth is instead. Whether this 'plays well' among people that haven't looked into it is not a determinant of anything much. - gavin]

    Comment by Mesa — 12 Dec 2009 @ 6:21 AM

  459. I have a question about the CO2 lifetime (not particularly relevant to this or other current posts unfortunately).

    David Archer and others have argued that “earlier cuts in emissions would have a greater effect in reducing climate change than comparable reductions made later.” This seems a logical conclusion for a time period that is short compared to the long lifetime of CO2.

    However, Allan at al (Nature Climate Crunch) argue that it’s the total amount of emissions that matter, and that the resultant warming is not very strongly dependent on the trajectory of the emissions.

    These statements seem inconsistent with each other at first sight, or is it due to the different timescales they’re looking at? I.e. for the final equilibrium warming it doesn’t matter when emissions are reduced, but for the intermittent (rate of) warming it does. Is that correct?

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 12 Dec 2009 @ 9:29 AM

  460. Unsettled science
    “In the climate field, there are a number of issues which are no longer subject to fundamental debate in the community”

    I’ll assume this is a very basic question as I am new to climatolgy.
    I’m almost scared to ask it but after watching this video I have to ask it.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_G_-SdAN04&feature=player_embedded

    What temperature record do we have of the last 100 yrs besides that of thermometers in Stephenson screens?

    Gavin you said “[Response: Don't get it. Why does repeating the correction for urban biases that is already in the GISTEMP analysis affect anything? And this has nothing to do with homogenisation issues either. - Gavin]

    What I get is that this is raw unadjusted data and the rural sites show no trend over the last 100 yrs. This questions the axiom that temperatures have risen in the last 100yrs. I know you think this is settled hence my question. What temperature record do we have of the last 100 yrs besides that of thermometers in Stephenson screens?

    [Response: ocean data, retreating glaciers, changes in phenology (timing of spring blooms, migrations etc.), boreholes... And the trend in the rural stations in CONUS is not zero in any case. - gavin]

    Comment by steve bunn — 12 Dec 2009 @ 10:53 AM

  461. A strong bout of natural cooling in 2008
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2009GL041188.shtml

    A precipitous drop in North American temperature in 2008, commingled with a decade-long fall in global mean temperatures, are generating opinions contrary to the inferences drawn from the science of climate change. We use an extensive suite of model simulations and appraise factors contributing to 2008 temperature conditions over North America. We demonstrate that the anthropogenic impact in 2008 was to warm the region’s temperatures, but that it was overwhelmed by a particularly strong bout of naturally-induced cooling resulting from the continent’s sensitivity to widespread coolness of the tropical and northeastern Pacific sea surface temperatures. The implication is that the pace of North American warming is likely to resume in coming years, and that climate is unlikely embarking upon a prolonged cooling.

    Citation: Perlwitz, J., M. Hoerling, J. Eischeid, T. Xu, and A. Kumar (2009), A strong bout of natural cooling in 2008, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L23706, doi:10.1029/2009GL041188.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Dec 2009 @ 12:27 PM

  462. RE: Bart #459

    Apologies if this isn’t responsive to your question or is poorly expressed, but maybe it will prompt someone else to do better.

    I think the difference is whether one is considering the climate (or earth system) response – in which case it doesn’t much matter whether the CO2 is released sooner or later – or the efficacy in meeting policy objectives (in terms of total atmospheric CO2 or change in temperature) – in which case reducing emissions sooner is much more likely to succeed. In the latter context, there is indeed a “time value of carbon.”

    See, for instance

    Vaughan, Lenton and Shepherd. 2009. Climate change mitigation: trade-offs between delay and strength of action required. Climatic Change. Published online 15 April 2009. DOI 10.1007/s10584-009-9573-7

    Abstract: Climate change mitigation via a reduction in the anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) is the principal requirement for reducing global warming, its impacts, and the degree of adaptation required. We present a simple conceptual model of anthropogenic CO2 emissions to highlight the trade off between delay in commencing mitigation, and the strength of mitigation then required to meet specific
    atmospheric CO2 stabilization targets. We calculate the effects of alternative emission profiles on atmospheric CO2 and global temperature change over a millennial timescale using a simple coupled carbon cycle-climate model. For example, if it takes 50 years to transform the energy sector and the maximum rate at which emissions can be reduced is −2.5% year−1, delaying action until 2020 would lead to stabilization at 540 ppm. A further 20 year delay would result in a stabilization level of 730 ppm,
    and a delay until 2060 would mean stabilising at over 1,000 ppm. If stabilization targets are met through delayed action, combined with strong rates of mitigation, the emissions profiles result in transient peaks of atmospheric CO2 (and potentially temperature) that exceed the stabilization targets. Stabilization at 450 ppm requires maximum mitigation rates of −3% to −5% year−1, and when delay exceeds 2020,
    transient peaks in excess of 550 ppm occur. Consequently tipping points for certain Earth system components may be transgressed. Avoiding dangerous climate change is more easily achievable if global mitigation action commences as soon as possible. Starting mitigation earlier is also more effective than acting more aggressively once mitigation has begun.

    Comment by Rick Brown — 12 Dec 2009 @ 1:22 PM

  463. Re: Luke 380 and subsequent comments by others

    The authors of the Nature study have responded with a letter, published in The Australian yesterday http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/letters/index.php/theaustralian/comments/in_thrall_to_totalitarian_green_science/

    Here it is:

    IN his opinion piece (“Climate claims fail science test”, Commentary, 9/12) Michael Asten has misrepresented our recent research by suggesting that it casts doubt on the link between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global warming.

    Our study, published in the journal Nature, is a reconstruction of atmospheric CO2 levels 33-35 million years ago when the ice cap first appeared on Antarctica. In the paper, we clearly state that the results are in line with expectations from climate model simulations and theory on how the global carbon cycle ought to respond to the growth of an ice cap over very long periods of time.

    Asten says that climate after the ice cap grew was similar to the present day, despite higher levels of CO2. He ignores a vast amount of geological data to the contrary and our clear and fully referenced statement that the world at this time was warmer than today, with no evidence for sustained continental ice caps in the northern hemisphere, and possibly West Antarctica, until much later.

    There is a general correspondence between periods of warmth in the past and reconstructed CO2 concentrations, but we caution against any attempt to derive a simple narrative linking CO2 and climate on these large timescales. This is because many other factors come in to play including other greenhouse gases, moving continents, shifting ocean currents, dramatic changes in ocean chemistry, vegetation, ice cover, sea level and variations in the Earth’s orbit around the sun.

    Carbon dioxide levels are currently rising year-on-year at an alarming and geologically unprecedented rate. Nobody, to our knowledge, is seriously questioning this, or the sound physics that underpins the greenhouse effect.

    We would like to take this opportunity to add our voices to the strong and steady message that the world scientific community is delivering to the Copenhagen negotiators—the greenhouse problem is real, imminent and potentially devastating for the planet, its life and human civilisation. Fortunately it is still not too late to avert the catastrophe.

    Paul Pearson, Cardiff University
    Gavin Foster, National Oceanographic Centre, Southampton
    Bridget Wade, Texas A&M University

    Comment by Michael Ashley — 12 Dec 2009 @ 2:47 PM

  464. Any resemblance between http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-horton/dui—denying-under-influ_b_389887.html and any persons living or dead on any thread on any blog anywhere in the world is purely a coincidence. Possibly.

    Comment by David Horton — 12 Dec 2009 @ 3:37 PM

  465. “Second, since most of the warming is due to feedbacks and as we have seen, natural variations are in the short term larger than variations due to global warming, why havent’ the feedbacks been triggered by natural perturbations at some time in the past?”

    Where is the evidence for your premise that “most of the warming is due to feedbacks”? Thus far, the feedback theory is an exercise in hand waving to explain away the inconvenient fact that in the past the rise in temperature preceded the rise in CO2 concentrations.

    There is the very well developed discipline of System Identification that can detect the signature of such feedback mechanisms from empirical data. Positive feedback systems are characterized by complex-pole pairs that cause spectral peaking of the natural variation noise. No such peaking can be found in the Vostok data and in fact system analysis indicates the climate system is remarkably stable and dominated by regulatory (negative feedback) effect with a time constant on the order of 100 KA. This fact alone makes the climatologists’ claim that they can detect a centennial trend amongst the natural variation and huge regulatory reserve akin to the notion that one could discern the rise in sea level from spitting in the ocean.

    I can’t be the only one who has done such a rudimentary analysis. The fact that no papers have been published indicates perhaps that the alarmists prefer to wave their hands and hope no one will notice.

    Comment by J. Patterson — 13 Dec 2009 @ 10:13 AM

  466. Tom Graney, First, you must understand that the feedbacks we are talking about are in no way unique to CO2 or even greenhouse mechanisms. It is merely the recognition that when you add a watt of energy to the system the system will experience changes that amplify or diminish the thermal effect. For example, warmer temperatures mean more water vapor in the atmosphere, and water vapor is a greenhouse gas. Some of the feedbacks can be calculated analytically. Others, such as cloud effects are more uncertain. The net effect, which can be understood in terms of, for example, the CO2 sensitivity, is well constrained empirically. More than 10 separate lines of evidence that all favor a CO2 sensitivity of 3 degrees per doubling of CO2 concentration, and all of these rule out (at ~90% CL or better) a sensitivity of 2 degrees or less. In fact, if the current models are wrong, it’s far more likely that sensitivity is higher than 3 degrees per doubling rather than lower.

    There are also potential feedbacks that could greatly increase warming, such as release of methane and CO2 from thawing permafrost. These are not considered in current warming estimates.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Dec 2009 @ 11:37 AM

  467. Gavin,

    In your November 23 posting you said:

    ““Redefine the peer-reviewed literature!” . Nobody actually gets to do that, and both papers discussed in that comment – McKitrick and Michaels (2004) and Kalnay and Cai (2003) were both cited and discussed in Chapter 3 the IPCC AR4 report. As an aside, neither has stood the test of time.”

    I can’t find any mention of those papers in that report, nor are the authors referenced at the end.

    Perhaps I overlooked/misunderstood something. Would you be kind enough to give the page number(s)?

    And please, can we all tone down the ugly language?

    Thanks,

    Paul Sinclair
    Austin, Texas

    Comment by Paul Sinclair — 13 Dec 2009 @ 12:09 PM

  468. “And please, can we all tone down the ugly language?

    If by ugly you mean “hostile”, then you can take that up squarely with the side who has decided that accusing scientists of fraud, stealing private emails, sending hate mail, and now issuing death threats, is the way to get things done.

    These are vicious people we’re dealing with, as is now abundantly clear.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 13 Dec 2009 @ 1:05 PM

  469. Paul Sinclair: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter3.pdf

    Pages 244-245.

    Comment by Didactylos — 13 Dec 2009 @ 1:27 PM

  470. J Patterson, all you need is to shoot your phasers into the dilithium crystals, thereby realigning their positronic lattice to the warp engine manifold matrix…

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 Dec 2009 @ 1:52 PM

  471. Paul Sinclair quotes from the post by Gavin:

    “Redefine the peer-reviewed literature!”. Nobody actually gets to do that, and both papers discussed in that comment – McKitrick and Michaels (2004) and Kalnay and Cai (2003) were both cited and discussed in Chapter 2 of 3 the IPCC AR4 report. As an aside, neither has stood the test of time.

    The CRU hack: Context
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/11/the-cru-hack-context/

    … then states:

    I can’t find any mention of those papers in that report, nor are the authors referenced at the end.

    Perhaps I overlooked/misunderstood something. Would you be kind enough to give the page number(s)?

    Paul, they are referenced on the same page in the same column, at the beginning of separate paragraphs.

    Please see:

    McKitrick and Michaels (2004) and De Laat and Maurellis (2006) attempted to demonstrate that geographical patterns of warming trends over land are strongly correlated with geographical patterns of industrial and socioeconomic development, implying that urbanisation and related land surface changes have caused much of the observed warming.

    beginning of first full paragraph, column 2, pg. 244 (pdf page 10), ar4-wg1-chapter3.pdf

    … and:

    Comparing surface temperature estimates from the NRA with raw station time series, Kalnay and Cai (2003) concluded that more than half of the observed decrease in DTR in the eastern USA since 1950 was due to changes in land use, including urbanisation.

    beginning of second full paragraph, column2, pg.244 (pdf page 10), ar4-wg1-chapter3.pdf

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 13 Dec 2009 @ 2:28 PM

  472. Paul Sinclair 13 December 2009 at 12:09 PM

    Chapter 2 maybe?

    Comment by Sekerob — 13 Dec 2009 @ 2:35 PM

  473. PS to my comment on paragraphs in ar4-wg1-chapter3.pdf above in response to Paul Sinclair…

    It is “Chapter 3 Observations: Surface and Atmospheric Climate Change” available at:

    IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4)
    Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis
    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/publications_ipcc_fourth_assessment_report_wg1_report_the_physical_science_basis.htm

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 13 Dec 2009 @ 2:37 PM

  474. Paul Sinclair, the papers are discussed in section 3.2.2.2 on pp. 244-5 of the AR4 WG1 report, Chapter 3 “Observations: Surface and Atmospheric Climate Change” (big PDF). And referenced in the bibliography. Maybe you were looking at the synthesis report, or something?

    Comment by CM — 13 Dec 2009 @ 2:52 PM

  475. J. Patterson (465) — Actually, it is not that stable. Try Ray Pierrehumbert’s
    http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~rtp1/ClimateBook/ClimateBook.html
    for starters.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Dec 2009 @ 3:12 PM

  476. J. Patterson: Thus far, the feedback theory is an exercise in hand waving to explain away the inconvenient fact that in the past the rise in temperature preceded the rise in CO2 concentrations.

    BPL:

    1. Feedbacks are empirically observed, especially the largest one, the water-vapor feedback.

    2. Temperature does indeed precede CO2 in a natural deglaciation. It did not in the PETM, nor is it doing so now. For more depth, try here:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Lag.html

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 13 Dec 2009 @ 3:23 PM

  477. J. patterson (465).”there is a very well developed discipline of System Identification that can detect the signature of such feedback mechanisms from empirical data.”
    Can you please provide references to(preferably)peer reviewed literature, which details a relationship between the theory mentioned, to the theory and historical data regarding co-2 feed-back and temperature. I do not know of your background in the climatology field, and therefore I would appreciate other supporting information relating to your statements in this post. Thanks, Doug

    Comment by D. Metcalfe — 13 Dec 2009 @ 3:32 PM

  478. A lot of “the science hasn’t settled debate” comes from the image the general public may have about climate data which is not released, confirmed in their view by statements like “to hide the decline”. The public opinion is that science has something to hide, and this amplifies the thought that something shouldn’t be told because it is not true. Deniers always want to read a confirmation. But even if it were true that data is hidden then it is usually harmless. Perhaps it helps to explain this with the following classroom experiment.

    Suppose that I explained Ohm’s law in a classroom but that I refuse to disclose my data. Would that cause Ohm’s law to be invalid or my research be fraudulent or maybe simply wrong? What could you do to verify Ohm’s law? The answer is, you get a multimeter, a power supply and a potentiometer and you carry out the exercise to verify Ohm’s law yourself. Eventually also a skeptic will find the answer, or his critical neighbor will. Since everyone is able to do this experiment there is no further debate, because, the results are duplicable. Ohm’s law is therefor assumed to be valid and everybody is happy despite the fact that data is not disclosed.

    With temperature reconstructions of the Earth’s past climate it is in essence the same discussion. There are independent methods, papers, etc etc. Garvin has a lot of useful links showing that people are pretty well in agreement here. I don’t mind the cheats like McIntyre in this debate, because, they have been proven wrong too often.

    Yet unique is that the global warming deniers can make a lot of noise these days, and that they can create a virtual world where the general public is lured into into the idea that you have to pay more taxes and eventually that you maybe can’t drive in a car or fly in an airplane anymore.

    Comment by Ernst — 13 Dec 2009 @ 4:21 PM

  479. Ernst, Do you require the data relating to the discovery of the Top quark as well? How about the observation of a Bose-Einstein condensate? Would you have any idea what to do with the data if you had it? Climate science has actually been out ahead of the curve as far as making the data public. Remember that the Internet has only been around for about 15 years as far as the public is concerned. Climate scientists have already released mountains of data, and what have the denialists done with it? Bupkis.

    I would worry about evidence more than I would worry about whether every last scrap of data is available to every moron with a laptop.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Dec 2009 @ 7:14 PM

  480. J. Patterson: Thus far, the feedback theory is an exercise in hand waving to explain away the inconvenient fact that in the past the rise in temperature preceded the rise in CO2 concentrations.

    BPL:

    1. Feedbacks are empirically observed, especially the largest one, the water-vapor feedback.

    How is this relevant? The issue at hand is the CO2 amplification factor, about which there is far more uncertainty than is being acknowledged here.

    2. Temperature does indeed precede CO2 in a natural deglaciation.
    It does so for the entirety of the Vostok time record.
    It did not in the PETM,
    Are you claiming CO2 caused the PETM?

    nor is it doing so now. For more depth, try here:
    Depth? Your reference is a poster child for the just-so story handing waving I referred to.

    Comment by J. Patterson — 13 Dec 2009 @ 8:40 PM

  481. “D. Metcalfe”: Can you please provide references to(preferably)peer reviewed literature, which details a relationship between the theory mentioned, to the theory and historical data regarding co-2 feed-back and temperature.

    Sys Id is a generic set of algorithms and analysis tools for building and/or verifying models of dynamic systems (including coupled non-linear systems). One would not write a paper one its relationship to climatology anymore than one would write about the relationship of statistical analysis to same. If your interested in the topic of System Identification in general, I suggest a google search.

    I can find no peer reviewed journal papers on the application of these well known techniques to the study of climate dynamics, hence my closing remark.

    “I do not know of your background in the climatology field, and therefore I would appreciate other supporting information relating to your statements in this post. Thanks, Doug”
    I’m not a climatologists. My relevant background is in the development of algorithms for the rapid identification and equalization of communication channel dynamics under varying atmospheric and ionospheric conditions. I

    Comment by J. Patterson — 13 Dec 2009 @ 9:10 PM

  482. Unsettled science appears floating as dross:

    “Leading scientists, including a Nobel Prize-winner, have rounded on studies used by climate sceptics to show that global warming is a natural phenomenon connected with sunspots, rather than the result of the man-made emissions of carbon dioxide.

    The researchers – all experts in climate or solar science – have told The Independent that the scientific evidence continually cited by sceptics to promote the idea of sunspots being the cause of global warming is deeply flawed.

    Studies published in 1991 and 1998 claimed to establish a link between global temperatures and solar activity – sunspots – and continue to be cited by climate sceptics, including those who attended an “alternative” climate conference in Copenhagen last week.

    However, problems with the data used to establish the correlation have been identified by other experts and the flaws are now widely accepted by the scientific community, even though the studies continue to be used to support the idea that global warming is “natural”.”

    More:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/sunspots-do-not-cause-climate-change-say-scientists-1839867.html

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/sun-sets-on-sceptics-case-against-climate-change-1839875.html

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Dec 2009 @ 9:56 PM

  483. Variability of El Niño/Southern Oscillation activity at millennial timescales during the Holocene epoch
    Christopher M. Moy, Geoffrey O. Seltzer, Donald T. Rodbell & David M. Anderson
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v420/n6912/full/nature01194.html
    is short; I found the paper of definite interest regarding the persistence of ENSO but also its slow evolution.

    J. Patterson, in particular just now, ought to take note of this work.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Dec 2009 @ 10:10 PM

  484. Hi, I’m wondering if anyone can tell me about climate researchers or departments who have focussed their efforts mainly on attempting to falsify the theory of anthropogenic global warming. Falsification is an inherent part of the scientific process, so it strikes me that I’ve heard very little about the role this process has played in climate modelling. The attempt to falsify is in itself always a valuable endeavour, as useful information is gained along the way, which often proves valuable in honing the theory. Many thanks, Catherine.

    Comment by Catherine Jameson — 14 Dec 2009 @ 12:37 AM

  485. Um, regarding some of the ‘ugly language’ and strong feelings towards skeptics – you gotta understand that many skeptics feel very, very let down, deceived, and bitterly disappointed by what they see as ‘scientists’ who have sold out their fundamental principles for the sake of proving a point. Gentler skeptics will admit they don’t think the CRU was deliberately evil, just misled… but still, there are a lot of people around right now who are hurting because they feel what has happened has damaged science in general. Getting all hurt and bitter in return isn’t going to help anything. If the work that’s been done has merit, then the truth will win out at the end of the day, but to do that, the CRU folk and AGW proponents generally must must be willing to engage, many times if necessary and in detail, with those who dispute the science. Only time will work out these differences. Both sides claim they uphold the truth and both sides engage in politicised language and rhetorical tricks.

    Comment by Catherine Jameson — 14 Dec 2009 @ 12:56 AM

  486. “In the climate field, there are a number of issues which are no longer subject to fundamental debate in the community. The existence of the greenhouse effect, the increase in CO2 (and other GHGs) over the last hundred years and its human cause, and the fact the planet warmed significantly over the 20th Century are not much in doubt. IPCC described these factors as ‘virtually certain’ or ‘unequivocal’. The attribution of the warming over the last 50 years to human activity is also pretty well established – that is ‘highly likely’ and the anticipation that further warming will continue as CO2 levels continue to rise is a well supported conclusion. To the extent that anyone has said that the scientific debate is over, this is what they are referring to. In answer to colloquial questions like “Is anthropogenic warming real?”, the answer is yes with high confidence.”

    I have a couple of questions:

    1) How can anthropogenic warming be considered highly likely when there is no control group against which to compare empirical data?

    2) What percentage of the Earth’s atmosphere is CO2 ideally? Today?

    3) Have CO2 levels ever been higher? Lower?

    4) What percentage of the world’s CO2 output is anthropogenic? Natural?

    5) Is there any possibility that these changes are just the Earth and the solar system going through natural fluctuations?

    Any answers to these questions would be greatly appreciated — I am writing a paper on the global warming debate in which I am supposed to argue BOTH sides — Thanks!

    Comment by scarlson — 14 Dec 2009 @ 1:22 AM

  487. Gavin: #438
    “The full email is a much clearer read than McIntyre’s cherry-picking. – gavin]”

    Okay, so I’m reading the email to see how the meaning of “hide the decline” is changed by taking the whole context. I haven’t discovered that yet, but I’m still reading. In the meantime, I thought that this section by Briffa was more than a little revealing. Thanks for the link.

    Briffa:
    “>I know there is pressure to present a
    >nice tidy story as regards ‘apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand
    >years or more in the proxy data’ but in reality the situation is not quite
    >so simple. We don’t have a lot of proxies that come right up to date and
    >those that do (at least a significant number of tree proxies ) some
    >unexpected changes in response that do not match the recent warming. I do
    >not think it wise that this issue be ignored in the chapter.
    > For the record, I do believe that the proxy data do show unusually
    >warm conditions in recent decades. I am not sure that this unusual warming
    >is so clear in the summer responsive data. I believe that the recent warmth
    >was probably matched about 1000 years ago. I do not believe that global
    >mean annual temperatures have simply cooled progressively over thousands of
    >years as Mike appears to and I contend that that there is strong evidence
    >for major changes in climate over the Holocene (not Milankovich) that
    >require explanation and that could represent part of the current or future
    >background variability of our climate. ”

    I also noted that in your (Gavin’s) debate with Christy you seem to have given up on the “unprecedented” nature of 20th Century warming somewhat. Instead, choosing to drive the simpler idea that it is warming and that it is caused by man made CO2.

    Comment by Tilo Reber — 14 Dec 2009 @ 2:23 AM

  488. Gavin

    I do have one more question.

    lets say that a “Little Ice Age Event” is a period when the Earth’s climate enters a period of cooling (strong enough to cause severe Winter freezing of a Thames like river), remains in this phase for about 100 years and then enters a period of strong warming. Whatever the cause of this event it could not be attributed to man’s industrial emissions.

    Do the climate computer models produce these events and if so, is the frequency at which they appear roughly consistent across the different models.

    Comment by phil c — 14 Dec 2009 @ 2:55 AM

  489. Hank: #461
    “We demonstrate that the anthropogenic impact in 2008 was to warm the region’s temperatures, but that it was overwhelmed by a particularly strong bout of naturally-induced cooling resulting from the continent’s sensitivity to widespread coolness of the tropical and northeastern Pacific sea surface temperatures. The implication is that the pace of North American warming is likely to resume in coming years, and that climate is unlikely embarking upon a prolonged cooling.”

    2008 was cool because of a La Nina. Fair enough. 2009 will be warm because of an El Nino. But think about this Hank. In the 11 years since the 1998 El Nino we should have added about .22C to the base temperature. So 2009 should be working off a higher platform with it’s El Nino that 1998 was. But it still can’t exceed 1998. All in all, the two individual years don’t matter that much. The trend line from 1998 to 2008 was slightly down. The trend line from 1998 to 2009 will probably be slightly up. But in both cases, they are still close to flat – and in both cases they are not anywhere close to the .22C rise that we would expect to see in 11 years. Please don’t just give me another link, Hank. And please don’t talk about other elements of natural variation if you cannot identify them. I won’t buy the argument that the time period is too short because of natural variation unless you can tell me what natural variation overrode CO2.

    Comment by Tilo Reber — 14 Dec 2009 @ 3:12 AM

  490. “I can find no peer reviewed journal papers on the application of these well known techniques to the study of climate dynamics, hence my closing remark.”

    Ah, you’re trying Jedi tricks again!

    “These are not the answers you’re looking for…”

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 Dec 2009 @ 4:39 AM

  491. J. Patterson, What you are failing to take into account is the fact that we have very good measurements of temperature over the past ~130 years, while resolution is more limited in the ice core data. It is rather doubtful that Sys. Id. could discern the feedbacks given the noise in the data. There are about 10 separate lines of evidence constraining CO2 sensitivity. All favor a value around 3 degrees per doubling. All preclude a sensitivity below 2 degrees per doubling. Thus, while there are some uncertainties in individual feedbacks, the net result is well measured.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Dec 2009 @ 5:56 AM

  492. JP: the feedback theory is an exercise in hand waving to explain away the inconvenient fact that in the past the rise in temperature preceded the rise in CO2 concentrations.

    BPL:

    1. Feedbacks are empirically observed, especially the largest one, the water-vapor feedback.

    How is this relevant?

    Because “empirically observed” is not compatible with “hand waving.”

    BPL: 2. Temperature does indeed precede CO2 in a natural deglaciation…nor is it doing so now. For more depth, try here:

    JP: Depth? Your reference is a poster child for the just-so story handing waving I referred to.

    BPL: Can’t you read? Ln CO2 is highly correlated to temperatures IN THE SAME YEAR for 1880-2007. That’s hardly an 800-year time lag, now is it? And in a natural deglaciation, the CO2 bloody well comes from the ocean giving it up when its solubility changes. And now it’s bloody well coming from fossil fuels, as we know very well from the radioisotope signature. Your whole “temperature precedes CO2″ thing is WRONG. That’s not hand-waving, pal, that’s reality. Deal with it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Dec 2009 @ 6:30 AM

  493. scarlson – I’m not going to answer your questions, but you can answer them yourself. Click “Start here” at the top of the page. Read that, then if you have questions, come back.

    Catherine Jameson – What type of engagement are you looking for that RC doesn’t provide?

    Did it occur to you that the folks at CRU did nothing wrong?

    Your question of ‘falisfy’ is a weird one. I’m not aware of any scientist, in any field, who works on ‘falsifying’ other scientists work. Can you suggest anyone who is trying to ‘falisfy’ the HIV=AIDS issue, or gravity, or Einstein?

    What we do is attempt to improve our understanding of our field. This means testing our assumptions. So when a climate scientist takes new data, and makes a new recontruction (or model) (s)he is trying not to support, or falsify, an idea, but test it.

    All models test our understanding of climate. All reconstructions do. If the model or reconstruction disagrees with current theory, either the experiement is wrong, or the theory is wrong. You then work out why.

    Finally, do you have any idea how much a climate model that WORKED and could disprove climate change would be worth? Millions? Billions? A trillion?

    Comment by Silk — 14 Dec 2009 @ 12:02 PM

  494. Comment by scarlson — 14 December 2009 @ 1:22 AM

    None of those are questions without answers you can find on your own with a few minutes of effort. They’re all extremely basic. To succeed in your academic endeavor you’ll need to figure out how to do simple research, so best to practice that skill now. Here’s a good place to start, if you want to practice using AGW as monkey-bars:

    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 14 Dec 2009 @ 1:52 PM

  495. scarlson:

    1) How can anthropogenic warming be considered highly likely when there is no control group against which to compare empirical data?

    BPL: Because the physical theory makes predictions which observations have borne out. Many different climates have existed and we have good data on a lot of them; any one can be your reference point.

    2) What percentage of the Earth’s atmosphere is CO2 ideally? Today?

    BPL: There is no “ideal” level. However, human agriculture and the human economy all arose when CO2 was about 280 parts per million by volume. Today it is 388 ppmv.

    3) Have CO2 levels ever been higher? Lower?

    BPL: They were much higher early in Earth’s history, which was crucial to life getting started. The most recent low point was 180 ppmv at the last glacial maximum, 18,000 years ago.

    4) What percentage of the world’s CO2 output is anthropogenic? Natural?

    BPL: Very little is anthropogenic, but the natural sources are roughly in balance with the natural sinks. The anthropogenic input is what causes the overflow. As a result, 28% of the CO2 currently in the air around us is artificial.

    5) Is there any possibility that these changes are just the Earth and the solar system going through natural fluctuations?

    BPL: Possible but incredibly unlikely. For more on the sun, check here:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Sun.html

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Dec 2009 @ 3:16 PM

  496. phil c (488) — Easy enough to reproduce LIA by a combination of volcanoes and various solar phenomena. However, do not dismiss potential anthropogenic influences as well:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age#Anthropogenic_influences

    Comment by David B. Benson — 14 Dec 2009 @ 5:09 PM

  497. > Tilo Reber
    > … don’t talk about other elements of natural
    > variation if you cannot identify them. I won’t buy
    > the argument that the time period is too short because
    > of natural variation unless you can tell me what
    > natural variation overrode CO2.

    Almost all of them, of course; you know this. It’s a weak signal — but it’s a steadily increasing one, along with a great many that go up and down rather than change steadily.

    For any youngster just coming to the subject though:
    the greenhouse signal is a very small one that takes decades to emerge from the background noise.

    http://www.jstor.org/pss/1515382
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/m624g15430941707/

    Look at the change from summer to winter or even from day to day; most natural variables are far stronger than the greenhouse effect from CO2 increase.

    But the natural variables don’t change steadily in one direction on a time scale of decades; something like Milankovich forcing or changes in the solar cycle are far slower; seasonal changes are far faster. But they average out, while anthropogenic greenhouse gas steadily increases.

    http://www.seed.slb.com/subcontent.aspx?id=4120
    http://web.mit.edu/jsterman/www/Understanding_public.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Dec 2009 @ 6:08 PM

  498. Black Soot Might Be Main Culprit of Melting Himalayas:
    http://www.livescience.com/environment/091214-black-carbon-himalaya-glacier.html

    Comment by David B. Benson — 14 Dec 2009 @ 9:17 PM

  499. Hank: #497
    “Almost all of them, of course;”

    Thanks for the hand waving Hank. You have confirmed what I said. Neither you nor anyone else among the warmers knows what elements of natural variation have caused the flat trend since 1998. That is exactly why it’s significant. Telling the AGW signature from the background noise over the course of a decade should be very posssible if you know what those elements are and what they have done during that decade. You can say ENSO or PDO produces a larger signal than CO2, but then you would have to show that ENSO or PDO have produced a larger signal over the past decade. Since they didn’t – indeed, since there were more El Nino’s than La Ninas and since ENSO compensated data sets don’t help you, you can’t blame it on that element of natural variation. Same applies to all the other elements of natural variation. You only have two possible options Hank, either our flat trend is flat because there are elements of natuaral variation at work that we don’t understand, or it’s flat because climate sensitivity is much lower than the IPCC claims.

    Comment by Tilo Reber — 14 Dec 2009 @ 10:14 PM

  500. Nonsense, Tilo, and you’ve been round this circle before. I’m an ordinary reader on a blog, and the fact that I can’t assign weights to all natural forcings proves nothing except that I’m not everyone you need to talk to. Expand your horizons, read something from people who actually know what they’re talking about here. I test what I read to decide who I can trust.
    You, I can’t, you just proclaim what you believe but you don’t do the arithmetic.

    Simple high school explanation: we know natural variability from history and as with _any_ statistical question, once we know how variable the natural world is, we can find out how many samples (in the case of annual temperatures, how many years) we need before we can say we have a probability of knowing whether there is a trend different from zero.

    Ten years ain’t in the ballpark, dude. All I need to know is how variable conditions have been in the past and a little from Statistics 101. You don’t have it.

    Reading helps. I don’t know anything else to suggest, other than waiting. Oh, you might make a large bet on what you believe; try Stoat, I think he’s keeping track and may know someone who would give you the odds you believe you deserve. I’d like to watch that.

    http://home.badc.rl.ac.uk/lawrence/blog/2005/04/08/another_excellent_summary_of_climate_modelling

    If you don’t read the work all I can suggest is you look at the pictures. Reading will help you more tho’.
    Stoat: http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2007/05/the_significance_of_5_year_tre.php

    Five-, ten-, and fifteen-year trends:
    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/upload/2007/05/5-year-trends.png

    Atmoz: http://atmoz.org/blog/2008/01/29/on-the-insignificance-of-a-5-year-temperature-trend/

    Thirteen-year trends:
    http://atmoz.org/img/avg_length13.jpg

    Thirty-year trends:
    http://atmoz.org/img/avg_length30.jpg

    More:
    http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/2009/09/10/of-moles-and-whacking-climate-models-didnt-predict-this-lack-of-warming/

    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2009/07/what-cooling-trend.html
    “It is yet another reminder that short term variations, namely weather, can be large. It isn’t climate.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Dec 2009 @ 4:14 AM

  501. #496

    while it should be easy enough to produce them – my question was specifically about whether the climate models actually do produce them.

    if are produced by the climate models we should be able to learn more about their mechanics.

    if they are never produced automatically from the climate models – why not?

    Comment by phil c — 15 Dec 2009 @ 4:15 AM

  502. “You have confirmed what I said. Neither you nor anyone else among the warmers knows what elements of natural variation have caused the flat trend since 1998.”

    And you don’t know what’s caused the warming for the last 150 years.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Dec 2009 @ 6:05 AM

  503. “if they are never produced automatically from the climate models – why not?”

    I think you are confusing ‘models’ with ‘model outputs’.

    A climate model is a tool. It does not, of itself, do anything (a screwdriver needs a screw to function)

    Climate models require inputs. These inputs (when used to model future climate) are scenarios. Google “SRES” for the IPCC report on the scenarios used in the TAR.

    The ‘outputs’ depend on the scenarios. So if you were to stick in a scenario where solar forcing changed, the outputs would show the impact of that. If you were to put in a scenario where there is more volcanic activity, the model outputs change. (This has been done)

    Of course, one can model solar changes in combination with GHG changes, aerosol changes and volcanos. I’m no modeller, but I assume this has been done.

    I don’t know whether anyone has ever run models that look at long-term variations in solar forcing. (The sort that cause ice ages). The models /I/ am interested in are those of the next 100 years or so, because that is what impacts on human activity.

    But your question is basically misapplied, because (so far as I understand) the sorts of event that cause significant global climate changes are not in the model, but could be in the /input/ to the model.

    Does that answer your question?

    Comment by Silk — 15 Dec 2009 @ 9:52 AM

  504. Ray Ladbury (#491)says:

    “J. Patterson, What you are failing to take into account is the fact that we have very good measurements of temperature over the past ~130 years, while resolution is more limited in the ice core data.”

    Resolution can’t be an issue. The hypothesis in question is that positive feedback via increased CO2 concentration accounts for both the rapidity (i.e slope) and magnitude of observed temperature swings in the ice core data. The data is more than adequate to delineate these large scale effects, they are after all the primary signal, and has the advantage due to its time span of _spectral_ resolution which is what is required here. Using standard Sys Id techniques to derive the blackbox model parameters and forcing functions from the data, both the slope and magnitude of the observed temperature swings can be easily accounted for without positive feedback. Tools also exist to detect the presence of positive feedback in the derived forcing function. Such an analysis reveals nothing detectable.

    I should also note (in reference to your comment on the modern record), that the rule of thumb is that you need a record length at least twice (and preferably 5x) as long as the time constant you are trying to detect. It the atmospheric time constant of emitted CO2 is only 65 years we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    “It is rather doubtful that Sys. Id. could discern the feedbacks given the noise in the data.”
    Again, the hand wavers claim the mechanism in question is responsible for the primary swing. If the positive feedback effect is that subtle, how can it be the driving force in AWG?

    “There are about 10 separate lines of evidence constraining CO2 sensitivity. All favor a value around 3 degrees per doubling. All preclude a sensitivity below 2 degrees per doubling. Thus, while there are some uncertainties in individual feedbacks, the net result is well measured.”
    In non-linear system analysis it is odd to speak of sensitivities in this way. Sensitivities in such systems must by definition change dramatically over the limit cycle (and fall below unity during limiting else the system output grows with out bound). If your speaking here of the net effect on the output of doubling the CO2, well that is question begging of the first order.

    Speaking of limiting, those who hold to the positive feedback theory must of necessity hold that a limiting mechanism exists (else we’d have cooked long ago). If such a mechanism exists, the ice record reveals that it occurs at a temperature 1-2C above our current levels. If you believe as such, what would preclude the same limiting mechanism for limiting the effect of AWG to similar benign levels?

    Comment by J. Patterson — 15 Dec 2009 @ 10:43 AM

  505. “Resolution can’t be an issue.”

    Why?

    It’s not like the ice cores are hermetically sealed and chemically 100% inert over thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of years.

    If it were, the medical industry wouldn’t have bothered with all those expensive metal containers of strange alloys…

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Dec 2009 @ 11:43 AM

  506. J. Patterson, of course a limiting mechanism exists. However, we aren’t anywhere near that point–as demonstrated by the paleoclimate data (particularly the PETM). The issue is whether the algorithm works with very noisy data–data where the noise at any given time may be larger than the signal. Moreover, the data are not just noisy, but autocorrelated.

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/how-long/

    There is a reason why we look for climatic signatures on timescales of 30 years or longer.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Dec 2009 @ 11:50 AM

  507. #503
    If the models are a reasonably accurate representation of the climate then they should model all the significant driving forces.

    Having build the models and let them run on their own I would have thought their output would show similar events that have happened the in the past climate. The Little Ice Age is one such event.

    A model of Jupiter’s atmosphere would not be very convincing if it never produced something like a giant red spot.

    A failure to produce any Little Ice Age ‘events’ could indicate that the model is not complete enough.

    The real world temperature rise does appear to have stopped/slowed down/reversed (take your pick of these). The models did not predict this so how reliable are they really even in the short term?

    Comment by phil c — 15 Dec 2009 @ 12:15 PM

  508. Ray Ladbury: “of course a limiting mechanism exists. However, we aren’t anywhere near that point–as demonstrated by the paleoclimate data (particularly the PETM).”

    One would presume the period covered by Vostok would be more relevant to todays climate system and as I mentioned, the peak anomaly is only 1.5-2 degrees C above todays level.

    “The issue is whether the algorithm works with very noisy data–data where the noise at any given time may be larger than the signal.”

    If by noisy, you natural stochastic variation captured in the data, the noisier the better. It is from the spectral shaping of this background noise that the algorithms extract the system model parameters. If instead you mean to imply that the data itself contains errors that exceed the primary signal, then of course the entire field of paleoclimatology is a sham. Fortunately this is not the case. Fourier analysis of this data reveals amazingly thin spectral lines at all of the Milankovitch frequencies which speaks to the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the time scale adjustments that have been made.

    Comment by J. Patterson — 15 Dec 2009 @ 12:30 PM

  509. Ray Ladbury: “of course a limiting mechanism exists. However, we aren’t anywhere near that point–as demonstrated by the paleoclimate data (particularly the PETM).”

    One would presume the period covered by Vostok would be more relevant to todays climate system and as I mentioned, the peak anomaly is only 1.5-2 degrees C above todays level.

    “The issue is whether the algorithm works with very noisy data–data where the noise at any given time may be larger than the signal.”

    If by noisy, you mean natural stochastic variation captured in the data, the noisier the better. It is from the spectral shaping of this background noise that the algorithms extract the system model parameters. If instead you mean to imply that the data itself contains errors that exceed the primary signal, then of course the entire field of paleoclimatology is a sham. Fortunately this is not the case. Fourier analysis of this data reveals amazingly thin spectral lines at all of the Milankovitch frequencies which speaks to the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the time scale adjustments that have been made.

    Comment by J. Patterson — 15 Dec 2009 @ 12:34 PM

  510. J. Patterson, if it were easy to “shape” the background, it would be easier to draw conclusions about the signal–that is not the case. And by “noise” I do not mean errors. There are many different factors that contribute to the “noise”. What makes CO2 stand out is its nature as a long-lived, well mixed greenhouse gas–long persistence and global effect. I rather doubt that the techniques you are offering would tell us much more than that.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Dec 2009 @ 12:39 PM

  511. Phil C. says “The real world temperature rise does appear to have stopped/slowed down/reversed (take your pick of these). The models did not predict this so how reliable are they really even in the short term?”

    Um, actually they do.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/05/what-the-ipcc-models-really-say/

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Dec 2009 @ 12:50 PM

  512. “One would presume the period covered by Vostok would be more relevant to todays climate system”

    Why would one do that?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Dec 2009 @ 12:59 PM

  513. “If the models are a reasonably accurate representation of the climate then they should model all the significant driving forces.”

    They do.

    And for the timescale of centuries, the change in orbitals is not significant. Hence left out.

    For paleoclimate research, millions of years, the change in orbital is significant and so is the change in solar output. Hence included.

    Why do YOU believe (since you have no proof it IS belief) different?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Dec 2009 @ 1:01 PM

  514. “If the models are a reasonably accurate representation of the climate then they should model all the significant driving forces. ”

    As pointed out, there is no significant trend in solar over the course of time that we are seeking to model.

    If we were trying to model climate over the next 100,000 years, that would be a different question. We aren’t.

    “Having build the models and let them run on their own I would have thought their output would show similar events that have happened the in the past climate. The Little Ice Age is one such event.”

    Did the Little Ice Age actually exist? IPCC think not “Thus current evidence does not support globally synchronous periods of anomalous cold or warmth over this timeframe, and the conventional terms of “Little Ice Age” and “Medieval Warm Period” appear to have limited utility in describing trends in hemispheric or global mean temperature changes in past centuries… [Viewed] hemispherically, the “Little Ice Age” can only be considered as a modest cooling of the Northern Hemisphere during this period of less than 1°C relative to late 20th century levels”

    “A model of Jupiter’s atmosphere would not be very convincing if it never produced something like a giant red spot.”

    We aren’t, in case you noticed, modelling that.

    “A failure to produce any Little Ice Age ‘events’ could indicate that the model is not complete enough.”

    Are you suggesting that the models would need to sucessfully replicate observed results in order for us to have confidence in it?

    Oh good. They do.

    http://bartonpaullevenson.com/ModelsReliable.html

    “The real world temperature rise does appear to have stopped/slowed down/reversed (take your pick of these).”

    None of ‘em. Within the S/N it is rising as quickly as before.

    “The models did not predict this so how reliable are they really even in the short term?”

    Did they not?

    Do you know what the error bars on the model outputs are? Does the temperature fall within the error bars?

    Do climate models predict steady temperature rises, or does the output vary from year to year like the real world?

    Comment by Silk — 15 Dec 2009 @ 3:05 PM

  515. Incidentally phil c, if you are /really/ interested in climate models, you can take a look at the actual output of them.

    The control run from HadGEM (or any other model) should give you an idea of what sort of year-to-year fluctuations you see from a climate model

    http://www.mad.zmaw.de/IPCC_DDC/html/SRES_AR4/index.html

    Comment by Silk — 15 Dec 2009 @ 3:25 PM

  516. 514
    “Did the Little Ice Age actually exist? IPCC think not “Thus current evidence does not support globally synchronous periods of anomalous cold or warmth over this timeframe, and the conventional terms of “Little Ice Age” and “Medieval Warm Period” appear to have limited utility in describing trends in hemispheric or global mean temperature changes in past centuries… [Viewed] hemispherically, the “Little Ice Age” can only be considered as a modest cooling of the Northern Hemisphere during this period of less than 1°C relative to late 20th century levels”

    this “modest” cooling lead to very modest freezing on the thames in the centre of London. This allowed very modest ‘ice fairs’ to take place each year.
    The Little Ice Age is a well known historical fact but as the Peer Reviewed tree rings etc. prove it never happened then I guess we’ll just have to deny it really happened.

    Comment by phil c — 15 Dec 2009 @ 4:04 PM

  517. Ray Ladbury: “if it were easy to “shape” the background, it would be easier to draw conclusions about the signal–that is not the case.”

    This is incoherent. Spectral shaping of necessity occurs as the forcing signals pass through the system processes (in this case the system = the global climate). This is basic transfer function theory.

    “And by “noise” I do not mean errors. There are many different factors that contribute to the “noise”. What makes CO2 stand out is its nature as a long-lived, well mixed greenhouse gas–long persistence and global effect.”
    All the easier its global effect, if any, can be characterized via Sys Id techniques.

    Comment by J. Patterson — 15 Dec 2009 @ 5:20 PM

  518. #514
    ““A model of Jupiter’s atmosphere would not be very convincing if it never produced something like a giant red spot.”
    We aren’t, in case you noticed, modelling that.”

    My point was that an Earth Climate model that never produced a “Litte Ice Age” or “Medieval Warm Period” would not be too convincing either. But now the IPCC have said these never happened, I’m relieved to know the models are much more accurate.

    Comment by phil c — 15 Dec 2009 @ 5:36 PM

  519. How much do we really know?…
    We are basing this on what we know now. There is a whole universe out there. What effect does this have on our climate and weather. Do we even know? Its like saying is there life out there? And how many people have seen UFOs.

    The real questions are:

    Are you taking a van-pool or carpool to work?
    Are you turning off all your lights as soon as possible?
    Are you recycling all you can?

    This is from an American. You know the biggest consumer of energy in the world.
    What are the little things being done. How many jets were taken to Copenhagen?
    How many limousines were used there? People talk, but how many are doing?
    I believe that there is as much cause from the universe as there is from humans,
    but we just haven’t figured it all out yet. That’s because we as humans just don’t
    know very thing yet. So if we do as much as we can and try and figure the rest out,
    I think we will be just fine. Of course just the opinion of one man.

    Comment by climate change person — 15 Dec 2009 @ 6:41 PM

  520. Re: Comment 493 by Silk – thankyou for your response. However HIV/AIDS, gravity and Einstein’s theorems are able to be tested against the behaviour of the real world, in real time, whereas you’d think the theory of anthropogenic global warming can’t be tested, except by waiting and seeing what happens. Computer modelling cannot – surely – duplicate the complexity of the entire earth and all its systems. It’s an entirely different ball game to identifying the modus operandi of one virus, or the laws of gravity – with them, you can sit down, figure out what should happen in scenarios x,y or z and then go an implement scenarios x, y or z to test the predictive efficacy of the theory. You guys can’t do that. So I’m trying to find the parts of your work which are testable and easily reproducible. Please bear in mind here that I am a trained historian, not a scientist, and I have no idea of the maths or statistics you work with, which are clearly very complicated. Now, you asked: “Do you have any idea how much a climate model which WORKED and which could disprove climate change would be worth?” To me, that’s an odd question because we don’t need a *model* which works – we have the real thing – we have planet earth! It works! It coheres! It hangs together and chugs along beautifully as far as I can see… but now that you mention it, if it would be worth billions to have a model that could demonstrate that everything’s fine – is there anyone who’s tried to build one?
    Now, the CRU guys – you may find that the whole thing ends up as a boon to yoru cause in the sense that it has focussed many people’s attention, including mine, for the first time on really trying to understand what’s going on with AGW. It has quite simply been in the too-hard basket for me thus far in my life to really try to get to grips with. I don’t yet know whether I think they did something wrong, but lots of traditional scientists think they may have, so I need to try and find out what I think. That’s why I’m here. Now, what do I seek that RealClimate doesn’t provide? – I notice many responses from scientists here which are very testy. I know you’re smart and you’ve given your lives to doing this work, but please endeavour to be patient with people who come looking – intellectually clobbering people won’t endear you to them. Patient explanations will. Finally may I ask you a concrete physics-based question – one glaring anomoly I’ve found in AGW accounts and skeptic accounts of atmosphere is the level of past CO2 in the atmosphere… this site says (somewhere) that CO2 is higher now than it’s been for the past 250,000 years; whereas many scientists in traditional areas like geology (e.g. at this site – http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Articles1.html)say CO2 is the lowest it’s been for 500,000 years. Measuring past CO2 is supposed to be the easy bit – so why such discrepancies between the sciences? That is the question I am currently trying to answer for myself, I’d be grateful for any pointers you can give. Many thanks, Catherine.

    [Response: CO2 is very definitely higher than it has been for 800,000 years. Probably higher than it's been in ~2.5 million years, and possibly will get higher than it has been for ~20 million years. The IPCC reports are helpful here (last panel) and here. - gavin]

    Comment by Catherine Jameson — 15 Dec 2009 @ 6:46 PM

  521. Oh, another question, I was reading an atmosphere site which said that if global temperatures are rising, then it’s the satellite measurements of atmospheric temperature about 5kms up, halfway through the troposphere, which will be of most interest, because this is where the greatest concentration of CO2 is found, and hence the greatest trapping of heat will occur at that point – is that correct in your understanding? Many thanks, Catherine.

    [Response: Not very close I'm afraid. See our discussions about tropical tropospheric trends for more info. - gavin]

    Comment by Catherine Jameson — 15 Dec 2009 @ 6:55 PM

  522. Phil C.
    You’re really confused, by accident I hope.

    Nobody questions there were _European_ event that, in Eurocentric records, is recorded as a “little Ice Age” event and “Medieval warm period.”

    The IPCC documents include the records and research done on sites elsewhere in the world — these were not global events.

    The Europeans had a lot of funny ideas about how they were the entire world and what happened there was all that mattered. You should look beyond that limited nomenclature.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Dec 2009 @ 7:52 PM

  523. Hello Catherine– If you’d like, I’d happy to be of some help.

    CO2 concentration is the highest it has been in at least 800,000 years (see Luthi et al’s paper which I discussed here). There is no disagreement about this in the scientific community. “geocraft.com” rarely has anything coherent to say about this subject, and I would advise against using it as a resource. After you go beyond the ice core record, assessing past CO2 concentrations becomes a bit dicier, although I think we can say with some confidence that you can extend the above statement out to at least several million years. Just as important, the rate of change of CO2 concentration is extremely unusual.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 15 Dec 2009 @ 8:43 PM

  524. Hat tip to MapleLeaf over at Deltoid for this:

    “… posted at The Air Vent on 12 November 2009. Jeff Id says at one point “so let’s have a little fun with the team”. You can read the full post at: …
    noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/no-warming-for-fifteen-years/ ”

    (Tamino has dealt with this stuff recently.)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Dec 2009 @ 9:36 PM

  525. “this “modest” cooling lead to very modest freezing on the thames in the centre of London. This allowed very modest ‘ice fairs’ to take place each year.”

    Well, in addition to modest warming since 1800, there were also a number of changes to the Thames, including embankments and London bridge changes, such that even if temperature were to return to those colder periods it is unlikely that a frost-fair could occur with the current river configuration.

    Comment by Marcus — 15 Dec 2009 @ 9:39 PM

  526. Hank Roberts: “Nobody questions there were _European_ event that, in Eurocentric records, is recorded as a “little Ice Age” event and “Medieval warm period.””
    I think there are researchers who suggest that the “event” was more widespread than just Europe.
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/324/5923/78

    Comment by Don Shor — 15 Dec 2009 @ 10:03 PM

  527. It seems like so much of the debate over the models is dealing with is warming happening now and is it caused by CO2 by humans. And that given CO2 will continue to rise that temperatures will also increase.

    That said, I actually have a question about modeling for the future. Was reading up on your blog postings and it seems that you don’t have any describing exactly how you account in the models for human forcing of the climate over time.

    I understand the difference between climate and weather as you have outlined on this site, so my question is regarding the climate models the IPCC uses in order to predict the climate change effects by year 2100.

    As you have stated in previous blog posts it seems the following are used to create these models:

    “…deal with radiative transfer, the circulation of the atmosphere and oceans, the physics of moist convection and cloud formation, sea ice, soil moisture and the like. They contain our best current understanding for how the physical processes interact (for instance, how evaporation depends on the wind and surface temperature, or how clouds depend on the humidity and vertical motion) while conserving basic quantities like energy, mass and momentum. These estimates are based on physical theories and empirical observations made around the world.”

    Seems more than understandable; you are taking the information known about these forces and running models against them to determine if they are accurate and as you also noted:

    “And are those predictions in different cases then tested against observations again and again to either validate those models or generate ideas for potential improvements? Yes, again.”

    Fair enough, but the climate is also being effected by human actions and output of CO2.

    So, here’s my questions: How to you account for the human forcing of CO2 over time then? It’s been noted that the standard is just to double CO2 for the models, but then I saw this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Report_on_Emissions_Scenarios

    But what are the underlying assumptions behind the various tiers and their subsets? For example subset in A1 “A1B – A balanced emphasis on all energy sources.” What qualifies as a “balanced emphasis”? Is it a total number of pounds of C02 emitted in one group versus another? What is that actual number if that’s how it’s calculated? And if so, HOW is that number calculated, by an assumption on population growth?

    Do you account in the models for the probability of huge technological improvements that could have large effects on human CO2 output?

    Any other nature forces (I understand aerosols are accounted for in the models) or disasters that could effect the human race, and thus the output levels of CO2?

    If so, where can I read about how those probabilities are incorporated into the models?

    It just seems like there are wide variables in terms of the future output CO2 and thus impossible to calculate to a high degree of certainty.

    Comment by Eric — 16 Dec 2009 @ 12:02 AM

  528. Don, of course — but not global ones that match the European records, which is what the guy above was upset about, claiming the IPCC had done away with something he believed was global.

    By the way, did you click the link at the bottom of the page, where it says “Cited by” this paper?
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/326/5957/1256

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Dec 2009 @ 12:09 AM

  529. > Catherine Jameson says:
    > I was reading an atmosphere site

    Care to cite the source? It’s always interesting and sometimes helpful to be able to read the original. I tried searching on words from your posting and found a few sites but nothing that seemed likely to be your source.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Dec 2009 @ 12:33 AM

  530. Don Shor says: 15 December 2009 at 10:03 PM

    “I think there are researchers who suggest that the “event” was more widespread than just Europe.”

    Careful scrutiny of the entire article suggests reorganization of thermal energy, not a global net change. Interesting that the notorious Mann cited the piece (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/326/5957/1256), using it along with other findings to better understand global surface temperatures during the medieval period:

    “…Global temperatures are known to have varied over the past 1500 years, but the spatial patterns have remained poorly defined. We used a global climate proxy network to reconstruct surface temperature patterns over this interval. The Medieval period is found to display warmth that matches or exceeds that of the past decade in some regions, but which falls well below recent levels globally…”

    I suppose this means Trouet and coauthors are part of the Global Conspiracy. In fact, Mann’s use of the term “network” to describe the proxy methodology could well be a slip of the tongue, the smoking gun giving away the whole conspiracy show. Right?

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 16 Dec 2009 @ 1:17 AM

  531. 522
    Is it surprising that I am confused over the Little Ice Age?
    First it’s an established fact of history.
    The IPCC reduce it to ‘modest cooling’
    and it was localised to Northern Europe
    except some people claim it was more global.

    Whatever it was, the LIA coincided with the Maunder Minimum which could be a coincidence and as some indicators show the Sun may be sunspot free in 2015 we may have the opportunity to find out soon.

    I accept the layout of the Thames has changed but with the amount of cold necessary to freeze the Thames in central London circa 1770 we may have to relocate the ice-fairs to say, the Serpentine in Hyde Park.

    If the consensus IPCC view is that the Little Ice Age was only “localised modest cooling of only 1degree” then quite a few people (including me) would say the peer reviewed consensus is wrong on this topic.

    Comment by phil c — 16 Dec 2009 @ 4:10 AM

  532. phil c – This paper will be of interest to you. It shows the skill of regional climate modelling (which is more difficult than global modelling, for fairly obvious reasons) in predicting extreme weather events.

    http://www.hydrology.org.uk/Publications/durham/bhs_07.pdf

    Or you could do it yourself. See http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/11/faq-on-climate-models/#more-527

    Also, you asked if people were doing work on running climate models long-term to see what comes out. Yes they have, and yes the are. See http://cmip-pcmdi.llnl.gov/index.html?submenuheader=0

    I’ll leave the last word on the subject to the IPCC. Everything you could possibly want to know about climate modelling is contained therein, and in the references. You don’t need me to explain it to you.

    If you /genuinely/ care about whether or not climate models are reliable, see http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter8.pdf

    I draw your attention to FAQ 8.1 (particularly Figure 1). See also figure 9.5 in Chapter 9, which shows that models can distinguish between what would happen without manmade impacts, and what would happen with manmade impacts (and note which one is best preproduced!)

    I’m signing off now. You’ve got all i know about climate models. If none of it satisfies you, as above, you can run your own model and see what happens.

    Comment by Silk — 16 Dec 2009 @ 6:09 AM

  533. “Re: Comment 493 by Silk – thankyou for your response. However HIV/AIDS, gravity and Einstein’s theorems are able to be tested against the behaviour of the real world, in real time, whereas you’d think the theory of anthropogenic global warming can’t be tested, except by waiting and seeing what happens.”

    Er, no. There is no “theory of AWG”. What there is is a theory of how the climate responds to forcing.

    And there are plenty of ways you can test the theory of how climate responds to forcing. You can look at recent temperature trends. You can look at paleoclimate data. You can see how the climate responds to perturbations like volcanic eruptions, and test your understanding against those. You can see how well your model replicates rainfall, etc. to see if it is reliable. And you can do detection and attribution studies.

    We /already/ have enough data to understand how humans have impacted on climate change. There is no need to wait and see, because human impact on climate can be directly demonstrated.

    “Computer modelling cannot – surely – duplicate the complexity of the entire earth and all its systems.”

    Are you saying that, because the earth is a very complex system, we can’t model it and therefore we should give up? Because if you /are/ saying that, this discussion is utterly pointless and we can all go home now.

    ” It’s an entirely different ball game to identifying the modus operandi of one virus, or the laws of gravity – with them, you can sit down, figure out what should happen in scenarios x,y or z and then go an implement scenarios x, y or z to test the predictive efficacy of the theory.”

    I have no idea about the relative difficulties of understanding viruses, so I don’t agree or disagree with this statement.

    “You guys can’t do that.”

    I’m not one of those ‘guys’, simply a member of the public.

    “So I’m trying to find the parts of your work which are testable and easily reproducible. Please bear in mind here that I am a trained historian, not a scientist, and I have no idea of the maths or statistics you work with, which are clearly very complicated.”

    You can test the following :

    a) That CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere are manmade.

    b) That an atmosphere of IR absorbers warms the planet (compare mean surface temperatue of moon to that of earth!)

    c) That CO2 absorbs IR radiation, and that doubling the concentration of CO2 in the atmopshere would cause a forcing of X/W per sq metre of earth’s surface.

    d) That paleoclimate shows the response of the atmosphere to changes in forcing equivalent to doubling CO2 to be around 3 degrees

    e) That reconstructions of climate of the last 150 years or long are consistent with this.

    All of those can be tested. If you can disprove any of them (and there’s a lot of evidence for all, so you can use that evidence, or new evidence, to test them) then our theory of how the climate works would have to be reconsidered.

    “it would be worth billions to have a model that could demonstrate that everything’s fine – is there anyone who’s tried to build one?”

    No one, so far as I know, has tried to build a model with the ‘output’ in mind (i.e. you don’t set out to prove global warming, you set out to get a model that has ‘skill’). There are lots of scientists out there, trying to build better and better models.

    If Exxon, say, really really thought they could disprove climate change, and really really thought all the modellers were political and thus wouldn’t bring out a model that challenged AWG, they could easily employ their own modelers to produce alternative models.

    Personally I believe its paranoia to think that climate models are somehow ‘biased’ to prove global warming. Not that I’m accusing you of this, of course. But if any skeptic wants to build a model, they can. These things are hardly secret.

    “Now, the CRU guys – you may find that the whole thing ends up as a boon to yoru cause in the sense that it has focussed many people’s attention, including mine, for the first time on really trying to understand what’s going on with AGW. It has quite simply been in the too-hard basket for me thus far in my life to really try to get to grips with. I don’t yet know whether I think they did something wrong, but lots of traditional scientists think they may have, so I need to try and find out what I think. That’s why I’m here. Now, what do I seek that RealClimate doesn’t provide? – I notice many responses from scientists here which are very testy. I know you’re smart and you’ve given your lives to doing this work, but please endeavour to be patient with people who come looking – intellectually clobbering people won’t endear you to them. Patient explanations will.”

    I’ve been here a while. Gavin et all are usually very polite (and certainly more polite than if I went to a deniers website and said “I am sorry, you are wrong. Please look at papers X, Y & Z”

    Two things make them testy.

    a) People asking basic questions that they could answer themselves by reading the FAQ, or clicking “Start here”

    b) People who ask more difficult questions, are given the answer, and then ask the questions again. These so-called “trolls” are basically attention seekers and not interested in climate.

    “Finally may I ask you a concrete physics-based question – one glaring anomoly I’ve found in AGW accounts and skeptic accounts of atmosphere is the level of past CO2 in the atmosphere… this site says (somewhere) that CO2 is higher now than it’s been for the past 250,000 years; whereas many scientists in traditional areas like geology (e.g. at this site – http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Articles1.html)say CO2 is the lowest it’s been for 500,000 years. Measuring past CO2 is supposed to be the easy bit – so why such discrepancies between the sciences? That is the question I am currently trying to answer for myself, I’d be grateful for any pointers you can give. Many thanks, Catherine.”

    This one is easy. See http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/11/650000-years-of-greenhouse-gas-concentrations/

    Comment by Silk — 16 Dec 2009 @ 6:45 AM

  534. Catherine – PS. This is a really good page. It shows you what climate sensitivity is from a variety of different sources, most of which are measured (and hence testable) http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-change-little-ice-age-medieval-warm-period.htm

    Comment by Silk — 16 Dec 2009 @ 6:48 AM

  535. phil c, no one is saying the LIA didn’t happen. They’re saying it wasn’t global. Do you understand the difference?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Dec 2009 @ 7:18 AM

  536. #535
    I understand the difference.

    But it comes down to whether you believe the IPPC on this when there appears to be evidence that it actually was Global

    I know Wikipedia is not peer reviewed however, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age

    Comment by phil c — 16 Dec 2009 @ 8:01 AM

  537. RS,

    I did the work to prove my point. Here it is:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/30Years.html

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Dec 2009 @ 8:05 AM

  538. phil c “I understand the difference.

    But it comes down to whether you believe the IPPC on this when there appears to be evidence that it actually was Global”

    So you don’t know if the IPCC is right, so you assume they’re wrong?

    Why?

    And why is their version of wrong “the MWP was global” rather than “the MWP isn’t even there”, which are the two ways of being wrong from the IPCC reconstruction of the MWP: more MWP or less MWP.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 Dec 2009 @ 8:47 AM

  539. 538
    I dont assume they are wrong – if they are saying it is localised and there is evidence that it is global then they could be wrong.
    do you assume they are always right?

    Comment by phil c — 16 Dec 2009 @ 10:54 AM

  540. Re#527

    First, “Eric” you probably need to chose a new name. eric is a regular contributor here and your’s will cause confusion.

    “But what are the underlying assumptions behind the various tiers and their subsets? For example subset in A1 “A1B – A balanced emphasis on all energy sources.” What qualifies as a “balanced emphasis”? Is it a total number of pounds of C02 emitted in one group versus another?”

    Read the SRES. It’s online.

    “Do you account in the models for the probability of huge technological improvements that could have large effects on human CO2 output? ”

    No model assumes fusion. The B1 model makes some assumptions about increasing efficiency leading to emissions reductions.

    Critically, the IEA (who know more about energy than you, me or anyone else) have made estimates of what happens to emissions to 2030 and 2050, and it ain’t pretty. Without significant policy intervention, CO2 emissions double by 2050. The reason for this is simple – coal is the cheapest fuel there is, and without policy intervention, will remain so for a few decades. Once you build a coal fired power station, you run it for 30-40 years to get your money’s worth. And no, we aren’t running out of coal.

    So, without a carbon price or carbon regulation, CO2 emissions will just keep going up, at least to 2030. By that point, it’s too late to avoid 450ppm, or probably even 550ppm.

    “Any other nature forces (I understand aerosols are accounted for in the models) or disasters that could effect the human race, and thus the output levels of CO2?”

    No. The base assumption is the human economy continues to grow. Why would that be a problem?

    “It just seems like there are wide variables in terms of the future output CO2 and thus impossible to calculate to a high degree of certainty.”

    Not at all. There’s a very strong correlation between economic growth and CO2.

    Is economic growth uncertain? Of course. Which is why we have such a wide range of scenarios.

    You’ll note that ALL scenarios go above 2 degrees. And that since the SRES the scenario that reality has most closely followed is A1.

    Of course, a plague could wipe out 90% of humans. In which case, emissions becomes less of an issue. Can you estimate the probability of that occuring?

    Comment by Silk — 16 Dec 2009 @ 1:05 PM

  541. “If you look at the peer reviewed scientific literature, the debate is over.” Al Gore

    Is that correct, Al ?

    Comment by Chris Robertson — 16 Dec 2009 @ 2:28 PM

  542. Chris Robertson (541) — Please read “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart, first link in “Science Links” section of the sidebar.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 16 Dec 2009 @ 3:07 PM

  543. > Chris Robertson

    What that means depends on the context, of course.
    Do you know the context?
    What were they talking about exactly?
    Certainly he doesn’t mean all science is done.
    He must be referring to some particular question.
    You might want to look into the details a bit more.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Dec 2009 @ 4:33 PM

  544. Formally posting as “Eric” in [527]

    I read the SRES. Thanks for the reply.

    Seems like a pretty broad assumption to make that economic growth and or population growth automatically means more CO2 output; regardless of the the variant level these scenarios assume. If the reason why it’s assumed to be that way is cause it’s always been that way that’s a pretty specious justification.

    There are very serious endeavors underway to deal with this issue. Frankly, it’s insulting that these models seem to place SO little value in their efforts that they are not accounted for with the models.

    And I don’t agree with your assumption that without “significant policy intervention” this solution is solvable.

    Carbon price setting will serve just to make the resource more scarce, and good luck trying to get the Chinese government to go along with a price setting for carbon. It’s never going to happen. This solution requires a technological solution, not a governmental one.

    Comment by modulles — 16 Dec 2009 @ 4:59 PM

  545. Yes, Chris, that’s right.

    Of course your quote is out of context (are there ANY posters here who are surprised at that???).

    “Is AGW real and a genuine problem we need urgent action on?”

    Yes. The peer reviewed scientific literature says that that debate is over.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 Dec 2009 @ 5:08 PM

  546. 539, no you DO assume they are wrong.

    You want to wait, therefore acting as if they are wrong and there’s nothing to worry about that is the result of them very specifically being wrong in a “there’s no problem” kind of way, which your arguments about how MWP was warmer, so therefore there’s no problem, right?

    If the MWP is wrong in a way where it was LESS then we’re in a worse situation than we figured because the effect of CO2 could be at the upper end (since the MWP puts a constraint on the upper levels of sensitivity of temperature to CO2).

    Of course you never SAY anything, just “ask questions”. In a very Glen Beck style of way.

    In just such a way as “Are you preferring to smoke up now and leave someone else’s kids to clean up your mess after you die rich, fat and happy? I’m just asking”

    So are you misanthropic?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 Dec 2009 @ 5:14 PM

  547. Phil c,

    The global or regional nature of the Little Ice Age is not completely settled, one of the main problems being that the events in different regions are not synchronous. Today’s warming is global, with direct measurements that allow modeling and attribution of the forcings. In the Little Ice Age, it is not likely there was any significant change in forcing from CO2, but from volcanoes and possibly solar intensity. The Realclimate glossary has a bit of things to say about it.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 16 Dec 2009 @ 5:45 PM

  548. 533
    Silk “Are you saying that, because the earth is a very complex system, we can’t model it and therefore we should give up? Because if you /are/ saying that, this discussion is utterly pointless and we can all go home now.”

    The main concern about the models is not that they are pointless but that they are presented to the public as if they are a true measure of what will happen.

    Do the models take into account cosmic rays in the formation of clouds – they cant do this properly because no one really knows if really do effect clouds and if so to what extent.

    Should if the experiments at CERN provide information that cosmic rays do seriously effect clouds that would show that the models must have been missing an important driving mechanism.

    Comment by phil c — 16 Dec 2009 @ 5:48 PM

  549. 546
    Thanks for sharing

    Comment by phil c — 16 Dec 2009 @ 6:08 PM

  550. phil c (548) — The CLOUD experiment at CERN is most unlikely to be definitive due to wall effects. In any case, cosmic rays have been the subject of more than one threaed here on RealClimate. In those, it is pointed out that cosmic ray flux has not changed in the 50+ years of measurements while the climate certainly has.

    Here is my amatuer understanding: in almost all parts of the globe there is a superabundance of CCNs; cosmic rays don’t have much chance of causing any more condensation as the necessary CCNs are there anyway.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 16 Dec 2009 @ 6:09 PM

  551. David (550)
    I appreciate the reply.

    Comment by phil c — 16 Dec 2009 @ 6:31 PM

  552. Read #544

    “Seems like a pretty broad assumption to make that economic growth and or population growth automatically means more CO2 output; regardless of the the variant level these scenarios assume. If the reason why it’s assumed to be that way is cause it’s always been that way that’s a pretty specious justification.”

    Rubbish.

    The IEA know more about energy use that you or I. The IEA say increasing energy demand and use of the next 40 years will be huge.

    If you would care to show me how that energy demand can be met without generating a load of CO2, I’d be very keen to hear about it.

    If you ACTUALLY READ the SRES, you’d see that a massive body of research went into constructing these scenarios, and understanding the factors that drive emissions. Section 3.4 for example.

    Your attempt to characterise the SRES as “scientists just looked at what happened in the past, and used that to forecast the future” is NOT what happened.

    You say you read it. Read it again. More slowly. Particularly Chapter 3.

    “There are very serious endeavors underway to deal with this issue. Frankly, it’s insulting that these models seem to place SO little value in their efforts that they are not accounted for with the models.”

    This statement is beneath contempt. How many man-hours went into writing all the underlying literature that was used to build the SRES?

    Tell you what. YOU go away and work up an emissions scenario for the next 40 years. You’ll have to justify all your assumptions on emissions and underlying activity data of course.

    Then we’ll model your scenario and see what happens.

    “And I don’t agree with your assumption that without “significant policy intervention” this solution is solvable.”

    Well you are wrong. Completely and utterly wrong.

    “Carbon price setting will serve just to make the resource more scarce”

    Doh. If you don’t make the resource more scarce, you can’t solve the problem, can you? Either you put the CO2 in the atmosphere and deal with the consequences, or you don’t.

    “and good luck trying to get the Chinese government to go along with a price setting for carbon. It’s never going to happen.”

    They already have. It’s called the CDM.

    “This solution requires a technological solution, not a governmental one.”

    Who do you think has the greatest interest in Copenhagen succeeding? The negotiators? The politicians? WRONG.

    The single largest stakeholder in this process is the clean tech companies, and the investors that support them. If this process fails, the investment drains away, and we burn all the coal.

    Let me make this very, very simple for you. Coal is cheap. If we burn all the coal CO2 will go above 550ppm.

    Therefore we either need to

    a) Make the cost of burning coal so prohibitive, that we do something else (or do CCS)

    b) Make the cost of ‘something else’ cheaper than coal

    In the end, we use a sort of hybrid approach, increasing the CO2 price, while using regulation to drive private investment in low-carbon technology.

    Perhaps you’d like to tell me what your alternative policy approach to solving the problem “Humans emit 49GtCO2e GHG in to the atmosphere annually and if we do not halve emissions by 2050 then we face very serious climate problems” is?

    Comment by Silk — 17 Dec 2009 @ 4:43 AM

  553. #548

    “The main concern about the models is not that they are pointless but that they are presented to the public as if they are a true measure of what will happen.”

    Not true. The are presented as what might happen, within a range of uncertaincy.

    Can you find fault with the following, form the IPCC AR4?

    “For the next two decades a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected for a range of SRES emissions scenarios. Even if the concentrations of all GHGs and aerosols had been kept constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming of about 0.1°C per decade would be expected. Afterwards, temperature projections
    increasingly depend on specific emissions scenarios.”

    “Do the models take into account cosmic rays in the formation of clouds – they cant do this properly because no one really knows if really do effect clouds and if so to what extent.”

    And do they take into the impact of cans of coca cola produced a year?

    Demonstrate to me that there is a mechanism that could link GCR to climate, and that this impact would have a significant impact, and we can stick it in the model.

    (Models reproduce PAST and RECENT climate. Therefore there is ZERO evidence that adding a GCR model (or any other ‘missing’ forcing) would make the models significantly better)

    “Should if the experiments at CERN provide information that cosmic rays do seriously effect clouds that would show that the models must have been missing an important driving mechanism.”

    CERN won’t prove anything about cloud formation.

    Comment by Silk — 17 Dec 2009 @ 4:51 AM

  554. @540
    “There’s a very strong correlation between economic growth and CO2.”
    But there’s no correlation between CO2 and the recent global temperature changes. Just look at the last 8 or 10 years (rising CO2 levels, temperature stable or declining a little). So climate is far more complex than “more CO2 is more greenhouse-effect is higher temperature”, even the “climate scientists” simply don’t know yet.

    @550
    The point of the CERN experiment is that climate changes in the past have been much bigger than the changes we witness now, so before industrial activity played any role. That’s why the IPCC was so keen to hide the MWP, or said it only happened locally.

    CERN is investigating what the mechanism is for these huge natural(!) changes. Only when we understand that mechanism, we can say anything valid about human contribution to global warming right now. As a physicist I’m really shocked how politically influenced discussions on this “scientific” website are.

    Comment by Arie — 17 Dec 2009 @ 5:42 AM

  555. RE Hank Roberts

    By the way, did you click the link at the bottom of the page, where it says “Cited by” this paper?
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/326/5957/1256

    John Cook posted a summary of Mann, et al. 2009 here, but with all the new visitors and the renewed (heightened?) interest in millennial temperature reconstructions, a post on this article would be timely. I think it would be instructive to also put the new findings into the context of the progression of the science, from the earlier reconstructions (Mann, Jones, Briffa in the 1990s) through Mann, et al. 2008 to the present.

    The availability of the data sets and analysis routines, as well as the public availability of the article itself, must also be noted. I would especially recommend the alternative analyses from the PNAS paper that Mike Mann has provided in his supplementary material. These analyses have provided tools for those of us who defend the science, and provide a way to disarm at least one meme (show the data!) from the critics. Like the records that Eric used in this post, the information is out there for anyone who wants to do their own analysis.

    Comment by Deech56 — 17 Dec 2009 @ 7:23 AM

  556. Oops – for “this post” I meant this post.

    Comment by Deech56 — 17 Dec 2009 @ 7:24 AM

  557. “But there’s no correlation between CO2 and the recent global temperature changes.”

    BZZZZT! Nice try. Thanks for playing!

    Next contestant please.

    Comment by Silk — 17 Dec 2009 @ 7:33 AM

  558. Hi Gavin #521, Chris #523, and Silk #533 – thankyou for your comments. I have continued to look round this site and taken a look at some of Sherwood’s papers – I have insufficient maths to be able to understand a lot of what I’m looking at, which is frustrating. Hank #529 – sorry I tried to find the source again myself and couldn’t, I think it was somewhere on geocraft.com. It was a uni website. If it was clear to me 20 years ago that the various disciplines don’t talk enough to each other, it now seems that many discourses have diverged so much that they’ve become discontinuous with others which deal with overlapping fields – which is somewhat annoying to say the least! Having discovered the skeptical science website – thanks Silk – I think I will go look around there for a while until I understand the arguments a little better. Thanks once more, Catherine.

    Comment by Catherine Jameson — 17 Dec 2009 @ 7:34 AM

  559. “Copenhagen climate change conference: Fourteen days to seal history’s judgment on this generation”

    My gosh, doesn’t the Guardian realize that History has already rendered its judgement.

    Comment by JP — 17 Dec 2009 @ 10:42 AM

  560. 553
    And do they take into the impact of cans of coca cola produced a year?
    Demonstrate to me that there is a mechanism that could link GCR to climate, and that this impact would have a significant impact, and we can stick it in the model.

    Have you watched Jasper Kirkby’s presentation at CERN

    http://cdsweb.cern.ch/record/1181073

    GCR appear to influence cloud formation, cloud cover effects the climate. He may be wrong but that’s why they are doing the experiment. If the experiment shows the influence to be real then the models would be shown to be missing something significant.

    Comment by phil c — 17 Dec 2009 @ 3:10 PM

  561. 553
    Not true. The are presented as what might happen, within a range of uncertaincy.
    Sorry but this is not how they are presented in the general media.

    Comment by phil c — 17 Dec 2009 @ 4:06 PM

  562. phil c – Can’t get streaming to work on my computer. But, given that the preamble suggests “Indeed recent satellite observations – although disputed – suggest that cosmic rays may affect clouds” then clearly the experiment is worth doing.

    (But you’d still need a climate model to work out what the net effect of this on climate was! Oh, the irony!)

    The models may be, indeed, missing this. Or rather, they may under-estimate the effect of changes in solar, because this ‘indirect’ effect is not included (the direct change in forcing is, of course)

    However, this doesn’t change the facts that

    a) There is no trend in GCR over the measurement period, and that Svensmark’s attempts to correlate GCR with temperature fail if you use the full data set.

    b) This doesn’t impact on the fact that climate sensivitiy to CO2 is 3 degrees, since the determination of this (from indepdent data sets) is not dependent on understanding the GCR effect, if one exists.

    Comment by Silk — 17 Dec 2009 @ 4:34 PM

  563. “The IEA know more about energy use that you or I. The IEA say increasing energy demand and use of the next 40 years will be huge.”

    Nope, don’t accept that reasoning. Why do you assume that because I am asking about this topic I don’t already know a great deal regarding it?

    Have you ever heard of this btw?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority

    I will however take a look at their data and see what it says.

    “If you would care to show me how that energy demand can be met without generating a load of CO2, I’d be very keen to hear about it.”

    I seriously doubt you would be willing to listen based upon your comments. BUT if you are willing to keep your mind open enough I will compile some of the information and send you via private email.

    “If you ACTUALLY READ the SRES, you’d see that a massive body of research went into constructing these scenarios, and understanding the factors that drive emissions. Section 3.4 for example.”

    Wrong again. Why are you assuming that just because someone disagrees with your viewpoint they must be uninformed. I have read the info, I have my doubts about the analysis. You want me to just follow blindly? Not going to happen.

    “Your attempt to characterise the SRES as “scientists just looked at what happened in the past, and used that to forecast the future” is NOT what happened.”

    [edit] Secondly, you misquoted me by saying

    ““scientists just looked at what happened in the past, and used that to forecast the future””

    So let me re-post my quote from before:

    “If the reason why it’s assumed to be that way is cause it’s always been that way that’s a pretty specious justification.”

    NOTE Keyword “If”. Or ‘In the event that’. Which by definition assumes the following to be true, however is conditional on further review of said following statement. This is before further review of the SRES so is no longer relevant since it’s clear how they come to their conclusions after actually reading it.

    “You say you read it. Read it again. More slowly. Particularly Chapter 3.”

    Dealt with above; read it. Question the conclusion and basis for their analysis. I’ll read it again for kicks though if that makes you happy. REALLY slowly even…

    “‘And I don’t agree with your assumption that without “significant policy intervention” this solution is solvable.”

    ‘Well you are wrong. Completely and utterly wrong.’”

    You want to expand on that a bit more and try to prove your case why government intervention is absolutely needed in order to solve the issue and without intervention it’s not possible?

    “Doh. If you don’t make the resource more scarce, you can’t solve the problem, can you? Either you put the CO2 in the atmosphere and deal with the consequences, or you don’t.”

    The question is about levels and degrees of change. If you make something scarce without being able to provide an alternate resource to supply energy you’re left with a serious energy issue. Cause while supplies go down prices will rise for carbon, if you’re trying to do that in order for investments to move toward alternatives then the market needs to be able to respond to it in a timely manner lest people go without.

    I disagree with your approach to FORCE it to happen through regulation. I don’t think the market will be able to respond quickly enough to it, so again it’s about what level of price constraint you place.

    “They already have. It’s called the CDM.”

    I have serious doubts about the enforcement mechanisms regarding this. I’ll believe it when I see it. China has monolithic focus on economic growth, if this limits that ability I would see them backing out of the agreement.

    Thought this was an interesting read on that:

    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2009/12/credit-where-credit-is-due-understanding-the-clean-development-mechanism

    “Who do you think has the greatest interest in Copenhagen succeeding? The negotiators? The politicians? WRONG.”

    Asked and answered your own question…I never raised this issue. Sounds like you just like saying “WRONG”. Any relation?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_McLaughlin_%28host%29

    “Therefore we either need to

    a) Make the cost of burning coal so prohibitive, that we do something else (or do CCS)

    b) Make the cost of ’something else’ cheaper than coal”

    Yeah, option B.

    Comment by modulles — 17 Dec 2009 @ 5:09 PM

  564. 553
    CERN won’t prove anything about cloud formation.

    why are CERN spending a lot of time and money on an experiment called CLOUD
    I ask again, have you actually watched Kirkby’s presentation?

    [Response: Because they aren't going to form clouds in their chamber. They are trying to form aerosols. - gavin]

    Comment by phil c — 17 Dec 2009 @ 5:51 PM

  565. 564
    taken from the CERN website
    http://public.web.cern.ch/public/en/Research/CLOUD-en.html

    Cosmic rays are charged particles that bombard the Earth’s atmosphere from outer space. Studies suggest they may have an influence on the amount of cloud cover through the formation of new aerosols (tiny particles suspended in the air that seed cloud droplets)

    Comment by phil c — 18 Dec 2009 @ 3:17 AM

  566. 562
    phil c – Can’t get streaming to work on my computer.

    try this, it links to the same CERN presentation
    http://seekingalpha.com/article/175641-climategate-revolt-of-the-physicists

    (But you’d still need a climate model to work out what the net effect of this on climate was! Oh, the irony!)
    why the irony, I make a good living building computer models but I know the model must include all the appropriate factors. You can rule out coca cola cans (553) but I’m not so sure about cosmic rays.

    From what I’ve the seen the climate models only ever show temperatures going up because CO2 is rising. It wouldn’t be very scary if they didn’t. But cloud cover effects temperatures as much (if not a lot more) than CO2 , and if CERN shows that cosmic rays/aerosols effect cloud cover then the models could be shown to be missing a major factor.

    The results from the climate models could turn out to mean little more than, unless we reduce CO2 emissions or the temperature drops due to something other than CO2 it will continue to get hotter.

    It is quite possible that CLOUD will show there is no link but if that was a certainty why would CERN would waste any time and money on it?

    Comment by phil c — 18 Dec 2009 @ 3:45 AM

  567. I came to this site because I had watched the presentation by Jasper Kirkby and could see that the CLOUD experiment could make a major contribution to our understanding of the climate.

    Whether his experiment yields any significant information I would have expected more interest for the people who run this site , especially as CLOUD is being run by a team of physicists at CERN.

    I received the following comments

    Ed 315 As for Professor Kirby, I think the blog post you refer to actually sums up the state of that ‘theory’ rather nicely: “They haven’t completely worked out the mechanism yet…” Uh huh… And I’ve got some stock to sell you. I haven’t quite worked out how the guy we’re buying it from is investing it but… trust me.

    Call us back when you have worked out the mechansism, will ya?

    Either Ed (whoever he is) has never heard of CLOUD in which he’s not very interested in climate science
    or he’s is deliberately being sarcastic about a serious scientific experiment.
    Either way, I wont be taking “Ed” very seriously from now on

    Gavin comments

    [Response: Of course. Do you think I'm the pope or something? But you are still confused - there is no way that CLOUD is going to show anything about the radiative effect of CO2. Nothing. Nada. Zip. - gavin]
    or [Response: Because they aren't going to form clouds in their chamber. They are trying to form aerosols. - gavin]
    Gavin deliberately evaded the point that CLOUD may show a link between cosmic rays/aerosols and cloud formation.

    This site is called RealClimate with the sub-title “Climate Science from Climate Scientists”. So, why not be like a proper honest scientist and say something like “we doubt that the CLOUD experiment will yield significant results but we recognise that if it does we may have to reconsider the role of CO2 within the context of atmospheric warming”

    The attitude on this site shows that you are too tied up with CO2 to be relied on for objectivity.

    [Response: No. You have an idea that somehow evidence for GCR initiation of aerosols implies a direct link to cloud variations over recent decades, a change in the sensitivity of climate to CO2 and the attribution of recent changes to CO2 and the other human forcings. The problem is, as we have been trying to demonstrate, that this idea is not true. I would be fascinated to learn more about aerosol-cloud interactions, and to get improved estimates of climate sensitivity. But neither of these things can possibly come from the CERN experiments. Instead, they will (hopefully) get a an estimate of how variations in the ion-induced aerosol formation gets transmitted to aerosol number and density. It will be interesting, but only a tiny step. This recognition is not because of some irrational attachment to CO2, but simply a recognition that the physics underlying our understanding of the greenhouse effect is much more solidly based. - gavin]

    Comment by phil c — 18 Dec 2009 @ 12:16 PM

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