“In the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.”
It defines “likely” as 66%-90%, which presumably leaves some room for scientifically honest disagreement. I am no fan of President Bush, but reading the IPCC would suggest some small room for valid disagreement on this issue, and that his statement was not inconsistent with the latest IPCC.
Is it your contention that since 2001 that the 66% to 90% in this phrase is now 100%?
[Response: Attribution has been a pretty heavily researched topic since the TAR, and it’s all gone one way. So this is one area where the TAR is out of date. But… you are perfectly well aware of that. You (and presumably Prez Bush’s science advisors) must have read the AR4 draft, no? -William]
[Response: Nothing is ever 100% – but decisions are often made on the basis of beyond reasonable doubt (or even weaker levels of certainty). Attribution is now ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ – I’ll leave it to the IPCC authors to give a % certainty to that. – gavin]
Comment by Roger Pielke Jr. — 31 Mar 2006 @ 11:35 AM
While I’m afraid the content of this site may be over GWB’s head, I did write an article that he should be able to grok. To bad he is not very familiar with “the internets”, what with it being a democratic invention and all ;)
The science about the reason of the current warming of the last two decades could have been settled if we were looking at a valid physical process. But greenhouse gas effect is hardly that if we look at it’s minimum relative effect here (based on Modtran runs):
The variation of 10% albedo change is good for 2.8 degrees black body temperature change (Stefan Boltzman law). The real world change was only 0.6 degees, showing a robust negative feedback, which would raise eyebrows at the claimed strong positive feedback for greenhouse warming.
Palle et al could have seen the correlation with surface temperature (R2 = 0,575) if they just had tried:
Science can be right on GW, however does it offer a solution that is economical and politically sane ? I would say that science, economics and politics has its own latency, namely that of a suitable replacement to fossil fuels for a 9 billion population whilst not losing to much if any of what they current have or desire to have, namely material wealth and fun exciting lives.
Fusion is years off if at all, renewables are part of the solution, fission also has a case as does other solutions in the longer term but at the present time nothing will replace fossil fuels entirely and hence we can only slowly diminish our fossil fuel dependency in the hope of a suitable replacement being invented.
[Response: It’s not necessarily a matter of stringent sacrifice. It’s a matter of wealth taking forms that are less energy intensive. Are you that much less wealthy if auto technology goes into fuel efficiency rather than better acceleration? If you live closer to public transit and go to blues clubs, baseball games or the opera instead of taking long drives to the mall? If you pay 20% more for electricity but your power company burns their coal in a non polluting IGCC plant that can be eventually retrofitted for carbon sequestration? As an example, you could live like the French (not a bad life, I’ve tried it) and emit only a quarter of the CO2 as the typical American. –raypierre]
You dare to say: “This position is equally out of step with science, where the debate over this question has also now been settled.”
It has been settled only inside IPCC headquarters and other politically motivated organizations. If there is something that has not been settled is climate science, but you will never acknowledge this. It would ruin your business.
I agree that the AGW issue is settled in the pages of Science, Nature, Scientific American, and other similar publications grinding an axe as political as it can be imagined. But science is absent from those journals, at least when it comes to climatic reporting.
When you mention CO2 levels and record levels you bypass the information that CO2 levels during some periods as the Cretaceous ranging between 6000 and 2600 ppm were contemporaneous with temperatures only 2º C above today’s temperatures. But you already know that.
You also bypass the information presented by Monnin et al. (2000) and many others about the fact that CO2 levels increases lag temperature increase by 600-800 years during Glacial Termination III, and other periods of Earth’s history. And you also already knew that. As you already know many things that contradicts your loved hypothesis of catastrophic AGW but will always look to the other side and try to keep them hidden and out of reach from the general public and the media. It is not good for the “business as usual” of asking funds for climatic research.
The way you present your case is abominable misinformation, mixing assumptions with real data, and presenting it as facts. Science has been knocked out by you.
President of FAEC Argentinean Foundation for a Scientific Ecology
[Response: Oh please… You are wrong about the Cretaceous (but note that sea level was about 100m higher than today, and alligators lived on Ellesmere Island), you are wrong about the significance of the ice-core CO2-temperature lag (discussed here), you are wrong about the funding, and you know what, I wish you were right about AGW being mis-information… but, you are wrong about that as well. – gavin]
Your logic certainly leads to the inescapable conclusion that GW is man-made. But I continue to have difficulty in blaming all of this on carbon dioxide. Two NASA papers attribute probably over 50% of Arctic warming to carbon soot and ozone. Other greenhouse gases are contributing significantly to GW, aerosols are being fingered in cloud formation, and more is being reported on land use affecting climate.
I understand that the science cannot produce a list of quantities attributed to the various man-made causes but it is important to attempt it. Suppose that George II has an epiphany and orders a war on CO2 and then time shows that the thermostat did not reset as low as hoped. Suppose also that in the meantime further research demonstrates that the other man-made causes were greater than first expected. I can see a huge loss in credibility.
Would you address the issues and possible quantification of other man-made causes of GW and how they stand up to carbon dioxide? Also is not CO2 in reality the long range monster while the other sources are more immediate?
[Response: We are not saying that it is all CO2 – look at the ‘forcings‘ bar chart for an idea of how the other factors compare. However, CO2 has a very long lifetime compared to soot or CH4 and so has the greatest potential for causing serious problems in the future. Reductions in soot and CH4 could be very beneficial and allow for a slower rate of growth in the net forcings, and thus ‘buy a little time’, but they can’t be a substitute for thinking about CO2. – gavin]
Actually, I thought the most interesting part of his answer was this line:
“And so I guess I should have started differently when I first became President, and said, we will invest in new technologies that will enable us to use fossil fuels in a much wiser way.” That may be the closest I’ve ever heard our President come to admitting an error. It may be significant if it’s an indication that the White House feels like it needs to reasses its position.
Comment by Daniel Kirk-Davidoff — 31 Mar 2006 @ 2:33 PM
Re#7 Maybe Eduardo Fereyra,Ud. tenga razon en algunas de sus apreciaciones… Pero, anyway, the chemistry of our planet is quite different from any past one.
Thousands of man-made compounds which will stay for a non-known number of years, contribute to things taking place not naturally. Like the POPs (persisting organic pollutants), like so many volatile solvents, like HCFC besides CFC, etc.
Aunque parezca que algunas cantidades son insignificantes, pueden tener efectos extraordinariamente amplificados, tipo catalizador (los catalizadores son necesarios en cantidades minimas en algunos casos).
Climate Science is extremely difficult. Why neglect its Science status? You see, just recently it has been discovered that neutrinos have mass… Oh… it means Physics texts must be rewritten ASAP. Would you dare to say that Physics is not Science…(?)
Has the work of Science to stop because you do not discover something still to be discovered and you ignore your ignorance?
Sorry, I am no climate scientist. I would like to be, because so many scientists should be involved in such a most complicated field of Earth Sciences.
BTW, I have also been involved in a a kind of Scientific Ecology… maybe not with your status. Nor are we receiving funds.. Does your organization receive funds, or are you volunteers?
Sorry to be rude today..
“Beyond a reasonable doubt” — Translating this to a percentage depend upon what is at stake. At 95% there is presumably 1 chance in 20 that one is wrong. However, in many areas of life sciences, including agriculture, 95% suffices for action. At another extreme, the designers of large airplanes aim for 99.9999% reliability and are able to achieve this.
I suppose each of us could attempt an estimate of a percentage. I doubt it matters in that climatologists have established, beyond a reasonable doubt, that GW is occuring — and that ought to suffice for action.
Comment by David B. Benson — 31 Mar 2006 @ 3:44 PM
Re: Responses to #1
Gavin, William, Thanks.
Yes, you know and I know what is ongoing within the IPCC. (And an aside, I have frequently written that the science has been long good enough for action.) But what seems to be missed here is that you are taking GWB to task for making a statement that is consistent with the latest IPCC reports. So long as these types assessments are produced every 5 years it either provides political cover for politicians to rely on old science or a lag in the connection of science and decision makers.
I would not expect Bush or his administration to be on top of the inner workings of the AR4 draft. So your criticism of Bush’s understanding may well be correct, but please also recognize that your criticism also implicates the fundamental assesment processes that are relied on to inform policy makers. Another way to read this post is:
“GWB is relying on the science in 2001 TAR SPM, therefore he must be an idiot or willfully denying the science.”
[Response: No. Bush’s comment is not consistent with the latest IPCC report, the TAR. With the FAR, perhaps. You know that. Suggesting, as Bush does, that the issue of attribution is completely undecided is nonsense. But in addition, why are you expecting Bush to be basing his science evaluation on the TAR? He has all the science done since then, and the AR4 drafts to summarise it, available too. I don’t understand your excuse-making for Bush, it’s weird – William]
[Response: And just to add to that, I disagree that his statement is consistent with TAR. TAR established that a significant portion of the warming was likely to be anthropogenic. Assuming that this implies that there is a significant probability that the manmade component is zero is a misreading. Had he said instead that the exact attribution is uncertain, that would have been more valid. (NB. Please do not put words into our mouths – I generally consider what I say here quite carefully and do not wish to be associated with comments that are likely to be construed as offensive.) – gavin]
Comment by Roger Pielke Jr. — 31 Mar 2006 @ 4:02 PM
orbital cycles, which cause the ice ages, would currently tend towards cooling, if anything
I take the excerpt from the above is saying, ‘we are warming now when in what would otherwise be a cooling cycle (orbital)’. While we problem solve now, before the tipping point which we are defining as probably within ten years before transiting a region of progressively more impossible capability to reverse or slow the effects of GW, it would be an interesting contrast to define the timespan before which the ordinary warming would begin (based on orbital cycles).
That is to say, how far into the cooling are we before orbital cycles begin the planetary ordinary warming cycle? I am sure if I read more in the RealClimate archive I will find the timeline, and I shall do that. Where are we…15kY years or 60 kY until warming begins for REAL?
In a reasonable sense, besides the Hansen defined tipping point zone, it might be useful to regard the wake effect: what does it look like for the planet trying to emerge from its own orbital-cycle-based warming given accreted anthropogenic warming; i.e., adding such a depiction might increment impact of the model going in, reinforcing the warnings clear in the tipping point zone lemma.
[Response: We are already in a warm phase of the glacial cycles (in the Holocene interglacial), so expect no further warming from orbital cycles. The next thing the orbital cycles will do to us is start a new Ice Age – but that’s at least 30,000 years away. -stefan]
“He has all the science done since then, and the AR4 drafts to summarise it, available too. I don’t understand your excuse-making for Bush, it’s weird”
Yes the IPCC TAR does in fact give considerable room for “attribution skeptics” to assert that “most of the warming in the last 50 years is not due to increased greenhouse gases, with a 10%-34% certainty.” That is simply the complement to what it actually says, and that I quoted before from the Summary for Policy Makers. Not much ambiguity there.
More importantly, does the Bush Administration have access to the AR4 drafts and have they read them? I don’t know, but given the experience with hurricane Katrina, I’d suggest that they do have a serious information management problem. From this experience, I’d doubt that they have much of a clue about the AR4.
My point is not to defend Bush, I’ll be happy to see him go, but rather to suggest to you good folks at Real Climate that there might be more going on here than a “con job” as you suggest, involving Michael Crichton and other evil characters.
For instance, it could be that the very assessment process that has been adopted to link science and policy works too slow, to inefficiently, and too disconnected with policy.
[Response: Perhaps you can point us to a scientific publication that proposes a serious alternative explanation for the observed warming, worthy of our discussion? -stefan]
Comment by Roger Pielke Jr. — 31 Mar 2006 @ 5:25 PM
Roger, do you think it would be helpful for the IPCC to produce assessment reports more frequently, such as every 2 years? (by helpful, I mean, would the benefit outweigh the cost?)
Comment by Roger Pielke Jr. — 31 Mar 2006 @ 5:31 PM
Yes I do. The IPCC could do two things that would dramatically improve its role in policy:
1. Explicitly discuss policy options
2. Issue updates as needed on a continuous basis when scientific results lead to important changes related to #1, and policy makers cound assume the status quo ante unless told otherwise.
The parts of WGs II and III are very much oriented around the Kyoto Protocol which I would expect will be very much moot when the AR4 comes out, thus making much of the IPCC irrelevant. This will have the undesirable effect of further pushing the political debate onto WG I.
Comment by Roger Pielke Jr. — 31 Mar 2006 @ 5:36 PM
Gavin- (Response to #17)
The correct answer is of course (d)! From the IPCC guidelines:
“Be prepared to make expert judgments and explain those by providing a traceable account of the steps used to arrive at estimates of uncertainty or confidence for key findings – e.g. an agreed hierarchy of information, standards of evidence applied, approaches to combining or reconciling multiple lines of evidence, and explanation of critical factors.”
If there is a specific quantitative process, it is not explained by the IPCC. Thanks!
Comment by Roger Pielke Jr. — 31 Mar 2006 @ 5:59 PM
I think the IPCC has quite enough on its plate without having to suggest policy options; that is a somewhat different question. The IPCC should stick to providing accurate data and reliable analysis.
The largest sources of carbon dioxide are coal-fired electricity generation and petroleum-fueled transportation systems.
If electricity generation is switched to wind and solar power coupled to reliable energy storage systems, the need for coal-fired electricity is eliminated.
Transportation is a thornier problem because it seems that liquid fuels are among the best options. Biofuels are currently produced using energy-intensive agricultural practices (at least in this country). Low-energy agricultural production is thus a necessity for climate-friendly biofuel production.
Thus, the greatest uncertainty in future CO2 emission profiles is human behavior. Methane effects may also play a role (melting permafrost/ice hydrate issues). The net effect of CO2 + CH4 (and others) on climate variables is the question that the IPCC should stick to.
The residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere is ~100 yrs. So, we have to engage in long-range planning – certainly longer then the next election cycle, or the next economic cycle.
So, the question of what to do? need not be answered by climate scientists; rather policy makers should pass the question on to energy scientists and engineers. How about an IPRE? An International Panel on Renewable Energy? The IPCC is certainly a good model for how that might work.
Solem, it is my understanding that a primary purpose of the IPCC is to present and evaluate (in economic and social terms) a range of policy options. That is, indeed the WGIII’s primary job. However, choice among the policy options is the job of governments. In this forum, we often identify the IPCC with the work of WGI whose job it is to do a critical evaluation of the science. WGII is there to evaluate the possible effects, for good or ill. (see http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/).
Roger, to suggest that the President of the United States does NOT have the drafts of AR4 available to him with experts available to discuss the matter is insulting. That he might not have the interest or the time to do so is another matter. That he might prefer to shoot from the hip is yet another.
Talk about a con job! I wonder how “the group” (all 11 of them) could have missed the statement President Bush made during an interview with ITV in the United Kingdom on 29 June 2005 shortly before the G8 talks(and available on the White House web page). When asked if he accepted that climate change is manmade, he replied: “To a certain extent it is, obviously. I mean, if fossil fuels create greenhouse gases, we’re burning fossil fuel, as is a lot of other countries.”
One would be excused for thinking that the good folks at RealClimate would have noticed this–it was in all the papers. If the group posted on this, I missed it. But I think we all know, instinctively, that it did not.
Further, the group spends a considerable space in its post arguing the point that anthropogenic greenhouse gases emissions are the cause of the observed increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, suggesting implicitly that the President has questioned this fact. Not so. In his 11 June 2001 speech on climate change, the President said: “Concentrations of greenhouse gases, especially CO2, have increased substantially since the beginning of the industrial revolution. And the National Academy of Sciences indicates that the increase is due in large part to human activity.”
And in the same speech, he recognizes the cooling effect of aerosols, which was also noted in the group’s post.
If the group has any collective sense of fair play, it should withdraw this post, not because it is a political hit job – which regular readers of RealClimate have come to expect – but because it is a particularly poor one.
[Response: I will readily concede that his set speeches on the matter are much better crafted than his off-the-cuff remarks here. And there is no shortage of people in the administration who have a very good grasp of the issues. Maybe you could see this post as a mere corrective… -gavin]
You state: carbon dioxide levels… are now 30% higher than at any time during at least the past 650,000 years,. Really? Based on your detailed and accurate measurements over that period or on the suppositions you’ve obtained from modeling constructs or selective data mining?
[Response: Based on the highly replicated and well understood data from the Vostok and Dome-C ice cores actually. -gavin]
Regarding Eduardo’s #7,
I’m always amazed at how contradictory “the sceptic argument” is (or seems to be). In #7 we are told that we know the temperature of the Earth was 2C higher back in the Cretaceous (with some values of CO2 conc.). Elsewhere you can find sceptics saying we can’t know within one degree what the temperature was just 1000 years ago. Then you find some people who say that model confirmation via comparisons to history is impossible due to circularity as the models just have the data built into them, while some other people say that the models don’t predict x or y that occurred five or forty years ago. That these various people rarely seem to argue amongst themselves is evidence that their ‘side’ is politically-based. There are several sceptic arguments, but I can only imagine that their reason for not working it out and coming up with one or two coherent arguments is because they see anything anti-GW as being an ally. If they were really interested learning/teaching ‘truth’ then there would be no tolerance for these contradictions.
Same goes for the anti-GWB people, but that’s another story.
Would Saint point to a posting here where it was stated that Bush denied that anthropogenic greenhouse gases emissions are the cause of the observed increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. OTOH, I bet you could find several where it was questioned if he believed this lead to global climate change and warming, and rightly so. Let us quote from GWBush’s 11 June 2001 speech
” There is a natural greenhouse effect that contributes to warming. Greenhouse gases trap heat, and thus warm the earth because they prevent a significant proportion of infrared radiation from escaping into space. Concentration of greenhouse gases, especially CO2, have increased substantially since the beginning of the industrial revolution. And the National Academy of Sciences indicate that the increase is due in large part to human activity.
Yet, the Academy’s report tells us that we do not know how much effect natural fluctuations in climate may have had on warming. We do not know how much our climate could, or will change in the future. We do not know how fast change will occur, or even how some of our actions could impact it. ”
Mr Greifendorff, the level discussion on which policy makers are expected to decide, is here. Please read it. Note President Bush has access to drafts of the upcoming IPCC 4th Assessment report, and experts of many political backgrounds.
I assume this is the original NICL graph, or produced from the same data. Please note it was made in 1999, and the figure of 365 ppm in the graph is from 1999. The source linked on the page you link to is broken. Since 1999, CO2 has risen to about 380 ppm. The highest point on that graph is at about 295 or 300 ppm. 380 divided by 300 is about 1.267 or 26.7% higher (alternatively, 380 / 295 is about 1.289, or 28.9% higher). Rounding this to one significant figure results in 30%, as Gavin said. In 1999, when the graph was made, 20% would have been a reasonable approximation; 365 / 300 ~= 1.22, or about 22% higher.
Re: #28 “Fortunately, scientists will never make social policy because their incompetence in the political realm is equal to a politician’s incompetence in a scientific field”
Do the names Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, ring any bells? These are some of the interesting people in a book that rips apart many a preconcived pigeonhole. For some reason the wizard of Oz also springs to mind.
And finally… to answer your question… the green in your pic isn’t Moberg – William]
[P.S.: You will find my own version – comparing Mann et al., Moberg et al, Oerlemans, observed data and IPCC projections – as figure 2.6 in the pdf of chapter 2 of our new book. Text is in German, but graph is self-explanatory. -stefan]
First, the recent “speech” wasn’t a speech at all but a statement in response to a reporter’s question (“off-the-cuff”, as Dr. Schmidt notes, if only belatedly). Second, if you read the entire response the President gave, you will find that it is consistent with his earlier speeches and statements. There is nothing new here.
You haven’t been paying attention. I said the group’s post “suggest[s] implicitly” that the President doubts that human activities have caused the observed increase in CO2 concentration. The post begins by accusing Bush of adopting a position as an “attribution sceptic”, and it then launches into a discussion of the growth in the CO2 level, pointing out that this is caused by human activities “beyond any reasonable doubt”, as if this were an area if disagreement. This is a common rhetorical trick, the purpose of which is to pretend a controversy exists where it does not.
As to those passages from the President’s 11 June speech, what’s the issue? He captured the uncertainties identified in the 2001 National Academies report quite accurately and succinctly. (I find that this is one those reports that is widely cited but only rarely read.) It doesn’t get more “consensus” than the National Academies.
Re standards for action, we don’t need evidence that humans are causing GW “beyond a reasonable doubt” (though we now have that). Even “preponderance of evidence” (roughly 51% chance) is too high a bar on such a threat.
It seems to me the important point is that WE CANNOT DO ANYTHING ABOUT NATURAL CAUSES OF GW, but we can do something about human causes, so even a vague idea that AGW may be happening is enough for me to jump into action to reduce it — which I started doing in 1990, well before the first study reached 95% certainty of AGW back in 1995.
I was hoping all along the evidence would go in the opposite direction — but even if it had, I was going to continue reducing my GHGs, since it was saving me money. I guess the rich have the privilege of profligacy.
This is the way the human world works: whatever the powerful want to do, they do. Some show that they indeed know right from wrong, by socially constructing the situation and their actions as within ethical bounds. So the king of the world can say, “There is no AGW, and it’s perfectly all right that I continued promoting GHG emissions.” And he can keep saying that indefinitely and acting as he pleases, no matter what the evidence. Because he’s king, and no one’s around to depose him.
How often have we heard our superiors say, “There’s nothing I can do about it” (& we know darn well there is plenty that can be done about it).
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 1 Apr 2006 @ 10:31 AM
And even if there is still one percent or however little uncertainty about CO2 emissions making global warming worse: I understand that there is absolutely no uncertainty with regard to ocean acidification. See here, for example: http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/view.php?StoryID=20060331-041304-9325r . It is happening, and I understand that the chemistry behind it is relatively simple and not disputed.
Surely, the looming destruction of much of the marine food-web and massive changes to the chemistry of the oceans are reasons enough for burning less fossil fuels?
Comment by Almuth Ernsting — 1 Apr 2006 @ 11:18 AM
From the June 11 2001 speech:
There is a natural greenhouse effect that contributes to warming. Greenhouse gases trap heat, and thus warm the earth because they prevent a significant proportion of infrared radiation from escaping into space. Concentration of greenhouse gases, especially CO2, have increased substantially since the beginning of the industrial revolution. And the National Academy of Sciences indicate that the increase is due in large part to human activity.
From the new ‘off-the-cuff remark':
the globe is warming. The fundamental debate: Is it manmade or natural. Put that aside.
When I first read these two statements, I figured they were nearly equivalent, with the differences being due to lack of preparation. William pointed out to me that while functionally equivalent, the old speech is stronger, in that the role of GHGs emitted by people is explicit. After re-reading both the old speech and the new off-the-cuff remark, I felt somewhat different.
You claim ‘There is nothing new here’ . That is precisely the problem! The contrast, as I called it, is in the context.
It has been nearly 5 years, and in that time, scientific understanding of climate disruption has increased dramatically, and scientific confidence that human-emitted GHGs are the primary cause, has also increased. What President Bush called ‘The fundamental debate’ was nearly resolved when he spoke in 2001, and is now as completely resolved as any science ever gets. The counter-arguments have gone from being scientifically reasonable, but later disproved notions, to bizarre arguments that seem poorly informed, and often self-contradictory.
I hope, for all our sakes, that ‘Put that aside’, and what follows, means that the ‘fundamental debate’ must end, as it is resolved, and action must began. But given past failures to prepare for, and adapt to, dangers already present in the climate we live in, some clear confirmation of this would be helpful. I can find no such clarity.
[As an example, you could live like the French (not a bad life, I’ve tried it) and emit only a quarter of the CO2 as the typical American. –raypierre]
Of course, 76% of our energy will have to be derived from nuclear power for that to be the case.
[Response: Are you assuming I would necessarily object to this? Nuclear isn’t a panacea, but a case can be made that it’s easier to solve the problem of nuclear waste than the problem of burning coal safely. It should be an option on the table. By the way, for the French, it’s 75% of electricity, not 75% of all energy, last time I checked. –raypierre]
Gavin regarding your response to Eduardo Ferreya. i.e.
you are wrong about the significance of the ice-core CO2-temperature lag (discussed here)
Your link does not provide a reason for the CO2-temperature lag. It simply argues that although the CO2 was not responsible for the initial increase in temperature it might have been responsible (or partly) for the remainder. To be honest I don’t find the argument in this article terribly convincing.
From a few conversations I had recently, there is no reason for me to believe that people will change their fuel dependent living styles out of any concern from global warming. For example, conversation #1. … Sharing a table with a stranger at a ski resort in Colorado. After learning that the person was from Colorado Springs, I asked if she was familiar with Florissant Fossils National Monument (between Colorado Springs and Breckenridge CO). She told me that she had seen the fossil redwood tree stumps at the Nat. Mon. a few years ago, and said to me that few people are aware that Colorado had a tropics like environment many millions of years ago. I mentioned that fossil skeletons of primates which were found in CO and WY can be seen at the National History Museum in Denver … although humans had evolved from some of the primates found in Africa. She then informed me of her Creationist beliefs. I said I believed God created the environment for life to evolved in. I said global warming is harming the planet, and I believe it’s sinful to destroy the environment which God created. She informed me that there is no man made global warming, and that one or two volcanoes put more emissions into the atmosphere than all the emissions from humans combined, going on to say that government funded scientists, the same who said 30 years ago there was an ice age coming, were spreading gloom and doom information on global warming in order to get more money for their “research”. Then the 10-12 people she was waiting for arrived, so I moved to another table. I doubt anyone here at RC would be that interested in my conversations with others while I was visiting family in Colorado, or would you?
These conversations – nearly all with staunch Republicans – make it extremely difficult for me to interpret ambiguous statements, like those of President Bush, or lack of action, as other than negative. I have been told that I should not allow such things to influence my view of politicians. I try to keep in mind that there are Republicans who realize the seriousness of the problem. Nonetheless, I find the situtation quite upsetting.
I don’t know as describing the confusion among the general public will get us very far. I think all of us have experienced it. I can’t resist my favorite anecdote, though. Through a peculiar set of circumstances I found myself at a large luncheon group in rural Poplarville MS. (It’s a long way from Cote St Luc, QC!) They asked me what I did, and I asserted that I was a climatologist. After a brief, awkward silence, a socially adept woman volunteered “ohh… that must be… lucrative”.
The point that the obfuscators are having success obfuscating hardly needs anecdotal support. The idea that the vast conspiracy they imagine could be fueled by a malicious pursuit of misallocated research dollars would be quite funny except for the serious consequences.
There’s plenty of blame to go around for the travesty nicely summarized in #8, and it’s an interesting story that I’m sure will engage future historians, but I’d vote for it being off-topic here. What we need to be discussing here, other than pure science, is how to get out of this mess.
Pat and Llewelly, these are important issues you raise.
Firstly, I think itâ??s vital that those concerned about AGW think outside the bubble of â??us versus the bad politicians and corporatesâ??. This is a many-layered struggle about winning hearts and minds so that electorates will demand or be receptive to change. The international accords should not just be about emissions cuts. We also need to see international accords in which participating governments (or local authorities) agree to lead public awareness drives, as they do in any other national emergency. Members of political parties need to work to sell the issue to others in the same movement so that the party will act to promote the issue. And people need to work within faith groups, like Rev. Cisik, and within other special interest communities.
Second, conversations like you’ve had are all part of the hearts and minds effort. Itâ??s worth saying: in most faith groups, you do not doubt doctors if they tell you that someone is suffering from cancer or something else that requires surgery; and you do not expect a miracle if you step off a cliff. Similarly, if the scientific consensus is telling you that human activities (discharging carbon from stores in and on the earthâ??s surface) are making the world warmer and less sustaining of human life, you need to take them seriously.
And as Rev. Cisik has said, central to Christianity is the principle of love thy neighbour as thyself. People are already seriously suffering as a result of AGW whether in heatwaves or drought-ridden areas or tropical storms. This will all get considerably worse as more warming feeds through and sea levels rise, the question is; how much worse do you want to let this get? And do you want to cause something apocalyptic, which is a real possibility.
In the UK where I live, there does seem to have been a sea change over the past 15 months or so in which it became deeply unfashionable to dispute AGW, and it’s become one of the foremost issues of political lip service.
However, some of the same lodgers I’ve had who say they’re convinced of the importance of sustainability still insist on turning up their room heating, using the tumble drier routinely and using hot washing machine programmes or oodles of powder. It’s time I started assessing against such potential tenants!
Any mention of Bush raises my metabolic rate in a “classically conditioned” relationship. Clearly emotion is a key driver of ALL our actions, and also on the route to “changing minds”.
Bush is just one “oil man” of many; it is this for this group he deploys message; for “he”, George Bush, the figurehead, is merely responding to a noted shift in the broader political base. Consider his public statements on the Katrina response debacle, as compared to what the videotaped briefings reveal he knew at the time as illustration. What he says is less meaningful that what is acted on.
This administration–perhaps the worst in US history–has emptied the treasury, lowered taxes on capital gains on ungodly sums of appreciation values, and in the course of invasion, essentially transferred large sums of money to a very small group, that can now loan the money back to the government. In essence, it is a form of stealing. Contracts let, public duped; “Mission Accomplished”!
I am very impressed how well they run their playbook, and perhaps the hope for humanity resides in provoking them to a personal enlightenment on policy that is derived from fact and reason. As is said in the Tao, the bad man is the good mans business. As odd as it sounds, we need “these folk” to convert and join the side to extend the experiment of humanity.
At least the funding for investigation continues despite some ill considered policies that will destabilize society on many counts.
In November, 2002, James Hansen argued nicely in BAMS for a systematic construction of climate and weather data. With my beginnerâ��s mind, I concur with Hansen all counts; yet would suggest a more elaborate need to get ocean deep data seems paramount to knowing how hard GW has pushed on the climate flywheel (perhaps the oceanâ��s heat capacity has dampened observed metrics enough to through off some of the parameterizations of climate models?)…
The Bush cabal insiders apply their unique perceptual filters to their way of viewing the universe, and it blinds them. Any meaningful change to how industry is evolved, and how global mass media drives the general population to accept financial incentives and disincentives, and to ultimately affect value systems seems to indicate targeting the most influential on the planet, which modern terms is those who mentor capital markets and finance.
I have set my targets on the worldâ��s key decision-makers and lever pullers, and by taking studied cue from the persuasive industries, will try to appeal directly to them via more emotional mediated messages.
A close childhood friend is a chief of staff in the current US congress–the boss sits on the energy committee–recently I asked for an explication of climate change issues. What I got was right off the die of the Western Fuels Association, with an embodied resistance to any notion that science could reliably predict climate. The exchange was off the record, so I can’t use names.
Like any computer, what goes in is what goes out. George Bush et al is no different. The goodness of light on the issues at hand, in the right places, will be what can make a difference.
What is right or wrong doesn’t matter much in the now. What a group decides matters. Powers that be may get a group to agree on something that is wrong, for whatever. With 10-12 people about to sit down, I was not about to disagree with a group again. If I had I likely would have been removed again.
Pat (## 43, 47), I am advancing the two paragraphs beginning “second” in #46 as things to say to people like this. Most religious people believe in taking advice from medical doctors, even those that believe Adam was fashioned from clay. So similarly, however they believe the earth was formed should not detract from paying heed to the scientific consensus on AGW, any more than from past scientific warnings about impending volcanic eruptions, earthquake dangers etc.
Incidentally, a noted Jewish sage, Rabbi Gedalia Nadel, used this medical science argument as reason to believe that the world is older than as follows from a literal reading of Biblical texts.
Of course, the medical science argument will not be so strong with Christian Science followers.
“We — first of all, there is — the globe is warming. The fundamental debate: Is it manmade or natural. Put that aside.”
Do you claim that Bush accepts that the cause of global warming is anthropic or do you claim that he thinks the question is still open?
Can you show anywhere in this or other posting on Real Climate where it has been explicitly stated that Bush does not accept the globe is warming (and can others find quotes where he states his doubt that the globe is warming)? I ask for an explicit quote, not an imagined one.
Beyond that, many of us have read the NAS report, and it accepts that most of the climate change in the past 50 years is caused by human actions:
“The IPCC’s conclusion that most of the observed warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations accurately reflects the current thinking of the scientific community on this issue. The stated degree of confidence in the IPCC assessment is higher today than it was 10, or even 5 years ago, but uncertainty remains because of (1) the level of natural variability inherent in the climate system on time scales of decades to centuries, (2) the questionable ability of models to accurately simulate natural variability on those long time scales, and (3) the degree of confidence that can be placed on reconstructions of global mean temperature over the past millennium based on proxy evidence. Despite the uncertainties, there is general agreement that the observed warming is real and particularly strong within the past 20 years. Whether it is consistent with the change that would be expected in response to human activities is dependent upon what assumptions one makes about the time history of atmospheric concentrations of the various forcing agents, particularly aerosols.” http://fermat.nap.edu/html/climatechange/summary.html
You are reading way too much into his one sentence off the cuff remark. You know that there’s still debate as to how much of the warming to date is anthropogenic (50-130% or thereabouts) and how much is natural (-30 to 50% or thereabouts seems to be the consensus).
I think he was merely trying to allude to that and got his meaning mangled a bit. I don’t think he believes (based on previous speeches) that there is still any real uncertainty as to whether anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have any warming effect on climate.
I agree with #52 in general, it is one off the cuff remark. Unfortunately, there is not much else to go on with this Whitehouse.
But, if a might digress, it is not clear to me that what Bush says is a reasonable indicator of what Bush believes. Further, knowing what Bush believes does not tell us what Bush cares about. Knowing what he cares about does not tell us exactly what he plans to do.
So the focus needs to be on what is actually happening, and as far as I can tell, actions on global warming from this administration are statistically indistinguishable from zero.
It is intuitively obvious, even to the most casual of observers, what the group was trying to do in its post, as I explained in comment 36. I didn’t just fall off the cabbage truck. Did you?
And if you want to quote selectively from the 2001 NAS report, I can too. It also states that the link between human activities and the observed rise in global temperatures cannot be established “unequivocally”.
The larger point is that any recognition by anyone that there actually is a debate on climate change is anathema to the posters and commentators. But the fact that RealClimate exists is tantamount to acknowledging this debate. And what are those “Other Opinions” links all about, then, if not the debate? I welcome the discussions here and have learned a bit from this site, but I also take what I read here with a large grain of salt (as my next comment demonstrates).
Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, not to his own facts. If you look at the by now infamous Katrina video, you will see that the discussion concerned the possible “overtopping” of the levees, not their “breaching.” You don’t need to be an engineer to understand the difference. AP, which [mis]reported the original story, issued a correction stating that the President was not present when the issue of “breaching” levees was discussed. Not that you’ll care. But it important that this calumny not go unanswered.
Saint, if you must rely on “it is intuitively obvious”, then you clearly have no evidence of your intuition. I see no reason to accept your statment, and would recommend the same to everyone else. Basically, you came in blowing smoke, and when asked to show where the fire was, blew more smoke. This is as good an illustration of the gulf between political and scientific commentary. In the former case, “it is obvious to all” is common and accepted, even if it is not. In the second, you need to provide a reference.
You appear to think that because there is not “unequivocal” proof that a climate change is anthropic, that this issue is completely open. It is not. As the NAS (and IPCC) said five years ago, the evidence was strong, and the strength of the evidence has increased even further in the five years since. “unequivocal” proof is a level that is never even needed in courts, and certainly never found in the study of natural systems. For example, I would say that your failure to provide evidence for your intuition is very strong evidence that you are wrong, but it is not “unequivocal” proof.
To ALL other than Saint, please skip this OT reply unless you have some time to burn.
To Saint, my reference to Bush was in the context of a state of “readiness” as publicly asserted by Bush post Katrina–what was embarrassing about the vids for Bush was that he was warned, fairly severely in course: the word “ready” was not applicable–more like desperate need. It was reported that Bush did not ask one single question or make a comment during the videotaped briefing. I said nothing about levees breaching, nor topping. Speaking of the presidents saying nothing except ordering some cheeseburgers for lunch, there is a fine book:
For an inside look on George Bush administration, and some other players in the administration, one can look to the account of recused (fired) Treasurer, Paul O’Neil (The Price of Loyalty, Ron Suskind). While my derived and reasoned “opinions” vary far from those of O’Neil, the lack of diversity of thought and dialogue of this administration is notable from many accounts–thus, I take it as a factual recounting for now.
However, please keep the context of my example. I was merely trying to present the oft divergence of what is said by Bush, and what is doneâ�¦.about what is said, and what is done (or not done).
On my primary source accounts, our president is notable for his personal touch, for when it’s hot, in bringing lemonade to the press corp, cupped in his own hands, to the reporters that follow him–and for also staying on message and trying his best to keep his mouth otherwise shut.
For that matter, the Katrina storm, the 3 day hurricane forecast was so spot-on it was shocking; indeed, there was a notable documentary a few years prior that duly warned anyone who wanted to be “warned”. Leading me to believe that government is no where to look when it goes bad, those who did need help, such as the ignorant, or the infirm, suffered.
The majority of those who voted him the Bush machine in, for the most part, have lost the most financially. I have heard some extolling the virtues of their tax cut, and at least that is rational. For the examining mind, Bush is bad news, even for the top 1% ultra rich who got a keep a little more during his 8 years–because the Earth will answer to itself. In that account, we have all lost.
First, I stand by what I wrote – the evidence is in the original post. Anyone unfamiliar with the issue who read the group’s post would come away thinking that the President has denied that the growth in carbon dioxide concentrations was related to human activities. Otherwise why set up the straw man? I took the writers to task for leaving this false impression (among others). Despite your rather clumsy efforts at misdirection, you haven’t been able to counter my argument that the group’s post was unfair. Because you can’t.
Second, if you believe all of what appears on RealClimate passes for “scientific commentary”, then you really did just fall off the cabbage truck.
Third, you jump to conclusions. I am satisfied that human activities are responsible for at least some of the observed warming. But I’m open to opposing points of view, and I have a healthy respect for the uncertainties looking forward, which is apparently more than can be said for you (unequivocally!).
You really do need to get out of the echo chamber. The din in there must be awful.
[Response: I’ll make one final contribution, and then we can go back to more interesting topics. The text above was simply explaining why the attribution of climate change to human activities is now very strong – the first part is that the changes in atmospheric composition are unequivocally human-related, and the second is that our predictions of what those changes would produce are in fact very close to that observed. Mentioning both parts is simply dotting the ‘i’ of the argument, it is not a “strawman”. To all on this thread – please turn down the level of the rhetoric. -gavin]
It stil amazes me that people can think there is a worldwide conspiracy of climate scientists concocting alarming results to ensure a continued supply of funding. I think this slashdot commentary sums up the situation more accurately.
I mean seriously, if climate scientists were in it for the money, they would be in medical science, biotech or IT…
Comment by Anonymous Coward — 3 Apr 2006 @ 7:39 AM
there’s a big difference between claiming that a majority of the change to date may possibly be natural (ie at least 0.2C out of the 0.4-0.8C to date) and rejecting the link between greenhouse gases and warming.
You wrote about climate sensititvity just recently. If a doubling of CO2 gives 1.5 to 4.5 C, presumably an extra 100 PPM gives 0.3-0.9 C or thereabouts, and that would allow the warming to date to consist of 0.32 C natural warming and 0.31 C anthropogenic warming.
That’s what I take away from the IPCC summary. Warming to date isn’t yet sufficiently large that we can exclude with greater than 90% probability the possibility that at least 50% of the warming to date is due to natural causes, but this is entirely consistent with claiming that the sensitivity to doubled CO2 is 1.5 to 4.5 C with at least 90% probability.
The main way I think this whole question matters (how much is anthropogenic to date) is that it is related to the question of how large climate sensitivity is. Greater than 50% being natural to date would indicate that climate sensitivity had to be much closer to 1.5 C than 4.5C.
In my limitless partisan optimism I’d even like to think that that is probably what Bush was really trying to allude to.
if you look beyond the rhetoric and as you suggest at action the differences between countries and administrations don’t seem all that large to me. Clinton for example did not raise gasoline taxes or CAFE standards in his 8 years in office, US wind power was virtually static for most of the 90’s, while it’s gone from 2 GW to 10 GW between 2000 and now.
I know that Blair talks about climate change in fairly strong language, but that hasn’t gotten Labour to say reinstate the fuel price escalator abandonned in 2000.
It’s also quite difficult to work out how much CO2 emissions reductions are currently valued at. Subsidies for wind say or ethanol are not just given to reduce CO2 emissions. Taxes on petrol are there to raise revenue for the state, to reduce congestion and to cut carbon dioxide emissions. These different objectives are difficult to disentangle. I therefore find it difficult to objectively quantify how much the current US administration is willing to pay per tonne of C compared to say the current Labour government in the UK.
Far be it for me to take away any of your optimism, limitless though it may be! ;)
The Clinton administration is a long time ago in terms of the state of climate science and so what he did or did not do is remarkably irrelevant (even ignoring the antagonistic Congress and Senate that may not have facilitated any initiatives if he had tried). That said, I don’t particularily believe that a fully democrate gov’t today would be all that different except for rhetoric.
It doesn’t matter. This is not a partisan issue at all. Perhaps how to deal with it is, but facts are facts, they are not liberal or conservative. The science is conclusive, the situation is urgent. Do you have a leader in the Whitehouse or not?
I don’t agree that signing up to Kyoto and missing your targets is no better than thumbing your nose at it for explicitly self interested (though short sighted) reasons. (“the american way of life is not negotiable”, “we will not sacrifice a single american job”)
Explicitly and publically acknowledging the problem and its urgency is the essential first step.
while intentions can be good, the net effect of missing your targets is the same as not even trying. Remember only we care about intentions, physically the same thing has occured. Perhaps it should occur to you that the countries that signed up and missed their targets did so intentionally to keep the net economic damage down, and yet agreed to it publicly for good PR reasons and to get good press? What is the fundamental differance?
I like the typology of trend versus attribution skeptic. But is skeptic a proper term in this case? Skepticism, as associated with a scientific way of thinking, keeps an open mind and looks to falsify claims, in this case neither class of skeptics appears to be doing that. Instead, perhaps they could be more aptly dubbed “deniers.” Also, can the typology be extended. In this case, the term skeptic might more accurately apply to scientists or others who still challenge the link of climate change to certain impacts such as hurricanes? “Manifestation skeptics.”
Its not denialism so much as an over-reliance on statistics. You would not expect to be able to discern much if any human-caused warming in the stats. Because CO2-based warming is going to add Joules to the system, mostly be retaining more heat where the air is dry or where it would otherwise be dry.
So since CO2-based warming is small but cumulative it:
(a) Will not show up much if at all in the stats
(b) Could still be incredibly powerful over the very long haul.
They are merely being honest in terms of their interpretation of the statistics. But they have it wrong since the development of simple competing models and apriori reasoning should precede the interpretation of the statistics.
Comment by CO2-Lord Of Creation — 14 Apr 2006 @ 6:51 PM
We were talking about the HUMAN-INDUCED component of that warming that you see in the graphs Coby. The wiki graphs purport to show only actual warming and do not presume to filter out that which is human-induced. This is where you have come off the beam.
You shouldn’t in any case be quoting wiki for matters that have become contentious. Once it becomes a leftist cause then they will lock down the subject.
My position is that the human component is very small BUT CUMULATIVE (up to a point). The cumulative part is the most important issue. And something that our side often misses.
Comment by CO2-Lord Of Creation — 14 Apr 2006 @ 11:42 PM
Matt outlined in #63 that he thinks those who dispute the trend and attribution evidence are better termed ‘deniers’. I have agreed with this notion for some time now – except I’ve used the term ‘denialist’, as you have.
Matt’s term ‘Manifestation skeptics’ and my alternate suggestion ‘Impact skeptics’ was intended to apply to those ‘… who still challenge the link of climate change to certain impacts such as hurricanes’
Dano, do you think the evidence for specific impacts of AGW, such as increased hurricane intensity, is so solid that those who dispute it ought to be termed ‘denialist’?
For now, I think the term ‘denialist’ should be reserved for those who deny the warming trend, the attribution, or that AGW is more likely to be dangerous than not.