Very funny, but let’s not forget people keep smoking even when they repeatedly see messages telling them that it very seriously damages health. The same is likely to apply to behaviour contributing to GHG emissions.
More annoying is the fact that one of the two CEI ads refers to two papers in Science that the narrator says undermine the argument that sea level rise is resulting from climate change. But it turns out that both papers actually support the prevailing consensus on climate change. Of course, the CEI doesn’t actually expect anyone to check their “facts.” But I hope we can at least draw some attention to this problem. I detail the incongruencies at http://islandofdoubt.blogspot.com
Part of the problem is that quitting smoking is something very personal that an individual can do to reduce their risk of cancer or other health problems. But with pollution etc, however good I am about turning off the lights, only driving when necessary, recycling my newspapers etc, there’s hundreds of others who don’t give a proverbial. For example, because our bills are included in the rent, my housemates don’t see what’s wrong with having the heating on and the windows open, or leaving lights or appliances on all night, or running the dishwasher when it’s virtually empty.
How do we turn personal responsbility into real global change?
Thanks for this. The ads are hilarious, if you don’t care about your grandchildren. Forgive me, but I can’t resist taking this opportunity to note that this episode shows yet again that RC simply must not listen too closely to those who insist that RC should stick rigidly to science and science only. It is impossible to deal with the science, such as it is, in these two commercials without involving
* a sense of absurdity,
* a knowledge of parody (and of self-parody,
in the case of that first ad), and
* an awareness that not all discussions take
place in the earnest, straightforward —
and in my view, admirable — forum that
science can usually assume for itself
within science’s own domain.
RC’s fundamnental purpose is to go outside that domain to correct inaccuracy, and it seems to me that RC has done it well again here.
Comment by Steven T. Corneliussen — 18 May 2006 @ 9:46 AM
Let’s hope the Skeptics (in this case they’re the pro-science people, these labels get confusing) can come up with some podcasts/sound bites/videos from this conference:
Parody … I often wonder what the average annual mileage of an active climatologist might be. Anyway, thank you for emitting.
Comment by Wolfgang Flamme — 18 May 2006 @ 10:39 AM
Thank you for the clarity of this posting. It notes in simple and clear language, in one place, all the relevant points that would have given me (a lay-person) courage to stand up at a public meeting last year and challenge assurtions against global warming made by a local geologist who is regarded as a national authority on glaciers and polar icecaps.
With lots of charts and graphs of geological ages, real climate change in our life-time was totally dismised; and his own research in measuring the density of icecaps via core samples was used to discount the melting of glaciers. The combination of both points was to used to infer denial of global warming or the possibility of sea-level rise our low-lying region.
To say more re such reductionist scientific presentations necessarily enters political outcomes outside the parameters of this site…but if other scientists (there were many in that room) will not speak up for career reasons [the presentator not only chaired a major research funding body but had castigated the science behind a major report then attracting world headlines] then scientists must do more to assist laypeople in crafting acurate counter replies in language the layperson can master.
Comment by Janice Kent-Mackenzie — 18 May 2006 @ 11:23 AM
I do like that nice spin about CO2 though – “we breathe it out and plants breathe it in.”
Of course, we require water to live as well. On the other hand, drop yourself in seven feet of the stuff and you won’t last too long. You can also get very sick and die if you drink too much of it and wash all of the vital salts out of your body.
“With projected future rises in emissions of ‘Life!’ (though we like to call it ‘carbon dioxide’)”
Would make a good basis for a counter-ad!
Comment by Catherine Jansen — 18 May 2006 @ 11:36 AM
“CO2: We call it life”
RealClimate informs us of two ads being put out by the Onion Competitive Enterprise Institute. Punchline: “CO2: they call it pollution, we call it Life!”. If the CEI staff was locked in an airtight room, would they still call CO2…
“… Myron Ebell directs the Global Warming and International Environmental Policy project at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Cooler Heads Coalition, which was formed on May 6, 1997, “to dispel the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific and risk analysis.”
In March 2001, the nonprofit Clean Air Trust named Ebell its “clean air villain of the month,” citing his “ferocious lobbying charge to persuade President Bush to reverse his campaign pledge to control electric utility emissions of carbon dioxide.”
In September 2003 Greenpeace obtained evidence in the form of a
Those ads are repulsive. That ad about the guy’s kid about to get hit by the “climate train” is a good counter ad already. I’m sure someone knows the reference.
The counter ad could be along the lines of “too much of a good thing”. Or too much of a natural thing.
Start off with “Does the Oil industry think that you’re an idiot? Well, they’re sure treating you like one. They’re saying that CO2 emissions are good, so lots of them must be better. We all know what happens when there’s too much of a natural thing.”
Food and a fat guy having a heart attack. “We need food to live. But too much of it….”
Rain, then show a flood washing away homes and/or people “Rain helps the crops to grow. But too much of it…”
“CO2 emissions are the same. Plants breathe CO2 in, but too much CO2…..”
then show dying plants, hurricanes and flooded shorelines.
That can be used to counter those “an escalated greenhouse effect that we are not controlling is good” boneheads, too.
The Glaciers ad is simply lying about what the studies it cites say. I emailed the co-lead author of the Antarctic study to check, and he told me: “Our article does NOT in fact support this statement.” I give more details and other analysis here.
This idea about CO2 being “life” seems to draw on a reductionist Western mindset that “analyzes,” cuts things up (like my relative taking the clock apart to see how it works, but can’t put it back together).
What we need is more holistic thinking, maybe a Taoist balance of sorts. Yes, the life world needs CO2, and it needs many many other things, like a good climate.
Or, see how long someone would last in a pure CO2 chamber. I don’t even think plants would like that. I understand they need oxygen at night. If plants could have a say, wonder if they would choose more CO2 or the climate as is today?
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 18 May 2006 @ 5:50 PM
Re #21, when calculating GHGs emitted in producing ethanol don’t forget to figure in the energy needed to pump water for irrigation, and to ship bauxite from the rainforest floors to make tractors, or the loss of rainforests from bauxite mining. And all the paper work & the trees, including ag school. And we have to build those ships to ship the bauxite, then turn bauxite into aluminum. Then we need energy to run the farm machinery.
Supposing windmills pumped the water, and mules pulled the plows. Then it might be making headway in lowering GHGs.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 18 May 2006 @ 5:56 PM
Regarding corn-based ethanol and other alt. fuels’ lifecycle GHG emissions, take a look at a few papers on a University of California professor’s site:
Re #20: I wonder if there is any chance that the authors of those studies might be willing to issue a press release saying that they feel that the conclusions of their work have been misrepresented by the ads. If this occurs, this ad campaign could really backfire on CEI!
Re #22 (Lynn): It’s not drawing on a “reductionist Western mindset”- it’s just political advocacy which tries to emphasize the “good” things about CO2 while completely ignoring the “bad” aspects. Like someone pontificating on the benefits of fire for warmth and cooking, while in the meantime your house is burning down.
I can think of a few choice adjectives for that kind of mindset, but “reductionist Western” would not be one of them…
In short, “despite large differences in net energy, all studies show similar results in terms of more policy-relevant metrics: GHG emissions from ethanol made from conventionally grown corn can be slightly more or slightly less than from gasoline per unit of energy, but ethanol requires much less petroleum inputs. Ethanol produced from cellulosic material (switchgrass) reduces both GHGs and petroleum inputs substantially.”
The scary thing is, that as much as we can try and have an intellectual debate about this ridiculous and immoral campaign, there are about 200 million Americans who don’t know where Antarctica or Greenland are, let alone care, who will quite likely believe this rubbish. It is up to the other 100 million of you to sort it out and make sure that those of us fotunate enough not to live in the US don’t suffer because of your compatriate’s stupidity.
It would help any discussion regarding ethanol as an alternative, renewable fuel to include the words “ice-free Arctic Ocean” in the same sentence. Then, we could challenge each other to think and speak comprehensively and not simply talk about corn-based ethanol to make us believe we have an “answer” to oil addiction and a plan to recycle carbon.
Comment by John L. McCormick — 18 May 2006 @ 10:32 PM
Re: #27, “I like the ads. They add a little balance.”
You mean like FOX News’ “balance” as in “fair and balanced”, which really means completely unfair and horribly unbalanced.
This shows how much land is needed for a very small reduction in ghg emissions (5.4 million hectares of land in Europe grown under the most energy efficient biofuel crops could reduce Europe’s CO2 emissions by 0.3%). Although some studies use slightly different figures, you are basically looking at an argument as to whether 5.4 million hectares would lead to 0.1%, 0.3% or perhaps 0.8% less CO2 emissions. And that is an awful lot of land, with intensive agriculture being one of the driving forces for the loss of biodiversity, for nutrient overload of the seas (those dead zones of algae bloom), fresh water pollution and soil erosion.
The destruction of rainforests for biofuel production is well-documented, too, and is intensifying. Moreover, I have just seen FAO figures that total world grain output is down for the second year running, and world food stocks are at the lowest level for decades – due to ‘adverse weather conditions’ in prime growing areas (including in the US). It’s a worrying trend and should make us think twice before we decide to burn ever more of the shrinking harvest in cars!
Lester Brown suggests that farmers should be able to get financial rewards for putting wind mills on their farms – that would give you a great deal more energy from far less land use (all the land around the wind mill is still of use for wildlife or farming). That seems a far more sensible approach to me.
Comment by Almuth Ernsting — 19 May 2006 @ 4:28 AM
Re ethanol and other bio-fuels,
Having some experience with LCA’s (life cycle analyses), be it for plastics (bio-plastics need some 5 times more -fossil- energy to produce than “conventional” oil based plastics!), I have the impression that the draft LCA provided by Roger Smith in #24 gives the most accurate answers, because it includes very comprehensive estimates of the emissions impact of land use.
In general, only the transfer of wood cellulose into gas or methanol has a clear advantage in GHG emissions to fossil fuels, others (bio-diesel, ethanol from corn) give near equal to far more GHG emissions.
And what I have seldom read – until now – is the impact of land use itself, besides emissions. If we want to replace a huge part of fossil fuels by biofuels, that will need a lot of extra land. Although in part in combination with animal feed production, current land use is far from sufficient to replace much of the fossil fuel consumption. According to Z-facts, one need about 1.5 times the surface of the USA (including Alaska) growing corn to replace current US fossil fuel use…
That doen’t imply that we shouldn’t replace already a part of fossil fuel by bio-fuels, if it is only to reduce the dependence on not-so-stable countries for oil imports. But research into biofuel processes with a better GHG yield, and engines/processes with better energy yield should have a high priority (including subsidies)…
[Response: I am mostly in agreement with Ferdinand here with regard to the life-cycle costs and potential limits on biofuel. For GHG, reductionn ethanol from corn really looks like a non-starter. I disagree about biodiesel, though, since the Department of Energy studies show something like a 3.5:1 gain in energy output over fossil fuel input, and that's with soybeans. As my colleague Gidon Eshel pointed out to me, though, continued availability of water for irrigation may become an issue in some places. --raypierre]
In fact, we are, in about a billion years, at least according to Caldeira and Kasting (“The life span of the biosphere revisited, Nature, 360, 721, 1992), because the increased solar luminosity and ensuing global warming will cause the silicates to start reacting with the atmospheric CO2.
As for the question of attribution, let me remind that climatology is still not in a position to predict the global temperature sensitivity to changes in the radiative forcing (e.g., if you open the IPCC TAR, you’ll see that they often mention that the doubling CO2 temperature sensitivity is Tx2 ~ 1.5 to 4.5°C, i.e., uncertain to within a factor of 3!). In other words, we don’t really know what should be the anthropogenic effect. Moreover, there is no direct evidence, no smoking gun, which points to anthropogenic sources as the reason behind global warming. The only reason it is attributed to us humans is because we know GHGs should warm, we see warming, and there is nothing else to blame, but there is (e.g., look at this discussion).
In any case, the question of attribution (i.e., what caused the 20th century warming) is I think very minor, albeit interesting. The real important question is what is Earth’s climate sensitivity since this will determine if doubling the amount of CO2 (say, by 2100AD) will increase the temperature by 1 or by 5°C, and whether CO2 is just plant food or also a pollutant. (Personally, I believe the sensitivity is on the low side, about 1 to 1.5°C, simply because this is how Earth reacted in the past to changes in the radiative budget – See JGR-Space, 110, A08105, 2005 [abstract] [pdf]).
[Response: I'd be quite happy to take care of the problems of the next century now and deal with the problems of the next billion years a bit later. First things first. For that matter, you were quite happy to run roughshod over the basic scientific issues in your quest for a zippy one-liner. You didn't mention that in Caldeira and Kasting, if the Earth didn't go to a low CO2 state through enhanced silicate weathering, it would succumb to a runaway greenhouse instead. As I said, we'll deal with that when we come to it (if we get past the next century intact), but I'd bet it would be a lot easier to grow crops in greenhouses with enhanced CO2 than it would be to live under an 80 bar steam atmosphere at over 1000K. If you need extra CO2, you can cook it out of carbonate rocks for an energy source well under a percent of the available solar energy.
We've heard the story about cosmic rays before, and the criticisms discussed in this article still apply for the most part. I agree (as does IPCC) that there is uncertainty, as stated, in the climate sensitivity, but you are completely unjustified in your claim that the cosmic-ray correlation (for which there is still no sound physical basis or quantified mechanism) supports the lower end of the sensitivity range. Much more careful studies, in which the actual radiative forcing can be quantified, pretty much show that the paleoclimate record is compatible with the full IPCC range, with both the higher and lower ends appearing less probable. That's the situation we're stuck with for now. It's for the political process to decide whether to bet the store on the hope that the true sensitivity is at the low end, or to take seriously the consequences of the still very real possibility that the sensitivity is at the high end. It's interesting that you now say that attribution of 20th century warming is unimportant, just at a time when that begins to seem rather certain. Of course, scientists are always interested in data they can use to test their theories, and that is precisely why the 20th century record is of so much interest. --raypierre]
[Response: I'd like to add a little challenge to Niv. My burning question is: Can galactic cosmic rays (GCR) be the main driver for the global warming over the last 50 years - the time interval that is most relevant to us? I looked at the GCR record, but found no trend in it - e.g. see my paper in GRL and references therein (alternatively see here and here). What's more, the sunspot record does behave a bit funny in the 19th century - the solar cycle length really jumps between very high and low values (statistical outliers) - and the question is if one really can trust the series when going that far back in time (the observational network was much lower then than today). So, in my opinion, relying on very old evidence for relationship between solar forcing and climate carries a great deal of uncertainties . So when you bring in the question of attribution, and put the notion of GCR-driver next to an enhanced greenhouse gas effect, and can't even provide evidence for that the chain of events actually takes place, then I reckon you are on thin ice. Also, we know that the climate system has a tendency to respond non-linearly with various feedback mechanisms, so even when one factor play a role, you cannot rule out others just from the climate's response alone. For more in depth discussion on this, I can recommend my book Solar Activity and Earth's Climate in a science library near you. -rasmus]
p.s.: An astrophysicist who checked Shaviv’s claimed meteorite clusters found that they are indistinguishable from a random data set, see abstract.]
AS far as land use for biofuels, haven’t I read something about utilizing algae (perhaps CO2 eating algae feeding on combustion exhaust? At any rate, couldn’t algae farms be situated on non-productive land or even in multi-level urban urban builings using fiber optics to provide sunlight?
jhm – yes there are a couple of companies that are looking at using algae to capture CO2 from coal-fired power plants; GreenFuel Technologies being the one that comes to mind. AFAIK space isn’t an issue as the power plants typically have lots of land surrounding them because of point-of-impingement issues. Also the new designs use a series of tubes to circulate the gas and grow the algae and this greatly reduces the space required compared to the lagoon approach. The process comes full circle when the algae is used to produce ethanol and/or biodiesel…
As someone that has spent a fair amount of time looking at the GHG impacts of ethanol from a LCA perspective, I think everyone is in agreement that corn is the least beneficial, while sugarcane and cellulosic are the most promisisng. Beyond that there is a fair amount of disagreement about the magnitude of benefits for each process/feedstock and ultimately this comes down to differences of opinion about where the boundaries are set within the LCA framework and whether or not the assumptions for the input parameters are accurate (and I doubt DeLucchi’s work is the ‘final’ anwser since it depends heavily on LULUC assumptions which are themselves controversial). For those with library access, a good summary was published recently by the International Energy Association “Biofuels for Transport: An International Summary”.
Another common tactic in the debate is to frame the issue as an either/or between land-for-food and land-for-fuel. The fact is that most corn grown is the U.S. is feed-grade corn, not the kind people eat. Moreover, one of the byproducts of ehtanol production from corn is dried distiller grains — which is used as cattle feed. The only time IMHO where this argument actually holds water is in Brazil where ethanol from sugarcane displaces sugar from sugarcane; right now world sugar prices are at historic highs because more of the sugarcane crop is being diverted to produce ethanol.
Who here wants to suggest that we need more sugar :)?
Comment by Marlowe Johnson — 19 May 2006 @ 10:15 AM
>33 many other years differ on those two versions of the Hadley charts. It’s not just the last 2 years that differ, it’s many of them all the way through the sequence. The numbers may not be the same, need to check the cites.
“In the Arctic, temperatures were 1 to 8ÂºF colder than normal and precipitation was 100 to 150% of normal. The snow pack was deeper than normal in most of the region.”
“Sea ice coverage was above normal in the Bering Sea at the start of the month, and the ice then advanced southward as northerly gales blew over the area. By the 15th, there was near record sea ice coverage for mid April in the Bering Sea, and above normal ice in Bristol Bay. At month’s end, the extent of ice coverage was at record high levels in the Bering, and close to normal in Bristol Bay.”
It appears that their ice and cold has moved to Alaska.
Raypierre said: ” I disagree about biodiesel, though, since the Department of Energy studies show something like a 3.5:1 gain in energy output over fossil fuel input, and that’s with soybeans”
Left unsaid, is that soybeans are one of the poorest crops for growing vegetable oil, and is still more productive than Corn Ethanol. The Hedge plant Jatropha Curcas is native to the Americas, produces even more oil per acre/year, and uses far less water & fertilizer, and doesn’t need tilling and replanting.
Soy is a major player in the Farm subsidies racket.
We have not yet reached the point that occasional local cooler-than-normal months go away altogether.
More to the point, the Arctic sea ice extent responds to a temperature signal that averages over several years.
The rather dramatic shrinking of the boreal ice cap over the last few years is already at the limits of historical precedent. If the trend continues for a few more years, as appears plausible at least, it will both be a symptom and a cause of the climate of the Arctic experiencing a profound and precipitous climate change, bigger even than what we have now.
Another common tactic in the debate is to frame the issue as an either/or between land-for-food and land-for-fuel. The fact is that most corn grown is the U.S. is feed-grade corn, not the kind people eat.
Animals eat the corn, and we eat the animals, so it’s still land used for food.
And I’m a little concerned that folks who point out that a new type of fuel will withdraw land from food crops are engaging in a ‘tactic’.
Lastly, this discussion points out (to me anyway) how entrenched we are in this paradigm. In order to maintain our society just as it is (despite calls in other areas for ‘adaptation’), we have to withdraw vast tracts of land from food production, when we suspect that in 45 short years, there will be 3B more people on the planet, requiring ~1M ha more land for food.
First, as for Caldeira and Kasting, you are correct. It was a one liner, I just found the “Are we going to run out of CO2?” question funny and thought Caldeira and Kasting would be a nice anecdote. Obviously, the technology in a billion years would be sufficient to deal with any such problem (assuming our descendents will still exist…)
As for things on shorter time scales. The question of whether cosmic rays affect climate is very important. This is because of several reasons:
(1) If cosmic rays affect climate then you will have another possible explanation to the observed global warming, since overall, the cosmic ray flux (at high energies, those which are responsible for the tropospheric ionization) has increased over the 20th century (increased up to the 1940′s then again from the 1970′s).
[Response: Some say that the cosmic flux has to decrease in order to get a warming, the hypothesis being that they affect the nucleation of cloud condensation nuclei and thus the low cloud cover (personally, I'm still far from convinced!). So, how do you propose that the rays affect the climate (I must have missed something here - admittedly, I didn't look up all your links...), and why do you think that the other explanation is wrong and yours is true (they clearly cannot both be true). -rasmus]
(2) One can empirically estimate climate sensitivity on different time scales, by comparing actual temperature variations to estimated changes in the radiation budget. This can be done on time scales ranging from the 11-yr solar cycle to the Phanerozoic as a whole. The bottom line is that if the radiative forcing of the cosmic-ray flux / climate link is valid, then a sensitivity of Tx2 ~ 1-1.5° is obtained (and about 2°C if there is no cosmic ray flux climate link, i.e., still relatively low – this is all explained in the linked paper I sent above: [abstract] [pdf]).
[Response: weaker cosmic ray flux -> fewer low clouds -> decrease in sunlight reflected back to space), then you need to explain why the night temperatures appear to increase faster then day temperatures (for any amplification mechanism involving te albedo, you'd expect the opposite, as there is no sunlight to reflect on the dark side of the planet...). My understanding is that there is no evidence for cosmic rays playing a role in the recent global warming. Please explain if you can offer further insight...-rasmus]
As for the validity of the cosmic ray flux, the Rahmstorf et al. critique on the Milky Way spiral arms / ice-age epoch work on did not contain any valid points (see http://www.sciencebits.com/ClimateDebate), this is contrary to the Royer et al. critique which did contain an interesting point. It ended up changing the limit Jan Veizer and I could impose (from Tx2 < 1°C, to about 1-1.5°C), but it did not invalidate the apparent role that cosmic rays appear to play on the multi-million year climate variability).
As for the evidence, there are by now many results pointing towards the cosmic ray climate link. Just to name a few:
- Clear correlation between low altitude cloud cover and cosmic ray flux over the past 2 solar cycles. Incidentally, if you look at this correlation, you will see asymmetric peaks both in the cosmic ray flux and the cloud cover – one is sharp and the other is wide. This is interesting because the cosmic ray flux is the only solar activity related variable that is sensitive to the fact that the cycle is really 22 years (this is because the cosmic rays, which are positively charged, notice the polarity of the solar magnetic field). Take a look at figure 3 at this summary.
- The latitudinal dependence of the relative change in the cloud cover over the solar cycle is proportional to latitudinal dependence of the change in atmospheric ion density variations (which arise from cosmic ray flux variations), see Usoskin et al. , GRL 31, L16109, (2004).
- On the multi-million year time scale, passages through the spiral arms of the milky way correlate with climate on earth (e.g., this discussion), and on longer time scale, glacial activity correlates with star formation in the milky way.
- The aforementioned empirical determinations of climate sensitivity are much more consistent with each other if the contribution of the cosmic ray flux / cloud cover effect is included in the radiation budget.
- As for the physical mechanism, there is growing understanding that the link is through the role played by charge in growing the condensation nuclei. In particular, there are interesting results by the group of Frank Arnold in Heidelberg, who showed that charged clusters play an important role, or results by Harrison and Aplin who showed that ions formed by cosmic rays can make small particles, condensation nuclei. The only thing left is to show that the small condensation nuclei indeed grow to become larger cloud condensation nuclei (as opposed for example, to being scavanged by large particles).
[Response: See my comments a few paragraphs further up. -rasmus]
- Theoretical calculations by Yu, have demonstrated why this link would be primarily with low altitude clouds.
The bottom line is that the is a growing body of evidence which links cosmic rays with cloud cover and climate, I wouldn’t dismiss it that easily.
[Response: It's funny that I seeing the growing body of evidence going the other way. There is a link to the paper by Usoskin et al. here. Personally, I did not find the paper very convincing. Take a few examples: Look at the correlations in their Fig. 3 - how do you think that such low correlations can produce as high zonal mean values as in Fig. 2? And, what signifcance level is 'significance level >68%'? Not very high, I think! These are only a couple of examples (more about this paper in Solar Activity and Earth's Climate in a science library near you...). -rasmus]
Reading through these comments is enouth to give you some interesting – and perhaps sad – thoughts. What initially strikes me is that such Ads and Science do not go together! The objective of these TV-Ads, as I see them, is to indoctinate, and furthermore putting such a spin on it inhibits critical thinking. Such phenomena used to be described in a visionary book called ’1984′.
I can also recommend a post called ‘Communicating climate change’ by Simon Retallack, on a website called openDemocray.org (http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-climate_change_debate/ankelohe_3550.jsp). I think it’s appropriate to bring this up here, despite openDemocracy.org’s general focus on politics. This piece offers some food for thought and offers a gloomy message, although subtle (because there may be some truth in it?). I wonder if the only way to get the message through is through public demonstration (Schools, museums, academic societies, home kits, etc) – show that CO2 physically absorbs infra red light, show how this may lead to a warming when heat doesn’t escape as it would without, and that this effect may explain why Venus has higher surface temperature (an observation does not appear to be consistent with the arguement that CO2 only has a weak effect once the CO” makes the atmosphere opaque to infra red light).
Actually it’s land for food and fuel not either/or. My point is not so much whether corn-based ethanol “a good idea” or not as such, but rather that the debate over it much like AGW is opportunistically misframed by both sides. Proponents in the U.S. like to use the fuel-of-the-future-GHG-friendly while detractors use the fuel-instead-food-will-starve-the-world frame. Either frame is pretty dishonest IMHO.
As I said earlier, I prefer the other types of ethanol from a GHG perspective (especially cellulosic) but there are a host of other reasons to promote ethanol-use in any form including energy security, agricultural support, sticking it to the oil companies :), etc.
Also, I think it’s a bit disingenuous to start talking about all the land we would need to replace ALL the gasoline we consume. Its a tactic that’s supposed to demonstrate how impractical biofules are. But last time I checked most vehicles run on ethanol up to 10% and need to be modified to run on E85, so it’s unlikely that total replacement will or even should happen anytime soon. Biodiesel is similarly limited to blends of 2-10% because of cold weather issues (put your olive oil in the fridge and you’ll see what I mean).
The point is that its not really useful to talk about biofuels as an all-or-nothing replacement — they’re simply one of many solutions out there.
Comment by Marlowe Johnson — 19 May 2006 @ 4:44 PM
With John Stossel and Micheal Chrichton as the “special guests” I don’t hold out a lot of hope for reason (or at least truth) prevailing at this event.
In your reply, you raise an interesting point, which has a perfectly good explanation.
In your GRL, you have shown that the warming over the past 30 years does not correlate with the solar proxies (sunspots, 10.7cm, solar cycle length) or galactic cosmic ray flux (CLIMAX neutron monitor data). Basically, the increased solar activity could explain the warming up to the 1940′s but it cannot do a good job in explaining the warming from the 1970′s.
There are two crucial points, however:
a) I never said that increased solar activity – reduced cosmic rays flux – reduced low altitude cloud cover is the only climate driver. As best as I can estimate, cosmic rays explain almost all the warming until the 1940′s, and a large fraction of the warming from the 1970′s, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some anthropogenic contribution over the past century. There could very well be if the anthropogenic aerosols effects are smaller than the GHGs. In fact, in such a case there should be unless the sensitivity is ridiculously small, which it isn’t (I am not one of those people who see things in black or white only).
b) None of the proxies you use in your paper captures the behavior of the high energy cosmic rays which are those responsible for low altitude ionization (typically 10-20 GeV, these would be the energies which could affect cloud condensation nuclei formation). In your low energy proxies, there is no significant increase from the 1970′s (which is why you claim that CRs cannot explain much of the warming in the 20th century). If however, you look at ion chamber data (which is sensitive to notably higher energies) you can clearly see a rise up to the 1950′s (from the start of the ion chamber data in the 1930′s), a decrease to the 70′s and then a significant increase afterwards. That is, cosmic rays can adequately explain the temperature increase, counter to your claims. (To see these trends, take a look at fig. 6 in here). Apparently, the solar modulation of the cosmic ray flux is not exactly the same at different energies, and the rise from the 1970′s is one example.
So, the bottom line is that cosmic rays can do a good job in explaining the temperature increase if you look at the right energies. Unfortunately, we don’t have ion chamber data going back before the 1930′s, so any choice would have less correlation with the actual atmospheric ionization, though some correlations should obviously exist. The best proxy going back would be 7Be and 14C which are sensitive to of order 1GeV cosmic rays, but as you see from comparison with ion chamber data, it is not the best proxy. As for the solar cycle length, I would be very careful in using it, since no one has any idea why it should be correlated with high energy cosmic ray flux variations in the first place.
[Response:Could you please explain why some (eg Svensmark) claim that a decrease in the cosmic rays flux produces a warming, while you say its an increase (since 1970)? If there is a positive trend in the low altitude ionisation, that would according to Svensmark lead to more low clouds (higher albedo -> cooling) while a decrease in low altitude ionisation would lead to less clouds (lower albedo -> warming). Also, the level of solar activity is purported to be negatively correlated with the cosmic ray flux, so a the increase in the solar activity before 1940 would expect to reduce the cosmic rays since the heliosphere is thought to shield our solar system against galactic cosmic rays, and that the heliosphere is affected by the solar wind 'dragging' with it the solar magnetic fields. As far as I know the cosmic rays you have looked at also have their source outside our solar system (galactic spiral arms). Just out of curiosity, what is the theory behind how the high-energy particles different behaviour to those eg measured by Climax? -rasmus]
The issue of decrase-increase resolves itself from figure 6 which was referred to: there seems to have been a decrease, even in the high energy-energy rays (y-axis is reversed). It's interesting that high-energy particles, which would presumably(?) be less affected by the shielding of the Heliosphere (magnetic fields), would have a more marked decrease here. There are of course factors other than solar activity that could play a role, and furthermore, there are, according to Wikipedia, some important aspects of the high(er) energies not quite fully understood. In this case, one could look at other evidence, since it has been proposed that the cosmic rays affect the low clouds. The question whether there has been any trend in the amount of low clouds probably remains inconlusive due to uncertainties in the data, but there has been some papers suggesting an increase (contrary to what a reduction of cosmic rays would give, if the mechanism is true) in the global mean low clouds over the oceans (3.6% between 1952 and 1995). There are other complicating factors also, such as pollution from ship traffic and the so-called global dimming (see several posts here on RC), which would be expected to counter-act and hypothetical decrease in low-level cloudiness.]
[shaviv:] (1) If cosmic rays affect climate then you will have another possible explanation to the observed global warming, since overall, the cosmic ray flux (at high energies, those which are responsible for the tropospheric ionization) has increased over the 20th century (increased up to the 1940′s then again from the 1970′s).
[Response by rasmus:] Some say that the cosmic flux has to decrease in order to get a warming, the hypothesis being that they affect the nucleation of cloud condensation nuclei and thus the low cloud cover (personally, I’m still far from convinced!). So, how do you propose that the rays affect the climate (I must have missed something here – adittedly, I didn’t look up all your links…), and why do you think that theother explanation is wrong and yous is true (they clearly cannot both be true). -rasmus
Obviously, it was a typo on my behalf, it should have been:
Overall, the cosmic ray flux decreased over the 20th century (the solar activity increased).
We can be fairly confident that the sensitivity on ~11-year time scales is very low – otherwise we would not have been having this discussion, as a strong link surely would have been as well-established as the link between the solar cycle and the Aurora. I think that it is a challenge to then explain why the sensitivity for time scales of 20–50 years would be so much higher…
You furthermore need to explain why there should be an abrupt change in the sensitivity between the time scales of ~11 years and 20-50 years.
As far as I understand, different climate models (or empirical determinations) give that the climate response to variations over 11-yrs is typically 0.33-0.68 of the centennial scale. (e.g., Cubasch et al. 1997, Rind et al., 1999, Waple et al. 2002), and the centennial scale is typically damped by a factor of 0.7-0.75 (IPCC report) relative to the equilibrium response. i.e., we expect the 11-yr solar cycle to be damped by something like 0.35 +/- 0.15 of the equilibrium response.
Over the solar cycle, there is a global temperature variation of 0.1 +/- 0.02 deg, which is driven by a flux variation of 0.35 W/m^2 and an additional 1.0+/-0.4 W/m2 from the cosmic ray/cloud cover variations if the link is real. If the cosmic ray flux climate link is not real, then climate sensitivity is high, and then we have to worry about global warming (but the link is real ;-) of course…)
Combining the numbers give a sensitivity of Tx2 ~ 1 deg if the cosmic ray flux climate link is real, and 3.5 deg if driven only by luminosity variations.
So I don’t see any problem. If the cosmic ray flux / climate link is real, on different time scales we see the proper responses, damped as climatologists think those time scale should be damped.
Finally, if you think that the cosmic rays affect the climate though modulating the low cloud cover and hence the albedo (stronger solar activity -> weaker cosmic ray flux -> fewer low clouds -> decrease in sunlight reflected back to space), then you need to explain why the night temperatures appear to increase faster then day temperatures (for any amplification mechanism involving te albedo, you’d expect the opposite, as there is no sunlight to reflect on the dark side of the planet…). My understanding is that there is no evidence for cosmic rays playing a role in the recent global warming. Please explain if you can offer further insight…-rasmus]
As you mentioned above, the climate system behaves non-linearly, so detailed responses are clearly hard to predict. But it is not hard to think of possible solutions. e.g., the increased global temperature imply more water vapor in the atmosphere. As such, you will necessarily have a smaller diurnal variation, this would force the night temperature to appear to increase faster than the day temperature. Perhaps this effect is more important for the diurnal temperature variations than the fact that some oceanic regions have less cloud cover (which is where the cosmic ray flux climate link would be most effective). Since no one calculated this, it is cannot be used to prove or rule out anything. Though you do raise an interesting point.
[Response: Yes, we can agree that this aspect is interesting. What you in essence say, is that the negative trend in the diurnal temperature range can be explained by an increased greenhouse effect -be it water vapour or CO2 (probably both). It's something you can see in climate model simulations with increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations. You are right, that nobody probably hasn't got their hands dirty and looked into the detailed response of what a 'cosmic ray effect' would be like, so we cannot yet rule out that the effect would (surprisingly) be similar. I propose that someone does the computations. But I'm still not convinced that a positive trend in the cosmic ray flux will lead to a warming, and I'm baffled by the different behaviour you describe of the high-energy particles and those with somewhat lower (still sufficiently high to penetrate earth's magnetic field) energy. By the way, do those high-energy rays cause Aurora? -rasmus]
“… The good news, according to an ongoing series of surveys by the National Science Board, is that the proportion of U.S. adults who are considered scientifically literate has doubled since 1979. The bad news is that it is now 17%. This survey program, directed by Jon D. Miller of Northwestern University, is discussed by Liza Gross in PLoS Biology.”
Average US meat diet = 1.1 gallons of oil/day = 401 gallons/year
Lacto-ovo vegetarian = .83 gallons of oil/day = 303 gallons/year (25% reduction over meat diet)
Vegan vegetarian = .60 gallons of oil/day = 219 gallons/year (45% drop over meat diet)
Average US meat diet requires 1.2 acres land
Lacto-ovo vegetarian diet requires .85 acres of land
Vegan vegetarian diet requires .61 acres of land
(All figures above from Dr. David Pimentel, Cornell University)
According to a 23-year study by the Rodale Institue, an organic acre of farmland sequesters about 3670 pounds of CO2 per year. Organic farming also uses about 63 percent less fossil fuel inputs for production than conventional farming, according to Pimentel.
Thus: An organic vegetarian requires only .85 acres of land and that acre sequesters up to 3119 pounds of CO2 per year. The nonorganic vegetarian diet requires 303 gallons of oil per year. So 303 gallons times 22 pounds of CO2 per gallon minus .85 acres of land times 3670 pounds of sequestered CO2 = 3546.5 pounds of CO2 which equals 161 gallons of oil.
Thus, an organic lacto-ovo vegetarian diet generates 60 percent less C02 (161 gallons of oil/year) than a average meat-based non-organic diet (401 gallons of oil/year).
Using the same data, the CO2 reduction for a vegan organic diet is 70 percent (117 gallons of oil/year).
[Response:It's funny that I seeing the growing body of evidence going the other way. There is a link to the paper by Usoskin et al. here. Personally, I did not find the paper very convincing...
Not all evidence is always at a 3 sigma level. The key point is that to within the level of the noise (and the climate system has a lot of noise), the system behaves as you expect it to. Often I hear people claim that you should see a huge effect at polar regions, and a very small one in tropical regions because of Earth’s magnetic field. This paper demonstrates that the polar-equatorial effect should not be large, but still detectable, and it is indeed detected (or “consistent with theory”, you choose the wording).
As for the particular graph, it is hard to actually asses the statistical significance. How significant is the overall result of many bins each one significant at 68%? much higher than 68% of course.
Niv says he spent hours on the issue. Hours mind you.
If you would have really taken a careful look, you would have seen that
a) My name is Nir and not Niv.
b) That I I have been working and publishing in various related topics for at least 5 years, i.e., hours is of course a figure of speech (perhaps 2000 hours or more if you like). It is easy to make snide remarks when there is nothing smart to say. If you want to have a scientific debate like rasmus or raypierre, go ahead, this is more than legitimate, but such remarks are totally pointless.
Ah. Yes, I understand where you are coming from. I agree.
RE 57 (Percival):
Your Rodale fossil fuel inputs is a key.
What sector will reduce fossil fuel use first? That is: transportation, materials, or agriculture? All three are heavily dependent upon fossil fuel inputs. The agriculture sector could make heavy wins in the reduction department (giving us more time in other sectors) if our economy and agriculture wasn’t set up to transport agricultural goods long distances.
Here’s the thing I don’t get: As I understand it (I’m not a lawyer) most of the famous product liability cases that come to mind – tobacco, asbestos, Vioxx – involved huge awards that were made not because the product was dangerous, but because the manufacturers had evidence that the product was dangerous, and suppressed the evidence and lied about it (the breast implant case is an exception, but usually science wins). If that’s true, it makes no sense for the oil company executives to do this; if they tell the truth, encourage people to use less oil, and use some of their profits to invest in carbon-neutral energy production, they will almost certainly come out ahead in the long run, and probably even in the short run (After all, most of us can’t stop using oil even if we want to). Are these people just plain stupid, or am I missing something?
In reponse to 58′s castigation of Mark York, on Nir’s website (http://www.sciencebits.com/CO2orSolar) he tars the IPCC’s work as that of scientsts “who support Kyoto,” as if they started with a political agenda (the IPCC predates Kyoto, FYI) and then pointed their fingers at CO2 and came up with scientific reasons to justify it. If that’s not an unscientific line of reasoning, I don’t know what is. What if we flipped this logic to instead of everyone involved with the IPCC, some individual named Nir decided he didn’t like Kyoto and wanted to justify his opposition by blaming global warming on something other than greenhouse gases? Which scenario seems more likely?
I took the quote at face value and don’t need to requote all of the references here by bonafide experts that you are trying to “correct” to support my position. Appeal to authority tells me it is you that needs to prove your case not I. I did miss your name though, and realized it after it was too late. Same thing happened with my Wall Street Journal comment on education today, so copyediting is lagging today. I bet they won’t correct it either.
Nir, there is nothing wrong with thinking about possible impacts of cosmic rays on climate. Who knows, someday, something might come of it. We sure could use some new ideas about the Little Ice Age, since it’s hard to do that with straight solar effects, even allowing for ozone feedbacks and spectral variations.
Where your whole line of thinking is completely off the wall is that you fail to grasp that the CO2 effects on climate have a lot more documented physics behind them than your cosmic ray idea. We can compute the radiative forcing from CO2 to high accuracy, we can compute the radiative effects of water vapor to high accuracy, we know a great deal about how water vapor changes in conjunction with climate, and we even know a fair amount about clouds. Clouds are the weak link in our predictions, but clouds are only a modifying influence on CO2 induced climate change. For you they are the whole story, since there’s no prayer of a chance of a significant cosmic ray effect except through modulation of clouds.
You write as if you think that the CO2 theory had behind it only the vague correlations between ill-constrained proxies and temperature that your cosmic ray idea rests on. That’s simply not the case. In order to make a case that cosmic rays are a big part of the story in the 20th century you not only need to quantify the effect of cosmic rays far more than anybody has been able to, but you also need to show why the known physical mechanisms linking CO2 to warming fail. All you really have right now are some unquantified speculations about how cosmic rays might affect clouds, plus a correlation between one low frequency signal (cosmic rays) and another (temperature). Naturally, if you throw another low frequency signal into the mix, you can improve correlations. That proves little or nothing.
If you really think you can model clouds well enough to say what the cosmic ray influence translates into in terms of W/m**2, then that’s great news. If you can model clouds that well, you should put your cloud model into one of the IPCC GCMs. That will eliminate most of the uncertainty in the warming forecast and you’ll become famous! Meanwhile, you ought to take your toys away and not mutter nonsense about how you can call 20th century warming from the vasty deep through the miraculous medium of cosmic rays — not until you can model the effects on clouds well enough to tell us what the radiative forcing is. Right now, so far as I can tell, you can’t even tell us what the sign of the effect is from first principles. (For starters, lets think about the question of why cosmic rays should affect low clouds when there are already plenty of nuclei around at low levels. I know all about the possibilities lurking in the small-cluster barrier, but that’s a long,long ways away from an answer).
The problem is that current biofuel paper models do not take into account the differing carbon downpayment for individual crops when land is found for them.
In the case of soya and oil palm, these flourish in hot, wet conditions, which is why large areas of rainforest are being turned over to them. This involves a huge carbon discharge as all this vegetation is cleared. The progress of oil palm plantations in Indonesia is also linked to the drainage of swamp forests, leading to the peat fires that have caused up to 40% as much CO2 discharge as all fossil fuel burning in some years (see here).
WWF Brazil (see here) recently wrote to an English newspaper to warn of the carbon cost of deforestation partly driven by demand for soya.
It seems likely that the effect of such carbon downpayments is to narrow, not widen, the window of opportunity to avert dangerous climate change (see here), overriding the effect of savings in mineral diesel.
The oil plant Jatropha can be grown in more arid tropical conditions, and so offers brighter opportunities. However, a danger with all tropical agriculture is that nitrogen fertilizers are prone to emitting more N2O (an extremely potent GHG) in these conditions, but who will monitor against more damaging use of nitrates?
Reportedly, African agriculture is currently suffering from depleted soils (see here).
Finally may I say how much I value this site and you guys’ work, we are all on the same side!
Like their disinformative creationist brethern, AGW deniers have been very fond (and adept) at throwing individual comments of previous uncertainty back in the faces of climate scientists and implying that it’s still all uncertainty. I hope people have been keeping track. Now that they are acknowledging that yes, there is ‘some GW caused by people’, someone ought to point out all their previous definitive statements that it’s all a bunch of hooey.
The German news magazine Der Spiegel rightly notes that the CEI ads “can hardly be topped in absurdity”. I find the scare-tactics about the lights going out when we stop the rise in CO2 concentration particularly distasteful. If the US cuts their per capita emissions by half, they will be at the level of European countries. I can reassure the CEI people that here in Europe we do have electric light, and our children do go to school. And can someone perhaps inform the Competitive Enterprise Institute that a competitive enterprise is an efficient enterprise, not a wasteful one?
Katherine Ellison’s NY Times op-ed piece today says, “only someone who has been hiding under a rock would need to see the new Al Gore movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” to learn that global warming is real.”
I’ve heard this from others but not witnessed it all that dramatically myself. Is this the experience of list readers, that Chricton and Inhofe and Will and a few others excepted, Americans pretty much know that climate change is happening, is serious, and that we have to act?
Crichton thinks it has become common knowledge and his position is we don’t know enough to know anything, but he deliberately manipulated the facts the way they all do to come to that false conclusion.
#69, Raypierre, I heard about cosmic ray effects for quite some time, and they fail at the cosmic scale, if there is such a thing on clouds, it would be universal, NH SH alike, yet there isn’t very much similarities between NH and SH temperature and cloud anomalies, often one is greater than the other. Cosmic scale events require world wide similarities which I have not noticed…
Disputing what’s known to be happening is dishonest. However, when government employees are being told by their supervisors … DO NOT acknowledge that climate change and global warming are happening … they follow instructions and do as they’re told, even if climate change obviously affects their duties (hydrologic modeling and flood prediction). Is doing what they’re told being dishonest? Can anyone blame them?
Comment by Michael T. Neuman — 20 May 2006 @ 2:17 PM
Re #76: Karen, that doesn’t seem off-topic to me…
Locally, I’ll opine that people know that climate change is happening, but that the high cost of petro-fuels seems much more serious that climate change. Some action is occuring, but mostly to avoid paying for fuel.
Comment by David B. Benson — 20 May 2006 @ 2:36 PM
With regard to comment 76 from Karen Street and 75 from Stefan. There is a curious nexus here. On the one hand, those of us who are convinced that greenhouse gas emissions are a problem, know that many in the US, Canada, Australia and elsewhere (including a few in Europe) do not accept this and there is a powerful economic and political lobby who actively support denial. There is an organized push back to Al Gore’s presentation on climate change which seeks to use his comments to show that concern with climate change is alarmism:
Q: “There’s a lot of debate right now over the best way to communicate about global warming and get people motivated. Do you scare people or give them hope? What’s the right mix?
A. [Gore]: I think the answer to that depends on where your audience’s head is. In the United States of America, unfortunately we still live in a bubble of unreality. And the Category 5 denial is an enormous obstacle to any discussion of solutions. Nobody is interested in solutions if they don’t think there’s a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.”
Discussions about this have broken out on Deltoid http://tinyurl.com/jzr8u and Prometheus http://tinyurl.com/n9xas. Roger Pielke’s POV is the same as Katherine Ellison’s, which is curious, since he is a policy studies person who repeatedly states that he accepts the reality of anthropic climate change:
“This is a wasted effort for a number of reasons. First, as we’ve documented here many times (e.g., here and here) while he public does not have a deep grasp of the technical details of global warming, it does have an overwhelming awareness of the issue. Not only is there awareness, but an overwhelming majority already favor action. Public education to achieve awareness and support for action that already exist will be efforts wasted on the convinced”
Since we all know that there is a huge lobbying and public affairs effort funded by industry and right wing groups that are actively engaged in trying to convince people that there is no problem associated with global climate change, the only sane conclusion one can reach is that those claiming the everyone already knows that there is a problem so there is no need to press the point, are themselves willing, although subtle, participants in the effort to prevent universal acknowledgement and action.
With regards to you comment (in post #65), here is my input:
We can compute the radiative forcing from CO2 to high accuracy,
I totally agree.
we can compute the radiative effects of water vapor to high accuracy, we know a great deal about how water vapor changes in conjunction with climate,
I totally agree.
and we even know a fair amount about clouds. Clouds are the weak link in our predictions, but clouds are only a modifying influence on CO2 induced climate change.
Allow me to disagree. We may know a fair amount about clouds but we know very little about how to quantify their climatic effect. There is an interesting paper by Cess et al. in Nature (I think 1990 +/- 1 yr) which showed that the biggest uncertainty in the determination of climate sensitivity in GCMs is the recipe used for cloud cover. In models where the cloud cover feedback is more pronounced, you get a small sensitivity (e.g., CO2 doubling temperature of 1.5) or a high sensitivity (e.g., 4.5 deg) if the cloud cover feedback is small. So, the “modifying influence of clouds” is in fact paramount for the prediction of the temperature effect of CO2 or any climate driver, if the prediction is made using numerical modeling.
For you they are the whole story, since there’s no prayer of a chance of a significant cosmic ray effect except through modulation of clouds.
Yes, but that is not a problem. All the evidence points towards cloud cover variations.
You write as if you think that the CO2 theory had behind it only the vague correlations between ill-constrained proxies and temperature that your cosmic ray idea rests on. That’s simply not the case.
The evidence is supposedly summarized in chapter 12 of the TAR. I read it carefully, and wasn’t convinced. Yes, there is clear evidence that the global temperature increased. But the evidence that it is anthropogenic is shaky. It basically rests on modeling which shows that if you include anthropogenic GHGs, you get consistent signatures (e.g., relative temperature changes between the troposphere/stratosphere and northern/southern hemispheres), on the fact that “internal variability” cannot explain the temperature rise, and on the assumption that there are no other plausible mechanisms to explain the warming (which there isn’t if you disregard the solar/cosmic-ray/climate link). However, there is no smoking gun to which you can say, “Aha! it is necessarily CO2″. If you think otherwise, give me one good example of a CO2 signature in global warming.
With cosmic rays, the story is different. The body of evidence may not be as broad as the evidence for global warming, or as elaborate as the numerical modeling carried out for GHGs. No GCM was run to see if changing cloud cover due to cosmic ray flux variations can explain the apparent observational signatures. For one, no one knows exactly how the cloud cover changes (i.e., how to parameterize the cosmic ray flux effect on clouds). However, unlike CO2, cosmic rays have unique signatures. For example, the low altitude cloud cover varies in sync with the cosmic ray flux. Since it is not a monotonic function like the increase of CO2, it is a rather unique signature. And of course, there are variations in the cosmic ray flux over the past billion years which correlate well with spiral arm passages. Of course, you like to wave Rahmstorf et al’s critique about statistical significance (to which you can read the rebuttal and all that). But the key point for me, which you don’t know, is that once I hit upon the idea and started checking it out, every single test I devised for it worked. I cannot quantify this success, but the way I see it, it is nothing less than remarkable.
For example, when I first sent the idea for publication, it was before I had a reconstruction of the cosmic ray flux (just astronomical vs. geological data), everything looked nice and consistent (I also had no idea about any implications to climate sensitivity and all that). Then, I realized that the cosmic ray flux could perhaps be reconstructed using the meteoritic data. At first I thought I would have to play with it (smooth, filter etc), but lo and behold, I could see with the unaided eye that the cosmic ray flux is periodic with a 145 Million year period and the right phase. When I saw that, my jaw simply fell. Never in my wildest dream did something agree so well like that. Everything else I checked afterwards agreed as well. So as you see, I have my own very good reasons to believe cosmic rays affect climate.
As for CO2, If you would have asked me 10 years ago, I would have said that global warming is anthropogenic, and as an environmentalist (yes I am very much one), I would have said that something like Kyoto is a must, as is other things like researching fusion. But from my point of view, after reading the literature over and over, I just saw that things don’t add up. I fail to see the smoking gun proving it is CO2, while everything I stumble upon from my point of view, keeps pointing towards cosmic rays and towards the fact that the sensitivity is low (close to a black body Earth).
In order to make a case that cosmic rays are a big part of the story in the 20th century you not only need to quantify the effect of cosmic rays far more than anybody has been able to,
Incorrect. Simply look at ion chamber data, which is of high energy cosmic rays, and you will see the 20th century temperature trend in the data. The problem of quantifying the effect over the 20th century is actually easy if you know what you are looking for (i.e., the energies which cause the atmospheric ionization).
but you also need to show why the known physical mechanisms linking CO2 to warming fail.
Who said they fail? CO2 causes warming. The problem is that given climate models cannot predict the sensitivity to within a factor of 3 or so, it is impossible to quantify the role played by GHGs. All I have to show then is that climate sensitivity is on the low side, and empirical evidence demonstrate just that (see my JGR paper mentioned above), in fact, the empirical evidence becomes self consistent if you add the cosmic ray flux forcing, leading to a 1-1.5 deg temperature sensitivity.
All you really have right now are some unquantified speculations about how cosmic rays might affect clouds,
Nope, they are quantified. e.g., read the JGR paper above. The effect of tropospheric ionization is dT_global / dI = 7.5 +/- 2 deg C (i.e., 0.75 deg change per 10% change in the tropospheric ionization [or 20% in the relevant cosmic ray flux]).
plus a correlation between one low frequency signal (cosmic rays) and another (temperature). Naturally, if you throw another low frequency signal into the mix, you can improve correlations. That proves little or nothing.
Disagree. Cosmic ray flux / climate correlations exist on the widest possible range of time scales. You see correlation from the 11 yr solar cycle to a billion years, and on each intermediate time scale where you know there should be large cosmic ray flux variation. Thus, it is not only improving the correlations over the 20th century (which would have indeed proven nothing if it were the case).
If you really think you can model clouds well enough to say what the cosmic ray influence translates into in terms of W/m**2, then that’s great news.
No I cannot model them. However, you can see empirically the change in the low altitude cloud cover and the radiative effect of those were quantified by the ERBE experiment. (again, see the JGR paper I liked above. The change in the low altitude cloud cover over the solar cycle corresponds to a radiative forcing of 1+/-0.4 W/m^2).
Right now, so far as I can tell, you can’t even tell us what the sign of the effect is from first principles. (For starters, lets think about the question of why cosmic rays should affect low clouds when there are already plenty of nuclei around at low levels.
Look for ship tracks in “visible earth”. You’ll find the answer. There are plenty of oceanic regions which are devoid of condensation nuclei. In these regions, if a ship passes by, its exhaust particles serve as cloud condensation nuclei. The clouds formed in the ship’s wake are then whiter. So obviously, if you could form CCNs more effectively, you would cause cooling. It is also easy to explain it from first principles given that you have more, smaller drops if the number of CCNs is higher, such that the surface to volume ratio of the drops is larger (again, this is explained and estimated in the above JGR). So as you see, once the CN->CCN link will be experimentally established, even the physical link will be proved, and this will take place sooner than your think. Of course, given the empirical evidence, the link should be taken seriously already now, and not brushed off as “off the wall line of thinking”. If you are interested in knowing more about why low altitude should be more affected, read Yu, F. (2002), Altitude variations of cosmic ray induced production of aerosols: Implications for global cloudiness and climate, J. Geophys. Res., 107(A7), 1118, doi:10.1029/2001JA000248.
[Response: A few comments. i) a correlation of CRF to cloud cover doesn't imply a direct CRF-cloud mechanism - it could simply be a feedback response to the irradiance forcing - but looking at the spatial pattern it's so indistinct and incoherent that it could simply be noise. ii) The nature of the ISSCP data do not allow you to distinguish between a true low cloud response and/or a response above that just masks out low clouds. iii) simplisitic arguments about low clouds vs high clouds and their impact on surface temperatures do not take into account the true complexities of cloud effects (see http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/02/cloudy-outlook-for-albedo/ for instance). iv) Even the ship track data are pretty ambiguous about what the net effects of extra condensation nuclei are (see Ackerman et al, 2000 for instance), v) the estimates for the CRF forcing you assume at the LGM (to pick one of your examples) appear to be based on raw 10Be concentrations without any correction for accumulation, geomag changes or the possibility of climate impacts on the 10Be transports - (see Field et al (2006) for instance). None of this adds up to a coherent set of evidence and while I wouldn't rule out the possibility of direct CRF effects, the lack of any climate changes at the magnetic reversals (which should be accompanied by huge increases in CR fluxes), or at the Laschamp event imply that they are likely to be very small. - gavin]
So why not counter with ads with the scientists whose work has been distorted responding?
Then you can add info on the oil industry source of CEI funding http://thinkprogress.org/2006/05/17/attack-on-gore/ . On another ad you can juxtapose their previous statements that global warming is baloney with some current statements that there is some GW caused by people after all – though disputing its effects (‘course get ready for them to do the same with the global cooling myth).
Here’s a funny idea for another counter ad: have a mock CEI or Exxon exec breathing in a paper bag. Run the words from their site about how great Co2 is, if some is good MORE is even better. The exec keeps breathing until he starts to get a little woozy. Finally he passes out. Then the words: How stupid do they think you are?
I hope someone will be doing a survey to see how effective these ads are. I don’t think it would be too far-fetched to see that the American public would be convinced that “CO2 is our friend!” After all, something like 72% believed Saddam was behind 9/11; even higher for US troops recently, 85% think they are in Iraq .. to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks.”
Or this time have the bag placed completely over his head. After he passes out and the line scrolls across saying “How stupid do they think we are?” someone says in the background “Getting hot in there?” :-)
Regarding: I heard about cosmic ray effects for quite some time, and they fail at the cosmic scale, if there is such a thing on clouds, it would be universal, NH SH alike, yet there isn’t very much similarities between NH and SH temperature and cloud anomalies, often one is greater than the other. Cosmic scale events require world wide similarities which I have not noticed…
On the same token, one can say that because CO2 forcing is the same in both hemispheres, the global warming in the SH and NH should be the same. This is not the case for CO2 nor is it for cosmic rays. The reason is the large asymmetry between the two hemisphere. One has a lot of land mass and the other a lot of oceans. So, the point is not relevant.
Regarding your response to my response to your response to my post… ;-)
Anyway, on a more serious note, you comment:
Response: Yes, we can agree that this aspect is interesting. What you in essence say, is that the negative trend in the diurnal temperature range can be explained by an increased greenhouse effect -be it water vapour or CO2 (probably both).
Could be. I think all climate models give more water vapor in the atmosphere with increased temperature, irrespective of the source of warming. With CO2, the effect will be larger of course.
It’s something you can see in climate model simulations with increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations. You are right, that nobody probably hasn’t got their hands dirty and looked into the detailed response of what a ‘cosmic ray effect’ would be like, so we cannot yet rule out that the effect would (surprisingly) be similar. I propose that someone does the computations.
Agree. The problem though is that as long as the possibility for a cosmic ray climate link is dismissed immediately, no body with the heavy tools will invest any effort to study and quantify the effect, whether it is large or small…
But I’m still not convinced that a positive trend in the cosmic ray flux will lead to a warming, and I’m baffled by the different behaviour you describe of the high-energy particles and those with somewhat lower (still sufficiently high to penetrate earth’s magnetic field) energy. By the way, do those high-energy rays cause Aurora? -rasmus]
eh… perhaps my typo before managed to confuse. Over the past century, solar activity increased. This decreased the cosmic ray flux reaching Earth. (they lose more energy as they swim up the solar wind), this implies less atmospheric ionization, and (presumably) less low altitude cloud cover and hence warming. The auroras are caused by electrons from the solar wind (with typical energies of 10 kev). Thus, when the sun is more active, there are more low energy particles from the sun (and hence more auroras) but less (galactic) cosmic rays from outside the solar system.
[Response: If respectable scientists are in the habit of dismissing the hypothetical cosmic-ray influence out of hand, you have only yourself to blame, with not a little help from the school of Friis-Christenson and Svensmark. The record of exaggeration, sloppy inference, bad statistics and (in some cases) outright misleading presentation of data would be enough to put off any serious scientist, and give you a very uphill battle to get any attention if and when you ever have anything to say that stands up to scrutiny.
Your remarks on clouds in #83 only show that you didn't pay any real attention to the argument I was making. There is no need to point out the Cess et al cloud paper (Herve LeTreut and I wrote the cloud feedback section of the IPCC Third Assessment Report). We are all in agreement that clouds are the main reason for the uncertainty in climate sensitivity. You failed to appreciate the content of my remark: that for CO2, the clouds amplify or damp the warming, but we don't need the clouds to determine the basic driver of the mechanism. Though there is uncertainty in the magnitude of response, we always get substantial warming in all the cloud models that have been implemented so far. From present observations and verifications of cloud schemes, we do have some information about how well the cloud models are doing, even if we don't yet have enough to say which of them are "best." This situation is very different from your situation with cosmic rays. For cosmic rays, instead of clouds being a modifying effect on a known forcing, instead 100% of the effect is mediated by clouds -- and by nucleation processes at that, which are the hardest part of the cloud behavior to quantify. Your declaration that the correlation between cosmic rays and low clouds is "overwhelming" doesn't make it so, nor does this count as a calculation of radiative forcing from first principles. Without that, you can't even tell me the sign of the expected climate response to cosmic rays. How far are you from being able to do that? Very far. You'd have to be able to go from the effect of cosmic ray collisions to small nucleii and from there to activated nuclei. You'd have to say how that affects the droplet size under various assumptions regarding non-GCR related nuclei. You'd have to say how that all depends on height. You'd have to say how that all depends on latitude, and interacts with the water supply that feeds clouds, which involves the rest of the circulation. You also need to keep in mind that if you are saying that cloud processes make the climate sensitivity to CO2 less (hence allowing more role for GCR forcing), then that same cloud stabilization is apt to apply to your GCR related forcing as well.
All that might be interesting to do, and would probably be worthwhile. If you want people to take you seriously, that's what you've got to do. I'm not convinced enough of the plausibility of the mechanism that I would take time out from more promising lines of research to do it. If you're so convinced, you need to go do it yourself, or team up with somebody who can. Meanwhile, what you are doing is trying to estimate climate sensitivity from GCR correlations, when you don't even know the sign of the radiative forcing due to GCR with any great confidence. Not only that, you are arguing for turning all of climate and energy policy on its head based on these thin suppositions. That's beyond sloppy science. That's positively irresponsible.
I think somebody will eventually pick up on the subject and do the job in a careful way, but it's likely to come out of some party that doesn't have an agenda. That's pretty much what has happened with the more responsible end of the solar forcing community, though a lot of them had to work hard to overcome the bad reputation cast on the whole subject by Svensmark and company. I'll start paying serious attention to the GCR idea when somebody who really knows about nucleation (like Markku Kulmala) weighs in on the subject. I think the 2002 Science article by Carslaw, Harrison and Kirby laid out the microphysical issues rather well. The article is outdated with regard to a number of the observational issues, but there has not been much real progress on the really important questions -- the microphysical mechanisms -- since their publication. That's where the effort ought to be going, not into some premature GCR-based crusade against Kyoto and the like.
This is the last response you'll get out of me on the subject. I stick by my assertion that you can't even say what the expected sign of the response is, and have no business attributing any of the 20th century climate change to GCR until you do. All the ever-expanding verbiage you respond with can't conceal that simple fact, and I think we're well past the point of diminishing returns in this dialog. --raypierre]
“the global warming in the SH and NH should be the same. This is not the case for CO2 nor is it for cosmic rays.”
This seems to me to be logically disconnected. You have to truly believe the two forcings are equal. Everything I’ve seen indicates they aren’t.
[Response: The main reason for the difference between NH and SH response to CO2 is that the SH has more ocean, which retards the warming (a big factor so far) and which, even in equilibrium, damps the hemispheric mean seasonal cycle (a more subtle factor, with regard to annual mean temperatures at least). It's possible that similar considerations might apply to the response to GCR modulations of clouds (if that indeed exists). If the GCR crowd ever stop crowing about the policy implications of their work long enough to do the hard work of saying how GCR translates quantitatively into cloud radiative forcing, somebody will be able to put the effect in a GCM and answer the question fairly easily. --raypierre]
Re #86 (and well off this topic – sorry) What are the model sensitivities to Arctic sea-ice melt? We’ve recently had an interesting post on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, but I can’t recall much on sea ice. Specifically, what do the current models suggest is a reasonable time frame for Arctic sea ice reduction (timing and extent), and are we “on target”? I get the sense that we’re into positive feedback here, and that there’s some surprise at how fast things are happening, but perhaps I’m only reacting to alarmist media coverage… ;-)
Gareth, you are on point with your concerns about a positive feedback loop. And, what affect will an Arctic meltback have on the temp and precip patterns in the Central and Western NA agriculture regions?
I watch the satellite images of the ever-expanding dark surface and that is evidence enough to conclude the diminished albedo must certainly be adding heat to the ocean while liberating the ocean’s heat to the atmosphere.
And, since you poked the 800 pound, positive feedback gorilla, I am posting analysis of the NOAA hourly CO2 measurements taked at Mauna Loa in 2005 and 2006. They match the NOA CO2 Trend chart at:
By tabulating and comparing recent monthly concentrations to the historic record makes the 2002-APR 2006 concentration increases look like possible positive feedback. How else to explain the increases. Fossil fuel consumption has not risen fast enough to expalin the rise. No El-Nino, yet. Fires? Warm tropical oceans?? Any suggestions??
I requested the Mauna Loa (MLO) 2005 to May 11, 2006 hourly CO2 data from the NOAA Carbon Cycle Greenhouse Gases Group.
After filtering the data, I tabulated the monthly increase year-to-year. Please note the 2005-2006 data are preliminary and subject to change after thorough quality control by the NOAA group.
The following is the result:
(my apology for the connecting dots. I did not have any other means to make the chart columns conform. Any suggestions?)
MONTHLY AV. INCREASE MLO CO2 CONCENTRATIONS
……….AV INC………. AV INC………..PRELIM AV.
……….BY MO…………BY MO……….INC over 2005
(data in ppmv)
[Response: A few comments. i) a correlation of CRF to cloud cover doesn't imply a direct CRF-cloud mechanism - it could simply be a feedback response to the irradiance forcing - but looking at the spatial pattern it's so indistinct and incoherent that it could simply be noise.
Yes, you are correct that a correlation between A and B doesn't necessarily imply a causal connection, it could be C influencing A and B separately, making it appear as if there is a connection between A and B without a real one, but it wouldn't explain for example correlations between cosmic ray flux and climate over the multimillion year time scale.
As for the spatial pattern, the same can be said about the observed global warming. When you look at particular locations you see a lot of noise, it only when you average the temperature globally that you see a statistically significant warming signal. You wouldn't say that the global warming is noise (and neither would I).
As for a feedback response to the irradiating force, that would imply a VERY strong positive feedback in the climate system (comparable to the water vapor feedback). Specifically, it would mean that the 0.35 W/m^2 of solar irradiance variations over the solar cycle give rise to a ~1 W/m^2 variation in the cloud cover (more sun, less low clouds). Over the 20th century, that would imply a large solar contribution, unless the climate sensitivity is inconsistently small (even to my taste).
ii) The nature of the ISSCP data do not allow you to distinguish between a true low cloud response and/or a response above that just masks out low clouds.
This is correct and it could potentially lead to quantitative errors. Note however that estimates based on the ISCCP data (e.g., cloud forcing) are consistent with estimates which are not (e.g., comparison between galactic induced cosmic ray flux variations and climate).
v) the estimates for the CRF forcing you assume at the LGM (to pick one of your examples) appear to be based on raw 10Be concentrations without any correction for accumulation, geomag changes or the possibility of climate impacts on the 10Be transports - (see Field et al (2006) for instance).
Nope. The estimates are corrected for the accumulation rate and changes in the geomagnetic field strenth. Climate impacts of 10Be can be present, but are minimized since the estimate is based on many oceanic sea floor cores from many different locations. In any case, the cosmic ray flux correction in this particular case is on the small side, such that even a large error in the determination of the CRF variations would not translate to a large error in the sensitivity estimate.
... the lack of any climate changes at the magnetic reversals (which should be accompanied by huge increases in CR fluxes), or at the Laschamp event imply that they are likely to be very small. - gavin]
Ah, this is one of the largest misconceptions in this field perpetuated by many, though mostly not at their fault, since they are unaware of the following. The Laschamp event corresponds to a large decrease in the magnetic field. This implies a large change in the relatively low energy cosmic rays which are affected by the field, but the high energy rays which are those reponsible for the tropospheric ionization, are only moderately affected. Switching the magnetic field altogether implies a ~12% effect in the ionization or a <1 deg climatic effect. However, on the time scales of 10′s of thousands of years, over which the Laschamp and similar effects appear, the global temperature can vary by typically much more (several degs colder in ice-ages…) thus, seeing a climatic Lashcamp event is in fact supposed to be hard as it is drowned by intrinsic climate variability.
The public service is supposed to answer questions of fact and investigate policy options without fear or favor. If public servants are knowingly disseminating an obvious lie for political gain then they are accepting payment for being dishonest. A more serious problem is that systemic political FUD brings the public service into disrepute, the general public learns not to trust government studies and ends up throwing the baby out with the bath water. The next thing you know you have a Vogon spaceship demolishing your planet.
“Can anyone blame them?”
“I was just following orders” is not a valid defense in any proffesional undertaking. I do not work for government but I do have a BSc in Computer Science and have a fair amount of experience with large companies and clients. I have been asked quite bluntly to “guild the lilly” on several occasions over the last couple of decades. I have always refused in a polite but firm manner, offering to forward any specific enquires to their office without comment. I have never been punished, in fact my experience has usually been quite the opposite. Granted it is a different thing for an underpaid clerk/assistant with a wife and kids. However that is a redundant point since the authority of thier position is (supposed to be) directly proportional to their pay-check.
“The objective of these TV-Ads, as I see them, is to indoctinate, and furthermore putting such a spin on it inhibits critical thinking. Such phenomena used to be described in a visionary book called ’1984′. ”
Sorry Rasmus, the dystopian novel here should be “Brave New World”. It was here that propaganda was dripped continually so that it took on the status of “fact”.
The controversy that triggered these silly ads relates to EPA’s denial of a petition asking it to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions as “pollutants.” Several States and conservation groups appealed the rejection of the petition and were denied by an Appeals Court. In March 2006, a coalition of 12 states, three major cities, one island government and several environmental groups petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the appeal court ruling that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not have to regulate greenhouse gases as pollutants.
If I understood you correctly, then you agree that there is little evidence suggesting that the recent trend in the global mean temperature (gmT) is due to a change in the solar activity, as there is no trend in the [lower-energy] galactic cosmic rays (GCR), 10.7 cm flux (thought to be a reliable indicator of solar acitity level), and the aa-index since 1950s. Hence, you should change the title of your web-site (present title is ‘Carbon Dioxide or Solar Forcing?’). You base your claims on the high-energy cosmic ray counts (HECRC) from Ahluwalia, H.S. (1997).:
We have created an extended cosmic ray data string (1937–1994) by combining data obtained with ion chambers at Cheltenham/Fredericksburg (1937–1972) and Yakutsk (1953–1994). Both represent high-latitude, sea level sites, with an atmospheric cutoff of about 4 GV. Their common median rigidity of response to galactic cosmic ray spectrum is 67 GV…
It’s interesting to note the divergence between the GCR and HECRC, and one should perhaps worry a bit about how the HECRC affects the production of cosmogenic isotopes, such as 10Be. Does it mean that 10Be is contaminated by other factors than the solar activity level and the variations in the geomagnetic field? Isn’t it really interesting that these two curves diverge? Note that merging two different series often may result in inhomogeneities, and yield spurious trends. Thus, how well can the trend really be trusted? Can you rally trust [apparent] trend in the HECRC that is not seen in GCR and the other solar activity proxies? You also say that the gmT is ‘embedded’ in your HECRC-curve, but I’d disagree – for starters, there are pronounced ~11-yr variations in the HECRC and not in the mgT. You only get a vague resemblance after low-pass filtering the HECRC (oceans may smooth the response), but even then, the similarities are not convincing if you look at the curves in detail. The smoothed gmT dips between 1940 and 1950, and then more or less levels off (small peak in ~1960; your Fig. 3). The smoothed HECRC, on the other hand, starts to increase (remember, the y-axix is reversed…) after 1950 (your Fig. 6). The increase in gmT since 1970 is much more prominent than the decrease in HERCR. By smoothing the two curves, you increase the risk that they will look similar just by chance.
Your story of how you ended up in believing in cosmic rays affecting our climate is fascinating, but I do not understading your saying:
Everything else I checked afterwards agreed as well. So as you see, I have my own very good reasons to believe cosmic rays affect climate.
Surely, you must have read a number of critical papers arguing against it: Kristjansson & Kristjansen (2002), Kristjansson et al. (2004), Wagner et al (2001), Sun & Bradley (2002), Laut (2003), Farrar (2000) and Rahmstorf? Furthermore, Lockwood (2002) found greatest correlation between GCR and cloudiness when the cloud cover lagged the GCR by 4 months – but the effect is believed to be pretty instantaneous… Although there nevertheless is some evidence of a weakGCR-effect in clouds (which height, is not resolved), it is doubful that this can explain much of the recent trends. In fact, there are to my knowledge no confirmed trend in the cloudiness. One has to be careful not to neglect evidence and papers not supporting the hypothesis, or one becomes dogmatic. You though that IPCC TAR was not convincing, but I’d say that the paper by Usoskin et al. that you referred to didn’t sway me: the map in their Fig. 3 of correlations only indicated a few spots with signf. levels above 68% (whatever that means – an remember, the bins are not independent of each other due to spatial correlation structures). Surprisingly, the zonal-means of the correlations are much higher (their Fig. 2).
could see with the unaided eye that the cosmic ray flux is periodic with a 145 Million year period and the right phase. When I saw that, my jaw simply fell.
If you look for patterns, you’ll probably find some. Rembember, people have even made systems of star clusters and associated them to earthly things (constellations). I think that your work has made many assumptions and puts a great deal of faith in too simplistic idealised models – eg how to estimate the return periodicity of the Galaxy spiral arms, etc. These estimates are so far fetched and speculative, that an AGW is rock solid in comparison. Funny that you then think that AGW is not that important and that you think that climate models are weak and AGW not as important – you do have some sense of humour!
Here is a paper out of Yale entitled “Americans and Climate Change: Closing the Gap Between Science and Action – A Synthesis of Insights and Recommendations from the 2005 Yale F&ES Conference on Climate Change” By Daniel Abbasi. This arose out of a conference last year.
The teaser for the report reads: A gathering of extraordinary Americans were asked why the robust and compelling body of climate change science has not had a greater impact on action. This report details their findings and recommendations.
Here’s a prediction confirmed, has this been discussed earlier?
Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 8, 02925, 2006
SRef-ID: 1607-7962/gra/EGU06-A-02925 European Geosciences Union 2006
The greenhouse-induced radiative forcing at the
surface as projected in GCMs and observed.
M.Wild and A. Ohmura
Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science ETH, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Universitaetsstr. 16, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland (email@example.com)
The most immediate consequence of an increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases experienced at the earth’s surface is an enhanced emission of thermal radiation from the atmosphere back to the surface (longwave downward radiation, LWD).
Projections of the evolution of LWD as simulated in transient climate change scenarios with a coupled atmosphere-ocean GCM suggest that the LWD change signal emerges earlier from the background noise than the surface temperature.
The LWD is therefore a valuable candidate for the detection of the greenhouse signal and its evolution of particular interest in the context of greenhouse gas induced climate change. The monitoring of the LWD is a central objective of the Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN/WCRP) centered at the authors’ institute.
In this study, projections of LWD as simulated in transient climate change scenarios with a coupled atmosphere-ocean model are analyzed and put in relation to the evolution of LWD as observed at worldwide BSRN sites.
The overall trend averaged over all observation sites is in quantitative agreement with the GCM-predicted increase in LWD of currently 2.5 Wm-2 per decade.
The point you make about the lower energy and higher energies diverging is a valid one. As long as there is no satisfactory explanation to the divergence of the lower energy indicators from the higher ones, I wouldn’t sign on the exact increase in the troposphere ionizing cosmic rays. I should note however that a notable decrease in the Huancayo/Haleakala cosmic ray neutron monitor can be seen from the solar maximum of 1970 to 1990. These monitors are sensitive to intermediate energies between CLIMAX and ion chambers (because of the higher magnetic rigidity cutoff as compared with CLIMAX) – the decrease in the CRF at the 1970 solar maximum is about 97% of the maximum flux at solar minima (i.e., a 3% solar cycle modulation) to about 92-93% in the 1990 solar maximum (i.e., a 6% solar modulation). Thus, you can see a decreased average flux in additional indicators. (which, under the cosmic ray flux/cloud picture implies less clouds and higher temperatures).
The bottom line is that there is a decrease in cosmic rays from the 1970′s to 1990′s though it is not clear whether it returned to 1940′s values, or whether the decrease was larger. (The neutron monitors are from the early 50′s). If the decrease is modest, it would leave more room to anthropogenic warming (I never said that there is none). But it would not notably change my estimate for the climate sensitivity, since they are based on 6 more temperature/radiadive forcing comparisons, nor would it be in any contradiction, since the total 20th century anthropogenic forcing has a large error with the unknown indirect aerosol effects.
Interestingly, solar activity appeared to decrease in the last solar maximum (~2000). Thus, we should start seeing a slowing down in the temperature increase (because of the large thermal inertia, it could take another cycle until we see a decreasing temperature, assuming the next cycle is “inactive” as that of 2000, that cosmic rays affect climate, etc.).
As for the various critiques you mentioned and raise. I’ll write more tomorrow evening (~ 22:00 GMT), once I have more time. Most likely I’ll dig into referee reports I had to answer, by referees which mentioned these papers… Now I have to prepare a course lecture for tomorrow.
Re #108: Looks like DuPont’s column is just summarizing the latest “report” by the wacko libertarian think-tank NCPA that he is chairman of, with a few facts from the equally wacko libertarian Pacific Research Institute.
By the way, did anyone notice the curious claim that the globe will warm by 2.5 F over the next hundred years but the U.S. by only about 1 F? (Apparently, NCPA…like many denialists…has much more high-precision knowledge about the future of our emissions and the earth’s climate sensitivity than the rest of the world’s scientists do.) I thought that in general, middle latitude land areas like the U.S. were expected to warm at least the average amount that the globe warms if not a bit more.
Today’s NYT (23 May, 2006) had a commentary on Al Gore’s movie by conservative columnist John Tierney (“Gore pulls his punches”, http://topics.nytimes.com/top/opinion/editorialsandoped/oped/columnists/johntierney/index.html — subscription required). Aside from some gratuitous comments on how likeable or unlikeable Gore is in the film, the comments show an interesting shift in the pushback from the conservative wing. Tierney says “Scientists recognized the greenhouse effect long ago, but the question was how much difference it would make. And until fairly recently, when evidence of global warming accumulated, many non-evil economists doubted that the risks justified the costs of the proposed remedies.” As if we didn’t have basic physics to tell us what was likely to happen? As if the Global Climate Coalition didn’t spend a decade trying to convince people that all the scientists were wrong, using bogus claims about water vapor, solar forcing, what have you? It’s clear the shift in the playbook is happening: now the denialists are going to move away from a denial of the warming, and towards a denial of harms. Apropos of this, Tierney offers the immensely reassuring words “… civilization may just survive after all.”
What’s actually more interesting in Tierney’s commentary is that what he really calls Gore on the carpet for is avoiding mention of concrete actions that might be effective but be (or appear) painful: notably, carbon taxes. It’s unclear whether Tierney is actually supporting carbon taxes, but it appears he is at least toying with the idea. If the debate starts to shift into the question of the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions, that would be progress indeed. Tierney suggests that this (plus the possible benefits of more nuclear power) are “inconvenient truths” that belonged in the movie along with Gore’s main point.
RE #111: I think these numbers are based on straight-line extrapolations (an approach of which Pat Michaels has been a primary promoter). Until recently at least, I think the continental U.S. trend was lower than the global average, which would explain the difference in the extrapolated trend.
Does the accuracy of an attack add really matter if legeslators have no basic knowledge of science? Dunno about congressmembers in the states, but here in Australia some of them don’t even seem to understand the conservation of energy. How do you explain global warming without that? The member from Whoop Whoop and his perpetual motion.
On today’s (May 24) New York Times op-ed page, Gregg Easterbrook’s “Finally Feeling the Heat” elaborates on this statement: “As an environmental commentator, I have a long record of opposing alarmism. But based on the data I’m now switching sides regarding global warming, from skeptic to convert.” In line with comments like Raypierre’s 112, I’d be interested to read comments about this piece too. Thanks. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/24/opinion/24easterbrook.html
Comment by Steven T. Corneliussen — 24 May 2006 @ 5:52 AM
I tend to think “the money” has been stalling for time since the late 90′s, specifically because of the time required to shift “the money” away from dead dinosours and into yellowcake. Not just in the US but also in Australia, India, UK, China, Indonesia,…dare I say Iran? I belive we are now at the start of a concerted push for nuclear as a “clean” solution, considering the peak oil thing and the life span of power plants it is the most viable option for keeping “the money” in the same hands and saving civilization at the same time. Also “the money” cannot manipulate the wind for political gain in the same way it can with oil (or yellowcake). I figure fast expansion of nuclear power is a “done deal” and listening to Lovelace it seems to be a good idea to apply the nuclear band-aid for the next 50yrs or so.
As an example: “The Australian” today had a front page headline that read, “Labour declares nuclear war”. No prizes for guessing who owns the newspaper.
There’s another relevant article by Michael Shermer in the latest issue of Scientific American.
“Nevertheless, data trump politics, and a convergence of evidence from numerous sources has led me to make a cognitive switch on the subject of anthropogenic global warming…Because of the complexity of the problem, environmental skepticism was once tenable. No longer. It is time to flip from skepticism to activism.”
Next in political news: the fossil fuel industry realizes that, because they weren’t considering the extra added global warming provided by each unit of energy sold, they’ve been under-billing customers for purchases of fuel used for heating. Watch for a government-mandated cost recovery surcharge to make them whole and level the playing field.
Is it just me, or is it completely ridiculous that “ads” about climate is sent on national TV?
You can’t do commercial on something like this. Nothing is for sale. This is purely propaganda, and I can’t believe this kind of information is taken seriously by anyone. Of course the scientific society must respond to this, and to my opinion whoever doing this should kick as much ass as they can towards the CEI. But please respond with a more serious context and a more sane language, so that climate science will be taken seriously. We can not fall into the same dumpster as the CEI.
Continuing yesterday’s reply, here are my thoughts about the critiques you mention. You raise several references which are supposedly against the cosmic-ray-climate link. Here is what I understood from them.
* Lockwood (2002): He indeed finds that cosmic ray flux / cloud cover data is best fitted with a lag of 4 months in the cloud data, with a very high statistical significance. If you look carefully at his data, you will see that this is a correlation with the Moscow neutron monitor which is low rigidity cutoff like CLIMAX. If you look at the correlation with the Huancayo/Haleakala monitors (which are closer in energies to those doing the ionization) you get an even better correlation, which is best fitted with a -1 month delay, i.e., one bin point away from no lag as expected. So in fact, this work just shows how the correlation is consistent with the theory! (For comparison, the correlation with a direct solar proxy is best if there is a 14 month lag. This is expected because it takes time for the solar wind to propagate outwards and thus to the cosmic ray flux to adjust to changes in the solar activity). So all and all, Lockwood may personally be in favor of a direct solar climate link, but his results in fact are totally consistent with a cosmic-ray mediated link.
* Kristhansson & Kristhansen (2002): In their latest paper from 2004, they correlate low altitude cloud cover with solar irradiance and with cosmic rays, and find that he correlation with the former is a little higher, that would favor an irradiance/climate link (which incidentally would imply a large climate sensitivity). However, they find that the correlation is mainly through liquid marine clouds, which is exactly where the cosmic ray flux climate link is supposed to be most effective. So again, the results are consistent with a cosmic ray mediated link.
* Farrar (2000): performs a study on the total cloud cover and concludes that the variations are a result of el NiÃ±o, and finds little evidence of a role for GCR. A more careful study of this paper reveals however that the author did not actually dismiss the correlation between GCRs and cloud cover (â��…, so Figure 2a can also be taken to indicate the correlation between local cloud anomaly and cosmic ray fluxâ��). The reason Farrar dismissed the link was mainly because “The resulting patterns are difficult to reconcile with a cosmic ray effect, which should not have preferences based on ocean basins”, however, the fact that most of the correlation is over oceans is expected in the GCR – ionization – CN – CCN – cloud cover scenario, because the effect is expected to be largest where seed aerosols are least abundant – over the oceans. Farrar also uses argument that the GCR/cloud cover correlation should be largest over the poles where the GCR flux is highest. This argument he uses is wrong because at energies of 10 or more GeV, which are required to reach the lower troposphere, the effect of the terrestrial magnetic field on the low troposphere ionization is only of order 10% or less.
* Sun and Bradley (2002) basically generalize the lack of correlations over small local regions (much less than 10%) to the whole globe. For example they find a lack of correlation between certain cloud constructions over the US and GCR. If one studies the correlation map of Marsh & Svensmark (2003) then there is even a small negative correlation between cloud cover over the US and GCR. However there are nice correlations if one looks globally. It would be the same as stating that global warming can be measured from the temperature variations over the US, which they can’t, since there is large variability from location to location.
As for not finding a correlation between clouds and GCR going back to the 50′s, it is necessary to go to the source of their data: Norris (1999) pointed out the possibility of numerous inhomogeneities both temporally and spatially that may be present in the ship-based observations of clouds. In fact, he stated that it “remains uncertain whether the observed increases in global mean ocean total and low cloud cover between 1952 and 1995 are spurious. Corroboration by related meteorological parameters and satellite-based cloud datasets should be required before the trends are accepted as real.”
* Wagner 2001: The essence of their critique of the cosmic ray climate link is the fact that (a) They don’t see a correlation between 10Be (or 14C) and climate during terrestrial magnetic field drops (B) they don’t see cloud cover variations in switzerland in sync with CRF variations. The reason for (a) is the fact that the magnetic field decrease in the Laschamp event they looked at is only responsible for about a 10% increase in the atmospheric ionization. This should cause a ~1deg climate effect which sits in stronger climatic noise (i.e., intrinsic climate variations). So in fact, they are not supposed to get the large climatic peak they expect (though you could in principle see an effect if you look at several such events and statistically find a correlation). As for point (b), the effect is expected and observed to be mostly over large ocean basins. So no wonder they don’t see it over switzerland.
I’ll continue with the other critiques you raised tomorrow, once I have more time.
One thing I'm wondering about regarding the detectors - are they more sensitive to primary or secondar particles? Even one month is a long time in terms of cloud respons. The cloud's life time is in hours, not days and not months. I think that believing there is a strong link requires a great deal of faith when the physical mechanisms are not well understood, and I see that you manage to interpret those papers your way by waving arms a little. While it is true that local temperature may not correlate well with the global mean and the a climate change signal may be difficult to detect due to lower signal-to-noise ratio (the signal strength increases by averaging all contributions so that uncorrelated noise cancels and coherent signals stand out), there is an essential difference here between AGW and a solar signal - Whereas the former concerns long-term trends with few degrees of freedom, the latter involves an ~11-year signal. Since a direct and local effect is proposed, then there should be a discenible signal even locally. To explain this, I'l use the analogy of the diurnal cycle (variations between day and night) - you don't have to resort to a global mean in order to detect it (actually that would not work very well). I don't think that we have sufficient empirical data to falsify or bolster the notion of GCR modulating clouds. History has shown a flurry of hypotheses proposing a link between solar and Earth's climate, most of which have ended up on the scientific dust heap. However, a link between GCR and clouds is one thing, a proposition that the recent global warming being caused by solar activity is another. It's the latter that we are most concerned with in this thread (which incidentally is about CEI's propaganda Ads... :-))
There are several solar activity indices, none of which I'm aware that show a trend in the activity level since 1950s, when the instrumental measurements started. Ther are no solid evidence for trendiness in the global cloud cover. Agree? What do you trust most: (i) somewhat exotic hypotheses of galactic spiral arms influencing climate though GCR, based on proxies thought to be susceptible to the cosmic environment 100s of million years ago and unknown micrphysical mechanisms (however, the GCRs produce trails in cloud chamber!) or (ii) inferences based on our understanding of the radiative balance, modern climate models (cousins of our 'well-tested' numerical weather forecast models, that have been validated against past trends), direct modern measurements made with instruments (eg long-wave radiation spectra measured by satellites)?
Another hurdle is explainging how the sensitivity to (GCR) forcing can change several-fold over the time scales of a few years-decades - why do we not see stronger 11-year cycles (oceans play a role, but I don't reckon that we know how the response varies with time scale - after all, ENSO, the annual cycle, and the diurnal cycle are the strongest signals that we see, and they all have a fairly short time scale because a warming of the ocean makes it more stable as warmer water on top tends to stratify, sea-ice contains some 11-year signature, but not very prominent...)? See also here and here. Then, I'd like to repeat, I don't find your two curves (gmT and HECRC) convincingly similar... Sorry if I hang up on this debate for now, Nir, but I really have many deadlines and a lot of other things to do the next weeks. We can take this up another time, so I say good bye for now... -rasmus]
To answer Sigrid Lind Johansen, no it’s not just you. The level of public discourse in this country is truly appalling, even after you take into account that the level of public discourse in this country is truly appalling. Someone once famously said that it’s a good thing the United States doesn’t have a culture minister, because if we did, it would be Clint Eastwood; things have only gone downhill from there. And there is probably no point in trying to respond to these people through advertising – they have more money to spend.
With reference to the problem of getting information out to a wider public:
A few months ago I had an hour or two to spend in a bus station and noticed some gospel tracts. One was about the dreadful concept of evolution so I read it then wrote a letter to the authors refuting it point by point. However, it got me thinking. Perhaps as scientists we should be doing something similar, writing simple three-fold leaflets on aspects of science to be left in bus stations, cafes, doctors’ waiting rooms and other places where people have time on their hands. They would need to look attractive, be as straightforward as possible and give the author’s name and address plus sources for further information. Climate change was an issue that immediately came to mind, together with evolution and bird flu.
My wife suggested we go the whole hog and go around in pairs, from house to house, clutching a handy reference book but I think she was joking.
The Al Gore Movie thread is shut down. This is a review of that movie for those who are interested. Sorry for being off topic, but this thread is also based on a movie title and was hopefully related enough.
I don’t think the authors of the adverts are implying that co2 is only ever good. Instead, I think they’re trying to stop people from believing that co2 is only ever bad. Like water — it can be good or bad. However, unlike water, the general impression that a casual observer has is that co2 is only bad. Hence the adverts giving an alternative view of co2.
If they misquoted scientists that is bad. But the general idea of the adverts seems reasonable to me.
Re #129: I don’t really see the point of telling people CO2 isn’t only bad. It is not like anyone is proposing a ban on all breathing and other production of CO2. People are just proposing to stabilize and then hopefully eventually start cutting CO2 emissions. The fact is that CEI is fighting against any steps whatsoever that don’t involve allowing people to continue emitting CO2 from fossil fuels into the atmosphere at zero cost.
#93 – Positive feedbacks increasing CO2 concentrations.
It is true that there are a couple of years [2003 + 2004 I think] that are *very* anomalous in terms of the rise in CO2 levels. For all other years the variation in CO2 levels can be explained by the rising trend in emissions and a link to the ENSO cycle [CO2 level rise faster in EL-Nino years].
I think some of the Hadley scientits wrote a paper on this recently, where they point the finger of blame mainly at widespread forest fires in Russia. This can be thought of as a positive feedback from the Biosphere, responding to increased temperatures and drier summers over the vast Boreal forest region.
I’m not sure what the detail is of GCM predictions for Arctic sea-ice melting. I should probably have a good read…
If you think the CEI’s “We call it life” ad set a new standard for distortion, and disinformation, it has only just begun. Do yourself a favor and read the May 28 Washington Post Magazine article by Joel Achenbach titled “Inside the minds of climate change skeptics”.
You might have your own opinion of Bill Gray and this article will not improve his image.
But, the more valuable interview featured Fred Smith, President, founder of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Please read some of his “original solutions” to such disparate issues as rescuing the (quadraped) gorilla population trapped between the fighting factions in the Congo; and his plan to save endangered species —- sell them as pets. I kid you not.
Fred Smith has actually become our ally by casting himself (the self appointed king of the skeptics) as a pathetic, moronic and deranged spokesman for the denialists. With leaders like him, how long will the skeptic community survive?
We are witnessing an intellectual meltdown among the denialists and it won’t be long before the reporters will not dare quote Smith or Ebel for fear of their editor’s rebuke. Truth still has value on the printed page and Fred has come clean; he is a crackpot in black and white.
Comment by John L. McCormick — 27 May 2006 @ 8:38 PM
[...] ideonexus Science Cyberspace Speculation « Science Etcetera Mercuryday, 20071226 2007 Science Yearbook: Politics December 26, 2007 “Carbon Dioxide. They call it pollution. We call it life.“ – ExxonMobil Advertisement [...]
RealClimate informs us of two ads being put out by the Onion Competitive Enterprise Institute. Punchline: “CO2: they call it pollution, we call it Life!”. If the CEI staff was locked in an airtight room, would they still call CO2……