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  1. It may be hard for my critics to swallow, but I too got interested in the global warming issue because I was skeptical. Your reader has hit the nail on the head with “only the most ignorant person could fail to see the terrible intellectual gulf between the quality of so-called skeptic sites and those defending the science behind the AGW thesis.”

    And for me too, RC has been of inestimable help in learning about climate science.

    Thanks.

    Comment by tamino — 12 Mar 2010 @ 6:40 PM

  2. bravo!

    As an Engineer, I’ve always accepted the science but I was willing to give deniers a go. Arguments like “the seventies”, “mars in warming”, “It’s the sun” and “water vapor is 98% of the GH effect” convinced me that deniers have a very different agenda than scientific reality. Each denier argument is more ludicrous than the next and defies the definition of skepticism. Please keep up the good work.

    Tony Noerpel

    Comment by Tony Noerpel — 12 Mar 2010 @ 6:51 PM

  3. I’m also grateful to all here at RealClimate, as they have given an unscientific person like me ammo to fight off the libertarian hordes.

    Comment by Dave G — 12 Mar 2010 @ 6:54 PM

  4. That books sounds like one I want to read. As a biologist I’ve been involved in the creation-evolution mess for a while. Unlike climate scientists I’ve not been threatened with physical violence, but I have had people express concern for my immortal soul (and my brother tends to keep his family away from me, as if I were going to jump all over his kids and drag them into the bottomless pit with me right there and then).

    When I started reading up on climate over 3 years ago I saw that the pseudoskeptics were using the same techniques as the creationists. I wasn’t skeptical about global warming (I know how science and scientists operate so I was pretty sure there was good evidence for it), but I didn’t know if it was natural or if we were responsible in some way.

    It was sites like RC that helped me understand how we know that it is “very likely” due to our gases. Initially many of the posts here were over my head (I didn’t even know what “forcing” meant), but I read the Start Here files, I read comments, I followed links galore, I bookmarked sites (big thanks to many of the regular posters for those links), I bought and read recommended books, and I watched videos (thanks to Dr. Dave Archer for his climate lectures, his book, and for sending me a pdf of answers to the book questions).

    And now, to quote Shakespeare, “In nature’s infinite book of secrecy, A little I can read”. I’m looking forward to being able to read even more in the years to come. Should you ever need donations to fight back against the antiscience, I’d be happy to contribute. In fact, tell me where I can contribute and I will.

    Comment by Daniel J. Andrews — 12 Mar 2010 @ 6:57 PM

  5. “Obviously, there are plenty of ill-considered opinions to be found either side of any issue, but only the most ignorant person could fail to see the terrible intellectual gulf between the quality of so-called skeptic sites and those defending the science behind the AGW thesis.”

    I think there is a multitude of issues driving the controversy:
    1. People live busy lives and get their sources from the media.
    2. Science itself has become very complex.
    3. A lot of different professions are having trouble coping with the complexity of science. (IE: They may have to trust experts even within their own subject)
    4. Many of those web sites mentioned are profit motivated.
    5. America has a very polarized political environment right now, and politicians have injected their poison into the topic.
    6. Businesses are trying to counter each other.
    7. There has been a complete breakdown in communication between the scientific community and the public at large.

    I think complexity is the largest issue.

    Comment by EL — 12 Mar 2010 @ 7:01 PM

  6. What Daniel J. Andrews wrote in comment #4.

    I as well have found obtaining a firm grasp of climatology much more difficult than an equivalent level of understanding of other scientific fields. RealClimate has provided a significant portion of my education.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 12 Mar 2010 @ 7:18 PM

  7. It would help to name which of the skeptical sites he found wanting? Climate Audit? Lubos Motl? Arthur Pielke, Jr.?
    Those are the ones I read, along with RealClimate of course!

    Comment by Luke Lea — 12 Mar 2010 @ 7:27 PM

  8. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway is a good background read on the history of skepticism.

    Comment by aaaaa — 12 Mar 2010 @ 7:36 PM

  9. aaaaa (8) — Yes, but it is not skepticism, a honorable philosophical stance.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 12 Mar 2010 @ 7:55 PM

  10. Here, here, I offer my sincere thanks as well to RC!
    To: #4 Mr. Andrews:
    All the best in your evolutionary battles. I had the pleasure of taking Ken Miller’s intro biology class and it spurred a dormant interest in science (and corrected a few “lessons” provided by the Georgia Public School system…more specifically Cobb County, the one with the “Evolution is only a theory” stickers on the textbooks).
    Thanks to all the regular contributors…I even enjoy CFU.
    Thank you and know that your efforts are appreciated (even if in silence),
    CFox

    Comment by Cfox — 12 Mar 2010 @ 8:26 PM

  11. AGW seems so obvious to me that I’m amazed more people don’t get it right off. But people are in denial about the whole 6th extinction. I think there’s huge unconscious resistance to
    acknowledging that the American dream has become a planetary nightmare. Our gods are too small.

    Comment by Tim Jones — 12 Mar 2010 @ 8:38 PM

  12. Realclimate has been invaluable to me in writing two novels with global warming as the backdrop. It is the post on Crichton’s book that got me going on it. I didn’t read the whole novel till much later. I was outraged by the blatant, defamatory lies in it. It’s the same sort of thing flying all over the media now. My books are still works in progress, the first languishing on an agent’s reading pile of to do’s. Now, if I could just stay out of those centered and non centered PCA debates with disciples of McIntyre! Tamino has a dynamite lesson on that too. Just top notch.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 12 Mar 2010 @ 8:40 PM

  13. I really like that the writer confessed, “I was definitely predisposed to see group-think, political and cultural bias in the work of climatologists.” Bravo. Identifying one’s own predispositions is a critical and difficult thing to do. Most scientists I know do so.

    Comment by AndyB — 12 Mar 2010 @ 8:45 PM

  14. Agree, and a reader with a background in biology should find plenty of evidence of climate change without needing physics.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 12 Mar 2010 @ 8:52 PM

  15. I too came from the evolution – creationist war, starting my time at t.o.. It was actually a discussion at an evolution friendly science site that got me interested in the AGW debate and directed me to RC. The first thing that struck me about the sceptics was the similarity of the structure of their arguments to that of the creationists.

    RC. along with Tamino and Deltoid have helped me immeasurable in developing the knowledge necessary to argue convincingly.

    Thanks
    Gary Bohn

    Comment by Gary Bohn — 12 Mar 2010 @ 8:58 PM

  16. To me, the key point in this discussion is how long non-scientists like the author of the e-mail quoted in the original post and, well, me, have to work to get our heads around enough of the basics of climate science to avoid sounding like a complete fool every time we talk about it.

    I initially got into energy and climate issues via the peak oil topic. Compared to climate change, peak oil is much easier to grasp, and there are only a few pretty simple concepts one has to get, e.g. it doesn’t matter how large an oil reserve one finds if the oil can only be extracted at a low rate.

    One climate book that I recommend very highly to newcomers is Picturing Climate Change by Gavin et al. A really terrific presentation on the topic was given this week by Katharine Hayhoe, which I mentioned here:

    Must see presentation from Dr. Hayhoe

    http://www.grinzo.com/energy/index.php/2010/03/12/must-see-presentation-from-dr-hayhoe/

    Comment by Lou Grinzo — 12 Mar 2010 @ 9:00 PM

  17. Well I guess that settles it…….
    I read one just like it the other day except where skeptic was changed to warmer …..
    Is there a punchline or a gotcha moment coming?
    .
    Go figure.
    .
    M

    Comment by Martin — 12 Mar 2010 @ 9:00 PM

  18. And yes, I mangled the title of Gavin’s book. D’oh! It’s “Climate Change: Picturing the Science”.

    Sorry about that. As penance, I will buy an extra copy and give it to a relative.

    Comment by Lou Grinzo — 12 Mar 2010 @ 9:01 PM

  19. I have not read “Golem”, but I recently read new a new work of Harry Collins with Robert Evans, “Rethinking Expertise”. I guess that his thought has changed very much. My summary of what I got from the new book is here. Excuse me, this is a blog with a menu for Japanese-speaking people. Also excuse me for not having enough time to discuss it in the present context. Now I just say: logical discussion is a good thing, but it would not make practical sense if the meaning of the words they use are not shared.

    Comment by Kooiti Masuda — 12 Mar 2010 @ 9:04 PM

  20. Luke Lea (#7): [...] Arthur Pielke, Jr.?

    There’s an Arthur, too? Good God, we’re being overrun with Pielkes!

    Comment by J — 12 Mar 2010 @ 9:06 PM

  21. Excuse me for my sloppiness. The link in the previous comment of mine (to my blog) should be this.

    Comment by Kooiti Masuda — 12 Mar 2010 @ 9:08 PM

  22. I have had my run ins with various people here (usually the host!), but this post hits the nail on the head.

    Many of us struggle with the science, particularly those of us who are not scientists, but do enough reading and the reality gradually dawns. It also quickly becomes apparent what rubbish is peddled on denial/skeptic sites .

    All sites I feel have got rather bogged down in the minutiae of “Climategate” and I have to search quite a bit to find decent interesting science. I know you have to defend yourselves guys, but it all gets rather boring and I can’t wait for it all to blow over (as it will).

    As well as RealClimate, a big thanks to SkepticalScience.org, a first class site and invaluable aid for the bemused.

    Comment by Matthew L. — 12 Mar 2010 @ 9:25 PM

  23. RC is indispensable. It provides a weapon in discussions for which “skeptics” simply have no answer.

    Keep it going, guys: we need you out here in the internet hinterlands.

    Comment by Dan L. — 12 Mar 2010 @ 9:27 PM

  24. Let me add my thanks to the list.

    A few years ago, like most people, my knowledge of climate science per se came completely from news sources. In other words, I thought it was an area of active debate and speculation where the basic issues were still unknown. I now realize that what I had learned from the news reflected the conventions of news media, rather than the science it was reporting.

    In sum I learned two things from news stories: first, there were unnamed scientists who made no specific claims except to assert that the surface was warming. Second, there were a few individuals who were on record making specific arguments about why the world might not be warming after all (e.g., because solar radiation matched the temperature over time, or the satellite record didn’t match surface records). I would read about these detailed arguments against warming, but never a direct response to them, except the continued assertion by unnamed scientists that the world was warming.

    Naturally I assumed that these objections showed real holes in the nascent science of climate, all the more because no scientific sources were ever quoted with opposing arguments (e.g., that the sun had never been ignored after all, and had no effect on the current trends). I was doing some of my own research into biases similar to those mentioned by your letter writer above, and I figured that climate science could provide an interesting case study.

    You can imagine my surprise when the primary literature revealed study after study after study supporting the mechanisms and effects of warming, and virtually nothing on the “other” side. A very different picture what I got through the news, and a continuing lesson in science and politics. Real Climate bridges the gap between primary literature and news reports like no other. Thanks for all the effort and work that you’ve put in over the past few years.

    Comment by Ian — 12 Mar 2010 @ 9:34 PM

  25. I came to this site with some doubts (Are the models overfit? Are the CO2 frequencies already fully blocked?). A few hours reading the background material available here satisfied me.

    I continue to enjoy the new articles.

    Comment by NoPreview NoName — 12 Mar 2010 @ 9:43 PM

  26. Actually, Daniel Andrews, to quote your words:

    When I started reading up on climate over 3 years ago I saw that the pseudoskeptics were using the same techniques as the creationists. I wasn’t skeptical about global warming (I know how science and scientists operate so I was pretty sure there was good evidence for it), but I didn’t know if it was natural or if we were responsible in some way.

    [Italics put in by me to highlight]
    I would say that you were being sceptical, based upon your words that I have highlighted. Authentic scepticism, to use the words of the writer quoted in the blog piece above, is demonstrated by your comments.

    I try hard to inform people of the difference between the “scepticism” which is simply a ruse to shout down something, and “honest scepticism” (ie “authentic scepticism”) which is all about acknowledging areas of doubt about something and then following through to see if the doubt may be resolved, based on observation, evidence, and reasoning. An honest sceptic is one who will accept that for problems which deal with the inherently uncertain, reducing uncertainty significantly may be the best we can achieve with whatever today’s equipment, measurements, and theory may may provide. And an honest sceptic is willing to leave some doubts lingering, until a later time when those doubts may be reliably addressed.

    But once a toxic sceptic shows up and spouts arrant nonsense couched in the politics that they are really pushing, people seem to go weak at the knees and are putty in the hands of said toxic sceptic. In other words, toxic sceptics like the AGW denial crowd (my set of exceptions from that crowd is {}) generally adhere to a particular belief – for each individual the belief may differ from others – and then they wrap their attack target – AGW – around their core beliefs. In far too many cases they ultimately succeed in propagating both their particular core belief and the idea that AGW is not true. It is a good rhetorical strategy for converting a pissweak argument into something a person – with similar beliefs as the speaker claims to have, even if claimed only indirectly – may swallow as easily as a vitamin pill.

    This site is like the antidote to much of the wooly thinking that converts people into denialist-sceptics. I especially like it when RealClimate covers a particularly relevant topic with a fairly detailed level of the scientific reasoning.

    Comment by Donald Oats — 12 Mar 2010 @ 10:02 PM

  27. Everyone approaches life from some standpoint,the ‘logical errors’come from searching for arguments rather than EVIDENCE to support our standpoint.In the face of evidence only a fool would not be prepared to change his standpoint and such people are best left to their own delusions.

    Comment by donald moore — 12 Mar 2010 @ 10:20 PM

  28. The very first difference to note is the notion that anyone’s perception is Truth and cannot be challenged as such. This is the result of the false paradigm being taught in many college literature, sociology & education departments. This point of view is especially popular w/highschool teachers as it provides them a means of escaping trouble caused by angry calls to the principals over what They too believe is only a matter of opinion.
    This leads to reasoning first by emotion: ‘My perception is as good as yours and since the Bible and some climate scientist feel the same way about this controversy, My Opinion is just as good as yours’.

    To these people I say: “Only Qualified Climate scientists w/Ph.D who specialize in some aspect of this science ARE Qualified to Tell the rest of us what the truth is. Sometimes that ‘truth’ must be modified slightly, but this has No bearing on the Reality of what Is regarded as a Theory by scientists Working in this arena.”Theory” as used means Fact–it may be modified in details as we learn more and will certainly be expanded in scope with the scientific process. You’re sadly welcome to your opinions, but Not to your Own Facts/”

    Comment by David R. Hickey — 12 Mar 2010 @ 10:22 PM

  29. Scientists need to directly confront the liars where they are. There should be a coordinated attack on Fox News, Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, etc. because that is where the majority (of Americans) gets their disinformation from. It is not enough to respond with intellectual arguments on a blog. Polls of Americans show that fewer and fewer people accept global warming. Murdoch is winning and you are losing.

    The forces of Murdoch aren’t going to stop until they defund your research. Scientists need to fight back much harder in order to prevent this from happening.

    Just listen to what Glenn Beck says on Fox News on a weekly basis. He’s not simply a denier. He wants to take down science itself.

    Comment by Rob Zuber — 12 Mar 2010 @ 10:27 PM

  30. The only reason for my coming on this web site and other websites is to observe the evidence supporting my standpoint.If the evidence points somewhere else i’m following and searching for truth rather than a standpoint.

    Comment by donald moore — 12 Mar 2010 @ 10:27 PM

  31. P.S. The above is Not to say that educated people with a sincere interest in science and climate science in particular aren’t capable of understanding very much about the subject. (if they understand “Theory” in science means “Fact” (w/future modifications and additions to come w/out meaning the basics or general conclusions are false.) They most certainly are if educated or simply intelligent enough to avoid the anti-intellectual traps set by a very dangerous paradigm pervading the general public,

    Comment by David R. Hickey — 12 Mar 2010 @ 10:35 PM

  32. It is heartening to see that those without the necessary mathematical and physics background, but who are familar with the scientific method, and with good epistemological method, put in the considerable effort to figure it how.

    I seem to be surrounded by a different sort of opponent. Those who have first class mathematical capabilities, but whose political and religious background cannot get past the “its a gigantic fraud” framework. There seems to be an unshakable point of view, which usually starts with a belief that god made the world to be used up for human benefit (and only he controls the thermostat), and ends with a leftish conspiracy to transfer US wealth to the developing world. Its amazing to be told by a first rate computational fluid mechanist, that because you can’t solve for turbulence, that you can say nothing about future climate.

    Comment by Thomas — 12 Mar 2010 @ 10:37 PM

  33. I, too, have been wanting to extend my thanks to the RC team. I’ve just been waiting for a thread where such thanks aren’t a hijack. Looks like this is the one.

    Like others, I’m a veteran of the creationism-evolution internet screech-fest, though I am a layman in the subject. And like tamino (who, oddly, I believe I know personally) I came to the subject from a somewhat skeptical point of view with respect to the cause of global warming.

    The articles here helped a great deal and the links to the actual science were invaluable to my understanding. I now feel that thanks to RC (and a few other sites), I have a basic grasp of the subject.

    Thanks for all your incredible VOLUNTEER effort. It really is making a difference.

    D. Monington

    Comment by D. Monington — 12 Mar 2010 @ 10:40 PM

  34. Thank you RC for your Blog/site,

    I came first as a skeptic of AGW and believing of a cultural bias of scientists working on climate.
    You educated me so much, my views have totally changed.
    I’m quite ashamed now to think that before I had an opinion about climate not knowing even the basics, that now by reading your site I’m beginning to start to grasp your science.

    Thank you.

    (Also the “Response” in the comments section are amazing ! Dare I say sometimes even more useful than the article itself (ok maybe not, but they are amazing))

    Comment by Jean-Philippe — 12 Mar 2010 @ 10:58 PM

  35. Yes, thank you indeed. In the 90s I was a copyeditor at the American Geophysical Union and saw first hand the care and deliberation that went into research and peer review. Thus, though I had no interest in climate science at the time, I suppose I was fairly well inoculated against some of the sillier denier claims I would hear later (“Climate scientists have to parrot the pro-AGW party line; it’s so they can get rich off the grant money,” “peer review is really just keeping out views they don’t want to hear,” etc.).

    RealClimate has been invaluable in providing a context and explication that, sadly, has been missing from serious journalism. This liberal arts major is grateful for your site.

    Comment by Taylor — 12 Mar 2010 @ 11:06 PM

  36. There are too many comments on RC that automatically equate denialism to: Religious, Republican (or Libertarian) and BS degree as the summa level of achievement.

    It takes a true skeptic/student to be able to research a topic in spite of his biases unafraid of how the chips may fall truth-wise. I can attest to the fact that one doesn’t have to be even mildly liberal or non-religious to see how AGW is affecting our world. After all, those responsible for the CO2 emissions have come from every level of diversity. Understanding or not understanding isn’t the exclusive province of any demographic.

    RC has been indispensable to me in gaining a working grasp of climate science. Thanks.

    Comment by dlharman — 13 Mar 2010 @ 12:04 AM

  37. Cfox:

    I had the pleasure of taking Ken Miller’s intro biology class and it spurred a dormant interest in science (and corrected a few “lessons” provided by the Georgia Public School system…more specifically Cobb County, the one with the “Evolution is only a theory” stickers on the textbooks).

    I read about such attacks on science in public schools, but I’m too old (and have no children), so have not been exposed to it in any personal sense.

    I’m glad you were open to your science teacher at the undergraduate level teaching you … well, science. Lucky you – Ken Miller!

    Comment by dhogaza — 13 Mar 2010 @ 12:24 AM

  38. Sitting here with my butt firmly planted on the fence, I too would just like to say thanx to all of you who take the time to share your knowledge so selflessly. I’ve said it before, but I’m gonna say it again, the one big positive that has come out of this whole AGW fiasco, imo, is that it has brought lay people into direct connection with world class scientists from both “sides”. I can only see good resulting from this for both. I may not understand or agree with everything you guys post, but I sure as hell respect you all!

    Keep up the good work.

    Leo G

    Comment by Leo G — 13 Mar 2010 @ 12:42 AM

  39. “Obviously, there are plenty of ill-considered opinions to be found either side of any issue, but only the most ignorant person could fail to see the terrible intellectual gulf between the quality of so-called skeptic sites and those defending the science behind the AGW thesis.”

    Maybe you should look into better sites. I am not ignorant and have tried to educate myself and find that the AGW crowd are far from the impartial scientists they purport to be. If the data fails to support your theory you reformulate your theory. The AGW crowd discards anything that weakens their assertions. There is plenty of data that fials to support AGW, the difficulty is finding it in all the pro AGW rhetoric, but there are many good books if you loook for them.

    Emanuele Lombardi

    Comment by Emanuele Lombardi — 13 Mar 2010 @ 12:56 AM

  40. I always want to express my gratitude to the RC gang. I live right in the middle where AGW hits hardest. I don’t need RC to tell me that its happening, but I do need RC for furthering my education on the subject, I enjoyed other scientists comments a great deal as well. I regret not having greater dialogue with scientists having discovered alternative methods confirming or correcting warming trends gained from traditional data calculations.

    RC is the best place to get educated on Climate science issues on the net, perhaps Dr Masters weather underground gets quite close , it is by the way, very refreshing to read a meteorologist view on the subject.

    These are very important times, we make a difference
    for our distant future planet by adhering to the principles gained by knowing reality well…. Its good to be here..

    Comment by wayne davidson — 13 Mar 2010 @ 1:07 AM

  41. Since Joe Felsenstein doesn’t allow anyone who disagrees with him to post on his pseudo-scientific blog, I thought I would try here.
    [Sorry, but take it up with him--OT]

    Comment by thermodynamist — 13 Mar 2010 @ 1:08 AM

  42. I have to agree with the letter. It is sites like RealClimate and Climate Progress that have helped me separate the nonsense from the science, and for that I’m grateful. Keep doing what you’re doing and know that there are many of us lurking out there who will have your back.

    Comment by Walter Meier — 13 Mar 2010 @ 1:58 AM

  43. Of course you have to keep on “bothering” to run your web site. Otherwise, the opposition will say that you gave up and declare victory. You can’t just refuse to answer and walk away, but some times you have to. That is how a blog is better: you can just post the truth and it stays there.

    Notice that the letter you quote is from a scientist. That makes a huge difference. There must be quite a number of things that make people “hard of understanding” to the point of being impossible to reason with. A scientist, regardless of his or her branch of science, probably does not have most of those problems. If all adults were scientists, GW would have been solved long ago.

    We have to find a way to “get through” to those “impossible” people. We can’t wait for Nature herself to prove it to them. Last night, someone mentioned to me that a graphic artist would be a good addition to any team that is trying to “convert” people. President Obama has recruited a huge number of people to devote a few hours per week to talking to people about his health care bill. Some political groups have created online petitions to sign that get sent to Congress. Others have organized marches on Washington. You have a loyal following that at least argues in your favor in the comments. Some of us can’t march, but I write Letters to the Editor and comments to articles elsewhere in your favor. You or we have to think of more things to do.

    What you are doing is absolutely vital to: you name it: National Security, the survival of humanity, all that anybody holds dear, etc. etc. etc. So you have to keep doing it. It is a moral imperative. Nobody else can do it like you can.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 13 Mar 2010 @ 2:28 AM

  44. I too wish to express my deep appreciation for the work of the RC team in their dedication and commitment to expressing the science in realistic terms. I continue to learn every time I read this site and it is one of the best resources for finding the details. RC is a gateway to understanding established and leading edge work in the field of climate science.

    If not for RC I and probably many others would have a much harder time in formulating communications for others.

    Thank you.


    The Climate Lobby
    Understand the Issue
    http://www.climatelobby.com/fee-and-dividend/
    Sign the Petition!
    http://www.climatelobby.com

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 Mar 2010 @ 2:48 AM

  45. #7 Luke Lea

    It’s important to distinguish skeptical sites from denialist sites
    Skeptical sites are scientific sites that employ the scientific method in a robust and relevant manner.

    Denialist sites are sites that faux science with mostly distraction, smoke and mirrors, and they tend to indirectly disdain the scientific method in is most relevant sense.

    If you examine the sites you mention that you mention are on the ‘skeptical’ side. You will find that they are wrought and steeped in denialism, not scientific skepticism.


    The Climate Lobby
    Understand the Issue
    http://www.climatelobby.com/fee-and-dividend/
    Sign the Petition!
    http://www.climatelobby.com

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 Mar 2010 @ 2:52 AM

  46. I was first introduced to the concept of the greenhouse effect back at university in the 1970s. It is only fairly recently that I was prompted by the attacks on scientists, to learn more. In the process I’ve learnt much more than I bargained for; and now am in the situation where I can explain it in very simple terms. A bonus has been brushing up on the science of climate and related physics, which had been slumbering in my brain for the past 40 years, largely unused.

    I’m aghast at the lack of science education in my own country and other places, and the deliberate deceit and obfuscation on the popular denier sites, which take advantage of the uneducated, nurture their ignorance and pander to their inclinations. I’m flabbergasted that in a country as great as the USA, some recent polls show that more than half their population think the world was ‘created’ only 10,000 years ago. Something is very wrong there. I’m ashamed of the behaviour of some in my own country (eg Plimer, Carter, The Australian newspaper, blogger Bolt) in undermining the work of climate scientists and trying to delay mitigation.

    This site has been invaluable in leading me to the real science. Thank you to all the people who run RealClimate and to all those who contribute to these discussions.

    Comment by Sou — 13 Mar 2010 @ 2:53 AM

  47. It’s about 18 months now since I first got serriously interested in global warming when I followed up with the author (Dr Kelvin Kemm) of his “sceptical” view that “There’s no evidence that CO2 causes global warming”, published in a local (South African)trade news magazine (Engineering News). I asked him for references that supported his argument and, guess what, they were all media articles (eg daily telegraph) or blogs (WUWT). I was almost conned (fousing only on the anti-AGW literature) and wrote “Firstly, let me admit that I started this with the belief that the case for global warming via anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions was well supported by compelling factual data and well argued scientific deduction/inference. Well, as a result of my research over the last few days I have now just about completed a 180 deg turnaround.” But just after sending that email I discovered RC, queried AGW in a comment, was politely directed by Gavin to “Start Here” and read the IPCC reports, did that, quickly had my eyes opened, and replied to Dr Kemm the following day “Perhaps my last email was premature – I guess I am now sitting orthogonally to both views. I downloaded the summary of the latest IPCC report and have also looked at Bradley’s papers on paleolithic proxy data. I got some feedback from the realclimate blog that is leading me to look a bit more closely at the story from both sides.

    The evidence for an unusually high rate of global warming over the last century, compared with the last 1000 years, appears to me to be compelling. Do you agree that it is real? If not why not?

    That leaves the question of GHG foricng, for which you clearly do not believe that the evidence is compelling – in fact you used a very strong denial in your article “there is no evidence”. I don’t understand how you can say there is no evidence – there is at least circumstantial evidence (GHG increasing with temperature) and when anthropogenically caused GHG forcing is included in the models they give a reasonable fit, whereas without there inclusion (only known natural forcing included) they do not.” And then a day later (before he’d replied) I sent teh following “Well, now having downloaded the IPCC technical summary report and having looked more deeply into the climate change debate I am now reasonably satisfied that 1) the fact of a rapid global warming trend over the last 100 years to record heights, when one takes ALL the evidence into account (GISS, radiosonde and satellite) is impossible to deny and 2) that the scientific evidence that the atmospheric increase in CO2 from anthropogenic fossil fuel combustion is responsible for causing at least 50% of this temperature rise is compelling.

    So now I really cannot understand the stance being taken by yourself and other denialists. Most of the criticisms (by denialists) appear to me to have been adequately answered or at least do not put the total picture into doubt.

    You argue that the IPCC approach is not good science and also imply that “new computer models” support your view. Please direct me to the group/s that has developed this/these new models – I am ready and open to be convinced by good scientific arguments.
    Thus where I stand now (and I have not stopped delving into this) I hold the view that unusually rapid global warming is real and anthropogenic CO2 increase is the prime cause. Andalso that the anticipated negative impact due to increased weather extremes, especially severe flood/drought cycles, and sea level rise due to arctic ice melting is a real threat to the world that our children and grandchildren will inherit. What actions to take? If this risk is highly probable as projections indicate, then it is incumbent on us to take action to try and mitigate the risk. If we can agree that there is a problem then we can at least get into productive debates about what actions to take.

    I trust that you hold your views in good (scientific) faith and will not resort to ad hominen attacks on any of the researchers, Hansen or otherwise, but rather focus on the actual evidence and the scientific credibility of the hypotheses/models. If you believe the arguments (supporting an opposing view) are already out there please direct me to your sources so I can look at them myself without you wasting your time re-hashing them for me.”
    His reply was the usual mish-mash of denialist “arguments” culminating with “it’s the sun” and a reference to Monckton!! My reply? “If this is the best reference that you can offer to support your views then I have to seriously question your scientific credibility. A very cursory search picked up sufficient evidence to show that Monkton is not at all credible in the view of “real climate” scientists who have shown the many errors in his paper. The APS noted that his letter was not peer reviewed and the council rejected his conclusions.

    I suggest you take your own advice and consult or explore what the professional climate scientists are arguing – in particular the RealClimate site that is not grinding any political axe (unlike Monkton) but keeps bring the discussion back to the science. http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/07/once-more-unto-the-bray/#more-583

    I really have a problem in understanding how you hold the view that you do? It appears to me to be heavily lacking in scientific credibility.”
    Needless to say I have not heard from him since but as far as I understand he is still promoting a denialist view.
    And I have had a similar experience with two other vocal South African denialists (Dr Philip Lloyd and Mr Andrew Kenny).
    My experience is that it is impossible to have a rational debate with denialists. And these guys are not stupid – they are all technically trained. But they are actually not interested in looking at the science and attack the process in their attempts to justify their “doubt”. RC is dismissed as “political” while CA is where you must go for “good science”!!?? And their bottom line is ALWAYS AGW is too uncertain to justify the economic cost of mitigating actions now.
    Thank you once again RC team for the honorable service you are providing to humanity. I also admire the patience with which you reply to newbies to the site that come with lots of denialist baggage (like I did)and enable them to find out (if they are prepared to put in the effort) the overwhelming scientific evidence for AGW and its very likely (being scientifically conservative) catastrophic impact if we continue burning fossil fuels.

    Comment by Hugh Laue — 13 Mar 2010 @ 3:05 AM

  48. The reason RC is needed, also to add to what is missing in the media. Blaming El-Nino for the warmest winter in history for nearly all of Canada and then assigning El-Nino as cooling most of the US is correct, the higher sun shrouded by dominant thicker clouds giving a lot of snow during winter, quite normal!

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1447

    yet it wasn’t the warmest El-Nino ever,

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/GLB.Ts.txt

    Global Temperature difference between 2010-1998 for December-January-February is +.12 degrees C. February just past was the warmest ever in history as well. What was this about
    cooling since 1998? Perhaps most contrarians talk only for a US audience?

    Comment by wayne davidson — 13 Mar 2010 @ 3:11 AM

  49. I really appreciate this site. I have a pretty good background in physics, chemistry, and biology from college. But even with that background I was a skeptic until I examined the evidence. The deniers at time have arguments that sound convincing on the surface. It’s kind of sad that more people don’t have the time or the background to look into the evidence and have to rely on the media. Sorry but at this point the media is failing miserably. I have no problem with a skeptic because all scientists are skeptics on many levels. I know that people make comments about Libertarians on here. I’m a Libertarian. I’m a big fan of Thomas Jefferson. He was a big supporter in educating the people, and fiercely defended science. The idea of being a Libertarian and a scientist is not a contradiction or a paradox.

    Comment by JRC — 13 Mar 2010 @ 3:18 AM

  50. “Climate scientists have to parrot the pro-AGW party line; it’s so they can get rich off the grant money,”

    These guys are so bloody rich. I bet gavin makes 7 figures alone allowing this site to be up every day. Just look at all the time he has to moderate it! Someone is paying him the Big Bucks! I Bet Mann makes 8 figures, and Al Gore, well, we know how much he is pulling in. Yeah, “Climate Change” is a windfall like never seen! just wait until the tax collection comes in next month!

    Comment by Garrett — 13 Mar 2010 @ 3:32 AM

  51. Knowing as I do the pressures in the scientific world to deliver research outputs towards which managing a blog does not count, let me add my vote of thanks to RC.

    At my own much more modest blog, I decided to try the experiment of allowing one of the more aggressive contrarians some space, and gave him free reign to comment – totally willing for him to win the argument, since I am primarily a scientist and only do politics as a sideline. And I could happily stop doing politics if convinced the science is wrong.

    Judge for yourself.

    It is my opinion from studying over a couple of decades this phenomenon that has resurfaced from the tobacco wars and other similar industry vs. science wars that what we are in fact seeing is a failure of journalism. We know the tobacco industry did this, we know the same basic tactic was applied to CFCs and asbestos. Even though there isn’t a clear industry angle, the HIV doesn’t cause AID campaign was much the same. We even know the same people are behind many of these campaigns.

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me five times, I’m a journalist.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 13 Mar 2010 @ 4:29 AM

  52. You forgot to leave Als signature on the bottom of the letter

    Comment by Rich Collins — 13 Mar 2010 @ 4:37 AM

  53. Thanks!

    As a teacher of physics I never was “a sceptic”.
    But RealClimate teaches me to get a profound view on the science. I know, the “political issue” is still important, but I love more the articles about science.

    Nevertheless:
    Thanks to all, especially to Gavin!!

    Comment by andreas — 13 Mar 2010 @ 4:44 AM

  54. I am a scientist, and supporter of environmental sustainability and social equality. I have followed both sides of the debate for many years (ncluding RC), and read most of the IPCC report. RC is an important contributor to the debate.

    However, I disagree with the letter and fail to find the case for AGW convincing. I remain a sceptic. I believe there are many much more important issues in the world to worry about and address.

    I accept there are often irrational statements and arguments from the sceptic side – but this is equally true for the pro-AGW side. Climate science is currently losing credibility because it has degenerated to shouting and name-calling. The majority of this is from the blog comments. While RC reguarly censors extreme comments from sceptics, I suggest it apply the same rules to its supporters – because a lot of the nonsense and vitriol simply damages its own case and credibility.

    Comment by oakwood — 13 Mar 2010 @ 4:49 AM

  55. Its been and still is a beautiful journey of understanding here. Some of us in our naivity might have once thought that truth is truth and science is the daddy of truth but not that many seem to believe that, even other people of a scientific background. People seem to read the papers first and listen to the radio and TV too and it is here that battles of ideology and hearts and minds are thought. The Internet is now a new battleground but people go where their thinking is and some like WUWT and CA etc whilst other like climate progress and here.

    The message delivered here smacks all alarmists and dissenters alike (although the dissenters get more posts due to their deliberate attempts to deny it is ever more outrageous ways). Its not 6 or 9C for a pre industrial doubling of CO2 – ITS 3C!!! so beware the alarmists but it is real and it is happenning.

    If RC closed down I would feel like I had lost a limb. Its work should win Oscars and Nobel Prizes for science alike ;)

    Comment by pete best — 13 Mar 2010 @ 5:18 AM

  56. @Garrett #50

    Assuming that you aren’t doing parody, thanks for once again demonstrating the “the terrible intellectual gulf” referred to in the post.

    Comment by Paul A — 13 Mar 2010 @ 6:36 AM

  57. “The evidence for an unusually high rate of global warming over the last century, compared with the last 1000 years, appears to me to be compelling. Do you agree that it is real? If not why not?”
    I don’t agree, just because there is no reliable measurements of the 30 years warming rate that shows that it is unusual (or please show me one !!! ). For a very simple reason, that there is not precise measurement of global warming rate before the last century !!. What is claimed to be unusual is the LEVEL of anomaly (not the rate). Unfortunately, there is no homogeneous measurement (with the same experimental method I mean) showing this either, since what is compared is instrumental measurements with inaccurate proxies (and there is a wealth of data showing they are inaccurate, beginning by the large discrepancies between reconstructions, and ending by the fact that most of the “proxy” warming comes from before 1970, and do not confirm its anthropogenic origin). So your statement is wrong.

    “and its very likely (being scientifically conservative) catastrophic impact if we continue burning fossil fuels.”
    May be, but it is also very likely (being scientifically conservative) that there will be a catastrophic impact if we STOP burning fossil fuels, and it is in no way obvious that it is interesting to burn less than the Nature will let us burn.

    Comment by Gilles — 13 Mar 2010 @ 6:49 AM

  58. Speaking as a non-scientist, I was largely disinterested and mildly sceptical about climate science until, a few years ago, I saw The Great Global Warming Swindle. Even to a layperson like me it seemed an obvious piece of politically motivated propaganda. Having checked some of the claims made in that documentary, and having read around the subject further, it became clear to me that the ‘debate’ was largely Science versus a politically motivated dis-information campaign, and I am more convinced of that with each passing week. There is not question that science will eventually win this battle, but will it win in time to avert a potential catastrophe?
    I regularly check this web-site as well as John Cook’s Skeptical Science and Deltoid (for a more robust discussion) and would like to thank all involved. In a funny way I suppose I should also thank Martin Dirkin (maker of the Great Global Warming Swindle) for provoking my interest in the topic.

    Comment by Paul A — 13 Mar 2010 @ 6:55 AM

  59. Science always wins. Unfortunately opponents of science can just make stuff up that seems pretty compelling and is easily digested by a lay audience.

    Science’s job is much harder, more rigorous. Keep up the good work, and try to communicate it more clearly.

    Comment by Kevin Folta — 13 Mar 2010 @ 7:28 AM

  60. I am very glad to find a sincere compliment from people like you who has taken philosophy of science (and a background in science) as the startign point. I am also grateful for all the information out there that is grounded in “thorough” and “intellectually honest” research and investigation. I am aware that both expressions might be slippery, yes.
    I am sure that a basis of philosophy of science and ability to investigate and sort through the overwhelming amount of information that is out there is necessary for sustainability practitionners, environmental activists, and society at large. I thank all those who spread high-quality information on science in simple terms, keeping in mind the readers’ language and promoting an education to critical thinking. Cheers. Marco

    Comment by marco valente — 13 Mar 2010 @ 7:44 AM

  61. Assuming for the purpose of discussion that the sea level rises 2 m by the end of this century. what will the results for human societies be?

    Comment by Hunt Janin — 13 Mar 2010 @ 8:03 AM

  62. What a great post! I’ve no formal climatological background, being a geologist, but through my interest in meteorology and photography I stumbled on this site some years back and my curiosity as to what’s going on with the evolving climate has kept me coming back time and again.

    As said above by several commentators, you don’t need to be a qualified climatologist to recognise pseudoscience when you run into it, although perhaps you do need a science background and be curiosity-driven at all times rather than driven by an idealogical stance (and there are offenders on both sides of the debate with regard to that, but particularly on the rejectionist side). I have come to respect RC as it focusses firmly on the nuts-and-bolts of the science itself. Thanks :)

    Comment by John Mason — 13 Mar 2010 @ 8:18 AM

  63. I am an astrophysicist by training, but I have also been incolved in atmospheric remote sensing and energy.I am mounting an astrobiology course for the Fall session. I know in advance that it is likely that I will have to confront creationists (Even in Quebec they exist) hence I must prepare argument against their view in cosmology, geology and biology. Also, I will cover climate change and sustainability (ex: peak oil).

    To be the debate works in two ways. First, we have some people who do not have clue about how science works. This explains parts of the problem. On the other side, you have people trained in science who think they understand the issue but are politically motivated. I have a friend trained in physics who dismiss climate change because this will means more taxes for corrupt governments. His only source of information denialist web site. I have seen very often people only get the information they support their belief. In this situation, their is absolution nothing you can do to convince them. Monbiot wrote about that problem a few days ago. On a blog the best I could achieved is to destabilised on guy a couple of time. Since, he used only quote I could often show him he was wrong simply putting a link to the original paper. Thankfully, some denialist argument are so stupid than they are very easy to debunk even for someone who is not trained in science.

    Comment by Yvan Dutil — 13 Mar 2010 @ 8:45 AM

  64. 39 Emanuele Lombardi

    There is plenty of data that fials [sic] to support AGW, the difficulty is finding it in all the pro AGW rhetoric, but there are many good books if you loook for them.

    Be careful with using books for your information vs. peer-reviewed journals (many of which are discussed here at RC).

    In their publication, The Organization of Denial: Conservative Think Tanks and Environmental Scepticism, Jacques, Dunlap & Freeman (2008) analyzed 141 English-language environmentally skeptical books published between 1972 and 2005. They found that that over 92% of these books, most published in the US, are linked to conservative think tanks (CTTs) and that 90% of CTTs espouse environmental skepticism.

    The authors conclude:

    “Skepticism is a tactic of an elite-driven counter-movement designed to combat environmentalism, and that the successful use of this tactic has contributed to the weakening of US commitment to environmental protection.”

    They further state:

    “Thus, the notion that environmental skeptics are unbiased analysts exposing the myths and scare tactics employed by those they label as practitioners of ‘junk science’ lacks credibility. Similarly, the self-portrayal of skeptics as marginalized ‘Davids’ battling the powerful ‘Goliath’ of environmentalists and environmental scientists is a charade, as skeptics are supported by politically powerful CTTs funded by wealthy foundations and corporations.”

    Comment by Scott A. Mandia — 13 Mar 2010 @ 8:58 AM

  65. #50 Garrett states very tongue-in-cheek that scientists are getting rich from taking the party line. I have a post about just that topic:

    Taking the Money for Grant(ed) – Part I

    I also asked in the previous thread for some of you to relate your grant experience and I have heard back from a few US scientists. Guess what? They are not getting rich.

    It would be nice to hear from a few non-US scientists about how you are funded. It is quite clear that here in the US, it is essentially impossible to get rich from public grant money. I will post this all in Taking the Money for Grant(ed) – Part II in the near future.

    Comment by Scott A. Mandia — 13 Mar 2010 @ 9:04 AM

  66. What I learned early on from RealClimate was that the amount of CO2 can be measured and the heat it produces can be calculated. It’s a touchstone to gauge other points of view on the issue. That heat has to be accounted for. From Al Gore’s electric bills to stolen emails, if the theory doesn’t deal with that heat, it’s useless.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 13 Mar 2010 @ 9:15 AM

  67. BTW,

    My email address is mandias – at – sunysuffolk.edu

    You can give me as much or as little detail as you think it necessary to dispel claim #1. Before I post Part II, I will send a draft copy to any person whose information is being used and you will have carte blanche to edit what I had planned to post. Nothing will appear in my post that you do not confirm.

    I appreciate all the help you can offer!

    Comment by Scott A. Mandia — 13 Mar 2010 @ 9:22 AM

  68. Emanuele Lombardi,
    Typical denialist. Lots of assertions. No evidence.

    Yes, there is plenty of evidence that does not support anthropogenic warming–the mass of the neutron, for instance. Unfortunately, said evidence doesn’t say much either way.

    The fact of the matter is that there simply is no coherent scientific argument against the current theory of climate. And there are mountains of supporting evidence. Your denial of that is what makes you a “denialist”

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Mar 2010 @ 9:41 AM

  69. I will join the many others here in expressing deep appreciation for RC, and, in particular, for the great effort put in by Gavin and his colleagues. This has to take a huge chunk of your discretionary time.

    My first brush with AGW was in 1980, when I refused to join friends who were demonstrating against the completion of a nuclear power plant. I explained that, “If you think management of nuclear waste is a problem, wait until you see the effects of all the CO2 we are dumping into the atmosphere. The nuclear waste is contained, but once the CO2 is in the atmosphere, it is beyond our control.”

    I did not make much headway with them, and then other issues took my attention away. It was not until after retirement and discovering RC in 2005, that I was drawn back to the AGW problem. Thanks to RC, and the many good links posted by commentators here, I now have a pretty good understanding of climate science. As others have noted, it is hard to discuss the issue with people who have predetermined beliefs and no understanding of how science works.

    Thanks again, RC.

    Comment by Ron Taylor — 13 Mar 2010 @ 9:56 AM

  70. JRC @49: I always like to hear from freethinking members of political groups I don’t agree with. I think the problem with Libertarians, or just about any other group of likewise politicl opinion, is that the overwhelming majority of people think politically, and not as you do scientifically. For the political thinker the first thought is always “does this help or hurt our cause?”. Since AGW or any other tragedy of the commons issue implies that some sort of collective social control is both needed and beneficial, the natural inclination is to take anyone supporting such claims as a political enemy. There is also a form of political momentum, “our side has staked part of its reputation on XXX, and anything that refutes XXX will detract from our credibility and hurt our cause”. Unfortunately it is a rare individual who ise determined to find the truth first, and worry about the political ramifications second.

    Comment by Thomas — 13 Mar 2010 @ 10:08 AM

  71. Gracias por estar ahí, Tank you for being here

    Comment by Pepe Larios — 13 Mar 2010 @ 10:51 AM

  72. #65 You don’t get rich from grant money in Sweden either (nor in rest of Europe). The grants goes first to cover your own salary (unless you have faculty funding) but doesn’t give you any larger salary. It only means that you can do research instead of e.g. teaching. Second, it goes to paying for salaries of graduate students, postdocs, equipment etc. One has to be really stupid if one goes into science to become rich.

    Comment by Lars Karlsson — 13 Mar 2010 @ 11:00 AM

  73. #39 Emanuele Lombardi

    Can you share with us the data that fails to support AGW?

    - Where did this data come from?
    - Is this data being represented in relevant context?
    - Did the data to which you refer make into peer review and survive peer response?

    Looking forward to your response.


    The Climate Lobby
    Understand the Issue
    http://www.climatelobby.com/fee-and-dividend/
    Sign the Petition!
    http://www.climatelobby.com

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 Mar 2010 @ 11:04 AM

  74. Like Jean-Philippe@34, I also particularly value the clear and informative responses to comments inserted by the group, one thing I always watch for, especially from Gavin and Raypierre. Thanks for your perseverance. Keep up the effort.

    Comment by flxible — 13 Mar 2010 @ 11:06 AM

  75. I am not a climate scientist but I talk to the public a lot about this issue through my work with the Sierra Club. This is one site which can be relied upon to provide the best information in the easiest to understand terms for those of us who need to know enough to convince our audience about this issue. I especially appreciate the timely responses to stuff in the news. Keep it up — it’s a uniquely valuable public service.

    Comment by Rob — 13 Mar 2010 @ 11:13 AM

  76. RE 57 – Gilles, Hugh Laue said “The evidence for an unusually high rate of global warming over the last century, compared with the last 1000 years, appears to me to be compelling.” You can falsify that statement only by making the writer agree that the evidence is not compelling TO HIM. And then you went ahead and failed to provide one single compelling piece of evidence for your position, only unsubstantiated buzz phrases. At the end of your piece… you then said that there will be a catastrophic impact if we stop burning fossil fuels, itself a profound sounding stance statement which, without context doesn’t argue for anything. If we stop using fossil fuels and do not replace them with alternates many humans will quite likely starve, freeze, roast, etc. Is anyone doubting that? But aren’t the dreaded “warmers” also arguing for the replacement of fuels and changes in behavior? For instance, I am a “warmer” who thinks it would be great if half the US population were not listening to distorted faux journalism coming from media sources in which Saudi Arabia is heavily invested. It would also be great if Saudis were not investing money obtained from the sale of gasoline to people like frantically speeding Soccer moms fueling their SUVs, or to the muscle car drivers and others engaging in compelling but mindless fuel wasting activities. It would also be great if more conservatives really thought about how strongly they were damaging their country and supporting foreign interests with their denialism. Special interests fuel denialism. They figuratively muddy the waters, throw mud to obscure sign posts, and generally kick up dust to obscure our vision of what is actually going on. They do it to benefit their short sighted self interests. Isn’t that clear?

    Comment by Steve P — 13 Mar 2010 @ 11:19 AM

  77. RC is a fantastic resource, and I must join the chorus in thanking Gavin and all of the others who donate their time to run this site.

    However, I would like to suggest that all to all of the readers who come here and have learned so much…you have more work to do. I implore to take your knowledge into your communities and share it through articles, letters, and talks. The Anthony Watts of the world will not be convinced by your argument, because these people are in the business of not being convinced. There are many other people out there who are presently being deluged by misinformation from Fox News, WUWT, etc…they need to hear from YOU!!

    It is essential to realize that you do not need to be a climate scientist to talk and write about this issue. Indeed, what we need is more people from different professions and perspectives explaining why they have become convinced that GHG emissions are changing the planet. While scientists can write from their perspective (recent examples include http://voices.kansascity.com/node/7625 and http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/gleick/detail??blogid=104&entry_id=58962), other perspectives are just as important (http://www.bakersfield.com/opinion/forum/x914961531/Shuttle-Challenger-apt-metaphor-in-climate-debate).

    In doing so, you will not only be providing an important educational service to your community (and to future generations), but you will also be serving as a role model for others to speak about this issue in their own voices. If we are going to move our civilization to a low-carbon future, it will be because a diverse array of voices spoke up during the next few years.

    Comment by Andy Gunther — 13 Mar 2010 @ 11:31 AM

  78. oakwood says:
    13 March 2010 at 4:49 AM

    “I am a scientist, and supporter of environmental sustainability and social equality. I have followed both sides of the debate for many years (ncluding RC), and read most of the IPCC report. RC is an important contributor to the debate. However, I disagree with the letter and fail to find the case for AGW convincing. I remain a sceptic.”

    Unfortunately, there is no support for doubting AGW. By definition, it is impossible to be a skeptic about it. If, for example, you were skeptical about the Earth orbiting the Sun, we’d just call you a nut, if from an educated background.

    It is possible to be skeptical, in the proper sense of the word (meaning they doubt their own results until they are shown to be replicable and supported by other liens of evidence), as the scientists here are, about given bits of information and research results, but not about the basis of AGW.

    While RC reguarly censors extreme comments from sceptics, I suggest it apply the same rules to its supporters

    Fallacy: Because there are more comments here supporting AGW than against, they must preferentially delete “legitimate” skepticism.

    Fact: I’ve had my comments here go unpublished more than once.

    Fact: There isn’t any legitimate skepticism regarding AGW. There is uncertainty about details and some important processes, but those are not about whether AGW is a fact of our lives, but are about the details of “how.”

    Thank you for demonstrating so perfectly the tactics, lack of intellectual rigor, and misapplication of “skepticism” that is so common with denialists.

    Cheers

    Comment by ccpo — 13 Mar 2010 @ 11:40 AM

  79. Just like to echo the sentiments in the post. The bloggosphere has changed forever the way that debates are conducted in public and the RealClimate contributors can’t be praised enough for stepping up to the plate and representing the science. Moreover, they also deserve serious credit keeping at it in the face of the inevitable tide of retaliatory vitriol coming from the other direction. When presented with the facts, most scientifically-literate people should be able to see the pseudoscientific arguments of the deniers for what they are and RealClimate has consistently provided that.

    The biggest problem as I see it is how all of this gets translated to the general public. It doesn’t matter how lucidly it all gets put, when someone doesn’t have the capacity or time to get an appreciation for the details, there’s always a tendency to go for the honey-coated version that you get from false prophets like Singer, Spencer and Watts, or at least, be left not knowing what to think. Not that I’m criticising anyone here; this has been the same problem that has faced science for centuries. It’s just highly frustrating to see it happen.

    Comment by James Allan — 13 Mar 2010 @ 11:42 AM

  80. As an actual Skeptic (i.e. one who withholds judgment in the absence of evidence) and Computer Scientist (with both modeling and data analysis experience) I too was slow to accept AGW. I had no political or religious ideology, nor any professional basis biasing me toward accepting or rejecting it. I studied it voraciously for over 3 years before taking the position (now 3 or 4 years ago) that it was a valid theory and posed a significant long-term threat to human society.
    In addition to the numerous journal articles I attempted to understand (some more successfully than others), the 2 web-sites that provided the most helpful to my own education were RC and Spencer Wearts:

    The Discovery of Global Warming

    So thank-you for your dedication to making actual science or AGW accessible to so many.

    Comment by Ken W — 13 Mar 2010 @ 11:52 AM

  81. RealClimate and like minded websites by scientists are doing an noble and extremely difficult task as they seek to inform the public while threading the needle between scientific observations, models and predicting the future outcome of present circumstances.

    What makes the job especially difficult is that those on the other side demand perfection while they are allowed to engage in sloppy reasoning, logical fallacies, misrepresentation of science, egregious errors, propagandizing, and making their own predictions about the future (especially the economic future) without fear of anyone calling their projections into question.

    A similar circumstance occurs in the evolution – creation controversy but fortunately there aren’t any large corporations which make a profit by promoting creationism, hence the lack of creation advocacy in thew news media and even among the talk radio blowhards.

    When there are corporations making billions of dollars in profit every year because they can treat the Earth like a sewer and Nature as a worthless entity worthy of absolute destruction and when the government is populated by politicians who really do imagine that population and economic growth can continue eternally and produce a perpetually prosperous utopia (at least for “us” even if at the expense of “them”), and we have a general public which isn’t scientifically literate nor particular interested in becoming informed about difficult matters … well, the cause seems very much like a lost cause.

    For that reason I’m inclined to allow Nature to solve the human problem in whatever manner she wishes. Extinction happens for a reason. The Earth is going to survive the human catastrophe and Nature will recover and flourish again.

    Humankind is a tragedy with a tragic ending. So much for humankind.

    Comment by David Mathews — 13 Mar 2010 @ 11:54 AM

  82. 50Garrett says:
    13 March 2010 at 3:32 AM
    “Climate scientists have to parrot the pro-AGW party line; it’s so they can get rich off the grant money,”

    Yeah, I bet Gavin has a gated mansion, summer house in the Bahamas, a five car garage and a corporate jet! Sorry, after having been at a National Center for climate research for eleven years, the most I ever saw any senior scientist have was an old two seat British sports car.

    I never once saw even a senior scientist have a Porche or other super car (but one might of course, I just never saw it in 11 years).

    The “evil” Jim Hansen has/had a 10 year old Saab…until it caught fire. Where do these pseudoskeptics get off? They are so scared of big government, they are willing to sell their souls, their country, their civilization and their people for their warped beliefs.

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 13 Mar 2010 @ 12:34 PM

  83. 63 Yvan Dutil

    These guys might help you with your course. Theirs is titled “Aliens are us. An innovative course in astrobiology”

    See http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=5336952

    I know nothing about it other than the abstract, the first lines of which read: “We live in a scientific world; paradoxically, the scientific literacy of the population is minimal at best. Science is an ongoing process, a human endeavour; paradoxically, students tend to believe that science is a finished enterprise. Many non-science major students are not motivated in science classes; paradoxically, there is a public fascination with the possibility of life in the Universe, which is nowadays a scientific endeavour.”
    In the sense that fundamental to our climate change problem is our alienation from our environment, perhaps we need “Aliens are us. An innovative course in climate change.” for all those deniers out there.

    Comment by Hugh Laue — 13 Mar 2010 @ 12:35 PM

  84. My epiphany on climate change came when I first saw the Keeling curve in John Houghton’s book (Global Warming, the Complete Briefing) in the mid 1990′s. Nevertheless, I remained a luke-warmer for many years and I credit the “skeptics” for spurring me to research the problem for myself. Gradually, it became clear to me, especially from reading RealClimate, that the skeptics were bluffers and that the only reliable knowledge on the subject was being produced by mainstream climate scientists.

    Like many here, I have been sickened by the anti-science noise generated by the CRU emails and the other non-scandals. The result of this is that I have now become motivated to become an activist rather than just be an observer. It’s an ill wind…

    Comment by Andy S — 13 Mar 2010 @ 12:38 PM

  85. ‘ccpo’ illustrates my point very well. Thank you!

    Comment by oakwood — 13 Mar 2010 @ 12:48 PM

  86. #54 oakwood

    It’s not about sides, it’s about science. You disagree with the letter, but how is that relevant to the science?

    Forget about what sides are saying.

    - Where do you disagree with the science?
    - On what basis?
    - Can you substantiate your disagreement?

    Looking forward to your response.


    The Climate Lobby
    Understand the Issue
    http://www.climatelobby.com/fee-and-dividend/
    Sign the Petition!
    http://www.climatelobby.com

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 Mar 2010 @ 1:00 PM

  87. 57 Gilles
    You have completely missed the point of my post. Your comment is not appropriate to the overall point of this thread – in my opinion.

    But in answer:
    Have you read studied the AR4 report in detail? Did you not hear Gavin say a while back the problem is NOT any particular temperature level as optimum, the problem IS the rate of climate change. CO2 entering the oceans and the atmosphere from fossil fuels combustion is the cause of the problem. It wasn’t obvious 150 years ago – it is now. That’s the basic scientific fact that we deny at our peril.

    Comment by Hugh Laue — 13 Mar 2010 @ 1:07 PM

  88. 85 Oakwood What point were you making?
    That because you are a scientist your opinion on AGW is credible?

    “Supporter of sustainability and social equality, and sceptical of AGW” is an oxymoron.

    What sort of scientist are you? M Oakwood the Zoologist in Australia?

    Have you perhaps misunderstood the point of the post?

    Comment by Hugh Laue — 13 Mar 2010 @ 1:22 PM

  89. 87 Hugh :” the problem IS the rate of climate change.”.
    So, the most critical thing is the rate … ok. Then I repeat : the current rate of climate change cannot be proved to be unusual by any objective study. Show me a curve of the warming rate if you wan’t to disprove that. The most interesting thing would be a curve comparing the observed rates with the models. I try a bet : you won’t find any (rather curiously since it is supposed to be the most critical parameter).

    Comment by Gilles — 13 Mar 2010 @ 1:24 PM

  90. When I came back from Viet Nam, I moved into the forest and spent 5 years thinking. One of the things I thought about was Climate Change. I decided you only need two facts and then, apply the rules of logic.

    Fact one: 150 years ago, during the study of gases, CO2 was found to restrict the passage of thermal wavelengths.

    Fact two: In 200 years, we have returned 100 million years of carbon storage to the atmosphere.

    Having just now written that, I’m sitting here looking at it. Nothing else to say.

    Pete

    Comment by Ken Peterson — 13 Mar 2010 @ 1:30 PM

  91. Gavin and RC:

    Latest paper getting abused:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/03/02/0902522107.full.pdf+html

    See discussion in the denialosphere e.g.:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/10/paleo-clamatology/

    http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2466945/posts

    Be useful to see how this fits in with the background of actual science on paleoclimate reconstructions…

    [Response: Very odd what they get excited about. People have been looking at alternative calcite sources for ages to get higher resolution isotope data than you can with standard ocean sediments - corals are the main source, but any calcite-producing organism that has annual growth cycles is useful. People have looked at a positive cornucopia of 'fruits de mer' (whelks, cockles, clams etc.). The problem you have is that any individual shell only covers a few years, and can't be dated exactly. So it gives you a somewhat different look at the issues than ocean or lake sediment records or terrestrial speleothems (stalagmites). But like all proxies there are always issues - the 18O signal they are measuring is dominated by temperature, but is also influenced by the 18O in the water itself - which varies as a function local rainfall, river input or ocean currents, and since many of these shells have not been cultured under control conditions, there is certainly the possibility of 'vital effects' (which is paleo-speak for anything that we can't really explain that is due to the specific biological processes the clams use to make their shell). So, a good exploration of a potential new source of paleo info, but hardly the rewriting of the record Watts thinks. They don't even publish any modern samples so this can have no impact on discussions of modern/medieval differences for instance. - gavin]

    Comment by Lamont — 13 Mar 2010 @ 1:35 PM

  92. This letter sounds very similar to my own back story; although I don’t have a formal education in biology, evolution theory has long been one of my favorite science topics. I’ve been debating creationists on and off for a number of years, and I consider myself a general skeptic, with a love for science in general. I spend most of my free time reading up on the natural sciences. In other words, I’m kind of a nerd. }|:op

    Similar to the person who sent the letter, I decided to educate myself on climate science basics about a year ago. The first book I read on the topic a few years back was written by a skeptical geologist (Salomon Kroonenberg) who argues that an ice age is coming in about 10000 years, and therefore global warming might not be so bad. Although I always found that argument a little peculiar, I didn’t really think much of it at the time, and I didn’t really look at the issue because I had other things going on at the time.

    More recently, I decided to finally dive into the subject matter. I’ve tried to refrain from reading too many blog posts on the issue, but I’ve found realclimate to be a very valuable resource for references and summaries of the current state of affairs within the community. As I read up on the subject, I found an increasing number of discrepancies between climate skeptics arguments and the literature (as far as I could understand the arguments in question).

    When I then started engaging in discussions with (non-expert) climate skeptics on a number of forums, I also noticed increasing parallels between the climate skepticism movement and the kinds of tactics used by the ID crowd (the Oregon petition was one of those things that was a real eye-opener). Then, after watching a lecture a few months back by Naomi Oreskes on the history of the George C. Marshall Institute, and checking on some of the things she pointed to in that talk, it became abundantly clear that a large majority of climate skeptics is not practicing skepticism at all.

    This was shortly before the CRU hack and the spree of attacks on the IPCC report. It’s been frustrating to watch the slow response to the various claims and accusations by the community, but I’m very grateful for realclimate’s valuable comments on these and other issues. Please know that a lot of us greatly appreciate it when scientists take on the difficult and time consuming task of communicating their findings to the public. Keep up the great work guys.

    Comment by werecow — 13 Mar 2010 @ 1:59 PM

  93. at 44, John P. Reissman,

    I am concerned as well about CO2 in the climate, but the proposal from Hansen seems not well considered. The magnitude of his proposed tax was not even specified. However, I am assuming it would be something like reported in the Economist magazine, attributed there to “supporters.”

    Referencing the Economist article, March 13, p72, “Put a price of only $30 a tonne on carbon, say supporters, and natural gas will quickly displace coal – - -”, I respond:

    Due to garbled terminology, hardly anyone knows what this means. First, they really are not talking about carbon; it is carbon dioxide (CO2) that we would tax. (When talking seriously, the difference between carbon and CO2 takes on some importance.) In turning coal into CO2 a ton of carbon becomes 44/12 tons of CO2.

    Carbon percentage in coal varies a lot, but for Powder River Basin coal, which is the backbone of USA electricity production, about half a ton of carbon comes from a ton of coal. That becomes 22/12 tons of CO2. That would carry a tax of $55 at the stated $30 per ton of CO2 proposal. Pricing of that coal has varied from $10 to $20 per ton (I am ignoring the 10% difference between tonnes and tons.) over the last year or two. The effective cost of that $10 to $20 Powder River Basin coal with the tax would be $65 to $75. Roughly, we are talking about fuel for coal based electricity production costing 4 times to 6 times what it is now.

    Then the fuel cost of natural gas will about double due to that $30 tax. For the USA, accounting for the fact that hydro and nuclear would stay unchanged, this would amount to approximately tripling the cost of fuel to produce all of the currently used electricity.

    We might also be thinking about the likelihood that the natural gas base price will rise under this situation, since coal has always underpinned the price of natural gas. I suspect Boone Pickens is thinking along these lines.

    Desirable that this would for reducing CO2, the cost to the USA economy has to be taken seriously. If we were to see the average electric bill in the USA triple, that might push our already teetering economy back to third world level. We need to be a little more clever in solving this problem.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 13 Mar 2010 @ 2:41 PM

  94. Philip Machanick says: 13 March 2010 at 4:29 AM

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me five times, I’m a journalist.

    Honestly, it’s as though the collective mind of journalists has suffered some sort of injury to the hippocampus and cannot retain freshly learned facts for more than a few hours or at most days. Each new day is greeted with wide-eyed credulity, seemingly uninformed by all that has gone before.

    On the other hand, watching this topic unfold on the intertubes reminds me of open source software development. No practicing journalist is going to be able to dig out and retain the sort of arcana that aficionados of this topic daily employ in discussion, just as few commercial firms are going to be able to maintain an employee for the sole purpose of maintaining 500 lines of kernel code in support of a long-discontinued peripheral.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Mar 2010 @ 2:49 PM

  95. 90 Ken Peterson,

    Right you are. And you might notice, there is a lot of talking about it and not much doing about.

    So it is time to come out of the woods and get working.

    But be careful. There is a lot of wild talk going on, and it is hard to tell the green from the greenwashed.

    I suggest you look twice at any project that requires a subsidy from the government. Some of these have merit, but for them to be meaningful on a scale that will matter, they have to be economically viable on their own merits. Sometimes a case can be made for future improvement in cost, but these should be carefully evaluated.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 13 Mar 2010 @ 3:08 PM

  96. Frankly I’m not qualified to comment on this website beyond adding my thanks for its continued existence. I’m not sufficiently expert to add any meaningful insight, and what questions I have are by and large answered by the copious and comprehensive information available here. So I check in every day, read the latest articles, a few of the comments and check out any particularly interesting looking new references.

    I was interested in weather and climate as a youngster and while a geography undergraduate in the late 1980s took an introductory level climatology module. (As it happens it turns out I overlapped with Gavin at Jesus College in Oxford). I sat in the Radcliffe Science Library and read a few papers, and I particularly remember Jim Hansen’s 1984 paper which suggested “that substantial climate change due to the greenhouse warming will become apparent during the next 1-2 decades”. It seemed plausible to me based on my very limited understanding. I went off into the world and kept that prediction at the back of my mind. And here we are over two decades later and it’s quite evident to me as a layman that that prediction has been demonstrated to be right.

    Recently I have entered into “debate” (dialogue of the deaf, more like) with a “sceptic” on another web site (not a climate or science related site). Also, wanting to get some proper scientific context to the whole Climategate media storm, this has caused me to want to update and deepen my understanding on AGW and climate change. RealClimate has been an excellent resource. Thanks again.

    Please keep going. It is not only about being right, it is about always having a reasonable answer to those who get it wrong, so that those who aren’t sure or aren’t very knowledgeable can become better educated and those who know a little can argue with “sceptics” who seem to know even less.

    Comment by Owen B — 13 Mar 2010 @ 3:16 PM

  97. @oakwood!

    I recognize that name! good to see over at realclimate – nice post by the way.

    Comment by GSW — 13 Mar 2010 @ 3:22 PM

  98. 81 David Mathews: “fortunately there aren’t any large corporations which make a profit by promoting creationism”
    What do you call the Discovery Institute http://www.discovery.org/?

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 13 Mar 2010 @ 3:29 PM

  99. Does everybody else not think …
    [moderators if I keep making the message shorter, knocking words of the end will I ever be able to say anything other than hello ;-) ]

    Comment by GSW — 13 Mar 2010 @ 3:30 PM

  100. No.78 CCPO wrote – “Unfortunately, there is no support for doubting AGW. By definition, it is impossible to be a skeptic about it.”

    Could someone tell me how the definition of AGW makes it is impossible to be a skeptic? Does that mean it is impossible to falsify as it is as certain as the earth is in motion around the sun? Who else here agrees with this statement? For the record I think it is an extreme position to hold on the subject of anthropogenic causation.

    Kind Regards

    Michael

    Comment by Michael — 13 Mar 2010 @ 3:35 PM

  101. Hear, hear. Unlike the letter writer, I’m not a former ‘skeptic’, but a concerned layperson who’s trusted the scientific consensus since the first IPCC report. This blog has taught me so much more about the science than the popularized versions that had me thinking I was well-informed. RealClimate also an inspiring example of what scientists can do to communicate their work, engage with the public, contend with pseudoscience and unreason, and stand up to political bullying, with arguments, wit, and intellectual integrity.

    Christian Moe

    Comment by CM — 13 Mar 2010 @ 3:42 PM

  102. 93 Jim said, “If we were to see the average electric bill in the USA triple, that might push our already teetering economy back to third world level.”

    That’s so wrong it’s insane.

    Comment by RichardC — 13 Mar 2010 @ 3:43 PM

  103. I did a university paper on climate. Hence my interest in AGW. From the start it seemed completely obvious we could be warming the climate. However ten years ago somebody directed me to various sceptic arguments and graphs which seemed to raise valid doubts. I left it there for years as I was busy and became a sceptic although not rabidly so.

    Then I had another close look at both sides. Really close. And realised the sceptics talked nonsense. I dont like being deceived by fake or selective graphs and I got angry. I cant believe how obviously highly qualified scientists can talk such rubbbish knowing its rubbish. This is a very dirty game. Presumeably its the stakes are high for various groups but even that doesnt explain it and nobody has really pinpointed it.

    Anyway the point is I had the time to closely study the issue and the evidence for AGW is in the fine detail. Most people dont have the time. They respond to soundbites and if they are deceived by some sceptic nonsense that tells them what they want to hear they get stuck there. They dont want to spend time digesting furthur complex couner arguments. Your site does a great job explaining the issues and is vitally needed as it is scrutinised by decision makers, but I fear The only thing that will really wake the general public up is a big spike in temperatures or some other major breakthrough evidence. A better explanation in the mass media on greenhouse fingerprints would also help, but in the end something dramatic is needed.

    Comment by nigel jones — 13 Mar 2010 @ 4:19 PM

  104. {Response: Very odd what they get excited about. People have been looking at alternative calcite sources for ages to get higher resolution isotope data than you can with standard ocean sediments – corals are the main source, but any calcite-producing organism that has annual growth cycles is useful. People have looked at a positive cornucopia of ‘fruits de mer’ (whelks, cockles, clams etc.). The problem you have is that any individual shell only covers a few years, and can’t be dated exactly. So it gives you a somewhat different look at the issues than ocean or lake sediment records or terrestrial speleothems (stalagmites). But like all proxies there are always issues – the 18O signal they are measuring is dominated by temperature, but is also influenced by the 18O in the water itself – which varies as a function local rainfall, river input or ocean currents, and since many of these shells have not been cultured under control conditions, there is certainly the possibility of ‘vital effects’ (which is paleo-speak for anything that we can’t really explain that is due to the specific biological processes the clams use to make their shell). So, a good exploration of a potential new source of paleo info, but hardly the rewriting of the record Watts thinks. They don’t even publish any modern samples so this can have no impact on discussions of modern/medieval differences for instance. – gavin]}

    Interesting Gavin, this is basically what Paul Dennis has been posting. But then that is what this post is about isn’t it? Filtering out the opinions, and learning from the science. Again thanx.

    Comment by Leo G — 13 Mar 2010 @ 4:32 PM

  105. J 20

    “Arthur” is a typo, I believe…

    Comment by John Peter — 13 Mar 2010 @ 5:01 PM

  106. Thanks Gavin and everyone else at RC for this amazing public service.

    Comment by MapleLeaf — 13 Mar 2010 @ 5:06 PM

  107. Like almost all the contributors here I am very grateful to RC. Thanks for this site!

    However I would like to question the parallel between creationism and AGW denial. I realise there are parallels, but I don’t think that denialists have such a “God-given” reason to deny AGW as the creationist do evolution. (And note that in the UK and Australia, whilst creationism is a very small movement, AGW denialism is much stronger).

    I think the reason for opposition that anthropogenic CO2 is the main driver behind global warming is that when the idea was first touted people could afford to ignore it. Of course conservatives and free-market types opposed Kyoto in a knee-jerk sort of way. But I think that they thought then this was a just something they could ignore. This is why there was quite a lag between the science of AGW being essentially settled and the emergence of an active denialist movement. I think the denialist thought process went like this:

    1. So they reckon there a problem with CO2 from industry causing rising temperatures.
    2. Hum.
    3. Help, there are no free market solutions!
    4. What can we say?
    5. Let’s deny that temperatures are rising, or if they are, that CO2 is to blame, and we’ll certainly oppose any green environmental fascist regulations.

    BTW I have lived under both conservative (Thatcher, Howard) and social democratic governments and I haven’t noticed that taxes were lower or government regulation less under the conservatives. In fact proportionally the biggest tax bill I ever got was Thatcher’s Poll Tax.

    Comment by calyptorhynchus — 13 Mar 2010 @ 5:07 PM

  108. [edit - if you have something substantive to say, say it. Not interested in playing games]

    Comment by GSW — 13 Mar 2010 @ 5:12 PM

  109. #93 Jim Bullis

    I appreciate your concerns. In order to properly address best policy towards mitigation one needs to consider many more aspects of global economies. To limit consideration only to the US economy would reduce synergistic considerations of relevant inter-dynamic systems of multiple economies.

    When it comes to being clever though, I think limiting ones view to only the perspective on the USA severely impairs the greater context of a global inter-dynamic economy(ies) and security situation. Further, one must consider the infrastructure costs of latitudinal shift, drops in soil moisture content, draining aquifers, soil nutrient changes, rainfall pattern shift and a plethora of other considerations. One must also consider the timer component which is often ignored in political and policy considerations due to the limitations of those subject to the nature of the political cycle, namely the politicians and special interests.

    The policy structure is a moving target to some degree and needs additional economic analysis to identify best starting points and the progressive rates that will give both meaningful change impetus as well as the best mix between energy economy and monetary economy considerations in relation to needed emission reductions at the highest possible rate. But parametrized considerations are certainly achievable once better understood.

    I think it is too myopic to merely write off a policy consideration just because all details are not available, just as I don’t believe it is wise to say we should do nothing (policy-wise) about human caused global warming until we know exactly how all aspects of climate work before we make policy changes.

    From my current point of view, that would be similar to standing on the railway track, seeing a train coming and saying well, there is no reason to get off the track until the train actually hits me. That is the only way to really prove that the train was going to hit me, and what the consequences will be.

    I am working on some structuring now and using some of the work that has preceded as a basis. The goal is to maintain a functioning economy while achieving the fastest emission reduction possible. I don’t believe this is an inappropriate goal.

    There are links in the about section that link directly to Dr. Hansens writings on this matter and I have begun to address concerns on the following page:

    http://www.climatelobby.com/fee-and-dividend/q-a/

    Of course, no relevant consideration should be left unrecognized… so, as I said, your concerns are appreciated.


    The Climate Lobby
    Understand the Issue
    http://www.climatelobby.com/fee-and-dividend/
    Sign the Petition!
    http://www.climatelobby.com

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 Mar 2010 @ 5:27 PM

  110. #100 Michael

    The relevant point here is that there is no viable alternative theory. So in that context, the certainty level is extraordinarily high. I would go as far as saying it as certain as the earth is in motion around the sun.

    Recall, it did take mankind (in some circles) some time to accept that the earth revolves around the sun. Also, be aware, there are still people that believe the earth is only 6000 years old.

    For the record, I don’t think it is an extreme position to hold on the subject of anthropogenic causation… unless you have evidence to scientifically invalidate the science as it now stands?

    On the major components of understanding cause an d effect re AGW, I’d say it is not inappropriate to put the science into the 99.99% category on anthropogenic causation of the shift of the climate path. But I’m open minded, feel free to disprove it, and like those that changed their minds on whether the sun is revolving around the earth or vice versa, I too will change my mind. All you need to do is falsify the thesis as currently understood.


    The Climate Lobby
    Understand the Issue
    http://www.climatelobby.com/fee-and-dividend/
    Sign the Petition!
    http://www.climatelobby.com

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 Mar 2010 @ 5:35 PM

  111. Ok, I’ll have another go. I hope no-one is offended by this but, all the initial posts, and it has improved later, have been along the lines of;

    I used to be a sceptic but now my eyes have been opened!

    The usual to and fro is going on on the other blog sites – the content here is somewhat well, unique. Does anyone have an idea what is going on?

    It’s just the first thing that struck me when I started reading.

    Comment by GSW — 13 Mar 2010 @ 5:44 PM

  112. 102 Richard C.

    “Insane” huh? I guess you find it upsetting to hear about costs that seem to surprise you.

    Do you have criticism of my arithmetic? Or did you think “carbon” really meant carbon? Or do you have knowledge of coal prices and carbon content of such?

    A discussion might get somewhere. Of course I am insane to try to actually discuss ways to solve the problem that are not on everyone else’s list.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 13 Mar 2010 @ 5:46 PM

  113. 109 John Riesman,

    Your well spoken discussion gives proper balance to the debate. I acknowledge your points and think that in the long run, you are suggesting a realistic policy.

    I think we should not write off considering a policy because all the details are not stated, but actually setting that in law needs to be with awareness of more of the details.

    I have in hand (so to speak) solutions that would cut the energy used for transportation, in phases, to a small fraction of that used now. This involves making both cars and trucks far more efficient aerodynamically, and making rolling resistance of truck tires a tenth of that now experienced. An add-on is a way to use hybrid car equipment to produce electric power from natural gas two to three times more efficiently than can now be done with central natural power plants. This kind of solution offers no-cost or even profitable opportunities. In connection with these kinds of changes, the program to wean us from coal could become a plausible thing to sell to the public. I think the things I suggest could strengthen the US manufacturing economy, and then we would be in a position to crank down the coal system without breaking the system.

    This is how we might possibly get ahead of the problem. If we throw in insulation, other kinds of engines, fuels, etc. we might actually solve the climate change problem from the USA perspective, and we might even show a path that other countries would find sensible.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 13 Mar 2010 @ 6:08 PM

  114. The hubris displayed here is simply stunning. For example:
    To these people I say: “Only Qualified Climate scientists w/Ph.D who specialize in some aspect of this science ARE Qualified to Tell the rest of us what the truth is”. #28
    “ I as well have found obtaining a firm grasp of climatology much more difficult than an equivalent level of understanding of other scientific fields. RealClimate has provided a significant portion of my education.” #6 Are you serious? Have you tried studying String Theory lately ?
    Or how about this,
    “but only the most ignorant person could fail to see the terrible intellectual gulf between the quality of so-called skeptic sites and those defending the science behind the AGW thesis.”
    or
    “Unfortunately, there is no support for doubting AGW. By definition, it is impossible to be a skeptic about it.” #78

    The religious tone of the comments is also remarkable. Many bear witness of how they were once skeptic or agnostic but through study and RC, they now see the light. For example.
    “I came first as a skeptic of AGW and believing of a cultural bias of scientists working on climate.
    You educated me so much, my views have totally changed.
    I’m quite ashamed now to think that before I had an opinion about climate not knowing even the basics, that now by reading your site I’m beginning to start to grasp your science.” #34
    And how about some groveling before your gods.
    “Thank you. Frankly I’m not qualified to comment on this website beyond adding my thanks for its continued existence. I’m not sufficiently expert to add any meaningful insight” #96
    Then there are those who tell of doing battle with the unbelievers, some have even suffered for their faith.
    “I’ve not been threatened with physical violence, but I have had people express concern for my immortal soul (and my brother tends to keep his family away from me, as if I were going to jump all over his kids and drag them into the bottomless pit with me right there and then). #4
    And of course what religion would not be complete without punishment for failure.
    “ people are in denial about the whole 6th extinction. I think there’s huge unconscious resistance to
    acknowledging that the American dream has become a planetary nightmare.” #11
    There is a reason why most religious people are not believers in or greatly concerned with AGW. They already believe in something.

    Comment by D. Glass — 13 Mar 2010 @ 6:39 PM

  115. #103 nigel jones

    “but I fear The only thing that will really wake the general public up is a big spike in temperatures”

    nigel, I’m curious about what ‘convinces’ about AGW. I think you’re right, people a more convinced by a run of warm weather, rather than the science arguments.

    Also, I think to move things past reasonable doubt, the performance of the models is key. If you can get the MGT to hover around a much tighter subset of models, it will be difficult to argue.

    Comment by GSW — 13 Mar 2010 @ 6:56 PM

  116. #113 Jim Bullis

    I am in agreement with your points and intentions.

    My order of precedence in this context includes:

    - Consumption Reduction
    - Efficiency Increase
    - Transition to Renewable/Sustainable

    Methods include:

    - Education/Awareness
    - Meaningful Policy (best possible mitigation)
    - Adaptation Planning

    Quantification of detail may take some time to nail down policy premise though.

    Additionally, I do not negate any state perspective, but wanted to point out that a US centric solution that does not consider all relevant economies could easily lead down a more precarious path, economically speaking.

    I continue to hope that the US will become a larger part of the solution. We innovated our way into a serious global challenge, that of climate change. Now we (the world community) will need to mitigate and adapt as best we can with equal fervor and even more brilliant innovation.

    Let us hope we soon embrace the challenge appropriately.


    The Climate Lobby
    Understand the Issue
    http://www.climatelobby.com/fee-and-dividend/
    Sign the Petition!
    http://www.climatelobby.com

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 Mar 2010 @ 7:19 PM

  117. 39 Emanuele Lombardi

    There is plenty of data that fials [sic] to support AGW, the difficulty is finding it in all the pro AGW rhetoric, but there are many good books if you loook for them.
    ————–
    Emanuele: Please give some examples of books you consider worthwhile. So far I have not seen any books that disprove AGW. I glanced at a book by Singer and decided it was trash.

    Comment by AlC — 13 Mar 2010 @ 7:45 PM

  118. Love your work guys

    Comment by Corey Watts — 13 Mar 2010 @ 8:02 PM

  119. “…only the most ignorant person could fail to see the terrible intellectual gulf between the quality of so-called skeptic sites and those defending the science behind the AGW thesis.”

    “Each denier argument is more ludicrous than the next…”

    “AGW seems so obvious to me that I’m amazed more people don’t get it right off.”

    “The first thing that struck me about the sceptics was the similarity of the structure of their arguments to that of the creationists.”

    “In the face of evidence only a fool would not be prepared to change his standpoint and such people are best left to their own delusions.”

    Ignorant, ludicrous, fool, creationist, intellectual gulf, delusions – the denigration chorus goes on and on at this site. Do any of the above comments come from people with scientific credentials comparable to the AGW skeptics listed here?

    Richard Lindzen, Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, member of the National Academy of Sciences

    Garth Paltridge, retired Chief Research Scientist, CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research and retired Director of the Institute of the Antarctic Cooperative Research Centre

    Sallie Baliunas, astronomer, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

    Hendrik Tennekes, retired Director of Research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute

    Willie Soon, astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

    John Christy, professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center,
    University of Alabama

    Obviously, there are AGW skeptics with significant scientific credentials. Debating those with whom you disagree can be instructive – denigrating them only diminishes you.

    [Response: You make a significant error in personalising the quoted comments - they mostly deal with the quality of the contrarian arguments. While Lindzen for instance has made some interesting points - none of which have stood up to much further examination (for instance), he has also used some patently idiotic arguments in public (signing a statement implying that the limits on weather forecasting preclude any climate predictions, that warming on Mars means that warming on Earth is natural etc.). Soon and Baliunas have never advanced anything resembling a coherent position while Tennekes has not published anything on this topic in any recent journal as far as I can tell. To the extent that any of your list have useful contributions to make, they can publish them (Christy, Paltridge and Lindzen have no problem getting their ideas into the journals), and others in the community will respond. The fact of the matter is it only takes a short time perusing WUWT or Pajamas Media or Drudge or Morano to see nonsense arguments trotted out on a regular basis, and you don't need to a "highly credentialed" scientist to see it. - gavin]

    Comment by Jack Maloney — 13 Mar 2010 @ 8:04 PM

  120. “What convinced me, though, is that the arguments made by a few sites like yours are explicit and testable.”
    “Testable”?!? Really? How do you test long-range climate forecasts?

    [Response: Here (and updates). - gavin]

    Comment by S. Keptic — 13 Mar 2010 @ 8:23 PM

  121. #111 GSW

    I think what is going on here on the RC site is exactly what you are seeing. People are examining the arguments and finding that the denialist sites are largely presenting non-scientific opinions, while RC is presenting the science with relevant context.

    Since you are asking, it is rather obvious you have not yet advanced that far in understanding the science. Keep at it and maybe you too will learn what is happening with human caused global warming.


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 Mar 2010 @ 8:25 PM

  122. Out of curiosity, I visited the tea party forums on the Internet and participated in a few discussions with members of the tea party. Today, I’ve made up my mind that I need to reformulate my world view about humanity. I’ve come to the conclusion that facts are not nearly as important as simplicity. I wrongfully assumed that people just didn’t understand something because it was complicated. In any discussions of sufficient complexity, members of the tea party exhibited a very strong need of closure. In other words, they needed simplicity, and they were very dogmatic about it.

    Even when over-whelming evidence was displayed to refute their assertions, they seemed to make excuses to support their beliefs. I think they have some kind of fear of complexity, and they look for some way out. If they are offered a very simple explanation that will allow them to avoid facing a complex issue, they will grab a hold of it like a drowning man holding onto a float. After they have their simple explanation, they will not let go no matter what.

    In order to reach these people in climate science, I think a lot of things are going to have to be rethought. Facts, accuracy of models, measurements, or other things are not going to work. They need to hear some kind of very very simple explanation. An explanation that they can relate to in some way.

    But I could be completely wrong. (wouldn’t be the first time lol)

    Comment by EL — 13 Mar 2010 @ 8:38 PM

  123. What tools are appropriate for the job? First, what is the job? Apparently, an unending harangue against the great unwashed. Never in the history of civilization have the Stupid been given so much press coverage. A marshaling of facts in this intellectual bar fight is an insult to reason.

    Our group of retired engineers and officers were discussing the electrical load of the state of California when we were brought to a halt by the retort of the guy who had just gone for the next round: “You can’t solve a political problem with engineering solutions,” he said.

    What kind of a problem is this? what tools are appropriate? Because we don’t seem to understand the nature of the debate. For the past million years, at this point in the Milankovic cycle, CO2 had plummeted, allowing the night sky to dissipate the day’s heat and, thereby, taking the temperature down with it. This all happened, not at 300 or 400 ppm CO2, but at 260 ppm CO2. We are now at a point in the CO2 cycle never seen by civilized societies and we still have the entire Solar System working against us. I have seen noone mention the Galactic Forces called obliquity, eccentricity, and precession building against us. When the inhibited forces of thermal radiation break from the whispered urge of a diminishing sun, how will that play with the S&P 500? Should I be long or short rice?

    I’m more amused than interested in the mannered, PC responses to an ex-director of Halliburton espousing the philosophy: “Petroleum is vital… to the maintenance of industrialized civilization itself”.

    This conversation is not going anyplace.

    Comment by Ken Peterson — 13 Mar 2010 @ 8:44 PM

  124. The RealClimate blog has helped me better understand climate. I appreciate the objectivity of the posts such as the recent post on the “Artic methane on the Move”. As I learn more about climatology, I am becoming increasingly aware of the complexity of the science. Climatology is rather unique in its reliance on numerical modelling as a discipline since there are so many factors involved. For example, in the case of the warming of the methane hydrates leading to more methane in the atmosphere in your recent blog “Artic methane on the move” you have to model the actual melting of the hydrates on the EARTH SCALE which necessarily involves numerical simulations of the heat transfer to the trapped methane on a large scale. If the warming of the methane hydrates was the only source of methane in the atmosphere you would not have to model the release of methane. You could just measure the methane concentration in the atmosphere. However, since there are multiple sources of methane from plant decomposition, volcanoes, etc… which are difficult to measure it is necessary to at least estimate numerically the release of the methane from the hydrates. Too often, I hear environmentalists argue in qualitative terms about climate especially when they talk about tipping points. The effect of the increase of CO2 on global warming is determined indirectly by history matching past temperatures. Since I think that an explanation for the global warming has to be numerical in nature, I agree that the best explanation for that 20th century warming is that it is mostly due to the radiative forcing due to an increase in CO2. In other words, climatologists simply have not been able yet to find a better history match of previous temeperatures without including the radiative forcing due to CO2. I think the CO2 explanation in a way is the easiest to give since historically the science of solar and terrestial radiation has been studied for almost 70 years. In the 60s and 70s climatologists were using simpler 1D or even 2D radiative convective models. It is only since the last 20 years that climatologists are able to study the role of internal multi-decadal oscillations in ocean temperatures on global warming using global circulation models. From what I read so far there is not a clear understanding of the relation between global warming and extreme weather such as hurricanes for example. I am not convinced of the sensitivity of the global circulation models nor of the ability of the global circulation models to predict future global temperatures over several decades since they have not been tested in quantitative terms since climatologists have not yet determined the effect of the internal multi-decadal variability of ocean temperatures on global temperatures. I think that climatology will remain a qualitative science there are too many factors involved in the earth sciences. Únfortunately we are trying to use QUALITATIVE estimates of future warming, precipitation, ENSO frequency and intensity, droughts, floods, etc… to justify huge expenditures of public funds to solve a hypothetical problem.

    Comment by RaymondT — 13 Mar 2010 @ 9:19 PM

  125. Eli has three points to make, the first is to express thanks to the Real Climate team for persisting in the face of some really nasty opposition. Especially to Mike Mann, Gavin Schmidt and Stefan Rahmstorf, (and Ben Santer), thanks for taking the lead.

    Second, the Lindzens, Singers, Christys and Pielkes of the world have long played a double game, on the one hand demanding respect for themselves within the scientific enterprise while trashing everyone else in the public sphere. They need to be held to account.

    Third, scientists have to understand the broad nature of the attack on science, lead, of course, by the Lindzens, Singers, Pielkes and Christys, and realize that they cannot hide. As the Royal Society of Chemistry said

    “Support from the scientific community is needed to provide context and to explain the process by which conclusions are reached. Encouraging scientists to openly engage with the public can only be achieved if researchers are given the necessary backing in the face of any unfounded arguments against their work. This support must come from the highest levels, sending out a strong message on the importance of scientific methodology and research and promoting open sharing of information between scientists and the wider community.”

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 13 Mar 2010 @ 9:25 PM

  126. #114 D. Glass

    The hubris displayed in your post is simply stunning. For example, the connotative inference of your post includes some inclinations, insinuations and misnomers:

    - You seem to have a problem with people learning, and commenting on what they are learning?
    - You seem to use political spin techniques to divert attention.
    - What does ‘string theory’ have to do with understanding climate?
    - You bring up the age old climate science is religion argument, which of course is ridiculous.
    - You seem to infer climate scientists are Gods in your argument? Would like a little more straw with that?

    Hmmm, unbelievers, suffered for faith, punishment for failure; we are seeing a pattern here. Lemme guess, you learned these terms somewhere?

    If I follow your logic in your post, you don’t believe people should learn. Or is it that you don’t believe people should learn about climate science? Well, that is interesting. And how did you come to this conclusion/notion?

    Your final sentence may have some relevant substance, obtuse though it is. But you seem to miss the point, you see, climate is not about belief. It’s about math, physics, observations, modeling and the careful method of falsification and scientific skepticism that leads to more robust conclusions as they are achievable.


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 Mar 2010 @ 9:49 PM

  127. #119 Jack Maloney

    You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand that rockets can go up.

    You don’t need to be a climate scientist to know that global ice mass is dropping and the planet is warming. Or that humans have added massive amounts of greenhouse gases to our atmosphere.

    And finally, just because someone is a scientist, does not necessarily mean they are a good scientist.

    If a doctor approached you today and and said you need your brain replaced, wouldn’t you get a second opinion, or would you just agree, because another doctor agrees with him. Wouldn’t you question to see if there might be a consensus about whether or not your brain should be replaced?

    Now, let’s say you are aware that thousands of scientists that work in the field of brain surgery say you should not have the operation and that you don’t need your brain replaced and in fact that idea is ludicrous. And then told you that only a few doctors are recommending, based on their opinion, you should have your brain replaced.

    But the consensus view from all the other doctors is that it will kill you.

    But, the few scientists you know say it won’t?

    My, so confusing…

    So what say you, are you going to have the operation or not?


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 Mar 2010 @ 9:59 PM

  128. Re the OP: You may be interested in another honestly skeptical ‘outsider’ review of AGW, ‘Poles Apart’ (http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/SC0905/S00024.htm and http://polesapart.com/)
    Re #4 and others: It seems to me that the anti-evolutionist and anti-AGW campaigns have more in common with each other than they do with resistance to many similarly significant scientific revolutions – the germ theory of disease, plate tectonics, the smoking-cancer link, etc. I think the difference is due to the fact that both evolution and AGW reflect profoundly on how we understand ourselves in relation to the world: evolution said, “Hey, we’re nothing special really – we’re animals!” and AGW says, “Hey, we can’t keep on treating the world as an infinite resource – we really have to step up and become farmers, managers, gardeners, of the whole biosphere, not hunter-gatherers or slash-and-burn cultivators.”

    And thanks, as always, to Gavin and the rest of the RealClimate team.
    Malcolm

    Comment by MalcolmT — 13 Mar 2010 @ 10:27 PM

  129. D Glas@114 Do you actually know the meaning of the word “hubris”? you’ve certainly given a convincing demonstration of it. ;)

    Comment by flxible — 13 Mar 2010 @ 10:29 PM

  130. D. Glass@114
    Ah, yes, the old “people are convinced, so it must be religion” argument. I guess that makes it so much easier to dismiss the arguments than actually looking at the evidence. Why don’t you try that, sometime. You will find that the evidence is overwhelming–and that is why people are convinced. Or you can continue to live in denial. Your choice.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Mar 2010 @ 10:37 PM

  131. GSW says: “The usual to and fro is going on on the other blog sites – the content here is somewhat well, unique. Does anyone have an idea what is going on?”

    Yes. People here have actually been studying the science.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Mar 2010 @ 10:39 PM

  132. So if this AGW stuff is really supported by science, let’s try a scientific test.

    Please name one specific, falsifiable prediction that the theory of AGW makes and that has been tested.

    Thanks in advance!

    [Response: Stratospheric cooling. - gavin]

    Comment by Wannabe Snark — 13 Mar 2010 @ 11:03 PM

  133. “You make a significant error in personalising the quoted comments – they mostly deal with the quality of the contrarian arguments. Lindzen…used some patently idiotic arguments…Soon and Baliunas have never advanced anything resembling a coherent position…”

    Gavin – you say I “make a significant error in personalising” the comments. But I named no names. My post was simply protesting this site’s routine denigration of reputable scientists simply because they do not agree with you and your associates. Seems to me you’re the one “personalising” comments by direct attacks (“patently idiotic”, “never coherent”) on named individuals. If your science is as ‘robust’ as you claim, it should stand up to challenge without resort to such tactics.

    [Response: The science is robust, and it easily stands up. My point was that you assumed that all the comments in the thread were personal remarks directed against Lindzen and the others you named. This is not the case. In any case, there is a significant difference in criticising Lindzen's public statements on the science and his personal qualities. The first is completely fair game. But an argument *can* be patently idiotic without the user of said argument being an idiot, and a paper that conflates any anomaly that is either wet or dry or warm over any fifty year period at any time in the past with there being a 'Medieval Warm Period' warmer than modern is not coherent. You seem to be stating that one can never criticise an argument however specious without it being personal. I beg to differ. - gavin]

    Comment by Jack Maloney — 13 Mar 2010 @ 11:56 PM

  134. For likely the 100th time on this thread, let me also add my sincere thank you. RC has helped me over the last year to distill the issues and finally learn enough about climate science and re-learn enough about the physical sciences to feel grounded in my arguments.

    As a business person working in the RE industry, my motives are always suspect but the science of carbon based energy is non controversial. Those that make it so, have only controversy as their ally.

    Comment by Eric Rowland — 14 Mar 2010 @ 12:23 AM

  135. Re:114 D. Glass says: 13 March 2010 at 6:39 PM
    The hubris displayed here is simply stunning.
    And of course what religion would not be complete without punishment for failure.
    “ people are in denial about the whole 6th extinction. I think there’s huge unconscious resistance to
    acknowledging that the American dream has become a planetary nightmare.” #11

    It’s more than religious punishment for failure.

    Look up 6th extinction:

    The Sixth Extinction
    http://www.actionbioscience.org/newfrontiers/eldredge2.html
    Niles Eldredge

    The Sixth Extinction
    http://www.well.com/~davidu/sixthextinction.html
    by Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin

    Etc. Use Google.

    The materialist lifestyles and a whole economy based on wasteful consumption best exemplified as the American dream is literally wasting the planet. Here’s where some of it goes:
    Great Pacific Garbage Patch
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch

    The energy and transportation we use is directly responsible for the waste gasses that physicists have proved absorb heat radiated from the surface of the Earth, thereby warming the atmosphere with all sorts of harmful consequences. Even the food most Americans have become accustomed to eating contributes to the problem. And everyone wants to be like us. It’s called the revolution of rising expectations.

    Thus the materialist junkie religion all too many people exhibit is destroying the biodiversity of the planet. It’s called the 6th extinction. It’s undeniable to any reasoning person.

    If you could actually un-stun yourself instead of stringing diverse rhetorical beads on a chain of evidence proving nothing more than you can’t tell the truth, you’d never have written:
    “There is a reason why most religious people are not believers in or greatly concerned with AGW. They already believe in something.”

    They should acknowledge their nemesis.

    Comment by Tim Jones — 14 Mar 2010 @ 12:25 AM

  136. Your web site is well organized and interesting. Unfortunately I do not have the linguistic ability as an “englishborn” person. But I have tried to write a monograph about an issue which is very intimately linked to climate change/disruption. It is titled “A Painful Reality”. I used the pseudo-name Enrico Fabrizius because I made a few religiously sensitive statements and do not personally want to incurr the wrath of a fatwa. There are also denyers of the reality of human overpopulation particularly those of fundamental religious persuasions. It is my conviction that we “mankind” will most likely not be able to change course soon enough to prevent disastrous climate disruption without solving the population isue. Thank you for following these thoughts. Heinrich Schmid in Austria.

    Comment by Heinrich Schmid — 14 Mar 2010 @ 12:37 AM

  137. Desirable that this would for reducing CO2, the cost to the USA economy has to be taken seriously. If we were to see the average electric bill in the USA triple, that might push our already teetering economy back to third world level. We need to be a little more clever in solving this problem.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 13 March 2010 @ 2:41 PM

    You seem to be missing a very key point. There is a dividend involved, so the extra cost goes 100% back into the economy. It is economically neutral. Well, that actually is not accurate as those who need to spend the money will. It might actually speed up the velocity of money and act as a stimulus. Maybe.

    Part of the idea is that if you make it expensive, people will use less. That will reduce economy in the FF sector, but lead to conservation (a good thing) and to more demand for “renewables.”

    There are two potential weaknesses I can see. One is that those of lower means are likely to spend the dividend, thus reinforce the use of FFs. The other is that producers will raise prices to get their profits back, making the dividend meaningless to consumers.

    However, cap and trade is insane. It’s putting the foxes back into the hen house with a butcher knife and rotisserie in terms of the abuse of it that will go on among the banking and investment industries and the wealthy.

    I suppose I’m also comfortable with slowing the economy because we need to, anyway. You can’t run the future on the lower energy availability we face. Even if we successfully transition to “renewables,” there will be a few decades where there is an energy deficit.

    History teaches us that efficiencies only get us so far before increased demand from increased population, etc., overwhelms. For example, despite 30%+ increase in efficiency overall, the American economy used more oil in 2007 than it did in 1979-81… by a lot.

    Add in the disruptions from climate and the already-destabilized economy?

    A perfect storm cometh. Rather, it’s already here. A new paradigm is not only desirable, it’s the only way forward.

    Cheers

    Comment by ccpo — 14 Mar 2010 @ 12:48 AM

  138. Also, I think to move things past reasonable doubt, the performance of the models is key. If you can get the MGT to hover around a much tighter subset of models, it will be difficult to argue.

    Comment by GSW — 13 March 2010 @ 6:56 PM

    Typical. One problem with your requirement: you don’t seem to understand the function of the models. The models don’t create the science. The science is done and the results tested. Models primarily provide insight into a what *might* happen from here. Since they are generally tested against past climate, we can trust that they have some validity looking forward.

    You also seem to think models give *an* answer. At least, that is implied in your statement above. But the GCM’s, etc., produce a very wide range of possibilities with a range of probabilities.

    The models are not the science, the observations, the experiments. Besides, the simple fact they are generally *underestimating* the changes makes it quite clear, logically, that if anything, it’s worse than we’d hoped and the science that much better than the denialists will ever admit.

    Ah, but, we already know people make decisions based on ideology and belief before facts and logic.

    Cheers

    Comment by ccpo — 14 Mar 2010 @ 1:04 AM

  139. Bravo RC. I enjoyed reading the comments of other fans as well.

    I need to get out of the rut of tripping on so-called skeptics and then getting hooked on refuting their arguments, when the question of what to do next is really most pressing. IPCC gives us a climate sensitivity of 2C to 4.5 C for a doubling of CO2. The models trade off climate sensitivity against direct and indirect effects of aerosol to arrive at the same “reasonable” modern climate. So, what does a policy maker do? 2C is acceptable in Copenhagen and 4.5 C is a reset for civilization. Do we pretend that it is 3C and proceed? Of course, we can readjust as we learn more, but is 3C sufficiently conservative or overly expensive?
    Is anyone aware of policy studies that have driven the House Cap and Trade bill through the range of sensitivities? Does it work at 2 C and 4.5C per doubling?

    Is there a thread there that is more relevant where I should post this question.

    Chuck Wilson

    Comment by James C. Wilson — 14 Mar 2010 @ 1:05 AM

  140. Just want to add my ‘Thank You!’ to the other posts here. I read this site daily. It’s a great (nerdy) kick to get the thinking of some of the foremost researches in the field directly.

    You guys, John Cook, and others give those of us in engaged in public debates a fast, effective, fact based response to the denialist’s nonsense. I’ve referred many of them here, in hopes that they’ll stumble across at least the minor insight that the nature, vast scope, depth, and complexity of the science is formidable and as far from a conspiracy as it can get. A few have even stopped making simplistic “it’s the volcanoes” type arguments, so maybe they have looked a bit deeper.

    Comment by Paulie200 — 14 Mar 2010 @ 1:39 AM

  141. #137 ccpo

    Thank you for that comment. Interesting considerations. I will need to contemplate and integrate in the FAQ’s I think. Too tired tonight though to contemplate further.


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 14 Mar 2010 @ 2:00 AM

  142. This guy also comes from another field and weighs in on Climate Science. Different conclusion though.
    http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/03/the_granularity_of_climate_mod.html

    [Response: He doesn't have a clue unfortunately. He thinks that CRU is part of the UK Met office, that the Hadley Centre is the same place as CRU, that climate models are the same as surface temperature analyses or at least use them as input, that homogenisation of individual station data is somehow the same as interpolation to fill in missing data, etc. etc. Exactly the kind of article you get when someone comes in who think they know enough and so don't feel the need to check their ideas, but really they don't what they are doing. He would benefit enormously for a single conversation with someone who knows what they are talking about. - gavin]

    Comment by David Rumberg — 14 Mar 2010 @ 2:06 AM

  143. OT: At the ‘Data Sources’ page the link to Cryosphere Today incorrectly points to UAH TLT data.

    [Response: Fixed. thanks. - gavin]

    Comment by Chad — 14 Mar 2010 @ 2:42 AM

  144. ccpo :”You seem to be missing a very key point. There is a dividend involved, so the extra cost goes 100% back into the economy. It is economically neutral….
    Part of the idea is that if you make it expensive, people will use less. That will reduce economy in the FF sector, but lead to conservation (a good thing) and to more demand for “renewables.”

    So ccpo you succeed in being self contradictory in two sentences ! if being expensive makes people use less, there is absolutely no guarantee that it is “economically neutral”. Given the fact that money invested in alternative energy is distracted from elsewhere, the total amount of wealth produced has no reason to stay constant. This a question of productivity : does it increase globally , or does it decrease ? given the very different costs and applicability of fossil fuels vs electricity, it would be very unlikely that they give the same economical productivity. So either renewables are MORE productive – and the replacement should happen automatically, much like FF replaced animals and natural energies – either they are LESS productive, and the world economy can do nothing but decrease.


    I suppose I’m also comfortable with slowing the economy because we need to, anyway. You can’t run the future on the lower energy availability we face. Even if we successfully transition to “renewables,” there will be a few decades where there is an energy deficit.

    So you admit that renewable cannot produce the energy of fossil fuels… That’s not a question of rate, China’s growth has been sustained at a very high rate through the use of fossil fuels. Why not through windmills and solar panels, if they were equivalent at the end ?

    Comment by Gilles — 14 Mar 2010 @ 2:48 AM

  145. #121 Riesman
    #138 ccpo
    #131 Ladbury

    Thanks to all, my post took an hour to get thru moderation, so I’ll respond later in the day when I have time. Apologies for not coming back sooner. Thanks again!

    Comment by GSW — 14 Mar 2010 @ 2:48 AM

  146. “Support from the scientific community is needed to provide context and to explain the process by which conclusions are reached. Encouraging scientists to openly engage with the public can only be achieved if researchers are given the necessary backing in the face of any unfounded arguments against their work. This support must come from the highest levels, sending out a strong message on the importance of scientific methodology and research and promoting open sharing of information between scientists and the wider community.”

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 13 March 2010 @ 9:25 PM

    Absolutely dead on, Eli. I believe two things will possibly start to make a difference. 1. Some of these organiations/individuals must be sued/prosecuted and 2. the President has to do an extensive public statement on this, preferably over the course of a week covering everything and allowing ZERO nutquackery into the mix. That, only valid scientific arguments would be addressed (which would pretty much mean no Lindzen, Christys, etc.)

    Cheers

    Comment by ccpo — 14 Mar 2010 @ 3:11 AM

  147. “Please name one specific, falsifiable prediction that the theory of AGW makes and that has been tested.

    Thanks in advance!

    [Response: Stratospheric cooling. - gavin]”

    The correct question to test the correctness of AGW model is :is there a falsifiable prediction that the theory of AGW makes and that has been tested, that can not be predicted by other explanation? I don’t think that stratospheric cooling enter this category, since it is the result of increased CO2 concentration (which relies on the combustion equation that has been known since much before AGW models) and the radiative efficiency of CO2, that is atomic physics that has also been established for a long time. It doesn’t even prove the anthropogenic origin of CO2, any natural increase would ALSO have made the stratosphere cool.
    I’m not saying that CO2 doesn’t warm the Earth. I’m saying that the science is obviously still largely uncertain, and that the catastrophic speeches rely only on uncertainties and error bars (on climate sensitivity on CO2, fossil fuels reserves, sensitivity of sea level to temperature, and so on…) and not at all on well established values.

    [Response: You protest too much. Stratospheric cooling was predicted as a function of increasing CO2 in the 1960s and not confirmed until the 1980s when the measurements got good enough. Prediction that anthropogenic CO2 would increase atmospheric concentrations go back to Arrhenius (1890s) and Callendar (1930s). Again, confirmed in the 1960s. This notion that 'not everything is well-established' implies that nothing is well-established is a logical nonsense. - gavin]

    Comment by Gilles — 14 Mar 2010 @ 3:12 AM

  148. “Could someone tell me how the definition of AGW makes it is impossible to be a skeptic?”

    It’s nothing to do with the definition of AGW, it’s to do with the actions of the self-proclaimed skeptic.

    If you look with a skeptical eye at your own reasonings, then you’re a skeptic. If you accept without murmur any half-assed idea that tells you what you want to hear, then you’re not a skeptic.

    Your question is rather like asking “what is it about the definition of God that makes it impossible to be an atheist?”

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 Mar 2010 @ 3:14 AM

  149. “89
    Gilles says:
    13 March 2010 at 1:24 PM

    87 Hugh :” the problem IS the rate of climate change.”.
    So, the most critical thing is the rate … ok. Then I repeat : the current rate of climate change cannot be proved to be unusual by any objective study.”

    But it doesn’t slow down or become a nonissue if the rate of change is not proven unusual by any objective study.

    PETM.

    Killed most animals on the planet.

    [Response: You maybe confusing this with the Permian-Triassic event. Extinctions at the PETM are restricted mainly to ocean fauna (forams, coccoliths, ostracods etc.) - gavin]

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 Mar 2010 @ 3:21 AM

  150. Gilles: “May be, but it is also very likely (being scientifically conservative) that there will be a catastrophic impact if we STOP burning fossil fuels”

    You keep saying this, but you have nothing to support it, not even a biased and partisan study, let along an objective neutral one.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 Mar 2010 @ 3:29 AM

  151. 137 ccpo,

    You seem to be convinced that energy will be in short supply based on the things people were saying a few years ago. That might have been appropriate when we were assuming that cars had to run on gasoline or diesel fuel. I started out with this thought in mind and worked to make cars that would keep life going as we know it and still use a lot less fuel. The hybrid car looked like a good start. Then it began to look like a car could be a lot more efficient, so I started thinking about a plug-in commuter car. Then I began to evaluate the electric system that would be involved, and became convinced that coal supplies would be very adequate.

    Then the plug-in folks started up and I thought this was complete nonsense. These were pitched as if there was no need for fuel of any kind. And often they still are. Some of the electric car folks have a little more understanding, but still insist that electricity can be thought of as a fuel without considering the real fuel needed to make it. This ingnores the Second Law of Thermodynamics, but no matter, it makes electric cars 2 to 3 times better than they are.

    I thought the electric car, without attending efforts to make them really efficient aerodynamically, would soon run us out of coal. Then I looked more at the coal supply and found that we would easily last a thousand years at today’s rate of usage. (Look at the USGS study for the Gillete Field of the Powder River Basin. That field alone would do for the thousand years with just a little more scraping of dirt as time went on.)

    This means nothing good for global warming. Hybrid cars can be quite good, but for CO2 emissions, it is a step backward to convert these to electricity that would be made from coal. In fact, it became clear that GM in particular was planning to simply electrify their full line of energy guzzlers of a couple years ago. That is still a present danger, and once that happens, there will be no getting off coal under our democratic system.

    The best answer seems to be to make the cars very efficient and run them from natural gas, oil, or electricity from coal, in that order of preference and in that sequence if necessary.

    But the kind of efficiency I am talking about requires some real change in the way we think about cars. I think the basic car requirements for fast, safe, comfortable transportation can be met, but if there is a cheap alternative using almost the same cars we are used to, there will be no incentive for change.

    What I have done can be described as a feasibility study of new vehicle concepts that would take advantage of airship aerodynamics in the design of such concepts. See http://www.miastrada.com for a general idea of this work. More is to come along similar lines.

    Not to mention that we generally like things the way they are, beside that I hope we do not have to slow things down much, because this is not something that usually happens in a pleasant way. Instead, there is more likely to be a real storm, as you would call it.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Mar 2010 @ 3:36 AM

  152. I am a retired academic with no climate science experience but self-taught by reading all the good review texts since about 1990. The books are clear enough for any reasonable person to agree with the basic overall conclusions that we are wrecking the planet in many ways and carbon dioxide is the most potent. Time is running out and tipping points are the killers. I have read the sceptics and they cannot make a single argument that stands up to scutiny.

    Realclimate is the most powerful source that people like me can refer to for clarification. Thank you. We are going to win this argument. We have to persuade enough people with influence how urgent and serious climate change is.

    Comment by Dr Morris Bradley — 14 Mar 2010 @ 4:17 AM

  153. The road that I follow. A great entry. You come,as I did,from a non-scientific background. You read here and you learn here and you pick up some good reference material here. Eventually,you have a better grasp of the science than you had ever had,and a most sure and certain knowledge that the so called ‘sceptics’ are charlatans- to put it mildly.

    A British ‘denier’,in a recent letter to the Guardian newspaper,eschewed the title ‘sceptic’ on the grounds that one could only be ‘sceptical’ about something that might exist. As AGW did not exist, then QED he had to be a ‘denier’. His words but…

    Comment by Paul Harris — 14 Mar 2010 @ 4:29 AM

  154. @ 32
    That’s mindboggling.
    Does the computational fluid mechanist also believe God created the world in 6 days? Jees, and I always have held people with that kind of intellect and knowhow in high esteem, and looked up to them. As a lowly technician I am totally disenchanted and disappointed , as in , if people in posession of that kind of brainpower don’t get it, then wht about our politicians?

    Comment by Uncle pete — 14 Mar 2010 @ 4:32 AM

  155. My training is in computer science, I became interested in climate science sometime during the early 80′s but I thought it was pretty much an academic question with little real world significance until almost 20yrs later. At that point you had me with the hockey stick and the 1997 IPCC reports, realclimate is the icing on the cake.

    Dear old dad is a retired engineer, this site open his eyes several years ago.

    Comment by Alan of Oz — 14 Mar 2010 @ 5:19 AM

  156. RE #132: I would like to add another. “Polar amplification”.

    Comment by Alan of Oz — 14 Mar 2010 @ 5:27 AM

  157. I’d wholeheartedly echo the sentiments of the letter writer.

    I first became engaged in the issue when the letters page in the magazine of my professional association (The Institute of Chemical Engineers in the UK) started to be inundated with very dubious arguments. This site, together with the IPCC report gives the understanding to rebut this antiscientific nonsense and is invaluable.

    I became a bit of an addict of the climate change pages of the Guardian as well, but have given up on that in despair at the tsunami of total blind denial which follows every article.

    But all this has motivated me to learn all sorts of things I never knew of and armed me with understanding and motivation to try and make a small difference.

    I’m talking in a local school next week and hope to do more of the same in future.

    Keep it up, it’s well worth it.

    Comment by VeryTallGuy — 14 Mar 2010 @ 5:52 AM

  158. While trying to figure the influence of “Greenhouse gasses” on Climate I pulled up some climate data on 3 cities across the U.S.

    Las Vegas, Tulsa and Knoxville

    Las Vegas: 36.17 N Latitude
    Tulsa: 36.15 N
    Knoxville: 35.98 N

    These cities are close in Latitude so will receive the same amount of solar flux. I wanted to see what effect water vapor had on temperature.

    Yearly Relative Humidity (A.M. and P.M.)
    Las Vegas: 39% and 21%
    Tulsa: 81% and 58%
    Knoxville: 86% and 59%

    July Temp: (High/Low/Average) F
    Las Vegas: 104.1/78.2/91.15
    Tulsa: 93.8/73.1/83.45
    Knoxville: 86.9/68.5/77.7

    July Sunshine Hours:
    Las Vegas: 88%
    Tulsa: 74%
    Knoxville: 64%

    Albedo:
    Desert sand: 0.4 (Las Vegas)
    Green grass: 0.25 (maybe Tulsa)
    Decidious trees: (0.15 to 0.18)

    Las Vegas has much less water vapor in its air than Knoxville, Water vapor is noted as the most significant greenhouse gas (numbers given from 70% and up). Las Vegas also reflects much more of the energy that hits the ground relative to Knoxville. Yet Knoxville has an average temperature much below Las Vegas. The other significant data was hours of sunshine. Las Vegas is exposed to a considerable more sunshine than Knoxville (all due to clouds as they are close in Latitude). Tulsa also has a warmer average temperature and is exposed to more sunshine (humidity levels are similar between Knoxville and Tulsa).

    I can only conclude (and perhaps incorrectly) that the “greenhouse effect” is a fairly small effect when compared to the effect of clouds. The higher water vapor in Knoxville cannot come close to countering the cooling effect of the cloud cover.

    I know clouds are a big debate in what causes Global warming. One study links solar activity to cloud formation. Lower solar activity, more clouds via increase in cosmic rays that promote the development of clouds.

    I was wondering if you could have another cycle that would take place even if the sun has a constant activity level. Since clouds seem to be far more important to global temp than any greenhouse effect. The idea I am thinking is a warming/cooling cycle based on evaporation. In a cool earth, less water evaporates from the oceans and there is less moisture in the air for cloud formation. Because of this, more solar energy will be absorbed by the oceans and they will slowly warm (high heat capacity). As they warm the air above warms and you get the global warming cycle. More moisture evaporates and you start getting more clouds. The increase in the clouds will start the cooling cycle as less radiation hits the oceans and earth (just like Knoxville vs Las Vegas). Because of the momentum of the system and large heat capacity of the oceans, these warming and cooling cycles take decades and can explain the warmth in the 1930’s (also a warm Greenland), then the cooling period following this one with the cold 1970’s and early 1980’s. Now we are in a warming cycle again and it seems to have reached a peak and the cloud cover will increase leading to a cooling cycle.

    Long post, if anyone reads it let me know if it seems logical. Thanks!

    Comment by Norman — 14 Mar 2010 @ 6:30 AM

  159. For a clear illustration of “Why they bother,” imagine the stolen CRU e-mails hitting the streets without RealClimate.org. This was the site everyone turned to. With UEA getting that deer-in-the-headlights look, Gavin and crew were here, combating the falsehoods and defending the science and the scientists.

    We’ve seen the denial industry’s best shot; perhaps they over-reached.

    Comment by Deech56 — 14 Mar 2010 @ 6:48 AM

  160. Oh, and I’ve been a reader since this site’s inception. Great job, everyone.

    Comment by Deech56 — 14 Mar 2010 @ 6:51 AM

  161. James C. Wilson #139: in my view the most important issue to tackle is energy alternatives because much of the denialist cacophony arises from the perception that doing something serious about climate change necessarily implies a descent to pre-industrial civilisation. This may not be the job for RC because it is after all run by climate scientists, but someone should do it.

    Here’s something interesting for a start: an alternative for making hydrogen much cheaper, with more detail of Dan Nocera’s ideas here.

    How about a RealEnergy blog pulling in experts who can talk about options from authority?

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 14 Mar 2010 @ 7:05 AM

  162. First of all, I find this blog very useful when combined with other sources of information that are probably nearer to my level of knowledge. David Archers videos were an excellent intro to the science (I still have to finish watching them though!).

    Regarding Jim Bullis comments @93 about electricity cost.
    From what I can make out from US prices, they are significantly different depending on the state you live in. The highest electricity prices per unit in the US are probably about the same price as ‘green’ electricity tariffs in the UK. eg. I pay about 11 pence per killowatt hour.
    That translates to about 17 cents per kWh. Given that coal dominates in the US, one wonders why some states have such high prices without much in the way of renewables??

    Does it cost me more??
    No. I have cut some 60% off my electricity usage over 4 years, which means my bills are less than they were when I had cheaper kW hours.

    The biggest costs in electricity generation are going to be in upgrading the grid infrastructure. But then, this would probably be required in any case, eventually.
    In the past, people had to pay the price of building the current infrastructure systems. At some point it was inevitable that we would have to spend money to upgrade them. Someone at some point in time has to pay.

    Comment by The Ville — 14 Mar 2010 @ 7:20 AM

  163. “Gilles: “May be, but it is also very likely (being scientifically conservative) that there will be a catastrophic impact if we STOP burning fossil fuels”
    You keep saying this, but you have nothing to support it, not even a biased and partisan study, let along an objective neutral one.”
    No evidence ?
    Well, there is a very simple fact : since the beginning of the XXth century, fossil fuels have increased by many times, and temperature has increased by 0.7 °C which is not negligible with respect to the expected warming in the next decades.

    So very simple scientific experiments : ask people what have been the major changes in their life since 100 years ago. Then count the numbers of answers that are related to the variation of temperature, and those related to the consumption of fossil fuels. And tell me where is the evidence that the all-day life has been more profoundly impacted by the change in temperature than by the change of fossil fuels (and would be most impacted by a reverse change of cooling, or by the disappearance of fossil fuels).
    On the opposite, there is absolutely no evidence that a modern (western type) society could be powered without 2 or 3 tC/cap/yr. This doesn’t exist anywhere, and has never existed at any time.

    Comment by Gilles — 14 Mar 2010 @ 8:54 AM

  164. “Response: You protest too much. Stratospheric cooling was predicted as a function of increasing CO2 in the 1960s and not confirmed until the 1980s when the measurements got good enough.”
    OK, but it doesn’t prove that CO2 is the main driver of average ground temperature (I don’t claim that it is not the case, I claim that the evidence for that is still disputable).

    [Response: People can and will dispute anything - that is not determinative of anything. The questioner asked for a single verified prediction, I gave it. The question was not on what the evidence for anthropogenic effects on climate. Had it been, I would have directed the questioner to the FAQ on the subject and the underlying IPCC Chapter 9. - gavin]

    “This notion that ‘not everything is well-established’ implies that nothing is well-established is a logical nonsense. – gavin”
    Again, that’s not what I said. I said that the dire predictions of catastrophes are based on uncertainties, not on proven facts.

    [Response: The future is uncertain and no prediction can be a 'proven fact' - you are attempting to set a ridiculous logical standard. The issue is only one of risk - are continued emissions risky enough (given all the uncertainties) to warrant action to reduce them? This does not require that catastrophe be a proven fact - and indeed if one waited for that, it would be a little late, don't you think? - gavin]

    Comment by Gilles — 14 Mar 2010 @ 9:01 AM

  165. I am the author of the letter posted above. It is easy these days for scientifically literate people to feel under siege, so I felt it appropriate to send a message of appreciation to the RC team. Like many contributors to this thread, I began reading around this topic as a fence-sitter. Being one of the anonymous beneficiaries of so many hours of effort, I was happy to help when Gavin asked if it was OK to post my letter.

    The response to this thread must be heartening, not just to the RC team, but to the scores of silent but regular readers. I wonder how many first-time contributors there are to this thread (I’m one)?

    Looking at some of the comments, there is one point I would like to add:

    The trouble with skeptics these days, is they will believe in anything.

    (maybe that should be the title of a book!)

    The fundamental question driving my writing projects of late is “how does a genuine sceptic discern between arguments if he/she is not an expert?” At its heart, the approach is not all that complicated: ask “what unspoken premise must be true, for this argument to work?”

    For example, consider the single most dominant mode of argument of the sceptical camp: that individual errors invalidate the argument for AGW.

    It is self-evident that any given paper or theory about climate change may have errors. It is also self-evident that individuals within the field may behave unethically. To suggest that fault could be found somewhere amidst the thousands of papers and practitioners in this field is so obvious as to be trivial.

    So… after countless hours of hunting, what is almost statistically necessary comes to pass and one or more errors is found. The whole of AGW is therefore cast into doubt. But what premise must also be true, to reach such a conclusion?

    1. “An error anywhere in a field of enquiry invalidates the entire field.”

    2. “All evidence for a thesis is a corner stone of all the rest, therefore one instance of contradictory evidence rules out all other evidence.”

    3. “If one person in a group of thousands is found to have a certain characteristic, then all of the group must have it.”

    4. “All evidence put forward for the theory in question is arbitrary, so if one piece of evidence is shown to be false, it shows that all the others are false (ie: there is a conspiracy).”

    What genuine sceptic thinks this way? None of these arguments make sense, but you need at least one of them to entertain the idea that the work of so-called sceptics dismantles the scientific foundations of AGW.

    This is key for me. It means that McIntyre could be right about Mann’s hockey stick, Christy could be right about satellites, and so on – it doesn’t matter, because the realisation of AGW is actually a summation of multiple lines of evidence.

    AGW is not a theory in the sense that it posits any fundamental insight into the workings of the physical world -it is better thought of as a constellation of insights made by many, many independent parties.

    Why would Ian Plimer even consider “destroying every argument for global warming” in one book? Why would a person even think that “every argument” for global warming COULD be wrong, other than that it was all part of some coordinated conspiracy?

    Forgive my scepticism…

    How about this radical idea instead:

    “If a large number of independent investigators, of different backgrounds, working in different languages, with various political and social views, use various methods to reveal the same characteristics of the physical world, either:

    a) the physical world actually has the characteristics described;
    or
    b) all of the independent investigators are fabricating their conclusions – in a coordinated way – in the service of an unknown shared goal.”

    Unless scepticism has now become a doctrine of “choose the more fantastic explanation”, I’m staying with option a).

    Comment by Mark Ryan — 14 Mar 2010 @ 9:05 AM

  166. Those interested in the difference between skepticism and denialism may wish to have a look

    Comment by Stephan Lewandowsky — 14 Mar 2010 @ 9:15 AM

  167. #87 Hugh Laue, #76 Steve P
    “the problem IS the rate of climate change.”

    Phil Jones himself said that this warming rate already happened two times over 120 years !
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8511670.stm

    Temperature data for the period 1860-1880 are more uncertain, because of sparser coverage, than for later periods in the 20th Century. The 1860-1880 period is also only 21 years in length. As for the two periods 1910-40 and 1975-1998 the warming rates are not statistically significantly different (see numbers below).

    “As for the two periods 1910-40 and 1975-1998 the warming rates are not statistically significantly different ”
    How do you understand this sentence ?!
    WARMING RATES are NOT statistically different.

    Comment by Jean B. — 14 Mar 2010 @ 9:22 AM

  168. Alan of Oz …

    My training is in computer science, I became interested in climate science sometime during the early 80’s but I thought it was pretty much an academic question with little real world significance until almost 20yrs later

    Similar here, though I “woke up” somewhat earlier, in the mid-1990s, perhaps because I was doing a lot of field work with bird studies and that world was starting to notice changes in distribution, etc, and there was speculation if global warming was already contributing.

    RC is, of course, great. Goes without saying, even if there are close to two hundred posts saying it :)

    Comment by dhogaza — 14 Mar 2010 @ 9:30 AM

  169. 112 Jim, the net cost of electricity would remain the same. Remember, this is feebates we’re talking about. Every dollar added to the price is rebated back to consumers. The average consumer would have no net change in expense for electricity, except that the conservation it would encourage would actually drop the cost of electricity! All this can’t drop the USA into the third world. Perhaps not insane, but surely baseless hyperbole.

    Comment by RichardC — 14 Mar 2010 @ 9:35 AM

  170. Gilles #163,
    What is your point? Can you summarize it in one or two brief, cogent sentences? If not, I would highly recommend that you take a course in technical writing and learn how. Quantity of emotional screed does not trump quality of argument. Thanks,
    Steve P

    Comment by Steve P — 14 Mar 2010 @ 9:55 AM

  171. Gavin : The question was not on what the evidence for anthropogenic effects on climate.

    I think it was. Again cooling of the stratosphere , (if I undestood correctly) is just the proof that we understand approximately correctly the heating and the cooling of the stratosphere, which is only a small part of the whole problem, and it isn’t enough to establish the magnitude of the anthropogenic contribution to the global warming, which is the real issue. And I don’t know any confirmed prediction that would establish that it is above 50 %, not speaking of 95 %.

    “The future is uncertain and no prediction can be a ‘proven fact’ – you are attempting to set a ridiculous logical standard. The issue is only one of risk – are continued emissions risky enough (given all the uncertainties) to warrant action to reduce them?”
    I think the answer is by no mean obvious and should be balanced with the possible negative consequences of actions we could take. Much obviously , IF we could spare fossil fuels without loss of standard of living, this should be encouraged, only by the fact that there are in finite amount. This would be true even if the CO2 had no warming effect, and it doesn’t really need to be discussed. But if it is not possible, then we really have to determine the level of consumption of fossil fuels above which the drawbacks become greater that the advantages – and this is by no mean an easy task ,since both the exact consequences of warming AND of fossil depletion are unknown. So you can’t base any realistic strategy on uncertainty – on both sides, because the two directions have dangers that are simply not really known. Simply believing that “warming is dangerous and carbon is bad ” is an oversimplification that is at odds with reality – hence the repeated failures to apply it.

    Comment by Gilles — 14 Mar 2010 @ 10:21 AM

  172. Gilles, If you don’t take stratospheric cooling as evidence of CO2 as the driver of warming, fine, propose another mechanism that accounts for both. It would also be nice if your mechanism were known to be operant–as we know with greenhouse warming. You are simply being silly, refusing to accept the most parsimonious explanation because you refuse to understand the evidence. That is hardly scientific. You are coming dangerously close to crossing into troll territory.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Mar 2010 @ 10:24 AM

  173. “Gilles #163,
    What is your point? Can you summarize it in one or two brief, cogent sentences?”
    Sorry, I thought I was clear. One sentence only : the variation of temperature since 1900 has much less influenced the life of people (actually , I would say : almost not) than the use of fossil fuels, so the sensitivity to the availability of fossil fuels is very likely to be much larger than to the average temperature. Is it clear?

    Comment by Gilles — 14 Mar 2010 @ 10:25 AM

  174. Just thought this was apropos on the subject of “why we bother”. I’m not so sure we can have much impact anymore, it seems like the anti-scientific climate (pun intended) in the U.S. is just beyond staggering. The South Dakota legislature just declared that climate is influenced by “astrology”, among a host of other horribly unfounded claims. I’m surprised they beat my home state of Texas to the punch.

    http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2010/Bill.aspx?File=HCR1009P.htm

    Comment by Mark C — 14 Mar 2010 @ 10:35 AM

  175. Norman @158,
    Congratulations, you just rediscovered microclimate. There is a whole helluva lot more to climate than lattitude. Lost Wages, NV is in the rain shadow of the Sierras. That means there’s less water to precipitate or evaporate than either of your other two candidates. Tulsa and Knoxville have much more variable weather since water vapor from the gulf moves unimpeded over both. What this should tell you is that cherrypicking a few cities based on your own perception of things is not a way to do science.

    If you were really interested in the effect of greenhouse gasses, you’d do much better to look at the difference between daytime and nighttime temps. We already know the sun is the dominant source of energy during the day.

    In short, you need much more background knowledge before you even think about starting to analyze data.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Mar 2010 @ 10:36 AM

  176. Gilles, here are some more:

    Nights are getting warmer faster than days are getting warmer which is also consistent with increased GHGs.

    Downwelling LW radiation is increasing which is consistent with increased GHGs.

    Outgoing LW radiation leaving the top of the atmosphere is decreasing which is consistent with increased GHGs.

    See:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Senator-Inhofe-attempt-to-distract-from-scientific-realities-of-global-warming.html

    John Cook at Skeptical Science offers a nice summary at the link above.

    Comment by Scott A Mandia — 14 Mar 2010 @ 10:41 AM

  177. A link in this old piece no longer works: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/02/moberg-et-al-highly-variable-northern-hemisphere-temperatures/

    The link that doesn’t work is: http://davidappell.com/archives/00000609.htm

    Search for: “a picture is available from”

    I hope that someone can update the link to a currently available version.

    And yes this is exactly why you guys should keep on bothering, here I am reading up on stuff you wrote 5 years ago.

    Thanks
    Kevin

    Comment by Kevin — 14 Mar 2010 @ 10:42 AM

  178. “Gilles, here are some more:
    Nights are getting warmer faster than days are getting warmer which is also consistent with increased GHGs.
    Downwelling LW radiation is increasing which is consistent with increased GHGs.
    Outgoing LW radiation leaving the top of the atmosphere is decreasing which is consistent with increased GHGs.”
    i agree, but I never contested that CO2 is a GHG and blocks the transmission of LW IR radiation ….I’m just speaking of how sure is the fact that this will be catastrophic for mankind, which depends on much more parameters than the mere IR absorption cross section of CO2.

    Comment by Gilles — 14 Mar 2010 @ 11:14 AM

  179. > rate of change

    The biologists have been trying to explain this as well. It amazes most anyone competent in biology that people still don’t understand how fast this is happening, and how far along the wrong path we’ve gone already. Much of the richness of the world has been burned up, eaten, trashed, or eroded.

    What’s left may be saved, if intelligent design in politics is possible.

    Greed doesn’t solve problems like this.

    Here, for example (click the link for the original, which has links to the cited sources)

    First published online February 26, 2010
    Journal of Experimental Biology 213, 853 (2010)
    Published by The Company of Biologists 2010
    doi: 10.1242/jeb.042713

    Survival in a changing world

    http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/content/full/213/6/853

    —-excerpt follows——

    It is indisputable that current climate change is unprecedented in its magnitude, in its rate of change and in its geographic pattern (MacDonald, 2010Go) (p. 855). Assessing the ensuing stresses on animal diversity and populations requires knowledge of the complex interactions between climate change and its major consequences, including associated changes in plant coverage, further anthropogenic factors, both local and regional and the physiological characteristics of the species concerned. Temperate species, both marine and terrestrial, have been observed to move to more temperate environments provided that suitable habitats are available (Helmuth et al., 2010Go) (p. 995). There are key physiological mechanisms that are involved in setting thermal tolerances in organisms; for example, the heat shock response. The data currently available suggest that the ability to acclimatize to changing thermal conditions is greatest among species exposed to moderately variable environments (Tomanek, 2010Go) (p. 971). Species with the widest thermal tolerances may live closest to their upper thermal limits and may therefore have a limited ability to acclimatize to still higher temperatures. Species that, in recent evolutionary time, have experienced only extremely narrow thermal shifts [e.g. Antarctic notothenioid fishes (Coppes Petricorena and Somero, 2007Go)] may have lost temperature-adaptive traits altogether and may therefore be extremely vulnerable. Anthropogenic CO2 is seen as one of the main culprits in climate change but it is also involved in seawater acidification. Both increased water temperature and acidification directly affect coral reefs (Mydlarz et al., 2010Go) (p. 934), as well as coral reef fishes (Wilson et al., 2010Go) (p. 894). Combined with climate-change-induced storms, which often damage coral skeletons, these changes may have devastating long-term impacts on fish stocks. Climate changes also affect vector-borne pathogens that have significant morbidities and mortalities among humans and animals. Changes in climate influence arthropod disease vectors, their life cycles and the ways in which pathogens interact with vectors and hosts (Tabachnik, 2010Go; Sehgal, 2010Go) (p. 946; p. 955).

    Climate change is thus seen as a major threat to biodiversity worldwide. Endangerment is currently defined using ecological traits (population size, habitat loss, etc.). It will be necessary in the future to also address species-specific physiological criteria such as stress tolerance, phenotypic plasticity and evolutionary potential to define climate change vulnerability of species (Bernardo et al., 2007Go).

    This special issue only scratches the surface of the immensely complex, uncontrolled experiment entitled ‘climate change’ that humans unknowingly and unwillingly have set in motion. The extent, complexity and inescapability with which this experiment now proceeds are mind boggling. It must be hoped that not only physiologists will realize that the effects of climate change are beyond comprehension and beyond control but that political leaders will also recognize the awe and concern with which
    s p e c i a l i s t s view these changes and move promptly to take deliberate action….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Mar 2010 @ 11:19 AM

  180. Ray : “Gilles, If you don’t take stratospheric cooling as evidence of CO2 as the driver of warming, fine, propose another mechanism that accounts for both.”

    sorry Ray , I can’t understand your logics. What about “If you don’t take the position of Mars in your birthday’s sky as evidence of it as the driver of your personality, propose another mechanism that accounts for both”. If the fact that stratosphere is cooling doesn’t prove the magnitude of greenhouse effect of CO2 in the troposphere, it’s not my fault. Again I do not contest the fact that CO2 absorbs IR (and I agree that people contesting that simply don’t understand physics). I say that going from this physical fact to —-> “so it’s obvious we have to cut strongly our use of fossil fuels” implies a lot a supplementary hypothesis that are by no means proven. And that the “risk” must be carefully evaluated, since it also by no means proven that cutting fossil fuels would be harmless.

    Comment by Gilles — 14 Mar 2010 @ 11:26 AM

  181. Gilles, you are being obtuse. The evidence is SIMULTANEOUS warming of the troposphere AND cooling of that stratosphere. That is diagnostic of a greenhouse mechanism. Moreover, the fact is that BOTH were predicted well in advance of their observation based on the consensus theory. You are welcome to posit another explanation, but to my knowledge, no convincing alternative has been mooted.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Mar 2010 @ 11:34 AM

  182. 175Ray Ladbury says:
    14 March 2010 at 10:36 AM

    Thank you for your response.

    “That means there’s less water to precipitate or evaporate than either of your other two candidates.” Now if you answer this one, then you get my point. Both Knoxville and Tulsa have more water vapor in the air above them. Water vapor is a very strong greenhouse gas (at least responisble for 70% of the greenhouse effect if not more). My understanding would be that Vegas could get much hotter at daytime (less water to evaporate which requires heat) but the nightime lows should favor the water vapor. I did include both daytime and nightime temps. In July, Las Vegas is still warmer on average than Knoxville or Tulsa at night!

    This is also Climate data (if you want I can link you to the source). Weather effects would be smoothed out in the long run and only climate long term effects would be significant.

    The most notible difference in all three citiies is amount of available sunshine. Las Vegas has the most sun and shows the highest temps. Tulsa has more sun than Knoxville and is warmer.

    I am continuing to investigate this with other cities. I try and get them on the same lattitude. I think I will discover that those cities with the most sun will tend to be warmer, overall (there will be certain environments that will change this, as well as elevation effects).

    I may prove my conclusion wrong with further study but that is how science works. Research and investigate.

    I am currently investigating the energy absorbance of water vapor and carbon dioxide using equations found in “STEAM its generation and use” 40th Editions by Babcock and Wilcox.

    The equations are a concern in the construction of Power plant boilers with a hydrocarbon fuel (water vapor and carbon dioxide are byproducts). The local concentration of carbon dioxide and water vapor within the boiler will be far higher than in normal atmosphere (all but 3% of the available oxygen remains unburned). Carbon dioxide and water vapor will absorb infrared from the fireball and they want to know what effect this has on the heat absorption of the waterwall tubes. They do admit is is very complex and they have to include a factor because with a mixed gas it effects the overall calculation.

    Comment by Norman — 14 Mar 2010 @ 11:34 AM

  183. Apologies for this but I have found another missing link, in this case to a picture at wikipedia.

    The missing image is referred to in this piece:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/10/how-not-to-attribute-climate-change/

    The url for the missing image is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Climate_Change_Attribution.png

    Kevin

    Comment by Kevin — 14 Mar 2010 @ 11:36 AM

  184. Some further thoughts:

    I’d like to share two of the turning points for me, along the way to understanding which side of the AGW fence to fall on. Neither of these are about any specific argument or explanation, but are to do with realising two features of the overall nature of the debates.

    The first turning point is to do with the shape of positive, versus negative argument.

    I use the term ‘positive argument’to refer to a series of arguments that are rooted in, or aim at explaining, an otherwise unrealised set of properties of the world around us (clearly, the scientific project, as most participants on this site would see it, is an example of positive argument).

    As I see them, the 3 key features of positive argument are:

    1. Multiple lines of argument tend to group around, or point to, a shared underlying reality.

    2. The explanatory power of a positive argument must, and does, increase to account for new empirical data.

    3. Increasing the explanatory power of the overall argument may require revision or removal of certain individual lines of argument, if they are shown to be incomplete or inconsistent. Certain lines of argument (e.g. the validity of Yamal tree rings) are non-critical, while others (e.g. the absorption spectra of CO2) are core.

    By contrast, a “negative” argument does not look outwards in an effort to better explain the world. Its purpose is to attack another argument.

    The 3 key features of a ‘negative’ argument:

    1. There are multiple lines of argument, but they do not contribute to a single coherent explanation (actually, there is a core to the anti-AGW lines of argument, should one choose to accept it -that climatologists have somehow cooperated to fabricate AGW).

    2. Inconsistency of multiple lines of argument (Obviously, one cannot coherently argue that 8 years is enough time to show a reversal of warming, while on the other hand arguing that modern temperature records should only be viewed in a 40,000 year context).

    3. Exaggeration of the importance of any given successful argument. If my objective is simply to destroy an opponent’s credibility, without the need to replace the opposing position with a complete position of my own, I will constantly try to imply that every component of my opponent’s position is implicated in every other. This is as much a psychological consequence of my motivations, as it is a logical feature of my argument.

    Which leads to the second turning point: understanding what kind of theory AGW is.

    I’m interested here in what other contributors think of this idea, but in my view there is a persistent misunderstanding about the nature of the AGW position.

    Propelled by the impetus of negative argument, many people try to apply a Popperian notion of falsification to AGW, but this is just not comparing apples with apples.

    I suspect we can summarise the “theory” of anthropogenic global warming, something like this:


    * A multi-disciplinary body of qualified parties have conducted sound, referenced studies of the components comprising Earth’s atmosphere, the fluid properties of the atmosphere, the external and internal forcings and the applicable modelling methodologies.

    * These studies meet the reference standards of scholarship in their respective fields.

    * There is an extremely high probability that the findings of these studies, when viewed together, describe a single -albeit complex- physical phenomenon and process, that process being AGW.”

    How could we falsify this AGW theory? In one sense, AGW theory isn’t the classic “falsifiable” statement, being more of an argument to the best explanation -but the theory could certainly be shown to be inadequate, or practically false.

    We could create an alternative explanation, which accounts for all of the known findings, plus explains the observations AGW theory does not explain. To my knowledge, there is no such alternative (ie: an alternative positive argument).

    Otherwise, we would need to show that the data was suspect. Efforts such as Watts, McIntyre, Christy et al. have been attempts to dispute the quality of individual data -and there is no doubt that numerous individual studies could be falsifiable in principle (though these guys would have to lift their games). But even if one or more of these were proven correct, they cannot be a falsification of the AGW thesis until they either prove most of the data -from all the disciplines- is faulty, or that there is an alternative explanation with better explanatory power. The ‘negative’ argument here can possibly reduce the constellation of arguments comprising AGW theory, but to falsify -that is an all or nothing gambit.

    Note the only other general argument we could make to falsify the entire theory of AGW is that the whole community of scholars was not qualified. Or corrupt. Or secretly in the pay of an impending One World Government.

    The point I’m getting at here is that, while a decent degree of self-education is necessary to get to grips with this issue, you don’t actually need to understand the maths to grasp what the driving forces are.

    Arguments that attempt to deeply understand the world have a kind of logical shape. When I recognised that shape in the arguments from RC, Skeptical Science and others, I started using these sites as my ‘go to’ pages.

    To be completely clear, there are plenty of examples of negative argument from the pro-AGW side of this debate -and there have been numerous examples on this site also. The key point though, is that negative argument is incidental to the AGW position, while it is the dominant characteristic of the sceptical position: it does not offer a new, more powerful explanation of the world.

    By the way, I am not a scientist, nor a professional academic. I am a foreign exchange trader, who is writing a book about philosophy during the long hours waiting for the squiggly lines on my chart to move where I want them to. I only started reading about chaos theory because Mandelbrot’s early work was an attempt to model movements of commodity markets.

    And don’t get me started on how post-war French philosophy helps to explain financial markets….!

    Comment by Mark Ryan — 14 Mar 2010 @ 11:58 AM

  185. Gilles #173 “sensitivity to the availability of fossil fuels… to the average temperature…”.
    Looks like you are comparing the taste of apples to that of brocolli.

    Comment by François — 14 Mar 2010 @ 12:36 PM

  186. Ray, YOU are obtuse. Again the game is not to prove that CO2 has infrared lines – we know it, and stratosphere cooling is just a consequence of that (and of course the increase of concentration). This doesn’t prove anything about the percentage of warming on the ground due to CO2 lines, because there is a lot of supplementary physics to master. And the “dangerous” features depend on this percentage – among other unknown parameters. The problem is that the political agenda depends on NUMBERS, and most of these numbers are very ill-known. Simple example : how can you commit to limit the warming below 2°C if the climate sensitivity is unknown?

    Comment by Gilles — 14 Mar 2010 @ 12:39 PM

  187. Gilles #173 “sensitivity to the availability of fossil fuels… to the average temperature…”.
    Looks like you are comparing the taste of apples to that of brocolli.”

    I don’t think so.

    “Reducing the amount of fossil fuels” assumes implicitly that there is some “indicator of happiness” X (being GDP or any other fancy estimate you like) such that its sensitivity to fossil fuel consumption is lower than to temperature. Because it is not enough to limit the energy intensity, you have to prevent people to use the spared fossil fuels, meaning in fact renouncing for ever to extract and burn them, leaving them willingly in the ground.

    That’s not an innocent decision. It really means that you’re stating that the marginal wealth (or variation of X) that the fossil fuel COULD have brought (i.e the marginal benefit of burning 1 more t C) is lower than the marginal cost of their consequences. And this can happen only above some value, because for very low amount of fossil fuels, the variation of temperature is negligible, so it’s obviously more interesting to burn them.

    And obviously as well, the value at which the marginal cost equilibrate the marginal benefit depends on the ratio of the sensitivity of X to the temperature AND to the fossil fuel consumption.

    So I need a demonstration of the value at which this condition is fulfilled, please….as far as I know, with past data, the sensitivity of any indicator of prosperity to fossil fuels is MUCH HIGHER than that to temperature, meaning that it is still much more interesting to burn fossil fuels than not. Of course this simple statement explains very well why fossil fuel consumption never decreased globally, and why nobody left any cheap fossil fuel under the ground…

    Comment by Gilles — 14 Mar 2010 @ 12:56 PM

  188. @mark Ryan @165
    That is a great summing up/explanation. If only newspapers did not choose option B so often …..:)
    Thanks again for your guest post as well as the follow up contri. Also , my thanks for the whole team at RC of course, for being the steadfast scientists in the maelstrom of disinformation and general crap that passes for climate comment in the newspapers.

    Comment by Uncle pete — 14 Mar 2010 @ 12:58 PM

  189. Norman, you might find this helpful; it sounds like you’re discovering what are called “climate zones” — part of this here:
    http://www.meted.ucar.edu/afwa/climo/intro/
    (free, though they ask you to register and have a minimum age limit)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Mar 2010 @ 1:03 PM

  190. I did include both daytime and nightime temps. In July, Las Vegas is still warmer on average than Knoxville or Tulsa at night!

    But it *cools more* than Knoxville or Tulsa during the night.

    July Temp: (High/Low/Average) F
    Las Vegas: 104.1/78.2/91.15 – difference 25.9
    Tulsa: 93.8/73.1/83.45 – difference 20.7
    Knoxville: 86.9/68.5/77.7 – difference 18.4

    Comment by dhogaza — 14 Mar 2010 @ 1:05 PM

  191. The problem is that the political agenda depends on NUMBERS

    Do you mind a loud horse laugh?

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 14 Mar 2010 @ 1:06 PM

  192. Gilles, OK, so you buy that CO2 is a greenhouse gas in the stratosphere, but not in the troposphere? Dude, you are reaching! And climate sensitivity IS known. Many independent lines of evidence place it between 2 and 4.5 degrees per doubling–and all of them favor a value around 3 degrees per doubling.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Mar 2010 @ 1:06 PM

  193. 100 Michael,
    I would rather say that 78 ccpo confuse environmental problems with scientific theories. People at this site tend to see climate change as a theory (either true or false). This binary approach is problematic since climate change is very broad and complex: Some claims are true whereas others are false and others are too uncertain to know much about. yes, I would agree that 78 ccpo takes an extreme position because of that, it is far too simplistic.

    Climate change as environmental problems. that is how I interpret Oakwood since he talks about science, sustainability and equality. It ir rather easy to make a case that world poverty is a more pressing problem than climate change. To take away such important “by definition” of AGW is silly.

    Comment by Andreas Bjurström — 14 Mar 2010 @ 1:16 PM

  194. Gilles! Your antecedents are still so vague that one can interpret your sentences to mean many different things, and they are torture to read. At any rate, guessing one likely meaning of your sentence to be that fossil fuel convenience to date far offsets any inconvenience caused by global warming, I would say that you may be right, but so what? We are talking about the risks in the future. Do you have any idea what the average adult has to pay for food vs gasoline or heating fuel or electricity? Food is by far my biggest expense . It would take only a little bit of drought or too much rain in some of the worlds bread baskets to drive my biggest expense through the roof. That is what we are talking about.

    Comment by Steve P — 14 Mar 2010 @ 1:18 PM

  195. Norman@182,
    I’m not sure what you are trying to show. We already know that insolation is important. And if you want to look at the effect of greenhouse gasses, why are you looking at absolute temperatures and not diurnal variation? You are also ignoring altitude and a score of other factors.

    As nearly as I can tell, you are trying to reinvent the wheel. That might be fine as a project if you have the time, but I don’t think it will enlighten you as much as would perusal of, say, Ray Pierrehumbert’s climate text.

    I suspect that by limiting your analysis to only a few variables and a few sites, you will mainly succeed in confusing yourself. I would think your project would benefit from a thorough grounding in the fundamentals beforehand.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Mar 2010 @ 1:18 PM

  196. Gilles:

    You keep moving the goalposts instead of ever conceding a goal. Should we take this as a sign of bad faith and ignore you forthwith?

    Any of your copious questions could have been answered by the “Start here” resources, but in the long time you have been posting here, I have not seen you make any progress towards grasping the basics.

    Comment by Didactylos — 14 Mar 2010 @ 1:22 PM

  197. Mark C. cites the South Dakota Legislature’s resolution declaring that astrology affects climate. Oh, Ouch! Now that is weapons-grade stupidity.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Mar 2010 @ 1:23 PM

  198. Andreas says: “People at this site tend to see climate change as a theory (either true or false).”

    The fact that you keep saying this does not make it so. I can only speak for myself, but I fully realize that climate change and how we choose to respond (or not) to it constitutes an astoundingly complex societal question. I merely insist that as a basis for action, one must accept the scientific consensus. I also believe that a standard risk mitigation approach is the most likely to lead to effective action that avoids the worst consequnces of the resulting threats. I am 100% agnostic on particular policies.

    My impression is that there are many other posters here who share at least a subset of the same positions.

    As to the contributors, I believe their offerings speak for themselves. They do not advocate policy, but instead attempt to elucidate the science and defend it against ill-advised, unfounded and anti-scientific attacks.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Mar 2010 @ 2:09 PM

  199. Mark C. cites the South Dakota Legislature’s resolution declaring that astrology affects climate. Oh, Ouch! Now that is weapons-grade stupidity.

    They also claimed that medical infrared imaging affects climate.

    That’s even more … obscure :)

    Comment by dhogaza — 14 Mar 2010 @ 2:14 PM

  200. Gilles:
    “Because it is not enough to limit the energy intensity, you have to prevent people to use the spared fossil fuels, meaning in fact renouncing for ever to extract and burn them, leaving them willingly in the ground.”

    The problem is the burning more than the extraction, and the “quality of life” you continue to carry on about is not dependent on their combustion, but on their conversion to beneficial non-energy artifacts. Energy comes in many forms, primarily from the sun, focus on making better use of that with reduced CO2 emissions. Your position is very obviously regarding the politics of profit, not the science of climate change, which you appear to accept is happening but doesn’t matter as much as profit.

    Comment by flxible — 14 Mar 2010 @ 2:15 PM

  201. 169 RichardC

    Such progress I am making!!

    As Alexis DeToqueville wrote in 1800 or so, democracy in America would collapse when the people figured out that they could vote themselves money from the public treasury. What you advocate seems very close to the kind of chaos the DeToqueville envisioned.

    More closely paralleling this scheme was the Alaska system carried on by Sarah Palin, where oil companies were taxed and every person in Alaska got a check for $2000. This is populism of the sort that some of us think is very bad for the economy.

    But lets say it was all very orderly and the price of fuel simply reflected the carbon content and the average person came out even. The intended effect might come about, where a lot less coal was used. If the natural gas price remained at $4.50 as it is now, that would seem to be ok. But we know that natural gas price is very sensitive to change in the amount used. We would need to get about three to four times as much heat from natural gas to replace the heat from coal, so that would seriously destabilize the natural gas market. If the price only went to $7 as it often does in the winter, that would reestablish the advantage of coal as the cheapest, even with the proposed carbon tax.

    You may be putting more faith in the talk of abundant natural gas than I do. The first rule of reserve estimating is to set a price target that must exist to make gas recovery profitable. Right now we are doing ok with $4.50 as a target. The present unexpected growth in reserves is based on willingness of the gas people to spend significantly more money to recover the gas. Technology advances help, but what I hear sounds like there is not so much new technology, but instead there is just a lot more use of expensive processes. The discussion goes on, noting with some concern the methods by which natural gas reserves are assessed and the serious environmental questions being raised. In the end, I think we should be careful not to expect too much, and if we increase our usage rate by a factor of 3 or 4, the so called abundant reserves will shrivel to a short supply.

    I argue that we need to get a lot more from the natural gas that we have rather than set out to use it up at triple the rate that we now do for making electricity. There is actually some hope in distributed cogeneration, where electricity is made by burning natural gas on an individual household basis, where the waste heat from the generator engine replaces heat that would have otherwise required separate burning of natural gas. This is a better and higher use of natural gas which is not really possible with coal.

    I was encouraged by the stress put on evaluating project costs without subsidy by Secy. Chu at a recent talk at Stanford. He had quite a few very interesting things to say, most but not all of which I agree with.

    http://www.facebook.com/stevenchu

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Mar 2010 @ 2:17 PM

  202. Gilles – If fossil fuels are as limited as you say – and civilization is completely dependent on fossil fuels, doesn’t it make sense to conserve fossil fuels as much as possible?

    From what I can gather from you’re posts, your life philosophy is we’re all screwed, so let’s party. That’s all you’ve contributed to the conversation for the last several weeks.

    Comment by JiminMpls — 14 Mar 2010 @ 2:18 PM

  203. 190dhogaza says:
    14 March 2010 at 1:05 PM

    “But it *cools more* than Knoxville or Tulsa during the night.

    July Temp: (High/Low/Average) F
    Las Vegas: 104.1/78.2/91.15 – difference 25.9
    Tulsa: 93.8/73.1/83.45 – difference 20.7
    Knoxville: 86.9/68.5/77.7 – difference 18.4″

    I was aware of this, but thanks for pointing it out. The difference can easily be explained with the known fact that hotter materials emit more radiation and will cool faster.

    Comment by Norman — 14 Mar 2010 @ 2:45 PM

  204. I used to be a “skeptic” because I always thought of the issue in very absolute terms – its either “happening” or “not happening.” I perceived ambiguities and uncertainties around AGW as weaknesses in the overall argument, but as I learned more, I realized it wasn’t a question of certainty, but a question of greatest probability. The “Skeptics” operate almost entirely by nitpicking at various threads of the AGW theory but have never advanced a plausible alternative in a scientifically rigorous manner. Instead we get a bunch of half-baked pet-theories or an insistence that “politically motivated” climate scientists lack the empirical instruments to reliably say anything about the Climate.

    Comment by Johnhayte — 14 Mar 2010 @ 2:51 PM

  205. 195Ray Ladbury says:
    14 March 2010 at 1:18 PM
    Norman@182,
    “I’m not sure what you are trying to show.”

    The basic point I saw with this limited evaluation was the effect clouds have on temperatures. The available sunshine data is the difference in cloud cover. Clouds seem to have a very strong cooling effect over the long run or so it would seem. I did look at altitude and it did not seem to be a major factor to cause such difference. The simplest explanation is that clouds cooling factor far outweighs the warming effect of the quantity of greenhouse available in the local environment.

    I very much appreciate the time you are taking to inform me on the larger picture. I am an inbetweener on the AGW issue. I know carbon dioxide absorbs infrared, but climate is a vastly complex system with many variables. I am not believing anyone at this time. I am doing what research is available to me.

    The point of this exercise initially was to prove to a person the effect of greenhouse gases (he believes nitrogen and oxygen absorb infrared and are the same as carbon dioxide). I picked Las Vegas as a desert spot and just went across the US on Google map to see cities that were close to the same lattitude. I just picked these three. I figured Tulsa was a grassland and Knoxville was forest and I knew Knoxville had a wet and humid climate with plenty of water vapor in its air. I was thinking Las Vegas would be the hottest during the day but would have a lower average night time temperature relative to the other two and I would use this difference to point out greenhouse effect in the real world system.

    I was suprised but since the sight I used had sunshine data I looked at these and it looked like available sunlight (lack of clouds) was a huge factor in temperature.

    Comment by Norman — 14 Mar 2010 @ 3:00 PM

  206. Data sight links for my climate study.

    http://www.rssweather.com/climate/Nevada/Las%20Vegas/

    http://www.rssweather.com/climate/Oklahoma/Tulsa/

    http://www.rssweather.com/climate/Tennessee/Knoxville/

    Comment by Norman — 14 Mar 2010 @ 3:03 PM

  207. 201 Jim, that makes no sense at all. Natural gas would be subject to the SAME carbon tax as coal. Yes, it would affect natural gas a bit less, but ALL fossil fuels would have to pay the carbon feebate. Again, how would a feebate system for fossil fuels drive the US economy into the third world? A system which takes zero dollars out of the economy can’t do such a dastardly thing.

    Comment by RichardC — 14 Mar 2010 @ 3:15 PM

  208. The simplest explanation is that clouds cooling factor far outweighs the warming effect of the quantity of greenhouse available in the local environment.

    I very much appreciate the time you are taking to inform me on the larger picture. I am an inbetweener on the AGW issue. I know carbon dioxide absorbs infrared, but climate is a vastly complex system with many variables.

    So …

    1. It’s complex

    2. Then waves hands with a small amount of data exploration and concludes that climate science is wrong.

    Norman, do you see the humor in this?

    Comment by dhogaza — 14 Mar 2010 @ 3:44 PM

  209. The difference can easily be explained with the known fact that hotter materials emit more radiation and will cool faster.

    I prefer this discussion

    At night, when the surface is no longer being illuminated by the Sun, it is still radiating its own blackbody radiation, Earth’s surface to cool. Some of that radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere. The atmosphere also emits blackbody radiation, some of which is absorbed by Earth’s surface. The nighttime temperature depends upon the relative rates of absorption and emission by Earth and the atmosphere. If the atmosphere is made more efficient at absorbing radiation, it will trap more of Earth’s radiation, and reradiate more of it downward, making Earth’s surface warmer on average. This is known as the greenhouse effect.

    More water vapor? Check.

    The cooling of Earth at night — The materials that make up Earth’s surface absorb some of the Sun’s radiation during the day. This results in the warming of those materials. Since all materials radiate blackbody radiation, Earth’s surface is always radiating energy (in the infrared region). Of course, it is also absorbing energy from its surroundings, but as the temperature of Earth’s surface increases, it ends up radiating more infrared radiation than it is absorbing.

    When the night comes, the surface is no longer being heated by the Sun, but it is still radiating, and, since it is warmer than the air around it, it continues to radiate, gradually cooling it off.

    If clouds are present over the surface at night, their effect is to reflect some fraction of the radiation that was emitted by the surface back down toward it. Over the course of the night, this has the effect of causing the surface to cool much more slowly. This is why clear sky nights tend to be much colder than cloudy sky nights.

    More cloudy nights? Check.

    The starting temps at night on average in July in Los Vegas vs. Tulsa is about 313K vs. 307K, i.e. LV is about 2% warmer than Tulsa. I suspect the stuff going on in the air column above is more important …

    Comment by dhogaza — 14 Mar 2010 @ 3:54 PM

  210. #194 Steve P
    “Do you have any idea what the average adult has to pay for food vs gasoline or heating fuel or electricity? Food is by far my biggest expense . It would take only a little bit of drought or too much rain in some of the worlds bread baskets to drive my biggest expense through the roof.”

    [edit - PO is OT. I'm not going to say it again]

    And Steve P : big drought that reduce farming a lot globally happen only in carbon intensive scenarios which imply a multiplication by 24 of the world GDP which means you won’t suffer any economic problems.

    Comment by Jean B. — 14 Mar 2010 @ 4:06 PM

  211. Gilles (57): there is no reliable measurements of the 30 years warming rate that shows that it is unusual (or please show me one

    BPL: We have. We’ve listed references and directed you to web sites. You ignore them or find reasons to discount them. So stop pretending you’d change your mind if shown adequate evidence. You won’t look at the evidence.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Mar 2010 @ 4:07 PM

  212. #206 Norman,

    I’m sorry to be rude, but how old are you? If you’re under 12, then I commend you for your efforts, but you can’t do a climate study based the weather in three locations.

    Regardless of your age, I’d suggest you learn the fundamentals before attempting any “research” or analysis of your own.

    Go the the top of the RC page and click “Start Here” Read the items for complete beginners and progress from there. http://www.skepticalscience.com is another good place for information. You don’t have to understand everything but if you take it slowly and *read in order to understand* it will start making sense.

    Also, look up “sight”, “site” and “cite” – they’re not the same things.

    Comment by JiminMpls — 14 Mar 2010 @ 4:13 PM

  213. D. Glass (114),

    All I can tell you is that I am an evangelical Christian, and a lot of the people I know are, and most of them ARE very concerned about AGW. Some us remember Psalm 24:1.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Mar 2010 @ 4:25 PM

  214. 207 RichardC

    Nope, a BTU of natural gas would be burdened with half the tax that would burden coal, not “a bit less.”

    But you are almost right, the cash return could balance things out, and I guess we are assuming that nobody siphons off the cash flow for some project. That would be my first concern. Assuming it works as you say, there would be a requirement for a lot of generation capacity to replace the coal plants. That capital cost would be a real drag on the economy, but to say this would ruin the economy might be an overstatement.

    However, the real issue seems to be whether or not the price of natural gas holds constant. I am thinking that the price of natural gas would be destabilized and coal would be used anyway.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Mar 2010 @ 4:25 PM

  215. RaymondT (124): to justify huge expenditures of public funds to solve a hypothetical problem.

    BPL: “Hypothetical???” Which part of “12% of Earth’s land surface was in severe drought in 1970 and by 2002 it was 30%” do you not understand?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Mar 2010 @ 4:29 PM

  216. Wannabe Snark (132): Please name one specific, falsifiable prediction that the theory of AGW makes and that has been tested.

    1. Greater drought in continental interiors.
    2. Stratospheric cooling coupled with tropospheric warming (as Gavin noted).
    3. More global warming toward the poles, less toward the equator.
    4. More warming in the Arctic than the Antarctic.
    5. More warming at night than during day.
    6. More warming in winter than summer.
    7. More warming in the northern hemisphere than the southern.

    Is that enough or do you want more?

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/ModelsReliable.html

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Mar 2010 @ 4:33 PM

  217. Norman (158) — you’re also ignoring advection. A single location on Earth is heavily influenced by losses and gains to areas around it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Mar 2010 @ 4:41 PM

  218. Gilles (163),

    Your argument is a complete non sequitur. It amounts to “using more fossil fuels increased wealth. Therefore, using more fossil fuels is the only way to increase wealth.”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Mar 2010 @ 4:43 PM

  219. Gilles (171): it isn’t enough to establish the magnitude of the anthropogenic contribution to the global warming, which is the real issue. And I don’t know any confirmed prediction that would establish that it is above 50 %, not speaking of 95 %.

    BPL: Try here:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Correlation.html

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Mar 2010 @ 4:46 PM

  220. #194 Steve P.
    Food is oil & fossil fuel dependant tu sustain current population level with current standard of living.

    Comment by Jean B. — 14 Mar 2010 @ 4:55 PM

  221. @ Kevin http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Climate_Change_Attribution.png

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 14 Mar 2010 @ 5:05 PM

  222. Gilles (180): the fact that stratosphere is cooling doesn’t prove the magnitude of greenhouse effect of CO2 in the troposphere

    BPL: It’s the SAME BODY OF PHYSICS behind BOTH results. You can’t accept one and not accept the other. It’s like saying, “Yes, gravity and momentum account for the Moon’s orbit around the Earth, but that doesn’t prove they account for Mars’s orbit around the Sun.”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Mar 2010 @ 5:05 PM

  223. Gilles (186): how can you commit to limit the warming below 2°C if the climate sensitivity is unknown?

    BPL: Translation: Yes, the gas pedal is stuck and we’re going to go over the cliff edge in another minute, but why press the brake if we can’t know in advance how effective it will be?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Mar 2010 @ 5:08 PM

  224. > Jim M.
    > vote … money … public … treasury

    Often and variously attributed, but not yet sourced: a good discussion is here
    http://www.lorencollins.net/tytler.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Mar 2010 @ 5:12 PM

  225. I’d just like to add my voice to the grateful voices here. I know that me-tooing is lame, but just know that your work is appreciated by many.

    Comment by Greg — 14 Mar 2010 @ 5:34 PM

  226. 189Hank Roberts says:
    14 March 2010 at 1:03 PM
    “Norman, you might find this helpful; it sounds like you’re discovering what are called “climate zones” — part of this here:
    http://www.meted.ucar.edu/afwa/climo/intro/
    (free, though they ask you to register and have a minimum age limit)”

    Thanks for the link Hank, I checked it out but it does not do much to explain why the humid subtropical zones are cooler on average than the desert. I was hoping they could explain conditions that would cool these areas (like cool air moves in to them in July from the North because of the area they are located in). This would be another reason that could explain the cooler temps beyond the greater cloud cover.

    Comment by Norman — 14 Mar 2010 @ 5:46 PM

  227. I’ve finally reached the conclusion that there are two types of denialists: one) anti-science for theological reasons, and two) anti-anthropogenic (or any change at all) GW as a retreat to the bunker tactic…get as much $ as they can before things go to hell in a breadbasket, and then hunker down in compounds of the ‘rich’. The first can at least be understood as a mistaken reality template. The second…that they continue to do what they do, destroying chances for mitigation, knowing the consequences, is beyond language to describe. I’m stumped why the survival instinct has gone dormant in them…that type of living won’t be survival.

    Comment by Steve Missal — 14 Mar 2010 @ 5:51 PM

  228. I have no desire to inhibit in any way this pep rally that’s going on here. Probably O.K. and deserved. But staying above the hoopla before it gets out of hand for a minute, I did want to offer my assessment and opinion. While a sceptic (in part) I none-the-less spend 90% on my climate blog time on RC. While it is not unbiased (and being so would be silly) and a long way from perfection, it has by far the highest incidence of scientific information and discussion. Not 100%, but I’m much more apt to pick up science stuff here than on my fellow sceptic blogs/forums (a few of which are really silly…)

    Comment by Rod B — 14 Mar 2010 @ 5:54 PM

  229. Ray :Gilles, OK, so you buy that CO2 is a greenhouse gas in the stratosphere, but not in the troposphere? ”
    perfect strawman argument : I never said that. How could it be possible that CO2 has IR lines in the stratosphere and not in the troposphere? be serious please. I just said that there were a huge gap between knowing that, and knowing which amount is potentially dangerous – and if we can ever reach it.

    “Dude, you are reaching! And climate sensitivity IS known. Many independent lines of evidence place it between 2 and 4.5 degrees per doubling–and all of them favor a value around 3 degrees per doubling.”
    May I estimate than a factor 2 or more is not “very well known”, and that even the figure of 2 degrees/doubling can be questioned?

    Steve :”It would take only a little bit of drought or too much rain in some of the worlds bread baskets to drive my biggest expense through the roof. That is what we are talking about.”
    May be, but depletion of fossil fuels will be the first and most important reason why food will become a much more important expense for many people – both because it will get more and more expensive and because an economic crash will make them poorer. And again, it will happen much before any serious consequence of warming -actually I think it starts happening now.

    Jim202 :Gilles – If fossil fuels are as limited as you say – and civilization is completely dependent on fossil fuels, doesn’t it make sense to conserve fossil fuels as much as possible?
    From what I can gather from you’re posts, your life philosophy is we’re all screwed, so let’s party.”

    The tiny problem-again- is that I never said that we should “party”. Please read my posts before answering. I said that conserving did make sense anyway since the fossil fuels were finite, even if CO2 had no warming effect.And I also said that the GW is much less likely to be a problem than the depletion of fossil fuels, that is about to start just now (with oil).

    You may not agree, but I don’t think I could state this more clearly, it’s perfectly understandable.

    BPL : Gilles (57): there is no reliable measurements of the 30 years warming rate that shows that it is unusual (or please show me one
    BPL: We have. We’ve listed references and directed you to web sites. You ignore them or find reasons to discount them. So stop pretending you’d change your mind if shown adequate evidence. You won’t look at the evidence.

    That’s just false allegations, BPL, you didn’t give me references showing that the current warming rate is unusual – simply because it is not.

    “BPL: “Hypothetical???” Which part of “12% of Earth’s land surface was in severe drought in 1970 and by 2002 it was 30%” do you not understand?”

    References again, please?

    Comment by Gilles — 14 Mar 2010 @ 5:55 PM

  230. Andreas #193 “People at this site tend to see climate change as a theory (either true or false).”

    I never understand the problem people have with seeing that you can recognise dangerous anthropogenic climate change as being a probability but still be certain that this probability justifies taking action.

    Comment by Heraclitus — 14 Mar 2010 @ 5:55 PM

  231. I too am a refugee from the evolution/creation wars. I first became involved in the AGW debate (via comments on a newspaper website) in response to an anti-warming letter to the editor. My training was in biochemistry. Without sources such as realclimate.org, skepticalscience.com, Climate Progress, etc. I would have been hopelessly out-gunned and incapable of addressing the vacuous claims of the denialists who leapt into the fray. I join the others in offering my gratitude to you for providing such a valuable repository of mainstream scientific information on the subject.

    As others have noted, the AGW controversy bears many similarities to the evo./crea. debate. It has been my experience that contrarians in general are often more easily swayed by tangential arguments than by detailed scientific explanations. In the case of AGW, issues such as how many of the signers of the Oregon Petition are really climate scientists, how many organizations support global warming vs. how many opposite it, how many scientists are on each side of the controversy, and how rich the players on each side are getting, are just as (if not more) important to them than the hard scientific facts.

    I know some have advocated that RealClimate should adhere to a strictly scientific line of argumentation. However, most of the opponents of AGW are not scientifically oriented. . Many of the anti-warmers seem to be more easily swayed by score-keeping type arguments. If we are going to get the message across to the lay public, I think it is imperative not to neglect the importance of playing the ancillary numbers game with them.

    Indeed, RealClimate is one of the first places I go for a thorough discussion of the science of AGW. Nonetheless, I hope that all pro-warming websites will keep this other aspect of the debate in mind when choosing subjects for discussion.

    Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

    Comment by Jack — 14 Mar 2010 @ 5:57 PM

  232. BPL :Gilles (180): the fact that stratosphere is cooling doesn’t prove the magnitude of greenhouse effect of CO2 in the troposphere
    It’s the SAME BODY OF PHYSICS behind BOTH results. You can’t accept one and not accept the other. It’s like saying, “Yes, gravity and momentum account for the Moon’s orbit around the Earth, but that doesn’t prove they account for Mars’s orbit around the Sun.”

    I disagree : you can’t say that the sensitivity is “between 2 and 4.5°C /doubling” and pretend mastering the problem like the Newton force. I we couldn’t be more precise than a factor 2 in the motion of Moon, the law of gravitation would be laughable. Climate system is a very complex one, and nobody can claim it’s fully understood. So you aren’t allowed to do an intellectual hold up saying “oh we HAVE to reduce fossil fuels even if we aren’t sure”. If we aren’t sure, we must give good arguments that it’s worthwhile to do it, and that the consequences won’t be worse that what they want to avoid – and I’m not convinced by the argument. Worse, I think that most proposals are useless and won’t reach the goal they claim to.

    Comment by Gilles — 14 Mar 2010 @ 6:02 PM

  233. Norman, I’m guessing you just read the Climatology module but skipped all the others, since for example http://www.meted.ucar.edu/afwa/climo/intro/main.htm addresses the kind of question you asked. Remember, they warn you to go through the modules in sequence and that a basic foundation in meteorology is needed. You may want to back up a bit and get the meteorology information first.

    Look at the left side of the page, go to the top, start with the beginning, take the quizzes to get a feel for how you’ve done understanding each module, and I think by the time you get back to the Climatology module it’ll make more sense.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Mar 2010 @ 6:03 PM

  234. 212JiminMpls says:
    14 March 2010 at 4:13 PM
    #206 Norman,

    “I’m sorry to be rude, but how old are you? If you’re under 12, then I commend you for your efforts, but you can’t do a climate study based the weather in three locations.”

    Sorry for scrambling the site, sight and cite wording. I should reread my posts before pressing the Submit button.

    I do not believe it is the weather of three locations. As far as I can tell it is climate, I do not know the number of years behind this information. I was under the assumption that to post as Climate the data should be at least 30 years of data if not more.

    Three locations is not the sum of a study but a starting point. I was looking for something else and saw this pattern. I was trying to figure out the warming effect of water vapor (I made the assumption that carbon dioxide was similar in the three locations so it cancels out on effect).

    “Regardless of your age, I’d suggest you learn the fundamentals before attempting any “research” or analysis of your own.”

    I have educated myself on the fundamentals, I was going to a deeper level. The fundamentals are that greenhouse gases abosorb infrared from heated ground and either heat up warming the air or reradiating the energy of which approximately half will return to the Earth’s surface, be reabsorbed and warm again.

    I checked up on a video on the skeptic link you posted about the proof of Global warming. I also noticed it was not what was included that was important but what he did not include. They studied the Sun’s variations and it could not explain the warming, they did volcanoes and I believe another one. They did not mention clouds.

    I will agree three cities are not enough. I still was hoping maybe one of the intelligent and knowledgeable people who post on the site could explain why the cities do have such a difference in temp and why the one with the most cloud cover is the coolest (even though the amount of solar energy in each location is the same and the night and day hours are identical). Above them, they are receiving identical amounts of solar radiation…same watts/meter^2. But each city ends up with different average temperatures. What is the reason for this? I may be wrong in assuming cloud cover. That is okay, I would like a good alternative explanation. It does not make my mind 12 years old to think about this.

    Comment by Norman — 14 Mar 2010 @ 6:04 PM

  235. BPL :
    Wannabe Snark (132): Please name one specific, falsifiable prediction that the theory of AGW makes and that has been tested.

    1. Greater drought in continental interiors.
    2. Stratospheric cooling coupled with tropospheric warming (as Gavin noted).
    3. More global warming toward the poles, less toward the equator.
    4. More warming in the Arctic than the Antarctic.
    5. More warming at night than during day.
    6. More warming in winter than summer.
    7. More warming in the northern hemisphere than the southern.

    Is that enough or do you want more?

    Can you give the date at which each prediction has been made, and when it has been verified, please?

    Comment by Gilles — 14 Mar 2010 @ 6:05 PM

  236. 217Barton Paul Levenson says:
    14 March 2010 at 4:41 PM
    “Norman (158) — you’re also ignoring advection. A single location on Earth is heavily influenced by losses and gains to areas around it.”

    Thank you Mr. Levenson for the introducing me to advection. Because of you post I checked up the average wind speeds of the three cities (Las Vegas, Tulsa and Knoxville).

    Las Vegas: 9.6 MPH
    Tulsa: 9.3 MPH
    Knoxville: 6.o MPH

    Link:
    http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/online/ccd/avgwind.html

    To test your idea I will have to dig deeper to see what direction the wind is moving. Is it moving from a warmer area in Las Vegas causing the warming? Maybe colder air is moving into Knoxville cooling it.

    But still what is wrong with the simple explanation that the Cloud cover is the major cause of the difference in the temperature? The Albedo of some clouds is very high, if the energy of the sun is being reflected back into space the ground below absorbs less, warms less and emits less infrared at night. My point is still Why not the clouds?? Why can’t the Clouds be the largest factor in Global warming and cooling? More clouds, Earth cools. Less Clouds Earth warms. By how much is the question. If my conclusion is the correct one then if might be very significant indeed!

    Comment by Norman — 14 Mar 2010 @ 6:19 PM

  237. Looking for one thing and find another. I was trying to find wind directions for Knoxville in July to answer a question and I found a Monthly average of temperatures from the 1970′s to 2001 (the 30 year Climate criteria). I will post the link. It is 12 pages long but has an average temperature data block about half way through the web page. Can any of you find any sign of warming in Knoxville from this data?

    http://www.weatherexplained.com/Vol-5/2001-Knoxville-Tennessee-TYS.html

    Comment by Norman — 14 Mar 2010 @ 6:31 PM

  238. While a sceptic (in part) I none-the-less spend 90% on my climate blog time on RC. While it is not unbiased…
    Comment by Rod B — 14 March 2010 @ 5:54 PM

    By “it” I am assuming you mean the people who write own, manage and write the blog. The rest of us are just guests and immaterial of any assessment of RC, per se.

    I dare you to show a single example of interpretation of data or interpretation of results that indicates anything other than a sound scientific finding by the people who run this blog.

    Unless you’ve got an explanation for the measurements of carbon that match the emissions sources, for the melting of Arctic sea ice from above and below, the fact the earth is pretty far from the sun right now, for the solar minimum, for the three decades of ever-increasing temps within a trend of 150 years of of warming, the elevated amount of methane, the melting glaciers… and so on and so on, you are not a sceptic, you’re just a deluded in some form or other.

    Not an insult, an observation.

    Comment by ccpo — 14 Mar 2010 @ 6:42 PM

  239. Fascinating as it is to watch Giles demonstrate the phase transition from the obtuse to the idiotic, his persistence risks alienating viewers otherwise sympathetic to the separation of climate policy and polemics.

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 14 Mar 2010 @ 6:44 PM

  240. Jean B #167: this has been done to death on other threads. Your other points are also generally rehashes. Read a bit then come back. Use the search box at the top of the page and the Start Here link.

    The substance of what Prof Jones was saying is that the climate is not determined by short-term trends. If you look at the 19th century, you can find 10 year periods with sharp increases, and 10 year periods with sharp decreases, but these things cancel out. Go to the 20th century, and you see that the sharp increases are not accompanied by such sharp decreases, and the long-term trend is up.

    This is why climatologists generally define climate as a 30-year average; it is the shift in the long-term average that is of concern, not whether any 10-year or other short period has a trend.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 14 Mar 2010 @ 6:46 PM

  241. Sorry, Gilles, but the uncertainties are what they are. And even at the low end of the confidence interval, we can’t afford to ignore the threats. At the upper end, we could be talking unbounded risk.

    You’ve been here over a month, now Gilles, and for the life of me, I can’t see that you have learned anything. So I have to ask myself: Why are you here?

    Your arguments are not persuasive to anyone who has actually looked at the science. Your view that fossil fuels are essential to life is ludicrous. You don’t seem to be interested in listening to what anyone else has to say. So, why are you here?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Mar 2010 @ 6:49 PM

  242. Norman,
    – you’re asking how and why clouds intercept heat and how they hold heat closer; that’s albedo from the top and the greenhouse effect from below. You’ll get to papers like this, which give a feel for how complicated the question gets. Urban areas make their own clouds, to some extent.
    http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/10/2131/2010/acpd-10-2131-2010.html

    – the “30 years” is for global annual temperatures, it’s a rule of thumb. This will help: http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2009/01/results-on-deciding-trends.html

    May I suggest you ask him your question? He invites questions like yours. Any of us reading here will find you there as well, and can continue to chip in:
    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2010/02/dare-to-ask-question.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Mar 2010 @ 6:56 PM

  243. Norman says, “Thanks for the link Hank, I checked it out but it does not do much to explain why the humid subtropical zones are cooler on average than the desert.”

    Norman, two words: Latent heat. It takes a lot of energy to evaporate water. Also, look at the enthalpies of moist and dry air.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Mar 2010 @ 6:58 PM

  244. So you aren’t allowed to do an intellectual hold up saying “oh we HAVE to reduce fossil fuels even if we aren’t sure”.

    What really isn’t “allowed” is to have a scientific issue held hostage to a political one.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 14 Mar 2010 @ 7:00 PM

  245. Whenever I quote RC in a discussion about Climate Change I just get the ‘They are in on the hoax’ bit.

    Comment by Russ H — 14 Mar 2010 @ 7:11 PM

  246. Norman: “But each city ends up with different average temperatures. What is the reason for this?”

    Have you considered other variables of geographical location rather than cloud cover? Including the exact location of the recording stations with respect to that geography? There are obviously reasons for a desert climate beyond the amount of solar energy recieved and cloud cover. Here on the west coast of Canada I regularly have wildly different weather than a friend in a similar location on the east coast of Canada.
    30 year averages:
    West coast: Jan +4.5c Feb +5.3c Jul +17.6c Aug +17.6c year 9.1c
    East coast: Jan -6c Feb -5.6c Jul +18.6 Aug 18.4 year 6.3c

    Comment by flxible — 14 Mar 2010 @ 7:53 PM

  247. I am a skeptic that believes in looking at evidence from both sides of the argument.

    The argument for AGW that I have never been able to believe is that the earth’s climate can amplify the warming of CO2 by overall positive feedback !

    The open loop [no feedback] warming of CO2 is 1 degree C for a doubling.[Per Dr Hansen]

    As I understand the science the climate alarmists believe that the earth’s climate is an overall positive feedback system. This positive feedback amplifies CO2′s puny warming by a factor of 6 or more.

    Since the earth’s temperature has only varied by 2/10 of 1 % in 100 years. This is very very very stable. How can a positive feedback system be this stable.

    I am an engineer and understand control theory and design systems with positive and negative feedback, I have never run into a long term stable positive feedback system.

    Can someone please name another long term stable positive feedback system ?

    Is the earth’s climate the only one ?

    Do you believe it is?

    Comment by netdr — 14 Mar 2010 @ 8:06 PM

  248. Having a scientific education myself, I find it disturbing how a seemingly large proportion of the population seems to be abandoning reason and logic. And I am trying to comprehend what is causing this. I know we can argue about corporate influence, about the internet and the spread of misinformation, about rampant consumerism, about how these things have the power to destroy the reasoning abilities of the average citizen. But I think there is more to it. I think there might be something else that could arguably account for the changes we are seeing.

    Over the last forty years, we have largely abandoned classical education in our education system. By classical education, I mean education about the Greeks and how they were the primary influence for many of the ideas that we hold sacrosanct in our society. Forty to fifty years ago, it was common to read Homer in high school or elementary school. And one usually had to have studied some Latin or Greek to obtain a PhD at most prestigious universities. To quote Carl Sagan from page xiv of The Demon Haunted World, at the University of Chicago, “It was unthinkable for an aspiring physicist to not know Plato, Aristotle, Bach, Shakespeare, Gibbon, Malinowski and Freud – among many others.”

    Today most universities are suffused with relativistic theory (and I don’t mean Einstein), where the Greek worldview, the source of many of our ethics and ideas about reason itself, is just another worldview, and a dubious one at that. Through my scientific education, I have been taught in a way to think like a Greek, in that I have been taught to pursue truth through reason, logic, and observation. I believe that the Greek idea of seeking the Truth through logic and reason is increasingly seen as hopelessly idealistic in increasingly wide circles. If social constructivist theory implies that this logical search for Truth is just one of many equally valid world views, then it is easy to change one’s worldview to something more comfortable, something less disturbing. Why not look to the bible instead as a source of Truth? Why not believe in Ghosts? Why not believe that the Moon landing was fake? Or that Fox News is “fair and balanced”?

    Personally, I am starting to read the Classics. I am reading Homer, the Iliad, the Odyssey; I am reading Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; and I am reading Plato, Aristotle, and Sophocles. I am brushing up on my formal logic, specifically focussing on the common logical fallacies that seem to be becoming increasingly common. After all, the ideas of the Greeks and Romans were the wellspring of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Their ideas were powerful enough to help destroy the power of the Catholic Church. Surely they are powerful enough to destroy the power of Rupert Murdoch!

    Comment by Catchblue22 — 14 Mar 2010 @ 8:52 PM

  249. Gilles,

    your argument about the relative sensitivity of prosperity to fossil fuel use and temperature is quite silly. I understand your intent, and cost-benefit analysis is an important way to evaluate policy decisions. The problem is that you’ve set up the problem incorrectly.

    First off, your relationship between fossil fuel use and prosperity is specious. In fact, the relationship is between the products of energy use and prosperity. Fossil fuels just happen to be popular and convenient sources of energy. Where other sources of energy or increased efficiency can displace fossil fuels, there is no loss long-term in prosperity for a reduction in fossil fuel use.

    Secondly, you seem to imply that the impacts of increasing temperature scale linearly. I suspect that is not the case. Some impacts will be negligible until thresholds are reached. Sea-level rise, disruptions in weather systems and loss of biodiversity are examples of impacts that will get worse as thresholds are achieved.

    Finally, the impacts of climate change are not necessarily greatest for those who get the most prosperity from the activities that are causing the warming. You basically have to integrate over the entire globe for your sensitivity comparison to make sense. While that might seem reasonable from a disinterested, macro/global perspective. It doesn’t make sense for actual human beings.

    Comment by MartinJB — 14 Mar 2010 @ 9:27 PM

  250. Norman, a couple of good sites to get a lot of perspective about this whole AGW debate are:

    http://www.climate4you.com/
    for a number of good data sets and graphs.

    For long term temp data, greater the 150 years

    http://www.rimfrost.no/

    is a very good site. Hang in there.

    Comment by J. Bob — 14 Mar 2010 @ 10:14 PM

  251. Norman, @234–

    Clouds are certainly part of the picture–relevant to both humidity, and to ground level sunshine. Another confounding variable would be elevation:

    LV–ca 600 m
    Knoxville–ca 300 m
    Tulsa-ca 200m

    Low humidity should be highly relevant to the overnight cooling in LV that Dhogaza noted. (I’m using rainfall totals as a quick “proxy” to humidity–though it’s pretty common knowledge that LV is in the desert, and that Knoxville gets a fair amount of rain.)

    I’m inferring a little bit about earlier posts here, without actually going back to read them–but don’t forget that daytime highs aren’t necessarily primarily driven by the greenhouse effect–the Lunar surface warms up just fine in direct Sun with no atmosphere at all to speak of. What the greenhouse effect modifies most directly is the cooling process, which is why it tends to make the greatest difference to “after dark” temps.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 14 Mar 2010 @ 10:17 PM

  252. Has this latest Schwartz et al paper been discussed? I had a low climate sensitivity advocate throw it in my face over on Dot Earth. The headline is made for primetime, that’s for sure.

    Why Hasn’t Earth Warmed as Much as Expected?

    Stephen E. Schwartz, Robert J. Charlson, Ralph A. Kahn, John A. Ogren, Henning Rodhe

    Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York
    University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
    NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado
    Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

    http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-abstract&doi=10.1175%2F2009JCLI3461.1

    Comment by Mark A. York — 14 Mar 2010 @ 10:29 PM

  253. My sincere thanks to everyone who contributes to this site.

    Comment by Ammonite — 14 Mar 2010 @ 10:50 PM

  254. To 215 Barton Paul Levenson (14 March 2010 at 4:29 PM) you wrote:

    “BPL: “Hypothetical???” Which part of “12% of Earth’s land surface was in severe drought in 1970 and by 2002 it was 30%” do you not understand?”

    If the CO2 level in 2002 was the same as in 1970 what % of the earth would be in severe drought in 2002 ? and Why ?

    Comment by RaymondT — 14 Mar 2010 @ 10:53 PM

  255. Some comments on the ‘random walk’ and the application of the ‘French philosophy’ to determine the price of rice in China. In some areas, we don’t need ‘tipping points’. One is the price of rice in China.

    This winter the heaviest snowfall in 100 years precipitated on the Qinghai Plateau, ‘The Land of the 7 Rivers’, in Tibet and across northern China. One of the results of this was an increase of 8 degrees C. in the land temp. (Taiwanese scientific survey) The earlier melt is obvious as well as the change in river flow over time. But there is more that is not obvious.

    The 7 Rivers include the Mekong River which provides Viet Nam with its rice production. This is the surplus production in Southeast Asia and as a consequence, controls the price of rice.

    Supply and demand have been in balance for Natural Gas (NG) in the U.S. for the past 100 years with the exception of the past 2 decades. The fluctuating price over an 800 per cent range, is now considered, by my accountant, to be in ‘chaos’ due to the break down of the balancing constraints,supply and demand.

    The construction of a half a dozen Chinese dams on the Mekong have eliminated the annual floods. The floods created sufficient water head to force the incursion of salt water from the Mekong Delta’s rice paddies and back to the sea. Failing that, Viet Nam is losing rice production by thousands of hectares a year due to increasing salinity.

    While Climate Change is producing seasonal changes in water flow, failure of irrigation systems, changes in seasonal temperature extremes, exceeding botanical ‘envelopes of survivability’, and these may all produce tipping points, this ‘tipping point’ is not in the production of food but in the delicate Math of Capitalism’s Mass Markets.

    Soros became one of the worlds richest men by shorting the British pound. I promise you the Markets will not forgo their opportunistic riches to serve the impoverished masses of starving Asians.

    Comment by Ken Peterson — 15 Mar 2010 @ 12:04 AM

  256. Ray:”Sorry, Gilles, but the uncertainties are what they are. And even at the low end of the confidence interval, we can’t afford to ignore the threats. At the upper end, we could be talking unbounded risk.You’ve been here over a month, now Gilles, and for the life of me, I can’t see that you have learned anything. So I have to ask myself: Why are you here?Your arguments are not persuasive to anyone who has actually looked at the science. Your view that fossil fuels are essential to life is ludicrous. You don’t seem to be interested in listening to what anyone else has to say. So, why are you here?”

    Ray, why do you (and others) spend your time in emitting judgements about me, and my statements, wondering why I post here, qualifying me with various (more or less nice) judgements, and not simply give scientific arguments showing why I’m wrong ?
    I never said that fossil fuels were necessary to life : I said to industrial civilization. If it weren’t true, why would it be so difficult to find an agreement to reduce them? why are developing countries excluded from requirement of absolute decrease of their consumption? why did the billions of chinese and indian people not find out how to develop with solar panels and windmills? why did the very director of IEA issue a statement, warning that the wheels of our system could “fall off” around 2015 because of peak oil? are all these people as “idiotic” as myself ? and why the only times where CO2 production actually decreased were only throughout recessions, why did all oil shocks produce a sharp rise in the prices and this sharp rise triggered massive global recessions, which never happened because a climatic events of course? if all this are not facts for you …

    Comment by Gilles — 15 Mar 2010 @ 1:31 AM

  257. “Gilles,y
    First off, your relationship between fossil fuel use and prosperity is specious. In fact, the relationship is between the products of energy use and prosperity. Fossil fuels just happen to be popular and convenient sources of energy. ”
    And you think it is unimportant for prosperity to benefit from “popular and convenient” sources of energy ?
    “Where other sources of energy or increased efficiency can displace fossil fuels, there is no loss long-term in prosperity for a reduction in fossil fuel use.”
    Of course it is always possible to improve the efficiency of use, so the coefficient can vary. I noticed that it is also true for climatic costs, it is not engraved on the marble that these costs couldn’t be reduced by intelligent action. But the question is : when will be interesting to stop COMPLETELY to use fossil fuels and let them under the ground, instead of using it ? for the moment, the answer is : never, because we can’t power an industrial society without them. Even “replacement” energies, apart from traditional animals and wooden and stone water- and windmills, require carbon for steel, copper, or simply for stabilizing an electrical grid. So “replacing” fossil fuels mean only “use them for a longer time” – and will never make the total amount extracted decrease, despite all what is said by so many parrots everywhere.

    Secondly, you seem to imply that the impacts of increasing temperature scale linearly. I suspect that is not the case. Some impacts will be negligible until thresholds are reached. Sea-level rise, disruptions in weather systems and loss of biodiversity are examples of impacts that will get worse as thresholds are achieved.

    This possibility is included in my question : above which amount do the marginal costs risk to be larger than the benefits? this includes the possibility of a non linear behavior with threshold effect.

    Finally, the impacts of climate change are not necessarily greatest for those who get the most prosperity from the activities that are causing the warming. You basically have to integrate over the entire globe for your sensitivity comparison to make sense. While that might seem reasonable from a disinterested, macro/global perspective. It doesn’t make sense for actual human beings.”

    Problem : first effect of limiting fossil fuels will be preventing poor people from becoming rich, maintaining them in the state where they are the most fragile. Remember than in fossil fuels intensive scenarios, the average GDP /capita is predicted to reach the current american one. Can you do that without fossil fuels ?
    I would add that if you think that “yes”, then the GW should not be such a problem. We should rather easily manage to mitigate it, with such an economic growth.

    American and Saudian people can live in desert , and with energy you can do almost everything, desalt sea water, build huge levees against ocean (see Netherlands), and so on… If replacing fossil fuels is easy, then mitigate their effects shouldn’t be such a big deal, since I don’t see any physical limit to the use of renewable energy.

    Comment by Gilles — 15 Mar 2010 @ 1:50 AM

  258. 227 Steve Missal: Yes. And those rich don’t realize how much they depend on poor police who won’t show up for work when they are really needed. “that type of living won’t be survival” is quite an understatement.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 15 Mar 2010 @ 2:03 AM

  259. 231 Jack: Do you mean they think science is a democracy? Could you go over that again please?
    But; I think what needs to be taught is that science is not a democracy. Nature has the only vote. Humans don’t get a vote. Nature speaks through experiments.
    Yet, we need to use every method available. Winning is mandatory, given the consequences.
    This requires further discussion. Jack has a point. The best path forward may be outside our current box in some way.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 15 Mar 2010 @ 2:11 AM

  260. Russ H #245:

    Whenever I quote RC in a discussion about Climate Change I just get the ‘They are in on the hoax’ bit.

    Russ, ask them if they’ve heard of other fake science controversies like tobacco is good for you, asbestos is warm fuzzy stuff and the ozone hole is a hoax. Then ask them what the motivation is for such a hoax. Doing damn hard science for little reward is a really stupid conspiracy. Writing BS on web sites is much less work than actually doing science.

    On the other hand there’s every reason for industry interests to propagate the myth of a climate science hoax. Ask them this question: if big oil with their massive resources is paying lobbyists, rather than funding a definitive study to overturn the science, what does that tell you?

    You have motive and plausible actions to justify claims of one hoax, but not the one they are thinking of.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 15 Mar 2010 @ 2:34 AM

  261. Gilles (232),

    For more than fifty years the Hubble constant wasn’t known to be closer to 50 km/s/Mpc or 100, and Ned Wright was holding out for 42. Did that mean the universe wasn’t expanding?

    4.5 C/doubling of CO2 would be catastrophic. 2.1 C/doubling would also be catastrophic, just not as fast. Either way human civilization collapses. We don’t have to know the exact amount, any more than we’d have to know exactly which cities and military bases were in the SIOP to know that nuclear war was a bad idea.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 15 Mar 2010 @ 3:31 AM

  262. Russ H (245),

    So tell them if they really want to know who’s telling the truth, they’ll have to study climatology for themselves. Ask if they’re willing to crack a book.

    Nonmathematical:
    Spencer Weart, “The Discover of Global Warming”
    S. George Philander, “Is the Temperature Rising?”

    Mathematical:
    Dennis Hartmann, “Global Physical Climatology”
    J.T. Houghton, “The Physics of Atmospheres”
    Grant W. Petty, “A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 15 Mar 2010 @ 3:36 AM

  263. netdr (247),

    You appear to be confusing “positive feedback” with “diverging series.”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 15 Mar 2010 @ 3:37 AM

  264. netdr 247 : I think you raise a very good point, and I share your concern. A retroaction with an amplification factor f results eventually in an amplification by 1/(1-f). A sensitivity “between 2 and 4.5°C” would mean that f is somewhere between 0.5 and 0.75. Well that’s not impossible, but that’s bizarre. Because such an uncertainty means that f is not very well constrained by strong principles but could vary following complicated , contingent phenomena, such as retroaction by clouds , vegetation, oceanic circulation, and so on… But then what is bizarre is that the value of f is dangerously close to the runaway threshold f=1, and it is hard to understand why the climate has not reached much higher amplification factors and catastrophic heating in the past. This hurts my sense of “order of magnitude” physics. I would be much more comfortable with f of the order of 0.1 which could safely vary by some factor without any strong consequence. It’s not a proof that the retroaction is not that large. It’s just uncomfortable.

    Comment by Gilles — 15 Mar 2010 @ 4:15 AM

  265. JBob, The Climate4you site is a bit suspect. For one thing, they don’t identify who they are. For another, they do not have much in the way of citations of studies. I also notice that there is a heavy dose of spin. Looks like crap to me.

    The rimfrost site is slick, but I question whether 110 sites give you a representative sample. And they are quite vague on how they select the sites.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Mar 2010 @ 5:09 AM

  266. Netdr says, “I am an engineer and understand control theory and design systems with positive and negative feedback, I have never run into a long term stable positive feedback system.”

    If you think a system cannot be stable under positive feedback, then you don’t understand control theory. Go back and review infinite series–an infinite series can most definitely be finite as long as the terms converge rapidly enough.

    The positive feedback in the climate is essential to understanding why Earth’s climate is the way it is. If it were not for the positive feedbacks, we never would have emerged from the last ice age. Go to the Start Here button. Click. Read. Right now, you have zero understanding of actual climate theory and are arguing against straw men of your own construction, whether you realize it or not.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Mar 2010 @ 5:15 AM

  267. And today, emphatic statements from Australia’s CSIRO, Bureau of Meteorology and the peak University body that the climate is changing as a result of human emissions of CO2:

    The leading research bodies say the evidence is irrefutable: climate change is real and the link with human activity is beyond doubt.

    Universities have also joined the fray, saying it is time to stand up for Australian science and research.

    The ABC article

    Comment by Sou — 15 Mar 2010 @ 5:20 AM

  268. I’m a social science researcher, and a worried citizen about environment and climate issues. I was waiting for a proper moment to thank your dedication and show my satisfaction with your work, and I think this post has given me the chance. Thanks for making good science available to all.

    Comment by Andrés Sánchez — 15 Mar 2010 @ 5:43 AM

  269. I am an engineer and understand control theory and design systems with positive and negative feedback – netdr

    I find the first claim here quite easy to believe: I don’t wish to tar all engineers with the denialist brush, but they do seem to constitute a remarkably large proportion of that community. The second half is obviously false: have you neveer heard of a converging series, netdr? Positive feedback is not necessarily runaway feedback: if either the additional increase due to positive feedback is less than the original increase, or other factors intervene, there will be no runaway. A tree is a good example: as it grows, its leaves and roots can take in more energy and nutrients, allowing it to grow faster in absolute terms – but we don’t find infinitely large trees, now do we? That’s because its relative rate of growth declines. In economics, economies of scale reduce prices, raise demand, and stimulate further growth – but neither demand nor firm size increase without limit. In the case of climate, the main positive feedbacks are well-understood: warmer air will hold more water vapour – this is what converts the approximately 1 degree C rise expected from doubling CO2 to around 3 degrees C; and warmer oceans can hold less CO2, hence the oceans become a CO2 source. Additional feedbacks, both positive and negative, are considered almost certain to be less important, but I’m no expert. However, there are those here who are. Why not try listening to them?

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 15 Mar 2010 @ 7:18 AM

  270. netdr, feedbacks occur on many timescales. It is quite possible that over timescales of hundreds of thousands or millions of years, the Earth is not a “positive feedback” system, but that it is over timescales of centuries to millenia. (In fact, paleodata indicates that this is the case–see Dr. David Archer’s “The Long Thaw” for a book-length treatment.)

    I’ve written a review/summary of it here:

    http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Long-Thaw-A-Review

    The most important factor is that over geological timescales, CO2 is removed from the atmosphere via the weathering of silicaceous rock. But that’s a slow feedback!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 15 Mar 2010 @ 8:58 AM

  271. BPL”4.5 C/doubling of CO2 would be catastrophic. 2.1 C/doubling would also be catastrophic, just not as fast. Either way human civilization collapses.”

    I regret to say you that I consider this is an unjustified statement. And “stratosphere is cooling” isn’t a valuable justification for me. BTW, I can’t understand the logics behind the belief that exhaustion of fossil fuels will certainly not cause the collapse of civilization, whereas a few degrees more would do it. Given the common wisdom that industrialized countries should mainly be able to cope with a rise of several degrees, why wouldn’t the entire world reach this state of prosperity that would allow it to deal with AGW in the same way, if availability of fossil fuels isn’t an issue ? I don’t see the argument.

    Comment by Gilles — 15 Mar 2010 @ 9:05 AM

  272. Norman, @ #182–

    Careful with using steam data. Guy Callendar (a leading steam technologist in his day, as well as the man who brought CO2 climate theory into the 20th century) found that steam data did not work unadjusted for atmospheric conditions.

    See his 1938 paper here:

    http://wiki.nsdl.org/index.php/PALE:ClassicArticles/GlobalWarming/Article6

    I’m currently working on a life-times-&-work article about him.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 15 Mar 2010 @ 9:17 AM

  273. Re netdr @247: The argument for AGW that I have never been able to believe is that the earth’s climate can amplify the warming of CO2 by overall positive feedback

    Then, as Ray alluded, how did earth manage to emerge from each glacial stade during the current glacial-interglacial period?

    Seriously, amplifying feedbacks will respond to any initial forcing of earth’s climate system, regardless of what that forcing is, be it an increase in insolation, a lowering of albedo, or an increase in greenhouse gases.

    To prove it to yourself calculate the difference in watts/square meter between minimum and maximum northern latitude summer insolation over the Milankovitch orbital cycles and determine if it is enough to terminate a glaciation all by itself.

    (Blunt hint: it is not.)

    Without the amplifying feedbacks of lowered albedo, increased water vapour, and increased atmospheric CO2 (from both terrestrial and ocean CO2 and CH4 sinks) there would simply not be enough energy to terminate a glaciation.

    Go ahead, calculate it for yourself. I dare you.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 15 Mar 2010 @ 9:24 AM

  274. 247: netdr says: “Since the earth’s temperature has only varied by 2/10 of 1 % in 100 years. This is very very very stable. How can a positive feedback system be this stable.

    I am an engineer and understand control theory and design systems with positive and negative feedback, I have never run into a long term stable positive feedback system.

    Can someone please name another long term stable positive feedback system ?”

    Living cells possess positive feedback loops and are stable. They maintain exquisite control over their own environment and they do it with both positive and negative feedback. In fact I can’t imagine how any complex system can maintain any sort of stasis without positive feedback.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 15 Mar 2010 @ 9:50 AM

  275. “271
    Gilles says:
    15 March 2010 at 9:05 AM

    BPL”4.5 C/doubling of CO2 would be catastrophic. 2.1 C/doubling would also be catastrophic, just not as fast. Either way human civilization collapses.”

    I regret to say you that I consider this is an unjustified statement.”

    Which is itself an unjustified statement.

    It’s also absolutely stupid to say.

    There IS a temperature where human civilisation will end.

    Lets call it “+100C”.

    If every doubling causes a 2C increase, you get to +100C after 6.6438561897747 doublings.

    If every doubling causes a 2.1C increase, you get to +100C after 6.2069529438066 doublings.

    The second is a smaller number of doublings. Therefore if no other change occurs apart from the sensitivity, you will reach +100C earlier with 2.1C per doubling than 2.0.

    “BTW, I can’t understand the logics behind the belief that exhaustion of fossil fuels will certainly not cause the collapse of civilization”

    Then why do you say that without burning fossil fuels we would have economic collapse, when you say here you can’t understand the logic behind it?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Mar 2010 @ 9:50 AM

  276. Gilles, you seem very confused to me (#271):

    . . . “stratosphere is cooling” isn’t a valuable justification for me.
    It was raised as an example of a successful scientific prediction based on CO2-climate theory, not as a “justification” of the whole AGW hypothesis. It stands as such–if you want to “justify” the whole complex of the science, you need to extend your focus; there isn’t “one fact/prediction/paper” that wraps it all up–and I find it a little difficult to believe you think there is; you don’t appear to be a fool. Confused, but not a fool.

    BTW, I can’t understand the logics behind the belief that exhaustion of fossil fuels will certainly not cause the collapse of civilization, whereas a few degrees more would do it.
    I don’t think anyone said this. In fact, I think most here would agree that resource depletion is a potential cause of collapse if not dealt with. That’s part of why there is so much debate here about possible means of dealing with the problem. And I must say that I don’t follow your logic here–if you are concerned about a collapse of civilization due to depletion of fossil fuels, why argue about climate effects at all? Whether we restructure our energy economy to avoid dislocation of supply, or to mitigate emissions, the issue is to get on with doing it, yes?

    Given the common wisdom that industrialized countries should mainly be able to cope with a rise of several degrees,
    When did this become the common wisdom? A moment ago we were talking about the collapse of civilization. In fact, the IPCC–which is summarizing the best information available, if you recall–sees increases beyond 2C as increasingly damaging.

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/spms3.html

    Note that the challenges are multiple–increased human mortality, loss of infrastructure & human displacement on a very large scale, greatly increased food insecurity and environmental degradation all at the same time.

    “Able to cope” is pretty ambiguous to me. And is it a good standard for decision-making? I’ve “coped” with the effects of recession on my life. But you can damn well bet I’d have avoided those effects altogether if I could have! Similarly, maybe–maybe!–civilization can survive all of the stressors I’ve mentioned (and my list wasn’t exhaustive), but does imposing such consequences on ourselves and our descendants seem like a good idea?

    why wouldn’t the entire world reach this state of prosperity that would allow it to deal with AGW in the same way, if availability of fossil fuels isn’t an issue ? I don’t see the argument.
    And given that availability is an issue, as we both agree, I don’t see the point.

    That’s one of the most tooth-gnashingly frustrating things about this whole debate. Everybody knows that the supply of fossil fuels is not endless, and that the end is coming rapidly closer. Just how close is still being debated. But given that fact, in conjunction with the strong evidence that the by-products are truly dangerous, it’s just mind-numbingly stupid to be doing so little about building up the infrastructure for a sustainable energy economy.

    It’s quite parallel to conservation: if the rate of consumption is high enough, you know FOR A FACT that at some point you’ll come to the last river, the last old-growth tree, the last buffalo, the last passenger pigeon, the last dodo. You know you’ll HAVE to stop.

    So why not stop BEFORE irretrievable damage is done?

    Sorry to raise my typographical voice. . . but, Gilles, stop dancing around with sophistry. Get real. An airy assumption that “a few degrees” of climate change is the equivalent of a vacation to the tropics is just dumb. You aren’t. So what keeps you insisting on such a foolish and unsupported premise?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 15 Mar 2010 @ 9:53 AM

  277. Gilles:”A sensitivity “between 2 and 4.5°C” would mean that f is somewhere between 0.5 and 0.75. Well that’s not impossible, but that’s bizarre.”

    Why?

    “Because such an uncertainty means that f is not very well constrained by strong principles but could vary following complicated , contingent phenomena”

    And they all add up to something between 0.5 and 0.75.

    Why is this bizarre?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Mar 2010 @ 9:54 AM

  278. I used to be a skeptic a few years back as well. I think I was starting to warm to the idea that humans were having an impact on climate before I watched An Inconvenient Truth, but I didn’t really know what the truth was. I watched the movie as a skeptic, and I wanted to test out the claims in the movie, particularly the paleoclimate link between CO2 concentrations and temperature. I started by looking for a crtical response to this link, and I found out that CO2 lagged temperature by 800 years, so I became a bit more “skeptical”. But, I didn’t stop there, and I continued to look for a response to see whether this was true, and if so, what significance it had. This site often contained the types of responses I was looking for, and I have found through time that more often than not, there is a more than reasonable response to the claims of “skeptics”. Given that well over 90% of published articles either implicitly or explicitly endorse the theory of human induced global warming, and given that the theory and responses to critics make sense, I think it is sound to believe there is something to the consensus opinion.

    Comment by Todd F — 15 Mar 2010 @ 9:56 AM

  279. CFU :”The second is a smaller number of doublings. Therefore if no other change occurs apart from the sensitivity, you will reach +100C earlier with 2.1C per doubling than 2.0.”
    Yes, but your figure of 6 doublings is naturally unrealistic (64 times proven reserves !!) . When I said it is unjustified, I meant that I don’t think that there is a real risk that human civilization collapses with realistic reserves and 2°C/doubling – and that the risk that it collapses because of the lack of fossil fuels is much higher.

    Comment by Gilles — 15 Mar 2010 @ 10:03 AM

  280. #265 Ray,
    Climate4you is one guy – Ole Humlum. There is a link on the C4U home page if you look carefully:
    http://www.geo.uio.no/geogr/staff/olehum.html

    As you say he has a sceptical / contrarian tone with some fairly weird theorising. However I use his site simply as a handy repository for pretty well every climate metric you care to think of all in one place. Rather than fill my favourites with links to various sites covering snow cover, Arctic ice, temps in the tropics etc I can go to C4U and use the links and references he puts against each graph.

    He may be in denial, but he does have his uses! I am confident enough of my grasp of the science these days that I can visit denialist sites without fear of being “contaminated”. Some times I go just for a laugh. Steve Goddard’s posts at WUWT being some of the funniest stuff on the web.

    Comment by Matthew L — 15 Mar 2010 @ 10:05 AM

  281. “Then why do you say that without burning fossil fuels we would have economic collapse, when you say here you can’t understand the logic behind it?”
    You just forgot the second half : AND it would collapse with some degrees more. I don’t see why IF we are able to sustain a society without fossil fuels, we wouldn’t be able to face some degrees of warming. If we continue indefinitely the growth, after all, we should be able to travel into the universe in some centuries or a millenium, so why bother with a 15°C; 16°C, or even 20°C average temperature (which is less than the native temperature of the human race anyway).

    Comment by Gilles — 15 Mar 2010 @ 10:07 AM

  282. Giles asks :”

    Ray, why do you (and others) spend your time in emitting judgements about me, .., and not simply give scientific arguments showing why I’m wrong ?”

    Because , Gilles, “it hurts my sense of order of magnitude physics ” that you are indisposed to use the sidebar ten centimeters away where the :
    FAQ
    Glossary
    Reviews
    Supplemental data
    and
    Tutorials

    categories exposit all those arguments in encyclopedic detail.

    prefering to ask

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 15 Mar 2010 @ 10:12 AM

  283. #265 Ray – On the contrary, http://www.rimfrost.no/ has a great deal of good long term temperature data, that looks quite reliable. You just have to know what to look for, and how. After all, aren’t we looking at “long term” data. So it may may be perfect, but that, along with the DeBilt and Central England direct temperature data can give insight over a 200 year period, in one part of the world.

    As far as positive and negative feedback in control systems, many systems have both. Example, missiles and high performance aircraft. In many cases, these vehicle are designed to be unstable in order to enhance performance. What happens is the control system provides the necessary negative feedback, or stabilizing effect to overcome the positive feedback or instability.

    Comment by J. Bob — 15 Mar 2010 @ 10:14 AM

  284. Gilles,

    All your statements seem to amount to is the claim that we don’t know how to replace the contribution of fossil fuels cost-effectively YET.

    That alone doesn’t prove that we will never be able to do so.

    But it certainly will take an effort; and to generate an effort, we have to begin.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 15 Mar 2010 @ 10:42 AM

  285. #256 Gilles

    Maybe because motive and premise is a foundation for confirmation bias?

    If your arguments are to limited in scope to address reasonability of relevance of inter-dynamic issues that have significant impact, then they do not stand.

    Non sequitur straw-man arguments are not reasonable. Arguing that (our current version of) modern industrial society needs fossil fuels is not the point. The point is that modern industrial society will be seriously challenged by the use of that fossil fuel, even to it’s potentially severe degradation on the extreme end of the probability range. But even that is qualitative. What is extreme?

    As to why India is not using more solar panels and windmill, cost is a factor in relation to consumption, need and desire.

    Yes, the wheels could fall off because of peak oil, but I would argue that is because of over consumption, greed and ignorance in not preparing renewable and sustainable s, to assure the wheels would not fall off. This of course because some people and/or companies are so focused on profits that they fail to see that “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

    Your main mistake is the association of oil and success. This is a myopic view. A good analogy might be a cocaine addict. It’s great, and the high lasts and lasts, right up to the time you have sold your house and car, lost your family and realize you can not afford anymore cocaine. You may then turn to a life of crime to attempt to maintain the habit but at that point cocaine become harder and harder to find.

    It is reasonable to see right now that economic degradation will derive form CO2 in the atmosphere and Peak Oil. Catch 22? Or do we start getting real smart, real quick?

    Your argument to authority is too limited. “are all these people as ‘idiotic” as myself?” Just because they say, does not mean we should keep burning fossil fuels do our own demise.

    Balance & context are key.


    The Climate Lobby
    Understand the Issue
    http://www.climatelobby.com/fee-and-dividend/
    Sign the Petition!
    http://www.climatelobby.com

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 15 Mar 2010 @ 10:51 AM

  286. > “Please name one specific, falsifiable prediction that
    > the theory of AGW makes and that has been tested.”

    “Antarctic sea ice is increasing. This is expected from climate modeling. Nice to see someone else is picking up on this interesting confirmation of our scientific expectation.

    The prediction is old. In 1992 Manabe and coworkers, in running a changing CO2 experiment [climate model], noticed that the Antarctic sea ice cover increased with increasing CO2. …. The trend in [actual observed] Antarctic ice cover managed to be statistically significant by about 1997 ….”

    That’s a brief excerpt; see the full article:
    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2010/03/wuwt-trumpets-result-supporting-climate.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Mar 2010 @ 11:03 AM

  287. Comparing creationism vs. evolution to AGW vs. skeptical-theory-of-the-month is apples and oranges. There is no true creationism vs. evolution debate because there is no intersection between the two theories. A right-minded creationist will tell you that the bible purports to describe the beginning of the Earth, not the advancement of species over time. A right-minded evolutionary biologist will tell you that the theory of evolution purports to describe the advancement of species of time, not the beginning of the Earth. The supposed controversy exists only in the minds of those who try to misapply either theory, and there are many. The theories themselves are not inconsistent with each other.

    As for climate science, the controversy is real because it is centered on a yes or no proposition: are humans primarily responsible for significantly affecting the Earth’s climate? What you “believe” is of no consequence – the answer to that question is either yes or no.

    Not to discourage the author, but we really don’t need another book that describes the logical traps that people fall into when attempting to wrap their brains around a difficult concept of which they likely have a pre-conceived notion of the outcome based on their worldview. What we need are people who have the patience to sit down and unpack the science in a way that is accessible to a greater number of people. I know you all think that is what RealClimate does, but that’s not true. I am a highly educated person with no science background but a ton of curiosity and patience – I still have no idea what you all are saying. If you can’t explain the processes used in coming to the conclusions you reach in a way that a vast majority of people can understand, then you’re just noise.

    Comment by Joe — 15 Mar 2010 @ 11:07 AM

  288. 246flxible says:
    14 March 2010 at 7:53 PM
    Norman: “But each city ends up with different average temperatures. What is the reason for this?”

    “Have you considered other variables of geographical location rather than cloud cover? Including the exact location of the recording stations with respect to that geography? There are obviously reasons for a desert climate beyond the amount of solar energy recieved and cloud cover. Here on the west coast of Canada I regularly have wildly different weather than a friend in a similar location on the east coast of Canada.
    30 year averages:
    West coast: Jan +4.5c Feb +5.3c Jul +17.6c Aug +17.6c year 9.1c
    East coast: Jan -6c Feb -5.6c Jul +18.6 Aug 18.4 year 6.3c”

    Could you tell me the nearest cities to the temp data you posted. I can get the climate data for these and see if there is a variation of sunshine.

    247

    Comment by Norman — 15 Mar 2010 @ 11:17 AM

  289. > in on the hoax
    > tobacco, asbestos, ozone

    Water.

    Ask your friends how long ago they think it was that people quit arguing against the idea that crap in drinking water would make people sick.

    I’ll bet very few of them say “less than 200 years” — but yep, less than 200 years ago, people with the power to fix the problem didn’t believe there could be a problem with health from crap in drinking water.

    (Many pumps were privately owned and fed private water companies; the owners did _not_ want to believe the water they sold could be making people sick):

    “Snow’s work on cholera received mixed reviews during his lifetime…. the president of the Board of Health … and the former president … openly denounced his ideas. He was summarily rebuffed by the Committee for Scientific Inquiries, whose report read, “… we see no reason to adopt this belief. We do not find it established that the water was contaminated in the manner alleged …, nor is there before us any sufficient evidence.”….
    However, the overwhelming statistical evidence gradually led the medical community to embrace his conclusions.”
    http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/snow/Snow_Laura_Ball.pdf

    More at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2557471/?page=9

    Really, if you look, you can find the same “it’s a hoax, it’s a trick” claim made arguing against much that we’ve learned from science.

    It’s a pattern.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Mar 2010 @ 11:24 AM

  290. Joe: “Comparing creationism vs. evolution to AGW vs. skeptical-theory-of-the-month is apples and oranges. There is no true creationism vs. evolution debate because there is no intersection between the two theories.”

    And in the anti-AGW side there’s no theory at all. Hence the intersection is the null set.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Mar 2010 @ 11:27 AM

  291. Gilles: “I don’t see why IF we are able to sustain a society without fossil fuels, we wouldn’t be able to face some degrees of warming.”

    Do you know what non-sequitor means?

    There is nothing in common between a 2C rise and a society without fossil fuels.

    Why would the ability to manage with one indicate an ability to manage with the other?

    “My mum can eat asparagus and I don’t see why the dog can’t like it too.”

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Mar 2010 @ 11:30 AM

  292. Gilles: “Yes, but your figure of 6 doublings is naturally unrealistic (64 times proven reserves !!) .”

    And we don’t need 100C temperature to make civilisation collapse.

    Duh.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Mar 2010 @ 11:31 AM

  293. Joe, a lot of us do try to boil down the explanations to words that are clear and simple — for our own understanding, but sometimes that can benefit others. Keep looking and asking; if you say what you _think_ you understand from one of the scientists’ posts, they’ll usually tell you if you’re getting it. Focus on the main post, not the comments. The climate scientists sign their posts, and make the original main posts. If any of the rest of us in comments get something figured out, they’ll let us know.

    It’s not easy. The US average reading level, last I heard, is “7th grade” — but it’s so long since I was in the 7th grade I don’t remember what an average 7th grader can be expected to read and understand. It ain’t much.

    And half the people read _below_ the 7th grade level.

    So yes, we need better, clearer, simpler explanations.

    Have you seen the car mechanic’s sign that says

    “We do good, fast, cheap work–You choose, two out of three.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Mar 2010 @ 11:36 AM

  294. Does ‘rimfrost’ have anything you can’t get directly from the source now?

    (If so, it should be added to the list of data sources)

    Problem with second-hand copies is that anyone who’s keeping selected copies of data need to warn people they aren’t providing the full picture of what’s available. Pointers to original sources help people avoid the natural and human tendency to fool themselves about what’s important and what not to bother with. If you’re only seeing someone’s selection, there’s going to be some selection bias, conscious or not. It’s a standard caution for everyone.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Mar 2010 @ 11:43 AM

  295. Re Gilles @279: I meant that I don’t think that there is a real risk that human civilization collapses with realistic reserves and 2°C/doubling…

    Once again, you focus exclusively on reserves of conventional fossil fuels and completely ignore the potential for release from natural carbon sinks at temperatures well below what combustion of all fossil fuel reserves would produce, flippantly dismissing the possibility as a mere “movie scene.”

    Unfortunately it is a movie that has played out quite naturally before, over and over in fact, without humans burning fossil carbon fuels, and we know the ending.

    Now we are measuring increases in methane levels and discovering large releases from clathrates. Are you sure it’s a good idea to rerun the movie again?

    Comment by Jim Eager — 15 Mar 2010 @ 11:48 AM

  296. “Gilles,All your statements seem to amount to is the claim that we don’t know how to replace the contribution of fossil fuels cost-effectively YET.
    That alone doesn’t prove that we will never be able to do so.”
    Just as all climate alarmist warnings assume that we don’t know how to face a warming of some degrees, isn’t it ? all dire predictions and estimates of costs of warming are JUST (due or undue) extrapolations of known facts. I’m just saying that known facts show that we are just currently much more sensitive to a decrease of fossil fuel than to the increase of temperature they produce (that’s obvious, otherwise we should stop NOW using them). And that we need a very good justification that this ratio could reverse in the future before we stop. Very good justification goes well beyond “come on, the stratosphere is cooling”, or even beyond ” but there is a risk”. They are plenty of cases where we KNOW for sure that civilization brings issues and drawbacks (it’s not a possibility, it’s a certitude !!) : for instance, cars produce accidents that kill more than 1 million people each year, and may double within 30 years (unless PO reduce them of course). And still we accept cars and aren’t ready to forbid them. So just saying “we’ll get in trouble” is not enough to convince people to stop burning fuels : you first have to justify than not burning them (and forbid poor people to do it instead of us, even if we do some conservation), brings less trouble.

    JPR #285 : I agree that everything is in balance and context (that’s precisely what I try to elaborate). I can’t see any other scientifically justified statement in all what you said.

    Comment by Gilles — 15 Mar 2010 @ 11:49 AM

  297. CFU ; “There is nothing in common between a 2C rise and a society without fossil fuels.”

    Sure !! I agree on this point ! 2 C more means for me going in Italy. Society without fossil fuels means going to Chad or Haiti. There is nothing (or very few) in common indeed. Or if you prefer a historical comparison, 2 C is only two times the warming in France since 20 years (which I could hardly notice) , and society without fossil fuels is France in 1800. Nothing in common again.

    “Gilles: “Yes, but your figure of 6 doublings is naturally unrealistic (64 times proven reserves !!) .”
    And we don’t need 100C temperature to make civilisation collapse.”

    Of course again ! I just want to estimate what is the threshold for this collapse, and which evidence it is based on.

    Comment by Gilles — 15 Mar 2010 @ 11:54 AM

  298. #276 Kevin McKinney
    “Note that the challenges are multiple–increased human mortality, loss of infrastructure & human displacement on a very large scale, greatly increased food insecurity and environmental degradation all at the same time.”
    No that’s not true, because the scenarios that lead to those kind of catastrophes also say massive economic development and especially for poor countries.

    “Whether we restructure our energy economy to avoid dislocation of supply, or to mitigate emissions, the issue is to get on with doing it, yes? ”
    Some people are interested in the science, not just on the policies.
    Good policies with bad reasons doesn’t satisfy people who want to understand how nature works…

    “So why not stop BEFORE irretrievable damage is done?”
    Because fossil fuels being the most efficient, affordable and useful things men have ever discovered, if YOU in rich countries “decide” to lower your consumption, you can’t force POOR countries who need to develop … and development can only happen with fossil fuels (or show me one country that developed without massive fossil fuels consumption).
    China doesn’t build a coal power plant every WEEK for fun…

    “An airy assumption that “a few degrees” of climate change is the equivalent of a vacation to the tropics is just dumb. You aren’t. So what keeps you insisting on such a foolish and unsupported premise?”
    The thing is you or anyone else has no idea when a “global warming” (whatever it means) becomes dangerous.
    What we know for sure is that climate in some areas will become less suitable for living, others will become more suitable for living. What we know for sure with fossil fuels is that you live better with them.

    Moreover, thanks to fossil fuels we were able to build houses for 5 billion people over the course of the XXth century.
    Why wouldn’t we be able to build new houses for the few millions that could be threatened by some local climate change ?

    Cheers,

    Comment by Jean B. — 15 Mar 2010 @ 11:55 AM

  299. I also wanted to add a word of thanks for the RC site. I admire the RC crew, knowing full well there are no professional rewards for blogging on your area of expertise. I also suspect you find the need for this site pretty maddening. How much longer until we have a RG site (Real Gravity) to make the science of weak gravitational forces more accessible and provide a counterweight to the gravity skeptics?

    Comment by TomRooney — 15 Mar 2010 @ 11:57 AM

  300. I wholeheartedly agree with the letter-writer! You have done a massive service by putting this site together! Without it, the scientific discussion would be far less rich and complete. The site is also quite accessible to all, despite the complex nature of the discipline.

    I also agree with the comment about the intellectual gulf between this site and most of the “skeptic” blogs. This can be illustrated not only by the contents of each thread, but also in the quality of most of the comments by readers. Most of the comments here are well thought out, while most of the comments on sites like ClimateAudit are knee-jerk, full of ad-homs (going off on the likes of Al Gore, Dr. David Suzuki, Dr. James Hansen, etc.), and partisan that any semblance of objectivity is lost.

    Thank you for all your hard work and perseverance!

    Comment by Stephen Berg — 15 Mar 2010 @ 12:08 PM

  301. “297
    Gilles says:
    15 March 2010 at 11:54 AM

    CFU ; “There is nothing in common between a 2C rise and a society without fossil fuels.”

    Sure !! I agree on this point !”

    Then why did you say it???

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Mar 2010 @ 12:12 PM

  302. Why waste time with someone like Gilles who is obviously not arguing in good faith, and who for whatever reason chooses to ignore or pretends not to understand anything substantive that anyone says to him, instead just repeating the same well-debunked talking points over and over and over?

    Hasn’t he made it really obvious by now that his only purpose here is to waste people’s time?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 Mar 2010 @ 12:14 PM

  303. I thank all of you that have commented on my post about positive feedback.

    Being an engineer I have been troubled by the reliance of our computer models on overall positive feedback to multiply an open loop CO2 warming of 1 degree C for a doubling to 6 degrees C or more.

    I know both positive and negative feedbacks occur but cannot believe the earth is positive feedback overall because of it’s extreme stability.[1/2 of 1 % in 100 years.]

    Someone gave a tree as an example of a positive feedback system which didn’t run away. The tree grows until negative feedback over comes positive feedback. Possibly it can’t suck water any higher ? This is a boundary condition.

    A fire is positive feedback also when growing but it reaches steady state and becomes negative feedback.

    How do I know ? Throw a small amount of water on it and it cools for a while then heats back up. Add kerosene and the reverse happens.

    All natural positive feedback systems increase or decrease until they reach a boundary condition like the campfire. At some point they are limited by fuel etc and become negative feedback.

    The feedback CO2 is supposed to kick start involves water and clouds, we won’t run out of these so the temperature would just keep climbing until some negative feedback stopped it. Perhaps sunlight reflected from clouds which is a negative feedback process. If this is the case the overall feedback is probably negative now.

    Converging series theoretically would have positive feedback which is limited, but this phenomenon is unknown in nature. Please name a natural positive feedback process which uses this method !

    I find it difficult to believe the earth itself uses a process which is unique in the universe.

    Comment by netdr — 15 Mar 2010 @ 12:23 PM

  304. #296, Gilles:

    The difference between acknowledging that we don’t know how to deal with large warming and acknowledging that we don’t know how to deal with just dropping use of oil is that, in dealing with the oil situation, nobody is suggesting a sudden stop in oil utilization: A tax or carbon fee, increasing over time, is NOT going to stop use of oil, but rather will provide incentive for decreasing its use, and for developing technology that can either avoid CO2 production or even take it out of the air. Whereas to simply keep using fossil fuels without any further consideration as to future consequences is equivalent to just trusting in a higher power to take care of us.

    In my view, at this point in history, it’s best if we assume that humanity is the only available management for the planet. Trust in God doesn’t always work out as well as could be hoped: Look up the history of the children’s crusade for a counter-example.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 15 Mar 2010 @ 12:28 PM

  305. The thing is you or anyone else has no idea when a “global warming” (whatever it means) becomes dangerous. -Gilles

    This is, of course, utterly false: the IPCC report of WGII cites a large number of peer-reviewed papers on precisely that issue. To say we have “no idea” is ludicrous; to say we “don’t know exactly” is of course true. However, suppose you were correct: this would of course be a reason for additional caution.

    At the same time as making this ridiculous claim, you pretend to a certainty that serious mitigation efforts would be disastrous – again, in opposition to the best studies done, such as the Stern review, which concluded that “Central estimates of the annual costs of achieving stabilisation between 500 and 550ppm CO2e are around 1% of global GDP, if we start to take strong action now.” 1% of GGP is not trivial, but nor is it anywhere near causing the kind of socio-economic collapse you insist is inevitable. Even if Stern is far too optimistic, and the annual costs are 3% of GGP, this would be quite feasible without causing such a disaster, if properly planned and combined with a serious effort to shield the poor.

    It has become impossible to believe that you are arguing in good faith. The positions you take are ridiculous, and have been shown to be so repeatedly, yet you simply repeat them without any serious attempt to justify them. What your motivation is, I don’t pretend to know, but you have made it abundantly clear that you are impervious to reason.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 15 Mar 2010 @ 12:38 PM

  306. #298, Jean B.:

    Studies have been done to estimate the impact of various degrees of heating on economic well-being. Generally speaking, the more detailed the study, the more negative has been the impact.

    A major reason for this is that the changes will be taking place rather quickly. If you lose large coastal areas in Bangladesh permanently, you have a severe problem of migration as well as the normal human inconvenience associated with floods.

    But I am actually more concerned about loss to biodiversity. If we take our overall rate of temperature increase (global average) as being 0.1 deg-C per decade, that implies that latitudinal isotherms are moving poleward at the rate of about 6 km per decade, and altitudinal isotherms are moving upwards at about 10 meters per decade. If you’re a tree, that means your habitat is running away from you; and trees can’t walk that fast.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 15 Mar 2010 @ 12:43 PM

  307. Norman@288 – The west coast cities would be Tofino BC [49° 4.800' N] on the outer coast of Vancouver Island or Vancouver BC [49° 12.000' N], more likely to have good records] on the coast of the mainland, both areas influenced by ENSO effects of the Pacific – East coast would be Halifax NS [44° 52.800' N], affected by other things like AMO. Averages can be found from here along with position info, you might find cities closer in latitude – also look at cities in the middle, which is largely dry prairie, as well as some areas of the BC interior, which are desert [in the shadow of the rockies] like Penticton [scroll to bottom right for "1971-2000 Climate Normals" links]

    Comment by flxible — 15 Mar 2010 @ 12:48 PM

  308. To the team at RealClimate: THANK YOU, for the excellent and important work that you do!

    I just wanted to add my thanks.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 15 Mar 2010 @ 12:49 PM

  309. Still a skeptic, but RC did help me get over the basic hump of the world is really warming and cleared up where the areas of uncertainty are. It is very useful.

    Many comments here still paint with a very broad brush of you either accept the AGW in total, or you are a denier, creationist, tobacco scientist, etc. Not very useful or encouraging that this site is not full of fanboys on the forums.

    Climate Audit and several other sites provide very real counter arguments to many AGW theories. There is a lot of conflicting and unexplained data, as with most science fields in their infancy (i.e. <50 years).

    I'm only convinced that there isn't enough data yet to make definitive policy changes, predictions are dicey, and there is low risk in waiting a few decades to get better information.

    I should not be labeled a pariah for this stance.

    Comment by Tom S — 15 Mar 2010 @ 12:50 PM

  310. Mark Ryan @ 165, 184

    Your analysis sounds pretty good to me, IMHO FWIW.

    What annoys me about the “debate”, and some of our culture in general, is that it is not necessarily driven by, nor approachable by, strictly logical arguments — which is not to say that there’s not a strictly reasonable way to bring about needed change.

    For starters, I can’t help noticing that ‘objectivity’ seems to have become a dirty word in popular circles. In journalistic discussions and elsewhere (Postmodernist) it is often outright deprecated and has been for decades. The idea is apparently that since no-one can be perfectly objective, it is therefore somehow perfectly reasonable to abandon it and wallow in opinion, spin, and to thrill in all manner of fantasies and verbal gobble-de-gook as being real and powerful. It’s a conveniently lazy excuse for intellectual laziness, substituting verbal busyness for hard work .

    Logic and merit are devalued currency in such an environment, so it seems to me that changing that mindset is fundamental. Addressing that problem may help motivate restructuring some of the institutional group-think that has, just for starters, led us into war with Iraq, generated the current financial crisis, and given irony challenged group-thinkers everywhere permission to divert attention from the disasters they helped bring on by accusing hard core physical scientists studying climate of,

    you guessed it,

    group-think.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 15 Mar 2010 @ 12:52 PM

  311. Yes, thanks, RC!!

    I came to this site in from a totally opposite perspective. I had accepted AGW as a ominous reality back in the late 80s and had taken it very personally –I didn’t like the idea of harming and killing people and other life forms through my excessive first-worlder GHG emissions. I didn’t need 95% confidence to start mitigating.

    However, I found the science in the journals full of caveats and hesitations — unlike the media at that time, which was going for the sensational. (The media did a good job back then, with simple graphic images of how the GH effect works.) Of course, by now the science has gone way beyond that late 80s media in “it’s worse than we had thought.”

    Then by early 90s when the media started its “silent treatment,” with a rare mention of AGW in its “balanced pro-con format,” featuring the 4 or 5 climate scientists who are denialists (you know their notorious names), I figured science had sold its soul to the dev-oils, and only I would be left around to believe that AGW was real and harmful, and no one in the future would understand what was hitting them.

    So by the time I came to RC in 2004, I actually didn’t expect much, except to be caveated to total frustration and weariness.

    But instead I found RC really great, and was pleasantly surprised find there are scientist who hadn’t sold their souls to the devoils, but are still practicing real science and being honest and candid, even some who themselves point out the problem of “scientific reticence.”

    So where are all the people?

    And BTW, I do NOT feel scientists have failed to communicate the science to the public, and RC is proof of that. I remember a school kid posting and asking some Q here a few years ago, and the RC scientists answered it very well in terms a kid could understand.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 15 Mar 2010 @ 12:58 PM

  312. Thank you – you give me hope that reason may eventually win the day.

    Comment by T. Gravlee — 15 Mar 2010 @ 1:00 PM

  313. #296 Gilles

    “I can’t see any other scientifically justified statement in all what you said.”

    It’s likely that you “can’t see” because I am addressing your lack of holistic logic, as illustrated in your selective reasoning.

    By the way, what is your full name? It would be nice to know I am addressing someone willing to associate ones-self with ones words.

    As to your statement:

    “I agree that everything is in balance and context (that’s precisely what I try to elaborate)”

    You don’t seem to be considering enough inter-dynamic systems and economies to achieve holistic balance and context.


    The Climate Lobby
    Understand the Issue
    http://www.climatelobby.com/fee-and-dividend/
    Sign the Petition!
    http://www.climatelobby.com

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 15 Mar 2010 @ 1:04 PM

  314. Edward Greisch (259) “Jack: Do you mean they think science is a democracy? Could you go over that again please?”

    I don’t think most people know enough about science to understand what its motivating principles might be. From my experience, many of them have the impression it is more of an aristocracy or a plutocracy.

    The point I was trying make is that the lay public is, for the most part, scientifically illiterate. Therefore, even the best-formulated scientific explanations are, to a large extent, going to fall on deaf ears. (See post 287 as an example)

    That is why I think alternative approaches such as “playing the numbers game” and, dare I say, adopting a more rhetorical stance could be of benefit. The debate is no longer a scientific one. The science of AGW is well-established. We are now firmly entrenched in the political arena. Unless the scientific community learns to speak the language of the populace as well as the mass media does it will not succeed in getting its message across.

    It is vital that certain mainstream science websites (like Real Climate and skepticalscience) continue to emphasize the scientific aspects for those who are scientifically inclined. However, I am afraid those efforts could well be in vain if more emphasis is not placed on playing to the mass audience. (More websites like Climate Progress and desmogblog and a more forceful and user-friendly message from the major scientific organizations are important in this regard.)

    Comment by Jack — 15 Mar 2010 @ 1:06 PM

  315. 272Kevin McKinney says:
    15 March 2010 at 9:17 AM

    Thank you for the interesting link to Guy Callendar work from the 1930′s.
    I read through it quickly for an overview and can read through again to pick up the details.

    Comment by Norman — 15 Mar 2010 @ 1:09 PM

  316. Gilles @297. Funny you hardly noticed the warming in France; in Paris, for instance, one can now see olive trees blossom and it is not because of the urban island heat effect : twenty years ago, that would have been unthinkable.
    Regarding a society without fossil fuels, I would just like to remind you that electricity in France is roughly 80% nuclear, 15% hydel. How’s that for starters?

    Comment by François — 15 Mar 2010 @ 1:12 PM

  317. TomRooney #299,

    Probably these are the persons that also do not understand why geo-stationary orbited satellites do not fall back nor would they ever understand concepts of the space elevator. We’re all on those invisible tethers, played by that omni-present marionette player :D

    Comment by Sekerob — 15 Mar 2010 @ 1:33 PM

  318. What has stood out for me so far in the ongoing struggle to undermine evolution science is how devastating the verdict was in the Dover trial (see http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/intelligent-design-trial-kitzmiller-v-dover) – attributable in no small part to the formal rules of evidence and cross-examination that applied during the trial.

    Is there no way to address the libelous smearing of climate science and scientists that seems to be the sole remaining arrow in the denialist quiver? Accusations like those found at http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/surface_temp.pdf (see pg. 4) look pretty explicit to me – are they not testable in law? (Any libel lawyers out there willing to respond?).

    If anyone thinks money would be an issue, I invite RC to post an online poll regarding financial support for a serious legal challenge to these clowns (let mine be the first $1000 pledge).

    And if the formal route were somehow unavailable, I think “Climate Court” (covering specific charges, presided over by real/retired judges, governed by formal rules of procedure, presenting public-domain arguments from both sides and, again, with real judges writing the verdicts) would make one helluva reality-TV show!

    Comment by Hugh McLean — 15 Mar 2010 @ 1:35 PM

  319. “I’m only convinced that there isn’t enough data yet to make definitive policy changes,…
    I should not be labeled a pariah for this stance.”

    No, you’re labelled a denialist.

    There’s plenty of data to determine what changes are NECESSARY.

    But you deny it.

    Hence the term.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Mar 2010 @ 1:58 PM

  320. PS this laughable statement: “Climate Audit and several other sites provide very real counter arguments to many AGW theories.” doesn’t help.

    RC provides very real counter arguments to their “arguments”.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Mar 2010 @ 1:59 PM

  321. “Converging series theoretically would have positive feedback which is limited, but this phenomenon is unknown in nature. Please name a natural positive feedback process which uses this method !”

    Yes it does:

    The temperature of the stellar core in main sequence stars.

    The climate system.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Mar 2010 @ 2:01 PM

  322. #305Nick Gotts (quoting Gilles instead of me), #306Neal J. King :
    “This is, of course, utterly false: the IPCC report of WGII cites a large number of peer-reviewed papers on precisely that issue. To say we have “no idea” is ludicrous; to say we “don’t know exactly” is of course true. However, suppose you were correct: this would of course be a reason for additional caution.”
    Most of the catastrophic claims on WGII are based on NON peer-review paper (WWF,…)

    ““Central estimates of the annual costs of achieving stabilisation between 500 and 550ppm CO2e are around 1% of global GDP, if we start to take strong action now.”
    Wrong, this was before its last modification after the Muir-Wood paper affair which divided by 10 the impact of hurricanes in the US… but the was done very very quietly so you may not be aware of it.
    Now if you add the number in table 5.2 you get 0.5% GDP.
    http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/Chapter_5_Costs_Of_Climate_Change_In_Developed_Countries.pdf
    http://www.thegwpf.org/news/461-stern-review-debunked.html

    “A major reason for this is that the changes will be taking place rather quickly. If you lose large coastal areas in Bangladesh permanently, you have a severe problem of migration as well as the normal human inconvenience associated with floods.”
    As I just told you, we managed to build houses for 5 billion people over 100 years, do you think we wont be able to build houses for, say, 100 million people over 10 years (that’s a very exaggerated number of course) ?

    “f you’re a tree, that means your habitat is running away from you; and trees can’t walk that fast.”
    No, but we can make trees walk faster… many many forest in developped countries are totally artificial (in France it’s the case for example).

    Comment by Jean B. — 15 Mar 2010 @ 2:13 PM

  323. #316 François
    “Regarding a society without fossil fuels, I would just like to remind you that electricity in France is roughly 80% nuclear, 15% hydel. How’s that for starters?”
    That’s good for France, but if everyone wants to switch to nuclear
    1/ we’ll have trouble with uranium supply !
    2/ this doesn’t change the fact that you need large amount of fossil fuels to BUILD the nuclear plant (which is the major part of the cost of nuclear electricty).
    3/ nuclear electricity is good to replace coal or NG for electricity, but for transportation and agriculture you need oil.
    4/ hydroelectricity has reached its limits in France.

    Comment by Jean B. — 15 Mar 2010 @ 2:18 PM

  324. CFU #275, check your math; at 2ºC per doubling of CO2, six doublings of CO2 get you twelve degrees, not a hundred. Makes no difference to your argument, though.

    Comment by CM — 15 Mar 2010 @ 2:41 PM

  325. Hugh Laue @ 47,

    My experience is that it is impossible to have a rational debate with denialists. And these guys are not stupid – they are all technically trained. But they are actually not interested in looking at the science and attack the process in their attempts to justify their “doubt”.

    That is a rather astute observation and applies to any and all stripes of denialists.

    http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/about.php

    Denialism is the employment of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in actuality there is none. These false arguments are used when one has few or no facts to support one’s viewpoint against a scientific consensus or against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They are effective in distracting from actual useful debate using emotionally appealing, but ultimately empty and illogical assertions.

    Examples of common topics in which denialists employ their tactics include: Creationism/Intelligent Design, Global Warming denialism, Holocaust denial, HIV/AIDS denialism, 9/11 conspiracies, Tobacco Carcinogenecity denialism (the first organized corporate campaign), anti-vaccination/mercury autism denialism and anti-animal testing/animal rights extremist denialism. Denialism spans the ideological spectrum, and is about tactics rather than politics or partisanship.

    See also Naomi Oreskes’ book Merchants of Doubt

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 15 Mar 2010 @ 2:48 PM

  326. I asked for a long termstable positive feedback system.
    Completely Fed Up says:
    15 March 2010 at 2:01 PM

    “Converging series theoretically would have positive feedback which is limited, but this phenomenon is unknown in nature. Please name a natural positive feedback process which uses this method !”

    Yes it does:

    The temperature of the stellar core in main sequence stars

    *****************************
    Sorry but I have to disagree.

    A star warms and the matter gets further apart and so hydrogen fuses less and it cools.

    As it cools matter gets closer together more fusion happens and it warms.

    Classic negative feedback behavior.

    I ask again.

    Converging series theoretically would have positive feedback which is limited, but this phenomenon is unknown in nature. Please name a natural positive feedback process which uses this method !

    I cannot believe that the earth’s climate is the only long term stable positive feedback system in the universe

    The terms “stable” and “overall positive feedback” are mutually exclusive in my experience.

    Comment by netdr — 15 Mar 2010 @ 2:49 PM

  327. Ooops. Aye. six doublings of TEMPERATURE, you’d get it…

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Mar 2010 @ 2:59 PM

  328. “but for transportation and agriculture you need oil.”

    Which could be biofuel.

    You could also do very well with electric. Lots of torque.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Mar 2010 @ 3:00 PM

  329. And that should be doublings of temperature change.

    Meh.

    Long day.

    Long WEEK, really, come to think of it…

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Mar 2010 @ 3:01 PM

  330. #322, Jean B.:

    - Building houses: Building houses is only part of the issue. The larger issue is dealing with another 100 Million people refugees. Ever notice how everybody wants someone ELSE to take them in?

    - Artificial forests in developed: These are of less interest and importance to me than natural rainforests. They may be equally as good wrt CO2 absorption, but not as refuges of biodiversity.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 15 Mar 2010 @ 3:09 PM

  331. 298, Jean–

    Don’t have time for much right now–but your first riposte is a complete non sequitur.

    And your idea that we don’t have “any idea” when GW becomes dangerous is utterly wrong. Start by following the link I provided.

    And most of the rest is of the form, “show me one place where efficient land transportation does not require horses.” There was a time it would have been hard to do so!

    But things change. And fossil fuel usage will have to change, one way or another.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 15 Mar 2010 @ 3:27 PM

  332. #326, netdr:

    I agree with your analysis of the stellar core: As I recall, higher temperature increases radiation, the increased radiation blows back against the pressure of gravitating gas, slowing the collapse of the gas, stopping the increase in temperature: Negative feedback.

    However, it is really not necessary to give another example of a natural system in order to show that a positive feedback can lead to a stable result: It is only necessary to show that such a system is mathematically self-consistent. The fact that you have never studied such a system may just reflect the fact that most feedback systems designed by humans are linear, because linear systems are much easier to analyze.

    Here’s a “toy” model of a positive-feedback system:
    - Increase in temperature, dT, is proportional to increase in the logarithm of the concentration of CO2, dX:
    dT = a*d(ln(X))

    - Increase in concentration of CO2, dX’, is proportional to increase in temperature, dT:
    dX’ = b*dT

    (The ‘ indicates that this is the increase for the next step, as we’re considering an iterative process.)

    - Therefore,
    dX’ = b*dT = b*a*d(ln(X)) = a*b*dX/X

    - Ok, now let’s start with the value X = Xo, such that:
    a*b/Xo 2*a*b )

    Then let dX_1 = c
    dX_2 = a*b*dX_1/(Xo + dX_1) < (a*b/Xo)*c < c/2
    dX_3 = a*b*dX_2/(Xo + dX_1 + dX_2) < (a*b/Xo)*dX_2 < (c/2)/2 = c/4
    dX_4 < c/8

    So the sum of all the dXs is:
    DX = dX_1 + dX_2 + dX_3 + … < c*(1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + …) = 2*c

    Obviously, this is not intended to be accurate. However, it incorporates the essential point that the increase in temperature is roughly proportional to the increase in the logarithm of the concentration of CO2. Over a restricted range, the assumptions about the behavior of this toy system do not seem unreasonable. It is built on positive feedback – and it does not go unstable.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 15 Mar 2010 @ 3:46 PM

  333. netdr (#326 and previous)

    An explanation from a fellow engineer.

    You are correct in that a net positive feedback is not currently present for the earth. This is purely a difference in terminology from climatology to engineering; the earth’s climate system is net in negative feedback, but there are a number of individual positive feedbacks, notably greenhouse water vapour (fast) and albedo due to snow and ice melt (slow). I’d prefer it if these were called amplifying effects rather than feedbacks personally, as they amplify forcing from other mechanisms, but I somehow doubt anyone will let me rewrite the terminology of climate change(!)

    These positive feedbacks are net overridden by the negative feedback of increased radiation to space (Stefan Bolzmann, 4th power of temperature).

    It’s a common misconception you hold that the climate is fundamentally stable. In the relatively recent past we have ice ages, a dramatic response to relatively mild forcing. And fascinatingly, in the distant past, circumstances have prevailed where these positive feedbacks have actually overridden the negative temperature feedback and caused massive climate shifts; try looking up snowball earth and the PETM event.

    All sorts of other interesting knowledge awaits you if you’re prepared to put in a little research effort. I’d recommend the IPCC report to start.

    (Oh, and those who reckon engineers tend to be deniers – remember you’re relying on us to get humanity out of this mess….)

    Comment by VeryTallGuy — 15 Mar 2010 @ 3:57 PM

  334. #332: typo

    ” – Ok, now let’s start with the value X = Xo, such that:
    a*b/Xo 2*a*b ) ”

    SHOULD BE:

    “- Ok, now let’s start with the value X = Xo, such that:
    a*b/Xo 2*a*b “

    Comment by Neal J. King — 15 Mar 2010 @ 4:01 PM

  335. #330 Neal J. King
    Houses : 100 millions other refugees… why ? you just build them houses far from the shore.
    What can’t the world do with a GDP multiplied by 20 ?

    Forest : We agree that vast artificial forests can be created & they’re good to fix CO2 (growing trees).
    For rainforest, most of them are in tropical regions, which are the less affected by GW.
    IPCC claim linking 2005 drought and rainforest came directly from WWF and is wrong cf this GRL 2009 peer-reviewed paper http://www.leif.org/EOS/2009GL042154.pdf i.e rainforest seem very insensitive to droughts.

    Comment by Jean B. — 15 Mar 2010 @ 4:02 PM

  336. #332: typo again.

    Your system is eating my equations! I’ll try to spell it out:

    ” – Ok, now let’s start with the value X = Xo, such that:
    a*b/Xo 2*a*b ) ”

    SHOULD BE:

    “- Ok, now let’s start with the value X = Xo, such that:
    a*b/Xo is less than 1/2
    In other words, Xo is greater than 2*a*b ”

    (Oh, I get it: It’s interpreting my greater-than and less-than signs as indications of html tags.)

    Comment by Neal J. King — 15 Mar 2010 @ 4:04 PM

  337. 331 Kevin
    A non sequitur ? I personally don’t understand how you can have :
    “increased human mortality, loss of infrastructure & human displacement on a very large scale, greatly increased food insecurity and environmental degradation all at the same time.”
    and constant world economic growth of 3% per year.
    It’s a big logical fallacy to present the consequences of the worst emission scenarios without also telling the economic counterpart it assumes !

    “But things change. And fossil fuel usage will have to change, one way or another.”
    Well, too bad no developing countries is listening to you.
    I think you didn’t read my third response in 298 : maybe in rich countries we can afford to build solar panels and windfarms for some convenience (which, btw doesn’t mean we’re reducing our consumption from other sources, we’re just using more energy), in poor/developing countries they need cheap, efficient and massive amounts of energy and that’s fossil fuels and fossil fuels only. Nuclear don’t think about it, solar and wind can’t provide the amount they need, you just have fossil fuels… and that’s why WE used them (and why we’re still using them) !

    Comment by Jean B. — 15 Mar 2010 @ 4:19 PM

  338. 250J. Bob says:
    14 March 2010 at 10:14 PM
    Norman, a couple of good sites to get a lot of perspective about this whole AGW debate are:

    http://www.climate4you.com/
    for a number of good data sets and graphs.

    I greatly thank you J. Bob for your links. It does confirm what I had stated, in fact they claim clouds are a huge climate driver. Here is a quote from this web page on clouds.

    “Within the still short period of satellite cloud cover observations, the total global cloud cover reached a maximum of about 69 percent in 1987 and a minimum of about 64 percent in 2000 (see diagram above), a decrease of about 5 percent. This decrease roughly corresponds to a radiative net change of about 0.9 W/m2 within a period of only 13 years, which may be compared with the total net change from 1750 to 2006 of 1.6 W/m2 of all climatic drivers as estimated in the IPCC 2007 report, including release of greenhouse gasses from the burning of fossil fuels. These observations leave little doubt that cloud cover variations may have a profound effect on global climate and meteorology on almost any time scale considered.”

    My intent on posting the data on the 3 cities was to help me learn and study and the people on this Web Site are very helpful and informative. I have learned much in the responses and comments and links. Thanks to all!

    I know if I have other questions or concerns this is an informative place to ask.

    The AGW debate is very important to me. On the one hand it could cause serious damage to planet Earth and cause the loss of many lives…on the other it could be an exaggerated claim for a few wealthy investors to reap billions with carbon taxes and for the One World Government people to get their dream fufilled.

    Carbon dioxide release (if faster than natural sinks can take it up which seems to be the case from the Historical measurments) will cause some warming effect…The Alarmist view is catastrophic and we need to take action immediately. I am not there yet, especailly when I can see the greed on both sides of the issue.

    Comment by Norman — 15 Mar 2010 @ 4:20 PM

  339. Fred Magyar quoted: “Examples of common topics in which denialists employ their tactics include … anti-animal testing/animal rights extremist denialism.”

    That one doesn’t seem to belong with the other examples.

    What is it that opponents of animal testing and/or advocates of animal rights supposedly “deny” in the way that AGW denialists deny (for example) that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, or in the way that creationists deny the existence of biological evolution?

    Opposition to the use of non-human animals in product testing, biomedical research, etc. is an ethical position. Whatever you may think of that ethical position, it doesn’t entail denial of scientific reality, any more than does opposition to conducting painful experiments on unconsenting human beings.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 Mar 2010 @ 4:29 PM

  340. Jean B. #322, you must be confusing the cost of impacts of climate change with the cost of mitigating climate change. The number in the Stern Review that you refer to is the projected global cost of extreme weather events. But Nick Gotts was referring to the projected cost of stabilizing CO2, that is, reducing emissions. Your argument would fail even if the Pielke Jr piece you linked to were not baloney. And it goes downhill from there. Environmental refugees: just build houses? Trees: make them walk faster? Are you for real?

    Comment by CM — 15 Mar 2010 @ 4:45 PM

  341. As a sociologist analyzing public opinion polls on climate-related topics, I’ve noticed an odd relationship between ideology, education and opinions. Among liberals or Democrats, concern about global warming tends to increase with education. Concern also increases with self-assessed knowledge. Among conservatives or Republicans, on the other hand, concern about global warming tends to *decrease* with education and with self-assessed knowledge.

    This “elite polarization” reflects the efficacy of denialist media that provide scientific-sounding arguments against taking climate change seriously, which disproportionately impress educated but ideologically receptive audiences. The flow of politically-motivated new assertions about West Antarctica, tree rings or the climate on Mars have been difficult for most nonexperts to counter.

    By responding to “breaking news” in the media, blogosphere and science with real science in real time, Realclimate performs an irreplaceable service. I mention this service in a forthcoming Climatic Change article about the opinion-poll findings.

    Comment by L. Hamilton — 15 Mar 2010 @ 4:52 PM

  342. Secular Animist :”Why waste time with someone like Gilles who is obviously not arguing in good faith, and who for whatever reason chooses to ignore or pretends not to understand anything substantive that anyone says to him, instead just repeating the same well-debunked talking points over and over and over?”

    I have found a good way of testing the faith in beliefs : a bet. If you think that I am believing in “well-debunked” , absurd points, the best would be to offer me a bet that you think I would accept, but you’re sure I’m going to loose (or at least to formulate one). So following you, which stupid ideas do I have, that could make me easily loose a bet ?

    NealJ. KIng : “A tax or carbon fee, increasing over time, is NOT going to stop use of oil, but rather will provide incentive for decreasing its use, and for developing technology that can either avoid CO2 production or even take it out of the air. ”

    You give me the opportunity to point out another strange contradiction of the warming scenarios. To produce much more than 1000 Gt of carbon, we need an ample use of non-conventional fossil fuels (tar sands, oil and gas shales , methane hydrates, and so on…). But everybody knows that they are very expensive to produce, and so they can be extracted only if their price rises to sky. Strangely enough, the scenarios don’t consider that this high price would discourage customers to buy them… BUT a tax would be of course very effective to do it ! that’s ridiculous : France has voted a carbon tax around 17 euros/t CO2 (which has been later cancelled by the constitutional council) , which represents a pitiful 10 $/barrel. Obviously the peak of conventional oil has produced a much greater rise in price. So it is inconsistent to think that a tax would be effective to reduce carbon emission : if it is effective, nobody will buy the non conventional resources anyway – and of course the reverse is true.

    “The larger issue is dealing with another 100 Million people refugees. ”
    come on, a much larger number of people has emigrated in the history in all directions. Alone in the small Maldives Islands, the population has tripled from 100 000 to 300 000 people in 40 years – attracted by tourism and a flourishing economy. I don’t know if an floating atoll is really threatened by a sea level rise – but its economy would be much likely severely hurt by a restriction of fossil fuels !

    #316 François
    “Regarding a society without fossil fuels, I would just like to remind you that electricity in France is roughly 80% nuclear, 15% hydel. How’s that for starters?”

    That is : despite the highest proportion of nuclear energy ever reached (and reachable), and a good hydroelectricity coverage, France does still produce 6t CO2/cap/year, and it is hard to see where we could gain very much again if we want to keep our standard of living (we have reduced the production per capita by 30 % since the 70′s however, which is nice. But limited…).

    And a further problem : reducing the production per capita doesn’t prevent poor people to access those fossil fuels we have spared, nor our children or grand-children to continue to burn them until they are exhausted : this will only – in the best case- prolongate the life of fossil fuels, but there is no reason why we should let them in the ground . Economists are just cheating by assuming a constant growth rate – they just forget the Jevons paradox.

    Comment by Gilles — 15 Mar 2010 @ 4:55 PM

  343. #332

    Neal J. King says:
    15 March 2010 at 3:46 PM

    #326, netdr:

    I agree with your analysis of the stellar core: As I recall, higher temperature increases radiation, the increased radiation blows back against the pressure of gravitating gas, slowing the collapse of the gas, stopping the increase in temperature: Negative feedback.

    However, it is really not necessary to give another example of a natural system in order to show that a positive feedback can lead to a stable result: It is only necessary to show that such a system is mathematically self-consistent. The fact that you have never studied such a system may just reflect the fact that most feedback systems designed by humans are linear, because linear systems are much easier to analyze.
    *******************

    I design positive and negative electronic devices for a living.

    When the overall feedback of the system turns positive the system is unstable. Note: there can be positive and negative elements but it is the sum that matters.

    I know a positive feedback system could theoretically be created with feedback taps 0f 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 etc, but it would be tricky and difficult to implement. The question is did nature create the earth’s climate system in this way?

    Mother nature seems to follow the KISS principal. [Keep It Simple Stu***] If it works she does it again and again.

    I respectfully disagree that just because something is theoretically possible that it could be done for one and only one system.

    I have asked people with PhD’s in physics and they can’t think of one either so don’t feel too bad.

    I believe the earth’s climate is a stable negative feedback system and some experimental studies have been done which back that position up.

    If it is a negative feedback system warming will be less than 1 o C for a doubling of CO2.

    Cap and trade and crippling taxes are unnecessary.

    Comment by netdr — 15 Mar 2010 @ 5:09 PM

  344. There is one of those simple replies available to netdr when he pontificates:

    Venus

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 15 Mar 2010 @ 6:07 PM

  345. #340CM
    “Environmental refugees: just build houses?”
    Exactly, and build dikes, that’s much easier than reducing CO2 emissions and you only pay with respect to the danger as you see it coming instead of assuming massive catastrophe and paying billions by reducing CO2 emissions for unknown sea level rise.
    Can you tell me what’s absurd with that reasoning ?

    “Trees: make them walk faster? Are you for real?”
    Which of course (but maybe you didn’t understand, Neal J King understood it a few messages ago) means create artificial forests if some forests are affected by climate change in some areas. What’s stupid with that idea ?
    The vast majority of forests in Europe are artificial !

    Comment by Jean B. — 15 Mar 2010 @ 6:17 PM

  346. Gilles’s comparison between temperature change and prosperity is vacuous. A taxi ride over the interstate is going to be longer than one that drives off a cliff. Where is your savings there, eh?

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 15 Mar 2010 @ 7:45 PM

  347. #343 netdr

    “I believe the earth’s climate is a stable negative feedback system and some experimental studies have been done which back that position up.”

    What experimental studies?


    The Climate Lobby
    Understand the Issue
    http://www.climatelobby.com/fee-and-dividend/
    Sign the Petition!
    http://www.climatelobby.com

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 15 Mar 2010 @ 8:04 PM

  348. How does one reply to idiots like Steven McIntyre, who are trying to “debunk global warming” by feeding the confused with one lie at a time?

    Gentlemen, please help out:

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Steve-McIntyre/271730154259?ref=ts&v=wall

    And another bunch of idiots (who could potentially be enlightened) here:

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=wall&gid=2425009764

    Comment by Nathan — 15 Mar 2010 @ 8:25 PM

  349. 307flxible says:
    15 March 2010 at 12:48 PM
    “Norman@288 – The west coast cities would be Tofino BC [49° 4.800' N] on the outer coast of Vancouver Island or Vancouver BC [49° 12.000' N], more likely to have good records] on the coast of the mainland, both areas influenced by ENSO effects of the Pacific – East coast would be Halifax NS [44° 52.800' N], affected by other things like AMO. Averages can be found from here along with position info, you might find cities closer in latitude – also look at cities in the middle, which is largely dry prairie, as well as some areas of the BC interior, which are desert [in the shadow of the rockies] like Penticton [scroll to bottom right for "1971-2000 Climate Normals" links]”

    I looked up some Canadian cities and they did list hours of sunshine along with temperatures. (Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Halifax, Vancouver). From my initial look these seem to show no direct correlation with sunshine.

    Toronto Lattitude: 49.11 High Temp: 26 C Low Temp: 18 Sunshine Hrs: 8.9
    Vancouver Lattitude: 49.11 High Temp: 22 C Low Temp: 13 Sunshine Hrs: 9.5

    Elevation Toronto: 253 feet Elevation Vancouver: 7 feet

    Interesting data, both are by large bodies of water. The one who receives more aveage sun a day is noticeably cooler. Hmmm?

    Comment by Norman — 15 Mar 2010 @ 8:38 PM

  350. Gavin, Although I am somewhat skeptical about the ability for climatologists to predict QUANTITATIVELY global temperatures and precipitation at the end of the 21st century, I find the science of climatology fascinating including the RealClimate blog. I was reading Chapter 4 (Going to Extremes) of the book you edited and co-authored entitled “Climate Change Picturing the Science” in which Adam Sobel describes the method used to model the Sahel drought where “we give the models our twentieth century histories of greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions and run the models to simulate both ocean and atmospheric conditions, most of them again reproduce a Sahel drought (although again one that is too weak) as well as the sea pattern that went with it”. Why did the models underestimate the Sahel drought ? How reliable are the current models in predicting precipitation ? Can the models predict more than trends ?

    [Response: The underprediction in the hindcasts of the Sahel drought is the subject of much research (Isaac Held's group for instance). The drivers of the drought appear to the increase in aerosol emissions in the Northern Hemisphere, which affected sea surface temperatures and caused the tropical rain bands in Africa to move south. Thus errors could creep in the specification of the aerosol forcing, the response of the ocean, and/or the sensitivity of tropical rain bands to the SST gradients. Additionally, there is certainly a component of the drought which was simply internal variability - the models only hindcast the forced component - and so in the particular trajectory of the real world the peak effect would likely be a combination, which even a perfect models would not be able to reproduce exactly. As for the reliability of the long term forecasts, it depends greatly on where we are talking about. There is a good figure (10.12) in the IPCC report which shows the model mean change in precipitation, along with a rough estimate of how many models agree with the sign of that change. In many places, there is good agreement (the mid-to high latitudes, the poles, the equator), and in others - particular the subtropical areas predicted to dry out the agreement is poor. In the latitudinal average the models are very similar - but the exact regions that the models expect to dry out vary. This is obviously problematic.

    The next round of model simulations will include some experiments that may help though. The mid-Holocene and Last Millennium experiments should provide more useful information for evaluating individual models' precipitation sensitivity (to orbital/solar/volcanic forcing for instance). - gavin]

    Comment by RaymondT — 15 Mar 2010 @ 11:16 PM

  351. You seem to be convinced that energy will be in short supply based on the things people were saying a few years ago.

    What were people saying a few years ago? I base my comments on here and now. Always keep in mind: it’s about flow rates, not reserves, and about net energy, not gross. 100 years ago we got about 100 barrels of oil for the use of 1 barrel. Now? We get between 11 and 20, depending on who you ask.

    That might have been appropriate when we were assuming that cars had to run on gasoline or diesel fuel.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 March 2010 @ 3:36 AM

    You seem to think we can replace oil as fast as we are losing it. Have you read what the IEA has said recently? Did you read the recent statements out of Kuwait? When natural declines are north of 9% a year, and total decline is north of 6%, new fields have to come up with a new Saudi Arabia every 1.5 years just to run in place. We haven’t found as much crude as we have used for 25 years running.

    Efficiency only gets you so far: The US used about 15 mb/d around 1980, before the crash we used over 20 mb/d despite efficiency gains of 30%+ over that time period.

    Besides, fossil fuels are not the only shortages we face. Phosphates? Not pretty. Etc. A car economy? Either the car goes, or we do, at least as a daily mode of travel.

    Are we smarter than yeast?

    Nope, I don’t think so. Ask Al Bartlett.

    Cheers

    Comment by ccpo — 15 Mar 2010 @ 11:48 PM

  352. So ccpo you succeed in being self contradictory in two sentences ! if being expensive makes people use less, there is absolutely no guarantee that it is “economically neutral”. Given the fact that money invested in alternative energy is distracted from elsewhere, the total amount of wealth produced has no reason to stay constant.

    I think you are ignoring your own logic here. If carbon goes up, but you get more money to pay for it, where’s the problem? If oil wells are replaced with windmills, where’s the problem?

    But, no we cannot build out renewables fast enough to deal with decline rates in crude oil, declining return on investment of crude oil, etc. At least, not yet.

    This a question of productivity : does it increase globally , or does it decrease ? given the very different costs and applicability of fossil fuels vs electricity, it would be very unlikely that they give the same economical productivity.

    Huh? Electricity isn’t a fuel.

    ”I suppose I’m also comfortable with slowing the economy because we need to, anyway. You can’t run the future on the lower energy availability we face. Even if we successfully transition to “renewables,” there will be a few decades where there is an energy deficit.

    So you admit that renewable cannot produce the energy of fossil fuels…

    False. I don’t think they can over the next 40 years or so.

    That’s not a question of rate

    Huh? Rate has to do with extraction of crude.

    China’s growth has been sustained at a very high rate through the use of fossil fuels. Why not through windmills and solar panels, if they were equivalent at the end?

    Comment by Gilles — 14 March 2010 @ 2:48 AM

    Who said they couldn’t at the end? (I do think “the end” is going to very, very different from today.) I was pretty clear in saying the problem is in the interim. That said, there is nothing – nothing – as fungible as crude. (Just one more little complication on the Road to Complexity.)

    Cheers

    Comment by ccpo — 16 Mar 2010 @ 12:01 AM

  353. First off, your relationship between fossil fuel use and prosperity is specious. In fact, the relationship is between the products of energy use and prosperity. Fossil fuels just happen to be popular and convenient sources of energy. Where other sources of energy or increased efficiency can displace fossil fuels, there is no loss long-term in prosperity for a reduction in fossil fuel use.

    Secondly, you seem to imply that the impacts of increasing temperature scale linearly. I suspect that is not the case. Some impacts will be negligible until thresholds are reached. Sea-level rise, disruptions in weather systems and loss of biodiversity are examples of impacts that will get worse as thresholds are achieved.

    Finally, the impacts of climate change are not necessarily greatest for those who get the most prosperity from the activities that are causing the warming. You basically have to integrate over the entire globe for your sensitivity comparison to make sense. While that might seem reasonable from a disinterested, macro/global perspective. It doesn’t make sense for actual human beings.

    Comment by MartinJB — 14 March 2010 @ 9:27 PM

    You are quite wrong in assuming there is anything quite as fungible as crude oil. Gilles is correct about one thing: the 2nd Law pretty much means we are headed for some very bad times. If you think this isn’t so, try looking at the curves of oil production and consumption, population and GDP for the last 150 years. They are all parabolic… or were. Chance? Nope.

    I encourage all and sundry to get to know the issues of complexity, population, energy and Liebig’s Minimum as well as you know climate. Look at phosphorus, e.g.

    A perfect storm cometh. Hard. No system can handle infinite growth.

    Cheers

    Comment by ccpo — 16 Mar 2010 @ 12:20 AM

  354. Climate Audit and several other sites provide very real counter arguments to many AGW theories.

    Comment by Tom S — 15 March 2010 @ 12:50 PM

    No, they don’t. If you get labeled a pariah, that is why. Go ahead, give one counter argument. Just one.

    Comment by ccpo — 16 Mar 2010 @ 12:29 AM

  355. netdr #343 this whole discussion of the meaning of feedbacks in the climate system vs. the same terminology in engineering is really old.

    Feedbacks in climate are much more complex than in engineering. Take water vapour for example. An increase in water vapour caused by heating only occurs where there is water available, and is a different mechanism than the original trigger (the forcing) so there is no reason that it should continue to amplify the initial warming after reaching the limit of available water or stabilising at the same relative humidity as before temperatures rose. If you look at acoustic feedback, a specific signal is feeding back on itself and will increase to the limit of the amp. A very different scenario.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 16 Mar 2010 @ 1:36 AM

  356. “There is one of those simple replies available to netdr when he pontificates:
    Venus”
    I don’t know any positive feedback to a variation of forcing on Venus.
    The problem in positive feedback is that the domain of stability is very narrow, since the f factor must be between 0 and 1. So if an order of magnitude of 10^-1 or less is safe, but hardly visible, on the other hand an order of magnitude close to 1 is dangerously close to the runaway threshold. Actually the transition from glacial to interglacial periods has positive feedbacks (the decrease of albedo through melting of land ice caps) but they are indeed characterized by large amplitude fluctuations, whereas the Holocene climate has been rather stable. So I agree with netdr, a strong positive feedback in the current conditions is strange.

    Comment by Gilles — 16 Mar 2010 @ 2:19 AM

  357. #333 VeryTallGuy

    I really liked your post. Some of my best friends are Engineers. Even within the different fields of science we us different terminology. Or should I say we use the same words that have different meanings within those fields. I’m so glad I came to this site.

    I’ll just say one thing for me. Had the e-mail scandal not occurred I probably wouldn’t have visited this site. So in a way, for me anyway, a bad situation in which things were twisted lead me to a place that really put the science right there in front of me.

    Thanks again RC, you guys do a fantastic job.

    Comment by JRC — 16 Mar 2010 @ 3:47 AM

  358. #343 netdr

    “Mother nature seems to follow the KISS principal. [Keep It Simple Stu***] If it works she does it again and again.”

    I think you are being to simplistic when you talk about Mother Nature working on the basis of KISS. There are many things within nature and biology that are far from simple. The list would go on and on. But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and take it to mean that within the confines of what you want to argue and those limit at what you are looking at this moment that Mother Nature keeps things simple. The list would be too long, but I’ll just point in the direction of quantum physics and say that Mother Nature doesn’t KISS.

    Comment by JRC — 16 Mar 2010 @ 3:57 AM

  359. “When the overall feedback of the system turns positive the system is unstable. ”

    Really?

    You never used Op Amps, then???

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 Mar 2010 @ 4:09 AM

  360. #335, #345, Jean B.:

    - 100 Million refugees: This is about 1/4 of the population of the U.S., not a family picnic. And where do you expect to get a 20X in GDP from?

    - Also, by focusing on mitigation instead of prevention, you omit another aspect: Building dikes is not going to do anything about the decreasing pH of the ocean due to increase in dissolved CO2. This is expected to wipe out coral reefs over the next 50 years, with very negative consequences for fish populations. Makes that picnic even harder to provide!

    - Forests: Artificial forests address ONLY the CO2 issue; but as I mentioned before, protection of the Earth’s biodiversity is, for me, the over-riding need, for which rainforest cannot be replaced. I don’t know why you quoted the peer-reviewed article in your link, as it contradicts your claim, saying directly: “Amazon forests did not green‐up during the 2005 drought”. Indeed, this article is discussed in a recent posting at this site, http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/03/up-is-down-brown-is-green-with-apologies-to-orwell/ . The bottom line: “Rainforest persists above a threshold of rainfall, below which one finds savanna. If this threshold is crossed a landscape dominated by rainforest can ‘flip’ to savanna. Therefore a ’slight’ reduction can lead to a ‘dramatic’ reaction. Of course, evidence of a shift to a new lower rainfall climate regime is needed, and evidence of large areas of forest close to that rainfall threshold would be required for the IPCC statement to be reasonable; there is ample published evidence for both.”

    Comment by Neal J. King — 16 Mar 2010 @ 4:20 AM

  361. #342, Gilles:

    - You contrast the cost increase due to the difficulty of extraction of power from non-conventional fossil fuels to that due to an imposed carbon tax: That would be an interesting point, except that we have plenty of conventional fossil fuels (e.g., coal) to carbonize our way into a warm future. The purpose of a carbon-tax/cap&trade approach is to give the cost advantage to renewable power-generation methods, over the conventional fossil fuels (coal and oil), to achieve a socially desirable maintenance of the planet.

    - You say that dealing with a displaced population is no big deal: But a displacement of 100 Million people (about 1/4 of the population of the U.S.) is a much bigger deal than dealing with the unforced migration of 300,000 over 40 years.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 16 Mar 2010 @ 4:23 AM

  362. Neal J. King reminds Gilles: “- You say that dealing with a displaced population is no big deal: But a displacement of 100 Million people (about 1/4 of the population of the U.S.) is a much bigger deal than dealing with the unforced migration of 300,000 over 40 years.”

    I’m sure he’s not too concerned. After all, the partition of India went so well. [sarcasm off]

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Mar 2010 @ 5:07 AM

  363. #343, netdr:

    I think that you have a point, but I think that VeryTallGuy’s remark (#333) is also apropos:

    There are positive feedbacks (or amplifying factors), including:
    - The fact that when ice caps have melted, the planetary albedo is reduced, so more sunlight is absorbed
    - Higher temperatures lead to melting of methane ices from tundra and from the ocean bottoms, increasing greenhouse-gas concentrations in the atmosphere
    - Higher temperatures lead to increased water-vapor in the atmosphere, another greenhouse gas

    There are also negative feedbacks, including:
    - Possible increase in cloud cover, which actually can be a negative or positive feedback depending on altitude

    You have a point about overall stability: But the stability is provided because of the infrared radiation escape-hatch at the top of the atmosphere: As the Earth heats up, the entire atmosphere heats up, until the amount of IR escaping from the IR photosphere catches up to the net radiative income from the Sun. So, you are right that a dollop of CO2 will not cause the planet’s temperature to go off the scale; but it is also right that the temperature increase will be larger than that calculated from simply doing the radiative-transfer calculations, because of the amplifying factors that change the ingredients of those calculations (such as additional methane, additional light absorption).

    Furthermore, Venus seems to be an example of a planetary atmosphere that has gone too far.

    Therefore, I don’t see any basis for your claim that “warming will be less than 1 deg-C for a doubling of CO2.” Such an estimate requires a detailed calculation: Currently accepted estimates seem to run from 2 to 4.5 deg-C. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_sensitivity .

    Consequences of such temperature increases have been described in Mark Lynas’ “Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet.” Leading up to the Copenhagen meeting, the estimates I heard was that even a strong effort to limit CO2 production would not stop a +2 deg-C increase.

    #333, VeryTallGuy:

    Small but important point: The radiation out to space does not conform to the Stefan-Boltzmann law for blackbody radiation: If it did, we wouldn’t have a greenhouse effect.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 16 Mar 2010 @ 5:10 AM

  364. @realclimate,

    is any thinking going on relating to this?

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 16 Mar 2010 @ 5:13 AM

  365. netdr,
    Your argument that systems with positive feedback are unstable is utterly ignorant. Positive feedback exists in a large variety of systems in nature–form cells to semiconductors. You are basing your opposition to climate science on a fallacy. Several PhDs in physics on this very board have cited examples in nature and yet you refuse to acknowledge them.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Mar 2010 @ 5:15 AM

  366. Jean B.,

    #335: “this GRL 2009 peer-reviewed paper”

    - doesn’t say what you think it says (that’s two in a row now). It says the Amazon didn’t green during the 2005 drought. Duh!

    #345: “Can you tell me what’s absurd with that reasoning ?”

    If you need to ask, I think it will take a very long time to explain it to you. It’s not absurd to say environmental migrants, like all migrants, will need housing. What is absurd is to pretend that’s all there is to it. Those forced to migrate, mainly the poor and marginal, do not only leave their houses behind. They leave their livelihoods, infrastructure and physical capital, meagre as these may be; they leave their social networks and their local culture. In situ adaptation (which may, among other things, involve dikes, yes) may often be preferable, if not always possible. Where people do have to resettle, they will not only need housing, they will need employment opportunities, access to basic infrastructure (water and sanitation), access to social services, and the capacity to adapt to a new socio-cultural environment. To be sure, they may also encounter new opportunities to improve their lot, and they have resources and skills of their own. But large-scale involuntary migration still poses huge challenges to local, national, and international governance structures. It requires efficient planning; resource mobilization and redistribution; political good will to care for the vulnerable and overcome xenophobia. A one-dimensional, simplistic approach like “Just build houses” is a recipe for failure. It certainly is no basis for pronouncements about costs and benefits of adaptation vs. mitigation.

    And lest we forget, the houses that people are forced to leave are not just brick and mortar, they are homes and hearths, meanings and memories.

    But I’m just feeding a troll, am I not? Or an orc, perhaps; I don’t think you ever want to meet a walking forest.

    Comment by CM — 16 Mar 2010 @ 5:20 AM

  367. netdr:

    One more point: Even if a mechanism only applies to one situation, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work.

    I think many of the mechanisms considered for the early life of the universe apply to only one known example.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 16 Mar 2010 @ 5:22 AM

  368. “356
    Gilles says:
    16 March 2010 at 2:19 AM

    “There is one of those simple replies available to netdr when he pontificates:
    Venus”
    I don’t know any positive feedback to a variation of forcing on Venus.”

    This doesn’t surprise anyone here, Gilles.

    Runaway greenhouse effect.

    Which hasn’t left Venus incandescent.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 Mar 2010 @ 5:31 AM

  369. let me join other correspondents above in thanking RealClimate for providing a solid, informative site on the science of global warming. Like others, I played footsie with the “sceptics” but some books Dave Archer’s “The Long Thaw” and this site have changed my mind.

    Comment by Toby — 16 Mar 2010 @ 5:34 AM

  370. #364, Martin Vermeer:

    The article makes a good point: To prevail in the global-warming war, we have to realize that the battle is taking place in the PR arena, not the science arena.

    How about a TV program that fights out these battles in a game-show setting? Has to be entertaining, and it has to be scientifically correct.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 16 Mar 2010 @ 5:56 AM

  371. Most of the catastrophic claims on WGII are based on NON peer-review paper (WWF,…) – Jean B.

    On the contrary, there is abundant peer-reviewed work cited on the effects of temperature change on biodiversity, tropical crop yields, and the spread of pests; on loss of coastal agricultural land to flooding and salination; on possible changes in the spatio-temporal distribution of precipitation. most of the non-peer-reviewed work is itself derived from and brings together peer-reviewed studies. One significant error does not undermine the overall conclusions, and it is grossly dishonest to pretend that it does.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 16 Mar 2010 @ 6:15 AM

  372. netdr,

    Would you say that Venus is a stable system? A stable system doesn’t necessarily mean a system that supports life. I feel that even though we are dumping millions of ton of CO2 that took millions of years to sequester at an unprecedented rate, that we have a stable system. Problem is that positive “feedback” (i.e. increased CO2 and methane release) will kick in before the negative “feedback” (i.e. extreme cloud cover and snowfall) in which things might not be too conducive to life for hundreds, thousands, or millions of years. I’m not a climate scientist, so I may be off the mark here, but that is my take on it. The earth isn’t going to explode or burn up. It’ll reach a point of equilibrium again, but again might not be a place that can support life, and depending on the rate of change before equilibrium might not have any humans left inhabiting it. What is your take on a black hole? Is that a stable system with an overall positive feedback? Just curious as to your take on it. Hopefully I’m not too off the mark with climate forcing and feedback, I’m still learning.

    Comment by JRC — 16 Mar 2010 @ 6:15 AM

  373. “Central estimates of the annual costs of achieving stabilisation between 500 and 550ppm CO2e are around 1% of global GDP, if we start to take strong action now.” – Me

    Wrong, this was before its last modification after the Muir-Wood paper affair which divided by 10 the impact of hurricanes in the US – Jean B.

    How on earth could a change in the estimated impact of hurricanes in the US alter the estimated costs of achieving stabilisation in atmospheric concentrations of GHGs?

    To produce much more than 1000 Gt of carbon, we need an ample use of non-conventional fossil fuels (tar sands, oil and gas shales , methane hydrates, and so on…). Gilles

    Garbage. As I have already pointed out, proven reserves of coal alone are on the order of 900 Gt, quite enough, on top of what we’ve already put into the atmosphere, to produce dangerous climate change. Moreover, as temperatures rise, the ocean and land are expected to become net sources of CO2 instead of sinks.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 16 Mar 2010 @ 7:26 AM

  374. #349–Norman–

    Well, for one thing, you’ve got the wrong latitude for Toronto. (I lived there for the better part of a decade and knew immediately there was no way it was north of 49!)

    The correct latitude is 43.40.

    Table here:

    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0001796.html

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 16 Mar 2010 @ 7:36 AM

  375. Re #270, Kevin McKinney,
    Kevin, I am curious regarding the comment:
    “…over geological timescales, CO2 is removed from the atmosphere via the weathering of silicaceous rock.”
    I have heard that assertion a few times, however, is it actually backed by good research?

    I accept that the weathering of silicaceous rock will absorb Carbon dioxide, however is it significant (historically) compared with the action of biological processes (such as photosynthesis and coral formation) and in conjunction with the natural sequestration of Carbon in sediments (clays and sandstones), bogs and swamps. Note: sequested carbon will cycle back into the atmosphere when those rocks containing the sequested carbon from whatever means (biological origin or silicaceous rock, dive deep into the earths mantle at continental margins via Volcanoes.

    It may indeed be true, it is just that I have read the assertion regarding the weathering of silicaceous rock by commentators whom I suspect have (either conciously or not) a hatred of nature and will say anything in order to trivialize nature and reinforce their opinion that nature is of no value.

    Thanks…

    Comment by Lawrence McLean — 16 Mar 2010 @ 8:36 AM

  376. Nick Gotts wrote: “As I have already pointed out, proven reserves of coal alone are on the order of 900 Gt, quite enough, on top of what we’ve already put into the atmosphere, to produce dangerous climate change.”

    What we’ve already put into the atmosphere is already producing dangerous climate change.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Mar 2010 @ 9:31 AM

  377. #296 Gilles

    Still interested in your response to my post #313

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/03/why-we-bother/comment-page-7/#comment-166519


    The Climate Lobby
    Understand the Issue
    http://www.climatelobby.com/fee-and-dividend/
    Sign the Petition!
    http://www.climatelobby.com

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 16 Mar 2010 @ 9:34 AM

  378. Norman@349 [and re Kevin@374]
    Norman seems to be learning that there’s a lot more than latitude and cloud cover effects on temperature involved in climate …. the closer location to 49 in central Canada with good records is probably Geraldton

    Norman, note in comparing Vancouver and Toronto, that those “large bodies of water” are the Pacific Ocean on one hand, which is where El Nino happens, and the Great Lakes on the other, which are fresh water subject to ice cover over large areas – folks in Vancouver almost never get to ice skate outdoors even for a few days, folks in Geraldton likely do so every winter for extended periods.

    Comment by flxible — 16 Mar 2010 @ 10:07 AM

  379. Martin asks about this
    Worth a look.

    You can tell this is effective–one clue: Morano has published Randy Olson’s email address up at the top of his blog and urged his ilk to use it.

    You can guess how.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Mar 2010 @ 10:20 AM

  380. ccpo:

    I don’t want to start an oft repeated flame war here, but you asked for one example of a real counter-argument from climate audit.

    Mann’s statistical techniques for proxies was flawed. M&M showed this clearly, peer reviewed. I’ll trust the scientists who are experts in this field – Wegman et. al.

    [Response: Really? Some beg to differ]

    Of course there are counter-counter-counter arguments and some people will never accept this. Look at the graphs of all the raw data series used, and the SNR is so low, it is difficult to trust any signal extraction technique. Myself, I just say old climate data estimates are not trust-able, and it is mostly irrelevant to the main issue anyway.

    One of the most difficult things for many here to accept is that if M&M had been more respected at the beginning, then quite possibly they wouldn’t be in the position they are in today. (I’m sure I’ll take a beating for this comment, ha-ha, flame away, you guys take yourselves too seriously).

    [Response: How is this a argument against AGW? Even if it made a difference (which it does not), the attribution of recent change to anthropogenic factors does not rely on MBH98. - gavin]

    Comment by Tom S — 16 Mar 2010 @ 10:24 AM

  381. #373:
    proven reserves of coal alone are on the order of 900 Gt, quite enough, on top of what we’ve already put into the atmosphere, to produce dangerous climate change

    Assuming all of it would be mined and burnt. I have two problems with this:

    1. BPL says that warming will cause collapse of agriculture. Less food = less population = less need for energy = less coal burnt. Negative feedback at work.

    2. As the resources are depleted, the extraction cost goes up. It may turn out that at some point coal would simply become uneconomical compared to alternatives (i.e. nuclear or even renewables).

    The second point brings me to realization that a developing cheap nuclear power would allow us to solve two problems at once (i.e. AGW & peak oil).

    Comments?

    Comment by Kris — 16 Mar 2010 @ 12:03 PM

  382. #343 netdr

    I’m still interested in your response to my post #347

    What experimental studies?

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/03/why-we-bother/comment-page-7/#comment-166629


    The Climate Lobby
    Understand the Issue
    http://www.climatelobby.com/fee-and-dividend/
    Sign the Petition!
    http://www.climatelobby.com

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 16 Mar 2010 @ 12:31 PM

  383. Gilles (257): when will be interesting to stop COMPLETELY to use fossil fuels and let them under the ground, instead of using it ? for the moment, the answer is : never, because we can’t power an industrial society without them. Even “replacement” energies, apart from traditional animals and wooden and stone water- and windmills, require carbon for steel, copper, or simply for stabilizing an electrical grid.

    BPL: No matter how many times you say this stuff, it still won’t be true. You sound like someone in 500 AD asking, “Has there EVER been an advanced civilization without slavery?”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Mar 2010 @ 12:33 PM

  384. Gilles (271): I can’t understand the logics behind the belief that exhaustion of fossil fuels will certainly not cause the collapse of civilization, whereas a few degrees more would do it.

    BPL: People need food to eat. If there isn’t enough food, they won’t all be able to eat. Without food, they’ll die.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Mar 2010 @ 12:38 PM

  385. I completely agree with the initial letter that started this thread. I have found RC to be the most valuable resource for climate information on the web. Not only that, I can follow links provided in the comments to much of the latest information.

    As a biologist, I see much of the current discussion among the AGW and anti-AGW folks as a paradigm shift between the recognition of the immense power of the human species versus the old view of powerless humans at the mercy of the environment. However, the problem with paradigm shifts is that the old ways only disappear with the disappearance of the old believers. In many ways it is comparable to the advent of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection which provided the mechanism by which evolution will always happen to every species. Biologists had known that species changed, disappeared and appeared, but nobody had an explanatory mechanism. But even today you have the evolution denialists when evolution was in fact an observation, and not a theory.

    A great many people want the world to be simple enough to be understood by a child. Anything else is just too much work, and belief is allowed to substitute for rational thought. Further, these are huge markets to be pandered to. However, AGW has the capability of proving the foolishness of the beliefs simpler times. I sure don’t want it to happen, but I think it is a lesson we are destined to learn. I simply tell deniers I run into to buy oceanfront property and put their money where their mouth is. I guess it comes from teaching about Darwin.

    On another note. I have been reading about the huge floating mat (mats) of trash in the central Pacific and wondered what these might do to water vapor levels or ocean warming. Has anybody run across any studies dealing with this?

    Comment by Doc Walt — 16 Mar 2010 @ 1:03 PM

  386. Gilles: 2 C more means for me going in Italy. Society without fossil fuels means going to Chad or Haiti.

    BPL: 2 C more means for me the complete collapse of human agriculture. Society without fossil fuels means going to Brazil, California, Denmark or Iceland.

    And before you tell me they use fossil fuels in those places, let me inform you that they use them in Chad and Haiti, too.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Mar 2010 @ 1:10 PM

  387. Jean B, channeling Gilles: development can only happen with fossil fuels

    BPL: Prove it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Mar 2010 @ 1:21 PM

  388. netdr (303): I know both positive and negative feedbacks occur but cannot believe the earth is positive feedback overall because of it’s extreme stability.

    BPL: Hello? Hello? “Positive feedback” does not mean “runaway.” Positive feedback means an effect is amplified, negative feedback means it’s dampled.

    netdr: All natural positive feedback systems increase or decrease until they reach a boundary condition like the campfire.

    BPL: Nonsense! You’re still assuming “increase” means “increase without limit.” No, a positive feedback DOES NOT need the intervention of ANYTHING ELSE to reach a limit. Just a converging nature.

    Runaway positive feedback on temperature ended by negative feedback:

    Process A, a weird chemical reaction, raises Earth’s surface temperature from 288 to 289 K. Then 290. Then 291. At 305 Process B is triggered and the increase stops.

    Positive feedback limited by its own nature:

    Process C, a weird chemical reaction, raises Earth’s temperature from 288 to 289 K. Then 289.5 K. Then 289.75 K. Then 289.875 K. It never stops, but it never reaches 290 K, either.

    This is EXTREMELY elementary control math. Are you sure you, a control systems engineer, aren’t familiar with it?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Mar 2010 @ 1:29 PM

  389. Tom S: Climate Audit and several other sites provide very real counter arguments to many AGW theories.

    BPL: If by “real” you mean “grossly ignorant and wrong.”

    TS: There is a lot of conflicting and unexplained data, as with most science fields in their infancy (i.e. <50 years).

    BPL: AGW theory is 114 years old this year. Climatology in general is somewhat older, having perhaps begun when Aristotle divided the world in torrid, temperate and frigid zones around the year 300 BC.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Mar 2010 @ 1:32 PM

  390. John (313),

    Well, we can hope he’s not Gilles de Rais…

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Mar 2010 @ 1:35 PM

  391. Jean B (323): you need large amount of fossil fuels to BUILD the nuclear plant… nuclear electricity is good to replace coal or NG for electricity, but for transportation and agriculture you need oil.

    BPL: No, you don’t, in either case. Transporation can be fueled by biofuels or can be electric. You don’t need fossil fuels at all. Don’t confuse “what is presently used” with “the only thing that can be used.”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Mar 2010 @ 1:39 PM

  392. Thanks for your comments on positive feedback.

    It is impossible to respond to everyone.

    This matter is important because without it a doubling of CO2 would only cause 1 Degree C warming. Quoting Dr Hansen. #363 wanted to know

    The additional warming comes from positive feedback. The original warming is multiplied by 6 X. Without this warming CO2 isn’t a problem.

    Any warming causes both positive and negative feedback if warming causes more warming on balance we have a positive feedback system, if that warming causes additional warming [CO2 kick starts the process but doesn’t enter into it] the process is unstable and tends to run away unless carefully designed. Usually a stable system will have some overall negative feedback to keep it stable. I think the clouds and rain do this for the earth.

    Someone suggested an Op Amp,[#359] but if you wire this device with overall positive feedback you get a Schmidt trigger which is extremely unstable. A 1/100 volt change can cause the device to go to the boundary condition [Power supply] as fast as it can get there.
    The signature of a positive feedback system is a square wave. The signature of a negative feedback system is a sine wave. The temperature of the earth shows the sinusoidal waveform. IE: 1998 overshoots high so negative feedback drives the temperature down so 1999 and 2000 are cool.

    Systems can be positive feedback at one time and negative feedback when they reach a boundary. I explained the campfire example in a previous post. The earth in 2010 is negative feedback.

    In the last 100 years the temperature has varied by 6/10 o C… That is 2/10of 1 % which is very very very stable [ .2/300 Kelvin =2/10 of 1 %] Possibly positive feedback predominated at the end of the last ice age but it sure doesn’t now.

    A true positive feedback situation is what climatologists call a “tipping point”! They are unarguably bad.

    Someone asked for experimental proof of overall negative feedback.

    We cannot tweak the earth to determine it’s temperature response, but we can observe when it naturally warms and cools,

    If a black body in space warms a certain amount that is the open loop [no feedback] case.

    If it warms less than the black body that is the positive feedback case and it will take more warming to produce the same radiation increase.

    If it warms more than the black body case
    to emit the same radiation this is the negative feedback case.

    The experiment consisted of monitoring the emitted IR signal from the earth over a 10 year slight heating period, And determining if it was more or less than the black body case.. The results confirmed that the system was negative feedback. The study was replicated by 3 independent teams !

    The experimenter was Dr Lindzen [edit]

    [Response: You are still very confused. No one is disputing the overall net negative feedback due to the IR term going like T^4. This is the reason why liquid water has existed throughout Earth history. But the explanation of what climate science talks about when discussing positive feedback was given a number of times above, and you have ignored it. Positive feedback (in climate) does not imply a runaway affect - it is merely a statement about how the net effect scales to the basic Planck effect. Conversations proceed a lot more easily if both parties are listening. - gavin]

    Comment by netdr — 16 Mar 2010 @ 2:07 PM

  393. Neal J. King (332),

    Here it is as a Just Basic program, with output:

    ‘=====
    ‘ PosiFeed postulates a positive-feedback temperature-increase system for the
    ‘ Earth, on a model suggested by Neal J. King. Temperature increases with
    ‘ added CO2, CO2 increases with added temperature, both feedbacks are positive.
    ‘ A one-time pulse of 110 additional ppmv of CO2 is added to the preindustrial
    ‘ atmosphere.
    ‘=====

    C = 280 ‘ Initial concentration, ppmv.
    dT = 0 ‘ Change in temperature on last iteration, K.
    lastdT = -9 ‘ Previous change in temperature, K.
    T = 287 ‘ Surface temperature, K.

    ‘—–

    print “d ln C C dT T ”
    print “—— ——- —– ——-”

    C = C + 110
    lnC = log(C)
    dlnC = log(C + 100) – lnC

    while abs(dT – lastdT) > 0.001
    lastdT = dT
    dT = 4 * dlnC
    T = T + dT

    print using(“#.###”, dlnC);
    print using(“######.###”, C);
    print using(“####.###”, dT);
    print using(“######.###”, T)

    dlnC = 0.1 * dT
    lnC = lnC + dlnC
    C = exp(lnC)
    wend
    end

    d ln C C dT T
    —— ——- —– ——-
    0.228 390.000 0.913 287.913
    0.091 427.285 0.365 288.278
    0.037 443.178 0.146 288.424
    0.015 449.700 0.058 288.483
    0.006 452.335 0.023 288.506
    0.002 453.394 0.009 288.515
    0.001 453.818 0.004 288.519
    0.000 453.988 0.001 288.521
    0.000 454.056 0.001 288.521

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Mar 2010 @ 2:09 PM

  394. Reference 255:

    This is from the “Viet Nam Net’:

    “Water in the province’s Vu Gia and Thu Bon river system has also severely dried up, allowing damaging seawater to move further inland.

    According to Quang Nam Irrigation Works Exploitation Company, the water level in Thu Bon River is 43 centimeters lower than last year during the same period, while salinity levels have risen to 0.7-2.4‰.

    In Da Nang City, Deputy Director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Huynh Van Thang said that 500 out of 4,500 hectares of rice in Hoa Vang, Cam Xuyen and Lien Chieu districts are experiencing a shortage of irrigation water.

    The worst-hit area is Hoa Quy Ward in Ngu Hanh Son District, accounting for 300 hectares of water-starved rice plants.

    Nguyen Ban, a ward farmer who had to pump water from a well to irrigate his rice, said the winter-spring crop is the main crop of the year and that a loss could mean starvation.”

    This is the ‘surplus rice’ crop for Asia. Within the past 6-8 years, all exporting countries in South East Asia have stopped exporting rice with the exception of Viet Nam. Last year, during the food riots, Viet Nam said they would export more and ‘share with their neighbors’.

    Not with starving farmers in the Delta!

    Comment by Ken Peterson — 16 Mar 2010 @ 2:09 PM

  395. Jean B (337): solar and wind can’t provide the amount they need

    BPL: Pourquoi? What limits them?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Mar 2010 @ 2:12 PM

  396. All: I apologize for taking up so much message space. There just seems to be an unusually high level of denier stuff to respond to. I’ll try to put the rest all in one post.

    Norman (338): it could be an exaggerated claim for a few wealthy investors to reap billions with carbon taxes and for the One World Government people to get their dream fufilled.

    BPL: Not to mention the black helicopter people. And the Jews. Controlled, of course, by the Vatican, through the Trilateral Commission.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Mar 2010 @ 2:14 PM

  397. This is brilliant:
    http://thebenshi.com/2010/03/11/20-warm-up-to-ed-begley-jr/#more-706
    Reminds me of Jon Stewart taking on Tucker Carlson
    http://politicalhumor.about.com/library/bljonstewartcrossfire.htm

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Mar 2010 @ 2:26 PM

  398. 374Kevin McKinney says:
    16 March 2010 at 7:36 AM
    #349–Norman–

    “Well, for one thing, you’ve got the wrong latitude for Toronto. (I lived there for the better part of a decade and knew immediately there was no way it was north of 49!)

    The correct latitude is 43.40.”

    Whoops!! Thanks much for the correction. That would eaisly explain why Toronto is warmer than Vancouver in July. I think I messed up with Winnipeg which is closer to the 49 actually almost 50.

    378flxible says:
    16 March 2010 at 10:07 AM
    Norman@349 [and re Kevin@374]
    “Norman seems to be learning that there’s a lot more than latitude and cloud cover effects on temperature involved in climate …. the closer location to 49 in central Canada with good records is probably Geraldton”

    Yes there is and that is why I love science. Learning new things. This information is not new but it is new to me. My larger plan is to grid about 30 cities climate in US and Canada some along lattitude and some along longitude to see what influence clouds and available sun have on the long term climate. Also will include elevation, albedo, and like you point out, proximity to oceans and large lakes. Might be a fun project for me. My thinking is my initial conclusion will be correct and clouds play a huge role in climate for both the cooling and warming phases and may be a huge player in Global Warming or cooling phases.

    Comment by Norman — 16 Mar 2010 @ 2:37 PM

  399. Sorry, I hit “send” on that last one… Here’s my response to the rest of the thread, as of #391 on March 16th at 3:38 PM:

    Gilles (342): So it is inconsistent to think that a tax would be effective to reduce carbon emission : if it is effective, nobody will buy the non conventional resources anyway

    BPL: Why in the world wouldn’t they? That last clause looks like pure fantasy on your part.

    netdr (343): If it is a negative feedback system warming will be less than 1 o C for a doubling of CO2.

    BPL: Non sequitur. How could the second clause possibly follow from the first?

    Lawrence McLean (375): “…over geological timescales, CO2 is removed from the atmosphere via the weathering of silicaceous rock.”
    I have heard that assertion a few times, however, is it actually backed by good research?

    BPL: Yes, there is a wealth of research behind it. The “carbonate-silicate cycle” keeps Earth habitable over very long periods of time. However, we are pumping CO2 into the air far faster than natural mechanisms can accommodate it. For more on the cycle, try here:

    Walker, J.C.G., Hays, P.B. and J.F. Kasting, 1981. “A Negative Feedback Mechanism for the Long-Term Stabilization of Earth’s Surface Temperature.” J. Geophys. Res. 86, 9776-9782.

    Berner, R.A., Lasaga, A.C., and R.M. Garrels 1983. “The carbonate-silicate geochemical cycle and its effect on atmospheric carbon dioxide over the past 100 million years.” Am. J. Sci. 283, 641-683.

    Kasting, J.F, Whitmire, D.P., and R.T. Reynolds 1993. “Habitable Zones around Main Sequence Stars.” Icarus 101, 108-112.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Mar 2010 @ 2:39 PM

  400. Oops! I added 110 ppmv, then another 100 ppmv! That third line after the headers are printed should have read

    dlnC = log(C) – log(280)

    not

    dlnC = log(C + 100) – lnC

    And the proper output is

    d ln C C dT T
    —— ——- —– ——-
    0.331 390.000 1.325 288.325
    0.133 319.684 0.530 288.856
    0.053 337.090 0.212 289.068
    0.021 344.315 0.085 289.152
    0.008 347.248 0.034 289.186
    0.003 348.428 0.014 289.200
    0.001 348.901 0.005 289.205
    0.001 349.091 0.002 289.208
    0.000 349.167 0.001 289.208
    0.000 349.197 0.000 289.209

    Sorry, everybody. One more reason to CHECK YOUR OUTPUT FOR REASONABLE VALUES…

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Mar 2010 @ 2:45 PM

  401. No, that can’t be right either, I’ve got C going down… I’ll figure it out eventually… No more posting until I have this thoroughly debugged… massive apologies to all…

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Mar 2010 @ 2:46 PM

  402. 351 CCPO

    I think no such thing which you ascribe to me about our being able to replace oil as fast as we use it.

    My interest in automobiles is because I have found that it is possible to build cars that use about about a tenth as much energy to move fast on roads we now have. This would not be a game changer; it would be a whole new game. Trucks might be able to get almost this percent reduction

    If we define the cars with some real sense of the important requirements, they could offer transportation that would be far more convenient than public transportation.

    What is amazing is how hard it is to shake the fixed assumptions surrounding the car, which seem to be your basis of thinking. As long as it has to be a personal fashion statement, as our thinking have been molded to expect, there will be not much progress.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 16 Mar 2010 @ 2:46 PM

  403. Okay, this time I’m SURE I’ve got it right. Lines under the header printing should be just two:

    lnC = log(280)
    dlnC = log(C + 110) – log(280)

    This gives reasonable output:

    d ln C C dT T
    —— ——- —– ——-
    0.331 280.000 1.325 288.325
    0.133 319.684 0.530 288.856
    0.053 337.090 0.212 289.068
    0.021 344.315 0.085 289.152
    0.008 347.248 0.034 289.186
    0.003 348.428 0.014 289.200
    0.001 348.901 0.005 289.205
    0.001 349.091 0.002 289.208
    0.000 349.167 0.001 289.208
    0.000 349.197 0.000 289.209

    Wow! Sorry to mess up the implementation for your very cleanly expressed idea, Neal.

    RC–is there some way to include indentation in code? [pre] and [/pre] with angle brackets doesn’t seem to do it. Do I have to plugs in 4 and 8 “nbsp ;” at a time?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Mar 2010 @ 2:50 PM

  404. 378flxible says:
    16 March 2010 at 10:07 AM

    Thank you for your responses. Have you looked at the Link J. Bob posted?

    http://www.climate4you.com/ClimateAndClouds.htm

    It has lots of raw data. On this section on clouds check out the Tropical cloud cover vs the Global temp. It shows very strong correlation and it can explain why the Global temps have stopped going up the last few years (still historically very high but flatline). The tropical cloud cover % is no longer decreasing. I am not a “denier” as the fact is carbon dioxide will absorb long wave radiation and heat up and transmit some back to Earth. I am not sure of the actual contribution.

    I have seen posts on this site which state the skeptics have no good alternative explanations for the obvious Global temp increase. I think Cloud cover is a very rational and logical possible explanation for the Global temps with a much smaller fingerprint from carbon dioxide.

    [Response: You are just passing the buck. Why did cloud cover change then? - gavin]

    Comment by Norman — 16 Mar 2010 @ 3:04 PM

  405. netdr (many above…)

    I think gavin and several others have tried to point you in the right direction on feedbacks and I hope you can make sense of it, but I’m genuinely intruiged as to why you think the Earth’s climate is so stable.

    Have a look at ice ages. A very small perturbation causes a very large response. This suggests there must be very little damping and a considerable tendency to instability, no ?

    And as I pointed out earlier, there are events in the deep past (snowball earth, PETM) which demonstrate the potential for runaway feedback way beyond these.

    How can you explain any of this if there are no amplifying effects to forcings such as orbital changes, insolation, or specifically, CO2 ?

    Neal #363 Yes, realise that but for the purposes of this discussion it’s near enough to demonstrate the negative feedback and it would I think still be 4th order even taking into account albedo & greenhouse effects ?

    Comment by VeryTallGuy — 16 Mar 2010 @ 3:07 PM

  406. To BPL of #391: You say, “Transporation can be fueled by biofuels or can be electric. You don’t need fossil fuels at all. Don’t confuse “what is presently used” with “the only thing that can be used.””

    Open minds are necessary, but thinking is still required. Biofuels are probably going to come up short if we do not change the way we do transportation. Ultimately, biofuels are going to come into conflict with the need for food in the world.

    But really BPL, you can not still think that electricity is a practical way to eliminate fossil fuels! Of course you are going to say ? that wind, solar etc. are going to make this true. But think about the actual reality of how and when we might get there. Flawed thinking seems to have taken over. Electric power is a deceptive illusion.

    One must logically consider the incremental consequence of using electricity for propelling vehicles, or any use of electricity for that matter. I think that as long as there is a coal fired power plant connected to a grid that ties to the incremental electric power user, the consequence of that use is burning of coal.

    Neither does the expansion of renewables tie to incremental power use. Adding a renewable source to the grid cuts coal use. But it is a separate act to add an electric load. Think about this separately: What if I do not add this new load? The answer is: You will not cause burning of coal.

    So go on to the next step: A real way to cut the coal usage is to cut electric energy use. The myth of electric cars is that you can have high energy use if it is from electricity, but since it has only the opposite effect, this is disastrous thinking.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 16 Mar 2010 @ 3:14 PM

  407. #393, BPL:

    It didn’t occur to me to run the example, as I was more interested in proving mathematically that it would be not exceed a limit.

    However, it’s just as easy to run on Excel. But I think you modified one of my equations.

    The point remains: You can have positive feedback without the system going “over the top”.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 16 Mar 2010 @ 3:15 PM

  408. RE #314, Jack, I think you’re right about

    “I don’t think most people know enough about science to understand what its motivating principles might be…the lay public is, for the most part, scientifically illiterate. Therefore, even the best-formulated scientific explanations are, to a large extent, going to fall on deaf ears.”

    However, I want my property tax money back — the funds I’ve spent educating those scientifically illiterate high-schoolers and graduates. If there is anyone out there who’s reading this and they know next to nada about climate change and other pertinent science topics, I think you ought to pay back the school system for not paying attention in science class, dozing off, skipping classes to be with your girl or boy friend.

    Texas students are exempt since they get bogus science; accurate science is not allowed to be taught in Texas. So the blame passed on to the Texas Board of Education, which needs to refund those property taxes money to me PRONTO for failing in their job and obstructing education! (I actually wrote a letter to them — to no avail, I suppose.)

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 16 Mar 2010 @ 3:24 PM

  409. “Response: You are just passing the buck. Why did cloud cover change then? – gavin]”

    Not passing the buck Sir. I could not explain to you why the cloud cover in the Tropics is decreasing at this time. You are a highly educated climatologist that has studied climate at a high level. You could probably explain the reason in terms of GW gases. You may not have time to individually educate each person who posts on your website, so I will continue to do research to see if I can find the reason for this loss of cloud cover.

    Here is another website that really gets to the heart of the cloud cover issue and its effect on climate. Much more than GW gases.

    http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/cloudiness.htm

    I Thank you Gavin for taking the time to respond to my post.

    Comment by Norman — 16 Mar 2010 @ 3:37 PM

  410. Norman@404
    As Gavin points out, you can’t pull a piece of the puzzle out of the complete jigsaw and say that IT is the picture, clouds in one area as well as any number of other things may have a good correlation to temperatures, which says nothing about how the system works or the direct cause of a temperature increase or lack of increase. Might be a close correlation between the greater temperature increase in the north and how often I pee out in the garden, but it’s certainly the case in western Canada that the more cloud there is this time of year, the warmer it is.

    Comment by flxible — 16 Mar 2010 @ 3:56 PM

  411. Norman!! You’re claiming that the theories of an economist who claims “The climate models are probably just worthless and should be scrapped. The ones that ventured to provide validation by carrying out backcasts failed miserably” can provide you with valid information about the nuts and bolts of how climate works?

    I suggest you click into the “Start Here” link up top and start reading at the beginning. Or see here for cloud/water vapor discussion

    Comment by flxible — 16 Mar 2010 @ 4:07 PM

  412. Lawrence McLean (375), others might have better answers (and likely already have…) but as I recall rock is far and away the largest and the greatest potential store of CO2. It also recycles little. Problem it is very very very slooooooww — absorption (not chemically correct term but sufficient) measured in centuries at the bare minimum.

    Comment by Rod B — 16 Mar 2010 @ 4:37 PM

  413. Norman, he’s an economist. He’s wrong about the models being “tweaked” with incorrect information. His website pages disagree with most climate science, are just assertions without cites to sources, and he’s never had anything published about climate. Why, do you suppose?
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22thayer+watkins%22

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Mar 2010 @ 5:02 PM

  414. Norman, Thank you. The one thing I like about http://www.rimfrost.no/ is they also give the references (i.e. Uppsala – data from SMHI, 1722-2010). You can also download the raw data from these stations, paste them in a spreadsheet, and do a fair amount of analysis. My interest is looking at long term temperature data, and comparing it to present.

    Comment by J. Bob — 16 Mar 2010 @ 5:32 PM

  415. http://www.pnas.org/content/105/45/17295.full
    “Natural carbonation of peridotite in the Samail ophiolite, an uplifted slice of oceanic crust and upper mantle in the Sultanate of Oman, is surprisingly rapid. Carbonate veins in mantle peridotite in Oman have an average 14C age of ≈26,000 years, and are not 30–95 million years old as previously believed.”

    “Are you sure you, a control systems engineer, aren’t familiar with it?” Bhopal; damn those nonlinear complex multiple feedback loop systems.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 16 Mar 2010 @ 6:55 PM

  416. 410flxible says:
    16 March 2010 at 3:56 PM
    Norman@404
    “As Gavin points out, you can’t pull a piece of the puzzle out of the complete jigsaw and say that IT is the picture, clouds in one area as well as any number of other things may have a good correlation to temperatures, which says nothing about how the system works or the direct cause of a temperature increase or lack of increase. Might be a close correlation between the greater temperature increase in the north and how often I pee out in the garden, but it’s certainly the case in western Canada that the more cloud there is this time of year, the warmer it is.”

    I like your sense of humor. I could not explain why tropical cloud cover has decreased but I could easily explain why that would cause warming. The type of clouds are the thick heavy cumulus. The albedo is very high (similar to fresh snow) so most the solar radiation is returning back to the void without the chance to warm the ground and become longwave radiation. Less of these clouds means more energy gets through which heats the ground and ocean and increases temperature. I think the connection here is considerably stronger than your choice of urination spots.

    From my reading, the cause for an Ice Age is a negative feedback with the high albedo of ice and snow, they reflect so much energy that the air can’t warm up enough to melt the ice even in summer months. I really can’t grasp why clouds would not act in similar fashion. Thick heavy clouds reflect most the solar radiation, the ground does not warm as much and you get cooling (at least in the summer when the daylight is much longer than night…nightime clouds have the warming effect. Snow and ice are also act like greenhouses for the water and ground below them. The ice reflects most the solar energy but the water under the ice stay above freezing as the ice prevents the energy from the water from leaving (insulation and radiative barrier).

    Comment by Notrman — 16 Mar 2010 @ 6:57 PM

  417. 411flxible says:
    16 March 2010 at 4:07 PM

    “I suggest you click into the “Start Here” link up top and start reading at the beginning. Or see here for cloud/water vapor discussion”

    I did as you suggested. I looked at some of the starter material (most of which I have read before). I looked at the page with forcing agents but they did not have clouds. I looked at the Earth’s radiation budget and clouds and aerosols reflect some 70 watts/m^2 into space. The figure for carbon dioxide forcing is a few watts/m^2. Can you see that if you increase the thick clouds a little you will considerably swamp the carbon dioxide forcing?

    Here is one you probably know about but whoever this skeptic is they do a lot of mathematical calculations.

    http://www.junkscience.com/Greenhouse/What_Watt.html

    [Response: If you are blindly impressed by math, then you need to read Tamino's take on such things: "One is tempted to be amazed how often such arguments are made about serious issues."--eric]

    Comment by Notrman — 16 Mar 2010 @ 7:31 PM

  418. 414J. Bob says:
    16 March 2010 at 5:32 PM

    Thanks for all the great links. I am very interested in the Climate debate and am doing a crash course to learn about it. I did take a Meterology course in College but my memory has faded on the forces that run the system.

    Comment by Notrman — 16 Mar 2010 @ 7:35 PM

  419. 413Hank Roberts says:
    16 March 2010 at 5:02 PM

    Maybe the economist does not know enough about climatology, how about this man. His credentials seem very good and he has had peer reviewed articles on climate. Check out what he thinks about Climate Models.

    http://www.climate4you.com/

    Comment by Notrman — 16 Mar 2010 @ 7:39 PM

  420. Who’s this “Notrman” — typo or parody?

    > the cause for an Ice Age is a negative feedback with the high albedo
    What source are you relying on to believe in this single cause?
    What actual feedback of what initial forcing do they tell you happened?
    Have you looked at any of the science first-hand? How about just since 2007?
    What do you see here besides what you think is “the cause” — much?
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=%22ice+age%22+albedo&as_sdt=2001&as_ylo=2007&as_vis=1

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Mar 2010 @ 8:18 PM

  421. 406, Jim Bullis: Ultimately, biofuels are going to come into conflict with the need for food in the world.

    This is not yet known. It could be that biofuels will come from salt-tolerant plants, including algae, grown in areas that now have no agriculture.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 16 Mar 2010 @ 8:44 PM

  422. 396, BartonPaulLevenson: Norman (338): it could be an exaggerated claim for a few wealthy investors to reap billions with carbon taxes and for the One World Government people to get their dream fufilled.
    &&&&
    BPL: Not to mention the black helicopter people. And the Jews. Controlled, of course, by the Vatican, through the Trilateral Commission.

    Some day, AGW believers are going to have to come to grips with the fact that large amounts of money will change hands, and the recipients of that money are now lobbying hard to get it. The idea that the only profits to be made are in fossil fuels is passe. Not a lot of AGW proponents are “one world government” types or Marxists, but some are, and a lot of the demonstrators at Copenhagen were.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 16 Mar 2010 @ 8:51 PM

  423. Also, Norman, Google would like to be your friend.
    http://www.google.com/search?q=climate+clouds
    Some clouds warm; some clouds cool. You need to understand both effects.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Mar 2010 @ 9:08 PM

  424. > SM
    > believers are going to have to come to grips with the fact

    Well duh. Nice of you to insult the people here as “AGW believers” then inform us of this obvious fact.

    Clue: not all that many people in the world are either scientists or even scientifically educated.

    Most of the people in the world still have basically a 16th-Century view of how the world works.

    Give them information, they think of politics, money, and personal advantage.

    Work with it. It’s the only world we have.

    How _else_ do you think we expect people to behave.

    Good grief, man, we’ve been living with people all our lives who don’t have a clue about science, most of us starting with getting roughed up on the playground in gradeschool by the worst of them.

    Now we’re getting roughed up by professionals like Morano.

    Same deal, same understanding of the world, same attitude.

    You think we don’t _know_ about this?

    Which planet, again, are you from?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Mar 2010 @ 9:44 PM

  425. 423Hank Roberts says:
    16 March 2010 at 9:08 PM
    “Also, Norman, Google would like to be your friend.
    http://www.google.com/search?q=climate+clouds
    Some clouds warm; some clouds cool. You need to understand both effects.”

    I looked at the graphs on this website, shows fairly clearly that thick low clouds create cooling effect at least near the tropics.

    http://www.climate4you.com/ClimateAndClouds.htm

    Mr. Roberts, This may be a stupid question but others may have it as well and your answer will help them out as well as me. I went to the start here part of this website to get the general infromation you use. I am confused by the Energy Balance Diagram of Earth’s energy (What Factors Determine Earth’s Climate). It has the Solar radiation coming in 342 Watts/m^2, 77 are reflected 168 end up being absorbed by Earth but then the Earth radiates 390? How does the surface radiate far more Watts/m^2 than it receives? And how does the greenhouse gases radiate back 324 watts/m^2? I really do not understand the energy balance of this diagram and would hope you can let me know what is going on. I just don’t see how greenhouse gases could send back this much energy. The way I have understood it, if the atmosphere was completely saturated with GHG it could only send back 50% and the rest would go into space as the radiation it reemits would go in all 360 degree directions. You are most correct!! There are a lot of concepts and ideas I do not fully understand!

    [Response: Google is all very well, but how about starting with a basic text? I particularly like G. Philander's little book, Is the Temperature Rising?. A quick read, but quite thorough and the appendices give some of the details you are looking for. I hope that helps. -eric]

    Comment by Norman — 16 Mar 2010 @ 10:52 PM

  426. Thanks for your reply to my message (#350). In your reply” The drivers of the drought appear to be the increase in aerosol emissions in the Northern Hemisphere, which affected sea surface temperatures and caused the tropical rain bands in Africa to move south. ” you did not specify how the temperature was affected (increase or decrease ?). I assume it was a decrease in the temperature of the North Atlantic based on the presentation by Mojib Latif at the WCC3 and on a lecture by Jim Hurrell. According to climatologists, the cooling (stable temperatures) of the 1950 to 1970 period would have been due in part to the reflective properties of the aerosols whereas the global warming of the 70′s would have been accelerated by the partial removal of the aerosols (and therefore a reduction of the reflection of the SW radiation) due to the scrubbing of the SO2. The driest years in the Sahel were in the 1980 to 1985 period when the aerosols would have been reduced. So how could the aerosols have cooled the atlantic according to your theory during this latter period ? There seems to be a contradiction here. Please clarify.

    Comment by RaymondT — 16 Mar 2010 @ 11:13 PM

  427. 100 Michael,
    I would rather say that 78 ccpo confuse environmental problems with scientific theories. People at this site tend to see climate change as a theory (either true or false). This binary approach is problematic since climate change is very broad and complex: Some claims are true whereas others are false and others are too uncertain to know much about. yes, I would agree that 78 ccpo takes an extreme position because of that, it is far too simplistic.

    Climate change as environmental problems. that is how I interpret Oakwood since he talks about science, sustainability and equality. It ir rather easy to make a case that world poverty is a more pressing problem than climate change. To take away such important “by definition” of AGW is silly.

    Comment by Andreas Bjurström — 14 March 2010 @ 1:16 PM

    I am confusing nothing. I responded to specific points. You are very much broadening the discussion. As to AGW being a yes or no issue, that is, again, you. i said no such thing. You are confusing, however, the bases of AGW with individual issues within AGW. This is not a useful, nor helpful, nor particularly honest thing to do. AGW is a fact on the basis of the basic science. Some discreet points need further research, but that is like saying the ocean is salty, wet and full of life and we need more research to determine exactly what life forms live there.

    Cheers

    Comment by ccpo — 16 Mar 2010 @ 11:35 PM

  428. What is amazing is how hard it is to shake the fixed assumptions surrounding the car, which seem to be your basis of thinking. As long as it has to be a personal fashion statement, as our thinking have been molded to expect, there will be not much progress.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 16 March 2010 @ 2:46 PM

    You seem to like making assumptions. My problem with the car has to do with depleting resources, embedded energy, efficiency, the physical structure of society, Liebig’s Minimum, etc.

    The car is a bad idea whose time is done.

    Cheers

    Comment by ccpo — 17 Mar 2010 @ 12:12 AM

  429. > [ ... G. Philander's little book, Is the Temperature Rising?. A quick read, but quite thorough and the appendices give some of the details you are looking for. I hope that helps. -eric]

    Impressive (you can view many of the pages online, a _lot_ of appendices).
    It’s available for as little as $4 used, including the cost of shipping!

    Eric, that might be worth adding to the StartHere references as a good deal.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Mar 2010 @ 12:13 AM

  430. 412 Rod B

    I continue to wonder about the rate of CO2 take-up and “sequestration” that comes when calcite shelled creatures grow. This question never seems to get addressed in a way that is satisfying to me. The growth rate of some of these is greatly increased in warmer waters, and this looks like something that could have an effect in tens of years if waters warm as we think they will.

    I do not think that such things are in the models, but they could have a meaningful effect in removing CO2, though probably it would work best if the rate of producing CO2 was reduced at the same time.

    I am interested in ways that the drastic predictions might reasonably be modified, if at all possible. Then there could be a reasonable chance for reasonable people to catch up with the problem.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 17 Mar 2010 @ 12:14 AM

  431. PS, Norman, you might want to look at this list and check it out a bit.
    Anything you find that’s climatology you can paste into Google Scholar, probably see at least the abstract, the number of citing papers, and possibly the references. What’s his area of expertise, do you think, from this list?
    http://www.climate4you.com/Text/BIBLIOGRAPHY%20OLE%20HUMLUM.pdf

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Mar 2010 @ 12:27 AM

  432. PPS for Norman:
    Animation, clouds and net radiation over several years, here:
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/GlobalMaps/view.php?d1=CERES_NETFLUX_M&d2=MODAL2_M_CLD_FR#

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Mar 2010 @ 12:31 AM

  433. Re: BPL at 396

    Dude, you forgot about the Illuminati! Don’t sit with your back to the door…

    Gavin et al, thanks very much for all your hard work and very real courage.

    Comment by Bella Green — 17 Mar 2010 @ 1:07 AM

  434. #396, BPL: To elaborate on the point made by #422 above: Please google who owns Chicago Carbon Exchange. Then you are free to prove to me that one of the world’s largest financial institutions is in this business not because of money, but something else. I’m all ears.

    Comment by Kris — 17 Mar 2010 @ 4:30 AM

  435. netdr,
    You are looking at general principles you learned in an electronics class, not at physics. There are many systems that have positive feedback, but are stable. Why not actually look at the physics–namely what the feedbacks are and why they are limited. Ultimately, the biggest feedback is thermal radiation. Eventually any body will heat to the point where energy-out equals energy-in. The only question is what temperature that occurs at. Look at the physics rather than your undergrad electronics notes.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Mar 2010 @ 5:09 AM

  436. Jim Bullis @ 402:

    My interest in automobiles is because I have found that it is possible to build cars that use about about a tenth as much energy to move fast on roads we now have. This would not be a game changer; it would be a whole new game. Trucks might be able to get almost this percent reduction

    Do you have an actual working vehicle?

    Because if you don’t, you’re several steps behind people who make much of their own electricity and drive vehicles which operate on it.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 17 Mar 2010 @ 7:05 AM

  437. Kris@434
    So by your logic, we should all follow the Unabomber’s example and become subsistence farmers since every business is in it for the money? Frigging brilliant.

    Now perhaps we can tap into your vast conspiratorial knowledge and you can tell us how this is going to somehow benefit the scientists who are providing all the mountains of evidence that you choose to ignore. And then maybe you can tell us where the National Academies and all the scientific professional societies fit it, since they’ve endorsed the IPCC conclusions and most of them stand to be hurt by emphasis on climate science. Do tell. We’d love to hear more.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Mar 2010 @ 7:34 AM

  438. OF COURSE big sums of money are going to change hands as we transition to a sustainable energy economy. OF COURSE billionares will be made.

    It’s going to happen in the context of a market economy. That’s the way a market economy is supposed to function–people innovate in hopes of really big payouts.

    It’s crazy how folks (you can fill in names here, I’m sure!) who, on the one hand, tout (and I mean that verb with the most denigratory way possible) the virtues of the free market, will insist on the other that people making money on sustainable energy or (especially) carbon markets is evidence of a terrible, sinister conspiracy.

    Making money is what markets are about. Can’t be much more straightforward than that.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 17 Mar 2010 @ 8:15 AM

  439. #437, Ray: The scientific case for AGW stands on its own. And no, I don’t suggest that CCX shareholders finance the scientists under the table.

    However: the people here like to paint a simplified image of a struggle between the scientists who strive for truth and deniers funded by the industry (which seeks to discredit the truth to safeguard its own profits). This is, to an extent, correct. But, it overlooks the existence of a THIRD fraction, which seeks to capitalize on AGW. These are: politicians, ecological activists and financial circles. This is a fact.

    Now, here comes my own conspiracy theory: these circles are behind the most exaggerated claims of danger due to AGW. Take, for example, the “glaciers gone by 2035″ claim. It was sourced from a non-scientific literature produced by an ecological organization (WWF) and sanctioned by a political organization (IPCC). When it was discredited, it backfired at the scientists who had nothing to do with it.

    So my view is that the science is caught between anvil and the hammer. And most people here are so preoccupied with the hammer (oil industry), that they refuse to see the anvil.

    You are welcome to debunk my assertions.

    Comment by Kris — 17 Mar 2010 @ 8:39 AM

  440. Norman:

    If clouds provide a negative (or positive) forcing or feedback which will magically counter (or explain) climate change – why haven’t we observed this?

    To have the result you hope, the effect would have to be very large. Very large effects are easy to detect.

    It’s good to pass theories like this past a reality filter before getting excited.

    As for your confusion about the energy balance diagram – you will need a calculator. Add together all the terms at the top of the atmosphere, and add together all the fluxes at the earth level. You will find that both balance out to zero.

    Some of the detail in the middle is quite confusing. It isn’t the clearest diagram I have seen, but it is rare in that it gives actual figures for energy transfers. Now, this is the tricky bit – even though all the terms must remain totalling zero, it is possible for individual terms to increase when you alter things like the greenhouse gas concentration. So, back radiation *and* surface radiation increase, and balance out. However, higher surface radiation can only occur if the actual surface temperature is higher.

    You can confirm where the back radiation figure comes from by adding together all the fluxes ending in the atmosphere. It all adds up! 67+24+78+390-235=324.

    And that’s the greenhouse effect, or at least my puny attempt at explaining it.

    Comment by Didactylos — 17 Mar 2010 @ 8:43 AM

  441. Norman (#325)–

    I think that confusion around the energy budget diagrams is pretty widespread–and I say “diagrams” because there are different (and mutually inconsistent versions) around. My understanding is that the science here is not “settled” in all its detail yet, by any means.

    However, that’s not to say that the diagrams are without value.

    In the case of your specific question, the issue is (I think–again, I’m not a scientist!) that the diagram numbers reflect energy “transactions” all through the atmosphere. If we imagine (incorrectly but maybe helpfully) a quantum of energy entering the atmosphere, we can follow it being absorbed by the ground, re-emitted into the atmosphere, and experiencing several such interactions before finally escaping to space.

    There are several ways in which we can “balance” these transactions. We can balance them at the top of the atmosphere (“TOA”): quanta in = quanta out. Actually, right now, there is a slight imbalance since the system is in process of warming, but we can include the warming as a “balance sheet” item. If you look at the diagram, you can see that TOA “balances.”

    We should also be able to see that the surface budget balances–energy received from direct absorption and from atmospheric re-emission = energy reflected, energy lost via evapo-transpiration, and energy re-emitted to the atmosphere. That means that the earth doesn’t “radiate more than it receives.” I couldn’t access the diagram–server busy, I guess–but if you total direct and atmospheric sources, you’ll find it balances out to 400-some watts/m2 in and out.

    What’s confusing is the atmospheric interchanges. In the past I’ve compared it to an apartment lease shared by several roommates who owe each other varying sums: the money spent on rent is fixed, but as the roommates settle all their various debts to each around the rental payments, you end up with a much larger dollar figure to account for all those transactions.

    The statement about the “saturation” is wrong, too, as I understand it–because:

    1) the atmosphere isn’t “saturated”, and
    2) “saturation” doesn’t mean that increased absorption is impossible. This, because the atmosphere doesn’t act like a single unitary slab; rather it must be modeled in multiple layers. For detail, see Spencer Weart’s “Discovery of Global Warming,” or the post “A Saturated Gassy Argument” on this site.

    Hope this helps more than it confuses!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 17 Mar 2010 @ 8:46 AM

  442. #425 Norman, Kietl & Trenbrth from the NCAR Boulder CO., have a good short summary on the Earth’s energy balance, and a lot of references: http://wattsupwiththat.com/ .

    Comment by J. Bob — 17 Mar 2010 @ 9:20 AM

  443. Kris wrote: “Then you are free to prove to me that one of the world’s largest financial institutions is in this business not because of money, but something else.”

    There is most certainly a lot of money to be made by those who step forward with solutions to the AGW problem — just as there has always been money to be made by those who have the foresight, courage, innovative ideas and entrepreneurial spirit to come up with solutions to any challenge or need facing society.

    And your problem with that is … what, exactly?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 17 Mar 2010 @ 9:35 AM

  444. #443, SecularAnimist: And your problem with that is … what, exactly?

    That said financial institutions are not interested in developing CO2-neutral technology, but only in emission trading. I have yet to see any solid proof that cap-and-trade would generate measurable reductions in CO2 emissions (hence, it is not certain to solve the problem). It is however certain to generate rampant possibilities for financial speculations.

    Case in point: the EU ETS system is expected to start to include airlines from 2012 on. Airplanes emit CO2, so this seems logical. But remember, that such system is supposed to provide financial advantage to “clear” alternatives. However, you cannot really make a nuclear-powered airplane (well, technically you can, but it is not the best idea) so you can only push for marginal CO2 reductions (which can be quickly compensated by the increase in number of flights anyway). At the same time, the price increase due to CO2 credits will not be big enough to change economics of air travel [1] (i.e. it will not force me to take the train instead). So, we get all the cost of ETS and (almost) no CO2 reduction.

    [1] http://www.envirovaluation.org/index.php/2010/02/17/the-economics-of-co2-emissions-trading-for-aviation

    Comment by Kris — 17 Mar 2010 @ 10:31 AM

  445. > 442 J. Bob says: 17 March 2010 at 9:20 AM
    > #425 Norman, Kietl & Trenbrth from the NCAR Boulder CO., have a
    > good short summary on the Earth’s energy balance, and a lot of references:

    ALMOST TRUE, except for getting the names wrong

    > … wattsupwiththat.com/ .

    WHOAH! Pretty amazing misdirection by J.Bob.

    The real information is available.
    You can look it up.

    You need to know how to spell it (and know not to trust J.Bob’s directions).

    http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/an-update-to-kiehl-and-trenberth-1997/
    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/Trenberth/Presentations/CC07_UWis.pdf
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/sci;296/5576/2095a

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Mar 2010 @ 10:51 AM

  446. Norman (425): How does the surface radiate far more Watts/m^2 than it receives?

    BPL: It doesn’t. It doesn’t just get sunlight, it also gets back-radiation from the atmosphere. Those are the heating effects. It cools by conduction, convection, evapotranspiration, and radiation. The two effect, cooling and heating, are very close to equal except over very long time periods.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 17 Mar 2010 @ 11:00 AM

  447. By Kris’s logic, the Allies should most certainly not have fought WWII, because quite a number of firms made a good deal of money producing the armaments allowing them to do so.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 17 Mar 2010 @ 11:00 AM

  448. But, it overlooks the existence of a THIRD fraction, which seeks to capitalize on AGW. These are: politicians, ecological activists and financial circles. This is a fact.

    Politicians generally dislike telling the people who elect them uncomfortable truths – such as, that they will have to change their behaviour to avoid the likelihood of long-term disaster; the idea that they need AGW to justify increases in state power is ludicrous – terrorism suffices. As for ecological activists – sure they “seek to capitalize” – in the sense that the science indicates quite clearly that the concerns they have been expressing for decades are, in fact, justified. They have no need to distort the science as denialists do, although some may do so, accidentally or deliberately. But this rebounds on them as well as scientists in the case of the WWF-sourced error. Nor do financial circles have any need to do so – where we do need to be concerned is that they may push for those mitigation measures that will most benefit them specifically – and this is also true of specific industries. The situation is closely parallel to that in the run-up to WWII: you would have been bleating that leftists, anti-appeasement politicians and arms manufacturers were behind the most exaggerated warnings about Nazi Germany – as indeed, your fellow right-wingers were mostly busy doing at the time.

    Now, here comes my own conspiracy theory: these circles are behind the most exaggerated claims of danger due to AGW. Take, for example, the “glaciers gone by 2035″ claim. It was sourced from a non-scientific literature produced by an ecological organization (WWF) and sanctioned by a political organization (IPCC). – Kris

    It was a single error that should have been caught – but error happens. You produce not the slightest reason to believe that the WWF, let alone the IPCC, intended to mislead anyone – note that it did not appear in the summary for policymakers, nor was its inclusion in the body of the report in any sense a political decision. The evidence that industry-funded denialists do intend to mislead, on the other hand, is overwhelming.

    In conclusion, your conspiracy theory is as daft as those of the 9-11 truthers and tea-bagger birthers.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 17 Mar 2010 @ 11:44 AM

  449. (PS, the third link I posted above is from a 2002 Science article that ends with this):

    > … there is a planned gap in the radiation time series between
    > the end of the NASA Aqua research mission in 2008 and the restart
    > of the National Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS)
    > weather system in 2012. Until a continuous climate observing system is
    > established, both climate models and observations will remain uncertain.

    Anyone familiar with the actual satellite coverage for the radiation time series? Did that gap actually happen? What’s up there and working now?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Mar 2010 @ 11:47 AM

  450. Hank, I don’t know about the time series, but AQUA seems to be going OK. At least, this page seems fairly up to date:

    http://aqua.nasa.gov/

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 17 Mar 2010 @ 12:59 PM

  451. AQUA AIRS data available:

    http://disc.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/AIRS/

    (Got there via the previously linked page.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 17 Mar 2010 @ 1:05 PM

  452. Kevin, Hank …

    This photo claims to have been taken on March 11th

    (it’s a photo of the second ever tropical cyclone known to have formed in the South Atlantic)

    Comment by dhogaza — 17 Mar 2010 @ 2:29 PM

  453. 440Didactylos says:
    17 March 2010 at 8:43 AM
    Norman:

    “If clouds provide a negative (or positive) forcing or feedback which will magically counter (or explain) climate change – why haven’t we observed this?

    To have the result you hope, the effect would have to be very large. Very large effects are easy to detect.”

    http://www.climate4you.com/ClimateAndClouds.htm

    On this website, if you scroll down to the graph of Tropical Cloud Cover and Global Air Temperature it seems to show a very strong correlation to cloud cover and Global Warming that is happening. His sources for the graph are International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) and the HadCRUT3 for Global Temps. The only thing done on this graph is to show both trends in a time scale. The Cloud cover in the Tropics is down and the Global temps are up. The thing it seems to explain better than carbon dioxide as the major driver is the fact that the temps now (although very high historically) are flatlined, not increasing. This same website has graphs of that as well. Temps went up drastically from 1970 to 2000 but have been level since. They followed the curve of carbon dioxide increase nicely for that 30 year period but have stopped. The tropical cloud cover graph can explain both of these. The cloud cover decreased warming the tropics, also the globe and oceans. Cloud cover stopped decreasing and the temps stopped increasing. Looks like a fit. I think his sources are both valid, I don’t think he is making stuff up or putting out false data. Anyway the chart does show what you asked for. At least it seems to from my limited view. I am not going to claim I am close to the knowledge of Gavin or Eric or any of the climate experts who respond to my posts. My view may be too simplistic. But it I still have not seen any post dispute it. Mr. Hank Roberts sent me an interesting animation of cloud cover and radiation. It certainly looks like areas with lots of clouds are in the negative radiation zone so that still confirms the cloud possibility.

    Comment by Norman — 17 Mar 2010 @ 4:26 PM

  454. 431Hank Roberts says:
    17 March 2010 at 12:27 AM
    “PS, Norman, you might want to look at this list and check it out a bit.
    Anything you find that’s climatology you can paste into Google Scholar, probably see at least the abstract, the number of citing papers, and possibly the references. What’s his area of expertise, do you think, from this list?
    http://www.climate4you.com/Text/BIBLIOGRAPHY%20OLE%20HUMLUM.pdf

    From what I can see it is paleoclimate and geology with some current meteorlogy and climate papers. To publish papers on the topics your link gave I would think he had to study some climatology.

    Mr. Roberts I can tell you why I am primarily questioning the alarmist view of Climate Change and looking at other possible answers that may explain the current warming cycle.

    In 1999 I was taking a Cobol computer class during the hype about Y2K and computers crashing at the end of the year. I asked our Instructor (who had programmed cruise missles for the Air Force) if it was real or not. He responded to the entire class (approximate response, I can’t remember the word for word) “No it is a way for programmers to double their salary and increase the workload”

    So I wonder, when I keep reading of all these terrible things that will happen if we do not curb carbon dioxide (one thing is certain is that we will run out of the fossil fuels at some point and come to a crashing halt, so it is great to work on alternative fuel sources long before it is a reality) how much is hype and how much is real?

    Because of first hand evidence that Y2K was an artificially hyped scenerio, I always question such things. I also like to research things on my own. Even a brilliant person with excellent logic can be wrong if their initial assumption is wrong.

    In the 18th century people were claiming they saw rocks falling from the sky (meteors) and would tell the scientific community about it and bring in the rocks. The science body concluded the melted rocks had been struck by lightning and could not have fallen from the sky as there was no way for them to get up into the sky (these were the same brilliant minds that gave us most the physics and math we use today, they knew the gravitional force very well). They were brilliant men with great logical thinking but their initial assumption (origin of the rocks) was not a correct one so despite their rigid logic and intellectual ability they were still wrong.

    Comment by Norman — 17 Mar 2010 @ 4:47 PM

  455. Norman, again, Google really can help. You rely on one teacher’s opinion, and call it “first hand evidence” (how old was this guy??). Try looking beyond what any one person tells you. Just for example, a good source:
    http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/php/risks/search.php?query=y2k

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Mar 2010 @ 5:36 PM

  456. PS, Norman, you came here saying you want to show changes in clouds changes temperature.

    Think about what you’re doing and why and how you’re going about it.

    Spend time understanding the science, and you’ll follow it as well as any of us who are just readers not scientists.

    Looking for what you want to find isn’t science.
    Correlation isn’t causation.

    Take a few examples: you can find all of these easily, as speculations:
    Warming is predicted to change cloudiness.
    Cosmic rays are predicted to change cloudiness.
    Changes in plankton are predicted to change cloudiness.

    Cloudiness _may_ be changing. Or it may not (and there are a lot of locations and different kinds of clouds). How would we know?
    Plankton _may_ be changing. How would we know.
    Cosmic rays change, variations are measured. How do you look that up?

    How can you test any of those?
    What do you need to can say it _might_ be happening?
    And with what confidence?

    Do try Robert Grumbine’s site.

    I used to know someone who claimed that shadows caused clouds, because wherever he saw a big dark shadow, there would be a cloud over it. He said the shadow was cooling the ground, so the cool air rose up and made a cloud.

    What could I do to test his theory?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Mar 2010 @ 5:50 PM

  457. Norman 425

    “…. It has the Solar radiation coming in 342 Watts/m^2, 77 are reflected 168 end up being absorbed by Earth but then the Earth radiates 390? How does the surface radiate far more Watts/m^2 than it receives?…”

    Pardon me for butting in because I really know very little climate science. However, I too was troubled by the 342/390 discrepancy, and since no one has given you a direct answer, as far as I can tell, I’ll tell you what satisfied me:

    Somebody’s law, Boltzman’s I believe, has black bodies radiating proportional to temperature to the fourth power. 392 Watts/m^2 is what earth radiates at the surface where the temperature is 288 degrees centigrade.

    The temperature without the GHG blanket would be 288-33 = 255 degrees centigrade. So the surface is warmer by 12.9% (288/255) and, being warmer, will radiate more than goes out to space. The difference, in the end, is absorbed in the earth system – oceans, lands, atmosphere(s) and clouds – the rest of the watts/m^2 in the energy balance diagrams. But none of that matters.

    237 Watts/m^2, as measured by satellite goes out to space, as if radiated from a 255 degrees centigrade body.

    The ratios of the two radiated energies is 64.6% (390/237).

    1.646 = 1.136^4

    13.6% is close enough to 12.9% for government purposes.

    I’m sure some of other posters will correct me, but that’s the way I sees it. ;<)

    Temperature w/o blanket = 255 degrees centigrade
    Actual temperature = 288 = 255 + 33 degrees centigrade
    390/237 = 1.65
    1.294^4 = 1.6271

    Comment by John Peter — 17 Mar 2010 @ 6:43 PM

  458. Norman 425

    Ignore my last 4 lines. Sorry

    Comment by John Peter — 17 Mar 2010 @ 6:46 PM

  459. Norman – If you had been in economics courses asking about Y2K you would have gotten a very different answer, namely that the financial sector could not hire enough programmers fast enough to rewrite the codes, there were some very messy scenarios avoided by folks who took on the increased workload with NO increase in pay beyond their hourly rate. Think of that prof’s attitude in light of the contrarians who’re hooting about the conspiracy by climate scientists to get rich by sucking up all the grant money.

    And I second Hanks “Correlation isn’t causation”, many things can be correlated with temperatures, some may be causal, some may be results, some may have no real relation at all.

    Comment by flxible — 17 Mar 2010 @ 6:48 PM

  460. 454 Norman.
    >>In 1999 I was taking a Cobol computer class during the hype about Y2K and computers crashing at the end of the year. I asked our Instructor (who had programmed cruise missles for the Air Force) if it was real or not. He responded to the entire class (approximate response, I can’t remember the word for word) “No it is a way for programmers to double their salary and increase the workload”

    Because of first hand evidence that Y2K was an artificially hyped scenerio, I always question such things. <<

    I hope your instructor didn't program Cruise missiles in COBOL :)

    In 1985 I did acceptance testing for a computer system that was supposed to manage pension investments. I rejected it because it didn't know that people might retire later than 2030. That was my first exposure to the Y2K problem, though I didn't know it till 1987. Then I was a trainee COBOL programmer looking at my first working COBOL programs with their 2-character year fields and the hard-coded workarounds. That was my first indication of the effort and cost that Y2K would involve. Y2K issues were a part of every project I worked on for the following decade, if only because the systems had to be live and working before the magic moment.

    So my first hand experience is that Y2K was a real problem that required real solutions. If it looks like hype now, that's because the effort was made and the solutions were implemented. Some programmers did make a lot of money from it, but only in the last 3 or 4 years of the decade and only because so many decision-makers ignored warnings for 20 years or more, until the crisis was upon them.

    Sounds familiar.

    Comment by Susanne — 17 Mar 2010 @ 7:03 PM

  461. Just to add my thanks to those of the original poster. I found RC when I was trying to figure out the conflicts between Inconvenient Truth and Global Warming Swindle. It’s a wonderful resource and a great example of how the Web can be used to make real expertise available to anyone who’s prepared to do a bit of work. Thanks guys, for your patience, and, as someone said earlier, your courage.

    Comment by Susanne — 17 Mar 2010 @ 7:12 PM

  462. #430 I continue to wonder about the rate of CO2 take-up and “sequestration” that comes when calcite shelled creatures grow.

    Doesn’t ocean acidification have a negative impact on shellfish populations?

    Comment by JiminMpls — 17 Mar 2010 @ 7:15 PM

  463. “Because of first hand evidence that Y2K was an artificially hyped scenerio”. You do know now, don’t you, that in fact there was a massive amount of work, done on computers and computer systems all around the world, to prevent Y2K being a problem? You know that your instructor, cruise missile programmer or not, was either lying to you or totally ignorant of the real world, don’t you?

    Comment by David Horton — 17 Mar 2010 @ 7:24 PM

  464. Norman,

    Interesting use of one myth (y2k wasn’t real) to support another (Climate Change isn’t real). Yes y2k was over-hyped. I read (apocryphal?) stories about folks who stocked up on several years food and ammo and retired to a barb-wire enclosed forest retreat.

    That does not mean it wasn’t a real problem (or that your teacher wasn’t being ironic). But it was a disaster, for the most part (HSBC crash of 1999-09-09 ring any bells?), avoided. And it was avoided because we actually took decisive action to avoid it. Apparently you didn’t get a job out of it despite studying COBOL, I feel for you (no I really do, it’s taken me years to erase anything I knew about COBOL and JCL from my mind).

    In a similar vein I recently heard it argued that Climate Change isn’t real because a decade or two ago this ozone hole thing was being hyped … and where is that now?

    If we get our collective act together and take effective steps to avert the risks posed by continued fossil fuel consumption, you can imagine denialists in the future, on the basis of that success, insisting that AGW was, after all, a hoax. Perhaps science will only “win” the popular argument if we do nothing. Hell of a way to win an argument though.

    Comment by James Killen — 17 Mar 2010 @ 7:31 PM

  465. Re 454 Norman
    “Because of first hand evidence that Y2K was an artificially hyped scenerio”

    Um, if you were relying on what someone else told you, that would be second hand evidence. First hand evidence would be if you had personally inspected every single line of computer code in existence, and discovered that there were no Y2K bugs of any importance.

    You also have to separate what the media said from what IT people were saying. Stories of planes falling out the sky and power stations exploding were largely made up by the media. What was of real concern was how things like financial systems managed the date change. A bug in a bank clearing system, for example, could have the potential to wipe out billions of dollars of transactions.

    The fact that there were no serious incidents after Y2K was not because it wasn’t real, but because people actually fixed the problems before they became disasters. A guy at my previous job spent most of 1999 scanning 6 million lines of code looking for date bugs. He found thousands of potential bugs, and fixed them. The vast majority of them would probably have been harmless, but surely it was better to fix them anyway, rather than just wait and see if they really did cause a big problem?

    Imagine if, for some reason, the action required to fix Y2K bugs ahead of time would have made some big corporation go bust, so they decided to lobby politicians and run a “Y2K is a hoax” PR campaign. Let’s say that campaign was successful, and public opinion had stopped IT companies from trying to fix the bugs, and we clicked over the date change with all those bugs still in place. Do you still think nothing would have happened?

    Comment by CTG — 17 Mar 2010 @ 8:31 PM

  466. 455Hank Roberts says:
    17 March 2010 at 5:36 PM
    “Norman, again, Google really can help. You rely on one teacher’s opinion, and call it “first hand evidence” (how old was this guy??). Try looking beyond what any one person tells you. Just for example, a good source:”

    I would estimate he was around 50 or so. He was a very intelligent programmer. I had no reason not to believe what he told me and the class. You may agree that even though it could have caused some glitches here and there they were claiming it would do much more. The hype.

    Comment by Norman — 17 Mar 2010 @ 8:57 PM

  467. 456Hank Roberts says:
    17 March 2010 at 5:50 PM
    “PS, Norman, you came here saying you want to show changes in clouds changes temperature”

    You are a good man Hank Roberts. I like your manner in adressing my questions. My original intent was not to show how clouds change temperature. My first goal was to see the effect of a “strong” greenhouse gas to convince someone on another website with some actual data (he believes there is no such thing as a greenhouse gas, either no gas abosrbs infrared or they all do). I picked Las Vegas because I knew it was a very dry city low on water vapor. Then I went to google map (your favorite search engine) and went across the Lattitude (to control for variations in solar intensity and hours/day sunlight) to pick a couple wetter cities. The Climate site I had used as my data source also included % available sunshine. I looked at the data and the idea of clouds playing a major role in temperature prompted me to post on this site.

    I have posted before on here and it seems a lot of knowledgeable and helpful people regularly post. I wanted to see ideas on this possibility.

    “Looking for what you want to find isn’t science.
    Correlation isn’t causation.”

    The causation comes in from my own experience with cloudy days. In the summer a cloudy day is much cooler than the bright sunny days. I know there is a causation between clouds and temperature. I also know that clouds will keep the night temperature from falling too low. So there is causation and it make sense, less energy cooler temps.

    Comment by Norman — 17 Mar 2010 @ 9:09 PM

  468. Norman 425

    “…It has the Solar radiation coming in 342 Watts/m^2, 77 are reflected 168 end up being absorbed by Earth but then the Earth radiates 390? How does the surface radiate far more Watts/m^2 than it receives?…”

    Pardon me for butting in because I really know very little climate science. However, I too was troubled by the 342/390 discrepancy, and since no one has given you a direct answer, as far as I can tell, I’ll tell you what satisfied me:

    Somebody’s law, Boltzman’s I believe, has black bodies radiating proportional to temperature to the fourth power. 392 Watts/m^2 is what earth would radiate at the surface where the temperature is 288 degrees centigrade.

    The “effective” temperature without the GHG blanket would be 288-33 = 255 degrees centigrade. So the surface is warmer by 12.9% (288/255) and, being warmer, will radiate more than goes out to space. The 153(?) difference, in the end, is absorbed in the earth system – oceans, lands, atmosphere(s) and clouds – the rest of the watts/m^2 in the energy balance diagrams. But none of that matters.

    237 Watts/m^2, as measured by satellite goes out to space, as if radiated from an effective 255 degrees centigrade black body.

    The ratios of the two radiated energies is 64.6% (390/237).

    1.646 = 1.136^4

    13.6% is close enough to 12.9% for government purposes.

    I’m sure some of other posters will correct me, but that’s the way I sees it. ;<)

    Note: System seems to have lost my original

    Comment by John Peter — 17 Mar 2010 @ 10:48 PM

  469. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=wall&gid=2425009764

    More people (over 3000!) in need of some serious enlightenment (the group is titled “Global Warming is a Hoax”). None of the members arguing it is a hoax seem to be able to pull up a single piece of science to back up their statements, relying instead on red herrings, ad hominems, and lies. Props to Neal J King for having taken on the task of educating some of those people in the group – I hope many of the bright folks at Real Climate would join in and share their knowledge there.

    Comment by Nathan — 17 Mar 2010 @ 10:54 PM

  470. 456Hank Roberts says:
    17 March 2010 at 5:50 PM
    PS, Norman, you came here saying you want to show changes in clouds changes temperature.
    “Take a few examples: you can find all of these easily, as speculations:
    Cosmic rays are predicted to change cloudiness.”

    “Cloudiness _may_ be changing. Or it may not (and there are a lot of locations and different kinds of clouds). How would we know?
    Cosmic rays change, variations are measured. How do you look that up?”

    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/physics/pdf/0407/0407005v1.pdf

    Here is an article to answer you last question “How do you look that up?”
    Some scientists have attempted to measure the cosmic ray changes by looking for effects of cosmic ray changes.

    Comment by Norman — 17 Mar 2010 @ 10:56 PM

  471. Kris @ 444:

    Case in point: the EU ETS system is expected to start to include airlines from 2012 on. Airplanes emit CO2, so this seems logical. But remember, that such system is supposed to provide financial advantage to “clear” alternatives. However, you cannot really make a nuclear-powered airplane (well, technically you can, but it is not the best idea) so you can only push for marginal CO2 reductions (which can be quickly compensated by the increase in number of flights anyway). At the same time, the price increase due to CO2 credits will not be big enough to change economics of air travel [1] (i.e. it will not force me to take the train instead). So, we get all the cost of ETS and (almost) no CO2 reduction.

    I believe that Virgin has already had flights using flight-rated bio jet fuel. When jet fuel is fully costed, bio jet fuel will be less expensive.

    The really exciting things about this time in the evolution of the Energy Economy is that so many people say “This can’t be done”, and then there is someone out there trying to do it because it might just be worth money, and before you know it there are a half dozen people out there competing in the market place because there is a boat load of money on account of “sustainable” being, well, sustainable. In 20 or 30 years companies will be bidding to dig up and recycle all the biomass and natural resources that were thrown in landfills. You’ll sell your trash to the highest bidder who will return a few gallons of bio fuel to your doorstep, the way people used to get milk. Then someone will come up with a backyard gadget that converts home and garden refuse into something you can power your car or home on.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 17 Mar 2010 @ 11:22 PM

  472. Norman 459

    If clouds, temp change, and radiation energy budget are your thing – don’t think you can beat Ram in Physics Today:

    http://www-ramanathan.ucsd.edu/publications/Ram%20Barkstrom%20Harrison%20PhysicsToday%2021-32%201989.pdf

    Back in 1987 this all made sense…

    Comment by John Peter — 17 Mar 2010 @ 11:41 PM

  473. “Doesn’t ocean acidification have a negative impact on shellfish populations?”

    If a whelk uses 15g of carbon in their shell where before it used to be able to manage 20g, then

    a) there has been a negative effect on shellfish
    b) shellfish still sequester carbon in their shells

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 18 Mar 2010 @ 3:51 AM

  474. If you have not seen gapminder.org do go and have a look. Hans Rosling is a first-rate science communicator, and he and his team have developed tools that make it possible to get complex ideas across to an audience very efficiently. Watch how Rosling deals with AIDS; he manages to keep things simple even while invoking the difficulties.

    I don’t know whether the gapminder software would lend itself to the display of climate data, but I imagine it would do so, and that it would be a very powerful educational aid.

    Comment by Timothy Mason — 18 Mar 2010 @ 4:46 AM

  475. Real Climate is invaluable.

    Sometimes, when things are looking really grim, I think to myself “it could be worse: imagine a world without a RealClimate, Tamino or Deltoid”

    You guys do a fantastic job. It must be exhausting. But it’s essential.

    Comment by Jack Kelly — 18 Mar 2010 @ 5:02 AM

  476. #472 That article must be a fake! Everyone knows that in 1989 they called it global warming. It wasn’t until the cooling after 1998 that they started calling it climate change.

    Comment by JiminMpls — 18 Mar 2010 @ 6:02 AM

  477. The causation comes in from my own experience with cloudy days. In the summer a cloudy day is much cooler than the bright sunny days. – Norman

    Norman, do you really think you are the only one to notice this? And had you also noticed that at night, and in winter, it’s warmer when it’s cloudy? Sheesh.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 18 Mar 2010 @ 6:16 AM

  478. “The causation comes in from my own experience with cloudy days. In the summer a cloudy day is much cooler than the bright sunny days”

    But cloudy nights are warmer than clear ones.

    So overall, what’s the DIFFERENCE?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 18 Mar 2010 @ 6:50 AM

  479. #462 JiminMpls
    I think the “ocean acidification” problem is a lot more chemically complex than it sounds. The main problem with it is the word “acidification”. What it should actually be called is “ocean reduced alkalinity”. Seawater is alkaline (PH 8.2) and likely to remain so even in the most extreme scenarios of CO2 emissions.

    Sea water is a hugely complex cocktail of chemicals with buffering effects that reduce the PH lowering effect of dissolved CO2. The best estimate that I have seen is a reduction in PH of around 0.2 to around 8.0 – still pretty alkaline compared to neutral distilled water (PH 7) or clean rainwater (5.4).

    As well as the purely chemical buffering there are also negative feedbacks, or mitigations, such as:

    1. warming seas caused by the greenhouse effect will have less capacity to hold CO2 – so the CO2 content of seawater (and hence PH) will not change linearly with the growth in atmospheric CO2.

    2. increased CO2 improves photosynthesis in marine plankton (CO2 ‘fertilisation’) which will fix more CO2 in organic molecules which will be deposited as sediment on the sea floor. Some of these organisms also have carbonate structures and the increased energy derived from the improved photosynthesis in their case leads to greater calcification overall rather than less.

    3. Sea creatures with calcium carbonate shells and internal structures actually derive the carbonate in the shells from CO2 dissolved in the water. I have read that increasing the CO2 content of the water actually increases the efficiency of this calcification process – but would be interested to see proper research on this (anybody?)

    The shells (or other calcium carbonate sea structures such as coral) will not ‘dissolve’ unless the sea is actually acid, i.e. has a PH lower than 7 – which will never happen. We won’t see coral reefs disappearing for this reason (there are plenty of other reasons of course!).

    There are huge uncertainties around the effect of rising seawater CO2 on coral, shelled organisms and phytoplankton that build carbonate “bones”. I would like to see the results of an experiment that isolated some seawater complete with shelled organisms and increased the CO2 content of the surrounding air (with some mixing mechanism) to see what the effect on the water’s PH was and the subsequent effect on the marine organisms.

    If rising CO2 levels do negatively effect things like coral reefs it is more likely to be because the CO2 greehouse effect causes rising sea surface temps that are a problem for the organisms rather than because the CO2 content and PH have changed slightly.

    There have been a couple of rather stupid (non peer reviewed) experiments carried out for the benefit of the media that have added sulphuric acid to seawater containing some molluscs to make the water acid. Their shells dissolved! Seawater chemistry is a whole lot more complex than that and to state blandly that “ocean acidification threatens coral reefs” is hugely simplistic and far from proved.

    I am struggling to find proper peer reviewed research on this topic so if anybody out there can point me to some sources I would be grateful.

    Comment by Matthew L. — 18 Mar 2010 @ 7:03 AM

  480. #476–you are kidding, right?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Mar 2010 @ 7:48 AM

  481. Norman,
    OK, I don’t want to jump too hard on you, but your post #454 struck a couple of nerves:
    1)Y2K was a real potential threat. It was averted because a whole bunch of people worked their butts off finding solutions before anything adverse occurred. I’m sorry, but when somebody discounts the efforts of scienctific and engineering professionals by simply dismissing a catastrophe averted as “hype”, that kind of pisses me off! We keep hearing “Oh, Malthus was wrong.” No, he was not wrong. He merely failed to anticipate 1)mass migration to the Americas and 2)that we could figure out a way to convert petroleum into food! To have the heroic efforts of people who anticipated crises and found solutions dismissed so cavalierly so that bubbleheads can go through life imagining that the Universe if friendly really makes me wonder sometimes whether the human race is worth saving.

    2)To contend that because science has been wrong in the past, so we can simply ignore it is complete utter bullshit! It’s the sort of argument I expect from a Young Earth Creationist. Learn some of the science and look at the goddamned evidence! Is that really too damned much to ask?

    Norman, I think you mean well, and you do seem to be sincere about wanting to learn. However, the first thing you need to learn is this: Science works. It works better than any other human institution for yielding reliable knowledge. When it tells us that there is a credible threat we had better listen and take action. And engineering and probabilistic risk assessment are the best tools for determining which actions will be needed and effective. Until you learn that, you will just be confused.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Mar 2010 @ 8:05 AM

  482. I thought AGW was probably true until I saw the Great Global Warming Scandal and had second thoughts. I decided to dig about on the internet and soon came to the conclusion that AGW was ‘very probably’ happening. What convinced me was that almost every prominent anti AGW ‘scientist’ seemed to be a bit of a crackpot while the people with credentials doing real science came to the opposite conclusion. It’s sad that so many people believe nonsense peddled by nitwits (homeopathy, astrology, conspiracy theories ) but that’s the way things are. An opinion piece in the Daily Mail is about as far as many people go in deciding what view of a subject they should take.

    Comment by allan jones — 18 Mar 2010 @ 8:13 AM

  483. Matthew L., You will forgive me if I don’t take comfort in your sanguine pronouncements on ocean acidification, but

    1)Outgassing by the oceans merely worsens the warming problem
    2)CO2 is not a limiting factor in plankton growth, so fertilization is likely irrelevant. And the deteriorating state of coral reefs that is evident to anyone who has put on a facemask of late belies your assessment of increased calcification.
    3)Again, carbonate is not a limiting factor for ocean fauna.

    Ocean acidification is a reality. A falling pH has been confirmed by repeated measurements. This is already having adverse effects on corals and many other animals at the base of the ocean food chain. It also tilts the balance away from O2 producing bacteria and toward H2S producing bacteria.

    People who actually study the ocean are concerned. Maybe you should be, too.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Mar 2010 @ 8:31 AM

  484. Jim Bullis (430), my understanding is that you are correct. The calcite shell creature sequestering CO2 is on more normal time scales. I might be wrong but I assumed “weathering” refers to pick up by geological rocks.

    Comment by Rod B — 18 Mar 2010 @ 8:33 AM

  485. #479 replying to myself!
    Digging around this lunchtime found some more information.
    General stuff:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_acidification
    Lots of good links there.

    At the more alarming end:
    http://www.ocean-acidification.net/index.html

    In this paper:
    https://www.up.ethz.ch/people/ngruber/publications/orr_nat_05.pdf
    the general conclusion is that the affects are likely to be very variable depending on location. There does not seem to be much effect in the tropics and mid lattitudes, where the supply of calcium ions (Aragonite and Calcite) is likely to remain saturated – which effectively “buffers” the effect of rising carbonate ions.

    However things might get more severe at high lattitudes, particularly the Southern Ocean, where there may be insufficient Aragonite to buffer the rising carbonate leading to a faster fall in PH and loss of calcium in sea organisms.

    However this sentence from Wikipedia is key to the debate:
    Some studies have found different response to ocean acidification, with coccolithophore calcification and photosynthesis both increasing under elevated atmospheric pCO2,an equal decline in primary production and calcification in response to elevated CO2 or the direction of the response varying between species. Recent work examining a sediment core from the North Atlantic found that while the species composition of coccolithophorids has remained unchanged for the industrial period 1780 to 2004, the calcification of coccoliths has increased by up to 40% during the same time.

    Rather than repeat the citations they are all in the Wikipedia article. The final sentance above refers to one of the few direct observations of nature (as opposed to modelling or lab experiments):
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/320/5874/336

    Overall though the general conclusion is that research results conflict such that we don’t actually know the effects of higher CO2 concentrations in the ocean on caclifiying ocean organisms with any degree of confidence.

    Comment by Matthew L. — 18 Mar 2010 @ 9:05 AM

  486. Hank (445), since WUWT has a readily available direct reference to Trenberth, et al energy budget diagram, I don’t understand how you can claim they don’t…

    Comment by Rod B — 18 Mar 2010 @ 9:08 AM

  487. It’s not easy to qualify markets, but there is a substantial difference at the highest level between someone making big bucks mitigating CO2 through actual production and delivering of services, and institutions that produce nothing but financial instruments — direct trading of CO2 credits, packaging slice and dice derivative packages, likely some futures, hell even some cap-n-trade default swaps maybe. I’m a firm believer in free private markets (with the properly enforced rules) but there is something to the complaint over some people/institutions making really big dollars from cap and trade while accomplishing maybe little in mitigating CO2.

    Comment by Rod B — 18 Mar 2010 @ 9:22 AM

  488. And the “knowledge economy” of the US is in greater part due to services that use little energy.

    Yet still the power use is high.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 18 Mar 2010 @ 9:33 AM

  489. #$70 Well Norman, you did seem to start a good stimulating discussion.

    One of the tests we would normally give undergrads, who were taking Radiation heat Transfer, involved the effects of cloud cover. The test was to illustrate the lack of clouds, causing frost on the top of a car, while the air temperature was 1 deg. above freezing. It showed the interplay between convection, and radiation with and without clouds. I don’t recall the increase in air temperature required to compensate the lack of cloud cover, to prevent frost, but I believe it was about 5 deg. F. The point for the students was the effect clouds had on surface temperature, especially in open areas.

    Comment by J. Bob — 18 Mar 2010 @ 9:46 AM

  490. # 483 Ray,
    I am not seeking to reassure, I agree that coral reefs are suffering – for a multitude of reasons such as:
    – overfishing
    – pollution
    – tourism / diver disturbance
    – mechanical damage from boats
    – deliberate mining of coral
    – warm water events (likely to become more common with rising CO2)

    However I have seen no direct attribution of coral loss due to falling seawater PH. Have you?

    As stated in my last post the research linking lower PH to the welfare of coral organisms is highly conflicting. The main factor affecting the ability of a calcifying organism to maintain its calcium carbonate structures is the saturation of Aragonite and Calcite in the seawater.

    If the level of these Ca ions falls below saturation then the Carbonate ions bind with the calcium ions in the skeletons / shells of the organisms causing pitting and erosion. However direct observation and modelling of the seawater environment suggest that saturation of these ions is likely to be unaffected by rising CO2 concentrations in the tropics and mid-lattitudes. So any affect on the reefs you have seen in your dives is likely to be for other reasons. However the effect may be more marked in high lattitudes where the supply of calcium ions in the water is less.

    (That is what my limited reading to date tells me – always willing to learn more!)

    Comment by Matthew L. — 18 Mar 2010 @ 10:17 AM

  491. Citing includes pointing to the original, and spelling the authors’ names right, Rod.

    Pointing instead to a blog homepage amounts to “you can find a pony there somewhere” (without even a “watch your step”). Tactical misdirection, misleading, bad ‘cite’.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2010 @ 10:28 AM

  492. > Norman
    > My first goal was … to convince someone on another website
    > with some actual data …. I picked Las Vegas ….

    Science — of any kind — isn’t something from which you can pick up some tidbit, take it somewhere else, and “convince someone” about it.

    Now that you’ve said what you really wanted, perhaps we can help.

    My suggestion is, don’t bother arguing with people on blogs, don’t try retyping your own understanding. That’s “recreational typing” and people will encourage you to waste your time doing it endlessly.

    Many people think arguing is a sport. Good ones win debate tournaments. Amateurs fill up endless blog posts without citing to anything reliable.

    Find out where the scientific information is available.
    Point to it rather than retyping your notion of it.
    Encourage the person to read and think about the science.
    Do that yourself.

    If you go to wherever that was and tell the person that, whoah, you really didn’t understand it well enough yourself, that might be a good start.
    Then point to real places to learn and start from the basics together.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2010 @ 10:43 AM

  493. Matthew L.
    It is not the case that seawater must have a pH below 7 for calcium carbonate to dissolve back out of shells. There is now, and has long been, a “saturation horizon” in the oceans, below which there are insufficient carbonate ions to prevent such dissolution, and organisms with calcium carbonate shells do not live below this horizon. The effect of acidification (and yes, that is the correct term, and would be even if the oceans were currently a saturated solution of potassium hydroxide) is to move this horizon towards the surface. See annex 1 to the 2005 Royal Society Report “Ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide”, available from http://royalsociety.org/Inter-Academy-Panel-statement-on-Ocean-Acidification/.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 18 Mar 2010 @ 10:56 AM

  494. > Norman
    > … someone on another website … believes there is no such thing as
    > a greenhouse gas, either no gas abosrbs infrared or they all do

    As an alternative approach, perhaps you could invite Rod over there to pursue the question with the guy, if Rod would be willing to help you out on it.
    I’m actually serious, I disagree with some of Rod where Rod seems to disagree with the sources I read, but he could certainly contribute on the difference between a greenhouse gas and other gases in detail, over there.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2010 @ 11:31 AM

  495. 481Ray Ladbury says:
    18 March 2010 at 8:05 AM

    Sorry I got you “pissed off” with my Y2K post. I am only stating what happened. I was very concerned about the potential effects of Y2K so I asked the Instructor about it in class and that is how he answered my question in the class. If he was dishonest I could not say and still can’t. I never worked on the Y2K problem so everyone is correct, I do not have “first-hand knowledge”.

    But Ray Ladbury, that was but one of other examples of how people use emotional manipulation for profit. Fear is one of the strongest of the human emotions and can easily be used to elicit large responses. Here is another example for you. “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. Go back to the Media in 2002 and find any mainstream media outlet that was questioning the certainty of WMD in Iraq and we must invade “I don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud!”. Powell went to the UN with photos of mobile biological warfare labs, they later found the vehicles and they were no such thing.

    I questioned this but the media voice was far louder than mine. Now look what this did. People involved in the war profit were highly rewarded for our invasion. This is HYPE!

    Another big one you can research about scientists, in the 1970′s scientific reports were published that we would run out of oil in the 1990′s. What did this do, it caused massive increases in the price of crude oil which have been high ever since. It is now 2010 and there is still plenty of oil (though it will run out eventually).

    I have seen false meat shortages hyped (rising the price of the product), sugar, coffee. Just recently the threat of H1N1 and all the profit made of of flu shots. Hyping things for profit seems like there is enough evidence at least to believe it is possible.

    I am not against taking action on a problem or sitting on my hands waiting for a disaster. The possibility exists that there is some Hype going on, especially when a carbon tax will create a multi-billion dollar trade market that currently does not exist.

    I am, at this time, looking into the science. I am very happy so many people respond and send me links to look at. My field is chemistry but I like all science and reading and thinking and learning about the forces of climate is a pleasure for me.

    Comment by Norman — 18 Mar 2010 @ 11:35 AM

  496. Hank Roberts 492

    Have you a better reference than RAM’s 1989 Physics Today?

    http://www-ramanathan.ucsd.edu/publications/Ram%20Barkstrom%20Harrison%20PhysicsToday%2021-32%201989.pdf

    cf my 472

    Comment by John Peter — 18 Mar 2010 @ 11:38 AM

  497. 478Completely Fed Up says:
    18 March 2010 at 6:50 AM
    “The causation comes in from my own experience with cloudy days. In the summer a cloudy day is much cooler than the bright sunny days”

    But cloudy nights are warmer than clear ones.

    So overall, what’s the DIFFERENCE?”

    http://www.climate4you.com/ClimateAndClouds.htm#LowCloudCoverVersusGlobalSurfaceTemperature

    Maybe the graph is wrong but this one clearly shows the difference.

    Question: What if instead of using carbon dioxide as a primary forcing agent in the computer models you inserted Tropical low cloud cover as the primary driver, would you get the same results?

    Comment by Norman — 18 Mar 2010 @ 11:46 AM

  498. 489J. Bob says:
    18 March 2010 at 9:46 AM
    #$70 Well Norman, you did seem to start a good stimulating discussion.

    I am very thankful for linking me to the websites.

    Comment by Norman — 18 Mar 2010 @ 11:49 AM

  499. “Maybe the graph is wrong but this one clearly shows the difference.”

    That wasn’t what I meant, Norman.

    The important thing is NOT “It feels warmer on a cloudless day”, but how much heat is retained.

    If it’s 2C cooler with clouds during the 12 hour day and 3C warmer with clouds during the 12 hour night, then clouds make it warmer.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 18 Mar 2010 @ 12:07 PM

  500. “Sorry I got you “pissed off” with my Y2K post. I am only stating what happened.”

    No, you were stating what you THINK happened.

    What really happened was people worked hard to avert disaster and succeeded.

    Then YOU come along bitching about how all that work was wasted.

    What happened is work avoided a catastrophe.

    What DIDN’T happen is that there was no cause for worry.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 18 Mar 2010 @ 12:08 PM

  501. 500Completely Fed Up says:
    18 March 2010 at 12:08 PM
    “Sorry I got you “pissed off” with my Y2K post. I am only stating what happened.”

    “No, you were stating what you THINK happened.”

    Sorry Fed Up, when I was saying “what happened” that was not about the Y2K issue, it was was what happened in class (the information the Instructor gave me). The answer the Instructor gave was not what “I THINK happened” it was what happened. I am not “bitching” about all that work was wasted. I was only stating what an Cobol Instructor told me in class to a question I asked. Like I stated I never worked on the problem, I wrote programs in Cobol for class but that was the extent of my experience.

    Comment by Norman — 18 Mar 2010 @ 12:27 PM

  502. 499Completely Fed Up says:
    18 March 2010 at 12:07 PM

    “The important thing is NOT “It feels warmer on a cloudless day”, but how much heat is retained.

    If it’s 2C cooler with clouds during the 12 hour day and 3C warmer with clouds during the 12 hour night, then clouds make it warmer.”

    That is why I keep posting the link to Global temps and cloud cover. It removes the “feel” from the question and replaces it with raw data. The raw data shows low clouds cool the Earth more than they retain heat…the overall effect is cooling.

    Did you look at the graph?
    http://www.climate4you.com/ClimateAndClouds.htm#TotalCloudCoverVersusGlobalTemperature

    Comment by Norman — 18 Mar 2010 @ 12:31 PM

  503. Article for Ray Ladbury and Barton Paul Levenson.

    I can’t verify if the article is true or not but these are the things I also look at when trying to determine the Truth of something. Climate Change is a huge issue that I do not take lightly. Just don’t want to be hyped into something for Goldman Sachs.

    http://rawstory.com/blog/2009/07/rolling-stone-expose-goldman-sachs-behind-every-market-crash-since-1920s/

    Comment by Norman — 18 Mar 2010 @ 12:36 PM

  504. John Peter, sorry, that paper is 20 years old, and it’s too old to be indexed by Scholar so I can’t tell if there’s an update. A librarian, or one of the climate scientists, could opine whether there’s a better source.

    That was written at the beginning of a long process of actually making observations, e.g. http://eosweb.larc.nasa.gov/GUIDE/campaign_documents/erbe_project.html — so you’d expect to find updated information since.

    I usually point to this one, recently available in final form online:
    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/Trenberth/trenberth.papers/TFK_bams09.pdf

    EARTH’S GLOBAL ENERGY BUDGET
    Kevin E. Trenberth, John T. Fasullo, and Jeffrey Kiehl
    An update of the Earth’s global annual mean energy budget is given in the light of new observations and analyses. Changes over time and contributions from the land and ocean domains are also detailed.

    DOI:10.1175/2008BAMS2634.1
    In final form 29 July 2008 ©2009 American Meteorological Society

    That’s an update of their older (KT 1997) paper, and chart, that show up everywhere.

    Their new chart is at Chris Colose’s blog
    http://chriscolose.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/kiehl4.jpg?w=480&h=350
    along with a discussion of the new paper.

    From what they say in the paper, I’d suggest looking at it rather than at the older paper. The older one is still a good start for people not accustomed to reading footnotes and looking up the references. But still, at 20 years old, someone may suggest a better overview; I’d go to the FAQ here first.

    —- excerpt follows —–
    KT97 was written at a time when there was a lot of concern over “anomalous cloud absorption.” This expression came from observations (Stephens and Tsay 1990; Cess et al. 1995; Ramanathan et al. 1995; Pilewskie and Valero 1995) that suggested that clouds may absorb significantly more shortwave radiation (approximately 20–25 W m−2) than was accounted for in model calculations (such as the models employed by KT97). Since then both radiation observations and models have improved (e.g., Oreopoulos et al. 2003), and so too have estimates of key absorbers, such as water vapor (Kim and Ramanathan 2008). Other observations have suggested that the absorption by aerosols in KT97 were underestimated by 2–5 W m−2 (Ramanathan et al. 2001; Kim and Ramanathan 2008) so that this amount is lost from the surface.
    Major recent advances in understanding the energy budget have been provided by satellite data and globally gridded reanalyses (e.g., Trenberth et al. 2001; Trenberth and Stepaniak 2003a,b, 2004). Trenberth et al. (2001) performed comprehensive estimates of the atmospheric energy budget based on two first-generation atmospheric reanalyses and several surface flux estimates, and made crude estimates of uncertainty. The atmospheric energy budget has been documented in some detail for the annual cycle (Trenberth and Stepaniak 2003a, 2004) and for ENSO and interannual variability (Trenberth et al. 2002; Trenberth and Stepaniak 2003a). The radia- tive aspects have been explored in several studies by Zhang et al. (2004, 2006, 2007) based on ISCCP cloud data and other data in an advanced radiative code….
    —- end excerpt —-

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2010 @ 12:51 PM

  505. Norman@495, did it occur to you that your COBOL instructor could be an ignoramus?

    And, oh golly, the scientists got the date wrong on when we would run out of oil by perhaps 40 years. Did it occur to you that a big part of that is the fact that we can get oil out of fields we could not in the 70s? Are you saying it would be a bad thing not to be dependent on oil now?

    If you want to be a sceptic wouldn’t it be better to start with your own assumptions?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Mar 2010 @ 1:00 PM

  506. 500 CFU said, “What really happened was people worked hard to avert disaster and succeeded.”

    Simply not true. Different countries had vastly differing responses to Y2K, with some having essentially no preparation at all. Turns out that results were similar REGARDLESS of actions taken to prepare. The vast majority of Y2K effort was totally wasted.

    Comment by RichardC — 18 Mar 2010 @ 1:06 PM

  507. 505Ray Ladbury says:
    18 March 2010 at 1:00 PM
    Norman@495, “did it occur to you that your COBOL instructor could be an ignoramus?”

    Thanks for capping COBOL, I should have done that. I do not know why should have thought the instructor was an ignormamus. He knew a lot more about COBOL than I did. Since you bring up the point, are you more qualified than me to determine the validity of his statement? Are you a COBOL programmer that fixed specific problems that would have happened had you not taken action? If not we are in the same place neither of us can directly verfiy the Instructor’s claim. What we need is for someone to post pre-2000 COBOL program instructions, show what error would have been the result of no correction and show the correction made to avert the problem. If they send data in C I could run the program on my computer as I have the compiler installed and see it run.

    “Are you saying it would be a bad thing not to be dependent on oil now?”
    Absolutely Not! I think it would be great to be free of oil and have new sources of energy available. What we are doing now is excellent. Wind, solar, hydro…the more varied sources of power to rely upon the better.

    “If you want to be a sceptic wouldn’t it be better to start with your own assumptions?” I do not know if my current state is sceptic. I think it is researching for myself phase. Questioning phase. That is why I really am happy so many have spent time sending me links and answering questions. From my posts does it seem as if I am trying to convince you the Planet is not warming? I keep seeing posts that say there are no alternative explanations for the warming that has happened in the last 30 years other than carbon dioxide increase. So I keep posting the data on cloud cover that also can explain the recent warming. It is not rejection, but alternative explanation that posters have asked for.

    Comment by Norman — 18 Mar 2010 @ 1:52 PM

  508. In these days of high unemployment, let us all not forget the many thousands of jobs created to work on and solve the Y2K problems.

    Of course, it would have been even better if more of them had survived into the 21st century.

    Comment by John Peter — 18 Mar 2010 @ 1:53 PM

  509. 506RichardC says:
    18 March 2010 at 1:06 PM
    500 CFU said, “What really happened was people worked hard to avert disaster and succeeded.”

    “Simply not true. Different countries had vastly differing responses to Y2K, with some having essentially no preparation at all. Turns out that results were similar REGARDLESS of actions taken to prepare. The vast majority of Y2K effort was totally wasted”

    Wow! Thank you so much for that information. I had not read that. Can you link me to the source I would like to read it myself. A vindication for my maligned COBOL instructor on RealClimate.

    Comment by Norman — 18 Mar 2010 @ 1:54 PM

  510. Norman, did you read _anything_ at the RISKS digest link I gave you?

    There’s years of reports there all the way through discovery, response, and discussion after the event, summing it all up.

    I notice a pattern in your approach — you fix on something one person says, decide you want to believe it, and go looking for people to support that single idea. That leads you to find what you’re looking for.

    Know the problem with doing that?

    Try looking instead for summary information compiled from a large group of people.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2010 @ 2:08 PM

  511. http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/php/risks/search.php?query=y2k

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2010 @ 2:11 PM

  512. “Simply not true. Different countries had vastly differing responses to Y2K, with some having essentially no preparation at all. ”

    Citation needed. BS-ometer pegged at maximum.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 18 Mar 2010 @ 2:14 PM

  513. #495 Norman:

    Another big one you can research about scientists, in the 1970’s scientific reports were published that we would run out of oil in the 1990’s.

    This is a misreported claim which is actually NOT present in the Club of Rome report. Also, someone has compared these predictions to reality over the last 30 years and it turns out that they were pretty accurate. And, if the reality continues to follow this model, it’s not going to be pretty (read: civilization collapse in 2050 time frame).

    Comment by Kris — 18 Mar 2010 @ 3:03 PM

  514. PS, Norman, you should work down the list at skepticalscience.
    You know how to find it?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2010 @ 3:14 PM

  515. Hank 504

    Many thanks for your thoughtful references. Many were unknown to me and I appreciate your time and effort to help me along in my education.

    Ram is a highly regarded cloud radiation scientist. His 1989 Physics Today review remains pretty accurate, even today. It not only describes the state of the climate science art twenty odd years ago, but also addresses the challenges for the future (measurement) work you reference. Unfortunately, not that much progress has been made in the basic understanding of physical/chemical/biological interactions required.

    It’s true that the specific energy flux values have changed somewhat, especially in the more difficult convection/conduction/latent heat areas. However, as far as I can tell, the new energy assignments are disclaimed about as much as the old ones were.

    Not surprisingly, the radiation fluxes are pretty stable and close to Trenberth’s 1997 as well as his 2008 values. It’s pretty much we’ve warmed somewhat in the past couple of decades, let’s update the energy flux values.

    Progress in cloud chemical physics description for climate models is about where it was when Ram described it in 1989. Marshak’s text pretty much says, if you want to know cloud theory, ask Ram.

    Normally the 1989 date should put one off. However, for a review article, that is not necessarily the case. I’m not so sure there’s been a lot of “progress” in energy exchange, cloud behavior, or even the warming Ram describes. Ram’s list of publications do not indicate any updates.

    Gavin’s 2007 review in the same magazine, which is mostly about modeling concludes “…Many challenging climate questions remain unanswered… The implementation of more sophisticated parametrizations and the ongoing increases in resolution as computer resources increase suggest that models will continue to improve. However, many results, such as the warming effect of increasing greenhouse gases that was first demonstrated in much simpler models decades ago, have proved extremely robust.”

    I’ll leave it to you as to whether or not all the additional measurement over hte past couple of decades has helped our collective scientific understanding appreciably. Not only for believers but also for skeptics.

    All that said, I hope you will (at least) scan Ram’s review. For your convenience it’s at: http://www-ramanathan.ucsd.edu/publications/Ram%20Barkstrom%20Harrison%20PhysicsToday%2021-32%201989.pdf

    Comment by John Peter — 18 Mar 2010 @ 3:36 PM

  516. Norman 509

    That’s pure nonsense. Those companies that continued to have “serious Y2K” problems simply failed and are no longer around to be counted.

    So of course results were the same. If you needed the programs you either fixed the problems or died. If you didn’t need the programs it didn’t and doesn’t matter.

    Give us a break

    Comment by John Peter — 18 Mar 2010 @ 4:21 PM

  517. John Peter, I read the whole thing carefully before opining.

    (Aside: a handy trick to know — I emailed his office asking if they could rescan it. Radiation physicists’ secretaries should know this (grin).

    When scanning a double-sided page, use a black backing sheet. That avoids the problem so clear in that particular online PDF; every page has a fainter image of its reverse side. Light reflected from a white scanner lid comes back through the paper; when you use a black backing sheet, the same color as the ink on the back side, the scanner captures only the light from the front of the page, which is what’s wanted).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2010 @ 4:52 PM

  518. 509 Norman, the wiki article on y2k has a lot of info. Scroll down to the cost section at the bottom. Italy, China, and Russia were mentioned as being poorly prepared.

    Y2K bugs came in three flavors – either something would display 1900 or a variant instead of 2000 (a harmless bug) – or – they made the program barf in an obvious way, which made them easy to fix – or- they were safe because the software was used within the bounds of a single year at a time.

    Software is full of bugs. It’s disingenious to think that the job of fixing Y2K bugs was done spectacularly even though that is not the norm for software in general.

    Comment by RichardC — 18 Mar 2010 @ 5:03 PM

  519. 516 John said, “Those companies that continued to have “serious Y2K” problems simply failed and are no longer around to be counted.”

    Got a citation for that? As I remember it, there were no companies significantly hurt by Y2K. It’s not that there were no bugs, heck there are STILL Y2K bugs in software, but that the effort used to squish them was disproportionate.

    Comment by RichardC — 18 Mar 2010 @ 5:23 PM

  520. “The raw data shows low clouds cool the Earth more than they retain heat…the overall effect is cooling.” You are perhaps confusing correlation with causation. I think that the causal sequence is as follows.
    1. More CO2 causes more energy to be retained.
    2a. More energy on land causes higher surface and air temperatures, but little change in latent heat and moisture content. Air temperatures increase by convective & radiative coupling.
    2b. More energy on the oceans causes small changes in surface and air temperature because the energy is going into water which has a larger heat capacity than land, and will transfer energy by evaporation into latent heat.
    3. Mixing of the warm dry air over land with the slightly warmer humid air over oceans increases the difference between the temperature and the dewpoint. This causes an increase in mid and high level clouds, and a decrease in low level clouds, because a convectively lifting air mass would have to reach a higher altitude before the adiabatic cooling dropped its temperature below the dew point and cloud formation occurs. The data indicates this is happening – http://www.climate4you.com/images/CloudCoverAllLevel%20AndWaterColumnSince1983.gif [1]
    4. The increase in water vapor also causes 2a, 2b, and 3
    5. The decrease in low clouds lets more energy into the system. (Lindzens iris opens instead of closing)

    The size of this effect is of great interest, subject of much current research[2], and difficult to understand and quantify. “Clouds vary on all spatial scales from planetary down to about 30m, but practical considerations limit representation of cloud variability in global climate and weather models to spatial scales larger than about 100-300 km. Since the relationship between cloud properties and radiative fluxes is not linear, the presence of cloud variability at smaller scales (we call scales < 300 km, mesoscale) creates biases in the modeled radiative fluxes if it correctly predicts the cloud property averaged over the smaller scales."

    [1] Also see ftp://eos.atmos.washington.edu/pub/breth/papers/2007/Zhu-etal-LowCldClimSens-JGR-2007.pdf Note the increase in high clouds (Fig2b3) and decrease in low clouds (Fig2e1) downwind of S America in the equatorial trade winds. Also note the heterogeneity and lack of agreement among the models for a doubling of CO2 in Figure 11.

    [2] "current" may mean "as of AR4", "since AR4", or "what Gavin sees in his latest model run".

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 18 Mar 2010 @ 5:58 PM

  521. > citation

    Google Scholar would really, really like to be your friend. You can find this kind of information quite easily if you want to try. For example, this looks likely (your library should be able to borrow a copy; it’s paywalled online of course).

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0160-791X(00)00015-4
    Technology in Society
    Volume 22, Issue 3, August 2000, Pages 361-387
    The Y2K problem and professional responsibility: a retrospective analysis

    “… The smooth transition to the new millennium led some people to claim that Y2K was a hoax in order to line the pockets of executives of computer and management consulting firms. In an effort to explain the Y2K-related disruptions, and how potential disasters were averted, this paper addresses the overall impact of Y2K, including the leap-year rollover problem, the hazards of Y2K, as well as the massive costs spent on preventing potential failures. In addition, seven causal factors of the Y2K problem are analyzed. Finally, three categories of lessons learned from Y2K are discussed: the management of information technology, the social responsibility of computer professionals, and a global threat warrants global cooperation.”

    Note that last point: “a global threat warrants global cooperation.”
    Relevant, ya think? Any reason some people would not like to hear that?

    > Why we bother
    http://funnyjunk.com/funny_pictures/129757/America/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2010 @ 6:07 PM

  522. PS, hat tip on the image to:
    http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2010/03/18/encore-post-worldview-of-texas-education-policy-makers/

    And on Y2K, note I’m not telling you the answer, just pointing to how to look this stuff up. The ‘related’ items in the right sidebar at that link suggest more terms to use.

    It’s probably a safe guess that no bankruptcy filing specifies Y2K as the cause, but I didn’t look that up for you. Might be worth looking, though.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2010 @ 6:10 PM

  523. > Why we bother

    What natural is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX9uvyF58U0
    What natural was; shifting baselines. Rachel Carson and Dave Keeling.
    28 minutes. If you don’t know about this rate of change, you should.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2010 @ 6:55 PM

  524. I was never much worried about the Y2k problem, even though it was obvious to me that it was a real problem, because:
    - the people that would be the hurt worst by it grasped the problem,
    - had every incentive to fix it, and
    - were banks (=> they had the money).

    Excellent ingredients for a problem to become an ex-problem.

    By contrast, our favorite problem on this site is the AGW problem, which has the characteristics:
    - the people who grasp the problem are not good at promoting it;
    - the people who have the money feel financially threatened by dealing with it (they’re invested in oil or stocks or both); and
    - everyone else is afraid of the issue, and wants it to go away.

    It’s not so easy to see how Frodo is going to get the Ring to Mt. Doom.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 18 Mar 2010 @ 7:20 PM

  525. RichardC 519

    Think legal and insurance and try:

    http://www.blakes.com/english/view_disc.asp?ID=172

    OTOH, if there were no companies with “serious Y2K problems”, those few (0) are still around.

    Comment by John Peter — 18 Mar 2010 @ 7:35 PM

  526. Uh, JP, comp.risks. You’re arguing as though you never read the facts.
    Note that last point: “a global threat warrants global cooperation.”
    Relevant, ya think? Any reason some people would not like to hear that?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2010 @ 9:33 PM

  527. 512Completely Fed Up says:
    18 March 2010 at 2:14 PM
    “Simply not true. Different countries had vastly differing responses to Y2K, with some having essentially no preparation at all. ”

    “Citation needed. BS-ometer pegged at maximum.”

    Wikpedia is not considered a good source but in this article thy present both views, they give examples of systems that were not fixed that had minor problems. Anyway it is some citation even if we agree not the best one.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_2000_problem

    Comment by Norman — 18 Mar 2010 @ 9:46 PM

  528. 520Brian Dodge says:
    18 March 2010 at 5:58 PM

    Brian, I really want to Thank you for your post about the clouds and what effects the cloud formation. That is the information I am seeking with my questions. The link to the 20 page research paper should give me good material to think on and research. I will put it in my favorites to read through. Appreciate the help!

    Comment by Norman — 18 Mar 2010 @ 9:58 PM

  529. > why

    http://symposia.cbc.amnh.org/archives/expandingthearc/speakers/transcripts/jackson-text.html

    —- excerpt follows —-

    … shifting baselines means that everybody thinks natural is the way the world was when they were a child; unnatural is everything that happens afterwards. That’s why we older people are more depressing than the younger people in the room, and because you younger people never learned from your parents, you repeat the same mistake over and over and over again. And that becomes our notion of what is natural.

    The first question is, what’s going on in the world today that we can see that is new, different, and really disturbing? The second question is, what will happen if we don’t stop doing what we are doing? I am going to follow that same approach….

    If you are interested, go to this Shifting Baselines website. Just put “shifting baselines” into Google, and you will see about 150 or 200 sites that are linked to this thing. Look at some of the films about it, and think about what that means. Unfortunately, it’s not just also about communication, it’s also about politics. If you think about the future, you have got to think about that. You know, information is not advocacy. Those of us who are scientists, we pride ourselves on trying to obtain the best kind of information possible. But look at these three stories of three people where I work. I was branded as an environmentalist, and therefore a highly biased advocate and unreliable witness, because I measured — measured — as a scientist, the death of corals due to an oil spill, spending $3 million of your taxpayers’ dollars. Paul Dayton is an environmentalist because he measured the disappearance of fish from California kelp forests. And my hero, the greatest environmentalist of the 20th century — besides Rachel Carson — Dave Keeling, who discovered how to measure the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, who measured it and kept measuring it, and therefore discovered that it was increasing, and therefore discovered the mechanism of global climate change — has been labeled as an environmentalist for making the measurements. The current administration has said, “Well, we have decided we are not going to use the scientific reports in what we do.” Science has been branded as advocacy. Facts have become dirty words. That’s the reality of the society in which we think about invertebrate conservation.
    —-end excerpt—-

    Jeremy B.C. Jackson
    William and Mary B. Ritter Professor of Oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2010 @ 10:03 PM

  530. > why

    A video with much of the same information as that transcript, quite powerful.
    And it’s from some years ago. This is why we try to see people learn for themselves and not keep being fooled.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX9uvyF58U0
    http://www.shiftingbaselines.org/op_ed/index.html

    “I was … labeled as an advocate because I … measured something.
    The decline in big fish…. The dark side has labeled information as advocacy, and it’s your job as citizens to understand that.”
    – Jeremy Jackson, Scripps

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2010 @ 10:16 PM

  531. 513Kris says:
    18 March 2010 at 3:03 PM
    #495 Norman:

    Another big one you can research about scientists, in the 1970’s scientific reports were published that we would run out of oil in the 1990’s.

    “This is a misreported claim which is actually NOT present in the Club of Rome report. Also, someone has compared these predictions to reality over the last 30 years and it turns out that they were pretty accurate. And, if the reality continues to follow this model, it’s not going to be pretty (read: civilization collapse in 2050 time frame).”

    Here is a link to numerous claims over time of running out of oil. Since oil is a market supply item what will happen if people believe a shortage is coming? Generally it means the price will increase and the greater the fear the greater the increase (I have read it only takes a few dollars to pump a barrel of crude in Saudi Arabia…the rest is profit to someone). As I stated earlier that is why I question any and all Hype.

    http://www.theamericanscene.com/2008/05/19/peak-oil-hysteria

    Please understand, I am not claiming AGW is a Hype. I am just questioning the alarmist view that it might be hype to sell a product (carbon tax) that will greatly benefit some (Goldman Sachs). I can read the potential for disaster from man’s release of carbon dioxide, I am not certain it is a reality and must do what research I can to determine my best course of action…I will always support alternative energy regardless of AGW.

    Also, this is only conjecture on my part, say AGW is Hype (all the disasters predicted by the theory do not come true). Some may argue “so even if it is hype it is good, good for people and the Earth” My counter is I will never believe that the “Ends justify the Means”. I think this philosophy is loaded with evil and bad intent. If the Ends are worth attaining, the Means of obtaining those ends must also be worth the effort.

    My greatest concern, because I really like science, is that if the AGW does turn out to be Hype and does not occur as predicted by the Climate models, the whole of science will lose credibility. So even if hyping a theory may have good ends, if the means to achieve those ends are wrong, the whole attempt is wrong.

    Comment by Norman — 18 Mar 2010 @ 10:38 PM

  532. Matthew L(479),

    The properly terminology is “acidification” is pH is decreasing and “alkalinization” if it is increasing. 50% of coral reefs around the world are already dead. More ominously, so is 30% of the krill. 90% of the biomass of big game fish is gone, which is one reason those fish are so expensive now. And lower pH hurts shell-building badly, it does not help it.

    Start here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_acidification

    And don’t forget Google Scholar as a resource (just type it into Google). Another tactic is to add site:edu to a Google search; that limits your hits to university sites.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 19 Mar 2010 @ 6:17 AM

  533. Good stuff from the Economist here:
    http://www.economist.com/displayStory.cfm?story_id=15719298
    sticking to its pro-science guns.

    I know their criticism of the scientists in their leader will raise hackles here,
    http://www.economist.com/opinion/displayStory.cfm?story_id=15720419&source=hptextfeature
    but their general comment that it is time to get back to the fundamentals is the right one.

    On a general point, my big problem when I started to look at all this seriously about a year ago was that I could see the climate had warmed, but how could we tell that this was driven by CO2? It was a list like this one from BPL that formed the basis of my own reading and which convinced me that the science was correct:

    #216 BPL
    1. Greater drought in continental interiors.
    2. Stratospheric cooling coupled with tropospheric warming (as Gavin noted).
    3. More global warming toward the poles, less toward the equator.
    4. More warming in the Arctic than the Antarctic.
    5. More warming at night than during day.
    6. More warming in winter than summer.
    7. More warming in the northern hemisphere than the southern.

    It is the part of the ‘journey’ from scepticsm to conviction where you jump from statistics to science. I think many sceptics get hung up on the statistics (WUWT) and fail to grasp the science properly.

    I had to do quite a lot of my own digging on these subjects. SkepticScience was a good source, but I wonder if a section of “Start Here” could use this list (or one like it) together with links to good articles explaining why these effects are proof of greenhouse gas forcing.

    I think this is the biggest hurdle that most of us trying to understand the science have to jump, and the more you can help people over it the more will end up in the pro-science camp.

    Keep up the good work!

    Comment by Matthew L. — 19 Mar 2010 @ 6:18 AM

  534. Re: 524: “- the people who grasp the problem are not good at promoting it” raises a question: Should they be “promoting” it? What are the consequences of being perceived as “promoters of the problem”?

    Comment by TAC — 19 Mar 2010 @ 6:37 AM

  535. #495 Norman – You’re seriously confused. Oil prices skyrocketed in the 1970′s first because of the 1973 Arabl Oil Embargo and again after the revolution in Iran. Prices plunged again in the 1980′s and remained extremely low until supply was constrained by the war in Iraq. Look it up.

    Comment by JiminMpls — 19 Mar 2010 @ 6:54 AM

  536. “My greatest concern, because I really like science, is that if the AGW does turn out to be Hype and does not occur as predicted by the Climate models, the whole of science will lose credibility.”

    That would be my greatest hope.

    If AGW turns out to be false, we still need to do the work, but we don’t have the fate of civilisation over our heads.

    I’d swap that “fate-of-the-world” problem for “faith in science” any day of the week.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 19 Mar 2010 @ 7:18 AM

  537. “Wikpedia is not considered a good source but in this article thy present both views, they give examples of systems that were not fixed that had minor problems.”

    that’s completely and utterly different from “there’s no problem with Y2K”.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 19 Mar 2010 @ 7:19 AM

  538. #532 BPL,
    Thanks, you are always a good source of useful links. My speed reading yesterday meant I am probably a bit ahead of where you think I am. I cited the Wikipedia page in #485 and one of the articles I refer to was from Google Scholar.

    I am beginning to get the hang of this!

    Re the points in your post, obviously the very depressing damage to the coral reefs and the reductions in big game fish so far are not down to global warming or acidification but more to the direct destructive influence that man has on this planet. However, of course, warming seas, rising sea levels and acidification will not help things going forward!

    I was unaware that there had been a reduction in krill. Clearly this is bad news for the baleen whales. The fact that acidification is projected to be most severe in the southern ocean only makes things worse.

    The collapse of negotiations for a ban on Blue-fin tuna fishing was particularly depressing. I avoid eating all but farmed fish these days. When asked to explain why I usually refer to trawling the open seas as analogous to using helicopters to drag a large net over the Serengeti to catch lions and zebras! We baulk at the large scale exploitation of wild land animals for food, so why do we tolerate it for sea animals?

    Comment by Matthew L. — 19 Mar 2010 @ 8:01 AM

  539. Hank Roberts 517

    You’re right. Ram should have back-tested using black carbon data.

    Touche

    Comment by John Peter — 19 Mar 2010 @ 8:15 AM

  540. #529 Hank says “Dave Keeling, who discovered how to measure the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere”

    My heroes are Black & Lavoisier who discovered & measured CO2 in the late 1700′s.

    Comment by J. Bob — 19 Mar 2010 @ 11:06 AM

  541. JB (540),

    Make it “Dave Keeling, who discovered how to measure the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere RELIABLY.”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 19 Mar 2010 @ 1:04 PM

  542. HR 526

    huh?

    (Don’t you want someone else. FWIW, not me, I lived Y2k. As they now put it, on the ground, for an international corporation. My two posts were an attempt, albeit feeble, to illustrate that the problem was basically a business $$ problem. Organizations
    could chose between in-house or consultant analysis and/or fixes, or simply buy insurance and wait for any lawsuits – which they won or settled for damages as modified by a few last minute pieces of hurried legislation.

    As far as I can tell, the discussions here (including 20th century ACM) have been either pretty esoteric or rather impractical. Brings out the Kurt Weill in me:
    “…Happy endings, nice and tidy, that’s a rule I learned in school. Get your money, every Friday – happy endings are the rule…”

    ((IA, lest anyone put forward some loss of life (lol) straw man, let me add that, even when the failing twentieth century technology computer could not be by-passed, like it or not, lol also ends up a question of $$.))

    Comment by John Peter — 19 Mar 2010 @ 2:11 PM

  543. Late to the party, but here are my thanks to RC for providing such solid science on an important issue. I’m really, really glad you bother. :-)

    Comment by Antocalypse — 19 Mar 2010 @ 7:48 PM

  544. John Peter, my apology, I did misread your earlier comment, thanks for the correction. (I wonder if there’s an insurance industry report anywhere and how much the insurance cost)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Mar 2010 @ 10:06 PM

  545. TAC, #534:

    “What are the consequences of being perceived as ‘promoters of the problem’?”

    What I mean by promoting the problem is helping the public be clear on what is real about the issue, and what is not. Sites like RealClimate and SkepticalScience do yeoman duty; nonetheless, in the outside world, what seems to matter is ClimateGate at the Hadley CRU, the messy history around the hockey-stick, etc. It’s all nonsense, but these things are still resonating among the public.

    The actuality of the problem is logically distinct from the issue of what, if anything, should be humanity’s response. We haven’t quite gotten to critical mass on acceptance of the problem, yet: damping has been effectively applied.

    TAC says:
    19 March 2010 at 6:37 AM

    Re: 524: “- the people who grasp the problem are not good at promoting it” raises a question: Should they be “promoting” it? What are the consequences of being perceived as “promoters of the problem”?

    Comment by Neal J. King — 20 Mar 2010 @ 5:15 AM

  546. Matthew L., #538:

    It is not at all clear that farm-raised fish have less of an boot-print on marine ecology than do caught fish: It depends on what is fed to the farm fish, and how that is obtained.

    Some relevant background:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_farming#Criticisms

    Comment by Neal J. King — 20 Mar 2010 @ 5:21 AM

  547. Why do you bother?

    Do you even have to ask? I can only speak for myself (PhD and 30 years in ecology).

    Science attacts people because it gives one the opportunity to learn new things. In my case I chased ground squirrels on mountaintops.

    A key concept in science is that nobody ever takes you at your word. The concept of “peer-review” involves a lot of work, usually unpaid, and if you’re a good reviewer, that entails more than just using a red pen. That’s a good first step, but it is not the only one. You have made that very point very successfully in previous posts.

    I think average people with little scientific training become better educated when they experience, on rare occasions, that sense of wonder. “Wow, now that’s really interesting. I’d like to explore that a little bit more.”

    Laypersons (no offense to any) should be made fully aware that people with scientific training can be often as cantankerous and emotional as anybody else. I’m guilty as charged. Trust me I wouldn’t want to see my private emails hacked.

    You’ve built a wonderful website that has taught me far more about climatology than I ever imagined I’d learn.
    Thank you — Andrew

    Comment by wanderers2 — 20 Mar 2010 @ 6:59 AM

  548. @ 506:

    Simply not true. Different countries had vastly differing responses to Y2K, with some having essentially no preparation at all. Turns out that results were similar REGARDLESS of actions taken to prepare. The vast majority of Y2K effort was totally wasted.

    I worked on Y2K fixes that WOULD have caused problems. The problem with saying who worked on, and who didn’t work on, Y2K is that much of the software that was old enough to cause problems, came from developed countries that put a HUGE amount of effort into solving problems that really did exist.

    One very common problem had to do with computer clock calendar chips that only stored the low two digits of the year. In most BIOS and OS setup routines, those chips were read as-is and “1900″ added to the value. A fix I did for my former employer amounted to comparing the two digit value to 70 and adding 1900 for values between 70 and 99, and adding 2000 to values between 0 and 69. Without that fix — just that one fix on one hardware platform — computers that were rebooted at any time after 1/1/2000 would have thought it was 1/1/2900. And that most definitely would have broken things.

    Older computers, which are still in use in many control applications (ain’t broke, don’t fix it), often still have the problem and require a patch to change the date from 3/20/1910 (what it would boot with today) to 3/20/2010.

    What does this have to do with Climate Change? A lot. There are people actively working to create the new Energy Economy. In another 10 or 15 years (I worked on Y2K bugs starting in 1995) people will say “Oh, that global warming thing was such a hoax!” without realizing how much work was done years earlier. Assuming the nay-sayers and know-nothings don’t manage to have their way.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 20 Mar 2010 @ 9:33 AM

  549. Re #399,

    Barton Paul Levenson, (also RodB), thank you for your replies and pointers. From the articles that I could read the carbonate-silcate geochemical cycle works in conjunction with biological processes. The combined effect has kept the earth habitable until now.

    The following paper is very good:
    http://earth.geology.yale.edu/~ajs/1996/08.1996.03Sluijs.pdf

    Thanks…

    Comment by Lawrence McLean — 27 Mar 2010 @ 11:59 PM

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