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  1. David, you write : “the warming in the last few decades can only be explained as a result of human-released greenhouse gases.”

    When I take Nasa Gistemp for temperature trend anomaly, it gives me (annual oct-nov) +0,49°C for 1977-2006, +0,41°C for 1916-45. So, my first point : the warming of the past few decades is not so exceptional, when compare to another recent period – with of course much less atmospheric CO2, CH4, CFC, SF6, etc. in 1916-45 than in 1977-2006.

    My second point : to explain this 0,49°C trend by GHG’s, we must of course exclude other possible causes. Among them :
    – natural / chaotic variability (for example, strong NAO+ phase, the two strongest El Nino ENSO of the records 1983-84, 1997-98, etc.)
    – trends in anthropic aerosols (it seems for example that SO2 emisssions are decreasing between 1977 and 2006, regularly in Europe and USA, more recently in Asia : can we quantify the direct and indirect radiative forcing of this decrease? cf. Streets 2006 GRL)
    – trends in nebulosity, SW downward and surface insolation (for SWD, the Baseline Surface Radiation Network/World Radiation Monitoring Center finds a strong increase between 1992 and 2003, mainly on mid. and high latitudes where the warming is more pronounced, cf. Wild presentation at BSRN meeting on May 2006, and Wild 2005 or Pinker 2005 on global brightening).

    So, do you think these three potential other causes of warming are negligible (or even indefensible) ?

    [Response:How about “cannot be explained without human-released greenhouse gases”? David]

    Comment by Charles Muller — 20 Nov 2006 @ 5:05 PM

  2. Charles,

    Why in the world do you think climate can only be influenced by one thing at a time?

    Comment by Coby — 20 Nov 2006 @ 5:21 PM

  3. Charles, this history will bring you up to the late 1980s, when the various factors you’re concerned about began to be incorporated in the science. I think you’ll be glad to see how you’re thinking the same way the researchers did, and read up on how they dealt with the questions.

    It’s heavy reading, give it time.

    http://www.physicist.org/history/climate/GCM.htm#L_1988

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Nov 2006 @ 6:28 PM

  4. PS, here’s the link to the NCPA article:

    http://www.ncpa.org/pub/st/st279/st279a.html

    Here’s Sourcewatch’s info page on NCPA

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/wiki.phtml?title=National_Center_for_Policy_Analysis

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Nov 2006 @ 6:51 PM

  5. Coby, I suggest climate (more precisely surface temperature) is not influenced by just one thing (GHGs), rather by different factors, and I’d like to know how we presently estimate the importance of each factor in the past 30 years’ 0,49°C land+ocean warming trend.

    Comment by Charles Muller — 20 Nov 2006 @ 7:00 PM

  6. Charles, the basics are here — type ‘forcings’ in the Search box.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=4

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Nov 2006 @ 7:26 PM

  7. Re #5: Charles, in addition to the link Hank provided, have a look at the “FAQ” and “Greenhouse gases” categories on the right bar. The relevant posts should be pretty easy to pick out.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 20 Nov 2006 @ 7:44 PM

  8. Well, it is nice to see that after beating in the bushes with your counterpoints, and not coming with anything new or important, the end result is you give Singer and Avery the reason. Good. It was time.

    Comment by Eduardo Ferreyra — 20 Nov 2006 @ 7:50 PM

  9. #5, 6, 7
    Hank, Steve, thanks for your references and suggestions. I’m afraid they do not precisely answer my questions. These questions deal with warming-to-forcing attribution of the last three decades, and their uncertainty, not a general point on the basic physics of GH or aerosol or anything else. (Nor a skeptical and oil-funded manifesto: sure I’m quite skeptic on excessive alarmism, but open-minded on climatic debate and insensitive to oil-industry lobbying).

    Let’s be more precise. The BSRN data I mentioned find for example on recent period (1990’s onward) a positive SWD trend superior to the LWD trend (0,47 W/m2/y vs 0,26 W/m2/y in stations analyzed by M. Wild). I remember TOA and surface budgets are two different maters, but I just ask to David (or yourself) if the SWD positive trend could account for surface temperature warming of the same period. Maybe the answer is negative, after all, I just need an explanation.

    [Response: You’ve answered your own question. Surface forcing is not the same as TOA forcing, and it is only for TOA forcing (though strictly, it is defined at the tropopause) that we get the predictive power in the global mean temperature field. I would add a few other cautions as well: Firstly, the BSRN data are very noisy, and it is extremely unclear whether the decade or so of sparse measurements is sufficient to derive even local trends, let alone extrapolations to the whole globe. Secondly, model simulations over the 20th Century which include GHG and aerosol trends see reductions in SWD even as the surface temperatures are rising , but also indicate that for short time periods, decadal variability makes it extremely difficult to discern these trends over short periods. – gavin]

    Comment by Charles Muller — 20 Nov 2006 @ 8:12 PM

  10. Re #8: Eduardo, how nice to hear from you! I see you’re keeping your web site up to date with contributions from so many of the usual denialist suspects and, oh, how is the family cement business? I haven’t checked lately, but do cement kilns still rank as pretty much the most intensive industrial source of GHGs? Just curious…

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 20 Nov 2006 @ 9:28 PM

  11. Sigh…being a propagandist means never having to say “I was wrong.”

    Comment by Randolph Fritz — 20 Nov 2006 @ 9:45 PM

  12. Thanks Gavin. Concerning the “noisy data”, you probably know that BSRN measurements have been correlated with a wide range of other databases by Wild and Pinker (ISCCP, Gewex, GEBA, CMDL, Big Bear Solar Observatory for terresrial reflectance, etc.). Maybe they underestimate the margin errors of their global quantification, but it seems quite unlikely that 1992-2003 global brightening is a complete artifact. Anyway, my question was : if this is grossly correct (and not an artifact), could that explain part of the warming for the three decades’ period we discuss here?

    Your concern with noisy data rises another problem: except perhaps for GHGs, many datas are still noisy (or with “low level of understading”, according to IPCC formulation)! I guess it’s true for the other potential cause of recent warming I suggested, the decrease of some aerosol emissions – and hypothetic radiative effects of this decrease, depending of many microphysics factors still difficult to implement in models.

    At last, OK for SWD decrease with surface warming in some model simulations – precisely because there’s no one cause of warming / cooling for the XXth century. The fact that decadal variability is a reality and that we’re speaking of a small amplitude in a short period (0,49°C / 1977-2006) explains why I’m not at ease when I read definitive statements on GHGs quasi-exclusive signature for recent warming.

    [Response: You maybe misunderstand what I mean by ‘noise’ – I don’t mean errors or incorrect readings, but the ‘noise’ associated with chaotic fluctuations in the weather. These will show up in multiple datasets (such as ISCCP) as well, but the standard deviations of most of the surface flux fields mean that you cannot define a statistically signifcant trend in only 10 or so years of data. The recent ‘global’ brightening, I would argue, is in fact likely to be an artifact – it is not at all clear in the ISCCP-FD data for instance, despite locally high correlations to the BSRN stations. Regardless, these surface flux changes are not the key metrics for surface temperatures (which might be a little paradoxical, but bear with me).

    Attribution of the temperature changes to causes is done using consistent modelling of all the physically based theories of climate change indivually and together, with the match to the data determining which factors are important when. There is no a priori reason to think that any one factor is dominant, and over much of the recent past that is exactly the case. There are periods when solar goes up, CO2 goes up, volcanoes are quiet and temperatures rise. There are other times when solar goes down but GHGs rise etc. Given the uncertainties in the solar forcing (in particular), but also the aerosol forcing, these complex interactions can’t be easily teased apart to give precise percentage attributions for each period – this is particularly true up until about 1980 – see the simulations in our recent papers. I discussed this recently in http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/10/attribution-of-20th-century-climate-change-to-cosub2sub/ . The best explanations (though possibly not the most aesthetically pleasing) are that the early century warming was due to a combination of rising GHGs, rising solar, and infrequent volcanism. Post WWII, aerosols increased markedly, solar stabilised, CO2 had a bit of plateau, and volcanism picked up (particularly Mt Agung in 1963) – hence slight cooling. There is a role for internal decadal scale variability there as well. However, post 1980, the signal from GHGs starts to come out of the noise, and now is the dominant forcing over all others. This was predicted at the time, and those predictions have been bourne out. So in general you are correct, it is foolish to expect a single variable to be dominant – but that is pretty close to the situation we are finding ourselves in. And the dominance is increasing. -gavin]

    Comment by Charles Muller — 20 Nov 2006 @ 9:58 PM

  13. Actually, the site that was pointed out in #10 has an article on it ( http://mitosyfraudes.8k.com/Calen6/InconGlac.html ) by Avery in which he spends most of the article highlighting a recent paper by Polissar et al. in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which he seems to believe undercuts anthropogenic global warming. The strange thing is, however, that when you go to paper abstract itself ( http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/103/24/8937 ), you find that the last sentence says: “These results highlight the sensitivity of high-altitude tropical regions to relatively small changes in radiative forcing, implying even greater probable responses to future anthropogenic forcing.”

    One finds more and more that denialists are selectively mining facts from papers and then drawing conclusions from them that completely disagree with the conclusions of the authors themselves. It seems to be about the only way they can try to claim that any non-negligible fraction of the peer-reviewed literature supports their point-of-view.

    Comment by Joel Shore — 20 Nov 2006 @ 10:33 PM

  14. #1 David comment

    No problem with the new formulation you suggest! I totally agree it is impossible to explain recent warming without GHGs anthropic emissions. And I consequently disagree with Avery and Singer’s point that 1750-2000 warming (a fortiori 1977-2006) can be explained by natural variations alone. More GHGs imply atmospheric and surface warming: it’s a physical non sense to deny this basic statement. Maybe I should have precised this point to avoid overinterpretations of my objections…

    [Response:I made the change in the text. Thanks. David]

    Comment by Charles Muller — 20 Nov 2006 @ 10:36 PM

  15. #12 Gavin response

    Thanks for the long explanations and the link to Nasa Giss radiative forcings estimates. Reading the graph (a), it’s difficult for me to understand the first warming of XXth century (0,41°C 1916-45), because you’ve nearly zero solar irradiance forcing (orange curve) and a seemingly nul-sum GHGs and aerosol forcings (green and blue+purple curves). And as previous period 1880-1915 has no particular trend except a strong volcano (negative) forcing, I suppose oceanic inertia is not involved (ie release in 1916-45 of heat accumulated in 1880-1915). The only way I can explain that is a high climate sensitivity to GGHs – but (maybe wrongly) I’ve in mind that CS of GISS is not particularly high among 2-4,5°C margin of other models.

    Comment by Charles Muller — 21 Nov 2006 @ 12:04 AM

  16. Excellent rebuttal, David! I’m glad your stomach was able to make it through the presentation in one piece!

    Comment by Stephen Berg — 21 Nov 2006 @ 1:56 AM

  17. From the summary of Avery’s talk.

    “Are human activities, including the burning of fossil fuel and forest conversion, the primary – or even significant – drivers of this current temperature trend? The scientifically appropriate answer – cautious and conforming to the known facts – is: probably not.”

    Does this ‘alternate theory’ account for

    1) The cooling trend in the stratosphere as opposed to warming in the tropo.

    2) The trend in diurnal range, night warming more than day.

    3) The seasonal trend, winters warming more than summers.

    4) The last 3 decades of warming despite the lack of trends in solar activity over that period that may otherwise explain that warming.

    I wasn’t at the presentation so I don’t know if these factors were addressed. But the author obviously doesn’t consider them important enough to have made it into the summary.

    However if this is meant to be an “alternate theory” then shouldn’t it provide an explanation for the observations that the established “CO2 theory” predicts?

    If the theory doesn’t address the observations explained by the theory it seeks to challenge. Then it doesn’t seem to me to be much of a challenge. My response to such a challenge would be; go away re-examine the work, come back when you’ve put some meat on the bones and the theory actually addresses the available observations.

    Sorry but just citing ‘natural cycles’ doesn’t cut it for me. It sounds a bit too much like ‘god does it’.

    [Response:I agree with you, all the way from climate fingerprinting (your points 1-3) to the scientific method. The point of the presentation was to pursuade, not to engage scientifically. The ancient art of rhetoric. David]

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 21 Nov 2006 @ 7:25 AM

  18. re # reponse Gavin to Charles

    Hi Gavin

    When you speak about your “recent work” I don’t understand why the aerosol direct forcing (blue curve) is not “refreshed” since 1990.
    I noted It was the same on numeric data up to 2003.
    As Charles told you, there is a great decreasing of sulfates aerosols (and BC aerosols) since 1980-1990.
    And it seems that the sum of sulfate and BC aerosols forcings is decreasing in absolute value.
    In taking account of this effect the global TOA forcing between 1976 and 2005 is near +2W/m2.
    How can you explain the relatively weak temperature increasing in this period? (near 0.5°C)
    And what is the part of thermal inertia in this?

    [Response: Aerosol emission data sets take a long time to accumulate and validate. At the time we ran those experiments, we did not have the updates for 1990 to 2000 and so we left it as constant for lack of better information. You should also note that the emission data are subject to frequent revision as estimates of industrial and residential activity get adjusted. There is some evidence of decreasing sulfates and BC in Europe and the US over this period, but that is probably matched by an increase in China and India, and so the global impact is not clear (where do you get 2 W/m2 from?). With respect to the temperature response, look at the subsequent paper Hansen et al (subm): in our simulations the recent increase is reasonably matched (possibly a little underestimated), and thermal inertia implies about the same about warming still to come from that rise. -gavin]

    Comment by Pascal — 21 Nov 2006 @ 7:56 AM

  19. Thanks for the post, David. I’m just curious about what the feeling was like at the presentation. Did you or anyone else present any of these counterpoints during the Q&A session? It sounds like the audience was in real need of getting the record straight on Avery’s horrible logic.

    I know that realclimate gets a lot of readers but it seems like you would be much more effective if you would have just debunked Avery immediately after he spouted all of his BS. I kind of feel like realclimate is just preaching to the choir a lot of the time and the audience at the talk would have gotten a lot more out of these counterpoints. Thanks.

    [Response:I did correct what I thought were inaccuracies in the question period, but I’m not the world’s best oral debator. I write better than I talk. I don’t know what I could have conveyed to the audience, watching the clash of the weirdbeirds, other than disagreement. David]

    Comment by egbooth — 21 Nov 2006 @ 9:31 AM

  20. egbooth,

    I resonate to your point: As long as the general populace is addressed mainly by hucksters, they will believe in snake-oil. Unless the actual state of the science is also being presented, one can’t blame them for giving hucksters the benefit of the doubt.

    This is why some folks are working on a point-by-point response to Monckton’s article in the Sunday Telegraph of a few weeks ago, to point out not only errors, but also specific abuse of references. This is being generated at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Dbuckner/climate

    I may ask for help from RC folks from time to time, as an authoritative response to all points is certainly beyond my personal depth. I already have some requests out to Cobblyworlds and chris, in the “Cuckoo Science” thread of RC: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/11/cuckoo-science/ .

    Comment by Neal J. King — 21 Nov 2006 @ 10:30 AM

  21. re#18

    Thanks Gavin

    For the 2 W/m2 between 1976 and 2005.

    GHGs +O3 : +1.32W/m2

    aerosols:

    from Wild 2006 this link (in association with your data) indicates an aerosol level in 2000 equal grosso-modo to the 1960-1970 level.
    http://img167.imageshack.us/img167/2676/aerosolsmissionsia9.jpg
    If the slope is the same we have in 2005 RF BC = 0.3 W/m2 and RF aerosols (direct and indirect effects) = about -1.0W/m2.
    For all aerosols (BC+negatives) in 1976 RF = -1.16W/m2 and in 2005 = -0.7W/m2.
    The variation is +0.46W/m2

    For the sun there is no variation.

    for the stratospheric aerosols it’s also very difficult to estimate.
    With a polynomial curve to smooth this RF of volcanoes, I estimate +0.3W/m2 for this period(???)

    The sum (1.32+0.46+0.3) is 2.08 W/m2.

    It’s clear it isn’t accurate and the greater imprecision is in the aerosols (what a surprise!)

    Comment by Pascal — 21 Nov 2006 @ 10:46 AM

  22. #17
    On this point :
    “2) The trend in diurnal range, night warming more than day.”

    I recently read (Rose et al. 2005) :
    New data acquisitions are used to examine recent global trends in maximum temperature, minimum temperature, and the diurnal temperature range (DTR). On average, the analysis covers the equivalent of 71% of the total global land area, 17% more than in previous studies. Consistent with the IPCC Third Assessment Report, minimum temperature increased more rapidly than maximum temperature (0.204 vs. 0.141°C dec^-1) from 1950-2004, resulting in a significant DTR decrease (~0.066°C dec^-1). In contrast, there were comparable increases in minimum and maximum temperature (0.295 vs. 0.287°C dec^-1) from 1979-2004, muting recent DTR trends (~0.001°C dec^-1). Minimum and maximum temperature increased in almost all parts of the globe during both periods, whereas a widespread decrease in the DTR was only evident from 1950-1980.

    Like CobblyWords, I thought an ES-driven warming should act comparatively more on Tmin than Tmax. But in fact, some studies (Braganza et al 2004 for example) conclude that models often overestimate Tmax / observations over the XXth century. So, maybe this new trend in DTR is a confirmation of models validity. If so, the argument of warmer-night-than-day should be used with caution.

    Comment by Charles Muller — 21 Nov 2006 @ 11:37 AM

  23. Re: David’s comment to #19 “not the best debater”.

    This is the problem in a nutshell. People who examine and try to understand the whole of the evidence are finding themselves in opposition to people whose expertise is advancing a point of view based on a selection of the evidence. We are playing different games here.

    Scientists want to know how things stand. Debate club alumni want to advance a point of view.

    The high school debate team ethos, which I believe is not dramatically different from the ethics of attorneys and many politicians, holds that it is morally not just tolerable but commendable to construct the most convincing possible argument for an arbitrarily chosen conclusion from the available evidence. In this view, one should be essentially indifferent to which side of the case one is arguing, and strive simply for argumentative competence.

    Journalists (and juries), influenced by this, seem to see themselves as referees in a debating contest rather than as participants in winnowing the evidence to extract a course of action. The general public sees a clash of skills, not of ideas; of presentation rather than of content.

    In an essay on an entirely different topic (“Bambi vs Godzilla: Why Art Loses in Hollywood”, Harper’s 6/05) the writer David Mamet offers the following:

    “Law, politics and commerce are based on lies. That is, the premises giving rise to opposition are real, but the debate occurs not between these premises but between their proxy, substitute positions. The two parties to a legal dispute (as the opponents in an election) each select an essentially absurd position. “I did not kill my wife and Ron Goldman,” “A rising tide raises all boats,” “Tobacco does not cause cancer.” Should one be able to support this position, such that it prevails over the nonsense of his opponent, he is awarded the decision. …

    “In these fibbing competitions, the party actually wronged, the party with an actual practicable program, or possessing an actually beneficial product, is at a severe disadvantage; he is stuck with a position he cannot abandon, and, thus, cannot engage his talents for elaboration, distraction, drama and subterfuge.”

    Comment by Michael Tobis — 21 Nov 2006 @ 12:04 PM

  24. The thrust of the Avery/Singer paper to which you point to the summary, seems to be that the D-O cycles (1500 years or so) are continuing to the present. They quote Greenland ice core data, Antarctic data, sedimentation, cave crystal growth, tree rings and a number of other pieces of evidence for this. And yet, according to the discussion on realclimate a couple of weeks back, D-O cycles ended (by definition?) at the end of the last ice age 11,000 years ago. Is there any peer-reviewed literature on this “continuation”? They seem to be making a big deal out of it…

    [Response:Climate variations whatever their periodicity are much weaker in the Holocene. Gerard Bond reported a 1500 year cycle in some sediment characteristics in the North Atlantic, and you do have medieval and Little Ice Age climates that suggest 1500 years. G. C. Bond et al., Mechanisms of Global Climate Change at Millennial Time Scales, Geophysical Monograph Series, vol. 112 (American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, 1999), pp. 35-58. If the 1500 year cycle does exist in the Holocene, it’s weak, and can’t explain all of our record-breaking weather. David]

    Comment by Arthur Smith — 21 Nov 2006 @ 1:12 PM

  25. The comments of Michael Tobis are especialy meaningful to me. I was brought up in a religous home and school environment in which deception was considered a vice and truth was to be sought above all. It wasn’t until I got to graduate school when I found out how professionsl wrestling actually works. As far as observing tactics, we didn’t have a debating team when I was in school so I didn’t have the opportunity to witness the mode of operation.

    Tobis Wrote: “…it is morally not just tolerable but commendable to construct the most convincing possible argument for an arbitrarily chosen conclusion from the available evidence.” I was brought up to believe that as a scientist I was obligated to seek “truth” above all, and that selectivly choosing only that data which backs up a favored explanation is a form of dishonesty.

    Another factor is the observation of a scientific “debate” as a blood sport in which the blows to and demolition of one side by his/her opponent is a bigger attraction to observers than resolving the scientific isssue at hand.

    Edward C. Mangold

    Comment by Edward C. Mangold — 21 Nov 2006 @ 1:39 PM

  26. The most amazing example of lapse of logic in these speculations is this paragraph:
    “Importantly, if the current warming trend is, as the evidence suggests, part of an entirely natural climate cycle, actions proposed to prevent further warming would be futile and could, by imposing substantial costs upon the global economy, lessen the ability of people to adapt to the impacts “both positive and negative” of climate change.”

    Wait a minute: who’s talking about any interference with the “natural cycle”? Or should we consider the release of all the fossil CO2 natural? Did this also occur before, during the other D-O cycles?
    Suppose there are natural cycles and suppose that the warming we see today is driven by one of these cycles. But aren’t we then exacerbating the problem by releasing all the additional CO2? Shouldn’t we at least take care of what we have and are doing on top of the natural cycle? Aren’t we adding this disturbance at the worst time we could possibly think of? Aren’t we putting the whole climatic system at further risk by swinging it out of synch when it may be most sensitive to this kind of forcings?

    Comment by Alexey Voinov — 21 Nov 2006 @ 1:57 PM

  27. Thank you to Charles Muller for articulating a position I share.

    Gavin: you stated “And the dominance (of GHG’s) is increasing.”

    But my question to you is this. Will that dominance continue increasing or be offset by changes in some of these other forcings and associated feedbacks in the future? How can accurate future projections of natural and man-made aerosol emmissions be made, and since the aerosol indirect effects are poorly modeled, how can we be confident about how these might affect our global mean temperature projections? Would significant increases in volcanic activity and increasing dirty coal combustion over the next couple of centuries re-set the thermostat at a lower temperature? What do model runs of increasing aerosols, decreasing solar, increasing C02 look like? It seems to me the full spectrum of plausible scenarios should be modeled and shown in a cone of uncertainty, not just a “business as usual scenario”.

    Obviously, a perfect storm scenario of increasing GHG’s, increasing or stable solar, and decreasing aerosols will yield varying amounts of globally-averaged warming (as we are observing). Such a scenario is not surprising since we keenly understand the basic physics (but maybe less-well if the physics is accurately treated in the AOGCM’s). But should we expect future surprises, or are you confident that possible changes in other forcings are well accounted for and will likely play only a small role? Sorry for the rambling question.

    Comment by Bryan Sralla — 21 Nov 2006 @ 2:00 PM

  28. #24
    Well, if Arctic was very warm during MWP 800 years ago (a classical skeptic argument) and is very warm now (everybody agree), it’s quite difficult to conclude we assist to the 1470 yr cycle of D-O events. 700 yr missing.

    Comment by Charles Muller — 21 Nov 2006 @ 2:14 PM

  29. #21
    Pascal, if your count is OK, there’s a problem :
    1916-1945 : approx. +0,5 W/m2 > +0,41°C
    1977-2006 : approx. +2,0 W/m2 > +0,49°C

    Comment by Charles Muller — 21 Nov 2006 @ 2:21 PM

  30. Re #19 response: David, I’m very curious as to your assessment of the attendees. In particular, was there much in the way of non-fringe media?

    More generally, I think this book and its attendant publicity effort needs to be seen as part of a larger plan by the usual suspects to get their information out into the media before the AR4 comes out. Other elements include Monckton’s Telegraph pieces, Pat Michaels’ planned meta-paper purporting to show an overall bias in climate science, and the offer by the American Enterprise Institute of $10,000 to “credible” climate scientists willing to write papers critical of the AR4.

    [Response:There was no media there at all, it was mostly members and donors of the Heartland Institute. I gather they have lunch meetings on a variety of topics. I would guess there were very few “non fringe” people. For Avery, it was a book signing. Maybe his publisher flew him out. David]

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 21 Nov 2006 @ 2:23 PM

  31. Yep. Lying is good business practice. Why hope the WSJ editors would discuss climate?

    Law Blog » The Curmudgeon’s Guide: Defending Depositions
    When you are guilty the best way avoid getting caught lying is not to dispute the facts but … It is better to commit the sin of omission than commission. …
    http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2006/10/30/the-curmudgeons-guide-defending-depositions/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Nov 2006 @ 2:49 PM

  32. Some learn their ethics from the WSJ, as quoted above; some of us from other sources.

    This was my grade school ethics reading. There are parallels in many other schools:
    http://www2.nd.edu/Departments//Maritain/etext/catsum05.htm

    Relevant in today’s newspaper:
    http://images.ucomics.com/comics/db/2006/db061121.gif

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Nov 2006 @ 2:53 PM

  33. Thanks Edward.

    However, I must ruefully note that you demonstrate your claim that you are not experienced at the debating game when you write:

    “Tobis Wrote: “…it is morally not just tolerable but commendable to construct the most convincing possible argument for an arbitrarily chosen conclusion from the available evidence.” I was brought up to believe that as a scientist I was obligated to seek “truth” above all,

    I presume you realize that I agree with you, but your first sentence could easily, indeed more easily than not, be interpreted to mean that I don’t. If you had said

    Tobis questions an “ethos, which … holds that it is morally not just” etc.

    I would be less exposed to this misinterpretation. People who argue on selected evidence have been known to go a long way on thinner gruel.

    Comment by Michael Tobis — 21 Nov 2006 @ 3:06 PM

  34. RE 13 (Shore):

    One finds more and more that denialists are selectively mining facts from papers and then drawing conclusions from them that completely disagree with the conclusions of the authors themselves. It seems to be about the only way they can try to claim that any non-negligible fraction of the peer-reviewed literature supports their point-of-view.

    If I may disagree slightly with your excellent comment, this is a tried-and-true tactic that was (IMHO) perfected by see-oh-too a number of years ago; in fact, I can tell folk use see-oh-too as cut/paste material, as their references are in a slightly different style than, say, MLA.

    RE 23 (Tobis):

    A-men brother.

    Best,

    D

    Comment by Dano — 21 Nov 2006 @ 5:11 PM

  35. Couldn’t find a general e-mail address to use in notifying the site about this http://cns.utexas.edu/communications/2006/11/global_species.asp research.

    Comment by Alan Gregory — 21 Nov 2006 @ 9:44 PM

  36. There is an interesting dynamic at work. The denial crowd has become increasingly shrill to deal with the avalanche of science demonstrating the reality and bad effects of global warming. They have ramped up their personal attacks on a bunch of folk who, based on past behavior, would rather just do their science. The scientists, if only to save their good names are starting to emerge from their labs and enter the public arena. They are also beginning to recognize that not every Holiday Inn Climate Scientist is their colleague.

    Since the scientists have more credibility, the denialists are trying to drive them out of the public area before they gain more traction. This is going on at Eli’s favorite blogs, (look at the posts between Nov 15 and 21) but you have to ask yourself, why there, why this, why now.

    The answers may not be pleasing, but they are revealing.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 22 Nov 2006 @ 12:36 AM

  37. and the offer by the American Enterprise Institute of $10,000 to “credible” climate scientists willing to write papers critical of the AR4

    Is his True? If so, Wow!

    Just looked it up. Yep. Saw this comment on Science and politics of global climate change “My wife read this blog, saw the figure of $10,000, and asked me sweetly, “Are you SURE that climate change is real? We could really use the money.” http://sciencepoliticsclimatechange.blogspot.com/2006/07/aei-and-ar4.html

    Talk about desperate and dishonest. For years the professional denialists been claiming that climate scientists are “on the take” only supporting AGW because of grants, now here they are brazenly trying to buy off scientists. That should be enough for anyone.

    Comment by Ron R. — 22 Nov 2006 @ 2:10 AM

  38. From the website, Avery’s qualifications:

    Dennis T. Avery is a senior fellow of the Hudson Institute. He has served as a policy analyst for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the U.S. Department of State, where he won the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement in 1983. His book, Global Food Progress, was published by Hudson in 1991. Reader’s Digest excerpted his article on the Medieval Warming, “What’s Wrong With Global Warming?” in October 1999.

    I feel so much better now knowing that Avery’s a “credible” climate scientist. So is he going to get that $10,000?

    Then again, that’d be robbing Peter to pay Paul.

    Comment by Ron R. — 22 Nov 2006 @ 2:20 AM

  39. ==== Eli Rabett said: ====
    There is an interesting dynamic at work. The denial crowd has become increasingly shrill to deal with the avalanche of science demonstrating the reality and bad effects of global warming.
    ====

    Shrill? The shrillest voices are from the constant fearmongering propagated by environmental doomsters.

    I know of not a single person who is a “denialist”. It is a term invented as a rhetorical trick to silence any questions (and I mean ANY questions) about AGW. The term “skeptical” is more accurate, and the term “realist” even better.

    But being a religion in a sense, questioning ANY of the orthodoxy of AGW is not allowed. Out heretics!

    ==== Eli Rabett further states: ====
    They have ramped up their personal attacks on a bunch of folk who, based on past behavior, would rather just do their science.
    ====

    Surely good science can withstand the rants of a few; possibly not. 99% of the news reported on climate supports the belief in AGW, yet our emissions continue to rise. Silencing any and all critics also won’t reduce GHG emissions. It’s also bad for free speech.

    ==== Eli Rabett said: ====
    The scientists, if only to save their good names are starting to emerge from their labs and enter the public arena. They are also beginning to recognize that not every Holiday Inn Climate Scientist is their colleague.
    =====

    Too many scientists have emerged from the lab already. This is now a public policy issue for the public to decide.

    ==== Eli Rabett said: ====
    Since the scientists have more credibility, the denialists are trying to drive them out of the public area before they gain more traction.
    ====

    You sound paranoid. Explain how these so-called “denialists” would drive scientists out of the public arena? I’m really curious.

    [Response: You don’t know a denialist? There is a whole denial industry that is now well-documented, and Singer is a long-time player in this. For a brief introduction, start here. -stefan]

    Comment by Paul G — 22 Nov 2006 @ 2:47 AM

  40. Re “But being a religion in a sense, questioning ANY of the orthodoxy of AGW is not allowed. Out heretics!”

    Well, yes, not all viewpoints are tolerated for serious discussion when the scientific issues involved are well settled. I can’t imagine the Astronomical Journal printing a paper defending geocentrism, or Brain, Behavior and Evolution printing one defending creationism. That’s the proper analogy to denialism, since the science behind it is equally crappy.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 22 Nov 2006 @ 3:07 AM

  41. re#29

    yes Charles there is a problem and the answer of Gavin isn’t (sorry Gavin) very precise and convincing.
    But how can we know the good counts if we don’t know aerosols impact?
    Another question:
    In AR4 there is an estimation of aerosols RF, I suppose.
    Is this estimation built with the 1990’s or more recent aerosols amounts?

    Comment by Pascal — 22 Nov 2006 @ 4:25 AM

  42. “I know of not a single person who is a ‘denialist’.”

    I do (unfortunately). Your first clue is when they shout “It’s not happening!” and then have no real reasons to back that up, and your second clue is when they claim to have given hundreds of such talks across the nation, saying this and not much more. You will see them if you pay attention.

    Comment by Dan J — 22 Nov 2006 @ 5:34 AM

  43. Re #22 Charles Muller,

    Thanks for providing that info.

    However, I asume you don’t mean Rose 2005, rather Vose/Easterling et al GRL 2005 “Maximum and minimum temperature trends for the globe: An update through 2004. Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L23822.”

    I’ve had a quick scan of that paper, very interesting.

    As I’m not a professional I can’t suggest why this might be, and have until know missed that paper. I’ll await the summary on this issue in AR4.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 22 Nov 2006 @ 7:28 AM

  44. #26: First, you ask ‘who’s talking about any interference with the “natural cycle”?’ The quote to which you’re responding does not say anything about ‘interfering’ with the natural cycles.

    Second, you ask “But aren’t we then exacerbating the problem by releasing all the additional CO2?” The point is that reducing global CO2 emissions only appears to be possible at a high economic cost. If CO2 is only a marginal contributor to the recent global warming, then significant warming might be inevitable regardless of our efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, yet these efforts would tie up resources that could be better spent addressing the consequences of warming.

    To use an analogy, if your basement is flooding because water is coming is leaking through the roof and seaping in through the cellar walls, and you have $200 to spend, are you better off patching your roof or buying a sump pump? Patching your roof might slow the rate at which your basement is filling with water, but it won’t stop it (or even slow it dramatically). With limited resources, you’re probably better off spending them on the pump.
    Similarly, if only 25% of global warming is attributable to increased CO2 levels, then even heroic efforts costing billions of dollars to reduce CO2 emissions might only slightly reduce warming. Maybe it’s better, then, accept that the world’s going to be warmer and spend the money protecting coastal areas, easing economic dislocations, etc.

    Anyway, I’m just trying to clarify the argument to which you’re responding. I have some sympathy for that point of view, but I’m here reading RealClimate because I know I don’t understand the science well enough to know just who has the right idea about what to do next.

    [Response:Release of fossil-fuel CO2 is not just a marginal source of warming to 2100, it is the main source. The warming forecast by the end of the century is caused by us, it’s not natural. It would be unprecedented in millions of years. Don’t confuse the present-day warmth with the forecast for the coming century. David]

    Comment by Tom Pollard — 22 Nov 2006 @ 8:40 AM

  45. Josh Halpern- (#36)

    Do tell, what are the answers to these mysterious questions?

    Comment by Roger Pielke, Jr. — 22 Nov 2006 @ 11:39 AM

  46. > To use an analogy, if your basement is flooding because water is coming is leaking
    > through the roof and seaping in through the cellar walls, and you have $200 to spend,
    > are you better off patching your roof or buying a sump pump?

    But the problem is the people uphill from you have gone on vacation and left their lawn sprinkler system on “full flood.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Nov 2006 @ 11:49 AM

  47. I would refer the good Dr. Pielke here and there for the answers to his questions.

    [edit]

    [Response: Eli, Roger, Regardless of your disputes eleswhere, please confine your remarks here to on-topic scientific issues. Thanks. – gavin]

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 22 Nov 2006 @ 12:35 PM

  48. Re #44: You say “The point is that reducing global CO2 emissions only appears to be possible at a high economic cost.” That’s really at the heart of what we might call the denialist industry. Most of that high economic cost (the height of which is in my opinion greatly exaggerated) is going to fall mainly on a few industries that are heavily invested in current fossil fuels, so they support denialists to protect their investments.

    Of course, the smart ones seem to be hedging their bets. As someone remarked the other day, it’s amazing how many oil companies have solar-power subsidiaries :-)

    Comment by James — 22 Nov 2006 @ 1:14 PM

  49. re#36
    “There is an interesting dynamic at work. The denial crowd has become increasingly shrill to deal with the avalanche of science demonstrating the reality and bad effects of global warming.”

    Hum, reality of GW, no doubt. But reality of “bad effects” 1750-2006 is a more value-based point of view and the “avalanche” far less convincing. Take a precise example on this thread, the last Parmesan paper (link suggested at #35). She explains that because of GW, emperor penguins are at risk of extinction in Antarctic (false, they are not), apollo butterflies in Europe (false, they are not), harlequin frogs extincted in Central America (false, amphibian specialists know that chytrid fungus expansion from Africa, due to man, is the culprit since the 60’s, and not only in Costa Rica), and so on. This kind of false attribution / observation explains partly a skeptical reaction, in biodiversity or other fields. When Al Gore links West Nile Virus recent epidemy in North America to GW, do you know one epidemiologist who won’t object : guy, be careful, weak amplitude of recent temperature / humidity trends is a very very minor aspect of the infectious diseases ermergence problem, when compared to globalization for example?

    So, want to reduce the “denial crowd”? First reduce the always-more-catastrophist black picture. (Well, I’m French, maybe the US media are far more influenced by oil lobbies than in our nuclear nation, and it could partly explain our different perspectives on public perception of the problem. But anyway, if you misinterpret reality as scientist, you undermine science credibility. And feed the crowd).

    Comment by Charles Muller — 22 Nov 2006 @ 1:27 PM

  50. Charles, harlequin frogs?

    What’s your source for your belief about that?
    How recently have you checked what you believe against current information?

    It appears you’re getting bad info and repeating it. Here’s my source.
    Do you have another source, that’s current?

    Harlequin frogs: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060112035218.htm

    Gavin, speaking of unstoppable hot air:

    — Would you all consider having some focused science topics in which comments would be more moderated heavily for helpful challenges, from which the rest of us could learn, by seeing some willing scientists think out loud and — even with hard argument — push one another to do better science.

    A kibitzer’s parallel forum could collect comments, and be a way to get the occasional truly helpful outsider’s comment (like the lawyer who spotted a typo in published work a while back).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Nov 2006 @ 2:17 PM

  51. ==== Re: Post # 42 Comment by Barton Paul Levenson ====

    Well, yes, not all viewpoints are tolerated for serious discussion when the scientific issues involved are well settled. I can’t imagine the Astronomical Journal printing a paper defending geocentrism, or Brain, Behavior and Evolution printing one defending creationism. That’s the proper analogy to denialism, since the science behind it is equally crappy.
    ====

    Why not simply ignore these “denialists” then? Their views are not published in mainstream journals anyways, so why this hypersensitive concern about what they say?

    Lastly, the science of AGW is a consensus, not universal agreement.

    [Response:Books like Avery’s are not aimed at scientists, they are aimed at policymakers and voters. Hence hypersensitivity. David]

    Comment by Paul G — 22 Nov 2006 @ 2:34 PM

  52. RE 40 (Levenson):

    The reply to “But being a religion in a sense, questioning ANY of the orthodoxy of AGW is not allowed. Out heretics!” (despite the tiresome ‘robed priests’ argumentation) is fine, esp. outlining proper analogies.

    The larger issue is not addressed, however, IMHO. Any crank can question anything. I can question whether the planet is an oblate spheroid.

    Rather, the issue is whether the question displays wisdom, and whether the question is fundamentally valid and worthy of discussion.

    The better reply to “questioning any of the orthodoxy” is: where’s your data? Where is your falsifiable hypothesis? Show me your evidence (not boilerplate from the usual suspects).

    Best,

    D

    Comment by Dano — 22 Nov 2006 @ 2:43 PM

  53. #49 (Charles Muller)

    The Parmesan paper is sound. Its basic ecology that climate dictates what communities of plants and animals live in specific locations. When climate changes biotic communities are effected. When climate changes living things are often unable to adapt and become extinct. The fossil record shows overwhelming evidence of this. There is no reason to think that AGW will be any different.

    A recent paper in Nature confirmed that the recent AGW has caused amphibians to become extinct in central america and a paper in Proceedings of the Royal Academy confirmed that AGW is killing amphibians in Europe.
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn10369-global-warming-fuels-fungal-toadkiller.html

    Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 22 Nov 2006 @ 2:51 PM

  54. A bit of good news on those frogs:
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060606183033.htm

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Nov 2006 @ 3:21 PM

  55. Thanks for the post, David. Glad to have experts to challenge these denialists. As a non-expert, I’ve struggled to answer them as best I could in other ways.

    For instance, when they trot out the warming precedes the CO2 build up, or GW has happened in the past & is therefore natural, I say, well that’s really scary. What if those natural warming processes decide to start kicking in addition to our human induced warming, and carbon starts surging up due to the warming, causing even greater warming, why, we could be in hot water well before the scientists are suggesting….literally.

    Re the economic arguments, I ask, how can reducing our emissions (through reduction of energy, resource, water, and product comsuption) cost? Seems to me it would save us money.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 22 Nov 2006 @ 3:34 PM

  56. #50 Hank #53 Joseph

    Pounds et al paper, quoted by Parmesan, is the problem, not the solution.

    Point 1 : in a previous paper, Pounds 2001 (Nature) mainly charged extreme drought and UV radiation stress (allready due to GW). In 2006, he turns to cloud cover, cooler days and warmer nights. Two different climatic explanations in 5 years : why no, but quite strange.

    Point 2 : thermal variations noted by Pounds 2006 do not exceed 1°C in DTR. Have a look at Piotrowski 2004 paper for chytrid life cycle : it reproduces at 4-25°C, survives up to 30 °C. A small T amplitude in a tropical forest is not expected to affect decisively chytrid life cycle.

    Point 3 : for their quite complex and speculative hypothesis (more cloud > warmer nights but not cooler days > less mortality of chytrid > extinction), Pounds et al. suppose cloud change have been decisive. Have a look at ISCCP data for 1987-1998 (period of their study) : personally, I did no find a clear trend on Central America.

    Point 4 : chytrid, only identifid in 1993 as a source of amphibian decline (Berger 1998), allready affects large populations in Central America, North America, Europe and Australia, whatever climate changes these regions are affected by. Everywhere mortality rates are high. More than 90 species are affected. Climate trends of the past decades is not the main driver of this epizooty. On its African origin and dissemination by trade, Weldon et al. on this link :
    http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol10no12/03-0804.htm

    Point 5 : just good sense. Your cow gets a pathological prion and subsquently died of encephalitis. Summer temperature anomaly was 1°C above normal during the drama. You’ll blame prion or meteo ? Even if Pounds 2006 is correct (local variations partially induced by anthropogenic GW favorize local growth of chytrid), the reasoning is spurious : chytrid is the main culprit.

    Berger L. et al. (1998). Chytridiomycosis causes amphibian mortality associated with population declines in the rain forests of Australia and Central America, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 95, 9031-9036.
    Piotrowski J.S. et al. (2004), Physiology of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a chytrid pathogen of amphibians, Mycologia, 96, 9-15.
    Pounds J.A. (2001), Climate and amphibian declines, Nature, 410, 639�640.
    Pounds J.A. et al. (2006), Widespread amphibian extinctions from epidemic disease driven by global warming, Nature, 439, 161-167.

    Comment by Charles Muller — 22 Nov 2006 @ 4:34 PM

  57. #53 (Joseph)
    Yes, basic biology and ecology tell us that populations adapt to environmental variations. That’s why many informations of Parmesan paper are rather comforting: the more phenologic and distribution changes you notice, the strongest the adaptative response you infer for the observed populations (except for extinction or pop. contraction, of course) – as she notes herself in “Evolution and plasticity” chapter. You’re OK (and Parmesan too) : the rate and range of climate change will be decisive for biodiversity. In my initial point, I don’t say there’s no threat (because there is one, like for acidification), just that an excessive alarmism based on inaccurate estimations is not the good way for a long-term work on public opinion. The prudential and precise method of RC is by far more convincing for readers.

    Comment by Charles Muller — 22 Nov 2006 @ 5:36 PM

  58. I read realclimate because it educates me in new areas where I need educating. But this site seems to me increasingly clogged with useless junk. Too many posts come from a small number of self-important argumentative people who write self-referential notes that are of little or no importance.

    The contributors to (editors of) realclimate do not, for obvious reasons, want to limit the content of these posts. But why not put a limit on the number of posts per person per year? I would think something like 4 would be plenty. With fewer opportunities, maybe these people would think harder.

    In fact, why not limit the number of posts by the contributors? Some of them never comment at all, while others comment on nearly every other post. This limit would reduce the burden on devoted but harried people like Ray Pierre, who has grown noticeably grumpy in responding to so many mindless posts, and Gavin, who seems well along the way to this state of mind.

    Most of the public would benefit from fewer but better-reasoned posts from the outside and fewer grumpy responses from within.

    Bill Ruddiman

    [Response:It is interesting to watch the discussion take on a direction of its own, usually after about comment #30 or #50 or so. And hey, what about me? Aren’t I grumpy enough for you? David]

    Comment by Bill Ruddiman — 22 Nov 2006 @ 5:50 PM

  59. There are at a minimum two topics here. The first is a scientific one, are there 1500 year D-O cycles in the Holocene, or at least the recent Holocene, which for arbitrary purposes we might take as recorded history. If there are, how much are they influencing current climate change.

    The second, and in my judgement more important question (and I gather the original poster agrees with me on this) is how and why is this issue being raised in by Singer and Avery. Specific to this thread, why at the Heartland Institute which is a nonprofit organization devoted to discovering and promoting free-market solutions to social and economic problems.” Now certain of our friends have been tutt-tutting the participation of scientists in politics, but you can get a good hint of what this is really about take a look at this video.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 22 Nov 2006 @ 6:02 PM

  60. Apologies for being slightly off-topic. I did some searching but could not come up with the right search or a proper answer.

    Urbanization/surbanization/desertification of the world clearly has some effect on albedo and heat transport. The denialists often point to the heat island effect as confusing temperature measurements, yadda, yadda etc. But doesn’t the increasing amount of light colored concrete and buildings increase the overall planet albedo – and thus offset GHG increases associated? How much exactly per square meter on a global basis? And do urban areas (heat island effect) actually release more heat at night (loss to planet) than forested areas which retain the heat in the form of water vapor? Deserts lose more heat at night than forests right?

    What I guess I’m really asking is do we have accurate measures of the different terrain forcings (slightly complicated by feedbacks)? Such forcings must have influenced past warmings and coolings. Today, we have the Caspian Sea drying up leaving desert instead of water – that’s gotta change the overall albedo. Desertification in the Amazon and Africa has gotta change the albedo as well.

    I’m not saying this is a “good thing” in that if it is slowing the heating by any significance it would be another masking effect that goes away like SO2 as we adopt better land management practices and/or the fact that the processes are somewhat self-limiting [only so much desertification will occur regardless of human efforts]. And so we may find additional GHG produce a larger temperature increase in the end than we are getting now.

    Of course, a friend of mine proposed years ago that the government should give everyone mirrors to set out in their front yards to increase the planet albedo to offset the GHG warming. It couldn’t hurt at this point…

    Comment by Robin Johnson — 22 Nov 2006 @ 6:26 PM

  61. ==== Comment # 52 by Dano: ====
    The larger issue is not addressed, however, IMHO. Any crank can question anything. I can question whether the planet is an oblate spheroid.
    ====

    AGW is different. Much “proof” rests on computer models that extend far into the future. And as much as we dislike cranks, they exist on every subject.

    ==== Dano said: ====
    Rather, the issue is whether the question displays wisdom, and whether the question is fundamentally valid and worthy of discussion.
    ====

    I would not agree. Al Gore can go around stating that the oceans are going to rise several meters flooding coastal cities and he basically goes unchallenged, uncorrected, and lauded for his fearmongering.

    Scientists can go around stating that polar bears are currently drowning because of global warming. This is complete and utter nonsense yet because it was stated by scientists and is supportive of AGW, it can not be questioned, at least not by the general public.

    The Tuvalu Island myth has also been propagated, without context, by scientists and environmentalists. Questioning them about their deliberate misrepresetation on the subject will earn you the label “denialist”.

    There are many more examples where scientists are knowingly feeding into this apocalyptic frenzy with disregard for the totality of the facts. It is a sad spectacle to observe, but is one reason why the general public has still not given their support to seriously tackle AGW yet.

    [Response:The oceans could rise by several meters. It has in the past, it could again. Polar bears are expected to lose their viability if there is no sea ice. Not next week, but in the decades ahead. What I know about Tuvalu I read in Mark Lynas’ book “High Tide”. It’s not a myth that the people there have to evacuate. The totallity of the facts seems clear to me. David]

    Comment by Paul G — 22 Nov 2006 @ 7:54 PM

  62. Scientists can go around stating that polar bears are currently drowning because of global warming

    This is ridiculous, Paul. The problem for polar bears is there will not be sufficient ice on which to hunt. The fact that Arctic ice is shrinking is well documented. Facts are facts. Don’t blame science.

    Comment by Mark Zimmerman — 22 Nov 2006 @ 8:54 PM

  63. Scientists can go around stating that polar bears are currently drowning because of global warming. This is complete and utter nonsense yet because it was stated by scientists and is supportive of AGW, it can not be questioned, at least not by the general public.

    Polar bears are at risk of extinction in the next half-century.

    Fact. Deal with it.

    Comment by dhogaza — 22 Nov 2006 @ 9:02 PM

  64. Re 61 (PaulG):

    I’m not going to expend bandwidth going back and forth. The meaning of my argumentation perhaps can be expressed this way:

    1. The usual suspects present no data of their own to explain likely outcomes, no falsifiable hypotheses, none of their own computer models expressing their findings of physical principles, no formulae, barely any journal articles, no theories, no writing on the back of a napkin, nothing. Silence. No, not silence: what is the sound of hand-waving?

    In other words: If not x, then what?

    2. The supporters/water carriers of the usual suspects tend to conflate and confuse issues, often without factual backing/citations. For example: no provided evidence that The Tuvalu Island myth has also been propagated, without context, by scientists, just unattributed vague assertions.

    Wisdom provides much of what is lacking in 1 and 2 above. Sadly, I see no ‘wisdom’ button on The Google.

    Best,

    D

    Comment by Dano — 22 Nov 2006 @ 9:45 PM

  65. Hmm…Arctic sea ice has been shrinking rapidly (as such things go) over the past quarter century

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 22 Nov 2006 @ 10:16 PM

  66. ==== Comment by David to my post # 61 ====
    [Response:The oceans could rise by several meters. It has in the past, it could again. Polar bears are expected to lose their viability if there is no sea ice. Not next week, but in the decades ahead. What I know about Tuvalu I read in Mark Lynas’ book “High Tide”. It’s not a myth that the people there have to evacuate. The totallity of the facts seems clear to me. David]
    ====

    I agree David, sea levels COULD rise by several meters. And in what time frame? 500 years? 1000 years? A little context would be helpful (though less effective for scaring the general public).

    Currently the polar bear population in Canada is very viable. Some drowned bears have been observed. Why is this simple, factual observation of several dead polar bears misrepresented as proof of global warming?

    Polar bears have always drowned in the past. And in the future, their viability may be threatened. But taking the observation of 4 dead polar bears at present, does not constitute any kind of “proof” but more of a misrepresentation, by scientists, to influence public opinion unfairly.

    Regarding the Tuvalu Islands, these are low lying islands, subject to erosion, have suffered from poor coastal management, and offer little economic opportunity for it’s inhabitants.

    But I have seen is no evidence that rapidly increasing sea levels (because sea levels haven’t been rising rapidly) have forced even one person to flee the Tuvalu Islands. So why is Tuvalu also presented as “proof” of AGW?

    [Response: You are right, the time scale needs to be considered when talking about sea level rise. The German Advisory Council on Global Change concludes in its latest ocean report (which I presented in Nairobi two weeks ago) that for a 3 ºC global warming, sea levels are likely to rise by 3-5 meters by the year 2300.
    Your last sentence I don’t understand – sea level has risen by 15-20 cm in the past 100 years, and by 3 cm in the past ten years, as a response to climate warming (See Cazenave and Nerem (2004) for a review). In the previous millennia, sea level has not risen even remotely at this rate (think of it – the current rate of rise would imply 3 meters lower sea level in the middle ages, which simply was not the case). So what’s the basis of your claim that “sea levels haven’t been rising rapidly”?

    p.s. There are several good TV documentaries about the situation in Tuvalu, yet strangely, some people who have never been there and sit high and dry in the US (cowardly hiding behind anonymity, or would you make such claims with your full name, putting your personal credibility on the line, Paul G?) simply proclaim there is no problem. Would you also do this face to face with a citizen of Tuvalu? I suspect the people struggling with the flooding of their villages would find this denial somewhat cynical. -stefan]

    Comment by Paul G — 22 Nov 2006 @ 11:42 PM

  67. === Re: Post # 64 by Dano: ====
    Re 61 (PaulG):

    I’m not going to expend bandwidth going back and forth. The meaning of my argumentation perhaps can be expressed this way:

    1. The usual suspects present no data of their own to explain likely outcomes, no falsifiable hypotheses, none of their own computer models expressing their findings of physical principles, no formulae, barely any journal articles, no theories, no writing on the back of a napkin, nothing. Silence. No, not silence: what is the sound of hand-waving?

    In other words: If not x, then what?

    2. The supporters/water carriers of the usual suspects tend to conflate and confuse issues, often without factual backing/citations. For example: no provided evidence that The Tuvalu Island myth has also been propagated, without context, by scientists, just unattributed vague assertions.

    Wisdom provides much of what is lacking in 1 and 2 above. Sadly, I see no ‘wisdom’ button on The Google.
    ====

    Dano, my question is why, with the science so compelling, is there such inaction on this subject in Canada and the US? My belief is that the general public is not convinced of the seriousness of the situation. And why would this be? I think there are two reasons:

    1) Constant environmental alarmism over the last few decades has numbed the general public over AGW.

    2) The public may be (and appears to be) concerned about AGW, but not to the point where they are prepared to pay higher taxes, higher prices for fuel and live with lower economic growth.

    It is difficult to motivate people over a problem that could manifest itself in 50 years. How to address this, I do not know.

    I do stand by my assertion that some scientists have been misrepresenting their findings in the name of attempting to spur the public to action. However, for the reasons stated previously, this tactic is not working.

    Regards,

    Comment by Paul G — 23 Nov 2006 @ 12:54 AM

  68. In the second to last counterpoint it is mentioned that Avery’s expertise is in economic think-tanks. This is a subtle statement disqualifying him from being able to be right. This site has promoted the view that scientists know better than economists about future temperatures. In fact the business of predicting future temperatures bears many similarities to predicting future commodity prices. The equivalent economists may take the oil price rises of the last few years and inversely correlate it to proven reserves and predict that oil prices will continue to rise. Thus ignoring fundamentals like the underlying inflation and negative feedbacks (high oil prices reducing demand eventually bringing them back). The underlying temperature inflation rate due to CO2 cannot be inferred from the last 3 decades in isolation, just as the oil price inflation cannot be. Scientists are again setting themselves up to look stupid if there’s a decade with a downward wobble in temperature. I challenge now any scientist here to say that average temperatures cannot possibly go down in the next decade.

    Comment by Marco Parigi — 23 Nov 2006 @ 2:15 AM

  69. 66. On polar bears:
    Paul G,

    – When I google under “polar bears thriving”, I find, among other things, this: http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2005/07/15/polar-bears050715.html : “But Andrew Derocher, chair of the International Polar Bear Specialist Group, said the population of bears in the Davis Strait area seems to be doing well.”

    – But when I look up Derocher, and follow through to his polar-bear interests, I end up here: http://pbsg.npolar.no/ . When you look at the “threats”, you find that “climate change” is prominent. Some quotes:

    “Polar bears are totally reliant on the sea ice as their primary habitat. If climate change alters the period of ice cover, bears may be forced on shore for extended periods and forced to rely on stored fat. If these periods become excessively long, mortality will increase. Such changes are thought to be occurring in western Hudson Bay. Further, if the ice changes in character such that there is more open water, young cubs which are unable to swim long distances may suffer greater mortality. Sea ice is also used for access to den areas and if ice patterns change, existing den areas may be unreachable. Another factor is that in some areas, warmer temperatures and higher winds may reduce ice thickness and increase ice drift. Because polar bears must walk against the moving ice (like walking the wrong way on an escalator) increased ice movements will increase energy use and reduce growth and reproduction.”

    “Polar bears are a keystone species in ice-covered Arctic marine ecosystems and alterations to the distribution, density or abundance of this top predator will likely have impacts throughout the arctic ecosystem. There is little doubt that polar bears and other ice-inhabiting marine mammals in the Arctic, are being, or will be, negatively affected by the effects of climate change via changes to their habitats.”

    So, although, Derocher is quoted on the Davis Strait bears by people claiming that “the bears are alright”, in general his view (or the view of the group of which he is chair) seems clearly to be that GW is a threat to them.

    Like some cherries, anyone?

    Comment by Neal J. King — 23 Nov 2006 @ 4:00 AM

  70. #53 (Joseph)
    Thank for the second reference. I read the Bosch et al. 2006 paper you mention, concerning climatic epidemiology of chytrids in Spain (two species, a toad and a salamander). Their conclusion ar far less advanced that Pounds 2006. In fact, they analyse trends in temperature in humidity in the area, notably induced by NAO shift of the past decades, but do not correlate them to frequency or mortality rates of disease outbreaks. Climate-drive is not excluded neither proved, but as they precise in conclusion : “However, we do not rule out the introduction of B. dendrobatidis in initiating the Penalara epidemic. Chytrid-related declines are probably the result of a complex web of interaction, and the effects of climate will be conditional on other factors such as host density, amphibian community composition, microbial competitors and zooplankton predators, to name but a few.” To be continued…
    (For RC and #58 Bill : sorry for these totally off-topics developments, I notice a certain annoyance and I stop there on frogs !)

    Comment by Charles Muller — 23 Nov 2006 @ 6:14 AM

  71. Re ” If CO2 is only a marginal contributor to the recent global warming, then significant warming might be inevitable regardless of our efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, yet these efforts would tie up resources that could be better spent addressing the consequences of warming.”

    And if your mother had wheels, she’d be a trolley.

    CO2 is the main driver of the present anthropogenic global warming.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 23 Nov 2006 @ 7:33 AM

  72. Since we are getting into this, allow me to point out the “if pigs were horses, cows would fly attack” being used. Assuming something that is wrong or at best questionable and then reasoning from it as if it were revealed truth can be hard to deal with, because it is easy to get sucked in. Stefan’s response is exactly the correct one, you point out that the argument fails on its assumptions.

    It is also an interesting difference between science and math and social sciences. In the former case you do the exercise to derive a contradiction or impossibility. For anyone who reads the Economist or deals with economics, this is a mode of argument to justify a preferred conclusion and you ignore the contradictions.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 23 Nov 2006 @ 8:41 AM

  73. #66 Paul and Stefan comment
    Concerning sea level trends, maybe Paul alludes to its acceleration, still weak on the past cenury (Church 2006 : 0,013 mm/yr/yr). Topex/Jason/Poseidon measures 3 mm/yr for 1993-present, higher rate than 1,7 mm/yr for 1900-2000. But as Lombard, Cazenave et al. precise, the thermosteric part exhibits strong decadal variations and “the pattern of sea-level trends derived from Topex/Poseidon altimetry over 1993â��2003, which is mainly caused by thermal expansion, is very likely a non-permanent feature. Thus past and future extrapolation based on this 10-year altimetry pattern should be considered with caution”
    Lombard et al. (2005), Contribution of thermal expansion to present-day sea-level change revisited, Global and Planetary Change[/i] 47 (2005) 1�16

    Comment by Charles Muller — 23 Nov 2006 @ 9:00 AM

  74. ]In order to argue that scientists are conspiring to incite public panic about AGW, one would need to show how scientists would benefit from that. There is no monetary gain for scientists here unlike for denialists in the oil industry. And most scientists are very careful, skeptical thinkers because nothing is more horrifying to a scientist than losing his/her credibility. So most scientists would NOT write thousands of papers about global warming and its effects without evidence. Doing that would be to their detriment, not benefit. One could argue perhaps that some scientists advovating the damage that is already started with global warming are gluttons for publicity; they like to hear themselves talk on TV and write blogs all over the internet. Ok, we’re all human, but again this would be to the scientists’ detriment because so much publicity about a false claim would only cause them to be ridiculed for all to witness. Plus, maybe in the performing arts no publicity is bad publicity; but for scientists the worst kind of publicity is the one that challenges their scientific and intellectual integrity. So there is no motive to conspire here.

    And considering Bill Ruddimann’s comment, I agree and am often perplexed that all these very accomplished scientists (both editors and comment posters) have so much time to write blogs and respond to comments. Don’t they teach, work with graduate students and have their own science to pursue? I understand this is about educating voters and developing public policy. But some of the back and forth is useless and tedious to read swaying everyone from the main points of the discussion. This causes everyone to burn out, even just casual readers.

    [Response:I don’t know what can be done about the large volume of comments swamping the readers, except to edit more, which would be considerably more work and thought for the contributors. As for the “don’t these scientists have other things to do” question, I’ve thought about your question quite a bit since you asked it 24 hours ago. I find it extremely stimulating to write a blog post for realclimate. I get more feedback, some of it rather bare-knuckles, than I ever do from writing a paper for publication. In the past few years, most of my time is spent doing what they call “outreach”, including teaching classes on global warming, writing books on it (first out, second nearly done, third contracted for). Realclimate may be preaching to the choir, as an earlier commenter suggested, but it also gets a lot of traction with journalists and other scientists. Writing a blog entry takes some time, responding to comments is just fun. I personally am not burning out from all the volume. Fire away! David]

    Comment by teacher ocean — 23 Nov 2006 @ 10:19 AM

  75. The public may be (and appears to be) concerned about AGW, but not to the point where they are prepared to pay higher taxes, higher prices for fuel and live with lower economic growth.

    It is difficult to motivate people over a problem that could manifest itself in 50 years. How to address this, I do not know.

    California is taking aggressive action and this is a key reason for Schwarzenegger regaining his popularity in the State. You’ll see some real action if the Supreme Court rules that California can regulate CO2 as an auto pollutant. It’s wrong to assume there’s no popular support for action, just because the Federal government is inactive.

    Comment by Mark Zimmerman — 23 Nov 2006 @ 10:57 AM

  76. “It is difficult to motivate people over a problem that could manifest itself in 50 years. How to address this, I do not know”

    Those who believe the problem might affect them in 50 years really have to walk around with closed eyes!

    By the way, if some people always believe, that on an economical point it’s too expensive to act, we could also look at it from different perspective: why not invest in alternative energy sources and for the development of it. It would bring us an advantage over the uprising countries like India and China and it would also create a lot of new employments.
    But today those economists are still thinking in the “oil era”. Oil still rules the world, it is still the “cheapest” energy source on earth and I doubt this will change soon, unfortunately.

    Comment by Gaudez Mischol — 23 Nov 2006 @ 12:58 PM

  77. I don’t understand why solar effects have been played down when so many scientific articles that reconstruct paleoclimates correlate solar effects with climate change.

    The typical dismissal argues that current rises in temperatures can not be due to solar activity because over the past 30 years there has been no significant change in solar activity to correlate with the increased temperatures during that same time. But there are several studies that show that we have been in a period of very high solar activity the past 50 years, even though activity has been level during that time plus or minus 1%. But by analogy if I start a pot of water at room temperature and turn on the stove burner to high, the stove burner has risen to a high level of activity and remains at that level for a period of time. Meanwhile during that time the water shows a definite trend of warming. To argue that the level trend of the burner does not correlate with the rising trend of the water would be very fallacious if not absurd. Given enough time we should be able to resolve the issue. What we would expect is that if the burner’s output stays level, then at some point in time the water will also reach a temperature plateau.

    And in fact that now may be the case. The ocean has shown a gradual increase in temperature during the past period of high solar activity, and now as Lyman and Willis’ paper show the ocean’s temperature steadily rose during that period but has now leveled off and started to fall. (And this coincides with reports showing that solar activity is now slowing http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2006/10may_longrange.htm).

    These observations persuade me to believe that solar is the more important warming force as the high levels of CO2 would never predict that the oceans should be cooling

    Comment by Jim Steele — 23 Nov 2006 @ 5:09 PM

  78. Re #73: Charles, I haven’t checked those citations yet (mainly looking for their reasoning as to why they expect the stearic rate to slow), although of course I agree that any relatively short-term trend must have a caveat attached to it, but I would point out that the data from the last couple of years showing accelerated melt in both Greenland and Antarctica (equaling about 1 mm/yr if memory serves) needs to be added to the overall figure. The upshot is that unless we have some reason to expect the melt rate to decline (and I think there is every expectation of the reverse), then a substantial drop in the stearic rise will be compensated for and perhaps more than compensated for by increased melt. I should note my understanding that much of the data relating to sea level and melt is still a little fuzzy around the edges, but that this should change within the next two to three years by way of the far more more accurate and comprehensive data collection that recently became possible via the GRACE gravitometric satellites and the ARGO ocean sensor array.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 23 Nov 2006 @ 5:12 PM

  79. #77 Steve

    Lombard et al. (2005) analyse the last 50 years for sea-level change and sea temperature (surface, 500 m, 800 m). They do not find a regular trend, but high variability dominated by signals from ENSO and PDO (and a significant but less signature from NAO). The variablity for these periods (typically a decade) can reach three times the average of 1950-90 and there’s also short periods of negative trends. As the present se-level trend from Topex-Jason is supposed to be 50% thermosteric (rather than 25% for the average of the XXth century), they deduce that we’re currently in such an oscillation. (But as far I know, there’s for the moment no sign of deceleration since 1993).

    Of course, as you say, if melting of glaciers is accelerating, this could maintain a high rate for sea-level change. But GRACE measurements (for Greenland or Antarctica) are very short and we still don’t know if the melting 2002-2006 will continue. For Greenland and GRACE, compare for example the values of Luthcke et al. this week in Science (2003-2005 : -101 Gt/yr +/-16) with those of Chen et al. two months ago (2002-2005 : -239 +/- 23 Gt/yr) : great uncertainty because of too short measurements (and need for a gravity calibration / post-rebound of the instrument, I guess). Last point : melting of Greenland is of course sensitive to GW and its polar amplification, but NAO phases maintain their influence on decadal periods (because of mass gain in altitude from snow precipitations).

    That’s for decadal variability of melting and sea-level. But on long term, we should expect the sea-level continue to accelerate. The rate of acceleration will be desicive for human affairs, of course.

    Comment by Charles Muller — 23 Nov 2006 @ 6:07 PM

  80. Is this another slosh in the bath tub?

    8 November 2006
    Flotilla of icebergs noticed 300km south of Invercargill (New Zealand) (at around 49d30m South by 168d East. – GoogleEarth these coords.)
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3853336a7693,00.html

    then
    24 November 2006
    60km off the coast of Timaru (at around 44d30mSouth by 172dEast)
    And another 1km long berg 80km of the Catlins (at around 46d30mSouth 171dEast.)
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3876276a11,00.html

    So thatâ??s about 600km in 16 days or about 38km a day on average.

    If the denialists want to have a look at SOMETHING going on (whatever it is), they can think about joining me on Sunday morning at a high point on Bankâ??s Peninsula (say 43d48mS 173d02mE) to have a look at a very rare site indeed.

    When was the last time cubic-kilometre size bergs crossed latitude 45 degrees South heading northwards into the Pacific?

    Comment by Nigel Williams — 23 Nov 2006 @ 7:37 PM

  81. Re #68: “This site has promoted the view that scientists know better than economists about future temperatures. In fact the business of predicting future temperatures bears many similarities to predicting future commodity prices.” Now *that* is a breathtaking claim. Marco, of course Avery *could* be right if one looks at his claims in the absence of any prior knowledge of the science, but such an approach seems less than useful. Should scientists similarly expect to succeed in the commodities market based only on their knowledge of climate?

    “The underlying temperature inflation rate due to CO2 cannot be inferred from the last 3 decades in isolation, just as the oil price inflation cannot be.” And of course you’re right that this would be a mistake. The recent temperature record is only part of the evidence. That evidence, and the reasoning based upon it, is discussed extensively on this site. Reading through the FAQs linked on the right bar will give you a fair start at understanding the basics.

    “I challenge now any scientist here to say that average temperatures cannot possibly go down in the next decade.” Marco, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to find out that James Annan, an occasional guest author here, would be very happy to enter into a substantial bet with you along the lines you describe. Please do report back on how much money you’re willing to stake.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 23 Nov 2006 @ 7:50 PM

  82. Re: 79 “Should scientists similarly expect to succeed in the commodities market based only on their knowledge of climate?”
    I don’t see why not. If they can predict better a mild or colder winter than expected this has obvious implications in the market for heating oil for instance. Another point is that you don’t really have to understand a market to have an insight on it. Temperatures may overshoot until the gulf stream is eroded, which may cause global average temperatures to undershoot the long term trend. In nature positive feedbacks tend to have a life for a while, but often trigger an equally powerful negative feedback. Some successful traders have little knowledge of models that underpin their strategy.
    As for the bet, I believe I probably couldn’t get odds of any more than 5 to 1 from a brief reading of the relevant research. This would imply a 1 in five chance that environmental scientists would have egg on their face due to the average global temperatures in 2016 being lower than the equivalent 2006 measures. I would be willing to wager plenty at odds of 5:1 if I had trust in the betting systems that can work on such long terms. I am willing to place a friendly $50 bet at even odds just for the thrill :)

    Comment by Marco Parigi — 24 Nov 2006 @ 1:14 AM

  83. Re 17:
    An alternate theory must accout for:
    “1) The cooling trend in the stratosphere as opposed to warming in the tropo.

    2) The trend in diurnal range, night warming more than day.

    3) The seasonal trend, winters warming more than summers.”

    Wouldn’t increased cloudiness account for all of these things (assuming the clouds were tropospheric)?

    Comment by C. W. Magee — 24 Nov 2006 @ 1:21 AM

  84. An earlier posting seems not to have made it past the moderators; I will try again.

    In my post, #66 stefan responded:
    ===
    “You are right, the time scale needs to be considered when talking about sea level rise. The German Advisory Council on Global Change concludes in its latest ocean report (which I presented in Nairobi two weeks ago) that for a 3 ºC global warming, sea levels are likely to rise by 3-5 meters by the year 2300.
    Your last sentence I don’t understand – sea level has risen by 15-20 cm in the past 100 years, and by 3 cm in the past ten years, as a response to climate warming (See Cazenave and Nerem (2004) for a review). In the previous millennia, sea level has not risen even remotely at this rate (think of it – the current rate of rise would imply 3 meters lower sea level in the middle ages, which simply was not the case). So what’s the basis of your claim that “sea levels haven’t been rising rapidly”?
    ====

    Paul G.:
    Stefan, when I argue about context, I would ask, is 100 years enough? How much have sea levels risen in the last 1000 years? 5000 years?
    The Tuvalu Islands have been losing their battle with the seas well before AGW started.

    [Response: Evidence? The sea level reconstructions for the Holocene in the scientific literature suggest it has been dropping slightly, not rising, for several thousand years since the post-glacial high stand. -stefan]

    ===stefan said: ===
    p.s. There are several good TV documentaries about the situation in Tuvalu, yet strangely, some people who have never been there and sit high and dry in the US (cowardly hiding behind anonymity, or would you make such claims with your full name, putting your personal credibility on the line, Paul G?) simply proclaim there is no problem. Would you also do this face to face with a citizen of Tuvalu? I suspect the people struggling with the flooding of their villages would find this denial somewhat cynical. -stefan]
    ====

    Paul G.:
    I will ignore the ad hominems, my point about Tuvalu is that, at present, it is not “proof” of the effects of AGW. Plausibly, it could be in the future, but that is much different then how this has been presented to the general public.

    [Response: I’m not aware of anyone claiming that the case of Tuvalu is “proof” for global warming or sea level rise. It’s just one location! We have good global data sets for sea level, from tide gauges going back to 1880, and since 1993 from satellite altimeter. We also understand that this sea level rise is caused by humans, since it is due to the modern global warming and not some remnant from the last Ice Age, say. (Postglacial rebound from the Ice Age actually causes a drop of global sea level by .3 mm/yr, thereby compensating about 10% of the current 3 mm/yr climatically induced rise.) So, Tuvalu is no proof of global warming, it simply is an illustration of the effects that the anthropogenic sea level rise is having on people. -stefan]

    Flooding of their villages has happened many times in the past, and unless evidence is provided substantiating changes in the frequency and/or intensity of flooding, does not strengthen the case for AGW being the current source of the majority of the Tuvalu Island’s problems.

    Lastly, sentimentality for the plight of the Tuvalese seems somewhat self-serving. Were you concerned about their poverty and plight before the issue of AGW, or only because of it?

    Regards,

    Comment by Paul G — 24 Nov 2006 @ 2:42 AM

  85. Is the official position of this website that there are NO climate cycles whatsoever?

    If so, what is the website’s position on the recent (past 3 million years) of glaciation cycles?

    If not, what is the website’s position on what portion of warming is caused by the current climate cycle that we are now in?

    I think that the website cannot take both positions that there are indeed climate cycles but there is no natural cycle contributing to the current warming today.

    [Response: This is a revealing comment, and I’ll try and address the underlying points. First off, this website has no official positions on anything. All of us are individual scientists with individual views. No one is responsible for anything any of the others say. However, 90% of what we talk about here is not controversial in the scientific community, and so the fact that we tend to agree more often than not is no surprise. Next, you juxtapose ‘climate cycles’ and the current anthropogenic warming as though they must be mutally exclusive. Think about the logic here: does the fact that your radio alarm goes off at the same time every morning imply that you can’t have also turned it on at some point in the afternoon? So of course we are interested in natural variability – try reading our publication lists for dozens of papers on such topics. Note that I use the term ‘natural varibiabilty’ rather than climate cycles because actually very little past variability can explained using ‘cycles’ in the colloquial sense. An exception to that is pacing of the glacial-interglacial cycles by changes in the orbit of the Earth, which since the 1970s, has been textbook stuff.

    The shortest of these cycles, precessional forcing, has a period of around 20,000 years which implies that its change over a century or two is completely negligable. You need to go look over 6 or 10 thousand years to find evidence of precessionally driven changes (at that time, NH summer insolation was higher than today, tropical insolation a little lower), and models do a pretty good job of replicating the data from that time. If that was all that was going on we’d be on a pretty stable course right now since that forcing has ‘bottomed out’ and will soon (next few thousand years) start warming the NH summers again. All very interesting, but of little relevance for today’s situation.

    Your fundamental misconception is however the idea that only one thing causes climate change. This is wrong on all time scales. There are multitudes of effects – greenhouse gases, volcanoes, orbital forcing, tectonics, solar, land use, aerosols, etc. etc. all of which can play varying roles at various times. At times long ago in the past it can be tricky to separate them out (the ratio of solar to volcanic in the late 17th Century for instance), what happened during the Eocene, or during a D-O event etc., but the closer you get to the present the more precisely we know many of these factors – we know that GHGs have increased sharply, as have aerosols. We know solar has been pretty stable for decades, we know when the big volcanoes went off. So, like detectives from CSI we have a pretty good idea of whodunnit this time around.

    To conclude, of course natural variability is important – but natural variability cannot explain recent trends. More to the point, forcing from GHGs is currently the fastest growing warming factor and is likely to stay that way for decades to come. -gavin]

    Comment by Jeff Weffer — 24 Nov 2006 @ 8:48 AM

  86. People have been trying to get global warming skeptics to bet for a while now, but without any success that I know about. See William Connolley’s comments at

    mustelid.blogspot.com/2005/06/betting-on-climate-change-or-not.html

    One problem is specifying the bet in some meaningful manner. For example, your offer to bet about comparing two specific years doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. A volcanic eruption could easily lower temperatures significantly for a year or two.

    Comment by Leonard Evens — 24 Nov 2006 @ 10:34 AM

  87. re: 82, Marco Parigi,

    5:1 odds: That sounds like you believe that the GW-ers are probably right, doesn’t it?

    If you’re only willing to place $50 on a 1:1, what that says to me is that you don’t really have confidence in your point of view: You just want to be able to say, “I bet on it,” and are willing to pay the $50 to be able to make that statement.

    If you really want to make some money on a deal, Annan seems to be set up for it:
    http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2005/06/betting-summary.html

    Comment by Neal J. King — 24 Nov 2006 @ 10:36 AM

  88. If the purpose of this comment board is to talk about “unstoppable hot air”, can anyone give me a clue as to how we are to go about educating people that have heard one side of the story but are unwilling to even contemplate the other?
    Does climate change come under risk communication, and if it doesn’t, should it?

    I’m studying for a masters in climate change, and have joined the online forum for students Facebook, and the number of groups set up on Global Warming being just a theory, or being a lie is astounding. These students (a lot still in high school in the US) seriously believe Michael Crichton’s book and without anyone there to put them right it’s only going to get worse. Believe me, I’ve tried, and all I get back is personal attacks. What is happening in the education system to get climate change on the curriculum?

    In #30, Steve mentions the wave of anti-climate change propaganda that the world is going to recieve in the run up to the AR4, so how are we to deal with this? It feels like an uphill battle!

    Sorry to bring people down, but I love that realclimate often has both sides of the argument and I need to find a way of replicating it elsewhere!

    Thanks

    Comment by Vicky Ingram — 24 Nov 2006 @ 12:27 PM

  89. Hi Vicky,
    I agree with you about the state of the discussion forums. It’s amazing to me that so many people, especially young people, refuse to entertain opposing points of view. I suspect that the best way to effect change in such environments is to ask questions. Tonight at the provincial museum in Edmonton, at 7:30, there is a free lecture by a geologist (Bruno Wiskel) who is promoting his new book “The Emperor’s New Climate: Debunking the Myth of Global Warming.” Perhaps someone who reads RC can attend and ask some good questions. I think that would be the most effective thing to do.

    Comment by Steve Latham — 24 Nov 2006 @ 2:43 PM

  90. #85 Gavin response

    Very interesting. Maybe we should distinguish intrinsic variability (chaotic) and natural variability (induced by natural forcings : solar, volcanoes, etc.). The two are “natural” in essence… but not the same nature, I guess (mecanisms, time scales, amplitudes, etc.).

    Another point : it seems that it will be more and more difficult to separate clearly these natural variabilities from human-induced variabilities. For example, nebulosity is perceived as natural, but human aerosols influence it. Or ENSO or PDO are considered as natural, but maybe GHG warming modifies the ENSO or PDO signals. Etc.

    Last point (detail) : I often read on RC that solar forcing has no change for the last 50 years. But we measure irradiance since 1978. There’s no trend during 1978-2006, OK. What is more surprising for me is no trend between 1950 and 1980. On the classic sunspots graphs (thereafter a Nasa link), we can see a maximum for the XXth century around 1960, then a low value around 1970, and then a mid value around 1980. I suppose the “yo-yo” in 1950-1980 sunspots can be considered as a proxy for some variations of irradiance. Of course, it’s not particularly pertinent for recent warming 1978-2006, but I’m just curious about 1950-80.
    http://science.nasa.gov/ssl/pad/solar/images/zurich.gif

    Comment by Charles Muller — 24 Nov 2006 @ 2:58 PM

  91. This may help:
    http://home.badc.rl.ac.uk/lawrence/blog/2005/12/08/solar_irradiance_and_sunspot_cycles
    illustrations include:
    http://home.badc.rl.ac.uk/lawrence/static/2005/12/08/Solankiclimate.jpg
    http://home.badc.rl.ac.uk/lawrence/static/2005/12/08/Krikovasolanki.jpg

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Nov 2006 @ 4:57 PM

  92. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-11/uow-rfo112006.php

    Something else you didn’t know about nature that may affect the climate but which is not in your computer models.

    You can ignore this, like my post about the recent cooling of the ocean, but, sooner or later you may start to feel a twinge of uncertainty. Then, you might become a scientist and not an advocate.

    Just think, once relieved of the need to prove something, you may actually discover something.

    Have you asked yourself this question: If you discovered something which cast doubt on AGW, not disproved it, but just cast doubt on it, would you have the courage to publish it?

    If your answer is: “Don’t be ridiculous. There is no doubt about serious AGW!” we can conclude you stopped being a scientist sometime ago.

    [Response: If I find anything interesting, I will endeavour to have it published in the highest profile journal that’s relevant. I’ll be sure to mail you a copy. ;) Meanwhile, uncertainties (of which there are many) in the carbon cycle make absolutely no difference to most climate model results because CO2 in those models is prescribed from observed atmospheric concentrations. For carbon cycle models it might make a difference in estimates of future carbon cycle feedbacks, maybe David could weigh in?, but it just adds to the already large uncertainties in that sub-field. – gavin]

    Comment by joel Hammer — 24 Nov 2006 @ 8:19 PM

  93. Re 91

    Helpful at proving anthropogenic climate change more natural than extraterrestial ;-)

    Comment by Peer — 24 Nov 2006 @ 9:22 PM

  94. re 88.

    The National Weather Service has 150 professionally trained meteorologists and hydrologists with education/outreach responsibility in weather, water and climate.
    http://www.nws.noaa.gov/organization.php

    Unfortunately, many NWS people have been telling the public that there is no global warming problem or that global warming theory is not part of their duty in serving in the public interest.


    Heather, from Hanover writes:
    Why is it that the summers seem to get hotter and hotter? Is it because of the ozone is depleating? If the temperture continues to rise how long will humans be able to survive in the heat?

    Deputy Director of the National Weather Service, John E. Jones, Jr.
    Heather, I’m not really a climate change expert, so I can’t offer much insight here. I can tell you that under the President’s leadership this week, more than 30 nations came together here in Washington, D.C. to establish an Earth observation system aimed at providing scientific data needed to understand our climate.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/ask/20030801.html

    Comment by Pat Neuman — 24 Nov 2006 @ 9:38 PM

  95. re 94. That should say NWS has about 150 offices … total staff in the US is about 5500, nearly half of the total staff in NOAA.

    Comment by Pat Neuman — 24 Nov 2006 @ 9:45 PM

  96. Re #92: Joel, your comment about ocean cooling was ignored because the issue was thoroughly addressed in this RC post three months ago, to say nothing of a number of other places in the climate blogosphere. The upshot is that even the authors of the study think their results are less than definitive. Note in particular that if the authors are correct in their supposition that the rate of melting has greatly increased in the last several years, that would simply mean that there is a different pattern of warming since it takes the application of a very large amount of heat to melt that much ice. And of course, such a massive spike in the rate of ice melting is pretty much the last thing we would want to see happening at this early stage in the warming process. Let’s hope it isn’t.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 24 Nov 2006 @ 10:18 PM

  97. >91
    Captions: “… the most recent two or three decades of warming are not correlated with the solar irradiance … and thus could be explained by anthropogenic warming…. the recent flurry of interest in cosmic rays and clouds cannot explain the last thirty years of temperature increase either.” Agreed, human activity is natural, not created by extraterrestrials.

    >92
    The waxy material is left in the ground after bad forest fires and contributes to severe erosion by enhancing runoff. No surprise it would show up in thick annual layers after severe erosion periods. Is that mentioned in the actual research?
    Google Results … about 88,800 for: forest fire waxy layer soil erosion

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Nov 2006 @ 10:29 PM

  98. Re: Post #96 by Steve Bloom
    Ending your post on ocean cooling, you say:

    “…..such a massive spike in the rate of ice melting is pretty much the last thing we would want to see happening at this early stage in the warming process. Let’s hope it isn’t.”

    Yet at RC, on the same subject, you state:

    “Their results infer a net addition . . . 6mm/yr for the last two years (the difference between the 3mm/yr observed rise and their inferred 3mm/yr fall from cooling). This is in sharp contradiction to GRACE and altimetry results for that time frame. . . . So far, the only new GRACE results (regional mapping of Greenland melt) have only made the discrepancy *worse*”
    http://tinyurl.com/yll8qr

    Here, the possibility of a sudden, dramtic increase in sea level is presented as a potentially serious concern, but at the Climate Science site, you all but discount this possibility.

    Is there an explanation for your two different viewpoints?

    Regards,

    Comment by Paul G — 25 Nov 2006 @ 4:12 AM

  99. Re: 87 5:1 odds: That sounds like you believe that the GW-ers are probably right, doesn’t it? If you’re only willing to place $50 on a 1:1, what that says to me is that you don’t really have confidence in your point of view: You just want to be able to say, “I bet on it,” and are willing to pay the $50 to be able to make that statement.
    If you really want to make some money on a deal, Annan seems to be set up for it:

    My point wasn’t really whether I thought GW was happening or not. I don’t see why I should sell myself short by only doubling my money, if some cocky environmental-scientist/bookmaker would pay at odds of 5 to 1. Especially for a bet with such a long lead time.
    I will expand on my original point which was that Climate, like weather (or the stockmarket) in general is a chaotic system, with a lot of unknown positive and negative feedbacks. Basically any economists model of a complex financial system is also subject to these. This often makes a “blind monkey” selection of stock portfolio perform better than a selection by highly paid experts with their models. Importantly the models often predict perfectly all past patterns, and often fail when the application of the model to make stock decisions changes the system enough for the model to need substantial revision to regain accuracy, also making previous long term predictions less useful. The types of things that would unexpectedly disrupt the usefulness of current models are incessantly being talked about on this site. Whether it be Man-made particulates, volcanic activity, change in ocean currents, reductions in CFC’s and CH4, Ice movements or various unexpected combinational effects – It doesn’t really matter. A blind monkey may make better bets than the scientific consensus. Just as the warning with stocks go – stocks can go down as well as up (even if the long term trend is considered up). Temperatures can go down as well as up. It is a warning that should be made to investors who buy land in high altitude cold place in the expectation that things will get warmer. Investors in general don’t seem to be heeding the “water rising” message by the number buying expensive houses on beach frontage globally!

    Comment by Marco Parigi — 25 Nov 2006 @ 5:42 AM

  100. Thanks for the link to the post about the ocean cooling on this website. Very interesting.

    The question still remains, since the climate models didn’t predict this, which do we trust, the models or the data? So far, I get the impression that the “warmers” rather trust the models. But, if the data is true, that the ocean has cooled recently, the warmers claim things are worse than we thought.

    You can forgive an agnostic for having problems with this sort of reasoning.

    Comment by joel Hammer — 25 Nov 2006 @ 9:49 AM

  101. RE #99. I’m no climate expert, but I see it like this at the macro level: increased GHGs, all things being equal, will increase the global average temp (which doesn’t say exactly how each micro-region will be impacted). The main thing I see working against that would be less sun due to less solar radiance or the earth moves farther away from the sun. Other things, things that cause aerosols, that may temporarily cool regions a bit (volcanoes, forest fires, etc), ultimately will cause warming, since the CO2 will greatly outlast the aerosols & particulates (see the article David Archer wrote on CO2’s longevity up to 100,000 years on RC, http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=134). In fact, I think volcanoes are suspects in triggering the end-Permian global warming 251 mya that killed 95% of life on earth (Michael Benton’s WHEN LIFE NEARLY DIED is a good read on that).

    So unless there’s a major sun reduction or planetary move, it’s pretty sure there will be warming with continued addition of GHGs.

    And I for one wouldn’t want to gamble with the life of the biota, including us, on our dear, beloved planet.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 25 Nov 2006 @ 10:25 AM

  102. And BTW, we could conceivably live without an economy (which is sort of a new boy on the block, only thousands of years old, at most maybe a million), most of life has done just fine without an economy (exchange of goods & services). However, we do need the environment. The environment is fundamental to life; the economy, contingent.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 25 Nov 2006 @ 10:32 AM

  103. Marco Parigi wrote:

    “I will expand on my original point which was that Climate, like weather (or the stockmarket) in general is a chaotic system, with a lot of unknown positive and negative feedbacks.”

    Marco Parigi makes a category error that is fairly common among people who don’t really know what chaos is. Chaos is a property of the output of non-linear dynamical systems. The Earth’s weather is a non-linear dynamical system and one that is almost certainly chaotic. Earth’s climate is various sets, depending on who’s defining it, of statistical measures of the spatial and temporal properties of the Earth’s weather. As such, climate can not be chaotic and is not subject to some of the constraints of chaotic systems, like the lack of long-term predictability. See the Wikipedia entry for chaos theory at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory .

    Best regards.

    Jim Dukelow

    [Response: You probably don’t want to be to dogmatic on this point. As far as we can tell (so far), climate is not chaotic (at least in it’s present state). We are sure that models do not have chaotic climates (their statistical properties are stable and well defined), but it is conceivable (though not proven) that as we add more feedbacks to them (vegetation, ice sheets, carbon cycles etc.) they may become so. So it’s an open question. This is distinct from the ‘weather is chaotic therefore climate can’t be predicted’ line of argument which, as you suggest, is fallacious. – gavin]

    Comment by Jim Dukelow — 25 Nov 2006 @ 10:38 AM

  104. Marco, while arguments from ignorance are popular, you first have to demonstrate that the ignorance is general and not personal otherwise such arguments simply become handwaving. One of the nice things here is that among the moderators one can find people who can debunk the standard “we don’t know anything about” with “yes, we have a pretty good idea of x, see ref” or “the situation is well bounded by y. However, this becomes pretty daunting when a whole pot full of spaghetti is thrown against the wall.

    Without setting myself up as an expert there are some obvious things in your list of claims that are simply not true. For example reductions in CFCs will not disrupt the usefulness of current models. Their effects are included as greenhouse gases. Same for CH4. On the other hand, with CH4 there are problems in the positive direction, because of methane clathrates and permafrost warming that are only loosely bounded (much study going on there), but such unknowns only make things worse.

    The scary thing is that when you sit around and spit ball about what could happen that is not in the models, the most likely things (not that they are probable) are all scary. If you want a short list, start here.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 25 Nov 2006 @ 11:02 AM

  105. Re: 94

    In his reply, NWS John Jones tells us (in 2003) that under the President’s leadership more than 30 nations came together to establish an Earth observation system aimed at providing scientific data needed to understand our climate.

    Many here at RealClimate may support that position of more data needed, but when will they understand climate change enough to safeguard this world without more delay waiting for more data?

    From my experience, scientists may say they want more data even though they know that more data is unnecessary.

    Extensive soil and water in snow sampling by air, which is operated by NOAA’s National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center for the NWS North Central River Forecast Center, is wasteful of public money and has contributed to global warming in fuel emissions for many years (1979-current) over hundreds or thousands of flight lines by multiple aircraft.

    Comment by Pat Neuman — 25 Nov 2006 @ 11:08 AM

  106. Having invited himself to Harvard last week ,Singer delivered a Thanksgiving eve talk on his ‘intuitive ‘ view of the celestial mechanics of satellite capture at the Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Asked afterwards about this site he replied :

    “I don’t read Real Climate “

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 25 Nov 2006 @ 3:06 PM

  107. Re #98: Paul G., you cherry-picked my remark in #96. I started out saying “if the authors are correct in their supposition that the rate of melting has greatly increased in the last several years”, IOW everything following was based on the authors’ (not my) *supposition* being true. I don’t agree with their supposition since it is too much in conflict with actual measurements of melting. If you want to apply Occam’s Razor to the situation, consider that sea level measurements have continued a smooth rise. If we simply assume that past trends have more or less continued, there remains very little to explain. Things get complex and inconsistent only if you try to reconcile an inferred sharp stearic drop in sea level with the measured increase.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 25 Nov 2006 @ 6:15 PM

  108. Re #100: Joel, the models are not perfect, although they are improving at a steady pace. IIRC Gavin has noted elsewhere that short-term fluctuations in ocean temperature (such as the one Lyman and Willis believe they have found) are one of the things the models don’t do well with as yet. OTOH, the models have adequately tracked the long-term trend. As to the data being true, remember that the problem here is that we have a contradiction in the data. The measured sea level rise (pretty reliable), the measured melt (fairly reliable), and the ocean temp measurements (probably somewhat less reliable) need to add up and they don’t. The obvious thought is that there is something wrong wth the least reliable of the measurements; i.e. the ocean temps. Note also Charles Muller’s good point in #79 that we’re talking about relatively short-term trends in metrics that are all subject to substantial decadal variation. That said, the apparent recent increase in melt seems on somewhat firmer ground, which is why it and not the postulated ocean temp decrease has been getting all the attention. We shall see in the next year or two whether it too is a short-term fluctuation rather than a harbinger of more to come. If the atmosphere continues to warm, the safe bet would have to be on the latter.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 25 Nov 2006 @ 6:48 PM

  109. In #103, Gavin wrote:

    “Response: You probably don’t want to be to dogmatic on this point. As far as we can tell (so far), climate is not chaotic (at least in it’s present state). We are sure that models do not have chaotic climates (their statistical properties are stable and well defined), but it is conceivable (though not proven) that as we add more feedbacks to them (vegetation, ice sheets, carbon cycles etc.) they may become so. So it’s an open question. This is distinct from the ‘weather is chaotic therefore climate can’t be predicted’ line of argument which, as you suggest, is fallacious. – gavin”

    Gavin, incorrect use of mathematical terminology with a settled and agreed definition IS something I am willing to be dogmatic about. The rest of your response contains an interesting assertion about which I would like to know more information. Have climate scientists actually calculated the Lyapunov exponents of a GCM (or CGMs) to establish that their behavior is not chaotic or perhaps rerun a GCM with a tiny change in initial conditions and shown that the output stays “close” to the previous run? I am talking here about the raw physical output of the GCM (its “weather”) rather than any statistical summary. A problem here, I guess, is that, because of the spatial and temporal discretization in a GCM, even the “raw” physical output includes an effective spatial-temporal averaging.

    Since chaotic dynamics was finally “discovered” in a way that convinced almost everybody, by the chaos in Lorenz’ toy convecting atmosphere, I have had the working hypothesis that weather and any other richly connected non-linear dynamical system with substantial feedbacks would be chaotic. I would appreciate some pointers to the relevant climate literature.

    Best regards.

    Jim Dukelow

    [Response: Let me be clear. Individual trajectories in a climate model are chaotic, just as in the Lorenz model. However, the means of these paths are not (at least in current models). This is equivalent to the stability of the centres of the Lorenz ‘butterfly wings’ despite the chaos of individual trajectories. – gavin]

    Comment by Jim Dukelow — 25 Nov 2006 @ 6:57 PM

  110. re: 99, Marco Parigi:

    If you’re sure of your point of view, you should be willing to accept a large bet at 1:1 (limited only by your willingness to deal with a loss), rather than limiting it to $50. For example, I would bet any amount of money that, if I drop an apple, it will hit the ground. I would even accept very unfavorable odds, because I would be sure of winning! A 1:1 ? No sweat.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 25 Nov 2006 @ 7:40 PM

  111. “Marco, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to find out that James Annan, an occasional guest author here, would be very happy to enter into a substantial bet with you along the lines you describe. Please do report back on how much money you’re willing to stake.”

    This is a terrible state of affairs.

    When people pretending to be real scientists are taking bets to shore up their position in lieu of actual evidence.

    Comment by Catastrophe — 25 Nov 2006 @ 11:41 PM

  112. “This is a terrible state of affairs.

    When people pretending to be real scientists are taking bets to shore up their position in lieu of actual evidence.”

    Not at all. They’re simply proposing to make money on their belief of the actual data.

    As a skeptic, you’re prepared to back up your dismay with real money to spank these dudes, right?

    Comment by dhogaza — 25 Nov 2006 @ 11:50 PM

  113. it is conceivable (though not proven) that as we add more feedbacks to them (vegetation, ice sheets, carbon cycles etc.) they may become so. So it’s an open question. This is distinct from the ‘weather is chaotic therefore climate can’t be predicted’ line of argument which, as you suggest, is fallacious.

    I didn’t really think I was saying anything particularly controversial by asserting that climate will be shown to be “chaotic”. Since that part of my argument rests on this assertion, so does my argument that Avery had some useful insights amongst some otherwise biased (against global warming scientific consensus) statements.
    However, I am very concerned that the moderators and other contributors to this forum are dismissive of Economists in general. For activists in this arena, economists should be entrusted to demonstrate the best ways to invest money in carbon reductions, cost/benefit analysis of various projects as well as realistic estimated economic consequences of global warming. They are the experts to do with these questions, but few policymakers are listening to them when formulating environmental policy. This is in part due to statements in sites such as this. eg. “This person’s field of expertise is economics, not environmental science.” The result is that other statements that other economists say such as “A flat global carbon tax is infinitely more effective at reducing GHG’s than the myriad of solar/wind subsidies applied, and is virtually costless in comparison” will also be dismissed to the detriment of the environmental movement.

    Comment by Marco Parigi — 26 Nov 2006 @ 12:47 AM

  114. re: 111, Catastrophe:

    a) Annan IS a real climate scientist. You can look him up in Google.

    b) There is a long history of scientific experts making bets, when it’s currently impossible to prove a point either way. Example: in the arena of General Relativity, such renowned experts as Stephen Hawking, Chandrasekhar, John Wheeler, and Kip Thorne have had bets among each other. It’s just a way of saying, “Even though I can’t give you proof that you accept as incontrovertible at this moment, I’m sure that in x (x = 5, 10, whatever) years, that you’ll have to agree.”

    Usually the stakes are much lower than the thousands that Annan has put up. But that’s because the bet is much friendlier: No one on one side of a general-relativity argument thinks that the fate of the world (or of the economy) depends on the result turning out one way or the other, so no one accuses the other side of operating in bad faith.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 26 Nov 2006 @ 6:17 AM

  115. re: 113, Marco Parigi:

    GW is a topic for which there are both scientific and economic aspects. There is no problem in respectfully using input from both areas of expertise, as long as it is clear which aspects of the input apply to which aspects of the topic. An economist’s attempt to apply chaos theory to climate modelling should be regarded as similar to a climate modeller’s attempt to apply pricing theory to carbon credits: strictly amateur-hour.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 26 Nov 2006 @ 6:25 AM

  116. In #113, Marco Parigi wrote:

    “I didn’t really think I was saying anything particularly controversial by asserting that climate will be shown to be “chaotic”. Since that part of my argument rests on this assertion, so does my argument that Avery had some useful insights amongst some otherwise biased (against global warming scientific consensus) statements.”

    Well, live and learn — or, perhaps not.

    The general dyspepsia toward economists writing on climate issues is due to their pretending to know things they do not know. Case in point, the over-simplistic nature of economic models and the poor empirical basis for their structural assumptions and critical data.

    Best regards.

    Jim Dukelow

    Comment by Jim Dukelow — 26 Nov 2006 @ 8:39 AM

  117. >since the climate models didn’t predict this ….

    You start with a wrong assumption and demand a needless choice between two true facts.
    Treat this as science, not politics, and check what you’re told. Your source was wrong.

    As an example, I’ve put your phrases into a Google search. Click here:

    http://www.google.com/search?hs=DVM&hl=en&q=%2B%22climate+models+predict+increased+variability%22&btnG=Search

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Nov 2006 @ 11:35 AM

  118. The climate would need to be in a far from equilibrium condition to become chaotic and 3 deg C hardly implies that does it?

    Comment by pete best — 26 Nov 2006 @ 1:24 PM

  119. Comments 103, 109, and 118. These issues are somewhat outside my ranges of expertise, so I hope RC will allow me to attempt to add to this discussion.

    Mathematical chaos is basically understood within the framework of simple algebraic and ordinary differential equations. The actual existence of an attractor for the famous three-equation Lorenz equations, developed in the 1960s, was only proven in 1999 (I think). The statement that “weather is chaotic” seems to be invoked from the almost uncountable number of studies associated with the original Lorenz three-equation “model” and subsequent slightly more complex “models”. The original lorenz equations are well-known to be a severe truncation of an already over-simplified representation of a very complex physical process. At its very best the original three-equation model describes only the onset of bulk fluid motion for the case of a fluid layer heated from below under the influence of gravity acting transverse to the fluid layer. A less-dense fluid under a more dense fluid is known to be physically unstable. The three-equation model might approximate the initial unstable fluid motion at the end of the conduction-controlled heating of the fluid, and nothing more. It does not, because it cannot, have any connection to reality following the onset of fluid motion.

    The chaos shown by the model is exhibited for only certain values of some of the parameters (constant coefficients in the ODEs) of the model. The model equations also exhibit stable solutions for other values of the parameters. I have not found papers that report validation of any of the various Lorenz models by comparisons of predictions with experimental data. A very important aspect of the validation would be the necessity of using experimental data for which the conditions match the ranges of the values of the parameters in the model equations for which the equations exhibit chaotic behavior. For the case of the original three-equation model validation would consist of showing that the model predicts the onset of fluid motion following a conduction-controlled phase. For applications to weather the equations would also be required to be a correct description of the fluid motion following the initialization of the motion.

    Generally, analytical/theoretical certainty about chaos is based almost entirely on simple iterated algebraic maps and some ordinary differential equations. Less is known analytically/theoretically about chaos within the realm of partial differential equations. Even less (nothing, maybe?) is analytically/theoretically known about chaos for systems of equations comprised of algebraic equations plus ordinary differential equations plus partial differential equations within a solution domain that contains discontinuities in both the physical dependent variables and the independent spatial variables (some of the algebraic equations might also contain discontinuities). And not to mention the possibility of discontinuities in the first derivatives of some of the equations. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, has been analytically/theoretically established about chaos within the realm of approximate numerical “solutions” to the discrete approximations to the systems of equations as described in the previous sentence. Finally, nothing about chaos can be established or learned from the results displayed by calculations of the computer codes that contain the numerical methods and for which it is a known fact that independence of the discrete approximations used in the numerical methods can not be demonstrated.

    In this respect, the question in #109 above has not been answered. But I think that I can state with a great deal of certainty that the Lyapunov exponents have not been, and very likely will not ever be, determined. Again I think that this must be done within the framework of the original continuous equation system composed of algebraic equations, ODEs and PDEs. It cannot be accomplished within the framework of an exceedingly complex computer code in which only approximate “solutions” to discrete approximations to the original continuous equations are obtained and accepted. The fact that only approximate “solutions” are the standard is proven by the fact that independence of the calculated results from the discrete approximations has never been demonstrated. That is, the need for convergence of the solutions of the discrete approximations to the continuous equations, the very standard for numerical methods, is dismissed with hand-waving. Convergence follows from consistency and stability. These latter two foundations of numerical solution methods also do not seem to receive due attention in the AOLGCM world.

    The difficulties of obtaining accurately converged numerical solutions to systems of non-linear PDEs which describe inherently complex multi-state, multi-scale physical phenomena and processes are known to be enormous. Pathology behavior of even a simple, single, non-linear ODE, within the framework of a well-posed problem, is easily demonstrated to arise from the numerical method alone. The computed results are simply wrong. Given what is for all practical purposes the uncountable number of degrees of freedom for numerical solutions of a system composed of algebraic equations plus ODEs plus PDEs, correctly fretting out any chaotic responses based on numerical results alone seems to be beyond reach, and reason.

    Additionally, given a system for which chaotic response is known to be a proper response and within the domain of the parameters for which chaotic behavior is known to occur, the initial portions of two calculations are known to be “nearer” than in the later portions of a calculation. For climate-change calculations with temporal scales of 100 years, how is it known that the results of the calculations that make up the ensemble do in fact represent the same physical states. Truncation errors, which will always be present in numerical solution methods, are a way for “small” perturbations to be introduced into the response at each and every discrete time step. The stopping criterion for even a single non-linear algebraic equation is a simple and straightforward example. The exact function is not represented by such iterative solutions. How is it known that these small discontinuities do not induce a chaotic response? Shadowing breakdown, introduced by “errors” of the size of truncation errors in numerical solutions, has been shown to be possible. The computed trajectory has no relationship whatsoever to the correct trajectory.

    Very importantly, none of the issues mentioned above begin to address the question of how is it known that attractor(s) even exist in a system composed of algebraic equations plus ODEs plus PDEs. And for what ranges of which parameters a chaotic response is expected to occur.

    The usage of “chaos” seems to be backwards between weather and climate-change. The weather calculations cover a very significantly shorter temporal range so that the individual calculations will have diverged less than for the climate-change case. I suspect that due to the relatively short temporal range the solution of the “weather” problem is governed by the initial conditions. And by this I do not mean that the response is sensitive to small changes in the initial conditions. The initial conditions will not satisfy the equations of the model, so deviations from the initial condictions are expected to be the norm. The path of the calculated results are then determined by the equations programmed and solved. An algebraic switch in a parameterization, for example, may or may not be activited.

    So, what is the theoretically proven basis for using very-long range climate-change calculations in ensemble averaging? How is it that we know that mathematical models for weather are correctly calculating chaotic response? How is it known that a single trajectory from an AOLGCM code is chaotic? Where are the reports and papers that address these questions within the framework of the continuous equation system used in a given AOLGCM?

    [Response: First point, statements about climate and weather models do not equal conclusions about the real world – though to the extent they have similar behaviour and responses, one can infer similar conclusions, but those are obviously less certain than statements about models. Given that, any climate or weather model is a deterministic mapping of some state space at t to another at t+1. You can easily demonstrate that this is sensitive to small perturbations in initial conditions and you can indeed calculate Lyapunov exponents (the decorrelation time is on the order of two weeks). Thus the weather in these models is indeed chaotic by any reasonable definition. As far as we can tell, this behaviour exists at all resolutions and degrees of complexity above a certain threshold, and so it is a reasonable inference that this applies to the real world also. (As an aside, no-one thinks of the Lorenz model as a ‘model’ of the real world. It is just a simple(r) system with which you can illustrate certain phenomenology). Whether the continuous equations are chaotic is an open question, though most people would bet that they were – but since it is impossible to construct such solutions it is impossible to say, and therefore not a particularly interesting question. Statements about the non-chaotic nature of climate model long term changes is based on the empirical observation that they are independent of the initial conditions. The climate sensitivity for instance can be calculated over and over with different ‘weather’ and it will converge to the same answer every time. – gavin]

    Comment by Dan Hughes — 26 Nov 2006 @ 4:21 PM

  120. Jim Dukelow says :The general dyspepsia toward economists writing on climate issues is due to their pretending to know things they do not know. Case in point, the over-simplistic nature of economic models and the poor empirical basis for their structural assumptions and critical data.

    Thank you. This is exactly the kind of broad generalisations about economists which I am complaining about. Instead of saying that “This is an economist so don’t listen to him” I suggest instead to say something like “Listen instead to economist X who is saying “Economic models are showing that money spent on wind/solar subsidies are wasteful compared to spending the same amount on direct carbon reduction (buying voluntary carbon credits or “carbon neutral” type products). Removal of fossil fuel subsidies and higher price expectation of electricity would also be helpful.” This message is not getting to the voters in Western countries, and it is because of this general dyspepsia which you seem to be propagating.

    Instead of picking on economists as a class, highlight statements where they are talking in their field of expertise and propagate those!

    Comment by Marco Parigi — 26 Nov 2006 @ 8:56 PM

  121. Ok, now a question that burdens my environmental conscience. I raised the same question at the Gristmill Blog. Let’s assume (here I am playing devil’s advocate or with fire since this would leave the global warming fraternity with egg on their face) that after a number of years there is irrefutable scientific proof – or scientific consensus, if you like – that global warming is not caused by humans but a natural phenomenon, should we try to interfere with nature or manipulate our climate (assuming we find a way to do so) in order to “save” humanity and those ecosystems that are now said to be in grave danger?

    [Response:The origin of the present-day warming tells us whether the future will be gravely dangerous or not. If the present-day warming were purely natural in origin, then it probably wouldn’t get much more extreme than it already has. We could assume that the Earth would stay within the natural envelope of climate variability from the recent past. OK, that could mean a sea level rise of a few meters, to bring us up to the level during the last interglacial time 120 kyr ago. But the forecast for the coming century, including the effects of rising CO2, put the temperature outside the range of natural variability over the past several million years. I think Avery’s trick was to muddy the distinction between the present-day warmth, which is comparable to the recent past and arguably even beneficial, with the forecast for the coming century, which is neither of those things. David]

    Comment by Chris Schoneveld — 27 Nov 2006 @ 1:38 AM

  122. re: 120, Marco Parigi:

    RealClimate is a forum focused primarily on the scientific, not economic, issues of climate change. Why do you think the participants here would be in any position to identify an economist’s particular area of expertise and know whether he is talking about? So why should they evaluate or promote any specific economic policy whatsoever in this site?

    Dukelow’s pique at economists in general may not be quite fair – but in the context of your suggestion that economists can predict temperature trends better than climate modellers, it’s quite understandable.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 27 Nov 2006 @ 5:29 AM

  123. Re “I will expand on my original point which was that Climate, like weather (or the stockmarket) in general is a chaotic system”

    Climate, in general, is not so much a chaotic system as a deterministic system. You may have climate confused with weather.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 27 Nov 2006 @ 7:16 AM

  124. re: 121, Schris Schoneveld:

    If it were to turn out that GW really were caused by natural phenomena, an immediate question would have to be, Is there anything that we have the ability to effect that would stop it?

    If the answer were No, then there would be nothing to be done.

    If the answer were Yes, then it would make sense to respond to it as we would to any large natural threat: try to forestall it. For example, if a large asteroid were heading in our direction, and we thought we had the capability of dispersing or diverting it from impacting the Earth, I don’t think there would be too many people arguing for “letting nature take its course”.

    Does this vitiate the case for protecting the environment against AGW? I don’t think so: When we protect the environment, we are also protecting certain “services” the environment provides to us: biodiversity is not only an esthetic service, but also provides a source of new biological & medical capabilities, and also is a source of biological robustness. Ultimately, protection of the environment is not about returning to a mythological pristine state of nature, but about protecting the sustainability of our own existence.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 27 Nov 2006 @ 9:47 AM

  125. re:121

    Would the origin of a house fire — lightning vs. arson — keep you from fleeing?

    [Response:A better analogy would be a real house fire versus a false alarm. If your smoke detector were faulty, went off for no reason, it would probably mean your house is not really on fire. Present-day warmth is the alarm, not the fire. The fire is yet to come. David]

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 27 Nov 2006 @ 10:16 AM

  126. Re:#74

    I didn’t mean to come at anyone with bare knuckles. But thanks for your candor David. I just think the discussions could be more focused.

    Re #125: I was under the impression that we were sure the warming was related to anthropogenic influences. Is there any doubt about that other some denialists screaming “tell me it isn’t so.”

    [Response:IPCC says we’re sure. We have measured a large climate forcing from greenhouse gases, and not much from natural agents. The temperature rise can be explained quantitatively as resulting from the gases, but if we wish the gases away, toss out the forcing that we know exists, then we wouldn’t be able to explain the warming. By the usual rules of scientific evidence, it’s case closed. David]

    Comment by teacher ocean — 27 Nov 2006 @ 10:50 AM

  127. Point. The existence of the medieval warm and the Little Ice Age climate intervals, and the 1500 year D-O cycles in glacial climate, proves that the warming in the past decades is a natural phenomenon, not caused by human industry at all.
    —–

    This is the type of “point” that as a climate science layman makes me immediately suspicious of the speaker’s motives. It is such an obvious bait and switch, very much like a magician distracting your attention for a short moment to reach for a card in their back pocket. Why not just say that because things fall I should not be worried if you throw me out the door of an airplane? It’s really that stupid.

    Comment by Doug Watts — 27 Nov 2006 @ 11:43 AM

  128. “Point. Human populations of Europe and India thrived during the medieval warm time, so clearly warming is good for us.”
    —–
    This contains two blatant fallacies of logic.

    The first is the fallacy of embedded, unproven assumptions. The statement above, for it to be true under its own standard of construction, requires that the contemporary warming is identical to earlier warmings in all fundamental aspects. Yet, the statement does not prove this nor does it attempt to. It simply “says” it is the case without any proof. But if this assumption is not true, the entire argument falls apart.

    Second, and most obvious, is that even if true, this “fact” is completely irrelevant to people and other critters who live somewhere on Earth other than Europe or India. This is cherry-picking.

    [Response:Just to be clear, this “Point” was my paraphrasing of a statement made by Avery. David]

    Comment by Doug Watts — 27 Nov 2006 @ 11:53 AM

  129. Ok, now a question that burdens my environmental conscience. I raised the same question at the Gristmill Blog. Let’s assume (here I am playing devil’s advocate or with fire since this would leave the global warming fraternity with egg on their face) that after a number of years there is irrefutable scientific proof – or scientific consensus, if you like – that global warming is not caused by humans but a natural phenomenon, should we try to interfere with nature or manipulate our climate (assuming we find a way to do so) in order to “save” humanity and those ecosystems that are now said to be in grave danger?
    —–
    I respect the sincerity and intent of the question, but it completely misses and obscures the critical scientific issues here, as most “what if?” questions do. An analog would be, “what if we find out 50 years from now that smoking does not cause cancer?” Or another: “Because it is possible that Einstein’s theories of general and special relativity may be refuted in 50 years should we really design space craft today in accordance with those theories?

    Questions framed like the above are unanswerable because right now — by definition — we don’t know what we will know 50 years from now.

    This fact is the genesis of the Precautionary Principle. Google it.

    Comment by Doug Watts — 27 Nov 2006 @ 12:16 PM

  130. #108 SB wrote “The measured sea level rise (pretty reliable), the measured melt (fairly reliable), and the ocean temp measurements (probably somewhat less reliable) need to add up and they don’t. ”

    I am not at all convinced by your reliability rankings. Ocean temperatures appear to me to be the most direct observation. Sea Level measurements require modeling of tectonic forces. Along with Glacial Isostatic Adjustment estimating glacial rebound effects, how much does the 2 mm/year westward movement of the North American Plate affect the 20 cm greater height of the Pacific? If you squeeze your coffee cup the level of coffe rises, but the volume stays the same. And sea level is mostly a proxy for volume changes. Does the growing Atlantic basin off set the rise in the Pacific? Or does the growing volcanoes at the mid-Atlantic ridge offset chnages of a widening Atlantic. Granted that I have an elementary understanding of this, but actual sea level determination appears to be a much more complex and derived metric. Thus there is greater room for more errors and amplification of errors. And I am not sure why meauring melt would more reliable than an Argos measurement? Please explain.

    Comment by Jim Steele — 27 Nov 2006 @ 1:56 PM

  131. Regarding the first point about the natural variability of climate, the Little Ice Age, and so on – isn’t this itself evidence of the high sensitivity of the climate system to relatively small forcings? Lindzen has always tried to portray the climate system as a ‘stable equilibrium system’ but the reality seems far closer to what Spencer Weart called “An Erratic Beast”.

    Now if the climate system is quite sensitive to small forcings, and since human activity is undoubtedly a large forcing (which noone has to debate anymore, hopefully), isn’t that itself strong evidence that we are seriously affecting the climate system? Unlike volcanoes, whose effects are temporary, we’ve been applying a steadily increasing forcing for over a century. How do the denialists get away with using this example as evidence of a lack of a human effect?

    Regarding the several posts about ‘economic theory’, let me offer a practical example of economic reality. In Farmington, New Mexico, there is a gargantuan coal-fired power plant (you can see a picture of the facility and a rundown of the ownership here). It was built by Bechtel Corp. in the 1960’s, and operates without any regulations. This facility is supplied with coal by Peabody (the nation’s largest coal producer). It sells 48% of its electricity to California, and those of us who pay attention to these things are wondering if California’s new anti-global warming bill, AB32, will force a halt to this. Shutting down this coal-fired system and replacing it with solar power would result in large reductions in CO2 emissions (it emits about 15 million tons of CO2 to the atmosphere per year, plus about 40,000 tons of NOx, plus mercury and sulfur dioxide).

    However, shutting the plant down and building a solar replacement would cause economic pain to the owners of Peabody Coal and to the owners of the power plant, who make a lot of money supplying electricty to the lucrative California market. This is why the American Enterprise Institute (whose director is also the CEO of ExxonMobile) are offering $10,000 for ‘respected climate scientists’ who will serve as climate denialists. That’s the real economic picture.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 27 Nov 2006 @ 2:40 PM

  132. I am not surprised to see Dennis Avery joining the ranks of the shrill AGW denialists. I am familiar with his work at the Hudson Institute where he has made a career of attacking organic agriculture, for example with the blatantly false claim (i.e. the lie) that organically produced produce is extremely dangerous to eat (compared to crops that are drenched in toxic pesticide residues). He has been peddling fake, phony, bogus “science” to the general public on behalf of various corporate interests for a long time. There is something of a connection between his shilling for the pesticide and chemical fertilizer industry (against organic agriculture) and the fossil fuel industry (against AGW) since most pesticides and chemical fertilizers are derived from the same sources as fossil fuels.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 27 Nov 2006 @ 2:55 PM

  133. In the previous comment I wrote about Dennis Avery’s “blatantly false claim that organically produced produce is extremely dangerous to eat (compared to crops that are drenched in toxic pesticide residues).”

    I recommend the article at SourceWatch.org about the history of this particular lie from Dennis Avery. It illustrates the depths of this man’s dishonesty and corruption.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 27 Nov 2006 @ 3:00 PM

  134. Re #121, 125, 126 & David’s replies, I’m not sure there is no net harm from the present warming.

    My impression is that there is net harm & death, though some of the harms might not (yet) meet scientific or 95% certainty, such as harm/death from Katrina. I’m thinking AGW-added intensity of droughts around the world, flooding, extra heat deaths, disease spread, storm harm — of course subtracting out those guys who didn’t die from snow-shovelling because there wasn’t any snow, etc.

    Species extinctions are also greatly on the rise, and though a particular frog specie going extinct may not impact our human well-being much (except, perhaps, for more disease-carrying mosquitoes), biodiversity is so complex (according to my understanding of it), that our elimination of at least some species might have far-reaching repercussions harming our human well-being. We’re really playing with fire and kerosene here.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 27 Nov 2006 @ 3:11 PM

  135. Lynn Vincentnathan wrote in #134: “… I’m not sure there is no net harm from the present warming. My impression is that there is net harm & death …”

    According to the World Health Organization your impression is correct:

    Climate Change Death Toll Put at 150,000
    by Christian Plumb
    December 11, 2003
    Reuters

    MILAN – Global warming killed 150,000 people in 2000 and the death toll could double again in the next 30 years if current trends are not reversed, the World Health Organization says.

    One heatwave killed 20,000 people in Europe alone this year, the WHO said, launching a book on health-weather links at a U.N. environment conference.

    Climate change, linked by scientists to human emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide from cars and factories, is causing more frequent floods and droughts and melting ice caps.

    “An estimated 150,000 deaths…were caused in the year 2000 due to climate change,” the study said. A further 5.5 million healthy years of life were lost worldwide due to debilitating diseases caused by climate change, it said.

    “The 1990s were the hottest decade on record and the upward trend in the world’s temperature does not look like it is abating,” it said. “In Europe this past summer, for example, an estimated 20,000 people died due to extremely hot temperatures.”

    The situation will worsen if climate trends continue, WHO experts said at a news conference to launch the book.

    “We see an approximate doubling in deaths and in the burden in healthy life years lost” by 2030, said WHO scientist Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum.

    […]

    [Although of course this isn’t the *net* toll, since its only the negatives, and doesn’t mention lives saved by warmer winters… -W]

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 27 Nov 2006 @ 3:49 PM

  136. #129 DW wrote: An analogy would be, “what if we find out 50 years from now that smoking does not cause cancer?”

    I would have no problems answering that question: smoke as much as you like in 50 years from now, of course. I didn’t ask what you would do NOW if you hypothesize that you turn out to be wrong later on.
    Therefore, It has nothing to do with the precautionary principle, because that only applies when you are uncertain but don’t want to take the risk of doing nothing. I asked what you would do THEN when you have established certainty.

    I am more inclined to follow King’s(#124) reasoning yet there is a big difference if we are dealing with a warming trend that may persist for millennia. Do we have the right to interfere with nature in that case? We are not talking about single calamitous events like asteroid impacts.

    The questions I raised is not quite hypothetical since I cynically believe that we won’t be able to reverse any trend by any CO2 emission management scheme which prompts the question shouldn’t we accept the inevitable and start thinking how to manage the consequences (that is also a precautionary attitude). I am sure if we were indeed convinced that global warming is natural that we would immediately start thinking how to minimize its effect on our world rather than trying to interfere with the natural trend. So here I have cleared my conscience and given the answer to my own question.

    Comment by Chris Schoneveld — 27 Nov 2006 @ 4:36 PM

  137. ==== Comment # 131 by Ike Solem ====

    However, shutting the plant down and building a solar replacement would cause economic pain to the owners of Peabody Coal and to the owners of the power plant, who make a lot of money supplying electricty to the lucrative California market. This is why the American Enterprise Institute (whose director is also the CEO of ExxonMobile) are offering $10,000 for ‘respected climate scientists’ who will serve as climate denialists. That’s the real economic picture.

    ====

    Your simplistic blame scenario is not true, and not helpful. At present, large scale solar and wind would cost us, the consumer, much more money. As little as you like coal plants, they perform a common good, in that they supply affordable, reliable electricity to the masses. AGW may change this, but this ongoing demonization of businesses that legally supply us with energy is somewhat shameful.

    And to suggest that any scientist could be bought for a piddly $10,000 is equally ludicrous. The suggestion that the tiny sum of $10,000 would upset the consensus of AGW is not even plausible.

    Demonizing big businesses engaged in legal, lawful activities is mostly psychological projection; where we absolve ourselves of any personal responsibility and thrust any necessity for ourselves to take any personal action by foisting any and all blame onto others.

    Regards,

    Comment by Paul G — 27 Nov 2006 @ 5:19 PM

  138. ==== Comment # 131 by Ike Solem ====

    However, shutting the plant down and building a solar replacement would cause economic pain to the owners of Peabody Coal and to the owners of the power plant, who make a lot of money supplying electricty to the lucrative California market. This is why the American Enterprise Institute (whose director is also the CEO of ExxonMobile) are offering $10,000 for ‘respected climate scientists’ who will serve as climate denialists. That’s the real economic picture.

    ====

    Your simplistic blame scenario is not true, and not helpful. At present, large scale solar and wind would cost us, the consumer, much more money. As little as you like coal plants, they perform a common good, in that they supply affordable, reliable electricity to the masses. AGW may change this, but this ongoing demonization of businesses that legally supply us with energy is somewhat shameful.

    And to suggest that any scientist could be bought for a piddly $10,000 is equally ludicrous. The suggestion that the tiny sum of $10,000 would upset the consensus of AGW is not even plausible.

    Demonizing big businesses engaged in legal, lawful activities is mostly psychological projection; where we absolve ourselves of any personal responsibility and thrust any necessity for ourselves to take any personal action by foisting any and all blame onto others.

    Regards,

    Comment by Paul G — 27 Nov 2006 @ 5:20 PM

  139. Re: MILAN – Global warming killed 150,000 people in 2000 and the death toll could double again in the next 30 years if current trends are not reversed, the World Health Organization says.

    In an earlier post I was criticised for asserting that climate will be shown to be “chaotic”. In one of the replies, scientists in general do believe weather to be “chaotic” by scientific definitions.
    Weather kills people, not climate. Scientists are on tenuous ground if they attribute deaths due to weather events on the climate changes. The causal relationship is difficult to demonstrate and impossible to “prove” scientifically. I will now assert that in a chaotic system (weather) the associated statistical averaging (climate or climate change) should not be attributed to either the frequency or severity of events in the chaotic system. I challenge the scientists on this forum to show causal evidence from the historical record to demonstrate this link suggested; or otherwise reject this statement by the WHO as unscientific.

    Comment by Marco Parigi — 27 Nov 2006 @ 7:19 PM

  140. RE #135, I suspect that WHO has grossly underestimated the actual death toll, due to the difficulties in scientifically, with a high level of certainty, establishing links from the warming (or CO2 emissions) to the harms. Someone informed me the 160,000 deaths/year only reflected deaths from disease spread due to GW. Farmers in India & Australia are committing suicide due to the droughts, but I doubt those are included in the death tolls. Do they even include at least a portion of the people dying from drought in Africa?

    Then there are the myriads of harms & death from other problems related to the same GHG-producing actions (such as coal & oil burning)….acid rain, local pollution, etc.

    [Okay, there are benefits from burning fossil fuels, too, like a high lifestyle, but I’m so happy I’m on 100% wind power. Hope others that can afford the $5 or so extra per month would also do the same where it’s available.]

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 27 Nov 2006 @ 8:33 PM

  141. Re: #137

    ‘Your simplistic blame scenario is not true, and not helpful. At present, large scale solar and wind would cost us, the consumer, much more money. As little as you like coal plants, they perform a common good, in that they supply affordable, reliable electricity to the masses. AGW may change this, but this ongoing demonization of businesses that legally supply us with energy is somewhat shameful.’

    This appears to be a simplification of what is a cost and what is a common good. I am guessing that if the full lifecycle ‘costs’ and ‘common good’ of electricity sourced from coal power were fully accounted for and understood by consumers, consumers would be very happy to ‘pay the extra cost’ of solar and or wind power.

    Comment by Tosh — 27 Nov 2006 @ 11:16 PM

  142. re: 137.”AGW may change this, but this ongoing demonization of businesses that legally supply us with energy is somewhat shameful.”

    Clearly some perspective on what is “shameful” is in order. DDT was “legally” applied on agriculture for many years with significant negative consequences on the ecosystem. Fortunately it was eventually regulated.

    Comment by Dan — 28 Nov 2006 @ 6:14 AM

  143. Re “Species extinctions are also greatly on the rise, and though a particular frog specie going extinct may not impact our human well-being much (except, perhaps, for more disease-carrying mosquitoes), biodiversity is so complex (according to my understanding of it), that our elimination of at least some species might have far-reaching repercussions harming our human well-being.”

    Lynn, you’re right that this is a serious problem, but I don’t think it’s directly related to global warming (though it increasingly will be as the world heats up). I believe the main thing now driving species extinction is the fact that humanity is expanding its numbers and its use of resources. In the short term, the biosphere is a zero-sum game. Animals are dying out because we’re eating their food.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 28 Nov 2006 @ 8:15 AM

  144. RE: #137. Your simplistic blame scenario is not true, and not helpful. At present, large scale solar and wind would cost us, the consumer, much more money. As little as you like coal plants, they perform a common good, in that they supply affordable, reliable electricity to the masses. AGW may change this, but this ongoing demonization of businesses that legally supply us with energy is somewhat shameful.’
    ——-
    Pointing out that Industry X causes air pollution is not demonizing it. It is just pointing out a verifiable scientific fact. Scientific facts are value neutral, by definition. Coal is a dirtier energy source than many other energy sources. That is a verifiable scientific fact. Simply stating that fact is not “demonizing” the coal industry. Facts are value neutral. The acid rain and mercury pollution in New England, which is severe in eastern Maine and Nova Scotia, is directly and provably due to emissions from coal plants in the mid-Atlantic corridor. This is a scientific fact. Scientific facts do not “demonize”. They don’t do anything. They just sit there and speak for themselves. As an aside, the coal industry has yet to offer a single penny of mitigation or compensation for the dozens of Atlantic salmon and brook trout rivers in Nova Scotia that are barren and biologically dead due to acid precipitation. This is a classic example of an externality that is not factored into the price of electricity derived from coal burning power plants. To have a scientifically responsible discussion of various energy sources, all externalities have to be included or else the analysis will be skewed from the very start. And energy efficiency must be given equal emphasis to energy sources. Energy efficiency is often left out of these type of discussions, which results in a flawed methodology and product from the outset. The economic and job benefits of energy efficiency technology alone warrant its equal consideration under any value analysis. Cheers.

    Comment by Doug Watts — 28 Nov 2006 @ 2:53 PM

  145. Re #139:

    Marco, you wrote: “Weather kills people, not climate. Scientists are on tenuous ground if they attribute deaths due to weather events on the climate changes. The causal relationship is difficult to demonstrate and impossible to “prove” scientifically. I will now assert that in a chaotic system (weather) the associated statistical averaging (climate or climate change) should not be attributed to either the frequency or severity of events in the chaotic system. I challenge the scientists on this forum to show causal evidence from the historical record to demonstrate this link suggested; or otherwise reject this statement by the WHO as unscientific.”

    That is the silliest thing I’ve read in months. You’re saying that during any of the historic ice ages, the increased snowfall (weather) that occurred can’t be attributed to the ice age (climate). Of course there is a causal relationship between the short-period chaotic phenomenon of weather and long-period climate. Can you even suggest any way in which they could be independent?

    Comment by Phillip Shaw — 28 Nov 2006 @ 3:50 PM

  146. ==== Comment # 141 by Tosh: ====
    “This appears to be a simplification of what is a cost and what is a common good. I am guessing that if the full lifecycle ‘costs’ and ‘common good’ of electricity sourced from coal power were fully accounted for and understood by consumers, consumers would be very happy to ‘pay the extra cost’ of solar and or wind power.”
    ====

    Consumers will be very displeased with greatly increased energy costs, even if it becomes necessary or mandatory. It is this resistance to higher costs by consumers that explains why little action has been taken so far. We are happy to support action against AGW in theory, but not so much in reality.

    ==== Comment # 142 by Dan: ====

    “Clearly some perspective on what is “shameful” is in order. DDT was “legally” applied on agriculture for many years with significant negative consequences on the ecosystem. Fortunately it was eventually regulated.”

    ====

    What is advocated in combatting AGW goes far, far beyond what occurred with DDT. Personally, I can not see any government in the world mandating reductions in CO2 emissions by 90%, can you?

    Regards,

    Comment by Paul G — 28 Nov 2006 @ 5:41 PM

  147. Animals are dying out because we’re eating their food.
    —-
    Not really. More correct attribution would be:

    a) Habitat destruction and modification over a significant portion of the species’ natural range.

    b) Over-harvesting (primarily ocean fish species)

    c) Causes A and B synergistically (great apes, smaller primates and large mammals, most acutely).

    d) Causes A and B along with toxic contaminant pollution, esp. DDT, PCBs, heavy metals. (especially large carnivores at top of food chain due to bioaccumulation)

    e) All of the above, and now increasingly in synergistic combination with climate change (polar bears, for one).

    Obviously, each and every species and population is affected by a differently weighted combination of the above general factors. Most disturbing and important is that species decline is severe right now and will continue to be so even if climate change were not happening and does not continue at present trends. Adding the synergistic impact of climate change onto the stresses which already exist could exponentially increase the risk of extinction, ie. by becoming the straw that breaks the camel’s back for species that might have otherwise made it through the bottleneck (sorry for the mixed metaphor). From direct experience in New England U.S.A. with Atlantic salmon, which are now close to extinction, you get to a point where there are just so few females left that the population loses all resiliency. Very small effective population size results in additional synergistic effects, particularly the harmful side effects of genetic bottlenecking and severe inbreeding among the few animals left. This is often called the extinction vortex. Many biologists believe the Right Whale, with only 300 or so animals left, are entering or have entered this vortex. Adding climate change to an already severely stressed and tiny remnant population could foreclose any hope of recovery even with massive, costly and elaborate long-term recovery efforts. So it’s extremely important, in my opinion, not to compartmentalize and consider in vacuo climate change impacts to animal/plant populations and ecosystems. That’s not how it works in real life. In real life, all of the various agents act at the same time in very complex ways, with numerous positive and negative feedback loops. Much like the weather.

    Comment by Doug Watts — 28 Nov 2006 @ 5:49 PM

  148. Re #146

    ‘Consumers will be very displeased with greatly increased energy costs, even if it becomes necessary or mandatory. It is this resistance to higher costs by consumers that explains why little action has been taken so far. We are happy to support action against AGW in theory, but not so much in reality.’

    Paul, if you read my statement again you will see that I think consumers need to understand the full costs/benefits of both sources of energy before we can make a ‘rational’ decision on price. I suggest that the reason people won’t pay a higher price is because they don’t understand the value represented by the price. For example, people pay more for a Britney Spears CD than they do for a local cover band copying Britney Spears because the difference is obvious.

    I don’t think enough people understand that although electricity is the same when it arrives at their house, it is produced in vastly different ways which affects its price.

    I suggest that the reason why limited action has been taken is because most people don’t fully understand the difference between clean and dirty electricity and that as a result of this, governments are not willing to take the political risk of increasing energy prices.

    Comment by Tosh — 28 Nov 2006 @ 6:30 PM

  149. “What is advocated in combatting AGW goes far, far beyond what occurred with DDT. Personally, I can not see any government in the world mandating reductions in CO2 emissions by 90%, can you?”

    No, DDT applications were banned throughout the US so that “reduction” was far beyond what is being proposed for CO2 at this time. Safer DDT alternatives were found to mitigate the economic impact to farmers and environment impacts in general. Same can be said with sources of CO2. Who is advocating CO2 reductions that are far beyond what occurred with DDT? In fact, that would impossible considering DDT was banned here. Positive results (economic and environmental) were achieved when DDT was replaced. CO2 mitigation and emission reductions would be similarly beneficial. Goodness, no one is saying CO2 must be cut 90%.

    Comment by Dan — 28 Nov 2006 @ 6:33 PM

  150. === Post # 148 by Dan: ===
    “Positive results (economic and environmental) were achieved when DDT was replaced. CO2 mitigation and emission reductions would be similarly beneficial. Goodness, no one is saying CO2 must be cut 90%.”

    ====

    A lot of people died when DDT was banned. It may have been fine (and affordable)to ban DDT here, but it was not in Africa.

    And C02 reduction would be massively more expensive then a simple ban on the use of DDT in North America. Our costs for energy would rise by an amount that millions would not be able to afford, without any observed benefit for decades. I don’t believe we are willing to pay that price as of yet.

    As for cutting CO2 emissions by 90%, George Monbiot advocates cuts of that magnitude; by 2030 no less!

    The Guardian Oct.31, 2006
    “Drastic action on climate change is needed now – and here’s the plan” – George Monbiot
    http://tinyurl.com/ylebvq

    Regards,

    Comment by Paul G — 28 Nov 2006 @ 7:10 PM

  151. Re: 148: Good comment, Dan. As important is that the banning of DDT created a broad economic incentive for farmers and former DDT manufacturers to develop more benign pesticides and herbicides. This effort then evolved to developing techniques (rather than treatments) that eliminated the need for chemicals altogether: organic farming.

    Organic farming was totally scoffed at for decades for many reasons. Ironically, in New England today, organic farming is becoming the preferred option and is actually saving a lot of small farms from going under. It’s not just that organic farming has multiple external benefits compared to intensive chemical agriculture — it’s that organic farming is actually more profitable, especially for small farms.

    I think there’s a very useful and important analog/lesson here as we discuss CO2 reductions. Pollution prevention can save money and create new economic opportunities if done the right way. But first we have to get over the conceptual hump and begin to look at the phase out or alteration of one particular technology as an opportunity rather than a sacrifice.

    This is why discussion and research into energy efficiency, rather than bickering about the various negative impacts of various energy sources, is critical. It’s the waste of energy that is the real problem. Pollution is waste, and by definition, wasteful.

    People in New England know this instinctively during the winter, when we stack up hay bales around our house foundations and put up plastic tape against small crevices on our windows. When your furnace is going full blast and you can feel the 10 degree air streaming in through a crevice, you tape it up, rather than turning the thermostat higher to compensate for all the super cooled air leaking into the house that the furnace then has to warm from scratch.

    People in northern climes know this instinctively and I think it is critical that this “old” intuitive knowledge is brought front and center to the discussion. Cheers.

    Comment by Doug Watts — 28 Nov 2006 @ 7:23 PM

  152. === Re: 3 147 by Doug Watts: ===
    “This is a classic example of an externality that is not factored into the price of electricity derived from coal burning power plants.”

    ===

    Where do I say I don’t agree with that? I am saying, is that if all these externalities were factored in, we the consumer, would pay much higher energy costs. So far, the general public has shown little, if any entheusiasm to be forced to pay for all the externalities.

    In spite of the supposed broad public support for “action” on AGW, I see little to indicate that we are actually prepared to pay, truly pay, for whatever action may really be required.

    Regards,

    Comment by Paul G — 28 Nov 2006 @ 7:47 PM

  153. And C02 reduction would be massively more expensive then a simple ban on the use of DDT in North America. Our costs for energy would rise by an amount that millions would not be able to afford, without any observed benefit for decades. I don’t believe we are willing to pay that price as of yet.
    —–
    I have to disagree with this in part due to the lack of supportive evidence. First, it creates a self-fulfilling prophesy that “proves itself” by citing itself as evidence.

    Even a layman like myself is aware that energy is being massively wasted in the U.S. Energy is not used efficiently, even by the abilities of existing technologies. In Maine, where I live, the various govts. are spending money to retrofit peoples’ homes with energy efficient windows, insulation etc. rather than handing out vouchers for heating oil, required in great part because the people cannot afford to have the insulation etc. done. But we’re still just scraping the surface of the surface of what can be done.

    In New England, the place I’m familiar with, our entire infrastructure and community design for the last 50 years has been constructed along the rubric of very cheap energy. When energy is cheap, it becomes cost-effective in the short-term to waste it. If heating oil is dirt cheap, it doesn’t make sense to insulate your house. It’s actually cheaper to not insulate and let the heat leak outside because the oil is so cheap. We in New England are now paying dearly for this short-sighted strategy which has been totally dependent on cheap fuel.

    It will take awhile — and take money — to turn it around. But it has to be done and it can be done in discrete, incremental steps. In my opinion, throwing our hands up in the air and saying it cannot be done without having even tried is a defeatist attitude.

    And lastly, the benefits of using energy more efficiently will not take decades to reveal themselves. It cost me and my wife $600 to fill our heating oil tank. Everything we can do to use that oil more efficiently during this winter will immediately accrue to us in actual cash savings. Just turning out the bathroom light saves us money. Taking a bath and leaving the hot water to stand until it reaches room temperature, rather than draining the tub immediately, allows the heat in the water to warm the room (and increase the humidity).

    We are confronted with insurmountable opportunities. Every little bit helps. It can be done. But we have to be creative, dogged and determined. Cheers.

    Comment by Doug Watts — 28 Nov 2006 @ 7:55 PM

  154. re: 150.

    I have yet to see a single credible reference that DDT was the reason a lot of people died in Africa after it was banned. Sadly, drought and famine are common there. The DDT factor is small in comparison.

    No, CO2 reduction would not be massively more expensive. Specifically, as an example, we know from recent experience from the 1990s onward with SO2 and NOX emission reductions in the US that similar claims from the fossil-fuel powered electric generating industry were simply not accurate, misleading or not rue. Yes, emission controls cost a lot but the economic and environmental benefits are generally not considered in the balance. Furthermore, for the most part, those same fossil-fuel electrical generating companies that had to add emission controls are still making substantial profits. Clearly the expense was not vital to their operations or bottom line. Nor did it cripple the economy as they consistently and loudly claimed it would prior to 1990 (when the Clean Air Act Amendments were passed). So I’d say their credibility on emission control and energy net costs is extremely shaky at best and certainly quite one-sided. Furthermore, the observed benefits of those emission controls were measured within years. In the past two years, additional NOx emission controls have been added whose benefits have also been specifically measured via significantly lowered background ground-level ozone concentrations.

    As for people not willing to pay the price, polls have shown quite the opposite. People are willing to pay if they know what the costs are and where the benefits are coming from.

    By saying “no one” is calling for a 90 percent reduction, it was in the context of only considering scientists and policy makers. I should have been clearer about that. George Monbiot is neither; he is a journalist/screenwriter/blogger. Fine, those are a dime a dozen on lots of issues. As someone once said, “On the Internet, anyone can pretend to be a star expert.”

    Comment by Dan — 28 Nov 2006 @ 8:32 PM

  155. Re “And C02 reduction would be massively more expensive…”

    I’ll tell you a simple way to reduce CO2 that doesn’t cost anyone a dime – at least from a certain perspective. Most states in the US impose a sales tax, typically around 5-6%. Simply switch that to a CO2 tax (on fossil-fuel generated electricity, gasoline, etc) that collects the same revenue as the sales tax did.

    Immediately after the change, therefore, people are paying on average exactly what they did before. However, they now have a much greater incentive to conserve energy, and to invest money in that conservation. Companies likewise have a considerable incentive to conserve, as this allows them to produce goods at lower cost, and so compete better.

    (This can even be extended to exert pressure on other countries, such as China. China’s economy is driven in large part by cheap exports. If those goods have to pay a CO2 tariff when they’re imported, the manufacturers have incentive to reduce the CO2 used in their production.)

    The thing about this is that, as far as I can tell, no one ever directly loses money under this system. They can choose to do nothing, and go on paying about the same overall tax as before, or they can choose to conserve/invest, pay lower taxes, and save money on the pre-tax cost of energy. Their choices impact their long-term profitability, of course, but so does every other choice made in the marketplace.

    Comment by James — 28 Nov 2006 @ 9:35 PM

  156. ==== Comment # 141 by Tosh: ====
    “This appears to be a simplification of what is a cost and what is a common good. I am guessing that if the full lifecycle ‘costs’ and ‘common good’ of electricity sourced from coal power were fully accounted for and understood by consumers, consumers would be very happy to ‘pay the extra cost’ of solar and or wind power.”
    ====

    Consumers will be very displeased with greatly increased energy costs, even if it becomes necessary or mandatory. It is this resistance to higher costs by consumers that explains why little action has been taken so far. We are happy to support action against AGW in theory, but not so much in reality.

    ==== Comment # 142 by Dan: ==== etc. etc.

    This thread demonstrates significant economic naivety regarding GHG reductions. The *Cheapest* way for the world to reduce them is through Carbon Taxes. The next cheapest way is via Globally traded GHG emmission quotas. The carbon tax is not really a net cost to consumers because the money can be reinvested into the community in Carbon neutral ways. The loss of competitiveness of the country is neutralised if the tax rate is fixed globally. Taxes can be increased, emissions quotas can be decreased over time to get the desired result. Alternative energies will become relatively cheaper and the most cost effective ones will be taken up first. Experiments will show that voluntary reductions from concerned citizens will not resolve the core issue which is a “tragedy of the commons” problem (see game theory). Kyoto does address the core issue, but citizens need to be accepting of higher energy prices (taxes) first and foremost if they want to help in their own way! Vote for governments that will introduce these taxes and emissions trading, that is the most important way individuals can help!

    Comment by Marco Parigi — 28 Nov 2006 @ 10:07 PM

  157. I have yet to see a single credible reference that DDT was the reason a lot of people died in Africa after it was banned. Sadly, drought and famine are common there. The DDT factor is small in comparison. — Dan.

    Thanks again, Dan. I have seen a disturbing re-emergence of a myth surrounding DDT in the last year.

    Unfortunately, I have first-hand experience with DDT in New England, which was saturated with the stuff before and during my childhood and teenage years. I say unfortunately because I am now 42 and am just now seeing fairly healthy populations of native bird species that were almost completely absent when I was growing up. Bald eagles. Osprey. Great Blue heron. Green heron. American bittern. Bluebirds.

    Bald eagles have still not recovered in southeastern Mass., where I grew up. We have maybe 2-3 breeding pair now, at Assawompsett Pond. Where I live now on the Kennebec River in Maine, bald eagles still have very high levels of DDE in them that is impairing their ability to give birth. American eels in Maine are full of DDE, based upon recent assays conducted at the University of Texas lab on behalf of my friends at Friends of Merrymeeting Bay. Their website (google the name) contains PDFs of the analyses.

    Some people have an interest, economic or otherwise, in attempting revisionism and applying this all anew to the very simple but critical issue of addressing CO2 emissions and all of the other pollutants arising from fossil fuel burning. It’s a very old and tired debate which I have little interest in engaging in. There is a path to getting out of it, but it requires dropping entirely the “you must prove it” mentality. It’s argument for argument’s sake, just like the very funny Monty Python sketch of the same topic.

    And I know, because I am constantly litigating against various corporations in Maine who are harming Maine’s rivers, that arguing for argument’s sake is a viable strategy if one is committed to the status quo and is resistant to any consideration of improving one’s environmental performance, even if doing so would actually increase profitability in the long term.

    Curtailing fossil fuel emissions is just not about CO2. This is fallacy. Curtailing Mercury and SO2 and NOX emissions is critical to people, esp. children and wildife. Ground Level Ozone Pollution (GLOP) is incredibly bad for people with asthma in the Northeast U.S. Its precursors are due to fossil fuel combustion, much from coal burning plants. Loons and waterfowl in Maine are chock full of mercury, again from coal power plants.

    Acid precipitation has literally killed dozens of otherwise pristine watersheds in Eastern Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. SO2 and NOX are the primary culprits. The bedrock underlying these rivers is crystalline, granitic and has no buffering capacity. The pH is too low for trout and salmon to live in them. This is about much more than CO2 and climate change. Air pollution is air pollution. I think that is a simple and clear message that people can understand. Certainly people who have children with asthma. They understood it in the 1970s. I think they can today.

    Comment by Doug Watts — 28 Nov 2006 @ 10:47 PM

  158. === Re: Comment # 156 by Marco Parigi: ===
    This thread demonstrates significant economic naivety regarding GHG reductions. The *Cheapest* way for the world to reduce them is through Carbon Taxes. The next cheapest way is via Globally traded GHG emmission quotas. The carbon tax is not really a net cost to consumers because the money can be reinvested into the community in Carbon neutral ways.
    ===

    Of course the carbon tax would be a net cost to us. By forcing consumers to spend this new tax on CO2 reductions, consumers would have less money for items such as: education, medical insurance, retirement, etc..

    We CAN put a tax on CO2 if we like, but because it is envisioned that we MUST reduce CO2 emissions in the order of 50% to 75% (90% if you ask George Monbiot :)), the amount of the carbon tax would have to be huge, and the economic dislocation would be massive.

    At present, I see no sign of the general public being supportive of measures that drastic.

    Regards,

    Comment by Paul G — 29 Nov 2006 @ 12:25 AM

  159. The thing about this is that, as far as I can tell, no one ever directly loses money under this system. They can choose to do nothing, and go on paying about the same overall tax as before, or they can choose to conserve/invest, pay lower taxes, and save money on the pre-tax cost of energy. Their choices impact their long-term profitability, of course, but so does every other choice made in the marketplace.

    There is one slight flaw in this argument in that again using game theory, one country doing it doesn’t address the tragedy of the commons problem. Emmissions intensive industries tend to be exported to countries with a lower tax, thus being no net reduction. Getting every country to measure and truthfully report on it, and having a protocol (Kyoto) as a reference to measure your progress helps unilateral measures succeed, however.

    Comment by Marco Parigi — 29 Nov 2006 @ 12:58 AM

  160. With all respect to Marco Parigi (and i think he is correct), the major conceptual hump is and will always be externalities. Externalities, as I use the term here, is just seeing birds in your yard and butterflies on your flowers. This has immense meaning and value to people and always has and always will.

    If an economist type person wants to quantitatively estimate the elusive “what are people willing to pay for?” — just look at bird feeder and bird seed sales. Look at pet food sales. Humans are innately bound to, and love and cherish their environment and the animals that live with them in it. It is hard wired into our genome. To address climate change and pollution (to me, the same thing) we need scientific specialists. Obviously. But we also need scientific generalists. And we need skilled and stubborn historians, as the top post on the Greenland climatological record illustrates.

    At any point in the analytical process, the skills of a certain specialty move to the forefront, and later recede. Each specialty contributes to the whole. But to make sense of the whole, all of us, from all specialties, must become generalists or else we become unable to make sense of the data we have generated. This defeats the entire purpose for gathering the data.

    Compartmentalizing has its value at certain moments, but becomes disastrous at other moments, just like a microscope at 10X power and 1000X power, naked eye view, or a telescope reveals certain things but makes you blind to other things.

    Our brains have evolved to work at all powers, from the micro to macroscopic, and to constantly shift back and forth and utilize pattern recognition to conceptualize the sensory data. That’s who and what we are.

    Comment by Doug Watts — 29 Nov 2006 @ 2:57 AM

  161. Re #156, #138, etc.

    When you talk about the cost of replacing coal-fired plants you seem to ignore the economic benefits of a renewable energy manufacturing industry, which includes solar, wind turbines and biofuels. This will mean a shift in the economic structure away from oil importers and coal producers, but you’re ignoring the overall economic picture by focusing on just the fossil fuel industry.

    Carbon trading is a failure, even though similar proposals did work for CFC’s and other ozone-depleting chemicals. William Schlesinger writes about this in the most recent issue of Science; the problem is that there are a huge number of factors that play into global CO2 emissions, from deforestation to industrial fossil fuel use to charcoal burning to cement production, and no ‘cap-and-trade’ scenario can possibly address all these different sources. The article is at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/314/5803/1217

    The fossil fuel industry enjoys massive federal tax subsidies, such as the oil depletion allowance and so on. Simply switching these tax subsidies away from fossil fuels and toward renewables (for example, allowing solar panel factory construction costs to be a write-off, or switching agricultural subsidies to sustainable biofuel schemes) would have a hugely beneficial effect on the availability and cost of renewable energy.

    In short, your economic viewpoint seems narrow and naive; you should look at the bigger picture.

    While I’m not trying to ‘demonize’ the fossil fuel industry, it is clear that the industry has been actively promoting the climate denialists (such as Singer and Michaels) for quite some time now, and their positions are scientifically unsupportable. I’d rather see the domestic fossil fuel industry invest in biofuel plants (petroleum engineering and biofuel engineering have many similarities) than in public relations operations – and some US firms are actually doing just that. There’s no getting around the basic need to cut off foriegn fossil fuel imports, however.

    Given that CO2 emissions are accelerating and that the Stern Report predicts economic catastrophe from unchecked global warming, the rational economic strategy should be one of massive investment in renewable energy. China, for example, is now planning the world’s largest solar plant, and their stated reasons are economic.

    Note: The CO2 emission rates were 1% a year before 2000, and a recent study by the Global Carbon Project, supported by World Meteorological Organization studies shows 2.5% per year since 2000. The article is available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6189600.stm This isn’t alarmist (though anyone who is paying attention should be alarmed!) – it’s fact-based reality. Good topic for a realclimate contributer?

    Comment by Ike Solem — 29 Nov 2006 @ 3:30 AM

  162. Tuvalu is the poster child of AGW used repeatedly but misleadingly by alarmists to illustrate the disasters to come in a warmer world. Using this example largely refuted by recent satelitte observations only serves to discredit the author.
    Tuvalu, like many other volcanic islands in the region is simply sinking at a rate of more than 5mm/year, just like many other regions in the world (England is naturally sinking at a rate of 3mm/year!). As to the sea level there, satellite measures (Topex/Poseidon and Jason) show that from 1993 to 2005, no sea rise occured there and some regions even witnessed a decrease: see the data of University of Colorado here.

    BTW, for more than 20.000 years, the mean sea rise rate has been about 7 mm/year, with some peaks at 50mm/year (5m/century) , well before the current GHG concentrations. Who should we blame ?

    Comment by Demesure — 29 Nov 2006 @ 5:05 AM

  163. Re: 161In short, your economic viewpoint seems narrow and naive; you should look at the bigger picture.

    This is rich. You are lecturing about the economics of reducing CO2 and you have links to articles by authors who have no economics expertise. It seems that this forum has gone full circle, starting with criticizing a person with economics experience for lecturing on climate change- To environmentalists lecturing on economic details.
    If you have doubts about the merits of carbon trading I suggest you read the following link selling hot air. Not only does it seem that greenhouse emissions trading is working to reduce emissions, but that the side benefit is increased energy prices in areas like Europe (which is further enabling further CO2 reductions), and a large transfer of associated money from the first world to the third world (albeit mainly China) on UN approved project of greenhouse emmission reduction.

    and the full survey by The Economist:
    Survey of the environment

    Comment by Marco Parigi — 29 Nov 2006 @ 6:37 AM

  164. Re 145: That is the silliest thing I’ve read in months. You’re saying that during any of the historic ice ages, the increased snowfall (weather) that occurred can’t be attributed to the ice age (climate). Of course there is a causal relationship between the short-period chaotic phenomenon of weather and long-period climate. Can you even suggest any way in which they could be independent?

    On climate science there are bona fide climate scientists who would agree that the causal relationships found so far are tenuous at best. see:
    http://climatesci.atmos.colostate.edu/2006/08/22/real-climate-post-on-weather-and-climate/#comments

    On your example, during the ice ages, are blizzards more severe? Cold snaps more common? Is there any evidence for this. The causal links between global temperature averages and CO2 are established historically. Causal links between global warming and *more* deadly weather events in general needs more than the model to fit the data. It requires statistical forecasting accuracy similar in kind to the southern oscillation index (el Nino). If warm ocean sections are said to be causing weather events, it should just be a matter of measuring temperatures of the ocean and we can predict droughts, floods etc. in a statistical sense. Ocean currents are a little bit akin to weather also we can’t really predict how they will change in the future, with or without global warming.

    [Response: To everyone on this thread, please keep the tone civil. On the ice ages issue, any definition of cold snap that used a fixed temperature threshold (such as below -10 C in New York) will obviously lead to more occurences then than now (given that there was an ice sheet over the city). Each other kinds of extreme, such as hurricanes, need to be examined separately and in many cases it is not (yet) clear how large any effect might be. -gavin]

    Comment by Marco Parigi — 29 Nov 2006 @ 7:04 AM

  165. Re:Of course the carbon tax would be a net cost to us. By forcing consumers to spend this new tax on CO2 reductions, consumers would have less money for items such as: education, medical insurance, retirement, etc..

    No-one will be *forced* to pay the tax. This is a democracy we are talking about – we will demand to pay the tax :). Revenues can be spent on the needy for say…. education, medical insurance, retirement… in a carbon neutral way if that is what is demanded by voters.

    Comment by Marco Parigi — 29 Nov 2006 @ 7:21 AM

  166. Re “A lot of people died when DDT was banned. It may have been fine (and affordable)to ban DDT here, but it was not in Africa.”

    It wasn’t banned in Africa, either, so it’s difficult to attribute any deaths there to the ban.

    [Response: No more on DDT, please. Take it to Deltoid. -gavin]

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 29 Nov 2006 @ 8:49 AM

  167. Re “It is hard wired into our genome.”

    I doubt it. The human evolutionary specialty is flexibility of behavior. Whatever E.O. Wilson said, humans are not ants. We have a certain degree of free will.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 29 Nov 2006 @ 8:54 AM

  168. Ref: 162 demesure

    Here’s a couple of quotes from:
    Church et al (2006)Sea-level rise at tropical Pacific and Indian Ocean islands, Global and Planetary Change (53)
    They seem challenge your understanding of the situation in Tuvalu. From a quick read it would appear that your ‘source’ for the “no sea level rise” might not have meant such concrete assertions to have been attributed to the “raw data” that they used.

    Church et al acknowledge the isostatic subsidence issue but still come down on the side of 2±1 mm/yr.

    “A number of recent studies (Leuliette et al., 2004; Church et al., 2004; Holgate and Woodworth, 2004; Cazenave and Nerem, 2004) also confirm the global average sea-level rise from altimeter studies, with estimates varying over a small range depending on the details of the calculation. In direct contrast, Morner (2004) shows a plot (his Fig. 2) of sea-level variations from October 1992 to April 2000, based on TOPEX/Poseidon data, ostensibly showing that there is no rise in GMSL. This is described as being “raw data”, and appears to be cycle-by-cycle (10 day) averages of global mean sea-level. Unfortunately, there is neither a description of the data that were used to produce this figure, nor a reference to its source. In order to be a meaningful estimate of global mean sea-level, a number of corrections would have been necessary, including wet tropospheric path delay, dry tropospheric path delay, ionospheric path delay, sea-state bias and tides, but it is unclear which, if any, of these well-known and understood corrections have been applied.”

    “Over 1950 to 2001, the relative rate of sealevel rise at Funafuti estimated from the reconstruction is 1.6±0.5 mm/yr. A more recent analysis using tide-gauge data from 1978 to 2004 inclusive indicates a sea-level rise of 2.3± 1.6 mm/yr relative to the NTC tide-gauge benchmark.
    This is higher than, but statistically consistent with, the earlier estimate of 0.8±1.9 mm/yr. Taken together, we conclude that a best estimate of the rate of relative sealevel rise at Funafuti is 2±1 mm/yr.”

    Regards

    Comment by Hugh — 29 Nov 2006 @ 8:57 AM

  169. re: 158. “…the economic dislocation would be massive.”

    Once again this is a red herring. All the evidence to date, as I previously cited, has shown exactly the opposite has occurred when emission controls were applied. The economic impact was minimal at best relative to other factors. The 1990s had some of the strongest economic growth in US history while some of the strongest emission controls were applied.

    Comment by Dan — 29 Nov 2006 @ 9:37 AM

  170. Re #152: “I’d rather see the domestic fossil fuel industry invest in biofuel plants (petroleum engineering and biofuel engineering have many similarities) than in public relations operations – and some US firms are actually doing just that. There’s no getting around the basic need to cut off foriegn fossil fuel imports, however.”

    Finally we agree on something. In fact, the petroleum industry is investing significantly in biofuels. Genetic engineering of switchgrass is being researched with fervor at the Noble Foundation in Oklahoma and other labs. The Noble Foundation is an offshoot of Noble Energy (a large independent oil company). I have been told by a reliable source that their research is very promising. Stay tuned.

    The petroleum industry is the modern-day haygrower, the automobile the horse. It may be that indeed we end up growing some hay again.

    Comment by Bryan Sralla — 29 Nov 2006 @ 10:24 AM

  171. Re #170: Sorry, my last comment was directed at #161.

    Comment by Bryan Sralla — 29 Nov 2006 @ 11:48 AM

  172. Re: #1

    How about “cannot be explained without human-released greenhouse gases”?

    Some would say that you cannot prove a negative. The fact is, we cannot explain it without human-released greenhouse gases. This is as much as can be said, IMHO.

    Comment by Sashka — 29 Nov 2006 @ 12:55 PM

  173. Re #159: “There is one slight flaw in this argument in that again using game theory, one country doing it doesn’t address the tragedy of the commons problem. Emmissions intensive industries tend to be exported to countries with a lower tax, thus being no net reduction.”

    In a simplistic analysis, this is true. However, if those countries that impose the CO2 tax also impose equivalent tariffs on the imported goods produced by those exported emissions-intensive industries, it would seem that the net effect on CO2 would be positive. For a concrete example, say the industry is exported from the US to China. That factory won’t be selling just to the US, but to anyone in the world who’ll buy. So if it reduces its CO2 footprint to get a better competitive advantage in the US market, that will also reduce its footprint in the entire world, no?

    Secondly, there are the diplomatic and technical aspects. It’s going to be extremely difficult to persuade countries like China and India to reduce CO2, if the US and other developed nations aren’t willing to take the lead in doing so. Likewise, the developed nations have more capital to invest in low-CO2 tech, which the developed world can adopt when it is proven.

    Comment by James — 29 Nov 2006 @ 1:29 PM

  174. > I have been told by a reliable source …..
    Can we assume that’s public news, not insider information (per the SEC rules)?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2006 @ 1:54 PM

  175. Re: #119

    statements about climate and weather models do not equal conclusions about the real world

    I wonder which side will emphasize this fact during the cirrent Supreme Court hearings.

    Comment by Sashka — 29 Nov 2006 @ 2:18 PM

  176. Re #173: The Noble Foundation is a private non-profit research organisation. The foundation was created by the Noble family prior to Noble Energy (previoulsy Noble Affiliates) becoming publicly traded. They are not offically related any longer. Here is some history:
    http://www.noble.org/Admin/WhoWeAre/index.htm

    Comment by Bryan Sralla — 29 Nov 2006 @ 2:56 PM

  177. Re #173: Hank, here is some additional information on Noble’s switchgrass research:
    http://www.noble.org/press%5Frelease/features/2006/switchtosg/index.html

    Also interesting is the fact that Mr. Fleischaker is also the president of an Oklahoma oil and gas exploration company.

    Comment by Bryan Sralla — 29 Nov 2006 @ 3:05 PM

  178. === Comment # 169 by Dan: ===
    “Once again this is a red herring. All the evidence to date, as I previously cited, has shown exactly the opposite has occurred when emission controls were applied. The economic impact was minimal at best relative to other factors. The 1990s had some of the strongest economic growth in US history while some of the strongest emission controls were applied.”
    ====

    My civil reply: :)
    Dan, reducing pollutants is one thing; reducing CO2, by the levels advocated, say 50% to 60% is another. I believe the costs would be quite possibly, very high. And if enacted too quickly, could cause large scale economic disruption. But since I am at this site to learn something, I will attempt to keep an open mind.

    Regards,

    Comment by Paul G — 29 Nov 2006 @ 10:16 PM

  179. Re: 173 :Secondly, there are the diplomatic and technical aspects. It’s going to be extremely difficult to persuade countries like China and India to reduce CO2, if the US and other developed nations aren’t willing to take the lead in doing so. Likewise, the developed nations have more capital to invest in low-CO2 tech, which the developed world can adopt when it is proven.

    Broadly, your arguments are spot on! I wish the general population would see the light. It appears the best diplomatic approach to developing countries is to bind them to accurately measuring and disclosing their emmissions. This opens the door to future caps, and they can be involved with carbon trading with projects such as methane capture, sequestration etc.

    Comment by Marco Parigi — 29 Nov 2006 @ 11:05 PM

  180. re 173/179: diplomacy? i am not sure you can lump china and india together here nor assume that the US/developed countries are in any position to take the lead. china’s one child policy may be seen as the most significant CO2 curtailment initiative of any country over the last 20 years; ultimately any fair global carbon trading mechanisms must acknowledge this for what it is. if for example a system was adopted that gave the same annual (or lifespan?) CO2 allowance per person globally then there should probably be national credits for such initiatives that limit population and avoid future CO2 emissions

    Comment by james goodman — 30 Nov 2006 @ 3:14 AM

  181. re: 178. My last comment on this since this conversation is clearly going nowhere: For the second or third time, it was clearly shown in the 1990s that reducing pollutants by 50% within 10 years or less did not come close to causing “large scale economic disruption”. Time and time again that “economic havoc” canard is brought out despite the track record which shows the complete opposite is true. There is simply no objective evidence (i.e. other than from the vested-interest fossil-fuel generators who have quite little credibility based on what has happened in the recent past) whatsoever to support the tired claim that CO2 reductions will cause economic havoc. Certain politicians and coal-fired power producers saying it will happen have little to stand on.

    Comment by Dan — 30 Nov 2006 @ 6:15 AM

  182. #140 and others,

    the lowest death rate per produced kWh is from nuclear power plants. (Including Chernobyl etc.) If you really want to save lifes, renewable energy is not the way. End of story. Also, harsch climate reduces life span not the opposite. Anything else is pure nonsense. In Sweden the indoor climate is kept at 18C whatever the temperature outside (i.e -10 C or colder). But take a look at UK and their crappy building quality. People are actually freezing to death in doors during the winter. Not mentioning the shortened lifes due to reduced function of the immune systems. Warmer climate in UK would save lifes, not take them, but this effect will not be seen in Scandinavia.

    Sweden has the highest CO2 taxes in the world (and that goes for the other taxes too). This country is expecting an annual growth of 4% or moore this year. That is from an already high level of living standard. Then, of course, it is possible to tax CO2 to its extinction. There are also tax reductions available if you exchange your oil burner to a heat pump.

    But in my view, shouldn´t there first be hard evidence that there is a connection between (anthropogenic) CO2 forcing and (unwanted) climate change? I have yet to see such an evidence, not mere speculations or models breaking apart in their contact with reality. To my knowledge the recent cooling (3 yrs now) of the oceans has not been predicted anywhere, except by the solar theory fans. And don’t get me wrong, I am equally tired of the denialists as the alarmists.

    Comment by Jan — 30 Nov 2006 @ 10:38 AM

  183. Re #182

    How can you not understand it, Jan. The modelers can predict what will happen in 100-300 years, but not in 3 years. ;-)

    I think you are quite right in that UK, Sweden (also Canada and North-Central USA) will only benefit from the climate change. The problem is that tropical countries will suffer. It won’t be fair to ignore their problems, especially because it’s us who produce most CO2.

    Comment by Sashka — 30 Nov 2006 @ 11:34 AM

  184. re: 183, Sashka:

    Are you possibly leaving out of consideration the expectation that GW will eventually kill the Gulf Stream current? That would lead to rather cold winters in the UK, and I think in the Nordic countries as well.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 30 Nov 2006 @ 12:07 PM

  185. Re: #184.

    Expectation? There is no such expectation. There is a remote possibility. It is so remote that nobody in a right mind would dare to estimate the probability of such event over given time horizon.

    Then again, not everyone agrees that Gulf Stream is so important for the climate in Nordic countries. For example Dr. Seager of Columbia University happens to think otherwise:

    http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/div/ocp/gs/

    Comment by Sashka — 30 Nov 2006 @ 1:09 PM

  186. re: 185, Sashka:

    – Not knowing a specific timeframe for something is not the same as knowing that it will never happen.

    – The director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute seemed to think this was worth some consideration in 2003: http://www.whoi.edu/institutes/occi/viewArticle.do?id=9986

    I’m not in a position to evaluate their relative degrees of expertise on this matter.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 30 Nov 2006 @ 3:57 PM

  187. I didn’t say we ought to know specific timeframe. We don’t even know that it it will ever happen. And we cannot estimate a probability of such event: not in this century, not ever. All this story is essentially a speculation. It is kind of like talking about bacteria living under Martian ice. A good story but we simply don’t know.

    The personal experise of the good director of WHOI is not really the matter. He is not an active scientist anyhow but his talk was surely proofread by extremely competent stuff. Seager is addressing a lot more narrow issue, though.

    Comment by Sashka — 30 Nov 2006 @ 5:04 PM

  188. RE: Economic disruptions, small or large scale. This phrase is by definition subjective. It needs to be either discarded or supplanted with specifics and the evidence to support those specifics. Its standalone use fosters unproductive “data less” debates. For example, the invention of the automobile created an enormous economic disruption for the horse drawn carriage industry — but created a massive increase in the previously non-existent asphalt and paving industry. The examples are endless and obvious. Let’s attempt, if we can, to focus on measurable and quantifiable terms of reference whenever possible. That’s what makes this site different and useful. Cheers.

    Comment by Doug Watts — 30 Nov 2006 @ 7:55 PM

  189. Re 188: Let’s attempt, if we can, to focus on measurable and quantifiable terms of reference whenever possible. That’s what makes this site different and useful.

    In a purely economic sense estimations of costs of reducing GHG’s vs. costs of Global warming(assuming climatological predictions estimated by experts) go as follows. Estimates of costs of Global warming range from zero to 50 trillion dollars over a period of a few decades. The costs of reducing GHG’s by moderate amounts over the timescale of a few decades can be minimal *IF economists recommendations are followed!*. Most think-tanks are of the opinion that a moderate amount should be allocated for GHG reductions as a kind of “insurance” against the most expensive estimations of cost of GW.

    Comment by Marco Parigi — 30 Nov 2006 @ 11:58 PM

  190. === Re: Comment #181 by Dan ===
    “re: 178. My last comment on this since this conversation is clearly going nowhere: For the second or third time, it was clearly shown in the 1990s that reducing pollutants by 50% within 10 years or less did not come close to causing “large scale economic disruption”. Time and time again that “economic havoc” canard is brought out despite the track record which shows the complete opposite is true. There is simply no objective evidence (i.e. other than from the vested-interest fossil-fuel generators who have quite little credibility based on what has happened in the recent past) whatsoever to support the tired claim that CO2 reductions will cause economic havoc. Certain politicians and coal-fired power producers saying it will happen have little to stand on.”
    =====

    Dan, reducing pollutants peripheral to an energy source can often be accomplished without severe cost. The ultra-low sulphur diesel fuel we have now is an example.

    CO2 is a much different matter in that we will require completely new power sources. Since new nuclear is taboo, that appears to be solar and wind power. And both fail the 7/24/365 supply test, so we still must keep a backup energy source. The costs would be enormous, and disruptive.

    In my province Alberta, new wind farms have recently been curtailed. Why? The grid can not handle the sudden ebbs and surges from windpower beyond a certain level.

    Secondly, the traditional power plants have to be ready to pick up the slack, at very short notice, when wind speeds are low so there is the huge extra cost of now having two power sources. Wind power is erratic and unreliable and more expensive.

    While positive changes should be made, I also don’t buy the arguement of many environmentalists who proclaim a rosy transition to clean energy. The recently released Stern report highlights the heavy and ongoing costs there would be to reducing CO2 emissions.

    Regards,

    Comment by Paul G — 1 Dec 2006 @ 12:53 AM

  191. Re “the lowest death rate per produced kWh is from nuclear power plants. (Including Chernobyl etc.) If you really want to save lifes, renewable energy is not the way. End of story.”

    That is hardly the end of the story. And your factoid about deaths per kwh is wrong if you factor in the non-immediate deaths caused by Chernobyl, which are estimated to be in the thousands if not tens of thousands.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 1 Dec 2006 @ 7:17 AM

  192. Some real-world data obtained by a German company operating large amounts of wind-farm power are summarized here and the report by the company is online here. Information about wind power in Ireland is available here. The actual operational information from the German company are not very encouraging.

    The number of deaths due to the Chernobyl accident seems to be disputed. The Wiki entry has links to many different sources. It seems to me that the authoritative sources, IAEA and WHO, have much smaller numbers than organizations that I would classify as ‘political’ with a well-known anti-nuclear-power bias and axes to grind.

    Comment by Dan Hughes — 1 Dec 2006 @ 9:12 AM

  193. In #119 above it is stated: ” ..statements about climate and weather models do not equal conclusions about the real world…” and later ” a reasonable inference that this applies to the real world also.” Seems to me to be in contradiction; unless of course ‘conclusions’ does not equal ‘reasonable inference’. Whatever the case, I completely agree that statements about models do not equal conclusions about the real world. Following are some additional thoughts regarding chaos and weather and climate relative to the model calculations.

    ” … and you can indeed calculate the Lyapunov exponents …” I will agree that in the case of ODEs, for which all, each and every one, of the time constants for all modeled physical phenomena and process are very accurately resolved the exponents can be determined in this way. However, ODEs and a system composed of algebraic plus ODEs plus PDEs and associated boundary conditions and with many stopping criteria are far from the same thing. Discretization of the PDEs introduces additional parameters into the equations that represent the models; at least three for the spatial increments and one for the temporal increment and several for the various stopping criteria.

    ODE solvers actually solve the system to machine accuracy, and importantly, convergence of the discrete approximations is always a part of the analyses. The AOLGCM codes do not solve the equation system. Accurate resolution of the time constants for the modeled physical phenomena is not a consideration. Convergence of the discrete spatial grid is also not a consideration. Many of the parameterizations are intended to supply models for phenomena and processes that occur on significantly smaller spatial scale than the discrete resolution can supply. I think that I can state that very likely the major consideration relative to resolution of temporal and spatial phenomena and processes is that the run time for the calculation be reasonable.

    In the absence of a convergence study for both the temporal and spatial increments and stopping criteria, one does not know that the numerical methods are even operating in the asymptotic range for the theoretical truncation errors. While the theoretical truncation errors might be of second order, for example, the actual calculations might correspond to larger truncation errors. As other examples, imposed algebraic sub-grid models can easily increase the magnitude of the truncation errors as can numerical approximations to boundary conditions. Under these conditions, the exponents determined by calculations are those for the numerical methods, or lack thereof, for that calculation. The exponents so determined in no ways whatsoever correspond to those for the continuous equations. And they certainly do not represent that real-world weather or climate is chaotic.

    Additionally it seems to me that ultimately, far, far into the future, weather models and climate models will tend to converge toward a common calculation. That is, eventually, AOLGCMs will be of sufficient detail relative to physical phenomena and accurate temporal and spatial resolutions that the weather will simply be an outcome of the calculations.

    While as you say, no one considers the various Lorenz models to represent the real world, they are almost always invoked whenever discussions of chaos and weather arise. In this sense I think whatever is used to “illustrate certain phenomenology” should be a reasonable and correct analogy, or simpler model, of the issues under discussion. The continuous ODEs of these models are in no ways representative of the status of investigations of chaos in either weather models/codes or the real world.

    Finally, I would like to ask what are the ramifications of the fact that the existence of attractors for the continuous equations is not known has on all the discussions relative to calculations that seem to demonstrate chaotic behavior. That is, if in fact attractors do not exist do the interpretations of the calculations as showing chaotic behavior remain correct? Aren’t attractors necessary in order for the calculated trajectories to be meaningful and usable. Should not the ranges of the parameters for which existance of the attractors and the chaotic behavior is possible also be known.

    Thank for you all corrections and additional information.

    Comment by Dan Hughes — 1 Dec 2006 @ 11:33 AM

  194. A lot of discussion has been made regarding Solar and wind as “solutions” or great white hopes for CO2 reduction. This contradicts what is happening in the real world. It appears the “most effective” (ie. most cost effective) current process is the capture of methane etc. or as I like to put it the Reduction Of GHG’s Other Than Co2 (ROGHGOTCO2). Also inferrable to where money from carbon neutralisation is likely to go to after all ROGHGOTCO2 is exhausted will be Carbon sequestration in Coal fired power plants. Given this, huge (energy) investments into renewables is excessively wasteful and driven by (economically) naive voters in major democracies. Voters should be pushing for direct investments in ROGHGOTCO2 urgently, approvals of new plants that include Carbon sequestration, and Carbon trading which will automatically discover the most effective systems of each individual geographical location.

    Comment by Marco Parigi — 3 Dec 2006 @ 11:40 PM

  195. Re #194: I disagree. One of the benefits of solar is that we don’t have to wait around for government and/or industry to get off their collective behinds. Even now, individuals can, with a bit of ingenuity, install solar systems that greatly reduce their household load, often with a reasonable payback period on their investment. Methane capture, OTOH, is not something I’d expect the average homeowner to be able to do – at least not without running afoul of zoning laws :-)

    As for carbon sequestration, I confess I just can’t think of any way to do it efficiently. If you’ve got a coal plant, you’d somehow have to capture the hot exhaust gasses going up the smokestack, separate the CO2 from the N and trace gasses, compress it or react it with something, transport it to the played-out oil well or wherever you plan to sequester it, and pump it into the ground. Seems like doing all that is going to use up a significant fraction of the energy you expected to get from burning the coal to begin with.

    Of course this isn’t as bad as my favorite sequestration suggestion, which involved growing tanks of algae under artifical light in disused mines. The CO2 would be piped in from the powerplant, which would also run the lights :-)

    Comment by James — 4 Dec 2006 @ 9:41 PM

  196. Re: 195 I disagree. One of the benefits of solar is that we don’t have to wait around for government and/or industry to get off their collective behinds. Even now, individuals can, with a bit of ingenuity, install solar systems that greatly reduce their household load, often with a reasonable payback period on their investment. Methane capture, OTOH, is not something I’d expect the average homeowner to be able to do – at least not without running afoul of zoning laws

    The amount of energy generated by the solar cells only reaches the amount of energy used to make the cells after two and a half years (on average) Installing solar cells involves an inflexible investment with long term breakeven in CO2 emissions and in dollar terms. Compare this with spending the same amount to a “Carbon Neutral” company. The GHG reductions are immediate, the most efficient reductions are sold to you, and there is no real minimum or maximum you can spend on GHG reduction in this way. An example of the principle was applied by The Economist newspaper in their recent “survey of the environment”
    Quote from the Economist Environment survey “This survey, which generated about 118 tonnes of carbon dioxide from flights, car journeys, paper production, printing and distribution, has been carbon-neutralised through the Carbon Neutral Company. The cost was £590; the money was spent on capturing methane from an American mine.”

    And at the moment it is quite clear that no-one has to wait for the government, little ingenuity is required (just a bit of economic common sense). When solar starts to make economic sense, carbon neutral companies will be using this invested money on solar electricity!

    As for carbon sequestration, I confess I just can’t think of any way to do it efficiently. If you’ve got a coal plant, you’d somehow have to capture the hot exhaust gasses going up the smokestack, separate the CO2 from the N and trace gasses, compress it or react it with something, transport it to the played-out oil well or wherever you plan to sequester it, and pump it into the ground. Seems like doing all that is going to use up a significant fraction of the energy you expected to get from burning the coal to begin with. Of course this isn’t as bad as my favorite sequestration suggestion, which involved growing tanks of algae under artifical light in disused mines. The CO2 would be piped in from the powerplant, which would also run the lights

    Why be so speculative? Plenty of Coalmines/power stations are already sequestering their emissions for other reasons. I’m sure there is plenty of information on how they are cost-effectively doing it if you google it. As far as I know, They are using the depleted underground mines where the coal was dug up with simple systems that “pump” it and keep it there. I think the latent pressure of the hot gases means that no extra energy is used to get it there.

    Comment by Marco Parigi — 5 Dec 2006 @ 7:45 PM

  197. For example: http://www.eei.org/newsroom/press_releases/010807.htm

    Next Generation Power Plants Now Coming On Line
    Washington, DC (August 8, 2001)

    “Integrated Gasification Combined-Cycle (IGCC) – Converts coal into a low or medium BTU gaseous fuel, which lends itself to pollutant removal. The now clean, synthetic fuel gas is then combusted in a gas turbine to generate electricity. Excess heat is put to work in a conventional steam turbine generator, producing even more electricity. Gasification offers feedstock and product flexibility, the potential for greater than 60 percent efficiency, and near zero pollutant emissions. The high process efficiency limits carbon dioxide production and because it occurs in concentrated form, allows for its capture. Typically, more than 99 percent of the sulfur pollutants are captured and converted into sulfuric acid or elemental sulfur, both salable by-products. Nitrogen oxide emissions are about one-tenth those of a conventional power plant. Any trace elements in the coal stay with the ash, which is either converted to an inert glass-like slag or a dry solid with cement-like properties.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Dec 2006 @ 8:17 PM

  198. Re #196: “The amount of energy generated by the solar cells only reaches the amount of energy used to make the cells after two and a half years (on average) Installing solar cells involves an inflexible investment with long term breakeven in CO2 emissions and in dollar terms.”

    OK, so that means that all the energy generated after the first 2.5 years represents a net gain, no? As for it being a long-term investment, what’s wrong with that? Seems to me that this apparent inability to think beyond the next election, paycheck, or quarterly profit is at the root of a lot of our problems. We need more people like my neighbor, who a few years ago planted a couple of sequoia trees to shade his horse pasture. He was 88 then…

    And #197: “The high process efficiency limits carbon dioxide production…”

    Now this I truly don’t understand. Unless I’ve completely forgotten my chemistry, you have X atoms of carbon per ton of coal. React it however you want, and the end result is that each carbon atom winds up combined with two oxygen atoms. Sure, you can increase process efficiency up to a point, but there’s only so much energy you can get out of ton of coal.

    Until someone shows me differently, I can’t help but think these are in the same vein as the “hydrogen economy”: it sounds good until you get into the details, and serves to obfuscate the need for real changes.

    Comment by James — 8 Dec 2006 @ 1:43 PM

  199. “Plenty of Coalmines/power stations are already sequestering their emissions for other reasons”

    I think you must be living in the future. I’ve heard of some limited testing in the US soutwest, and also using CO2 to revitalize oil fields, but not of any IGCC coal plants currently sequestering their carbon. The local power companies describe this as in the research stage. There are only a handful of these plants in operation in the world, and someday they’ll probably be more.

    Also, the carbon offsets mentioned above are probably just cherry-picking the easy and cheap emissions reductions that some sector is eventually going to have to make anyway (landfill methane, etc). Who is auditing them to make sure they wouldn’t have happened anyway?

    Comment by Roger Smith — 10 Dec 2006 @ 6:41 PM

  200. >process efficiency limits carbon dioxide production …. ‘don’t understand’
    Google: +coal +efficiency for comparisons of old and new technology, in terms of energy produced for a given amount of coal turned to carbon dioxide.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Dec 2006 @ 10:46 PM

  201. RE # 199

    Marco does not grasp the magnitude of the CO2 US electric power sector generation boilers emit.

    In 2005 US coal fired electric power generation boilers emitted 2.4 billion tons of CO2. Since the gas has volume, the total emissions would neatly fit into a box having volume of 293 cubic miles. Try hiding that gas every year in abandoned coal mines, played out oil fields or geologic formations.

    Maybe CO2 sequestration could be the answer to coastal innundation from sea level rise?

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 11 Dec 2006 @ 10:51 AM

  202. Hold your horses, I live in New Zealand and no Tuvaluans are jumping our borders, Gore’s movie was the first anyone heard of it, Also New Orleans was the direct result of poor levy maintanence, not global warming, that is a poor counter point, a better counter point would be something like the populations of India and Europe weren’t bursting at the seams like they are now, in fact massive population growth in India simply outstrips resources so an uncharacteristic increase in population would be unfavourabe in todays world (and probably wouldn’t be affected on way or the other by favourable conditions in this part of the world)

    Comment by Matt — 18 Dec 2006 @ 11:35 AM

  203. The evil ones say there is no consensus on global warming, actually that is obviouly a lie, on real climate you have a consensus that it is happening and it is bad. On some other sites run by the Dr evils they have a consesus it either isn’t happening or it is happening and it is good, i’m hoping it will be good, more importantly there is consensus one way or another, it just isn’t 100% one way or the other, just each faction agreeing with itself.

    Comment by Matt — 18 Dec 2006 @ 11:45 AM

  204. Matt, try Google for information about your country’s policy toward immigration from Tuvalu, you’ll find policy statements.

    There are also news programs:
    New Zealand�s Climate Refugees from Tulava. (audio and text) Reported by Alexandra Berzon, Living on Earth, NPR, March 31, 2006.
    http://www.livingonearth.org/shows/segments.htm?programID=06-P13-00013&segmentID=6

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Dec 2006 @ 2:31 PM

  205. Whoa there folks, we get immigration from all these pacific islands non stop 24/7. Suggesting that it is because of Global warming at this early stage is a bit of a scare monger, sorry don’t buy it. What their stated intentions are does not necessarily reflect why they leave such as a total lack of opportunity offered by pacific islands. This is NOT worthy of news in our country, why is it bothered with by an american network with limited background in the issue. Repeat, The REAL reason is lack of space NOT related to sea levels and lack of opportunity due to typically poor economic conditions on pacific islands.

    Comment by Matt — 19 Dec 2006 @ 2:39 AM

  206. Note please the Tuvaluans aren’t exactly charging in, the expected yearly immigration is less than 100. Don’t get me wrong, we are contributing to global warming, just don’t tell us New Orleans and Tuvalu issues are related until they actually are proven so. more likely NO was flooded because the government are tightasses and Tuvalu is overcrowded because they keep breeding without producing enough industry to support themselves.

    Comment by Matt — 19 Dec 2006 @ 2:53 AM

  207. re #196. Couldn’t you just blow it through a wet scrubber, rather a lake and grow algae or other bio mass.

    Regarding CO2 taxation, I can’t agree wholeheartedly with that, carbon use needs alternatives not taxes. You will find yourself unable to trust the government to spend the tax income wisely, also demand is price inelastic for these goods so to cut coal use for example you will need a substitute not a tax which will lead to net wastage of economic surplus. Why do you think poor people get heating oil vouchers, it is because their demand is irrespective of price, the only answer is alternatives. We don’t really need more climate scientists we got enough of them and you all do good work, we need more technological scientists and engineers who can provide alternatives.

    Comment by Matt — 19 Dec 2006 @ 4:30 AM

  208. Re #207: Of course trusting any government to spend any tax money wisely is… well, misguidedly optimistic seems a mannerly way to describe it. However, that’s neither more nor less true of a carbon tax than any other tax, with the benefit that quite a bit of carbon taxes can easily be avoided. Indeed, isn’t that the main purpose of a carbon tax, to encourage people to avoid it?

    As for energy demand being inelastic, nothing could be further from the truth. Take your example of heating oil vouchers for the poor. I live in an older, oil heated house that I bought a decade ago. By adding decent insulation, a small woodstove, and other obvious & fairly inexpensive improvements I was able to cut my heating oil use to under 20% of what it was the first winter, and by next year I hope to get it to near-zero.

    The demand isn’t inelastic: it only seems so because the price of oil is still so low that it’s cheaper (in the short run) to give heating oil vouchers than to make energy-efficient houses.

    Comment by James — 19 Dec 2006 @ 11:38 AM

  209. Regarding CO2 taxation, I can’t agree wholeheartedly with that, carbon use needs alternatives not taxes.

    The alternatives are in the main already there, avoiding the taxes encourages the alternatives in a PROPORTIONAL way. Picking and choosing technologies to fund loses the proportionality of the alternative encouragement, and we could waste time and money. However, if Cigarette taxes are anything to go by, the taxes may have to become excruciatingly high to wean us off our CO2 “addiction”.

    Comment by Marco Parigi — 20 Dec 2006 @ 1:21 AM

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