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  1. “In my view, it is the responsibility of our entire community to fight this intentional disinformation campaign, which represents an affront to everything we do and believe in.” (Michael Mann 2003)

    [Response: Are we to assume you disagree and therefore approve of deliberate disinformation then? - gavin]

    Comment by Ibrahim — 4 May 2010 @ 3:36 PM

  2. I wasn’t planning on reading this book but your review makes me want to – sounds like a fun read that won’t make me cringe anywhere. The antithesis to Michael Crichton. Nicely done.

    Comment by Kate — 4 May 2010 @ 3:37 PM

  3. Will you be reviewing Pachauri’s ‘Return to Almora’?

    Comment by ZZT — 4 May 2010 @ 3:44 PM

  4. Danke, Stefan.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 4 May 2010 @ 4:27 PM

  5. ZZT says: 4 May 2010 at 3:44 PM

    Will you be reviewing Pachauri’s ‘Return to Almora’?

    Perhaps it would be better to have a review of Newt Gingrich’s Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less: A Handbook for Slashing Gas Prices and Solving Our Energy Crisis first? For the next edition I understand Newt’s adding a special chapter on how to barbecue over oil-soaked brown pelicans.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 4 May 2010 @ 4:55 PM

  6. Try to imagine the scenario in which Ibrahim’s quote would be embarrassing, or damaging, to climate science.

    Go on. Try.

    Comment by JM — 4 May 2010 @ 4:55 PM

  7. I’m another McEwan fan, and devoured Solar over a couple days. I would endorse everything Stefan says, and encourage people to read it. I would guess that the climate change material contained therein would be familiar to the average RC reader, but nonetheless it works as a good story nonetheless. A lot more lightweight that ‘Saturday’ or ‘Atonement’ which are modren classics IMHO, McEwan denies having written a comic novel, nonetheless the comedic set pieces had me ROFL more than once. Enjoy.

    PS For ZZT: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/04/leakegate_leake_based_story_re.php

    Comment by pjclarke — 4 May 2010 @ 6:12 PM

  8. Somewhat off topic:

    Speaking of Michael Mann, I hope he is getting some significant support from non scientists in addition to the support I assume he gets from fellow scientists. I would hate to think the twit brigade could possibly force him into a different line of work.

    More on topic:

    I’m hopeful this book and the coming flood (fingers crossed) of similar books will trigger wide support for climate scientists in general. Their work is essential and is appreciated by many lay-people who voices are unfortunately being drowned out by the rabid mass of deniers.

    Comment by Gary Bohn — 4 May 2010 @ 6:23 PM

  9. Re: ‘ . . Actually quite unlike any scientist I know . . ’:

    I agree; I only persisted in order to find to what happened. Why couldn’t McEwan create a protagonist who resembled real scientists? Is it because he can’t imagine such a person or is it that such a person would be too boring to create a fiction about?

    I am scientifically educated but have never worked as a scientist so my opinion is not worth much: what do those who know think?

    Comment by Chris Squire [UK] — 4 May 2010 @ 7:29 PM

  10. Clearly, Pachauri has his adherents too.

    Which works of fiction then do people prefer?

    ‘Return to Almora’ or ‘Solar’ ?

    Comment by ZZT — 4 May 2010 @ 7:50 PM

  11. I started writing a novel, “The Silicon-Burning Day,” about an outside scientist warning people in a domed colony around Alnilam (46 Epsilon Orionis) that their sun was about to supernova. Nobody believes him, and the colonists come up with one ridiculous pseudoscience argument after another while time ticks away. But it was too much like real life. I gave up around page 60.

    Oh well, my SF romance “I Will” comes out in paperback this month. Human civilization may well last for decades, so maybe someone will read it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 4 May 2010 @ 8:11 PM

  12. Doug Bostrom says:
    Perhaps it would be better to have a review of Newt Gingrich’s Drill Here, Drill Now, …

    I assume you mean as another humorous work of fiction.
    A.

    Comment by A.E. — 4 May 2010 @ 8:20 PM

  13. I rather hope his treatment of climate science in this book is better than his treatment of Huntington disease in Saturday, which was poor. The structure of Saturday was a knockoff of Mrs. Dalloway. Derivative and inaccurate is a poor combination.

    Comment by Roger Albin — 4 May 2010 @ 8:31 PM

  14. #1
    benefit of doubt? – nah
    #2
    we certainly don’t want you to suffer
    #3
    very funny indeed
    #4
    yes vielen dank indeed
    #5
    only funny once
    #6
    you got me
    #7
    eventually everything comes down to sex
    #8
    MM gets plenty of support- even from mcIntyre – must be a conspiracy
    #9
    good boy – if you stay humble enough nobody will beat up on you

    Comment by CFU's mentor — 4 May 2010 @ 8:50 PM

  15. I wouldn’t have had any interest in this book (just not big on fiction much these days, too busy with research) but it sounds kind of Vonnegut-esque and worth reading for being offbeat and scientific. Maybe it will be the first book I buy for my Kindle which isn’t open access or costs more than .99 cents ;) So far, I’ve just used it for reading required PDFs and open source stuff like Nikola Tesla’s and other early 19th century science writings.

    Comment by Shirley — 4 May 2010 @ 9:25 PM

  16. What a novel–orange-colored cheese dipped in batter, rolled in breadcrumbs and salt, and deep-fried, with a creamy dip of pale green.

    If only o few lawyers were fed to reptiles in its pages, it might have the makings of a PBS special.

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 4 May 2010 @ 9:45 PM

  17. Like Kate at 3, you sold me on the Novel, perhaps I will visit Barnes and Nobel this weekend -hopefully its not too early.

    Off topic. I started some speculative angst on another blog by speculating about the effects of the oil spill on Gulf of Mexico sea surface temperatures. The proposed mechanism is, a thin layer of oil inhibits evaporation, and the underlying water can then heat up anomalously -as it is no longer losing latent heat via evaporation. So, if the oil sheen is extensive enough long enough you might get two effects. One is lower humidities, and the other is an anomalously warm upper ocean. The first effect would suppress hurricanes, but the later might provide them with high octane fuel. So the question naturally arises: “Is this something that can happen? Or is the effect too small, and or the sea state breaks up oil films or whatever that there is nothing to worry about?”. There was a much larger spill in the Gulf (Ixtoc-1) June 79 to March 80 (Bay of Campeche), and I don’t think there were outsized hurricanes. Perhaps the people at RC can make some intelligent comments about this speculation.

    Comment by Thomas — 4 May 2010 @ 10:10 PM

  18. I worried that McEwan made light of the subject too much and thus play into the sceptic hands. I may be wrong. I now have two global warming novels. They’re not satires but techno-thrillers where the characters are faced with the consequences of global warming and politically connected militant deniers who stop at nothing, including murder, to stop the general acceptance of the culprit: carbon. People as a whole are averse to change, yet throughout history change has created new frontiers of advancement. Such is the case here too. I show it happening. Stay tuned.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 4 May 2010 @ 10:21 PM

  19. See also Bryan Walker’s review in Hot Topic’s burgeoning climate book section

    I’ve been reading McEwan since his first two collections of short stories, and generally find much to enjoy in any of his novels. He really is an excellent writer – worth reading purely for the way he puts words and ideas together. Solar is, I think, not among his most successful works: slapstick with a message is a very difficult thing to pull off, rarely done well since Tom Sharpe’s early South African comedies. Solar is well worth reading, but a bit like the latest CD from a long time favourite – Elvis Costello springs to mind – there are always songs worth listening to, but seldom anything that really fires the imagination in the way of earlier works.

    Of course, I look forward to Ian reviewing my new warming-influenced satire, if I ever finish the damn thing. My hero’s stuck in Thule at the moment, with a long trip ahead of him.

    Comment by Gareth — 4 May 2010 @ 11:01 PM

  20. Like Stefan I am an Ian McEwen fan and thoroughly enjoyed Solar. Whilst the background of the novel is climate change it really is, as the author says in the quote above, about human nature. In a sense it is the literary equivalent of Mike Hulme’s book “Why we disagree about climate change”. It is an examination of the motives and beliefs which drive our actions rather than about the science behind, or consequences of, climate change.

    Kate suggested it might be a “cringe-free” antithesis to Michael Crichton’s climate of fear. This is only true in so far as it is balanced – he lampoons advocates on both sides of the debate: Crichton had all the good guys on one side only. Depending on your view of climate change I can’t guarantee that it won’t make you cringe.

    Ian McEwen is not only one Britain’s leading novelists he is also one of the most perceptive. If you want to understand how a member of the liberal intelligentsia views the posturing and debate around climate change read this novel.

    Comment by Ron — 4 May 2010 @ 11:28 PM

  21. I tend to love McEwan’s stories and books, but I’m slightly leery of ‘Solar’ as it’s been getting some of the least ‘stellar’ reviews of his career, e.g, the vivisection in the NY Times Book Review by Walter Kirn a couple of weeks back

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/18/books/review/Kirn-t.html

    Still, I’ll probably read it. McEwan has never totally disappointed me.

    Comment by Steven Sullivan — 5 May 2010 @ 12:23 AM

  22. “Are we to assume you disagree and therefore approve of deliberate disinformation then?”

    How could I not be (part of) “we” Gavin?

    Comment by Ibrahim — 5 May 2010 @ 1:24 AM

  23. I’ll second Gareth’s assessment @19. I always enjoy McEwan but the plot contrivances seemed a little clunky in this novel. The satire was very reminiscent of David Lodge’s style. And, yes, if only there were a Tom Sharpe writing about climate…

    There’s a good review in the Times Literary Supplement.

    Comment by Andy S — 5 May 2010 @ 1:39 AM

  24. The problem of science as a belief system also came up briefly at the EGU session “To what extent do humans impact the Earth’s climate?”.

    Science, unlike mathematics, is a belief system. When one of its beliefs is overturned then you get a what Khun called a paradigm shift. Because scientists believe that science is not a belief system, they feel superior to the ordinary Joe Bloggs, which makes it very difficult for them to get their views across to the general public.

    Older people know that in the 1970′s some scientists believed that another ice age was imminent. Denial of the idea that scientists can be wrong only leads to distrust of them by general public.

    Cheers, Alastair.

    [Response: No. Distrust is fed by people creating strawman caricatures of science and knocking them down with feathers all the while claiming that science is some monolithic single-minded dogma. No-one here has ever claimed that 'scientists can't be wrong' or that no scientist ever thought an ice age was imminent in the 1970s. Indeed, George Kukla stills thinks it's imminent (and he is as wrong now as he was then). The claim being objected to is that there was some huge consensus of scientists who believed that - this is false and has been demonstrated clearly. - gavin]

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 5 May 2010 @ 3:47 AM

  25. #3 ZZT says: “Will you be reviewing Pachauri’s ‘Return to Almora’?”

    I believe the next fiction review is Ian Plimer’s Heaven & Earth. Here it is: “He got his own name right. The End.”

    Comment by J Bowers — 5 May 2010 @ 4:15 AM

  26. McEwan is interviewed about Solar in a recent New Scientist but manages to say very little about the science. Reviews of the book that I’ve seen in newspapers’ literary pages have generally been tepid at best – but you should take my lack of enthusiasm with the fair warning that I’m not a McEwan fan.
    #18 Mark, when you say you now ‘have two global warming novels’ do you mean ‘have written’ or ‘am about to read’? If the former, congratulations. If the latter, why only two? There are quite a few around.

    Comment by MalcolmT — 5 May 2010 @ 5:01 AM

  27. Has Solar suddenly become cost effective, then? Has the Sierra Club stopped suing companies trying to build solar plants in the desert?

    Spoilers, please.

    Comment by Foobear — 5 May 2010 @ 5:13 AM

  28. I’m also a McEwan fan, having been assiduously reading his work since his short story days.

    Interestingly, I think that short stories remain his forte, even in his novels. So often, his novels contain beautifully crafted “set pieces” that could stand alone, magnificent gems of narrative and characterisation. There are quite a few in this novel. It’s occurred to me that the artistic success of his novels tends to rely on whether he successfully contextualises those short stories into a whole. Of his recent works, “On Chesil Beach” is an example of him effectively synthesising the disparate into the cohesive. Perhaps that it was essentially a novella helped in this respect.

    Much as I enjoyed “Solar”, I don’t think he succeeded as well in this as he did in some other novels. Nevertheless, like others I enjoyed the satire a great deal, particularly the jibes at post-modernist academics. Recently, I heard an interview with McEwan in which he mentioned having discovered that it is held, in some quarters, that a gene isn’t really any form of physical entity. It is entirely a subjective construct. His son is a geneticist, so McEwan knows more than a little about the subject (he is, of course, wonderfully well-informed on a range of the sciences), and was rightly gobsmacked. I’m glad he managed to work his outrage so neatly into this work.

    Comment by Margaret — 5 May 2010 @ 5:35 AM

  29. My prediction: Denialists will think it’s real (well, except for the sciencey bits) and Ken the Cooch will subpoena every piece of paper Michael Beard ever touched.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 May 2010 @ 5:39 AM

  30. For #17: Save your angst for another day! Oil or petroleum leaks in the Gulf are nothing new. I was a Hurricane Hunter with the US Navy and there wasn’t a flight I was on from 1968 through 1970 that I didn’t see an “oil slick or sheen” in the Gulf. The major problem ( and IT IS major ) is the impact on the estuaries and coastal shore habitats. To consider this oil spill having ANY effect on “hurricanes”, or for that matter climate change ( in my humble opinion ) is as probable as Mr. McEwan winning a Nobel for his science in “Solar”, no matter how good a read ( and I believe it is! ).

    Comment by John T. Tanacredi, PhD — 5 May 2010 @ 6:48 AM

  31. I laughed about the commentary on social constructivism. It reminded me of one denier who appealed to Foucault, and then had a serious freakout when I called him an “English lit undergrad.” Good times!

    Comment by Pr — 5 May 2010 @ 7:31 AM

  32. It was said that humanities students were routinely taught that science was just one more belief system, no more or less truthful than religion or astrology. He had always thought that this must be a slur against his colleagues on the arts side.

    And a slur it is, in my experience as a student/colleague/teacher in the humanities. I realize there are odd fringes of social theory where such things are claimed, but I think the Sokal hoax, and literary caricatures like McEwan’s* have contributed to a stereotype in which few of us would recognize ourselves. Even those of us who do subscribe to social constructivism – but hopefully understand that tool better and wield it more rigorously than McEwan’s character. Sorry, after reading comments on this site for a while, I needed to get that off my chest.

    * SF writer Greg Egan, a favorite of mine, lays it on particularly thick in Teranesia.

    Comment by CM — 5 May 2010 @ 7:41 AM

  33. “How could I not be (part of) “we” Gavin?”

    Ever hear od the Royal “we”?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Majestic_plural

    Gavin was asking are you for or against?

    You haven’t answered.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 5 May 2010 @ 8:08 AM

  34. The review in the NYTimes seems to be a review of a lot of McEwan’s recent fiction. Earnest, well-made, and uninspiring. Like Atonement. I prefer his slightly crazed stuff like The Cement Garden or The Child in Time which, McEwan has said, seem false to him and calculated. Maybe he should have Wilde’s dictum put above his writing desk, “A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.” As readers of fiction we want the good to be punished and the wicked to emerge unscathed.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 5 May 2010 @ 8:12 AM

  35. Gavin,

    The claim is not “that there was some huge consensus of scientists who believed that [an ice age was imminent in the 1970s]“. The claim is that scientists were warning that an ice age was imminent in the 1970s. It is Peterson et al. who set up the strawman of a consensus, then dismiss it as a myth.

    But the point I am trying to make is that scientists believe that science is not, and in fact is better than, a belief system. This handicaps them in two ways. First they feel superior to ordinary mortals. Second, they think that they can win arguments with logic. Until it is realised that it is a matter of altering the belief systems of the public, rather than just giving them the facts, then there is little hope of getting the public to push the politicians into action.

    But it will take more than a few lines on a blog from me to change your belief that science is not just another belief system.

    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 5 May 2010 @ 9:01 AM

  36. Interesting dialogue here, likely leads me to read, ‘Solar’. Suspect though, my typical dislike of fiction will result in more of the same.

    34′s final comments are especially cynical. Only a psuedo intellectual would want the wicked to be unscathed.

    What is at stake in the Climate Crisis far surpasses literary and especially journalistic abilities. If those were up to half the speed of the Science we’d all be busy doing the right things.
    Sincerely

    Comment by William Freimuth — 5 May 2010 @ 10:13 AM

  37. “Ever hear od the Royal “we”? (sic)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Majestic_plural

    Are you implying Gavin is the equivalent of a monarch, bishop, or pope or holding a similar high office as he refers to himself as “we”?

    [Response: Don't be daft. 'We' was the collective audience for Ibrahim's point. - gavin]

    Comment by Laurie — 5 May 2010 @ 10:18 AM

  38. “(J)ust another belief system”– well, not so much. There are lots of different systems of beliefs, but science includes reliable processes for refining and changing beliefs. It also includes standards of effectiveness that require real application via independent observational procedures. Like common sense beliefs about the empirical world, science translates straightforwardly and is intersubjectively testable; unlike common sense beliefs, science has refined its concepts to extend their precision, predictive power and range of applicability. communicating this to the public is a real challenge- especially when wealthy interests and their political supporters are trying to undermine what science has to say. But beginning with a slogan that equates science (and common sense) with religion or vaccination denial as a mere ‘belief system’ no better than any other is just a mistake.

    Comment by Bryson Brown — 5 May 2010 @ 10:51 AM

  39. Alastair McDonald wrote: “… scientists believe that science is not, and in fact is better than, a belief system.”

    Science is not a “belief system”. Science is a system for developing the ability to successfully predict the results of observations, typically by using “theories”, which are conceptual, linguistic and/or mathematical “models” of experience. It requires no beliefs.

    Having said that, I have on occasion encountered scientists who mistake their beliefs for science, or who mistakenly believe that science requires certain beliefs.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 May 2010 @ 10:54 AM

  40. Now this is all nice and everything, but when will Real Climate tackle Roy Spencer’s latest “The Great Global Warming Blunder”?

    I would love to see a good word or two from the Real Climate about this piece of a “science literature” that is going to propably make into a bestseller by denialists standards.

    [Response: I read the first chapter at Amazon and..... well, it's not logically very sound. He assumes that the only constraints on climate sensitivity are found from radiation measurements in the modern period (which is not even close to true - see Annan and Hargreaves (2006) for instance). Then asserts (with no evidence) that natural variability is not considered by other scientists (again something that is patently false), and finally declares that his upcoming super-secret paper will unequivocally prove that sensitivity is negligible (all the while ignoring the plentiful evidence from the paleo record - particularly the ice ages - that it can't be). Bestsellers do not good science make. - gavin]

    Comment by cloneof — 5 May 2010 @ 10:57 AM

  41. Props to “CFU’s mentor” at 14. I had nothing to do with it — honest!

    I almost never read fiction because it’s far more boring than reality. But the bit about “When his business partner is worried that claims of global warming having stopped will ruin their grand solar energy scheme,” is personal — the people who are buying solar because of global warming have all drunk the Kool-Aid. And the people buying solar because of the End Of Civilization As We Know It never bought the “global warming” thing. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out ;)

    Thanks for posting about it!

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 5 May 2010 @ 11:04 AM

  42. “The claim is that scientists were warning that an ice age was imminent in the 1970s. It is Peterson et al. who set up the strawman of a consensus, then dismiss it as a myth.”

    There are scientists who say that Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden with a vegetarian Tyrannosaurus Rex.

    This doesn’t mean that the consensus of Evolution is falsified.

    So, given that, what is the POINT of saying “in the 70′s scientists said there was an imminent Ice Age”? You’re far more correct saying “in the 70′s scientists said there was global warming”.

    And isn’t that half-truth a far more egregious version of the “errors” that AIT is slated for as “absolutely destroying the movie”?

    Yet you seem fine with something much worse.

    After all, all Gore left out was when it was thought a 20m rise would happen. But there’s no need to say when it happens if you want to display what a 20m sea rise looks like.

    So your defense of that should indicate that AIT is absolutely scrumptious.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 5 May 2010 @ 11:07 AM

  43. Alastair:

    But the point I am trying to make is that scientists believe that science is not, and in fact is better than, a belief system. This handicaps them in two ways. First they feel superior to ordinary mortals. Second, they think that they can win arguments with logic. Until it is realised that it is a matter of altering the belief systems of the public, rather than just giving them the facts, then there is little hope of getting the public to push the politicians into action.

    OK, science is a belief system. Is it “just another” belief system? Feynman famously said “Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first rule of science is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” Do you know of another belief system whose first rule is that you must not fool yourself, Alastair?

    I’m not saying that scientists never fool themselves, just that the honest ones try not to. People who deny science, OTOH, do so because it conflicts with their other beliefs, and resent it strongly when a scientist asks them how they know they’re not fooling themselves. How are scientists to overcome that?

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 5 May 2010 @ 11:41 AM

  44. #35 Alisdair McD–

    Suggest you peruse the Open University listings for courses in Korzybski and General Semantics. Some study in that area might assist you the way it did me. To paraphrase K’s best known dictum, rhetoric is not reality.

    Even though I may believe my assertions are true, that does not mean that they really are. Even if I can persuade others of their truth that does not mean they are more likely to be true. I’ve done both and been very wrong and felt more than a little foolish.

    You are making a philosophical argument leavened with a dash of pop sociology in a climate science blog.

    You are also trapped in a category mistake; in effect, confusing science and scientists with theology and theologians as it were. Although there is sometimes an overlapping of behaviors, the former are anchored in an empirical engagement with the real world and the hard sciences while the latter… Well, what can one say?

    You’d be on more solid ground, and be performing a sorely needed public service in the process, if you took your rhetoric and engaged with the ‘Intelligent’ Design or Young Earth crowds. Or you could take on the proponents of Papal infallibility. That would be a public service indeed, and on a global scale to boot.

    Regards–

    Comment by Gordon Cutler — 5 May 2010 @ 11:42 AM

  45. Foobear @ 27:

    Has Solar suddenly become cost effective, then? Has the Sierra Club stopped suing companies trying to build solar plants in the desert?

    Spoilers, please.

    It depends on where you live and what you want to do.

    Very large commercial installations that can get the utilities to Play Nice are cost effective now — economies of scale work very well and systems can be designed to offset on-site power and avoid feed-in tariff issues.

    Residential systems are cost effective based on the rate the utilities pay for feed-in power (that’s the power you put back). Where I live, straight grid-tie, no battery backup, is something between a 7 and 14 year payback on systems that should last 25 years or more. That’s ignoring incentives and tax credits.

    At typical Texas retail rates, not having solar power becomes stupid when solar reaches about $4 per watt installed. With the current price at $6 per watt, and a 30% Federal Tax Credit, it’s almost stupid not to install solar. Not quite completely stupid, but getting there really fast. I wouldn’t build a new home without it. Definitely go the crazy energy conservation route, but also definitely put up a couple of kilowatts of solar.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 5 May 2010 @ 11:42 AM

  46. “Props to “CFU’s mentor” at 14. I had nothing to do with it — honest!”

    Props for what?

    Imitating badly?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 5 May 2010 @ 11:45 AM

  47. Mal Adapted wrote: “Do you know of another belief system whose first rule is that you must not fool yourself …”

    Buddhism — which regards delusion as the root cause of suffering.

    Although I would argue that Buddhism, like science, is not a “belief system”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 May 2010 @ 11:54 AM

  48. FurryCatHerder says: 5 May 2010 at 11:42 AM

    Awwwark! Never forget DHW (domestic hot water)!

    There’s no sense producing electricity at $6/watt, dumping watthours into heating water when you can obtain the same joules for 1/10th the cost and obtain the same result. Hot water is energy of the lowest order, technologically deadly dull but at the end of the day a joule does not care how it is captured and goes in or out of your wallet regardless.

    Solar DHW is not an energy panacea but DHW is a significant portion of home energy use, second only to refrigeration as a lump consumption component. Just don’t make the mistake of insisting on achieving finish temperatures in w/solar, instead remember that heating water 40 degrees via sunlight and then letting conventional sources do the last 20 degrees is a big win and makes the economics even more attractive. That lower metric of success also allows operation even during some inclement weather making the financial advantages even better.

    Storage is easy, too, no invention required. What’s not to like?

    Awwrk. Sorry, the drum I beat monotonously…

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 5 May 2010 @ 12:05 PM

  49. Adding to my previous, I have to say it’s incredibly irritating seeing PV panels being put on houses here in Seattle w/no solar hot water panels in sight. Completely backwards.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 5 May 2010 @ 12:07 PM

  50. First they feel superior to ordinary mortals.

    You might want to poll them on that, but I would suspect that climate scientists might feel superior to denialists specifically, if only because ignorance and dishonesty aren’t generally regarded as desirable traits.

    Comment by JM — 5 May 2010 @ 12:22 PM

  51. Thanks for the review of the book; the key to all science based fiction is to have the science right, or at least very close.

    On “science as just another belief system,” my friends I will bear witness that I heard that more than once from Liberal Arts majors when I was going to college (and I was in the Chemistry department).

    The more woo-woo New Age one gets (homeopathy, aromatherapy, aura clensing, and yes, even phrenology, etc.) the more often one hears that rubbish as a defense against clear proof none of it works. Carrot juice over chemotherapy because “medicine (science) is just one worldview out of many.”

    The flip side is laymen grabbing on to a static bit of scientific finding and treating it as dogma, refusing to accept any new information that might mitigate or completely change it or the context in which it should be viewed.

    Columbus knew the world was round, and discovered the route to the Far East by sailing west from Europe. His math was a bit wrong, of course, but he held onto that idea until his death, unwilling to accept an idea that was so very contrary to what he knew was truth. Facts rarely defend truth, after all, which is why most people avoid them.

    Or become universal contrarians, because all the really smart people in history questioned the current ideas on how things work. There are folks who seriously question Bernoulli and his German lacky Munk for their crazy theory of why an airfoil creates lift when Newton had a perfect answer all on his own that was much simpler.

    Comment by Frank Giger — 5 May 2010 @ 12:27 PM

  52. Doug #48, it’s an very good drum to beat, and even on topic!

    Comment by CM — 5 May 2010 @ 12:37 PM

  53. @ SecularAnimist: Buddhism is what sprang to mind immediately for me as well, at least Buddhism as I know it…but I’m aware that there are many Buddhists who treat it (at least in part) as a devotional practice, with worship and prayer and the like.

    Comment by Kevin Stanley — 5 May 2010 @ 12:42 PM

  54. Never argue with a reductionist. Equating Science with a belief system is as reductionist as equating a baseball with a bird because both fly.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 5 May 2010 @ 12:44 PM

  55. Climate progress:- Ray made a prediction.

    Comment by ZZT — 5 May 2010 @ 1:20 PM

  56. “Columbus knew the world was round,… unwilling to accept an idea that was so very contrary to what he knew was truth.”

    Lots of people knew the world was round.

    It’s why the hulls of sail ships leaving harbour disappear hull first.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 5 May 2010 @ 1:24 PM

  57. Doug, on the solar domestic hot water issue … how do you retrofit that onto an existing finished home in say, Seattle’s climate?

    I figure you’d need a pipe from the main home intake (i.e. where the existing HW heater is) up to the roof to a nice black tank, then another pipe back down to the existing heater … and a way to switch between “on” and “off” from there. “Off” is cold weather mode where you bypass the roof tank and presumably let it drain so the pipes don’t explode.

    I can’t see a way to do this without some bizarre external piping that would make the system less efficient, or tearing some major walls open.

    Comment by GFW — 5 May 2010 @ 1:38 PM

  58. Alastair McDonald says: “But the point I am trying to make is that scientists believe that science is not, and in fact is better than, a belief system. This handicaps them in two ways. First they feel superior to ordinary mortals. Second, they think that they can win arguments with logic. Until it is realised that it is a matter of altering the belief systems of the public, rather than just giving them the facts, then there is little hope of getting the public to push the politicians into action.

    But it will take more than a few lines on a blog from me to change your belief that science is not just another belief system.”

    Isn’t science a belief system only insofar as it uses “belief revision”? We cannot directly observe electrons so there is an element of “belief” that they exist and explain a certain phenomenon, but should a better explanation come along for the phenomenon that electrons currently explain then the belief can be revised. This is in stark contrast with religious belief, for instance, where the conditions for belief are dictated and to revise those beliefs is a much more difficult undertaking, if even possible, especially given that it requires no actual evidence. It is far easier and more credible to explain natural phenomena through the scientific method, even when they cannot be observed and some belief must be used, than it is to explain and rationalise the supernatural such as angels and demons.

    I’m not at all convinced that what you say about scientists saying there is no such thing as belief within science is actually the case.

    I went out on a limb there as I’m no scientist. Feel free to correct me.

    Comment by J Bowers — 5 May 2010 @ 1:45 PM

  59. J Bowers wrote: “We cannot directly observe electrons so there is an element of ‘belief’ that they exist and explain a certain phenomenon …”

    The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics, in a nutshell:

    Q: What IS an electron, really?
    A: A measurement.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 May 2010 @ 1:54 PM

  60. GFW – Solar water heating isn’t all that complex – see some about it here – and freezing isn’t really a giant worry in the PNW for rooftop installations. My opinion is it should be combined with a demand water heater for the best efficiency improvement over the usual water heating tanks that use most energy just keeping lots of water hot till you happen to want another gallon or 2.

    Comment by flxible — 5 May 2010 @ 1:54 PM

  61. GFW, look for specifics in your own area, and your local zoning/building office will know what’s appropriate. It’s straightforward; lots of ways; depends on roof structure, gas or electric hot water, etc. etc.
    http://www.google.com/search?q=solar+domestic+hot+water+retrofit

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 May 2010 @ 1:59 PM

  62. You can’t make a prediction from a belief system. For example, if you believe God made the universe in 7 days, you can’t then turnaround and predict that it would take Him 2 minutes to make a small moon.

    At a certain point, such statements merely reflect the limitations of language rather than a statement of fact. The people who make them still have bank accounts and (often) tenure. Their utterances about “belief systems” rarely show up in actions of consequence.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 5 May 2010 @ 2:01 PM

  63. GWF (57), you might try checking out how local contractors actually install SHW in existing homes in Seattle. There are literally dozens of retrofit SHW installations within a few blocks of my house here in Toronto. Most have combined SHW with on-demand gas-fired hot water systems for top-up.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 5 May 2010 @ 2:02 PM

  64. Science must be “a belief system” at least insofar as it logically requires some assumptions–such as the existence of an objective reality. (I’d speculate (not particularly knowledgeably) that Einstein’s well-known discomfort with the Uncertainty Principle stemmed at least partly from a feeling that it was skating pretty close to undercutting objective reality.)

    Ain’t no solipsists in the scientific foxholes.

    That said, I’d say it’s a belief system with a track record.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 5 May 2010 @ 2:13 PM

  65. GFW, you’ve captured the basics and as you say, adding pipe to an existing home is potentially messy.

    Having a plumbing chase leading from the vicinity of the water heater to the vicinity of the roof in place makes things easier. Strangely enough, not only is the local (ultraconservative) builder’s association here in Washington resisting a requirement to add necessary chases (not a full build, just chases) to new homes but so are local architects. Weird; a few dollars are all it take to make a home ready for easy completion but I suppose extracting the last dime or final iota of feng shui are of paramount important for all projects when those matters are all one thinks about.

    In our case we recently did a remodel and I added the necessary chases at a cost that was invisible in the total plumbing bill.

    Appearance and efficiency of piping for retrofits are not really a huge issue in my humble opinion.

    As an example regarding appearances, bizarrely enough many of us have overhead wires attached to our homes leading from utility poles and apparently don’t find this feature too outlandish. Most existing homes offer some relatively discreet areas to run an external chase, for instance alongside a downspout. And again, for a new build w/chases you end up with what looks like a skylight on the roof. No big deal.

    Meanwhile the efficiency (heat loss) of the pipe is easy to control. More importantly, evaluating these systems from an efficiency standpoint rarely makes complete sense because a lack of efficiency in such an arrangement essentially means you’re not getting a little bit of something for free that you’ve been totally passing up in the past. Why obsess about efficiency unless you have a very, very tiny roof (like, less than 10m2)? Inefficiency is usually significant only if you don’t use the resource, leading to 100% inefficiency.

    My preference is a drainback system w/a moderator tank inserted ahead of the conventional tank. This is simple, requiring either one or two moving parts depending on local code and maximizes the opportunity for the system to gain energy.

    This PDF has a nice diagram of a drainback system. It uses a single tank for storage and capture which will reduce total gain but still has the marvelous advantage of existence:

    Drainback Solar Water Heater

    Ask a plumber: Does this look too complicated?

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 5 May 2010 @ 2:34 PM

  66. flxible says: 5 May 2010 at 1:54 PM

    For what it’s worth, I took some measurements on our (electric) conventional tank and found that it uses an extraordinarily small amount of juice when idle. I concluded that payoff for a demand heater replacing an electric storage tank is beyond the kin of people who must choose how dollars are spent, which includes most of us. Open flue gas heaters are of course a different story, a complete shambles.

    It’s my belief based on squinting really hard at the numbers that wringing the last few percent of efficiency out of proposed solar-augmented DHW systems is exactly what ensures they stay unaffordable for most people and remain largely in the realm of hobbyists. We refuse all benefit because we’re so keen on perfection.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 5 May 2010 @ 2:52 PM

  67. Jeffrey,

    The High Priests who built Stonehenge were able to predict eclipses, and the best time to sow spring seeds. So everything else they said was believed too. It is the same with scientists, who are also able to predict eclipses amongst many other things. Now they expect people to believe everything they say.

    They have not performed most of the experiments on which they base their science. They just believe that they have been done correctly, which in most cases they have. But they are still believing, not proving.

    Gordon Cutler suggests that I engage with the ‘Intelligent’ Design or Young Earth crowds. I have argued with climate sceptics and got nowhere, so I have no wish to waste my time with worse – bigots? However, I did think that scientists might argue rationally. But no. They are just as bound up in their belief system as anyone else.

    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 5 May 2010 @ 2:54 PM

  68. Alastair:

    However, I did think that scientists might argue rationally. But no. They are just as bound up in their belief system as anyone else.

    Project much, Alastair?

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 5 May 2010 @ 3:09 PM

  69. Kevin McKinney wrote: “Science must be ‘a belief system’ at least insofar as it logically requires some assumptions–such as the existence of an objective reality.”

    I don’t agree that science requires the assumption of an “objective reality”.

    The idea of an “objective reality” that exists independently of any observer, and of an “observer” who “observes” or “measures” that reality “as it is”, is itself a model of experience.

    Both quantum physics and relativity have demonstrated the limitations of that model. Like classical Newtonian physics, it is good as far as it goes, but beyond that, it breaks down, and it becomes necessary to model experience as an undivided whole.

    So what does science “require”?

    In the words of Niels Bohr, “it is sufficient that we can unambiguously communicate the results of our observations”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 May 2010 @ 3:26 PM

  70. Doug Bostrom: “it’s incredibly irritating seeing PV panels being put on houses here in Seattle w/no solar hot water panels in sight.”

    Your probably right about what your seeing, but not necessarily. The SunDrum Solar hybrid system captures the waste heat off the PV panels for solar hot water. It looks like any other PV system. As an extra benefit the PV are slightly more efficient because your removing the waste heat and keeping them cooler.

    Comment by Lee — 5 May 2010 @ 3:45 PM

  71. Alastair McDonald wrote: “It is the same with scientists, who are also able to predict eclipses amongst many other things. Now they expect people to believe everything they say.”

    I must admit that I don’t know all that many scientists.

    But of those I have met either in person or online, not a single one of them has “expected me to believe everything they say”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 May 2010 @ 3:49 PM

  72. FG 51,

    Every educated person in Columbus’s day knew the world was round. That had been accepted since Eratosthenes measured its circumference c. 300 BC. Columbus was, in fact, a pseudoscientist who thought the world was only 5,700 miles in diameter (rather than 8000). He went to his grave believing he had landed on the east coast of India. Why do you think native Americans were called “Indians?”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 May 2010 @ 3:58 PM

  73. KS 53,

    That’s certainly how I’d read the Lotus Sutra. A book about gods and the afterlife doesn’t strike me as not being part of a belief system.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 May 2010 @ 4:00 PM

  74. Alastair McDonald (35) — Even very ordinary mortals become scientists. As for how to conduct oneself as a scientist, the
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method
    suffices and no special training is required (although it often helps).

    There are plenty of amateur astronomers, palentologists and so on.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 5 May 2010 @ 4:16 PM

  75. Alastair, science might include a belief system (that an objective reality exists etc), but I would reject completely the idea of “a belief system like any other”. The uniqueness of science is checking of logic extension against observations. Now you can go into all kinds of philosophical diversions concerning the importance of schemata filtering observations and the limitations of human to human communication of ideas etc. but while all true, and important, it doesn’t stop the fact that science is better at constructing models of reality than any other system of explication of the natural world.

    The theory of climate from which AGW is a prediction, is completely falsifiable and its predictions will impact everyone whatever their belief systems. The no. one problem is this debate is not the science but the disinformation tossed in which seeks to misrepresent the theory or which makes demonstrably false claims about observation of the climate system.

    Comment by Phil Scadden — 5 May 2010 @ 4:39 PM

  76. BPL wrote: “That’s certainly how I’d read the Lotus Sutra. A book about gods and the afterlife doesn’t strike me as not being part of a belief system.”

    The Lotus Sutra is not really “about” gods and the afterlife although it is ornamented with such images.

    I would commend to your attention Thich Nhat Hanh’s translation and commentary, “Opening the Heart of the Cosmos”.

    In my view the most important teaching of the Buddha regarding “belief systems” is the Kalama Sutra, in which the Buddha embraces and encourages empiricism, free inquiry and, indeed, skepticism — even of his own teachings.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 May 2010 @ 4:58 PM

  77. Alastair McDonald says: “It is the same with scientists, who are also able to predict eclipses amongst many other things. Now they expect people to believe everything they say.”

    If only more had listened to Dr Smith Dharmasaroja.
    http://www.seapabkk.org/newdesign/fellowshipsdetail.php?No=452

    Can someone arrange a meeting between him and Roger Pielke Jr?

    Comment by J Bowers — 5 May 2010 @ 5:05 PM

  78. #56 Completely Fed Up

    As a follow on to your post. My understanding is that Columbus kept getting turned down for funding for his voyage because all the scientific bodies he approached knew the world was round, and that his calculations were bad for the voyage, so they must have figured he was incompetent and did not give him funding.

    He eventually found a Spanish gal to help him out. It took a couple of years to convince her apparently

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabella_I_of_Castile


    A Climate Minute The Greenhouse EffectHistory of Climate ScienceArctic Ice Melt

    ‘Fee & Dividend’ Our best chance for a better future – climatelobby.com
    Learn the Issue & Sign the Petition

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

  79. “Even very ordinary mortals become scientists.”

    Agreed, but even after they become scientists they are still ordinary mortals, each with his own set of beliefs.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 5 May 2010 @ 5:59 PM

  80. Alastair McDonald (79) — The amazing thing about the scientific method is that it provides relaible knowledge irrespective of an individual’s beliefs so long as they follow the method.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 5 May 2010 @ 6:14 PM

  81. Alastair McDonald says: “Agreed, but even after they become scientists they are still ordinary mortals, each with his own set of beliefs.”

    Beliefs, which are regularly tested by knowledgeable peers, and torn asunder when found baseless.

    Comment by J Bowers — 5 May 2010 @ 6:30 PM

  82. Alastaur #69 “However, I did think that scientists might argue rationally. But no. They are just as bound up in their belief system as anyone else.”

    Science is not akin to a belief system except in the most ridiculously trivial sense — that scientific endeavor posits that an objectively reality might exist and that such an objectively reality can be independently observed by more than one person. Scientists try to make sense of this posited objective reality by linking shared experiences through conceptual or mathematical models that in turn make predictions that can be tested by peers. There are no limitations about what those models of reality look like, except that they yield clear repeatable predictions that others can confirm or contradict through their own experience. So there are no constraints on belief, although there are experiences and models that cannot be examined scientifically (like intelligent design).

    The existence of objective reality is not so much presumed by science as indicated by the power of scientific models to makes successful predictions.

    So what is science if not a belief system? This is where I think the confusion arises. Science is more of a social endeavor with specific rules (e.g., scientific method) that relate to verifying shared experience and testing model predictions. Interactions with scientists must be understood with that in mind. Individual scientists can certainly have strong personal beliefs. However, those beliefs don’t become incorporated into received scientific wisdom until others become convinced as well. In science, those “others” often have a self-interest in disproving the theory and are therefore skeptical – although they must also avoid making unprovable claims themselves.

    It is true that once consensus develops, scientists are very unwilling to let go of it. That’s because the consensus has usually been hard won through generations of work. We are not going to reinvent it. It also forms the basis of future progress, so it should not be set aside lightly. It takes forever to learn all that accumulated knowledge that’s relevant to one’s field – thus the need for expertise. It is ultimately always under fire from within when it doesn’t adhere to shared objective experience, as the cases of relativity and quantum mechanics show, so there are no true priests spouting unassailable truth. However, while they still seem to hold those theories are the best we have, so why not use them?

    Comment by Stephen Baines — 5 May 2010 @ 7:12 PM

  83. Non-apropos of the above article (my bad)…but, can someone illuminate me about the upcoming Finnish academy article claiming to radically demote CO2 as a greenhouse gas? Thanks…I’m sure I’m not the only layman wondering what the heck is going on.

    Comment by greyfox — 5 May 2010 @ 7:36 PM

  84. Alastair McDonald et al.,

    First, science is not a belief system as it is a methodology for validating beliefs (e.g. hypotheses). Yes, there are underlying assumptions–that is inevitable in any logical structure as complicated or moreso than arithmetic, as Godel showed. However, each time we carry out a scientific investigation, we implicitly test those assumptions.

    Among the implicit assumptions
    1)repeatability–that performing the same measurement on the same system in the same state will yield the same result (or distribution of results).

    2)empiricism–that empirical investigation of the system will yield more reliable answers than other forms of investigation (e.g. rationalization).

    3)self-consistency–that the answers we get should be explainable by a logically self-consistent theory that itself yields testable predictions.

    4)physical reality–that there is some underlying reality that ensures this self-consistency. This is true, even for quantum mechanics (See Folse’s excellent monograph: The Philosophy of Niels Bohr.)

    Alastair, you are just flat wrong that scientists take their theories on faith. You simply cannot do that and develop any truly meaningful understanding of the system under study. It is true that not every scientist is going to go out and make measurements of the IR absorption spectrum of CO2. However, if they are using this data, they will look for self-consistency–for anything that stands out as “odd”. Because it’s the oddities that win you tenure, fame and glory and Nobel Prizes.

    And why should people listen to the results of scientific inquiry? Because it works. It produces understanding of the subjects studied more reliable than any other human enterprise–and it does so even when practiced by fallible humans, each with his own beliefs and foibles.

    Humans have an unfortunate tendency toward self delusion. However, they also have demonstrated sufficient intelligence to separate truth from such delusions–science. What remains to be seen is whether self-delusion or intelligence will be our dominant trait.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 May 2010 @ 8:09 PM

  85. greyfox,
    It’s bunk. It was debunked a couple of weeks ago. Basically, another professor emeritus embarking on a study well outside his expertise. If you’ll remind me of the gentleman’s name, maybe I can find the discussion.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 May 2010 @ 8:16 PM

  86. Alistair (67): “The High Priests who built Stonehenge were able to predict eclipses, and the best time to sow spring seeds. So everything else they said was believed too. It is the same with scientists, who are also able to predict eclipses amongst many other things. Now they expect people to believe everything they say. ”

    That is utter dross. What scientists do (to oversimplify) is develop a theory to explain orbital dynamics, demonstrate that is effective by doing things like predicting eclipses, and then go on to say that since it works for these phenomena, it can also be useful for predicting other aspects of orbital dynamics. Do you see the distinction?

    –MartinJB

    Comment by MartinJB — 5 May 2010 @ 8:38 PM

  87. 48,60,63
    Solar thermal is indeed a more efficient technology than PV. It can, in fact, be used to heat your home as well (fantastic with radiant floors).

    As to the issue of tankless – they are better from a straight efficiency point of view. Your tanked water heater, if it is less than 10 years old, is going to lose ~1/2 degree F/hour. 12F degrees per day. Your tankless losses approach zero. However, adding solar to the mix makes the tank losses *almost* irrelevant. A properly sized system (ie two 4X10 panels) will add ~100F degrees to an 120 gallon tank per sunny day. That will handle a typical 2-4 person household.

    So while the ideal is a super-insulated 120 gallon tank that goes to a tankless for top-off (if necessary) – you can save ~$2,500 and get very similar results with a straight solar water heater (which will pay for itself over time).

    And the idea that you should somehow only preheat your water is just wrong. The bulk of the expense is the labor to create the system. The marginal cost of adding a solar panel is minimal. Rather it is getting that pipe to and from the roof, wiring up the controls, setting the tank and mixing valve, piping in the drain back tank, etc. You get to amortize your fixed costs over a larger production square footage.

    Finally – for those of you considering this – do it! Two 4X10s in drainback configuration (or two 30 evacuated tube panels, also drainback for cloudy areas) will pay for itself in 10-14 years (a famous quote – “hire the contractor who charges the most and claims it will take the longest – they actually know what they are doing). Unless you live in a no freeze ever climate – the $5,000 figure that somehow entered the popular psyche is bogus. Double it and you have enough money to do the project correctly.

    Comment by Actually Thoughtful — 5 May 2010 @ 8:54 PM

  88. John @30, I don’t find your comment convincing. The issue is one of scale. Clearly run of the mill small oil slicks such as you witnessed won’t have a big enough effect. The startling thing about oil on water, is how little you need to cover it. The claim (in archaic units) is 25gallons can cover a square mile. So clearly the volume being spewed by the DeepWater accident is more than sufficient. Of course those numbers are for light oil on a calm water surface. The current spill/Gulf is neither. And supposedly the oil is an emulsion with water, so perhaps it is incapable of covering a large area (or inhibiting evaporation even if it does)? But, the issue requires a bit of quantitative analysis, and some data. I’m not personally feeling angst. But, I did get the particular meme started. If it is invalid I’d like to be armoured with whatever knowledge it takes to refute it.

    I do think science does incorporate a belief system. That system is a belief that the method is a very powerful way to determine the truth about nature. But, this belief is about the efficacy of a process, not about specific results of that process.

    Comment by Thomas — 5 May 2010 @ 9:09 PM

  89. The consensus is that indeed science is a faith based construct. The argumentation is as follows:
    Science is based on rationality and rational discourse. But believing in rationality vs irrationality is a faith based choice. Unless one believes in rationality there is no rational argument that can be used to justify the choice between rationality and irrationality. QED
    .

    Comment by mircea — 5 May 2010 @ 9:29 PM

  90. Maybe scientists believe science is powerful precisely because it has allowed us to improve crop yields, build cars, cure diseases, go to the moon and, yes, understand climate (not so sure about understanding the economy, though). The belief in science is a product of success, not a requirement for scientific endeavor.

    Comment by Stephen Baines — 5 May 2010 @ 9:39 PM

  91. Lee @ 70:

    I looked at data out of IBM/Tokyo dealing with this same thing and thought they had to be wrong, so I set up a solar array and tried to prove that what SunDrum does doesn’t work. What I concluded was that … what SunDrum does doesn’t work.

    The reason is that you need a source of “cold” in order to get the -0.3% / *C thermal coefficient back. Any heat-exchanger based cooling solution is only going to be as good as the “cold” that it brings. In the case of the SunDrum solution, they are circulating the working fluid through a pre-heater tank. When that tank reaches its working temperature, you now have a source of plenty of heat with a high thermal mass right next to the panels. Which is a bad idea. You could use some form of radiator to cool the water, but finding a place to get rid of the heat is hard.

    Another problem is that cooling the BACK of the panels doesn’t do much, unless the panel backing has high thermal conductivity, which it doesn’t. I’ve measured front-of-glass and back-of-glass temperatures and front-of-glass is MUCH higher. I use ambi-ent plus 30*C for temperature corrected voltages and it seems to work fairly well (assuming still air). I was underneath a 40KW DC array yesterday and by noon time I was miserable.

    Finally, the amount of energy needed to circulate the water, and the amount of energy lost due to hotter panels, usually exceeds the value of the heat extracted.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 5 May 2010 @ 10:45 PM

  92. #11, yes trying to write a book which creates a sitire on the situation today winds up being depressing and makes you a prime target in the firing line. In the end it just winds up being all part of the background noise of a family squabble.

    However I prefer a slightly different approach for a book.

    It’s 2050, the Denialists have won and the last 40 years have been “pedal to the metal” on fossil fuels with the explosion of warming that this engenders. The Climate impacts of 2100 have already been seen and passed, the North pole is long ice free in summer and little ice is generated in winter. Greenland has destabilised and is breaking up. Hundreds of millions are dying, there isn’t enough food, civil unrest has caused Martial law in most countries in the world. Several limited nuclear conflicts are already ongoing and war is at risk of running out of control. Western nations can’t produce enough food for themselves, let alone the 3rd world.

    We’re in the Hague at the International court of Justice. There is a case going on with hundreds of defendants. The defendants are having their papers and projections scrutinised by climate scientists, line by line, equation by equation. Particular note is made of any work which has been determined as “politically biased” rather than “Scientifically biased”.

    It is all very serious and the defendants are kept under heavy guard. Because they are charged with varying degrees of conspiracy to commit mass murder……….

    Now that’s the kind of book I’d like to see floating about. It is quite likely to be the kind of backlash that the people, who ignore good solid scientific advice today, will want to be taken when it all goes horribly wrong.

    Comment by NeilT — 5 May 2010 @ 11:01 PM

  93. Furry @91. So panels usually have poor backside thermal conductivity? I would think you could get a decent performance boost by allowing more heat to escape underneath. Modern mounts have roughly an 8-10 cm air gap between the panel and the roof, and presumably the air flow under the panels aids in cooling them. My Suntech data sheet reports a sensitivity of -.49%/C. That would tell me that better cooling could pay handsomely.

    I’m one of those people with PV, but not solar hot water. With our gas fired water heater and relatively low usage, our water heating bill is only about $10 a month, so it is hard to imagine a solar water heater ever paying off. Even in our mild climate (N California) occasional frosts/freezes means solar water heaters must be able to withstand the occasional freeze. Supposedly this adds substantially to system cost. I think they end up with a working fliud with a low freezing point, plus heat exchanger. I don’t know if there are any plumbing solutions that can handle the occasional freeze without damage. At least in California if one had such a system, the lost capacity due to not being able to heat during subfreezing weather would reduce output by well under a percent. So if anyone has a good engineering solution for freeze tolerant pipes, it could be a good market.

    Comment by Thomas — 6 May 2010 @ 12:22 AM

  94. Actually Thoughtful says: 5 May 2010 at 8:54 PM

    Unless you live in a no freeze ever climate – the $5,000 figure that somehow entered the popular psyche is bogus. Double it and you have enough money to do the project correctly.

    Surely I misunderstand in taking your meaning to be that a solar DHW system must cost $10,000? What, do the parts have to sent into orbit?

    What is the point of drainback, other than to eliminate cost and complication in climates with freezing issues? Actually, none; a tradeoff in efficiency is made in deference to intractable cost and maintenance problems in practice with alternatives, the sort of problems that not only help produce $10k systems but also make sure they do not actually function except for devoted hobbyists or those with an annual maintenance contract from an eager vendor of unnecessary complication.

    No wonder nobody’s buying. Look, this is plumbing. It ain’t rocket science, it’s nothing that should have a slew of business plans (consultants, strangely expensive ultra-low production quantity parts etc.) attached to it. It’s a slightly fancy version of a mud puddle warming up in the sun combined with a tank of water. Where DHW goes off the cost rails is when we try to force it to do things its not good at, such as consistently producing complete requirements for finished hot water over the entire range of the continental US.

    Once we recognize that insisting on producing finished hot water from solar energy is the errand of a hobbyist or a contractor bearing a cost plus agreement we can figure out something more pragmatic. A practical system needs to have the possibility of capturing an amount of energy that will make it economic and it especially needs to demand only such capitalization as is affordable for normal people, the way $10,000 is not.

    Pragmatism is what makes systems w/preheat (or moderation) tanks attractive. As far as preheating water goes, there’s no difference in terms of money otherwise laid out for purchasing energy from an external source or offset whether I heat water from 60 degrees to 100 degees or from 100 degrees to 140 degrees, the same amount of energy has been captured and cost thereby avoided. However, it happens that it’s easier, less capital intensive and perhaps most importantly more likely to go from 60 degree to 100 degrees.

    Today I took in about 3kWh from the system here in spite of the fact it was cloudy and never rose above 50 degrees. Given the number of gallons of water into which that energy was dispersed it’s rather pointless from the standpoint of having a nice hot shower. Yet with the cost of the system and average results I’m headed for payoff in about 7 years and the apparatus will still save an impressive amount of energy consumption over its lifespan. Best of all, I could afford it, not with taxation hocus-pocus optimistically combined with assuming I’ll still be alive in 15 years plus hoping nothing in $10k of over-complication will break while simultaneously ignoring that $10k in an index fund would see me in way better shape anyway.

    Solar DHW has got to be affordable first and foremost or it’s going to remain a hobby in the U.S. And it can be affordable, if we don’t succumb to neurotic perfectionism and if we avoid inventing too many new business plans to supply what at the end of the day is very low-tech equipment. Sometimes I think the “green” building arena in the U.S. is saturated with parasites who are seriously impeding progress because they confine the market for things such as solar DHW to a tiny niche. That seems the only explanation for why something so simple as solar DHW can be made so expensive.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 6 May 2010 @ 1:31 AM

  95. Top notch troll, that Alastair fellow. Approaches the art in an almost… scientific… fashion.

    In the meantime, I note that Lord Monckton (Lord! Monckton?) has been selected by the Republicans in the U.S. House as “…their sole witness at tomorrow’s hearing in front of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brendan-demelle/gop-chooses-lord-hitler-y_b_565126.html

    Because… well… you know – they could? *sigh*

    Comment by Jaime Frontero — 6 May 2010 @ 2:30 AM

  96. “But believing in rationality vs irrationality is a faith based choice.”

    Nope, it isn’t.

    It DOES however, show why you’re getting the result wrong: your axioms are incorrect.

    Believing that tiger is go

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 2:41 AM

  97. “But believing in rationality vs irrationality is a faith based choice.”

    Nope, it isn’t.

    It DOES however, show why you’re getting the result wrong: your axioms are incorrect.

    Believing that tiger is going to eat you is not a faith choice. Believing that it isn’t going to eat you because God Loves You is. The faith there is not the tiger not eating but the reason for it: it is unreasonable.

    Rational choices are reasoned or reasonable choices.

    Faith is ignoring rationality.

    This doesn’t mean it’s BAD to have faith, because intuition is ignoring rationality, and that’s a good thing.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 2:43 AM

  98. thomas et al, the ONLY “belief” in the science system is the belief that the universe is understandable.

    That’s all.

    The ONLY axiom.

    It’s worked well, though.

    This is no more a belief than a belief that you are alive and that you really exist.

    But for some of you, I guess that that belief is unfounded therefore you don’t exist.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 2:48 AM

  99. “in which the Buddha embraces and encourages empiricism, free inquiry and, indeed, skepticism — even of his own teachings.”

    One translation/interpretation of which was basically boiled down to:

    This is how I achieved enlightenment. You must find your own enlightenment, since my path may not be the true one.

    Although when talking about Bhuddism there are many sects some of which are far more proselytizing than what is normally considered Bhuddism and others far more dogmatic.

    A result of the basic learnings be “find your own path” which lets people find a path that says “find MY PATH or FACE ETERNAL PUNISHMENT” and pass it on to others who prefer to be told what’s going on than look for themselves.

    Humans.

    Huh.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 2:58 AM

  100. “we cannot directly observe electrons so there is an element of “belief” that they exist”

    We can’t directly observe an itch.

    We do know it exists when it happens.

    (an example courtesy of Calvin and Hobbes)

    in the case of an electron, we don’t know what one IS, but we know the effect it has

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 3:03 AM

  101. A conversation with Ian McEvan at the Los Angeles Public Library can be found here: http://fora.tv/2010/04/12/In_Conversation_with_Ian_McEwan

    Comment by Jonas A — 6 May 2010 @ 3:24 AM

  102. Mircea,
    Horsepuckey. QED

    The proof of scientific method is in the results it produces. Likewise the fruits of that method–one of which you are using to spout your bullshit proof.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 May 2010 @ 4:04 AM

  103. SA 76,

    The Buddha also taught that we will continue to be reincarnated until we work out our karma. Sounds like a religious teaching to me.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 May 2010 @ 4:54 AM

  104. Ray Ladbury wrote: “First, science is not a belief system as it is a methodology for validating beliefs (e.g. hypotheses).”

    I admire the concise clarity of your description of the basic elements of the scientific method.

    With regard to whether “science” is a “belief system”, the problem with this discussion is that it is conflating two different meanings of the word “science”:

    1. The scientific method, which Ray Ladbury elegantly describes as “not a belief system as it is a methodology for validating beliefs (e.g. hypotheses).”

    2. A body of knowledge regarding some aspect of nature. For example, climate science, or neuroscience.

    In the context of the second meaning of “science” that I think it is fair to characterize science as a “belief system”. Some of the “beliefs” that comprise a particular body of scientific knowledge will be strongly validated and others not so much. Some may be properly accepted as “facts” because they are in accord with observation, but may subsequently be proved “wrong” by new observations. There are innumerable examples of strongly held, well-established scientific “beliefs” being overturned as a result of new knowledge.

    Ray Ladbury mentions several “implicit assumptions” that characterize science. Of these, I think the one that distinguishes science from other approaches to “reasoning about” or trying to understand and coordinate experience, is #2: empiricism. The other assumptions that he mentions are found in various “philosophies” which have been far less successful than science. And empiricism is not really an “assumption” — it is an approach to knowing the world.

    True science is radical empiricism. Data trumps everything. Science has been enormously, powerfully effective at uncovering “truth” because science has a clear, simple, well-defined definition of “truth”: what is observed is true.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 May 2010 @ 7:17 AM

  105. mircea,
    The consensus is that indeed science is a faith based construct.
    No, it isn’t. This is a claim routinely made by people trying to immunise their own particular faith-based system from criticism; it is in no sense whatsoever a consensus view.

    The argumentation is as follows:
    Science is based on rationality and rational discourse. But believing in rationality vs irrationality is a faith based choice.

    No, it isn’t. It’s a pragmatic choice: rationality and rational discourse demonstrably work. This could, logically, have been otherwise: if the world were the plaything of a capricious deity, the latter could interfere with our reasoning at every point.

    Moreover, the supposed argument is clearly self-defeating: you cannot make or assess an argument without assuming 9provisionally) that rationality and rational discourse work.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 6 May 2010 @ 7:47 AM

  106. Here’s another take on the novel:

    http://science-professor.blogspot.com/2010/04/solar-flare.html

    Haven’t read it yet myself, but I am a big fan of his other work.

    Comment by Antechinus — 6 May 2010 @ 7:47 AM

  107. Completely Fed Up says: “in the case of an electron, we don’t know what one IS, but we know the effect it has”

    I thought that was what I said in the rest of my post :/

    Comment by J Bowers — 6 May 2010 @ 8:29 AM

  108. SecularAnimist says: “There are innumerable examples of strongly held, well-established scientific “beliefs” being overturned as a result of new knowledge.”

    Exactly what separates it entirely from religious belief: “Belief revision”.

    Comment by J Bowers — 6 May 2010 @ 8:32 AM

  109. “In the context of the second meaning of “science” that I think it is fair to characterize science as a “belief system”.”

    Only in the same way as a dictionary or thesaurus is a belief system.

    The body of knowledge that is “science” (the entity, rather than the practice) is no more a belief than the way to spell colour is c o l o u r.

    Or, indeed, that “A tale of two cities” was a book written by Charles Dickens.

    Do we “believe” Chuck wrote it?

    Do we believe in tables, or do we just get on with knowing they exist and, as it were, eat off our laps?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 8:38 AM

  110. Gotta love how CFU cut out the relevant part of what I wrote – that Columbus refused to believe he had bumped into a new continent, heedless of all evidence to the contrary.

    Some folks learn one thing and hold onto it in a very static manner, taking a fact and turning it into truth – at which point it is very hard for them to ammend or even change their viewpoint on it.

    Comment by Frank Giger — 6 May 2010 @ 8:40 AM

  111. SA #104. No one doubts that scientists believe certain things about nature, but they believe those things because a consensus model has developed about the nature of reality through the effort of thousands of scientist slogging critically through each other’s empirical data. We don’t rehash those efforts because we trust that reality does not change, and we want to develop new knowledge rather than waste time. We trust that those previous scientists have done their job properly, and that if they didn’t inconsistencies in between observation and our models would show up that would ultimately reveal their mistakes. When that happens, Nobel prizes are won by those that reveal them.

    I put to you that “belief-system” has two meanings as well that differ subtley but which can be accidently or deliberately confounded. The term can simply refer to a set of beliefs (arrived at in whatever way), or it can imply a set of beliefs that are simply taken on faith implicitly with no contradiction brooked). It seems many people in claiming scientists have beliefs automatically infer that those beliefs are somehow faith-based. That is not correct.

    And that’s the last I’ll say on the matter.

    Comment by Stephen Baines — 6 May 2010 @ 9:02 AM

  112. A McDonald@24
    “Older people know that in the 1970’s some scientists believed that another ice age was imminent.”

    Have a read of Spencer Weart’s superb ‘The Discovery of Global Warming’. At the time, a slide towards the next glacial was not a ridiculous proposal given that the newly confirmed Milankovitch cycles predicted it, it was not known if pollution would cause cooling or warming and global temperatures, as far as they could be determined, had been falling for a couple of decades (due to sulphate aerosol pollution).

    However, as Gavin pointed out it was always an open debate without the sort of consensus we now have for AGW.

    Comment by Roly — 6 May 2010 @ 9:36 AM

  113. BPL wrote: “The Buddha also taught that we will continue to be reincarnated until we work out our karma. Sounds like a religious teaching to me.”

    Karma and reincarnation are Vedic teachings that predate Buddha by thousands of years. They were part of the world-view of the society in which Buddha lived, and Buddha spoke in those terms to communicate with the people of the time. The teachings of Buddha don’t depend on them. Indeed, in the Kalama Sutra, Buddha specifically addresses those who don’t believe in an afterlife or in karma, and argues that his teachings still have value to those people, because when practiced they produce well-being in the present life.

    Some expressions of Buddhism are greatly concerned with reincarnation and karma, others are not. Zen Buddhism, which evolved from the interaction of Buddhism and Taoism, has little or nothing to say about such things. In the west today, Buddhist teachings are beneficially applied within the entirely secular contexts of psychology and neuroscience.

    The thing is: they work. They get results. The only way to know that, is to practice them, and see if you get the results predicted. It’s more like the Charles Atlas course than a religion. Do the exercises, and if you see your muscles growing, well then, keep doing them. Practice Buddhist teachings, and if you see your suffering transforming into well-being, then keep practicing them.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 May 2010 @ 9:42 AM

  114. Speaking of science fiction and Buddhism … when is somebody going to make a movie of Roger Zelazny’s Lord Of Light ???

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 May 2010 @ 9:44 AM

  115. Thomas @ 93:

    In order to have cooling on the backs of the panels, you have to have airflow, and that typically requires convection up the roof surface, and convection up the roof surface requires … heat.

    The last roof I measured was (from fuzzy memory) at 24C at the bottom of the array behind the panels (air temp) and 27C at the top. I believe the open air temperature was about 19C. Front of glass? About 47 to 49C. The temperature difference between the front-of-glass and the air is 28 to 30C, and between back-of-panel and the air is less. QED, better to heat the air in front of the panels (and cool the panels …) than heat the air behind the panels (and cool the panels).

    I’ll have to go through my notes from the Site Report to find the back-of-panel temperatures, but they were well below the front-of-glass temperatures.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 6 May 2010 @ 9:47 AM

  116. 83, greyfox,
    85, Ray,

    Here’s the link to the start of the comment thread: Finnish Paper Comment

    The gist of it was that the guy hasn’t actually finished the paper yet, let alone submitted it to a journal, so the claim that it will be published this summer in Nature is totally bogus. Beyond that, he’s supposedly proving that greenhouse gases don’t do much, using some unique logic and spectrum analysis that no one else has thought of. He’s also quick to take a political stance and put down the IPCC, rather than just stick to the facts and let other people make further inferences based on his work (a sure sign in my book that the guy is on a crusade, instead of doing science). It did get his picture in the paper, though. Well done!

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 6 May 2010 @ 10:07 AM

  117. Nick Gotts wrote: “… rationality and rational discourse demonstrably work …”

    With all due respect, I think that “rationality” is highly overrated.

    First, “rationality” is not rigorously defined.

    Second, plenty of pre-scientific approaches to understanding experience were “rational”. They tried to figure out how things are by applying “reason”. Where they failed, and where science has succeeded, is that they did not subject the results of their “reasoning” to empirical observation.

    It is entirely “rational” to believe that the Sun moves around the Earth, which sits still. That belief is entirely in accord with ordinary day-to-day experience.

    That belief was not overturned by “reason” and “rationality”. It was overturned by empirical observation, which showed that the geocentric model could not account for what was actually observed, but the heliocentric model — which requires one to accept the extremely unreasonable and irrational idea that while you think you are standing still you are actually moving through space at high speed — could.

    Subordination of beliefs — including those that result from “rational” thought, as well as those that arise from “intuition” — to objective empirical observation is what defines science, not the ill-defined and subjective notion of “rationality”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 May 2010 @ 10:23 AM

  118. Taking suggestions?

    I’d like a post on “Earth System Sensitivity Inferred from Pliocene Modelling and Data,” Nature Geoscience, Vol. 3, No. 1 (2010): Lunt, Haywood, Schmidt et al.

    [Response: We discussed some of the concepts previously in Target CO2 -gavin]

    Comment by Jaime Frontero — 6 May 2010 @ 10:29 AM

  119. OK, so I’ve ordered the book, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it. But let me get this straight, the main character is a despicable physicist (read climate scientist) who gets his just deserts in the end. Sounds tailor made for the sort of people who deny AGW because Al Gore is “fat”.

    I’d like to see some sci-fi that clearly and soundly skewers deniers in a manner both heroic and humorous.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 6 May 2010 @ 10:30 AM

  120. “117
    SecularAnimist says:
    6 May 2010 at 10:23 AM

    Nick Gotts wrote: “… rationality and rational discourse demonstrably work …”

    With all due respect, I think that “rationality” is highly overrated.”

    Would you prefer “irrationality and irrational discourse demonstrably DON’T work” and go from there?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 11:04 AM

  121. With regard to the book…Sound different from other McEwan books. I’m tempted to get it just for the climate lecture. How many good examples are there of such things in the main stream literature? We should do a top ten list – or top three?

    But the description of the whole women /science /deconstructionist subplot has me worried that my wife will go bonkers if she reads it…and she reads everything in the house. Plus, she doesn’t get satire…at all…and she would have no idea what contextualization or deconstruction means…And she has reason to feel a sinned against as a woman scientist.

    Do any women blog here? and have they read SOLAR? How does it all play?

    Comment by Stephen Baines — 6 May 2010 @ 11:06 AM

  122. “It is entirely “rational” to believe that the Sun moves around the Earth, which sits still. That belief is entirely in accord with ordinary day-to-day experience.”

    It is if you look at the consequences: the retrograde motions of the planets. You need something to spin those around and so you get epicycles and the Ankythera machine.

    Occam’s razor comes in and posits a simpler position: appearances can be decieving.

    After all, if you’re on a merry go round, you don’t say that you’re still and the world is whizzing around.

    Rationality requires you pursue the argument like a miser pursues a dropped penny.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 11:08 AM

  123. SA, I agree that empiricism is critical to science, but I think that it is important to specify that it is model-guided empiricism. After all, the model determines not just what is interesting to measure, but what CAN BE measured. The thing is that it is a bit odd to call a scientific theory a “belief,” since it is provisional, and, from the point of view of the science (even if not the scientists) is changed as easily as a suit of clothes.

    I tend to view “beliefs” as human constructs, and experience tells us that results of scientific investigation are a solid basis for construction of beliefs. However, it’s rather irrelevant what I believe about the value of the fine structure constant. What matters are the values measured and the errors on those values. If I then go on to “believe” that the value of fine structure constant must be “fine tuned” to lead to the stability of the hydrogen atom, I’ve gone well beyond what the science can tell me, even in terms of a model. I am no longer on solid scientific ground.

    I just think that there is a really big difference between a system where one “believes” something independently or even in spite of the evidence and “believing” something up to the level that the evidence allows. It seems an important epistemological distinction.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 May 2010 @ 11:09 AM

  124. “110
    Frank Giger says:
    6 May 2010 at 8:40 AM

    Gotta love how CFU cut out the relevant part of what I wrote ”

    Gotta love how Frank ignores that he was corrected on an error he made and makes out that it’s my fault.

    But hey, if you accept errors and fix them, you’ll eventually agree with the IPCC and the scientific consensus and you’ll also stop obsessing about Himalayagate and all the other overblown “killer arguments” of denialists.

    And then Frank wouldn’t be able to post.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 11:11 AM

  125. “107
    J Bowers says:
    6 May 2010 at 8:29 AM

    Completely Fed Up says: “in the case of an electron, we don’t know what one IS, but we know the effect it has”

    I thought that was what I said in the rest of my post :/”

    I was correcting your idea that we have to believe an electron exists. All we have to believe is that there’s something that has the effects we’ve named “electron”. But the name is no more the thing than any other case of ontic dumping (and often abused).

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 11:16 AM

  126. “Distrust is fed by people creating strawman caricatures of science and knocking them down with feathers all the while claiming that science is some monolithic single-minded dogma. No-one here has ever claimed that ‘scientists can’t be wrong’ or that no scientist ever thought an ice age was imminent in the 1970s. Indeed, George Kukla stills thinks it’s imminent (and he is as wrong now as he was then). The claim being objected to is that there was some huge consensus of scientists who believed that – this is false and has been demonstrated clearly.”

    Actually all scientists believe in wrong things (albeit not always the same wrong things) until one scientist proves them wrong. History show us the number of scientists believing in something means nothing its all in the degree of proof.

    Trust though is built upon consistent standards and discipline. It only takes one bad apple in a barrel to ruin the whole barrel. One can rail on and on about that and never change anything until real steps are taken to get the bad apples out of the barrel.

    [Response: I don't agree. There are always people around (including scientists) that are wrong. Science progresses despite them because they mostly fail to convince anyone else of their position ('N-rays', cold fusion, perpetual motion etc.). There are even a few scientists that have made stuff up (Jan Schon, the Korean stem cell researchers for instance), and they are pretty much ostracised from the community once that is discovered. Those discoveries were found as part and parcel of the attempts to replicate their work by competing teams. That non-replication (in those cases) occurred as part of normal scientific endeavour and no 'barrels' were ruined because of it. Science is a competitive environment and not everyone will be correct about everything they publish - but the net effect is to gradually get better approximations to the 'truth'. That aim is not served by demanding that people you don't agree with be 'thrown out'. Instead, it is served by demonstrating that their ideas are not robust or that their conclusions are not sound - and that happens in the literature for the most part. - gavin]

    Comment by Bill Hunter — 6 May 2010 @ 11:24 AM

  127. CFU wrote: “Would you prefer ‘irrationality and irrational discourse demonstrably DON’T work’ and go from there?”

    I would prefer that you rigorously define “rationality” and “irrationality”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 May 2010 @ 11:27 AM

  128. Kudos to the great discussion on science as a belief system. Very enjoyable and very thoughtful. Used to see that sort of discussion in some other venues but now most are so contaminated that any reasonable comment gets buried among total trash.

    Different subject – what I mainly remember about the question on whether there was going to be another ice age soon was that the real area of interest was that climate could change rapidly. It had been felt that it would take centuries befor you saw a major climate shift. But then evidence was found that climate could change dramatically over a much shorter time frame. I happened to read an old Newsweek article on the topic some time ago which clearly illustrated that there was no consensus that an ice age was imminent but a lot of realization that you couldn’t just assume that if there was a shift, you had lots of time to react.

    Comment by Donna — 6 May 2010 @ 11:39 AM

  129. With all due respect, I think that “rationality” is highly overrated. – SecularAnimist

    With all due respect, you’re completely wrong. Empiricism is completely worthless without rationality – or you could just say that whatever you observe supports what you thought before. Holding a specific belief (e.g., geocentrism) is neither rational nor irrational: it is the grounds on which you hold beliefs, and your readiness to revise them in the light of new evidence or arguments, that distinguishes rationality from irrationality.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 6 May 2010 @ 11:40 AM

  130. Ray Ladbury wrote: “The thing is that it is a bit odd to call a scientific theory a ‘belief,’ since it is provisional … I just think that there is a really big difference between a system where one ‘believes’ something independently or even in spite of the evidence and ‘believing’ something up to the level that the evidence allows. It seems an important epistemological distinction.”

    I agree. And the point of my preceding comments was that it is precisely because scientific epistemology is founded in empiricism and subordinates “beliefs” (ideas about “how things are”) to observations (actually looking to see “how things are”) that scientific “beliefs” are of a different character than other sorts of “belief”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 May 2010 @ 11:43 AM

  131. I would prefer that you rigorously define “rationality” and “irrationality”. – Secular Animist

    As soon as that is done, you or someone else can demand that we “rigorously define” the terms used in the definition. Defining terms has a point, but only so that those in discussion agree far enough for discussion to proceed.

    That said, my definition of “rationality” would be: basing your beliefs on the best evidence and argument available, and being willing to change them if the balance of evidence and argument shifts.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 6 May 2010 @ 12:05 PM

  132. Nick and SA,
    Might I present my definition of science as theoretically guided empiricism as a synthesis between your two positions. Pure rationalism as advocated by Aristotle lacks empirical constraints, while pure empiricism can become unfocused. Science uses rationalism to guide empiricism, but subsumes rational speculation to empirical measurement. Win!

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 May 2010 @ 12:09 PM

  133. Ray,
    Rationalism (in the philosophical sense, contrasted to empiricism) is not the same as rationality, which is contrasted to irrationality. I’d agree completely with your view that science is theoretically-guided empiricism – as is (rational) history, economics, even politics.

    BTW, Aristotle was a sight more empiricist than Plato!

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 6 May 2010 @ 12:31 PM

  134. Regarding cost effective solar thermal heat:
    We apparently agree that tankless water heaters, from a straight cost benefit analysis, don’t make sense with solar in the room (even though it is a cool technology). We agree that a $5,000 solar water heater would be great. But I am a contractor who must pay my bills to the supply house, pay my employees AND make a living.

    Doug I really appreciate you extolling solar thermal. You are correct, and it is an important message. But you take the industry backwards by pushing for a non-existent price point. The toughest aspect of my work is managing my customers expectations. So when they start out expecting a $10k system for $5k we are so far behind the 8 ball that the opportunity is often lost before the game begins.

    So, to help you understand and so you can use your missionary zeal to push the industry forward, instead of holding us back, I will share my entire business model for a solar hot water heater:

    (These are my costs – no markup. A do it yourselfer is going to pay slight more).

    costs:
    120g storage tank w/heat exchanger $1262
    2 4X10 panels $2,000 (note you can buy panels for $750/each)
    Drainback tank $331
    Pump, fittings and insulation $1,470

    Total for parts: $5,063

    So the $2,500 solar water heater is a pipe dream. The $5k water heater is for the intrepid do it your selfer. You could do it for 4k and lose a panel, but you get double the performance for a 25% increase in cost. We are in no-brainer territory.

    So I am making $5k/install? Hardly.
    The only gilding I do on a system (which is actually NOT gilding) is installing a remote monitoring and adjustment controller. This adds $1,000 to the cost. 10%. But if you really want to know why PV is kicking the snot out of the more efficient technology – it is because you get feedback on what you did. Silent solar is ignored solar. People will pull you off the street to show your their reduced electric bills. So making their solar thermal system something they can brag about is actually the most important part of the job, in terms of growing the industry.

    Costs are now $6053
    Am I making $4k/job? Hardly.

    Labor for a 2 panel retrofit (tearing into drywall) goes like this:
    install panel: 8 hours/panel 16 hours total
    install new water heater: 8 hours
    install drainback tank 4 hours
    wire controller and sensors: 2 hours
    insulated drain back piping (most important detail): 10 hours

    labor is 40 hours at $50/hour $2,000

    OK am I making $2k? Nope.
    We’ve got a $250 drywall patch
    Overhead per labor hour: $18

    So am I making $1k/ install? Yes. IF nothing goes wrong – with my design, with my hardware, with the pump or the controller (which, really isn’t that likely – we expect these systems to have a >30 year lifespan with essentially no maintenance – so once we get them up they tend to stay up.

    My business also does straight plumbing and also radiant in-floor heat. Over the years I have noticed a strong relationship between parts costs and total costs. Take the parts and double it, that is your fair installed cost. I don’t know if that works outside of my trade (and note my internal method to determine what to charge is much more complicated, but I have noticed a strong relationship between the two).

    10% is on the low side of what a sub-contractor can afford. Remember we own that system, and every possible problem for at least 2 years (sometimes 5). We have to have enough money in the pot to troubleshoot and solve any problem that comes up. Say a tank fails. Under warranty. The manufacturer will replace it (after I complete 5 hours of paperwork). But they NEVER pay for the labor to remove it and re-install it. I do. Same for pumps, controllers – everything.

    And at THAT solar hot water heating is still a great deal – especially if you have electric, oil or propane as your current energy source for the water heater. We are still seeing paybacks under 10 years.

    So please keep beating the drum for solar hot water – but help us get the word out about what the actual costs are!

    Comment by Actually Thoughtful — 6 May 2010 @ 12:41 PM

  135. Secular wrote:

    So what does science “require”?

    In the words of Niels Bohr, “it is sufficient that we can unambiguously communicate the results of our observations”.

    How can that occur without an objective reality?–as it’s hard (for me at least) to see how “subjective realities” can ever be “unambiguous.”

    It may well be that the sense of objective reality does arise out of experience (under which term I am going in this context to include genetic inheritance, just so we can dodge a whole other can of philosophic worms.)

    But it seems to me it still needs to be accepted as a postulate or axiom at least, in order for the whole scientific enterprise to work (in the logical sense.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 6 May 2010 @ 12:46 PM

  136. Secular Animist, Ray Ladbury, some books you might like to read:

    Deborah G. Mayo, “Error and the Growth of Experimental Knowledge”;

    John Ziman, “Public Knowledge”;

    John Ziman, “Reliable Knowledge”;

    John Ziman, “Real Science”;

    Ian Hacking, “The Social Construction of What?”;

    Elliot Sobel,”From a Biological Point of View”;

    Lawrence Sklar, “Physics and Chance”;

    Roberto Toretti, “The Philosophy of Physics”.

    It’s next to impossible to characterize the difference between scientific knowledge and non-scientific belief in less than a few hundred thousand words.

    Here is a list of some fields of science with propositions (in parentheses) in telegraphic (or twitter) code:

    1. atmospheric research (AGW, SGW, CO2 IR)
    2. bee society (waggle dance)
    3. social construction of knowledge (Darwin, Newton)
    4. evolution (random variation and natural selection)
    5. dinosaurs (60Myr – 200Myr b.p., asteroid)
    6. clinical research (inequity of risks and benefits)
    7. neurophysiology (Hodgkin-Huxley, Izhikevich)
    8. neurophysiology (hippocampal hypotrophy HAM-D)
    9. quantum mechanics (entanglement, wave/particle)
    10. heat transfer (second law of thermodynamics)
    12. sensory acuity (Weber-Fechner law, SDT, color blindness)
    13. epidemiology (eradication of smallpox, ?? polio)
    14. epidemiology (validation of HIV, RT inhibitors)
    15. chemistry (periodic table of the elements, A’s number)
    16. learning (PRE in OC, classical conditioning)
    17. verbal learning (recency, primacy, von Restorff effects)
    18. fuel (octane and cetane ratings, efficiency, pollution)
    19. mapmaking (size of a degree of latitude, longitude)
    20. economics (EMH, Black-Scholes)

    for economics, “EMH” stands for the “efficient market hypothesis”; for sensory acuity, “SDT” stands for “signal detection theory”; for learning “PRE” stands for “partial reinforcement effect”. It’s very difficult to write in short order what all these scientific research fields have in common that unequivocally distinguishes “science” from “non-science”.

    Citing Occam’s razor” is always peculiar since Occam was not a “scientist”: he contributed neither empirical research nor lasting theory. Occam’s razor always leads to extreme reductionism in the short run and is always inadequate in the long run. As Sobel pointed out, it is completely worthless in biology, because biological systems are formed by random variation and natural selection instead of by design.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 6 May 2010 @ 1:02 PM

  137. 126R

    “[The 'truth'] is not served by demanding that people you don’t agree with be ‘thrown out’. Instead, it is served by demonstrating that their ideas are not robust or that their conclusions are not sound – and that happens in the literature for the most part.”

    Countering that notion, at least in part, from the controversial EAU e-mails:

    “I got a paper to review (submitted to the Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Sciences), written by a Korean guy and someone from Berkeley, that claims that the method of reconstruction that we use in dendroclimatology (reverse regression) is wrong… If published as is, this paper could really do some damage. It is also an ugly paper to
    review because it is rather mathematical, with a lot of Box-Jenkins stuff in it. It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically, but it suffers from the classic problem of pointing out theoretical deficiencies…”

    (See: http://www.eastangliaemails.com/emails.php?eid=321 for complete context.)

    This particular e-mail raises concerns that there actually is some motivation to get competitors’ stuff thrown out (for fear of “damage”). It is claimed here, often, that the skeptics’ camp has nothing to say because of the paucity of its peer-reviewed literature. Is there any truth to the notion that part of the reason for that paucity is that the peer review process itself is not entirely open to challenges to orthodoxy? I would be interested to know more about how exactly the peer review process works in climate science, and I’m guessing there have been good debates on the issue. Recommendations for a balanced view of it?

    Comment by Walter Manny — 6 May 2010 @ 1:16 PM

  138. Nick, I’m aware of the difference (and agree on Plato v. Aristotle), and certainly science has a much easier time of empirical study than does history, politics or even economics, in that the subject matter is at some level repeatable.

    The thing is that there were schools of thought well into the middle ages and even persisting up through the Enlightenment that contended that sensory impressions–and so empiricism–were unreliable. They also claimed the mantle of Rationalist, although one might better term them “idealists” now.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 May 2010 @ 1:23 PM

  139. Hold up. CFU, that’s enough.

    When have I ever posted that I do not believe that the climate trend is one of warming, or that people are the forcing element?

    I’m no “denialist” of the science. I simply do not care for your politics or your absolutist solutions. I also reject the alarmism of “95% of everyone dead in a mass extinction event,” as do most scientists, as being just around the corner.

    My point, which you misquoted from your high horse of smugness is this:

    Some people will grab onto a solitary scientific fact and hold it so closely that it becomes dogma to them, and any new information that modifies it in any way is rejected.

    Columbus, like many people (and I never implied otherwise) knew the world was round. He also had the size wrong.

    When he discovered the Americas, it was clear to everyone he hadn’t crossed to Asia or to India.

    Columbus, however, was one of those guys that once he had a single fact in his head, nothing could modify it in the slightest, no matter how much proof otherwise.

    The “denialists” often fall into this category. “We’re headed towards the next Ice Age if the natural climate cycle is any indication.” True.

    “We’re screwing up the natural curve, causing a double peak that may be (probably will be) higher than the original.” True.

    Some folks grab the first fact and hold on for dear life, without even considering the second.

    That’s my point. How is it incorrect?

    You’re confusing political rejection with scientific rejection, and it is ill considered. Think we’re gonna solve things without cooperating across the political spectrum? Good luck. It isn’t going to happen so long as folks like you treat opposing political views with unvarnished contempt.

    Comment by Frank Giger — 6 May 2010 @ 1:24 PM

  140. Apologies if this is a duplicate post
    Regarding cost effective solar thermal heat:
    We apparently agree that tankless water heaters, from a straight cost benefit analysis, don’t make sense with solar in the room (even though it is a cool technology). We agree that a $5,000 solar water heater would be great. But I am a contractor who must pay my bills to the supply house, pay my employees AND make a living.

    Doug I really appreciate you extolling solar thermal. You are correct, and it is an important message. But you take the industry backwards by pushing for a non-existent price point. The toughest aspect of my work is managing my customers expectations. So when they start out expecting a $10k system for $5k we are so far behind the 8 ball that the opportunity is often lost before the game begins.

    So, to help you understand and so you can use your missionary zeal to push the industry forward, instead of holding us back, I will share my entire business model for a solar hot water heater:

    (These are my costs – no markup. A do it yourselfer is going to pay slight more).

    costs:
    120g storage tank w/heat exchanger $1262
    2 4X10 panels $2,000 (note you can buy panels for $750/each)
    Drainback tank $331
    Pump, fittings and insulation $1,470

    Total for parts: $5,063

    So the $2,500 solar water heater is a pipe dream. The $5k water heater is for the intrepid do it your selfer. You could do it for 4k and lose a panel, but you get double the performance for a 25% increase in cost. We are in no-brainer territory.

    So I am making $5k/install? Hardly.
    The only gilding I do on a system (which is actually NOT gilding) is installing a remote monitoring and adjustment controller. This adds $1,000 to the cost. 10%. But if you really want to know why PV is kicking the snot out of the more efficient technology – it is because you get feedback on what you did. Silent solar is ignored solar. People will pull you off the street to show your their reduced electric bills. So making their solar thermal system something they can brag about is actually the most important part of the job, in terms of growing the industry.

    Costs are now $6053
    Am I making $4k/job? Hardly.

    Labor for a 2 panel retrofit (tearing into drywall) goes like this:
    install panel: 8 hours/panel 16 hours total
    install new water heater: 8 hours
    install drainback tank 4 hours
    wire controller and sensors: 2 hours
    insulated drain back piping (most important detail): 10 hours

    labor is 40 hours at $50/hour $2,000

    OK am I making $2k? Nope.
    We’ve got a $250 drywall patch
    Overhead per labor hour: $18

    So am I making $1k/ install? Yes. IF nothing goes wrong – with my design, with my hardware, with the pump or the controller (which, really isn’t that likely – we expect these systems to have a >30 year lifespan with essentially no maintenance – so once we get them up they tend to stay up.

    My business also does straight plumbing and also radiant in-floor heat. Over the years I have noticed a strong relationship between parts costs and total costs. Take the parts and double it, that is your fair installed cost. I don’t know if that works outside of my trade (and note my internal method to determine what to charge is much more complicated, but I have noticed a strong relationship between the two).

    10% is on the low side of what a sub-contractor can afford. Remember we own that system, and every possible problem for at least 2 years (sometimes 5). We have to have enough money in the pot to troubleshoot and solve any problem that comes up. Say a tank fails. Under warranty. The manufacturer will replace it (after I complete 5 hours of paperwork). But they NEVER pay for the labor to remove it and re-install it. I do. Same for pumps, controllers – everything.

    And at THAT solar hot water heating is still a great deal – especially if you have electric, oil or propane as your current energy source for the water heater. We are still seeing paybacks under 10 years.

    So please keep beating the drum for solar hot water – but help us get the word out about what the actual costs are!

    Comment by Actually Thoughtful — 6 May 2010 @ 1:24 PM

  141. Alastair,

    Your point is trivial and really doesn’t address what we mean by belief system. The Druids were able to predict something? Great. They did that by observation. Nothing about human sacrifice or tree worship led them to the capacity for prediction.

    You’ve simply turned Reductionism on its head.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 6 May 2010 @ 1:25 PM

  142. BH at 126. “Actually all scientists believe in wrong things (albeit not always the same wrong things) until one scientist proves them wrong.”

    What Gavin said, plus this. A focus on the king pin individual scientist who proves everyone wrong is faulty on two counts. It still requires that all those other mistaken scientist be convinced, which means they are not so stupid, honest and willing to change when confronted with data that conflicts their point of view. Second, even the most influential single scientists who revolutionized their fields built on the work of others which must have been worth something. Finally, it requires that the lone brilliant scientist actually be right. It does sometime happen that a single scientist reveals something truly revolutionary, but they hold sway unless they convince others.

    Comment by Stephen Baines — 6 May 2010 @ 1:42 PM

  143. Actually Thoughtful says: 6 May 2010 at 12:41 PM

    Sincere Thanks for that detailed budget. I was too harsh in my remarks about business plans and I hope I did not insult you.

    I’m also sorry I took the thread so far off topic. Suffice it to say, I’ve got some criticisms I think are supported by numbers in terms of the industry’s proclivity to perfect this technology, leading to the mushrooming costs you describe. A tired old saw, but the perfect can indeed be the enemy of the good; I believe striving for perfection has actually seriously hindered solar DHW deployment here.

    Thanks again for your reflections.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 6 May 2010 @ 1:44 PM

  144. “If published as is, this paper could really do some damage.”

    Well if someone posts a paper that is horrendously wrong then it will do some damage.

    [edit]

    Please don’t concern yourself with *genuine* concern.

    “Is there any truth to the notion that part of the reason for that paucity is that the peer review process itself is not entirely open to challenges to orthodoxy?”

    So many weasel words.

    How about we turn them about and ask you, Walter:

    “Is it desirable for the peer review process to receive and accept any paper that denounces for any reason the orthodox knowledge and NEVER refuse to print the dissent?”

    Because if the peer review process EVER refuses a paper of any quality (or none) that challenges the orthodoxy, there would then be some truth to your question.

    But if it is impossible to refuse a challenge to the orthodoxy, then there is no peer review.

    [edit - please confine your points to substantive ones]

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 1:46 PM

  145. “Occam’s razor always leads to extreme reductionism in the short run and is always inadequate in the long run”

    Please define “extreme”.

    Please prove that it always does so.

    Please prove reductionism is always inadequate in the long run.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 1:48 PM

  146. Frank, didn’t you read the stuff you wrote?

    Plenty of “don’t do anything! the IPCC are wrong! it’s all a scam! they aren’t doing science!”.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 1:51 PM

  147. Nick Gotts wrote: “… it is the grounds on which you hold beliefs, and your readiness to revise them in the light of new evidence or arguments, that distinguishes rationality from irrationality.”

    It sounds like you are defining “rationality” as the willingness to relinquish or modify beliefs when they are not in accord with observed facts. Which is what I mean by a commitment to empiricism. If I understand you correctly, then I don’t think we have any real disagreement. It’s more a matter of defining terms.

    The problem I have with the use of the terms “rational” and “irrational” is that they are often used in a different way, and even the opposite way — i.e. that ideas or beliefs that are not in accord with currently accepted ideas and beliefs are “irrational”.

    If you had told a typical scientist in 1850 that the speed of light is the same for all observers regardless of their motion relative to the light, because when an observer is moving his clock will slow down and his yardstick will get shorter, that scientist would probably not have thought you were “rational”. He would have thought you were insane.

    And more than one “climate change skeptic” has posted comments on this site to the effect that it is “irrational” to believe that puny human activities could alter the Earth’s climate, and therefore the empirical findings of climate science must be rejected.

    When someone encountering an anomalous phenomenon says “there must be a rational explanation for this!” what they often mean is “there must be an explanation that is in accord with my existing beliefs” rather than “there may be an explanation that is in accord with what I am observing but which will require me to abandon my existing beliefs”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 May 2010 @ 1:53 PM

  148. Stephen @ 121:

    But the description of the whole women /science /deconstructionist subplot has me worried that my wife will go bonkers if she reads it…and she reads everything in the house. Plus, she doesn’t get satire…at all…and she would have no idea what contextualization or deconstruction means…And she has reason to feel a sinned against as a woman scientist.

    A lot of people don’t get satire and the rest of what you described.

    And not to worry — I feel plenty sinned against.

    Do any women blog here? and have they read SOLAR? How does it all play?

    I think I’m one of the few. I’ve not read “Solar” yet, and since I’m in the solar biz now (passed my “Sell By” date at IBM …) I definitely plan to read it. I’ll be interesting to see how the renewable energy versus environmentalism aspects play out. One thing that’s really hard to capture is how bimodal the solar consumer tends to be — tree huggers on one side, coming apocalypse adherents on the other. The only people in the middle are geeks and hobbyists, for the most part. Them and folks who just want to live in the country and can’t afford the cost of power lines being strung out to their place.

    I hope the author captured all of the bizarrity that is the solar industry, because it’s one odd bunch of people!

    – Julie.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 6 May 2010 @ 1:59 PM

  149. Frank Giger wrote: “I simply do not care for your politics or your absolutist solutions.”

    “Absolutist solutions”?

    What in the world are you talking about?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 May 2010 @ 2:04 PM

  150. Doug,
    Thank you for moderating your tone. My goal is simply to help people understand that solar hot water is not magic. It is a technology that is time-tested and pays for itself, all the while reducing your carbon footprint, energy requirements and dollars spent. While you consider it “only plumbing” – most plumbers are not qualified to install these systems correctly, and compared to PV, these systems ARE complicated (they have to be to avoid freezing). Even with all that taken into account, they pay for themselves about twice as fast as a PV system. With PV the expense is the parts, with solar thermal, the expense is in the labor.

    This is an interesting discussion. And not really off topic as 1) the post is called Solar after all. And 2) the surrounding discussion is the philosophy of science and how we know what we know.

    Into that discussion I interject true facts (verifiable, non-controversial) regarding the real-world cost of installing solar hot water systems.

    These facts show that your ideal “Really cheap solar hot water” is not possible as you define it. The PARTS ALONE cost the $5k max you think is necessary to move the American market.

    I sense (I hope incorrectly) that my providing the step-by-step analysis of why a drain back system costs what it costs is lost on you, and you will go right back to making the false claims about how to “do solar” and continue to add confusion to the marketplace.

    Which, I think, underscores the challenge faced by climate scientists – when somebody gets an idea in their head, they are very, very resistant to changing that idea, even when the facts to the contrary and the logic are presented in painstaking detail.

    Comment by Actually Thoughtful — 6 May 2010 @ 2:07 PM

  151. “That aim is not served by demanding that people you don’t agree with be ‘thrown out’. Instead, it is served by demonstrating that their ideas are not robust or that their conclusions are not sound – and that happens in the literature for the most part”

    I don’t disagree fundamentally with anything you are saying in your reply.

    But I will point out that what you are talking about is the “expedient progression of science” and not the “public trust in science” which was the main thrust of my post. If science is going to play an important role in the public policy arena it is the latter that is more important than the former.

    George Monbiot said with regard to the Climategate emails: “We’ll be able to get past this only by grasping reality, apologising where appropriate and demonstrating that it cannot happen again.”

    [Response: Again I don't agree. Science doesn't have the kudos it does because all scientists are saints and never show human emotion. Science has kudos because it works. As I said at the time, Newton may have been an ass (and he was), but respect for the theory of gravity is still pretty solid (though I haven't seen the latest polling.... ;) ). What do you want to 'never happen again'? For some scientists to be friends? To have frank discussions? To have their emails stolen? To never call out a paper that shouldn't have been published? To have every scientist self-censor themselves in any and all situations? To never make errors of judgment? Well, sorry, but this is not doable short of replacing all scientists with robots. You will be much better off embracing the fact that science is done by imperfect human beings and that it is the scientific method that allows those imperfections not to matter in the long term, rather than expecting saintliness. - gavin]

    Comment by Bill Hunter — 6 May 2010 @ 2:07 PM

  152. Sayings of Frank (I’m honest me) Giger:

    “Okay, I’m late to the party and preaching to the choir, but so what?”

    “Indeed, I think the policy momentum is so great that nothing is able to really alter it”

    “Auditing of science does have its place…. It implies that anyone that is questioning of a study or findings is an enemy. That, friends, is how inflexible dogma is formed.”

    “Auditing in the form of fact checking from raw numbers to output is statistical as well as checking materiel against invoice.”

    “The problem, IMHO, is a lack of good faith negotiations – which both sides are guilty”

    “For all the complaining about denialist groups, not much is mentioned about the damage advocacy groups do to the scientist’s credibility. Twisting the words of scientists is hardly a one sided affair – and it happens as much as it does on the “anti” side.”

    “1) Overblown alarmism from environmental groups that was clearly bogus”
    “2) The UN stamp of approval. Nothing says slanted political effort rife with corruption like a United Nations Committee.”
    “3) The immediate policy recommendations that seemed to come concurrent with the first report”

    “It is very difficult to say that the IPCC reports are free of political bias when advocacy groups are at the table to give imput on the shaping of the documents.”

    “Oh please. I wouldn’t sell the human race’s ability to adapt to planetary changes so short….if any species can survive the next mass extinction event, I’ll bet on homo sapiens.”

    “This is why I oppose every political “solution” put forward by greenies – it’s lies.”

    And of course, the piece de resitance:

    “I will call my Congressman and Senator and ask that they vote against AGW legislation, and similarly pressure the White House to not cooperate with the UN over climate change. The scientists and their advocates are out of control.”

    Yah, this guy is totally for the IPCC and doesn’t deny it.

    However, despite this, he’s willing to doom the planet because someone is “out of control”…

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 2:12 PM

  153. You’ll have to find the quotes.

    But the IPCC doesn’t produce science – it provides “one stop shopping” for the science done outside of the UN, and then uses it to influence political decisions of nations.

    [Response: Oh my! A panel set up by, and consisting of, 192 different countries has the temerity to advise the same countries on what they were mandated to provide advice about? Set up an inquiry! - gavin]

    Do I trust the UN? Hell no. About the only thing good going at the UN is the WHO; the rest is shot through with the most corrupt leaders on the planets vying for as much cover or money (or both) they can get.

    Remember, the IPCC didn’t get a Nobel Prize for any field of science – it got the most capricious of political awards, the “Peace” Prize.

    Do I have a problem with NGO’s being part of the IPCC process? Oh, yeah. The WWF and Greenpeace are clearly political organizations first, and shouldn’t be cited in the work (and invariably the problems with the reports stem from them be cited).

    Then again, I’d be critical if the National Tobacco Institute was part of the studies and recommendations on mitigating cancer of the US Health Department.

    “Do nothing;” I never wrote that, either. IMHO, fee and dividend is a really dumb idea due to political realities, as is wholesale carbon taxes or untargeted cap and trade. Nor can we simply shut down all coal fired plants tomorrow, no matter how much we wish we could.

    I don’t talk out of my rear end about you; I’ve only ever challenged your notions. I think I probably cut too close to the bone on that score, as you’ve gone past substance and gone after me personally.

    It’s a popular “denialist” tactic.

    Comment by Frank Giger — 6 May 2010 @ 2:13 PM

  154. Mr. Ladbury…thanks; the guy’s name is Kauppinen.

    Comment by greyfox — 6 May 2010 @ 2:13 PM

  155. “It sounds like you are defining “rationality” as the willingness to relinquish or modify beliefs when they are not in accord with observed facts.”

    I would propose this is because the root of the word “rationality” is rationale.

    “Why do I believe that?”

    And when you have that rationale, when that rationale fails to hold, you no longer have the same rationale and you change it to another rational position for which you have an acceptably working rationale.

    Irrationality is refusing to change even when you have no rationale for your position.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 2:15 PM

  156. “If you had told a typical scientist in 1850 that the speed of light is the same for all observers regardless of their motion relative to the light, because when an observer is moving his clock will slow down and his yardstick will get shorter, that scientist would probably not have thought you were “rational”. He would have thought you were insane.”

    No, a non-scientist would have said that.

    However, if you asked a scientist, he’d laugh and ask you why the crispin you think that’s true.

    When you answer, he’d be shocked maybe, but he wouldn’t consider you insane.

    A little less assume, next time, SA.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 2:17 PM

  157. SA: You’re projection when you say:

    “When someone encountering an anomalous phenomenon says “there must be a rational explanation for this!” what they often mean is “there must be an explanation that is in accord with my existing beliefs””

    Because this:

    “rather than “there may be an explanation that is in accord with what I am observing but which will require me to abandon my existing beliefs”.”

    is exactly what I mean by rationality.

    I think Ray and Nick would think the same thing too.

    The explanation must be able to explain the phenomenon without recourse to inexplicable phenomena.

    It’s why we don’t accept “irreducible complexity” as a scientific argument but a dogmatic (irrational) one.

    Note: just such a thing happened when Einstein showed through the photoelectric effect that the corpuscular theory of light was correct. People who believed light was a wave COULD NOT explain the photoelectric effect with their “belief” (as you put it, incorrectly by the way) that light was a wave.

    But this didn’t mean that they had to throw away their belief in gravity.

    They had to modify their beliefs to include the corpuscular nature of light.

    Similarly when the general relativity effect explained (gave a rationale to) the precession of mercury. Again, didn’t need to drop all their beliefs. Just modify them.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 2:28 PM

  158. CFU, I believe that you have some interesting and edifying points to make, but my empirical observation of your posted comments finds them to be nearly unintelligible, which leads me to question whether that belief is rational.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 May 2010 @ 2:35 PM

  159. Gavin, you’ve missed the point as well.

    One can embrace the science of the IPCC reports and be highly skeptical of political solutions it recommends – mutually exclusive of each other.

    Do I trust the science of the of the IPCC? Yes.

    Do I agree with the political recommendations that flow from it? No.

    [Response: And what might these be? Please point to the IPCC recommendations for national policy so that we can see what you are protesting against. - gavin]

    The science is vetted by scientists to ensure the science is right. Politics or how it will be received plays nearly no role. How Botswana or Canada or the USA will view absorbsion rates of CO2 by the ocean is never a factor.

    This is not so true in other portions of the report.

    Comment by Frank Giger — 6 May 2010 @ 2:44 PM

  160. “Remember, the IPCC didn’t get a Nobel Prize for any field of science – it got the most capricious of political awards, the “Peace” Prize.”

    Well, this just proves that the UN is wrong.

    Only wrong people get the Nobel *Peace* prize…

    Non sequitur much, Frankie?

    “Do I have a problem with NGO’s being part of the IPCC process? Oh, yeah.”

    ‘course he also has problems with GO’s being part of the IPCC process (since this is just dogmatic maneuvering to keep the party in control, yes he said that too!)

    This doesn’t leave many people. ‘cos “greenies” aren’t allowed. I guess that only leaves Company Officers (who can’t be pro renewables because that makes them a smelly hippy).

    ““Do nothing;” I never wrote that, either.”

    No, but when you continally say that there’s nothing that CAN be done, and nothing that WILL be done and that nothing that NEEDS be done, what else is left?

    All you have to do is exclude anything to be done and you’ve left them with the hobson’s choice that you don’t want to say: do nothing.

    “I don’t talk out of my rear end about you”

    Uh, you have at least three times.

    Not counting this one.

    “Nor can we simply shut down all coal fired plants tomorrow,”

    Strawman.

    “I’ve only ever challenged your notions.”

    And the notion of any possibility of change. Often by saying “it’s other people, not me, I’m just the messenger”.

    A common rightwinger talkshow tactic. Attack Munchausen By Proxy…

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 2:46 PM

  161. SA, your inability to think clearly isn’t my problem.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 2:50 PM

  162. Actually Thoughtful, I’ll try to keep this short but yes indeed if I can produce a system that meets code, is aesthetically acceptable, will produce a reasonable number of KWH of offset over its lifespan, can recover its capital within less than ten years and requires no financial smoke and mirrors I’ll feel compelled to talk about it. I won’t do so in any concerted way unless and until I have better confidence in my numbers and can explain in an unambiguous and fully characterized manner why and how it’s possible to produce such affordable systems.

    See, my problem is that on the one hand I see and hear your budget, while on the other hand, I’m using a system that will add a known number of joules per minute to my storage tank here, cost nowhere near what you describe, meets code requirements and is visually unobtrusive. It was built as a one-off using conventional materials at retail prices so it enjoys none of the scaling benefits such a system would if produced in quantity. No special skills were needed to either assemble the raw materials into components or to install them. For me that’s a problem because it says something’s drastically wrong with how these systems are being sold through to consumers, what metrics are being used to evaluate success.

    Regarding false or misleading claims, it’s easy to inadvertently make those. For instance, if a person should make a claim about the thermal loss rate of a DHW storage tank in units of degrees per hour without also defining initial delta T across the thermal barrier of the tank as well as the mass/volume ratio of the tank and taking into account declining delta T given a constant amb-ient temperature, one is making a claim that might be termed false or at least indefensible at first glance.

    Regarding the skills necessary to install these systems, I’ve done plumbing and I installed the system here. I see no difference in skill sets; the only possible gotcha for drainback systems is the need to maintain consistent pitch in piping above the level of the drainback tank. One also has be able to point in which direction lies south. Like I said, it’s not rocket science.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 6 May 2010 @ 3:02 PM

  163. CFU wrote: “SA, your inability to think clearly isn’t my problem.”

    I’m sure that my inability to think clearly is the problem, since it is irrational to suppose that the clarity and coherence of your writing could use any improvement so as to communicate your ideas more effectively.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 May 2010 @ 3:10 PM

  164. #24 #35 Alastair McDonald

    I see your point, but disagree on the idea that science is based on belief in the connotation presented, rather it seems based on potential to get closer to the truth using the scientific method. Khun, pointed out bias potentials; I don’t agree with the idea that it is ‘all’ bias, as the scientific method is to reduce bias as able and get to objective reality as best as possible. id est, the most reasonable conclusion based on the evidence.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_scientific_method

    Religious belief in any hypothesis or theory (dependent on connotative usage) such as: it’s GCR’s, It’s natural cycle, it’s solar luminance are built on false logic, shaky foundations and arguments that are essentially houses of cards that require continual support in the form of straw-man arguments to fend of intruders, arguments from (misinformed/myopic) authority. They must not look at the big picture, or else the house of cards falls.

    Science is quite the opposite. It builds a strong foundation. When done well, it builds houses made of brick, not straw, or sticks. If it finds a problem with the foundation it will repair it with better materials.

    In the case of belief, when a hole is obvious that threatens the structure, they increase the rhetoric with red herrings and arguments from authority to keep the audience distracted to the new false logic or the reinforced old false logic. In other words, get some more straw and sticks and reinforce that perceived hole.

    Science is about testing and figuring out the best potentials including the use of mathematics and physics, not believing. There is a connotative and practical difference. Scientists test, falsify, build, share, argue, test, refine, argue, develop, improve, share, argue. . . 

    Science is not a belief system, rather ‘a let’s take a look and see what is most likely the cause’, approach. It also uses mathematics, so an analogy may be that mathematics is the gun and if you point it in the right direction you might hit the target or get close. 2+2=4 but what that means depends on context.

    I’ve seen how the denialist side uses the gun. They don’t try to figure out where it should be aimed, they aim it where they want it (in the most profitable direction for those so inclined, or the most hilarious direction in conversations and emails amongst themselves to get a good laugh about those crazy soci-alist liberals). 

    And of course then you have guys like Monckton making up an equation and claiming it is the string theory of climate science and therefore the sun rises only because of his equation (even though his equation has nothing to do with the sun, hmm, that is also a McIntyre/McKitrick method – pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!). Heck, it’s not even an argument from authority since he is not an authority on the subject.

    Spencer I believe falls into the Christy, Lindzen category (and/or vice versa). ‘As long as we don’t consider all the evidence, we can safely say that it’s not that big a deal’. Neurosis in king.


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 6 May 2010 @ 3:12 PM

  165. Whoops, for some reason I said “mass/volume ratio” above; that should be surface area/mass ratio

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 6 May 2010 @ 3:13 PM

  166. To the moderator: Thank you — my sincere appreciation. WRM

    Comment by Walter Manny — 6 May 2010 @ 3:20 PM

  167. Science is a belief system based on reality.

    “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” ~Philip K. Dick

    Which makes science more USEFUL than any other belief system I know of, but not (as Alastair points out) any more likely to persuade the masses.

    Until reality itself intrudes on their footy and fashion and food-supply.

    respectfully
    BJ

    Comment by bj chippindale — 6 May 2010 @ 4:14 PM

  168. Gavin, shall we look at the national policies that have suggested at the UN based on “flow from” the IPCC reports?

    Let’s start with Kyoto and move all the way to Copenhagen. Eco-reparations, global climate carbon offset credits, even the arbitrary years decided for levels of reduction. Exemption of “developing nations” from any responsibility – like China.

    While the IPCC reports don’t zero in on specific policy statements, there are some real leading statements, like this gem from Working Group III’s section:

    “Finally, the most serious concern about sustainable development is that it is inherently delusory. Some critics have argued that because biophysical limits constrain the amount of future development that is sustainable, the term ‘sustainable development’ is itself an oxymoron (Dovers and Handmer, 1993; Mebratu, 1998; Sachs, 1999). This leads some to argue for a ‘strong sustainability’ approach in which natural capital must be preserved since it cannot be substituted by any other form of capital (Pearce et al., 1989; Cabeza Gutes, 1996). Others point out that the concept of sustainable development is anthropocentric, thereby avoiding reformulation of values that may be required to pursue true sustainability (Suzuki and McConnell, 1997). While very different in approach and focus, both these criticisms raise fundamental value questions that go to the heart of present debates about environmental and social issues.

    “However, discourses of sustainable development have historically focused primarily on the environmental and economic dimensions (Barnett, 2001), while overlooking the need for social, political and/or cultural change (Barnett, 2001; Lehtonen, 2004; Robinson, 2004). As Lehtonen (2004) explains, however, most models of sustainable development conceive of social, environmental (and economic) issues as ‘independent elements that can be treated, at least analytically, as separate from each-other’ (p. 201). The importance of social, political and cultural factors, for example, poverty, social equity, governance, is only now getting more recognition. In particular, there is a growing recognition of the importance of the institutional and governance dimensions (Banuri and Najam, 2002). From a climate change perspective, this integration is essential in order to define sustainable development paths. Moreover, as discussed in this chapter, understanding the institutional context in which policies are made and implemented is critical.

    [..]

    “Since the 1980s, sustainable development has moved from being an interesting but sometimes contested ideal, to now being the acknowledged goal of much of international policy, including climate change policy. It is no longer a question of whether climate change policy should be understood in the context of sustainable development goals; it is a question of how.”

    They’ve framed the political debate.

    It’s not about climate change, it’s about social justice and rethinking our values (in a national policy way).

    [Response: Since you know appear to acknowledge that the IPCC does not recommend policy, perhaps you can direct your criticisms more constructively? -gavin]

    Comment by Frank Giger — 6 May 2010 @ 4:31 PM

  169. FCH @#148 “I hope the author captured all of the bizarrity that is the solar industry, because it’s one odd bunch of people!”

    Yes, I’m sensing that there are people with strong opinions even in this thread! But I’m learning alot listening to them. We’ve thought about installing solar heating at least – but we’re in a pretty shaded location. Now I know where to get advice maybe we’ll think about it again.

    Let me know what you think when you read Solar!

    Comment by Stephen Baines — 6 May 2010 @ 4:53 PM

  170. #153 Frank Giger

    IMHO, fee and dividend is a really dumb idea due to political realities, as is wholesale carbon taxes or untargeted cap and trade. Nor can we simply shut down all coal fired plants tomorrow, no matter how much we wish we could.

    I agree that we can’t just start shutting things down. Stopping the economy has many severe repercussions.

    But to say that a pragmatic solution is a dumb idea because of political only reality addresses the dominant political environment. That does not mean ‘Fee & Dividend’ is a dumb idea, though I recognize your context.

    Fee & Dividend is literally our best chance at a better future. My analysis is overarching and holistic in nature. It is not a dumb idea in the context of the best possibility of keeping a functioning if not a reasonably vibrant economy.

    I really like functioning economies. I prefer objective economies, but that also is not our current reality either. Such is life, but that does not mean that we should not promote the best ideas in order to achieve the best possible outcome.

    Instead of saying it’s a dumb idea because of political reality, why not help promote it and help it become political reality?


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 6 May 2010 @ 5:19 PM

  171. It’s next to impossible to characterize the difference between scientific knowledge and non-scientific belief in less than a few hundred thousand words.

    I’ve got to support Septic Matthew here. The discussion is interesting but frustrating, because were not defining our terms sufficiently, and we wind up in violent agreement.

    I’m just pleading for more disambiguation, because I suspect there are some excellent thoughts trying to come through. With Donna@128, I congratulate those who are contributing to a civil conversation on a fascinating subject.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 6 May 2010 @ 5:29 PM

  172. 171 Mal Adapted: I’ve got to support Septic Matthew here.

    Thank you.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 6 May 2010 @ 5:53 PM

  173. Offtopic, but Steve Goddard is trying to claim the temperature of Venus is almost entirely due to pressure of the atmosphere and not greenhouse gases. That’s obviously wrong as greenhouse gases must have a strong effect, but what is the contribution of atmospheric pressure to the temperature of Venus’s atmosphere? Is it zero, I suspect it might be. Or does it contribute some heat? Or is it a stupid question in the first place? thanks!

    Comment by Bob — 6 May 2010 @ 6:09 PM

  174. Gavin said “Science has kudos because it works. ” It’s an interesting comment. Most college educated people have a relatively minor exposure to science – maybe some simple physics, and chemistry lab, etc. Calculating friction, rates of acceleration in a gravitational field, what happens when I heat this compound, etc. And, yes, science ‘works’ in these contexts. We are able to predict outcomes very successfully in these constrained systems. I’d call this “simple science”. It’s the science engineers use to calculate loads, and that rocket scientists use to calculate trajectories.

    Complex systems science is just a different beast. Take genetics. We’re barely scratching the surface. Or ecology. There are whole fields that are currently more engaged with cataloging and comparing than they are with being able to make strong predictions about future events. These are fields with huge uncertainties when it comes to future events.

    Then, there are the social sciences – let’s not touch those!

    So it seems misleading to use “science” and “scientist” as blanket terms. When a physicist claims “that object will follow a parabolic arc in a vacuum under the influence of a gravitational field and assuming no other external influences” that’s a profoundly different type of statement that an ecologist claim that “this species will go extinct in 30 years”. Is it accurate to say that they are both “predictions made by scientists with broad consensus support”? Complex systems with large unknowns are just different.

    [Response: But you are just making up quotes. Science works even for complex systems, despite the fact that it is harder to make 'simple' statements. The methodology is the same. - gavin]

    Examples that claim to be justifications for the success of complex system predictions should come from other historically successful complex system predictions – not from ‘gravity’…

    Comment by TRY — 6 May 2010 @ 6:09 PM

  175. Mr. Reisman, Fee and Dividend as described is as reasonable and workable as the Fair Tax, yet neither will ever be passed – and if they were it would be in versions that would be unrecognizeable from their origins.

    Indeed, a national sales tax (which would also remove income tax when enacted) would do much of the same things as fee and dividend. Both even have a built in “everybody” rebate.

    I’ve got quite a few ideas on how to mitigate GHG emissions, starting with our largest single problem: coal fired electrical plants.

    Unfortunately, very few want to hear ideas or criticism from a conservative Republican.

    It’s pretty funny that I’m actually on the side of the science and still taken to be a “denier” because I’m not politically aligned with the majority of participants here.

    Want to get something done? Don’t make anyone that disagrees with policy proposals – even if they completely disagree – a villian.

    Comment by Frank Giger — 6 May 2010 @ 6:44 PM

  176. SA 113: Buddhist teachings are beneficially applied within the entirely secular contexts of psychology and neuroscience… The thing is: they work. They get results

    BPL: Among those results are:

    * Impeccably Buddhist judges in ancient, medieval and fairly recent China handing out criminal punishments involving mutilation and torture.
    * Chinese foot-binding preventing women from walking to enhance their “beauty.”
    * Japan invading China in the 1930s and killing over a million people.
    * Japan now being about the most casually racist country on Earth, and, weirdly, considering how very few Jews live there, one of the most antisemitic.
    * Thailand in the 1970s preying on the Vietnamese boat people, raping, robbing and killing them to the tune of about 100,000.
    * Thailand now deriving a good fraction of its foreign exchange from child prostitution.

    Want me to go on? Being a Buddhist doesn’t guarantee good behavior or even sanity. If you want to say those folks weren’t/aren’t “real” Buddhists, you’d have rather a hard time proving it.

    As for Zen… I can’t imagine any scientist taking seriously a philosophy that says you should do your damnedest to turn off the stream of thought and merely react. It’s one of the most anti-intellectual philosophies ever created.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 May 2010 @ 6:56 PM

  177. SA 117,

    An argument is rational if it proceeds validly from its premises. That’s what the word means. The pop meaning of “sane” is not really a good use of the word.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 May 2010 @ 7:02 PM

  178. FG 153: fee and dividend is a really dumb idea due to political realities, as is wholesale carbon taxes or untargeted cap and trade.

    BPL: In other words, any plan that might actually work is off the table in your view.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 May 2010 @ 7:16 PM

  179. Bob 173,

    That high atmospheric pressure could in and of itself cause high temperatures is ludicrous. It amounts to a perpetual motion machine of the first kind, continuously generating energy out of nowhere.

    Compressing Venus’s atmosphere might well generate heat by the ideal gas law (PV = nRT), though you’d need a power source to do it. But once heated up, the Venus atmosphere would radiate that heat away. The only sustained energy input to the Venus climate system is sunlight. Its radiative equilibrium temperature is 232 K. Its surface temperature is 735 K because of the greenhouse effect. A static atmosphere generates no mechanical heat whatsoever.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 May 2010 @ 7:26 PM

  180. Re Bob – I don’t think one can say that the greenhouse effect contributes x and that the pressure contributes y; they are both important but in different ways. One sets the stage for what the other does.

    Of course, if we kept adding CO2 to the Earth’s atmosphere, beyond the limits of fossil fuels – I mean we start heating up a bunch of limestone, etc… then 1. the pressure at the surface, and on average over the mass of the atmosphere, would rise from increasing mass of the whole atmosphere; 2. eventually CO2 would not just be a fraction of the atmosphere whose non-radiative thermodynamic properties are still determined mainly by O2 and N2 (with some small adjustment from spatially and temporally variable H2O, whose importance would grow with warming, though we’d have to have a bunch of H2 escape to space to get to Venusian conditions). Those thermodynamic properties (specifc heat, ideal gas laws (where an ideal gas is a good approximation)), *combined with gravity* (another variable among planets), and the latent heat of water phase transitions *(or whatever substances are present that undergo phase transitions within the atmosphere – another planetary variable), greatly influence the lapse rate tendencies within a convecting troposphere. The lapse rate is an essential ingredient in determining how a change in optical properties affects radiant fluxes in the LW portion of the spectrum (greenhouse effect and related matters). The optical thickness of a given layer with some mass per unit area depends on composition, and is also pressure and temperature (via line-broadenning and line strength effects). The optical thickness of the atmosphere as a whole depends on the mass per unit area of the atmosphere, and the same is true of any portion of the atmosphere.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 6 May 2010 @ 7:30 PM

  181. “You will be much better off embracing the fact that science is done by imperfect human beings and that it is the scientific method that allows those imperfections not to matter in the long term, rather than expecting saintliness”

    I sense you are misinterpreting what I am getting at. I am not after blood. The system is what it is and to a great extent some of the recommendations by the investigatory panels make sense of asking the institutions to imbue a better sense of responsibility regarding disclosure and compliance. I am a member of a professional society that has dealt with these issues in providing opinions on financial information so that the public can be more confident in the information they are provided by management. The standards of the profession are extensive and formulated via a cooperative process among the AICPA and government institutions. Further most of the standards do not apply, except the professional competence and ethical ones to assignments that are not attestations with public attestations held to higher standards than private ones.

    I have long been a proponent of the role of science in policy formulation but have also noted to my dismay that often it isn’t done professionally but instead becomes a forum for scientists to promote whatever it is they most believe in. And believe me most of my experience in this area has nothing to do with climate.

    If investors had to navigate such a mine field it would be impossible to differentiate between decent reports that had met certain standards and those that had not. Further I am fully aware it is not a perfect system but the motivation of almost all auditors that perform public attestation work does meet standards (again set by the profession itself cooperatively with the various public agencies).

    So it is good to acknowledge some lapses in judgment and diligence in record maintenance and I see little to be gained from running around trying to root more of it out from the perspective of punishing violators though some rooting out of data and methods would aid in improving the body of science. But initiating profession wide discussions on how to proceed in the words of Monbiot to provide assurance it doesn’t happen again can do nothing but raise the respectability of the profession and improve the body of science in the process.

    Comment by Bill Hunter — 6 May 2010 @ 8:08 PM

  182. Septic Matthew says, “Citing Occam’s razor” is always peculiar since Occam was not a “scientist”: he contributed neither empirical research nor lasting theory. Occam’s razor always leads to extreme reductionism in the short run and is always inadequate in the long run.”

    SM, actually Occam’s razor is an absolutely essential guide for theory–its weakness is merely that it is incomplete. It merely says, “Entities must not be multiplied without necessity”–but when is such multiplication necessary. Information theory has given us an answer in terms of quantities such as AIC, BIC, etc. Since all of these criteria are of a form proportional to log likelihood (measuring goodness of fit) and a penalty term involving the number of parameters, additional parameters are allowable in a theory when they increase its explanatory power exponentially at least. Now, we know that the theory with minimum AIC will tend to have the greatest predictive power, so we can see that this is precisely the goal of Occam’s razor. It is not arbitrary at all. It is in fact essential–you just have to remember that last word “unnecessarily”.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 May 2010 @ 8:17 PM

  183. … Another important point is that, for the same composition and gravity, a thicker troposphere will have a greater temperature difference between the surface and tropopause, and that increases the difference the greenhouse effect can make. (The same would be true for the mass between the surface and the coldest part of significant optical thickness, which is important because on Venus, – ** it is my impression that the lower stratosphere, while stable to convection by definition, is not nearly isothermal or have increasing temperature with height, as is generally the case on Earth; rather, temperature continues to decrease significantly with height through an optically-significant portion of the stratosphere; this allows the stratosphere to have a greater greenhouse warming effect on the tropopause itself, relative to the temperature of the layers that emit most directly to space.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 6 May 2010 @ 8:24 PM

  184. … To summarize, the mass and composition and gravity of an atmosphere modulate what the optical properties of a greenhouse gas or agent is able to accomplish, but if the greenhouse effect were completely removed, Venus’s surface would only be warm enough to radiate directly to space with the same power that is absorbed from solar radiation (and in terms of global average temperatures, perhaps colder still, as greater surface temperature variation (that I’d expect due to lack of greenhouse effect) would reduce the average temperature necessary to sustain the same globally emitted flux).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 6 May 2010 @ 8:30 PM

  185. Frank Giger,
    Would you deny WWF or Greenpeace a place at the negotiating table for developing a solution to this threat? That would be pointless, because, unlike the political right, they have accepeted the basic science, and are waiting for the rest of us to catch up to them.

    Likewise in terms of risk assessment, first and foremost, one must bound the risk. Since Greenpeace and WWF are already producing studies that bound risk–albeit, perhaps too conservatively for your taste–it is natural that they get cited in this portion of the summary. The proper response, if you do not like the answer from an NGO is to sharpen your pencil and give a better, tighter bound. That’s how the risk analysis moves forward.

    Frank, you will not succeed in excluding other players from the table. Instead, if you want policies that are consistent with your values, you will have to come better solutions and answers that are consistent with those values. You’ll have to play the game better than they do.

    The problem is that there are a lot more folks on the right who would rather attack the science–and when that fails, the scientists, and until you have a critical mass who accept the science, you will not be able to move forward.

    Keep your eyes on the prize. We have to reach something that approaches sustainability. We don’t know what that means. It has never existed. Whoever comes close to a solution that looks like it might get us there without a massive population crash, breaking the bank or giving up on democracy, is going to score REALLY, REALLY big political points for their political philosophy.

    As they used to say in the dot-com era: If you want to predict the future, be the one who creates it.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 May 2010 @ 8:37 PM

  186. #174 Frank Giger

    I think the recognizability from its origins will be directly proportional to the awareness of the reasonability among the voting population and that is directly related to the willingness to inform those around us of the critical reality of getting it right.

    I am a conservative, but not a Republican (Republicans are liberal these days), I do not villainize those that understand the reality of the climate situation in consideration of short and long term considerations.

    However, I do believe it is inappropriate to give up before we even try.

    Your last sentence is an empty notion. It addresses nothing of substance other than the thickness of someones skin. The issue is how do we achieve the best policy to prevent even more egregious economic damage by allowing the climate system to get out of control and end all reasonable economic capacity.

    This has to be done while attempting to keep the economy alive. All I’m saying is we have a serious challenge and as you have succinctly pointed out the political reality does not lend itself to reasonability.

    Therefore the onus of responsibility is in our hands. Each and every one of us, to stand firm on best possible policy and force it upon out political realty until it is adopted in it’s most potent form.

    Anything less is to abandon the spirit of potential and innovation that has been the hallmark of the American revolution. It comes to this, whatever is the best policy (and until something better than Fee & Dividend comes along, it is the reasoned option), we need to wake up everyone we know, as best we can, as soon as possible.

    The clock is ticking. The inertial lag times are a ticking time bomb and delay only translates to greater degrees of economic degradation.

    We should be fighting for this as if our future depends on it, because it does.


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 6 May 2010 @ 9:07 PM

  187. Bob asks:”Offtopic, but Steve Goddard is trying to claim the temperature of Venus is almost entirely due to pressure of the atmosphere and not greenhouse gases. That’s obviously wrong as greenhouse gases must have a strong effect, but what is the contribution of atmospheric pressure to the temperature of Venus’s atmosphere? Is it zero, I suspect it might be. Or does it contribute some heat? Or is it a stupid question in the first place? thanks!”

    I merely point out that the atmospheric pressure is the same in antarctica in mid-winter as in the Sahara in mid-summer.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 6 May 2010 @ 9:13 PM

  188. Stephen @ 169:

    Yes, I’m sensing that there are people with strong opinions even in this thread! But I’m learning alot listening to them. We’ve thought about installing solar heating at least – but we’re in a pretty shaded location. Now I know where to get advice maybe we’ll think about it again.

    This crowd here is NOTHING like the Solar crowd.

    A lot of them are hippies, freaks, weirdos, trug-huggers, reform school dropouts, you name it. A great bunch of guys and gals, but also very colorful and interesting.

    Solar power isn’t like regular power. One, it can’t just be turned off. When I work on a normal residential or commercial service, I just pull the main disconnect and the entire system goes dead. But with solar, if the sun is shining, something is “hot”. And if there are batteries, not only is something “hot”, but something is UNBELIEVABLY hot. Available current is measured in the thousands of amperes and the voltages are high enough that the total available power approaches a megawatt. Think about what a megawatt represents — enough electricity to power a fairly large number of homes. Every time I get near any reasonably sized battery bank, that’s what I’m near.

    The guys who work on solar are mostly characters. I’ve worked with some very proper and professional regular electricians. I’ve yet to work with a very “proper” solar installer. Professional, yes — but one client describes solar people as “two hippies in a tent.” And that’s what I’m looking to see if “Solar” captured.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 6 May 2010 @ 9:21 PM

  189. Why did RealClimate post an article about a science fiction book? Is it because people may understand better what is going on in the real world by reading a fictionalized version? Is fiction a good form of real communication or public relations? Is it that a novel gets around arguments and allows another viewpoint sneak into the ordinary mind?

    Personality of scientists: My impression is that scientists are similar to preachers in personality. Bob Altemeyer wrote his dissertation on the personalities of the students in the different departments at Carnegie-Mellon University. He made a map of the personalities. This was in the time frame of 1964 to 1968. Physics majors had the widest selection of personalities of any department. Some physics majors were most similar to engineers while other physics majors were more like mathematicians or was it philosophers? Woops! My memory is rather cloudy on that. I don’t have my copy of his dissertation any more.

    With the above as preamble, would Ian McEwan please research the personalities of real scientists and stick to realistic scientific personalities in his next novel? In fact, would the English department please hire a psychologist to teach English majors the true personality types of various professions so that writers in the future will get the right personalities on their characters? It is time for the English Department to get over their “Freudian” doctrine and learn some newer psychology.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 6 May 2010 @ 10:02 PM

  190. Did RC publish on a novel just to prove that ANYthing RC posts will generate the same range of comments?

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 6 May 2010 @ 10:06 PM

  191. Mr. Levenson, no, not ANY plan. Just that plan, as far as I’m concerned.

    On belief systems, we have a bit of a problem with definitions.

    Depending on how broad the definition, everything becomes a belief system. This is silly, of course, but it seems that it is the prevailing “anti-science” (cringe) line is that any acceptance of fact that involves an acceptance of previously stipulated facts to form a basis for it qualifies as faith (in the spiritual sense).

    Balderdash and other bad words. I set my alarm for 5:45 a.m. to catch sunrise at 5:53 and take pictures of the barn swallows that are building a very nice nest in my porch. Is it faith that I accept the sunrise table?

    In the strictest sense, yes.

    But it is backed by a whole bunch of facts that have been established prior to me setting the alarm.

    Now, then, if I had set the alarm in order to catch the FSM stretching his arms around Venus, that would be pure faith, as there would be no facts to support such an event happening.

    Ray, great job on explaining Occam’s Razor!

    Science question:

    As the atmosphere expands, what is the relationship between boundaries? Intuitively it would seem to me that it isn’t even – lower, more dense layers would expand less than higher, thinner ones.

    If true, I’m guessing that while heat would radiate into space faster from the top layers, the transfer would actually be a next reduction over all. So lower layers would retain more heat, not less.

    Comment by Frank Giger — 6 May 2010 @ 10:13 PM

  192. Occam’s Razor, or parsimony is a key factor in Evolutionary Biology too.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 6 May 2010 @ 10:41 PM

  193. How silly, the whole suggestion that a science like climatology is a “belief”. This word means believing in something that can not be proven. This is a game of words calculated to suggest that the science is not to be trusted. Climatology is a science in search of truth in a complex system. This is not what I would call a belief.

    If climatology were a belief, then medicine would qualify as a belief as well.

    Pete

    Comment by Pete W — 6 May 2010 @ 10:58 PM

  194. Thanks to everyone who commented on domestic solar hot water, particularly Actually Thoughtful and Doug Bostrom. Here’s my thinking (about my particular situation) which has evolved after listening and following some links.

    Our water usage is rather low. According to my municipal website, they expect 3 units (100 cubic feet, ~748 gallons) of usage per person per month. That would be 12 units for me+spouse every 2 months. But in fact our usage is typically 5, not 12. So, it’s immediately obvious that our standard natural gas hot water tank is inefficient – it mostly sits there slowly radiating heat. It’s also irritating that when I want hot water upstairs, I have to run it for like a minute before the hot arrives. OTOH, payback for any replacement would be slow due to the low usage. Finally, the house is unusually shaped – it’s more like a townhouse, with three floors – garage, main, upper. (The hot water tank is in the rather cramped garage.) So, probably the logical thing to do is nothing, until better options become available and/or natural gas becomes expensive. Probably, the best single improvement would be a passive ICS as shown in http://www.energysavers.gov/images/passive_batch_solar_water.gif mounted on the front (south) face of the house, which is a lot closer to the tank than the roof is. Passive ICS should be a lot cheaper than the active systems with their own working fluid that A.T. installs. I would simply have to manually turn the valves to take the solar out of the loop and drain it when the air temp drops below some value, say 30, and then put it back in the loop when it won’t be that cold again for a while. That could be tacked onto the existing tank with no need for expensive new components like a heat exchanger. I’d consult an expert before I did anything, and like I said, I think our low usage makes our inefficiency less important. (Like I can drive a Subaru @22/29 mpg because I only drive 1200 miles/year. No I didn’t forget a zero.)

    Comment by GFW — 7 May 2010 @ 12:27 AM

  195. This one is for Gilles, I think it was — Texas demand is 28,411MW right now and wind production is 5,846MW. That’s more than 20% :) Neener-neener.

    And for an idea of how much new permitting is being requested, here’s a URL — http://www.stopthecoalplant.org/downloads/recent_coal_plant_chart.pdf

    If I were the builders of those plants, I’d be wondering whether or not I’m ever going to make my money back.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 7 May 2010 @ 2:19 AM

  196. RE: Frank Giger — 6 May 2010 @ 6:44 PM Being a Libertarian myself. I understand the position you are in, because political belief and science do not necessarily make good bed fellows. I know I’m called a liberal by many Republican friends and family because I think the science is sound and there are serious consequences if we do nothing. Usually I’m on the side of free market, though I have to admit we don’t have a free market anymore when we spend a disproportionate amount on subsidies for fossil fuels versus alternative energy. One of the roles of government is to do things that the individual cannot. (Many examples of that) So if I cut my carbon usage as an individual, it would basically have no effect. Just as in the past, if I decided not to put my waste in the river while the rest of the city did would have no effect on those drinking water downstream. I’m not attacking you, but I think even as conservatives we need to re-evaluate the politics.

    RE: Ray Ladbury — 6 May 2010 @ 8:17 PM I completely agree that Occam’s Razor is an essential guide to theory and logic whether he was a scientist or not. It reminds me of reading some of the posts here earlier, when I believe a poster named Sam wanted to introduce an unknown process for the proportions of C12/C13/C14 in the atmosphere to explain away what was already explainable by what we know. That is a very simple example, in my opinion, but I think makes the point of why Occam’s Razor is as you say an essential guide.

    Comment by JRC — 7 May 2010 @ 2:48 AM

  197. “* It’s next to impossible to characterize the difference between scientific knowledge and non-scientific belief in less than a few hundred thousand words.

    I’ve got to support Septic Matthew here.”

    So why did SA ask for a definition of rational and irrational?

    If it’s not possible, why did SA try to explain to us the difference?

    Please check what you are supporting here.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 7 May 2010 @ 3:09 AM

  198. “I’m sure that my inability to think clearly is the problem,”

    It is.

    Clearly.

    If you had a rationale for your position you would be able to explain it rather than imply a problem and avoid having to delineate the issue (thereby ensuring it cannot be fixed or explicated and ensuring you don’t have to change your view or understand anothers).

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 7 May 2010 @ 3:12 AM

  199. Barton@175,
    While I agree with your overall point–that NO -ism guarantees one is a good person, I do not think your examples are fair to lay at the feet of Buddhism. A better example might be the role the Buddhist hierarchy played in the war in Sri Lanka. Moral: we’re not a very nice species.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 May 2010 @ 4:52 AM

  200. BPL says:

    “Its surface temperature is 735 K because of the greenhouse effect. A static atmosphere generates no mechanical heat whatsoever.”

    Not true. There is no greenhouse effect on Venus since very little sunlight reaches the surface. Most of the heat generated is above the surface. As there is almost no difference between night and day temperature on Venus’ surface, the concept of greenhouse is negated as the theory requires that solar radiation is reflected from the surface and impeded from reaching space by the GHGs in the atmosphere. This process does not occur on Venus.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 7 May 2010 @ 5:22 AM

  201. So it’s the sun then?

    Comment by Jimmy Haigh — 7 May 2010 @ 5:27 AM

  202. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100506141551.htm
    255 Members of the National Academy of Sciences Defend Climate Science Integrity

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 7 May 2010 @ 5:59 AM

  203. Frank Giger wrote: “It’s not about climate change, it’s about social justice and rethinking our values …”

    Fine. If you don’t like the solutions to the AGW crisis that others are advocating, then come up with solutions that you do like.

    Let’s hear how YOU would address this urgent problem in a way that is in accord with YOUR values.

    All you seem to offer is (1) denial of the seriousness and urgency of the problem and (2) advocacy of doing nothing.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 7 May 2010 @ 6:45 AM

  204. Buddhist teachings and their putative results are surely off-topic here. So I won’t ask for citations to back up SA’s claim that “They work. They get results” in the context of Western psychology and neuroscience (#113). Nor for BPL’s causal attribution of numerous Far Eastern atrocities to Buddhist teachings (#175). Let’s take that somewhere else.

    Comment by CM — 7 May 2010 @ 6:57 AM

  205. BPL, please demonstrate with appropriate historical data that the specific problems that you referenced in comment currently numbered 175 are the “results” of Buddhist teachings.

    For example, you mention racism in Japan. Please demonstrate that this racism is a “result of Buddhist teachings” and not a “result” of any of the other myriad factors that have influenced Japanese culture for millennia.

    It would also be interesting if you would compare and contrast your comments with the similarly structured “argument” that the horrors of the Inquisition are a “result” of Jesus’s teachings rather than a betrayal of them.

    BPL wrote: “Being a Buddhist doesn’t guarantee good behavior or even sanity.”

    I don’t know what “being a Buddhist” is. I know what practicing Buddhist teachings is. And in my personal experience and observation, the practice of Buddhist teachings does incline the practitioner towards good behavior and sanity.

    With regard to Zen, one reason that scientists might “take it seriously” would be the results of neuroscientific investigation of the effects of Zen meditation on the human brain.

    In fact, Zen is neither “anti-intellectual” nor is it a “philosophy”. It is a set of practices intended to cultivate a certain way of experiencing reality.

    (An “anti-intellectual philosophy” seems like something of an oxymoron anyway, since “philosophizing” is an intellectual activity.)

    BPL wrote: “An argument is rational if it proceeds validly from its premises.”

    Please define “validly”.

    And however you define “validly”, do you consider an argument to be “rational” if it proceeds “validly” from “invalid” premises?

    For example, premises that are based on strongly-held, emotionally-charged, but ill-informed opinions?

    [Response: Way off topic. Each has now had his say. No more on this please.--Jim]

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 7 May 2010 @ 7:15 AM

  206. “As the atmosphere expands, what is the relationship between boundaries? ”

    Science question: what boundaries? Surface of the planet isn’t higher because there’s more atmosphere.

    Science question: what boundaries are effective (as in they have an effect on the greenhouse effect of GHG like CO2)?

    “If true, I’m guessing that while heat would radiate into space faster from the top layers, the transfer would actually be a next reduction over all.”

    Science question: how did you arrive at that calculation?

    NOTE: radiation leaves at a rate proportional to T^4. Higher layers would need to be hotter to radiate more. Show this is the case.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 7 May 2010 @ 7:56 AM

  207. “Please define “validly”.”

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Validly

    1. Well grounded; just: a valid objection.
    2. Producing the desired results; efficacious: valid methods.
    3. Having legal force; effective or binding: a valid title.
    4. Logic
    a. Containing premises from which the conclusion may logically be derived: a valid argument.
    b. Correctly inferred or deduced from a premise: a valid conclusion.
    5. Archaic Of sound health; robust.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 7 May 2010 @ 7:58 AM

  208. “And however you define “validly”, do you consider an argument to be “rational” if it proceeds “validly” from “invalid” premises?”

    Define invalid.

    If invalid means merely “wrong”, then they are still rational if the invalidity is not known. If invalid means “with no logical basis of assertion”, then no, an argument based on invalid premises (e.g. a logical fallacy) is not rational.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 7 May 2010 @ 7:59 AM

  209. Steckis said:”the concept of greenhouse is negated as the theory requires that solar radiation is reflected from the surface and impeded from reaching space by the GHGs in the atmosphere.”

    So the greenhouse effect doesn’t work at night? You may want to rethink your disproof of the greenhouse effect on Venus.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 7 May 2010 @ 8:53 AM

  210. JPL:

    “So if I cut my carbon usage as an individual, it would basically have no effect. Just as in the past, if I decided not to put my waste in the river while the rest of the city did would have no effect on those drinking water downstream.”

    I dunno, every little bit helps! We telecommute (fortuneately an option), went for high efficiency air and heat for the house, and are very careful about what we put on the lawn to ensure bad things don’t wind up in the ground water. They aren’t altruistic “greenie” practices; they have very self serving rewards. I’ve gotten my neighbors to adopt some of this thinking.

    Perhaps it’s a function of being raised functionally poor (relative to the USA – we were fantastically wealthy vs. the rest of the world), but frugality and buying stuff for the sake of buying stuff never appealed to us.

    On solutions, there are a number of them I’d like to see considered and debated (as unlike my liberal friends here, I don’t think I have the perfect solutions that should be accepted at face value and accepted whole without debate). And yes, they do involve government involvement – some of them quite sweeping.

    However, this isn’t a political blog – I doubt the owners of the site would appreciate a lengthy policy debate.

    Comment by Frank Giger — 7 May 2010 @ 8:59 AM

  211. “I have long been a proponent of the role of science in policy formulation but have also noted to my dismay that often it isn’t done professionally but instead becomes a forum for scientists to promote whatever it is they most believe in.”

    If they believe they have the best answer possible and haven’t told lies, why shouldn’t the scientist be promoting what they most believe in?

    Or should they only pander ideas they don’t believe in?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 7 May 2010 @ 9:02 AM

  212. CFU, boundaries as in shifts between layers in the atmosphere. While I realize that it’s not like oil on water, the atmosphere does have identified layers.

    [edit] If you don’t know the answer or don’t understand the question, just say so or keep quiet.

    This is a place to learn the science, right?

    Comment by Frank Giger — 7 May 2010 @ 9:03 AM

  213. “as unlike my liberal friends here, I don’t think I have the perfect solutions that should be accepted at face value and accepted whole without debate”

    Ah, isn’t Frank Merciful.

    Oh, hang on, forgot:

    “I will call my Congressman and Senator and ask that they vote against AGW legislation, and similarly pressure the White House to not cooperate with the UN over climate change. The scientists and their advocates are out of control.”

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 7 May 2010 @ 9:04 AM

  214. Steckis,
    That is the most pathetically WRONG account of the greenhouse effect I have ever seen. It has nothing to do with reflection. It has to do with thermal radiation. Look at the temperature profile of Venus! It will definitely have a greenhouse effect.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 May 2010 @ 9:07 AM

  215. 209
    t_p_hamilton says:
    7 May 2010 at 8:53 AM

    “So the greenhouse effect doesn’t work at night? You may want to rethink your disproof of the greenhouse effect on Venus.”

    It is the very fact that there is NO difference between night and day temperature on Venus that negates the greenhouse effect on that planet. The hot atmosphere of venus is not caused by GHGs preventing IR from reaching space because more than 60% of solar radiation is reflected back to space by the albedo of the Sulphuric layer in the atmosphere which is above the CO2 layer. Therefore most of the radiation never reaches the surface.

    The so-called greenhouse effect on Venus is caused by processes other than what we understand by the greenhouse effect on Earth.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 7 May 2010 @ 9:16 AM

  216. Frank Giger,
    Look, Gavin et al. have demonstrated a degree of tolerance for discussion of solutions that should be beyond doubt. Given that the political right has been regrettably silent when it comes to suggesting solutions, I think most people here would welcome truly constructive suggestions from you. Supply and demand–like it or not, your viewpoint is in short supply.

    I don’t think you will find many people here who are in love with cap and trade, carbon taxes or fee and dividend. Rather, these are a means to an end. The end is to make the consumer cost of fossil energy reflect its true cost, including environmental degradation and climate change. The solutions proposed to meet this goal are of course imperfect, but I think most here would favor an imperfect solution in the present tense than a perfect one promised in the future.

    The way I see the problem:

    1)It is potentially very severe.
    2)We cannot bound the risk with confidence
    3)It is global (in the sense that the atmosphere doesn’t care whether a CO2 molecule comes from China or the US.
    4)We don’t know how long we have to address the problem before natural sources of CO2 kick in and wrest what little control we have from our hands.
    5)Geoengineering ideas, while potentially viable, are unproven. In fact, they tend to utilize forcings that are much less well understood than CO2.

    I for one, would love to hear a constructive proposal from you–and if you are going to keep bashing those who are already trying to constructively address the problem, I would say it is only fair to take a stand of your own.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 May 2010 @ 9:24 AM

  217. Frank Giger:

    Please don’t falsely accuse liberals of having “the perfect solutions that should be accepted at face value and accepted whole without debate”. That’s just silly, and presumably you know it is silly or you wouldn’t have ducked out of actually debating these issues.

    So far, you are the one who has steadfastly refused to engage in real debate about actual solutions. Rejecting all the proposed options is not debate.

    Or, after all this time, have you failed to distinguish between the result that must be achieved, and the particular policies and interventions required to achieve that result? Given that you are still attacking the process by which the consensus was reached, you have yet to accept the goals we have ahead of us – which explains why you are so reticent about how we should reach them.

    Reading all your recent comments, I get the impression that your own beliefs are not internally consistent. Maybe you want to take some time to work out how your beliefs and opinions fit together before you propose your “solutions” – and before you attack liberals again.

    Comment by Didactylos — 7 May 2010 @ 9:45 AM

  218. Steckis@215 says “The so-called greenhouse effect on Venus is caused by processes other than what we understand by the greenhouse effect on Earth.”

    Bullshit! First, there is a difference between day and night temperatures–just not at the surface:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/03/venus-unveiled/

    Got a peer-reviewed article to back up your assertion? Look at the temperature profile of the atmosphere of Venus. There will definitely be a greenhouse effect! Do you think that because the sunlight largely doesn’t make it to the surface that it isn’t absorbed? Where do you get these ideas–and more to the point, how the hell do you wind up being so sure you are right despite all the evidence?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 May 2010 @ 9:59 AM

  219. “So far, you are the one who has steadfastly refused to engage in real debate about actual solutions. Rejecting all the proposed options is not debate.”

    Unless you’re in a Monty Python sketch:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Argument_Sketch

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 7 May 2010 @ 10:01 AM

  220. “CFU, boundaries as in shifts between layers in the atmosphere.”

    A shift of what?

    Science question: what boundaries are effective (as in they have an effect on the greenhouse effect of GHG like CO2)?

    Science question: how did you arrive at that calculation?

    Rather than say “if you don’t understand, ask” in response to me asking, why not answer the questions or ask if you don’t understand them?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 7 May 2010 @ 10:04 AM

  221. BPL wrote: “An argument is rational if it proceeds validly from its premises.”

    If I may be permitted to further explore the concept of “rationality” using BPL’s comment on Buddhism (6 May 2010 at 6:56 PM currently numbered 176) as an example:

    As I understand the “argument” presented there, it goes as follows:

    1. List various atrocities committed by human beings in countries where Buddhism has, at various times in history, been an important cultural, spiritual, intellectual and institutional influence.

    2. Ignore any possible role of the multitude of other important cultural, spiritual, intellectual and institutional influences — not to mention the perennial natural capacity of human beings to engage in cruel and depraved acts towards their fellow humans — in causing those atrocities.

    3. Ignore the fact that those atrocities blatantly and egregiously violate the explicit, central teachings of the Buddha on ethical conduct (i.e. the Five Precepts, and the three elements of the Eightfold Path that relate to ethical conduct, namely Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood).

    4. Assert that those atrocities are the “result” of Buddhist teachings.

    In your view, does that exemplify a “rational” argument that “proceeds validly from its premises”?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 7 May 2010 @ 10:05 AM

  222. Ray Ladbury wrote: “Gavin et al. have demonstrated a degree of tolerance for discussion of solutions that should be beyond doubt.”

    As a commenter I much appreciate that tolerance.

    Sometimes it seems that there is a tendency for comment threads on this site to veer into discussions of solutions, regardless of the original topic.

    I for one find that heartening. We all need to be thinking about solutions.
    I’m glad that so many are focused on that.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 7 May 2010 @ 10:09 AM

  223. FG: Mr. Levenson, no, not ANY plan. Just that plan, as far as I’m concerned.

    BPL: Not true. You dismissed fee-and-dividend AND carbon taxes AND cap-and-trade. That’s three plans–in fact, three general TYPES of plan–not one plan. Go back and reread what you wrote.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 May 2010 @ 10:17 AM

  224. RE- Comment by FurryCatHerder — 6 May 2010 @ 9:21 PM:

    You must live in a strange place. Your characterization of the solar crowd would have been accurate here 30+ years ago when hippies and back-to-the-landers pioneered off grid 12v direct systems, but now the majority are middle class folks with grid tied systems. There are also an increasing number of businesses putting up large arrays to defray peak hour costs. All of these folks are hedging against future increases in utility rates and getting very quick payback time.

    As for proper solar installers, there are many here. Locally there is one private and one non profit organization giving many week long workshops just for professional electricians who want to install PV systems. Many Californians take the courses, but there are many flying in from all over North America, and teaching teams travel to give the courses elsewhere. Perhaps you should contract for a team to come to your area.

    Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 7 May 2010 @ 10:22 AM

  225. BPL: Its surface temperature is 735 K because of the greenhouse effect. A static atmosphere generates no mechanical heat whatsoever.

    RS: Not true. There is no greenhouse effect on Venus since very little sunlight reaches the surface.

    BPL: According to in situ measurements by Russian landers, it average 16.8 watts per square meter. This is about a factor of 9 less than we get. But since Venus has a gray IR optical depth around 80 as opposed to our less than 2, that’s all it needs for an immensely strong greenhouse effect.

    RS: Most of the heat generated is above the surface.

    BPL: Well, sure. The sun is 0.723 AUs above the surface of Venus.

    RS: As there is almost no difference between night and day temperature on Venus’ surface, the concept of greenhouse is negated as the theory requires that solar radiation is reflected from the surface and impeded from reaching space by the GHGs in the atmosphere.

    BPL: No, it does not require anything of the sort. Greenhouse theory involves sunlight heating the surface, the surface radiating in the infrared, and the IR being absorbed by the greenhouse gases. The greenhouse effect operates even at night, which is why it doesn’t go to absolute zero every midnight.

    RS: This process does not occur on Venus.

    BPL: As far as I know, the process you describe does not occur anywhere.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 May 2010 @ 10:22 AM

  226. CM 204: Nor for BPL’s causal attribution of numerous Far Eastern atrocities to Buddhist teachings (#175)

    BPL: I did NOT attribute them to Buddhism. I merely pointed out that Buddhism did not guarantee “the right answers” as SA suggested. In general Buddhism is a world-denying religion (as in Hinduism, the word is regarded as maya, illusion), and that’s more a recipe for passivity than for actions.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 May 2010 @ 10:24 AM

  227. SA 205: BPL, please demonstrate with appropriate historical data that the specific problems that you referenced in comment currently numbered 175 are the “results” of Buddhist teachings.

    BPL: See above. That’s not what I said.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 May 2010 @ 10:25 AM

  228. RS 215: It is the very fact that there is NO difference between night and day temperature on Venus that negates the greenhouse effect on that planet. The hot atmosphere of venus is not caused by GHGs preventing IR from reaching space because more than 60% of solar radiation is reflected back to space by the albedo of the Sulphuric layer in the atmosphere which is above the CO2 layer. Therefore most of the radiation never reaches the surface.

    The so-called greenhouse effect on Venus is caused by processes other than what we understand by the greenhouse effect on Earth.

    BPL: Suffice to say your statement here is grossly wrong from beginning to end. The surface of Venus is not the “searing black calm” expected in the early 1960s; there is plenty of sunlight there, as the many Venera and Vega lander photos show. And the daytime-nighttime argument is just irrelevant. You don’t understand how the greenhouse effect works. I recommend reading either John Houghton’s “The Physics of Atmospheres” or Grant Petty’s “A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation.” Or try here:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Greenhouse101.html

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 May 2010 @ 10:29 AM

  229. SA 221: If I may be permitted to further explore the concept of “rationality” using BPL’s comment on Buddhism (6 May 2010 at 6:56 PM currently numbered 176) as an example:

    As I understand the “argument” presented there, it goes as follows…

    BPL: No, you got it entirely wrong. Look again. I wasn’t saying any of that.

    YOU said that Buddhism causes people to get the right answers. I pointed out that, historically, it didn’t.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 May 2010 @ 10:31 AM

  230. Targeted cap and trade works. Generalized “everyone, here’s your limits and credits – GO!” doesn’t.

    There’s more to getting things done than fee-and-dividend and some fat generic tax. If those are two thirds of all options available, we are well and truly screwed.

    CFU:

    Let’s try again.

    As the atmosphere expands, is it a uniform expansion? My intuition, which has no formula attached to it but is based on understanding density variance in general, would suggest the answer would be no.

    Does that have an effect on radiation of heat out into space?

    If it’s not a constant, would an expanded atmosphere tend to retain heat better (with “better” being worse for us)?

    Comment by Frank Giger — 7 May 2010 @ 10:50 AM

  231. 182, Ray Ladbury: Now, we know that the theory with minimum AIC will tend to have the greatest predictive power, so we can see that this is precisely the goal of Occam’s razor. It is not arbitrary at all. It is in fact essential–you just have to remember that last word “unnecessarily”.

    I think that you are in over your head. Information criteria lead to the highest average information per parameter, not “greatest predictive power”, which is probably undefined, but could possibly denote smallest variance of prediction (where smallest mean square error of prediction would be more desirable and might be obtainable by model averaging.) “Entities”, “multiplied” and “beyond necessity” lack adequate definition, making Occam’s Razor vacuous; rote usage without careful definition, the usual kind of usage, does lead to reductionism in practice.

    Entities should always be multiplied up to sufficiency, and if information per parameter is deemed insufficient then more experiments should be performed. That basically is what is being done in AGW science: the models are being made more and more complicated and more and more data are being collected.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 7 May 2010 @ 11:01 AM

  232. Richard Steckis @ 200

    “There is no greenhouse effect on Venus since very little sunlight reaches the surface. Most of the heat generated is above the surface. As there is almost no difference between night and day temperature on Venus’ surface, the concept of greenhouse is negated as the theory requires that solar radiation is reflected from the surface and impeded from reaching space by the GHGs in the atmosphere. This process does not occur on Venus.”

    I’m unclear on this – in general, rather than pertaining strictly to Venus.

    Is an actual surface made of dirt-like material (with a clear boundary between gaseous atmosphere and solid) actually required?

    Or is a distinct boundary between two layers of gas adequate for the production of a Greenhouse Effect; with the ‘lower’, more dense layer satisfying the requirements for heat absorption and re-radiation?

    Just asking. And while I’ve probably done a poor job at the question, I *would* like to know.

    Comment by Jaime Frontero — 7 May 2010 @ 11:02 AM

  233. “YOU said that Buddhism causes people to get the right answers. I pointed out that, historically, it didn’t.”

    How about: people are good at getting the wrong answers.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 7 May 2010 @ 11:16 AM

  234. BPL wrote: “I merely pointed out that Buddhism did not guarantee ‘the right answers’ as SA suggested … YOU said that Buddhism causes people to get the right answers.”

    I really hate it when discussions devolve into arguments about who said what.

    However, I would point out that you put the words “the right answers” in quotes and attribute them to me, when in fact I did not use those words in any comment on this thread … nor, as far as I can tell, have I suggested that anything is a “guarantee” of anything.

    You also object to my statement that you claimed that “the specific problems that you referenced [in comment #176] … are the ‘results’ of Buddhist teachings” (quoting myself there).

    You now assert that “That’s not what I said … Look again. I wasn’t saying any of that.”

    So please explain the meaning you ascribe to the phrase “Among those results are” which immediately preceded the list of problems in your comment #176.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 7 May 2010 @ 11:16 AM

  235. SecularAnimist “Sometimes it seems that there is a tendency for comment threads on this site to veer into discussions of solutions, regardless of the original topic.

    I for one find that heartening. We all need to be thinking about solutions.
    I’m glad that so many are focused on that.”

    Ditto – but too bad nobody wants to wrestle with the real problem in need of a solution, unsustainable population.

    Comment by flxible — 7 May 2010 @ 11:19 AM

  236. BPL: No, you got it entirely wrong. Look again. I wasn’t saying any of that.

    YOU said that Buddhism causes people to get the right answers. I pointed out that, historically, it didn’t.

    By implying that it was the Buddhism that caused people to get the wrong answers. Works as well for Christianity, the much more dominant belief system “underlying” the historical ills of the world, especially overpopulation.

    Comment by flxible — 7 May 2010 @ 11:25 AM

  237. flxible wrote: “… too bad nobody wants to wrestle with the real problem in need of a solution, unsustainable population.”

    I agree that an unsustainable human population is a real problem in need of a solution — or perhaps, as is all too often the case, a real problem in need of implementation of solutions which are already known.

    On the other hand, I don’t think that dealing effectively with AGW necessarily requires immediate reductions in population — which is fortunate, since neither do I see how such reductions could plausibly be achieved (short of nuclear war, global plague or some comparable disaster) within the very short time frame that we have left to deal with AGW.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 7 May 2010 @ 11:42 AM

  238. This is surely relevant: “A Buddhist Response to the Climate Change Emergency Ed John Stanley, David Loy and Gyurme Dorje – Wisdom Publications – is worth a read if you want to know what motivated us to do what we do – including acting in a manner that is causing climate change?
    Likewise, a response from the South African Council of Churches , is also relevant and the conclusions and recommended actions are much the same as the Buddhists. http://www.sacc.org.za/docs/climate.pdf

    #204 CM – Fully agree. Funny how we all tend to fall into “confirmation bias” when it suits our (unexplored) beliefs, but jump upon climate change denialists when they do exactly that.
    If you want something really solid as to the limitations of science, and its relationship to mysticism, then “Quantum Questions – mystical writings of the world’s greatest physicists” ed Ken Wilber (Shambhala Publications) – the physicists included are Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Einstein,De Broglie, Jeans, Planck, Pauli and Eddington. I think many of the posters here who think they understand science, rationality and reason will be surprised.

    And of course Alastair’s original post #24, besides being quite banal from a philosophical point of view, is completely irrelevant to the scientific truth or otherwise of climate change theory and its projections of a high probability of catastrophic consequences if no mitigating actions are taken. Typical denialist tactic that succeeded in taking the discussion way OT.

    Gavin’s pithy response was all that was needed, probably more that it deserved.

    Thanks Gavin et al for your continuing patience, sane and pithily appropriate responses and above all your demonstration of what scientific integrity means. I’ve learnt a tremendous amount about climate science under the guidance of this blog since first coming by about 20 months ago – and about my own ego (full of pride) in battles with local (South African) denialists ever since.

    Comment by Hugh Laue — 7 May 2010 @ 11:49 AM

  239. CFU, no way do I want the current round of climate legislation to pass. It isn’t debated and is strictly partisan – unless we use Pelosi’s measure of biparisanship (“they can vote against it when it hits the floor”). The UN proposals are largely shake down exercises for cash without any real benefits or simply do nothing for-show gimmicks.

    Republicans are largely silent because they’re simply shouted down or not invited into discussions to begin with by Democrats. Democrats have made climate change “their” policy bailiwick, and have made it closely wedded to their political brand. The effect has been that the moment a Republican steps into the arena he is pointed out by the Democrats as being “on their side” and “enlightened” which isn’t as positive as one might think. It works the other way, too.

    Not to say there isn’t a lot of dumb stuff on the Republican side – but let’s not cast Democrats as white knights of virtue and Republicans as purely evil.

    On policy, let’s take a look at some pretty straight forward things we can do about our largest emitter, coal fired plants:

    First, the regulations on plants is all-or-nothing. Update or upgrade one boiler and every other boiler in the plant loses its grandfathering for emission standards. On the face of it, that would seem like a good idea – it would force the whole plant to be upgraded. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect – plants aren’t being upgraded at all. We have plants going full tilt using 1950′s designs and technology for this very reason!

    Targeted cap and trade, on a per-boiler basis, might make better sense. The incentive would be to upgrade to more efficient boilers. And it should be regionalized by industry. That’s how mercury and sulfur cap and trade worked out so well.

    That’s small stuff – but (say) a five percent reduction across the industry is a huge amount of CO2.

    When we look at coal, energy generation distribution isn’t evenly dispersed across the nation; it’s actually clustered. The Northeast is a good fit for coal because of high demands that run nearly around the clock, requiring on-demand responsivenes, and a lack of hydroelectrical possibilities.

    Off shore wind farms aren’t a bad idea, but the needs are greater and require consistency that wind can’t guarantee.

    Enter nuclear. The primary concerns for nuke plants are ensuring safety standards are upheld, security, and waste for the public; for energy companies, it’s cost.

    Well, time for the Fed to step in. The proceeds from cap and trade credits (and yeah, I don’t think we should give them away, or that it will be enough to cover the costs) are going to be used to build plants. Once up and running, power will be sold to companies at a competitive price (making them brokers as much as producers), with a stakeholder hook. The plants will be independant from the government in much the same way as the Post Office (expected to turn a profit and support itself) and hopefully not like AMTRAC. The more power they buy, the more “shares” they have in the plant. Eventually the plant falls out of public ownership entirely, as the “corporation” of the concern has its stock purchased entirely.

    One could see four or five energy companies vying for the board of a plant based on stock, and revenue sharing from it split out.

    We could retain heightened Federal oversight of the operations with minimal legislative hoop jumping (by acting as a bond holder for the insurance, as we do for banks).

    Heck, we could expand the idea for big ticket renewable energy projects.

    There’s lots of holes in the idea, obviously, but the gist of the idea is that the Fed acts as the investment banker and startup company that then sells itself out.

    I’d also like to see less super grid stuff and more localized energy production in areas where it is suitable, particularly in rural areas. Next to the water treatment plant that services a town of 12K is the municipal power plant (solar/wind mix), either grub staked by the Fed for the power companies or in a local cooperative (like phone exchanges and even some power companies). They’ll have to be back stopped by more consistent electrical generation sources, of course, but we’re talking a portion of demand versus all of it.

    And I’d give a 100% tax deduction for home electrical solar panels that feed back into the grid, and a credit every year afterwards. It isn’t such a hot idea for the guys in North Dakota, but here in the Southeast would work out pretty good.

    They’re not sexy ideas, and they require regional and localized tailoring rather than the clean simplicity of CSPAN filler, but they could go a long way to reducing GHG’s and even assuring redundancy in the system.

    My ideas for how to get rid of the extra electrity is just for sport: giant Tesla coils that would look really cool, especially at night.

    Will it take time? Sure. But they said five to ten years to build a nuclear plant was too long five and ten years ago.

    Comment by Frank Giger — 7 May 2010 @ 11:55 AM

  240. Hmmm. I will read BPLs recommended readings and ignore Ladbury’s rants. Perhaps Goddard’s analysis of the Venusian atmosphere puts it better than I can.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/05/06/hyperventilating-on-venus/

    [Response: This is complete nonsense. He is using properties from the Earth and extrapolating to a completely different situation on Venus. You certainly can't take the effect of CO2 doubling on Earth, with Earth pressure and Earth conditions (including the water vapour overlaps) and naively expect it to be valid far outside of that range where there is no water vapour to speak of. Pressure broadening anyone? - gavin]

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 7 May 2010 @ 12:08 PM

  241. The essential argument is that the heating of the Venusian atmosphere occurs through adiabatic processes and not through absorbance of IR by GHGs.

    [Response: Since 'adiabatic' means without input of energy it seems a little unlikely that it is a source of Venusian heating. - gavin]

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 7 May 2010 @ 12:19 PM

  242. #230 Frank Giger

    One solution won’t cut it.

    1. Policy: Fee & Dividend
    2. Awareness: Consumption Reduction (Real Conservatism)
    3. Economy: Objectify the value base (remove transparencies so capitalism can function)

    Capitalism was slaughtered a long time ago. Adopting the Keynesian economic model fomented an acceleration of legislative changes that reduced objectivity in the market. Anti-trust violations further hammered capitalism. Political horse trading to split the kitty by doing each other favors have done serious damage to objective market potentials. America used to have a work ethic. That seems to have been pushed aside by the manipulation ethic.

    As you have pointed out, the politically reality is in the way. That just means we need to work harder to change it.


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 7 May 2010 @ 12:25 PM

  243. 225
    Barton Paul Levenson says:
    7 May 2010 at 10:22 AM

    “RS: Most of the heat generated is above the surface.

    BPL: Well, sure. The sun is 0.723 AUs above the surface of Venus.”

    Come now BPL. I think that you are playing silly here. You know as well as I do that I am speaking of within the atmosphere of Venus and above the surface. Your appeal to ridicule is not worthy of you.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 7 May 2010 @ 12:30 PM

  244. Gavin says:

    “Response: Since ‘adiabatic’ means without input of energy it seems a little unlikely that it is a source of Venusian heating. – gavin”

    Why? Is not heating of a dense gas through friction an adiabatic process particularly if it does not involve heat transfer with the environment?

    In the case of Venus, the major proportion of the extra heating is theoretically due to the adiabatic lapse rate.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 7 May 2010 @ 12:40 PM

  245. “CFU, no way do I want the current round of climate legislation to pass. It isn’t debated and is strictly partisan”

    Translation: it’s not what ***I*** want it to be.

    (course he doesn’t want it to change anyway, but there we go).

    Still waiting on your science and your working out.

    “Republicans are largely silent because they’re simply shouted down”

    Yah, course they are:

    http://www.cwa-legislative.org/news/republicans-break-all-time-filibusters-record.html

    Shouted down.

    Yup.

    “Off shore wind farms aren’t a bad idea, but the needs are greater and require consistency that wind can’t guarantee.”

    No they don’t.

    Rebunked again and again. Never listen, do they, the denialosaur.

    “Enter nuclear. The primary concerns for nuke plants are ensuring safety standards are upheld, security, and waste for the public”

    None of those reasons are why North Korea and Iran aren’t allowed nuclear processing facilities.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 7 May 2010 @ 1:01 PM

  246. GFW, regarding effective solutions for low hot water usage.

    Your best non-solar solution, in your case, is likely a tankless water heater. You only make hot water when you need it.

    You might consider buying an electric tanked water heater with 3″ of insulation (very low standby losses). From a CO2 point of view it depends where your electricity comes from. Coal plant up the road? Bad idea. Nuke/Hydro/coal mix? Maybe. Backyard PV/wind – worth considering.

    I don’t normally suggest PV over thermal (due to the 4X efficiency advantage of solar thermal). But if your load is so light that you can’t justify the capital cost of solar thermal, properly sized PV can handle a (very) light water heating load and does have the advantage of reducing your other electric loads when not heating the water.

    As for an ICS and draindown design. There be dragons. Make sure it rates out well at SRCC and be VERY aware that one of the big learnings of solar hot water heating was “don’t do draindown.”

    It is built in to human programming to forget. It takes exactly one time (imagine your spouse/parent/child is in the hospital…) when you don’t drain it down, you hit the burst point of the pipe and the ensuing water damage costs more to repair than a lifetime of the gains (and it costs CO2 to make stuff also). If it NEVER freezes in your area – life is good and Doug Bostrom style cheap solar is a great idea.

    Comment by Actually Thoughtful — 7 May 2010 @ 1:08 PM

  247. “Let’s try again.

    As the atmosphere expands, is it a uniform expansion?”

    Where are there “boundaries” then? Where do they turn up?

    “My intuition, which has no formula attached to it but is based on understanding density variance in general, would suggest the answer would be no.”

    Nope, still nothing (PS pulling no numbers and calling it intuition buys you nothing).

    “Does that have an effect on radiation of heat out into space?”

    No.

    What affects this is the temperature at one optical depth of the atmosphere at a wavelength you’re measuring the outgoing radiation (TOA radiation).

    “If it’s not a constant, would an expanded atmosphere tend to retain heat better (with “better” being worse for us)?”

    The expansion of the atmosphere doesn’t make the difference.

    The level at which you get 1 optical depth and the temperature at that level makes the difference.

    As you add GHG you increase the height at which TOA radiation leaves the system.

    Therefore the radiative losses reduce.

    This causes the entire atmosphere to heat up.

    In heating up, more radiation is loss until equilibrium is reached.

    At that point, TOA radiation is now equal to incoming radiation.

    Your atmosphere and the planetary surface is now warmer.

    This is called “Global Warming”.

    Now

    1) Still nothing on what you mean by boundaries
    2) you have no calculation therefore your assertion is unreferenced.

    If you want to see someone who has done the calculation, check here:

    http://www.ipcc.ch

    They aren’t using intuition. They’re using science.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 7 May 2010 @ 1:08 PM

  248. The essential argument is that the heating of the Venusian atmosphere occurs through adiabatic processes and not through absorbance of IR by GHGs.

    Please, that’s not even remotely defensible, poor fare indeed. Has it come to this, then? A camp so bereft of ideas and talent that we’re to be fed assertions of this grade?

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 7 May 2010 @ 1:11 PM

  249. Barton,
    thanks for making clear what you meant to say. I’ll second Ray (#199). Still OT though.

    John P. Reisman,
    now what on earth does “objectify the value base (remove transparencies so capitalism can function)” mean?? (Shades of C3PO: “The power coupling on the negative axis has been polarized. You’ll have to replace it.”)

    Comment by CM — 7 May 2010 @ 1:16 PM

  250. > RS: … greenhouse … theory requires that solar radiation
    > is reflected from the surface

    Oy. You’ve confused albedo with the greenhouse effect.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 May 2010 @ 1:17 PM

  251. flxible says, “but too bad nobody wants to wrestle with the real problem in need of a solution, unsustainable population.”

    Actually, population is only about half the problem. Consumption per capita is also growing. Both are inconsistent with a sustainable economy in the long run.

    This does not mean, however, that wealth cannot grow–it just means that wealth must be driven by technological advance.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 May 2010 @ 1:19 PM

  252. Is this coincidence?
    Ian McEwan received his MA degree in English Literature at the University of East Anglia.

    RC is the perfect place to review this piece of novel science fiction. :o)

    Comment by Jimbo — 7 May 2010 @ 1:29 PM

  253. Gavin says “Science works even for complex systems, despite the fact that it is harder to make ‘simple’ statements.”

    But you can’t just rephrase a claim as if it’s evidence. You stated that “science works” then mentioned gravity and the predictive power of science as it relates to gravity.

    How about a complex science example that has proven predictive power? For example – nuclear weapons modeling – I imagine these models have been proven to be at least somewhat predictive, in that there are numerous real-life explosions that can serve to both inform the models and test the models.

    As someone deeply engaged in modeling and complex science, what other examples do you know of that show predictive power?

    Comment by TRY — 7 May 2010 @ 1:31 PM

  254. Septic,
    Read Burnham and Anderson on AIC. AIC is an unbiased estimator of the K-L distance. Thus, the model with minimum AIC will likely be closest to the actual model and will, so, have the greatest predictive power of any single model. B&A have shown, however, that model averaging can further increase predictive power.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 May 2010 @ 1:37 PM

  255. Hmm, a comment by Rattus Norvegicus in the
    Open Thread at Open Mind
    makes it clear that Richard Steckis is just regurgitating Steve Goddard from WahttheF’sUp.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 7 May 2010 @ 2:05 PM

  256. Frank,
    It appears that most if not all of your ideas attack the problem from the supply side? Any thoughts on conservation–after all every watt saved can actually save 1.5-3 watts.

    Also, you are discussing approaches that can be carried out only within national borders. What incentive would India or China have to follow suit? If all we do by decreasing our fossil fuel consumption is lower demand/price, wouldn’t that just provide incentive for others to consume fossil fuels?

    You may not like the UN, but it is at least an international body with a degree of legitimacy established over 60+ years. Would it not make more sense to use this body rather than reinvent an international body with no guarantee the result would be more palatable.

    I guess what I’m asking is how would you approach the GLOBAL portion of the problem.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 May 2010 @ 2:16 PM

  257. SA – Yes, getting to that much reduced sustainable population level [including attitude changes] will include a lot of pain, but until it happens we’re left with Gilles situation, there will be no reduction of carbon use until it’s gone or not affordable for anyone. I’ve about accepted <a href="http://www.bread.org/learn/hunger-basics/hunger-facts-international.html"the "natural" course of events will do what “rational” beings don’t seem to be able to. Funny how folks relate our “advances” with increased life expectancy, when the lower average way back was a function of infant and maternal mortality, and the actual life expectancy has always been about the same, if one made it past 20. And we all insist on “full measure” for us and ours.

    Comment by flxible — 7 May 2010 @ 2:43 PM

  258. Richard Steckis said at 7 May 2010 at 12:19 PM

    The essential argument is that the heating of the Venusian atmosphere occurs through adiabatic processes and not through absorbance of IR by GHGs.

    Gavin corrected him: Since ‘adiabatic’ means without input of energy it seems a little unlikely that it is a source of Venusian heating. – gavin

    I’ll refine response that a wee bit. “adiabatic” means without change in *heat* energy. IE, no flow of heat into or out of the system. An adiabatically compressed gas will heat up, due simply to conservation of energy. Doing work on the gas warms it.

    If we had a model Venus around which we could arrange an atmosphere and then flip the gravity switch, the atmosphere would warm due to adiabatic compression, and the work done on the gas would be done by gravity.

    And, Richard, once it was compressed the heat would radiate off until it fell back into equilibrium. That would have been billions of years ago.

    Richard, if you want to stick with the mysterious “adiabatic process” you really need to define it if you want anyone here to listen. Begin by explaining how a compressed gas will continue to heat the surface (or anything else) once the pressure has stabilized, and why the atmosphere doesn’t simply cool by radiating IR. Once you’ve done that I can come up with a dozen more problems with the theory for you.

    Comment by David Miller — 7 May 2010 @ 4:07 PM

  259. TRY
    Re: Old nuke codes. They even have predictive power when extrapolated several orders of magnitude upwards in energy. I did an internship where I used old 2-D codes to predict morphologies of craters on Jupiter’s icy satellites. Worked like a charm. Even got the pit at the center rather than the usual peak. Pays to have a smart adviser when doing an internship.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 May 2010 @ 5:01 PM

  260. #249CM

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/objective

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/value

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/base

    It’s English, not rocket science.

    Objective economic mechanisms certainly include Austrian School (Ludwig von Mises) and components of some others.

    The Keynesian model is reliant on expansion. That combined with overuse of resources puts the model up against a wall of peak resources in relation to growth of needs. Desire complicates the issue as desire rises above needs. In this case desire can be considered a component of artificial inflation.

    Artificial inflation is the monetary value in excess of the mean/objective value in a transparent market that is inviolate of anti-trust.

    Oh, and I believe also that “The power coupling on the negative axis has been polarized. You’ll have to replace it.”


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 7 May 2010 @ 5:04 PM

  261. Richard@244
    Oh, you poor child. You are so lost. The ALR refers to the fact that the atmosphere will cool with altitude unless energy is added. As a result, there is less thermal radiation at altitude, and more energy goes into heating the atmosphere=greenhouse effect. Venus has quite a steep ALR. You’d know that if you bothered to look at my reference.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 May 2010 @ 5:18 PM

  262. Jim Eager 255:

    I’ve never heard of Steve Goddard. He isn’t a scientist at least as far as I can tell. I’ve noticed that various blog scientists have recently targeted venus. These lawyers and other idiots are attempting a rewrite of a half century’s worth of atmospheric physics without actually understanding any physics. It would be funny if it wasn’t so horrific.

    [Response: Isn't it interesting how they all discover "the venus non-CO2 effect" at about the same time, yet generations of physicists have missed it! They balance a lack of knowledge with increased audacity.--Jim]

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 7 May 2010 @ 6:09 PM

  263. Ray, I don’t approach global problems because I think we should get our house in order first. Besides, China isn’t going to really reduce anything, nor is India, because we tell them to. And we have a large enough trade inbalance with China that handing over large pallets of money isn’t really going to impress them.

    CFU, you missed the point on wind farms. Not a bad idea = good idea. But wind isn’t dependable, and can’t be scaled up or down in output based on demand.

    How does that make me a “denialosaur?” (Though I admit that sounds cool.

    “As you add GHG you increase the height at which TOA radiation leaves the system.

    Therefore the radiative losses reduce.

    This causes the entire atmosphere to heat up.”

    Damn it, that was the answer I was looking for. Why was it so hard for you to spit it out?

    Btw, layers of the atmosphere:
    Troposphere
    Stratosphere
    Mesosphere
    Thermosphere
    Exosphere

    Btw, found a pretty cool graphic on temps by layer:

    http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/images/profile_jpg_image.html

    On conservation, I am definately for it, but chose to address just one thin policy wedge – coal fired plants.

    Comment by Frank Giger — 7 May 2010 @ 6:36 PM

  264. 261
    Ray Ladbury says:
    7 May 2010 at 5:18 PM

    “Oh, you poor child. You are so lost. The ALR refers to the fact that the atmosphere will cool with altitude unless energy is added.”

    I’ll not argue with you. I am familiar with what ALR is. Just read Motl’s analysis of the issue. The ALR only exists between the surface and the tropopause. Above that, the atmospheric pressure dictates the heat generation on Venus.

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2010/05/hyperventilating-on-venus.html

    Thats if Gavin does not pull this post for mentioning him.

    He states:

    “To summarize, the adiabatic lapse rate is a key effect that drives the temperature difference between the tropopause – many kilometers above the surface – and the surface of a planet. In fact, a pre-existing lapse rate is an essential pre-requisite for the greenhouse effect, too (without it, the absorption and emission would be balanced): the greenhouse effect may be understood as a slight change of the pre-existing lapse rate.

    The lapse rate has the capacity to add hundreds of degrees Celsius to the surface temperature of Venus, regardless of the composition of the atmosphere……”

    [Response: The lapse rate only determines the gradient - not the absolute value of the surface temperature. The absolute temperature value is driven by the greenhouse effect. Please, no more pseudo-science. - gavin]

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 7 May 2010 @ 6:41 PM

  265. This is OT, but can’t think of a better place to get pointed in the right direction.

    I’m looking for a career change from finance to climate science (with the idea of going back to school). Any help on where to get started – I can’t stray too far from southern CA for the time being.

    Thanks

    [Response: Scripps!--jim]

    Comment by Matthew H — 7 May 2010 @ 6:46 PM

  266. Ray Ladbury – “Actually, population is only about half the problem. Consumption per capita is also growing. Both are inconsistent with a sustainable economy in the long run.

    This does not mean, however, that wealth cannot grow–it just means that wealth must be driven by technological advance.”

    Over population and over consumption are two sides of the same coin, the coin being this planet and it’s finite resources. Wealth can only continue to grow at the expense of the planet AND the expense of the vast majority of humanity that has never, and will never, share in the wealth. It’s the “developed” worlds insistance on growth = healthy economy/society that will precipitate the resource/economic/population crash, just as it’s now preventing any real action on climate change. We wouldn’t want to shake up the global economy after all. Like FG thinking that “handing over pallets of money” is the only proposal for encouraging the developing exporters to reduce emissions, with nary a thought for reducing our consumption of imports drastically, “choosing” instead to focus on one unlikely crusade.

    Comment by flxible — 7 May 2010 @ 7:20 PM

  267. Here is an interesting item, interesting if confirmed by other analyses:

    US CO2 production has declined:

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/05/05/eia-energy-related-co2-emissions-energy-climate-bill/

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 7 May 2010 @ 7:21 PM

  268. RE- Comment by Frank Giger — 7 May 2010 @ 6:36 PM:

    Regarding your comment to CFU about reliable wind power– One of the recent suggested solutions for base power is to string together very long lines of turbines with a high voltage DC grid. For example see: http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=string-of-offshore-turbines-along-e-2010-04-05

    There is a link to a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences article in this Scientific American news item.

    Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 7 May 2010 @ 7:33 PM

  269. @262 JE “These lawyers and other idiots are attempting a rewrite of a half century’s worth of atmospheric physics without actually understanding any physics. It would be funny if it wasn’t so horrific.”

    What is really disheartening is that trying to steer these people right on the physics will actually be recast as some form a censorship and intolerance somewhere in the blogosphere.

    Comment by Stephen Baines — 7 May 2010 @ 7:38 PM

  270. You may not realize it, but we actually agree on that score, flxible!

    The proposals at the UN are precisely the “pallets of money” solutions, which are offensive on many levels, least of all a huge “greenwashing” of emissions.

    Reducing our (and its a huge generalization) own consumerism is a domestic affair. I’m very much in favor of folks living within their means and spending much less than they make.

    Legislating what people can and can’t buy and restricting how much anyone can own isn’t workable in a free society.

    However, lots of improvements can be made on that score.

    Remember back in the ’70′s when McDonalds served their burgers in styrofoam boxes? They were really neat – open it up, pour the fries in the open half, and dig in. Horribly wasteful. Rather than castigate McDonalds and turn them into villians, some really smart guys showed them that ditching the styrofoam and adopting recycled paper boxes not only made ecological sense, but improved their bottom line considerably.

    Comment by Frank Giger — 7 May 2010 @ 8:07 PM

  271. > If we had a model Venus around which we could arrange an
    > atmosphere and then flip the gravity switch, the atmosphere
    > would warm ….

    Already suggested in blog science; see the first hit:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=venus+variable+gravity+heating

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 May 2010 @ 8:18 PM

  272. Re 232 Jaime Frontero
    (PS Steckis doesn’t have it right, as many have stated)

    There is no need for a particular boundary between phases of matter to have a greenhouse effect. A completely gaseous planet could have a greenhouse effect.

    In the most GENERAL sense, what is needed is:

    1. some impedance of heat loss from below some level(s) to space – thermal conductivity must be finite, convection must not be able to keep everything isothermal (see lapse rate, troposphere), and there must be some opacity (either via scattering or absorption or both) to radiation at some of the same frequencies that material at or below this level(s) can emit. The first two conditions are generally satisified in planetary material (thermal conduction is insignificant within the atmosphere except in the lowest ~ 1 mm against the surface and – I think maybe – on small scales around particles in the air (as in clouds); convection cannot achieve an isothermal atmosphere due to the effect of gravity via pressure); with respect to climate, the greenhouse effect refers specifically to the effect of varying the third condition (optical properties).

    2. there must be some heat supplied to this level(s) or a layer beneath it (such as via solar heating, or tidal or geothermal heating – for at least the Earth’s climate system, the first dominates so much the others can essentially be ignored), so that, in equilibrium, the temperature and/or the variation of temperature must be sufficient to drive a heat flux out to balance the heat supplied.

    In this most general sense, one could actually point to the high temperature of the lower mantle as being due to the ‘greenhouse effect’ of the overlying material, including the upper mantle – and certainly, if the overlying material were made transparent to radiation, then the ‘surface’ of the lower mantle would tend to cool down (via radiation to space) towards temperatures in the range of what are now found above the surface of the crust and ocean. But of course, the greenhouse effect generally refers to the effect of an atmosphere.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 7 May 2010 @ 8:36 PM

  273. Steckis, And you chose Motl because of his astounding record of publishing papers on climate in peer-reviewed journals… Oh, wait. See, Richard, there are LOTS AND LOTS or books on climate science. This isn’t even something you have to go to a journal article for. BOOKS!

    And yet, for some reason, you choose to try to learn this stuff from blog posts by people who have never even cracked one of these books. Now why would that be, Richard? Ever wonder what else you might be wrong about?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 May 2010 @ 8:37 PM

  274. flxible,
    There are good reasons why nearly every human society has relied on growth (or in the cases of some Pacific islands, mass suicide). It is difficult to care for the young and the old, and to maintain productivity in an economy that is not growing. A quick look at the late Dark Ages through the Middle Ages in Europe gives some idea of the challenges. Or you can look at the economic stagnation in the Former Eastern Block today.

    Oddly, I am probably a bit more optimistic than you are about the possibility of finding a sustainable economic model, and if we can get close to 100% recycling, zero population growth and clean, sustainable energy, we might even still have economic growth with the rate dictated by advances in technology rather than increased consumption. I think it’s possible. I just don’t think we’ll get there, as human stupidity seems to be the only force we cannot conquer.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 May 2010 @ 8:44 PM

  275. Frank Giger,
    The problem is that climate change is inherently a global issue. It does us no good to cut back if the BRIC countries speed ahead and spew out more CO2. Indeed, we would wind up driving a lot of business to these countries simply because the cost of doing business would be lower. On the other hand, assistance to these countries in getting off fossil fuels could take some pressure off of us and allow us to transform our infrastructure at a more reasonable pace.

    We simply cannot think only in terms only of our own nation. National sovereignty does not extend to the atmosphere. Yes, we must get our own house in order, but that doesn’t mean we can neglect the crackhouse across the street.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 May 2010 @ 8:50 PM

  276. 273
    Ray Ladbury says:
    7 May 2010 at 8:37 PM

    “Steckis, And you chose Motl because of his astounding record of publishing papers on climate in peer-reviewed journals… Oh, wait. See, Richard, there are LOTS AND LOTS or books on climate science. This isn’t even something you have to go to a journal article for. BOOKS!

    And yet, for some reason, you choose to try to learn this stuff from blog posts by people who have never even cracked one of these books.”

    Motl is a Harvard Ph.D. in Physics. Are you telling me that he is incapable of understanding climate physics? I think not and his capability to rationalise the science is substantial. Of course you have fallen for the logical fallacy of the appeal to authority. Have you ever considered they might have got it wrong in the case of Venus. By the way Ray, how many climate science papers have YOU primary authored?

    As for Gavin’s comment re: pseudo-science, I guess it is only pseudo-science when it disagrees with your pre-conceived ideas about Venusian climate.

    This is my last on this topic.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 7 May 2010 @ 8:53 PM

  277. Richard Steckis: Please go take freshman Physics.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 7 May 2010 @ 9:47 PM

  278. … that may have been general to the point of confusion; to answer your original question directly, imagine if instead of the Earth’s surface being where it was, put more atmopshere in it’s place; that air would be warmer than otherwise because of the greenhouse effect.

    (PS if thermal conductivity were infinite, then the whole mass would be isothermal and so, whereever radiation is emitted to space, it would be emitted according to the temperature found anywhere else. The thermal conductivity of the atmosphere (Earth’s, probably most planets too, though) is so small, relative to it’s thickness, that, as implied before, essentially all heat transport through the atmosphere is accomplished by convection and radiation (with convection being less of a factor above the troposphere; convection in the atmosphere occurs where it does because, without it, radiation would drive the system towards an equilibrium that is unstable to convection), except in the lowest ~ 1 mm next to the surface (and maybe just a little bit inward and outward from particles in the air? – thought that would not tend to produce a net heat flow on larger scales). Of course, ‘thermal conduction’ among different populations of molecules sharing the same volume is important (in the vast majority of the mass of at least Earth’s atmopshere) in maintaining (quasi-)LTE – so that all the molecules can be described as having nearly the same temperature, and share the heat energy lost and gained by radiation. Conduction of heat is also relatively unimportant compared to convection in the ocean. Conduction is important within the crust because of the lack of convection and the high opacity to radiation. Conduction and convection are both important deep within the Earth.

    Regarding Venus, other planets in general: the composition and mass of the atmosphere, and the gravity of the planet, all affect the lapse rates that can be sustained by convection (this is relatively unaffected by trace gases that are not physically or chemically reacting at high rates, and except for latent heating associated with them, this is also true of sufficiently small concentrations of water vapor and particles like cloud droplets and ice crystals – thus, there are ways in which optical properties can be strongly affected while leaving the composition and some other properties relatively unchanged), and a greater mass of air allows, for the same composition, greater optical thickness, and for the same lapse rate, greater temperature change over the thickness of the atmosphere. Pressure and temperature also affect line-broadenning and line strength, which is important in determining optical properties (my understanding, though, is that these don’t provide significant climate feedbacks – they can have a strong effect on how optical thickness per unit mass changes with altitude, but the changes at a given altitude are generally much smaller with moderate changes in weather or climate, as I understand it). The effect of the greenhouse effect (LW opacity) is modulated by these things, but if the greenhouse effect goes to zero for the whole atmosphere (or the atmosphere down to some level), then the surface temperature (or temperature within the layer of air beneath the portion of atmosphere lacking LW opacity, found within the portion that can emit radiation directly to space) will approach an equilibrium temperature determined by surface (or lower layer of air) emissivity and solar heating (or in some alien worlds, stellar heating, tides, geothermal heat flux) of the whole system (because all the heat put in the system from outside or originating from within, whereever it initially goes, generally ultimately has to exit from where it can be emitted to space), so that the flux to space balances the solar (or etc.) heating.

    The greenhouse effect, combined with atmospheric circulation and heat capacity, would account for the relative lack of temperature variation on Venus’s surface. Without the greenhouse effect, all radiation emitted from the surface would escape to space, and there would be no radiation downward from the atmosphere (which transports heat horizontally and, at least on Earth, has greater heat capacity than the (non-ocean) surface relative to radiative and convective heating and cooling – I’m guessing that’s also true on Venus), and the surface temperature would vary more from daytime to nightime (and over latitude).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 7 May 2010 @ 10:21 PM

  279. > pre-conceived ideas about Venusian climate

    Says Steckis, who has apparently bought into the “John Dodds Wobble Theory of Global Warming” — truly amazing it took so long for you to get there.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 May 2010 @ 10:39 PM

  280. Jamie @272, thanks I was about to present similar arguments, you’ve made my task easier.

    Since we are considering for simplity, 1 D models, i.e. parameters vary with altitude only, a lot of simplifications can be made. Going to a 1d model, where we neglect intertemporal and horizontal variations makes things easier -and hence allows some intuition about atmospheres to be gained. In any case our 1D model is in equilibrium, so heat is not being stored/released within the system, only trasfered vertically. The total vertical heat flux must be the total heat absorbed or generated from below. In the case of the earth or venus, this would be the time averaged solar absorbtion below the layer in question. Of course any other “source” of heat could be substituted, similar models can be used for stars, and gas giant planets etc. In any case there are two main ways to transfer heat. One is thermal radiation, from higher temperature layers to lower temperature layers. Space is simply a very cold layer with zero pressure. The other is convection/advection. If the thermal gradient exceeds the adiabatic lapse rate (determined by physical chemistry properties and gravity), convect ensues. For the relevant cases we are concerned with convection is very efficient, and the lapse rate can be considered to determine the maximum possible thermal gradient. When/where the gradient is less than this adiabatic lapse rate, then thermal radiation determines the lapse rate -it is adjusted until each layer absorbs and radiates the same amount of heat. Higher infrared opacity (or whatever frequency range the local temperature radiates in -deep within stars this might be X-rays or even gamma rays), means a given layer thermally communicates with layers closer to itself than with lower opacity. This increases the radiative lapse rate. There is no need to be thrown off by symantics about ground surfaces, or day night, or to care about the source of the thermal flux -it all works out the same.

    Comment by Thomas — 7 May 2010 @ 10:41 PM

  281. @ RS “As for Gavin’s comment re: pseudo-science, I guess it is only pseudo-science when it disagrees with your pre-conceived ideas about Venusian climate.”

    If by preconceived ideas, you mean ideas conceived and tested by scientists over more than a century of prior research, I think he would agree. You, on the other hand, seemed willing to accept uncritically the statements of a blog you read only hours ago without questioning how to reconcile them with well established physical laws.

    Comment by Stephen Baines — 7 May 2010 @ 10:44 PM

  282. Steckis – bottom line, you remove the greenhouse effect on Venus, and the temperature plummets to whatever would sustain emission to space to balance solar heating (the heat capacity of the crust would add a long tail to the cooling process, but it would happen). The resulting global average temperature would actually be colder than the temperature corresponding to the global average emitted flux, because of the nonlinear relationship and the surface temperature variations (a relatively small issue on Earth for conditions as they are, but on Venus without a greenhouse effect and with it’s long diurnal period, the temperature variations whould be quite large).

    (An atmosphere can have a considerably larger heat capacity than the land surface** relative to the radiant and convective heating and cooling it experiences, and thus changes temperature on short timescales less rapidly than the land surface; the atmosphere can also transport heat horizontally. ***Radiation from the atmosphere to the surface (which would not exist without a greenhouse effect) tends to vary less than solar heating (which actually goes to zero sometimes), and this reduces the diurnal temperature range of the surface and also reduces the latitudinal surface temperature variation.)

    (Actually, the heat capacity of the surface makes the heating (convective and radiative) of the atmosphere from the surface less variable (over time, and counting ocean currents on Earth, over space as well) than solar heating of the surface, and this filters out the variability of solar heating of the surface from the heating of the atmosphere, just as variability of solar heating of the atmosphere is filtered out of the heating of the surface by the atmopshere. I am using the phrase ‘heating’ somewhat casually here; I am refering to contributions to enthalpy gains and losses).

    ** – actually, for the long day of Venus, the atmosphere might undergo siginficant temperature changes (??) were it not for horizontal motion.

    *** – this specifically requires a greenhouse based at least in part on absorption and thus emission – Earth’s greenhouse and, so far as know, Venus’s greenhouse, are based largely on that, but it is possible to have a greenhouse effect only from scattering, and in that case, the backradiation would just be reflected from the surface and wouldn’t have the same moderating effect on surface temperatures (it could have some moderating effect (such as via reduced temperature sensitivity to flux changes at higher temperatures), but it wouldn’t be as effective).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 7 May 2010 @ 10:45 PM

  283. I’m proud to say that I count my PhD advisor, one of my post-doc advisors and my next door neighbor among the signees to the letter to Science defending climate science against McCarthyism. But, the money question is do people here think it will make a difference. Andy Revkin seems to think it sounds defensive – and that doesn’t play well generally where scientists are involved. I’m not sure I agree, but what do people here think?

    Comment by Stephen Baines — 7 May 2010 @ 10:51 PM

  284. While we are talking about pseuedo-science and the greenhouse effect, the first formal, peer-reviewed reply to Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner has just become available in IJMPB at http://www.worldscinet.com/ijmpb/24/2410/S021797921005555X.html (at the bottom). Will be on various blogs soon….

    Comment by Chris Colose — 7 May 2010 @ 11:04 PM

  285. RE 264 Steckis quoting … Motl?
    ““To summarize, the adiabatic lapse rate is a key effect that drives the temperature difference between the tropopause – many kilometers above the surface – and the surface of a planet. In fact, a pre-existing lapse rate is an essential pre-requisite for the greenhouse effect, too (without it, the absorption and emission would be balanced):”…”The lapse rate has the capacity to add hundreds of degrees Celsius to the surface temperature of Venus, regardless of the composition of the atmosphere……””

    Take away the greenhouse effect and surface cooling by radiation to space would drastically change the lapse rate, tending to remove the troposphere altogether. Tropopause level radiative forcing can be taken to be equal to surface radiative forcing when the troposphere has zero thickness. See http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/greenhouse-effect-revisited/#comment-2236

    HOWEVER, if it was (I wouldn’t know) Motl’s point that the radiative forcing as a function of CO2 concentration, or the same logarithmic approximation of that relationship, or the climate sensitity to forcing in terms of surface temperature, are not the same on Venus as they are on Earth, I completely agree. Different atmospheric mass and composition, vastly different amount of CO2, no ocean, slightly different gravity, etc… (in fact, as I understand it (I could be wrong), the tropopause is underneath a layer of stratosphere with significant positive lapse rate, unlike on Earth where the stratosphere ranges from nearly isothermal or cooling slowly with height to having a negative lapse rate).

    But that’s not what is implied by saying that Venus’s warmth (relative to the temperatures that would sustain radiative cooling to space to balance solar heating) is not due to the greenhouse effect.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 7 May 2010 @ 11:06 PM

  286. > Venus
    Oh, wait, Marko over at Deep Climate mentions another likely source:
    “WUWT, and Steve Goddard explaining to all those physicists out there in the world that Venus is hot because of pressure, and pressure alone.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 May 2010 @ 11:10 PM

  287. Richard, Ray is not making the claim that he is published in climate science, nor am I for that matter, however, we do read the peer reviewerd literature and textbooks written by those who are published. Furthermore, the basic physics of greenhouse gases is 100% induspitable independent of other less known factors. Now, I am not going to say that Motl is not a PHD or that his knowledge of physics is abysmal, but there are no violations of the laws of physics in AGW as it is described by physicists, chemists, mathematicians, and various climate modelers within climatology. Do you see any violations? What aspect of physics or from Motl’s papers do you see a list of strong evidence to counter all of the research within climate physics on this matter? What analysis of the statistics in this particular discussion do you have a problem with? I do read many of your other posts, of course, however, what here in way of repeatable and generally replicated evidence which contradicts what we who accept the science on AGW do not see? I promise you to look through Motl’s claims. If there exists writings of his I will find them, but I as of yet to see any hard evidence and repeatable data from the very few contrarian working physicists.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 7 May 2010 @ 11:29 PM

  288. And by the way Harvard is just a Univesity like any other, where people go to class and listen to the professor speah, take notes, study, pass or fail just like any other student… not that it is not a good school in general, or for specific subject matter, but Harvard Physics is not better than say Purchase College physics…

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 7 May 2010 @ 11:30 PM

  289. #262 #286 Steven Goddard is the one who embarrassed himself and Watts (actually no – denialists have no sense of shame)by hypothesizing that it could snow CO2 at the Anarctic. Took them quite a while to realise they didn’t understand partial vapour pressure. And then, when they finally got a glimmer of understanding they all congratulated each other as to how one could learn science on blogs – as if it was some sort of amazing advance in scientific understanding. Well, I guess it was for them. Incredible. Now pressure on Venus explains warming? Incredible!

    Comment by Hugh Laue — 8 May 2010 @ 1:54 AM

  290. Gavin et al.: the WUWT thing about Venusian pressure may be gibberish, but it’s a recurrent meme. An article about why higher pressure cannot account for the Venusian climate would be good as a reference. Not everyone out there understands the basics of thermodynamics and atmosphere physics, and this sort of con is easy to pull off (let’s see if my post on their site gets through the censors …).

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 8 May 2010 @ 2:25 AM

  291. “Andy Revkin seems to think it sounds defensive ”

    But complaints of “stop calling us deniers” isn’t???

    How about complaints of “we would be submitting papers but you’ll just refuse them”?

    Then again, the double standard is the standard for denialism.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 8 May 2010 @ 4:01 AM

  292. “Rather than castigate McDonalds and turn them into villians, some really smart guys showed them that ditching the styrofoam and adopting recycled paper boxes not only made ecological sense, but improved their bottom line considerably.”

    So tell us Frankie (do you remember me?): how do we do this with oil companies?

    How about coal companies?

    Remember: if they convert to renewables, they will be lumped with Al Gore, who is wrong on AGW because he has a company that invests in renewable energies.

    So how do we do that?

    McDonalds sold food. Not styrofoam boxes.

    How do we do the same for the oil companies?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 8 May 2010 @ 4:14 AM

  293. “Over population and over consumption are two sides of the same coin”

    Nope, they are loosely connected.

    Consumption in the African Continent is lower than the US despite having more people (nearly four times).

    Only when other things are kept constant is consumption and population linked as closely as you suggest.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 8 May 2010 @ 4:18 AM

  294. “Btw, layers of the atmosphere:
    Troposphere
    Stratosphere
    Mesosphere
    Thermosphere
    Exosphere”

    Have nothing to do with greenhouse gasses or the warming effect of them on a gaseous atmosphere.

    Therefore your insertion of “boundaries” in a discussion of the above (given you meant the list above) was an irrelevancy. That you included such an irrelevancy in your position where you had done NO CALCULATION but merely used your “intuition” and that intuition had you include information that was irrelevant (and unused) shows that your intuition was unable to be used to draw conclusions.

    “Damn it, that was the answer I was looking for. Why was it so hard for you to spit it out?”

    Uh, no, that was the suppostion you were trying to disprove with your “surely it would be cooling quicker”.

    Such an answer was readily available in ANY source book on climate.

    Try the Start Here button above.

    Or (as I gave you earlier) http://www.ipcc.ch

    Or as many others have given and shown in the past to others: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/#L000

    The reason why you didn’t get that answer was because you had been given it a thousand times before, had every opportunity to find out yourself and, apparently, didn’t even bother to look.

    Which then leads me to wonder how you can have any position on AGW when you haven’t done the first thing in educating yourself about it.

    In fact, how can your intuition be thought by you to have any relevancy in what’s going on in the climate when you haven’t read any information to cast your intuition in relevant thought modes?

    A very Palian model of thought.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 8 May 2010 @ 4:26 AM

  295. “How about a complex science example that has proven predictive power?”

    F=ma has been proven by applying the Schroedinger equation and having F, m and a defined as the AVERAGE values of the system so modelled.

    QM is pretty complex.

    How about PV=nRT. It’s a complex problem of uncountable numbers of invisible particles acting unpredictably. Yet it is a predictive result.

    How about the climate models which are pretty darn accurate:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/updates-to-model-data-comparisons/

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 8 May 2010 @ 4:32 AM

  296. “In the case of Venus, the major proportion of the extra heating is theoretically due to the adiabatic lapse rate.”

    The lapse rate is theoretically due to the power leaving the system radiatively.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 8 May 2010 @ 4:35 AM

  297. JF 232–no surface required; an atmosphere is all that’s needed. There is a greenhouse effect on Jupiter as well (in addition to an internal heat source).

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 8 May 2010 @ 4:37 AM

  298. flxible: Christianity, the much more dominant belief system “underlying” the historical ills of the world, especially overpopulation.

    BPL: No, the dominant system “underlying” the historical ills of the world is arrogance, prejudice and belligerence like that you just demonstrated.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 8 May 2010 @ 4:49 AM

  299. FG 239: Republicans are largely silent because they’re simply shouted down or not invited into discussions to begin with by Democrats. Democrats have made climate change “their” policy bailiwick

    BPL: Because Republicans are almost all denialists, as polls show, and as we constantly hear from GOP propagandists such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, George Will, Sean Hannity, etc., and GOP politicians such as Sarah Palin, James Inhofe, Joseph Barton, etc. It’s hard for Democrats not to regard Republicans as AGW denialists considering the general GOP opposition to anything in science that disturbs them or threatens corporate profits–evolution, AGW, or the dangers of DDT, asbestos, hexavalent chromium, nuclear power, tobacco, alcohol, salt, overeating, too much TV, cars without seatbelts, or even the statement that science can’t say anything about when personhood starts in a fetus. The list is almost endless. The GOP these days has very much become the anti-science party. If that offends you as a Republican, why don’t you start telling Republican leaders that you don’t like their taking stands like that? The grassroots Republicans don’t seem to have any problem with what their leaders are saying.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 8 May 2010 @ 4:58 AM

  300. RS 244: Is not heating of a dense gas through friction an adiabatic process particularly if it does not involve heat transfer with the environment?

    BPL: By definition, friction IS a type of heat transfer with the environment!

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 8 May 2010 @ 5:01 AM

  301. FG 263: China isn’t going to really reduce anything, nor is India, because we tell them to. And we have a large enough trade inbalance with China that handing over large pallets of money isn’t really going to impress them.

    BPL: They’ll pay attention if we put a massive carbon tariffs on their exports to the US.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 8 May 2010 @ 5:35 AM

  302. RS 276: Motl is a Harvard Ph.D. in Physics. Are you telling me that he is incapable of understanding climate physics?

    BPL: Not incapable. Unwilling.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 8 May 2010 @ 5:46 AM

  303. Chris Colose: Congratulations! Well done and good show! We need more like you.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 8 May 2010 @ 6:08 AM

  304. Re the discussion on solar hot water: Over the years I have known numerous people here in Central Florida who have installed homemade solar water heaters. They were simply fifty gallon drums painted black and piped to the house with insulated copper tubing. By all accounts, they were able to meet their hot water needs year round. In climates like this, high dollar systems aren’t necessary. OTOH, I have an insulated electric water hearer with an on off switch on the wall. It’s only on about 1 hr. per day, and if I forget to turn it on, the water stays hot for at least one day.

    Comment by Dallas Dunlap — 8 May 2010 @ 6:38 AM

  305. Actually Thoughtful #150: I’m suprised solar hot water is so expensive in the US. Here are some prices in Australia. Multiply by 0.9 to get approximate US prices (and prices here include 10% tax so you should take that out too – factoring all that in, you can buy a 250 litre electric boosted evacuated tube system for under $4k). We also get various government rebates to make prices more affordable. I have a heat pump that with a combination of rebates and stimulus spending by the government cost me nothing. $0.00. Without the stimulus spending it would have cost me about $700. (I bought a heat pump because the air is warm enough here all year for that to work, and my roof area is limited.)

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 8 May 2010 @ 6:50 AM

  306. Steckis, you have fallen for the logical fallacy that an appeal to authority is a logical fallacy. It ain’t. Arguing that the source one appeals to is infallible is a fallacy. I am not saying that. I am saying that if one is actively publishing in a field, one is more likely to understand it. AND if nearly all the folks publishing in the field agree on a proposition AND there is strong empirical evidence to support it, that proposition is very likely to be true. THAT is common sense.

    And you, sir, are relying on Motl’s authority and that of [snicker] Steve Goddard. Hell, you even appeal to the authority of the institution that granted Motl his PhD. Got a pot I’d like to introduce you to sometime.

    I see no evidence that Motl has ever even cracked a book on atmospheric physics. He has certainly never published a word on the subject in a peer-reviewed journal.

    Steckis, there is a really, really big difference between a “preconceived idea” of how a system works and “the body of established scientific facts” about how a system works. It is simply flat stupid to argue that there is no greenhouse effect. It is equally stupid to argue that the greenhouse effect is not operant on Venus.

    Now, Steckis, I do not think you are a stupid man, so I have to ask myself why it is that you leap on any stupid idea that comes along that goes against the established theory of climate (not just Earth’s but the other planets as well). There are certain things we KNOW, Richard, and we know them because the evidence tells us that they are true and that the theory we have is key to understanding the evidence.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 May 2010 @ 7:32 AM

  307. flxible says (#235): too bad nobody wants to wrestle with the real problem in need of a solution, unsustainable population.

    I agree. Obviously to tackle AGW we need to start with reducing those populations which contribute most to it – USA first, then Europe . . .

    Comment by David Griffiths — 8 May 2010 @ 8:00 AM

  308. Super review. Enjoyed the book no end and your review captures it perfectly. Re climate change itself, perhaps the time has come for the ordinary decent scientists(ODS) to speak out. We are getting tired of seeing the careful work of our climate colleagues dismissed by vested interests, idealogoues and journalists. It seems to me that those who seek to undermine climate science also seek to undermine science itself!

    P.S. Enjoying The Climate Crisis no end, well done

    Comment by Cormac — 8 May 2010 @ 9:46 AM

  309. BPL: No, the dominant system “underlying” the historical ills of the world is arrogance, prejudice and belligerence like that you just demonstrated.

    arrogance: “an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner …”
    prejudice: “unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, esp. of a hostile nature …”
    belligerence: “A hostile or warlike attitude, nature, or inclination”

    If there’s anyone here who regularly demonstrates the meanings of those terms it’s yerself Bart, one can only assume you were gazing in the mirror as you typed. Lighten up.

    Yes, the ills of human society are a result of the psyche of the beast. And the ailing planet suffers the consequences.

    Comment by flxible — 8 May 2010 @ 9:54 AM

  310. “Gavin et al.: the WUWT thing about Venusian pressure may be gibberish, but it’s a recurrent meme. ”

    No, it’s been out there for at least three years.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 8 May 2010 @ 10:19 AM

  311. “I agree. Obviously to tackle AGW we need to start with reducing those populations which contribute most to it – USA first, then Europe . . .”

    The most bang for the buck…!

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 8 May 2010 @ 10:25 AM

  312. #275 Ray Ladbury

    “We simply cannot think only in terms only of our own nation. National sovereignty does not extend to the atmosphere. Yes, we must get our own house in order, but that doesn’t mean we can neglect the crackhouse across the street.”

    Extremely well put!


    A Climate Minute The Greenhouse EffectHistory of Climate ScienceArctic Ice Melt

    ‘Fee & Dividend’ Our best chance for a better future – climatelobby.com
    Learn the Issue & Sign the Petition

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 8 May 2010 @ 10:31 AM

  313. Patrick 027 @272 -

    Yes, I rather thought that was the case – although I hadn’t given any thought to the possibility of such effects in purely solid, non-gaseous materials. Fascinating.

    Thank you.

    Comment by Jaime Frontero — 8 May 2010 @ 10:58 AM

  314. #291 CFU. But complaints of “stop calling us deniers” isn’t??? How about complaints of “we would be submitting papers but you’ll just refuse them”? Then again, the double standard is the standard for denialism.
    I agree that there seems to be a funny assymmetry in the thinking of those in the media about this problem. Monbiot talks about regaining “trust” and Revkin seems to think that somehow scientists are partly to blame for not communicating properly in some way – though I can’t ever quite get a concrete sense of what he means exactly. I think both of them are way behind the curve…The current efforts in denialism actually exploit the way science and media have interacted before. To pin the tail on the scientists for the failure seems simple minded…
    On one side, the typical dialogue among scientists is leaking into the blogosphere and getting misunderstood, twisted, reframed. It’s really easy to do so because scientific dialogue is always filled with jargon, conditional statements and caveats as well as complex reasoning that builds on received knowledge. That very language, which is critical for reasoned discourse, is being taken out of context, deliberately misinterpreted or exaggerated in ways that aren’t easily detected by those without training or experience. It is also possible to mimic the language of science easily creating a form of technobabble that confuses people like Steckis (I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt regarding intent). We have fewer and fewer (there weren’t many to begin with) people capable of properly distilling true scientific discussion into something the mainstream media can handle – and able to distinguish between the fake thing and the real thing.
    If that isn’t bad enough, the typical way the science and journalism interact has been coopted as well. On another thread, someone mentioned the Allison paper in Nature Geosciences (I think) about effects of temp on enzymatic breakdown of soil organic C. They basically implied that it proved that there was no temp-CO2 feedback – I read the paper and that is a crazy leap given the all the work being done on this subject and complexity of the C cycle and what we know from paleorecords. But if you think about the cycle by which scientific papers get popularized — paper is published, press release produced with bulleted points circulated and subsequent amplification across various media sources that repeats bulleted points with more or less context — that leap to generalize from a single paper makes more sense. The process by which single results (or statements) are getting taken out of context is using the very mechanism we have used to publicize our science in the popular media, only executed in a more directed manner and with greater amplification. The thing is, this begins to affect the behavior and the communication among scientists – which of course generates more intrigue. I don’t think Monbiot and Revkin pay proper attention to how the traditional relationship between science and media has been compromised. The trust of scientists in the media is at an all time low, not that it matters much to them.
    Combined these things have undercut the trust of SOME of the public in scientists and the scientific endeavor (I hate the way pollsters attach phrases like lack of trust to percentages). But as the very mechanisms that we use to communicate to the public are involved in that it’s hard to see how to redress it (my gripe with Revkin). It’s all very unsettling. I think the clear statement of the 255 NAS members is important in that it suggests a wellspring of momentum among scientists to address this problem directly. Clearly the authors are motivated by a sense that the actual practice of science as a whole is potentially under fire now. I just wonder what we can do other than keep patiently shining the light and repeating the same mantra.

    Is there some structural change that can help restore trust and communicate real science more effectively? Is the answer at our finger tips. Is it simply that we have to try harder?

    Comment by Stephen Baines — 8 May 2010 @ 11:03 AM

  315. Ray @ 306:

    All appeals to authority are fallacies. It doesn’t mean the conclusions are wrong, it just means that the argument is invalid. Likewise “Everyone agrees that …” is yet another logical fallacy. Doesn’t mean everyone is wrong, just that the argument is invalid.

    It’s a peeve of mine …

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 8 May 2010 @ 11:20 AM

  316. Thomas @280 -

    Yes, I suppose it was an argument. Our Mr. Steckis makes no sense to me.

    Interestingly, thinking about it further, it appears that the process is not only material-, but gravity-independent as well.

    I wonder in what fashion the top-to-bottom vertical heat transfer that must therefore exist in the oceans (greater heat at the surface, transferring downwards as one descends through the thermalclines) has been worked into the SST models.

    Could this more active process account for any of our ‘missing heat’? The calculations I’ve seen (or at least those which I understand well enough) of deep-ocean warming have all been of the basic mass/temperature/time variety – not so much concerned with activity along these lines.

    It’s really an amazingly convoluted science, isn’t it?

    Comment by Jaime Frontero — 8 May 2010 @ 11:38 AM

  317. Completely Fed Up says: 8 May 2010 at 4:32 AM

    How about PV=nRT. It’s a complex problem of uncountable numbers of invisible particles acting unpredictably. Yet it is a predictive result.

    I’m pretty sure the ideal gas law will ultimately be “audited” and found wanting, CFU. It’s part of the Inconvenient Truth, after all, telling us among other things why Venus is not warmed by adiabatic heating.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 8 May 2010 @ 11:43 AM

  318. As for an ICS and draindown design. There be dragons…

    …It takes exactly one time (imagine your spouse/parent/child is in the hospital…) when you don’t drain it down, you hit the burst point of the pipe and the ensuing water damage costs more to repair than a lifetime of the gains (and it costs CO2 to make stuff also). If it NEVER freezes in your area – life is good and Doug Bostrom style cheap solar is a great idea.

    Actually Thoughtful, we certainly agree that draindown (as opposed to drainback) is a poor idea, a disaster in complication and a disaster waiting to happen when that complication inevitably fails.

    Regarding the apparent absolute requirement that a solar DHW system needs to be absurdly expensive, can you tell me why the professional solar industry specifies (expensive) pressure vessels for drainback tanks when the drainback tank is never pressurized in normal operation and can in fact be provided with atmospheric relief to handle an exchange loop leak?

    For that matter, don’t you think that gratuitously adding $1000 to the cost of your systems for fancy and pointless remote displays is exactly the sort of thing I’m suggesting is retarding the adoption of solar DHW in the US? Do you explain to your customers that this controller is a useless financial boat anchor, and that a $135 piece would accomplish the same thing? That kind of behavior reminds me of low-iron glass and selective coatings; satisfying for industry junkies but a hindrance to deployment.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 8 May 2010 @ 12:02 PM

  319. That kind of behavior reminds me of low-iron glass and selective coatings; satisfying for industry junkies but a hindrance to deployment.

    Let me just qualify, by that remark I mean to convey that it’s easy to add cost to systems without reflecting on their true benefit. When combining material input costs and the objective of maximizing energy capture, engineering goals may not necessarily include either peak theoretical collector efficiency or for that matter producing data-rich feedback to consumers. In fact, I think the evidence we have says that engineering these systems for peak technical performance in terms of collector efficiency is an error in the face of financial limitations of the potential pool of customers.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 8 May 2010 @ 12:31 PM

  320. Perhaps a Real Climate article on the Venusian atmosphere is in order?

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 8 May 2010 @ 12:39 PM

  321. With regard to solar hot water … and empiricism … if you are interested in solar hot water, try calling up a few local contractors, and get competitive price quotes. There are a lot of them around these days. And don’t forget to ask about applicable tax credits and rebates.

    Perhaps of interest to readers of RealClimate would be RealGoods, a company that sells turnkey solar hot water systems nationwide over the Internet. They also install solar PV and hot water systems in California and Colorado.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 8 May 2010 @ 12:40 PM

  322. Ray Ladbury @306. You are saying:

    “….that if one is actively publishing in a field, one is more likely to understand it. AND if nearly all the folks publishing in the field agree on a proposition AND there is strong empirical evidence to support it, that proposition is very likely to be true. THAT is common sense.”

    This is most certainly not my experience in “common sense”. I’ve worked in a product development environment for over 20 years and I see problems like this all the time with the scientific R&D folks.

    Product managers can’t wait to get their product into the hands of engineers and leave the scientist to return to their (ivory) towers.

    Apology if I’m stepping on toes here but thought to add how it’s been in my world of experience.

    Comment by Titus — 8 May 2010 @ 12:41 PM

  323. flxible wrote: “Over population and over consumption are two sides of the same coin …”

    Actually, it is a three-sided coin, at least in the formulation of Paul Erlich:

    Population plus consumption plus the environmental impact of the means of production adds up to the overall environmental impact.

    For example, focus narrowly on GHG emissions from US electricity use.

    Suppose you have a US population of 300 million consuming X kilowatt-hours per capita per year, all of which is produced by coal-fired power plants, resulting in a certain amount of GHG emissions.

    Reduce the population, and the other two factors remaining equal, you will reduce emissions.

    Reduce per capita consumption, and the other two factors remaining equal, you will reduce emissions.

    Replace coal with zero-emissions technologies, and the other two factors remaining equal, you will reduce emissions.

    I tend to think that discussions focus more on the technology (e.g. wind or nuclear vs. coal) and less on the other two factors, than is good for us. Of course some attention is given to reducing consumption (usually by reducing waste and improving efficiency rather than cutting back on actual end-user goods and services); and typically less attention than that is given to the population factor.

    But that’s not to say that population is “THE” underlying factor that “nobody” wants to deal with.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 8 May 2010 @ 12:57 PM

  324. Titus, can you give an example of something in physics that your scientific research and development people published on that they did not understand as well as your product development people? Something related to climate, if possible?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 May 2010 @ 12:58 PM

  325. Product managers can’t wait to get their product into the hands of engineers and leave the scientist to return to their (ivory) towers.

    Apology if I’m stepping on toes here but thought to add how it’s been in my world of experience.

    The fact that production engineers made commercial exploitation of the transistor practical doesn’t mean that they’d have been able to do so without Shockley’s research.

    Just to give one example.

    Comment by dhogaza — 8 May 2010 @ 1:01 PM

  326. flxible wrote: “… Christianity, the much more dominant belief system ‘underlying’ the historical ills of the world …”

    BPL rejoined: “No, the dominant system ‘underlying’ the historical ills of the world is arrogance, prejudice and belligerence like that you just demonstrated.”

    BPL, in light of your response to flxible, what do you believe was “demonstrated” by your comment (#176) that “among those results” of Buddhist teachings “are” a long list of “historical ills”?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 8 May 2010 @ 1:06 PM

  327. Someone once said that a society that tolerates sloppiness in philosophy because philosophy is considered an exalted activity, and denigrates excellence in plumbing because plumbing is considered a menial activity, will find that neither its theories nor its pipes will hold water.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 8 May 2010 @ 1:46 PM

  328. SA Actually, it is a three-sided coin, at least in the formulation of Paul Erlich: Population plus consumption plus the environmental impact of the means of production …

    Yes, but actually the means are equal only insofar as the “end” has been continued exponential growth and “profit”. My view is that the “third side” is the edge of the coin, which is rapidly thinning from the wear and tear, and regardless of the source of the energy, the other resources to produce either continued excess or just a “comfortable amount” for 6+ billion are simply not there. cf what’s happening with the western economies today, especially Greece.

    Being from “that generation”, Erhlichs earliest work on population was what prompted me to start paying attention to ecology and population, and put me on a pretty unorthodox life path. I think he’d agree that the high tech solutions we keep coming up with actually exacerbate the population problem, and ultimately can’t serve the cause of sustainability.

    Comment by flxible — 8 May 2010 @ 3:36 PM

  329. Re 318 Doug Bostrom – interesting. What is drainback? Does it obviate the need (in many climates) for an intermediate heat carrying fluid (ethanol or ___ ) that would be heated by the sun and then cooled upon heating water?

    How far is the drainback tank’s base below the maximum height of the fluid? Are pressure specifications much larger than fluid pressure?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 8 May 2010 @ 3:50 PM

  330. #272 Patrick

    A completely gaseous planet could have a greenhouse effect. </blockquote)

    How about a star?? See e.g.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fraunhofer_lines

    The absorption lines in the solar spectrum which were discovered in the early 19th. century indicate that the Sun is losing slightly less energy, at a given temperature, than predicted by the Stefan Boltzmann equation. Its surface temperature must rise slightly in order to compensate. Of course the details are different from the terrestrial example because the latter receives its energy in the visible band and loses it in the IR, whereas in the Fraunhofer case, the internal source of energy is at a much higher temperature (much shorter wavelength than visible) and the radiation loss is in the visible.

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 8 May 2010 @ 3:51 PM

  331. Re: # 253.

    what other [complex] examples do you know of that show predictive power?

    Weather forecasting.

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 8 May 2010 @ 3:58 PM

  332. dhogaza @325 & Hank Roberts @324:

    Thanks for replies. My experience is Life Sciences and High Tech primarily as a project manager. No experience with climate science, however, I do meet with other project mangers from those disciplines and the issues are the same. As project managers we get seminars and the like on how to manage R&D. I’ll spare you the anecdotes.

    Scientist are the hardest to get information out of (milestones, schedules, costs, documentation etc.) and attempts to do so are often met with derision. It is accepted by those who work with them that doing the work they do that they need to be free of such constraints so they can be creative and expansive etc.

    I liken it to the way IT was 10-20 years ago where the CIO and his minions ruled the roost because nobody understood their craft and they ran amuck. In response business has been outsourcing IT to professional organizations who are tasked to meet business requirements.

    I see the same starting to happen in science where you can now find specifically set up R&D businesses. They are totally focused on not only doing the science but all the other checks and balances you would normally expect when delivering your work. Check out this trend particularly in the drugs industry.

    Thanks again for asking…

    Comment by Titus — 8 May 2010 @ 4:36 PM

  333. John Pearson @320: Perhaps a Real Climate article on the Venusian atmosphere is in order?,/em>

    You mena like this: Venus Unveiled

    Comment by Jim Eager — 8 May 2010 @ 5:48 PM

  334. Steckis @276: “This is my last on this topic.”

    If only. I eagerly await being proven wrong, though.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 8 May 2010 @ 5:49 PM

  335. Re Chris Colose @284, Mmmm, mmm, I just love Rabett stew, and brought to us by so many great cooks, too! ;^)

    Comment by Jim Eager — 8 May 2010 @ 5:54 PM

  336. Here is a fine book which can be read of an evening (althugh I’ll want to further study some portions):

    Wally Broecker
    The Great Ocean Conveyor: Discovering the Trigger for Abrupt Climate Change
    Princeton Univeristy Press, 2010.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 8 May 2010 @ 5:58 PM

  337. Re Doug Bostrom 65 “Drainback Solar Water Heater”
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/05/solar/comment-page-2/#comment-173742
    http://www.solarconsultants.com/library/DrainbackRheemStecaMan.pdf

    Looks nice. I’d like to know more; I may have missed a few things – the pump may use 90 or up to 180 W – I assume while operating, thus the time average would be lower – what would it typically be? What is the area of the collectors and how much heat might they supply at a given temperature as a function of incident solar radiation and outside temperature? How massive are the collectors? What’s the cost (well maybe that was there and I skipped over it; have to go back and look again…) Etc.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 8 May 2010 @ 6:38 PM

  338. BPL unfortunately, China, India and Taiwan are all beginning to outpace the US with green technologies. Now that certainly does not mean that all of that Asian brown cloud has dissipated, or that India has cleaned up the Ganges,but I think that our own country in conjunction with many parts of Europe need to keep moving forward with such things both for the environment and to promote clean industries. As always I enjoy reading your posts.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 8 May 2010 @ 6:52 PM

  339. Re 330 Geoff Wexler
    - in the sense that greater transparency of an overlying layer would allow the temperature somewhere underneath that layer to decrease, I think it could be said that there is a greenhouse effect. I’m not sure if it’s ever called that, though (just as no one refers to the greenhouse effect of the mantle – though since an actual greenhouse is made of glass, arguably the term could apply there, as well as to a winter coat, if we generalize to the effects of impeding radiation, thermal conduction and diffusion and convection), but it works, in a general sense, the same way. And it isn’t just the few absorption lines; the material of the sun can emit radiation over a broad range of wavelengths, which implies it can absorb radiation over the same range, which implies that a greater radiative flux at the same wavelengths coming from a lower, higher temperature layer would be at least partially absorbed (and there would be some back radiation from the upper layer, reducing the net upward flux).

    PS the other key aspect of the greenhouse effect is that the heat supplied to the system comes through some other form (radiation in different parts of the spectrum , or heat from within, etc.) then the heat that escapes the system.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 8 May 2010 @ 6:53 PM

  340. …through some other form AND/OR channel

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 8 May 2010 @ 6:56 PM

  341. Titus@322, First, I don’t see how the fact that some scientists lack a practical bent negates my point that those publishing most actively will best understand their field.

    Second, there are many types of scientists. Some are in fact airy denizens of the ivory towers of academe. Others are quite practical. Both are necessary, as are engineers–and yes, project managers.

    As a scientist, I do understand that in many cases, a meeting composed of only scientists may move very slowly and be easily sidetracked. Scientist tend to be curiosity driven, rather than goal driven. However, curiosity is precisely what makes scientists work such long hours to reach an understanding or their subject matter. It may be a lot to ask that a scientist also understand how his or her research fits into a larger picture–they probably aren’t curious about that.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 May 2010 @ 7:54 PM

  342. Regarding many posts on solar hot water – Drainback is the vastly preferred method for solar water heating in a freezing climate. It uses water, gravity and a pump to ensure your pipes don’t freeze, and it stops collecting (via a solar differential controller) before you reach an overheat situation (very common, given that the solar energy available in December is very different that that available in July).

    For those of you in a no-freeze climate (Florida, and I presume Australia) – cheaper options are available. When I lived in Georgia, we used water heater painted black on the roof (in a glass enclosure to create a greenhouse effect (to keep it topical…)). With some sloppy pipework and “reclaimed” material – it was free.

    Doug I have no particular comment regarding the technical benefits of selective coatings. I am not a manufacturer. I know I look for the most efficient use of the square footage on the roof and the most return for the encapsulated labor and most return for total cost. Optimizing the price performance of one piece may not give the optimal total price performance (same balance of system for an inefficient panel as their is for an efficiency-optimized one).

    As for un-pressurized drain back tanks – I prefer them and use them in all of my large systems. Sadly you are attacking a low-cost component (~$350 – and that unpressurized vessel, capable of handling high temperatures, with fittings in the right places and a drain large enough to handle a leak in the pressurized heat exchanger, is going to have a cost that has the same number of digits as $350).

    As for the “value” of paying $865 more for remote monitoring and digital display? Priceless. $865 is also inflated. Without labor or profit (as your $135 controller is) – the cost is $600. So a $365 difference. Remember we are moving markets here. The black box systems of the 70 and 80s (which I service) are nightmares for troubleshooting. To a person, no one knows if there system is working or not, nor if it is saving them money.

    My systems, on the other hand, allow me to send them a monthly email saying “you saved this much money this month.” And for my more complex space, water, hot tub/pool systems, it allows me to make adjustments and learn remotely. I can alert my customers of problems with their systems before they are aware of any problem.

    I can imagine your convincing me on some efficiency point or another – the price/performance of selective coatings is bad, or an unpressurized drain back vessel for small systems makes sense. But I assure you that you are incorrect to belittle the digital (and internet enabled) monitoring controller.

    The lack of these is the EXACT reason so many smart people choose PV before solar thermal, when a rational analysis would do solar thermal, then PV. As Deming is often (incorrectly) quoted as saying “you can’t manage what you don’t monitor.” PV has measurement built in, solar thermal needs a controller as I have described.

    That controller is the key piece to moving minds and markets.

    Comment by Actually Thoughtful — 8 May 2010 @ 7:59 PM

  343. FCH says, “All appeals to authority are fallacies.”

    I do not agree–it is merely when you assert that the authority of the source automatically confers truth that it becomes a fallacy. Citing a true expert who has a long record of publication on the subject of the argument is more likely to yield accurate approximation than, say, citing an AM radio talk show host.

    Expert testimony is admissible as evidence in a court of law, and one of the first questions the lawyer calling the witness will ask will concern the expert’s bona fides.

    No, appeal to authority is not part of a logical argument–but empiricism sometimes trumps logic.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 May 2010 @ 8:05 PM

  344. On product people vs. scientists: I told Apple engineers in the late 1980s that they would do better to take a working kernel from a system that was well shaken down like UNIX, and layer their superior interface on top of that, rather than try to reinvent the wheel in areas where they had no competitive advantage. They gave me reasons why this was not possible, all of which were bunk, and Apple nearly went broke, before finally doing it my way (no credit claimed). I can think of numerous similar examples. The fact that product people are contemptuous of scientists doesn’t mean they are invariably right, just that they are the ones who get to define what the product is, and hence what sees the light of day. I could also mention why SGI got into serious trouble for ignoring my advice but that’s enough OT for me for one day :)

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 8 May 2010 @ 8:37 PM

  345. Ray Ladbury says:
    8 May 2010 at 7:32 AM

    “Steckis, you have fallen for the logical fallacy that an appeal to authority is a logical fallacy. It ain’t. Arguing that the source one appeals to is infallible is a fallacy.”

    You need to take some lessons in logical argument. The appeal to authority is a logical fallacy. See below:

    From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_authority

    “Appeal to authority is a fallacy of defective induction, where it is argued that a statement is correct because the statement is made by a person or source that is commonly regarded as authoritative. The most general structure of this argument is:

    Source A says that p is true.
    Source A is authoritative.
    Therefore, p is true.”

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 8 May 2010 @ 9:13 PM

  346. 281
    Stephen Baines says:
    7 May 2010 at 10:44 PM

    “@ RS “As for Gavin’s comment re: pseudo-science, I guess it is only pseudo-science when it disagrees with your pre-conceived ideas about Venusian climate.”

    If by preconceived ideas, you mean ideas conceived and tested by scientists over more than a century of prior research, I think he would agree.”

    A century of research can be toppled by one expirment. So do no hang your petard on the fallacy that a century of research is an unbreakable bulwark of truth.

    [Response: If you think a century of science is going to be toppled by obviously ignorant blog posts on WUWT, you are very mistaken. There is a big difference between coming up with new insights that cause a reevaluation of current paradigms and just getting very basic physics wrong and misapplying completely other bits of physics. Goddard and Motl are engaged in the latter, not the former. - gavin]

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 8 May 2010 @ 9:22 PM

  347. Totally Off-topic (although I did download the Kindle trial of the book and enjoyed it enough to maybe buy it when I have more time to read) but I have a science – climate – weather question, which popped into my head because I’m located near at least two coal fired-power plants, a big lake (Lake Erie) and weather has been even more wild than usual. I’m also 39 and finishing up a degree in Earth Sciences, getting ready to embark on paleoclimate studies at the grad level in the Fall. Some Googling hasn’t answered this, and it’s probably a premature question as far as research goes, which could mean in a few years, would be worth grant-seeking in nature… so here goes:

    Is there any research going on out there which attempts to correlate regional high CO2 output with increased regional climate changes?

    Many of us can anecdotally claim anomalies from the norms in local weather, but are there any studies which might link to point-source emissions or changes in jet stream patterns, etc?

    I’m asking this question with the understanding that the science is still at the shore of this ocean of knowledge, and want to remind readers that there is a massive distinction between weather and climate, which is why I’ve used those terms as I have.

    I guess what I’m getting at is the question about how much IR is absorbed from lower atmosphere point sources, and do these point sources create “hot spots” (or weird, unpredictable spots) the way other heat convective cells do???

    Not looking for “yes” or “no” I guess, just thoughts…

    Comment by Shirley — 8 May 2010 @ 10:47 PM

  348. I think I understand the intent of Titus’s assertion with the IT analogy. But I’d like to defend the “running amuck” by IT departments;

    As a 31 year (and counting) IT person I find it interesting it was suggested outsourcing was caused by out of control IT staff. I work for a corporation that decided the solution was to deal with the lack of IT comprehension in the primary business units. The technology was changing rapidly and there was much for everyone to learn. The IT department wanted to pull the organization out of the paper-ledger days, but the resistance to change was horrific. A new CEO came in and literally fired all resistant managers in all departments (including IT), and only then could the corporation take better advantage of the IT professionals within their own organization. So from my personal experience, the only “running amuck” this IT department did was trying to get the rest of the organization to wake up and smell the coffee!

    Acceptance of AGW is a different animal of course. We can’t just fire those that choose to work against it. Large cultural shifts require generational turnover before everyone accepts it; slavery, the car replacing the horse, woman’s right to vote, I’m sure these changes resulted in some disliking the change all the way to the grave, and this will be true of the acceptance of AGW as well.

    We utilize outsourcing today, but on a tactical level only. Doing so allows our in-house staff to focus on projects that give us competitive advantage.

    Pete

    Comment by Pete W — 8 May 2010 @ 11:32 PM

  349. Ray Ladbury @341.

    “First (you say), I don’t see how the fact that some scientists lack a practical bent negates my point that those publishing most actively will best understand their field.”

    I’m sure that those scientists believe they understand their field. The point was how you leap from that into your assertion that it is “common sense” that something is true. Especially in the light of the caveats that we both appear to believe exist.

    “Second (you say), there are many types of scientists. Some are in fact airy denizens of the ivory towers of academe. Others are quite practical. Both are necessary, as are engineers–and yes, project managers.” (thanks for the recognition)

    Totally agree. Working together is how business gets done. We need each other. Where we differ is that I believe science is not good on its own. Science used without those checks and balances looses its authority and therefore cannot be (and is not) trusted.

    Comment by Titus — 8 May 2010 @ 11:52 PM

  350. Philip, I worked at SGI during both the fat years and the lean years. I would like to hear why you think SGI screwed up. So would John Mashey, another veteran of SGI, who was much higher up the food chain that I was.

    Since this is OT, I’ll post of your blog with my email if you would like to discuss this.

    Comment by Rattus Norvegicus — 9 May 2010 @ 12:07 AM

  351. 306
    Ray Ladbury says:
    8 May 2010 at 7:32 AM

    “I see no evidence that Motl has ever even cracked a book on atmospheric physics. He has certainly never published a word on the subject in a peer-reviewed journal.”

    Ray, you still have not answered my question: “Have YOU ever ever published as a primary author, a paper on climate science?” If not, then do not criticise Motl for not having done so. We each have our specialities. Perhaps your search for evidence of Motl’s invesigations into climate science is deficient for I have seen evidence of it.

    Finally. You have seem to have completely missed the whole concept of the “appeal to authority” logical fallacy.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 9 May 2010 @ 1:21 AM

  352. I haven’t followed this entire thread, but when I first moved to Village Homes, Davis, California, in 1980, we rented a house with a breadbox hot water heater. This sat on the roof, giving us hot water in the afternoon, but since the water storage also was on the roof, the water cooled down during our cool summer nights providing lukewarm water in the morning. It only was useful as a preheat to a natural gas water heater system.

    When I built my house two years later, I put in an active system which determined when the water in the solar panels on the roof was warmer than the 240-gallon storage tank in my garage. Water then was pumped to the roof to warm, then down to the storage tank, From October until April, this preheated the small 40-gallon tank heated by natural gas. The rest of the year, we turned off the natural gas and got hot water without any additional energy input.

    Unfortunately, during the winter of 1990, when wee got an unusual low of 17 degrees F, the fail-safe value that was supposed to drain the panels did not work (perhaps designed by the folks that built the fail-safe devices in the Gulf if Mexico?). The panels were replaced, but it took another 20 years to recover the cost. In retrospect, we could have just drained the panels during possible freezing months without relying on the (faulty) sensors.

    However, if systems can be built without danger of freezing, much of he world can have enormous energy savings by using solar hot water panels for most of the year. In places like where I live, the sun shines down almost every day of the year. It’s a no brainerl

    Comment by Jim Eaton — 9 May 2010 @ 1:46 AM

  353. flxible 309: If there’s anyone here who regularly demonstrates the meanings of those terms it’s yerself Bart, one can only assume you were gazing in the mirror as you typed. Lighten up.

    BPL: Go look up what the cake said to Alice.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 May 2010 @ 4:38 AM

  354. JF 316,

    The cold of the deep oceans is due to a circulation in which water sinks near the poles and rises near the equator. The cycle takes about a thousand years.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 May 2010 @ 4:41 AM

  355. SA 326: BPL, in light of your response to flxible, what do you believe was “demonstrated” by your comment (#176) that “among those results” of Buddhist teachings “are” a long list of “historical ills”?

    BPL: This is the sixth post you’ve made responding to that one post of mine. I’ve explained what I was saying several times now, and see no need to do so again.

    Get a life.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 May 2010 @ 4:44 AM

  356. “Is there some structural change that can help restore trust and communicate real science more effectively? Is the answer at our finger tips. Is it simply that we have to try harder?”

    The problem is that some people are just flat out lying. They don’t CARE about the results or the consequences. They don’t care about truth, accuracy or anything other than their ideology.

    Watts, for example.

    Or Monckton.

    Absolutely 100% couldn’t care less if they are wrong.

    And the false balance that is the cheap version of responsible journalism lets them do their poison act with impunity.

    What to do?

    Neuter these actors in bad faith.

    Which is now beginning to happen: sue the fkers. Sue the press. Sue them for the genuine reasons for their perjury. Make them reap the consequences of their mendacity. When their faithlessness and greed have consequences for them, they will begin to think about what they are saying and their poisonous actions will abate.

    Then, when the people talking are genuine in their words and accurate in their statements, people will be able to assert their own level of trust in the science and in scientists.

    But while the truth is twisted to sell the message big money want and while those lying brazenly are able to freely do so, and while the media collude in this in the race for eyeballs to sell, “try harder” only means more truth to twist.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 9 May 2010 @ 7:21 AM

  357. Jim Eager says:
    8 May 2010 at 5:48 PM
    John Pearson @320: Perhaps a Real Climate article on the Venusian atmosphere is in order?,/em>

    You mena like this: Venus Unveiled ?

    Thanks for the link, but actually I was thinking of more along the lines of an in-depth discussion of the role of CO2 on the venusian atmosphere. I’ve spent the last hour perusing http://www.geosc.psu.edu/~kasting/PersonalPage/Pdf/Icarus_88.pdf
    but Kasting was addressing how Venus would’ve gone into a run away greenhouse state in its early evolution perhaps lost an ocean’s worth of water. He says that the critical solar flux required for a runaway greenhouse is about 1.4 So (So = earths solar flux) which is about what Venus had in its early history . He also says that the critical flux is nearly independent of [CO2]. What Kasting doesn’t address is what the Venusian temperature would be with say a 90bar N2 atmosphere which is what the blogscientists are blathering about. Personally I think it is an interesting question. But I’ve spent the last hour thinking about it when I should have been working on a manuscript that has absolutely nothing to do with climate science and I’m not much closer to understanding the Venusian temperature than I was an hour ago! I’d kind of like hearing from someone who knows what they’re talking about on the issue. Take a water free venus and explain what the temperature is and what it would be for a 90bar pure CO2 atmosphere and a 90bar pure N2 atmosphere.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 9 May 2010 @ 7:52 AM

  358. #343 Phillip, you could add the “bill of goods” Bill Gates sold to IBM management (you know the brightest and best). The managers didn’t listen to the lower level, and more experienced), software engineers.

    Comment by J. Bob — 9 May 2010 @ 9:48 AM

  359. Here’s a solar drainback hot water system in detail (and a good site for watershed information generally, with much specific to N. California):
    http://www.oaecwater.org/education/solar-hot-water-booklet

    “… . As of this writing, we have been able to record the following data and are impressed with the increase in efficiency of the system and the decrease in propane use (about 1/3 of the amount of gas we were using prior to the installation)”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 May 2010 @ 10:08 AM

  360. “The problem is that some people are just flat out lying.”

    I concur.

    Comment by Ibrahim — 9 May 2010 @ 11:01 AM

  361. Gavin says:

    “Response: If you think a century of science is going to be toppled by obviously ignorant blog posts on WUWT, you are very mistaken. There is a big difference between coming up with new insights that cause a reevaluation of current paradigms and just getting very basic physics wrong and misapplying completely other bits of physics. Goddard and Motl are engaged in the latter, not the former. – gavin”

    I do not think any such thing. My point is that science is rarely built in stone regardless of the time frame or of the number of proponents of a particular hypothesis or theory.

    I not think Motl is wrong and Goddard, like myself communicated his idea poorly.

    But Gavin, can you please show me the equations and figures that support the concept of Greenhouse Theory being able to explain the majority of the temperature on the surface of Venus. I really would like to see the calculations.

    [Response: Really? I suggest you read a textbook on planetary atmospheres, there are a few around. David grinspoon's books have dealt with it as well. But this isn't hard. The upward IR from the surface is thousands of W/m2, while at the top of the atmosphere the outgoing value is even smaller than on Earth. Thus thousands of W/m2 must be absorbed in the atmosphere - the very definition of an enormously strong GHE. With no greenhouse substances the surface temperature would be the blackbody emitting temperature (assuming no change in albedo). - gavin]

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 9 May 2010 @ 11:19 AM

  362. #343 Phillip, you could add the “bill of goods” Bill Gates sold to IBM management (you know the brightest and best). The managers didn’t listen to the lower level, and more experienced), software engineers.

    That was a financial decision, the PC was built on a shoestring. The biggest mistake IBM management made wasn’t an engineering mistake, but rather a business mistake, not buying out rights to DOS but rather letting MS maintain ownership and the right to license the software to others, once the PC was cracked by third-party reverse-engineering.

    DOS was a POS but a very Profitable Operating System, as well … the point of business is to make money, not quality products, if you want to be downright cynical about it. Fortunately some businesses believe that the way to make the most money over the long term is to make quality products …

    Comment by dhogaza — 9 May 2010 @ 11:43 AM

  363. Steckis, OK, dude, concentrate. Think about this. I am not claiming that I know climate science better than the climate scientists. Motl is.

    I have devoted a couple of years of my spare time to learning the science–and still consider myself a student. Motl expects to correct climate scientists without ANY study of the subject.

    In other words, I am not passing myself off as an expert. Motl is.

    Can you see the difference. Maybe if you squint.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 May 2010 @ 12:02 PM

  364. Peter W @ 158. Nice reply.

    The “running amuck” was a reference to the early days of IT in the 70′s and 80′s. By the 90′s controls had started to come in (ISO.., ITIL, SLA”s etc.) and IT was moved from under CEO’s to CFO’s in a bid to enforce the changes. Some company’s adapted but others, as you appear to have experienced needed the root and branch treatment.

    I agree with you that businesses outsourced as a way of enabling focusing on core businesses. However, many took the route because they were not able to make the changes like your painful experience succeeded in doing.

    The reference by some posts here to ‘product vs science’ lays at the root of the problems. A business generally wants to do the best it can to outdo its competitors. It has to be asked why the scientists were not able to communicate their ideas in the first place. Worth pondering?

    Thanks for reply and I hope this makes sense……

    Comment by Titus — 9 May 2010 @ 12:38 PM

  365. BPL wrote: “I’ve explained what I was saying several times now …”

    You have denied saying what you clearly said several times now, in addition to attributing to me words that I never wrote.

    We all make ill-considered remarks from time to time. Some of us have the humility to admit it when we do.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 9 May 2010 @ 12:51 PM

  366. #346 Richard Steckis

    What you are presenting is truly a red herring argument. The more realistic point is, is there any theory that can even remotely challenge the established science that this global warming event is human caused?

    Don’t forget that climate is now being studied by more scientists than ever before. DO you really think the theory has not experienced ‘valid’ attempts to falsify???

    No one has a competitive holistic (considerate of the whole body of evidence) theory has made it through peer review and survived peer response. The only pet theories that came close were not looking at the body of science but rather are either generally myopic, or flat out wrong.

    Take a look at Svensmarks theory that it’s GCR’s.

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/henrik-svensmark

    or Lindzen

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/richard-lindzen

    or Pielke, Sr.

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/roger-pielke-sr

    The only way to push the idea that this event is not human caused is to either narrow your scope or make claims or present opinions that reach beyond the scope of the research. Personally I call that fraudulent, but in reality, if possible, if they can remain ignorant to the overall body of science, they can honestly make ridiculous claims that are inconsiderate of the body of evidence.

    . . . Or are you aware of one such theory, that I and so many others have missed. I know I don’t know it all, so please do inform me.


    A Climate Minute The Greenhouse EffectHistory of Climate ScienceArctic Ice Melt

    ‘Fee & Dividend’ Our best chance for a better future – climatelobby.com
    Learn the Issue & Sign the Petition

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 9 May 2010 @ 1:02 PM

  367. #347 Shirley

    It sounds like an interesting research question. If the wind streams mostly in one direction, there might be a signal in the vegetation/variety and one might also then check for temp differences in local spatial scales.

    While CO2 is a well mixed gas it is concentrated before it is mixed. There is evidence in the observations of higher concentrations in the atmosphere in the northern hemisphere. I imagine that this is a result of the various cell circulation (Hadley, Polar, Sub-polar) that can temporarily prevent larger scale mixing.

    Some imagery from NASA indicates that CO2 may be getting temporarily trapped in polar estuaries, but this is on a different scale then you are mentioning. However, it may be also contributing to the polar/northern amplification effect.

    Please pardon my effrontery: Never be afraid to be wrong as it is the path to rapid learning. Whenever possible, put your full name on your work/questions, it presents integrity, and even humility which is important in exploration.


    A Climate Minute The Greenhouse EffectHistory of Climate ScienceArctic Ice Melt

    ‘Fee & Dividend’ Our best chance for a better future – climatelobby.com
    Learn the Issue & Sign the Petition

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 9 May 2010 @ 1:17 PM

  368. I thought it was pretty good to be honest. I enjoyed his earlier novels more though..

    http://www.onlinescience.info

    Comment by Robert — 9 May 2010 @ 1:24 PM

  369. # 351 Richard Steckis, as of yet you have produced zero of this evidence you claim to have seen. Care to share? Second many scientists who HAVE published in peer review ARE criticizing Motl’s work. Third having looked at at his writings there are several aspects that do not add up with what is known in physics.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 9 May 2010 @ 1:49 PM

  370. #351 Richard Steckis

    And you seem to have missed the whole concept of ‘appeal to red herring’.

    Waving a $20 in the face of an officer does not change the fact that of how much an individual had been speeding.


    A Climate Minute The Greenhouse EffectHistory of Climate ScienceArctic Ice Melt

    ‘Fee & Dividend’ Our best chance for a better future – climatelobby.com
    Learn the Issue & Sign the Petition

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 9 May 2010 @ 2:01 PM

  371. On China: The “US Farm Report” on TV this morning said China WAS an exporter of corn but is now an importer. Could be desertification is having an effect there. Perhaps reality will collide with their current policy/attitude on GW soon. Since Nature isn’t going to change her mind, perhaps some other minds will change.

    On Venus: Mars has a thin but CO2 atmosphere and is cold. Which means: A bit more care is required in statements about Venus. You have to do the whole mathematical process. Innumeracy leads to nonsense. Radio shows are not good places to teach mathematical things. RealClimate avoids writing down equations because most people are highly allergic to math.
    Arguing isn’t going to achieve anything. Writing the article on Venus is quite a challenge.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 9 May 2010 @ 2:19 PM

  372. No, Steckis, it is you who missed the whole concept of the “appeal to authority” logical fallacy when you cited Motl and his credentials verses the the entire climate science community. You’re so deep in the hole you’re digging that you can’t even see the top anymore.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 9 May 2010 @ 2:23 PM

  373. Titus, did it ever occur to you that it would be a good idea for managers to understand the scientific process? It sounds as if you are trying to pin blame for a dysfunctional organization on one group in that organization. After all, Bell Labs was tremendously successful, and even today IBM and others allow scientists rein to exercise creativity.

    Scientists tend to be curiosity driven. That does not mean they are incapable of functioning in a goal-driven or even a production driven environment. Many very good scientists worked in industry up through the 70s and 80s. It makes me wonder what we’ve lost in management that has made them less productive.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 May 2010 @ 2:40 PM

  374. The latest Climate Progress has an article on “Solar.”

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 9 May 2010 @ 2:43 PM

  375. Richard Steckis,

    you are being absolutely ridiculous. Neither the adiabatic lapse rate, nor pressure, can physically cause the some 400 K hotter Venusian conditions than Earth (even though it absorbs much less solar radiation, due to its very high albedo). This is very elementary. Motl is full of it.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 9 May 2010 @ 3:28 PM

  376. A couple of people here have claimed that because appeal to authority is classified as a logical fallacy, any argument including any appeal to authority is fallacious.

    The mistake there is to confuse *formal* logic with everyday decision-making logic. In formal logic, every statement is either 100% true or 100% false. In formal logic, appeal to authority is a fallacy, because of necessity, it is a claim that the authority is infallible. In real-world logic (aka “fuzzy” logic) one is assessing not what is provably the exact answer, but instead what is probably the correct answer, give or take. Saying that I’m 95% confident that the climate sensitivity for 2x CO2 is between 1.5 and 4.5 is not a conclusion that can come from a formal logical process, but it is a conclusion that can be drawn from a careful survey of the scientific literature, where the surveyor uses real-world logic, the published scientists used real-world logic, the reviewers used … you get the idea.

    If you want an example of a fallacy in real-world logic, I’d have to go with “confusing terms between different disciplines”.

    Comment by GFW — 9 May 2010 @ 3:37 PM

  377. Clearly, Richard Stekis has not read a textbook on adiabatic processes, either from physicists or physical chemists. Again I say, without my previous typo: Peter Atkins explains adiabatic. Very straightforward.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 9 May 2010 @ 4:08 PM

  378. BPL: Go look up what the cake said to Alice.

    Gracious apology accepted, this being Sunday and all.

    Comment by flxible — 9 May 2010 @ 4:25 PM

  379. Rattus Norvegicus #350: if you or anyone else wants to reminisce on computer history etc. find me at firstname.surname AT gmail.com.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 9 May 2010 @ 5:11 PM

  380. RS 346,

    Read my lips: Goddard is a babbling airhead when it comes to planetary astronomy. Venus is hot because of a greenhouse effect. That is so well established that questioning it is like questioning the shape of the Earth. It’s not the act of someone with a brave new idea, it’s the act of an ignoramus.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 May 2010 @ 5:12 PM

  381. Shirley 347,

    No, CO2 mixes too fast. Tropospheric convection.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 May 2010 @ 5:13 PM

  382. RS 351: Ray, you still have not answered my question: “Have YOU ever ever published as a primary author, a paper on climate science?” If not, then do not criticise Motl for not having done so. We each have our specialities. Perhaps your search for evidence of Motl’s invesigations into climate science is deficient for I have seen evidence of it.

    BPL: But I HAVE cracked climatology textbooks, worked the problems, and studied the field, for twelve years now. I taught myself to write radiative-convective models of planetary atmospheres. And I can tell you that Lubos Motl is a blathering fool when it comes to climate science.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 May 2010 @ 5:15 PM

  383. SA 365,

    Sorry, I decline to play that game any more.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 May 2010 @ 5:21 PM

  384. Re: Adiabatic warming (e.g., Motl)

    The adiabatic assumption is a useful one in meteorology — it works well when applied to individual air parcels if the rising or sinking of a parcel is sufficiently rapid that the flow of heat between the parcel and its environment is negligible when compared to the work done by or on the parcel. However, to apply the assumption to a planet’s entire atmosphere is clearly erroneous as the planet is both receiving energy from without (solar radiation)and emitting energy to space (longwave radiation).

    Suppose that one were somehow able to adiabatically compress a planet’s entire atmosphere; the temperature of the planet and its atmosphere would rise rapidly at first, but then the heat generated would pour out into space, causing the temperature to fall. The drop in temperature would continue until the rate of radiation absorption was equal to rate of emission. Taking into account convection, the resulting vertical temperature profile would eventually approach something resembling the observed values — values that could have been obtained by simply assuming radiative-convective equilibrium from the outset and not going through the silly mental exercise of compressing the atmosphere.

    Comment by Jerry Steffens — 9 May 2010 @ 6:59 PM

  385. 361 Gavin said: “With no greenhouse substances the surface temperature would be the blackbody emitting temperature (assuming no change in albedo).”

    THat was my immediate thought the first time this came up. I read a bunch of Motl’s crap which was largely incoherent, but there was one thing he said that was coherent and I didn’t have an answer for. I read other crap that various blogscientists wrote. Motl claimed that the partial pressure of the CO2 on Venus was 2^18 times it’s partial pressure on earth and that each doubling gives a couple of degrees of warming and that therefore CO2 can’t explain venusian temperature. I assume that he has no idea what he is talking about and that he took earth’s Temperature-CO2 relationship and applied it to venus outside its domain of applicability but it would be nice to hear that from someone who does know what they were talking about. I know. I know. I need to read a book on atmospheric physics. I keep waiting for Ray Pierrehumbert’s book to come out. Ray recommended one of Goody’s books to me a while back but it was $200 on Amazon which is more than I’m willing to spring for on a hobby that isn’t skiing.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 9 May 2010 @ 7:12 PM

  386. Titus says, “Science used without those checks and balances looses its authority and therefore cannot be (and is not) trusted.”

    Sorry, but that is quite simply horseshit. Science has a long record of producing trustworthy understanding of its subject. That does not guarantee that you will necessarily get the information you want. You may not have the right scientists. You may not be asking them the right questions. They may not be sufficiently goal driven to give you what you want.

    None of this, however, invalidates the scientific method. A scientist who is publishing in a field regularly is doing work that other scientists active in the same field find worthy of consideration. If that scientist’s work is being cited, it means that other scientists are employing his ideas and methods. That is the best guide to who understands a particular field.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 May 2010 @ 7:29 PM

  387. @376 GFW – An appeal to authority depends on whether you are a scientist in the field who can actually work things out for yourself, or if you are an average person just trying to figure things out. For a non-scientist, their own analysis just doesn’t cut it, and they’re more interested in the probability of the event in question than the absolute physical truth. I wrote a post on this topic here: http://climatesight.org/2009/06/17/when-authority-is-relevant/

    Comment by Kate — 9 May 2010 @ 7:32 PM

  388. @Ray Ladbury 341 – I agree with what you say about the necessity of both scientists and project managers/engineers. I’m not a scientist yet, but I’ve known for a long time that I have the mind of one – always striving towards understanding something better and making discoveries, rather than finding a solution to a particular problem. My mum says that her first clue as to my scientific tendencies was when, each Christmas, I would classify the contents of my stocking into a pseudo-taxonomic system.

    However, I never would have begun sharing my understanding of climate science and doing my bit to dispel misconceptions in the form of my blog (link above) if it wasn’t for a friend who is exactly the opposite to me. Although he is good at math and science, he has known for years that he’s not interested in research. He wants to be an engineering project manager. I know nobody better than him at finding the most efficient solutions to problems of all kinds. We need both types of people in the world of science communication.

    Comment by Kate — 9 May 2010 @ 7:39 PM

  389. Ah, but Steckis, the argument I’m making is not:

    Source A says that p is true.
    Source A is authoritative.
    Therefore, p is true.

    The argument I am making isthat
    Source A says Y about something in a field X.
    Source A is actively publishing in field X.
    Therefore what Source A says is a whole lot more likely to be true than what some idjit says who has never craced a book on field X.

    Steckis also says, “A century of research can be toppled by one expirment.”

    Very true, Steckis. So why aren’t denialists proposing any experiments. Hell, for the most part they seem interested in suppressing them–e.g. DISCOVR/Triana, no Surface Stations publication after 2 years…

    I have an experiment for you, Steckis. Try calculating how long Venus would stay hot if its temperature were due to compression as you say. Make sure to report back to us.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 May 2010 @ 7:40 PM

  390. #366 John P Reisman:

    Something that I think a great deal of the public doesn’t understand is that the climatology community is ten steps ahead of them. Every objection that letters to the editor and so on come up with – it’s caused by the sun, Mauna Loa is a volcano, etc – scientists thought of those and tested them and ruled them out long before most people even knew what global warming was. I mean, really, could an entire multidisciplinary field stretching back over a century miss something so simple?!

    It’s like a form of hubris – everyone thinks that they’re as good as any scientist out there, and their ideas are new and controversial.

    Comment by Kate — 9 May 2010 @ 7:48 PM

  391. Gavin says:

    “Really? I suggest you read a textbook on planetary atmospheres, there are a few around. David grinspoon’s books have dealt with it as well. But this isn’t hard. The upward IR from the surface is thousands of W/m2, while at the top of the atmosphere the outgoing value is even smaller than on Earth. Thus thousands of W/m2 must be absorbed in the atmosphere – the very definition of an enormously strong GHE. With no greenhouse substances the surface temperature would be the blackbody emitting temperature (assuming no change in albedo). – gavin”

    This is not what I asked for. I asked for the solved equations that show unequivocally that the greenhouse effect is responsible for the vast majority of the warming on venus. I suspect you cannot show it, particularly as there is no potential for water vapour feedback on Venus and the potential to trap IR is logarithmically related. Without some pretty major positive feedbacks, the greenhouse equation cannot produce the 400C temperature differential between the atmospheres of Earth and Venus.

    [Response: So my inability to fit a line-by-line radiative transfer model in a comment on a blog is proof to you that no such calculation exists? Hmmm... (really, please look at a textbook on planetary atmospheres - nothing I can possibly put in a comment will satisfy you). -gavin]

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 9 May 2010 @ 8:55 PM

  392. The adiabatic lapse rate can be derived from gravity. Total molecular energy is the sum of kinetic energy and potential energy. Temperature is a measure of molecular kinetic energy. If the Earth’s surface at sea level is taken as the reference point, molecules at a higher elevation have higher potential energy. Therefore molecules with a lower temperature at higher elevations have equal total energy to those with a higher temperature at lower elevations.

    How does the greenhouse effect explain why the daytime high temperature atop Mt. Everest never exceed -15°C?

    [Response: Why should this have anything to do with the greenhouse effect? However, without the greenhouse effect the temperature would be more like -50°C. -gavin]

    Comment by David Russell — 9 May 2010 @ 10:18 PM

  393. Re 361 Richard Steckis – http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/05/solar/comment-page-6/#comment-174105

    IF there is no greenhouse effect, then 1. all radiation escaping to space must originate from the surface (or from below the layer that has no greenhouse effect) and 2. all of that emitted radiation escapes with no backscattering. Starting with Venus as it is and removing the greenhouse effect (but for sake of the argument, keep the albedo to solar radiation), the surface will continue emitting a large flux and, exposed to space, that flux will leave the system, and there will be no backradiation to the surface. Thus the whole system loses energy, and this occurs at the surface in particular. The lapse rate near the surface will turn negative, and this inversion will build upward, as heat from much of the atmopshere will flow to the surface, perhaps mainly by diffusion since convection will be relatively inhibited (though downward mixing of heat could be driven by energy sources elsewhere in the atmosphere or through latitudinal gradients, etc… I’m not quite sure). Anyway, in the end, the result is much cooler surface (with a larger diurnal and I’d guess latitudinal temperature range, and with a much smaller or perhaps negative lapse rate, depending on how much solar heating occurs in the atmosphere). Zero greenhouse effect tends to inhibit the formation of a troposphere, though differential heating producing horizontal temperature gradients could supply some energy that could force the mixing of some layer – this would heat the surface by cooling the top of such a layer – but note that if this occurs, the surface temperature will still be cold, as that heat would then be radiated away (and thus farther cooling the top of such a mixed or overturning layer). Some adjustment for spatial and temporal variation of surface temperature via the nonlinear relationship between emitted flux and temperature.

    Re 357 John E. Pearson –
    1. no expert on this, but assuming Venus and Earth started similarly, I wouldn’t expect a 90 bar N2 atmosphere would have ever occured. I think the reason for the large atmospheric mass is the large amount of CO2 – and back when it was happening, perhaps the large water vapor concentration – PS significant water loss by escape of H to space would start, as I understand it, at temperatures significantly below the boiling point (at least at 1 bar) and thus there needn’t have been a tremendous amount of water vapor in the atmosphere at any one time – but as the sun got brighter over geologic time, eventually, if the water were not lost beforehand, a point could have been reached where the oceans would boil into the atmopshere and, if I’m not mistaken, become a significant part of atmospheric mass – I wouldn’t know whether this happened or not). The CO2 built up from geologic emissions because the geological sinks were shut off by the loss of water (and maybe the higher temperatures? – true that a warmer wetter climate favors faster chemical weathering, but at some point the temperature is too high for carbonate minerals to form, though this depends on CO2 partial pressure and the cations involved, and I don’t know the numbers offhand ).

    (PS Kasting is good source for information about that kind of thing in general)

    But if there were a 90 bar N2 atmosphere – first, I’m not sure offhand but it may be an approximation that N2 (and O2, some others) is not a greenhouse gas – if so, that approximation might fail with 90 bars (???) – though I’d expect it would be weak compared to 90 bars of CO2.

    But if there were a 90 bar atmosphere that were transparent to radiation at wavelengths emitted from the surface below, then the surface would tend towards the temperatures that allow emitted radiation to balance solar heating (solar heating of the surface and the atmosphere, because, without any greenhouse gases in the air, the heat in the atmosphere would have to escape the system through the surface).

    It is true that approximations (such as the tropopause forcing proportional to log (amount) ) suitable for a range about Earthlike conditions will break down far enough outside that range. CO2 has additional absorption bands that don’t matter much at lower concentrations, and at much different temperatures in the lower atmosphere and at the surface, radiation will be emitted more at shorter wavelengths. Pressure and temperature themselves affect the optical properties for a given composition (via line broadenning and line strength effects) and the overall composition can also affect the line broadenning of any constituent. And the convective-maintained tropospheric lapse rate will be different because of the overall different atmopsheric composition, differences in latent heating in ‘moist’ convection (there isn’t much water – is there another condensing substance – sulfuric acid clouds?), and also the gravity is somewhat different (that affects the lapse rate). Presumbaly the clouds on Venus could contribute something to the greenhouse effect; I wouldn’t know how much (not all clouds are equal, and this applies to clouds of different substances).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 9 May 2010 @ 11:22 PM

  394. BPL @354:

    “The cold of the deep oceans is due to a circulation in which water sinks near the poles and rises near the equator. The cycle takes about a thousand years.”

    Yes, I understand that. But my uncertainty is this: is that the *only* heat transfer mechanism at depth?

    Comment by Jaime Frontero — 9 May 2010 @ 11:43 PM

  395. Kate : there are a lot of very high level scientists who work on still very uncertain topics. We still don’t really know how the 11-years solar cycle happens, how its corona is heated, or how to reproduce the physical parameters of the solar wind , although this seems to be a much simpler problem than Earth climate. We don’t know why supernovae explode, not to speak of still more energetic gamma-ray bursts. And this is only “normal” astrophysics, i don’t speak of particle physics, supersymmetry, and dark matter. Of course these scientists have studied a lot of possibilities and are many steps ahead the public. But reality is still too complicated to be understood. So I agree that it is unlikely to find a very simple explanation they wouldn’t have thought of. But having a critical look on the accuracy of the models and questioning the uncertainties seems to me fully relevant.

    Comment by Gilles — 10 May 2010 @ 1:06 AM

  396. I have evacuated tubes for heating water. We boost less than two weeks a year.
    In Canberra OZ, we only have mild frosts(-7C) in winter but even those days we get plenty of water heating. The evacuated tubes do not need draining and at that level of freezing, there is no need for draining.We worked on a payback of less than 7 years, but we have plenty of sunny days even if some of our winter ones have fogs that don’t lift till mid day.
    There is an enormous take up of these tubes in China.
    PS It amazes me that people rabbit on about how the arguments for AGW doesn’t convince them when they haven’t put effort into understanding the science. Recently we had the leader of the opposition telling school children that it was warmer in the times of Jesus and the leader of the opposition in the senate regards AGW as crap. I am a plant physiologist so well understand the increase in CO2 and the basic physics is pretty straightforward, but the enormous and painstaking work that has gone into building up a case is extraordinary

    Comment by Robert D — 10 May 2010 @ 1:35 AM

  397. Thanks Stefan. I’ve read many of McEwan’s books but did give up on him after ‘Saturday’, which I didn’t enjoy much. I was intrigued when I heard that he would be tackling AGW, and having read your review I will definitely be buying a copy of ‘Solar’. I think McEwan’s is one of only a few authors I would trust to give a good account of the science.

    Comment by Paul A — 10 May 2010 @ 3:35 AM

  398. “I read other crap that various blogscientists wrote. Motl claimed that the partial pressure of the CO2 on Venus was 2^18 times it’s partial pressure on earth and that each doubling gives a couple of degrees of warming”

    PV=nRT is how pressure can be realised as temperature.

    But that IS NOT partial pressure. It’s pressure of the whole pigging lot.

    Therefore the 2^18 is bull. 90 atmospheres (IIRC) is the pressure of Venus. About 2^6. From Motl’s (probably completely spurious misattribution) that would give 12C warming from the over-pressure.

    This doesn’t explain temperature that can melt lead.

    Plus ask yourself, if the greenhouse effect has nothing to do with Venus’ temperature (as Motl and his flock of parrots state), why does CO2 have anything to do with it? It’s a gas like any other.

    That he’s pointing this out shows how he’s creating a tapestry of lies from fragments of truth placed inappropriately.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 10 May 2010 @ 4:34 AM

  399. JEP 385,

    Yes, that’s exactly what he did. The 3K/warming applies to Earth’s Pleistocene/Holocene climate and that ONLY. To get the actual greenhouse warming of Venus you have to write a radiative-convective or general circulation model of the Venus atmosphere. The regime is not the same shape under all conditions.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 May 2010 @ 4:41 AM

  400. “But I’d like to defend the “running amuck” by IT departments;”

    I think you meant “running amok”.

    Unless they’ve been *very* naughty..

    :-)

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 10 May 2010 @ 4:43 AM

  401. Kate 390,

    You have it exactly. The meaning of “democracy” in the US has been stretched far beyond the political sphere where it applies. Most Americans really think anyone’s opinion on any subject is as good as any other–training and education is irrelevant. The example I like to use is a guy who’s never worked with his hands or even read about construction going up to a 20-year union stonemason putting a wall together and telling him “You’re doing that all wrong”–and expecting to be taken seriously. And getting outraged when the guy tells him to bugger off.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 May 2010 @ 4:45 AM

  402. “FCH says, “All appeals to authority are fallacies.”

    I do not agree–it is merely when you assert that the authority of the source automatically confers truth that it becomes a fallacy.”

    Ray has it right, FCH.

    In much the same way as an ad hominem attack is where you take a priori the idiocy of the speaker to prove their argument false, yet you can say that the idiocy of the speakers’ argument is concordant with their past idiocies.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 10 May 2010 @ 4:47 AM

  403. RealClimate avoids writing down equations because most people are highly allergic to math

    Counter-example :

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/11/pca-details/

    For the equations try Open Mind e.g.

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2008/03/19/pca-part-5-non-centered-pca-and-multiple-regressions/

    [I see that Michael Mann is still being harassed :
    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/07/varied-critics-assail-official-probing-climate-scientist/?emc=eta1

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 10 May 2010 @ 5:06 AM

  404. Shirley @ 347 – some useful reading here:

    http://airs.jpl.nasa.gov/AIRS_CO2_Data/AIRS_and_CO2/

    Comment by Dappledwater — 10 May 2010 @ 7:29 AM

  405. Steckis: On Venusian temperatures: I found this.

    http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=BqtlC0nziMsC&oi=fnd&pg=PA230&dq=venusian+temperature+dependence+on+CO2&ots=3ONMwgomtD&sig=IXf4V6gcutGDIIGJFfRTAiqvCPM#v=onepage&q&f=false

    which you might want to read. (The book should pop open to about page 230-231). ALthough I am certain what you call “Motl’s analysis” (and I think of as Motl’s incoherent jabber) is wrong, I don’t know this stuff well enough to put my finger directly on where he is wrong. In the link Hansen writes down this nice little formula:

    T_s = T_e + \Gamma H

    where T_s is the surface temperature, T_e is the top if atmosphere temperature (which can be calculated easily by flux balancing) , \Gamma is the lapse rate ~ 7C/km on venus and H is the altitude of emission to space. Hansen et al remark that this formula gives a nice estimate of the greenhouse effect on a given planet. In essence it all boils down to where the atmosphere emits. i.e. What is H?

    On Earth H is about 6 km. On venus it is about 70 km. My guess is that on earth the dependence of H on CO2 is logarithmic and that on Venus it isn’t. On earth, CO2 is a trace gas and on Venus it is the primary constituent of the atmosphere. I would guess that there is a regime in a pure CO2 atmosphere in which H is linear with the total amount of CO2.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 10 May 2010 @ 9:02 AM

  406. CFU @ 399:

    I could care less what you think, or who you agree with — you might want to consider “Ray says so”‘s relevance in a discussion about whether or not appeals to authority are or aren’t valid. “Appeal to Authority” is an invalid form of an argument. Period. As another poster pointed out, it may help you with the confidence that the remainder of the argument is valid, but the use of an authority in an argument has zero relevance, whatsoever, on the validity of the argument.

    If you can’t grasp this, I’d suggest you construct an argument supporting CO2 as a cause of global warming. Which part of the physical science requires inserting “Ray says so”? If Ray makes a mistake, and Ray still says so, is Ray right, even though he’s wrong?

    Study formal logic. It isn’t that hard.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 10 May 2010 @ 10:11 AM

  407. 402: oops.

    H on earth isn’t exactly logarithmic with CO2. It is logarithmic with a constant offset.

    If T_s(CO2) = k Log(CO2) = T_e + \Gamma H then

    H = [k log(CO2) - T_e]/\Gamma

    If k is 2C and \Gamma is 5C/km then one expects H to increase by 2/5 km with a doubling of CO2 on earth. As I said before though, there is no particular reason to assume such a relationship holds on a planet in which CO2 is the primary atmospheric constituent. Note also that the logarithmic dependence of of T_s on CO2 can’t possibly hold all the way to [CO2]=0. Somewhere it must rollover to something that is sensible at [CO2]=0. Presumably it is linear at small [CO2]. My guess is that in a pure CO2 atmosphere (Like on Venus) the linear regime lasts far longer than it does when CO2 is a trace gas (like on Earth). My guess also is that this stuff is all pretty well understood and that the right person could point us to a reference that explains it all. That person isn’t me.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 10 May 2010 @ 10:20 AM

  408. FCH you may want to consider evidence given as being evidence given and rather than knock yourself out with your own knee, read something.

    Or is this a bad time for you..?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 10 May 2010 @ 11:00 AM

  409. “you might want to consider “Ray says so”’s”

    You might want to get a better pres cription.

    “Ray has it right” is not “Ray says so”. It’s saying that what Ray is saying is right.

    You may want to consider a softer science to work in if you’re not really happy with logical reasoning.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 10 May 2010 @ 11:03 AM

  410. Oh, lordy lord lord lord. More people who’ve never looked at the visible-light pictures of the surface of Venus:
    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1003/1003.1508v2.pdf

    Gerlich and Tscheuschner, On The Barometric Formulas

    “… another popular but incorrect idea communicated by some proponents of the global warming hypothesis …. since the venusian atmosphere is opaque to visible light, the central assumption of the greenhouse hypotheses is not obeyed…..”

    You’d think they’d bother to look this stuff up, rather than simply asserting a belief without citing any source for it.

    Here, for example.
    http://www.mentallandscape.com/C_CatalogVenus.htm

    Pictures in black-and-white:
    http://www.mentallandscape.com/CS_Venera09.jpg

    Spectral measurements:
    Venera-12 landed on Venus on December 21, 1978, and Venera-11 landed on December 25. All of the color panoramic cameras failed, due to atmospheric pressure.

    V.I. Moroz and his team at IKI designed the IOAV spectrometer which measured the sky at 20 nanometer wavelength intervals and in multiple directions. Below is displayed the zenith sky color as measured during the descent of Venera-11. The small images show the form of the spectrum from 360 to 830 nm, with the area under the curve filled in with the corresponding sRGB standard value. Actual spectral data extended well into the infrared, to identify gas absorption bands. …
    http://www.mentallandscape.com/C_Venera11_Spectra.jpg
    The increasingly orange color is due to rayleigh scattering by the thick atmosphere, and possibly an additional unknown blue-absorbing gas component. Brightness is normalized. The text color for these web pages was chosen to approximate the Venera-11 sky color.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 May 2010 @ 11:46 AM

  411. FCH,
    Whether an appeal to authority is valid or not depends on the argument. If I want to know how a word is spelled, I will appeal to a dictionary–that is, an accepted authority. If I want to know the approximate population of Costa Rica in 2006, I will look in an almanac–and accepted authority.

    Not all arguments can be reduced to logic (even in arithmetic, as Kurt Godel showed). Some require a)empirical input, or b)an agreed upon standard (no one spells “fish” ghoti except G. B. Shaw).

    The fallacy of appeal to authority only comes into play if I claim the authority’s advocacy of necessity implies the truth of the statement. That I have not done.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 May 2010 @ 11:50 AM

  412. Sorry to bother again…just ran across a scad of articles attacking surface temperature (various weather stations and their locales etc.) accuracy…basically a wholesale ixnay. Of course, Cato and Heartland figured significantly, but can someone direct me to a simple rebuttal? Thanks.

    Comment by greyfox — 10 May 2010 @ 12:29 PM

  413. CFU @ 408 & 409:

    “Evidence given” is not Not NOT “Appeal to Authority”. “Appeal to Authority” is a very specific fallacy, and it’s a fallacy because “Ray has it right” or “Ray says so” or “CFU is a f*cking id1ot!” is irrelevant to whatever is being proven.

    And frankly, Ray still has it wrong, and why he (and you) took the stance he did boggles my mind. “Appeal to Authority” is used all over the place here, though more often than not it’s “Appeal to has a blog” or “Appeal to has an unrelated Science degree” or “Appeal to not being Algore.”

    But hey — I liked the ad homme, though I suspect it was more an ad menstruatum.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 10 May 2010 @ 12:30 PM

  414. Appeals to authority don’t _prove_ anything, but they can be _persuasive_. Slightly different animals, unless you will only be persuaded about something that can be proved…in which case you’re headed for an existential crisis, my friend.

    As for judging the quality of an argument–i.e., whether to be persuaded by it–I find it useful to think in terms of a hierarchy of evidence. So for instance: a large set of scientific studies > a single scientific study > a coherent but untested theory > the opinion of a knowledgeable person (lacking a specific theory) > the opinion of a non-knowledgeable person. The “appeal to authority” is at worst the second-to-last item on that list…which is just fine when it’s competing with the last item on that list.

    In climate change conversations, the pro-science side (or “warmists,” “alarmists,” or whatever) always have that first item sewed up. The body of the scientific evidence is highly partisan in these arguments. And so, often, I believe that what looks like an appeal to authority is kind of a proxy for that fact, as in “person A, who can reasonably be assumed to understand the evidence better than person B for the following reasons (XYZ) says Q.” The real “authority” there is, in fact, the evidence….

    Comment by Kevin Stanley — 10 May 2010 @ 1:03 PM

  415. Re 391 Richard Steckis – do you have an equation showing another realistic way to keep Venus’s surface warmer without a greenhouse effect?

    Re 398 CFU – I think you left out that CO2 is only (preindustrial) ~ 0.3 mb partial pressure on Earth – but that itself is misleading because partial pressure results from the total weight of the overlying air being distributed among molecules according to molar fraction. The molar mass of CO2 is roughly 1.5 times that of the air, so removing all CO2 would reduce total pressure by 1.5 times the partial pressure of CO2 – or removing all other material from the air, the surface pressure of a pure CO2 atmosphere would be roughly ~ 0.45 mb, which would require about 11 doublings to reach nearly 1 bar and then between another 6 to 7 to get near 90 bar, with a little extra mass to produce the same pressure with the somewhat lower gravitational acceleration of Venus.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 May 2010 @ 1:11 PM

  416. 405
    John E. Pearson says:
    10 May 2010 at 9:02 AM

    “Steckis: On Venusian temperatures: I found this.”

    Thanks for your information John. Actually the DALR (Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate) is about 10.4 C/km for Venus. I think in the case of the density of CO2, the relationship remains logarithmic regardless of the density. That is covered by Beer-Lamberts law. Some say that the law breaks down at high concentration, but that is not true. What becomes erroneous is the failure of the measuring equipment to to adhere to the condition under which the law is derived (http://terpconnect.umd.edu/~toh/models/BeersLaw.html).

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 10 May 2010 @ 1:17 PM

  417. FCH: So, next time we “appeal to authority” from Einstein, Gibbs, Darwin, ad infinitum, I will remember that some philosopher said that it is just a fallacy.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 10 May 2010 @ 1:21 PM

  418. “Response: So my inability to fit a line-by-line radiative transfer model in a comment on a blog is proof to you that no such calculation exists? Hmmm… (really, please look at a textbook on planetary atmospheres – nothing I can possibly put in a comment will satisfy you). -gavin”

    Not at all Gavin. That is not what I am implying. Also I never said that there was NO greenhouse effect on Venus, just that the GE is not the primary source of heat in the Venusian atmosphere. I will do some more research on planetary atmospheres (but access to such works is difficult for me as our work library is mainly stocked with biological texts). Maybe I should do a degree in Physics……Nah. I might end up like Ray.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 10 May 2010 @ 1:26 PM

  419. Folks, don’t squabble about “authority” — cite to references.
    Kate has it right! Please read her posts again, briefly taking yer teeth out of each others’ throats and ankles– start with her post she points to: http://climatesight.org/2009/06/17/when-authority-is-relevant/
    and also
    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=3897#comment-174255
    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=3897#comment-174257

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 May 2010 @ 1:29 PM

  420. Stekis: If you’re actually interested in learning the scientific consensus regarding Venusian temperatures here are some more references.

    GreenhouseModelsof Venus’High SurfaceTemperature,asConstrained by PioneerVenus Measurements

    http://www.agu.org/journals/ja/v085/iA13/JA085iA13p08223/JA085iA13p08223.pdf

    The atmosphere of Venus

    Schubert, G.; Covey, C. C.
    Scientific American, vol. 245, July 1981, p. 66-74.

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1981SciAm.245…66S

    The Planet Venus:

    http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=1EhmsgN9V94C&oi=fnd&pg=PP18&dq=Venus+Temperature+profile+1981+Scientific+American&ots=E4wCql7uNg&sig=gwDxORMUu1NpQVjZMY_27TZGaLA#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 10 May 2010 @ 1:46 PM

  421. Jim Eaton says: 9 May 2010 at 1:46 AM

    Your sad experience with your first system was typical of the main flaw w/draindown systems, namely that they involved too many moving parts to work reliably without excessive attention on the part of owners. Drainback systems of the type Actually Thoughtful has mentioned and which appear to be one of the only things he and I agree on solve that problem nicely. A failure means water stays safely in the drainback tank where it can’t cause problems.

    Your point about the size of your first system’s storage makes me realize that I’ve failed to express myself properly on this topic. My fundamental point is rather simple: for a vast portion of the potential market for solar DHW and given a realistic deployment of time, material and money, producing finished hot water ready for a showerhead or automatic dishwasher is incompatible with maximizing energy gain from a solar hot water system. If one is off-grid, finished water is a necessary goal worth sacrificing total gain, but if one is connected to a grid the most energy and hence money can be saved by preheating water.

    Aiming for finished hot water automatically reduces the total potential net gain of any given collector system and will always degrade the economics of a given collector system. This is a matter of pretty basic thermodynamics.

    That’s not to say there’s no room or reason for systems producing finished hot water.

    If you’re off-grid and intend to take comfortable showers, etc., you need a system that allows collector temperature to exceed the temperature of your target finish temperature. Unfortunately for a given level of resource inputs that design objective necessarily increases losses throughout the system meaning less energy is captured for a given amount of resource input. Full autonomy of this kind also makes inclement weather more of a challenge, requiring additional expense to surmount.

    If you’re on-grid and are interested in maximizing energy gain, your somewhat counterintuitive goal is to keep collector temperature as low as possible, which is done by providing a large mass of water into which to dump heat. This brings other benefits in terms of less stringent engineering requirements for insulation, etc. In fact, the entire engineering bar is lowered by choosing the objective of maximizing energy gain for a given resource input, a happy circumstance.

    Regarding AT’s remarks about controller costs, although the kind of feedback he speaks of is important to hobbyists and other aficionados I don’t think AT can produce anything more than anecdotes to justify the expense of elaborate controller displays and the like. On the other hand, arithmetic tells an unambiguous and quantified story. As an example, in my particular case the increased cost of the controller he insists is necessary for marketing solar DHW would push my economic break-even point out by some two years. It only takes a few decisions of this kind to make systems unaffordable for the vast bulk of potential customers, choices that so far have confined solar DHW in the U.S. to a boutique market. Sad and frustrating, leaving uncounted clean kWh unrealized, not to mention savings.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 10 May 2010 @ 1:58 PM

  422. FCH wrote: “I’d suggest you construct an argument supporting CO2 as a cause of global warming. Which part of the physical science requires inserting ‘Ray says so’?”

    Well, every part of the physical science requires making assertions of fact, e.g. “CO2 is a greenhouse gas” or “Human activities have released X gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere during the 20th century”.

    So, I construct my “argument” and when I get to the part about CO2 being a greenhouse gas, the person I’m arguing with retorts, “Yeah? Says who? You?”

    How do I respond, if not with an “appeal to authority”? I can regale him with the whole 150-year history of scientific understanding of the role of CO2 in the atmosphere, but isn’t that really just an elaborate “appeal to authority”?

    I suppose I could give him instructions for performing an appropriate experiment, and tell him that I’ll continue with the rest of my “argument” after he performs the experiment himself and verifies that CO2 does what I’m claiming it does. Assuming that he agrees that the experiment shows what I say it shows.

    FCH wrote: “Study formal logic. It isn’t that hard.”

    I have studied formal logic. I found it very beautiful. It also has no content other than pure abstractions, and as such has limited applicability to actual discourse about actual things, which at times, as a practical matter, would seem to require “appealing to the authority” of experts who we can agree know what they are talking about.

    Formal logic can tell us whether logical structures are valid, e.g. “If A is true then …”

    But formal logic cannot tell us whether A is, in fact, true. And we are not always in a position to look for ourselves and determine first hand whether A is true. Sometimes, we have to consult an expert.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 10 May 2010 @ 2:20 PM

  423. From the original post:
    > humanity facing an existential threat that is well-understood by its
    > scientists, but largely ignored by a population who prefers to delude
    > itself in creative ways about the gradually unfolding disaster. McEwan
    > responded: everything there is to say about this situation has already
    > been said by Thomas Mann in his novel Death in Venice.

    The book is available online (links at Wikipedia).
    Read it and you can see why that was McEwan’s first response.
    It rings true–though it’s about a far smaller disaster than
    climate change, the human motivations are nailed.

    Excerpt:

    “… In early June the quarantine barracks of the hospital had been filling silently, in the two orphanages there was no longer enough room, and a horrific traffic developed between the city and San Michele, the cemetery island. But the fear of general damage, regard for the recently opened exhibition of paintings in the municipal gardens, for the enormous financial losses that threatened the tourist industry in case of a panic, had more impact in the city than love of truth and observation of international agreements; it made feasible the official policy of secrecy and denial. The highest medical official had resigned, filled with indignation, and had been replaced with a more docile person. The people were aware of that ….

    … In febrile excitement, triumphantly in possession of the truth, with a taste of disgust on his tongue and fantastic horror in heart, the loner paced up and down on the flags of the square. He considered a cathartic and decent deed. He could approach the pearl-wearing woman after dinner and talk to her like this: “Please allow this stranger, madam, to give you advice and warning, kept from you by selfishness. Depart, depart right now, with Tadzio and your daughters! Venice is diseased!” Then he could place his hand upon the crown of that tool of a taunting god, turn around and flee from this swamp. But he immediately felt he did not really want to take that step. It would lead him back, give his soul back to himself; but when one is frantic, the last thing one desires is to be oneself again…. and the thought of returning home, of prudence, of austerity, hardship and mastery seemed so repulsive to him that his face took on a grimace of bodily nauseousness. “One should keep silent!” he whispered impetuously. And: “I will keep silent!” The knowledge of his complicity intoxicated him, like a small amount of liquor intoxicates an old and faded brain. The image of the afflicted and derelict city caused him to hope for things that were unreasonable and of unspeakable sweetness. What was that little bit of happiness of which he had just dreamed in comparison to this? What was art and virtue to him compared to the advantages of disorder? He kept silent and stayed….”

    http://white.prohosting.com/mdoege/div/Death%20in%20Venice.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 May 2010 @ 2:31 PM

  424. “Note also that the logarithmic dependence of of T_s on CO2 can’t possibly hold all the way to [CO2]=0. Somewhere it must rollover to something that is sensible at [CO2]=0. Presumably it is linear at small [CO2]. My guess is that in a pure CO2 atmosphere (Like on Venus) the linear regime lasts far longer than it does when CO2 is a trace gas (like on Earth).”

    A GHG introduced into an IR transparent atmosphere will always add to forcing linearly at low concentrations. As the concentration rises, some wavelengths will begin to saturate. Then the forcing increases as the SQRT (methane and N2O) or the log (CO2) of the concentration. However, as concentration rises even higher, weak bands (which are still in the linear regime) will become more important than the strong bands. (eg, any linear function will eventually overwhelm a logarithmic function). This was posted at WUWT but it went right over Goddard’s head. The reference therein which shows the linear and logarithmic compoments side by side was:

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0469%281977%29034%3C0448%3AARCMSO%3E2.0.CO%3B2

    Though I would love to see a better reference somewhere that actually shows radiative forcing over the full spectrum from 0 ppm to Venus-type concentrations (presumably on a log scale).

    (also, presumably, add enough gas and even the weak bands will begin to saturate, so radiative forcing will return to a SQRT and then a log dependence on concentration again).

    Comment by Marcus — 10 May 2010 @ 2:51 PM

  425. A novel on global warming should probably cover at least a hundred year period – and the same is true for a novel on species extinction. That’s the timescale over which significant changes become glaringly obvious. Maybe McEwan should have modeled his book on “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” As it is, McEwan’s effort seems like a effort to recast Upton Sinclair’s “Oil!”, replacing the independent oilman/priest figure of Joe Ross with the independent solar entrepreneur/scientist figure of Michael Beard, who is apparently obsessed with making a fortune off of energy patents he manages to corral while serving as director of the NREL labs, before having a major personal breakdown? Seems like a collection of caricatures, in other words… as in “Ecowarriors spewing noxious emissions from their vehicles as they tour the pristine snowscapes they are keen to protect…”, etc.

    Increased solar energy production will not directly halt the growth of atmospheric CO2, however – to do that, you’d have to eliminate fossil fuel combustion entirely, and then wait and see how the global carbon cycle feedback responded to the new global temperature….

    P.S. Why are people rehashing radiative transfer theory again? That work was done in the 1950s and 1960s –
    For a more comprehensive view, see Moller & Manabe 1961:

    It is a very challenging problem, however, to simulate the latitudinal distribution of the height of the tropopause, that of the temperature in the stratosphere, and the polar inversion in the lower troposphere. In order to do this it is necessary to build a model which has a high resolution (many levels) in the vertical direction and which includes the various thermal processes acting in the atmosphere, i.e., radiation, condensation, and the eddy flux of sensible and latent heat from the earth’s surface.

    Yes, that was fifty years ago, before computers & satellites and more comprehensive data collection – but it’s all been upheld, hasn’t it? Here’s more from the same paper:

    Gowan computed the distribution of radiative equilibrium temperature of the stratosphere and obtained an increase of temperature with altitude by taking into consideration the heating due to the absorption of solar ultraviolet radiation by ozone as well as the effect of long wave radiation by water vapor. In the improved version of his computation, he also includes the effects of the the 15u band of carbon dioxide, the 9.6u band of ozone, and the absorption of solar radiation by water vapor. The equilibrium temperature of the stratosphere thus obtained increases with altitude and qualitatively coincides with observed features. Quantitatively, however, the temperatures are much warmer than those observed. This computation could be further improved by adopting recent observations of the extraterrestrial solar spectrum and the distributions of gases in the stratosphere as well as the absorptivities recently obtained in the laboratory.

    As far as the specific role of carbon dioxide, and the pressure-temperature dependence of the effect?

    Although the mixing ratio of carbon dioxide is approximately constant with height, pressure as well as temperature vary with altitude. Therefore, the estimation of effective temperature involves cumbersome computations… However, according to Goody, the 15u band of carbon dioxide has a rather strong heating effect at the tropopause. The reason for this strong heating could be found from a careful examination of Plass’ results of the temperature change due to this band.

    Plass (1956) “The Influence of the 15u Carbon Dioxide Band on the Atmospheric Infra-Red Cooling Rate.”

    Moller & Manabe (1961) “On the Radiative Equilibrium and Heat Balance of the Atmosphere.”

    Rehash it if you like…

    Comment by Ike Solem — 10 May 2010 @ 3:06 PM

  426. Does the transient ionization of Nitrogen in the atmosphere by GCR and high energy radiation from the sun cause the development of dipole moments and allow conversion of thermal energy to IR emission? In other words, does N2 plus an extra electron (or minus one of its normal electrons, i.e. plus a hole) behave like a wierd triatomic molecule with vibrational absorption bands?

    “Is an actual surface made of dirt-like material (with a clear boundary between gaseous atmosphere and solid) actually required?” Jaime Frontero — 7 May 2010 @ 11:02 AM
    Nope – consider that the absorption of visible radiation in the oceans is a volume process – light penetrates some tens of meters into the oceans. The details of absorption of visible light affect “how much” but not “how” the energy gets redistributed into the absorbing mass and into other masses. The main pathways for the energy are transmission(including scattering and reflection), absorption, radiation, conduction, evaporation, and convection.
    The atmosphere mostly transmits visible; dark aerosols absorb some light, and that energy is quickly conducted into the surrounding gas and convected through the atmosphere. Dirt absorbs between ~60 and 90 percent of the visible radiation within a wavelength or less of the solid surface; if the soil is moist, some of the energy goes into evaporation, directly or through vegetation; some of the energy gets conducted down into the earth(see borehole thermometry), Energy is carried away by atmospheric convection of sensible and the latent heat in the evaporated water, and a lot of the energy is reradiated as IR.
    Most of the energy the ocean absorbs is far enough below the surface that the energy must be conducted or convected(wind->waves->surface layer mixing) deeper into the ocean, or to the surface, where it can be radiated, carried away as latent heat of evaporation, or convected into the atmosphere. Although the ocean is somewhat transparent to visible, it is essentially opaque to IR, so only a very thin layer at the surface can radiate. In the real world, sometimes the scale of some pathways is so small that they can be treated as zero – not much energy gets convected by air flow through porous solids like dirt or snow.
    Imagine if the Vogons showed up with their Molecular Matter Transmuter and replaced the solid bits of Venus with an equal volume of water at the current surface temperature and a chunk of neutron star so the gravitational field remained the same. There wouldn’t be any surface, since the temperature is above the critical point of water. Water clouds would occur above where the lapse rate cooled the atmosphere below the critical point and the humidity was high enough. CO2 would diffuse from the atmosphere into the supercritical water, and the greenhouse effect and surface temperatures would decrease. If the Vogons provide enough CO2 in the water that the equilibrium atmospheric CO2 is about where it is today, and suspend enough colloidal crap in the supercritical water so that the visible radiation gets absorbed near where the surface used to be, it would get hotter where the surface used to be, because of the additional greenhouse effect of the added water vapor. Convection would carry some of this additional heat into the mass of supercritical water, since it starts out at the old surface temperature, and is fluid instead of solid.
    There is also an analogous greenhouse effect without a gaseous atmosphere – in solar ponds. Solar ponds use salt density gradients in water to suppress convection: visible light is absorbed at the bottom of the pond, heating it. IR from the bottom is rapidly absorbed in the water, and thermalized or reradiated up and down. At wavelengths where the mean free path is on the order of or less than a wavelength, math describing radiative transfer breaks down, so it doesn’t make sense to try to describe “emission” and “absorption”; the main transfer of energy is through conduction. Because the radiative and convective heat transfer is suppressed, large temperature gradients with low energy transfer is supported -80 degree centigrade in a three meter deep pond. No gas laws & no adiabatic processes involved.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 10 May 2010 @ 3:09 PM

  427. Re 392 David Russell

    “The adiabatic lapse rate can be derived from gravity. Total molecular energy is the sum of kinetic energy and potential energy. Temperature is a measure of molecular kinetic energy. If the Earth’s surface at sea level is taken as the reference point, molecules at a higher elevation have higher potential energy. Therefore molecules with a lower temperature at higher elevations have equal total energy to those with a higher temperature at lower elevations.”

    That’s one way to look at it, although this would suggest that any dry adiabat eventually reaches 0 K at some finite height. When air is raised or lowered, it loses or gains enthalpy by doing work or having work done on it by expanding or compressing at the pressure it is at. Some thermodyamics and calculus shows that for an ideal gas undergoing adiabatic pressure change,

    T = T0 * (p/p0)^(R/cp) where R is the gas constant and cp is the specific heat at constant pressure (cp * change in T = change in enthalpy; enthalpy = internal energy + work done by expanding at pressure; change in internal energy = cv * change in T, where cv is specific heat at constant volume; cv + R = cp)

    where T0 is the temperature where p = p0; if p0 is at a standard pressure, 1000 mb, T0 is then the potential temperature.

    (PS for the expansion of air being heated, the change in enthalpy – change in internal energy = work done in expanding, and since the pressure is (in the hydrostatic approximation) from the weight of overlying air, the work is equal to an increase in gravitational potential energy of the overlying air.

    (During an adiabatic process where equal masses of warmer air and cool air (of same composition) sink past the same pressure level, undergoing the same pressure change, it can be shown that there is a net loss in enthalpy (the adiabatic temperature decline of the warmer air is greater than the adiabatic temperature increase of the cooler air), and this corresponds to a net conversion of enthalpy to kinetic energy…)

    “How does the greenhouse effect explain why the daytime high temperature atop Mt. Everest never exceed -15°C?”

    Elevated surfaces have less air above them and thus have less of a greenhouse effect (setting aside clouds, etc.). Mixing of the air will tend to bring temperatures towards an adiabat (dry or moist, depending) and thus can’t bring elevated surface temperatures to be as warm as at lower elevations. However, solar heating of elevated surfaces can be greater; even if that is not the case, when the temperature over an elevated surface is warmer than the air at lower elevations brought adiabatically to the same pressure level would be, then this can tend to drive upslope motion. Elevated regions can have larger diurnal temperature ranges than lower elevations because of the reduced greenhouse effect.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 May 2010 @ 3:29 PM

  428. From, for example, Wally Broecker’s new book, the water from the deep ocean rises mainly near Antarctica, due to the acftion of the circumpolar voretx there.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 10 May 2010 @ 3:29 PM

  429. Venus: greenhouse clearly but what wavelenghts do depart and cool Venus?

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 10 May 2010 @ 4:21 PM

  430. Another view about the dry adiabatic lapse rate. The key is that it is dry and adiabatic, meaning the net heat flow into/out of any air packet is zero, so gravitational compression and the specific heat of the air determine the lapse rate.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 10 May 2010 @ 4:42 PM

  431. Corrections/Clarifications:
    Re 398 CFU – …”which would require about 11 doublings to reach nearly 1 bar and then between another 6 to 7 to get near 90 bar, with a little extra mass to produce the same pressure with the somewhat lower gravitational acceleration of Venus.”

    Discussing mass – actually refering to mass per unit area, of course.

    Re 392 David Russell
    - “Elevated surfaces have less air above them and thus have less of a greenhouse effect” -

    There is less mass between the surface and space, and also tends to be less mass between the surface and tropopause; a larger fraction of radiation from the surface can escape to space; the back radiation from the atmosphere is less because 1. there is less air above 2. their is an absence of higher pressure layers that have greater line-broadenning 3. the temperature itself is lower. The backradiation is particularly important in influencing the diurnal temperature range. If the whole global surface were ‘elevated’ to lower pressure levels, then there would tend to be cooling via reduction of the greenhouse effect via the tropopause level forcing.

    “then this can tend to drive upslope motion”

    Not necessarily – if the air at the surface is at a higher temperature than air at the same pressure over a lower-lying surface, that will tend to drive upslope motion.

    Re myself 393 – about the prospects of a feeble troposphere when the greenhouse effect is zero.

    a some mixing against stable stratification that would tend to bring the lapse rate closer to a convective lapse rate could be forced by kinetic energy that is supplied from spontaneous thermally-direct overturning via the potential energy associated with horizontal temperature variations; however, that kind of overturning itself tends to increase the stable stratification, and if their is net radiative cooling increasing downward, that tends to remove the available potential energy by increasing vertical stability (vertical stability reduces the available potential energy of horizontal temperature variation). If there is no emission of radiation by the atmosphere, then, while any rising air may adiabatically cool by rising to lower pressure, the atmosphere would be unable to lose any heat it picks up from the surface except by way of returning it to the surface. Lack of radiative cooling aloft inhibits a troposphere. Maybe there could be some very thin layer of overturning air where there is sinking over colder regions; the cooling of the air that drives the sinking would have to be by conduction of heat downward.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 May 2010 @ 4:43 PM

  432. Re John E. Pearson – the idea of an effective emmitting level is quite useful.

    The level will be a function of wavelength. The effective emitting level can be near the surface at some wavelengths (8-12 microns, interupted by the ozone band somewhere around 9-10 microns) if there are no clouds and the water vapor concentration is small. Starting without any CO2 and adding some, the effective emitting level for upward LW flux at the tropopause and at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) rises up from whereever it would be given the clouds and water vapor present, starting around 15 microns. Uplift of the emitting level occurs at similar wavelengths, lagging behind farther away from 15 microns, with some finer scale texture associated with individual absorption lines. Eventually the level near 15 microns approaches the tropopause level. The elevated region of the emitting level continues to spread out over a larger interval of the spectrum, tending to spread by a particular amount per each doubling of CO2. The emitting level of downward radiation from the stratosphere falls from space following the same pattern; as the two levels approach each other near the tropopause, the net LW radiation at the tropopause approaches zero and the tropopause-level effect becomes saturated. This occurs first near 15 microns and then spreads out. Initially the tropopause level forcing is approximately linearly proportional to increases in CO2; when the central part of the absorption band is saturated, the interval of the spectrum where CO2 aborption is significant continues to spread out by approximately some amount per doubling, and that is why the forcing at that point is approximately logarithmically proportional to changes in CO2 amount. At some very large amount of CO2, other absorption bands become significant, changing the proportionality.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 May 2010 @ 4:57 PM

  433. Re John E. Pearson – see also
    http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/greenhouse-effect-revisited/
    and
    http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/greenhouse-effect-revisited/#comment-2236

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 May 2010 @ 5:01 PM

  434. JF 394,

    Well, you could work out the contribution from conduction.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 May 2010 @ 6:50 PM

  435. FCH:

    And frankly, Ray still has it wrong, and why he (and you) took the stance he did boggles my mind.

    Because without reliance on authority we’d constantly be trying to individually prove everything individually, from first principles.

    Your own argument is circular, since your citation of the definition of the fallacy of the appeal to authority is, in itself …

    an appeal to authority.

    Comment by dhogaza — 10 May 2010 @ 6:51 PM

  436. Gilles 395: We don’t know why supernovae explode

    BPL: Actually, we do.

    A Type I supernova happens in a close red-giant/white-dwarf binary when enough hydrogen blowoff from the giant accumulates on the dwarf to initiate a fusion explosion.

    A Type II supernova happens in a very massive star at the end of its life, after hydrogen was depleted in the core, and the core contracted until helium ignited-”helium flash.” The same thing happened when the helium ran out, so you end with the star having an “onion-ring” structure–an outer layer of hydrogen, helium inside that, then carbon, then a mix of neon, oxygen and magnesium, then silicon, then iron. But iron can’t fuse, since Fe-56 is near the bottom of the packing fraction curve. The entire star therefore collapses, everything becomes fusion fuel, and the whole thing blows up. What’s left at the center is a neutron star, or if the star was massive enough, a black hole.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 May 2010 @ 6:56 PM

  437. Re: Appeals to authority, etc.

    There is a difference between an appeal to authority and an appeal to a vast body of previous work WITH REFERENCES. Who would you want to do your heart surgery, a cardiologist with a long track record of successful surgeries, or some guy who just read an article about the heart on Wikipedia?

    Comment by Jerry Steffens — 10 May 2010 @ 7:05 PM

  438. RE: 443 FCH

    All that aside, it’s fallacious to apply formal logic to the real world, where everything is subject to some level of uncertainty.

    In science you provide evidence. In math you provide proof.

    ~X~

    Comment by Xyrus — 10 May 2010 @ 7:34 PM

  439. #414–

    “In climate change conversations, the pro-science side (or “warmists,” “alarmists,” or whatever). . .”

    I’ve been going with “mainstream” or, occasionally, “mainstreamers.”

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 10 May 2010 @ 7:40 PM

  440. 407,423: the sqrt and log dependencies depend upon the line shapes. Once line centers are saturated the line wings decay exponentially, so the width (in wavelength space) where the opacity times the density is roughly greater than unity depends logarithmically on the column density (of the GHG). Once the continuum region (between lines) becomes saturated this mechanism would not apply. In reality one needs to do a full radiative analysis, portions of the resulting curve may be reasonably fit by simple functions (such as logarithmically or whatever).

    434: Supernovas have become more problematic of late. In the good old days when only 1-D (radially symmetric) models were used, I think it was thought to be understood. But 3D codes are showing some very messy behavior which I think calls into question a lot of things. Of course those basic instabilities do exist, but how they dynamically evolve I think is still an issue not well pinned down. For example for the core collapse, does the energy/mass get absorbed into the neutronstar/black hole, or is it available to blow the outer layers of the star away. And how assymetric are the explosions. Assymetry creates a kick to the neutron star/black hole……

    Comment by Thomas — 10 May 2010 @ 8:24 PM

  441. Assuming everyone’s happy with radiative transfer theory to get a realistic projection of long-term and regional climate changes, one has to predict the future response of the oceans. There is less data to go in the oceans:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100427101234.htm

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090513130942.htm

    However, the general trend is one of ocean warming, with associated side effects:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080929093754.htm

    The sudden thinning in 1997 of Jakobshavn, one of Greenland’s largest glaciers, was caused by subsurface ocean warming, according to research published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090923143331.htm

    Lead author Dr Hamish Pritchard from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) says, “We were surprised to see such a strong pattern of thinning glaciers across such large areas of coastline – it’s widespread and in some cases thinning extends hundreds of kilometres inland. We think that warm ocean currents reaching the coast and melting the glacier front is the most likely cause of faster glacier flow. This kind of ice loss is so poorly understood that it remains the most unpredictable part of future sea level rise.”

    As the polar regions warm, the ability of the oceans and land masses to absorb extra CO2 will decline, and a good fraction of the frozen carbon in permafrost will slowly enter the atmosphere as methane or CO2. If shallow seas with methane hydrates warm, that could become another source of atmospheric forcing. These responses are all pretty uncertain – that is, they’re expected to happen, but the speed of the response? Fairly slow, hopefully.

    Given the situation, a moratorium on drilling for fossil fuels in the newly ice-free polar regions might be a good idea. Even if done “cleanly,” which is unlikely at best, more offshore drilling only exacerbates the overall CO2 problem, at a higher and higher price.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 10 May 2010 @ 8:42 PM

  442. Steckis said:”I think in the case of the density of CO2, the relationship remains logarithmic regardless of the density. That is covered by Beer-Lamberts law. Some say that the law breaks down at high concentration, but that is not true. What becomes erroneous is the failure of the measuring equipment to to adhere to the condition under which the law is derived (http://terpconnect.umd.edu/~toh/models/BeersLaw.html).”

    The first half of this is incoherent, the second half is wrong. The Beer-Lambert Law deviates from nonlinearity because of saturation (usually), and also from spectral changes (such as dimers in concentrated samples having a different absorption spectrum). Your reference shows that even when the Beer-Lambert conditions perfectly hold, one cannot assume that instruments are magic devices that give linear curves. You must understand how the instruments operate and how they influence the measured spectrum, hence the tutorial about instrument effects. Instrument effects are irrelevant to CO2 in the atmosphere, as no instrument is involved in the absorption and re-emission of IR.

    Saturation is a problem for the frequency where the absorption coefficient is high (center of the absorption band), but not a problem where the absorption coefficient is low (edges of the band). This is why a line by line code for each gas is needed to do a proper simulation.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 10 May 2010 @ 9:20 PM

  443. ARGH!

    All I’ve said is that an argument based on an Appeal to Authority is not a =valid= argument. I’ve said nothing about the truth or falsehood of the conclusion.

    Jerry Steffens @ 436 got it right — provide references to the underlying material (“science”). Even Einstein got a few things wrong, and it was only because we had his material that we’ve been able to figure out what he did wrong. If people had said “Einstein says the Universe is static, I believe him” and not looked at his equations (which provided his peers with a clue that he’d fudged the science), or ignored Hubble because “Einstein said so”, we’d still be stuck with a static universe — a very wrong model of the universe, as we know today.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 10 May 2010 @ 9:37 PM

  444. Speaking of solar heat capture, finally someone’s testing phase change material for building, a long-promised idea:

    “a phase-change wallboard, ThermalCORE, just announced by National Gypsum…. introduced at Greenbuild (but is not yet on the market) is a micro-encapsulated paraffin … in acrylic shells, and these are mixed with the gypsum in drywall. The paraffin melts at 73°F, plus-or-minus 2°F. The PCM used in ThermalCORE is Micronal, made by the German chemical giant BASF. Micronal was introduced about five years ago ….

    BASF’s Micronal PCM is available in commercial products in Europe ….
    … the ThermalCORE wallboard stores about 22 BTUs of thermal energy per square foot. The idea is that warmth from the sun during the day will be stored in the wallboard, and then released at night to keep the space warm. …. Field trial sites are currently being sought through the California Emerging Technologies Coordinating Council and the U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado; most will be in California.”

    http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/energy-solutions/storing-heat-walls-phase-change-materials

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 May 2010 @ 10:58 PM

  445. Re 416 Richard Steckis

    We were not refering to the Beer-Lambert law when we were saying the logarithmic proportionality doesn’t hold beyond some limits. We were refering to the radiative forcing of CO2. The difference?

    Beer-Lambert law, which applies to monochromatic radiation (and could also depend on polarization of radiation) along one particular line of sight:

    I = I0 * exp(- optical thickness)

    where optical thickness = integral over distance of (d(geometric distance) * absorption cross section per unit volume)

    Or more generally, where there is scattering (in which case, the relationship may have a different name),

    optical thickness = integral over distance of (d(geometric distance) * extinction cross section per unit volume)

    where extinction cross section = absorption cross section + scattering cross section, and both are proportional to the amount of material of a particular form that provides the effect.

    ———
    [AT THIS POINT, note that for familiar Earthly conditions, and so far as I know, typical planetary atmospheres around stars similar to the sun that are not caught in a snowball state with dry ice clouds,

    LW radiation (for Earth, wavelengths (n~=1) longer than about 4 microns, dominated by emissions from the climate system of the planet) is mainly affected by absorption and emission and exit to space, with scattering and reflection playing a relatively minor role,

    while SW radiation (for Earth, wavelengths (n~=1) shorter than about 4 microns, dominated by solar (or more generally, stellar) radiation) is significantly affected by scattering and reflection as well as absorption, with emission from within the climate system being very small, approximately zero.

    (Polarization might be ignorable for some purposes... perhaps especially for LW radiation (except for cirrus clouds?) ... or even where effects vary with polarization, perhaps the effects average out to nearly the same as if polarization didn't matter (?) for at least some purposes...)

    Also note that n, the real component of the index of refraction, remains quite close to 1 in the Earth's atmopshere; to a good first approximation, refraction can be neglected for radiation within the atmosphere (as can, (except in determining the angle of solar radiation entering the system, and maybe some other purposes involving the upper thin portions of the atmopshere), the curvature of the Earth and the increase in area with height, because the optically-significant atmosphere is concentrated into such a thin spherical shell)]

    The relationship describes the fraction of photons along a particular path that are transmitted over some distance along the line of sight. I is intensity; if there is refraction, I must be replaced by, as I have been writing it for lack of knowing customary notation, I#, which is, at least in the case of isotropic refractive index (same in all directions at any given location), I/n^2, where n is the real component of the index of refraction. This scaling by n^2 is because, even when no photons leave the line of sight, changes in n compress or expand the photons into a narrower or wider solid angle; intensity is the flux per unit area per unit solid angle.

    In differential form:

    dI# = -I# * (acsv+scsv) * dx

    where
    acsv = absorption cross section per unit volume
    scsv = scattering cross section per unit volume

    now consider

    ecsv = emission cross section per unit volume
    scsvO = an effective scattering cross section per unit volume that acts on photons in other directions

    and a more general form that includes emission and scattering of photons into the path:

    dI# = sum of these terms:
    -I#*acsv*dx, the absorbed intensity
    U#*ecsv*dx, the emitted intensity
    -I#*scsv*dx, the intensity of phtotons that are scattered out of the line of sight
    I#O*scsvO*dx, the intensity of photons from other directions scattered into the line of sight, where I#O is a function of I# in other directions and of the type of scattering.

    Assuming the non-photon matter is in quasi-LTE (local thermodynamic equilibrium), which is a good approximation for most of the mass of the Earth’s atmosphere and generally the case of planetary atmospheres of significant density,

    ecsv in one direction = acsv in the opposite direction, and U# = blackbody radiation intensity I# (blackbody I (which is proportional to a function of n) divided by a function of n) (for the frequency and polarization considered).

    If radiative properties are isotropic, as they tend to be for randomly oriented particles (gas molecules) or spherically symmetric particles (small cloud droplets), then ecsv, acsv, and scsv will be independent of direction at a given location, and ecsv and acsv will be independent of polarization. Even if that is not the case, it can still be the case that acsv and ecsv are the same in the same direction, and that tends to be the case in typical atmospheric conditions.

    Aside Raman and Compton scattering, and doppler-shifting by scattering, photon frequency is preserved by scattering. Assuming photon frequency conservation by scattering, and quasi-LTE of the non-photons, and setting aside relativistic effects or changes of conditions in time (which can be ignored if changes are small in the time between photon entry or emission and photon exit or absorption), then there is, for monochromatic photons of some polarization, a ‘I can see you as much as you can see me’ rule:

    Along a line of sight over some distance:

    fraction of I# transmitted in one direction is equal to fraction of I# transmitted in the other direction

    absorptivity in the forward direction = emissivity in the reverse direction (which remains true for a surface that with 0 transmission, 0 scattering interface, where the line of sight is bent at the interface and absorptivity and emissivity are given as properties of the surface).

    and I think (though am not completely sure about this part):

    the fraction of I# of one polarization P1 from one directon Q1 scattered into another direction Q2 with polarization P2 is equal to the fraction of I# with P2 coming from direction Q2 scattered toward Q1 with polarization P1.

    (PS interestingly, while the scattering cross section density scvs can be independent of direction and polarization (for randomly oriented or spherically-symmetric particles), the scattered radiation can have a prefered distribution of directions and polarizations, relative to the direction and polarization of incident radiation; see http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/HFrame.html
    and especially, the last frame of
    http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/HFrame.html )

    And the same is true of reflection off an interface and refraction through an interface.

    To sum up, one can put together, for radiation coming from a direction Q with some polarization P and frequency v, and emission weighting function, which is a distribution over space, that when multiplied by the blackbody I# (a function of local temperature) and integrated over space, gives the the I# coming from that direction. The emission weighting function is equal to the distribution of absorption of photons coming from the opposite direction. If there is only absorption and emission, the weighting function is along a single path. If there is reflection, the path has sharp bends. If there are variations in n, the path curves. If there is partial reflection, the weighting function is distributed along a branched path. If their is scattering, the weighting function may fill a volume, and that volume may wrap around the location for which this is evaluated. However, if there is no absorption or emission within a volume, then the weighting function projects onto absorbing or emitting surfaces (space can, for these purposes, outside contributions from objects in space such as the sun, be treated as a blackbody surface with temperature near zero K); if those surfaces are partially reflecting, then the weighting functions are partially reflected; if there is scattering, the weighting function is scattered towards surfaces in different directions. A high density region of scattering or absorption can cast a shadow in the weighting function; the weighting function will tend to be concentrated in regions of greater absorption cross section density, but if optical properties are constant over space, the weighting function’s density decreases away from the location considered. If there is absorption cross section within a volume enveloping the location, then either increased scattering cross section density or increased absorption cross section density tends to reduce the weighting function density beyond some distance and increase it near the location; the locations at which the weighting function switches from increasing density to decreasing density is itself pulled toward the location considered as opacity is increased.

    A net intensity is the difference in intensities between a pair of weighting functions. Integrating over solid angle – specifically:
    cos(q) * intensity over a hemisphere
    or cos(q) * net intensity over a hemisphere
    or cos(q) * intenisty over a sphere
    give
    the flux,
    or the net flux,
    or the net flux,
    per unit area normal to Q0 (the same as flux per unit area in the direction Q0)
    where q is the angle from Q0

    Weighting functions are a function of direction; For a surface running through a location, where q is the angle from perpendicular to the surface, the integral over solid angle of cos(q) * weighting function (Q) over a hemisphere gives the weighting function for the flux per unit area through the surface (note this could be more complicated if n is a function of Q; I haven’t been through that math), and this done for each hemisphere gives a pair of such weighting functions that can be used for the net flux per unit area through the surface. The flux per unit area F will be equal to volume integral of the hemisphere’s weighting function times the blackbody I#, multiplied by a function of n (such as n^2) at the location times such a weighting function (if n varies by direction, this could get more complicated; I haven’t gone through that math).

    Such a weighting function (for a hemisphere of directions) can be approximated by an effective emitting (or absorbing) altitude or level, if the temperature at such a level is at or near the brightness temperature of the flux per unit area that is emitted.

    For a flux per unit area and spatially-constant optical properties, transmission of photons over distance from a surface (including scattering as a reduction of transmission) decreases as a sum of exponentials because the photons at some angles pass through a longer distance along their paths in order to get the same distance perpendicular from the surface.

    Now, in order to get the intensities and fluxes for all polarizations, one must integrated over polarizations. Then one must integrate over either the SW or LW portion of the spectrum to get the full fluxes of solar (SW) or terrestrial (LW) radiation. The effects of the shape of absorption spectra of gases are of great importance here. For the 15 micron band of CO2, the general tendency (over the finer scale texture of the many individual lines and some larger-scale bumpiness) is a linear decrease in log(optical thickness per unit CO2) going away from the peak of the band. Thus, when the central portion of the band is saturated (at the tropopause, meaning the net LW radiation across the tropopause is near zero, due to the upward and downard photons both being emitted from rather near the tropopause and thus by material of similar temperature, with very little transmission to space), each doubling of CO2 tends to shift the wavelengths of given opacities outward by some amount, and reducing the net LW flux at the tropopause by, roughly:

    the wavelength shift on each side of the band * net flux per unit wavelength in the absence of CO2 at the wavelengths where CO2 optical thickness is intermediate (on the order of 1) at each side of the band

    The difference between the instantaneous forcing at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) and the instantaneous tropopause level forcing is the forcing on the upper atmosphere; for greenhouse gas increases in general, the tropopause level forcing is greater than the TOA forcing, and this results in stratospheric cooling, a portion of which then affects tropopause level forcing, resulting in the tropopausel level forcing with stratospheric adjustment (or equilibration). The climate sensitivity is generally defined as the global average surface temperature increase per unit of that forcing.

    ————————

    Radiative forcing depends on the temperatures and optical overlaps. But so do feedbacks. Thus, in the absence of hysteresis and allowing full equilibrium to be achieved after each step, removing all CO2 results in the same magnitude of temperature change as adding it all back, but both the forcing and the sensitivity will be different. The differences won’t be large for small changes, but would be important for very large changes.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 11 May 2010 @ 12:42 AM

  446. #442 and others — the easiest way to think about ‘appeal to authority’ is to consider the statement by an ‘authority’ as an observation. A proxy, if you like. If he, or folks like him, have a history of making valid statements, you have a working model for him or his peer group which ‘explains’ that body of observations — predictions by that model then have credibility. If not, then not.

    Domain expertise matters.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 11 May 2010 @ 2:31 AM

  447. “All I’ve said is that an argument based on an Appeal to Authority is not a =valid= argument.”

    And all Ray and I said was that an appeal to authority wasn’t a logical fallacy.

    And it isn’t if you’re basing that on more than “he’s an authority”.

    E.g. if they have previously been honest and worked hard and made breakthroughs, your assertion that in this case he’s likely right, so prove him wrong is not an appeal to authority, it’s a projection of past performance on current actions.

    It is also not a fallacy if you say “these forty others say so and I understand these bits of what they say and I agree they are correct”.

    After all, ALL of your learning is what “some authority told you”. If it was only and ever a logical fallacy, you would have to be your own giant to stand on your shoulders from.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 May 2010 @ 2:34 AM

  448. “Re John E. Pearson – the idea of an effective emmitting level is quite useful. ”

    Try this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_depth

    Yes, it is useful.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 May 2010 @ 2:37 AM

  449. “Venus: greenhouse clearly but what wavelenghts do depart and cool Venus?”

    All of them.

    All frequencies.

    The *rate* is different for different wavelengths because it isn’t a black body radiator.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 May 2010 @ 2:39 AM

  450. “Re 398 CFU – …”which would require about 11 doublings to reach nearly 1 bar and then between another 6 to 7 to get near 90 bar, with a little extra mass to produce the same pressure with the somewhat lower gravitational acceleration of Venus.””

    Uh, we have 1 bar atmosphere.

    1 doubling: 2bar
    2 doublings 4bar
    3 doublings 8bar
    4 doublings 16bar
    5 doublings 32bar
    6 doublings 64bar

    therefore we have less than 7 doublings to get from our 1bar to Venus’ 90bar.

    The partial pressure of CO2 matters not a fig because Motl says that it is merely the pressure of the gas that is causing Venus to be so hot. And all gasses produce pressure. Even N2, O2 and other non-greenhouse gasses.

    Or is Motl’s proposition that only CO2 causes pressure in a gas?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 May 2010 @ 2:43 AM

  451. “Does the transient ionization of Nitrogen in the atmosphere by GCR and high energy radiation from the sun cause the development of dipole moments and allow conversion of thermal energy to IR emission?”

    Not to any measureable extent: there’s a lot of other Nitrogen etc out there and the recombination is pretty quick. And you only have a small window of energies to throw out an electron but NOT split the N2.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 May 2010 @ 2:46 AM

  452. “And frankly, Ray still has it wrong,”

    Are you arguing from your authority???

    Most people would disagree (in fact, it looks like everyone does). Since definitions of terms is a human construct and not an abstruse logical edifice, you’re wrong.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 May 2010 @ 2:50 AM

  453. FurryCatHerder: Xyrus #437 has it right. Logical proof applies to logical propositions. In most areas of science, theories rest on evidence, not logic. You may have a theory that is mathematically based, but it stands or falls on evidence. Newton’s Laws are beautiful mathematical constructs, but they are subject to experimental testing, not logical proof. Even though they fell apart around the edges in the 19th century, they still fit the evidence well enough that no one is going to use general relativity to design a bridge.

    The critical thing in argument by evidence is to avoid the pitfall of relying on a reliable source to exclusion of any cross-checking. This is not the same thing at all as a flawed logical argument. The anti-science crew regularly raise “Appeal to Authority” as an objection, because they have no one with authority on their side. They do not understand logic either because even if Appeal to Authority were a valid objection, Appeal to Ignorance is not a better form of argument.

    Why do you consider it so important to win this argument anyway? Will it make you an authority? :)

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 11 May 2010 @ 3:02 AM

  454. “And all Ray and I said was that an appeal to authority wasn’t a logical fallacy.”

    Should have been “wasn’t always a logical fallacy”.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 May 2010 @ 3:29 AM

  455. FCH,
    I think the problem you and others are having is that not all arguments are “logical”. Some are over matters of fact. For instance, suppose we are arguing about how to spell the word “fish”. You claim it is f-i-s-h, citing Websters. I claim it is g-h-0-t-i, citing George Bernard Shaw. How are we to resolve our differences:

    1)Pistols at 20 paces
    2)an argument following the rules of formal logic
    3)establish which of our authoritiis has the greater bona fides

    I’m rooting for 3), personally. Formal logic does not admit authority or even empirical observation into evidence. It cannot resolve matters of fact or convention. It also leads to absurd results sometimes when applied to real-life problems, viz. the Logician’s sketch from Monty Python

    http://www.themadmusicarchive.com/song_details.aspx?SongID=27605

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 May 2010 @ 4:58 AM

  456. CFU # 449 “All of them.” …

    “The *rate* is different for different wavelengths ?because? it isn’t a black body radiator.”

    CFU, I know about all that. I just thought that as people are making pronouncements about Venus someone might actually know the main cooling frequencies. Obviously the energy carried away is different for different wavelenghts period, not “because” of not being a black body. But never mind I know you’re fed up and all that, and do know about black bodies. My question is about the specific situation. If anyone just happened to know, the question would I think have been answered by now. No problem, I’ll get too it sometime.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 11 May 2010 @ 8:23 AM

  457. > The partial pressure of CO2 matters not a fig because Motl says …
    > … the gas that is causing Venus to be so hot

    Erm, CFU, most of Venus’s atmosphere is CO2.
    Grasp his argument and you can refute it as a whole.
    Argue every little scrap separately by using logic instead of citations, and you prolong the argument.

    I’m sure that’s not your intent. But look at how it’s taking over the thread and who’s participating in it.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 May 2010 @ 8:34 AM

  458. CFU wrote: “And all Ray and I said was that an appeal to authority wasn’t a logical fallacy.”

    You are wrong. FCU is right. “Appeal to authority” IS a logical fallacy a.k.a. a classical rhetorical fallacy.

    A logical argument must stand on the validity of its own structure, without reference to externalities. In that context, an “appeal to authority” is to say “such-and-such an authority agrees with my argument, therefore my argument is valid”. Bzzzzzt. Fallacy. You lose.

    To appeal to “an authority” on a point of fact is not the same thing, nor does it arise in the context of formal logic, which has nothing to say about facts.

    The problem is that the rules of formal logic and classical rhetoric have limited applicability to actual discourse about actual things.

    In actual discourse, we are rarely making or evaluating purely logical arguments. We are presenting and correlating and evaluating, a collection of facts, estimates, beliefs (of varying degrees of certainty), values, etc. in order to arrive at some conclusion about something.

    Of course we care about the views of wise and knowledgeable “authorities” on these matters. As we should. And the question of how much weight to give to the views of various “authorities” is one of many factors that we have to deal with in our considerations and discourse.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 11 May 2010 @ 8:37 AM

  459. #442 FCH Sorry – you’re wrong. Firstly, let’s use “reference to authority” not “appeal” – “appeal” is foreign to the scientific process. “Appeal” is used in Politics and Law, perhaps.

    Logically, if the premise is true then deductions arising from that premise must also be true. Agree?
    The premise COULD be that what A says it’s true (what A says of course, may not be true). Agree?

    If A is a generally (mainstream) authority in the field (peer reviewed publications, track record, demonstrated scientific integrity, etc)then the premise is credible (but may still not be true). Agree?

    ANY scientific theory is ALWAYS only provisionally and relatively “true”. Agree?

    It remains the BEST theory until replaced by a better one (one that explains more facts, has better predictive power, withstands the peer review process, etc).

    So FCH, referencing an Authority to support an argument IS LOGICALLY valid – it’s used all the time in science.

    If you wish to contest the truth of the premise you obviously will have to demonstrate that what A says is not true (OR, that A is NOT a recognised authority in the field).

    Until then the premise stands.

    Insofar as climate change is concerned the IPCC reports are regarded by mainstream science as authoritative. The theory has not only NOT been falsified but NO CREDIBLE ALTERNATIVE theory that explains ALL the FACTS better has been presented – one that has withstood peer review.

    Therefore (logically) your Einstein example does NOT support your rejection of “reference to authority” as not valid in drawing logical conclusions.

    It rather supports the conclusion that you misunderstand both the scientific process and logic.

    Comment by Hugh Laue — 11 May 2010 @ 8:48 AM

  460. @ 361 Steckis to Gavin:

    But Gavin, can you please show me the equations and figures that support the concept of Greenhouse Theory being able to explain the majority of the temperature on the surface of Venus. I really would like to see the calculations.

    [Response: Really? I suggest you read a textbook on planetary atmospheres, there are a few around. David grinspoon's books have dealt with it as well. But this isn't hard. The upward IR from the surface is thousands of W/m2, while at the top of the atmosphere the outgoing value is even smaller than on Earth....-gavin]

    Venus is not noted for being cool nor for having a ruddy glow, so what is the outgoing radiation?

    [Response: It's around 190 W/m2, corresponding to an effective emission temperature of around 240ºK (less than the 255ºK for the Earth). - gavin]

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 11 May 2010 @ 9:07 AM

  461. 416 Richard Steckis wrote: “Actually the DALR (Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate) is about 10.4 C/km for Venus. I think in the case of the density of CO2, the relationship remains logarithmic regardless of the density. That is covered by Beer-Lamberts law. ”

    I am sure that Hansen’s value for the Venusian adiabatic lapse rate (7K/km) was the real (measured) adiabatic lapse rate and not calculated via g/C_p. Others have addressed the rest of the quoted nonsense. I’ve seen the Beer’s law claim in blogscience before. It is an incoherent claim. You want to learn science you need to start by reading real science; the published literature and textbooks, not contrarian blogs. Once you’ve understood the real science you will be in a position to evaluate contrarian claims made by blogscientists.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 11 May 2010 @ 9:20 AM

  462. If you could have been more specific about what you DID know and what you were asking, that would have made a pithy response redundant.

    A google for “venus atmospheric absorption bands” gives the following:

    http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=42249

    But you could get the same result without the graph by asking for the composition of the venusian atmosphere which is measured by these absorption bands.

    And I’m assuming that the “main cooling bands” are actually the main absorption bands.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AtmosphereofVenus.png

    Shows the concentration of various elements.

    If you want more than that, you’re looking at technical documentation for which you should be conferring with NASA/ESA/… or the astronomical societies in your capital city.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 May 2010 @ 9:20 AM

  463. Will you be reviewing “Merchants of Doubt” Naomi Oreskes account of how a few smart men generated the doubt and confusion campaigns since the SDI era?

    Comment by Patrick — 11 May 2010 @ 9:22 AM

  464. “If the Earth’s surface at sea level is taken as the reference point, molecules at a higher elevation have higher potential energy.”

    ‘course I could now BS you with “but if the atmosphere is not falling down, it must be in orbit, therefore it must be moving FASTER..!

    This is what happens when you take a fact and see that it will support your preconception if you don’t try to test your proposition.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 May 2010 @ 9:57 AM

  465. “CFU wrote: “And all Ray and I said was that an appeal to authority wasn’t a logical fallacy.”

    You are wrong. FCU is right.”

    And I misspoke. “isn’t always a logical fallacy”.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 May 2010 @ 10:19 AM

  466. By the way, how would the plot of this book by McEwan worked in the pre-Bayh-Dole era? Before the Reagan-era revision of patent laws, university research results were available to anyone for use in their work – which made sense, since it was taxpayer-financed research. The notion of a greedy scientist being able to seize control of a new industry by getting his name on all the relevant patents – that’s a very modern take on our corrupt academic system, isn’t it? Independent scientists are persona non grata in the institutionalized academic-corporate environment.

    As an example, are you aware that BP’s Chief Scientist, Steven Koonin, is now the second-in-command at the DOE, which is also charged with leading the national energy research program? No conflicts-of-interest there, are there? How about that oil spill, huh? What are the long-term ecological effects of the oil spill? What are the long-term ecological effects of global warming in the Gulf of Mexico? Speaking of which, see the latest anomaly SST maps for the Gulf of Mexico (0), the Atlantic Warm Pool (+2C), and the Labrador Sea (+2C):

    http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/tafb/atl_anom.gif

    Oh, wait – is the oil spill off-topic? Are SST’s off-topic? Should we get back to discussing Venus and 1950′s era radiative transfer theory instead?

    Face reality: In the United States, academic and government and media institutions are largely under the thumb of consolidated corporate interests in the energy sector. BP and their shareholders have their fingers in UC Berkeley, the DOE, and all the major networks. Their chief scientist is the #2 guy at the DOE – and yet all the academics and the bureaucrats meekly go along, like so many pathetic sheep – regardless of the long-term consequences, which include the stifling of basic science, cronyism in promotions, and rampant incompetence when it comes to responding to any serious problem.

    Most troubling is that the current crop of institutionalized scientific bureaucrats has grown up with this system, internalized its values, and now truly believe in it. That’s pretty frightening, I’d say.

    Whatever it is, though – it’s not science. This may be why Ian McEwan’s main character seemed so strangely unscientific in outlook – the reason is that as political cronyism becomes a route to institutional success in academics, then that attracts political opportunists and political operatives, aka ‘parachutists’, people who are very familiar with the rules of cronyism, even if they are largely ignorant of the rules of nature. That’s how Lysenko flourished, in his day – and he held up genetics research in the Soviet Union for about half a century.

    That’s also why the “zero-emission clean coal” claims have persisted for over a decade, all in the absence of any evidence that such a zero-emission scheme could ever produce any usable energy, or even break even. The academic institutions, the government agencies and the media outlets are simply unreliable sources of information on issues where large corporations have a direct financial interest – that’s the only consistent explanation for the steady drumbeat of distortion.

    Nevertheless, there are ways to tell good science from propaganda… but you have to look at the details yourself, and not trust the pronouncements of newly minted ‘experts.’

    Comment by Ike Solem — 11 May 2010 @ 10:19 AM

  467. “Erm, CFU, most of Venus’s atmosphere is CO2.”

    Most of ours isn’t.

    We still have 1bar atmosphere and if the warmth of Venus is due to pressure alone, then the relevant change isn’t the CO2 partial pressures, but the pressure of the atmospheres in toto.

    1 vs ~90.

    If the partial pressure of CO2 is going to be the important thing, then this would presume that the change in surface temperature is NOT due to pressure, because N2 manages to produce pressure just as well as CO2.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 May 2010 @ 10:21 AM

  468. “Grasp his argument and you can refute it as a whole.”

    Hank, I’m trying to get to the argument. At the moment, it fails solely on the fact that if pressure is the cause of temperature, then 1 bar vs 90 bar is the relevant issue.

    If this is accepted, then the difference in surface temperature is not explained by the pressure difference. ~12C is. Not 400C.

    If this is not accepted, then why?

    I’m getting them to illuminate their argument. And roaches flee from the light.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 May 2010 @ 10:24 AM

  469. This appeal to authority argument is getting way out of hand. Logic and opinions cannot over throw empirical evidence and good measurements, well, atleast in science, the public opinion is too easy to sway without evidence.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 11 May 2010 @ 10:39 AM

  470. “By the way, how would the plot of this book by McEwan worked in the pre-Bayh-Dole era? Before the Reagan-era revision of patent laws, university research results were available to anyone for use in their work – which made sense, since it was taxpayer-financed research.”

    Not all research was done in the US.

    And, in fact, not all research was solely financed by government.

    Even before Reagan et al.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 May 2010 @ 10:42 AM

  471. Do the blogoscientists argue that the temperature a kilometer deep in Earth’s oceans (where the pressure is 90 bar) is 476 C? Or do they invoke some other new physics to explain why not? Just wondering.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 11 May 2010 @ 11:58 AM

  472. SA@458, says: “To appeal to “an authority” on a point of fact is not the same thing, nor does it arise in the context of formal logic, which has nothing to say about facts.”

    Well, except in the case raised here, the argument WAS over a point of fact. I was saying that appeal to authority is not a logical fallacy in such an argument over a matter of fact or convention.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 May 2010 @ 11:59 AM

  473. “The wonderful thing about Logics, Is Logics are wonderful things. Their tops are made out of rubber, Their bottoms are made out of springs. They’re bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy, Fun, fun, fun, fun, FUN! But the most wonderful thing about Logics is… Logic’s the only one.”

    I’m feeling… illogical :)


    A Climate Minute The Greenhouse EffectHistory of Climate ScienceArctic Ice Melt

    ‘Fee & Dividend’ Our best chance for a better future – climatelobby.com
    Learn the Issue & Sign the Petition

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 11 May 2010 @ 12:43 PM

  474. Ray Ladbury wrote: “I was saying that appeal to authority is not a logical fallacy in such an argument over a matter of fact or convention.”

    I agree exactly.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 11 May 2010 @ 12:51 PM

  475. From tonight’s bedtime story: “The sun must be furry — how else could it keep us warm?”

    Get ready for WUWT’s expose on the Solar Fur Hypothesis. But remember, you read it here first.

    Comment by CM — 11 May 2010 @ 1:08 PM

  476. Re 456 Pete Dunkelberg – this might not be as detailed as you like, but,

    assuming the greenhouse effect on Venus is based mainly on absorption/essission (as it should be for gases in general), there will be emission to space distributed over the whole LW spectrum, but the greatest brightness temperatures of the radiation will come from those parts of the spectrum where the atmosphere, or at least some upper portion of it, is more transparent. When the atmosphere is more transparent, more of the photons emitted from lower layers, or the surface, escape to space, and, if the LW-albedo can be neglected (as it typically can be to a first approximation), the brightness temperature will correspond to the temperature of those layers. Where the atmopshere, or some upper layer of atmosphere, absorbs more radiation from below, it replaces the missing upward flux with emission of it’s own, but the flux will have a lower brightness temperature if/because the layer is colder. The flux is larger at larger brightness temperatures, though for any given brightness temperature, the flux varies as a function of wavelength.

    (PS that was a somewhat general description – if the atmosphere is sufficiently opaque over the whole LW portion of the spectrum, then very little of the emission from the surface would reach space, but the region within the atmosphere from which the radiation is emitted can still vary over wavelength (and also over space and time with varying cloud cover or composition, if/when that is variable).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 11 May 2010 @ 1:26 PM

  477. Re 471 John E. Pearson “Do the blogoscientists argue that the temperature a kilometer deep in Earth’s oceans (where the pressure is 90 bar) is 476 C?”

    I would really enjoy going into this more later; for now, I’ll just point out that adiabatic lapse rate is a function both of composition and gravity, and physical state – it tends to be considerably less in solids and liquids. For example, the Earth’s mantle has an adiabatic lapse rate that is … I want to say approx. 0.7 K/km, though I’m not quite sure offhand.

    And: considering the full three-dimensionality or four-dimensionality of a convecting system, the lapse rate is not necessarily at the adiabatic (dry or moist/other) lapse rate everywhere.

    And: the ocean recieves very, very little heating within it’s depths or from the bottom (from geothermal heating, dissipation of tides and currents/waves), relative to the solar heating in the upper ~ 100 m or so. The solar heating beneath the surface with LW cooling restricted to the surface, and concentration of salinity due to evaporation at the surface (absent freshenning by precipitation, etc.), can drive density-variation driven convection in the upper ocean…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 11 May 2010 @ 1:34 PM

  478. Hugh @ 459, Ray @ 472:

    =All= “Appeal to Authority” arguments are fallacies because they include “Whatever XYZ Authority Says is True” as an implied term. This is why the counter-argument is always presenting an instance in which XYZ Authority is wrong. However, since it’s impossible to prove that XYZ Authority is always right, you can’t insert “XYZ Authority is always right”, that is, “For all x, XYZ(x)” is false, where “XYZ(x)” is “XYZ Authority says ‘x’ is true”.

    The way to disprove a Theory that’s been presented as part of an argument is to falsify the theory, the same as science always does.

    Phillip @ 453:

    Because the rules of logic have the ability to slice and dice through all the denialist nonsense. And if some denialist argument is able to stand, then go after the facts that are being used to support the bogus argument.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 11 May 2010 @ 1:39 PM

  479. John E. Pearson @ 471:

    No, because at 1 kilometer the pressure should be more than 90 bar and therefore the temperature significantly higher than 476C.

    Which is amazing, because I’ve been in water at 6 bar and it sure as heck wasn’t 6 times the air temperature at the surface.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 11 May 2010 @ 1:42 PM

  480. Re: #445

    Patrick. Interesting comment, except that it might be better still with an abstract ,introduction and conclusions. I just skimmed it. You weren’t content to describe the Beer-Lambert law but appear to be progressing towards a derivation of Schwarzchild’s equation for radiation transfer. But shouldn’t ‘blackbody’ here

    U# = blackbody radiation intensity I# (blackbody I

    be replaced by ‘Planck function’? No functions, apart from the exponential are equal to their own integrals.

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 11 May 2010 @ 1:57 PM

  481. You can look this stuff up. Just as an example, recent observations:
    http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=40000
    http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=42249

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 May 2010 @ 2:24 PM

  482. John asks in 471:

    Do the blogoscientists argue that the temperature a kilometer deep in Earth’s oceans (where the pressure is 90 bar) is 476 C? Or do they invoke some other new physics to explain why not? Just wondering.

    I read the threads for a while and learned some interesting new things:

    Temperature differences between the top of Everest and cities at the same latitude is due primarily to the adiabatic expansion in the altitude.

    Canyons are hotter than plains they split because of their increased atmospheric pressure.

    Pressure of sea water is irrelevant because it’s (nearly) incompressible. PV=nRT, but W!=PdV I guess….

    In the follow-up article Goddard explains that the pressure at the surface was due to temperature; P=nRT/V, you know. If the sun went out and the temperature dropped to near 0K the pressure would drop PV=nRT. Apparently the volume of the atmosphere wouldn’t change on the Venus in Goddards world.

    (noted by other posters, agreed to by Goddard) Pressure is clearly the important factor, not CO2. Venus has lots of CO2, but it’s hot because of pressure. Earth has only a little CO2 but more pressure, so it’s kind of in the middle. Mars, otoh, has almost no pressure, and even though it’s all CO2 it’s really cold there. QED, pressure causes the temperature effect, not CO2 trapping IR.

    There were quite a number of other jaw droppers. I had to quit reading when Goddard stated very clearly that he was well aware that CO2 wasn’t an ideal gas – that’s why it didn’t follow an isotherm as it was compressed.

    I guess that a one-eyed man is king in the valley of the blind. I haven’t wandered through the valley recently though. The funny part is that no matter how many posters showed where he was wrong he continually defended the proposition.

    Comment by David Miller — 11 May 2010 @ 3:19 PM

  483. “=All= “Appeal to Authority” arguments are fallacies because they include “Whatever XYZ Authority Says is True” as an implied term.”

    Says an authority?

    No.

    “XYZ has said this is true, and they’ve been right many times before, they study this and they produce treatise that stand the test of peer review of similarly educated people. I trust their judgement.”

    Or is trust a non-existent property in psychology?

    But that statement is NOT a fallacious appeal to authority.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 May 2010 @ 4:03 PM

  484. ” Patrick 027 says:
    11 May 2010 at 1:34 PM

    Re 471 John E. Pearson “Do the blogoscientists argue that the temperature a kilometer deep in Earth’s oceans (where the pressure is 90 bar) is 476 C?””

    How about a bathysphere at 90 atmospheres underneath 1km of ocean?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 May 2010 @ 4:05 PM

  485. “And: the ocean recieves very, very little heating within it’s depths or from the bottom”

    Not according to Monckton, where underwater volcanoes are erupting with tens of thousands of times the ferocity and emission of all land-based volcanoes.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 May 2010 @ 4:06 PM

  486. “Because the rules of logic have the ability to slice and dice through all the denialist nonsense.”

    When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 May 2010 @ 4:07 PM

  487. hello,
    pardon the interruption, but you guys are my “go to” source….

    1)what is the current thinking on the geographic extent of the “medieval warming period”?
    2)how warm is it thought to have been? (i’ve heard things like 3-4 degrees C warmer than today. true?)

    Comment by Walter Crain — 11 May 2010 @ 4:37 PM

  488. Re 450 Completely Fed Up Re me Re 398 CFU

    “Uh, we have 1 bar atmosphere.”

    Yes.

    “The partial pressure of CO2 matters not a fig because Motl says that it is merely the pressure of the gas that is causing Venus to be so hot. And all gasses produce pressure. ”

    Yes, according to Motl, whom you (and I and others) agree is wrong about the temperature (larger than that of an approximate blackbody that would radiate to space the same flux that Venus absorbs from the sun) being due to pressure and NOT the greenhouse effect.

    But I thought – maybe I misunderstood you – that you were saying that we only need 6 or 7 doublings of CO2 to get from an Earthlike to a Venuslike atmosphere by some measure, such as the amount of CO2.

    And my point was:

    1. the partial pressure of a gaseous substance is equal to the molar (molecular or volume) fraction of the gas times the pressure of the whole gas mixture. The partial pressure is proportional to the amount of a substance for a given total pressure, but if the total pressure changes and the composition isn’t constant, the proportionality is more complex. For a preindustrial CO2 concentration of ~ 300 ppm, there would be a partial pressure (near sea level, total pressure ~ 1000 mb) of about 0.3 mb, but the pressure that the CO2 in the atmosphere adds is actually roughly 1.5 times that because it’s molar mass is roughly 1.5 times the average molar mass; if the rest of the atmosphere were removed except for CO2, the surface pressure would be roughly ~ 0.45 mb. 11 doublings would get that near 1 bar, between 6 and 7 more would get near 100 bar. Pressure is proportional to gravitational acceleration for the same mass per unit area, so there is some adjustment (considerably less than a doubling) in transfering the same atmospheric mass per unit area from Earth to Venus to achieve the same pressure…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 11 May 2010 @ 4:59 PM

  489. CFU @ 483:

    “XYZ has said this is true, and they’ve been right many times before, they study this and they produce treatise that stand the test of peer review of similarly educated people. I trust their judgement.”

    Or is trust a non-existent property in psychology?

    But that statement is NOT a fallacious appeal to authority.

    THAT is not a an Appeal to Authority, unless you mean “I trust their judgement, therefore they are right.”

    It’s a really simple argument

    p -> q
    XYZ(p)
    therefore q.

    CFU @ 486:

    When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    I liked your “mentor” a lot better.

    But seriously, making fun of people doesn’t get you anywhere. Most of what the denialosphere is based on is “Such-and-such article / paper / blog posting says that something-or-other is true”, with no underlying facts. Agreed?

    There are people who might be properly called “Skeptics” because they are questioning an unsettle piece of the science (my personal issue is with GCRs, clouds and the 2nd derivative of absolute humidity with respect to temperature, but I digress). But the vast majority of denialists are just plain making it up as they go. And they don’t give a rat’s fart if someone tomorrow came along and solved the cloud issue because they just don’t care about facts.

    The problem is that as soon as this becomes a personality contest — which I think a fair amount of Science is, for the same reasons IT / Software is often a personality contest — various “Appeals to Authority” enter the equation.

    I do not CARE, for one second, if the people who run this blog are the greatest experts in their field, men (and maybe some women?) of incredible stature. I expect that there is a body of knowledge, peer-reviewed by others, reproduced experimentally, and capable of being reproduced experimentally by any and all comers (who have satellites / computers / weather stations). That’s “Science”.

    The key to Science is my ability to reproduce your experiments, or to come up with a similarly reproducible experiment that invalidates your results. Science doesn’t care one whit how many papers you publish, who reviewed them, what journal published them, P’s, h’s and D’s after your name, or if you brush and floss your teeth after each meal. Science only cares that if I wanted to, and if I had the time and money, I =could= derive all of their findings from whatever depth of First Principles I can get around to deriving.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 11 May 2010 @ 6:19 PM

  490. let me clarify: i have read claims that it was up to 4 degrees warmer IN PARTS of the northern hemisphere.

    Comment by Walter Crain — 11 May 2010 @ 6:30 PM

  491. Walter Crain – most recent that I know of is Mann et al 09

    Comment by Phil Scadden — 11 May 2010 @ 7:07 PM

  492. > Walter Crain
    > I have read claims …

    Where? By whom? citation needed.

    Compare the results of these two searches:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=what+is+the+current+thinking+on+the+geographic+extent+of+the+%E2%80%9Cmedieval+warming+period%E2%80%9D%3F
    The first hit may help:
    http://nicholas.duke.edu/thegreengrok/hockeystick-revisited
    pointing to: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v460/n7259/abs/nature08233.html

    the Scholar search filters out most of the ‘blog science’ nonsense:
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=geographic%2Bextent%2Bmedieval%2Bwarming%2Bperiod&btnG=Search&as_sdt=2001&as_ylo=2005&as_vis=1

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 May 2010 @ 7:23 PM

  493. Science only cares that if I wanted to, and if I had the time and money, I =could= derive all of their findings from whatever depth of First Principles I can get around to deriving.

    But, of course, you don’t, and never will, have the time, money, satellites, instrumentation, etc. So either you pretend that a) we know nothing because we can’t appeal to prior work done by others or b) give up your dogmatic insistence that an appeal to authority is never appropriate, no matter who that authority might be.

    We know that in your life your knowledge base doesn’t consist solely of things you’ve discovered on your own from first principles. No one can do so. We all choose which authorities we will trust for all sorts of knowledge in life.

    Comment by dhogaza — 11 May 2010 @ 7:28 PM

  494. Walter Crain,
    MWP
    1)no evidence of a globally contemporaneous warm period
    2)some places in N. Europe and N. America might have rivaled today’s temperatures.
    3)4 degrees C? You’re joking.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 May 2010 @ 8:18 PM

  495. Re 480 Geoff Wexler -

    Good point, I guess I should clarify – in that section (in most of the comment, except near the end) I was refering to monochromatic radiation. The blackbody intensity at some particular frequency (or wavelength, or log(frequency), or photon energy, depending on how it is expressed) (per unit of the spectrum) is given by the Planck function; that is the (spectral) blackbody intensity I was refering to; integration over the spectrum yields the blackbody intensity over the whole spectrum, which multiplied by pi steradians gives the blackbody flux per unit area.

    PS my writing was convoluted at that point because I referred to a (spectral) blackbody intensity I#, which I’ll write as Ibb#, which (in the notation I’ve chosen to use until I find out about another notation) is the intensity scaled by n, the real component of the index of refraction, specifically, I# = I/(n^2), or at least this is the relationship if n is isotropic (absent scattering, emission, absorption, or reflection, I# is conserved following radiation along a line of sight, while I may change as n changes). When I# = I/(n^2), Blackbody intensity Ibb is actually equal to Ibb# * n^2, so Ibb# = Ibb at n=1, and the equations for Blackbody radiation intensities and fluxes are usually given assuming n=1. Note also that wavelength changes as n changes, so it is actually frequency, or photon energy, or the equivalent vacuum value of wavelength, that should be used to sort photons. I’m not going to get into relativistic effects…

    (Ibb is not a conventional symbol used for blackbody intensities; I’m just using here because the letters come from Intensity of BlackBody radiation).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 11 May 2010 @ 8:20 PM

  496. OK, FCH, so prove (logically) that fish is not spelled g-h-o-t-i as contended by Shaw.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 May 2010 @ 8:22 PM

  497. @ Patrick in 445:

    “The difference between the instantaneous forcing at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) and the instantaneous tropopause level forcing is the forcing on the upper atmosphere; for greenhouse gas increases in general, the tropopause level forcing is greater than the TOA forcing, and this results in stratospheric cooling, a portion of which then affects tropopause level forcing, resulting in the tropopausel level forcing with stratospheric adjustment (or equilibration). The climate sensitivity is generally defined as the global average surface temperature increase per unit of that forcing.”

    Thank you for a great, succinct answer. It was the precise answer to the question I posed very early on.

    As the atmosphere expands, the effect increases as well, correct? That is to say the upper atmosphere layers actually get colder while the troposphere retains more heat.

    [break]

    LOL on the undersea volcanoes heating the oceans commented on somewhere after that. If we had that much volcanism going on, climate change would be a few rungs down on our list of concerns. Probably because the oceans would be pretty much sterile and we’d be dead.

    We be the big blue ball in space. That’s a lot of water to heat up, and undersea ridges and hot spots in the crust just ain’t gonna cut it.

    Comment by Frank Giger — 11 May 2010 @ 11:12 PM

  498. I added a comment the other day in response to Ray Ladbury @386. It has not appeared and we seemed to be having an intelligent and mature discussion.

    I noticed that it went into the moderation queue so I guess it got rejected for some reason. I’d be very interested to know the reason and would like to add further to the interesting topic. You have my email so please let me know how I might re-engage.

    Thanks
    Titus

    Comment by Titus — 11 May 2010 @ 11:32 PM

  499. Re John E. Pearson, (and Steckis etc.) –

    I remember you had a question about line broadenning.

    You may not have had this problem, but there is a potential point of confustion I will address:

    1. line broadenning
    is fundamentally different from
    2. the expansion of the range of frequencies that exceed any given threshold optical thickness by increasing the optical thickness at each frequency by the same factor

    2. is the result of adding more material with some absorption or scattering cross section. If there is no change in line broadenning or line strength, then:

    the optical thickness (over a given path) per unit amount of material per unit area (normal to the path) is a function of the spectrum with a set value at each frequency that doesn’t change. Changing the amount of material by some factor changes the optical thickness (which is equal to absorption and/or scattering cross section per unit volume, multiplied by distance along a path) by the same factor. For an absorption band such as the 15 micron band for CO2, the optical thickness for X amount of CO2 is a function of frequency, such that log(optical thickness) as a function of frequency v **looks** like:
    log(X) * [A - B*abs(v0-v) + sum over j of [fj(sin(wj*v - vj) ] ]

    where fj is some function, so that each fj(sin(wj*v – vj)) repeats over a range of v equal to 2*pi/wj

    (any function can be expressed as a sum of sinusoidal terms)

    Considering only the first two terms:

    log(X) * [A - B*abs(v0-v)]

    This is a triangle, and consider how a change in log(X) affects the range of v values over which optical thickness exceeds some threshold value Optk:

    log(X) * [A - B*abs(v0-v)] > log(Optk) for some values of v

    If the optical thickness at v0 already exceeds the threshold Optk ( if log(X) * A > log(Optk) ),
    then the width of the range of v for which optical thickness is larger than Optk is linearly proportional to log(X) / B. The v values for which optical thickness equals Optk shift outward by an amount 1/B for each unit increase in log(X).

    Considering the effects of fj(sin(wj*v – vj)), which represents the finer-scale texture of the band:

    if the pattern is self similar over a sufficiently small range of v, then one can define various functions (distinguished by different m)

    log(X) * [ Am - B*(v0-v) ]

    that are equal to log(optical thickness), not at all v but at some v values.

    If the pattern is self similar (in a general sense if not an exact sense)over a range of v that is small compared to B, then, for intervals where each log(optical thickness) function m varies by a significant amount, the same fraction of v values has an optical thickness represented by each function in one interval as in another. Since the same band widenning and v shifting per unit change in log(X) occurs for each function m, and each function m represents as much of one small interval as another, the overall effect is the same; so long as log(Optk) < log(X) * Am for all m, the range of v values for which optical thickness exceeds Optk increases by an amount proportional to 1/B, and the boundaries of this range of v shift outward from the band peak by an interval that is proportional to 1/B – the difference is that those boundaries are now fuzzy, but the fuzz occupies an interval of v that doesn't change in size as it shifts outward.

    Now, the actual spectrum of CO2 is more complex; there is some variation that is not sufficiently self-similar over short enough intervals of v to fit the above approximation, so there is some bumpiness, but the overall pattern of change in the absorption spectrum for a given change in the logarithm of CO2 amount is still similar.

    In addition to that, the blackbody intensity of radiation, and the differences in that quantity between different temperatures, and the optical thicknesses provided by other material, vary over the spectrum…

    (to be cont.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 11 May 2010 @ 11:50 PM

  500. Dear Stefan, nothing about mistakes of >some Asian sociologists in the back pages of the (IPCC) report<?
    Glashaus-Steine

    Comment by Ben Said — 12 May 2010 @ 2:23 AM

  501. “let me clarify: i have read claims that it was up to 4 degrees warmer IN PARTS of the northern hemisphere.”

    In parts of the northern hemisphere, it’s been 6C warmer and more.

    North polar regions, for example.

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/

    Check the section “Comparison of 2010 Temperature to the Two Other Years with the Warmest Annual Means”

    North America had a large section 6.8C warmer than average.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 12 May 2010 @ 2:34 AM

  502. “THAT is not a an Appeal to Authority, unless you mean “I trust their judgement, therefore they are right.””

    Shall I show you again:

    “XYZ has said this is true, and they’ve been right many times before, they study this and they produce treatise that stand the test of peer review of similarly educated people. I trust their judgement.”

    This is an appeal to their authority based on what they’ve been authoritative about in the past.

    In neither past nor present case have I exhaustively proved their veracity and I’ve mostly relied on others who are also learned in the same sphere (also an appeal to their authority: I have not checked their work either).

    So in what way is this NOT an appeal to authority?

    In what way is that NOT “I trust them therefore they are right”? I have merely added WHY I trust their judgement. But it’s still an “I trust them therefore they are right”.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 12 May 2010 @ 2:39 AM

  503. “But I thought – maybe I misunderstood you – that you were saying that we only need 6 or 7 doublings of CO2 to get from an Earthlike to a Venuslike atmosphere by some measure, such as the amount of CO2.”

    No, Patrick: you only need 6-7 doublings to get our atmosphere (which contains gas that produces pressure up to 1 atmosphere) to Venus’ atmosphere (which contains gas that produces pressure about 90 atmospheres).

    That is what I’m saying.

    And that we have almost no CO2 is irrelevant because all gasses produce pressure and therefore if pressure is the reason why Venus is hot, then separating out one trace gas on Earth as the only standard to measure pressure is ridiculous.

    What would happen if you used helium instead? Then earth would have NO temperature above the ~240K radiative transfer would have and Neptune would have infinity surface temperature.

    Earth: 0 pp from He.

    Neptune: > 0 partial pressure from He.

    Any number / zero = infinity. = infinite doublings = double infinity temperature from pressure.

    So why is Motl ignoring all other gasses in our atmosphere? They produce pressure just as well as CO2 does on both planets.

    Of which we have 1 atmosphere pressure of. And Venus has 90.

    6.x doublings.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 12 May 2010 @ 2:45 AM

  504. re 40
    Spencers super-secret new paper might be the one recently outlined at WUWT:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/05/07/spencer-strong-negative-feedback-found-in-radiation-budget/

    Not very impressing, but maybe worthwile an expert’s comment for the public (not yet seen anywhere).

    Comment by Urs Neu — 12 May 2010 @ 2:57 AM

  505. For my own interest I am attempting some simple modeling calculations.

    I’d be grateful if I could be pointed towards some on-line source of information on what is known about the dynamics of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

    For example, if I released x tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over a very short period, how long would it be until only x/2 tonnes of my release remained in the atmosphere?

    Comment by Martin A — 12 May 2010 @ 3:00 AM

  506. WC 487,

    1. Mostly Europe with some spots in China and Latin America.

    2. No, it was cooler than now.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 12 May 2010 @ 4:17 AM

  507. Frank Giger says, “That’s a lot of water to heat up, and undersea ridges and hot spots in the crust just ain’t gonna cut it.”

    Yup! However, this is a recurring zombie argument in the denialosphere, where facts are seen as mere encumbrances to creativity. Frank, given your free-market bona fides, I wonder if you would have more luck engaging the denizens of this benighted enclave.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 May 2010 @ 4:27 AM

  508. Phil, Hank, Ray,
    thanks so much. i’ll read up from your links.

    Hank, to answer your questions:

    saw the “4 degrees”, not surprisingly, on WUWT:

    “The idea of a medieval warm period was formulated for the first time in 1965 by the English climatologist Hubert H. Lamb [1]. Lamb, who founded the UK Climate Research Unit (CRU) in 1971, saw the peak of the warming period from 1000 to 1300, i.e. in the High Middle Ages. He estimated that temperatures then were 1-2 ° C above the normal period of 1931-1960. In the high North, it was even up to 4 degrees warmer. The regular voyages of the Vikings between Iceland and Greenland were rarely hindered by ice, and many burial places of the Vikings in Greenland still lie in the permafrost.”

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/29/the-medieval-warm-period-a-global-phenonmena-unprecedented-warming-or-unprecedented-data-manipulation/

    i notice the’s an indication of a footnote after the rather bland statement about hubert lamb, but then there are none after the substantive (and amazing) claims. i also notice that there aren’t actually any footnotes on the page – just indications of them.

    Comment by Walter Crain — 12 May 2010 @ 6:01 AM

  509. Titus (#498) (and any others wondering similar things),

    Comments in moderation occasionally get lost, for whatever reason. Maybe someone pressed the wrong key, maybe who knows. Asking why it was not posted is usually a waste of your time and that of others, for two reasons. First, a brief look at some of the stuff that gets posted here suggests the moderators don’t go in much for silent censorship in any case, so if you were mature and to the point there’s all the less reason to think you were censored. Second, it’s a busy comment queue moderated by busy people who cannot be expected to go back and fish out comments that got lost by mistake. (Though IIRC they have done so on a few occasions.) It’s better just to grit your teeth and repost what you wrote. If you get in the habit of posting long careful comments, you may want to copy-paste-save them in your favorite editor…

    Comment by CM — 12 May 2010 @ 6:33 AM

  510. On medieval warming, here’s a source that shows that ice cover in the Swiss Alps in 2003 was at a 5,000 year low:

    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/114125034/abstract

    I found this when some clown commenting on the letters blog of The Australian pointed to a German newspaper article quoting one of these authors (Suter) as saying “climate was warmer between 3000 and 1750 BC, in Roman times, and in the late Middle Ages”. My high school German isn’t good enough to check that source but funny how this research paper in English contradicts that claim — if it was meant to mean warmer than now (not clear to me that the newspaper report says that). There is a vast amount of garbage spewing about the net. It always pays to check these things. And call a lie a lie when you spot it.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 12 May 2010 @ 6:36 AM

  511. Martin, a quick google turns up two possible starting points:

    http://www.waterencyclopedia.com/Bi-Ca/Carbon-Dioxide-in-the-Ocean-and-Atmosphere.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_sink

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 12 May 2010 @ 7:00 AM

  512. # 489 “The key to Science is my ability to reproduce your experiments, or to come up with a similarly reproducible experiment that invalidates your results. Science doesn’t care one whit how many papers you publish, who reviewed them, what journal published them, P’s, h’s and D’s after your name, or if you brush and floss your teeth after each meal. Science only cares that if I wanted to, and if I had the time and money, I =could= derive all of their findings from whatever depth of First Principles I can get around to deriving.”
    Nonsense! Not even worth deconstructing. Irrelevant to the science of climate change.
    But apologies for saying previously “You are wrong” what I should have said was “Your argument is wrong”.
    I do say that I would never appeal to you as an authority on scientific method or logic.

    Comment by Hugh Laue — 12 May 2010 @ 7:40 AM

  513. “Asking why it was not posted is usually a waste of your time and that of others, for two reasons.”

    And also that comment can dissapear likewise.

    Three! *Three* reasons not to ask why. Among which are such diverse reasons as…

    [Response:
    :)
    ]

    Oh, I’ll come in again…

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 12 May 2010 @ 8:46 AM

  514. ” In the high North, it was even up to 4 degrees warmer. ”

    In the high north in 1998 it was nearly 7 degrees C warmer.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 12 May 2010 @ 8:51 AM

  515. Completely Fed Up, thank you.

    I was hoping for something with quantitative data on the half-life of a dollop of carbon dioxide injected into the atmosphere, with information on the measurements or experiments that provided the data. The references you kindly gave discuss the various destinations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, but without much in the way of quantitative data on the timescales of these transfers.

    I wonder if the radioactive carbon generated in the atmosphere by nuclear weapon tests has been studied to give information on the dynamics of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

    Comment by Martin A — 12 May 2010 @ 9:41 AM

  516. Martin A:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=lifetime+atmospheric+carbon+dioxide

    Of the first four or five hits, try everything but the “John Daly” link.
    Wikipedia’s not bad; the other links are to recent science papers.

    Then try the same search in Google Scholar, always a useful comparison; this is since 2007:
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=lifetime+atmospheric+carbon+dioxide&btnG=Search&as_sdt=2000&as_ylo=2007

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 May 2010 @ 9:48 AM

  517. “487
    Walter Crain says:
    11 May 2010 at 4:37 PM

    1)what is the current thinking on the geographic extent of the “medieval warming period”?”

    The geographic extent of a warming period in the first half of the last millenium depends on what years you consider the warming period to exist in.

    It moved.

    When N America was experiencing it, Europe was cold. When Europe was experiencing it, Russia was cold. And so on.

    Therefore any warm period in a geographical location could be called “medieval warming period” but it was a cold period elsewhere.

    When you average all areas through time, the MWP mostly disappears.

    If you pick regions and plot them all on separate lines on the same graph, you can see a wider “MWP” that moved around a bit, but wasn’t on average all that warm.

    So you need to answer “where are you considering the MWP to exist” and then your question can be answered. Without that, you can make up any answer you wish and even state quite correctly that there WAS NO MWP (because you could just move from one region that was cool to the next cool one).

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 12 May 2010 @ 10:36 AM

  518. “I was hoping for something with quantitative data on the half-life of a dollop of carbon dioxide injected into the atmosphere”

    That has been posted here several times, Martin. And it’s part of the IPCC report too:

    http://www.ipcc.ch

    There isn’t one half-life because CO2 gets taken out in varying ways and they reach an equilibrium at different rates and to different levels.

    The two links I gave show references to many papers. Several of them deal with different mechanisms. The IPCC summarises the overall effect.

    Inclusion into rock strata, for example, is the real end-pint of CO2 but that takes thousands of years to reach “half life”. Soaking into the ocean is of the order of centuries/decades depending on whether you’re going to be worried about it coming back up any time soon.

    IIRC, 1000 year residency time of 90% and then slow degradation beyond that is a (possibly high end) rule-of-thumb. 50% will disappear much sooner, but that exhausts the ability of that process to “eat” carbon.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 12 May 2010 @ 12:25 PM

  519. “I wonder if the radioactive carbon generated in the atmosphere by nuclear weapon tests has been studied to give information on the dynamics of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.”

    Compared to the role cosmic rays have in the process, nuke testing doesn’t do much to the signal.

    I find it odd how nuclear weapons are derided with “one volcano matches a thousand nuclear warheads” get, in a different context, “nukes created a lot of radioactive carbon from ordinary carbon from 50 years ago!”.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 12 May 2010 @ 12:28 PM

  520. Here’s something of interest to the Venusian

    Researcher Professor Steven Sherwood said there was no chance of the earth heating up to seven degrees this century, but there was a serious risk that the continued burning of fossil fuels could create the problem by 2300.

    “There’s something like a 50/50 chance of that over the long term,” he said.

    The study — which examined climate change over a longer period than most other research — looked at the “heat stress” produced by combining the impact of rising temperatures and increased humidity.

    Sherwood said climate change research had been “short-sighted” not to probe the long-term consequences of the impact of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/04/26/0913352107.abstract

    As the authors point out, the efforts to “limit global temperature increase to 2 degrees C by 2100″ all ignore the longer-term effects of fossil fuel combustion over the next three centuries. Such a target is thus fairly meaningless – and to stabilize the climate at 2C? That would require a far more focused effort.

    It should be obvious by now that the only plausible method for stabilizing the global climate is to entirely eliminate fossil fuels from the energy mix – but getting politicians and fossil fuel lobbyists and academic and media institutions to actually admit that basic fact is most difficult. Tobacco smoking causes cancer, HIV causes AIDS, fossil fuel combustion causes global warming – and the “clean, low-tar cigarette” campaign is not any different from the “clean, low-tar coal” campaign – both campaigns are run by the same people, in fact.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 12 May 2010 @ 12:33 PM

  521. FCH, by your formal (I suppose) definition of the appeal to authority fallacy, i.e. “everything XYZ says is true” or the reconfiguration “XYZ says it therefore it must be true,” NO ONE on this site is using appeals to authority.

    NOBODY.

    So have fun being right about that completely moot point.

    People are saying “XYZ is more credible than most people because of their experience and prior demonstrations of understanding.” Is that a logical fallacy? People are saying “XYZ is more credible on this issue than ABC because when you compare their track records on related issues, XYZ is much more often proven right.” Is that a logical fallacy?

    No. No it is not. Because judgments about how much credence to assign someone’s position are not T/F logical judgments. It’s more like probability than logic.

    So enjoy your certain knowledge that you’re correct about your strict definition of “logical fallacy,” but NEVER NEVER effing bring it up again unless someone has actually said something to the effect of “XYZ has said so, and therefore and with no other support whatsoever I declare it to be true.”

    Comment by Kevin Stanley — 12 May 2010 @ 12:38 PM

  522. Patrick I am reading your post which is tough going. Actually once i drew the relevant pictures it was pretty clear. Too bad we can’t post figures on RC. They’re worth a thousand words.

    And is the motivation for all this to explain to me how a pure CO2 atmosphere would vary with the amount of CO2?

    I’m not really following this very well. IF Opt = optical thickness and Optk = your threshold.

    you’ve got log(Opt) ~ log(X) so I would say that Opt ~ X , no? Then the trick is to explain how to get an optical thickness that rolls over into log(X) because of the properties of the absorption spectrum of CO2? I’ve read a little bit of this random band model that rolls over into sqrt(X) for larger X. But I don’t know how all this ties together.

    I’m also unclear as to how to go to optical thickness that you see in elementary expositions: T_{surface}^4 = (1+Opt) T_{e}^4 , which contains no information on frequency. I guess the idea is that the optical thickness in that equation is the optical thickness for the relevant wavelengths and you more or less ignore wavelengths that aren’t getting absorbed?

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 12 May 2010 @ 12:54 PM

  523. A bit tired of all those “formal logic” comments.

    In deductive logic there are proof rules and axioms. One derives theorems from the axioms by applying the proof rules. That’s it, provided the axioms and accepted and the proof rules are sound.

    But science proceeds via inductive logic, using probability and statistics to determine the likelihood of an hyposthesis given the data and also to compare hypotheses given the data. Begin with E.T. Jaynes’s “Probability Theory” book.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 12 May 2010 @ 1:01 PM

  524. “Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.”
    Douglas Adams quoted by Gavin Schmidt in Climate Change Picturing the Science. See also Dunning-Kruger effect.

    For example, I respect my doctor’s opinion because he knows more than I do, not because he’s a mythical embodiment of infallibility. He also knows enough to refer me to a speci alist when there’s a problem outside his area of expertise. But then thinking that way is probably obvious to anyone but a sophist or an acolyte of wingnut punditry.

    CCPTS is pretty good reading by the way.

    On another front, E. O. Wilson is apparently taking a new approach to science through fiction with Anthill: A Novel. I hear the science of ants (Wilson is being described as a sort of Homer of Antdom) is itself treated as a kind of character in the book. (Haven’t looked at it myself yet, though.)

    Comment by Radge Havers — 12 May 2010 @ 1:01 PM

  525. Re 503 Completely Fed Up -

    You’re criticizing Motl’s reasoning, which is all well and good

    (though it would be simpler to point out that if the greenhouse effect were removed but the mass of the atmosphere and albedo were preserved, the pressure wouldn’t change much (in the approximation of constant graviational acceleration over height and independent of atmospheric mass below, it wouldn’t change at all), but the cooling of the surface would change the lapse rate and the end result would be a cold surface underneath a mostly stratospheric/thermospheric atmosphere, with the lapse rate being essentially nowhere maintained at or near adiabatic.)

    (I suggest using that tact … because , do we even know what sort of mathematical proportionality to pressure that Motl is suggesting? – trying to disprove Motl on the basis of counterexamples to correlation of pressure and temperature seems unnecessary and somewhat beside the more important point of what atmospheric mass and pressure actually do).

    (Which, to reitterate, is: 1. yes, for the given (pressure, temperature, composition, large-horizontal scale circulation, etc, dependent) tropospheric lapse rate, you need a larger weight (per unit area) of air within the troposphere to get a larger temperature difference between the surface and the tropospheric average or tropopause level, and that weight can’t be more than the weight of the whole atmosphere, BUT 2. the fraction of the weight of the atmosphere that is within the troposphere is not a fixed value, but very much depends on other things, in particular, the greenhouse effect, without which, the surface temperature will change until it is only that temperature that allows the radiant flux emitted by the surface to equal the solar flux absorbed by the surface and atmopshere.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 May 2010 @ 1:16 PM

  526. 522: oops. I meant to say how the TEMPERATURE in a pure CO2 atmosphere would vary with the amount of CO2.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 12 May 2010 @ 1:20 PM

  527. Kevin Stanley@521,
    To be fair, FCH didn’t bring up the canard of an appeal to authority. That was Steckis, whose motivation was to make his opinion as an ignoramus equally valid with that of a scientist who has studied a subject for half a century.

    In an argument based on formal logic, all appeals to authority are fallacies, because formal logic only admits statements that are true or false. Science is not entirely governed by the rules of formal logic. As Kurt Godel showed, neither is math. In fact the only place formal logic seems to apply is, well, formal logic.

    I’m still waiting for a proof that the word “fish” is not spelled g-h-0-t-i.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 May 2010 @ 1:52 PM

  528. # 453, To say Newton’s laws fell apart is misleading. They work on systems of substantial size and bodes within acceptable speeds just fine. As you noted we would not use general relativity to buld a bridge nor, I might add we would not use quantum mechanics to determine a race cars velocity. Each branch of physics works just fine for what they are intended. It is true that without GR we would not have GPS and without quantum physics we would not have CD’s and DVD’s to be sure, but Newtonian physics is still great for issues in the macro world not approaching the speed of light. Thank you for your post, just the same.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 12 May 2010 @ 2:43 PM

  529. re: the MWP

    It sounds like Ray Ladbury and others are denying that there had been variations in global tempartures coinciding with the so-called MWP and LIA. But look at the Law Dome CO2 concentrations for instance. How do you explain atmospheric CO2 falling from the early 12th to the early 17th century?

    Do we have good pre-12th century CO2 proxies with a fairly high resolution by the way?

    Comment by Anonymous Coward — 12 May 2010 @ 3:50 PM

  530. # 466 Ike Solem, while I will certainly not argue with you over the far reaching influence of BP and other companies within that industry I want to make two brief points:

    1.) BP has a lot of explaining to do with this recent oil spill.

    2.) Having been to UC Berkely recently and reading many publications form there, they are still doing a fine job in research into cleaner alternative energy sources and technology. Berekley is still quite a green center here in California.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 12 May 2010 @ 4:09 PM

  531. barton, phillip, CFU, thanks to you guys too.

    Comment by Walter Crain — 12 May 2010 @ 4:12 PM

  532. My good friend who will not post here because he gets such rough treatment has sent me these comments:

    “Arctic ice in April was above the long term norm. Antarctica is not melting. Kilimanjaro’s glaciers are not melting due to warming because it is, as in the past, below freezing up there. Those glaciers are melting due to a drought and sublimation, not warming. Polar bear numbers are increasing. CO2 is going up but the temperature isn’t going up much even with all the numerical manipulations to increase the apparent heating which climatologists engage in.”

    Is there any scientist here who will (politely) refute him? If there is, I will try to get those refutations to him.

    I am not interested, nor will I forward, angry or sarcastic remarks. There are already too many of these on the posts here.

    Comment by John (Burgy) Burgeson — 12 May 2010 @ 4:25 PM

  533. (Re 503 Completely Fed Up, continued)…

    (But Motl is not completely incorrect about every fact, and in particular, the partial pressure of CO2 at the surface on Venus is much more than 2^6 times that on Earth. It is actually about 2^18 (for an approximate preindustrial CO2 concentration of 300 ppm and approximate surface pressure of 1 bar, and approximating the Venusian atmosphere as being 100 % CO2, with a pressure of 90 bar, I find a ratio of 2^18.19). But accounting for the difference between partial pressure (of a well-mixed constituent) and weight contribution (partial pressure of CO2 as a fraction of atmospheric pressure * molar mass of CO2 / average molar mass of atmosphere = mass fraction of CO2 in the atmosphere), I find that Venus has approximately 2^17.6 times the weight of CO2 per unit area as the Earth (a little higher than my prior rougher estimate) (using a molar mass of 44 g/mol for CO2 and 29 g/mol for Earth’s atmosphere); this must be divided by (Venus surface gravitational acceleration / Earth surface gravitational acceleration) to find the ratio between the two planets for the mass of CO2 per unit area, which is, absent differences in line broadenning and line strength, proportional to the optical thickness contribution at any given frequency.)

    (I have no intention of reading Motl; I would imagine his argument is something to the effect of 18 doublings of CO2 * 3 K/doubling = 54 K, added to 33 K gives 87 K, which is only a fraction of the difference between the surface temperature Venus would have without a greenhouse effect (I think an inline comment stated this was 240 K) and the actual surface temperature. Or maybe Motl got more sophisticated and subtracted the effect of water vapor, etc… Of course Motl’s reasoning is deeply flawed, but the partial pressure he used is apparently not far off.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 May 2010 @ 4:33 PM

  534. Beer-Lambert calculations are oversimplifications for calculating radiative energy transfer through the atmosphere. Let’s build a spectrofluorometer to investigate how the atmosphere behaves. We’ll start with a 1kmX1km broadband (“greybody”) light source whose temperature can be controlled from 0 – 6000 degrees K, thermally isolated from our cuvette with a perfectly transparent window. It only emits parallel beams. It also has a zero emissivity tunable narrowband filter so we can select monochromatic illumination at any wavelength. We then place a cuvette whose optical path length is 100km, oriented vertically, and we fill it with 80%N2 &20%O2 to a pressure of 1 atmosphere and T of 15 deg C at the bottom. We turn on our light source, and measure the transmission(energy versus wavelength) through the cuvette, and fluorescence/scattering/thermoluminescence(energy versus wavelength) at right angles to the beam. Except for a teeny bit that can be explained by some dust, dark aerosols, and other crud contaminating our system at low levels, all the radiation from 0.3 to >10 micron is transmitted. We add 380ppmv CO2 to the cuvette, and repeat the measurements, and find that the transmitted light spectrum is no longer smooth, but has dips in the IR where CO2 is known to absorb, the dips don’t go to zero. We also see radiation at right angles at these same wavelengths where the CO2 is emitting. The intensity varies along the length of the cuvette, decreasing as the temperature and density decrease along the length of the cuvette. We turn off the light source, and still measure IR radiating to the side; what were dips are now peaks radiating out the top. We heat the gas mix at the bottom of the cuvette to 20 deg C. The side and top radiation increases in intensity, again at the CO2 wavelengths and with a temperature + density dependence. We turn on our light source with the filter adjusted to provide monochromatic illumination at the shortest wavelength where the CO2 is absorbing. We measure more side radiation at this wavelength, but also at longer wavelengths. We stick a thermocouple in to measure the temperature versus distance along the cuvette, and find that the temperature decreases about 6.5 degree C per kilometer(lapse rate), and changes depending on how much radiant energy is being put in by the light source, and how strongly it is being absorbed. If we put a lot of energy in at the bottom. the differential heating causes convection currents which redistribute the heat vertically.The temperature distributions and thermal radiation distribution vertically are dependent on the amount of radiation we put into the system. We start adding water vapor at the bottom of the cuvette, and we see new absorption lines appear, some overlapping the CO2 absorption lines. we also see new IR radiation lines out the side, but they fall off more quickly with height along the cuvette. As we pump in more water vapor, we soon start to see droplets, clouds, form when the local water vapor pressure reaches the dew point. Because of the lapse rate, the partial pressure of water vapor at the threshold of condensation falls by more than three orders of magnitude in the first 15 km of our cuvette. This gradient in the density of water vapor limits the side radiation of IR at water frequencies to the low levels of our cuvette. The water vapor is absorbing and reradiating at low levels and higher temperatures than the CO2 whose partial pressure is uniform. If we add enough water to create clouds, we also measure scattering out the sides of our cuvette at wavelengths that aren’t absorbed. Sunlight coming into the sides of the cuvette also now gets scattered into our detectors, so we run down to WalMart and get a really big can of Krylon 100% reflective spray paint, and spray the inside walls of our cuvette. We also get a really big can of Great Stuff foam perfect insulation and squirt it on the outside of our cuvette. Now all the scattered radiation eventually goes out the top or back into our light source, and heat doesn’t get conducted from the surrounding atmosphere. We alternately shine monochromatic light at a wavelength which is weakly absorbed by CO2 into the cuvette, and a wavelength which is not absorbed by CO2, water vapor, or clouds, and raise the water vapor content until we get cloud formation. As the clouds form, the apparent concentration of CO2 as measured by the ratio of intensity at the absorbed wavelength to the intensity at the transmitted wavelength appears to increase. WTF? We realize that the effective path length is no longer 100 km vertically through a gradient of CO2 absolute density, but is increasing as the photons scatter off the clouds, reflect from the walls, and scatter again until they eventually reach the top or bottom. Consider a photon which travels 1km vertically from our light source, scatters once at 45 degrees, and bounces back and forth at 45 degrees between the perfectly reflecting walls until reaching the detector at the top of the cuvette; the path length is now 99*sqrt2+ 1 km, or about 40 percent longer. Things get very complicated as we change the water vapor, temperature, cloud level/amb- ient lapse rate, and CO2 concentration, especially because the GHGs not only absorb but radiate. The Beer–Lambert law assumes that the absorbed photon energy does not change any of the properties or get re-emitted by the absorbing substance, and (usually) assumes a fixed, uniform path length. See http://ase.tufts.edu/biomedical/research/fantini/publications/nirs_theory/3_phys_med_biol_49_n255_2004.pdf

    I wonder which grows faster with thin low clouds, albedo or effective GHG absorber path length? Does Lindzen’s purported negative cloud iris have a negative path length feedback which (double negative) cancels its effect? Gavin?

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 12 May 2010 @ 4:58 PM

  535. Re myself Re 503 CFU (PS It would be funny if you switched your name from Completely Fed Up to Completely Fed L__(?), then you’d be CFL. Actually, it would be even better if you were LED, but anyway…)

    …”BUT 2. the fraction of the weight of the atmosphere that is within the troposphere is not a fixed value,”

    And for that matter, the temperature near the tropopause is not a fixed value independent of optical properties. Etc. (Though I’m a bit uncertain, I think the lapse rate on Venus, passing the tropopause, continues to be significantly greater than zero into the lower stratosphere. And the tropopause is relatively deeper into the atmosphere (greater mass of air above it) then on Earth. So the Venusian stratosphere’s greenhouse effect could tend to keep the tropopause level warmer than it would otherwise be. On Earth, the tropopause is colder than the equilibrium surface temperature for a zero greenhouse effect case, but this needn’t always be the case; in particular, if most of the LW radiation leaving a planet is emitted from above the tropopause, then the tropopause can be warmer than the effective emitting temperature…)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 May 2010 @ 6:12 PM

  536. “So the Venusian stratosphere’s greenhouse effect could tend to keep the tropopause level warmer than it would otherwise be.”… I meant relative to an Earthlike atmosphere with the same solar heating.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 May 2010 @ 6:14 PM

  537. Re John E. Pearson

    first, some examples of adiabatic lapse rates in liquid and solid:

    “The Dynamic Structure of the Deep Earth” by Shun-ichiro Karato
    p.31

    the adiabatic lapse rates of:
    Earth’s outer core: 0.6 to 0.8 K/km
    Earth’s mantle: 0.3 to 0.4 K/km
    (correcting an earlier statement from memory about the mantle’s adiabatic lapse rate; apparently I was remembering the outer core’s value.)

    The lapse rate will become superadiabatic (larger than adiabatic) where convection is impeded and a large enough upward heat flow still occurs. Convection on smaller scales is slowed more easily by viscosity. Because the mantle and core are not actually mixing together, a superadiabatic lapse rate could be expected in the base of the mantle. The crust also has a superadiabatic lapse rate. A relatively thin layer of air next to the surface can sometimes have a superadiabatic lapse rate (strong solar heating of a land surface, cold air blowing over warm water) because conduction has to transfer sensible heat from the surface to the air before the air can move it around, and also, motions near the surface are somewhat impeded by the surface, but this involve a rather small portion of the atmosphere.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 May 2010 @ 6:27 PM

  538. 471
    John E. Pearson says:
    11 May 2010 at 11:58 AM

    “Do the blogoscientists argue that the temperature a kilometer deep in Earth’s oceans (where the pressure is 90 bar) is 476 C? Or do they invoke some other new physics to explain why not? Just wondering.”

    John. That is a silly argument. Oceans do not act like atmospheres as they have an incompressible medium (saline water) as opposed to atmospheres which have compressible gasses that can produce work and therefore heat when compresssed and uncompressed.

    It is interesting to note that the oceans have a heat carrying capacity over 1000 times that of the atmosphere. So. Perhaps in part, we do have a venusian atmosphere because of the heat carrying capacity of the oceans.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 12 May 2010 @ 7:51 PM

  539. Correction: should read “we do NOT have a venusian atmosphere”.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 12 May 2010 @ 8:00 PM

  540. Martin A. Nuclear testing has had a massive effect on C isotope techniques and is heavily studied. For some applications its a disaster, rendering post-50s data unusable. For others, it creates a massive, accurate known marker for carbon studies. There is a huge literature – just check google scholar.

    Comment by Phil Scadden — 12 May 2010 @ 9:30 PM

  541. Anyone at RC interested in looking more closely at the recent article in The Economist? Or maybe an open thread about it? http://www.economist.com/world/international/displayStory.cfm?story_id=16099521

    And thanks to those of you who lent suggestions and links (#404, 381, 367) about CO2 output from point sources. While I knew mixing is fast, I didn’t know if the constant output from individual point sources like coal fired power plants might create some regional variances. And yes, I’ll start using my full name ;) I may actually end up publishing something or other in the next couple of years (paleoclimate or volcanoes? time will tell), so I guess I should get into that habit online. I never used my full name years ago over general privacy concerns, but I realize I’m getting more into things where I need to stand by my word. So here you have my semi-cumbersome Lithuanian last name.

    Now wish me luck on my petrology final tomorrow ;)

    Comment by Shirley J. Pulawski — 12 May 2010 @ 10:15 PM

  542. > Is there any scientist here who will (politely) refute him?

    John, you don’t need a scientist to help you with those. Each of them is a standard talking point. Just copy each sentence, paste it into Google, then into Google Scholar. Subtract the nonsense, look at what remains.
    For extra fun also click on Google Image Search using the same query string (most of those results will be from denial sites, they’re really good putting up pictures although they get the facts wrong).

    It’s a simple exercise people here do all the time. You can do it.

    For the specific “Antarctic sea ice is growing” claim, congratulate your friend on his insight: http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2010/03/wuwt-trumpets-result-supporting-climate.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 May 2010 @ 12:10 AM

  543. 522 John E. Pearson
    “Too bad we can’t post figures on RC. They’re worth a thousand words.”
    some nice diagrams/graphs here:

    1.
    http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/greenhouse-effect-revisited/#comment-2236
    2.
    http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2010/03/02/global-warming-mapsgraphs-2/

    3.
    http://chriscolose.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/absorption_co.jpg (from http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2010/05/12/goddards-world/#comment-2277,
    “From R.T. Pierrehumbert, Principles of Planetary Climate, in publishing progress”)

    4.
    http://www.atm.ox.ac.uk/group/mipas/atlas/index.html

    (The last two show the absorption spectrum of CO2 for wavelengths longer than 4 um. There are some rather strong bands between 4 and 5 um; these aren’t as important as the 15 micron band because of the amount of radiative flux found at those wavelengths for typical surface and atmospheric temperatures – for the Earth at least. The third website has an inset showing an example of the finer-scale texture of the absorption spectrum.)

    ——-
    “And is the motivation for all this to explain to me how a pure CO2 atmosphere would vary with the amount of CO2?”
    Not directly, but it would be part of the foundation for that. I’ve decided to try to summarize all the important things (I have a tendency to want to do that); you can use what you want. I’ll probably summarize the summary at some point so you could wait for that and trace back to these longer comments for more info if you want to try that (but go ahead and look at what others who cut to the chase are saying, of course).

    PS
    see also http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2010/05/12/goddards-world/ for Venus topic.

    —-
    “IF Opt = optical thickness” …
    “you’ve got log(Opt) ~ log(X) so I would say that Opt ~ X , no?”

    YES, following the changes in Opt at any one frequency.

    “Then the trick is to explain how to get an optical thickness that rolls over into log(X) because of the properties of the absorption spectrum of CO2? ”

    Not really; it is the radiative forcing for the whole spectrum that is proportional to log(X). See below…

    ———

    “I’ve read a little bit of this random band model that rolls over into sqrt(X) for larger X. But I don’t know how all this ties together.”

    I don’t know about that – haven’t gotten that far.

    “I’m also unclear as to how to go to optical thickness that you see in elementary expositions: T_{surface}^4 = (1+Opt) T_{e}^4 ,”

    That’s an interesting equation; I’ve never seen that before; it might apply to some cases but I’m not sure if it’s a good equation to use or not.

    …” which contains no information on frequency. I guess the idea is that the optical thickness in that equation is the optical thickness for the relevant wavelengths and you more or less ignore wavelengths that aren’t getting absorbed?”

    It is possible to define an effective optical thickness such that, for some range of frequencies and directions, transmission = exp(-effective optical thickness). Such an “Opteff”, as I’ll call it, doesn’t generally add linearly like the actual optical thickness at one frequency and along one direction.

    cont. from 499
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/05/solar/comment-page-10/#comment-174438
    and also 445
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/05/solar/comment-page-9/#comment-174358
    note clarification at 495
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/05/solar/comment-page-10/#comment-174432

    ——-
    PART III.

    Considering some examples of what happens when atmospheric optical thickness at a particular LW frequency is increased from zero: (case 1 is most like the Earth and planetary atmospheres in general, so far as I know of)

    1. blackbody surface (or underlying lower layer of air), atmospheric LW optical thickness from absorption:

    1a. Of the flux that reaches space:

    at first, it is all from the surface and has the brightness temperature equal to the surface temperature. Adding a little optical thickness lifts some of the emission weighting function off of the surface and into the atmosphere; if the optical thickness is small, then any part of the atmosphere doesn’t absorb much of what the other part emits, so the emission weighting function that is in the atmosphere is distributed as optical thickness is distributed. If the atmosphere’s average temperature (weighted by optical thickness) is colder than surface temperature, then the total flux to space decreases.

    As more optical thickness is added, then, as more of the emission weighting function is lifted off the surface and into the atmosphere, the portion that is in the atmosphere becomes concentrated at higher levels (measuring the vertical distance through the atmosphere by optical thickness, as opposed to pressure or actual geometric height), and the flux that reaches space is more dependent on the temperature at higher levels in the air than at lower levels. Even if the emission weighting function is entirely lifted off the surface, the redistribution within the atmosphere can continue to change the flux that reaches space. If the temperature declines with height, then the flux continues to drop. If there is a layer of the upper atmosphere where temperature increases with height, then as the emission weighting function becomes more concentrated towards and then into that layer, the flux may level out and then start to increase.

    1b. Of the net flux at some point within the atmosphere:

    The upward flux is affected in the same way as the flux to space is affected, but without the effect of the optical thickness of the overlying layer. The emission weighting function is lifted off the surface, intially evenly distributed (over optical thickness) within the atmosphere, and then starts to become concentrated closer and closer to level at which the flux is evaluated, so that the upward flux eventually approaches the blackbody value for the temperature at that level.

    For the downward flux, the emission weighting function is initially in space (which can be, for these purposes, treated as a blackbody near 0 K, thus the downward flux is nearly zero). Increasing the optical thickness pulls some of that weighting function into the air above the level considered, at first evenly distributed over optical thickness, and then becoming more and more concentrated near the level considered. Assuming the temperature is above zero K in the upper layer, the flux initially increases from zero. If the temperature is isothermal or decreasing with height above that point, the downward flux increases until it approaches the blackbody value for the temperature at that level. If the temperature increases with height, then the flux may overshoot that final value and then come back down; however, if the warmer parts of the layer are too thin, they might not achieve that effect – as the portion of the emission weighting function that is within the atmosphere is redistributed into lower, colder parts, if the portion of the emission weighting function that is still in space and being pulled into the atmosphere is still large enough, that effect can match or overpower the effect of the conncentration of the weighting function into colder parts, so that the downward flux holds steady or continues to increase.

    Eventually, the weighting functions for both upward and downward fluxes become concentrated toward the same place, and so the two fluxes approach being equal (approaching the blackbody value for the temperature at that location) and the net flux goes toward zero. At that point, the effect at that level could be said to be saturated, as there isn’t any further change to the net flux from increasing optical thickness.

    [you can skip over the rest of this if you want to save time]

    1c. Doward radiation to the surface: Similar pattern of behavior as the downward radiation at any point within the atmosphere, except that the lower portion of that atmosphere contributes the effects of it’s optical thickness and temperature distribution (and will eventually hold most of the weighting function, blocking the effects of the upper layer). As the emission weighting function becomes concentrated near the surface, the net flux goes toward zero. If there is a low-level inversion (as happens at times and places in some planets’ tropospheres), the downward flux could actually increase to become larger than the upward flux from the surface before shrinking back to being nearly the same as the upward flux from the surface. Eventually, both upward and downward fluxes approach blackbody values for the temperature at the surface.

    [you can skip over the rest of this if you want to save time]

    2. same as 1, but with a portion of atmospheric optical thickness coming from scattering.

    2a. upward radiation to space: similar to 1a, except that a fraction of the emission weighting function that is removed from the surface is transfered to space, farther reducing the flux to space; as optical thickness increases, this continues to be the case if scattering is significant up through the top of the atmosphere.

    2b. net radiation at some level within the atmosphere: similar to 1b, except, as in 2a, that portions of the weighting functions are actually distibuted to the other side of the level, so that a flux in one direction partly depends on temperature in the direction the flux is going. As optical thickness increases, this continues to be the case if the scattering occurs in the region of the level. Also, at optical thickness increases, the fluxes in both directions approach the blackbody value for the temperature at that location, even though the emissivity in any direction never reaches one (if the scattering occurs at that location), because the scattering reduces the absorption of photons so that the photons build up until they are at an equilibrium density for that temperature.

    2c. surface: similar to 1c, except that a portion of the downward radiation to the surface is actually emitted from the surface; as optical thickness increases, this continues to be the case if scattering occurs near the surface. Both upward and downward fluxes approach blackbody values (see end of 2b).

    3. surface has some nonzero LW albedo; atmospheric optical thickness as in 1 or 2.

    3a. radiation to space: If the surface LW albedo is large enough and the atmosphere is warm enough relative to the surface, and absorption has a strong enough role in atmospheric optical thickness, the flux to space will initially increase as optical thickness increases from zero (initially, some portion of the weighting function is reflected from the surface into space; some of that gets pulled into the atmopshere – both by emission upward from the atmosphere and by reflection from the surface of downward radiation from the atmosphere, a large portion of which initially is able to reach space). However, as optical thickness continues to increase, eventually the flux to space starts to decrease, if the temperature decreases with height up through enough of the weighting function, or if the scattering is concentrated toward the top of the atmosphere.

    3b. net radiation at some level within the atmosphere: upward radiation Similar to 3a. Net radiation still tends toward zero as optical thickness gets large enough. Eventually, upward and downward fluxes approach blackbody values (see 2b).

    3c. radiation at the surface: similar to 2c, except that the upward flux at the surface increases as the downward radiation increases, because of some reflection of the downward radiation. Eventually, as optical thickness is increased, the net flux goes toward zero. Upward and downward fluxes still approach blackbody values (see 2c, 2b).

    4. atmospheric optical thickness is entirely from scattering

    4a. radiation to space: The flux decreases from it’s initial value, eventually approaching zero. So long as the type of scattering is not changed (forward-dominated scattering has less of an effect than Raleigh scattering, for the same optical thickness), the flux decreases over the whole range of optical thickness values. Even if the surface has some LW-albedo, the flux still decreases, even initially. The temperature of the atmosphere has no direct effect. The weighting function, or some portion thereof, is at the surface; the rest is in space; the weightin function is lifted off the surface and transfered to space.

    4b. at some level within the atmosphere: net radiation decreases toward zero.
    (?) Eventually, all fluxes go toward zero (? or do they?). The temperature at that location has no direct effect.

    4c. at the surface: downward radiation increases from zero, approaching the upward radiation from the surface; if the surface has some nonzero LW-albedo, the upward flux also increases due to reflection of downward radiation. The net radiation decreases and approaches zero. Upward and downward fluxes approach blackbody values (see 3c, 2c, 2b).

    ———

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 13 May 2010 @ 12:19 AM

  544. John (Burgy) Burgeson says:
    12 May 2010 at 4:25 PM

    My good friend who will not post here because he gets such rough treatment has sent me these comments:

    “Arctic ice in April was above the long term norm…

    Is there any scientist here who will (politely) refute him?

    Sure: http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_stddev_timeseries.png

    But, I’m not a scientist. The cure for your poor friend is to stop listening to BS and start learning a little science. Given everything he said in the quote you gave takes little brain power to refute, we must conclude your friend has no interest in science or reality, so…

    …the temperature isn’t going up much even with all the numerical manipulations to increase the apparent heating which climatologists engage in…

    tell him that he can’t have it both ways: he can’t call climate scientists liars, as above, but reserve polite treatment for himself. This not only makes him either gullible, blinded by ideology (Oreskes, et al.) or scientifically illiterate, it also makes him a hypocrite.

    Cheers

    Comment by ccpo — 13 May 2010 @ 1:54 AM

  545. “we do NOT have a venusian atmosphere”.

    We know.

    “So. Perhaps in part, we do -not’ have a venusian atmosphere because of the heat carrying capacity of the oceans.”

    Weaselling again.

    In a microscopic part, perhaps.

    But perhaps in NO WAY AT ALL.

    And most likely of all, IN NO SIGNIFICANT WAY.

    Funny how you only put forward one of three matters (and the least likely one at that) as a position, and the one that was picked leads to “CO2 doesn’t cause AGW”.

    Keeping “on message”, kid? Don’t want to confuse people by giving ANY SORT of hint that maybe AGW is a problem.

    Maybe the big reason why we don’t have a venusian atmosphere is because we don’t have so much CO2.

    Oh, look:

    Earth: 400ppm
    Venus: 955000ppm

    Yup. That’s proof all right: we don’t have so much CO2 therefore we don’t have a venusian atmosphere.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 May 2010 @ 2:37 AM

  546. “But Motl is not completely incorrect about every fact, and in particular, the partial pressure of CO2 at the surface on Venus is much more than 2^6 times that on Earth. It is actually about 2^18″

    Please, Patrick, don’t correct me on things I never said.

    Or, if I did say them, please point to where I said that Motl was incorrect in the relative proportions of CO2 pressure.

    Never did I say that.

    So, with that out the way, explain this:

    Why are the other gasses not producing any surface pressure?

    What? They *are*???

    Then, why are you and Motl taking out only the pressure from CO2 and relating that to the temperature of the surface?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 May 2010 @ 2:41 AM

  547. “529
    Anonymous Coward says:
    12 May 2010 at 3:50 PM

    re: the MWP

    It sounds like Ray Ladbury and others are denying that there had been variations in global tempartures coinciding with the so-called MWP and LIA”

    [edit]

    There have been variations in global temperatures.

    They weren’t higher than the recent warming.

    But go ahead and make up whatever makes you happy.

    “Do we have good pre-12th century CO2 proxies with a fairly high resolution by the way?”

    If we don’t, how can you say that the MWP was warmer than it is today, given we have now a high resolution measurement of CO2 not via proxy but direct measurement?

    But if all you want is denial of a problem, I guess there’s no need for logical consistency.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 May 2010 @ 2:50 AM

  548. Shirley J Pulawski @ 541:

    Anyone at RC interested in looking more closely at the recent article in The Economist? Or maybe an open thread about it? http://www.economist.com/world/international/displayStory.cfm?story_id=16099521

    That article makes a common error, when it comes to “political causes”, in that it claims the “pro-warming” side is exaggerating claims in order to advance the cause.

    A better, and more accurate, statement is that the more extreme scenarios are focused on because of risk-management. Assume that probabilities can be assigned to each outcome, and that each of those outcomes has some cost. Adding up all of the products of “probability times cost of outcome” gives a statistical cost. THAT is the issue — some super catastrophic outcome may have a low probability, but an extremely high cost associated with the outcome.

    What people who are opposed to that approach miss is that by acting earlier, performing the needed changes is typically easier for the less extreme outcomes, and less likely to fail for the more extreme ones.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 13 May 2010 @ 3:37 AM

  549. #532 John (Burgy) Burgeson

    You have been around RC long enough that you should be able to answer these questions, however:

    “Arctic ice in April was above the long term norm.”
    Nope
    http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_stddev_timeseries.png
    In fact, who knows? But it might go below the 2007 minimum this year???

    “Antarctica is not melting.”
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/images/glacier-retreat/486913185_a721a8c3bf_o.jpg/view
    This needs more context though. There are signs of some melting and increased calving rates, but according to models, ice extent was supposed to increase as the planet warmed, and that is indeed the case. But then ice extent and calving rates are two different things, which is also different from the warming signal detected in Antarctica, as well as the accumulation rates in different regions of Antarctica. Don’t forget, it’s still pretty cold down there. Think of it this way, The ice in my freezer is not melting, but the ice I put in my refrigerator is. Antarctica is not the planet, it is however the larges chunk of ice on the planet and is not going to disappear anytime soon. Think of Antarctica as the freezer and the Arctic as the refrigerator.

    “Kilimanjaro’s glaciers are not melting due to warming because it is, as in the past, below freezing up there. Those glaciers are melting due to a drought and sublimation, not warming. ”
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/images/glacier-retreat/kilimanjaro_etm_93_00.jpg/view
    I’d bet there are multiple factors involved but I don’t think you can rule out warming as one of the factors. Sublimation, warming, drought??? I wonder what is causing the drought? Maybe latitudinal shift due to global warming?

    “Polar bear numbers are increasing.”
    Thanks to preservation efforts to prevent the wholesale slaughter of the polar bears.

    “CO2 is going up but the temperature isn’t going up much even with all the numerical manipulations to increase the apparent heating which climatologists engage in.”

    This sentence is simply riddled with unfounded assumptions. Context is Key: the warming since pre-industrial in around 0.8C. All you have to do is think about how much actual energy it takes to heat say your house 0.8C, then extrapolate how much energy it takes to heat the surface of an entire planet, such as earth 0.8C (Lots of energy!!!).

    The paragraph just seems to be a collection of myths that someone sadly has chosen to repeat.


    A Climate Minute The Greenhouse EffectHistory of Climate ScienceArctic Ice Melt

    ‘Fee & Dividend’ Our best chance for a better future – climatelobby.com
    Learn the Issue & Sign the Petition

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 May 2010 @ 3:54 AM

  550. Hank Roberts: Many thanks – spot on for what I was wanting on the dynamics of atmospheric CO2 concentration. It seems to be more of an open ongoing research topic than I had imagined.

    Phil Scadden: Many thanks. Yes – truly a massive marker. I noticed that Sakharov’s figures on the biological effects of radioactive carbon resulting from nuclear tests lead to an estimate that the 1961 Soviet 60Mton test will ultimately have injured or killed about half a million people.

    Comment by Martin A — 13 May 2010 @ 4:10 AM

  551. Burgy says, “Is there any scientist here who will (politely) refute him? If there is, I will try to get those refutations to him.”

    Burgy, you know I respect you, but frankly, why would we waste our time? Your friend is a deluded fool who refuses to look at the truth and doesn’t have the guts to face his critics. That is worth neither respect nor effort.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 May 2010 @ 4:18 AM

  552. Anonymous Coward, Might I suggest a reading comprehension class? There is zero evidence of a GLOBAL, contemporaneous warm period in Medieval times. There is plenty of evidence for local warming in Europe. Likewise cooling in the LIA. As to changes in CO2, do you have a specific dataset you can point to?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 May 2010 @ 4:22 AM

  553. Richard Steckis says, “John. That is a silly argument.”

    OK, now I’m going to pause to let the irony sink in…

    There, now wasn’t that delicious?

    Richard, just how is it less silly to contend that the temperature of Venus is due to pressure/compression. Let’s say that was the initial cause. What happens to Venus’ surface? It starts to radiate at roughly the temperature of a hot pizza oven–that’s losing a lot of energy. What would happen to the surface as that energy radiated away?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 May 2010 @ 4:57 AM

  554. Shirley,
    It’s an interesting article. Unfortunately, the oblique strategy is not one that works well with all risks. Metastatic cancer is a good analogy. To simply decree that climate change is a “challenge” rather than a “problem” is a nice piece of semantics, but it doesn’t change the risk calculus. The risks are still there. That is the thing that people are ignoring. The science is established. It’s time to use that science to bound as best we can all the risks we face. Where we can’t bound risks, we must, at least initially, avoid them until we can bound them.

    We know how to deal with this threat. We know the threat is real. We merely have a substantial portion of the population who persistently refuse to recognize objective reality.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 May 2010 @ 5:10 AM

  555. Perhaps off topic, but has anyone thought to check if the apparent drop in methane rates in the atmosphere could have resulted because we are putting so much of the atmosphere through our engines/power stations?

    Perhaps we are burning it? Can someone who has the figures do a quick calculation please.

    Comment by Ricki (Australia) — 13 May 2010 @ 5:38 AM

  556. Jacob Mack #528: I said Newton’s Laws fell apart at the edges, which I think is a reasonable characterisation.

    More on Medieval Warm Period: there’s a conspiracy-theoretic site styling itself CO2science or similar that has meticulously collected every paper they could find on the subject to prove there’s a conspiracy (a conspiracy conducted by publishing so much evidence? But anyway …). They rank the papers as to quality of evidence. I looked at the papers they considered the best, and found the temperature peak at different parts of the world covered a range of about 600 years. So CFU #517 is right on the money.

    Finally on atmospheric lifetime of CO_2. Relate this to atmospheric lifetime of water vapour, typically a few days. But it gets recycled, and relative humidity doesn’t vary that much averaged over a season — unless something upsets the balance (e.g., warming, which will increase absolute humidity if relative humidity is unchanged). Same with CO_2. There are massive fluxes to and from the atmosphere and as long as nothing changes the balance, the average is about constant. What can change the balance with CO_2 is pumping more into the atmosphere, reducing vegetation or increasing temperature (the latter reducing the ocean’s capacity to store CO_2). Pumping more water vapour into the atmosphere is a short-term effect because it precipitates out as soon as temperatures drop; CO_2 imbalances take a lot longer to correct. So in summary the important issue is not how long a molecule stays in the atmosphere, it’s whether the balance between inflows and outflows is perturbed and how long it takes to correct that imbalance.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 13 May 2010 @ 6:48 AM

  557. “Martin A. Nuclear testing has had a massive effect on C isotope techniques and is heavily studied.”

    Wasn’t that about isotopes created in situ and their decay products, rather than the fallout creating C14 isotopes (my dad worked in Australia for the RAF when they did the bomb tests, so I may be somewhat out of date, but I don’t think it pertains to this phenomena).

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 May 2010 @ 7:05 AM

  558. Ah well, you live and learn. Hopefully at least the first one…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon-14#Formation_during_nuclear_tests

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Radiocarbon_bomb_spike.svg

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 May 2010 @ 7:16 AM

  559. “My good friend who will not post here because he gets such rough treatment has sent me these comments:”

    He’s never posted here.

    YOU’VE posted here for your “friend”.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 May 2010 @ 7:46 AM

  560. “”It sounds like Ray Ladbury and others are denying that there had been variations in global tempartures coinciding with the so-called MWP and LIA”

    [edit]”

    Why the clucking bell did you [edit] that out but left the arrogant bollocks anonymous put in???

    Is it fine for denialist trolls to be arseholes but god forbid a non-denialist do so?

    I thought that the bollocking every climatologist got over “climategate” would show you why that’s a stupid activity: creates the myth that “science” people only say nice things.

    Arseholes, I say.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 May 2010 @ 8:05 AM

  561. This link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Radiocarbon_bomb_spike.svg

    Gives the idea that biological cycling of CO2 has a half-life of ~10 years.

    Doesn’t really help, since that doesn’t actually change the amount of CO2, so all you get is the mixing back into the biosphere from the “enriched” C14 in the atmosphere. To actually *measure* CO2′s real longevity, we’d have to stop producing extra CO2.

    How about we try that?

    After all “skeptics” are only asking for empirical measurement of IPCC pronouncements.

    This one is easy to show. Just stop burning fossil fuels and measure how the CO2 reduces!

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 May 2010 @ 8:18 AM

  562. Ray (#552),

    CO2 concentrations in Antarctica can hardly be explained by European temperatures. They are likely related to the global temperature although other causes can not be ruled out of course (volcanism, agriculture, desertification, ?). [edit--that's enough on this, its off topic, and you would be well served by reading up on the topic]

    Comment by Anonymous Coward — 13 May 2010 @ 9:34 AM

  563. Ray Ladbury wrote: “We know how to deal with this threat. We know the threat is real. We merely have a substantial portion of the population who persistently refuse to recognize objective reality.”

    The real problem is that we have a very tiny portion of the population who are raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in profit per day, who want to keep the fossil fuel gravy train going as long as possible, which of course requires delaying and obstructing implementation of the known solutions, all of which require phasing out consumption of their products as rapidly as possible.

    So that tiny portion of the population has mounted a highly effective, generation-long campaign of deceit, obfuscation and denial, the result of which is the ill-informed “substantial portion of the population” that you refer to.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 May 2010 @ 9:35 AM

  564. Re Anonymous Coward @529: “But look at the Law Dome CO2 concentrations for instance. How do you explain atmospheric CO2 falling from the early 12th to the early 17th century?”

    1) Increased absorption of atmospheric CO2 by cooler ocean surface waters in the wake of repeated volcanic eruptions and reduced solar activity.

    2) Regrowth of woody brush and forest on abandoned agricultural lands in Europe and the Americas in the wake of large scale human mortality from pathogens (bubonic plague, small pox. etc.).

    Comment by Jim Eager — 13 May 2010 @ 9:42 AM

  565. http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=atmospheric+lifetime+co2

    Fate of fossil fuel CO2 in geologic time
    uchicago.edu [PDF]D Archer – J. Geophys. Res, 2005 – geosci-webdev.uchicago.edu

    “… A model of the ocean and seafloor carbon cycle is subjected to injection of new CO2 pulses of varying sizes to estimate the resident atmospheric fraction over the coming 100 kyr. The model is used to separate the processes of air-sea equilibrium, an ocean temperature feedback, CaCO3 compensation, and silicate weathering on the residual anthropogenic pCO2 in the atmosphere at 1, 10, and 100 kyr. The mean lifetime of anthropogenic CO2 is dominated by the long tail, resulting in a range of 30–35 kyr. The long lifetime of fossil fuel carbon release …..

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 May 2010 @ 10:20 AM

  566. Re Burgy @532:

    Arctic ice in April was not above the long term norm. Tell him to look it up for himself instead of relying on hearsay:
    http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_stddev_timeseries.png
    Whoops, Oh look, it’s currently headed back down to 2007 levels.

    Antarctica is losing ice mass. Tell him to look it up for himself instead of relying on hearsay:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/antarctica-gaining-ice.htm
    (Cites in text.)

    To what does your friend attribute the sustained drought decimating Kilimanjaro’s glaciers?
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/05/tropical-glacier-retreat/

    Some polar bear populations are increasing, more are declining.
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/polar-bears-global-warming.htm
    (Cites in text.)

    CO2 is going up but the temperature isn’t going up much….
    because natural variability can and will at times swamp any underlying trend.
    Whoops, oh look, the past 12 month period is the warmest in the entire instrument record, while January, February and March have set warmest records:
    http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/?report=global&year=2010&month=3&submitted=Get+Report
    (Set desired month. April should be available any day now.)
    Even the AMSU satellite data shows record anomalies:
    http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/execute.csh?amsutemps

    “…all the numerical manipulations to increase the apparent heating which climatologists engage in.”
    This begs the question:
    Burgy, why do you remain friends with a person who makes such ignorant and slanderous assertions?

    Comment by Jim Eager — 13 May 2010 @ 10:20 AM

  567. Brian Dodge, putting some paragraph breaks in your posts would not only make them more readable, it would mean more people would actualy read them.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 13 May 2010 @ 10:23 AM

  568. Tangentially on-topic, I’m reading Gwynne Dyer’s “Climate Wars” just now.

    Dyer is a well-known and respected war correspondent; in this book he takes a look at the probable security consequences of the IPCC and Copenhagen projections–informed by interviews with high-ranking civilian and military officials around the world. Fascinating, and scary.

    Here’s a preview link:

    http://www.amazon.ca/gp/reader/0307355845/ref=sib_dp_pt#reader-page

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 May 2010 @ 10:39 AM

  569. 556 (Phillip),

    I love that site. If you look at the papers, it goes beyond just the wide range of dates that “define” the MWP. You will find:

    1) Some of the papers study multiple sites, of which they’ve chosen to present a graph for the single one that shows warming, while as many as 5 nearby, contemporaneous sites show no such thing.

    2) One of the papers, in the conclusion, explicitly points out that other studies have used other proxies for nearby sites and found no warming (only this one particular proxy found warming), so the paper is discussing the technique and local phenomena in that lake in particular, and is itself careful to point out that it has nothing to do with measuring even regional, let alone global, temperatures.

    3) In at least one case, the same paper is used twice, but placed in two different spots on the map, making it look more “full.”

    4) In multiple cases, there is no scale on any graph, so there’s no way to tell “how warm” or “exactly when.” In these cases, the proxy usually does not reach into the present, so there’s not even a fair way to say “warmer than” or “cooler than” today. Usually, its a visual argument that amounts to “look, a bump, right where you’d expect the MWP to show… see? See?”

    5) In many cases, it is very questionable whether or not the source is peer reviewed, due to an obvious lack of rigor in the information presented.

    6) In many cases, the graphs presented by the web site were noticeably altered from the original paper, presumably to highlight the point of the site (MWP) when the original paper does not, in fact, have anything to do with it.

    This one site did more to make me completely ignore any talk about the MWP than anything else I’ve seen (well, add in Mann, 2009, and for me that’s a done deal).

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 13 May 2010 @ 10:42 AM

  570. Patrick 543,

    The equation is for the multi-level “glass slab” model in which each level absorbs no visual light but all IR.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 13 May 2010 @ 10:42 AM

  571. 471
    John E. Pearson said:
    11 May 2010 at 11:58 AM

    “Do the blogoscientists argue that the temperature a kilometer deep in Earth’s oceans (where the pressure is 90 bar) is 476 C? Or do they invoke some other new physics to explain why not? Just wondering.”

    538
    Richard Steckis replied:
    12 May 2010 at 7:51 PM
    “John. That is a silly argument. Oceans do not act like atmospheres as they have an incompressible medium (saline water) as opposed to atmospheres which have compressible gasses that can produce work and therefore heat when compresssed and uncompressed.”

    Is Venus’ atmosphere changing volume? If not, this compressibility argument as a difference is actually the silly argument.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 13 May 2010 @ 10:51 AM

  572. so, i’ve been reading about mann, the hockey stick, the MWP and so forth. in the process, i’ve come across mann’s now-famous “trick” to “hide the decline”. i understand how it’s not a “trick” in the deceptive sense, but more of a technique.

    but, why is there a “decline”? why does the tree-ring record “veer of course” in 1960 or 1981 or whatever? what are the best proxies?

    Comment by Walter Crain — 13 May 2010 @ 11:24 AM

  573. I can’t believe this pressure-heating nonsense is still going on.

    It’s very simple: combine the hydrostatic equation (reasonable!) with the first law of thermodynamics. Your lapse rate in the atmosphere is a function of gravity and the heat capacity of the gas: dp/dz = g/cp. It does NOT set the surface temperature. It is like have y=mx+b, and having m only. It does not describe the temperature at any particular altitude, only the change in temperature with altitude.

    The sun provides the energy source that sets planetary temperatures. Plain and simple. Solar irradiance and downwelling longwave from any greenhouse gasses heats the ground and sets the temperature at z=0. Use the lapse rate to extrapolate an atmospheric temperature profile of the troposphere from there (in reality, you need to account for latent heat release in the troposphere, and this assumes thermal equilibrium). Or, you could just invent the perpetual-energy atmosphere that heats itself :)

    Imagine a world where these folks took basic atmospheric science courses. Or, heck, picked up a book.

    Comment by Nick — 13 May 2010 @ 11:29 AM

  574. 543: Patrick 027 said (quoting me) “I’m also unclear as to how to go to optical thickness that you see in elementary expositions: T_{surface}^4 = (1+Opt) T_{e}^4 ,”

    “That’s an interesting equation; I’ve never seen that before; it might apply to some cases but I’m not sure if it’s a good equation to use or not.”

    It’s equation 3-10 in the one Atmospheric physics book that I own which was available for $1.49 on Amazon: “Atmospheres” by Goody and Walker, published in 1972. It’s just from a layer model. Goody identifies optical thickness with the number of layers (where the thickness of each layer is determined by requiring that photons emitted from within the layer not be reabsorbed by the same layer and that the layer be thick enough that it absorbs incoming photons, clearly an approximation but I guess it isn’t too bad.

    I read a bunch of the stuff that you linked to (Chris Colose’s pages, and most of an RC page that Ray Pierrehumbert wrote) but I do need to get some work done today.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 13 May 2010 @ 11:38 AM

  575. I can’t believe this pressure-heating nonsense is still going on.

    It’s very simple: combine the hydrostatic equation (reasonable!) with the first law of thermodynamics. Your lapse rate in the atmosphere is a function of gravity and the heat capacity of the gas: dp/dz = g/cp. It does NOT set the surface temperature. It is like have y=mx+b, and having m only. It does not describe the temperature at any particular altitude, only the change in temperature with altitude.

    If you know the effective radiating altitude and have a lapse rate, sure, you can estimate surface temperature. But that has nothing to do with pressure, either. Do they understand the concept of the effective radiating altitude? Or basic radiative transfer?

    But never mind all of that, Venus has apparently defied thermodynamics and radiative physics, and has invented the self-heating atmosphere :)

    Imagine a world where these folks took basic atmospheric science courses. Or, heck, picked up a book.

    Comment by Nick — 13 May 2010 @ 11:44 AM

  576. “but, why is there a “decline”? ”

    Michael, why is it you’ve read so much but missed the answer to that question?

    Rebunking is why I picked this handle.

    Short answer: nobody knows. That’s biology for you.

    Why do SOME tree rings in SOME regions not concord with other proxy recordings including actual temperature readings with the proxy “thermometer”.

    Then again, why are people looking at one proxy in limited areas for limited tree species? What’s wrong with looking at all the rest of the measurements?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 May 2010 @ 12:29 PM

  577. PS: The best proxy is the thermometer.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 May 2010 @ 12:30 PM

  578. Re Completely Fed Up – “Please, Patrick, don’t correct me on things I never said.” Well, I misunderstood your original point; when you said it was only a bit more than 2^6 doublings, I thought (perhaps because I know that CO2 is important, and maybe also I read your comment too quickly) that you were refering to CO2.

    “explain this:” “Why are the other gasses not producing any surface pressure?” “What? They *are*???” “Then, why are you and Motl taking out only the pressure from CO2 and relating that to the temperature of the surface?”

    Could you not correct me on things I didn’t say?

    Let’s just agree to agree (because, argumentation styles aside (yours by finding self-contradiction and counterexamples, mine by description of the real physics), it appears we do agree with each other) and leave it at that.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 13 May 2010 @ 12:53 PM

  579. “Well, I misunderstood your original point;”

    Fair enough.

    “Could you not correct me on things I didn’t say?”

    They were rhetorical questions. This is why I answered them.

    Sigh.

    So can you please tell me “why are you and Motl taking out only the pressure from CO2 and relating that to the temperature of the surface?”

    Because you keep telling me that Venus has 2^18 times as much CO2 as Earth and this is important in Motl’s explanation of why Venus is hot.

    If you don’t think this is important in Motl’s question, please stop telling me about how much more CO2 Venus has got.

    Then if someone else can explain why Motl is harping on about how Venus having 2^18 times as much CO2 proves that only the air pressure can explain why Venus is so hot.

    So you see, you COULD have answered the non-rhetorical one.

    Give it a go.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 May 2010 @ 1:35 PM

  580. CFU, in response to

    “but, why is there a “decline”? @572

    @576 you said,
    ”Michael, why is it you’ve read so much but missed the answer to that question?”

    Rebunking is why I picked this handle.

    Short answer: nobody knows. That’s biology for you.”
    __________________________________________________________________

    by “michael” i presume you mean “walter”, right? well, i’ve read some, but probably not as much as many here – that’s why i ask – and i haven’t come across an answer to “why the decline?”.

    believe me, CFU, i think we’re on the same “side” here. but what may be “rebunking” to you is just debunking to me. (and apparently since the answer is “nobody knows” then there can be no REbunking, right?) when i’m out here talking to my in-laws they’re gonna say something about how we “alarmists” “pick and choose” which tree ring data to use and “hide” data that doesn’t fit our little pet AGW theory designed to separate you from your money…. that’s what they’ll say. and seems to me like tree rings don’t make very good proxies. maybe part of your answer included the idea that they’ve got to use lots of tree rings and kind of average them out, maybe throw out the outliers?

    Comment by Walter Crain — 13 May 2010 @ 1:37 PM

  581. PS Patrick, why I’m short with you is it took, what?, four or five repeats of what I’d said to get you to comprehend it.

    We don’t disagree that Motl is wrong.

    But if you don’t know why Motl is saying that since Venus has 2^18 times as much CO2 as Earth that therefore the only explanation of why Venus is so hot is because it’s higher pressure, can we clear the board and see if anyone else knows.

    Steksis probably doesn’t, though he’s quite au fait with repeating it. I guess he isn’t actually a skeptic. If he were, he would have checked why Motl’s answer was good…

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 May 2010 @ 1:38 PM

  582. Walter Crain @572: “but, why is there a “decline”? why does the tree-ring record “veer of course” in 1960 or 1981 or whatever?”

    As I understand it, it’s thought that the trees were stressed by acid rain caused by unregulated industrial emissions from Europe and eastern Russia. The acidity weakened both the needles and root systems of the trees and leached nutrients from the soil, thus disrupting growth ring patterns.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 13 May 2010 @ 1:54 PM

  583. “agree to agree”– :-)

    (There’s enough to disagree with as is.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 May 2010 @ 2:04 PM

  584. #580 Walter Crain

    Think about variability in nature. It could be local changes in soil moisture content, changes or differences in regional variability, changes or differences in soil nutrient content, or as Jim Eager pointed out, influences by acid rain. Or degrees and combination’s of all of the above.

    The simple fact the trees in one region of the planet do not represent all the trees on the planet just as the temperature in your backyard does not represent the temperature of the earth.

    local vs. global

    That is why you need to add it all together to get averages and trends on larger, global, scales. That is also why science examines many different proxies to see the trends, as opposed to a single data set. This is similar to the medieval warm period (MWP) argument. Since the indicators point to a DO event, with ocean heat content migrating between north and south hemispheres, the measurement in the norther hemisphere needs to be measured with the proxies form the southern hemisphere. That way you geta better picture of the global temp rather than just the NH temp and its associated Arctic amplification.

    In other words, a single measurement does not tell you the global picture.

    Context is key.


    A Climate Minute The Greenhouse EffectHistory of Climate ScienceArctic Ice Melt

    ‘Fee & Dividend’ Our best chance for a better future – climatelobby.com
    Learn the Issue & Sign the Petition

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 May 2010 @ 2:13 PM

  585. Jim Eager, thanks.

    Comment by Walter Crain — 13 May 2010 @ 2:20 PM

  586. Jacob Mack: “Having been to UC Berkely recently and reading many publications form there, they are still doing a fine job in research into cleaner alternative energy sources and technology. Berekley is still quite a green center here in California.”

    You would expect that claim to be backed up by something – some evidence – but there is really very little, is there? What innovative new research has come out of the BP-financed Berkeley “Alternative Fuels” Initiative? More tar sand research? How about the Stanford Global Climate and Energy Program?

    The major universities have completely dropped the ball on renewable energy research, in fact, and their public-private partnerships with oil companies are a central part of the problem. Their media experts on energy put out a lot of nonsense, for example:

    UC Berkeley’s Daniel Kammen discussing solar energy on PBS NOVA

    NARRATOR: But that is not the only problem. Coal can be burnt to release energy when you need it, but what do you do if the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow?
    DANIEL KAMMEN: Renewables aren’t the easy we’re-just-going-to-do-it solution. There are issues. One of the big issues is that for solar and wind, in particular, they are intermittent. They’re on some of the time, off other times, and it’s not consistent. You cannot always predict it.
    NARRATOR: But grid managers have to predict it. They need power on demand. And when they can’t get it, it raises one alarming specter.

    There are issues with all energy sources. For example, crude oil is useless unless you refine it. If you have crude oil, but no refinery, it’s useless to you. This is why so many oil-rich Third World countries have to import gasoline at full cost, even as they export their crude oil to industrialized nations – it’s a big issue.

    Issues with solutions (such as using batteries or chemical systems to store sunlight and wind energy for later use) are different from issues without solutions (such as the energy cost of capturing CO2 from a coal combustion stream, or the lack of underground reservoir space to store the captured carbon). Could it be that Daniel Kammen, a listed “media expert” at UC Berkeley, simply doesn’t know about energy storage systems? Unlike “clean coal” technology, which is kept hidden from public view under proprietary wraps by the DOE-Battelle public-private partnership clauses, energy storage systems really do exist, and there are many working examples.

    The BP-Berkeley and Exxon-Stanford deals really point to the failure of academic institutions to retain their independence and objectivity when it comes to energy research. These contorted academic-industrial-governmental relationships are the primary reason why the myth of “zero-emission clean coal” has persisted for almost a decade now, and drawn billions in federal funding, despite never having gone through any kind of public review process – there’s no International Panel on Clean Coal, is there? What would they find if they really looked into the issue?

    Similar issues come into play with the oil spill, don’t they? What risk of blowouts would an independent scientific review assign to your average deepwater well? Recall that in the Challenger disaster, NASA public relations folks insisted that there “was no expected risk of catastrophic failure” while engineers gave numbers like “one in a thousand” – they knew that launching a giant object into space was an inherently risky activity, after all. So is drilling a well in deep water – and then the question becomes, is the benefit obtained greater than the risk taken? If the risks are “externalized” to the taxpayer and the local ecosystem, while the oil company is given a liability cap of under $100 million, then sure, it makes sense for the oil company to risk blowouts in the pursuit of inflated profit margins – but if the oil company and their shareholders are not insulated from such risks – if they have to pay for their actions, in other words – then offshore drilling no longer makes sense.

    Are the risks going to go away? It doesn’t seem like it.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 13 May 2010 @ 2:24 PM

  587. Guys, it’s impractical to try to retype the answers to the ‘divergence’ talking point over and over. Is there a single best place to point people?

    At delayed.oscillator, a scientist blogs on it thoroughly, addressing both the real science and the repeated copypasting of bogus claims:

    “… My point is not to indicate a ‘correct’ method here — that goes well beyond ‘Blog Science’. Rather my point is this: detrending and standardization is one of the most challenging tasks in accurately estimating past low frequency climate variability from tree rings. Divergence is a serious challenge worthy of further study….”

    http://delayedoscillator.wordpress.com/2009/11/03/yamal-v-but-they-pull-me-back-in/

    John Cook covers it well.
    http://www.google.com/search?q=skepticalscience+divergence

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 May 2010 @ 2:25 PM

  588. Nick @575. From a scientific viewpoint, I also am dumbfounded that we are still discussing this seriously. Really though, the discussion is implicitly about effective communication of scientific principles. I think the focus on lapse rates etc may be distracting and confusing to people who are less familiar with atmospheric and planetary science. Maybe it would be more compelling to provide a direct and simple visual test of the underlying proposition behind Goddards and Motls argument. Basically they are assuming that compression of an air mass perpetually injects heat (and therefore energy) into that air mass — a proposition that, if true, would surely win the Nobel prize in physics and solve all our energy problems! It would be best if this test could be done by anyone in their backyard, or would be amenable to YouTube video-ization.

    Let me try, tomfool biologist that I am. If you lower a balloon full of air to the bottom of a pool of water that has the same temperature as the air in the balloon, you would see the balloon reduce in volume and the temperature of the air in the balloon should increase above that of the surrounding water. The Goddard and Motl hypothesis (as I understand it) would hold that this new temperature would be maintained because it reflects an ongoing net generation of heat by the work of pressure and your hand (a proxy for gravity). Of course, if you wait long enough, the temperature would eventually come to match that of the surrounding water (albeit by conduction most likely rather than radiative emissions) and the volume of the balloon would decrease further in response.

    Wouldn’t that demonstration make the point that the initial temp increase was not due to generation of heat, that heat was not being produced continually and the increase in temp due to compression eventually results in loss of heat to the surroundings as the system equilibrates with its surroundings (i.e., space)? To test the convection as perpetual energy machine model, one could also repeatedly raise and lower the balloon to see if it the temperature would increase over time.

    These are high school like demonstrations, and it’s nothing a real working scientist has time to do. My point is that to counteract this clear attempt at disinformation (I cannot believe Motl and Goddard do not understand the Ideal Gas Laws – if they truly believed their own propositions they would be trying to publish in Nature ASAP and they wouldn’t focus on the Venusian atmosphere) we must to strip their arguments to the simplest assumptions and reveal these assumptions simply do not comport to what everyone experiences in everyday life. It’s physics afterall – everyone is subject to it everyday of their lives.

    Maybe I’m too naive.

    Comment by Stephen Baines — 13 May 2010 @ 2:44 PM

  589. Anonymous Coward — I recommend reading climatologist W.F. Ruddiman’s “Plows, Plagues and Petroleum and Charles C. Mann’s “1491″. Bill Ruddiman has a guest thread here on RealClimate.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 May 2010 @ 2:58 PM

  590. re: causes of the “divergence problem”

    Suspects include drought / lack of moisture, “possible reduced atmospheric clarity, localized persistence of spring snow cover and seasonal changes in ozone-related surface UV concentrations”.

    - Jones et al., “High-resolution palaeoclimatology of the last millennium: a review of current status and future prospects”, The Holocene 19,1 (2009) pp. 3–49 at p. 10. doi:10.1177/0959683608098952.

    Comment by CM — 13 May 2010 @ 3:40 PM

  591. john p, thanks.

    hank, thanks again. i should have thought to check that john cook site – that’s a good one.

    reading those sources, seems like we still can’t say for sure why, and we still can’t say “divergence” didn’t happen in the past. even individual trees in the same forest could grow differently.

    Comment by Walter Crain — 13 May 2010 @ 3:54 PM

  592. Thanks to several who took the time to answer (refute) my friend’s assertions. One of you claimed he had never posted on RC. Actually, he id, several times. But I don’t wish to draw attention to him.

    Why am I still his friend? Because I see in him a perfect example of Bacon’s writing, “Man believes what he wants to believe.” I have been trying for over a year to “break through,” because he really is a nice guy (actually there are three of him I correspond with) and he is a friend of long standing. He is also quite successful in his field (geophysics). He really believes the stuff I posted — because his wish to believe it has overridden his analytical mind. I find that a fascinating problem to study.

    I plan to copy him on the substantive (and polite) responses and ignore the rest.

    Comment by John (Burgy) Burgeson — 13 May 2010 @ 4:47 PM

  593. And so what, Walter? A dozen other proxies agree with each other and for over 100 years the tree rings in those few areas agree.

    So given that there are a dozen other measures and for over 100 years of the record, the ACTUAL temperature measures, what do you think the chances of previous divergence would be?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 May 2010 @ 5:21 PM

  594. Yes, I meant Walter. Oops.

    “and i haven’t come across an answer to “why the decline?”.”

    [edit]

    Did you not hear any of the responses to the allegation to those who used “the trick” (and if you didn’t, did that not ring bells in your head), where they state that the “decline” was hidden quite well in the peer reviewed literature?

    If you did know that the peer reviewed literature had discussed this, did you not think that maybe the issue of “the decline” had been considered and acted on (e.g by not using data we could tell was dodgy)?

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Mikes-Nature-trick-hide-the-decline.htm

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Tree-ring-proxies-divergence-problem.htm

    the skeptical science site is probably a great place to go when you’ve “heard something”.

    (Hank, I guess that answers your query too…).

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 May 2010 @ 5:28 PM

  595. Walter, there’s a fundamental thing about science you have to get clear to understand the “we still can’t say” arguments like about divergence.

    Science doesn’t give proof, doesn’t give “yes or no” certainty.
    Science gives probabilities.

    There’s no divergence problem except in the last few decades; the divergence is between a few kinds of trees and locations, and the rest of the tree proxies and thermometer records during the last few decades.

    Before that there’s no divergence problem between the tree proxies and the thermometer records as far back as we had thermometer records.

    Before _thermometers_ there’s no divergence problem between those kinds of trees and locations– compared to all the other trees and locations.

    So while “we still can’t say for sure” — that’s because science doesn’t do that. Science tells you there’s no evidence for divergence before the last few decades, and that it’s a lively area of research.

    People are looking. Possibly they’ll find someplace where in the past there was a local climate shift, and some tree types in some sites responded faster for a few decades than the other trees around them. What would _that_ suggest? That the divergence is a result of very rapid climate change.

    You should go beyond the “no one can really say for sure” arguments if you want to read science at all. Otherwise you’re reading politics.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 May 2010 @ 5:38 PM

  596. OK, so what was wrong and needed [edit]ing? “The rebunking is that there’s a problem here”? Where’s that bad?

    [no, the pointless, argumentative accusations--drop them]

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 May 2010 @ 5:50 PM

  597. Moderator: As far as I remember, there wasn’t one under that edit. At the *very* least, more than an accusation was under that.

    I ask because I’m trying to work out what is happening. If it’s there was some accusation then I can see where you’re coming from, but if there isn’t, then am I to guess as to what is going to get in?

    [there was. we don't have time to pick through posts to edit them. stick strictly to substance and all will be fine.]

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 May 2010 @ 6:14 PM

  598. Predicting the next stade (massive ice sheets): here is a fine contribution
    On the use of simple dynamical systems for climate predictions: A Bayesian prediction of the next glacial inception
    Authors: Michel Crucifix, Jonathan Rougier
    http://arxiv.org/abs/0906.3625
    with better graphs seen in
    http://www.astr.ucl.ac.be/users/crucifix/2008_Quest_Quaternary.pdf

    This paper strongly suggests that the early anthrogenic influence on climate was unnecessary to avoid a stade, even a serious attempt, around the present. The paper suggests mostly likely the nest stade will be (would have been without anthropogenic influences) around 60,000 years from now.

    That said, and despite the fine model fit, we cannot yet have much confidence that this particualr model adequately represents the long term behavior of climate. Indeed, some aspects of the model are not (well) physically motivated. So I’m certainly looking forward to Bill Ruddiman’s forthcoming papers offering his explanation as to why humans avoided a stade attempt around the present time.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 May 2010 @ 8:42 PM

  599. On the formula T_{surface}^4 = (1+Opt) T_{e}^4 and it’s applicability:

    Re 570 Barton Paul Levenson, 574 John E. Pearson

    Thanks.

    The version I’ve seen:
    for n isothermal layers with 100 % emissivity and absorptivity upwards and downwards over the whole LW spectrum,
    and no absorption of solar radiation except at the surface,
    and the only flux is radiation (no convection),
    then
    at equilibrium, each layer j (let j=0 be the surface, so that j=0 to n), being isothermal, emits the same flux sigma*Tj^4 both upwards and downwards (but no net downward flux at the surface)
    The net flux Fj from j to j+1 is sigma*[Tj^4-T(j+1)^4]. The flux from the top layer is Fn = sigma*Tn^4, which must be equal to the absorbed solar flux, so Tn must be equal to Te. Since all solar radiation occurs at j=0, all Fj from j=0 to j=n must be equal. Thus, (dividing all terms by sigma):

    Fn/sigma = T(n-1)^4 – Tn^4 = Tn^4

    T(n-1)^4 = 2*Tn^4

    Fn/sigma = Tj^4 – T(j+1)^4 for all j from 0 to n-1.

    Tj^4 = Fn/sigma + T(j+1)^4 = Tn^4 + T(j+1)^4

    T0^4 = Tn^4 + T1^4 = Tn^4 + (Tn^4 + T2^4) = … = (1+n)*Tn^4

    T0 is the surface temperature Ts, and Tn is Te, so

    Ts^4 = (1+n)*Te^4

    Which agrees with Hartmann, “Global Physical Climatology”, 1994, p.62.

    To approximate the number of such layers, one could consider that the average distance a photon travels from emission to absorption (which is a unit optical thickness in the direction of travel, assuming no scattering or reflection). Because the flux of photons includes photons moving slantwise, the average vertical distance is actually 2/3 of a unit of vertical optical thickness if the radiation is isotropic (assuming optical properties are horizontally invariant) (see below). So if the formula Ts^4 = (1+n)*Te is meant to approximate an atmosphere (with all solar heating occuring at the surface, no convection (or conduction), purely emitting/absorbing greenhouse), perhaps (?) n **might** be approximately equal to 3/2 * optical thickness (while the radiation is not isotropic at any one vertical level, the more vertically-propagagting photons found at a higher level might ‘be isotropic’ in a sense with photons at different angles above (for downward photons) or below (for upward photons) – though I haven’t worked out the consequences of that). The fact that the T^4 changes linearly over vertical distance measured in optical thickness (except within the surface material) (and except for the skin temperature being greater than zero; see end of paragraph) helps, since the net flux between photon emission and photon absorption will be linearly proportional to vertical distance from emission to absorption and thus the average net flux should be equal to the net flux that would occur if all photons travelled the average distance from emission to absorption. **However**, this reasoning might not apply at/near the surface and top of the atmopshere; that might be one source of error. One issue: in a real atmosphere with optical thickness invariant over the LW spectrum at all heights (and quasi-LTE applying up to the highest levels considered), there will be a minimum nonzero ‘skin’ temperature within an optically-thin sliver of the highest layer, which is lower than Te but greater than zero; T doesn’t gradually go to zero going out to space in this model.

    (There will be a skin temperature in general, but the formula for “Tskin” when optical properties don’t vary with wavelength in the LW spectrum is Tskin^4 = 1/2 * Te^4; see Hartmann, p. 62)

    average vertical distance a photon travels (for isotropic radiation), in units of vertical optical thickness:
    in the vertical direction: 1
    at an angle q from vertical: cos(q)
    fraction of contribution of total flux per unit area that is between angles q and q+dq from vertical:
    1/pi * cos(q)*sin(q)*2*pi*dq
    averaged for isotropic radiation through a unit area:
    1/pi * integral from 0 to pi/2 of [ cos(q) * cos(q)*sin(q)*2*pi*dq ]
    =
    2 * integral from 0 to pi/2 of [ cos(q) * cos(q)*sin(q)*dq ]
    =
    1 * integral from 0 to pi/2 of [ cos(q) * sin(2*q)*dq ]
    =
    1/2 * integral from 0 to pi/2 of [ (sin(q) + sin(3*q))*dq ]
    =
    1/2 * (cos(0) – cos(pi/2)) + 1/6 * (cos(0) – cos(3*pi/2))
    = 2/3

    (used two of these formulas:)

    2*cos(a)*sin(b) = sin(b-a) + sin(b+a)

    2*cos(a)*cos(b) = cos(b-a) + cos(b+a)

    2*sin(a)*sin(b) = -cos(b-a) + cos(b+a)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 13 May 2010 @ 8:49 PM

  600. 581 CFU and Patrick: NOw that you two love-birds have agreed to agree I will try one more time, my question.

    I actually spent more time than I can justify reading Goody today, (the big expensive Goody: “Atmospheric Radiation”) which unfortunately evaporated when my laptop crashed. Forget about earth. forget about water. take a bone dry venus with no atmosphere at all. Give it the venusian albedo that we all know and love. It has a surface temperature. I dunno what it is but say 250K or thereabouts. T_s(0) ~= 250K. Now start adding CO2. Each time you add a dollop of CO2 wait forever and then measure the mean surface temperature. This gives a function: T_s([CO2]) for Venus. What is that function? Motl claims it’s logarithmic for P_{CO2} between .38 millibar and 90 bar. I don’t believe him. I think that random band models say that optical thickness starts off linear in CO2 and then roll over into square root. If you take the relation that T_s^4 =(1+t)T_e^4 seriously (which Goody sort of does, I think, t being the optical thickness) and you take t \propto CO2/(1+b sqrt(CO2)) Then you end up with an equilibrium surface temperature that goes as somewhere between the 4th and 8th root of CO2 which of course swamps the logarithmic dependence that is frequently quoted. But I’m shooting from the hip here and know full well that I might be completely wrong. What I do know is that there is precious little justification for assuming a fixed temperature increase for each doubling of CO2 over 18 doublings. surely somewhere someone has calculated T_s(CO2) for a pure CO2 atmosphere for a venus-like planet ?

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 13 May 2010 @ 8:49 PM

  601. … That formula for skin temperature assumes that solar heating of that layer with the skin temperature is zero.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 13 May 2010 @ 8:52 PM

  602. John (Burgy) Burgeson — 13 May 2010 @ 4:47 PM
    You might also point out to your friend that the rate of melt is much higher this year. I downloaded the data from http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/seaice/extent/plot.csv and calculated the rate of melt from the respective peaks through day 132 of each year and got the following:

    Year km^2/ day melt from max through day 132
    2010 52057
    2009 27281
    2008 33970
    2007 29792
    2006 28763
    2005 29340

    There’s lots of thin first year ice compared to prior years, and it melts fast once the temperatures get high enough – its much easier to defrost the freezer if its only got 1/4 inch of ice instead of 3/4 inch.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 13 May 2010 @ 9:10 PM

  603. John E Pearson:”I’m shooting from the hip here and know full well that I might be completely wrong. What I do know is that there is precious little justification for assuming a fixed temperature increase for each doubling of CO2 over 18 doublings. surely somewhere someone has calculated T_s(CO2) for a pure CO2 atmosphere for a venus-like planet ?”

    Venus’s surface is so hot, the much higher frequency asymmetric stretch band takes on more importance than it does on earth. Also, water is a huge greenhouse gas – it does not recondense on Venus. In essence – it is the heat and the humidity that makes Venus uncomfortable. :)

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 13 May 2010 @ 9:46 PM

  604. Except that there isn’t any water vapor to speak of in the Venusian atmosphere. It is about .0002 percent.

    Comment by Rattus Norvegicus — 13 May 2010 @ 10:39 PM

  605. 601 Patrick said: “That formula for skin temperature assumes that solar heating of that layer with the skin temperature is zero.”

    I’m not sure if you’re talking about the formula that i wrote on the previous page or not. That formula:

    T_s^4 = (1+t) T_e^4

    It’s not an equation for skin temperature. My eyes aren’t so good at reading fine print. I thought Goody had written “T_s” for surface temperature. What he wrote was “T_g” for ground temperature. I didn’t know that T_s was reserved for skin temperature. sorry about that.

    T_e is the black body temperature: T_e = (S (1-A)/4 sigma)^{1/4} where S is the Solar flux and A is the albedo and sigma is the stefan boltzmann constant. THe formula gives the surface temperature in terms of the number of emitting layers in the atmosphere (t) and the emitting temperature, T_e. Goody identifies “t” with the optical thickness. I understand that this leaves out all sorts of physics, but still it ought to give an answer. I’d be curious to know what the answer is. I think one could sort of kluge cooling due to convection. It looks to me though that the optical thickness varies far more strongly with CO2 than logarithmically. I haven’t worked through the random band model but as i understand it it assumes that the absorption bands obey a Poisson distribution which results in an optical thickness that starts off linear in X and then rolls over into sqrt(X) (where X is the amount of absorbing stuff) and that it is pretty good for real substances. It seems to me that it would easily give a crude approximation to venusian temperature that wouldn’t be horrible. Surely with all the smart people working on this stuff it has been done? It would be a pleasure to read it. If I’m dead wrong about this I’ll at least be stupid at a slightly higher level than i was a couple dyas ago.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 13 May 2010 @ 11:38 PM

  606. 603
    t_p_hamilton says:
    13 May 2010 at 9:46 PM

    John E Pearson:”I’m shooting from the hip here and know full well that I might be completely wrong. What I do know is that there is precious little justification for assuming a fixed temperature increase for each doubling of CO2 over 18 doublings. surely somewhere someone has calculated T_s(CO2) for a pure CO2 atmosphere for a venus-like planet ?”

    Venus’s surface is so hot, the much higher frequency asymmetric stretch band takes on more importance than it does on earth. Also, water is a huge greenhouse gas – it does not recondense on Venus. In essence – it is the heat and the humidity that makes Venus uncomfortable. :)”

    There is almost no water vapour on venus. Therefore it plays no role as a greenhouse gas on that planet.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 13 May 2010 @ 11:45 PM

  607. > a pure CO2 atmosphere … Venus
    Did you Google/Scholar for those phrases?
    Perhaps one of the hits is what you want?
    http://www.google.com/search?q=T_s(CO2)+for+a+pure+CO2+atmosphere+for+a+venus-like+planet
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=T_s(CO2)+for+a+pure+CO2+atmosphere+for+a+venus-like+planet

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 May 2010 @ 12:33 AM

  608. Brian Dodge, 13 May 2010 at 9:10 PM

    Been plotting the same with JAXA data and of course a staunch aint true-ist said it was still within normal ‘range’, whatever that meant, but he stayed very mum when presented with this new chart from the Uni Washington:

    http://psc.apl.washington.edu/ArcticSeaiceVolume/images/SPIOMASIceVolumeAnomalyCurrent.png

    They wrote to update the graph frequently. Spread out as 1 meter thick ice, that’s 8 million km square missing in the Arctic… and then it turned ominously silent. A too inconvenient truth I suppose.

    Comment by Sekerob — 14 May 2010 @ 2:20 AM

  609. Walter, on REbunking, you were posting when GKarst and Rod B were last going on about how the ice was growing and when told that the volume was lower, there was all that argument about whether they could measure thickness of ice (and their response was “it could be isostatic rebound or something under the mantle moving…”).

    So there the argument about growing ice was debunked.

    Yes, YOU never posted on there as far as I recall, but the argument was debunked.

    Going through that all again is REbunking.

    And that argument about “sea ice growing! Global Cooling!” has been debunked so many times.

    This is also why they’re called zombie arguments: the argument is brought up by one zombie (“brains!). That zombie is given a 10-gauge. Then it comes back in another (different) zombie (“braaaains!”). Repeat ad nauseum corpulenta.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 May 2010 @ 2:52 AM

  610. Completely Fed Up:

    Trying to understand. Does this mean that if some C14 is removed from that atmosphere (eg by dissolving in the sea, being absorbed by plants), some C12 is then released into the atmosphere as a result? [perhaps because of saturation of the sea with CO2?]

    So if I inject x tonnes of radiocarbon CO2 into the atmosphere and, N years later, there is only x/2 tonnes remaining in the atmosphere this does *not* indicate that the half-life of CO2 in the atmosphere is N years?

    (Assuming assuming N yr << 5730 , the half life of C14 in years, also neglecting the difference of physical properties between compounds of C14 and C12.)

    How about we try that? (snip) This one is easy to show. Just stop burning fossil fuels and measure how the CO2 reduces!>

    This assumes that CO2 levels are not varying because of other causes than burning fossil fuels – right?

    Thank you for your help.

    Comment by Martin A — 14 May 2010 @ 6:14 AM

  611. hank,
    thanks again. and again, that john cook site is great. it’s written just at my level…. i do understand the tentative nature of scientific conclusions. i understand every “conclusion” is held with varying degrees of certainty – and i’m ok with that. and it looks like there’s considerable uncertainty here. it’s good to see that there is pretty good agreement all the way up to the “divergence”. and it’s good to see that only a few series are divergent.

    CFU,
    i understand you’re completely fed up….but sheesh…chill out. i appreciate the substance of your replies.

    Comment by Walter Crain — 14 May 2010 @ 6:42 AM

  612. WC 572,

    SOME of the tree rings deviate at that point, not all or even most. People are researching why.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 May 2010 @ 7:08 AM

  613. Okay, I got something way wrong.

    I officially withdraw my certainty that human civilization will end in the next 40 years. I may be right, but the proof isn’t as clear as I thought.

    I was going from two figures, always a risky thing to do–Dai et al. (2004)’s assertion that the fraction of land in “severe drought” by the PDSI (< -3.0) was 12% in 1970 and 30% in 2002. I extrapolated linearly, then geometrically. Dumb. In effect, cherry-picking, although I didn't know it.

    I've been emailing back-and-forth with Dr. Dai on how to use his raw data, which he has thoughtfully provided on the internet. I finally put it together and created annual series for (a) mean global PDSI and (b) global land fraction in severe drought for the years 1870-2005 (N = 136). I get about 26% of variance of the latter accounted for with a quadratic fit, and the mean prediction for reaching 70% in drought (my threshold for when human agriculture collapses) isn't met until the year 2150.

    The series jogs up and down quite a lot. The trend is up, but not nearly as simply as I thought.

    I'm still working on what accounts for the values, and I may come up with better estimates later. But for now, I can no longer honestly maintain that human civilization will end in 40 years or less due to increasing drought. I'm back to "I don't know when it will end, I just know it will if we keep burning fossil fuels."

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 May 2010 @ 7:18 AM

  614. Martin, try here:
    http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~archer/reprints/montenegro.2007.fate_CO2.pdf

    You can find much confusion about carbon-14 on the john daly and Marshall Institute pages, going back a decade or more, including correspondence with some climate scientists trying to straighten them out. This is one of those areas where a few words on a blog don’t suffice, or none I’ve found. If anyone knows of a FAQ on it, a pointer would be useful.

    Walter, the main point is that the divergence is very recent; something changed in the last decade or three. You may well be able to guess what’s the most likely explanation, and why a lot of confusion is being thrown into the discussion by people who don’t like that possibility.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 May 2010 @ 9:17 AM

  615. 607: Hank asked: a pure CO2 atmosphere … Venus
    “Did you Google/Scholar for those phrases?”

    Of course I did. I even posted links to some of those hits. But none of them have the thing I am asking about which is what is the equilibrium ground temperature for T_g(CO2) for a pure CO2 atmosphere on a venus-like planet.

    Eventually I came across Barton’s page: http://bartonpaullevenson.com/NewPlanetTemps.html

    which is just the sort of thing I had in mind. Barton used a square root dependence for optical thickness as a function of [CO2]. I didn’t get very far in the random band model in Goody (Atmospheric Radiation) before my laptop crashed but I’m pretty sure the random band model gives something like ahhh.
    Here is a nice page on it: http://scienceofdoom.com/2010/02/05/co2-an-insignificant-trace-gas-part-four/ who says: “and especially important, it will help you see the problems with a flawed approach. There are lots of these on the internet. There isn’t a nice tidy analytical expression which links radiative forcing to CO2 concentration, and which separates out CO2 from water vapor. ”
    I’ve given up on the nice tidy analytical expression although I think Barton has one which presumably came from one of his references. This science-of-doom site is pretty good. He’s going to explain in terms that a simpleton like me can understand http://scienceofdoom.com/2010/02/10/co2-–-an-insignificant-trace-gas-part-five/ This one has the awesome section: “Where does the IPCC Logarithmic Function come from?” http://scienceofdoom.com/2010/02/19/co2-an-insignificant-trace-gas-part-seven-the-boring-numbers/ He says: “this isn’t a derived expression which comes from simplifying down the radiative transfer equations in one fell swoop! Instead, it comes from running lots of values of CO2 through the standard 1d model we have discussed, and plotting the numbers on a graph:” The really cool thing is that he provides hooks into the literature (i.e. references) for everything he says.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 14 May 2010 @ 9:21 AM

  616. Of course, the upshot of my post to the science of doom links is that Motl’s claim that dT ~ log(CO2) is nonsense. That result holds for earth. Not venus. And the curve shows a logarithmic profile for [CO2] ranging from 300ppm to 1000ppm. The claim that such a relationship comes from Beer’s law and that it holds over many orders of magnitude is pure nonsense.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 14 May 2010 @ 9:28 AM

  617. “i appreciate the substance of your replies.”

    Thanks.

    “i understand you’re completely fed up….but sheesh…chill out.”

    Well I could ask the same. Cut back on the drama queen. “Oh noes! We have some uncertainty!!!” is being a drama queen.

    Chill out and put that uncertainty in context and accept that there is only a manufactured problem.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 May 2010 @ 9:38 AM

  618. BPL wrote: “… 70% in drought (my threshold for when human agriculture collapses) …”

    I’m curious as to the basis for that particular threshold.

    It would seem to make a difference which 70 percent of land is in drought.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 May 2010 @ 9:38 AM

  619. Ray @ 554:

    We know how to deal with this threat. We know the threat is real. We merely have a substantial portion of the population who persistently refuse to recognize objective reality.

    I disagree. I think the problem has nothing to do with refusing to RECOGNIZE objective reality, and much more with not having a clue how to evaluate what is or isn’t objective reality.

    And while bashing the American education system is off-topic, I blame the American educational system: telling children they are “wrong” has been unpopular for the past 30+ years. It might harm their self-esteem, and it’s “better” for children to have high self-esteem than critical thinking skills that can be used to evaluate “correct” versus “incorrect” answers.

    (That and this weird religious belief that G-d somehow isn’t going to allow us to destroy the planet, when the bible says nothing of the sort. I’d argue that Jesus’ “Parable of the Talents” speaks to the rewards for good stewardship, not that I believe in Jesus — much more into “WWMD” than “WWJD”)

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 14 May 2010 @ 9:48 AM

  620. BPL @ 613:

    I officially withdraw my certainty that human civilization will end in the next 40 years. I may be right, but the proof isn’t as clear as I thought.

    Glad to see the correction ;)

    If you’re interested in more reliable gloom-and-doom scenarios, look into food production as a function of liquid fuels availability. There’s good evidence (see Google …) for the world being at to slightly past Peak Oil. I think that’ll give you the evidence for “The Sky is Falling!” that you need.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 14 May 2010 @ 9:55 AM

  621. “Trying to understand. Does this mean that if some C14 is removed from that atmosphere (eg by dissolving in the sea, being absorbed by plants), some C12 is then released into the atmosphere as a result?”

    Rather it’s that the release of C12 vs C14 depends on the proportion of C12 vs C14 in the biological reservoir.

    Taking the numbers for illustration only:

    5 units in the biosphere. 1 C14, 4 C12.
    5 units in atmosphere. 1 C14, 4 C12

    When the biosphere lets go, it’s 4x more likely to be C12 than C14. Therefore the atmosphere PROPORTION of C14 won’t change.

    Boom.

    Now it’s

    5 units in the biosphere. 1 C14, 4 C12
    5 units in atmosphere. 2 C14, 3 C12

    Doubled in the atmosphere.

    But when the biosphere lets go, it’s 4x more likely to be C12 than C14. Therefore more likely to be C12 than it is in the atmosphere. This dilutes C14 concentrations.

    When in this case the atmosphere deposits carbon, it’s twice as likely to C12 than C14, so it’s more likely to let go of a C14 atom than it was before, reducing the amount of C14 again.

    Eventually it will get to equilibrium where

    5 units in biosphere: 1.5 units C14, 3.5 units C12
    5 units in atmosphere: 1.5 units C14, 3.5 units C12

    Since that graph shows ATMOSPHERIC concentrations of C14 compared to C12, the C14 concentration measured will drop. this has not sequestered any carbon whatsoever.

    Therefore the reduction of C14 from the bomb tests measured in the atmosphere isn’t going to measure the sequestration of carbon out of the atmosphere.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 May 2010 @ 9:56 AM

  622. “There is almost no water vapour on venus. Therefore it plays no role as a greenhouse gas on that planet.”

    There’s almost no water vapour on earth (it’s a trace gas).

    There’s almost no CO2 on earth. There’s almost no O3 on earth.

    This doesn’t stop them being an effect.

    tp may be wrong, but your reason isn’t the reason why.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 May 2010 @ 9:59 AM

  623. BPL wrote: “I officially withdraw my certainty that human civilization will end in the next 40 years.”

    Somehow that reminds me of my childhood — growing up during the Cold War (e.g. Cuban missile crisis) and knowing that human civilization could end in 40 minutes on any given day.

    I suppose it should be a relief to think that we have as much as 40 years — and maybe even more.

    Of course during the Cold War, it was a question of whether someone would “push the button”, and no one did (at least not so far; there are still thousands of nuclear weapons locked and loaded and ready to launch).

    In the present case of global warming, we know we have already, in effect, “pushed the button”, and we are just waiting for the air raid sirens to start wailing.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 May 2010 @ 10:32 AM

  624. “I disagree. I think the problem has nothing to do with refusing to RECOGNIZE objective reality, and much more with not having a clue how to evaluate what is or isn’t objective reality.”

    I think so too.

    It’s a deliberate ploy by the powerful to ensure they retain it: make everything a matter of opinion and you can stifle any debate by merely disagreeing. Or paying someone to disagree.

    We had the MTV generation where attention spans were reduced to sub-goldfish levels.

    Now we have the Fox generation, where anyone who knows something is elitist and anyone who disagrees is closed minded and all facts are merely opinions.

    Then big up the “ordinary joe” mentality and make the lazy comfortable with their ignorance. When that’s achieved enough to be visible, make them PROUD of their ignorance.

    Now you have a pool of people who, proud of their ignorance, afraid of being wrong and scornful of people who “know things” that will argue down any inconvenient facts for you.

    Witness the teabaggers fighting for more bank profits against their best interests: all the talking heads had to do was raise the spectre of Gubment Inteverntion Leads To Communism and they do your work for you.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 May 2010 @ 10:38 AM

  625. Steckis said:”There is almost no water vapour on venus. Therefore it plays no role as a greenhouse gas on that planet.”

    Icarus Volume 150, Issue 1, March 2001, Pages 19-37
    The Recent Evolution of Climate on Venus

    Mark A. Bullock and David H. Grinspoon

    Department of Space Studies, Southwest Research Institute, 1050 Walnut Street, Suite 426, Boulder, Colorado, 80302, f1
    Received 26 May 1998;
    revised 5 October 2000.
    Available online 4 March 2002.

    Abstract

    The present climate of Venus is controlled by an efficient carbon dioxide–water greenhouse effect and by the radiative properties of its global cloud cover. Both the greenhouse effect and clouds are sensitive to perturbations in the abundance of atmospheric water vapor and sulfur gases. Planetary-scale processes involving the release, transport, and sequestering of volatiles affect these abundances over time, driving changes in climate.

    We have developed a numerical model of the climate evolution of Venus. Atmospheric temperatures are calculated using a one-dimensional two-stream radiative–convective model that treats the transport of thermal infrared radiation in the atmosphere and clouds. These radiative transfer calculations are the first to utilize high-temperature, high-resolution spectral databases for the calculation of infrared absorption and scattering in Venus’ atmosphere. We use a chemical/microphysical model of Venus’ clouds to calculate changes in cloud structure that result from variations in atmospheric water and sulfur dioxide. Atmospheric abundances of water, sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide change under the influence of the exospheric escape of hydrogen, outgassing from the interior, and heterogeneous reactions with surface minerals.

    Radar images from the Magellan mission show that the surface of Venus has been geologically active on a global scale, yet its sparse impact cratering record is almost pristine. This geologic record on Venus is consistent with an epoch of rapid plains emplacement 600–1100 Myr ago. Our models show that intense volcanic outgassing of sulfur dioxide and water during this time would have resulted in the formation of massive sulfuric acid/water clouds and the cooling of the surface for 100–300 Myr. The thick clouds would have subsequently given way to high, thin water clouds as atmospheric sulfur dioxide was lost to reactions with the surface. Surface temperatures approaching 900 K would have been reached 200–500 Myr after the onset of volcanic resurfacing. Evolution to current conditions would have proceeded due to loss of atmospheric water at the top of the atmosphere, ongoing low-level volcanism, and the reappearance of sulfuric acid/water clouds. We find that the maintenance of sulfuric acid/water clouds on Venus today requires sources of outgassed sulfur active in the past 20–50 Myr, in contrast with the 1.9 Myr as determined from geochemical arguments alone (B. Fegley and R. G. Prinn 1989, Nature337, 55–58).

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 14 May 2010 @ 10:44 AM

  626. Rattus Norvegis said:”Except that there isn’t any water vapor to speak of in the Venusian atmosphere. It is about .0002 percent.”

    0.0002 percent of a huge atmosphere. CO2 on earth is 0.038% of a 1 atm,

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 14 May 2010 @ 10:48 AM

  627. OT:

    Vermont State Climatologist: Why Is That Link Still There?

    The VSC is prominently linking a Fraser Institute document that is filled with errors and misleading/missing information. Although alerted to this over 6 months ago, the link is still there! Story detailed in link above.

    Comment by Scott A Mandia — 14 May 2010 @ 10:52 AM

  628. FCH@619, I’m afraid I agree with you on our educational system. The rabble over at Watts-up-’is-arse is a prime example of people making it through our educational system without learning the very important lesson that they are stupid.

    Actually, what they remind me of are the pre-med punks I used to have in algebra-based physics who get the physics on the exam or homework entirely wrong, but then claim they deserve partial credit for throwing in some Greek letters.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 May 2010 @ 10:52 AM

  629. “FCH@619, I’m afraid I agree with you on our educational system.”

    Ray, I think you ought to consider not the educational system (which is run down for other reasons: mostly “why should I pay for other people’s kids’ education?”) but the attitude of the *adults*.

    Remember too, the youth are more likely to find AGW both real and worrisome. The youth are also more likely to use the internet to locate many sources of information and actually investigate claims. Even with the echo chamber, most anti arguments are so weak and the counter so obvious, any honest attempt to research kills many of the ditto arguments around.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 May 2010 @ 11:01 AM

  630. CFU @ 629

    I try to be that optimistic, then I hold my nose and visit the comments section on an article like this http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100514/ap_on_sc/climate I start to get infuriated and go to respond, only to give up fighting the incredible volume of wrong comments. It really is substantial and leads me to be cynical. Sometimes I spend a lot of time going through the comments here and forget what it’s like “out there”. The difference is incredible.

    Comment by Nick Dearth — 14 May 2010 @ 11:34 AM

  631. 613, BPL: I officially withdraw my certainty that human civilization will end in the next 40 years. I may be right, but the proof isn’t as clear as I thought.

    I am glad to read that. There are still other risks: EU and US debt; unions of government employees (including teachers’ unions); Islamist militarism; HIV/AIDS, malaria, extensively drug-resistant TB, influenza; the boy armies of Africa; the end of cheap energy. I am not facetious: these are low-probability risks, but not totally negligible over the 40-year span that you mention.

    Consider the boy armies of Africa: they do not now look like a threat to Egypt, Sudan or S. Africa, but they destroyed the modern economy of Zimbabwe under the leadership of Robert Mugabe, and they seem to be spreading — it depends on which recent reports are most reliable.

    In specific locales there are other threats, such as the threat of earthquakes in Haiti and Chile.

    I only mention this because I think it is unwise to write of the threat of AGW as though it is the only potentially devastating threat.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 14 May 2010 @ 12:19 PM

  632. Barton Paul Levenson says: 14 May 2010 at 7:18 AM

    Thank you for quantifying how we are not significantly doomed, yet.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 14 May 2010 @ 12:31 PM

  633. CFU wrote: “Ray, I think you ought to consider not the educational system … but the attitude of the *adults*.”

    Here’s something to consider when thinking about why and how people form their views of “objective reality”.

    Earlier this month, 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences, including 11 Nobel laureates, signed a letter defending climate science against politically and financially motivated attacks. The letter said in part:

    We are deeply disturbed by the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular. All citizens should understand some basic scientific facts. There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions; science never absolutely proves anything. When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet [...]

    There is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend [...]

    Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence [...] there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change.

    The letter was submitted to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal for consideration as an op-ed piece.

    ALL THREE NEWSPAPERS DECLINED TO PRINT IT.

    Note that the Washington Post has seen fit to publish op-eds on climate change by Sarah Palin, George Will and other so-called “conservative pundits”, but did not think that an op-ed signed by 255 leading scientists was fit to print. Likewise the New York Times — which routinely runs front-page advertisements from ExxonMobil. And of course the Wall Street Journal has printed one anti-science denialist screed after another on its op-ed pages.

    The letter was published in the journal Science — where it will be ignored by the US mass media and pass largely unnoticed by the US public.

    Mis-education continues long after graduation.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 May 2010 @ 12:49 PM

  634. CFU,

    WV is typically found in concentrations around 10x of CO2 (~4,000ppmv or so). On Venus it is something like 2ppmv.

    Comment by Rattus Norvegicus — 14 May 2010 @ 12:52 PM

  635. > I think it is unwise to write of the threat of AGW as though
    > it is the only potentially devastating threat.

    Have you any example of any such cluelessness anywhere, anytime?
    Citation needed.

    In other news, it is unwise to write of the taste of chocolate as the only potentially enjoyable experience. Life is unalterably more complex.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 May 2010 @ 1:00 PM

  636. 624, Completely Fed Up: Witness the teabaggers fighting for more bank profits against their best interests: all the talking heads had to do was raise the spectre of Gubment Inteverntion Leads To Communism and they do your work for you.

    I am surprised that the moderators let this in. Not only is it ignorant, insulting and obscene, but it dilutes the main message of RealClimate that you know a lot of atmospheric science.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 14 May 2010 @ 1:11 PM

  637. Re 625, 626 t_p_hamilton says: VERY interesting! Thanks!

    I think 0.38 % for Earth is the water mass fraction; molar fraction being somewhere around 0.5 % – and that’s the whole atmosphere; it’s relatively concentrated near the surface at lower latitudes in particular.

    So is 0.0002 % for Venus a mass fraction or a molar fraction? And how much of that is way up high, where it has the biggest impact on outgoing LW radiation (OLR)?

    Of course, we also have to multiply 90 bars/ 1 bar by Earth’s gravitational acceleration / Venus’s gravitational acceleration to get the mass ratio…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 May 2010 @ 1:12 PM

  638. Septic Matthew wrote: “There are still other risks: EU and US debt; unions of government employees (including teachers’ unions) … I only mention this because I think it is unwise to write of the threat of AGW as though it is the only potentially devastating threat.”

    I am interested in just exactly how you believe teachers’ unions threaten to cause mass extinctions, continent-wide mega-droughts, the failure of agriculture worldwide and ensuing global famine, the loss of fresh water supplies for billions of people, the destruction of oceanic food webs, and global ecological meltdown.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 May 2010 @ 1:18 PM

  639. - Nick Dearth @ around 630

    The yahoo news comments sections are often seriously disturbing. While there are some thoughtful factual comments there, they always seem to get buried amongst total nonsense.
    And when people try to correct the nonsense – it just gets hidden in the replies where no one sees them or vanishes in the long line of posts.
    Every denialsphere comment on climate is there and the commentors reenforce each others ignorance.
    I sometimes read Wired magazine’s science articles and the same behavior of instantly attacking any article that mentions global warming is there.
    I guess once being environmentally conscious got labeled “leftist” and “liberal” then in today’s political environment, the attack dogs are out to kill no matter that the issue could care less what your political stripes are.

    Comment by Donna — 14 May 2010 @ 1:26 PM

  640. Septic Matthew,
    I know of no one who is suggesting we ignore those other threats. I am particularly concerned about climate change for one major reason: I cannot bound the risk. There are some scenarios with nonzero probability that if played out would result in an absolutely massive dieback of human population and the end of human civilization. I cannot preclude those based on what I know of the probability calculus of climate change at present.

    None of the other threats you mention can come close to having such an impact. Unbounded risks worry me.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 May 2010 @ 1:30 PM

  641. And also how is it that teachers’ unions will cause the displacement of hundreds of millions of people from low-lying coastal areas, including many of the USA’s major cities?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 May 2010 @ 1:32 PM

  642. > teachers’ unions threaten

    I think what’s threatened by teachers is well explained here.
    It’s the belief “that the Market is the superior information processor par excellence…. that science progresses when everyone can buy the type of science they like ….”

    http://www.ssrc.org/publications/view/EEE91C8F-AC35-DE11-AFAC-001CC477EC70/ (abstract)
    http://www.ssrc.org/workspace/images/crm/new_publication_3/%7Beee91c8f-ac35-de11-afac-001cc477ec70%7D.pdf (full text)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 May 2010 @ 2:00 PM

  643. Barton #613, I’m glad you worked that out.

    Now if only I wasn’t raising a family in one of those places the models predict will dry out. (Actually, to be specific, worse: one of those places that may not dry out, but whose bigger, badder neighboring countries will.)

    Comment by CM — 14 May 2010 @ 2:12 PM

  644. Completely Fed Up: Many thanks – I get your point. Including that there are several processes each with its own half-life and equilibrium level – all of which will be interdependent.

    But it seems to me that the time constant (related directly to the half-life) for the atmospheric C14 curve will also be the time constant for all atmospheric CO2 . (Physical differences due to the different atomic weights being neglected.)

    If you’ll excuse the use of electrical analogies, the system can be represented as:

    * A capacitor Ca, representing the atmosphere’s capacity to hold CO2. The voltage across this capacitor represents the mass of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    * A capacitor Cb, representing the biosphere’s capacity to hold CO2. The voltage across this capacitor represents the mass of CO2 in the biosphere.

    One end of each capacitor is grounded.

    * A resistor R connects ‘hot’ ends of the two capacitors. The current flowing via the resistor from Ca to Cb represents the flow of CO2 from the atmosphere to the biosphere and the current flowing from Cb to Ca represents the flow of CO2 from the biosphere to the atmosphere.

    In equilibrium, the two currents are equal and their sum is zero.

    If I now dump some CO2 in the atmosphere, this is equivalent to instantly increasing the voltage to which Ca is charged. The voltage across Ca will then decrease, following an exponential curve proportional to exp(-t/T), until ultimately the system is once again in equilibrium, with a new steady voltage across Ca and a new steady voltage across Cb. T depends in a simple way on R, Ca and Cb.

    T, the time-constant of the system, depends only on the resistor value and the capacitor values. It does not depend on voltages to which the capacitors are charged. Hence my belief that the time constant for transfer of all CO2 from the atmosphere to the biosphere is the same as the time constant given in the reference for the transfer of carbon14 CO2.

    A more complicated analogy could be produced with a capacitor to represent the capacity of the seas to hold CO2 and so on.

    I hope this makes sense. If anyone spots a fallacy, I’d be pleased for it to be pointed out.

    Comment by Martin A — 14 May 2010 @ 2:28 PM

  645. Septic Matthew @ 630:

    The problem is that many of those problems are self-limiting either in duration or scope. If we don’t start using alternatives to liquid fuels, the transportation needed to move goods and materials to build the alternatives is going to be negatively impacted.

    In contrast, okay, so Zimbabwe has had a civil war and some huge number of people have died. And that affects other countries, or other generations, =how=?

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 14 May 2010 @ 2:36 PM

  646. A little tangent to the solar hot water discussion. Yesterday I painted part of my roof bright white. (The part that had been flat black tar, using a special roofing silicone.) It might take a while for this to pay for itself in terms of reduced cooling costs, but it’s a better investment than most, and is a small personal contribution to planetary albedo. Anyway, it was rather impressive how hot the black surface was despite the air temperature being much lower. So I’ve no doubt that we could save an enormous amount of energy as a nation with solar pre-heaters.

    Comment by GFW — 14 May 2010 @ 2:43 PM

  647. RS 606: There is almost no water vapour on venus. Therefore it plays no role as a greenhouse gas on that planet.

    BPL: There is about 300 pascals of water vapor pressure on Venus, compared to 392 on Earth. It’s enough to add about 1.6 to the semigray IR optical depth. Of course, the CO2 adds about 86, so the water vapor contributes only a couple of percent. But not nothing.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 May 2010 @ 3:02 PM

  648. 638, Secular Animist: I am interested in just exactly how you believe teachers’ unions threaten to cause mass extinctions, continent-wide mega-droughts, the failure of agriculture worldwide and ensuing global famine, the loss of fresh water supplies for billions of people, the destruction of oceanic food webs, and global ecological meltdown.

    1. the threat is to civilization.

    2. the threat is very low.

    3. public employees unions (including teachers’ unions) compel policies that lead to bankrupting governments, dependence on governments, lead to reduced economic growth, which in turns lead to reduced ability to respond to financial panics and natural disasters — as in Greece, Argentina, Detroit and California. Of course, those are not “the end of civilization”, but they are as close to “the end of civilization” as AGW is likely to produce.

    4. the threat is slight, about equal to the threat posed to democracy by big business.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 14 May 2010 @ 3:29 PM

  649. MartinA, you are forgetting that the atmosphere, ocean and biosphere constantly exchange CO2. Humans have injected around 320 Gt of fossil carbon and counting into not just the atmosphere, but into the entire active carbon cycle. It’s not the residence time of any individual CO2 molecule in the atmosphere that maters, but how long atmospheric CO2 levels will remain elevated while that massive slug of CO2 remains in the carbon cycle. Remember, the only permanent removal from the cycle takes place on geologic time scales.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 14 May 2010 @ 3:29 PM

  650. Off Topic

    This is a little off topic, but Climate Denial Crock of the Week needs your help. Nothing more than an online vote on your part can insure that it is supported (by a $5000 grant) for a year.

    For those of you who are not familiar with it, Climate Crock is a weekly video put out by Peter Sinclair that typically picks some point of denialist propaganda (but recently devoted two issues to tearing down “Lord” Monckton), then devastatingly critiques it. The critiques are highly informative, told with humor and very approachable. The videos themselves? Very professional productions.

    To give you a taste of what it covers, here are some of the more recent myths its critiqued (… and in parentheses the titles of the episodes that covered them):

    Stolen CRU emails ‘prove’ … (“Smacking the Hack Attack”), Fighting climate change hurts the poor (“Denial was a River in Africa”), The Medieval Warm Period proves climate change is natural (“The Medieval Warming Crock”), The EPA censored scientist Alan Carlin (“Creepy at the EPA”), Arctic ice is recovering (“Polar Ice Update: Arctic Perennial Ice and Methane”, “Ice Area vs Volume’: Debunking the ‘Ice is back to 1979 levels’ idiocy”), The climate models are unreliable (“This Year’s Model: Climate models and modeling”), Climate change is good for plants and crops (“Don’t it make my Green World Brown: CO2 and plant growth”), Water vapour, not CO2 is driving climate change (“The Big Mist Take”), CO2 is not driving climate change (“Sense from Deniers on CO2? Don’t hold your breath…”), The ‘lag’ shows CO2 does not cause climate change (“The ‘Temp leads Carbon’ Crock”)…

    It is a great asset to our online pro-science community that deserves to be widely publicized. To see the videos, please visit:

    Climate Denial Crock of the Week
    http://greenfyre.wordpress.com/

    To give it your vote of support so that it may be financially supported for the next twelve months, please sign up and vote here:

    Climate Denial Crock of the Week
    http://brighterplanet.com/project_fund_projects/138

    Note that you will have 3 votes — all of which you can give to “Climate Denial Crock of the Week” if you choose to do so. However, if your vote is to count, you need to vote today.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 14 May 2010 @ 4:17 PM

  651. CORRECTION

    The link to the videos for Climate Denial Crock of the Week is:

    http://greenfyre.wordpress.com/denier-vs-skeptic/denier-myths-debunked/climate-denial-crock-of-the-week

    (The blog software edited the link that had created.)

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 14 May 2010 @ 4:27 PM

  652. Le me second Tim and urge everyone to go vote for Peter

    You need to vote today because voting closes tonight and Peter is behind by some 260 votes at the moment.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 14 May 2010 @ 4:33 PM

  653. “But it seems to me that the time constant (related directly to the half-life) for the atmospheric C14 curve will also be the time constant for all atmospheric CO2 .”

    Then you haven’t understood a thing.

    There’s no point continuing the lesson. It’s ended.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 May 2010 @ 4:35 PM

  654. “Not only is it ignorant, insulting and obscene,”

    In what way?

    Because you don’t like it?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 May 2010 @ 4:37 PM

  655. “WV is typically found in concentrations around 10x of CO2 (~4,000ppmv or so). On Venus it is something like 2ppmv.”

    And O3?

    When we missed that we had a big problem…

    ppb?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 May 2010 @ 4:38 PM

  656. Secular Animist wrote in 633:

    Here’s something to consider when thinking about why and how people form their views of “objective reality”.

    Earlier this month, 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences, including 11 Nobel laureates, signed a letter defending climate science against politically and financially motivated attacks. The letter said in part: …

    The Washington Post, NYTimes and Wall Street Journal may have refused to print it, but across the pond at The Guardian UK we have:

    Open letter: Climate change and the integrity of science
    Full text of an open letter from 255 members of the US National Academy of Sciences in defence of climate research
    6 May 2010
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/06/climate-science-open-letter

    … and the article printed on the same day:

    Leading scientists condemn ‘political assaults’ on climate researchers
    Celia Cole, 6 May 2010
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/06/climate-science-open-letter-nas

    A bit of good news…

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 14 May 2010 @ 4:42 PM

  657. “Mis-education continues long after graduation.”

    Palin is milking the market. Murdock is milking the market. These are not uneducated people (well, maybe Palin, but she’s not as ignorant of her failings as she seems: she’s marketing her failings).

    The parents are being mis-educated by such bias journalism who are pandering to what makes them comfortable and scaring with what they’ve been led to believe is a scourge.

    But it wasn’t the education system that let them down, except by poor management by the population.

    But kids willing to question their parents will look and find.

    They may reject what they find from discomfort either in the message or in the censure of their peers and “betters”.

    But they WILL find.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 May 2010 @ 4:44 PM

  658. Martin A (644) — Electrical analogy is fine for the net flux between resevoirs for any linear system. So as long as you are willing to use a linear approxiamtion, that’ll work. By the way, ratio of atmosphere to ocean carbon is about 730:38000 so you surely need to represent the ocean.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 14 May 2010 @ 4:57 PM

  659. Re 610 Martin A CO2 half life -

    A perturbation of the amount of atmospheric CO2 has several half-lives, at it first decays towards an equilibrium with the upper ocean, while that equilibrium decays towards one with organic C on land (? or not, I’m not sure about that part?), and then that equilibrium takes a long time to decay towards equilibrium with the deep ocean, while at the same time the CO2 in the ocean comes to equilibrium with carbonate minerals, and then over many many many many thousands of years, the CO2 of the whole non-geologic reservoir comes to equilibrium via an imbalance between chemical weathering of some silicate minerals, organic C burial, and geologic emissions; climate itself can affect the equilibria.

    There’s a difference between the longevity of a change in amount of CO2 in total and the residence time of a CO2 molecule. If there is a disequilibrium of C between two reservoirs, that might be expected to decay over the same time frame as the mixing of C atoms among the two – however, if this disequilibrium is caused by a change in the total amount of C among them, then the equilibrium values will be different then before (and their proportions could be different, too). And then the two-reservoir system may also be in disequilibrium with other reservoirs… etc.

    See also

    http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/interactive-carbon-cycle-model/
    From a link from that, I calculate some residence times for C atoms – see and of this comment:
    http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/interactive-carbon-cycle-model/#comment-1432
    and maybe a link or two I put in here:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/unforced-variations/comment-page-21/#comment-151663
    ******Such as:

    David Archer (4 June 2008) The millennial atmospheric lifetime of anthropogenic CO2, Climatic Change, 90:283–297
    http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~archer/reprints/archer.2008.tail_implications.pdf

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 May 2010 @ 4:57 PM

  660. Ray Ladbury says: 14 May 2010 at 1:30 PM

    Unbounded risks worry me.

    And you’ll hear, “Oh, but we can adapt!”

    No, we can’t, unless “adaptation” means fleeing from large swathes of the globe we’re now busily filling with humans. See this summary of our physiological capacity to tolerate high wet-bulb temperatures, “Heat stress: setting an upper limit on what we can adapt to”

    Of course, the response to this is predictable: “7 degrees is a upper, extreme worst-case scenario!” Surely, but what about weather? We’re not talking about a geographically smooth, uniform upward swerve, rather for any given location we’re looking at a series of excursions with an upward trend. So we won’t need to get to a worst-case scenario before we see increasing statistical inevitability manifest itself in the form of abandonment of previously livable geography.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 14 May 2010 @ 5:34 PM

  661. Would love to sign up at Brighter Planet, really enjoy Climate Denial Crock Of The Week, but it keeps asking me to type myriad two word Captcha thingies… My ex-girlfriend’s consultant neurosurgeon was, erm, a consultant on McEwan’s novel, Saturday. He did his research thoroughly. Haven’t read Solar but fully intend to. Incidentally, back in the 1970s, I tended what was apparently the biggest array of solar panels in the UK which was used to heat the outdoor swimming-pool at my school, St Christopher, Letchworth Garden City, UK. God knows how effective they were. The water from the pool was pumped along the top of the angled, matt-black panels and ran down through them, to be pumped back into the pool. It was good fun, but they kept springing leaks. The school was very progressive – vegetarian, had its own school council where we could make basic school law, and we called all our teachers by their first names. I campaigned for the then Ecology Party in the 1979 Thatcher landslide. Over 30 years later the UK has got its first Green MP. Hallelujah…

    Comment by Joe Cushley — 14 May 2010 @ 6:53 PM

  662. SecularAnimist, (#633)
    you said,
    “Earlier this month, 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences, including 11 Nobel laureates, signed a letter defending climate science against politically and financially motivated attacks….”

    nice list! i saw 7 JIMs! (and one “jay”)

    ****PROJECT JIM****

    Comment by Walter Crain — 14 May 2010 @ 7:42 PM

  663. For those wanting to vote for Peter Sinclairs Climate Denial Crock of the Week on Brighter Planet…The voting does not end until just before midnight TOMORROW.

    The race is neck and neck with another project out of a high school in Montana. Tough competition as they seem quite organized with alumni and students voting.

    Comment by Stephen Baines — 14 May 2010 @ 7:55 PM

  664. Re 600, 605 John E. Pearson

    Ts^4 = (1+n)*Te^4 is the formula for surface temperature Ts as a function of n layers of atmosphere that absorb no solar radiation but each absorbs all LW radiation, and Te^4 * sigma = S*(1-albedo)/4 = the solar heating of the systmem, which all occurs at the surface, and there is no convection (or conduction, of course) of heat through the system.

    The formula for skin temperature is

    Tskin^4 = 1/2 * Te^4

    for a layer that has only just enough optical thickness to absorb some nonzero but insignicant fraction of the LW radiation from below (so that it doesn’t change the outward flux to space by a significant amount), and is thin enough to not absorb any of it’s own emitted photons; this optical thickness is from absorption and is evenly distributed over the LW spectrum (greybody), and this layer doesn’t absorb any solar radiation. This thin layer emits upwards and downwards with the same fraction of LW blackbody flux that it absorbs from either direction, but since it absorbs no radiation from above, the fourth power of it’s temperature must be half that of the brightness temperature of the flux per unit area from below, which is approximately the flux per unit area that must be leaving the planet, with the brightness temperature Te (brightness temperature defined for the flux from the whole LW spectrum). Quasi-LTE must apply to this thin top layer in order for the equation to work

    Notice that if the uppermost layer of the atmosphere absorbs solar radiation, it will have a higher temperature. If the LW absorption optical thickness (over the whole uppermost layer or at least the top portion of it) is increased, then the portion of that layer which has low-enough LW-optical thickness to act as such a skin layer shrinks, which, if the SW optical properties are held constant, reduces the solar heating of the skin layer, bringing the equilibrium temperature of the skin layer down, approaching the skin temperature for the case of no solar heating of the skin layer. This will be qualitatively true even if the optical properties vary over wavelenght within the LW portion of the spectrum (at least as long as some portions of the LW spectrum don’t have a decreased optical thickness while others have increased optical thickness), but it will change the equation. (This is related to stratospheric cooling in response to greenhouse gases, though it should be added that the whole of the stratosphere is not actually a skin layer (generally), and the stratospheric cooling that is in response to instantaneous stratospheric forcing, and that makes the tropopause level forcing with stratospheric adjustment/equilibration lower than the instantaneous tropopause-level forcing, is a greater cooling than the full equilibrium stratospheric cooling that is left after the surface and tropospheric temperatures increase, etc.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 May 2010 @ 8:35 PM

  665. ‘Crock of the Week’ is catching up.

    http://brighterplanet.com/project_fund_projects

    Interestingly, they give you 3 votes. Go for it!


    A Climate Minute The Greenhouse EffectHistory of Climate ScienceArctic Ice Melt

    ‘Fee & Dividend’ Our best chance for a better future – climatelobby.com
    Learn the Issue & Sign the Petition

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 14 May 2010 @ 8:43 PM

  666. Martin, regarding CO2 “residence” time versus “adjustment” time, in addition to the excellent explanations and links that others have given you, try this at SkepticalScience.com: CO2 Has a Short Residence Time.

    Comment by Tom Dayton — 14 May 2010 @ 9:05 PM

  667. Septic Matthew,
    Wow…just wow. You know, I have some beefs with teachers’ unions, too, but mostly, they are fighting for their life in a world full of politicians that would rather blame them for the fact that Americans are stupid than blame the parents or their frigging devil spawn.

    And given that corporations are spewing 70000 gallons of oil a day into the gulf, funding the climate denial movement–and before that, the tobacco-denial movement, gutting regulation of mine and oil-rig safety, buying up congressmen like it’s a frigging firesale, don’t you think you might wanna reconsider that equation?

    The corporation is actually younger than predictions of anthropogenic climate change. It has been tremendously successful in insulating the powerful from responsibility for their actions–which after all was the intent.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 May 2010 @ 9:17 PM

  668. Martin A — 14 May 2010 @ 2:28 PM – If you’re going to think about the carbon sinks in electrical terms, you need to really make it a little more complicated, with capacitors that represent the Northern and Southern hemisphere land plants, and an inductive coupling between them that represents the seasonal exchange of CO2 between them. (During winter in the north, decaying annual plant growth releases CO2, while southern land plants are absorbing it; vice versa during northern summer). The capacitors are different sizes (different land area north and south). Similar processes occur between ocean and land, with both biological and chemical components, so you need to star adding capacitors and sinks for tha North & South Atlantic, N&S Pacific, Indian, Arctic etc oceans, and a network reactive and dissipative couplings among them. The “reactive” exchanges are larger than anthropogenic emissions, but our emissions only push the atmospheric CO2 one direction – up. The sinks(biological, ocean, and geologic weathering) have vastly different rates and endpoints – R(s) and V(s) in the electrical model – so the CO2 lifetime doesn’t have a simple or easily measured time “constant”.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 14 May 2010 @ 10:24 PM

  669. back in the 1970s, I tended what was apparently the biggest array of solar panels in the UK which was used to heat the outdoor swimming-pool at my school, St Christopher, Letchworth Garden City, UK. God knows how effective they were. The water from the pool was pumped along the top of the angled, matt-black panels and ran down through them, to be pumped back into the pool.

    My father was doing this with something he built at a neighbor’s house (we had no pool) back in 1958-1961, not quite sure when, exactly (but in that range).

    The pool was heated, so the system was meant to be a pre-heater.

    I was always told it worked quite well, but seeing as I was like 4, 5, 6 or so … who knows!?

    Comment by dhogaza — 14 May 2010 @ 11:25 PM

  670. I forgot an important point regarding the role of the atmospheric weight and it’s limits – see point c. here:
    http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2010/05/12/goddards-world/#comment-2304

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 May 2010 @ 11:33 PM

  671. ‘Crock of the Week’ is catching up. – John P. Reisman

    Pharyngula is on the case! Climate denialists should fear this fellow.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 15 May 2010 @ 12:27 AM

  672. Somehow that reminds me of my childhood — growing up during the Cold War (e.g. Cuban missile crisis) and knowing that human civilization could end in 40 minutes on any given day. – SecularAnimist

    It still could. Apparently we had a close shave in 1995. If AGW continues unchecked, international tensions are very likely to rise as some nuclear-armed states run out of the resources to feed their populations and resort to stirring up hatreds against traditional enemies, or the countries most responsible for their problems. There have been a number of recent reports on the geopolitics of climate change.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 15 May 2010 @ 1:14 AM

  673. 667, Ray Ladbury, given that corporations are spewing 70000 gallons of oil a day into the gulf, funding the climate denial movement–and before that, the tobacco-denial movement, gutting regulation of mine and oil-rig safety, buying up congressmen like it’s a frigging firesale, don’t you think you might wanna reconsider that equation?

    No. Neither corporations are major threats to democracy nor public employee unions are major threats to civilization. Teachers’ unions are partly responsible for the retention of incompetent teachers in the public school system, and that is a small threat to civilization, which could become significant in the upcoming 40 years (the time period specified by BPL.) But I included teachers among the public employees unions, not by themselves: all together, they are more of a problem, as illustrated by Argentina, Greece, Detroit and California. Corporations, as you know, are pouring billions of dollars annually into wind, solar and biofuels, not just oil into the Gulf.

    [edit - enough]

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 15 May 2010 @ 1:39 AM

  674. The electrical analogy is just smokescreen. There’s only one type of electron, so MA’s model cannot apply when we’re talking about different carbon isotopes.

    Unless he’s thought of a way to paint electrons.

    Remember, his original question was can we use the C14 isotope ratio to work out how long anthropogenic carbon will persist.

    The answer is “no”, and unless he’s worked out how to model different isotopes of electron, his naive^wmendacious response is not applicable.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 May 2010 @ 3:27 AM

  675. “Hence my belief that the time constant for transfer of all CO2 from the atmosphere to the biosphere is the same as the time constant given in the reference for the transfer of carbon14 CO2.”

    But we haven’t added C14. We’ve changed C12 to C14.

    We haven’t charged up the atmosphere when we tested nukes.

    And the equipartition of C14 about the two reservoirs has not reduced the amount of Carbon either.

    Therefore your attempt to falsely segue from C14/C12 ratio leveling to Carbon emission sequestration is patently meant to deceive.

    If your model is to relate C14/C12, your resistor is that graph posted earlier with a half-life of ~10 years. However, you have to find some way of getting the electrons in one capacitor (equating to C12) to move to the other capacitor (equating to C14) WITHOUT ADDING ELECTRONS to the system.

    If your model is to relate available Carbon sources to the unavailable Carbon sources, then we are charging up the “available sources” capacitor. However that resistor the capacitor is discharging through is NOT the one that moves available carbon sources around.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 May 2010 @ 3:38 AM

  676. David B. Benson: Yes, clearly I’m assuming linearity. Interesting that there is ~50 times the CO2 in the sea as in the air.

    Patrick 027: Thank you for the links. Yes, assuming 1st order dynamics is clearly the simplest possible model that neglects all but one of the possible interactions.

    Tom Dayton: Thank you for the link. – looks simple enough for me to understand. I’m still struggling to grasp the difference between the half life (or half-residency duration) for an individual CO2 molecule and for a mass of CO2 but, hopefully, I’ll get there.

    Brian Dodge: Thank you. Yes, clearly there is no limit to the complexity of models that could be constructed. I’m interested in the simplest possible models for two reasons:

    – My experience in other areas is that a simple model (1st or 2nd order dynamics) will often explain 90% of the dynamic behaviour of a system. I’m interested in doing my own “sanity check” on what I read about CAGW , not in producing models of the ultimate precision.

    - I seem to be struggling to understand even the simplest possible model, so introducing extra complexity would probably just increase my confusion.

    Comment by Martin A — 15 May 2010 @ 4:18 AM

  677. Completely Fed Up: Thank you for trying to help me understand. I’m still not there.

    You said But we haven’t added C14. We’ve changed C12 to C14.
    We haven’t charged up the atmosphere when we tested nukes.

    My belief is that most of the radiocarbon resulting from a nuclear detonation is the result of the reaction between the neutrons released in the explosion and atmospheric nitrogen:

    n + N14 –> p + C14

    The radiocarbon produced is new carbon that was not there before and there is no change in the mass of nonradioactive carbon that was already present in the atmosphere.

    See, for example, Sakharov’s paper:

    http://www.princeton.edu/sgs/publications/sgs/pdf/1_3-4Sakharov.pdf

    I’ve read the web page CO2 Has a Short Residence Time http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-residence-time.htm
    and I can’t follow the writer’s argument. He says ‘Dissolution of CO2 into the oceans is fast but the problem is that the top of the ocean is “getting full” (…)’

    If the system is assumed linear, then the time constant to restore equilibrium is not affected by how much CO2 you have injected into the atmosphere. If you inject new CO2 into the atmosphere, the sea/atmosphere equilibrium levels will change, but not the time constant of the exponential curve to move to a new equilibrium.

    Comment by Martin A — 15 May 2010 @ 8:13 AM

  678. Martin, “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler” — apocryphal, often attributed to Einstein.

    When you use an analogy instead of studying the science, you’re apt to confuse yourself because your analogy isn’t really like reality.

    People used to model cognition as clockwork, then as computers–same problem. The brain isn’t a clock or a computer. The climate isn’t an electric circuit.

    For a good example of how that approach can go wrong, you might look at this reference from 2001:

    “I refer you to my recently published textbook, “Global Warming: The Hard Science” (Prentice Hall, ISBN 0582-38167-3), Sections 8.6 and 8.8. These sections discuss the oceanic uptake of CO2 ( and 14C) and contain a number of side-boxes in which analytical solutions to simple box models are provided that clarify the key concepts and factors.

    Since previous people (the people at Marshall Institute in particular) had made a number of erroneous claims around this issue, I made sure that I addressed it clearly in my book. I would stress, however, that the concept of a single atmospheric lifetime is not really valid when applied to CO2 (see pp 20-21 and 65 of my book for further discussion relevant to your questions).”

    ——-

    That’s from a page at http://www.john-daly.com/dietze/cmodcalD.htm (Dietze is an electrical engineer who tried to model CO2 lifetime; he got comments from a number of climate scientists over several years, though it appears they never convinced him that his simple model needed more help.)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 May 2010 @ 9:32 AM

  679. “My belief is that most of the radiocarbon resulting from a nuclear detonation is the result of the reaction between the neutrons released in the explosion and atmospheric nitrogen:”

    And in tonnes, what amount has been changed by that method?

    How much carbon is in the carbon cycle.

    Compare and contrast.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 May 2010 @ 10:10 AM

  680. Thanks for the tip on what sounds like a great read. McEwan’s use of a despicable protagonist is an insult like the insults thrown by denialists, but it differs in that it isn’t offensive.

    Comment by RichardC — 15 May 2010 @ 10:13 AM

  681. Hank Roberts:

    brain isn’t a clock or a computer.
    The first is apparent. The latter is debatable, depending on what you mean by “a computer”. If you mean that it is not a Von Neuman machine, that is also clearly true.

    climate isn’t an electric circuit.
    Obviously it isn’t.

    However, a linear lumped parameter model describing the transfer of a gas between reservoirs is described by exactly the same differential equations as a corresponding electrical circuit. Insights into the behaviour of the circuit are precisely applicable to the reservoir model.

    If the results are not realistic, it is not because using an electrical analogy. It is the result of using a model that inadequately represents the physical reality.

    Comment by Martin A — 15 May 2010 @ 10:14 AM

  682. “McEwan’s use of a despicable protagonist is an insult like the insults thrown by denialists,”

    I think it’s just his way of avoiding slamming for being biased for AGW. Heck, appearing in an old photo playing softball is enough to get you labelled as a les bian to the talking heads in the US…

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 May 2010 @ 10:17 AM

  683. Completely Fed Up. About 1.75 tonnes of C14 was generated as a result of atmospheric tests.

    What did they do to you?

    Comment by Martin A — 15 May 2010 @ 10:25 AM

  684. > Insights into the behaviour of the circuit are precisely
    > applicable to the reservoir model.

    The model is not the climate.

    Plankton species will change with no summer Arctic sea ice. How? What difference does this make in primary productivity up the food chain?

    Look at where the cutting edge research is being done in climatology.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 May 2010 @ 10:37 AM

  685. #671 Nick Gotts

    ‘Crock of the Week’ has lurched ahead.
    http://brighterplanet.com/project_fund_projects

    My question is this. Why can’t we get a similar response to sign the international climate petition?

    A climate policy that has more potential to help modern civilization prevent the worst cases scenarios? It really is our best chance at a better future.

    Please, everyone, learn the issue

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

    and sign the petition.

    http://www.climatelobby.com/


    A Climate Minute The Greenhouse EffectHistory of Climate ScienceArctic Ice Melt

    ‘Fee & Dividend’ Our best chance for a better future – climatelobby.com
    Learn the Issue & Sign the Petition

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 15 May 2010 @ 11:16 AM

  686. Hank Roberts: The model is not the climate.

    I’m not sure that anyone said it was. I was interested in rough estimates of the time additional CO2 remains in the atmosphere. Nothing to do with plankton.

    Comment by Martin A — 15 May 2010 @ 11:26 AM

  687. Re Martin A. – “I’ve read the web page CO2 Has a Short Residence Time http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-residence-time.htm
    and I can’t follow the writer’s argument. He says ‘Dissolution of CO2 into the oceans is fast but the problem is that the top of the ocean is “getting full” (…)’”

    I presume that if one reservoir is getting full, that means that the equilibrium level in the other reservoir(s) will start to increase by the same amount as the CO2 that is added. In other words, for each 1 Gt of CO2 we add to the atmosphere, if the upper ocean is nearly ‘full’, then the equilibrium (with the upper ocean) CO2 level in the atmosphere will also have gone up by almost 1 Gt, so the disequilibrium between the atmosphere and ocean (if in isolation) might still decay with the same time constant, but that decay would have very little effect on how much CO2 is in the atmosphere, because the equilibrium amount (taking the atmosphere and upper ocean in isolation) would start to almost keep up with the actual amount.

    Imagine if you have several tanks interconnected by channels of varying widths, and pour some water into one of the tanks and then watch how the tank levels adjust. Now imagine one of the tanks has an upper lid so that it can’t hold more than a set amount…

    Time constants can change, though, although I’m not sure of any clear examples, except in that – if we include the effect of climate change on the C cycle (as opposed to isolating the C-cycle’s direct reaction to C amounts), what if the upwelling of deeper ocean water were slowed down (just a hypothetical example – upwelling in a ring around Antarctica could be enhanced by warming (at least until the warming penetrates through the deep ocean source of that water), from what I’ve heard, but anyway…) – then the abiotic exchange of C between the upper ocean to the deep ocean would slow down. If the rate of organic C sinking from the upper ocean to the deep ocean changed… etc.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 15 May 2010 @ 12:27 PM

  688. John (#685),
    My experience is that petitions don’t sign themselves and that even smallish real-world organizations are able to get many more signatures than you tend to get from “web accretion”. I’m not sure why an organization would commit resources to such an online petition. Perhaps another format can be worked out with input from organizers who have a track-record at getting people involved?

    Comment by Anonymous Coward — 15 May 2010 @ 12:33 PM

  689. Nick Gotts 672,

    That makes four times we almost had a nuclear war. I thought it was only three (1962, 1971, 1983). Thanks!

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 15 May 2010 @ 2:31 PM

  690. “Co2 decays with a single time constant”.

    One of the reasons why this very poor model is accepted so easily, is the way that maths tends to be taught nowadays. I have met students who appear to think that the mathematical world is populated by rising and falling exponential functions and very little else. They may know about addition, but do not ask what the sum of a few exponential functions, each with different time constants and amplitudes, might be like.

    At a deeper level there are people who are not used to thinking that physical quantities can be added up. That is one reason why the idea that the “CO2 followed the temperature” during a deglaciation is regarded as being so crucial. It does not occur to such people that the warming at that time would have consisted of the sum of several contributions, i.e that from external causes such as Milankovitch forcing, and internal ones such as CO2 changes.

    Denialists exploit this difficulty,that some people have in counting beyond one, when they offer their consumers simplified choices between “all due to CO2″ and “nothing due to CO2″.

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 15 May 2010 @ 3:03 PM

  691. Martin A — Then I suggest reading David Archer’s “The Long Thaw”.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 15 May 2010 @ 4:31 PM

  692. “Completely Fed Up. About 1.75 tonnes of C14 was generated as a result of atmospheric tests.”

    Good.

    Now what is the total carbon in the carbon cycle in tons.

    Compare that with 1.75 tonnes.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 May 2010 @ 5:22 PM

  693. Mike doesn’t seem to want to read this, so I’ll do it again:

    If your model is to relate C14/C12, your resistor is that graph posted earlier with a half-life of ~10 years. However, you have to find some way of getting the electrons in one capacitor (equating to C12) to move to the other capacitor (equating to C14) WITHOUT ADDING ELECTRONS to the system.

    If your model is to relate available Carbon sources to the unavailable Carbon sources, then we are charging up the “available sources” capacitor. However that resistor the capacitor is discharging through is NOT the one that moves available carbon sources around.

    When he said: If the results are not realistic, … It is the result of using a model that inadequately represents the physical reality.

    He didn’t connect the dots: your model inadequately represents the physical reality, Mike.

    Deliberately, I add.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 May 2010 @ 5:26 PM

  694. Climate Crock is ahead now. I tweeted and invited my followers to retweet: http://twitter.com/philipmach

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 15 May 2010 @ 6:10 PM

  695. > the time additional CO2 remains in the
    > atmosphere. Nothing to do with plankton.

    Sorry, but you _have_ contradicted yourself. This is what “not simpler” means; the atmosphere on Earth is the way it is because of life on Earth. http://www.jameslovelock.org/page6.html

    You can’t model it as though life weren’t involved. The model won’t work.

    Increase of atmospheric CO2 promotes phytoplankton productivity
    www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118811203/articletext?DOI=10…

    http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange1/current/lectures/kling/energyflow/energyflow.html

    http://www.google.com/search?q=plankton+greenhouse

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 May 2010 @ 6:42 PM

  696. > plankton
    Just look at this one picture, if you don’t look at anything else:

    http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange1/current/lectures/kling/energyflow/typeecob2.gif

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 May 2010 @ 6:44 PM

  697. > plankton
    Oh, you should read this too. It’s not a _simple_ relationship to model; the people doing the work might interest you. Just another example from the large amount of current research that’s easy to find:

    http://www.ercim.eu/publication/Ercim_News/enw65/huisman.html

    —excerpt—
    Global Warming could Destabilize Plankton in Oceans

    by Jef Huisman and Ben Sommeijer

    Global warming of the surface layers of the oceans reduces the upward transport of nutrients. Computer simulations predict that plankton growth will become unstable when the supply of nutrients is reduced. This may have a negative impact on the food chains of the oceans and on uptake of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the oceans….

    … Because the oceans cover more than 70% of the earth’s surface, marine phytoplankton is quantitatively important for reducing the greenhouse effect on earth.

    … This model prediction was rather unexpected, because it contradicts conventional wisdom that deep plankton in the oceans would represent a stable system. Therefore, the scientists compared their model predictions with data from long-term time series of plankton in the subtropical Pacific Ocean …. Phytoplankton in the subtropical Pacific indeed exhibits complex population fluctuations, consistent with the computer predictions. These results have recently been published in Nature (19 January 2006) in the article “Reduced mixing generates oscillations and chaos in the oceanic deep chlorophyll maximum”.

    Mathematical Model and Solution Methods
    The new model predictions are based on mathematical simulation of the dynamics of the plankton species and the nutrients in the ocean. The model consists of a set of integro-partial differential equations of advection-diffusion-reaction type. The ‘integro’-part in the equations originates from a nonlocal integral term describing the penetration of light into the water, subject to absorption of light by photosynthesizing phytoplankton. The numerical solution of the model was based on a finite volume method, with spatial discretisation of the differential operators as well as the integral term. The advection terms were discretised by a so-called third-order upwind biased formula, the diffusion terms by a symmetric second-order formula, and the integral term by the repeated trapezoidal rule. The resulting system of stiff ordinary differential equations was integrated over time by means of an adapted version of the widely-used computer code VODE (http://www.netlib.org/ode/) which is based on an implicit time integration method to cope with the stiffness of the system.

    Computational advances increasing the efficiency of numerical solutions of the model were essential to analyze these intriguing fluctuations in the phytoplankton as a result of global warming.

    Links:
    http://www.cwi.nl/projects/pdels/Phytoplankton/
    http://www.science.uva.nl/ibed/amb
    http://hahana.soest.hawaii.edu/hot/hot-dogs
    http://www.nature.com/nature

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 May 2010 @ 6:49 PM

  698. Hank Roberts – thank you for all the references. Clearly plankton are an important part of the biosphere in terms of the CO2 cycle.

    My thanks to all who have helped me understand better the dynamics of atmospheric CO2.

    I find it surprising that one respondent who, despite himself suffering a serious misconception on the origin of nuclear test generated radiocarbon* saw fit to characterise my descriptions of my understanding with request for correction of my errors as in some way intentionally deceptive:

    his (…)mendacious response is not applicable.

    …Therefore your attempt to falsely segue from C14/C12 ratio leveling to Carbon emission sequestration is patently meant to deceive.

    * He had wrongly believed that C14 was created from C12 already in the atmosphere as a result of nuclear detonations, so the total count of atoms of atmospheric carbon remained unchanged. In fact, the C14 produced by nuclear tests is new additional carbon, produced from atmospheric nitrogen by the neutrons released in the explosion.

    I’ll sign off from Realclimate now and I won’t be back. I’ll seek information from what you would probably call “denialist” blogs where, to be frank, I find the atmosphere more relaxed – and populated by the scientifically literate from many fields.

    Comment by Martin A — 16 May 2010 @ 2:32 AM

  699. Martin A wrote: “So if I inject x tonnes of radiocarbon CO2 into the atmosphere and, N years later, there is only x/2 tonnes remaining in the atmosphere this does *not* indicate that the half-life of CO2 in the atmosphere is N years?”

    I’ve not been following this discussing but just read the above question. I wrote a paper on an obliquely related issue in a different context a few years back. You can answer your own question in the following way. Let C be the concentration of co2 and C* be the concentration of radioactive co2. I assume you have a model for C and you want to inform that model by making measurements of C*. Here is the way to do it: Include C* in your model. Assume that the parameters governing its behavior are identical to those governing C. If your model includes reservoirs that contain both C and C* include the concentrations of both forms of co2 in the reservoirs, Cr and Cr*. Initially Cr* is presumably zero while Cr is not. Consequently C and C* will not have the same dynamics. A measurement of C* does not necessarily give you the information about C that you might first guess.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 16 May 2010 @ 9:18 AM

  700. Chuckle. Good luck, Martin.
    Remember, check their cites to make sure they’re describing the papers correctly.
    “Trust, but verify.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 May 2010 @ 10:28 AM

  701. How about another tack?

    Martin, what would be the result if your theory that the half-life of CO2 in the atmosphere was 10 years.

    IF you’re right and the residency time for carbon as CO2 in the atmosphere was 10 year to reduce by 50%, what is the consequence?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 May 2010 @ 11:50 AM

  702. “I’ll sign off from Realclimate now and I won’t be back. ”

    We’ll miss you.

    “I’ll seek information from what you would probably call “denialist” blogs where, to be frank, I find the atmosphere more relaxed”

    relaxed about what would be considered a viable theory. More relaxed about what they’ll accept as truth.

    Martin’s mind is so open, his brain got up and walked off..

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 May 2010 @ 11:54 AM

  703. Martin A.: “I’ll seek information from what you would probably call “denialist” blogs where, to be frank, I find the atmosphere more relaxed – and populated by the scientifically literate from many fields.”

    Ah, rather like the drunkard who loses his keys in the dark by his car, but decides to go over to the streetlamp to look for them because it is brighter. Anybody else smell the aroma of “tone troll”?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 May 2010 @ 12:20 PM

  704. CFU, I think you arrived here after the person who posted as “Mark” left.
    May I suggest you study his posting style and consider if yours is better?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 May 2010 @ 12:41 PM

  705. CFU @ 701:

    How about another tack?

    Martin, what would be the result if your theory that the half-life of CO2 in the atmosphere was 10 years.

    IF you’re right and the residency time for carbon as CO2 in the atmosphere was 10 year to reduce by 50%, what is the consequence?

    More significantly, even if the entire annual variance could be “put to work”, reducing CO2 by any amount is pretty much limited to the ~7ppm difference from the annual high to the annual low.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 16 May 2010 @ 1:57 PM

  706. CFU, I think you arrived here after the person who posted as “Mark” left.
    May I suggest you study his posting style and consider if yours is better?

    My hypothesis has been that if they’re not the same person, they’re identical twins separated at birth …

    Comment by dhogaza — 16 May 2010 @ 1:58 PM

  707. Martin A 698: I’ll seek information from what you would probably call “denialist” blogs where, to be frank, I find the atmosphere more relaxed – and populated by the scientifically literate from many fields.

    BPL: I suggest that, by the same logic, you seek out information on biology from “Answers in Genesis,” information on archaeology from the Zechariah Sitchin and Erich von Daniken pages, and information on astronomy from the supporters of Immanuel Velikovsky and Oliver Manuel.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 May 2010 @ 3:12 PM

  708. #569 Bob (Sphaerica): I admire your fortitude in wading through all that CO2 “science” stuff. I usually give up when I find something obviously bogus. I really would like the mainstream science to be wrong because the consequences otherwise are so dire. Unfortunately violating the laws of physics isn’t a victimless crime. That an industry of the size of fossil fuel inc. can do no better makes me wonder how their execs sleep at night. Their own scientists must know all this stuff is garbage.

    Having gone to all this effort, maybe consider finding a space for your debunking at RC wiki?

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 16 May 2010 @ 5:10 PM

  709. FCH, I would just like to know what MA thinks is the consequence of a system where atmospheric CO2 adjusts over a scale of ~10 years.

    The consequence is, of course, that anthropogenic sources accumulate for twice that period (20 years, 2x being the infinite sum of a series of powers-of-1/2). Therefore at an overestimate, humans have produced 40ppm CO2. Measurement shows that is off by about a factor of 2.5x.

    Actual measurement disavows a sequestration time of 10 years to remove 50% of extra load.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 May 2010 @ 5:34 PM

  710. “May I suggest you study his posting style and consider if yours is better?”

    I posted a long answer to you Hank, but it went awol.

    Suffice to say that I tried to teach MA but he refused. How he got my example that showed no change in the proportion of the 10 units of carbon among the two resevoirs, yet display a reduction in the C14 proportion to a theory that this somehow should mean that sequestration of carbon must happen on a scale of ~10 years shows he was not listening.

    Then he goes all Rita Hayworth on us and, just as JRB did before, proclaim that everyone here was closed minded and that was why we argued he was wrong (not that he was wrong, and that was why we argued he was wrong).

    Which I pointed out in another thread:

    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=3436#comment-174525

    He’s written before when RC trolls arguing the Arctic Ice Is Increasing went on and on. He didn’t seem to have read that, mind and was confused that the argument was being REbunked because it was the first time he’d argued it here.

    He was not an honest actor.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 May 2010 @ 5:40 PM

  711. “May I suggest you study his posting style and consider if yours is better?”

    I posted a long answer to you Hank, but it went awol.

    Suffice to say that I tried to teach MA but he refused. How he got my example that showed no change in the proportion of the 10 units of carbon among the two resevoirs, yet display a reduction in the C14 proportion to a theory that this somehow should mean that sequestration of carbon must happen on a scale of ~10 years shows he was not listening.

    Then he goes all Rita Hayworth on us and, just as JRB did before, proclaim that everyone here was closed minded and that was why we argued he was wrong (not that he was wrong, and that was why we argued he was wrong).

    Which I pointed out in another thread:

    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=3436#comment-174525

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 May 2010 @ 5:41 PM

  712. [there was. we don't have time to pick through posts to edit them. stick strictly to substance and all will be fine.]

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 May 2010 @ 6:14 PM

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 May 2010 @ 5:45 PM

  713. from online bookseller abebooks.com (highly recommended, searches many small independent bookstores for you):

    AbeBooks April Bestsellers May 13th, 2010:
    Top 10 bestselling signed Books
    1. Solar by Ian McEwan …..

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 May 2010 @ 6:07 PM

  714. According to this:
    http://earth.geology.yale.edu/~avf5/teaching/ResourcesGG535/Lecture5.PotTemp.Thermodyn.LapseRate.pdf (p. 5),
    the adiabatic lapse rate in the ocean is 0.12 K / km

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 16 May 2010 @ 11:19 PM

  715. I’ve got a question that ive been puzzling over…. given the increasing amounts of CH4 emissions perculating up through the arctic waters, some of the methane is actually making it to the surface as intact bubbles but the majority I would still assume is diffusing back into seawater on the way up. My question is..is this diffusing of CH4 causing the arctic ocean specifically to become disproportionately acid (lower ph) compared to equitorial oceans due to increased carbonic acid?. If it is then it couldn’t happen at a worse location as it is the principal breeding ground of diatoms, planckton and krill. It has been found that certain micro crustations are losing size and shell thickness by up to 35% in these areas and the antarctic ocean as well.
    Could someone enlighten me on this point..thanks!

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 17 May 2010 @ 5:23 AM

  716. It’s been decades since I took chemistry, but I’d be surprised if dissolved methane changes the pH of water. CO2 dissociates and it’s the carbonic acid that changes pH.

    But, egad, we create new methane by erosion; imagine what’s been happening and what will happen with increased open water and open land surface and erosion around the Arctic, if this caution here is apt:

    “… Marine scientists have known for many years that biogenic methane (CH4) is generated in shallow seabed sediments on continental margins, especially in rapidly deposited muddy sediments with high organic matter content. Grassy sediments are found in river deltas, estuaries, and harbors, but also in deeper waters on continental shelves and slopes. Human activities can accelerate natural sea-floor gas generation by increasing the supply of sediments and organic matter from rivers through deforestation and intensive farming, and also by the disposal of human waste at sea. When this extra organic matter becomes buried to about one meter beneath the seabed, biogeochemical processes start to convert it to CH4. The impact of this extra CH4 could be felt within the next 100 years, assuming a one-centimeter-per-year sediment accumulation.”

    Title : Shallow Seabed Methane Gas Could Pose Coastal Hazard
    Corporate Author : NAVAL RESEARCH LAB STENNIS SPACE CENTER MS SEAFLOOR SCIENCES DIRECTORATE
    Report Date : 30 MAY 2006
    http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADA464004

    Paging Peter Ward …. there’s a feedback from increased surface erosion to creation of new shallow sediment to production of new methane.
    With a _very_short_ timeline for trouble if this is correct.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 May 2010 @ 11:04 AM

  717. Earlier, I was trying to get an feed for the RSS to the site and for some reason it ain’t displaying in Google Chrome. Any suggestions???

    Comment by Cary Rymut — 18 May 2010 @ 3:06 AM

  718. I don’t think anyone has pointed this out yet, but Solar has won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize for comic fiction.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/may/25/ian-mcewan-wodehouse-prize

    Comment by Paul A — 26 May 2010 @ 8:31 AM

  719. I like to hedge my bets and plant trees such that some will survive the hot,cold, wet, dry or forever fog. As to the solar nightmare (Levenson #11)…been having that since 1974 when the Helois project predicted a dying and spastic sun in -10 to 10,000 years. I politely asked they revisit the data. Scientists too need some adjustment time.

    Comment by MaryEllen Marucci — 26 May 2010 @ 8:35 AM

  720. Hi, got a bit of a post to go through here, and it’s on the topic of Solar forcing so I hope you won’t mind the clutter..

    Recently, a guy for the National Post wrote a truly stupid article:
    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/05/21/its-the-sun-stupid/
    In the article he quotes a “solar scientist” by the name of Dr. Jeff Kuhn.

    So I tried to source his comments for context but all the Jeff Kuhn references traced back to the author.
    So I thought this might be a Carl Wunsch type swindle and I emailed him.

    I got a response back from Kuhn. (Which was nice because he’s a pretty busy guy and I’m not an important correspondent)

    Here’s what was said:

    I’m in the midst of organizing a large international meeting with many people needing my attention through the end of next week but I will append pieces of email I’ve sent to others that, I think, makes my position clear. I will try to respond further after SPW6 is completed next week if you have other questions.
    ——————————————————
    The politization of our science has been a destructive force for the truth. I appreciate your point about CO2 and agree with your overall perspective.
    Thanks for the email and encouragement.
    ——————————————————-
    Unfortunately the politization of this subject has obscured many clear facts. For example, the correlative relationship between solar variability and climate change is not disputable. The failings of [Global Climate Models] to reproduce measured climate change is also not disputable (for example the rapid temperature rise between 1910-1940 and the cooling period after 1940). My firm take on the data is that terrestrial climate models are fundamentally incomplete. To learn more about various models to understand the Earth-Sun variability connection you could read results from Gerald Meehl, K. Labitzke, H. VanLoon, W. Soon, S. Baliunas, and many others.
    ————————————————————
    In my opinion this debate has become politized beyond the realm of good science. Our research, in combination with many historical measurements suggests that there are long term climate trends that we believe are associated with the optical properties of the atmosphere.
    Best models suggest that the apparent changing solar diameter is due to stratospheric changes that affect optical “seeing.” Its difficult to understand the data without something like this. These changes appear to be correlated with known magnetic cycle changes in the Sun (i.e. sunspots). As far as I can tell this is one of the clearest and most significant ties between the Sun and the Earth’s atmosphere. The questions you raise about the direct sunspot/irradiance change and terrestrial weather is by no means resolved. I suggest you look up some recent results from Gerald Meehl (a member of the IPCC) who shows how UV and bolometric solar changes have sufficient “amplitude” to cause La nina and elNino effects. But this is not my research.

    I wish you good luck in attempting to separate the science from the
    religious/political zealotry.
    —————————————————-

    Back to Thimble here. So yeah, these were some snippets from other emails that he sent to other people’s inquiries that he thought would be relevant to my own.

    I wrote back:

    I appreciate the response and I agree with your points as an explanation of historical climate change. (Volcanism, tectonic movements, the occasional meteor, and solar variability have been the primary drivers of climatic change previous to the industrial age)

    I believe he is coming from the perspective that climate modeling is too focused on the optical characteristics of the emittee (what gasses are in the atmosphere and how their properties affect sunlight absorption and re-radiation) and not enough on the characteristics of the emitter (various sun cycles and sun variability). If I understand him correctly, he’s not discounting CO2 and other greenhouse gas’s roles, but he does not think that the models can be accurate if they assume solar invariability.

    If I am correct, then what the National post author did is take a desire for a tinker in the models and turn it into a repudiation.

    So first question, does it sound like I’m accurate? I don’t know Dr. Kuhn and he seems nice enough in email so I’m giving his statements a generous interpretation in spite of the “religious/political zealotry” language. Is that justified?

    Second question, does the critique have merit? I had thought that Nasa has people that measure year to year solar variability and that the climate modelers employ their data as an input. Also solar variability, though historically important and potentially very important in future as it gets more active, doesn’t seem significant to be a significant driver of recent climate trends, not significant enough to merit an “it’s the sun stupid” hit piece at any rate. Last I checked, the temperature trend has diverged from the influence of the recent solar minimum.

    Anyways, your thoughts?

    Comment by Thimbles — 29 May 2010 @ 11:18 AM

  721. “Second question, does the critique have merit?”

    No.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 29 May 2010 @ 12:51 PM

  722. Interesting bit on the ol’ sun.
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=solar-minimum-forecasting

    In very rough terms, the sun’s activity ebbs and flows in an 11-year cycle, with flares, coronal mass ejections and other energetic phenomena peaking at what is called solar maximum and bottoming out at solar minimum. Sunspots, markers of magnetic activity on the sun’s surface, provide a visual proxy to mark the cycle’s evolution, appearing in droves at maximum and all but disappearing at minimum. But the behavior of our host star is not as predictable as all that—the most recent solar minimum was surprisingly deep and long, finally bottoming out around late 2008 or so…

    “I think we’re almost in violent agreement that this is an interesting minimum,” said David Hathaway of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. By several measures—geomagnetic activity, weakness of polar magnetic fields, flagging solar deflection of galactic cosmic rays—the minimum was the deepest on record, Hathaway said, although some of those records contain just a few cycles.

    Comment by Thimbles — 30 May 2010 @ 10:27 AM

  723. “In very rough terms, the sun’s activity ebbs and flows in an 11-year cycle, ”

    A cycle that over observed years has lasted between 9 and 14 years, the nominal most likely epoch length being 11 years.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 30 May 2010 @ 10:49 AM

  724. Thimble,
    From the sound of it, climate modeling is well beyond Kuhn’s expertise. None of the research he is citing would invalidate what we already know about CO2. There are climate scientists actively working on incorporating the solar cycle and other effects. However, I find it extremely difficult to explain a sustained rise in temperatures–let along stratospheric cooling–with a solar model.

    The “debate”, such as it exists in the scientific community is not over the role of CO2. The physics there are well known–at least among the experts.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 30 May 2010 @ 12:55 PM

  725. Thimbles — The claims have no merit. Here is a simple exposition as to why:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/03/unforced-variations-3/comment-page-12/#comment-168530

    Comment by David B. Benson — 30 May 2010 @ 2:00 PM

  726. Re John E. Pearson – sorry for the hiatus:

    (first, if I said somewhere above that the work done in adiabatic expansion corresponded to a decrease in enthalpy, that is incorrect; it’s the internal energy that is converted to work by expansion at pressure, although the thermodynamic equations can be algebraically manipulated to show a relationship between enthalpy and change in pressure.)

    PART III addendum

    PART III.

    “Considering some examples of what happens when atmospheric optical thickness at a particular LW frequency is increased from zero:”

    While keeping temperatures at each location unchanged.

    “3a. radiation to space: If the surface LW albedo is large enough and the atmosphere is warm enough relative to the surface, and absorption has a strong enough role in atmospheric optical thickness, the flux to space will initially increase as optical thickness increases from zero”

    Actually that’s always true, but with different requirements of temperature. For a perfect blackbody surface and no LW scattering by the atmosphere, the initial change in upward flux is an increase if the (optical thickness-weighted) average temperature of the atmosphere below is greater than the surface temperature; it is a decrease if it is less. If there were some LW scattering optical thickness, then the atmosphere would have to be warmer (averaged over absorbing optical thickness) than the surface by some additional amount to result in an initial increase in upward flux; if the surface had some nonzero LW albedo, then the atmosphere would have to be colder by some additional amount to result in a decreased flux with the initial introduction of LW optical thickness into the atmosphere.

    “However, as optical thickness continues to increase, eventually the flux to space starts to decrease, if”… “or if the scattering is concentrated toward the top of the atmosphere.”

    If the scattering optical thickness/absorption optical thickness ratio decreased with height within an upper layer, then the flux could start increasing again beyond some point with increasing total optical thickness.

    1a.
    “if the optical thickness is small, then any part of the atmosphere doesn’t absorb much of what the other part emits, so the emission weighting function that is in the atmosphere is distributed as optical thickness is distributed.”

    for 2 and 3, the emission weighting function is, for small optical thickness, distributed as the absorbing contribution of optical thickness; with greater optical thickness that includes scattering, scattering contributes to the concentration and redistribution of the weighting function, but the weighting function density will follow the concentration of absorption cross section over scales that are small relative to total optical thickness.

    ———

    To sum up:

    increasing opacity tends to bring the emission weighting function for a location closer to that location or otherwise distribute the function around the location, so that the centroid of the weighting function tends to get closer to that location. The radiant intensity from a direction is equal to the volume integral of the product of the blackbody intensity as a function of temperature and the density of the weighting function. Thus, if the temperature has some overall spatial trend over the scale of the bulk of the weighting function, then increasing the optical thickness per unit distance causes a trend in the brightness temperature away from the temperature at greater distance and towards the temperature nearer the location. The same tendency applies qualitatively to a flux per unit area (and the corresponding weighting function for a flux per unit area – which tends to straddle an ‘effective emitting altitude’ if the temperature varies smoothly with the dominant tendency being a spatial trend that doesn’t vary in sign, so that a position near the centroid (to a first approximation) of the weighting function can be found with a temperature equal to the brightness temperature of the flux per unit area that is emitted).

    The weighting function for emission of an intensity or flux reaching a location is equal to the distribution of absorption of an intensity or flux from the opposite direction passing through that location.

    A net intensity or flux per unit area is the difference between emitted intensities or fluxes per unit area in opposite directions. The corresponding pairs of weighting functions absorb each other’s emissions.

    (It is also true that for any two volumes sufficiently small to each be isothermal, the net flux (from emission to absorption) is from the higher temperature volume to the lower temperature volume.)

    Eventually, if the temperature doesn’t vary discontinuously, the net intensities and net flux per unit area approach zero as opacity increases beyond the point where the temperature variation per unit optical thickness gets small – because the pairs of intensities and fluxes approach the same value (same brightness temperature) when that happens.

    A location where the effective temperature may vary discontinuously or nearly so is at the ‘top of the atmosphere’, as the air temperature (in so far as there is one – or there may be several in the same volume corresponding to different populations of particles (?), or etc.) may never get as cold as the brightness temperature of space (near zero K except in the directions of some objects and in the frequency ranges where they are significant).

    (PS in the case that a single temperature can’t be well-defined for a location but can be defined seperately for different overlapping populations of matter, weighting functions can be divided into contributions from the different populations in the same space, and the brightness temperature of the resulting intensity or flux per area determined accordingly.)

    —————

    Part IV:

    Keeping the temperature distribution constant and just changing optical thickness or optical properties in general, the changes in fluxes that result are radiative forcings (if the changes in optical properties are feedbacks, than they’re effects could be called radiative feedbacks, but they can also be regarded as having radiative forcings in a context that doesn’t differentiate between forcings and feedbacks):

    For any sufficiently small change in a variable, a function of that variable, if smooth, can be approximated as a line.
    For a sufficiently small addition of optical thickness, a doubling of that addition will have double the effect on fluxes and net fluxes. This is true even if some amount of optical thickness is already present, so long as it is not the total that is being doubled but just the small addition. For example, whatever amount of water vapor and clouds, etc, are already present, adding a very small amount of CO2 will have the same radiative forcing as a doubling of that initial addition. Even when the forcing diverges from linear proportionality in total, it can be approximated as linear to sufficiently small perturbations (ie with the amount of CO2 present now, adding 1 ppm should have approximately half the effect as adding 2 ppm).

    This will be true at all frequencies and therefore true in total.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 31 May 2010 @ 11:34 PM

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