Why indeed, however for some hard liners of which the editorial section of the WSJ seems to be one they will never capitulate on this subject, well not until money can be made from it and not just a cost. Trouble is when your entire political system in many important ways is directly related to how business operates and how funding and lobbying takes place indicates to me one thing, that science should play a far more prominent role in some aspects of Government and how it operates, fat chance of that.
The scientific method is by far the best method of doing politics in certain areas, however emotion, sentiment, resistance to change, profits, backstabbing, doublecrossing, vested interests etc will always be a part of the political system. It explains to me why the bottom line in the USA revolves around the need to deny climate change in order to maintain prosperity and progress at all costs. The American way of life is non negoitable as I have heard GW Bush say, roll on 20 tonnes per head of capita until it all runs out.
It puzzles RC that the WSJ readership tolerate the editorial board’s denialism. Well they may not do so for very long if it gets in the way of factual reporting, but I doubt many serious businesspeople base their decisions on WSJ editorials. They will mostly know that the Gospel of the Free Market, as preached by the WSJ board, is just politically useful hogwash, helping to disguise the ways governments (and particularly that of the USA) side with big business against the general public. The WSJ board, on the other hand, are True Believers (which is why they have to be denialists, since anthropogenic climate change shows that their theology is nonsense); and as long as the WSJ readership want the message preached, it’s best to have True Believers preaching it, as they are likely to be most convincing. So the news pages / editorial disconnect is quite functional.
Bravo, RealClimate, for continuing to challenge the WSJ editorial board, which ought in simple civic fairness to offer its commentary page readers a comprehensive debate even if, for whatever reasons, its own minds are made up. I wish that RC scientists would submit op-eds regularly to the WSJ, and then, if turned down or stonewalled, I wish you’d post the op-eds on your site and let the world see that the WSJ won’t support open civic discussion. The world is watching.
Comment by Steven T. Corneliussen — 7 Feb 2007 @ 9:17 AM
This is fine – as far as it goes. Have you sent a version of it to the Letters Editor yet? You don’t have to convince us. You have to have a dialogue with them.
You are making another category error, although a common one. There is ONE Wall Street Journal, and as long as people (RC is not the only group) keep affirming part of the paper, their position will NEVER change.
The WSJ is written for the financial community. What they need to know is on the news pages, what they want to believe in the editorial section. This is by design. Anyone who affirms any part of the paper is buying into this strategy. Frankly, it’s all day old fishwrap. Perhaps the best way of putting this is that if the WSJ wishes to regain any credibility they will have to abandon their ignorant stance on climate change (among other things). In talking to reporters from the WSJ, one should say, how can I trust you? Your paper has zero credibility on these issues. Always point out examples such as the Monckton provocation. If they protest that the news division is different, point out strongly that it is one paper, and they don’t sell the news and the editorials separately.
I’ve noticed that since the release of the SPM, the blogosphere has erupted in an explosion of activity. On the one hand, denialists are in a frenzy, trying (in vain, it seems to me) to stem the tidal wave of public opinion. On the other hand, advocates are increasing their warnings and the hitherto-apathetic are awakening.
In the public debate over global warming, the denialists aren’t just losing. They have lost. Now we need to get the public to take the issue to the voting booth; then the politicians will swing into action. And when we persuade the public to take the issue to the marketplace, the WSJ editorial board will do an “about face” with dizzying speed.
tamino: You’re not the only one who’s noticed this change in the debate. I’m convinced that this sudden clatter is just the warmup act for the main show. As more people learn about CC and demand action, those with a vested interest in “business as usual” will fight like the proverbial cornered rat.
Because the reduction of GHG emissions touches so much of our daily lives in a country like the US, I expect the CC “debate” to mushroom into an issue at least as polarizing and contentious as abortion, school prayer, flag burning, free speech, etc. are in the US. And there will always be a few high profile op-ed outlets, like the WSJ, that will stake out an extreme position, regardless of the facts. No matter how much evidence one can assemble, they will continue to pander to their base of true believers (or deniers).
And thanks once again to RC for continuing to fight the good fight. I also think, as others here have already said, that RC should forward their thoughts to the WSJ and follow-up here if/when the WSJ refuses to publish them.
Apparently, Congressional Republicans are avid readers and believers in the WSJ editorial page. A poll published by the National Journal (http://syndication.nationaljournal.com/images/203Insiderspoll_NJlogo.pdf) of congressional attitudes toward climate change reveals only 13% of 10 Republican senators and 45 House Republicans (names of those surveyed are included) answered yes to the question, “Do you think it’s been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Earth is warming because of man-made problems?” This figure has actually dropped by 10% since a similar poll in April, 2006, while the affirmative response among Democrats has risen from 88% to 95%, indicating a remarkable polarization and illustrating the difficulty of accomplishing anything on a national level until 2009, or perhaps even beyond.
a) debate over the science of AGW — the denialists have lost.
b) debate over what to do — denialists are winning
c) AGW long term impacts to corporate infrastructure and
investments — corporations are losing……
how and where to relocate Houston, Galveston, Bay Town petrochemical
industry (40 percent of US petro-chem production capacity)located at
sea level which (gosh!) is slowly rising.
Comment by John L. McCormick — 7 Feb 2007 @ 10:08 AM
The responses to the WSJ editorial are as interesting as the editorial itself. Our own experience mirrors this. Every time the paper that I write editorials for prints an article about AGW they are inundated by hyperbolic letters to the editor from foes. There are apparently a significant number of individuals who will never accept the notion of AGW and those who write to us tend to object on religious grounds when you get to the bottom of things. To them the science doesn’t mean anything. Now that the majority of public opinion has shifted it’s time to move on.
Scientists and skeptics have challenged psychics, voodoo health care practitioners and others of their ilk for years and not accomplished much. Sometimes you have to just ignore the lunatic fringe.
I disagree with Eli on the WSJ thing. The editorial and news sections are completely walled off at the WSJ. That is by design. I’ve met numerous WSJ reporters and they don’t agree with the editorial page, but it’s not under their control and haranguing the reporters about this will accomplish little. You’d be preaching to the choir.
On another note, Senator Inouye is holding a hearing in the Commerce committee on climate change as I type. I noticed that he brought up the problem with federal scientists being suppressed from discussing their research.
Several of the posts here assume that the entire business world has a vested interest in “business as usual.” That is true only for limited parts of the business world. Other parts are aggressively investing in new business opportunities created by the need to address AGW and the related need for energy security. See, for example:
The WSJ editorial board seems to be dragging its feet in an effort to protect the interests of energy companies, a limited, but large and influential segment. However, it should at least be honest in how it does that. Eventually, it too will be swept up by the gathering tsunami of creative new approaches to energy production driven, not by moral imperative, but by recognized business opportunies. Note in the above article, however, the importance of tax policy in encouraging such efforts.
I agree with the comments of others that RC should respond to the WSJ via an op-ed. I would also suggest that an op-ed in the Washington Post would be timely and would be read by most members of Congress. It should addess the efforts to discredit the science, and would best be done before the policy recommendations are published by the IPCC. That way, you can focus on the science and not give the appearance of getting involved in the policy discussion.
I have been a WSJ subscriber and reader for decades. I’m also the publisher of a local business newspaper (Charleston, South Carolina). I would never allow the tripe that passes for informed opinion on the WSJ’s editorial page into my publication. The bias is so obvious it’s laughable.
While the politics of business owners and managers is most likely skewed to the right of center, it’s a mistake to stereotype business people that way. Progressives, moderates, liberals and just plain pragmatists populate the upper echelons of business, along with “conservatives” however defined.
I’d bet if The WSJ did an unbiased survey of readers, they’d find a large percentage who, like me, simply ignore the editorial page. Yes,the members of the editorial board are “true believers” in their conservative causes, but if they believe they are really that influential, I’d also call them “legends in their own minds.”
RE: “business as usual” interests, I want to make it clear that my prior remarks in (11) were meant to say that there are some such interests, but that they’re by no means the entire economy. (In reading Ron’s (16) just now, I realized that I did a poor job of explaining my thoughts.)
I’m an economist by training (but I’m a good guy, really), and I’m convinced that there’s an enormous amount of economic good to be had from GHG mitigation steps. As I like to say–who do you think will build and maintain and eventually replace all those wind turbines and solar panels we’re making? Martians? The arrival of peak oil and our awareness of AGW will trigger a massive rebalancing and restructuring of economies around the world. It won’t be a quick or painless transition, by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s one we’ll find a way to make even if we have to drag the deniers along, kicking and screaming.
1) Canada has a national right wing would-be rival to the Globe and Mai-the National Post. Over at DeSmogBlog, there’s a very sad link to a “news” series on how valid the denialists’ arguments are. The “news” side, not the editorial side.
2) Kudos to Miles Coburn (#12) for the National Journal (*not* to be confused with the National Review!) for the reference to the Congressional so-called Leadership.
3) the Pew Research Center has an excellent survey on attitudes to climate change and what to do about it (you have to register to read the whole thing.) The really disturbing nugget is in the slicing of attitudes by education and party affiliation. Republicans who are college graduates are way less likely to believe climate change is happening than those who are not. Maybe those college grads all read the WSJ editorial page, It’s the opposite for the Dems. Must be all the liberal media.
With respect to the poll cited by Miles Coburn #12–National Journal insiders–and the WSJ article. I think emotion, attitude, and ignorance explain much in this context.
Affective attitudes act to filter and gate information–kind of analogous to the ozone hole confirmation by NASA delayed by the data acquisition routines that hid satellite data reporting the hole, that was in contrast to empirical ground source data Of course, later it was found that the ozone hole was there, just that anomalous data was tossed out.
Consequently, knowledge and interpretation can and should change as evidence presents itself; an emotional attachment can explain why a scientist such as Lindzen holds onto ideas, that in themselves have portions of validity, but fail in the context of the whole. The name of the American scientist who dismissed plate tectonics to his death escapes me, but clearly forces of emotionally mediated attachment clouded his view.
Moreover, I’ve heard this *relegion* portrayal about anthropogenic climate change from at least two house staffers in the last six months. In their context, aspects of climate change are beyond their comprehension, since learning the relationships of climate change is on many orders and levels of understanding, and the concepts can be abstract. With a basic understanding of the natural world and the physics involved, there will be no way to even consider the ramifications. For example, one staffer asked me if volcanoes were the main source of increased carbon dioxide in the air today. He categorized those who present humans as the source of warming as religious zealots.
If one is unable to understand the abstract factual relationships that resolve to very real risks, the tendency is to apply patterns of known relationships and established order. In as much as matters of spirit and religion preclude a hard edge of logic, dismissing the very real risks of a gross alteration of the constituency of the atmosphere on the basis of belief, while foolish and stupid, can at least be explained in a cause and effect context.
The effort that is going into the contrarian effort is really remarkable, and seems to center around a list of talking points that have been passed around; the stance hasn’t changed much in around a decade. I’ll post a few examples here so people can see how this works:
Just to be clear, these are the talking points that are distributed to denialists via the network of groups described by http://www.exxonsecrets.org
4)Myths and Facts about global warming, July 1997 This one has the statement “whether or not the planet is warming depends on one’s reference points” – which is why I find the use of the 1971-2000 and 1980-1999 baselines for NOAA and the IPCC disturbing.
Here, the NCPPR listed the ‘top ten charges’ behind the Kyoto Protocol and provided ‘succinct talking points for rebuttal’ – I’ll leave out the policy/economic issues and stick to the science ones:
5. Charge: We have already seen man-caused global warming in this century.
Response: Actually, we have seen no sign of man-induced global warming at all. The computer models used in U.N. studies say the first area to heat under the “greenhouse gas effect” should be the lower atmosphere, known as the troposphere. Highly accurate, carefully checked satellite data has shown absolutely no warming. There has been surface warming of about half a degree Celsius, but this is far below the customary natural swings in surface temperatures.
The satellite record clearly shows tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling. The surface warming continues as well.
6. Charge: Carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are the primary cause of global warming.
Response: There are many indications that carbon dioxide does not play a significant role in global warming. Richard Lindzen, professor of meteorology at MIT and a member of the National Academy of Sciences panel on climate change estimates that a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would produce a temperature increase of only one degree Celsius.
In fact, clouds and water vapor appear to be far greater factors related to global temperature. According to Lindzen of MIT and scientists at NASA, clouds and water vapor may play a significant role in regulating the earth’s temperature to keep it more constant.
Lindzen again, displaying his psychological obsession with the stable equilibrium notion of climate – sort of a ‘Gaia theory’ of the self-regulating climate – completely unsubstantiated.
11. Charge: Still, the warming we have seen so far is unprecedented.
Response: Actually, it is not. A thousand years ago the earth was in a very warm period, but around 1300 the Northern Hemisphere entered an ice age. Over the last 200 years, the earth has been steadily warming. It is also interesting to note that just 30 years ago, there was great concern about global cooling.
Again, this is a blatant piece of disinformation.
12. Charge: But what about all those computer models that show global warming? They can’t all be wrong.
Response: But they have been wrong – continually. In 1988 the IPCC computer models predicted temperatures would rise 0.8 C per decade. By 1990, the estimates were down to 0.3 C and by 1995 it was 0.2 C. So, the recent changes of estimates are nothing new nor are they any more likely to be right. As shown in item 5, in fact, none of the predicted warming has occurred. See the IPCC report…
In addition, the computer models leave out a wide variety of major climate mechanisms, including clouds. Most notably they leave out a natural heat vent phenomenon over the South Pacific that appears to have a self-regulating effect of the earth’s temperature.
Yes – that’s a reference to Lindzen’s IRIS nonsense- that guy is shameless!
Sorry if this is a bit long- but this is how the denialist camp works – distribute a set of talking points to public relations types and have them repeat the same set of disinformation over and over, in every forum they can get into.
There may be a Berlin wall between the WSJ editorial and news sides, but the bottom line is that there is one piece of fishwrap that you buy called the Wall Street Journal. If you go along with their “it’s not our fault” escapism, you are part of the problem, not the solution. Frankly I don’t care if they folk on the news side don’t agree with the editorial side or visa versa, I want to bring all possible reality to bear on the publisher.
Moreover it is a mistake to believe that the WSJ is aimed at businesses in general. It is aimed financial businesses, a subset with its own tribal customs. To have an impact you would have to show that climate change is negatively affecting insurance, real estate and stocks, not businesses in general. Emphasize the negative consequences for insurance and real estate if you want to speak to Dow Jones, the WSJ publisher.
Re #9 I disagree with tamino (a dangerous thing to do). In the debate over the science involved in global warming the denialists have lost. In the debate over what to do, they are winning;)
Maybe the denialists are winning the latter debate in the US – not in the UK, and I’d think not in Europe generally, nor in Australia, where I understand the current drought has woken people up. In China and India, the debate’s probably still confined to narrow elite groups, but I’d guess the situation among those is similar to that in Europe – lip service to the need for serious action, now a cross-party consensus in the UK, but very little more. However, the action-denialists haven’t given up here: the Fraser Institute’s “ISPM” launch event in London included not just the ludicrous Bellamy, but Nigel Lawson – long Margaret Thatcher’s Chancellor of the Exchequer (tr: Treasury Secretary), and still a person of influence. His line was to admit climate change is happening, and human actions have played a part (while minimising the extent of this), but to argue that Stern badly miscalculated (underestimating costs of action and ignoring benefits of warming), and that action would involve huge near-term sacrifices for doubtful long-term gains. As the IPCC Fourth Assessment passes, and other issues come to the fore, I’ve no doubt the action-denialists will try to move out from their redoubts in the right-wing press and thinktanks to recapture the Conservative Party.
Well, I guess that Eli and I will have to respectfully disagree. News is news and opinion is opinion. The WSJ editorial page is about as bad as you can get, but it’s clearly labelled opinion.
On another note. the Senate hearings are discussing how NASA and NOAA have received around a 30% cut to their climate change budgets over the last couple of years. This is vitally important to note.
And then there is this question. Why does Sherwood Rowland at UC Irvine hate Roger Pielke Jr.? From his written testimony:
“In most of my experience, our colleagues in national laboratories have had almost as much freedom in their presentations. Presentation of one’s work as one sees it is the bedrock of the scientific enterprise. However, in the last several years, my scientific conversations have run into far too many instances in which the reports of the significance of the work have been subsequently changed by others, often by persons with less, or even no, expertise in the subject at hand. Some of these conflicts have been gathered together, with verified details, by the Union of Concerned Scientists and by the Government Accountability Project, and are presented here today.”
you mean like those that claimed the earth was round when the consensus was it was flat…..
or do you mean the ones that said the earth orbits the sun when the consensus was the earth was the center of the universe…..
where is Einstein when you need him……
[Response: Usually I don’t approve witless and inflammatory statements like this one, but I think our readers could have a good time explaining why the consensus represented in the IPCC report is different from the situation described above. It’s the denialists that are in the position of the flat-Earthers. By the way, while there was clearly a consensus at one time for the geocentric picture of the Universe, the “flat Earth” picture was generally held only by the ignorant, and not by, say, Greek-inspired geometers who had studied the matter –raypierre]
[[Sorry if this is a bit long- but this is how the denialist camp works – distribute a set of talking points to public relations types and have them repeat the same set of disinformation over and over, in every forum they can get into. ]]
That’s exactly right. Whenever there’s a big story about climate change on AOL, the global warming board there gets about a hundred posts from denialists, and they all list the same misinformation — it’s the sun, can’t predict the weather, volcanoes pollute more. It’s very hard to believe they aren’t being coordinated in some way, if only by all getting their talking points from the same source or sources.
I hope this isn’t too off topic but I was wondering if anyone cared to comment on the Andy Revkin New York Times piece of 2/4/07 re: IPCC AR4 (SPM), “The Basics: a disaster epic (in slo-mo).”
Would you consider this another “curious piece” (see RC 1/3/07) – or not?
[Response: No, this was fine. What was ‘curious’ in the previous piece was the suggestion that only now have voices in the ‘middle’ been raised and that this was somehow ‘heretical’. Neither suggestion stands up to much scrutiny unless your only sources of information were Fox News and and Earth First. – gavin]
[Response: I actually have a slightly different take on this from Gavin. I was indeed a bit disappointed that there was no mention of the fact that the sea level projections in the report erred greatly on the conservative side (essentially ignoring the possibility of substantial contributions of melting ice sheets), and that there is a significant probability that non-trivial (e.g. a meter or more) rise in global sea level could actually take place over the next century. It is unclear that this problem will really unfold as slowly as was implied in the piece. See for example this Washington Post editorial from the other day. -mike]
Re: the possibility of non-trivial sea level rises within a century
I can’t imagine all that ice and snow melting and swooshing into the sea. It just isn’t going to melt like snow in Atlanta since, even with a 6C rise in temps, it isn’t going to be above freezing in the Antarctic in the winter and probably not much above in the summer. 6C is still just 6C. But extend the horizon beyond 93 years and I can’t imagine sea levels NOT rising to a dangerous degree. Somehow or other the year 2100 has gotten enshrined as an outer limit of our concern. 2100 isn’t an outer limit of concern. I’m sure it’s just there as a way to focus attention.
I am a proud skeptic and know a politics-driven propaganda campaign when I see one. It is becoming very difficult to find unbiased scientific information on this topic. Like true journalism, it may in fact be dead. Most difficult to find are realistic assessments of the costs of change.
By all means, reduce US dependence on foreign oil. Even try to eliminate fossil fuels altogether. Wonderful. But also give realistic estimates of the costs involved. Just how many fly-over states in the US do you want to plow over to grow ethanol?
Above all, admit that energy research by large corporations encouraged by tax incentive generating governments is more likely to affect change than feel good carbon-dioxide footprint reduction plans and ecological sin taxation.
Fossil fuel is a very cheap and effective form of energy that is not easily replaced. It comes out of the ground, from many places on earth that are useless to almost any other purpose, and is easily transported.
Impress me by championing the expansion of nuclear power.
What concerns me here is that the publishers of the WSJ, Dow Jones are one of the major providers of investment advice. And, if they sincerely believe that climate change is not a real problem, then they will advise investors to avoid firms that undertake steps to mitigate climate change, and firms that provide products that are climate-neutral, directing capital away from the firms which are solving the problem. Persuading Dow Jones would make a huge difference. But how?
“Just how many fly-over states in the US do you want to plow over to grow ethanol?”
How many are not already plowed over? Real journalism is far from dead, but it lends credence to sources not deserving of the attention except as examples of false information.
“from many places on earth that are useless to almost any other purpose, and is easily transported.”
Well it depends how one defines “purpose,” such as nursery to most of the wildlife on the North American continent. I take it this is an unwise use in your view? I don’t call an 800-mile pipeline and tankers prone to crashing and fishery-ending spills either “easy” or risk free. Using the wasted natural gas would be beneficial in the short term to replace coal.
The scientific information is unbiased to all but the biased. They just don’t want to hear it so denial is their only option. I’m hearing the Song of the Dodo.
The WSJ editorial folks might want to talk with the reinsurance industry. Reinsurers (notably Swiss Re, the second largest reinsurer) are taking GW very seriously, for the simple reason that it has the potential to cost them a helluva lot of money.
The world’s second-largest reinsurer Swiss Re warned on Wednesday [in March 2004] that the economic costs of natural disasters, aggravated by global warming, are threatening to spiral out of control and could double to $150 billion (82 billion pounds) a year in 10 years.
In a report revealing how climate change is rising on the corporate agenda, Swiss Re said the economic costs of such disasters threatened to double to $150 billion (82 billion pounds) a year in 10 years, hitting insurers with $30-40 billion in claims, or the equivalent of one World Trade Center attack annually.
“There is a danger that human intervention will accelerate and intensify natural climate changes to such a point that it will become impossible to adapt our socio-economic systems in time,” Swiss Re said in the report.
To Ed Barkley (#34),
I shouldn’t speak for them and I don’t read often enough to know if this is true all the time, but:
RC is not a policy discussion forum; it is a science discussion forum; RC does not want to champion taxation versus nuclear versus whatever else. I would hope that anyone could come here and be impressed with the science without having to find out where the authors stand on issues outside of their expertise.
Most of the people in your thread attribute the views held on climate in the WSJ editorial page to that newspaper’s desire to protect special interests. This is false. The WSJ believes in the primacy and efficiency of markets. They consequently believe that market mechanisms can address climate change and that many people who advocate radical policies in response to climate change are on the left and are trying to find a justification for government intervention.
The WSJ editorial page science may be bad. However, it is important to recognise that they are ideological rather than venal. Indeed the WSJ editorial pages has spoken out against market interventions that would benefit big business (such as ethanol subsidies). By calling them stooges of the energy industry you simply serve to confirm their prejudices. You would also do a whole lot better with their consituency if you could show how carbon caps would ameliorate the problem. (Particularly given how difficult Europe finds it to comply with Kyoto). The science may be clear, but poltically people are not going to vote for widespread quotas and taxes if all this means is a reduction of a fraction of calvin many decades in the future.
You write: “What puzzles us is why their readership, who presumably want to know about issues that might effect their bottom line, tolerate this rather feeble denialism”
One guess is that that this readership and the WSJ editorial board championing such denialism, understand climate change much more so than they admit, and have already reached the conclusion (right or wrong) that the 70-80% GHG reductions needed to forestall catastrophic climate change is, from a geo-political standpoint, a very unlikely scenario. So their apparent chosen strategy is to oppose the prospect of our world spending the enormous effort, and vast sums of money, (much of which they presumably conclude may come from themselves and their interests) while they go about the clandestine and very private task of determining exactly how they can best ride out the upcoming decades-long climate change ‘storm.’
Even James Lovelock’s dire prediction of our planet’s future holds out hope that the higher altitudes will remain relatively habitable to humans. Don’t be surprised if the WSJ readership and editorial board busy themselves during upcoming decades not in finding ways to mitigate the increasing warming, but in finding ways to ensure the future of their progeny, (like, for example, by buying up large tracts of real estate in the higher altitudes).
WSJ readers generally comprise the population who has for 37 years opposed the U.N.’s 1970 resolution that the 22 richest countries donate 0.7% of their GNP annually to developing countries whose children die at the rate of about 29,000 each day. (The U.S., for example, has never given even 1/3rd of that pledged amount each year). WSJ readers have a long record of choosing self-interest over the desperate needs of large populations.
Those who publish and read the WSJ are, in general, not without a high degree of propensity and expertise in advancing and protecting their personal interests. Asking them to voluntarily act otherwise is, unfortunately, a prospect that scientists would be wise to seriously consider a “very unlikely” scenario.
re: 34. “I…know a politics-driven propaganda campaign when I see one.”
No. The only “politics-driven propaganda campaign” is the one driven by head-in-the-sand anti-science denialists and the Exxon/Mobils of the world. The climate science and methods use to research global warming are strong and valid. Peer-review has supported that. The research results are readily available for reading and learning. Try searching for and reading about the various IPCC reports via Google instead of close-mindedly believing and restating what someone else with little scientific credentials tells you to think or say. There are many links given here at this site.
and have a question for you climate scientists: worst case scenario: if we continue to do nothing:
1. how high could the Co2 ppm rise to, and
2. could that swing our climate from one suitable for oxygen-breathers like all life now, to one suitable only for carbon-dioxide-breathers, similar to the atmosphere enjoyed 3.8 billion years ago by the cyanobacteria?
Some scientist here (upthread on the IPPC day I think…?) described the cyanobacteria 3.8 billion years ago as “perpetrating the greatest fratricide ever” in COMPLETELY switching the air on this planet tfrom Co2 to O2.
(Mostly Co2/mostly O2, I mean…)So, is that possible?
What is happening on Realclimate?
More and more politics and less and less climate science?
However, there are many points to explicite in SPM.
For example, the main differences between the TAR and AR4, the introduction of C-cycle feedback in the AR4, the best precision of the forecasts, aerosols between 1990 and 2006,…
[Response:Understood. We will be focussing more on the scientific nuances in posts to come…. -gavin]
As has been pointed out a number of times in a number of RC threads, fossil fuels are comparatively cheap only as long as the producers and consumers are allowed to externalize the costs associated with dumping gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Make them internalize the costs and suddenly fossil fuels won’t seem so ‘cheap’.
An analogy I heard recently is that saying fossil fuels are cheaper than alternative energy sources is like saying it would be cheaper to dump raw sewage into rivers than to build a water treatment plants. That’s true, of course, unless you live downstream. The true cost of any activity includes the cost of cleaning up the waste.
People believe the shlock printed on this subject by the likes of the WSJ editorial board in part because scientific literacy in this country is pathetically low. Obvious, perhaps, but when scientists have to reduce their findings to the level of bumper-sticker thinking to get the message across, even the WSJ troglodytes armed only with degrees in philosophy and economics can engage in “debate” on the subject. Of course they wouldn’t know a Kolmogorov-Smirnov test if it bit them on the a##, but that’s irrelevant; read enough Wittgenstein or market theory and you won’t get bogged down in scientific details. Making falsifiable statements about the real world is so passe, you know.
Re #35, on anti-AGW investment advice by Dow Jones: I don’t think it matters much. DJ may mislead public whose investment decisions are misled for numerous other reasons anyway. But the prices are not determined by small investors but by big institutional money, managed by professionals. For them, DJ is just another advertisement agency.
[Off-topic: In general, worthwhile investment advice is really hard to find on the market where ordinary people operate. This is partly because of conflicts of interest, partly because of the unpredictability of the market, which is a highly competitive zero sum game around the index and therefore very unpredictable. Most are best served by index funds.]
Pascal wrote: “What is happening on Realclimate? More and more politics and less and less climate science?”
I think part of what’s happening here, and everywhere, is that as the science becomes more and more clear that anthropogenic global warming is real, rapid and accelerating, and that the changes to the Earth’s climate and biosphere that it is causing present a grave and growning danger to humanity, and indeed to all life on Earth, the discussion naturally shifts from the science itself to what to do about it, which is an intensely “political” subject, since various proposals have differing costs and benefits for different stakeholders. And in this matter we are all stakeholders.
It’s not the economist Paul Samuelson, whose book most of us remember using in high school (guns and butter, how prescient), but Robert J. Samuelson. Interesting article, however, followed by pages of thoroughly depressing comments. I even spotted a few rewrites of the sort listed by Ike in 23 (above), including references to Lindzen. It was reassuring to be able to recognise them so easily, so thank you.
I understand that this isn’t the proper forum for discussion of ‘doing’ as oppposed to ‘understanding’. But in reading around published comment, it becomes absolutely clear that science and education are key to helping people understand what’s at stake. Perhaps all scientists should get elected to their local School Board (or whatever they have where you live). You have to start somewhere. Perhaps then it would be less likely that we would be reading articles written by a schizophrenic WSJ. And tolerating it.
ok secularanimist but do you think, for example, that it is’nt important to know more precisely the total radiative forcing?
It’s not the same for climate sensitivity if we have 0.6 or 2.4 W/m2.
If RF equal 0.6 W/m2 we have 1.2Â°C.m2/W and if RF equal 2.4W/m2 we get only 0.3Â°C.m2/W.
So if aerosols concentration is decreasing the future effect on climate may huge or weak.
It’s not the same!
I have been a reader of the WSJ for years. It is a very good newspaper. It is reality based, since it is writen for people who are in the business of making money, not saving the world. They are not given to flights of fancy, at least for long. Being in business does that for you.
It is much more impartial than say the NY Times, which I read everyday, too. The NY Times is a joke, both on its front page and editorial page.
As for the Editorial page being not based in reality, let me give you a real world example of reality based writing.
Some years ago Philip Morris was selling for $75 per share and paying a nice dividend. Then, it lost some lawsuits (“What? Smoking causes cancer? They NEVER told me.”) and its stock price fell to $20. Most people thought that the company was going to go bankrupt.
I read one day an editorial in the WSJ to the effect that the “fix was in.” The agreement with the States Attorneys General had guaranteed the company’s survival and profitablity. Afterall, if big tobacco was to pay billions to the states, that required the states to become the protector of the tobacco industry. Politicians being venal and corrupt, they have eagerly protected big tobacco over the years.
So, I bought shares at $20, and stuck with the company through thick and thin for the next several years, and was amply rewarded.
BTW, the company never stopped paying its rich dividend,either.
NOW, HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE EVERY MADE ANY MONEY OFF INFORMATION YOU HAVE GOTTEN FROM THE EDITORIAL PAGE OF THE NY TIMES?
Now, those same politicians are telling you they are going to combat global warming. Who do you think is divorced from reality?
[Response: The ability of the WSJ to assess the political reality on that issue is miles away from the situation on climate change. The analogy would be instead of writing about the States lawsuit, they would have kept on going with the ‘tobacco doesn’t cause cancer’ line and not dealt with the political issue at all. Thus you would have missed out on your financial windfall. The problem is not the politics of the editorial board, it is their shortsightedness. Denialism is just stupid, and if they claim to be in the reality-based community, waking and smelling the coffee would seem to be wise. – gavin]
[[I am a proud skeptic and know a politics-driven propaganda campaign when I see one. It is becoming very difficult to find unbiased scientific information on this topic.]]
It’s not difficult at all if you go to the peer-reviewed journals. Find a university library and read through some back issues of Geophysical Research Letters, Journal of Geophysical Research, Journal of Climate, Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, and for that matter, Science and Nature. To get a grasp of the basic science involved, see if you can find some books like Hartmann’s Global Physical Climatology (1994), Houghton’s The Physics of Atmospheres (3rd ed. 2002), or Petty’s Introduction to Atmosphere Physics (2006).
[[Some scientist here (upthread on the IPPC day I think…?) described the cyanobacteria 3.8 billion years ago as “perpetrating the greatest fratricide ever” in COMPLETELY switching the air on this planet tfrom Co2 to O2.
(Mostly Co2/mostly O2, I mean…)So, is that possible?
The WSJ is derelict in its duty to report actual changes in the investment climate:
I’ll bet these sectors are going to be affected even if there is no governmental action to stop AGW at all:
1. Insurance companies who cover coastline housing
2. Architects/builders who design/build gigantic houses: ie the luxury sector of the housing market
3. Tourism related industries: many markets: everything from areas where there was good trout fishing to 9already) New Orleans.
4. Govt reinsurers of disaster area expenditures
5. Incandescent lightbulb makers
Re 43, i.e. Pascal’s comment on science/politics split:
Sorry to go astray from the WSJ fray, but:
Say, didn’t I see something in Science the other day about turbulence models and jet streams? What’s the climate connection? That would be interesting to read about here, speaking as someone who’s a hydrodynamicist but not a climate scientist. It would get my blood pressure back down after reading the latest idiot musings of the WSJ editorial board.
Re #26: Nick, do you have any specific report of how the FI event went? It was pretty obviously a failure in terms of any broad media coverage (even the Torygraph, which must have come as a real “Et tu, Brutus?” moment for British denialists), but I’m very curious as to the extent of media attendance and other details.
Re: #33 I completely agree. I’d like to see Real Climate take up the issue of where sea levels maybe in 200 years as the recent IPCC report clearly states that sea level wouldn’t stop rising for centuries even if we stopped all anthropogenic carbon emmissions today. I strongly believe that if the scientific concensus was that one-third of the State of Florida would be under water by 2200 or even 2300, that more U.S. citizens would be alarmed and demanding govt. action on AGW right now. This is an issue that should be explored.
Not only can the models all be wrong, they were shown to ALL be biased in the same direction. (Roesch 2006)
The IPCC itself has admitted in the AR4 SPM that the level of understanding of solar radiative forcing is low. Even over the last two solar cycles sunspot/bright area based models were only able to explain 80% of the variation in radiative forcing.
You don’t seem to have read the Wigley and Meehl climate commitment papers that show that equilibration to new levels of forcing take decades to centuries, since you still subscribe to the simplistic signal processing argument that solar forcing hasn’t increased in the last few decades. The increase in solar forcing prior to the last 60 years likely contributed to the recent warming.
Given the low levels of understanding and the low explanatory power of current solar models, the large amount of unexplained solar correlation in the paleo-climate, and the documented deficiencies of the current state of the art models, consensus and claims of confidence are premature. The skeptics don’t have to have confidence in competing explanations, just confidence that the climate is complex and there is a lot of loose ends out there that require a explanation, yet remain unexplained under near 100% AGW theory. Claims of confidence and consensus and the repeated mentioning of unlikely extreme possibilities in light of these issues ring hollow, desperate and defensive.
This is all before we even get to other anthropogenic forcings and poorly understood internal climate modes.
Agreed! No one reads the WSJ for the editorials just like no one reads Playboy for the articles. Let’s spend our resources to win hearts and minds on the GHG issue in meaningful venues and ignore this last refuge for those who will never be convinced regardless of logic and overwhelming evidence.
Re: 61: Martin, you cite “climate commitment” as a possible mechanism for solar variations 50 years ago affecting temperatures today. The problem is that if that were true, the _fastest_ response would be expected in the early years, and an ever slowing response in later years. We see the exact opposite, with an accelerating response in recent decades.
btw: the climate is indeed complex, and there are loose ends. But you have to prove that a loose end is _likely_ to be significant before you can challenge a consensus. Otherwise, it would be impossible to _ever_ make a confident statement about anything complex, because there are _always_ loose ends. cf evolution and the intelligent design debate: there’s always another missing transitional fossil that hasn’t been found, or another protein whose evolutionary pathway hasn’t been elucidated yet. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have 99.99% confidence in the explanatory power of evolution. These “loose ends” are probably part of the reason that the IPCC uses “90%” confidence in attribution, and not 99% or more.
re: 61. That first sentence is disingenous. You repeat that mantra over and over, despite specific evidence and information to the contrary at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/09/chinese-whispers-in-australia/, specifically in response to your comments 1, 3, and 14. How many times are you going to continue to post the same incorrect information about model bias over and over? It is misleading. Your point was addressed several times (per the reply to comment 1 in link above). Yet you continue to beat the drum, with no little recognition of the information provided to you which does not support your claim. One has to wonder why. It is not as if repeating misleading information makes it any more accurate.
Those responses are not even on point, they are just denials and dismissals, not scientific discourse. Read the Roesch article and do the figures yourself. If you don’t have access to the full text, I cite enough of it in:
I agree that everything being equal, most of the temperature equilibration will occur in the first few decades and that the energy imbalance will persist and increase ocean heat content for centuries. In this case, the for some reason the temperature equilibration did not occur immediately, but that doesn’t mean that suddenly the climate was in equilibrium. I admit it requires an explanation, my own theory is that the wars and nuclear testing may have had more impact than we currently understand. Nevertheless, the higher level of solar forcing has persisted, and is not expected to continue for much longer. Keep in mind that I am not the one (or thousands) claiming to have all the answers.
While I am firmly Dawkins camp on evolution, and appreciate its explanatory power, I admit that we can’t rule out the possibility that some cellular machinery may have evolved extra-terrestrially. Similarly, I appreciate and celebrate some of the qualitative insights we have gained from models, I admit that quantitative results must be kept in perspective.
I find the editorial to be vaguely outrageous, if not flat-out absurd. In presenting the IPCC report as unleashed hysteria, the editorial itself is responding in like kind. Talk about media distortion! What’s up with that?
Thanks for keeping your head in reporting this when the WSJ clearly did not. Very odd, but only slightly surprising.
A re-reading of the post that starts this whole thread would be useful before accusing RC of going off on a self-proscribed political/policy tangent. At issue is that the WSJ editorial board refuses to acknowledge the existence of a serious problem that would require a serious and legitimate policy/political discussion. It cloaks that stance in a bunch of pseudo-scientific claptrap. Discussion of why their “evidence” is claptrap is very much the domaine of RC.
You know, if we were discussing the effect on infrared-absobing gases on the climate on Mars, the whole issue probably would have been settled about 20 years ago – but people tend to get emotional over massive economic changes, which will certainly be diffiicult. Similarly, many people don’t want to admit they are sick, and so put off visiting a doctor until their disease has progressed to an untreatable level – and if your livelihood is based on fossil fuel sales, a similar emotional dynamic must also occur. That’s why the ‘treatment program’ should have started two decades ago (i.e. switching to renewable energy systems) – the longer we wait, the worse it will get.
All the defence attempts for WSJ trying to spin their lies have been completely inane and missing the point entirely. The guy with the analogy about Philip Morris was completely clueless as well – it’s not about business, making money or even the politics of what should be done, it’s about outright misrepresenting science and lying.
How can one decide what to do if the “facts” one has are all wrong? You can’t get the right outputs if the inputs are all wrong. (Well, maybe by chance.) The whole “issue” can’t even be about policy yet since the real scientific facts are missed by the right wing (84% of republicans in power think humans aren’t causing global warming, according to a recent post by RPjr). Isn’t politics supposed to be making the right thing, decisions based on values and facts?
How can someone say “they don’t like leftist regulation of industry, so they don’t believe that AGW science is honest”? That excuse is completely on it’s head, and if the proponent doesn’t understand why, I don’t understand how he or she can understand anything about how the physical world works. It can only be seen as simply lying in the hopes of attaining a certain outcome in policy – it can NOT be seen as evidence that the scientific facts are not facts but just opinions based on political views, like the proponent tries to imply, and seems to be in many semi-skeptics’ repertoire nowadays.
With places like WSJ propagating their lie machine, the public will reach what the science is saying about the real world much slower (if ever). These lies have been debunked countless of times in scientific literature, but the public is remarkably boneheaded and easily led astray.
Lying is lying, regardless of politics or policy or anything. Every time you’re trying to link it to this or that, you’re on losing ground and admitting it and looking stupid. It would be ridiculous if it wasn’t an important matter.
Future generations will curse your name.
(ending furious rant.)
I think the skeptic bullshit bingo at Deltoid could perhaps be a useful tool for exposure. It could be educational and should be firmly scientifically based (If it’s not yet properly cemented, it should be made so by linking to good articles). http://timlambert.org/2005/04/gwsbingo/
To illustrate the disconnect between the WSJ editorial board and its reporting, there are a couple of interesting GW/alternative energy-related articles in it today (2/7/07, pg A10, IIRC).
One describes a new – I guess you might call it “solar outsourcing” – investment opportunity, in which investment groups buy & install solar power for business, then are paid for the electricity at a rate lower than the utility cost. Here’s a link to an article (not the WSJ one) on such a project:
Which I think goes to show that it’s not investors or business in general that’s anti-AGW or alternative energy. Trying to use the issue in support of an anti-business agenda, as some of the previous commenters do… Well, isn’t that playing right into the denialist claims that AGW is just a smokescreen for the left/liberal agenda? Much, much better to get business on board by showing all the ways that responding to AGW a) protects what they have, and b) creates lots of new profit-making opportunities.
re: 65. “Those responses are not even on point…” Excuse me? Did you even read the various responses re: solar radiative forcing? Or the numerous replies to yours and other periodic postings along the lines that “(t)he increase in solar forcing prior to the last 60 years likely contributed to the recent warming”? Talk about dismissive “science”. Your Roesch article interpretation has been discussed here in previous posts and threads.
Head in the sand? You mean they’ve got sand up there too? Sounds scratchy! The editorial board of The Economist has come around nicely. This leaves the WSJ and the Telegraph as just about the only two holdouts. And they’ve been reduced to recruiting pseudoscientists like Monckton.
I stumbled across these while perusing the AGU 2006 fall meeting abstracts:
“Agent-based Model for the Coupled Human-Climate System
“* Zvoleff, A (email@example.com), Complex Systems Laboratory, IGPP, University of California – San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0225, United States
Werner, B (firstname.lastname@example.org), Complex Systems Laboratory, IGPP, University of California – San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0225, United States
“Integrated assessment models have been used to predict the outcome of coupled economic growth, resource use, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, both for scientific and policy purposes. These models generally have employed significant simplifications that suppress nonlinearities and the possibility of multiple equilibria in both their economic (DeCanio, 2005) and climate (Schneider and Kuntz-Duriseti, 2002) components. As one step toward exploring general features of the nonlinear dynamics of the coupled system, we have developed a series of variations on the well studied RICE and DICE models, which employ different forms of agent-based market dynamics and “climate surprises.” Markets are introduced through the replacement of the production function of the DICE/RICE models with an agent-based market modeling the interactions of producers, policymakers, and consumer agents. Technological change and population growth are treated endogenously. Climate surprises are representations of positive (for example, ice sheet collapse) or negative (for example, increased aerosols from desertification) feedbacks that are turned on with probability depending on warming. Initial results point toward the possibility of large amplitude instabilities in the coupled human-climate system owing to the mismatch between short outlook market dynamics and long term climate responses. Implications for predictability of future climate will be discussed. Supported by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation and the UC Academic Senate.”
“Economically optimal risk reduction strategies in the face of uncertain climate thresholds
“McInerney, D (email@example.com), Department of Geosciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802 United States
* Keller, K, (firstname.lastname@example.org), Department of Geosciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802 United States
“Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions may trigger climate threshold responses, such as a collapse of the North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (MOC). Climate threshold responses have been interpreted as an example of “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” in the sense of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). One UNFCCC objective is to “prevent” such dangerous anthropogenic interference. The current uncertainty about important parameters of the coupled natural-human system implies, however, that this UNFCCC objective can only be achieved in a probabilistic sense. In other words, climate management can only reduce – but not entirely eliminate – the risk of crossing climate thresholds. Here we use an integrated assessment model of climate change to derive economically optimal risk-reduction strategies. We implement a stochastic version of the DICE model and account for uncertainty about four parameters that have been previously identified as dominant drivers of the uncertain system response. The resulting model is, of course, just a crude approximation as it neglects, for example, some structural uncertainty and focuses on a single threshold, out of many potential climate responses. Subject to this and other caveats, our analysis suggests five main conclusions. First, reducing the numerical artifacts due to sub-sampling the parameter probability density functions to reasonable levels requires thousands of samples. Conclusions of previous studies that are based on much smaller sample sizes may hence need to be revisited. Second, following a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario results in odds for an MOC collapse in the next 150 years exceeding 1 in 3 in this model. Third, an economically “optimal” strategy (that maximizes the expected utility of the decision-maker) reduces carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 25 percent at the end of this century, compared with BAU emissions. Perhaps surprisingly, this strategy leaves the odds of an MOC collapse virtually unchanged compared to a BAU strategy. Fourth, reducing the odds for an MOC collapse to 1 in 10 would require an almost complete decarbonization of the economy within a few decades. Finally, further risk reductions (e.g., to 1 in 100) are possible in the framework of the simple model, but would require faster and more expensive reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.”
1. Re: 71; There are legit companies doing this in the commercial solar sector (they rent the solar panels from a non-utility and pay them their utility costs on a long-term contract, essentially hedging future electricity cost increases). However, a new one is claiming to enter the residential market and is more hype than hope. Read more here.
2. Should news organizations provide balanced coverage proportional to scientific understanding? Or should they keep a minority dissent “just in case”? Does it matter if the minority is introducing something “new” (i.e. the world is round) or holding onto something “old” (i.e. climate change)? Read a bit more here.
Re #73: Based on the Torygraph’s climate coverage around last weekend, in particular the Sunday editorial, the analysis piece (I forget which day) by the science correspondent, and the lack of any story on the Fraser Institute event, they too look to have abandoned the dark side. Even so, the WSJ still has the National Post (Canada) to lean on.
Re #75, point 2: Well, the only purported bit of science in that denialist’s letter was a claim that the satellite and balloon records don’t show warming, which is entirely wrong. I think more and more editors are deciding that the time has passed for publishing that sort of tripe, a stance with which I could not agree more.
People do read the WSJ’s op-ed pages and take them seriously: Recently, I’ve seen letters to the editor in my local paper citing as an authoritative source of scientific informationa a WSJ op-ed piece dismissing AGW. I’m not at all surprised when the paper’s editorial position on a subject like AGW runs contrary to its news stories on the subject – it did (maybe still does, though I no longer read the WSJ) run op-ed essays by avowed creationists denying evolution, while, sometimes in the very same issue, the news or business section featured articles about some new drug or gene therapy that could only exist because biological evolution is a reality. When I used to subscribe to the WSJ and read it regularly, I frequently used its sometimes bizarre op-ed essays on science topics (some on the Endangered Species Act were absolute howlers) in my college biology classes to stimulate students to read and think critically, and to dissect arguments built on flawed logic and the misrepresentation of scientific data.
Re: 74 Initial results point toward the possibility of large amplitude instabilities in the coupled human-climate system owing to the mismatch between short outlook market dynamics and long term climate responses. Implications for predictability of future climate will be discussed
Sounds like an admission that the human/Climate coupled system is likely to be chaotic. I would add that drastic measures and targets applied would only make unpredictability more likely. This would place climate prediction more in line with stockmarket prediction – Glorified guesswork and hunches – a job for the economists who are used to getting it wrong most of the time.
Once the WSJ gets over its odd belief that there is a conflict between preserving one’s habitat and economic progress, they’ll embrace the reality of climate change and the plethora of business opportunities represented by solutions to it, like recovering alcoholics who never miss an AA meeting.
Re #79: Would that it was chaotic in the sense you mean. All of the variability is on the side of the less pleasant outcomes, unfortunately. The history of human societies is very poor when it comes to planning very far ahead.
The Roesch results have not been disputed in the literature. There probably has not been time for a rehabilitation of the credibility of the models in the scientific literature, and their credibility has been damaged both individually and since the error is correlated, their credibility is also damaged as ensembles. However, a proper scientific response would not be trying to prove that this 2.8 to 3.8 W/m^2 of positive surface albedo bias does not damage their ability to attribute and project the < 0.8 W/m^2 of recent energy imbalance. It would take “correct” models to do that anyway. Such efforts would instead be better spent just correcting the models, and restarting the ensemble runs that have probably already been underway for months. Trying to claim model validity in the face of such errors without doing the research, is not a scientific effort, but a face saving and hand waving exercise in denial. Any purely analytic argument that could fill this void would probably also be an advance in understanding non-linear systems apriori without the models now thought to be necessary.
Marc, the internal climate modes, are the poorly understood multidecadal oscillation behavior that models cannot yet reproduce. I look forward to the insights that the models will eventually be able to provide in this area.
[Response: Martin, this is the umpteenth time you’ve said this, and the hundredth time it’s been pointed out that your assesment of the importance of this result is grossly inflated. Enough. Come up with something more interesting to say or don’t bother. (hint, try reading about any of 634 other analyses of the AR4 models). -gavin]
All change is unpleasant. Unexpected change doubly so. I would be happy to accept BAU if it meant the changes could be known and dated in advance, but whatever happens, big disasters are certain anyhow. I like that research you quoted and how it frames our measures as reducing probabilities of certain events. That does help in cost benefit analysis at least.
As I recall the Scientific Method as I was taught it in college, a hypothesis will remain such unless it makes predictions that are testable and can be verified in experiments that are repeatable. As a skeptic, the warming of the globe does not surprise me; that humans contribute to the warming does not surprise me. But dramatic conclusions that “the north pole will be ice-free by 2040”, as this site referenced, are a dramatic departure from the human-caused warming hypothesis. That is clearly propaganda designed as a shock tactic that, if true, would certainly be a theory with short-term predictive and testable potential. Not like the IPCC’s hardly bold 93 years hence sea level predictions. Dramatic conclusions require dramatic evidence. Show me the predictions such a theory makes concerning sea levels by the end of this decade, for instance.
[Response: The debate over this stuff is complex enough without throwing in disinformation. As we reported the science is *not* conclusing that the NP will be ice free by 2040. Why not actually read the post rather than construct a fantasy of it? – William]
The fact that all of you “real climate scientists” gave that paper white space in advance of serious experimentation on the theory’s predictions is evidence of biased journalism, bad science and political propaganda. The climate science field is now so entrenched in overly abstracted simulations based on limited data sets that the supposedly “peer-reviewed” journals just read like constitutional law that piles personal opinion on top of personal opinion until a skillful propagandist could draw any conclusions he likes from the books without fear of judgement.
How can you criticize the WSJ for what it prints as editorial?
Show me the hard science that makes ethanol a reasonable alternative to gasoline – given that millions of acres of land would need to be dedicated to providing only a portion of the corn crop required.
Show me the hard science that wind or solar energy are likewise reasonable sources of global energy and not mere left-wing, feel-good solutions.
All I see is a massive propaganda campaign to America’s science teachers and semi-literates fueled by highly abstracted simulation, untestable predictions and feel-good solutions that will have kids running home to switch off the air-conditioner.
I hold you to a higher standard that the WSJ, and less sensationalism and more evidence.
Comment by Edward A. Barkley — 8 Feb 2007 @ 3:02 AM
I agree with the posts advocating more direct communication with widely-read media outlets, when possible. If it gets through, some readers might actually think a bit, and even raise an eyebrow at what their paper is printing. Or am I just dreaming?
Bill. The cynical view is that the WSJ knows its market, and its editorial page is a sail trimmed to that wind.
(I think that is genuinely the case with Fox News. Fox is quite a subversive TV station (The Simpsons!– probably the most anti-values programme on American tv) but Fox News is aimed at a particular demographic, and it targets it very well. Somewhat cynically to my mind, but very well).
In the case of the WSJ I think it is a bit like mistaking Inhofe for a corporate shill. No the Senator believes what he says– he genuinely believes there is a conspiracy against American prosperity and growth, embedded in the global warming movement.
Similarly, I think the WSJ believes this stuff. They really do think that this is a scientific conspiracy against the US of A.
As to businessmen, my own experience is that top businessmen, like BP’s John Brown and Shell’s Lord Oxenburgh, really do think there is a problem. And many of the more thoughtful commentators do as well (I refer you for example to the Financial Time’s Martin Wolf, probably the best economics commentator in the published media right now).
But the general run of businessmen are good at business. Just as doctors are good at medicine, and often lousy at business. Or lawyers are good at lawyering, and often lousy at business. And all of us (except doctors) would be truly lousy in an operating theatre.
Being good at business doesn’t make you a good student of climate science, nor of international economic policy to fight global warming.
So I think most businessmen, when they express an opinion about global warming, are talking out of their hat. They don’t know about GW any better than my surgeon does, or my lawyer, or my accountant– fine professionals though they may be.
So call most businessmen neutral about GW *but* because the solution to GW will almost inevitably involve more government intervention, they are opposed to 1). believing in it 2). doing anything about it.
It is interesting, I think, how much less business denialism there is about GW in Europe. I’m not sure why, but I think it has to do with a generally greater respect for science and for expertise in general, over here (if you want to be less charitable, you could call us more submissive to authority).
It’s a shame that we live in a world where we think that the fact that the WSJ is a leading business newspaper, means that it has something sensible to say about the scientific realities of GW.
[[Given the low levels of understanding and the low explanatory power of current solar models, the large amount of unexplained solar correlation in the paleo-climate, and the documented deficiencies of the current state of the art models, consensus and claims of confidence are premature.]]
If “the explanatory power” of Solar models is low, it means Solar isn’t as much of an influence as you think it is. “Explanatory power” has a specific meaning in statistics. Solar fails the statistiscal test. It’s responsible for about 20% of 20th century warming, almost all in the first half. It’s not causing the warming now.
In Australia we effectively have a 2 sided political system that is too gutless to face up to the challenges that global warming presents. Howard is saying that the economy will be dramatically affected by reducing emissions, and Labor is suggesting that investing in green tech will solve the issue and create jobs.
They are both wrong. The largest obstacle to overcome in the movement forward to solutions of global warming is the love of the economy. Money is what got us into this problem. The solution is economic downturn, loss of jobs (especially polluting ones!), and lower of quality of “economic” life. We must reduce, improve efficiency, use less transport, pay carbon taxes, recycle..and inevitably this will result in economic downturn.
We are so indoctrinated by our culture that it is sacrilege to suggest economic downshifting. The earth is finite, and we are currently spending the future of our children.. the only sane alternative is to reduce our impact now. Meanwhile our media continue “the debate”, wasting valuable time, sprouting scientific fixes (such as carbon sequestration and nuclear) that are implausible, unfeasibly expensive, even more environmentally damaging than fossil fuel use and in many cases far, far too late to make any difference. Where does the responsibility for the planet start?
As someone who was driving a 100% ethanol powered Volkswagen fox in the mid 80’s in Brazil and lived through the economic chaos caused in part by that country’s dependence on foreign oil imports back then, I very much doubt that ethanol is a panacea for the US. Not to mention that burning ethanol still produces CO2. However it did help the Brazil to cut oil imports and Brazil is well on its way toward independence from at least that particular addiction. Many other problems not withstanding at least they showed that it is possible to change course and think outside the box, no small feat.
As for millions of acres of land needed to grow corn to produce ethanol in he U.S. we already do it to support the beef industry, maybe a little outside the box thinking here might be in order as well. In any case I’m not personally a big fan of ethanol as fuel.
As for the hard science that wind or solar energy are likewise reasonable sources of global energy and not mere left-wing, feel-good solutions.
While I can’t personally speak to the science, as someone who talks daily to executives of international business around the world I am begining to get the sense that there are a lot of hard nosed business people and governments out there who can’t exactly be categorized as left-wing by any definiton and are apparently willing to invest their hard earned cash in solar and wind energy. Though probably not yet a full blown trend it is certainly a shift in the direction of the breeze.
BTW there seems to be a lot of hard science to back up the claim that fossil fuel may not be so great either. Oh, I know, a consensus of thousands of climate scientists from around the world is probably really just Left-wing feel-good unscientific propaganda. I feel so sorry for the unsuspecting capitalists who are risking financial ruin by buying into these fly by night alternative energy schemes.
This is obviously outside the domain of Climate Scientists, however I could not find the answers. None of the obvious keywords work on a Google search (for meaningful results).
That is a biological question, an Engineering one: What is the temperature limit for most modern cars, stationary with the air-conditioner running? I am thinking of a freeway traffic jam scenario co-incident with an extreme heat wave. What ambient temperature in those conditions will cause cars to fail and be unable to start before the people start to “fail”. I have been in 48 degrees C (shade temperature) and that ain’t pleasant!
I notice that the skeptics dismiss the significance of extreme temperature events, their attitude seems to be: “summer is hot; get use to it”.
I’m sure someone else has already noted it, but there is another “small village” holding out against the tide. That’s the editorial page of the Financial Post (part of the National Post in Canada). They had a great series on “CV of a denier”, 10 in all they covered I believe.
[Response: Try checking out DeSmogBlog’s commentaries. -gavin]
Comment by Brian Klappstein — 8 Feb 2007 @ 9:30 AM
It can be warmer in thousand years and still not out of the natural variation. Check my blog for info.
The strategy being used by some to try to control the climate debate is that there is ‘consensus’.
But consensus over WHAT ?
That the there’a an obseved warming trend? So what- there was never much argument over that in the first place.
That man has influenced the climate? Again ,so what? There was never much argument about that either.
What there IS argument about is the DEGREE OF man’s influence and the projected degrees of warming in the future. To say there is scienticfic consensus on those things is disengenous at best and downright fraudulent at worst.
The simple fact is that there IS consensus, which has nothing to do with debating tricks. All those scientists who studied climate change agree about the main facts of climate change:
1- that there is a warming trend.
2- how large man’s influence is.
3- what the best estimates of (the range of) further temperature & sea level rise are.
This is the short version. For the long version, numerical values, statements of probability, necessary qualifications and so on: check out SPM AR4.
Regrettably there is no consensus on this yet:
4- there is now more than enough proof that the situation is bad, and we’d better start doing something about it in a hurry.
Well, I guess it wouldn’t be hard to get consensus on a broad statement like that, but there isn’t.
The IPCC document is NOT holy writ.
Now that it has been released, the debate will really start popping in the climate science community at large. For example, the very post that spurred this thread is being taken to task by Roger Pielke as we speak.
And yesterday I pointed out a glaring error in the post.
‘ and that the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) was written by politicians (no it wasn’t – the clue is in the name). ”
the WSJ article DID NOT say it was written by politicians.
[Response: WSJ said “Written mainly by policymakers (not scientists)” which is wrong – William]
re #86: It is still paradoxical. How come if you feel that some actions and policies that AGW could cause are uncomfortable, does it make you to dismiss the scientific basis? That is utter self deceiving. Hello? It doesn’t help!
You can’t change facts by having a feeling that they are uncomfortable. You should pay even more attention to such uncomfortable things.
If the thing is real, it has to be dealt with sooner or later, and the better the sooner. Accept the facts and then campaign and talk and argue on the _policy_ issues, don’t try to distort the scientific information.
You’re only doing a great disservice to humanity.
I discussed (by mail) of that with A. Roesch. The 2-3 W/m2 bias in AR4 models for global surface albedo is just one but many biases in current models when they simulate ernegy fluxes troposphere-surface. For example, as Roesch recalled me, the paper of M. Wild (Solar radiation budgets in atmospheric model intercomparisons from a surface perspective, JGL, Vol. 35, 2005) finds that the global radiation (the albedo just gives the percentage of the reflected global radiation) of the AR4 climate models varies by 40 W/m^2, with a mean bias of 9 W/m^2 for surface insolation.
I agree with you on the poor conclusions we can draw from that in the exercise of attribution-detection of surface temperature change. But in fact, IPCC AR4 itself (the Second Draft, not the SPM) agrees too. Just read 9.1.2, and you will see a full acknowledgment of structural / parameters uncertainties in models. So the “likelihood” of any relative part of any forcing in any surface trend for any period is ultimately a solication of experts judgment, not a conclusion of a precise quantitative analysis. Because the later is simply not possible in 2007. But maybe I miss something. If somebody has a reference for a quantitative analysis of GHGs role in the 0,5 °C recent warming, I’m willing to buy. All that I read until now is the allways repeated general and trivial conclusion about the necessary inclusion of anthropic forcing in order to simulate the XXth trends. Nothing else.
[[What there IS argument about is the DEGREE OF man’s influence and the projected degrees of warming in the future. To say there is scienticfic consensus on those things is disengenous at best and downright fraudulent at worst. ]]
Sorry, but that’s not correct. We know how much warming there has been and we know pretty well how much man has contributed to it. Most of the warming has been anthropogenic. There’s a consensus as to that.
Re #96: “But consensus over WHAT ? That the there’a an obseved warming trend? So what- there was never much argument over that in the first place.”
Like so many people, you’re getting the cart before the horse. The important part is not that a warming trend has been observed, but the fact that the science (behavior of CO2 & observed increase from human activity) _predicted_ that warming trend, and _predicts_ more warming in the future.
That’s what science is all about, really, the ability of theory to predict…
Well, it seems there’ll be a lot more sand for WSJ folks to bury the heads in, according to Mark Lynas’s SIX DEGREES (coming out in March), even if we don’t get beyond the mostly probable 3 degrees increase by 2100 (and who knows how much hotter it will be in 2200 or 2300…). Here’s a preview of that in his article for The Independent ( http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article2211566.ece ):
“+2.4 Degrees C: Coral reefs almost extinct
In North America, a new dust-bowl brings deserts to life in the high plains states, centred on Nebraska, but also wipes out agriculture and cattle ranching as sand dunes appear across five US states, from Texas in the south to Montana in the north.
Rising sea levels accelerate as the Greenland ice sheet tips into irreversible melt, submerging atoll nations and low-lying deltas. In Peru, disappearing Andean glaciers mean 10 million people face water shortages. Warming seas wipe out the Great Barrier Reef and make coral reefs virtually extinct throughout the tropics. Worldwide, a third of all species on the planet face extinction
+3.4 Degrees: Rainforest turns to desert
The Amazonian rainforest burns in a firestorm of catastrophic ferocity, covering South America with ash and smoke. Once the smoke clears, the interior of Brazil has become desert, and huge amounts of extra carbon have entered the atmosphere, further boosting global warming. The entire Arctic ice-cap disappears in the summer months, leaving the North Pole ice-free for the first time in 3 million years. Polar bears, walruses and ringed seals all go extinct. Water supplies run short in California as the Sierra Nevada snowpack melts away. Tens of millions are displaced as the Kalahari desert expands across southern Africa
+4.4 Degrees: Melting ice caps displace millions
Rapidly-rising temperatures in the Arctic put Siberian permafrost in the melt zone, releasing vast quantities of methane and CO2. Global temperatures keep on rising rapidly in consequence. Melting ice-caps and sea level rises displace more than 100 million people, particularly in Bangladesh, the Nile Delta and Shanghai. Heatwaves and drought make much of the sub-tropics uninhabitable: large-scale migration even takes place within Europe, where deserts are growing in southern Spain, Italy and Greece. More than half of wild species are wiped out, in the worst mass extinction since the end of the dinosaurs. Agriculture collapses in Australia.
+5.4 Degrees: Sea levels rise by five metres
The West Antarctic ice sheet breaks up, eventually adding another five metres to global sea levels. If these temperatures are sustained, the entire planet will become ice-free, and sea levels will be 70 metres higher than today. South Asian society collapses due to the disappearance of glaciers in the Himalayas, drying up the Indus river, while in east India and Bangladesh, monsoon floods threaten millions. Super-El NiÃ±os spark global weather chaos. Most of humanity begins to seek refuge away from higher temperatures closer to the poles. Tens of millions of refugees force their way into Scandanavia and the British Isles. World food supplies run out.
+6.4Â°: Most of life is exterminated
Warming seas lead to the possible release of methane hydrates trapped in sub-oceanic sediments: methane fireballs tear across the sky, causing further warming. The oceans lose their oxygen and turn stagnant, releasing poisonous hydrogen sulphide gas and destroying the ozone layer. Deserts extend almost to the Arctic. “Hypercanes” (hurricanes of unimaginable ferocity) circumnavigate the globe, causing flash floods which strip the land of soil. Humanity reduced to a few survivors eking out a living in polar refuges. Most of life on Earth has been snuffed out, as temperatures rise higher than for hundreds of millions of years.”
Now about the sun, I think we should take it seriously. For instance, what if it did start contributing significantly to this increased warming (whether or not it has done so already), then we’d really be in hot water…literally. So, it extremely behooves us to reduce our GHGs all the more, not only to mitigate AGW, but to offset the solar effect, as well.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 8 Feb 2007 @ 1:17 PM
Re #101: It’s hardly trivial, Charles. The assumption behind that statement is that a variety of combinations of forcings can be used to explain recent climate history. It’s a bit like a combination lock: Starting with no knowledge, one can postulate any series of numbers as the correct one, but then trying them shows in the end that only one is correct.
Usually I don’t approve witless and inflammatory statements like this one
Actually, you and your colleagues approve dozens of them – but only when they are directed against “denialists”. It is true, however, that you rarely allow the flame to go the other way.
there was clearly a consensus at one time for the geocentric picture of the Universe
Of course. The point being made is that the consensus view could be wrong. Maybe not in this case but it doesn’t follow that the word “consensus” can be used to shut down the dissenters.
[Response: You don’t see what we throw out. If you find something offensive and inflammatory and with no redeeming value, let us know and I’ll remove it. Discussions about what consensus does and does not mean can be carried out without resorting to personal comments. Some restraint is useful in these kinds of discussions regarding the expression of what you feel. Stick to the issues and don’t goad people and there’ll be less need for us to police this – which is something I’d really rather not be doing. – gavin]
Sashka, consensus in science is not like consensus in a court of law. Even in the case of the ‘cold fusion’ business, the American Physics Society said they were ‘only’ 99% certain that they had identified the error in widely reported claims of cold fusion – and no laboratories have ever reproduced the Pons-Fleischmann result.
Still, one can imagine the two authors, who still apparently believe in their results, being given a media platform on which to proclaim their viewpoint, and being invited onto CNN and FOX news to proclaim their viewpoints, and being invited to write editorials for the Wall Street Journal on their positions.
The fact is, there are no longer any reputable scientists who dispute the reality of global warming, and the ‘consensus view’ contained in the IPCC is actually very conservative, and perhaps even too understated – I really don’t think the use of the 1980-1999 time period as a baseline for future prediction is justifiable, for example – if they were to use the 1951-1980 period, their anomaly predictions would look quite different!
There are still a few ‘contrarian voices’ who continue to be given media megaphones, but that’s just because the fossil fuel industry doesn’t want to see carbon emissions caps and the rapid growth of a renewable energy industry that will absorb most of their market share. Change is tough, after all.
[quote] “The climate science field is now so entrenched in overly abstracted simulations based on limited data sets that the supposedly “peer-reviewed” journals just read like constitutional law that piles personal opinion on top of personal opinion until a skillful propagandist could draw any conclusions he likes from the books without fear of judgement.”
Thats a rather serious allegation to make against the peer review process and the scientific community. While there may certainly be some small fringe journals whose peer review process is less than rigorous, you would need to provide some substantive evidence that any of the major journals reporting climate science have failed to effectively peer review their submissions before this claim can be taken seriously.
[quote] “How can you criticize the WSJ for what it prints as editorial?”
To the extent that the WSG editorial board prints what they claim to be scientific facts that are demonstratively wrong (e.g. that the new IPCC report reduces the estimated human contribution to climate change, or that the document was written by policymakers rather than scientists), criticism is fair game.
[quote] “Show me the hard science that makes ethanol a reasonable alternative to gasoline – given that millions of acres of land would need to be dedicated to providing only a portion of the corn crop required.”
There is no hard science, at least given existing technology. Even assuming rapid technological advances in cellulosic ethanol production, ethanol will only provide a portion (perhaps 20-30 percent) of our fuel needs given current consumption levels. The land use and energy imputs required for ethanol production are relatively large, and the current corn-based ethanol program is effectively a large (and from an environmental standpoint, mostly useless) subsidy to farmers.
[quote] “Show me the hard science that wind or solar energy are likewise reasonable sources of global energy and not mere left-wing, feel-good solutions.”
Sure. Denmark currently gets roughly 20% of its energy from offshore wind turbines. California is aiming for 20% from renewables, and will likely meet it. About 20 other states have renewable portfolio standards ranging from 5% to 30%. From a technological standpoint, renewable energy can effectively provide around 30% of total energy demand. The largest limitation, in the absence of technological advances in energy storage, is the intermittentcy issue. With hydrogen technology, one could forsee renewables producing hydrogen in off-peak times to use in fuel cells for energy on a proverbial rainy day. However, in the absence of this backstop, renewables are limited to only a portion (say, 20%) of the solution.
Perhaps the two most important solutions in the near term (barring technological breakthroughs in energy transmission and storage) are nuclear energy and natural gas. Nuclear is GHG-free, and natural gas emits considerably less CO2 than coal and a fair bit less than oil, as it has fewer carbon atoms in its molecular structure.
Accompanying supply-side shifts, we need to focus more on end-use efficiency and demand-side reductions. Fuel/energy efficiency standards or carbon taxes would both be effective in creating incentives (or coercing, in the case of standards) for consumers to use less energy.
In the long run, carbon sequestration will play an essential role in reducing emissions. However, there are still a number of important technical developments that need to occur for this to be cost-effective, and implementation is hindered by the high infrastructure costs (e.g. power plants tend to be far from the ideal repositories–depleted oil wells–and pipeline systems to transfer carbon are expensive.
[quote] “All I see is a massive propaganda campaign to America’s science teachers and semi-literates fueled by highly abstracted simulation, untestable predictions and feel-good solutions that will have kids running home to switch off the air-conditioner.”
Its a propaganda campaign that has convinced most of the scientific community, the insurance industry, most business leaders, world leaders, intellectuals, and increasingly the general public. You may want to bet against Swiss Re, but I prefer to hedge my bets.
No 88. Probably the best argument for the viability of wind is the enthusiasm that *Texas* utilities are showing for building wind power facilities. Hardly the home of global warming believers.
Now it is true that wind is subsidised (by the same amount that the Bush 2005 Energy Act provides for new nuclear facilities). But that is because we do not tax carbon emission from coal and gas fired power sources. The wind subsidy is to correct an existing market failure.
No. 106 re effects of differing levels of climate change: good summary in the below, the Stern Review of Climate Change, by the UK Treasury:
Edward A. Barkley wrote: “Show me the hard science that wind or solar energy are likewise reasonable sources of global energy and not mere left-wing, feel-good solutions.”
I really don’t know what is “left wing” about wind turbines or photovoltaics. They are manufactured and sold by profit-making private businesses, just like coal or uranium fueled electrical generating plants, and arguably with less government support or involvement than either of those. If anything, but putting electricity generation in the hands of communities, businesses and individuals, wind and PV inherently foster a more libertarian society.
As to whether wind turbines and photovoltaics are “reasonable sources of global energy”, estimates of their electrical generating potential are quite high, and both technologies are growing rapidly world wide.
According to the WorldWatch Institute, in 2005 global wind power capacity grew 24 percent to nearly 60,000 megawatts, four times the growth in nuclear power capacity, and production of photovoltaics grew 45 percent to nearly 1,730 megawatts, six times the level in 2000.
According to the American Solar Energy Society, implementation of efficiency technologies and clean renewables (wind, solar and biofuels) alone can reduce US carbon emissions by 60 to 80 percent by 2030, which is in line with what most scientists believe is needed to keep atmospheric CO2 levels below the levels that would lead to irreversible catastrophic warming.
Can someone explain why these graphs show that:
1. CO2 rises sharply following a sharp rise in temperature, but then falls off more slowly when the temperature sharply drops?
2. Why, if CO2 drives temperature, the temperature rise precedes the rise in CO2?
3. If this is CO2 driving temperature, does this mean there are no other factors driving global temperature?
4. If CO2 is driving temperature, doesn’t that leave the big question unanswered: What drives CO2?
Obviously, it wouldn’t take much imagination to think that temperature was driving CO2 levels, based on these graphs.
[Response: This issue has been addressed many times before. The lead vs. lag issue tells you very little about whether CO2 drives temperature or temperature drives CO2. In fact, both happen in concert — as in any feedback. The interpretation that CO2 has a strong influence over glacial-interglacial temperature arises not from the graph alone, but the interpretation of the graph in the context of using models as tests of various hypotheses about the causes of the temperature variation. See this for more discussion of the lead-lag issue. However, I do think we need to do a post which does a clearer job of explaining the role of CO2 as a feedback in glacial-interglacial cycles. –raypierre]
Re “Show me the hard science that makes ethanol a reasonable alternative to gasoline – given that millions of acres of land would need to be dedicated to providing only a portion of the corn crop required.”
If you assume that ethanol (or other renewables) will simply replace current gasoline use, then you’re right, but suppose instead you look at a broader reorganization of transportation. For instance, fuel use could be cut by half or better with reasonable fuel-efficiency & conservation measures. Then replace the automobile fleet with plug-in hybrids (with the electricity coming from nuclear and/or solar), that need fuel only for long trips. Add in e.g. electric trains instead of planes for shorter journeys (like the Swiss system), and you’ve reduced total fuel demand to a small fraction of today’s use.
Can ethanol and other biofuels replace that small fraction? Probably – and given that recent research has shown a mix of native plants to be much more effective biomass producers than crops, the process might even contribute to habitat restoration & carbon sequestration.
Does this require some attitude changes? Sure. But does it reduce “lifestyle”? I don’t think so. I much prefer my 70 mpg Honda Insight to an oversized SUV, and would much rather hop on a train for a comfortable 3-hour journey, than spend two hours goint through airport security, 45 minutes crammed in an uncomfortable airplane seat, and another half-hour waiting to discover where my luggage was lost.
An old argument is that capping CO2 emissions will slow down economy. While this could happen in the short term is it true mid-term? Are there any good assesments? I feel skeptical ;)
For example, if it turns out in 2-3 years that the decrease of CO2 emissions is unavoidable to avoid catastrophe then the nations that already did steps can have advantage over others. While the other countires have to do drastical measures in rush, early actors will have already an estabilished economy based on low emissions. They also would have the technology and can sell them to late actors.
I think it has to be investigated what can be the _benefits_ for an economy if it decides to act early on GW.
While some people are making big plans to overhaul the
world as we know it, others are moving fast to profit on
global warming concerns. See the article below.
Don’t forget, all of you who are looking to Washington
politicians to make rules to save the planet. That is
wishful thinking. They will simply line the pockets of
their most important constituents.
[BTW, all those windfarms in Texas I suspect are just a
way to suck money out of Washington (That’s your money
and my money.) and make rich men richer.]
[IMHO, once we get a big recession (They always come.) all
this talk of going green will simply go away. Imagine big
cuts in research budgets. Since the debate is over, why
waste more money on climate research? Right now govt. is
awash in tax revenues, and the pols are eager to give
that money away to their friends and raise taxes while
the getting is good. ]
From the WJS. Sounds like more environmental degradation
coming up. Have you followed the stories of Amazon
deforestation and Indonesian deforestation (NY Times) to
make biodiesel? People like you, raising the cry that we
must take action NOW are stampeding the political process
over a cliff, IMHO. You should take a deep breath and be
very afraid you are going to get what you asked for.
U.S. May Boost Corn Acreage
By BILL TOMSON
February 8, 2007; Page C11
WASHINGTON — The Agriculture Department is looking into
whether it will allow farmers an early release from a
land-idling program to raise production area, Secretary
Mike Johanns said.
“We should have a decision by early summer,” Mr. Johanns
told senators regarding the decision on whether to release
acreage from the Conservation Reserve Program.
If some acreage is allowed out of the reserve program, it
wouldn’t go into production until 2008, Mr. Johanns said.
He was responding to Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa), who
said farmers had been pressing him for an early release
from the program. It pays farmers to idle low-producing,
environmentally sensitive land.
Re: 29 and 111. It is interesting to note that the climate denialists use the same arguments employed by those who deny evolution, relativity, quantum mechanics and most every other aspect of modern science.
The most important aspect to these arguments is that they are all pretty much flat-assed wrong. First, Aristarchus, among others, advocated a heliocentric Universe in the 4th century BC. Many ancient Indian, and pre-Copernican Muslim scholars also posited heliocentric Universes, and these ides, often based on Aristarchus were debated even in the Middle Ages even in backwards Europe. Second, science has only existed for 250, or at most perhaps 300 years, since the work of Francis Bacon. Prior to that, it was the Church that imposed intellectual discipline.
Next they will be citing “scientific consensus” about spontaneous generation of some such thing, forgetting that medicine didn’t start to be really scientifically based until at least the middle of 19th century.
Those who argue against scientific consensus merely demonstrate that they are as ignorant of the history and epistemology of science as they are of science itself.
[Response: Thank you for these informative points. Insofar as there might have been, from time to time, a kind of “consensus” for geocentrism, it certainly couldn’t be called a scientific consensus in the modern sense. In the case where there really was a scientific consensus that turned out to be wrong in part, it was very, very quickly overturned in the face of new evidence and better theories. Both relativity and quantum theory are cases in point, though Einstein was a notable holdout on the latter. –raypierre]
#120 During glacial-interglacial transitions, solar orbital forcing is the first driver of warming, on a regional scale. Then come feedbacks: CO2 rise, but also dust, vegetation and ice albedo variations. And some change in general circulation. As raypierre put it, you need paleoclimate models in order to evaluate the relative effect of all these factors. It’s not just a Sun-or-CO2 story.
Thanks for your entry. I agree that the editorial board of the WSJ is being shortsighted, if not down right stupid. My purpose in writing, however, is to take issue with your use (and many others) of the phrase “denialism”. This is so heavy handed, and frankly sounds ideological. Why not simply say the WSJ is behaving stupidly, and leave it at that?
[Response: I agree with your sentiment that “denialist” sounds heavy handed. I think a lot of us think that the term “skeptic” commonly applied to such things overly dignifies what they are really about. As Gavin has noted, real skepticism is part and parcel of science, but what is commonly meant by “global warming” skeptic has very little to do with what most scientists understand by the term “skeptic” more broadly. “denialist” has a sort of symmetry with “alarmist,” and I think the shoe fits for “denialists” more than it does for those to whom the latter term is usuallly applied. “Stupid” doesn’t seem quite right, since you can accuse the WSJ editorial board of a lot of things but outright stupidity is not one of them. Suggestions are welcome, of course, but until something better comes along, I’m inclined to at least prefer “denialist” to “skeptic.” –raypierre]
“The abuse must stop. And we must come to grips with the truth.
Here are the basic facts: At both poles and nearly all points in between, the temperature of the Earthâ��s surface is heating up, and at a frightening and potentially catastrophic rate. In fact, we know global temperatures increased an average of 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit during the twenty-first century.
Science tells us that this heating is the result of human activity. And hiding behind the science or trying to cover it up is not going to solve the problem. We need real solutions and real leadership from this Administration. The time to act is now.”
Statement of John F. Kerry
Hearing: Climate Change Research and Scientific Integrity
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Re #111 Sashka said: Of course. The point being made is that the consensus view could be wrong. Maybe not in this case but it doesn’t follow that the word “consensus” can be used to shut down the dissenters (though my comment below does not just apply to Sashka’s usage of the term ‘consensus’ â�� here or elsewhere).
Consensus has never shut down dissenters, whichever side of the fence is dissenting (those ultimately in the right or in the wrong). It is always a facile argument to use and is sometimes a specious argument to use.
Observation, hypothesis and prediction are what count, and AGW proponents outscore the AGW naysayers on all counts where it matters. Consensus is just a bonus, a bonus the likes of Arrhenius and latterly the likes of Hansen never initially had. And consensus is a bonus the AGW naysayers once had and are not likely to get back, IMHO.
“… something interesting that Lindzen said. He differentiated â��industry stoogesâ�� as a separate category, people who were interested in obfuscating the issue towards supporting their own agenda, as opposed to people that are interested in the scientific truth. This is an important distinction, separating the Marshall Institute type reports (many of which are of the stooge nature), vs the more credible scientific scepticism. The challenge is for a bona fide skeptic to steer clear of being associated with stoogedom…. So stoogeism is arguably making the job of the real skeptic more difficult. The reverse is also a true. The enviro groups do sort of the same thing but with a somewhat different strategy (although arguably not as effectively), … all this definitely does get in the way of sorting out the â��truthâ�� and uncertainty. This whole issue presents a huge challenge to scientists working on relevant problems (as well as to the public who is trying to make sense of it all).”
It seems pretty clear that the solar orbital forcing (i.e. the Milankovitch factors) are slow acting effects that don’t depend so much on changes in total solar energy but rather on the orbit and rotation of Earth – as an extreme example, imagine if the axis of rotation of the Earth was directed right at the sun, so that one pole was in perpetual darkness.
This is worth noting because one of the last issues that climate denialists, or contrarians, or cynics, or fossil fuel lobbyists, hold to is the notion that the recent warming is largely due to solar forcing. Milankovitch cycles have nothing to do with that particular notion of solar forcing, which is based on the notion of changes in solar energy output.
See comment #23, item #1 for a link to the talking point put out on the sun and global warming.
“Weiss was so offended by this mischaracterization that he issued a news release, saying “Professor Nigel Weiss, an expert in solar magnetic fields, has rebutted claims that a fall in solar activity could somehow compensate for the man-made causes of global warming.”
“Although solar activity has an effect on the climate, these changes are small compared to those associated with global warming,” Weiss said in the news release. “Any global cooling associated with a fall in solar activity would not significantly affect the global warming caused by greenhouse gases.””
I concur with Ray. I called them, WSJ “Tards” in jest, which I admit is unprofessional. Even if they wouldn’t publish my comment. The real skeptics are the professionals who know what to be skeptical of. In this case, the obviously clueless false sceptics and their false theses, which are solidly refuted by reality. Everyone knows what to call refusal to acknowledge that. Don’t they?
Ike and raypierre – I find it odd (and despairing) that you take the WSJ to task for an editorial; clearly, a debate is going to continue on acceptance, then how to facilitate change, and that will have both a political and pragmatic context. raypierre’s position is especially non-sensical,as you readily endorsed Laurie David’s editorials bashing the NSTA, an organization who has assets smaller than the David’s and Al Gore’s checking account. Certainly the editorial in the WSJ is no more egregious than that thread.
As I have said before, I have real world experience using solar. I agree with the logic of being more resposible in our use and production of energy. But positions of dubious integrity only make the worthwhile science seem more suspect. Bashing only wants to make people bash back.
[Response: I don’t understand the thrust of this comment. It’s not a matter of who has more money. It’s a matter of who has correct arguments. When a major newspaper consistently, in one piece after another, publishes outright falsehoods on its editorial page, something is surely amiss. The facts in the NSTA case speak for themselves. –raypierre]
The editorial board of the WSJ are obviously very intelligent people. They would have to be to be editors in a very prestigious newspaper.
Their behavior makes alot of sense and as a tactic in a political campaign is very smart, kind of like the saying “crazy like a fox”. They are using their influential platform to undercut support for something they are opposed to, the government regulation of economic/business affairs.
[Response: And if they actually had a defensible case, they could win by telling the truth, not by obfuscation and dissimulation. –raypierre]
Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 8 Feb 2007 @ 11:55 PM
RE: 119 – secularanimist, while I like the potential in the report, as a reasonably knowledgable consumer, at least from the solar power perspective, I can tell you it allows for no impedance of any type to deployment. This is just not realistic when you consider the impact that many gigawatts of deployment will have from both an infrastructure and environmental perspective.
Is it possible? yes. But here in the Southwest, we already have massive debate and political action over wind farms, as well as more traditional sources like natural gas. NIMBY will be a factor, no matter how clean the source.
Thank goodness for the New York Times. We will always get the absolute truth from them with no political filters of any kind. Here in the Twin Cities we have the Star Tribune. No bias there either, and no lack of courage. They keep cranking out the global warming stories right on through the endless days of subzero temperatures. Now that is dedication to a cause.
[Response:More like dedication to reality. – gavin]
Re: raypierre, what facts are you speaking of? The “facts” that appeared in an editorial page from biased source? Obsfucation and dissimulation can be used even by people who have opinions with which you agree.
Do I think Laurie David’s efforts to create awareness of GW is a postive? Yes. Do I believe her op was anything other than self-serving and biased? No. Why? Because the follow on actions relating to distribution of AIT appeared to be half-hearted at best. A poorly subsidized and organized (contest!) give away with problems with registration. Late publication of the initiative, even here.
WSJ and LD’s op ed are cut from the same cloth. So, yes, I am concerned when I hear you say the facts speak for themselves.
[Response: I may have been unclear. What I was trying to say was that the NSTA post was not about Laurie David’s op-ed, still less an “endorsement” of that, and was certainly not a comment one way or another on the Washington Post editorial policy — which in any event engages different issues for op-eds than for staff-written editorials. It was about the NSTA’s actions and the circumstances surrounding that. The information in the op-ed provided an initial condition for that exploration. The facts speak for themselves; the conclusion to be drawn from them about NSTA is still somewhat murky at this point, but I hope for enlightenment in the future. No further information was coming out in the discussion, which is why I closed off the thread. Let’s not go back there unless there’s some new information to be aired. –raypierre]
Re #138: Apparently it’s already going to schools in Britain, Spain, Portugal, Australia, Norway and Sweden, so it does seem that a legitimate (and very active) distribution effort is being made. I don’t know the details of the subsequent distribution effort here (link?), but having spent several hours researching the situation I completely agree with Ray that the NSTA behaved very, very badly. While Laurie David seems to be keeping busy with related efforts. it appears that the information gap she was trying to fill remains all too real.
The first thing to realize about renewable energy is that the resource base is essentially unlimited (timescale-wise) – while the fossil fuels resource base has a finite limit – the amount buried in the ground. So the only limitation on renewable energy is conversion of solar energy to storable and usable forms – electricity and fuels, in other words. Plants actually do both – the initial stages of photosynthesis are electron transport (theoretically similar to solar photovoltaics) and the later stages are carbon fixation (CO2 to sugar/oil-type molecules). Wind energy is just secondary solar energy. There’s no shortage of storage schemes, either.
As far as media coverage of global warming in the US, it’s been largely atrocious. The Larry King debate matched a discredited contrarian scientist against their “Science Guy” – why didn’t they match Lindzen against someone like Stephen H. Schneider or Lonnie Thompson? Bill Nye’s debating partner should have been Michael Crichton. The WSJ editorial continues this kind of distorted coverage of the issue.
Look at their final statement: “It can be hard to keep one’s head when everyone else is predicting the Apocalypse, but that’s all the more reason to keep cool and focus on the actual science.”
At the same time, they don’t even point out that 11 of the last 12 years are among the warmest 12 years since 1850 (which includes 2001 and 2006) – isn’t that a deliberately misleading statement on their part?
Also, two words are conspicuously absent from the WSJ editorial: COAL and PETROLEUM – the two chief culprits in the increase in atmospheric CO2 over the past century. It’s as if the article didn’t even want to discuss the issue of fossil fuels (another unmentionable word) and global warming.
Essentially, the editorial can be summed up as an attempt to prevent any ‘radical policy shifts’, which would obviously include (1) shutting down most of the coal-fired power plants in the United States, and engaging in a Marshall Plan-scale attempt to replace that power output with wind and solar and (2) reducing petroleum consumption in the U.S. by 80% or so – meaning an end to foreign oil imports, using fuel efficient and electric vehicles, and working out efficient biofuel production methods (i.e. not coal-fired ethanol distilleries). We definitely have the technological capacity to do this! Not only that, but such a plan would be good for the domestic economy, would reduce the trade deficit, and so on.
Unlike the piece on the NSTA, the WSJ editorial actually misrepresents and distorts the science behind the IPCC (which itself doesn’t include the last few years, and which probably is too conservative in many of its projections). The WSJ said “The models didn’t predict the significant cooling the oceans have undergone since 2003–which is the opposite of what you’d expect with global warming” – that is a blatantly false statement!
Regardless of how many remedies we can think up to slow this change, the world will continue on a business as usual mode as most folks will be too busy trying to re-adjust their lives due to flooding and coastal catastrophe. All of the large industries and everyone that directly or indirectly works for them, such as oil, gas, coal, transportation, tourism, construction and demolition, shipping, container storage etc, etc, will be too busy rebuilding, removing, shifting and relocating their infrastructures from the waters edge to really care much about anything else.
Governments will be broke from being inundated with relocating and feeding populations, clearing out sewage lines, pollution causing infrastructure and chemical plants from the shorelines before the rise in oceans even begins. These are the land bases that keep the world moving, the financial lifelines of the planet, so to speak. These actions will take the better part of this century alone to accomplish on a worldwide scale and lets not forget the wars that will inevitably continue or even begin as a result.
People are going to welcome the work in order to sustain their families, if even for the short term. You may even see the odd hard-core environmentalist driving a diesel bulldozer among them, trying to make a few extra dollars to buy a new solar panel for the travel trailer.
Wind, solar power and driving battery powered cars are not going to begin to solve this dilemma for at least another couple of centuries, when hopefully, most of the social implications will have been addressed.
I read an article recently concerning the decisions of groups vs individuals (experts you might say) and consistantly the groups got the right result over the so called experts. Makes you wonder about a group of experts vs the climate dessenters who tend to work alone and are always shown to be wrong but right wing people in power neither understand nor care about science it would seem and so constantly provide articles that are nothing more than personal opinion.
We have people over here in the UK, motoring journalists who have some power in terms of newspaper readership and TV programmes who simply do not believe that humankind can effect the atmosphere regardless of the scientific evidence. The Media does not understand Science, it understands gee-whizz science like massive engineering projects and the space shuttle (as it inspires the kids) but in the main there is very little understanding there. This probably all stems from School where science is taught, some are receptive to it but a good 80% are not and find it extremely boring and seemingly pointless.
Its a up hill struggle for scientists to convince the media, dissenting voices possibly sell papers and generate column inches and fill some of the more boring TV program timelines and channels. People like their lives, they do not have to understand Science, just be able to earn money in some way and buy the science they need in the form of big TV’s, cars and trucks, computers and games consoles to name a few.
So what is the real problem here, Governments are still dragging their feet over an effective way of funding CO2 reductions because they do not as yet exist. Yes we can reduce our need for fossil fuels via efficiency programs and renewable energy but even second generation ethenol based production methods (not fully demonstrated as yet) can only reduce our dependene on Oil and not replace it unless we reduce choice and all drives cars within a limited band of fuel efficiency, after just because a massive 2 tonne hummer can run on a ethenol-gas mix does not mean that it is efficient and worth while.
So as yet no single Government can replace fossil fuels with alternatives without significant state expenditure in many areas of endeavour especially energy R&D. There is no single coherent plan as yet to do this and it will probably take some 5 years to come up with one and another 10 years because we see it come together and show positive CO2 reductions. Sure people are adding wind and solar to the mix but consiering world energy demand is currently 13 trillion watts and wind provides 40 gigawatts at present you can see that we have a long way to go.
One other massive issue currently effecting the globe is energy security and peak oil and gas. As Oil and Gas become more expensive after 2015 (when Peak may occur) then one of a few things will happen, cut your energy consumption which is anti american I believe and non negotiable or secure supplies of oil and gas by whatever means are necessary, most likely by War in the long run.
When people are freezing they will allow their goverments to do anything to make them warm and pout food on the table. I believe that it will get this bad until a global coherent plan is put forward. WE HAVE YET TO SEE THIS !
Off Topic — It also appears that humanity require contingency plans just in case we do not manage to stop pridocung CO2. Ideas have come forward under the guise of technological ideas to thwart climate change via CO2 extraction (hows will it run – on fossil fuels no doubt) or by deflecting sunlight via space or land based mirrors perhaps. Seems that Richard Branson has found 10 million to fund a competition to mitigate climate change itself just incase we cannot agree to stop burning coal after the Gas and Oil run out I would imagine. James Lovelock and Hansen plus Tim Flannery to judge the entrants.
Sounds like some people think that its hopeless waiting for governments to agree to 65% reduction targets before 2020 and that sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere or reflecting sunlight by 1% will be the scientific worlds real calling.
It would also suggest that some business people who understand the real threat of climate change also do not think that politicians are going to be able to resolve.
The technology does not currently exist to replace fossil fuels easily and with a low economic hit and hence it will most likely not get done and hence cure and not prevention become the order of the day.
As you explain it in #23, “the stance hasn’t changed much in around a decade”. In fact, what has basically not changed over a decade is the “level of understanding” of solar forcing (low). So, we must be open-minded to publications from the specialists of this field, in order to better understand sun-climate connections. And, as laymen, try to ask pertinent questions about that, rather than just quote X or Y adress to mass-media.
For example, Gavin and Mike co-authored a paper (Shindell et al., Science 294. 5549, 2149 – 2152) about Maunder Minimum where they emphasized a global change of 0.3° to 0.4°C, and more important local responses (e.g. 1 to 2 °C for European winter). As IPCC AR4 leaves us with a 0,1 W/m2 for 1750-2000 solar TOA forcing, maybe 0,3-0,4 W/m2 for 1650-1700 / 1950-2000 if we’re generous, we’ve a high transient sensitivity of 1°C.W/m2. It suggests some amplification of solar signal, like the AO/NAO shift hypothetized in Shindell et al. 2001.
PS : I’m presently reading the very clear and informative book of Rasmus Benestad on that topics, many thanks to him to have pointed it to me in a previous discussion.
[Response: The global temperature change in our runs was not amplified by the AO shift and was in line with the climate sensitivity to GHGs given the forcing we used. The local patterns however, were larger with the ozone response and AO change. Thus this is a statement that our current understanding is already sufficient to explain what happened at the MM within the uncertainties of the forcing, climate sensitivity and temperature reconstructions. You cannot use it to demonstrate that there is a mysterious amplification that we don’t know about! – gavin]
I can be — and often am — sceptical when my son tells me the homework and the chores are done. I know what questions to ask to get to the truth.
A false sceptic has an agenda.
Comment by John L. McCormick — 9 Feb 2007 @ 8:44 AM
Re #58 Re #26: Nick, do you have any specific report of how the FI event went?
No, sorry, I don’t. In fact, the report I saw of what Lawson said, on the BBC website (which I’d read before I read on this site about the Fraser Institute) was actually about what he said to the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee; I can’t find *anything* in the UK media about the Fraser Institute launch!
Look at more junk from the editorial page of the WSJ. Makes
me mad, is all. I have pasted the entire editorial below so everybody can see the kind of garbage published on that editorial page. Note the hysteria and the carelessness with facts this editorial so well illustrates. Notice their pathetic attempt to cherry pick “facts” to bolster their side of the story even though the consensus says they are wrong.
REVIEW & OUTLOOK
Global Warming Smear February 9, 2007; Page A10
Mark Twain once complained that a lie can make it halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on. That’s been the case of late in the climate change debate, as political and media activists attempt to stigmatize anyone who doesn’t pay homage to their “scientific consensus.”
Last week the London Guardian published a story headlined, “Scientists Offer Cash to Dispute Climate Study.” The story alleges that the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative-leaning think tank in Washington, collected contributions from ExxonMobil and then offered climate scholars $10,000 so they could lobby against global warming legislation.
Another newspaper, the British Independent, picked up on the story and claimed: “It has come to light that one of the world’s largest oil companies, ExxonMobil, is attempting to bribe scientists to pick holes in the IPCC’s assessment.” (The IPCC is the United Nations climate-change panel.)
It would be easy to dismiss all this as propaganda from British tabloids, except that a few days ago the “news” crossed the Atlantic where more respectable media outlets, including the Washington Post, are reporting the story in what has become all too typical pack fashion. A CNNMoney.com report offered that, “A think tank partly funded by ExxonMobil sent letters to scientists offering them up to $10,000 to critique findings in a major global warming study released Friday which found that global warming was real and likely caused by burning fossil fuels.”
Here are the facts as we’ve been able to collect them. AEI doesn’t lobby, didn’t offer money to scientists to question global warming, and the money it did pay for climate research didn’t come from Exxon.
What AEI did was send a letter to several leading climate scientists asking them to participate in a symposium that would present a “range of policy prescriptions that should be considered for climate change of uncertain dimension.” Some of the scholars asked to participate, including Steve Schroeder of Texas A& M, are climatologists who believe that global warming is a major problem.
AEI President Chris DeMuth says, “What the Guardian essentially characterizes as a bribe is the conventional practice of AEI — and Brookings, Harvard and the University of Manchester — to pay individuals” for commissioned work. He says that Exxon has contributed less than 1% of AEI’s budget over the last decade.
As for Exxon, Lauren Kerr, director of its Washington office, says that “none of us here had ever heard of this AEI climate change project until we read about it in the London newspapers.” By the way, commissioning such research is also standard practice at NASA and other government agencies and at liberal groups such as the Pew Charitable Trusts, which have among them spent billions of dollars attempting to link fossil fuels to global warming.
We don’t know where the Brits first got this “news,” but the leading suspects are the reliable sources at Greenpeace. They have been peddling these allegations for months, and the London newspaper sleuths seem to have swallowed them like pints on a Fleet Street lunch hour.
So, apparently, have several members of the U.S. Senate. Yesterday Senators Bernard Sanders, Patrick Leahy, Dianne Feinstein and John Kerry sent a letter to Mr. DeMuth complaining that “should these reports be accurate,” then “it would highlight the extent to which moneyed interests distort honest scientific and public policy discussions. . . . Does your donors’ self-interest trump an honest discussion over the well-being of the planet?”
Every member of AEI’s board of directors was graciously copied on the missive. We’re told the Senators never bothered to contact AEI about the veracity of the reports, and by repeating the distortions, these four Democratic senators, wittingly or not, gave credence to falsehood.
For its part, Exxon appears unwilling to take this smear campaign lying down. Bribery can be a crime, and falsely accusing someone of a crime may well be defamation. A company spokesman says Exxon has written a letter to the Independent demanding a retraction.
One can only conclude from this episode that the environmental left and their political and media supporters now believe it is legitimate to quash debate on climate change and its consequences. This is known as orthodoxy, and, until now, science accepted the legitimacy of challenging it.
To further underscore the increasing disconnect between the reporting pages and the editorial pages of the WSJ — and to give praise where praise is due — I would like to point out Sharon Begley’s excellent and informative Science Journal column in today’s WSJ (“Latest Report Shows Climate Pessimists Were Climate Realists.”) A number of other columns by Begley were particularly praiseworthy, for example the one from a while back on the matter of how we attribute the observed climate change to human activity. This is a welcome change from the past, when the reporting pages of the WSJ, like the editorial pages, invariably had a denialist slant — the most notorious case being the front page coverage of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine story headlined “Science has spoken: Global Warming is a Myth” Those days are gone for good, I hope.
Editorial pages are places where opinions are expressed, certainly, and that’s as it should be. You’ve heard it a million times, but it fits the present discussion perfectly so bears repeating: “Everybody is entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts.”
One more note on the WSJ claim that about “the significant cooling the oceans have undergone since 2003”. This issue was discussed at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/08/ocean-heat-content-latest-numbers/ . The paper in question is somewhat limited in coverage, but how it’s been covered is another story: Roger Pielke Sr.’s Climate Science weblog references it a total of ten times, always using the phrase “significant ocean cooling”. There’s little discussion of the paper itself, but there’s an endless stream of web-based attacks on climate models that reference this paper with zero discussion of the science involved (i.e the role of the Argo floats, the lack of coverage of the polar oceans, and the distribution of the cooling and warming regions of the oceans). As far as the models vs. the observations, see http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=148
RE#147 – No, we don’t have to rely on the experts, we can look at the cosmic ray and sunspot number data (from the Climax neutron monitor in Colorado): http://ulysses.sr.unh.edu/NeutronMonitor/Misc/neutron2.html -sunspots and cosmic ray fluxes. See also RC, Taking Cosmic Rays for a Spin If you are going to reference the 2007 IPCC SPM, then look at the numbers: CO2 + CH4 + N2O are estimated to lead to +2.30 W/m^2 forcing, and solar forcing is estimated at +0.12 W/m^2 ; solar forcing is only 5% of the value of greenhouse gas forcing. There is no plausible ‘amplification mechanism’ nor is there evidence that such a mechanism is secretly operating.
The Milankovitch cycles are also different from the solar forcing you are trying to use to explain the warming trend. In #127 you say “During glacial-interglacial transitions, solar orbital forcing is the first driver of warming, on a regional scale. Then come feedbacks”. The phrase “solar orbital forcing” should be “changes in the Earth’s precession, axial tilt, and orbital eccentricity which lead to snow and ice accumulation on the Northern landmasses” This is rather disingenuous, since you are also claiming that a different kind of ‘solar forcing’ explains much of the recent temperature rise (that is your claim, right?) – also, CO2 is treated as a forcing on climate scales because of its lifetime in the atmosphere. Furthermore, current rates of CO2 accumulation are around 30X higher than anything seen in the ice core records during glacial/interglacial transitions – clearly a human-induced forcing brought on by buring fossil fuels, exacerbated by deforestation and land use changes.
From studying all the available data (not just ice cores), the probable sequence of events at a termination goes something like this. Some (currently unknown) process causes Antarctica and the surrounding ocean to warm. This process also causes CO2 to start rising, about 800 years later. Then CO2 further warms the whole planet, because of its heat-trapping properties. This leads to even further CO2 release. So CO2 during ice ages should be thought of as a “feedback”, much like the feedback that results from putting a microphone too near to a loudspeaker.
The author of this statement, a professor of Geoscience at Scripps, is saying that unknown processes affected Earth’s climate in the past. However, the consensus view is there are no unknown processes affecting Earth’s climate today.
Doesn’t this strike anybody as being odd?
[Response: Yes there are unknown processes at work in past climates. The process giving rise to glacial-interglacial CO2 fluctuation is one of the biggies. For the present climate, that is not so much of an issue, since most of the discussion centers on the climate that goes with various specified CO2 levels. There is some uncertainty in the future atmospheric CO2 level that goes with a given anthropogenic output, owing to uncertainties in how the land carbon cycle will respond and lesser uncertainties about ocean uptake. Most of these uncertainties have more scope to make the situation worse rather than better. Another advantage we have in the present climate is that we can measure what the system is doing right now in considerable detail. Information about the glacial cycles is more sketchy, and about what was going on in the Cretaceous still more sketchy. Nobody should pretend that we have anything like a perfect understanding of the climate system. Insofar as one tries to draw lessons from the glacial-interglacial cycle about CO2 feedbacks, they would be grim ones: the most obvious lesson to draw would be that as temperature increases more CO2 comes out of the ocean, accentuating the warming. I don’t know if this is a correct inference, but given the imperfect state of understanding of Pleistocene CO2 cycles, it is perhaps as valid as any other. Note that the imperfect understanding of these cycles has no impact on our attribution of the post-industrial CO2 rise. There are numerous ways to directly infer that that is due to human activities, and the attribution is not in question, despite Congressman Rohrabacher’s hostile grilling of Susan Solomon on the subject in the recent Congressional hearings. –raypierre]
The WSJ is at least addressing the issue of renewable energy and alternate fuels Is it Time for a New Tax on Energy?, though the argument is a little one-sided in that they believe that subsidies for renewables are not the best idea, and that ‘market forces’ should be the driving force – but they ignore the massive subsidies given to fossil fuel production (and to coal-fired power plants). Without those subsidies, oil prices might well be over $100/barrel and that would mean that the alternatives and energy-efficient technology would probably be the economic winners.
RE#150, the AEI letter (by Kenneth Green) stated that they are interested in “an author who can write a well-supported but accessible discussion of which elements of climate modeling have demonstrated predictive value that might make them policy relevant and which elements of climate modeling have less levels of predictive utility, and hence, less utility in developing climate policy”.
While they claim to be interested in a “balanced view”, what they will do, based on their previous behavior (i.e. Kenneth Green’s Clouds of Global Warming Hysteria), is widely promote “those elements with less levels of predictive utility” and ignore all others.
I don’t try to “demonstrate” something, just to understand how the revised TSI of AR4 still match previous reconstructions, and yours in particular.
A point I’d like to clarify. In your 2001 paper, you seem to use Lean 1995 estimates for TSI (note 1). But my problem here is precisely that the new flux transport model of Wang and Lean 2005 has drastically reduced previous estimates of TSI from Lean 1995 and Lean 2000 (threefold reduction > the “best estimate” new forcing in AR4). So, I don’t clearly understand if and how your own GCM simulation (2001) is insensitive to this factor 3 revision of TSI.
[Response: We used the estimates that were current when we did the experiments. The radiative forcing change we assumed from the late MM to a century later was 0.32 W/m2. The Wang/Lean numbers imply something smaller than that (but they don’t go before 1713), and there is still some uncertainty in the long term trend. I wouldn’t say we know it better than a factor of 2. Given the uncertainty in the volcanic forcing at the same time (see Shindell et al 2003) (possibly a similar level of forcing) and the uncertainty in climate sensitivty and reconstructions, I don’t see that any obvious discrepancy has yet emerged. – gavin]
Re #79 Re: 74 Initial results point toward the possibility of large amplitude instabilities in the coupled human-climate system owing to the mismatch between short outlook market dynamics and long term climate responses. Implications for predictability of future climate will be discussed
Sounds like an admission that the human/Climate coupled system is likely to be chaotic. I would add that drastic measures and targets applied would only make unpredictability more likely. – Marco Parigi
Instability does not imply either chaos or unpredictability. For example, if I balance a truncated cone on its narrow end, it will be in an unstable equilibrium (a slight push will lead it to fall over), but there is nothing chaotic about the system’s response to such a push, and the end result is quite predictable.
On denialist. It’s not so much just the word, but the need to come up with one word that somehow captures all. It would be hard to Senator Inhofe, the WSJ board and the Fraser Institute all in the same bag. Different motivations, different ways of denial, but I think to call them all denialists just smacks of stereotyping or worse. As for the WSJ Editorial Board being stupid, I think they have made a number of statements that could qualify for being stupid.
Let’s call it what it is and not try to come with euphemisms.
Re #157: But don’t you understand that all of your so-called “facts” are wrong because of your inability to predict with complete precision where the falling cone will ultimately come to rest after it’s done bouncing and rolling around? :)
I am enraged that the WSJ continually touts these lies that prevent action on global warming to the detriment of every human being alive and yet to be born.
The only ones to benefit from these years of paid denialism are the mere 20 or so coal company executives and Exxon executives (the other oil companies are excused because they at least don’t pay for lies like these continual WSJ “editorial”s.) Shareholders could just as easily benefit financially from investing in the alternatives that would power our economy. Just to save one outmoded industry, this entire civilization will fail.
Even their own children and grandchildren will not escape this hell on earth they are creating, in preventing the political will develop to fix this. It is the most unbelievable  shortsightedness.
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Recomending criminal action where criminal action is due really should not be considered inflamatory. That is too bad. But it is important that we all be polite as we go to our doom as a species. I admire your selfcontrol.
Kudos to all of you scientists patiently counting the bubbles for us as we gradually come to a boil. I couldn’t do it.
[Response: The issue here is keeping the communication channel open. Rhetorical flourishes generally cause a response in kind and no added signal. That can be fun, but it isn’t constructive. -gavin]
I went to dictonary.com, and looked up “denialist” and, lo and behold, there is no such word. It appears that you are sensitive to the fact that “denier” is too closely associated with the Holocaust (an actual historical event, not a scientific thery), and you don’t want to afford people with which you disagree the term “skeptic,” which is a title that many, like myself, are proud. I think you show your true colors by using that strange term.
I think your comments require a few responses. First, the WSJ editorial you cite on p. 150 you seem to find pretty persuasive. Powerful stuff. But…is any of it true? Certainly, based on their factual misrepresentations, intentional or otherwise, with respect to climate science, I find no particular reason to believe anything they say on their editorial page. Moreover, Exxon’s attempts to distort (not stimulate, but actively distort) climate science is pretty well documented. So…when they stop lying, it might be worth quoting them. Until then…who cares what they write?
Re 51: I’m glad you made money on WSJ’s Phillip Morris editorial. How much did you make shorting the market after WSJ predicted a disastrous economic recession following Clinton’s tax increases?
Finally, your point in post 154, which Raypierre was patient enough to answer at length, requires a succinct response.
“The author of this statement, a professor of Geoscience at Scripps, is saying that unknown processes affected Earth’s climate in the past. However, the consensus view is there are no unknown processes affecting Earth’s climate today.”
This is just plain silly. Of course, our imperfect data from paleo records make our conclusions about causes of climate change back then more speculative. Your statement is akin to saying, “Since we don’t know why Archaeopterix went extinct circa 150 million years ago, how can say that humans have a hand in current species extinctions?” Please.
“despite Congressman Rohrabacher’s hostile grilling of Susan Solomon on the subject in the recent Congressional hearings”
I also saw him in the statement after this session where he said, “Sure, if you start the graph at 1850 it’s going to be warmer now,” like this is some sort of “gotcha” smoking gun and the experts are too muddle-headed, or self-interested to see it.
Mark Y wrote: “I went to dictonary.com, and looked up ‘denialist’ and, lo and behold, there is no such word. It appears that you are sensitive to the fact that ‘denier’ is too closely associated with the Holocaust (an actual historical event, not a scientific thery)”
I for one am perfectly comfortable using the term “climate change denier”. From the Random House Unabridged Dictionary via dictionary.com, “denier” means simply “one who denies”.
The Holocaust is an actual historical event that occurred during a period some 60-70 years ago. Denying that it occurred cannot change the fact that it did occur.
Anthropogenic global warming is an actual historical event that has been happening for a century or more, and is happening today, and is going to continue happening for centuries to come according to the IPCC. Denying that it is happening can contribute to failing to do anything about it as quickly as we otherwise would, and this can have very real and destructive consequences, including the deaths of many more millions of human beings than died in the Holocaust.
So, in that way, being a climate change denier may be worse than being a Holocaust denier.
“The Bush Administration is doing to the whole world what it did to New Orleans as Katrina began to descend on the city,” says Green Party co-chair Rebecca Rotzler, who has been in the forefront of demanding an official response to the administration’s assault on science. “By altering scientific research on global warming to fit his political agenda and refusing to take necessary steps to protect the public, President Bush has aggravated an impending environmental, public health, and security crisis.”
What to do? The Green Party, for reasons both of its environmental commitment and the seriousness with which it approaches issues of political accountability, has proposed a proper response. Responding to complaints from more than 120 scientists from seven federal agencies that they have been pressured to remove references to global warming from research reports, press releases, and communications with Congress, the Greens have accused the Bush administration of conspiring to deceive Congress and the America people about fundamental issues facing the nation. And there is a proper sanction for so serious an offense.
“Congress must recognize the Bush Administration’s tampering with studies on global warming and other scientific research as an impeachable offense,” says Jody Grage, who serves as treasurer of the Green Party. “Ever since Vice President Cheney initiated private meetings with oil company representatives to determine energy policy, the administration has placed the demands for corporate profits over urgent human and environmental needs.”
Just as there are still those who debate whether climate change is actually taking place, there are still those who debate whether this president has committed acts that merit impeachment and removal from office.
I like ‘confusniks’, which i made up a couple of days ago :-)
I think its better than ‘denialist/deniers’, because the weight of evidence (on the reality of the dangers posed by AGW) cannot now be denied rationally, and we lose any (unecessary) holocaust association.
It is better than ‘skeptic’, because these people are not adopting the position of rational skeptical thought. If they were, the huge volume of evidence would satisfy them, and they would stop trying to muddy the waters.
Instead they try to sow confusion, doubt and paralysis, by repeating arguments that they know have been (repeatedly) rebutted, in an effort to suggest that there is still no ‘consensus’ on the real dangers posed by AGW.
There is excellent evidence for this, on numerous threads here at RC. Just to name a few; Sashka, Charles Muller and even (dare i suggest) RJPjr.
I appreciate this last para might be regarded as ad hom (i’m sure you’ll edit it, if it’s too strong), but i think their intentions are clear, if you follow their postings/statements on RC and elsewhere (inc before the US committees, in RJPjr’s case).
Also, everybody will know what a ‘confusnik’ is, and i believe understandable language and labels are extremely powerful. I am not , of course, suggesting that we abandon sensible critical thinking. There is still lots to talk about, on AGW, without pedalling the same old tripe!
It is free except for e-mail address registration.
Today’s issue deals with Jim Taranto’s opinion about Ellen’s Goodman opinion about GW deniers.
I truly hope you go to a subject matter that is more scientific.
[unnecessary commentary edited out]
Bob van Haaren
Comment by Robert van Haaren — 9 Feb 2007 @ 5:12 PM
“Yes there are unknown processes at work in past climates. The process giving rise to glacial-interglacial CO2 fluctuation is one of the biggies. For the present climate, that is not so much of an issue, since most of the discussion centers on the climate that goes with various specified CO2 levels.
>>>I think you mean “all” discussions, since your beloved models can’t account for the effects of water vapor, right? And none can correctly model even the recent past, right?
“There is some uncertainty in the future atmospheric CO2 level that goes with a given anthropogenic output, owing to uncertainties in how the land carbon cycle will respond and lesser uncertainties about ocean uptake. Most of these uncertainties have more scope to make the situation worse rather than better.”
>>>>Interesting! statistical uncertainty running only one way!!! LOL!!
“Another advantage we have in the present climate is that we can measure what the system is doing right now in considerable detail.”
>>>>But unless you know for sure the climate history over the past thousand years or so, how do you arrive at a baseline to measure change against? Where is the universally agreed-upon baseline?
“Information about the glacial cycles is more sketchy,
>>>Hint: it was colder then. then it warmed up. then it got colder again, several times. Please explain, with hard data, why such a cycle isn’t going on today.
“and about what was going on in the Cretaceous still more sketchy.”
>>>>Rest assured there was a lot of up/down variation, and long before humans existed.
“Nobody should pretend that we have anything like a perfect understanding of the climate system.”
>>>>Yet the IPCC says that it’s 90% certain that humans are causing GW, sufficiently high that the US has to abandon economic growth for years to come!
“Insofar as one tries to draw lessons from the glacial-interglacial cycle about CO2 feedbacks, they would be grim ones: the most obvious lesson to draw would be that as temperature increases more CO2 comes out of the ocean, accentuating the warming.”
>>>>Yeah, but the human impact wasn’t there, so how do you tease apart what % of the observed warming today DOESN’T come from natural sources? And, of course, you need to explain why the temperatures later fell, causing a new glacial period. Cro-magnon campfires, maybe?
“I don’t know if this is a correct inference, but given the imperfect state of understanding of Pleistocene CO2 cycles, it is perhaps as valid as any other.”
>>>>LOL!!! In other words….what – EV! IOW no scientists have ever studied the Cretaceous or Peistocene climates. Snork.
“Note that the imperfect understanding of these cycles has no impact on our attribution of the post-industrial CO2 rise. There are numerous ways to directly infer that that is due to human activities, and the attribution is not in question,”
>>> Dead wrong, for the very reasons you cite. You agree you can’t account for climate cyles in the pre-industrial past, (including the inconvenient Medieval Warming Period and Little Ice Age) but you claim to “infer” with great confidence that humans are causing all the CO2 changes and temperature increases observed today. Balderdash.
despite Congressman Rohrabacher’s hostile grilling of Susan Solomon on the subject in the recent Congressional hearings.”
From reading the postings here, I expect that my layman’s skepticism will be blown off, using terms like
denier, paid liar, delusional, GOP shill, etc. But if anyone wants to explain why the MWP and LIA don’t “count”, and why we don’t need no stinkin’ baseline for climate variation, let’s hear it.
p.s. equating those who are skeptical about the evidence of human-induced GW as “deniers”,  But for GW, where are the indisputable facts? Where are the falsifable experiments to make the case? Where is the iron-clad case made, beyond a reasonable doubt, that humans have caused all the CO2 increase of recent years, AND that this increase has swamped natural climate variation and led inexorably to temperature increases? They don’t exist — it’s all prediction and inference, the latter assuming an overall confidence level of 90%. So the industrial world is asked to give up all the gains in living standards made the last 100 years because some scientists and “policy makers” (all disinterested of course!) say that despite their ignorance about the climate over great gouts of geologic time, they can INFER human-induced GW. 
Keep in mind that current rates of CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere are around 30X greater than anything seen in the ice cores – and that CO2 concentrations also leveled out around 300 ppm in past interglacials.
So, this paper shows that CH4 accumulation in the atmosphere lags temperature by 100-2100 years, and they narrow this down to 1100 +/- 200 years. Recall that this is for the climate system in the absence of any human use of fossil fuels, when CO2 varied between 180-300 ppm – it is now 380 ppm. CH4 varied historically from 320-790 ppb, and is now at 1774 ppb as of 2005 (1.8 ppm)
However, these processes have always stopped around 300 ppm atmospheric CO2 and 0.8 ppm CH4, which might reflect the size of the ‘accessible carbon pool’ – but what humans have done, in our great cleverness, is used the drill to access buried carbon reserves that date back 100 million years to the age of the dinosaurs and beyond. We are increasing the atmospheric CO2 at rates far greater then anything observed in the ice core record. Thus, we’ve become a new ‘amplification process’ above and beyond anything that operated in the glacial/interglacial transitions.
RE#156 The claim that the warming trend is due to some poorly understood change in TSI (total solar irradiance) is simply unsupported, but is one of the last straws that the contrarian camp is clutching at.
RE#162, explaining all this to people in a calm and friendly manner is far more effective then flying into a rage over the endless denials and deceptions practiced by those who have a vested interest in continuing to burn fossil fuels…your time is better spent convincing them that renewable energy is a viable alternative to fossil fuels, and convincing politicians to place caps on CO2 emissions (i.e. a carrot and a stick).
ramalama wrote: “Yet the IPCC says that it’s 90% certain that humans are causing GW, sufficiently high that the US has to abandon economic growth for years to come!”
There is no reason whatsoever that large reductions in carbon emissions, sufficient to stop the buildup of excess atmospheric CO2, would cause “the US to abandon economic growth for years to come”.
Such reductions would simply have the effect of transferring economic growth from the fossil fuel industry to other sectors of the economy.
And that is exactly why the fossil fuel industry, e.g. Exxon-Mobil, pays people to lie to the public — to lie to you — about the reality of anthropogenic global warming, and about the effect of addressing it on economic growth: they don’t want to see their tens of billions of dollars in annual profits going to other industries instead of to them.
Re #170: Ramalama, I really can’t say that you’re a “denier, paid liar, delusional, (or) GOP shill” since I have no means of establishing whether you’re paid or what your party registration is. The rest seems pretty much dead-on, though. Every single one of your “responses” demonstrates ignorance of the basics of climate science, and it’s clear enough that you have decided it’s better to remain ignorant. If you any spare time after you graduate from high school, there are plenty of web resources available (starting with this site) to get up to speed on the science.
Re #170: ramalama — Orbital forcing refers to the changes in solar insolation in the far north caused by changes in the details of earth’s orbit. These changes clearly corrolate quite well with the global temperature changes for the past several hundred thousand years. The theory is that these orbital changes are causing the climate to change, hence the phrase ‘orbital forcing’.
Using orbital forcing theory as a guide, the prediction is very gradual cooling for the next 50,000 years at which time it might well be cold enough for another ice age to commence. However, instead humans have significantly altered the climate so that it is becoming (surprisingly) warmer.
You can find much more that you may wish to learn by finding “A Few Things Ill Considered” in a side-bar and following the link to Coby’s most useful site. Thank you.
Ramalama (170), please forgive me if this sounds ad-hom, but I really think your post should win the prestigious “most ignorant post of the year” award. Your arguments may seem persuasive to yourself, but to everyone else, they are so ignorant and absurd they are not worth responding to. By the way, mocking people who are infinitely more educated and thoughtful than yourself is nothing to be proud of.
As far I as remember, I never qualify here other contributors of “alarmist”, “confused”, etc. and if I did or gave the impression of doing it, I’m sorry of that for those concerned. I’m clearly skeptic about the confidence AR4 (and AR3) lead authors put in some of their conclusions. But I’m not here with an “agenda” or, more precisely, my only agenda here is to ask questions on the points I misunderstand, and, if need be, correct some other comments I consider as unfounded. I do that on the basis of what I read in p-r literature, not of some prior assumptions about what our governments should or should not do.
So, your machiavellian interpretation and lexical inventivity have no real interest for me. And I doubt they have any interest for climate science popularization, of course. But de facto, there are more and more “political” controversies on RC, and the “climate science from climate scientist” baseline sometimes looks like happy memories…
PS : feel free to qualify me of denier, denialist, confusnik, contrarian, skeptic, pseudo-skeptic or whatever you want. I just fear your loss a precious time for these quibbles.
#156 “The claim that the warming trend is due to some poorly understood change in TSI (total solar irradiance) is simply unsupported, but is one of the last straws that the contrarian camp is clutching at.”
Ike, for the third or fourth time, IPCC AR3 and AR4 (not “the contrarians”) do recognize a low level of understanding of solar forcing (as well as aerosol, land use, etc.). The IPCC AR4 second draft do recognize that parameters uncertainties and structural uncertainties of models are not yet accounted for, in spite of recent model intercomparison programs. And the 18 GCMs climate sensitivities do vary from 2 to 4,5 K, the mean value or best estimate of CS being regularly lowered from AR2 > AR3 and AR3 > AR4. All that and many other features of AR4 prove that there’s plenty of room for progress in climate sciences.
In my opinion, IPCC has finished its work as an institution, and the 2nd Feb 2007 SPM cannot be more clear: man is the main culprit of recent warming, non-mitigated emissions will likely lead to a dangerous climate change, policymakers are urged to take their decisions. So, let’s consider the case is closed for policy discussions, and center the debate on climate topics with science-founded arguments.
I’ve only got through the first few dozen comments on this thread, but am compelled to reiterate my observations while I still have the freedom (I think) to speak my piece. With the din of cheering and high-fives all around we can now, I guess, stop any further efforts on the science of climatology as it’s a fait accompli. Now the task at hand is to cheer as loud as possible (maybe do a wave???) and drown out, Kramer-style, any remnants of the squeally skeptics. Despite some of those being (once) recognized scholars and scientists, all that is needed is to transfer the debate out of the science arena into the political arena, making those skeptic scientists completely moot. We’re now in the arena where the loudest and largest talking points win, facts and science have nothing to do with it (facts only need be declared by a rousing democratic process) and any contrary opinion need not be discussed and debated, only stomped on. Then, even more high-fives.
One glimmer of hope: I suspect, based on their history, the keepers of RC, even while they are sensing victory, will try to keep stuff in a scientific realm — for the scientific fun if nothing else. We’ll see.
Sorry if I’m way behind later posts… just couldn’t wait.
Re #163: “…and you don’t want to afford people with which you disagree the term “skeptic,” which is a title that many, like myself, are proud.”
I consider myself a skeptic too. Indeed, I could argue that nobody makes it very far in science without a good helping of inbuilt skepticism. But the individuals whom we call denialist… now surely you’ve noticed that they’re very selective in where they apply their skepticism. If some particular line of evidence or theory supports to AGW, why, they trot out their skepticism and exercise it full-force. Let someone propose some contrary theory, no matter how off-the-wall (galactic cosmic rays, anyone?), and all their skepticism is nowhere to be found. Disbelief is immediately suspended as they welcome their new talking point with cries of joy.
No, I’m sorry, but “skeptic” just doesn’t work for these folks.
>>>I think you mean “all” discussions, since your beloved models can’t account for the effects of water vapor, right? And none can correctly model even the recent past, right?
Water vapor is well handled by all modern models. There continues to be modest difficulties with suspended liquid water (clouds), but these are sufficiently well handled to model the recent past. The blog head in a cloud has had much informative discussion on this, as have past RC articles.
See table SPM-4 on page 18 of the AR4 SPM for comparison of observed continental- and global-scale changes in surface temperature with results simulated by climate models using natural and anthropogenic forcings.
Gavin Schmidt in Physics Today January 2007 indicates modelers are interested in the uncertainties in external forcings on climate models. He mentions solar activity as one such forcing. Is there a handle on the influences and uncertainties for earth-directed Coronal Mass Expulsions (CMEs) on said models?
Re 180: Don, I’m not sure what you are asking. CMEs look impressive, but the energy flux is short-lived and tiny compared to solar irradiance. Moreover, we only experience a few every 11 years. So you can’t be talking about the direct energy of these bursts. In terms of causing increased cloud cover, the solar particles aren’t all that energetic, so the geomagnetic field provides pretty good protection. There was the paper by some Finns I think that was claiming that increasing solar wind was decreasing the flux of the very energetic galactic cosmic rays. Interesting idea, but there is certainly no evidence of this in data on cosmic ray fluxes from GOES or other satellites during the past 30-40 years. I’d say these are probably third order effects at most.
I think that gets to the heart of the debate, in that their are many issues in climate science that are poorly understood, but contrarians (who are fixated on the goal of blaming global warming on anything other than the use of fossil fuels, it seems) only focus on those issues which support their cause.
1.5 – 4.5C in the 1996 IPCC report, relative to a baseline from ? And they also report 1.9 – 5.2, on the same page (the one above) – not very clear, is it?
2.0 – 5.1C in the 2001 IPCC report, relative to the 1961-1990 baseline period (mean 3.5C)
2.0 – 4.5C in the 2007 IPCC report, relative to the 1980-1999 baseline period (mean 3.0C) which we have to convert back to the 1961-1990 baseline period to be able to compare the two, correct? After searching for a while on the web, I can’t seem to find that number…
This represents a rather glaring problem with the 2007 IPCC report – why did they change their baseline to 1980-1999? I keep asking this question, and I have yet to get a satisfactory answer… what do you think?
Obviously, the IPCC has a lot of work left to do, as do climate scientists – for example, figureing out exactly how to model the ice sheet dynamics, getting better temperature profile and mass transport data from the world’s oceans, and getting a handle on carbon cycle – climate feedbacks for input to the models – in fact, the IPCC has so far done a pretty shoddy job, in my opinion, and should probably consider putting out their next report in three years instead of six.
Perhaps they should revamp their emission scenarios as well, and describe them in terms of total global population estimates and per capita CO2 estimates – and start including carbon-cycle feedback effects as well. I have a feeling that too many politicians and lobbyists and not enough scientists were involved in this latest IPCC report.
As far as policy choices go, I have a few suggestions: shut down all the coal fired power generation capacity that has been added since 1990, sign the Kyoto Protocol, ban all foreign oil imports, and put many billions of dollars into subsidies for wind and solar and biofuels while instituting a hefty carbon tax on all fossil fuels. That would be the rational response to the current situation – as well as making sure that climate satellites and ocean data collection systems are funded and put in place.
[Response: I think you are a little confused. The climate sensitivity to doubled CO2 in 1990, 1995, 2001 was estimated to be in a range of 1.5 to 4.5 deg C. The models produced a range of 2 to 5 deg C (as reported in 2001). AR4 now has 2 to 4.5, with (for the first time) a best guess of 3 deg C. There is no baseline for these diagnostics. – gavin]
Just had to add this comment because some people are blaming Exxon for global warming in this thread. This is really going too far and shows a complete lack of knowledge of history.
I guess such people are too young to remember the 1960’s. Then, everybody knew that oil was going to run out soon. Big oil companies, like Esso, although huge and powerful, thought that in 20 or 30 years there wouldn’t be enough oil left to pump and sell, at least not in the USA, which at that time got most of its oil from domestic sources.
I am not making this up. The futurists of that time were saying these things, and they were believed. Just like our current futurists.
So, Esso decided to change its entire business effort. It took out big color adds in newspapers and magazine announcing this change. It would become an ENERGY company, not an oil company, and changed its name to Exxon. It, and many other companies, thought the future was in nuclear energy and coal. So, a big push was made to go nuclear. This was fought by the environmentalists, tooth and nail. Finally, industry and utilities gave in. Everytime a utility announced it was scrapping plans for a nuclear powerplant and replacing it with a coal fired plant, all the environmentalists cheered (including me.)
One argument given by the big energy companies, in the early 1970’s, was that oil was getting too expensive and atomic energy plants made economic sense. Does anyone know which recent Presidential candidate put out this slogan on all his literature from that era: Keep importing plenty of cheap foreign oil!
Boy, I sure wish I had kept his propaganda literature from the 1960’s. But, in the short run (About 4 years, until the Arab oil embargo!) he was right. Oil was only about $3 per barrel.
A major reason why we don’t have lots of clean, nuclear powerplants in this country right now, like France has, is that man.
So, don’t blame Exxon for pumping oil. After all, they tried the best they could to switch to nuclear. The choice to stick with fossil fuel was forced on them by the Green Movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s.
So, our current CO2 production is the product of the last Green solution to our energy problems 30 and 40 years ago. This can not be emphasized enough. If our world melts from CO2, the “Greens” will certainly have done their share to cause this disaster.
Think of the hubris of the Greens. Having forced the USA to avoid nuclear power, the Greens now condemn this country for burning so much fossil fuel.
Now, all those predicting the future and prescribing solutions: get some humility, please. There is a phrase some people like to throw around: “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.”
[Response: It’s not the pumping of oil per se that people are blaming Exxon for, but their efforts to spread disinformation about the consequences of burning fossil fuels. After all, BP Amoco is also still pumping oil, but you don’t see people jumping all over them nearly as much. I don’t buy your simplistic history of the history of nuclear power in the US, and would not vouch for your having the Nader story on oil right, but if you are equating Nader with the scientists who, over the past 100 years, have been studying and predicting global warming, that says a lot about the extent of your understanding of the problem. By the way, the “peak oil” business is largely irrelevant to global warming in the long term. The problem isn’t too little fossil fuel, but too much. If we were really going to run out, that would be great, so far as global warming goes, because it would mean that fossil fuels would get expensive enough that market forces would provide sufficient incentives for conservation on there own. However, there’s so much coal, that’s not going to happen all by itself. –raypierre]
Perhaps I misunderstand the climate sensitivity measure? Is it a specific CO2 content of the atmosphere, a specific total radiative forcing measure (sum of CO2, CH4, N2O, aerosols, etc.) or a doubling of CO2 from whatever the current CO2 content is?
There doesn’t seem to be any mention of whether it’s a linear function, either – i.e. if we quadruple the CO2 content, is there any reason to expect that temperature response would be twice the equilibrium CO2 sensitivity?
I suppose I’m having trouble relating these numbers to the real world. If current Arctic anomalies continue to increase (past two years around 4C over the 1961-1990 baseline, at least in the summer) and the IPCC report states that sea levels were 4-6 meters higher when the Arctic was 3-5C warmer then it is ‘today’, isn’t the ‘equilibrium response’ going to be a 4-6m sea level rise? I’m basing that on the following statement in the IPCC:
Global average sea level in the last interglacial period (about 125,000 years ago) was likely 4 to 6 m higher than during the 20th century, mainly due to the retreat of polar ice. Ice core data indicate that average polar temperatures at that time were 3 to 5°C higher than present, because of differences in the Earth’s orbit. The Greenland ice sheet and other Arctic ice fields likely contributed no more than 4 m of the observed sea level rise. There may also have been a contribution from Antarctica.
[Response: Because the forcing from CO2 is logrithimic (in the range of concentrations we are talking about), it doesn’t matter what the baseline CO2 level is, the forcing will be the same if you double it. So going from 280 to 560 ppm gives the same forcing as 560 to 1120 ppm, or 300 to 600 ppm etc. This isn’t true for the other GHGs though. So another way of putting it is that the climate sensitivity is the temperature reached at equilibrium for a ~4 W/m2 forcing. It is indeed likely that we will get to a 4 W/m2 forcing (compared to pre-industrial) (but not just yet), and that will likely lead to Arctic temperature increases in the 3 to 5 deg C range. From the Eemian analogy, that does imply an eventual melting of large chunks of Greenland – the key uncertainty is how long that would take – centuries? millenia? It’s very difficult to tell. -gavin]
Here are the basic facts: At both poles and nearly all points in between, the temperature of the Earth’s surface is heating up, and at a frightening and potentially catastrophic rate. In fact, we know global temperatures increased an average of 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit during the twenty-first century.
Science tells us that this heating is the result of human activity. And hiding behind the science or trying to cover it up is not going to solve the problem. We need real solutions and real leadership from this Administration. The time to act is now.”
Statement of John F. Kerry
Hearing: Climate Change Research and Scientific Integrity
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
I believe John Kerry voted against Kyoto in the sense of the senate vote (96-0) back during the Clinton administration. I guess he was against it before he was for it.
I would like to see some comments on my interpretation of what John Kerry said on Feb 7 about the latest IPCC 2007 consensus (Webcast link below, about 2:15 minutes into the program, first 10 minutes blank).
With the already observed 0.8 Deg C global temperature rise since the beginning of the industrial revolution, there will be an additional rise up to a global increase of 1.5 Deg C based on current CO2 conditions alone, no matter what we do.
The IPCC also agreed that the a precautionary level be a 2.0 C increase, not a 3.0 Deg C increase as previously thought – in order to insure the safety of the planet.
Humankind has to keep emissions below 450 ppm in order to not go over the 2.0 Deg C increase.
Where is the plan to reduce carbon to hold us to the 450 ppm level? That level used to be 550 ppm but based on the what we see happening,the break up of the ice and so forth, it’s been lowered to 450 ppm.
Webcast: About 2 and 15 minutes into the video is John Kerry questioning William Brennan, Acting Director US Climate Science Program and NOAA Deputy Director.
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation
Climate Change Research and Scientific Integrity
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
SR – 253
View Archive Webcast
I thought that the SAR gave a best guess of 2.5C, admittedly back then it was not very strongly grounded in evidence. I’ve not actually read the original but it is widely reported on the internets, so it must be true :-)
[Response: I happen to have the volumes in front of me, and you are correct. SAR says 2.5 deg C, and references that to the 1990 report, which also gives a ‘best guess’ of 2.5 deg C (Chapter 5). However, they state clearly that this is just an expert opinion and that there was “no compelling evidence to suggest what part of this range [1.5 -4.5] the correct value is most likely to lie”. My bad. Thanks – gavin]
re raypierre’s response to 128: seems pretty convoluted to me. “Stupid” is not an appropriate term you say; but “Denialist” is, and much more descriptive than “Skeptics” because they are……, well, stupid (ignorant).
Tangential to discussions, but perhaps of a WSJ editorial related note is the article in the Washington Post titled:
Exxon Mobil Warming Up To Global Climate Issue
Kenneth P. Cohen, VP of public affairs, had lots of interesting things to say… Excerpt:
Cohen said that the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, long the leading corporate symbol of skepticism about global warming, has never denied the existence of climate change…The company has also been accused of financing policy groups as surrogates for sowing doubts about the causes of global warming. The Competitive Enterprise Institute received about $2 million over seven years. Cohen said that Exxon’s foundation, which he heads, decided in 2005 to cut funding, though that came to light only last fall.
Not entirely sure how to summarize the article, but the thrust seems to be if there are going to be rules, Exxon wants market based forces to be put to work. Furthermore, I intuit internal disagreement inside the oil behemoth.
Robert H. Socolow (Princeton, Carbon mitigation) is also quoted. To be sure, it is worthy of a read.
Haa yes , we get in these crackpot traps, arguing against hope that there is a chance of a debate with those bent in “making money” while those same are so happy to rumble down the highway with a monster SUV or another, gleefully blowing their money away in smoke. WSJ editorial board have to get back to basics —-spending money = bad, saving to invest = good.
I for one look at the elements and let them speak, louder than thunder in the middle of an Arctic winter. I would suggest colleagues to look at the Southern tip of Greenland, bombarded with warm winds +4 to +12 C in the middle of winter. Ever wonder if all that ice sitting there has a chance?
I must say, AGW is not immediately scary enough, not even remotely effective in striking fear to stir all of us in a frenzy of terror, it is also intermixed with natural variations, the #2 scapegoat of the skeptics. However, when a contrarian uses the alleged fear mongering card, it is extremely effective, a reverse psychology move, it is by far their most devastating PR warfare weapon. Long term causations are not scary, this fact is being wickedly exploited, the real fear is ignorance which medias should fight without hesitation until our world becomes a dictatorship.
Hope is in the weather itself, infinitely more effective than a spokesperson or another, surfing ahead of the next heat wave and being right about it before it hits, proves that we can see beyond the esoteric scientific words so unconvincing and really scary to kingdom boredom for the lay…. Its not enough to be right just about the climate, in the long term, it will be then too late to do anything. Besides contrarian weather and climate specialists are notoriously wrong most of the time, their time is just about up, unless the media forgets to look at their batting averages.
In reply to “There was the paper by some Finns I think that was claiming that increasing solar wind was decreasing the flux of the very energetic galactic cosmic rays. Interesting idea, but there is certainly no evidence of this in data on cosmic ray fluxes from GOES or other satellites during the past 30-40 years. I’d say these are probably third order effects at most.”
Actually the satellite data shows a 99.5% significant correlation of planetary cloud cover to GCR levels 1984 to 1993. As Palle states in the attached paper, the satellite cloud data supports the mechanism which Tinsley and Yu referred to as “electroscavenging”. It appears (if you accept Tinsley and Yu’s hypothesis) that the solar wind changes the magnitude of the global electric current. See Tinsley and Yu’s paper for details as how it is hypothesized changes to the geomagnetic field, solar wind, and GCR could affect cloud cover and cloud macroscopic properties.
Palle’s First Paper: (See figure 2. Note low level clouds are reduced by minus 0.065% per year, starting in about 1993. Solar wind starts to increase in 1993 which if you accept T&Y’s hypothesis would explain the reduction in cloud cover.)
Also attached is a more recent Palle paper that summarizes the Earthshine project data. Palle notes the Earthshine data also supports the assertion that planetary cloud cover was reduced 1993 to 2001. Palle converts the reduction in cloud cover to an equivalent 7.5 -/+ 2.5 W/m2 forcing.
[Response:There may be some merit in Tinsley and Yu’s hypothesis, but even if the conclusion of Palle is correct – that the Earth’s cloud cover has decreased, it does not explain the long-term warming in terms of GCR, as there are no systematic long-term trend in the GCR. Palle concludes: “The correlation between annual mean low cloud and the ionization level at 2 km altitude exceeds the 99% significance level over mid-latitude oceans and globally over the period 1983–1994. However, globally, it drops to non-significant values if the full available cloud dataset (1983–2001) is taken into account, although some data adjustment such as detrending can restore the correlation significance to 99.5% or greater. Nonetheless, the correlation is significant over several large areas of the earth. “. I find this conclusion a bit odd, he’s carrying out the analysis for annual mean values, i.e. only 16 data points and the correlations are not really that high for such short series (fig 2 in Palle’s paper). Furthermore, although Palle acknowledges the presence of autocorrelation between adjacent locations (spatially smooth varyations), he doesn’t seem to take this effect into account for the temporal correlation. Thus, I believe that his claims are exaggerated. -rasmus]
Comment by William Astley — 10 Feb 2007 @ 12:54 AM
Are the views of policitians relevant to the Global Warming debate? Well, there are many readers here who are happy to believe Al Gore – a man who never quite got to be president (I wish he had, as the world would be in less of a mess than it is now). This link gives the views on the subject of the President of the Czech Republic. I guarentee you will find this entertaining whichever side of the fence you sit. For me, it is a refreshing example of sanity – for others it is heresy. But feel free to rave and ridicule as you wish. http://motls.blogspot.com/2007/02/vclav-klaus-about-ipcc-panel.html
Unfortunately, the Wall Street Journal is not the last and only small village. I’m sad to report the French newspaper Le Monde has gone far from its good reputation of being objective and reliable. At this link, you will find an article from a French scientist, Serge Galam, using terrible ways trying to convince the human-related climate heat-up is fake. He uses references to communism, nazism and Inquisition to warn against the whole climate community. I was astonished, I feel disgusted. If any of you read French, please have a look.
Jonah Goldberg advances the novel (to me) proposition:
“The Earth got about 0.7 degrees Celsius warmer in the 20th century while it increased its GDP by 1,800% […] Given the option of getting another 1,800% richer in exchange for another 0.7 degrees Celsius warmer, I’d take the heat in a heartbeat.”
Of course the fallacious thinking in this is pretty obvious, but it’s a new one on me — I imagine as the science becomes harder and harder to deny, this sort of “argument” will turn up more often, as a sort of council of despair. (The Times also headlined a news story on the SPM “U.N. says there’s no stopping global warming” – which is a funny way of interpreting SPM items such as Figure SPM-5 “Averages and assessed ranges for surface warming”.) Another spin-off meme is “If the UK stopped producing CO2 tomorrow, it doesn’t help, because China builds equivalent new coal-fired power stations in (x) weeks”.)
In the WSJ, yesterday, James taranto delivered some insight into one editorial board member’s mind by attacking another journalist , Ellen Goodman, for using the ‘denialist meme. In his words she ” bases her entire argument on an appeal to authority, namely the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We lack the time, the inclination and possibly the intellect to delve deeply into the science. No doubt the same is true of Goodman.
Our skepticism rests largely on intuition. The global-warmists speak with a certainty that is more reminiscent of religious zeal than scientific inquiry. Their demands to cast out all doubt seem antithetical to science, which is founded on doubt. The theory of global warming fits too conveniently with their pre-existing political ideologies. (Granted, we too are vulnerable to that last criticism.)
Above all, we can’t stand to be bullied. And what is it but an act of bullying to deny that there is any room for honest disagreement, to insist that those of us who are unpersuaded are the equivalent of Holocaust deniers, that we are not merely mistaken but evil?”
[Response: Thanks for that interesting link. Without passing judgement on what people have said previously about the analogy, may I suggest that we leave the Holocaust out of this in the remainder of our discussion of this? I’m only suggesting that because the unavoidable feelings aroused tend to make it hard to focus on the central issues. Even if people want to discuss whether various flavors of climate change deniers are evil or merely misguided (or whether there’s a difference) or just raising issues their curiosity demands answers on, that can be done without trying to decide the imponderable of what kind of evil is comparable to the Holocaust. One of the reasons I’m upset by the brand of denialism represented on the WSJ editorial page is precisely that it creates an environment where it is hard for people to raise legitimate scientific questions about uncertainties that need to be resolved. It makes it hard to talk about uncertainty at all, or to acknowledge areas we aren’t sure of, without being quote-mined and abused by the opposition. Nonetheless the IPCC has always tried to be upfront about uncertainties. –raypierre]
Re #184, Response by Raypierre, unfortunately your assessment that Peak Oil and Gas will not effect climate change much may well be correct scientfically and on it own it is a true statement. However when Gas anf Oil become expensive depending on when peak is and we do not have a suitable replacement to supplement the Peak then that will be bad news for doing something about climate change.
At this moment in time we have Kyoto which is not that good but a start. Come 2012 when Kyoto has run its course we will need a new far reaching treaty and a new IPCC report for that matter may help with this assessment but unless sufficient energy productive fuels have come online by then it could jeapordise everything as over 70 countries world wide have adequate Coal reserves and that requires no new technology unless a treaty is in place and the technology to make coal safe from contributing to AGW.
I myself am doubtful about the politics of AGW, Peak Oil and Gas could lead to wars and serious world concerns politically. AGW could be the least of our worries come 2015 – 2020.
The problem we have in coming up with a label for the “skeptic”/”denialist” camp is that it is hardly a monolithic movement. There are some who are genuinely skeptical (Christy at UAH comes to mind, though I wonder if his religious outlook biases his scientific judgement.). Others like Lindzen are sceintific contrarians, who have found that they can distinguish themselves by their dissent from consensus more than they can by their research. Every scientific field has them. These two groups are very small. Then you have the nonscientists. The easiest to classify are the dittoheads who deny what’s happening just because their leaders say so. More difficult to understand are those with some science or engineering background who still deny the science without really understanding it. Some of these are motivated by self interest–e.g. petroleum geologists. Others–well, let’s just say that in my career as a physicist, I’ve seen that it’s possible to get a degree in engineering–or sometimes even science–without an understanding or even an interest in science. The denialist camp has also attracted its share of loonies–those who are just sure there is no anthropogenic climate change, despite having zero science background. If it weren’t for climate change, they’d be denying evolution or relativity. The fact that large business interests are involved takes this to a new level. Businessmen and politicians do not seem to be strong believers in objective reality. I guess we’ll see how well you can spin the laws of physics. Finally there are the greedheads–those who really don’t care about the science. They figure that it’s fine if the swamp rises as long as they own all the high ground. “Skeptics”, here’s a hint: Unless you have an advanced understanding of chaotic dynamics and most likely an advanced degree in climate studies or a related field–you probably don’t really understand the science well enough to call yourself a skeptic.
[Response: I think you are probably right that there are too many distinct types of people pushing back against the concept of global warming for any one epithet to fit. I’m becoming persuaded of the idea that one should avoid the use of a catch-all epithet entirely except when it is absolutely necessary from a rhetorical standpoint. In response to all the “alarmist” name-calling, it is a natural feeling, I think, to want to have some name to shout back, but to give in to that, I suppose, cedes the moral high ground. –raypierre]
re: #184. You can easily verify that Exxon, Shell, and Gulf have all been involved in the nuclear power industry; Gulf General Atomics, Exxon Nuclear Fuels, inc. Phillips also managed a national lab in Idaho in the 60s and 70s. There might be others, but I know these without actually looking. Additionally, Combustion Engineering and Babcock Wilcox, both in the fossil-fueled power plant industry, got into nuclear.
I think we can state that it is a true fact that the ‘environmental movement’ had as one goal to shut down nuclear-electric power production. Today you can aslo easily verify that some (many?) in that movement are having second thoughts and re-re-thinking their earlier stands. This is very unfortunate as the facts regarding nuclear power production have not changed.
Unfortunately what you call ‘greedhead’ is a description of what’s required behavior of any US corporation owned by stockholders — they are required to focus on short term profits, by the law. Very odd US legal contribution to the world; first a revolution as much against the British East India Company (a then global megacorp) as against the British Crown per se; then, a century or so later, based on an unfounded footnote in a Supreme Court decision, the US system manages to elevate corporations to being “legal people” under our laws. Legal people, but this status sits poorly with their also being required to focus on bottom line profit.
That’s why corporate directors are asking, very bluntly, for carbon limits and carbon taxes and trades. They understand they need the outside controls made explicit — they need to be directed, in policy areas where they can’t “direct” themseves.
Corporations under our law are deaf, dumb, and blind to future change. They sure play a mean pinball, short term, but only short term profitability is allowed to them as a criterion for decisionmaking. That needs to be changed and they’re asking for the change. While they can improve their own business (as Amory Lovins keeps pointing out), they can’t go beyond that to acknowledge and take back responsibility for externalized costs (like dirty coal plants or low-efficiency engines, both of which are very profitable year by year) until the US laws makes that happen — or else at the end of the fiscal year the directors face lawsuits based on low stock prices.
198>”Skeptics”, here’s a hint: Unless you have an advanced understanding of chaotic dynamics and most likely an advanced degree in climate studies or a related field–you probably don’t really understand the science well enough to call yourself a skeptic.
IMO that is an anti-scientific attitude that lends credence to the charge that climate science is led by an elite ‘Priesthood’ that will tell the rest of us ignorant people what to believe.
Comment by Steve Reynolds — 10 Feb 2007 @ 10:29 AM
[[“Congress must recognize the Bush Administration’s tampering with studies on global warming and other scientific research as an impeachable offense,” says Jody Grage, who serves as treasurer of the Green Party.]]
And we all know how successful the Green Party has been at engaging the American people.
It will be enough to get Bush and his staff out of office in 2009. Pursuing revenge wastes time, money and effort that could go to more productive things.
[[I think you mean “all” discussions, since your beloved models can’t account for the effects of water vapor, right? And none can correctly model even the recent past, right?]]
Wrong on both counts. Where are you getting your misinformation?
[[Most of these uncertainties have more scope to make the situation worse rather than better.”
Interesting! statistical uncertainty running only one way!!! LOL!!]]
You never studied statistics, did you? There are many situations where uncertainty can be greater in one direction than another. For an example, the number of moons of Jupiter can be arbitrarily high (the present figure is over 100), but it can’t be less than zero. The uncertainty is almost all in one direction.
[[But unless you know for sure the climate history over the past thousand years or so, how do you arrive at a baseline to measure change against? Where is the universally agreed-upon baseline?]]
We know the climate history to 1,300 years ago, and have proxies that allow us to study climates much further back than that.
[[Hint: it was colder then. then it warmed up. then it got colder again, several times. Please explain, with hard data, why such a cycle isn’t going on today.]]
It is going on today. It takes tens of thousands of years to make noticeable changes. Do a Google search on “Milankovic cycles.”
[[Yet the IPCC says that it’s 90% certain that humans are causing GW, sufficiently high that the US has to abandon economic growth for years to come! ]]
No one said the US has to abandon economic growth. You made that up.
[[Yeah, but the human impact wasn’t there, so how do you tease apart what % of the observed warming today DOESN’T come from natural sources? And, of course, you need to explain why the temperatures later fell, causing a new glacial period. Cro-magnon campfires, maybe?]]
Milankovic cycles. See above.
[[LOL!!! In other words….what – EV! IOW no scientists have ever studied the Cretaceous or Peistocene climates. Snork.]]
Actually, there have been many attempts to reconstruct far-past climates. For the past 40 years climatologists and planetary astronomers have been working on “the Faint Young Sun problem,” which concerns the climate four billion years ago. According to news posted just today, they are close to cracking it.
[[Dead wrong, for the very reasons you cite. You agree you can’t account for climate cyles in the pre-industrial past, (including the inconvenient Medieval Warming Period and Little Ice Age) but you claim to “infer” with great confidence that humans are causing all the CO2 changes and temperature increases observed today. Balderdash.]]
No, it’s quite easy to infer. The new CO2 is deficient in carbon-14. That means it’s not coming from the biosphere. The carbon in it must be old carbon. As in fossil fuels.
[[But for GW, where are the indisputable facts? Where are the falsifable experiments to make the case? Where is the iron-clad case made, beyond a reasonable doubt, that humans have caused all the CO2 increase of recent years, AND that this increase has swamped natural climate variation and led inexorably to temperature increases? They don’t exist — it’s all prediction and inference, the latter assuming an overall confidence level of 90%.]]
It’s easy to get the answer you want if you answer the question yourself. If you want the evidence, go read the past 40 years or so of the Journal of Geophysical Research, Journal of Climate, Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, and for that matter, Nature and Science.
[[ So the industrial world is asked to give up all the gains in living standards made the last 100 years because some scientists and “policy makers” (all disinterested of course!) say that despite their ignorance about the climate over great gouts of geologic time, they can INFER human-induced GW.]]
No, the industrial world is not being asked anything of the kind. Straw man argument. You would be much more believable if you didn’t make up stuff.
Re: #199 It is only fair to note that the a number of facts about nuclear power have in fact changed. For example, proof of the ability of a poorly designed and operated nuclear plant to disperse significant contamination globally was clearly provided by the Chernobyl disaster. On the other side of the balance, it is also a fact that some newer reactor designs appear to be far safer, and could produce dramatically less waste than older ones. IHMO, it is yet to be determined whether nuclear power will ultimately be a lifeboat, a plague ship, or something else.
Comment by Stephen Pranulis — 10 Feb 2007 @ 11:23 AM
Making dubious claims in bold does not make them true.
Typically, whenever I take the trouble to fact-check suspicious right-wing claims, they turn out to be wrong, and the more emphatic, often the more completely wrong. So if you want people to believe you, try a few citations, rather than boldface.
Raypierre is completely right. The issue is not Exxon selling oil. They have every right to do that and we can’t blame them for providing something that we all want to consume. The issue is their concerted effort to lie and distort the science.
As for ‘futurists’ saying we will run out of oil in 20-30 years, in the 1960s, (a) there is a difference between a futurist and a scientist, and (b) I frankly don’t even remember that claim from so-called futurists. I do remember claims of 40-50 years, which turned out to be mistaken, but whether these came from serious scientists, or were exaggerations or worst-case-scenarios reported as likelihoods in the media, neither I nor you have any idea.
I am no Ralph Nader fan, but I don’t really believe he said what you claim he said. Show me the quote.
Lastly, did Exxon want to switch to nuclear, as you say? I don’t believe that either. Show me. Don’t just make stuff up because it “sounds right” to you. The companies investing in nuclear in the 1970s and 1980s were, as I recall, electric companies, not oil companies. The oil companies had a disincentive against cannibalizing their own oil-based revenue streams. Further, they had a distribution network of gas stations for their product that could not easily be converted to a non-fossil-fuel based energy economy. To the electric power companies on the other hand, coal, hydroelectric and nuclear are more or less interchangeable nodes on the power grid.
I am confident you are wrong on all of these points. Show me some citations (from someplace other than the American Spectator or its ilk), and I might be persuaded that I am mistaken.
In reply to â��The problem we have in coming up with a label for the “sceptic”/”denialist” camp is that it is hardly a monolithic movement. There are some who are genuinely sceptical (Christy at UAH comes to mind, though I wonder if his religious outlook biases his scientific judgement.). Others like Lindzen are scientific contrarians, who have found that they can distinguish themselves by their dissent from consensus more than they can by their research. Every scientific field has them. These two groups are very small.â��
I think it is inaccurate and unfair to label Lindzen as a â��Scientific Contrarianâ��. Lindzen does not stand alone.
There are fundamental unexplained cyclic and non-cyclic events (large climatic changes) in the paleo proxy data.
For example, why did the glacial/interglacial cycle change (700 kyrs ago) from a 41kyr cycle to a 100 kyr cycle? What is causing the polar see-saw (Simultaneous cooling of the Antarctic when there is warming of the Arctic and visa versa. (See the attached paper by Svensmark that explains the phenomena and provides a hypothesized mechanism to explain the polar see-saw.)
There is a new connected scientific hypothesis that has been developed in the last decade that attempts to explain what is causing the glacial/interglacial cycle and the abrupt climatic changes in the proxy data. Scientists that are promoting this new hypothesis are â��monolithicâ�� in terms of the hypothesis (there is one not many hypotheses). The scientists in question are approaching the problem in a scientific manner, they provide data and logic to support their hypothesis.
They are not â��flat earthersâ�� or â��denialistsâ��.
The Antarctic Climate Anomaly and GCR Svensmarkâ��s 2006 Dec Paper
Comment by William Astley — 10 Feb 2007 @ 12:31 PM
To dan allen,
I actually remember reading Lewis Mumford – a British old fogey – in the 60’s: on the limits of extracting stuff from the earth, predicting shortages around now.
Not a scientist exactly, but a fun read.
Everything I said I know to be true because I lived it. I am 60 years old. I used to worship Ralph Nader. I used to be a raging, long haired liberal.
It is undeniable that our current dependence on fossil fuel is due in large part to the activities of the environmental movement back in the 1960’s. Anybody my age knows this.
Just look into the history of the Clinch River Breeder Reacter project. Nader made that a big target of his anti-nuclear campaign in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. I was in school in Nashville then and went to one of his rallys against it and actually spoke to Mr. Nader very briefly. I gave him some information regarding a possible leukemia hotspot in TN. At that rally Mr. Nader mocked the claims by Big Oil that they needed to go nuclear. His last words at that rally were “Just keep importing plenty of cheap foreign oil, and don’t forget the 10 per centers, wind and solar.”
BTW, “right wing claims” is a very inappropriate term. I was at a restaurant with some young liberal acquaintances recently. Somehow it came up that I was wearing sandals. One young liberal acquintance said that was strange footware for a right winger. I had to point out that what seems like “right wing” behavior to young liberals is really just pragmatism, based on experience. In my case, my athlete’s feet is much easier to keep in check if I wear sandals, not shoes.
Young people often mistake pragmatisn for conservatism or “right wing thought.” They’ll learn.
Lee Raymond (a trained scientist) used to run it. He has said the growth of nuclear power is limited by environmental and site problems.
…In the late 1970s, as oil prices skyrocketed, Exxon diversified into an array of fossil-fuel alternatives, including nuclear and solar energy. In 1983 it opened the lab here in Annandale, a sprawling brick complex with 19 acres of interior space.
But after several years, Exxon still couldn’t see prospects for renewable energy turning into a money-maker, especially since oil prices were falling in the 1980s. In the mid-1980s, the company decided to get out of the business and tapped Mr. Raymond, a South Dakota native then in his 40s, to oversee the retrenchment. “I was sent to clean it all up,” he recalls. “What all these people are thinking about doing, we did 20 years ago — and spent $1 billion, in dollars of that day, to find out that none of these were economic,” he says. “That’s why I feel so strongly about it — because I’ve been there and I’ve done that.” – WSJ, 6.15.05…
Ralph Nader can be celebrated for some of his contributions to a safer world but I do not count his anti-nuclear crusade among them.
From the outset, he campaigned to choke the U.S. nuclear power industry on its garbage. By organizing a national crusade against permanent disposal of nuclear waste or storing it until reprocessing became safe and affordable, he has ruled that current spent fuel rods will remain at the plant site. Thus, populations near plant sites are victims (and potential victims) to groundwater contamination from leaking storage tanks and pools.
He traded a solution away and created a problem. And, he has dictated the nuclear option will be unreachable for our children in a future where nuclear power might be a necessary option.
I am not an advocate for nuclear power. But, I believe we have to get past the dimwitted view that stored nuclear waste will be a threat for thousands of year; would that we had that much time to will to our children.
Comment by John L. McCormick — 10 Feb 2007 @ 1:26 PM
In science one acknowledges the results of inquiry. Global Warming deniers don’t. They’re not even akin to people who hold relgious dogmas which are contradicted by Science. They’re closest to carnival barkers and con-men. One needn’t link them to the Holocaust and all that baggage for one to see that there’s rank insincerity and (given the potential for harm) moral failing.
I ran afoul of this opinion writer, albeit on another subject, my opposition of “fanfiction,” which is one of her hobbies, but Ms. Young gravitated to my political charcterization of the false sceptics and a watering down of the language of global warming.
There’s a lot of trials here for qualifying “skeptic / contrarian / deniers, etc.” from a psychological, or political, or professionnal (scientist or not, climate scientist or not) or venal (lobbies) background.
But far less precision for an exam of the real content of their critics and the level of skepticism. Let’s examine some assertions :
> Recent warming is a new evidence for intrinsic variability of climate on decadal / centennial / millenium scale.
> Most part of recent warming comes from natural factors, that is sun irradiance and cosmic ray / nebulosity feedback.
> Most part of recent warming come from anthropic factors, but we cannot quantify land-uses, aerosols and GHGs relative weights in this recent trend.
> Models accuracy and models uncertainty implies that we are still unable to get a reasonably constrained attribution for the 0,6 K detected in past 50 yrs.
> As far as weather is chaotic, and climate models comparable to weather models, we can say anything for any recent or future warming from any model.
> IPCC is a worldwide conspiracy for the fund-raising in favour of leftist science, ecologist subversion and UNO totalitarianism.
> Warming is good for life. Warming comes from oil-combustion. Oil-combustion is good for life.
All these assertions can be qualified as “skeptic/contrarian, etc.”. But for sure, they’ve not the same level of acceptability (in a scientific or simply objective discussion).
Finally, everybody agrees that real and rational skepticism is a good thing. So, as a last resort, it would be interesting to knwow on what point scientists are (really and rationally) skeptic in climate science current conclusions? I think better estimates of sea-level projections is an example, so far some researchers express their doubts.
Finally there are the greedheads–those who really don’t care about the science. They figure that it’s fine if the swamp rises as long as they own all the high ground.
Interesting. This hardly describes a denialist/skeptic, if we are talking about someone who irrationally rejects the scientific facts. This conflation of people who disagree with the science and those who disagree with the majority on its significance and what to do about it, is part of what makes people suspicious of global warming science. In order not to be a crazed evader of the “facts”,” you have to buy in, not only to the science, but a package deal that includes a statist political action plan, too.
Re:201. Steve, you have the same right to an opinion that I do–namely, you can attend graduate school for 5-6 years and get a PhD in a relevant subject that provides you with an understanding of 1)relevant subject matter such as dynamics of chaotic systems, atmospheric physics, etc., and 2)an understanding of how science works, including the subject of scientific evidenc, scientific confidence and scientific consensus. Once you do this, and then establish yourself as a reasonably competent researcher, your opinion may count for something, but only because you will realize the importance of constraining your opinion to what the evidence allows you to say confidently. Right now, you don’t even know what the evidence is, let alone how to interpret it. So, want to take me up on my suggestion of getting a relevant education, or would this spoil your “objectivity”.
I find that I rarely, if ever, need a term that lumps together everyone that disagrees with the global warming consensus, when discussing science. And since this blog is supposed to be focused on science, I would be much happier if at least those writing the lead articles could make a more serious attempt at using more nuanced language. When talking about the remote possibility that solar variations are responsible for a substantial part of the late 20th century warming, one can talk, if necessary, about “solar enthusiasts”, etc. The term “denier” makes me cringe, and can be profoundly counter-productive, regardless of the innocuous dictionary definition.
[Response: Agreed that we have strayed from the straight and narrow, no matter how good the intentions. Discussion of science communication almost inevitably leads into the sorts of political questions that have dominated this discussion, but we’ll try to restore the proper balance with the next few posts. –raypierre]
As I recall, David Brower started out in favor of nuclear energy, became an opponent, then modified his stance. He felt that nuclear energy was appropriate in the right location — which he deemed approximately 93 million miles from earth.
A note on nuclear versus oil. I do think there is value in investing in nuclear power. but is anyone really claiming that, had we invested more heavily in it in the 1970s and 1980s, instead of abandoning it, we would not be burning fossil fuels? What percent of U.S. needs could realistically come from nuclear, given the finite number of sites from plants, the lack of an efficient technology to transport the energy significant distances, the difficulties with powering cars with it?
[Response: Well, France gets practically all of its electricity from nuclear power, has less empty space for siting than the US, and powers essentially all of its rail transport with electricity. One way to frame the technical feasibility issue, then, is whether there is something fundamentally different in the US situation that would prevent something similar happening. Eliminating our coal based electricity generation would knock out around a third of our CO2 emissions, and one could go further with electric trains replacing some of our present transport. I don’t want to argue the desirability of going nuclear to this extent, and would prefer that people not get into political differences from France that might prevent the nuclear option in the US, but it would be illuminating to know if there are any purely technical hurdles that would prevent the French solution from being scaled up to the US. Would this bump up against nuclear fuel supply limits, for example? Does the US population distribution pose problems that are not faced by France? Let’s try to think of this as an intellectual exercise, and put aside the question of the desirability of going nuclear. –raypierre ]
By the way, here is something neither liberals nor conservatives seem to talk about anymore. but seem to me the single most important, business-friendly, environment-friendly policy the planet could adopt: discouraging large families.
Obviously, this reduces stress on the environment only in the long-term. But then AGW is a long-term problem, no? And it is the one way to fight AGW that simultaneously fights every single other pollution issue, food supply issue, etc. Population stabilization at 6 billion versus 9 billion gives us all an opportunity to either consume 50% more resources and produce no more pollution, or produce 50% less pollution, or any compromise we choose in between. It is a hedge against any food production declines we might see with AGW, and therefore should please those who support accommodation to warmer climate as well as those who support limits on carbon emissions.
Consider this: Which decision will have a more negative effect on the earth’s environment, buying an SUV, or having a 4th child? If one thinks about it, in the long run, the child will ultimately be responsible for a lifetime of cars, energy, resource consumption, and children. The child is of course far worse, and the difference grows exponentially through the generations. Why have people stopped talking about population control? Incidentally, before people tell me this is not a problem in the U.S. and Western Europe, where birthrates are low, I realize that (although the U.S. pop is still growing organically a bit faster than it should). But I am speaking of the world as a whole.
[Response: Somewhat dangerous territory, but anyway here are a few numbers to be going on. US population is projected to grow to 392 million by 2050, according to the US census . Go a little beyond 2050, and let’s call it an even 100 million growth. At current US vs. Chinese percapita emissions rates that’s like adding a billion Chinese. Definitely a factor. It means that, to make room for these new US citizens, the US will need to work even harder to reduce its percapita emissions. There are obvious ethical concerns about the way China implements its population policies, but certainly one ought to factor in China’s population policies when evaluating what China vs. the US is doing to limit future emissions. –raypierre ]
It is only human nature to believe you are right in your opinion, whether it be science based or not. Some skeptics are that way due to what they have personally experienced in life while some will follow any cause or anti-cause. Some scientists are the same. Just because a person is a physicist does not mean they are always 100% right. History shows that science has sometimes been wrong and so have skeptics. Until any debated scenario becomes a full blown catastophic reality, no one is even close to being right on the subject.
It’s like encountering a grizzly bear on a hiking trail. Science, based on others experiences tells me that if I keep an eye on the bears mannerisms, it will more than likely indicate it’s next move, under perfect conditions. Personal experience tells me that in this newly developing situation, there are too many variables yet to be disclosed, for me to place full trust in that idea. What to do?
Let’s not be too harsh on each other just because one camp believes they are the absolute truth because they have a physics degree and the other just expresses an opinion from a viewpoint that perhaps others have overlooked, or maybe have never been taught to see certain possibilities, to even consider as an option. Two-sided open debate is what keeps the world from totalitarianism. Only time will tell who will be eating the crow feathers, so to speak.
The thing about nuclear is the limited supply of uranium. If all the world’s electricity was nuclear generated uranium reserves would only last 4 years. Funnily enough uranium is found in coal. It could be recovered from the flues of coal fired power stations. But that would mean prolonging the use of coal fied stations. Tricky.
re: #205. See #199. And remember Google and Wiki are your friends. While Westinghouse and GE did get into the nuclear power plant business, so did Combustion Engineering and Babcock Wilcox. Power plants from all four companies are operating today.
re: #204. The Chernobyl plants were not designed for electricity production. They were primarily designed to produce materials for making fission and fusion bombs. A small amount of electricity production was an add-on feature. The accident was human-caused by people not following written procedures.
re: #210. Exxon Nuclear Fuel became Exxon Nuclear Company, or a part of the later company.
re: #219. China is projected to exceed the US total CO2 emissions very soon now; like maybe before or during 2009. I think we can also say that we all hope that all of China does not approach the US per capita emission rate.
Oh, I forgot. Nuclear electricity production in France is closer to 70% than to 90%.
And, the principles of neutron physics that allowed the Chernobyl accident to happen were never a part of any reactor anywhere designed to produce electricity. No power reactor operating today can undergo the processes that allowed the Chernobyl accident.
Teetering along the edge of this topic — anyone recollect how the WSJ editors handled the chlorofluorocarbon science, as it went from surprising to globally politicized to dead certain to “we were lucky more than smart” over time? The politics flared up faster because there was less at stake, or simpler chemistry, or better measurement and histories, or whatever.
What we didn’t know for decades — what was actually the critical decision — was adopting chlorination rather than bromination, for most of the industry in these longlived new compounds that looked so useful.
After the fur had stopped flying, I guess, we learned — long after the fact —- that using chlorine rather than bromine as the halogen for almost the whole CFC industry was in fact the drop-dead binary decision point.
We lucked out, supposedly..
Or if you believe in the market (here cue the WSJ editorial hymn), then it made the right decision in its mysterious way, and la de dah.
Does the WSJ editorial position have anything to say in retrospect about that whole
CFC issue? do they still think it’s a crock?
Maybe they relax once they think any glob of new science is well enough understood that the future it gives has been priced into the market properly. Some sociologist or media historian must have studied how editorial opinion changes over time, haven’t found any such work yet.
Oh I don’t know John D. I’ve wandered around with grizzlies a bit, and I trust the recommendations of those with experience, including those who were mauled. Making noise almost always works to warn them of your presence. It will work to get a solution to global warming going too. Focusing on the uncertainty after a certain point is unlikely to yield much value to the over-arching question.
>fossil fuel subsidies
You probably don’t want to repeat the kerfluffle over definitions. This has a good bit of info:
“… There has been extensive debate over how to define a subsidy. ….
Subsidies comprise all measures that keep prices for consumers below market level or keep prices for producers above market level or that reduce costs for consumers and producers by giving direct or indirect support.
This is essentially the same as the definition used by the IEA (UNEP and IEA, 2002). More specifically, energy subsidies are defined by the IEA as:
any government action that concerns primarily the energy sector that lowers the cost of energy production, raises the price received by energy producers or lowers the price paid by energy consumers (UNEP and IEA, 2002, p.9).
>Right now, you don’t even know what the evidence is, let alone how to interpret it. So, want to take me up on my suggestion of getting a relevant education, or would this spoil your “objectivity”.
Ray, how do you know anything about my education, experience, or familiarity with the evidence? Not that I think it is required, but I do have a degree in physics, a PhD in electrical engineering, and 30 years experience in infrared sensing (which is a narrow part of the GW debate, but so are the fields of most scientists here).
I believe that as long as someone has a good grounding in the fundamentals and the desire to learn the details of the specific scientific argument, they are entitled to judge for themselves how convincing the evidence is. Telling people capable of understanding the evidence that it is not their place to question the ‘experts’ is not compatible with the scientific method.
“In an item yesterday, we expressed mystification at the Boston Globe’s claim that “global warming” increases the risk of skin cancer. It turns out there is a hypothesis according to which it would. The Web site of a company called Environmental Support Solutions explains how it’s supposed to work:
Ozone depletion gets worse when the stratosphere (where the ozone layer is), becomes colder. Because global warming traps heat in the troposphere, less heat reaches the stratosphere which will make it colder. Greenhouse gases act like a blanket for the troposphere and make the stratosphere colder.
Ozone, the theory has it, acts as a filter for the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which cause skin cancer; thus, if all this is true, “global warming” would increase the risk.
Of course, there’s a lot that science doesn’t know. We were reminded of this by the headline of an Associated Press dispatch: “Scientists Study Why the Elderly Fall.” One of these days they’ll discover gravity.”
Yeah, let’s head to the barn fast. It’s what he always does.
“Lawn chemicals, nuclear power, food additives, fluoridated water, high-tension wires, implanted silicon, cancer clusters, agricultural pesticides, the ozone layer, allergies, microwaves, vaccines, bioengineered foods–how did a sophisticated, well-educated people manage to let itself be frightened by modern life itself?
I have sometimes felt that living in America now must be a little like what it was to live in a medieval village on the edge of the Black Forest in the 12th century.”
Like Eli, I too had remembered French nuclear electricity as about 90% of the total. My thanks to llewely for checking the actual numbers. The proportion depends on whether you go by consumption or total production. Nuclear production does cover about 88% of French electricity consumption. However France exports a lot of electricity, so nuclear only covers 78% of the total generated. If you add in hydropower, then nuclear plus hydro accounts for about 90% of total French electricity production, so French electricity production is almost totally decarbonized. There’s a good summary at http://www.uic.com.au/nip28.htm . On a related issue, there’s an interesting discussion of the waste issue at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/readings/french.html . That source claims that, with reprocessing, the high level waste volume from a family of four using electricity for 20 years is “a glass cylinder the size of a cigarette lighter.” As an exercise, try comparing that to the mass of waste carbon dioxide for the same amount of electricity generated by coal.
Thank you for your replies. Regarding going nuclear, as I said, I am not anti-nuclear, but I do think we are in danger of misleading if we assume the French model will fit us conveniently. First, I presume that per capita electricity consumption is significantly lower in France than in U.S., so to match their 90% from nuclear, we would need either more reactors per capita, or that dreaded “personal virtue” that Cheney spoke of – conservation (unless I’m mistaken about our per capita electricity consumption.
Second, I do think the U.S. pop distribution is more problematic. France has no massive population center like the mid-Atlantic to NY corridor, where there are virtually no sites close enough to the population centers and rural enough to be palatable. The U.S. may have lower pop density, but in terms of getting the electricity to people who need it, placing reactors in the Dakotas won’t help much – at least, that is my understanding.
Still, we clearly could have more reactors than we do.
Regarding population control, of course the Chinese method is morally “problematic”, to say the least. But here is a simple possibility: our tax system “rewards” children by providing a deduction for each child. I’m fine with that for the first two. After that, why should we be providing a positive incentive for further stressing our country’s resources and our planet’s?
The [Chernobyl] accident was human-caused by people not following written procedures.
Like any sufficiently complicated accident, there were multiple causes. For example: the choice of reactor type, in which loss of cooling water caused the reactivity to increase. Or the placement of a graphite plug on the end of the control rod, so reactivity initially went up as the control rod was inserted. And, of course, the lack of a true containment building.
Blaming operators for error misses the point that the design of the reactor should assume the operators are only human, and will sometimes do damnfool things.
Sure, it’s the size of the cigarette lighter, but how hot is it? Probably lights cigarettes for centuries, and glows in the dark. Adding a new one each year per family … nah, storing them at home isn’t going to work out.
In response to criticism (mid-comment) from William in my original posting #84, I must interject. I have read your reporting on the topic in question, and the figures and graphs in the article are clearly manipulations of statistics. Humans (as well as journalists) write and read via an inverted pyramid of relevance. Those figures are meant to indicate a continuing trend toward elimination of sea ice. Do I really have to call your attention to figures 2, 3 and 4 or to how they would be interpreted by common journalists? This is the very definition of propaganda. This community is so used to reading data generated via computer models that you see no difference between true evidence and synthetic.
Having waded through the considerable statistical soup of this topic I have yet to see the hard scientific data that would lead me to believe there is a strong alternative to gasoline. Certainly none that would lead me to believe that we should do anything but increase the funding of research and development of more efficient internal combustion engines by automakers and oil companies. By many of your own admissions, ethanol is hardly the panacea it has been presented to be. And certainly more mechanical engineers should be consulted on the wisdom of increased wind, solar or bio fuel investment than climatologists.
The predictions I see being made on the site are of a certain character – long term, disastrous and untestable (see comment #106). You must admit that the recommendations the “scientific consensus” is making are substantial and expensive to the global energy generation infrastructure. As I stated before, the claims you are making are dramatic and require dramatic evidence. (the irony of comment #115 was quite amusing to me). Let’s assume that statistics over time in the sea ice reduction article prove to be true. Those numbers should be predictive in the short term. I need proof beyond “consensus”. Is this a scientific forum or isn’t it? Don’t tell me that global climatology is too complex for this type of short term experimentation. I aced my linear algebra and electromagnetism classes – I can handle it. Explain it to me. Prove the theory. You won’t need consensus. We need to agree in advance on the parameters of the experiment. What factors will be ignored? Small things like cyclical changes in the orbit of the earth around sun over thousands of years, perhaps? How are the measurements to be taken? What are the variables. What are the precise predictions for 1 year, 2 years, 5 years? To be facetious…if the polar bears are truly on thin ice and the end is near, how do I know that shaving them is not the better answer than some carbon dioxide sin tax on America. Given that your community did a poor job of calling last year’s hurricane season, what are the chances of rain next week in Portland?
[Response: Its very hard to understand how you can interpret our article, which clearly sets out that the 2040s stuff is an extreme case, as propaganda. And how fig4, which shows all the time series, is a manipulation?Those figures are meant to indicate a continuing trend toward elimination of sea ice – well yes, since thats what the observations and all of the models say, what do you expect? You seem to end up confusing weather and climate. As the pix make clear, there is year-to-year variablility. See http://mustelid.blogspot.com/2005/04/we-cant-predict-weather-week-in.html for more – William]
I would like to clarify my statement about losing jobs, since it incensed a few. Obviously if there is economic downturn from our current unsustainable economic growth there will be a loss of jobs and a depression. This is inevitable anyway, for anyone who understands that the earth is finite and the world economy depends on the limitless supply of resources. That world view may have worked well back in the 1800s but today the signs are finally showing us that many of the resources we depend on are rapidly disappearing (re: oil, salmon, fish, clean water, biodiverse forests).
There will no doubt be new opportunities for employment in a downshifted economy..however they will be alien to today’s westernized culture. We have equated happiness, success and fulfillment with economic affluenza. Money is our god and it is destroying the planet. Tommorrow’s economy should be focused on education, organic farming, sustainable energies, local community, rather than the sharemarket, globalisation, cheap labor, luxury goods and the pathetic drivel of advertisers urging us to consume, consume!
I am quite aware that I must sound like a renegade hippie sprouting wonderful communist theories..But the writing is on the wall, the evidence all around us..are we so shortsighted to miss who we really are, the custodian’s of this wonderful planet?
Cutting through all the crap, I think everyone should be agreed that the only way forward (at least until a “miracle” technology is invented) is to use less. Even a 5 year old can understand that!
Edward Barkley wants the AGW experiment to continue until he is satisfied all the deck chairs are in line and the crew is maintaining order at the lifeboats.
Edward, as the commercial says…life comes at you fast and the luxury of certainty (beyond any doubt and obtained through rigorous application of the scientific method) is not ours to enjoy.
The doctor tells the patient that observation and the lab results indicate the left leg is gangrenous. Prognosis is frightening…the periphery of the gangrenous tissue will affect adjacent tissue and the spreading cannot be contained. Death will follow. Treatment requires removing the lower leg from the knee joint.
The patient grabs the arm of the doctor and snarls your admonition posted in # 84;
[As I recall the Scientific Method as I was taught it in college, a hypothesis will remain such unless it makes predictions that are testable and can be verified in experiments that are repeatable.]
So, you do not touch my damned leg until your diagnosis can be verified in experiments that are repeatable.
The doctor asks the patient if he is willing to be a volunteer in the experiment.
The patient remains silent and curses again, under his breath.
Comment by John L. McCormick — 11 Feb 2007 @ 8:20 AM
Re 238: You may be a fine engineer, but your post was sufficient to illustrate that you do not understand how science works. A PhD in EE may have equipped you to develop instruments for climate research, but it would not equip you to understand the science thereof. Likewise, I do not presume that my PhD in particle physics makes me an expert. I examine the evidence and form my own opinion, but that counts for precisely butkis in the scientific debate. Scientific consensus works–and it works by having those researchers who are most knowledgeable about a subject butt heads and bludgeon each other with evidence until they can agree what the body of evidence allows them to say. The layman(myself included) plays not constructive role in that process except to educate him or herself as much as possible.
The place the layman plays a constructive role is in the debate about how to address the science. I no more trust climate scientists to tell me about economics than I trust layment to tell me about climate research.
I apologize if my response was a bit abrupt, but the “scientific priesthood” argument is a bunch of BS usually spewed by those who do not understand the scientific method. I thought it was crap when Paul Feyerabend spewed it in the ’70s and I don’t think it has any more merit when spewed by certain hack science fiction authors today.
According to the Vostok data, the CO2 level is now higher than at anytime in the last 400,000 years. Are we hotter now than at anytime in the last 400,000 years? Not according to those charts on the Vostok data. So what gives? Was the world substantially ice free during the last 400,000 years?
The point is this: If you really believe that CO2 drives global temperature, not some unknown force, then the globe is going to heat up a lot no matter what we do regarding limiting CO2 emissions. Even going back to the stone age won’t help. Six billion primitives can pump a lot of CO2 into the air just burning trees and charcoal.
Re: 245 Edward, do you think that linear algebra and electromagnetism represent the pinnacle of difficulty in mathematics and the sciences? Did you ever maybe think that the detailed subject matter of climate change, which experts study 30 years to master, might be a bit much for you to come to grips with after reading a 1000 word essay on the subject?
Having said this, the basics of climate change are quite simple and do not rely on climate models. To realize that humans are changing the climate it is sufficient to realize that:
1)CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
2)Humans have increased greenhouse gases to their highest point in over 600000 years
3)Greenhouse gases increase the overall energy in the climate system.
4)A greenhouse mechanism has greater effect at the poleward than in the tropics
…and so on. These are all empirical facts, and they add up to anthropogenic climate change. The science is clear and cogent and virtually incontrovertible. What remains to be solved is how we deal with it without 1)wrecking the economy, 2)adopting draconian political solutions, 3)ending human civilization as we know it. That is where debate should be centered at this point.
Re 249: The contention is that CO2 is A DRIVER of climate, not THE DRIVER. When CO2 content is higher, the energy in the climatic system tends to be higher than it would have been otherwise. We are raising CO2 far above the levels experienced since the dawn of human civilization, so it is not unreasonable to expect that some of the infrastructure of human civilization (e.g. agriculture, transport, regional building techniques…) could be adversely affected.
As to the rest of your post, it is simply a falcy. The way we decrease energy consumption is by increasing technology, not decreasing it. In the short term, increased efficiency and conservation represent our best hopes for buying time so we can come up with better technologies. There is every reason to expect that these developments will result in economic growth rather than recession–just as has every other push for technological development.
#249, we’re all agreed, Joel, that several things can cause warming, including increased sun, earth wobble, natural greenhouse effect (& changes to that, such as through vulcanism). The issue is the scientists have ruled out all but human GHG emission this time around. I know people don’t like to take the blame for anything; that’s human nature. Only mature, moral persons are capable of “taking the blame” — and it doesn’t necessarily depend on age.
But we do need to be mindful of the other natural forcings to which you allude, because they could also kick in at any time. However we can’t do anything about those. We can only do something about our own GHG emissions. So that’s the area we have to focus on changing. And the good news, as I’ve indicated time and again, our GHG emissions can be slashed at least 70% through energy/resource conservation/efficiency plus alt energy at net savings and without reducing GDP per capita or livestyle, and in fact even increase these. (See http://www.napcap.org ) So once we’re down to 30% of our GHG emissions, which may take us 10 years or so, hopefully new tech would have been invented which could let us reduce even further without stopping our high-on-the-hog party. If not, we may have to starting tightening our belt a bit — which will greatly help our health and health costs, mind you.
As for #195 & the LA opinion piece, I think an 1,800% GDP increase is farfetched, but assuming it’s true, we have to understand that GDP measures the extent to which an economy is monetized (not only productivity), and back in 1900 there were still lots of people living on farms growing their own food, and housewives making clothes, etc, none of which would have been included in the GDP. If we could place value on these things, that would probably cut the increase in half to maybe a 900% increase. Now because we have been using fossil fuels and other resources so inefficiently, as the technology for increased efficiency and resource conservation has come on line, the true potential for GDP increase may have been maybe 1200%. So our GHG emissions (& the .7C warming) may be linked to a reduced GDP over the potential higher GDP, so it has actually harmed us – we’re poorer than we may have been due to our profligate use of fossil fuels, etc.
That’s this past century & before. Now in this century (and for thousands of years) we will have to pay the price for our GHG emissions & this inefficiency and lack of conservation. The bill, when it is finally over, may make the 900% increase in GDP go to some big deficit, equivalent to a 1,800% decrease in GDP (if the bill had been called due during the 20th century, if we had had to pay as we go for all costs incurred down the road over hundreds or thousands of years).
I’m no economist, and this is probably jumbled up & a bit nonsensical, but I hope my meaning is clear.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 11 Feb 2007 @ 11:24 AM
I’m not only dismayed by the WSJ (& that LA opinion piece), but by all the media. They should be way beyond presenting the science, real or bogus, and pouring out solutions & information about what people can do – TV programs, news articles, on the radio.
I remember in the late 80s & early 90s (before Gulf War I), the media were full of solutions – that’s how I found out most of mine. Then they’ve clammed up ever since. I guess the sponsors got to them, or something. Or they’ve been consolidated into the hands of fewer & fewer oligarchs, who’s personal bent is toward climate denial. Or oil-funded powers have been buying them out, or placing strategic ads during news programs. That’s sad.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 11 Feb 2007 @ 11:33 AM
Re 248 and 250:
Ray, while being an expert in the relevant field may be required to do climate science (or to design IR sensors), that does not mean the same level of expertise is required to evaluate the results. I would not expect my customers to take on faith my estimates of the accuracy of an IR sensor; they want to see my data, and maybe see independently taken data. I expect the same for climate science.
I agree with your enumerated points in comment 250, but those are all qualitative. We need quantitative answers to what the impact will be, how much we can change it, and what the cost of our efforts will be (including opportunity costs). No one can be an expert in all of the required fields, so we had better learn how to communicate across disciplines in a way that inspires confidence. I don’t think the process will work if we are required to accept the decisions on faith in an elite group of scientists, economists, and politicians. RC, at its best, is a good start on the climate science part of that communication.
Comment by Steve Reynolds — 11 Feb 2007 @ 11:36 AM
Only reduce dependance on Oil and not replace it and it is a corrosive substance due to water retention and absorbtion and hence not good for the existing infrastructure. Other sustainable fuels might be a better and option and it is 10 years away from at lest from commercial production and many years more away from being available globally. 850 million vehicles world wide, 80 million new vehicles sold every year, so thats 12 years to replace the entire world fleet. From here:
I think the WSJ Editors are buying time for their customers, by keeping the record confused, while they shift investments into promising future companies via hedge funds and big private placements. They’d want to do that _before_ stocks of big polluters get dinged by the oh-so-“unanticipated” costs. All the carbon control tactics involve externalized costs being brought home and costs attributed.
Hypothetical game plan: leave the loser industries, the ones that will have to pay the externalized costs of climate change eventually, in publicly held corporations, and the stock in the hands of the mutual funds serving retirement plans and the small investor, move the money into private hedge funds and private placements.
Look at how the market has “created” wealth the last few decades — all those dollars have to go somewhere, before the illusion the are based on, the big old polluting ‘smokestack industries’, are admitted to be costing the Earth and handed the bill. Right now, as someone on the radio said a while back, “two percent of the people own more than half of the assets — they bought it, they broke it, let them pay to fix it.”
The only solution for the market/politics is to get ownership widely spread so lots of little people own everything that’s causing the problem, and a few well placed rich people own everything that’s offering a solution. Insert wry grin.
I’m not cynical enough yet but working on it.
—- excerpt from that 2003 study of disclosures—–
“climate change is a new ‘off-balance sheet’ risk that could affect shareholder value. …
“… all the companies are beginning to measure their greenhouse gas emissions
… most have discussed climate change at the board level,
barely half (12) reported on the issue in their securities filings and
less than half (nine) are projecting greenhouse gas emissions trends.
Among the 12 companies that do mention climate change in their securities filings, the disclosure tends to be vague, often stating in a sentence or two that the risks may be “material” but cannot be determined at this time. Eight companies made no mention of the issue whatsoever.
“All companies profiled in this report are taking some governance actions to respond to climate change. But few have adopted comprehensive programs to treat this issue as an imminent financial and environmental threat,” said report author Douglas G. Cogan, deputy director of Social Issues for IRRC. “Companies cannot expect to mitigate climate change risks and seize new market opportunities until they build a foundation of well functioning environmental management systems and properly focused governance practices for a carbon- constrained world.”
“… U.S. companies, in particular, are still pursuing business strategies that discount the global warming threat. By contrast, non-U.S. companies are more likely to report on the financial risks and undertake climate change mitigation strategies.”
Most ‘financial advisors’ available to the average investor can’t beat the market average, one has to wonder who the WSJ editors are serving by maintaining that nobody knows what’s happening, eh?
I know I am getting repetitive (Def. of a fanatic: Can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.) but the data from the Vostok ice cores really bothers me.
Assuming there are no unknown processes currently at work to affect global temperature, what will be the affect of atmospheric CO2 values substantially above anything measured in the last 400,000 years?
Does the current CO2 level mean that we will have extensive melting of Greenland and Antarctica and thus rising sea levels. Melting the Artic is not big deal in that regard, isn’t it?
This question is a trick question, and I doubt there is any answer. I know that in Chemical engineering, and most other areas of numerical model building, extrapolation beyond your data is considered very poor science. But, isn’t that what we are doing? There is no data on global climate with CO2 levels close to what we have today, so how can such a situation be accurately modeled? Only with numerous assumptions.
And, I wish someone would answer this question: What will be the global equilbrium temperature with CO2 at 380 ppm? And will that cause serious problems?
[Response: These issues are dealt with in so-called ‘committment’ experiments where you just keep 2000 atmospheric levels constant and see what happens. You generally get a further ~0.5 deg C warming (but it depends a little on how the ocean is taking up heat – the faster it’s warming now, the greater the current imbalance, and the bigger the warming ‘in the pipeline’). As far as I can tell from talking to relevant people, this isn’t a big enough additional warming to doom the ice sheets but this is a big ‘known unknown’. -gavin]
Is any climate scientist here familiar with the experiments that prove that Co2 does indeed cause a greenhouse effect of warming? Could you give this guy the reference? He works in the energy industry, but is maybe about to switch sides.
[Response: This is kind of funny. The equivalent experiments that showed in a laboratory setting that CO2 was a greenhouse gas were done almost 150 years ago. Since then, there have been huge refinements to the theory, demonstrations in the real world, observations of radiative changes in the atmopshere (Harries et al, 1997) and observations of predicted consequences (strat cooling etc.). Cosmic ray ‘theory’ is not even at the point Tyndall was in the 1860s – it has a long way to go before it gets taken as seriously. – gavin]
It is interesting to see how the public constantly frets about cars when they represent a relatively small fraction of the greenhouse gas problem.
Having waded through the considerable statistical soup of this topic I have yet to see the hard scientific data that would lead me to believe there is a strong alternative to gasoline.
There are so many common misconceptions in #245 one hardly knows where to start to clarify the situation. This one sentence I quote itself manages to be based on several points of confusion; the relationships between science, engineering and policy seem entirely muddled into a vague “you people”; the somewhat circular expectation of what “hard scientific data” might mean, (that which might convince the questioner of something that might not actually match what anyone is saying) and so on. Amid all this, I’d like to focus on the popular misconception that the climate change issue is primarily about gasoline and vehicles.
While these constitute a significant source of contemporary forcing, the fraction is likely to decline, simply because the supply of petroleum is likely to decline. The automobile is a convenient symbol for both sides of a lifestyle and culture debate, but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that it is not the core issue in climate forcing.
Most of the fossil carbon reserves are in the form of coal. If all the available coal is consumed, the world will be very seriously disrupted. If little of the coal is consumed (and new fossil fuel sources like shales don’t become widely tapped) we will probably continue along in the range of noticeable but manageable changes that we now see.
It’s not about oil or natural gas. It’s the coal. Perhaps some sort of end-to-end carbon sequestration will becomes available and universally used, but that remains speculative. Otherwise, the coal must stay in the ground.
Individual consumers do not know when they are consuming coal. The energy provenance of our manufactured products (including food) is not announced. While individual decisions can contribute to conservation, it is pretty much impossible to boycott coal at the consumer level.
Our issue is energy infrastructure, not gasoline.
It’s really easy to become boggled by the amount of energy wasted in the typical traffic jam, mentally multiplying by all the jams in all the cities every day of every year. Our reliance on this infrastructure in the face of an increasingly tapped-out and problematic resource is daunting. This problem, though, is if anything a silver lining from the point of view of climate change. The petroleum contribution to warming is going to shrink in proportion, and eventually even in absolute size.
We don’t need to encourage the elimination of petroleum use anywhere near as much as the elimination of coal use, at least insofar as climate change is concerned. Petroleum will probably go away with or without policy incentives, but coal will not.
Self-propelled private vehicles are not at issue in any case. Nobody is threatening to take your car away. It would be a good thing if the public got a clearer picture of this. A great deal of the general resistance to climate policy seems to involve confusion with the separate and almost disconnected issue of petroleum supplies and transportation infrastructure that is so much a part of daily life for many people.
Because people latch on quickly to my sarcastic remarks (like electromagnetism and weather in portland) as serious comments on the topic, I’ll try to avoid that from now on.
Remember “The Population Bomb” by Paul Ehrlich. That book contained the same types of qualifiers and asides that I see in the article. Those projections and predictions were dead wrong weren’t they? And yet the data upon which it was based showed clear trend lines that advanced his logical conclusion. That was also propaganda. One of the reasons it should have been discounted out-of-hand at the time was because the closed system was too large to make testing feasible over that short period of time.
You must admit these sea ice projections are dramatic. Shouldn’t we be able to make projections of sea levels in key locations worldwide over much shorter periods of time ? Or are you are still telling me that the theory is untestable in the short term?
Comment by Edward A. Barkley — 11 Feb 2007 @ 2:46 PM
I investigate financial fraud for a living and I am concerned with the way the battle between the two sides on AGW is being played out. I must say that the constant referal to “consensus”and to rubbish any skeptical reminds me of when I’m getting close to a fraudster and they try every trick in the book to throw me off the scent and close down questioning . Skeptics even if they are wrong are essential to the scientific process. People should not accept at face value what they are spoon fed by the media or goverments even if it is popular. I would urge both sides to stop name calling and try and stick to the science itself . Hyping up the facts and wild claims do no good as does ignoring a problem. A calm careful approach is needed. Also rubbishing ordinary people along the lines of ” I’m a scientist, you cant possibly understand this complex fact but just accept it” is not good enough. Most court cases involve a difference of expert opinion. Experts can be right or wrong. I think the IPCC report is on the right lines, but as it is only 90% certain it should be open to healthy skeptical review without name calling- as with any investigation dont get tram lined into thinking you are always right as the truth has a nasty habit of biting you on the arse.
Re: 254–A layman simply is not in a position to reach a relevant conclusion about what is and what is not good science in a field as complicated as climate change. I agree that the scientific community should be open about the process of peer review and about communicating results, but it is absurd for someone who has devoted a few weeks of study to the subject to expect an equal voice with someone who has devoted their life to the subject. In this sense, the layman is very much like a person who receives a diagnosis of a serious illness from his doctor. When faced with such a situation, the reasonable thing to do is get a second opinion, not to go home and try to get a medical education over the Internet. In the case of climate change, virtually ALL the experts are agreed about the diagnosis–the only disagreement comes when discussing treatment options. And this is precisely where the nonscientist can and should contribute. As I said, I no more trust a scientist for economic advice than I trust an economist to tell me what climate may do.
The question here it seems to me is about personal and cultural momentum. This is the force of things continuing to be done as they have been done in the past. Precedent is one of the largest motivators of human beings. It is extremely difficult to move out of a well-established routine, and it is threatening at some basic level to us to be asked to do it. People have put up with slavery economic impoverishment, terrible working conditions, and extreme physical and mental abuse for whole lifetimes simply because it is what they are used to. The brain forms dendrite pathways according to the habits of the individual, if I do a crossword puzzle everyday my brain will develop a whole network of connection that make cross wording easier for me to do, and soon I will be uncomfortable if I miss my crossword time on any given day. Human habit is what we are working against here not economic disaster if we face the consequences of GW. Economies are our invention. They are there just because we got started down a particular path and continued to build on that path. If we were forced to change we would, and find a new way to continue on. What is different about this discussion is that the science of climate change is trying to turn the ship of personal and cultural momentum before our forests burn down, our food production becomes erratic and undependable, and our oceans rise above knee level. Historically humans have had to have the water at their necks before they accepted that they were going to be impacted by a flood. Their own personal momentum was a much bigger force then any warning given or often even the evidence of their own eyes.
Every time these comment lines on RC include a big discussion about whether GW is actually caused by humans and I never really see any evidence given that it is not, but people continue to cling to the notion that we can pump gigatons of CO2 and other GHGâ��s into our atmosphere without significant effect. I suggest in the future no one rises to this debate unless real evidence is produced that contradicts what is now the most scientifically studied climate phenomenon in human history. It is at best a waste of time and at worst it adds a certain legitimacy to non-evidence based assertions that allows people some scraps of their well-worn comfort zone to hold onto and prevents us from moving on.
Can we see above the cultural rut we have worn and move towards progress or are we stuck here until our fizzy CO2 saturated oceans seep in and force us out?
quote, “the relationships between science, engineering and policy seem entirely muddled into a vague “you people”; the somewhat circular expectation of what “hard scientific data” might mean…”
I am well aware of the relationships of coal and oil usage to C02 emissions. I am also aware of the much more sensitive and potent subject of nitrogen emissions. If you expect outsiders such as myself to take the science seriously, I expect you to attack alarmists and invokers-of-New-Orleans with the same ferocity with which you attack me. I also expect you to not disregard oil industry geologists opinions out-of-hand because they “are likely shills for Exxon Mobile.”
As far as the continued evasion of my request for “hard science” in contrast to “scientific consensus”, make some short term predictions under pre-agreed upon controlled conditions and prove that this hypothesis is actually a theory. If you think I am showing disdain for climatology professionals with vast, sweeping and dire predictions for those who ignore them, you’d be quite right. I will not kiss the clergy’s ring because they are in consensus with one another.
Remember the question isn’t whether the globe is warming or not, it’s about whether or not it is our fault.
[Response: In general the use of quotation marks implies that one is actually quoting something that someone else has said. I can find no trace of anyone on this site describing anyone else as a ‘likely shill of Exxon Mobil’ whatever industry they work for. I am sure that you would not stoop to making up quotes in order to knock down strawmen arguments, and so I’d appreciate some clarification. On your general point, no one is asking you to kiss anything, and there is plenty of hard science in the science if you care to look for it – hard science doesn’t generally exist for policy choices and expecting it to is foolish. -gavin]
Re:261 While informed skepticism is essential to the scientific process, the adjective “informed” is important. And since one must be informed to make a positive contribution to the debate, that excludes:
1)dittoheads who will simply spout the party line (right or left)
2)contrarians who will dissent simply because it is easier for them to remain in the limelight by doing so
3)those who are ignorant of the basic science
4)those who are ignorant of the scientific process–and that includes the process of reaching scientific consensus
No one in the scientific community is expecting anyone to accept the case for climate change on faith. However, isn’t it the height of arrogance to think that with a weeks worth of study and no appreciation of even the basics in the field you know a field better than someone who has been studying it for 30 years. It’s science. Anyone can play if they agree to play by the rules–and the rules are that if you are uninformed, your opinion counts for butkis.
“Remember the question isn’t whether the globe is warming or not, it’s about whether or not it is our fault.”
Well Edward there’s your problem: that isn’t the question at all. Not among the experts anyway. What part of that can’t you grasp? Your burden is provide evidence to the contrary. What is doing it if we aren’t? Then compare and contrast using the rules of scientific analysis. I’m not getting the feeling you’ve done the homework for that question.
The priesthood always claims it should not be challenged because the challengers don’t have authority. This part of the debate ignores the history of considerable scientific innovations and breakthroughs coming from outside the particular science field. The other irony is the priests of climatology (many of them here, anyway), while refuting outright any input from outside, seem to have compunction expounding on other people’s stuff, like economics, business markets, and cultural development.
And how did ozone get its ugly head in this?? The silly link mentioned in #239 (though not exactly endorsed by Mark) evidently doesn’t know about the direct greenhouse effect of ozone.
Re: 264 Edward, did you not realize that scientific consensus is invariably based on hard evidence. In this case you have several strands that all point to rapid climate change and to anthropogenic causation.
1)Very rapid changes in Polar regions–also shorter Winters (dates between first and last frost) and warmer overnight temperatures. These contrast to much slower and more minor changes inthe tropics. This by itself would be sufficient to eliminate solar forcing and argue for a greenhouse-type mechanism.
2)Of the two most significant greenhouse gases, the most significant, water vapor, hasn’t changed drastically beyond what would be expected due to temperature increase. Moreover, its residence time in the atmosphere is way too short to account for the long-term trends being seen. The 2nd most important ghg-CO2-is increasing rapidly in the atmosphere and the trends of CO2 increase is similar to that for the climatic changes we are seeing. Where is the CO2 coming from? Isotopic measurements show most of the increase is fossil carbon, and the main sources of fossil carbon being injected into the atmosphere are from humans burning fossil fuels. Thus, you have an implication of both CO2 and of anthropogenic activity.
3)Are the effects of increased CO2 sufficient to explain the observed dramatic effects. Only here do we need to resort to modeling, and we find a very robust conclusion that CO2 is a sufficient explanation.
4)Are there any other possible causes that could explain the observed trends. The answer is no–we’ve already seen that solar forcing won’t reproduce the observed distribution of effects, and the changes in solar irradiance aren’t sufficiently large, either. That, in a nutshell, is the argument, Ed. I don’t see a weak point. Do you?
If you expect outsiders such as myself to take the science seriously, I expect you to attack alarmists and invokers-of-New-Orleans with the same ferocity with which you attack me.
Whatever the issues of the credibility of a scientific field really shouldn’t depend on the proportion and patience of responses to public confusion on one side or another of some policy controversy or another. The science should stand or fall on its intellectual merits and not the political skills of its members in avoiding being baited into flamefests.
I also expect you to not disregard oil industry geologists opinions out-of-hand because they “are likely shills for Exxon Mobile.”
I doubt that I ever used those words or expressed anything like that intent. If I did so please point it out to me so that I can retract it immediately.
If you are using “you” in some the plural sense, please take note that the editors of this site (among whom I do not number) do not necessarily agree with everything said here. They are no more responsible for someone making blanket criticisms of petroleum geologists than they are for your peculiar question about proving that gasoline needs to be replaced.
Remember the question isn’t whether the globe is warming or not, it’s about whether or not it is our fault.
There are many questions related to climate change, some scientific, and some social and political.
The one you mention here is pretty much regarded as settled by now, though if you think that’s *the* question feel free to address it, as it is on topic for this site and exactly on point for the expertise of some of its editors. I didn’t see you doing that in the posting to which I responded, though.
Rather, “the” question that you raised was whether anyone had made a conclusive claim that gasoline needs to be replaced because of climate change. My response was that this was a straw man, and that as far as I knew nobody had seriously linked climate change to a need to replace gasoline. I suggested you look at the reserves of coal as compared to other fossil fuels.
You seem to me to be trying very hard to change the subject that you raised, rather than looking at some of the “hard scientific data” you plaintively requested in #245.
Re:268 Hey, Rod, go ahead, challenge the scientists. However, unless you bring new evidence to the table or a new way of looking at the evidence we already have, you will not change the conclusion. Science welcomes all challengers who agree to play by the rules of science. That means you don’t short-circuit the peer review process by going directly to the press. It means you make your decisions based on the evidence you have. Let us know when you or the other “skeptics” are ready to play by those rules. I’ll even help you edit your paper and make suggestions of which journal to submit it to.
Requiring hard scientific evidence before making expensive policy decisions is foolishness? My burden is in providing evidence to the contrary? And you’re not expecting me to kiss your ring? Pure educational-elitism at work. Or rather not at work – still at school, as expected.
I’m not trying to disprove anything. I’m asking for evidence. I’m sure the globe is warming. And I’m sure human’s contribute. But if you have hard science, then make short term predictions under controlled circumstances and with agreed-upon methodology.
269: I’m trying not to start a cyclical warming argument. I’m trying to stick to the original WSJ propaganda argument – and that I find this site highly steeped in propaganda itself; religion guised in robes of science.
And please pardon my quotation marks, I’m certain no one here has ever suggested that a skeptic was a shill for Exxon-Mobile. Impossible. Unthinkable. Unimaginable.
[Response: Thanks. I also find that reading an opposing point of view is useful in figuring out how to reply. I would commend the same to you. To reiterate though, there is plenty of hard evidence for the physical science parts of this discussion (the evidence for continued warming, the role of greenhouse gases, aerosols, solar in climate change etc.). There isn’t hard scientific evidence that cap and trade systems are more efficient than a carbon tax, or which industry will produce the most important new technology in the future. I am more than willing to provide ‘hard science’ for any particular issue in climate science (but not climate policy). If you have specific requests, go ahead. Your suggestion for a short term prediction is not clear for what and for why. – gavin]
Comment by Edward A. Barkley — 11 Feb 2007 @ 5:12 PM
Sorry. It was I (not a scientist)who mentioned Exxon shills.
I am sorry for bringing it up, as it does seem to have inflamed the argument, just as the moderator pointed out to me when he censored some even more inflammatory remarks I made.
I am a designer, and in 40 years in my field I have learned that the most important determinant of success is that the faster you face a problem the better your chance of fixing it.
It is only too natural to deny the problem, ignore the intuition of unease, do nothing… But we are in danger of acting too late.
Please understand my impatience is bourne of my experience, a warning bell I recognised.
In 1988, James Hansen testified in congress about predictions of future temperature, based on climate models developed at NASA GISS. They made predictions for three scenarios. Scenario “A” was described as “on the high side of reality,” as it had rapid exponential growth of greenhouse gases and no volcanic eruptions. Scenario “C” was described as “a greater curtailment of greenhouse gases than it realistic.” These two scenarios were meant to give an idea of the upper and lower limits of possibility. Scenario “B” was based on a realist projection of greenhouse gases, and sprinkled three large volcanic eruption in the 50-year forecast period. This was the actual prediction.
Hansen’s team’s prediction, made nearly 20 years ago, has turned out to be right. Does this meet your standard of “short term prediction?”
Edward A. Barkley — I am not a climate modeler nor more than an amateur climatologist. However, I do have some experience building mathematical computer models upon which decision makers actually rely. While none of these were to be as complex as a climate model, nonetheless these were always validated against actual data before making any claims of the reliability of predictions. A typical but simple validation consists of dividing the available data into two parts. One part is the training set, used to set model parameters. The second part is the test set, used to determine the quality of model predictions.
I should be most surprised if climate modelers do not do something rather similar. If they have done so, then in effect your request for predictions has already been met.
Comment by David B. Benson — 11 Feb 2007 @ 6:29 PM
#269 A rapid answer.
Polar amplification : it seems a constant trait of warming period, whatever the cause of warming. Look at Arctic temperature 1916-45 on Nasa GISTEMP. Furthermore, recent studies suggest that aerosol/ice clouds could exert a radiative forcing similar to GHGs one on Arctic.
CO2 “sufficient explanation” : for which warming ? 1750-2005, 1850-2005, 1950-2005… I think that natural+anthropic forcings are necessary for simulate these trends in models. And please, give me a reference for emission of aerosols between 1950 and 2005 on Northern Hemisphere, so I’ll be sure models estimate of forcings balance for recent trends are really “robust”.
Weak point: when 2000 or so scientist confess low level of understanding of nearly all forcings except GHGs, I call that a weak point. You don’t. Explain me why. Another evident weak point is the scarcity of good measures, and the continuing debate over them, even in the satelitte era. RSS and UAH still differ on tropo / strato warming/cooling amplitude, Levitus / Lyman / Gourestki still debate of the ocean heat content, Willson (ACRIM), Frohlich (PMOD) and IRMB team still diverge on TSI reconstruction 1978-present, etc. etc.
IPCC SPM : 1850-2005 warming 0,57-0,95 K ; anthropic forcing 0,6-2,4 W/m2. Even a layman can understand that very different conclusions may arise according to the value you choose in these uncertainty ranges.
If there was really some cabal by biased liberal pseudo-scientists to raise everyone’s alarm by forecasting a global catastrophe, don’t you think they would have come up with a forecast that was undeniably catastrophic?
As it is, the best predictions of these scientists allow many people to argue that the warming isn’t going to be so bad, and should go ahead and continue to burn our fossil fuels. Surely, if the results were all being driven by ideology and ulterior motive, they would have come up with a prediction like 20-30 degrees c, or they would still be talking about a runaway greenhouse effect as a possibility, instead of a puny little 1.5-4.5 c increase for a doubling of co2. No?
Here is a scientific question (at least I have tried to define it that way) for the experts:
Susan K and many others here believe that it is very urgent to very aggressively attack the CO2 emission problem. Accept as given the IPCC consensus (on climate) and the consensus of economists (on discount rates and the preference of poor people, who will be richer in 30 years, to have necessities now). And Stern does not count; his report was not peer reviewed.
What scientific evidence do we have that says attacking the CO2 problem is universally urgent?
I am defining universally urgent here to include requiring the spending of resources on anything that will not significantly affect emissions 30 years from now. Examples of activities that would likely affect emissions in 30 years are: R&D on non-fossil energy, and capital spending on long term investments such as power plants. Something that would not is the gas mileage of a car bought this year.
It is interesting to see how the public constantly frets about cars when they represent a relatively small fraction of the greenhouse gas problem.
… I’d like to focus on the popular misconception that the climate change issue is primarily about gasoline and vehicles.
While these constitute a significant source of contemporary forcing, the fraction is likely to decline, simply because the supply of petroleum is likely to decline. The automobile is a convenient symbol for both sides of a lifestyle and culture debate, but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that it is not the core issue in climate forcing.
Most of the fossil carbon reserves are in the form of coal. If all the available coal is consumed, the world will be very seriously disrupted. …
The greenhouse problem is mostly about the coal.
Obama was recently in the news for backing coal-to-gasoline in the USA. The masses of the far East are, I think, buying the largest self-propelled private oil-burners they can afford, and if they develop coal-to-gasoline, that will be fairly large. So coal and cars seem strongly coupled to this member of the public.
David B. Benson. Like yourself, I know a little something about building mathematical computer models upon which policy decisions are made – mainly in the portion of the modeling process at which visual simulations are generated for interpretation of complex data. I expect that your last comment is quite correct. My experience tells me that such data is quite sensitive, however, because real world predictions about the short-term future (if proven wrong)can eliminate someone’s funding quite rapidly. And this is exactly why I am asking for it. I am being asked to believe that by the end of the century: (from #106)
“Rising sea levels accelerate as the Greenland ice sheet tips into irreversible melt, submerging atoll nations and low-lying deltas. In Peru, disappearing Andean glaciers mean 10 million people face water shortages. Warming seas wipe out the Great Barrier Reef and make coral reefs virtually extinct throughout the tropics. Worldwide, a third of all species on the planet face extinction”
…but, put simplistically, we won’t go out on a limb and predict where the water lines will be over the next five to ten years – because that is risky and measurable. If you criticize skeptics for generalization you must also criticize comment #106. In good-spirited truth everyone, I’m easy to deal with. I already believe that humans contribute to the warming of the globe. The task ahead of you is much greater.
For a matter of perspective only, I offer the following: A good friend of our family is a phd working for the Center for Disease Control. The color of his dire predictions for global destruction come in the form of malaria, the filovirus family, and new strains of incurable tuberculosis. Another friend of mine from school is a phD in Nuclear Physics with high-level clearances in places you can imagine. Even without specific details, lunch with him is always good for a weekend of sleeplessness and deep depression. As he likes to say, “People aren’t nearly afraid enough of weapons of mass destruction, but that will change.”
Everyone seems to have something of which I should be afraid. And I will always downplay such dire predictions, because I know that anything we study we also change. Our viewpoint of the entire globe can hardly be called objective.
#278 Quick note on your quick note
“If there was really some cabal by biased liberal pseudo-scientists to raise everyone’s alarm by forecasting a global catastrophe, don’t you think they would have come up with a forecast that was undeniably catastrophic?”
No “cabal”, no “pseudo-scientists” (and free to be “liberal” if they are). IPCC authors realize a very precious work when they summarize our current scientific knowledge on climate. What is much more questionable (IMO) is the level of confidence they put in models projections or attribution-detection. They are obliged to do so because governments gave them a “political” agenda (that is, express as quicckly as possible an opinion about a policy decisions). This science-politics confusion has been somewhat aggravated by media exaggerations / alarmism, putting pressure on climate scientists. All that is detrimental to scientific caution. (For media, I speak from my French / European experience, but it seems the case is a bit different in the USA).
AR4 SPM offers a new insight into this overconfidence. Projections of temperature 2100, for example, now include carbon cycle coupling and despite this new complexification suggest some “best estimates”. But how is it possible to extract any credible estimate whereas carbon cycle are still in their infancy, and each week or so brings a new discovery (see Barber and picoplankton in Science this week, or previously Smittennberg and ongoing buildup of refractory organic carbon, Zhou and carbon accumulation in old-growth forests, Keppler and CH4 emission from plant growth, etc., etc.) ?
Words like ‘capitulate,’ and ‘believe’ have no place in science. I shudder to think what would be if Copernicus, Galileo, or Newton had ‘capitulated’ and accepted some commonly-held belief rather than pursue science.
Science is a thought process (remember observation, interpretation, TEST!) ‘Skeptics’ are not villians; in fact they are the backbone of modern science. All scientists should be skeptics; that’s our job! Test, test, test,… PROVE!!!
#286 The real skeptics are skeptical of the “false sceptics” whose opinion is corrupted by self-interest e.g. taking money to say what they say despite the preponderance of evidence to the contrary, and the subscribers, who are just politically and ideologically prone to believing it. It’s classic confirmation bias.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 11 Feb 2007 @ 9:46 PM
RE # 286 “How has the scientific method been lost?”
It hasn’t – it is alive and working quite well in research laboratories and at scientific conferences around the world, and in the pages of peer-reviewed scientific journals. No one is suggeting that skepticism is bad. It’s just that the bulk of the skepticism about AGW seems to be coming from a very small number of climate scientists and a very large number of people who are not climate scientists, many of whom seem to have a conservative political bent (an interesting phenomenon in and of itself).
[Response: Indeed, this is more or less what we’ve said previously in our previous piece how to be a real skeptic. -mike]
Your question seems to assume that the CO2 emitted now is not relevant to the climate of 30 years from now (or thereafter). Much of the incremental CO2 emitted today will still be in the atmosphere then. What matters is the total CO2 emissions over the entire period. Only if it were known in advance that investment in future decreases is more cost-effective and fungible with car mileage now, might you be correct. Moreover, improvement in gas mileage now has 30 more years to accumulate an effect. If future improvements are to be better, they would have to be large enough to overcome that 30 year head start.
Re #273: You ask “Requiring hard scientific evidence before making expensive policy decisions is foolishness?” You’re setting up a blatant double standard here. Deciding not to do anything about rising CO2 is every bit as much a policy decision, and is potentially even more expensive. Why not play fair, and show us the hard scientific evidence for doing nothing?