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  1. It sounds like you took one for the team. We look forward to the podcast. One of Stott’s angles I find very curious is the notion that concern for AGW means a zero-sum lack of concern for the very poor two billion of our fellow humans. Where has Fred Singer been on say safe drinking water initiatives, or guinea worm eradication, or AIDS prevention, or eliminating agricultural subsidies that impoverish third-world farmers? (I am not picking on Dr. Fred; he’s just a case study). This whole argument seems to be the gotcha-du-jour of the denialist camp.

    Comment by David Graves — 15 Mar 2007 @ 1:49 AM

  2. …”cosmic ray argument was being used to fool them, which didn’t go over well – no-one likes being told they’re being had (especially when they are). “….

    I imagine you and the others would have been better served and heeded by
    a more intellectual crowd who relied on scientific journals for their science information
    rather than a crowd who inferred scientific credibility from such things as a pop media newspaper
    and a popular fictional author.

    Furthermore, in order to even got a point across to anyone at all, the audience has to have the ability to understand the message being given to them. Without that, the “wall” goes up
    and they tune out.

    Latitudinal variations of cloud and aerosol optical thickness trends based on MODIS satellite data
    Geophysical Research Letters 34 (5), 05810 (2007)
    doi/10.1029/2006gl028796
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2006gl028796
    “Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) global monthly data from the Terra satellite (MOD08_M3, Collection 4, from March 2000 to May 2006) indicated, with the exception of the tropics, declining trends in aerosol optical thickness (AOD) over much of the globe, in contrast to slightly increasing trends in cloud optical thickness (COT) at many latitudes. In the tropics, increasing AOD trends coincide with increasing COT trends. In the latitudinal distribution of COT, in the Northern Hemisphere, a transition from increasing to declining tendencies was observed between 40°N and 60°N. There is a pronounced hemispheric asymmetry in latitudinal variations of the averaged total AOD, in contrast to those of the averaged total COT. ”

    Can solar variability explain global warming since 1970?
    Journal of Geophysical Research 108 (a5), 1200 (2003)
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2002ja009753
    …”This comparison shows without requiring any recourse to modeling that since roughly 1970 the solar influence on climate (through the channels considered here) cannot have been dominant. In particular, the Sun cannot have contributed more than 30% to the steep temperature increase that has taken place since then, irrespective of which of the three considered channels is the dominant one determining Sun-climate interactions: tropospheric heating caused by changes in total solar irradiance, stratospheric chemistry influenced by changes in the solar UV spectrum, or cloud coverage affected by the cosmic ray flux. “”

    Atmospheric electric fields at the Kennedy Space Center, 1997â??2005: No evidence for effects of global warming or modulation by galactic cosmic rays Geophysical Research Letters 33 (10), 10814 (2006)
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2006gl025880

    Solar activity, cosmic rays, and Earth’s temperature: A millennium-scale comparison
    I G Usoskin et al.
    Journal of Geophysical Research 110 (a10), 10102 (2005)
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2004ja010946
    …”Comparison of the Sun-related data sets with various reconstructions of terrestrial Northern Hemisphere mean surface temperatures reveals consistently positive correlation coefficients for the sunspot numbers and consistently negative correlation coefficients for the cosmic rays. “…

    Clouds and Be: Perusing connections between cosmic rays and climate
    Clouds and sup7supBe Perusing connections between cosmic rays and climate
    Journal of Geophysical Research 111 (d2), 02208 (2006)
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2005jd005903
    …”The results indicate a coherent negative correlation between total cloud cover and 7Be on intraseasonal, seasonal, and decadal scales. Although the reasons behind this correlation are unclear, a full-scale implication of this feature is in the possible use of 7Be and 10Be records for proxy paleo-reconstruction of total cloud cover. This is a strongly needed, but generally difficult to quantify parameter in climate models.”

    Comment by BarbieDoll Moment — 15 Mar 2007 @ 2:33 AM

  3. I will listen to the podcast.

    It should be possible to be a scientist and still be a bit of a showman. I remember during an evolution debate decades ago, the “Creation Science” proponent talked about the odds against life forming spontaneously by mixing together a few organic chemicals with some energy. The local biology professor roared back dramatically “Oh ye of little faith!” and got a great audience reception.

    Perhaps some little “lab” experiments, with props, to demonstrate simple principles. It should be possible to be dramatic while being factually correct.

    Stott has a lot of gall. It is the denialists who are “explicitly rooting for misery and poverty in the third world”, not those of us who are advocating for energy efficiency and conservation. Global warming is the ultimate environmental justice issue–the poor of the world will suffer the consequences from climate change, and in many cases already are.

    Comment by Al S. — 15 Mar 2007 @ 3:04 AM

  4. It is all a bit sad really that the USA is still debating this subject when action is required to curb their emissions. The USA knows very little of the rest of the world, the denialists are being overtly political in their zest to seemingly help the third world, capatalism usually strips these places of resources leaving them with nothing.

    LEt us hope that congress and the senate etc and maybe the next US Government gets the message. 25% of all world emissions lie with the USA and a whole load more indirectly via Chin and India etc due to dumping of waste and goods with them. The UK is no better really.

    At least you tried but the USA loves celebrity more than it does the truth by the sounds of it.

    Comment by pete best — 15 Mar 2007 @ 3:19 AM

  5. Gavin,

    My manners. I’m sure you did a good job.

    Cheers

    Mike

    Comment by Mike Donald — 15 Mar 2007 @ 3:19 AM

  6. The general public is treated to such delights as:

    * Propaganda films forecasting 20 foot rises in sea level

    * Emotional TV advertisements like “tick tick tick save the planet from global warming… for the kids” and

    * and comparisons between Holocaust deniers and Global Warming skeptics.

    Now you’re surprised that skeptics are using emotional arguments to argue their side?

    If you want to keep emotion out of the debate, the time to start is when global warming advocates go overboard.

    If you only complain when the other side uses emotion, an uninformed observer might think its just sour grapes from somebody who was completely smoked in a debate.

    Comment by Jason — 15 Mar 2007 @ 3:27 AM

  7. To pass the time as we await the great debate’s NPR premier, here’s Google’s free link to “The Great Global Warming Swindle ” , I’ve also posted Carl Wunsch’s comments , but confess I am curious to know who is paying for all the terabytes of video bandwidth, as it’s 73 minutes long :

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 15 Mar 2007 @ 3:48 AM

  8. Jason (comment #3): ‘If you only complain when the other side uses emotion, an uninformed observer might think its just sour grapes from somebody who was completely smoked in a debate.’

    Well, quite. But then the people behind this website, and others such as Carl Wunsch, have made clear their dismay at those who infer too much from the science, have they not?

    Comment by Stewart Hunter — 15 Mar 2007 @ 4:11 AM

  9. Well done Gavin,

    like to hear the whole debate

    My take on the right wing objection to Global Warming is ‘Global Warming is wrong because it means big Government and extra taxes’

    Whereas the Stott line of argument ‘Global Warming is wrong because of the consequences our actions to limit it will have on the Third World’ and his style ‘Force of Nature’ (that’s quite polite – I’ve been on the receiving end a long time ago) is very much the Revolutionary Communist Party / Living Marxism line/style of argument.

    http://www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=78&page=L

    http://www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=126&page=S

    Interestingly, Stott also writes for Wired.

    Comment by PeteB — 15 Mar 2007 @ 4:16 AM

  10. I am afraid that GW is *not* about evidence at all (what more scientific evidence people want?), but it is more about experience…
    i.e. people tend to believe to things, which they can observe directly by themselves… for instance Inuits don’t need any evidence of warming, because they can already see it ;-)
    most of the Americans probably have not seen direct effects of GW, so there is no reson to believe it ;-)

    Comment by Alexander Ac — 15 Mar 2007 @ 4:51 AM

  11. Hi Gavin
    Over the last few days we were busy with publishing our report on climate change and impacts for Switzerland in 2050, which had a broad echo in the media. So just a short comment:

    Our experience and that of all the scientists we know is that public debates with sceptics or denialists are not useful at all. The fundemental problems of such debates are that 1. there is no time nor an opportunity to explain anything in detail and therefore no opportunity to explain why specific arguments are wrong; 2. the debated points are too complex to settle in a few words, thus you won’t have the chance to get it right; 3. in a field, where uncertainties are everywhere around, it is much easier to confuse people than to convince them 4. the audience has too less knowledge to distinguish between sound scientific arguments and rubbish statements.
    Thus the public will just learn that there are 2 (or more) people with a different opinion and believe the one they liked more or the one that has the same opinion than themselves.
    I know many scientists who refuse to join such debates (due to their experience and that of others). That would also be my advice.

    Comment by Urs Neu — 15 Mar 2007 @ 5:01 AM

  12. re #9

    Sorry – I’m getting mixed up-

    should say Stott also writes for Spiked

    Comment by PeteB — 15 Mar 2007 @ 5:12 AM

  13. Urs I agree with your points about debates. What about having a formal written internet debate instead?

    Comment by Fredrik — 15 Mar 2007 @ 5:44 AM

  14. I wouldn’t worry about the audience being turned off by your suggestion that they are being duped. You are the science authority, it is your responsibility to say the truth even if it is unpopular. I think the radio and podcast audience will be able to see that.

    While I agree that it gives the denialist camp legitimacy when scientists show up at debates like this, “the remedy to bad talk is more talk.” And as scientists we have a job to inform the public of what we know. So thanks for giving from your time and energy to do this last night Gavin.

    Besides, Michael Crichton’s sales pitch for his books was “Michael Crichton rhymes with frighten.” Who’s trying to scare who?

    Comment by Figen — 15 Mar 2007 @ 5:55 AM

  15. Re 7
    Gavin
    Sorry the link went missing- you can connect to the full ‘Swindle’ webcast at :
    http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2007/03/son_of_an_incon.html

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 15 Mar 2007 @ 5:59 AM

  16. I too think Urs is right about debates. But initiating a formal written internet debate at this time would probably seem like “sour grapes.”

    I think it’s fine for scientists to enter into public debate — but the scientists involved have to have charisma and showmanship. Where’s the modern-day Carl Sagan of climate science? It’s a pity that for the moment, people are more swayed by personality than facts — but the issue is indeed a crisis, so it’s important enough for us to find that personality and put it to good use.

    Eventually, of course, nature will “win the debate.” I hope it’s not too severe a smack-down.

    Comment by tamino — 15 Mar 2007 @ 6:10 AM

  17. Of course it’s now after the event but there will be more debates . . .
    Here are some arguments which rest on parallels and examples rather than the basic science.
    1) Pollution is not ‘poison’: pollution is ‘too much of something in the wrong place’ – just because CO2 is invisible and not ‘poisonous’, we can’t dump billions of tonnes of it in the atmosphere.
    2) The last great London smog hit in the 1950s and 1000s died in 2 weeks: when the Clean Air Act was introduced, there will have been huge complaints from the guys who sold dirty fuel, along with arguments from their experts that smog is good for you, and smog controls will destroy the economy.
    3) European cities used to be plagued by cholera and typhoid, until a massive public works problem was introduced to build underground sewers: again the same argument to oppose this ‘it’s too expensive and will damage the economy’.
    4) Vinod Khosla, founder of Sun Microsystems and venture capitalist: ‘There is no question in my mind that we (the United States) can replace 100 percent of our oil in the next 25 years. (Renewable energy) will make our economy better, it will be a cheaper fuel for consumers — notice, I didn’t say greener — I said cheaper. It will … cause a Silicon Valley-like economic boom in rural America, for the first time, which we are starting to see already.’
    This point is worth massive emphasis: GW deniers are blocking AMERICAN entrepreneurship and progress in energy research, they’re blocking energy independence. If they were in charge when the internet was introduced, they would be taking money from the typewriter industry to try and block it in its tracks.
    5) Following the GW debate globally, it is evident that Canada’s response has been disrupted because they are geographically / economically (auto vs oil sands) / politically split down the middle. The USA’s response has been dramatically reduced because (as I think said by Michael Mann) their continent has very variable and unstable weather systems so the warming trend has not been as evident in the daily weather as in Europe, China, Arctic, sub-Saharan Africa, Australia and anywhere that relies on glaciers for drinking water.
    6) The decider which will sway the opinions of the masses is the changing weather not the scientific debate: winters with no snow and summer heatwaves and water shortages are the real evidence. This implies we won’t respond properly until and unless serious damage is underway and visible. Can somebody chase up a news report from last year (?) about a meeting on (I think) GW and impact on climate in Washington DC that had to be cancelled because the building was flooded.
    7) The top 3 oil companies made $60 billion last year in profits: did that lead to clean water or low-cost energy in Africa? Of course not.
    8) if your neighbourhood is expanding, do you want a big old-school dirty coal plant, or do you want a mix of solar, wind and clean coal combined with introduction of low-energy appliances (NIMBY = Not In My Back Yard)?
    9) Ted Turner, founder of CNN, wants to phase out fossil fuels. Also Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McCain, David Cameron (leader of UK Conservative Party), Swiss Re, Munich Re, GE, Walmart, BP, Shell might not agree that this whole issue was invented by looney leftie greenies. Again, this point deserves EMPHASIS: it’s impossible to find a common political agenda among those who take AGW seriously. The Chinese government takes AGW seriously because it will impact THEM, short and simple. They are presiding over the fastest growing and soon-to-be most powerful economy in the world, and have NO incentive to invent random enviro-problems: they are deeply concerned about the real enviro-problems such as lack of clean drinking water, expanding deserts and climate change.
    10) Any discussion of clean drinking water (a la Stott) will inevitably have to deal with shrinking glaciers.

    Comment by Ed Sears — 15 Mar 2007 @ 6:48 AM

  18. It sometimes seems to me as if climate scientists are painfully recapitulating the lessons learned by evolutionary biologists in their political and media battles with creationists. For many years now, Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education has been recommending against scientists’ participation in public “debates” organized by “creation science” advocates. You’re guaranteed a hostile audience and a rhetorical ambush of some sort, your mere presence legitimates the proceedings, and they can always count it as a win with some justification afterwards.

    Of course, it’s a bit of a lose-lose situation since not going invites the “what are they afraid of?” response, but you can always explain what you’re afraid of in fora more sympathetic to reasoned discussion.

    Comment by Matt McIrvin — 15 Mar 2007 @ 7:17 AM

  19. Gavin, one piece of advice we probably should have given you was to watch the movie, “Thank You For Smoking”. A common tactic for the morally reprehensible is to put their opponents on the defensive, and since nobody seems to want to think of themselves as part of the elite or to confront the hypocrisy in their own lives, lumping ones opponents into the hypocritical elite, latte-swilling… is effective.
    Crichton is beneath contempt. Stott may indeed be truly concerned about the poor billions in the developing world–not so much that he’d set foot in a Calcutta slum, but concerned nonetheless. It might be interesting next time he pulls such a tactic to pass the hat for Oxfam on stage.
    I’ve actually got a little bit of experience with development, having spent time in West Africa in the Peace Corps. I lived well (not extravagantly, but well) among the impoverished. I did not go hungry even as I passed through villages with hungry children. I had my own transport (albeit a dirt bike) in a region where transport is scarce and challenging. Hypocritical? No, because I was using all these things to try to improve things.
    The thing we have to realize is that the course our climate takes over the next century is inextricably linked to development. If we in the west cut our carbon emissions even to zero while ignoring development, our efforts will fail, because the Chinese and Indians will burn their plentiful, but dirty coal. Peasants in Africa, Indonesia and South America will destroy the rain forests as they try to scratch out a bare existence.
    The alternative is to develop ways of meeting the energy needs–from industrial cities to tiny villages–and ensure that they represent an economical solution that empowers greater productivity.

    It is not a choice between mitigation of climate concerns and prosperity and development. They are coupled problems and the solution has to be general.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Mar 2007 @ 7:33 AM

  20. Re 18: I believe perhaps what is needed is someone to play the role of Thomas Huxley (known as Darwin’s bulldog) to popularize the science to the public. Perhaps a bit of hellfire and brimstone–all of it backed by scientific plausibility, of course, may not be misplaced.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Mar 2007 @ 7:38 AM

  21. What Urs and Tamino said.

    And the point made by Matt in 18 is instructive – we can comfortably preach to the choir, or we can try to get a message out somehow.

    We hold up Great Communicators in our societies, as they are so few and far between. We call it ‘cult of personality’ when these few are convincing and can move masses to action.

    The great difficulty for scientists is making their information actionable, which requires it to be understandable and then compelling, which galvanizes to action (provided the outcomes are desirable). Why were the messages from the skeptic group so resonant? That is the question. The status quo is comfortable and making scary changes into the unknown is anything but compelling or desirable.

    We do not train our scientists to be compelling, thus we get things like Gavin’s regrets above in this post (BTW, a PR person would trumpet the walking vs SUV bit to high heaven, with a brass band and svelte models pointing to a graph).

    Best,

    D

    Comment by Dano — 15 Mar 2007 @ 7:53 AM

  22. Don’t feel too bad. You’re d***ed if you do, d***ed if you don’t: if you present the science (as you did), people are turned off because they don’t like things that are difficult to understand. If you present the science with charisma and emotion (al la Al Gore), you get panned for being alarmist and overblown (a la Broad). Its a lose-lose scenario. Perhaps litigation, and the real estate and insurance markets are more appropriate fora for conveying climate change impacts to the general public. Lawsuits, prices, and premiums are visceral and comprehensively understood: just keep publishing scientific findings.

    Comment by Mark Chopping — 15 Mar 2007 @ 8:01 AM

  23. “It sometimes seems to me as if climate scientists are painfully recapitulating the lessons learned by evolutionary biologists in their political and media battles with creationists”.

    I think there’s a big difference though – it’s impossible to ever disprove the creationist case. With AGW you have to believe that the ultimate arbiter of this debate will be the climate, not an opinion poll.

    Comment by AndrewM — 15 Mar 2007 @ 8:06 AM

  24. Re: 16
    I too think Urs is right about debates. But initiating a formal written internet debate at this time would probably seem like “sour grapes.”

    I agree about debates, but I disagree about the internet debate. In one sense, that debate happens here. Some readers can be counted on to mention contrary facts or beliefs which the RealClimate gurus often answer with clarity and style. What might be useful (and may exist, although I haven’t seen it) would be a more structured summary of the issue. To an extent this simply will be a rearrangement of the content here and in the IPCC reports, but it will likely require new content as well.

    I’m thinking of the major topics: Is the climate warming? How responsible is human activity for that warming? What actions can we take in response? What are the costs of taking or not taking these actions?

    For each topic list the 10 or so major answers with links to published papers on the subject PLUS links to contrary opinions and rebuttal of same. Be generous here so that the uninformed will not feel you are trying to pull a fast one on them. Think of this as the place to send anyone who wants to understand this issue better. I know some will say that RC is that place now, but I think it lacks a good starting point for getting the broad overview. I also think the comprehensive view of global warming demands the same attention to the economic/moral/political issues that the climate science issues receive here.

    Comment by Bob Arning — 15 Mar 2007 @ 8:15 AM

  25. Forget live debates. The internet provides a much better opportunity to get across the complex issues involved. But it is apparent to me that it is not being used to anywhere near its potential by climate scientist. RealClimate is great, but it is too technical for the average punter and the blog style is rather demanding of the user and makes you have to work at getting at the information. The How to talk to a climate skeptic site is very readable, but the title alone will put off an interested but skeptical person. The IPCC website is a dog’s breakfast.

    The climate science community really needs to create a site that lays out the the theories and the facts in a clear and concise manner, that provides links back to the primary literature and research organizations, and which somehow allows all these nameless scientists who represent the ‘consensus’ to emerge from their labs and be clearly visible to the public and to be able to transparently demonstrate their agreement (or not) with the various facets of the science. Right now they’re all but invisible, along with the details of much of what they do, which leaves the public arena wide open to the fringe dwellers on both sides of the debate.

    There is an opportunity here for a brilliant web developer to make a major contribution toward saving the planet. Any volunteers?

    Comment by Craig Allen — 15 Mar 2007 @ 8:18 AM

  26. It’s increasingly clear that this kind of debate is of little value to anybody. (Gosh, what does that tell us about Presidential elections? Better not go there!)

    I would hope that from now on, any scientist asked to “debate” the likes of Crichton et al. in a public forum should reply to the debate planner: “But the debate has already been held. By thousands of scientists and other experts over dozens of years, including many hundreds of carefully organized week-long intense discussions. Culminating in the IPCC reports. It is irresponsible to pretend that a one hour debate in front of an ignorant audience can add anything to that.”

    Comment by Spencer — 15 Mar 2007 @ 8:21 AM

  27. Unfortunately the contrarians are much more likely to win these kinds of debates. Unlike scientists they are not people who are looking for the facts and looking to prove things.

    The contrarians are looking to sway people and if that means ignoring the facts or lying they have no problems with that. Once they decide that facts are no longer important it becomes much easier to win these debates.

    Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 15 Mar 2007 @ 8:24 AM

  28. Gavin- Interesting, thanks. One comment, you write:

    “We are scientists, and we talk about science and we’re not going start getting into questions of personal morality and wider political agendas”

    Then why participate in a public debate about a political issue?

    And I find the next comment hard to square with your eshewing of issues of personal morality:

    “One minor detail that might be interesting is that the organisers put on luxury SUVs for the participants to get to the restaurant – 5 blocks away. None of our side used them (preferring to walk), but all of the other side did.”

    Political debates become “scientized” when scientists try to have it both ways — They say they want to stick to science, but at the same time want to be involved in political advocacy, typically occupying some position of authority. Similarly, in this case at once you eschew personal morality as an issue but invoke it readily in your defense.

    Lets face it, climate change is a political and moral issue and that simply cannot be avoided, even by scientists!

    [Response: I participated because there are still many people who don't know what the science is saying and any decrease in the general level of ignorance is a good thing in and of itself. It is one thing to be fully aware of an issue and not act, it is something quite different if you do not act because you don't know what is happening. If I am an advocate, it is for advocating that people ought to know the facts before they make decisions. My position of authority (what little remains!) is based on the science, and so I mostly talk about science because people mainly ask me to. It's precisely because I stick to what I know, that it is easy for the much more politicised antis to make such hay. I mention the SUV issue just because it struck me as ironic - I have neither eschewed all fossil energy use nor do I advocate that others do. In what sense is that a defense? What to do about climate change is indeed a political and moral issue - but the fact of its existence is not. You surely cannot be advocating that I must become an expert in all the ramifications and policy options available and come to some decision about my preferred choices before I tell people what I think climate sensitivity is? In any case, wait for the podcast to hear what I said, before you accuse me of falsely parlaying my scientific expertise. - gavin]

    Comment by Roger Pielke, Jr. — 15 Mar 2007 @ 8:25 AM

  29. RE # 19 Ray, your thoughtful comment included:

    [The thing we have to realize is that the course our climate takes over the next century is inextricably linked to development.]

    That profound statement is lost in the noise of impacts of AGW on planet ecosystems. As compelling a concern as ecosystem collapse may be, the immediate fact is that the world poor must and will develop by whatever means they can. If environmentalists fail to wake up to the economic development component of the global warming battle, they will never bring third world countries into their camp.

    The South does not trust the North to stand up for their interests in international climate negotiations. Just see how much the North countries are actually contributing to disaster relief around the globeâ??or foreign aid budgets for that matter.

    When nearly 2 billion inhabitants have little or no access to electricity in this Mars-landing century, we truly have our priorities in reverse.

    Yes, Lomborg/Stott-types exploit third world poverty to their denialist advantage. But, our childrens future depends upon our generation reversing two critical trends — rising temperatures and the widening gap between haves and have nots.

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 15 Mar 2007 @ 8:45 AM

  30. Well, we did tell you that Stott, Cricheton and Lindzen would talk past you. It is the nature of such things. It was also thoroughly predictable that they would try the jet thing.

    So, you need a tactic like turning to Lindzen and saying, Dick, I have a bet for you. I’ll put up ($1000 or something) that GISTEMP will be up XC in this many years, you can take the under, AND if you win, you can give the money to Phil for charity. Now I know you’ve turned down the bet when it was offered to you by Brian Schmidt and you had some strange counter. etc.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 15 Mar 2007 @ 8:54 AM

  31. Re #25
    “The climate science community really needs to create a site that lays out the the theories and the facts in a clear and concise manner [...] There is an opportunity here for a brilliant web developer to make a major contribution toward saving the planet. Any volunteers?”

    I hope that volunteers who talk about the climate science community “saving the planet” will be gently shown the exit. The last thing the planetWeb needs is another emotional, hyperbolic, unscientific, partisan site about AGW.

    Comment by Vinny Burgoo — 15 Mar 2007 @ 9:01 AM

  32. Regarding your comment “We are scientists, and we talk about science and we’re not going start getting into questions of personal morality and wider political agendas – and obviously that put us at a sharp disadvantage,” scientists are also people and have as much right to proffer their personal morality as anyone. To take a “holier than thou” attitudes on this does, unnecessarily, put you at a disadvantage – people tend to not have as much respect for the opinions of those they perceive as not saying all they feel or believe.

    Comment by George Ortega — 15 Mar 2007 @ 9:10 AM

  33. First and foremost, many thanks to RC for fighting the good fight. We desperately need as many experts with a conscience as we can find, and clearly there are some here. If I had an emoticon for a boisterous standing ovation, I’d include it here.

    This whole issue of how you can effective reach out to non-scientists is something I wrestle with every day on my energy awareness site, The Cost of Energy.

    One advantage I have over those talking full-time about AGW is that my readers are experiencing the changing nature of the world energy market and situation firsthand–they’re paying more for gasoline, electricity, and natural gas. So they know for a fact something big is afoot long before they find my site.

    I’ve been talking more lately about AGW on my site (just ask the hate mailers), and it’s a much tougher “sell.” I’m now convinced (as are others here, obviously) that we need a better, more mainstream friendly way to present the situation, while still remaining 100% true to the underlying science. Is it as simple as finding the right spokesperson, plus a grant or other funding to let him or her work on the issue full-time? Perhaps.

    I don’t think Al Gore is the person for the job. I’ve been a supporter of his for nearly 20 years, and while his personality transplant seems to have taken quite nicely, he just barely misses the bull’s eye, in my opinion. If we could get Angelina Jolie to adopt a few wind turbines, however…

    Comment by Lou Grinzo — 15 Mar 2007 @ 9:13 AM

  34. Thanks Gavin- You are correct that my response was to your post, not the debate, which I have not heard.

    You accepted an invitation to debate whether or not global warming is a “crisis” which by definition is a function of values. If you were there to do something other than advocate that side of the debate that you were on, then I’d agree with you that such events are not worth doing.

    You ask, “You surely cannot be advocating that I must become an expert in all the ramifications and policy options available and come to some decision about my preferred choices before I tell people what I think climate sensitivity is?”

    If the debate that you participated in was about “climate sensitivity” then I’d agree with you 100%. But it wasn’t; it was about whether or not climate change is a “crisis” — a question that depends a great deal on a lot more than facts.

    Scientists who say that they eschew considerations of policy and values in political settings when arguing against committed political advocates are either arguing with one hand tied behind their back (as you suggest, and I agree), or worse, opening the door for all of the values debates to ride on the back of the science.

    Thanks for the exchange . . .

    [Response: I disagree. A crisis 'is a decisive moment or turning point' and I think my knowledge of climate sensitivity (to use a shorthand) is sufficient to assess whether this is a decisive moment - that is a scientific call, not a value judgement. The crisis comes from the long lead times in infrastructure, concentrations and climate response. Whether GW is a crisis is independent of all other crises, and also independent of anyone's prioritising of those other crises. -gavin]

    Comment by Roger Pielke, Jr. — 15 Mar 2007 @ 9:21 AM

  35. In response to the loads of creationist misinformation evolutionists have created the popular Talk.Origins http://www.talkorigins.org/ website wherein relevant information is categorized neatly and updated all the time. And it has more than a few contributers and its own peer review process. You might use that as a model. Make it then advertise it far and wide. But don’t be surprised when the professional denialists create a similar one to try to debunk it as creationists have with their True Origins website http://www.trueorigin.org/.

    Fact is, as long as there’s big bucks in preserving the status quo you can expect there to be vocal opposition. They’re not going to go away no matter the evidence. They will use every possible argument (even when they themselves know those arguments suck) at their disposal ad naseum. The best one can do is to appeal to honest, give them all the information and hope it catches on but be prepared for the reality that until the climate really begins to change for them your message may just fall on deaf ears.

    Comment by Ron R. — 15 Mar 2007 @ 9:42 AM

  36. Would a “debate” published in a peer-reviewed journal be useful? I’m not quite sure how it would work, but you could have Lindzen write on, say, climate sensitivity, and then have somebody like I dunno, Annan, write on it as well. Then get the cosmic ray guys and their debunkers, then get the sun is getting hotter people and get someone who has debunked that, then get the global warming ended in 1998 people and someone who has debunked that, etc. I don’t think you could hold a back and forth debate in press like this because it would likely never see the light of day, but you could publish a stack of papers by the key players and they’d all have some idea of what each other was going to write.I think that would be more interesting than a snappy patter contest.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 15 Mar 2007 @ 9:54 AM

  37. Re: 19 I too was a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, and struggled with the issue of hypocrisy living well (on $75/month) among the very poor –and I had to reach the same conclusion: it is not possible to live at the lowest level and have the resources to help solve important problems.

    Which leads us to the 800 pound gorilla in the room, (no offense Al): Although not a scientist, and roundly criticised for that, Mr. Gore has done a very good job, in my opinion, of popularizing the science. True, we need a Sagan, but I think that if scientists engage with Mr. Gore to keep him current and refine his statements, there is a widely listened-to popularizer and explainer of the serious issues. Maybe it could even affect the actions of “deciders”, though clearly the hard-core folks will be loathe to change their story at this juncture.

    Comment by Russell Gaulin — 15 Mar 2007 @ 9:55 AM

  38. This whole Pielke “sciencetized” and blah, blah, blah, is just nonsene run amuck. If I go to a doctor who tells me that I have cancer and then lays out the possible options for therapy, that person is not becoming a “political advocate” (to use Pielke’s favored tag line). And if a contractor hires and engineering firm to examine the foundation of a building, that firm is not a “political advocate” once it recommends actions to strengthen the concrete and fill in cracks.

    Pielke’s whole line of reasoning is simply a tranparent attempt to reduce every scientist to an “advocate” or better yet, a “political advocate.” Because if people ever get the idea that it’s all just politics, then Pielke can wade into the discussion on which he has published few peer-reviewed studies and make a claim for authority.

    Comment by Thom — 15 Mar 2007 @ 9:56 AM

  39. “But it wasn’t; it was about whether or not climate change is a “crisis” — a question that depends a great deal on a lot more than facts.”

    What else does it depend on, other then the definition of crisis (which essentially is a ‘fact’ itself)? Given an objective definition of crisis, the only thing that matters is the facts. For instance, if we define crisis to be an event leading to substantial death (and then quantify substantial), then only the facts matter in determining whether GW is a crisis (i.e. whether GW will or will not cause X number of deaths).

    You’re confusing issues here. Morality and values only come into play when determining whether we should do something about a crisis (or even about a non-crisis). For example, whether we value life or not, or whether we value the present more than the future, etc.

    Comment by LogicallySpeaking — 15 Mar 2007 @ 10:07 AM

  40. Climate Skeptics Continue to Bark, Even Though Caravan Has Moved On

    RE: 26. I’m not sure it’s going to be necessary to turn down AGW debates in the future. The recent spate of coverage that spiked with the SPM report may have signalled the end. Just like the end of a bear or a bull market, you can only tell for certain after it’s over.

    Why would it be over? The IPCC summary said its conclusions were more than 90 percent certain. That’s well beyond more likely than not, the standard for a civil judgment and approaching if not already equivalent to beyond a reasonable doubt and the 95% confidence of a statistical test that defines the mean value of a set of data.

    OK, that’s the legal and mathematical argument. But the real reason I believe that the debate has already shifted is that while the media will cover controversial stories and even false stories indefinitely, one thing that editors and producers draw the line at is OLD NEWS.

    The skeptics have had more than ample opportunity to present their case in brief TV and newspaper interviews and in more lengthy magazine and TV documentary formats. And a confused and scientifically ignorant public has still largely bought into the phony argument that there is sufficient uncertainty to question AGW.

    But the “Old News” problem is rapidly catching up with them. Fewer and fewer news outlets are going to be interested in inviting the likes of Pat Michaels, Richard Lindzen, Michael Crichton, etc. to espouse their views, since producers and editors don’t want to look like fools down the road. Plus, these guys are really not qualified to discuss impacts or mitigation options, the next media battlegrounds.

    Lou Dobbs of CNN announced some time ago that his program had already decided AGW was a problem and guests who came on to talk about GW had to be prepared to accept that as a given. Likewise, NPR ran a program in February on what it will cost to fight global warming and said that the discussion would be based on the assumption that AGW was a real and a serious problem.

    This led to some uncomfortable moments for the skeptic guests. William Gray on Lou Dobbs in February managed to get in a few off topic points, that computer modelers don’t understand the weather like the real weathermen and that he thought the IPCC report was a gross exaggeration. Nonetheless, he was asked to discuss mitigation strategies, not his area of expertise. Conclusion. William Gray probably not going to be invited on any more shows to talk about impacts and mitigation.

    On the NPR program, Jonah Goldberg from National Review was forced to accept the AGW premise after quickly getting in his view that it wasn’t as serious a problem as IPCC or Gore had said. His argument then became that it would be a better use of capital to solve poverty, drinking water and health problems in the developing world than to impose carbon limits.

    How much more of the TV4 crapola is in the pipeline is anybody’s guess, but documentaries generally take 6 months to a year to produce before they air and one must wonder how many producers are gearing up to refute AGW in a TV program when the audience may be nonexistent by the time it airs.

    Why nonexistent? Because the next IPCC report is expected to include some very dire forecasts of impacts. And then after that comes the mitigation report. How can the media cover those without accepting the conclusions of the first report?

    In the U.S., it is likely that until the president of the U.S. goes on TV and states flat out that this is a serious problem that has to be addressed, many people will still be influenced by the disinformation campaign of the skeptics and their corporate masters. This president won’t appear on TV and make that statement, although his credibility is so low it might hurt rather than help. The next one probably will have to and the wannabes will all have to state their positions clearly.

    I don’t think it’s time for realclimate to morph into realimpacts or realengineering, but that is where the debate is headed.

    Those websites that track or can track media stories ought to take a look at this and see if I am correct. So hang on to that Google copy of the Swindled “documentary.” It may be a collector’s item. As for who pays for the bandwidth on those huge files, Google does, but I hear they get a good discount, plus they sell ads.

    Comment by Alvia Gaskill — 15 Mar 2007 @ 10:23 AM

  41. Very interesting dialog above (28 & 34) with Roger Pielke, Jr. As usual, Dr. Schmidt, you splendidly model a useful scientific philosophy in your responses. The world desperately needs your passion for objectivity, for detachment from the entanglements Pielke rhetorically scatters in your path, because in order to decide how to deal with a problem, it’s usually advantageous to understand the problem as clearly as possible.

    This is not to say that clear moral conclusions may be drawn (usually not by the scientist) from an understanding which results from scientific observations. For instance, a previous posting mentioned the alleged outrage of comparing global warming to the Holocaust. This is automatic hot-button dynamite, guaranteed to get everybody upset and forgetting about objectivity. But detached reasoning has something to say about questions like this. In this case, the question is ultimately: how does ecocide compare with genocide? By definition, the answer is that the former is much larger, more significant and dangerous, than the latter. Extinction, of course, is a component of ecocide and entails genocide.

    Comment by Daniel C. Goodwin — 15 Mar 2007 @ 10:29 AM

  42. Gavin,

    I agree with Roger. If you are going to participate in public forums on global warming you are going to have to participate in the full theater of the event.

    Know your audience. Simply showing the science is not enough and crying foul over “entertainment vs. science” is ultimately a strategy of defeat. It sounds like the “other side” of the debate brought two strong entertaining public personalities and Lindzen for legitimacy. The lack of appreciation (even rejection) amongst climate scientist for the need of a strong, entertaining personality to present what we know keeps the story form being fully appreciated. You can see this playing out in how much more seriously the public took notice of the issue after Gore’s film.

    We scientists are not well trained in this sort of thing it is true but either we have to get better at it, do a tag team with some entertaining yet convincing personality (a la what you just experienced from the other side) or pass on the opportunity (which itself would be a statement in the public arena).

    Comment by Ken — 15 Mar 2007 @ 10:35 AM

  43. I think Roger P. just played his political hand. One can hold two thoughts at the same time. Clmate Change is real and denying it is a fool’s errand. That’s not advocating anything but recognition of reality. What to do about it is another separate matter, so bravo Gavin. That’ what I would have said and have on the job before. Happily, the boss liked it so it is possible to be convoncing on the first issue and the leave the second off the table.

    RE#25 “But it is apparent to me that it is not being used to anywhere near its potential by climate scientist.”

    Well Craig you keep saying this, but can’t you click through the indexed categories that answer all the questions lay persons ask? Are they really this fragile and so “hornswoggled” by propaganda, to borrow Ray’s good word, that they can’t assimilate direct answers? Why?

    Comment by Mark A. York — 15 Mar 2007 @ 10:38 AM

  44. Once again, Roger Pielke Jr. tries to turn a scientific question (one that has important ramifications, sure) into a political one. It’s easy to see that this is nonsense if we look at questions like ‘what controls the climate on Mars or on Jupiter?’ – that’s clearly a scientific question, that can only be answered using scientific methods.

    The reason that the topic has become politicized is also one that Roger is avoiding, as is Stott – the fact is that renewable energy can replace fossil fuels. Pielke and Stott make the unexamined claim that restrictions on fossil fuel use will simply raise the price of fossil fuels and thus the poor of the world will suffer, and there will also be economic havoc in the developed world.

    This ignores the vast potential of renewable energy to replace fossil fuels in all applications; if we say ‘the vast potential of renewable energy to capture energy markets from tradition fossil fuel suppliers’ then it becomes clear why the issue has been politicized – what you will have is economic upheaval and large changes in the way the global economy operates. That’s the actual issue behind global warming politics, one with RP Jr. seems to ignore.

    The Third World has everything to gain from renewable energy; much of the developing world lies near the equatorial sun belt; all of Africa could turn to solar and wind, as could Asia, Central/South America, etc. However, the development and spread of renewable technology has been hampered by lack of funding (deliberate) in the US academic system – this is starting to change, but far too slowly. This suppression of renewable energy research has been going on since 1980.

    A previous comment noted that the tobacco industry struggle against science lasted for thirty years, and that we don’t have thirty years to spare – but the fossil fuel industry’s struggle against climate science and renewable energy science has already been going on for almost thirty years. Take a look at “The Carbon Wars: Global Warming and the End of the Oil Era, by Jeremey K. Leggett for a real political analysis and history of the situation.

    Crighton’s comments on ‘personal responsibility’ simply ape those of the tobacco industry; secondhand smoke was the issue that killed that PR tactic off. We all breathe the same air, we all live on the same planet, so dealing with global warming will take a coordinated, cooperative global effort to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 15 Mar 2007 @ 10:49 AM

  45. Re comment No.4 “It is all a bit sad really that the USA is still debating this subject when action is required to curb their emissions.” So debate is bad? USA is bad and dumb? Despite what you read in the papers and hear on the news, there is no “consensus” on the anthropogenic forcing issue. And since when was science by consensus anyway. There are lots of scientists still skeptical about man’s impact on climate change, the rate of change, and the consequences. And that is OK. But we should all see the strategic, economic and environmental value in re-engineering our energy budget. Imagine not being hostage to middle-east oil and despots. Imagine the poor in Africa having access to unlimited energy. It is the USA that will lead the way. It is the USA that spends by far the most on climate science, earth science, and alternative energy research. And it will be the USA that will, hopefully, remain a bastion for democratic debate. Unless of course, close-minded folks yelling at the top of their lungs manage to have their way. Personally, itâ??s kind of cool to watch people with no idea what their talking about hyperventilate away like a volcano. Now that is what is sad; like watching a train wreck horrified yet fascinated. But as Gavin pointed out, this can be both entertaining and educational. So letâ??s pause and reflect; debate is good, USA is good.

    Comment by Ed Dullaghan — 15 Mar 2007 @ 10:49 AM

  46. Re: 37. Good to hear from another RPCV. I am afraid that Mr. Gore may be too polarizing to be an effective messenger for audiences beyond the choir. I agree that for a layman (or maybe because he’s a layman), he’s done a pretty reasonable job with the science and making it accessible. However, he arouses an irrational and very deep antipathy among many further to the right on the political spectrum. By all means, he should continue to give his spiel, but he may need help from others. I wonder if we could recruit some responsible voices from the right to make a case for responsible policy–James Baker, maybe and or Jeff Immelt of GE have been fairly responsible voices who see the opportunity as well as the risk.
    As someone who has to advise program managers about very specialized and technical risks that they usually do not understand, my advice would be:
    1)Be aware that your risk is only one of many
    2)All you can do is provide the manager/policy maker with sufficient information and understanding to assess the relative importance of your risk relative to others
    3)The fact that you cannot quantify your risk with 100% uncertainty does not mean that it is not a concern–rather it means that it is a cause for great concern, and the policy maker needs to be aware of the full range of possible outcomes and whatever you can say about their probabilities of occurrence.
    4)Do not prescribe a “solution” to the problem based on your own limited knowledge of relative risks. You can advise on feasibility of possible solutions based on your understanding of the problem. In particular, it is important for the policy maker to understand how rapidly the solution has to be found and implemented and what the constraints have to be if it is to be effective.
    5)Keep a doomsday file–policy makers have a way of pointing fingers at those who advised them when their decisions have adverse consequences.

    So, yes, scientists do get involved in policy and politics. However, we cannot be expected to understand the economics, political constraints etc. that policy makers operate under. What we can do is ensure that we provide the best advice on the full possible range of consequences that policies will have and ensure that those who implement these policies will be held accountable in the public mind even if the consequences are realized long after they are gone.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Mar 2007 @ 10:53 AM

  47. The theory is that more and more CO2 makes us hotter….. seems simple enough to test this, take a closed biosphere apply a constant light/heat source and then increment the CO2 and measure the result at various levels of CO2.

    World may get greener, then wilt, due warming
    OSLO (Reuters) – Global warming is expected to turn the planet a bit greener by spurring plant growth but crops and forests may wilt beyond mid-century if temperatures keep rising, according to a draft U.N. report.

    Scientists have long disputed about how far higher temperatures might help or hamper plants — and farmers — overall. Plants absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, as they grow and release it when they rot.
    http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=scienceNews&storyid=2007-03-15T113926Z_01_L14455110_RTRUKOC_0_US-GLOBALWARMING-GREEN.xml&src=rss&rpc=22

    Comment by lars — 15 Mar 2007 @ 11:01 AM

  48. Re: #41 Ed Dullaghan ….. exactly……

    Comment by lars — 15 Mar 2007 @ 11:04 AM

  49. Pielke’s choice of topic to chastise is interesting. Doting on the science is troubling, but railing against limousine liberals private jet use isn’t. The imperfect is the enemy of the irrelevant.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 15 Mar 2007 @ 11:08 AM

  50. Re 41: So, Ed, no consensus? Then how about you finding, say, a dozen peer-reviewed papers written by climate scientists that raise serious questions about anthropogenic causation. I agree that the USA COULD be part of the solution. Unfortunately, right now, it is doing very little to resolve the issue. Ethanol is less about energy than it is about subsidies to corn growers–it’s actually an energy-negative program. I’m 100% behind you when you say that the USA is a necessary part of the equation. Let’s work toward putting people in office (regardless of party) who will work for a solution, rather than ignoring the problem.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Mar 2007 @ 11:13 AM

  51. Thom (#38)-

    You’ve badly mischaracterized my views. If you are in fact interested in what my views actually are on science in policy and politics you can find them here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Honest-Broker-Making-Science-Politics/dp/0521694817

    Thanks.

    Comment by Roger Pielke, Jr. — 15 Mar 2007 @ 11:17 AM

  52. Re 41 Ed Dullaghan debate is good, USA is good.

    Debate is less good when public policy is dominated by the inaction of excessive deliberation or by the arbitrary imposition of political power.

    Sometimes USA is good; sometimes USA not so good.

    Comment by Mateo — 15 Mar 2007 @ 11:43 AM

  53. Despite what you read in the papers, there is a consensus. e.g. NAS/NRC, AMS, AAAS, Geophysical Union, and, of course, the IPCC. Given the stakes and the time constraints, policymakers and the public would be fools to disregard the opinion of virtually every scientific body that matters in favor of more “debate.”

    Comment by cce — 15 Mar 2007 @ 12:02 PM

  54. Thanks Gavin for giving us such rapid feedback report on the “debate” and doing all you do for the scientific community. I was indeed curious.

    I wonder if you were “debating” hard science in a place where science should not be debated…(it should perhaps only be debated in the juried peer-reviewed scientific journals where provable evidence is used).

    Outside of journals, people can just make up false evidence and debate reality with it…and win.

    A publizer prize winning reporter named a book chapter “The Battle for the Control of Reality” in his expose book about industry and politics interfering with the evidence of climate change science in a recent book titled the “The Heat is On.”(By publizer prize winning author Ross Gelbspan)

    To me, last night’s “debate” was indeed part of that larger battle for the control of reality…where reality could not be either proved or disproved to the audience (unlike in scientific juried peer-reviewed journals- where that is the whole point).

    I hope the “debate” is not “edited” by the denialists and distributed publicly as propaganda.

    Indeed, I feel that evidence was not debated last night…just reality…and I guess they won.

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 15 Mar 2007 @ 12:08 PM

  55. I consider myself more worried about anthropogenic change than most other scientists, but in a debate like this I would still have trouble defending the affirmative. The question of whether we are yet in “crisis” forces a defense of a position that is already a bit outside the scientific mainstream. Just before I gave up on sci.environment completely a fellow was stridently insisting that I was asserting “catastrophic global warming” no matter how often I insisted that this didn’t constitute an assertion and that my position wasn’t close to any assertion that might reasonably be associated with that phrase.

    So one problem is defending the word “crisis”. In some sense, the problem is crucial because it will never have the sort of urgency typically associated with the concept of “crisis”. In getting pulled into such a debate you are allowing the esteemed opposition to control the terms of the discussion. This has already been discussed at some length in previous commentary, but it ties into a point I haven’t seen addressed yet, one which is highlighted nicely by comment #6.

    Another way in which the denialist camp seeks to control the debate is by presenting the matter as a two-sided debate. In #6, emotional appeals toward resisting AGW and exagerrations are attributed to the “other side”.

    Science is ideally completely immune to emotional appeal, and for all its flaws does a pretty good job on that score. A big problem with allowing the question to be formulated as two-sided debate is that it is easy to acquire, in the views of the audience, a great deal of non-scientific baggage along the way, in exactly the way postulated by #6.

    If the connection between science and politics were functional, the correct way to formulate the discussion is to emphasize the symmetry between extreme arguments on both sides by putting scientists in the middle. Where were the “gulf stream shutdown” people? Where were the “superstorm” crowd?

    The scientific consensus represents the middle, and allowing it to be represented as an extreme is a serious error.

    If I may be permitted to wander off topic a bit, Mr. Gore’s most serious error in his presidential campaign, I believe, was in refusing to debate Mr. Nader. This allowed him to be cast as a “liberal”, whereas in any realistic assessment he is very much a centrist.

    Scientists pulled into the evolution vs creationism pseudo-debate have an intrinsic weakness that those of us trying to inject reasonable proportion into the global change arena do. It is obvious that evolution either is or is not the central organizing principle of biology; that Biblical creation either is or is not admissible in a fair consideration of the evidence. Thus there really are only two “sides” possible.

    In the case of anthropogenic interference in climate, however, the question is not a yes/no question but a “how much” question.

    It is also the case that the more uncertainty about “how much”, the more vigorous the response ought to be! Weaker science requires a stronger response, because weaker science cannot exclude the most alarming scenarions, whose cost dominates a risk analysis more the more uncertainty we have.

    That aside, consider the polemics of it. The science seems to be honing in on an equilibrium sensitiity to CO2 doubling, all else equal, of 3 C. The scientific debate has gone from a range of 0.5 to 8 C to a range of 2 to 4. This constitutes progress. Of course there are many open policy relevant scientific questions beyond this, but most of them also represent a range.

    The less responsible among the fossil fuel interests, and the less reality-constrained of their allied theorists therefore will not want to focus on the plausible ranges and the risks. They will try to frame the matter as a debate with an answer. “Do you believe in global warming?” is no longer a winner for them, as the warming is (as predicted!) now becoming quite obvious in many places. So the question is now “Do you believe global warming is a crisis?”

    Once you take a position on a yes/no question you can be tarred with the brush of the least responsible of the people taking the same side. You allow the question to be reframed from scientific ones (1 degree or 5, 1 meter or 100, 50 years or 500) to awkward positions where a risk analysis is impossible and an appeal to emotion is far more effective (yes/no/maybe).

    The people advancing the no argument have not the least interest in winning the debate, understand. There objective is to keep people at maybe. Talk numbers, ranges, probabilities, because that is where our understanding lies.

    “Yes/no” is pernicious nonsense. Rephrase the question as a continuous one rather than a binary one, or if necessary invite some extremist environmentalists to the debate and occupy a central position, or stay away, I think.

    Comment by Michael Tobis — 15 Mar 2007 @ 12:12 PM

  56. In general, creationists (notably Duane Gish and Ken Ham) pummeled respectable, respected evolutionary scientists in debates all over the country. That doesn’t mean they were even close to right. And on this issue, like creationism, there will be a hard-core that will never concede, no matter how high the cognitive dissonance signal ramps up.

    However, the creationists didn’t have Stephen J. Gould (or as one poster noted, they didn’t have Thomas Huxley). Where it really mattered, as the science was continuing to come out, Gould masterfully undermined argument-after-argument from the creationists. The preponderance of science eroded uncertainty about creationism in the church’s moderate center; but the hard conservatives won’t be swayed.

    To make progress here, the preponderance of science must also emerge in full force. Someone needs to step up and be the Stephen J. Gould (and not the Richard Dawkins, despite his acumen) of climate science. Al Gore has ably aligned the goal posts on the field now, and the game is moving into the third quarter. Who is going to be the quarterback of public opinion? Nominations?

    Comment by Jack — 15 Mar 2007 @ 12:15 PM

  57. Debate is good, debate is healthy.
    As long as it IS a debate about the issues.

    What we increasingly have are debates about the debate, which is merely a diversionary tactic. Again, the Creationist model holds.

    Meanwhile, science education languishes.

    Comment by Terry Miesle — 15 Mar 2007 @ 12:16 PM

  58. “Why would it be over? The IPCC summary said its conclusions were more than 90 percent certain.”

    I’d love to see a thorough analysis of this claim. Were all of the responding scientist’s opinions given equal weight?

    I happen to agree that the Earth is undergoing climate change. However, I (and many others) are unconvinced that human activity is a major factor. I also think FAR more analysis should be done as to what the best courses of action are as we truly determine what’s going on. I find the projections of the costs and effects of global warming truly laughable since they fail to account for future disruptive technologies, as well as future non-human-induced climate changes. We have little idea of the chaotic feedback and/or damping mechanisms which may be activated as the planet warms.

    Here are a few thoughts:

    The developed West, and America in particular, is doing quite a lot to control pollution and make a cleaner planet. Going forward, the bulk of the problem is going to be developing countries. Penalizing the United States’ economy with the Kyoto Protocol would have been counterproductive. It has also been admitted by Kyoto proponents that it won’t significantly reduce global warming going forward, according to their own models.

    If you really want to ‘solve’ greenhouse gas generation, do it in a win-win fashion, rather than claiming (incorrectly) that sacrifice or wealth redistribution is required to solve the problem. For instance, replacing fossil fuel fired power plants with nuclear plants, and then encouraging people to commute in wall-socket-charged electric cars (or hybrids) could eliminate a tremendous amount of ‘carbon footprint’, as well as probably resulting in cheaper electricity.

    Neither the evidence nor the science presented so far is sufficient to warrant the remedies proposed by GW believers. Further, many of those suggested remedies are poorly conceived and will never fly in the real world, regardless of the situation.

    Comment by Terry — 15 Mar 2007 @ 12:20 PM

  59. The sun is the culprit!

    The current irrational debate over global warming will not be settled until we realize that there is one overwhelming factor that is seldom, if ever mentioned. The most significant contributor to global warming is the temperature of the heat source, the sun. All studies that I have read or heard assume that the temperature at the heat source is constant, but there is absolutely no evidence to prove this hypothesis.

    In fact, a variable heat source is the only rational explanation that explains multiple ice ages and subsequent warming of the earth for millions of years before the earth’s population was large enough to have any possible impact. You can experience the equivalent of global warming and cooling at home when you adjust the setting on your thermostat.

    Humans obviously have some impact on our environment but I believe that our impact is absolutely miniscule. It is much like standing in a “Category 5 Hurricane” and trying to influence the direction that a feather is flying by simply blowing on it!

    David M. Brown

    Comment by David M. Brown — 15 Mar 2007 @ 12:28 PM

  60. Sigh.
    http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2007/02/12/070212taco_talk_kolbert

    Hot Topic
    by Elizabeth Kolbert February 12, 2007

    Begins: “Except in certain benighted precincts – oil-industry-funded Web sites, the Bush White House, Michael Crichton’s den – no one wastes much energy these days trying to deny global warming….”

    Picking the terms on which the debate is made is important; this seems to have been a mix of denial of the science, and debate about whether this is a critical time to take action, as well as a debate about whether there’s a crisis NOW or a crisis guaranteed later or no worries.

    Who got to vote? I never saw the ‘online poll’ enabled any time I looked.

    Tangential to this topic:

    – on the ‘Swindle’ TV program, if you want to see it, check which version of it you find (it was somewhat changed between its first and second showings on British TV, as their fudging of charts has been coming to light — see Stoat, it’s an ongoing story. Still bogus; fascinating for that. http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Mar 2007 @ 12:29 PM

  61. One is tempted to be a bit snarky, but, as in much else, Gavin and Roger are using the same word with different meanings (Theory, anyone)?. Gavin is talking about the physical and biological dangers posed by man made climate change (ditch the anthropic), Roger is talking about the metaphysical (political and economic) dangers associated with man made climate change.

    Roger has actually gone a long way in saying that even 450 ppm CO2 equivalent would be a very bad thing with significant negative consequences and that major mitigation will be needed

    So, as I said many months ago, the ball has really moved into the court of WGII and III – dangers and how to deal with them. In this respect you have to talk past the Lindzen’s of the world, which is what Gore does. Here is a model which might be useful. Note that the climate change problem differs from evolution in that there is not an evolution crisis on the near horizon:

    OK folks, on the otherside you have the bitter enders. Even Bill O’Reilly says that anyone who does not recognize the challenge of man made climate change is a fool; essentially every scientist who studies climate recognizes the problems and the challenges. What we have to do is decide how to meet those challenges. Part of that job is mine, to improve our understanding of climate so we can better meet the challenge, but a big part is yours and mine, to decide how to meet the challenge and do it. I’ll give you a brief summary of the science to provide a backdrop to the more important points I want to make today.

    All you are going to hear from the other side is the science of the residuals. Anyone who has come up hard and fast against reality understands that there is neither a theory or a model that explains everything. There are always residuals, unexplained anomalies and people on the fringes who will hold onto those for dear life, weaving webs of conspiracy theories that focus only on what remains unexplained. This throws the baby out with the bathwater: the fringe theories might explain the residuals, but they can’t deal with the basic facts of the situation.

    The best theories and models deal with the largest extent of the evidence available using intellectually valid and understandable ideas with predictive power. Those with no tolerance for ambiguity are doomed to a life of carping. The study of typewriters is not as interesting as the study of what has been written on typewriters.

    However, if the typewriter salesman, is loud and insistent he can attract an audience, and if someone is paying him a lot of money to attract typewriter customers, why, he can sell a lot of typewriters. You all have computers, you don’t need their typewriters anymore.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 15 Mar 2007 @ 12:42 PM

  62. Thanks, Gavin, for putting yourself out there and debating these charlatans. It’s thankless work, and many many reputable scientists have given up on participating.

    Unfortunately, I have to echo the lines of Ron R., above: “Fact is, as long as there’s big bucks in preserving the status quo you can expect there to be vocal opposition. They’re not going to go away no matter the evidence.” That means that the producers are going to put on the “debate” regardless of who turns up to defend the science side of the story. If the heroes don’t show to the battle, then the job falls to the losers. Some fool will always show up, and will perform even more poorly than the clever, informed guys.

    I participated in a “debate” on Evolution vs. Creation that an evangelical church put on at our university, no less, as did the chair of Biology, my advisor at the time, and a few other stalwart foes. We did the best we could, but strangely, the ones who hit the hardest were the Biology prof and his drinking buddy, who was a Ph.D. student in Geology. The Geologist mocked the flood theory evidence, while the biologist – a Jesuit Christian – quoted the bible right back to them, asking them to explain the two versions of creation in Genesis.

    I would say that in the kind of venue, honestly mocking or openly laughing at the pathetic arguments of the supports could play well. It’s past time to play nicey-nice with these guys. It’s literally laughable that they would refer to cosmic rays as a plausible source of warming, so why not laugh? That can help the audience realize that they are jokers, and gets the emotional tone correct. Jon Stewart does an excellent job of attacking the right on some of their craziness. Point and laugh, it’s not normally nice, but it can well be effective. It’s the least these guys deserve.

    Comment by Steffen Christensen — 15 Mar 2007 @ 12:43 PM

  63. 144 million cubic miles of earth water divided by 6 billion persons provides each person with about 50 square miles of water 6 feet deep. I gave up trying to figure out how to control the temperature of my share and decided to leave it up to the sun and the clouds. Psalm 2:4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

    Comment by Paul M. MacKinney — 15 Mar 2007 @ 12:53 PM

  64. Re #25
    “The climate science community really needs to create a site that lays out the the theories and the facts in a clear and concise manner [...] There is an opportunity here for a brilliant web developer to make a major contribution toward saving the planet. Any volunteers?”

    The planet doesn’t need saving. It’s been around for 4600 Myr and once had an atmosphere which was mostly CO2. As recently as 350 Myr ago, all the carbon now buried in fossil fuels was in the atmosphere, together with a whole lot more carbon which is now incorporated in low grade carbonaceous shales and limestones.

    What we are talking about is saving the human species, not the planet. Personally I don’t think there’s any chance of Homo sapiens lasting a million years. The unassuming and unambitious mollusc Lingula has been around for 500 million.

    Comment by Ben H. — 15 Mar 2007 @ 12:55 PM

  65. Some people cannot be successfully debated. These persons adhere completely to their leader’s or group’s position, no matter what facts are presented to the contrary, and they cannot be persuaded by adversaries. When denialists are down to that core group, which they seem to be, then the only purpose to debating them is to keep their influence in check. You will not change their minds. Some day, out of the blue, the Wall Street Journal editors and the big oil companies will adopt a position accepting human-induced global warming. At that time, 90% of the remaining denialists will follow right along with them, without questioning the change. I have seen this amazing transformation repeatedly in the field of energy efficiency.

    Comment by Kevin G — 15 Mar 2007 @ 1:01 PM

  66. well cynically, if you guys are going to help the skeptics win support, then perhaps doing these publicity stunts is a bad idea! ;-)

    Although considering uber-right-wing sites like FreeRepublic were following this, and they are notorious for stacking (“freeping”) polls in a childish attempt to facilely swap opinion, that could explain some things:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1801351/posts

    Comment by Carl Christensen — 15 Mar 2007 @ 1:16 PM

  67. re: 4 – “It is all a bit sad really that the USA is still debating this subject when action is required to curb their emissions. The USA knows very little of the rest of the world, the denialists are being overtly political in their zest”

    My particular feeling is that non-climatologists supporting the AGC theory are as bad as non-climatologists attempting to dilute the issue. The opponents are going for the political argument because they perceive this is what the other side is doing. We’ve got more than enough hot air from both the debating and from GHGs, we need more climatologists explaining. That’s why I’m so interested in this particular event, although I find the poll numbers disappointing. My opinion is that it’s far better to appeal to the people, but probably more difficult.

    .

    re: 41 – “So debate is bad? USA is bad and dumb? Despite what you read in the papers and hear on the news, there is no “consensus” on the anthropogenic forcing issue. And since when was science by consensus anyway.”

    Debate isn’t bad. But the opponents are suggesting that the climatologists are driven by their political views, then attacking them based on this assumption. The debate about the science has come and gone, yet past debates are being reintroduced as if they’re new ideas, giving the impression that there is great doubt, when in fact the competiting hypotheses did not hold up under peer review.

    The talking points for the AGC theory opponents perhaps are (or were) based on acceptable science, but they still amount to little more than bricks atop the wall of evidence. What the debate is accomplishing is little more that putting a brick on the wall so the opposing side may knock it off. Now they’ve been reduced to using the same bricks. Clearly we’re getting nowhere, and the opponents haven’t actually disturbed the foundation of the wall.

    There is consensus in science when many independent experiments produce data that leads scientists to the same conclusion. I know this is Crichton’s mantra, but his examples are an equation that is mostly unknowns, and something that was based on an unscientific assumption. Modern AGC theory is built around observed phenomena, the most likely possibility for those observations being GHGs, and the most likely possibility to account for the volume of the GHGs being mankind.

    .

    re: 45 – No one is asking you to do it all by yourself. What is needed is your cooperation, patience and some sacrifice to move away from conventional combustion-based energy to something else.

    Comment by TJH — 15 Mar 2007 @ 1:21 PM

  68. Re #44. Excellent point in that reality is not peer-reviewed. Anyone who thinks that having the facts on their side helps them in the reality arena did not live through the Vietnam War or has not absorbed the lessons of Iraq. Humans are at least as emotional as rational and also have their opinions formed by a range of social pressures. Ideally it would be best to have a PR firm take the GW debate to the public but that would mean acknowledging the imperfections of human intelligence – which few academics are eager to do since it threatens the basis for their intellectual exercises.
    But I do applaud Gavin’s attempt to go up against Crichton et al.

    Comment by George — 15 Mar 2007 @ 1:23 PM

  69. While I’m sure you guys did well as scientists, I still feel that you shouldnt have even gone there. I feel that simply by debating with people like Crichton we loose. Science looses. Advocacy for a solution looses. You guys here at realclimate are too good. People like Crichton dont deserve to be seen in the same room with you. GW is a fact, its here. Dont debate it anymore. Lets just find solutions.

    Comment by Jim O'Donnell — 15 Mar 2007 @ 1:37 PM

  70. kevin G wrote: “… Some day, out of the blue, the Wall Street Journal editors and the big oil companies will adopt a position accepting human-induced global warming. …”

    With respect to big oil, that has already happened to varying degrees – even at ExxMob:

    “…There is increasing evidence that the earth’s climate has warmed on average about 0.7 C in the last century. Many global ecosystems, especially the polar areas, are showing signs of warming. CO2 emissions have increased during this same time period – and emissions from fossil fuels and land use changes are one source of these emissions.

    Climate remains today an extraordinarily complex area of scientific study. The risks to society and ecosystems from increases in CO2 emissions could prove to be significant – so despite the areas of uncertainty that do exist, it is prudent to develop and implement strategies that address the risks, …”

    Read the entire statement here:

    http://www.exxonmobil.com/corporate/campaign/climate_view.asp

    The Valdez is making a hard turn to port.

    Comment by J.C.H — 15 Mar 2007 @ 1:37 PM

  71. Re 47:

    Following your link I see (correct info?):

    Last night, NPR and intelligence squared hosted a debate in New York City on the motion “Global Warming is not a Crisis.” The proposition, Michael Crichton, Prof. Richard Lindzen and Prof. Philip Stott, won by 46% to 42%. What makes the performance all the more impressive is that before the event the organizers found the motion would have been disapproved of 57% to 30%, so there was quite a swing as a result of the arguments deployed.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 15 Mar 2007 @ 1:39 PM

  72. Your comment “We are scientists, and we talk about science and we’re not going start getting into questions of personal morality and wider political agendas – and obviously that put us at a sharp disadvantage” bears further scrutiny. Why do you presume that since you talk about science that you cannot also talk about morality and have a political perspective? You must have some sort of moral and political perspective about the world and especially about the implications of global warming, climate changes, resources use, consumerism etc. These issues will be resolved, if we are fortunate enough, through a political process in which we must be involved. I strongly suggest that in the future you do engage “them” with the same polish and performance and make the selling of the science an integral part of the public presentation of these ideas. We are dealing with too many important issues not to take a persuasive stand.

    Comment by JohnLee — 15 Mar 2007 @ 1:40 PM

  73. You need another website for the public. Real Climate is really ‘climate science for climate scientists’.

    Comment by Yo! — 15 Mar 2007 @ 1:53 PM

  74. A report on the debate:

    http://blog.sciam.com/index.php?title=debate_skills_advantage_climate_contrari&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 15 Mar 2007 @ 2:01 PM

  75. It seems to me that someone should write a book that is understandable for non-scientists explaining the case for AGW. This issue is something that will require government regulation and laws if the CO2 emissions are to be cut. Such a book, if done without appealing to fear and emotion, and written in a readable fashion with simple pictures and charts to illustrate points, could be a real service to the voters and politicians of this country. If AGW is to be mitigated, slowed, or stopped voters must understand what they are voting on when a candidate talks about instituting laws and regualations that will curb freedom and choice. Very few people understand the details and are often skeptical of doomsday presentations like VP Gore’s film. There have been far too many dooms-day books published in the past predicting starvation, over-population, disease, and pestilence; none of which came true. Just a thought. Anyone out there with the expertise and willingness to do such a thing?

    Comment by Jim Glendenning — 15 Mar 2007 @ 2:16 PM

  76. Kevin G is right, I did not think much could come out of that debate. The contrarian camp is deeply entranched in an emotional view of reality. And they have already formed a camp, with leaders, doctrine, us-against-them attitudes, etc…

    I have not read other blogs today but I’m sure that they are portaying this debate as a victory.

    Anything favorable to their cause, regardless of validity, provides them with massive reinforcing brain chemistry. It is not really possible to establish a rational argument. At least it did not come down as low as the scientific-conspiracy-for-self-interest BS.

    And of course, in pure Rovian inspiration, they accuse the other side of what they are themselves guilty, throwing confusion and doubt and essentially voiding the issue, which then becomes unusable against them.

    The crucial thing about a Rovian argument is that, apparently, whoever launches first wins. So it does not help when counter-arguments against skeptics are trying to take an overly emotional tone. It seems that reality itself is the best antidote to mind-manipulation methods. In Australia, their 4 years (probably going on to 5 now) drought has definitely evaporated doubts as well as water, whether or not it is AGW related. Alexander Ac. is right in post 10: people believe what they can observe (look at Pat Robertson).

    And I don’t agree either that all debate is necessarily good. Once I saw the example of a HIV positive child whose mother did not “believe” in antiretroviral therapy. The child died of PCP, an opportunistic lung infection. The mother in denial managed to find a pathologist willing to “debate” whether the death might have had other causes, despite the evidence from the autopsy. That kind of debate pitting fantasy against reality, is not only useless but harmful. The AGW problem might not have yet the same kind of certitude as an autopsy but it is getting pretty darn close. Proof is that, according to Gavin, there was actually little argument about the science, except from Lintzen sticking to his usual rusty guns. So there might still be hope after all.

    Comment by Philippe Chantreau — 15 Mar 2007 @ 2:21 PM

  77. Re #59: David M. Brown — I suggest you read

    W.F. Ruddiman
    Earth’s CLimate: Past and Future
    W.H. Freeman, 2001

    to obtain a correct understanding of climate.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 15 Mar 2007 @ 2:23 PM

  78. Chrichton may be a loser but at least he knows how to spell.

    Comment by Webster — 15 Mar 2007 @ 2:28 PM

  79. #74: “debate skills” would play differently in front of a different audience, or one more attuned to the realities of our situation. I think that what is apparent now is that the general public is still somewhat amused by all this “global warming nonsense” and enjoys a good show/laugh. In some ways this mirrors the last days of the Roman empire, where mass entertainment involved feeding humans alive to fierce animals, or watching them hack each other’s limbs off, as a partial antidote to the angst they were experiencing due to threats at home and abroad. You can draw whatever expectations for *our* future that you care to based on what happened to the Romans. Only worse, because the Romans weren’t burning down the entire world, just Rome.

    Though I’m not sure it was properly recorded, we can probably assume that the last leaders of the Roman empire finally took ahold of the situation and tried to react in a measured and sensible way to their impending doom. All we know for certain now is that they did not succeed. But you know what, I think I know what they were feeling as they faced the end of everything they knew because I’m feeling it myself now.

    Comment by cat black — 15 Mar 2007 @ 2:41 PM

  80. Re 71:

    Steve,

    Thanks for posting the results of the debate…not sure the moderators of RC would have gotten around to it. For more information on the before and after poll numbers see the event’s website .

    -Chip

    Comment by Chip Knappenberger — 15 Mar 2007 @ 2:52 PM

  81. It’s prety humorous that “I lost the debate” = “the audience just wasn’t smart enough to understand the science.”

    As Albert Eistein, a reasonably smart scientist with several peer-reviewed papers to his name once said “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.â??

    Maybe the problem is that predicting 3C warming in response to a doubling of CO2 concentration when the radiative forcing is only ~1C and nobody can cite a single example of a climate model that has demonstrated predictive skill for gloabl temperature (actual prediction, not ‘hindcasting’) over a period of 10 years, never mind a century, has something to do with why the audience remained unconvinced.

    Comment by Dana Johnson — 15 Mar 2007 @ 3:16 PM

  82. [[Maybe the problem is that predicting 3C warming in response to a doubling of CO2 concentration when the radiative forcing is only ~1C and nobody can cite a single example of a climate model that has demonstrated predictive skill for gloabl temperature (actual prediction, not 'hindcasting') over a period of 10 years, never mind a century, has something to do with why the audience remained unconvinced. ]]

    Look again at Hansen’s middle scenario, scenario B, from his 1988 testimony. Then look at the GISS temperature record for the period of his prediction.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 15 Mar 2007 @ 3:32 PM

  83. Roger Pielke Jr. (#51),

    As usual, you did not engage a single point. Instead, you used a reply as a way to hawk your latest opinion. This time it’s a book instead of a op-ed or other sort of opinion piece.

    Please deal with some substance. [edit]

    Comment by Thom — 15 Mar 2007 @ 3:49 PM

  84. This is unrelated, and for that I apologize. I just posted an answer to a question on the 800-year lag, and I just wanted to see if anyone could help either verify what I’ve said or show me where I went wrong. Thanks.

    Comment by Reasic — 15 Mar 2007 @ 3:53 PM

  85. Re: 82

    Barton:

    Thanks for the reply. Jim Hansen is a great example of how scientists usually maintain standards of intellectual honesty, when speaking as researchers in their area of expertise, that other participants in the public debate should emulate.

    Hansen’s own evaluation of the forecast that you describe through 2005, in his 2006 peer-reviewed paper from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, was that:

    “a 17-year period is too brief for precise assessment of model predictions, but … comparison with the real world will become clearer within a decade”.

    In other words, even according to the author, we have to wait another 5 – 10 years before we can empirically evaluate the accuracy of those specific models. It’s not that the forecast was wrong, simply that we are simply in a period when the forecast signal can not yet be statistically distinguished form noise.

    Best,
    Dana

    [Response: Not so. The forecast signal is clearly distinguishable from noise - it not yet useful as a test of the precise values of the sensitivity. I may post on this soon... -gavin]

    Comment by Dana Johnson — 15 Mar 2007 @ 3:53 PM

  86. You say “we’re not going start getting into questions of personal morality and wider political agendas” and then immediately go on to say “One minor detail that might be interesting is that the organisers put on luxury SUVs for the participants to get to the restaurant – 5 blocks away. None of our side used them (preferring to walk), but all of the other side did.” which sounds to me like just such an attack, and unnecessary, especially if we are to believe that the argument can be won without recourse to such comments.

    It sounds as if you need to toughen up quite a bit, as the sceptics deploy increasingly better presentation (TGGWS excepted), and politicians get hold of the issue and as ever, go over the top, making people suspicious that some kind of tax and power grab is being built.

    Comment by bayesian — 15 Mar 2007 @ 4:06 PM

  87. We may have the reason why SETI [the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence] hasn’t found any space aliens yet. They all died in ecological disasters of their own creation, mostly global warmings. Hasn’t anybody mentioned what happens to the poor during a mass extinction event?

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 15 Mar 2007 @ 4:22 PM

  88. I am deeply grateful for the courage of the scientists on this site. It would be so easy to say “Nuts to it – I don’t need this” and retire to your labs to quietly continue your very interesting and challenging work. You could do that fully aware that you know what you are doing and that the truth will win out sooner or later anyway. In the final analysis, no one can bluff nature. For hanging in and trying to make a difference, you have my gratitude, and that of countless others, I am sure.

    Comment by Ron Taylor — 15 Mar 2007 @ 4:24 PM

  89. This ole skeptic thinks, from your description, that you carried your water just fine. These things never go as planned and certainly not to perfection. Everybody in the stands knows which play should have been called, or that we should have played on a different field, or maybe even played a different game. That’s the way things go. Though they are well-intentioned.

    I’m curious if you think you had a credible moderator. I heard it was Lerher (sp??), who like McNeil leans a little left but none-the-less has, also like McNeil, a stellar reputation for factual and fair journalism. [I think the PBS nightly news hour is by far the best news/reporting broadcast.]

    [Response: The moderator was excellent. Brian Lehrer (no relation I think) of the WNYC morning program. -gavin]

    Comment by Rod B. — 15 Mar 2007 @ 4:31 PM

  90. Well, I wasn’t there, but if, as recorded on the sciam blog (see #74), Mr. Schmidt made the “fatal debating error of dismissing the ability of the audience to judge the scientific nuances”, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the arguments of his side didn’t carry the day. People don’t like being insulted. Also, if one is arguing that something constitutes a crisis, one had better be aware that we non-experts are being bombarded day in and day out by experts’ warnings of all kinds of crises e.g. the “crisis in education”, the “housing crisis”, the “crime in the streets” crisis, etc. The word “crisis” is simply worn out. So, if Mr. Schmidt, as an expert in the field, wishes to argue that global warming is a crisis, he will have to have some pretty convincing proof to satisfy non-experts such as me, when where I live we’ve just endured the longest winter we have had in quite a few years and have had to put up with a blizzard and -26 C. temperatures during the last 24 hours (somewhat unusual for the 15th of March even at this location). Until then, I am afraid I will have to fall back on Churchill’s reported statement that experts should be kept on tap not on top.

    [Response: Just so you know, 'crisis' was not the word of our choosing. The debate was put together sceptics side first and only after a wide search did they find enough people to counter. -gavin]

    Comment by interested observer — 15 Mar 2007 @ 4:35 PM

  91. On moral issues and presentation: Get Al Gore, or John McCain, or David Attenbourgh or someone like that on your team to level the playing field.

    On the poor: Inexpensive, clean, decentralized energy will help the poor. Even if the price of oil goes down; if one has cheap solar and cheap batteries, one will simply leapfrog over expensive centralized power distribution systems were they don’t exist and stop maintaining them where they do. (For example, there are many places in the third world that don’t and never will have landlines for telephone service because cell phones are much cheaper.)

    On the poor: The irony is that many of the denialists claim that global warming is a socialist, communist, environmentalist, leftist, UN hoax to redistribute wealth. So is Stott’s a commie, but on the wrong team?

    Do a search on,

    global warming is UN way to redistribute wealth

    (note: an interesting “Did you mean..” pops up.)

    On the AGW debate:

    When John Howard of Austriala bans incandencent light bulbs, when George Bush praises the IPPC, when venture capitalist are pouring their money into alternative energy projects, when US auto makers are ready to agree to emission cut backs and a “cap and trade” system, it would seem that the debate over AGW is over.

    “Out of the ashes of the Internet bust, many technology veterans have regrouped and found a new mission in alternative energy: developing wind power, solar panels, ethanol plants and hydrogen-powered cars.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/14/technology/14valley.html?em&ex=1174104000&en=2814ff336294ecdb&ei=5087

    “The Administration welcomes the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which was developed through thousands of hours of research by leading U.S. and international scientists and informed by significant U.S. investments in advancing climate science research,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman said. “Climate change is a global challenge that requires global solutions. Through President Bush’s leadership, the U.S. government is taking action to curb the growth of greenhouse gas emissions and encouraging the development and deployment of clean energy technologies here in the United States and across the globe.”

    http://www.energy.gov/environment/4704.htm

    “Earlier this week, chief executives of America’s four largest car companies Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Toyota North America and General Motors (GM) acknowledged they intend to change their ways. Collectively the group told lawmakers that they would accept a US economy-wide strategy to reduce carbon emissions as long as it did not disproportionately target car producers. In addition they agreed on the merits of devising a US-wide carbon emission “cap and trade” regime. Their pledge, which took place in a rare joint appearance before Congress, marked a significant step forward for the new Democratic majority on Capitol Hill, which aims to draft America’s first national global warming legislation in the next few months.”

    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/03/us_auto_industr.php

    “Howard has become a global warming convert, conceding in recent months for the first time that human activity is having an effect on rising temperatures. But he has steadfastly refused to bring Australia into line with most of the world and ratify the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas reductions, arguing that doing so could damage Australia’s coal-dependent economy.”

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1591757,00.html

    So here is where the debate is, what to do about it.

    Remember evolutionary biologists “lost” a lot of debates, but our schools still teach evolutionary theory; you may have “lost” this debate, but virtually the whole world agrees that AGW is real and we need to do something about it. The denialists are really in the minority with nothing but talking points to comfort them.

    Comment by Tavita — 15 Mar 2007 @ 4:45 PM

  92. Re #84: Reasic — Your answer is reasonably correct. I recommend you read the comments on the Swindled thread regarding this matter. At least one of the comments describes the limited feedback process rather beautifully and simply.

    Re #90: interested observer — Checking today’s news, I found an article entitled Worldwide Warmest Winter on Record

    Comment by David B. Benson — 15 Mar 2007 @ 4:50 PM

  93. Hi, I am just a lay person. I’ve been reading this website to try to understand some arguments that can be used against deniers when they bring up their points such as global warming is a natural cycle and not man-made. Of course most of the finer points that are discussed here go over my head. But about this particular post, I think that better than debating the other side in person, is to do presentations where you bring up the other side’s arguments and then counter them (like you do on this website). But even if you do debate them, and find it impossible to debate lies and irrelevant arguments, take heart. Nothing that one individual does will make or break the effort. It is a cumulative effort that counts and no one can know how one’s effort will influence another effort or build on something to change someone’s mind. It is the effort of all the scientists, combined with writers, good journalists, Gore, and other politicians, teachers and lay people like me talking to their friends and going on the local newspaper blogs to counter the comments of lunatics. You can’t change the lunatic mind, but it is all the other folks that need to see the truth of what science has discovered about climate change who are the real audience. So even if you have a down day, we all need you scientists to keep plugging away. And even if you didn’t win the poll in this debate (which could be skewed so easily) you planted seeds. Eventually the seeds will bloom and the social tipping point of understanding global warming in the US will come fast. It may already be happening. But you’ve got to keep talking to the world in whatever way you are comfortable, just remember the vast majority of the public is probably at a 3rd grade level when it comes to understanding science, so if your audience is general always include the basics.

    Comment by Lynn — 15 Mar 2007 @ 4:58 PM

  94. Gavin writes: “The forecast signal is clearly distinguishable from noise – it not yet useful as a test of the precise values of the sensitivity. I may post on this soon”.

    I for one, could really use a post on this topic and highly encourage you to please do it!

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 15 Mar 2007 @ 5:18 PM

  95. Carl Re: #66

    You should have asked people to refresh their browsers when they clicked on your link. :)

    Refresh browser:
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1801351/posts?page=58#58

    Comment by Matchett-PI — 15 Mar 2007 @ 5:24 PM

  96. Re 60

    Er,Hank- about “check which version of it you find (it was somewhat changed between its first and second showings on British TV, as their fudging of charts has been coming to light — see Stoat, it’s an ongoing story. Still bogus; fascinating for that. http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/

    One recalls the vigorous defense here of a certain chart that has vanished from another mass media product- I suppose it’s a matter of whose rubber graph paper is Gored.

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 15 Mar 2007 @ 5:28 PM

  97. Roger (RE#51),
    I don’t think Thom’s statement was a misrepresentation of your viewpoint, thought it perhaps could have been couched more diplomatically. I assume that your statements before the House Oversight Committee do represent your viewpoint, so let’s run through them ( http://oversight.house.gov/Documents/20070130114413-25161.pdf ):

    First, in boldface we have “There is no Bright Line that Separates Science from Politics”.

    Well, science is what you can communicate to others; for example I should be able to phone someone in Australia and confirm that when they boil water at sea level, it boils at 100C, just as it does in here, and that it freezes at 0C, just as it does here. Political concerns have absolutely noting to do with it! Your attitude can only be characterized as profoundly anti-scientific, and yet you don’t seem to realize this.

    Then you say (boldface) that “Politics and Science Have Always Mixed”. This is again nonsense, though it could be said that “Politics and Government Policy on Funding Science Have Always Mixed” but science itself is something different. For example, the severe cut in funding renewable energy research in 1980 was due to politics – that’s very clear.

    Continuing, we have “Science in Policy is Unavoidably Political” – this is a little closer to the truth, but still misses it altogether. Take out the Science and you have the correct statement: “Policy is Unavoidably Political”. Politics, government and policy do go hand in hand, but science is something different.

    Next we have “Scientific Cherry Picking and Mischaracterizations are a Part of Politics” – no, such behavior is simply dishonest and deceptive – unless you are claiming that all politics are dishonest and deceptive, which is a rather cynical viewpoint, though it may occassionally be true. Most scientists call such behavior fraudulent.

    What next: “Scientists Have Contributed to the Politicization of Science” – sort of inconsistent with your earlier statements about science being unavoidably political, but inconsistency seems to be something you have little trouble with – for example, claiming that the AMO is the only cause of the increased trend in hurricane intensity, while also claiming that the data is too poor to reliably show such a trend – huh? I suppose if you are referring to yourself, then yes, some political scientists do try and politicize science.

    By the way, I’m still waiting for an answer to my question on your view of temperature trends:

    The question (still standing) is “With respect to the fact that the warmest years since accurate records began have all been in the last decade, does this represent an anomalous spike in the natural climate variability, or are we looking at a generally increasing temperature trend that is due to the increased concentration of atmospheric CO2 brought on by buring fossil fuels? (A generally increasing temperature trend would be expected to set a systematic trend of new temperature records, wouldn’t it?)”

    Thanks in advance for your response.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 15 Mar 2007 @ 5:36 PM

  98. I wrote a response to this on the blog, “Compass”, which I maintain on the Sierra Club website. Upon reflection, I may come off a bit harsh, but let me say that up front that I’m a big fan of Real Climate and would be genuinely interested in what people think. Thus the heading: Debate This. To the RC crew, keep up the good work.

    Comment by Pat Joseph — 15 Mar 2007 @ 5:41 PM

  99. #30, The bet thing would work, but I rather we review science achievements in climate projections, in a comprehensive way. There is no defense against past success. There is also no offense against future possible scenarios they can easily be wrong (unless one is always right), the track record is a matter of verification. The warming signal is so obvious to the lay, the last thing to do is to explain it right.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 15 Mar 2007 @ 5:47 PM

  100. To 59: ‘The Sun is the Culprit’: the whole science of the Earth’s climate starts with incoming radiation from the sun – it’s not ignored. The Independent (UK) of today (Thurs 15th) shows the correct versions of the graphs showing the sun’s input alongside the out-of-date graphs used in The Great Global Warming Swindle. You also need to know about Milankovitch cycles (changes in the Earth’s orbit which affect how much sunlight hits the Earth and where): explore Realclimate a bit further to find out more.

    Re. Al Gore: I know he annoys his political opponents in the US but he has had an enormous impact around the rest of the world (that’s the other 95% of the world’s population by the way).

    re 40 and the media no longer inviting tired arguments onto their programmes: I have collected a database of Climate Change articles and reports over the last 2 years (about 800 at last count, covering science, impacts and response) and I can back that up. The old-school ‘balance’ has given way to a new discussion on what to do about the problem, and documenting the rise of clean tech in places like Silicon Valley.

    It’s also worth pointing out that while the likes of Exxon may fund denialists to preserve their financial/regulatory/lucrative government subsidies, they are in fact fairly cold-hearted about their decision-making and don’t actually believe all the rubbish which is put forth at their behest. No multi-national would ever base their decision-making on Michael Crichton, even if his talk advantages them.

    On keeping the developing countries in poverty, wearing hair shirts, destroying the economy etc:
    Anil Sethi of Swiss startup Flisom:
    ‘The â��tipping pointâ�� will arrive when the capital cost of solar power falls below US$1 (HK$7.80) per watt, roughly the cost of carbon power. We are not there yet. The best options today vary from US$3 to US$4 per watt, though that compares with US$100 in the late 1970s.’

    Sethi believes his product will cut the cost to 80 US cents per watt within five years and US 50 cents in a decade.

    Mike Splinter, chief executive of the US semiconductor group Applied Materials, said his company is two years away from a solar product that reaches the magic level of US$1 a watt.

    Cell conversion efficiency and economies of scale are galloping ahead so fast that the cost will be down to 70 US cents by 2010, with a target of 30 or 40 cents in a decade.

    â��We think solar power can provide 20 percent of all the incremental energy needed worldwide by 2040,â�� he said. â��This is a very powerful technology and we’re seeing dramatic improvements all the time. It can be used across the entire range from small houses to big buildings and power plants,â�� he said. â��The beauty is that you can use it in rural areas of India without having to install power lines or truck in fuel.â��

    Villages across Asia and Africa that have never seen electricity may soon leapfrog directly into the solar age, replicating the jump to mobile phones seen in countries that never had a network of fixed lines.

    (from the Hong Kong Standard)

    The rural masses of Africa and Asia will take to cheap solar the same way they have taken to cheap mobiles and cheap internet: they love it, and nothing Crichton, Stott et al say will make the blind bit of difference.

    Comment by Ed Sears — 15 Mar 2007 @ 5:48 PM

  101. Hmmm… So that’s how those questions are dealt with, eh? In that case, enlightenment will have to happen elsewhere for me. Interesting proof of the politicization of RealClimate, however.

    Comment by W. Earl Allen — 15 Mar 2007 @ 5:57 PM

  102. re #97 Solem writes: “With respect to the fact that the warmest years since accurate records began have all been in the last decade, does this represent an anomalous spike in the natural climate variability, or are we looking at a generally increasing temperature trend that is due to the increased concentration of atmospheric CO2 brought on by buring fossil fuels”

    This is answered by Gavin and other moderators (Peer-reviewed scientists) in many other posts on this website…and the moderators expect people to usually look there first. They do have other real jobs after all and volunteer to do this. For example, look here for a start.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/02/the-ipcc-fourth-assessment-summary-for-policy-makers/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/02/dummies-guide-to-the-latest-hockey-stick-controversy/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/how-do-we-know-that-recent-cosub2sub-increases-are-due-to-human-activities-updated/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/ok-perhaps-recent-20th-century-warmth-is-anomalous-over-the-past-millennium-or-two-but-wasnt-it-warmer-during-the-holocene-optimum-some-6000-years-ago/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/werent-temperatures-warmer-during-the-medieval-warm-period-than-they-are-today/

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 15 Mar 2007 @ 6:12 PM

  103. It is not about more taxes. [edited-please keep comments reasonably on topic and no random ad hom!]

    Comment by garhane — 15 Mar 2007 @ 6:17 PM

  104. Gavin- thanks for telling us your experiences. I look forward to listening to the podcast.

    It’s not pleasant; but sometimes you just have to go for the jugular.

    I remember Dr. Gish (ICR) coming to Bristol University when I was Geology/Zoology graduate. There was a poster campaign weeks before announcing his lecture which read “Evolution- the fossils say no!”

    On the day, the auditorium was full to brim- mainly with people who new nothing about evolution or geology-they were fundamentalist evangelicals who wanted to hear a message that reinforced the view that they already held.

    Dr. Gish gave his credentials as having a PhD in biochemistry and therefore he claimed that, as a fully trained scientist, that he was qualified to expose evolution as having no scientific basis. Of course the evidence presented by him was in my opinion a fraudulent malignement of the science (pictures of human footprints alongside dinosaur ones etc). But most of the audience was not knowledgeable to spot it. To them he was slick and convincing, presenting “evidence”, that the scientists were deliberatley keeping quiet about- because it did not fit their evolutionary theories.

    So I thought the only way to trip this guy was to turn his own words on himself. An early statement in his talk was that “all energy in the biosphere came from the sun”. This was a very strange statement to come from a biochemist.

    I pointed this out- I said “but what about chemotrophs?”. To my amazement (then) he did not know what they were!. So I had to explain, that chemotrophs do not get their energy from the sun, but from the minerals and fluids in the earth etc, etc (note-this was before deep sea black smokers had been discovered- but I was involved in studying ancient fossil microbial mudmounds that were aphotic- and that we now know fed on deep sea methane seeps). I then went onto to point out that since he did not know basic facts about an area of science in which he claimed to be an expert- his credibility had to questioned, if we could not trust basic accuracy of his statements in his own field then how could he offer an expert critique on geology and palaeontology.

    At this he became very ruffled and lost his cool. It was clear to the audience that the “emporer had no clothes”- and he knew it.

    BTW- I sent Phil Stott the RC English Vineyard article just as he was going to catch the plane for the debate in which you took part- so it sounds like he might have read it!

    Also- there was radio debate here on BBC Radio 4 last night in series called the moral maze. You can listen to it at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/religion/moralmaze.shtml . Very interesting and unsubtle emotional games are played by some of the panelists- not much science gets into the debate I am afraid- but that’s what is needed.

    We need more scientists to get involved in public debate, not less.

    Comment by Nick Riley — 15 Mar 2007 @ 6:22 PM

  105. Re #29: [When nearly 2 billion inhabitants have little or no access to electricity in this Mars-landing century, we truly have our priorities in reverse.]

    This is an idea that really puzzles me: what is it about electricity that’s so important? Socrates, Buddha, Jesus, Jefferson, Lincoln, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Bach, Beethoven, Shakespeare – all these and many more lived their without access to electricity. Were they less happy or their work of less value because of it?

    Sure, electricity and fossil fuels are useful tools, but it might be well to remember that they are only tools, not ends in themselves. What matters is having good food, clean air and water, freedom & room to live, access to education & information (oh, yeah, and good sex :-)) If we find ourselves in a situation, as we now do, where overuse of our tool set seems to be causing more harm than good, does it make any sort of sense to make even more use of those tools? Wouldn’t the rational course be to find other ways to achieve our goals?

    Comment by James — 15 Mar 2007 @ 6:23 PM

  106. Re #92 – David,

    Thanks for your input. I’ve read over the response you pointed me to, and pretty much relied on it for my original answer to the question. However, this question was asked after having read that response. So, I tried to word it in a way that answered the second question.

    Comment by Reasic — 15 Mar 2007 @ 6:23 PM

  107. Re #92 – David,

    Thanks for your input. I’ve read over the response you pointed me to, and pretty much relied on it for my original answer to the question. However, this question was asked after having read that response. So, I tried to word it in a way that answered the second question.

    Comment by Reasic — 15 Mar 2007 @ 6:24 PM

  108. RE#102,
    Thanks Richard, but I was actually hoping to get an answer from Roger Pielke Jr. My own thoughts are that that evidence is that temperature records will indeed continue to increase, due to the continued addition of fossil fuel CO2 to the atmosphere; however there is a little history; I thought that this was a valid question to ask Roger; I’ve asked him it before and gotten very snarky “we don’t do temperature predictions here; try the IPCC” responses, and I just think that if he, as a media go-to ‘expert’ on climate and politics, should go on record about this. (you might want to read my entire post) – so my question wasn’t addressed to the moderators, but to Roger Pielke Jr. (who is reading this, I hope.)

    What we hear from the contrarian camp is that global warming is just part of a natural cycle, and that in a decade or so we will see a reduction in the number and intensity of hurricanes, and a gradual cooling will take place – which I think is nonsense. I’m just trying to figure out if this is the view that Roger has or not. Regards.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 15 Mar 2007 @ 6:33 PM

  109. hi everyone:

    I came across a “climate deniers” series, hyperlinked from an article by a 19 year old called “global warming: an convenient lie.”

    http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=2f4cc62e-5b0d-4b59-8705-fc28f14da388

    it mentions a scientist named claude allegre, who used to believe in man made warming but now thinks it ‘s the sun: the article gives no details. anyway, for data collection purposes, I thought those at this website might be interested.

    I must admit that when the ipcc report came out, I thought the climate skeptics were through. guess not.

    Comment by greg meyerson — 15 Mar 2007 @ 6:50 PM

  110. Gavin,

    Policy debates are wicked hard, even when both teams agree on the meta and rules.

    However, the win/loss point in time is generally a Tuesday in November, and for that just being dry and factual is the better course. Its not any one Tuesday in any one November, its the one Tuesday in the one November when one of the two positions ceases to be competitive.

    We’ve had social security now for 7 decades, and as beat around the bush as its adversaries are, they stopped running straight against it 4 decades ago.

    Thanks for engaging in so thankless an activity. We’re all going to grow a bit older before the carbon loading beneficiaries throw in the towel.

    Comment by ebw — 15 Mar 2007 @ 6:53 PM

  111. it mentions a scientist named claude allegre, who used to believe in man made warming but now thinks it ‘s the sun…

    Interestingly, this is a tactic used by the intelligent design crowd. Trot out a scientists who says “I used to believe in evolution until I began examining the evidence …”

    The tactic is designed to predispose the listener to believe that scientists are knowingly lying to them about the data, in the case of evolutionary biology things like the fossil record, in the case of climate science things like the basic physics of the effect of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Comment by dhogaza — 15 Mar 2007 @ 7:23 PM

  112. > Allegre
    Typing his name into the search box at the top of the page (the white rectangle) will find you the discussion:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/10/con-allegre-ma-non-troppo/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Mar 2007 @ 7:28 PM

  113. on climate deniers: I must admit, I hadn’t heard of this bunch. and I haven’t read all of the articles in this climate deniers series I posted above. one is a dr. wegman, a statistician, who presumably debunks the method behind the hockeystick, suggesting that mann et al were not real statisticians. essex and mckitrick are mentioned (I know them) as having debunked the hockeystick in a “peer reviewed article.” I recall in this case it was their (e and m) statistics that were flawed.

    in another article, a dr. shariv claims that CO2 is not the main climate driver, that there is a limit on the degree to which CO2 can drive climate change, and that those “cosmic rays” are the culprit, explaining 2/3 of climate variation over the past 550 million years.

    is this so? and if true, is it even relevant to the last 650,000 years?

    these are all old arguments, thought to be themselves debunked. yet here they are again, and the scientists appear to have tons of credentials, making it very frustrating for layfolk

    Comment by greg meyerson — 15 Mar 2007 @ 7:44 PM

  114. RE # 105 James, you said:

    [What matters is having good food, clean air and water, freedom & room to live, access to education & information (oh, yeah, and good sex )].

    I suggest you get out more often and see places in the world other than your neighborhood. Maybe your life is better for having some of the ingredients you mention. Tell me how many of them you could enjoy without access to electricity. Perhaps there is one.

    Its introspection time.

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 15 Mar 2007 @ 7:46 PM

  115. Re:105. James. Yes, energy is a tool, but it is a tool that makes life less nasty, brutish and short. Women in Africa spend up to a quarter of their time just meeting their families’ needs for water and firewood. There is nothing romantic about poverty. There is nothing romantic about a past where women would like as not die in childbirth and 10% or more children died before their first birthday. If you look at the lives of exceptional people in any time, you will find inspiration. However, you must keep in mind that these lives are exceptional, and that in the main, humans suffered much more than they do now in the modern world. It is not cheap energy that is the problem, it is the way we get that cheap energy coupled with our seeming inability to regulate our own population and our own wants.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Mar 2007 @ 7:55 PM

  116. Will listen to debate. Meanwhile, Gavin, will you briefly comment/correct as you wish, point by point, the following. Do you agree that, and was there a voice at the debate for, the positions that:

    1. There exists no evidence of global-level climate forcers presently in play more significant than recent rapid increase in atmospheric C02, CH4, and other greenhouse gases.

    2. Recent rapid increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration is known to be anthropogenic based on trending atmospheric C-14,-13,-12 ratios and other evidence.

    3. Given the underlying physics of greenhouse gas warming, atmospheric CO2/CH4 residence times, and all things considered, continued longterm average global warming is expected even if anthropogenic greenhouse emissions are eliminated today.

    4. Average global temperature is expected to futher increase as a function of existing carbon resource converson to additional greenhouse gas.

    5. There is no expected significant natural mitigator to present and expected future warming during our lifetimes.

    I appreciate your help educating me as I attempt to educate others around me. Thank you in advance.

    Comment by Scott Vinson — 15 Mar 2007 @ 7:56 PM

  117. This from the event site.

    The proposition was “Global warming is not a crisis”

    Before the debate audience members disagreed by nearly 2 to 1:
    57.32% to 29.88%

    After the debate a plurality of audience members agreed with the skeptics:
    46.22% to 42.22%

    Comment by Jason Willosn — 15 Mar 2007 @ 7:57 PM

  118. Re:105. James. Yes, energy is a tool, but it is a tool that makes life less nasty, brutish and short. Women in Africa spend up to a quarter of their time just meeting their families’ needs for water and firewood. There is nothing romantic about poverty. There is nothing romantic about a past where women would like as not die in childbirth and 10% or more children died before their first birthday. If you look at the lives of exceptional people in any time, you will find inspiration. However, you must keep in mind that these lives are exceptional, and that in the main, humans suffered much more than they do now in the modern world. It is not cheap energy that is the problem, it is the way we get that cheap energy coupled with our seeming inability to regulate our own population and our own wants.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Mar 2007 @ 7:57 PM

  119. Claude Allegre is a scientist who has turned into more of a politician in his later years, after being appointed to high level positions by the French governement. Scientists working in the institutions he was directing have generously complained about his management style. His track record of publications is impressive but I don’t think he has done or coordinated any original research in a while. He has become the only major skeptic voice in France.

    Comment by Philippe Chantreau — 15 Mar 2007 @ 8:07 PM

  120. OK, I just read the summary on the Scientific American blog and one point that I think really should have been made in response to Crichton’s smarmy ban on private jets, is the comparatively small amount of CO2 emitted by air travel. I would have held up this beautiful WRI chart showing that only 3.3% of US CO2 emissions come from air travel.

    Comment by Aaron — 15 Mar 2007 @ 8:58 PM

  121. “The proposition, Michael Crichton, Prof. Richard Lindzen and Prof. Philip Stott, won by 46% to 42%.”

    And this is according to? The online poll aftermath? This is very telling that the simplistic, and incorrect version won. Boss! De plane! De Plane! Combined with Huh? All it shows is the audience is dimwitted, and it probably was stacked the paying sceptics anyway. There are those who say Gore lost his debates in 2000 too, but I didn’t think so.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 15 Mar 2007 @ 9:26 PM

  122. “Whether GW is a crisis is independent of all other crises,…”

    No, it’s not. Nobody worried about GW when the Allies invaded Europe in 1944. Nobody in Iraq is worried about GW. Nobody in Darfur is worried about GW. Nobody in North Korea is worried about GW.

    Virtually no one in China is worried about GW.

    When I went to Santiago, Chile, about a decade ago during their winter, the dust was so heavy every night discharge from my nose was grey or black. And when I was there during their summer, the ozone concentrations were so high my nose bled.

    They weren’t worried about GW. In fact, they weren’t worried much about the extraordinary levels of particulate and ozone. They weren’t even worried about the fact that the entire 5 million people of Santiago discharged completely untreated sewage into the river that runs through the city.

    What they were worried about was getting to “first world” levels of wealth as quickly as possible.

    The judgment of whether GW is a “crisis” most certainly IS dependent on other crises.

    Comment by Mark Bahner — 15 Mar 2007 @ 9:50 PM

  123. What’s the problem with the AGW scientific message? Let me exemplify.

    Carl Wunsch in [http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/page.asp?id=4688&tip=1], wrote:
    “It is probably true that most scientists would assign a very high probability that human-induced change is already strongly present in the climate system, while at the same time agreeing that clear-cut proof is not now available and may not be available for a long-time to come, if ever.”

    Well, “a very high probability that X is already strongly present
    in Y” is, scientifically, a “clear-cut proof” that X is present
    in Y. To be more precise, it is an acceptable scientific proof within
    the confidence limits of the observation!

    However, not only such proof is considered to be lacking today but,
    admittedly, “may not be available for a long-time to come, if ever.”

    So, logically, it is not true that there is “a very high probability
    that X (human-induced change) is already strongly present in Y
    (climate system)”. That’s what’s the problem with the AGW scientific message. It’s not there.

    Comment by Ed Gerck — 15 Mar 2007 @ 10:21 PM

  124. This article appears in the March 9, 2007 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
    Cosmoclimatology, Kepler,
    and Moon’s Model of the Nucleus
    by Laurence Hecht

    [text replace with link]
    EIR

    Comment by John Desiderio — 15 Mar 2007 @ 10:32 PM

  125. The debate transcript is available at:

    http://www.intelligencesquaredus.org/Event.aspx?Event=12

    After reading it, I can see why the skeptics won.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 15 Mar 2007 @ 11:13 PM

  126. Debate Skills? Advantage: Climate Contrarians
    March 15, 2007
    Scientific American Blog
    http://blog.sciam.com/index.php?title=debate_skills_advantage_climate_contrari&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1


    …”The question is whether the warming we are currently experiencing–and every panelist agreed that warming was happening–is worrisome and/or manmade. “…



    …”All fine and good except that they were faced with the folksy anecdotes of Crichton and the oratorical fire of Stott. As the novelist mused, the weather is changing, no one is arguing that, but “all anybody wants to do is talk about it, no one wants to do anything about it.” Adding “if they’re not willing to do it why should anyone else?” “…


    …”The proponents of climate change crisis had nothing to offer other than the science.”…


    …”the audience responded to Crichton’s satirical call for a ban on private jets more than Ekwurzel’s vague we need to throw “everything we can at the climate crisis.” “…

    I think that pretty much sums it up. Warming was agreed upon by all participants. Wanting to assign blame for the source or cause is an exercise in futility because just like when a child is scolded, reprimanded and blamed, the child negates the source or authority of the blame and rebels.

    Only until the child understands his actions and why the actions
    caused a problem in the first place, will any true responsibility for
    their actions ensue a real cognitive change because the matter became apparent to the child.

    People resent being blamed to such an extent it is a major reason why people lie, saying such things such as oh no that other guy did it, not me.

    As to the proponets of climate crisis only having science; personally, if it had been myself, I would have wanted Jared Diamond on my side of the panel.

    AUTHOR OF ‘GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL’ – ECO-SUICIDE IS THE NEW DANGER; WRITER
    FINDS A WARNING IN FAILURES OF PAST CIVILIZATIONS

    Echoes-Sentinel March 13, 2007

    http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=18075311&BRD=1918&PAG=461&dept_id=
    506420&rfi=6

    Comment by BarbieDoll Moment — 15 Mar 2007 @ 11:16 PM

  127. Re # 81 Do you really think Einstein could have explained to a lay audience in a debate format his theories of special and general relativity, and convinced them that his theories better fit the experimental evidence (e.g., Maxwell’s electrodynamics; Michelson-Morely experiment; etc) than alternative explanations(e.g.,of Dutch physicist H.A. Lorentz)?

    Personally, I doubt it.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 15 Mar 2007 @ 11:45 PM

  128. …”Let us hope that congress and the senate etc and maybe the next US Government gets the message.”

    People have gotten the message, as well as our US government.

    This topic, or any topic, should not be about villifying
    the U.S., the U.S. government, the citizens of the U.S. or other countries.

    When people point fingers at others its a rather easy to ignore looking at themselves or other people and it serves some as an excuse to avoid discussion of the crux of the actual issue.

    Furthermore, at the same time, it seems to absolve one of a certain amount of responsibility to do concrete research on the topic/issue before one begins speaking with certainity, knowledge, or
    surety.

    Assigning blame is just not a productive use of anyone’s energy or time and it ignores
    the factors that even if one gets any message, those people still have the right and choice
    to make up their own minds, and or to act or not act upon the message.

    At least here in the democratic U.S.A.

    In a Test of Capturing Carbon Dioxide, Perhaps a Way to Temper Global Warming March 15, 2007
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/15/business/15carbon.html

    “American Electric Power, a major electric utility, is planning the largest demonstration yet of capturing carbon dioxide from a coal-fired power plant and pumping it deep underground.
    “…

    …”The Energy Department has concentrated on a different technology, converting coal to a gas and taking the carbon out before the gas is burned. American Electric is also pursuing that technology, but the chilled-ammonia method is applicable to traditional coal plants that use pulverized coal technology, and dozens of them are on the drawing boards.

    “You, me and everyone else needs to understand that the government talks big and moves slow,” Mr. Morris said.

    Comment by BarbieDoll Moment — 16 Mar 2007 @ 12:06 AM

  129. I haven’t read all the comments here, so this may well have been said in one way or another.
    The denialists views are not based on science, they are based on politics, the science of AGW simply doesn’t interest them, no amount of scientific evidence will change an entrenched denialists beliefs, and I assume that the audience for this debate had already fixed their views on the matter.

    Comment by Andrew Worth — 16 Mar 2007 @ 1:16 AM

  130. If it is any consolation

    Poll Finds Worldwide Agreement That Climate Change is a Threat
    Publics Divide Over Whether Costly Steps Are Needed
    March 13, 2007
    http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/home_page/329.php?nid=&id=&pnt=329&lb=hmpg1

    “An international poll finds widespread agreement that climate change is a pressing problem. This majority, however, divides over whether the problem of global warming is urgent enough to require immediate, costly measures or whether more modest efforts are sufficient. “…

    …”It includes 17 countries – China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, Poland, Iran, Mexico, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Argentina, Peru, Israel, Armenia – and the Palestinian territories. These represent more than 55 percent of the world population.”…

    …”The largest majority in favor of measures to combat global warming is found in Australia (92%). China and Israel are the next most likely (83%) to favor such measures. Eighty percent of respondents in the United States – the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases – also support taking such measures. “…

    …”In no country (out of 12 asked) does more than one in four endorse the statement, “Until we are sure that global warming is really a problem, we should not take any steps that would have economic costs.”…

    …”While majorities in all countries agree that the threat posed by global warming is at least important, there is less agreement over whether it is critical. “….

    …” Overwhelming majorities in all seven countries rate improving the global environment as at least an “important” goal and majorities in all call it a “very important” one: Australia, 99 percent (very 88%); South Korea, 96 percent (very 60%); the United States 93 percent (very 54%), Armenia 86 percent (very 54%), China, 85 percent (very 54%); Thailand, 83 percent (very 61%); and India, 79 percent (very 51%).
    “…

    Comment by BarbieDoll Moment — 16 Mar 2007 @ 1:33 AM

  131. Seed magazine recently had this piece on Hansen’s views about the role of the scientist in such debates.

    The New Scientist
    James Hansen is the world’s leading–and most politically outspoken–climate researcher.
    by CHRIS MOONEY � Posted March 11, 2007 11:49 AM
    …Hansen believes, as did Albert Einstein, that speaking out politically at key moments is part of a scientist’s responsibility. He also rejects the idea that scientists should pose as completely objective fact machines that refrain from offering opinions that aren’t purely scientific in nature (even about subjects that they know better anyone else). What’s refreshing is that he makes no apologies for that. “There’s a big gap between what is understood by the scientists at the forefront of the research, and what is known by the people who need to know,” he says. “And that’s partly because of this technical language, and limitations on what scientists are willing to say.” In an essay for the New York Review of Books, Hansen put it bluntly: “Scientists present the facts about climate change clinically, failing to stress that business-as-usual will transform the planet.”
    ————–
    I think a lot of younger scientists need to renew their acquaintance with Jacob Bronowski’s classic, “Science and Human Values.” Scientists do indeed have a role to play politically, as all science ultimately has policy, social, and moral implications, as the atomic bombs dropped on Japan made abundantly clear to many scientists at the time. Ultimately, you must take responsibility for your science both as a scientist and a human being. It is, as both Hansen and Gore have said, a moral duty.
    The idea that science is neutral, presenting its findings as if facts occupy some far off alternative universe, is nonsense. Too often this claim has merely been a convenient refuge for those who hope to escape social and moral duties. Let it not be the case here.

    Comment by E.R. Beardsley — 16 Mar 2007 @ 1:47 AM

  132. Just read most of the debate (minus Chrichton and Stott’s opening statements) and I gotta tell you I can’t tell why the voting went like it did. Maybe (besides Gavin’s small PC gaffe) because the Contrarians had good, polished closing statements. Also I think that what is misleading people is the fact that a few degrees can have big effects on the world climate. Ekwurzel addressed this but it should be addressed more.

    Some tidbits not chronological order:

    http://www.intelligencesquaredus.org/TranscriptContainer/GlobalWarming-edited%20version%20031407.pdf

    Comments from Lindzen

    Exposure, I would suggest, to cold is generally found to be both more dangerous and less comfortable Wow! There’s a subjective statement. So because HE prefers hot to cold means that everyone should?

    It is worth adding that warming, instead of accelerating, has been essentially absent for about the last ten years.

    Somerville answered that with Of the twelve warmest years in the instrumental record, uh, eleven of them have occurred in the most recent twelve years globally. 2006 was the sixth warmest year in this record globally and the warmest year of all in the U.S.

    Another lulu from Lindzen later on, … methane has stopped growing. um, then where have all the cows (etc., etc.) gone?

    It was good to see that Lindzen agrees that global cooling was media hype.

    Comment by Ron R. — 16 Mar 2007 @ 2:10 AM

  133. Great comment from Somerville, You know, I’ cannot imagine why Philip Stott and Michael Crichton seem to think that doing something about these terrible crises is impossible if you do something about climate change, or even made more difficult, climate change need not be in competition with or be an alternative to doing something about the terrible toll that poverty and preventable disease take. We can do both of those and many other worthy things as well, in fact, it’s exactly the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet who will suffer the most from the consequences of, of global warming which goes on unabated.

    and Sherwood Rowland, later a Nobel laureate, was a frustrated person in 1984, because humanity was so slow in dealing with the issue of ozone depletion. He said, quote, “After all, what’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions, if in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true.

    Comment by Ron R. — 16 Mar 2007 @ 2:16 AM

  134. I thought these comments from Brenda Ekwurzel were also good:

    If we start now we reduce each year. However, if we delay that means that the cuts that we have to make to meet our goals will become steeper and steeper and we may not even be able to meet those demands. They will become too hard for us to reach. It’s the equivalent to the person with a crdt crd who can no longer pay off the minimum payments, that cannot reach their goals. Right now we’re on a spending spree with our heat trapping emissions. We’re building up the future costs of global warming.

    note: I’m abbreviating a couple of words because something in this post is being called spam.

    Comment by Ron R. — 16 Mar 2007 @ 2:19 AM

  135. (Hmmm, looks like crdt crd was it. Anyway)

    Some funny comments from Gavin, It’s quite likely that you’ll be able to get a cab home from this event, unless it’s raining of course.

    and So far this evening we’re running at about two red herrings, two complete errors, three straw men and one cherry pick.

    After Stott repeats the same thing he was just corrected for about not understanding 80% of factors in the forcing Gavin says I think we might have a solution to the energy crisis, we just need to tap Philip Stott.

    It also seemed that Gavin had Crichton and Stott babbling:

    Crichton: what am I saying again, and Stott about solar rays.

    This comment from Somerville is a keeper people are a lot like, like Mark Twain, they’re all for progress but are opposed to change. I think he said that Twain said that. And another Listen, it’s fun to hear other people practicing meteorology without a license

    Miscellaneous points:

    Everyone agrees that more greenhouse gases will make the world warmer. (p.56)

    According to Crichton Bjorn Lomberg thinks the cost of mitigation would be $558 trillion??? (p.58)

    PHILIP STOTT thinks future generations will be richer so that is justification for passing the buck to them (p.60).

    Gavin needs to do a post about the National Academy of Science report that he had a disagreement with Lindzen about (400 vs 900 years). (pp.49-50)

    To be contrary myself I thought that MICHAEL CRICHTON’s last comment was pretty good. (p.77)

    After reading the debate I think that news of Gavin’s, Somerville’s and Ekwurzel’s demise was greatly exaggerated

    Comment by Ron R. — 16 Mar 2007 @ 2:23 AM

  136. IS quantum physics intuitive, NO!, but it does give us a fantastic array of technologies and scientifically it underpins physics and chemistry but the lay person would have a lot of trouble understanding it and the same goes for relativity to but all of the satellites up there rely on its accuracy to be able to work properly. However does this mean that it it not reality !!!??? of course not but quantum physics is not about to change everyones way of life is it?

    The same goes for climate science, the Sun emits energy (which has not changed that much over time) onto a receiving earth which either absorbs it and reradiates it as heat (IR) or reflects that energy back into space directly (albedo effect) via clouds,ice etc, now if more of that reflectd heat is trapped by something in the atmosphere as is happenning with climate change then I cannot see how this is wrong or not scientific as experiments have been conducted and evidence gathered that basically makes a compelling case. The case against it being CO2 driven is sloppy but newspapers print anything that sells and nothing sells like controversy does it.

    In fact the sciencies that underpin climate change, physics and chemistry are the most empirical of all the sciences and hence more likely to be right on the money. The trouble is that politics and peoples opinions get involed here: climate change has been taken up by the green lobby and the environmentalists and they have envangelised it to such a degree that now scientists are on the back foot trying to play down the looney lefts ideas on dramatic or abrupt climate change that has given the right wingers something to moan about, you want to stop progress and prosperity and undermine our way of life. Coal is a cheap and readily available energy source in the USA and presently there way of life depends on it as they see it, there is a lot of vested interest in coal presently so arguments abound on both sides. In the USA the right or well organised and well funded, in the UK it is the left who have this abaility mainly.

    I would state that the lead times to wean ourselves off of carbon emitting technologies is the issue here, although you read about possible alternatives to coal, oil and gas the US political system is in the grip of the companies who mine these substances. It will never be easy for the climate scientists to win this argument as climate change is slow for one and creeps up on people over many years so that they hardly notice. EL ninos supress Hurriances so last season was from a media perspective a non event meaning that climate change is not affecting hurriances from a publics perspective, however the public are not aware of el ninos in the main and the effect they can have on the climate and hence we get the media reporting a lack of hurricanes and as SST have been the same where are they and hence climate change is not real.

    I just hope that someone in the US administration listens soon and really puts some money in to alternative energy research and gets the fossil fuel companies onboard.

    Time is beginning to run short in relation to infrastructure lead times and initiatives to compabt the source of climate change.

    Comment by pete best — 16 Mar 2007 @ 4:13 AM

  137. Gavin – I am confident that I speak for a large number of RC readers when I say that I’m pleased and proud to have you and your colleagues representing the side of reason in the AGW debates. It a difficult, and often thankless, task that consumes time you’d rather spend on your research, but it is also a vital task. Thank you.

    On the issue of AGW and developing nations (29,105,115), there is a strong likelihood that poorer nations will derive benefits from the ‘first world’ efforts to increase solar (PV) and wind energy generation capacity. Moore’s Law, as applied to PV and wind systems, will greatly reduce the cost per watt for PV and wind energy generation, enabling developing nations to build the electrical generation capacity they need at lower cost.

    A good example of this effect is cellular communications. Consumer market driven competition and development drove the costs down and enabled many poorer countries to skip the time and expense of having to install or upgrade a copper wire-based telephone infrastructure. Where it used to take years to get a phone installed, now only takes hours.

    A side benefit of this is that distributed PV and wind electrical generation is often more reliable and robust than first world style remote, massive power plants connected to population centers by electrical transmission lines. We’ve seen time and time again that transmission lines are expensive to build, difficult to protect, and are vulnerable to sabotage or storm damage.

    Comment by Phillip Shaw — 16 Mar 2007 @ 6:53 AM

  138. [[The sun is the culprit!]]

    Total Solar Irradiance hasn’t gone up significantly in 50 years. Global warming has turned up sharply in the last 30.

    More sunlight would heat the stratosphere. The stratosphere is cooling. Modelers predicted it would if greenhouse gases increased.

    More sunlight would heat the equator more than the poles (Lambert’s cosine law). Instead we see “polar amplification,” also predicted by the modelers. The poles are heating faster than the equator.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Mar 2007 @ 7:13 AM

  139. I kinda agree with #25:

    “The climate science community really needs to create a site that lays out the the theories and the facts in a clear and concise manner, that provides links back to the primary literature and research organizations…”

    At first Realclimate flew right over my head. It is a hard read at first. I find I’m grasping things better now.Ive had to do an awful lot of zig-zagging across the net to flesh some things out though. Feel like I’ve gone down a lot of dead ends and wasted a lot of time. Maybe thats the way things are supposed to be…

    I’ve found these sites to be excellent however:

    http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2006/02/how-to-talk-to-global-warming-sceptic.html

    ^^agree that the name might be a little condescending however.

    this is a good blog:

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/

    not bad here:

    http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/

    Pretty good:

    http://www.brighton73.freeserve.co.uk/gw/globalwarmingfaq.htm

    These above sites are on the right track. There is room for improvement still, I feel. It’s very easy to feel like you are being bullshted in regards to the topic of Global Warming if you do enough surfing the web. Very easy to feel like you never know enough. But still, I think a site that provides a sort of nexus between your very basic FAQs and Realclimate could be done a little better (not that the above sites arnt very good)

    Comment by CraigM — 16 Mar 2007 @ 7:14 AM

  140. [[Personally I don't think there's any chance of Homo sapiens lasting a million years. The unassuming and unambitious mollusc Lingula has been around for 500 million. ]]

    Yeah, but try getting her out of bed in the morning.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Mar 2007 @ 7:16 AM

  141. Yecchhhh! Crichton brought up the private jet thing at 3 different points in the debate!

    Comment by ken — 16 Mar 2007 @ 8:51 AM

  142. http://blog.sciam.com/index.php?title=debate_skills_advantage_climate_contrari&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

    Scientific american provide some dialogue on the debate.

    Comment by pete best — 16 Mar 2007 @ 9:24 AM

  143. Was it Crichton who wants to ban private jets because of their energy inefficiency (good)? But how about we start with SUVs, like the one that he drove but hid 5 blocks away before the debate. There’s lots more of them.

    A bit hypocritical Mr Crichton?

    Comment by Ron R. — 16 Mar 2007 @ 9:45 AM

  144. #139
    http://gristmill.grist.org/skeptics is a more up to date version of the illconsidered.blogspot one.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 16 Mar 2007 @ 9:48 AM

  145. Regarding science and politics: I think it is necessary for a scientist to attempt to be as objective as possible in their work, but at the same time one must recognize that pure objectivity does not exist, since we’re all people after all. There are so many small decisions to make in science, eg what to do with outliers, how to quantify and use uncertainty estimates. These decisions should of course preferably not be guided by what the scientist would like the results to be (as may be happening in the cosmic ray camp and many others), but on the other hand, just as when two people cook the same meal from the same recipe, both meals will taste slightly different, no two scientists will end up writing the exact same paper when doing the “exact same” research.

    As a scientist, I may not agree with Pielke’s views on global warming, but a lot of things he sais about the interplay of science and politics/morality are valid, and not “anti-scientific”. Comment 131 was right on about the moral duty that scientists have. Climate science is very interesting, but the problem society faces regarding climate change is not scientific by nature. I would claim that it has very little to do with science: we know enough about it to know that we should be doing something about the problem. It’s the political will that is missing. Scientific input is however needed to counter the detrimental attempts of the oil lobby and a handful of contrarians to downplay the problem. But in terms of addressing the issue of climate change, the main role for the scientific community is in arguing against such pseudo-scientific claims that could endanger society. Trying to decrease the uncertainty regarding one small aspect of climate change is scientifically very interesting, but society is helped a lot more by engaging in debates such as these.

    So, thank you Gavin, for putting your knowledge to such good use. I think your opening statement was very strong, I especially liked the analogy of contrarians to lawyers (though lawyers in the audience may not have appreciated it). In the discussion that followed, the slickness of the other side probably swayed the audience’s vote. Plus the fact that Crichton corrected a statement made by Somerville, and turned it against him, was a deadly blow.

    Comment by Darrel — 16 Mar 2007 @ 10:34 AM

  146. On banning private jets, what are the facts? How many exist? How much flying do they actually do? How much of that flying would be done anyway on commercial, and how many extra commercial miles would have to be flown to reach the same destinations? How many additional commercial flights would have to be added? What would be done with destinations that have no commercial service? People who have business there would still have to get there. Private jet CO2 production is going to net out to much less than it may appear to be.

    I bet ending lawn mowing, edging, and leave blowing trumps it by a wide margin.

    I doubt that private jets exceed military jets in CO2 production.

    So just get the facts on private jets. I know it’s a stupid waste of time, but somebody is going to have to chop Crichton off at the knees.

    Comment by J.C.H — 16 Mar 2007 @ 10:37 AM

  147. Engaging with these characters (Crighton, Lindzen, Stott) is a terrible idea. By holding a debate it reinforces the notion that there is a debate. They don’t have to win the debate on the merits because their only goal is DOUBT. All they need to do is create the APPEARANCE of a debate.

    Anyone who engages in such an exercise should keep this fact in mind and prepare for a duel of rhetoric across the complete spectrum of possible debate (especially with Crighton – a non-scientist – involved).

    This result sadly was predictable. There’s going to be much more of this so please be ready and we should be declining flat-earth debates in most cases.

    Comment by Rafael Reyes — 16 Mar 2007 @ 10:43 AM

  148. This may have occurred to everyone already, but I haven’t seen it explicitly stated. If the audience knew in advance that there would be a poll on the question before and after the debate, those who agreed that Global warming is NOT a crisis could have purposely switched sides, voting against before and then switching afterwards. It would be interesting if a poll was conducted here after people had a chance to hear the debate online. I would be a little skeptical of the transcript due to the source.
    Thanks Gavin for this website and all your contributions. I think the debate is worthwhile, next time get Al Gore or someone willing to dabble a little more in the political side of things on your side. You could also invite the participants to engage you here, where they will be afraid to participate because they would lose badly.

    Comment by Dennis Coyne — 16 Mar 2007 @ 11:09 AM

  149. Gavin, you mentioned the terms were set up and the “no crisis” people committed early on, and then it took a while to find anyone willing to take the other end of the stick.

    This is probably a clue (wry grin). Was this all kept confidential, or did the climatologists know that an attempt was being made to sign people up and know who had declined the honor?

    It could be wise to make this sort of invitation public early on, so the scientists can consider the assumptions and terms.

    As I and others said earlier, the ‘crisis’ is what’s happening decades from now; it does have the odor of the anti-evolution ‘debate’ process about it.

    If it’s a ‘political or moral’ issue then someone who claims to be either political or moral (or both, if available) should be recruited —- if it were in fact a debate on a political or moral issue, then all those appearing would have presumably agreed they were addressing how to respond to some known issue.

    Instead it appears an exercise in confusing the issue. I suspect more invitations are already in the mail to climate scientists, now that it’s worked (sigh).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Mar 2007 @ 11:24 AM

  150. I pointed out in the pre-debate counsel that in some ways we are working against human nature here, in that humans are inherently poor at accurately perceiving risk. This is particularly true when the risk is perceived as “distant”. We tend to fundamentally misunderstand systems with exponential increases and nonlinear feedbacks. The analogy I like to use is turning an oil tanker. Once you pass a certain point, the inertia of the system takes over, and all you can do is put engines all astern (a drastic maneuver) to minimize the damage. Albert A Bartlett looked at these phenomena in the references cited in this article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Bartlett
    Somehow we have to bring home the fact that there is a very real possibility that if we do not act now, our actions will be completely ineffective. And most difficult, we have to do so without seeming hopeless.
    Again, going back to our oil tanker analogy, the sooner we make a course correction, the more gentle the correction can be. If we wait to long, then even if we successfully avoid the worst effects, the course correction will be jarring to the economy and our way of life in any case. Just some thoughts as we conduct the “lessons learned”.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Mar 2007 @ 12:11 PM

  151. Re #114: [Maybe your life is better for having some of the ingredients you mention. Tell me how many of them you could enjoy without access to electricity.]

    In the past, I’ve lived and worked for months at a time in remote locations, without electricity, and still enjoyed all of those things. Sometimes it takes a bit of thought, or a change of habit, but it’s quite doable.

    [Its introspection time.]

    Yes, for all of us.

    Re #115: [Women in Africa spend up to a quarter of their time just meeting their families' needs for water and firewood.]

    Whereas with western-style grid electricity, they’d likely spend the same amount of time working to pay their electric bills. Electricity is not magic: it comes at a price.

    [There is nothing romantic about poverty.]

    Did I say there was? It is quite possible to be prosperous and live without electricity (consider the Amish), just as it’s possible to be poor, and yet have access to cheap & reliable electricity.

    [There is nothing romantic about a past where women would like as not die in childbirth and 10% or more children died before their first birthday.]

    I’m puzzled: exactly how would electricity – just electricity and nothing else – change this? It would seem to depend a lot more on medical care – trained personel, immunizations & antibiotics, public education – which could all be had without electricity.

    [It is not cheap energy that is the problem, it is the way we get that cheap energy coupled with our seeming inability to regulate our own population and our own wants.]

    Err… Isn’t that what I said?

    Comment by James — 16 Mar 2007 @ 12:13 PM

  152. I have a minor question if someone would be so kind.

    In the opening statement by Richard Somerville
    He made the point that advances in scientific knowledge usually occur through the work of many individuals gradually changing the opinion of their peers.

    - When the revolution of continental drift was sweeping through geology and geophysics, some imminent earth scientists couldn’t be persuaded that plate tectonics were real. Continents can move. These contrarians were mistaken.

    - Experience, long experience shows that in science it tends to be the rare exception rather than the rule when a lone genius eventually prevails over conventional mainstream scientific thought. An occasional Galileo does come along or an Einstein. Not often.

    Michael Crichton answers

    “Richard has just told you. He’s, he’s giving you the story of plate tectonics but it’s fascinating. He’s turned it upside down. He’s turned it on its head. The story of plate tectonics actually is the story of one person who had the right idea – Alfred Wegener. ”

    Which is true enough as I understand it but irrelevant as climate science in general and greenhouse gas theories in particular must also have an Alfred Wegener or two. Who are they?

    I ask because I think Richard’s point was valid and I would like to use it myself.

    Comment by doug newton — 16 Mar 2007 @ 12:31 PM

  153. Re 151: James, surely you don’t believe women would have to work for 6 hours a day to pay their electric bill, do you? And even if they did, it would be work that is more productive. And just how are you going to preserve all of those vaccines, drugs, etc. without refrigeration–and therefore electricity. I have seen the effects of rural electrification in Brazil. My father saw them on the Kansas plains. Find somebody besides Theodore Kaczynski who wants to go back.
    By all means, we can cut back on what we use–and much of that painlessly. However, we will not stop development, because development promises a better life. Development means energy demands will increase. It also means that we will hopefully have more educated minds to develop new energy saving technologies, new energy sources and new ways of coping with the climate change that will inevitably occur.
    Look, I’m all for going to the woods to learn to live deliberately–I just don’t think its reasonable to preclude development in nations that desperately need it.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Mar 2007 @ 12:38 PM

  154. re: 147 – And by not debating, it reinforces the idea that one side is suppressing the other for purely political reasons, which is precisely the accusation that is being leveled at the academic community. As objectionable as you may find it, you guys have to hold your nose and listen to the rhetoric coming from the right. There is a major propaganda push happening, and nothing reinforces public opinion more than predictions that come true. Believe me, I hear it daily, and it’s having an effect. It has to be countered, and that’s going to involve repetition.

    Also, I like how many of the RC commenters use the term “anthropogenic global warming”. However, this may have the unintended effect of hurting the cause when natural variability produces a brief downward trend in temperatures. I prefer to put it all under the umbrella of anthropogenic global change, since things like land use changes have effects besides adjusting GHG levels. Just my opinion, not trying to scold you.

    Comment by TJH — 16 Mar 2007 @ 12:40 PM

  155. Re #146 I’d guess you’re right that private jets don’t actually contribute much. However, contrary to what some here believe, I doubt whether GHG emissions can be cut as much as needed without real sacrifices, if not of quality of life, then at least of access to consumer goods and services among the (relatively) rich – which would include just about everyone posting here. Evidence, from both social psychology experiments and historical experience, indicates that most people will make sacrifices for a shared goal if, and only if, they are perceived as more-or-less fairly distributed. As George Orwell wrote during World War 2 “The lady in the Rolls-Royce does more damage to morale than a fleet of German bombers.” The material damage this notional lady was doing to the UK war effort would of course be insignificant. Whether there’s experimental evidence of the additional resentment hypocrisy would cause I’m not sure, but I’d bet that if the appropriate experiment were carried out, it would be found. The very fact Crichton uses the kind of sneers he does shows that he understands these points intuitively (as a novelist should), and will use them. Similarly the fuss about Gore’s home electricity consumption (justified or not – I don’t know) is just what he should have expected. Those concerned about, and involved in public debate over, AGW needn’t strive for personal zero GHG emission levels, but they should take care not to appear profligate or hypocritical. I have no doubt the luxury SUVs provided for transport to the debate were a deliberate trap – and if any of the “pro-crisis” side had used them, this would have been exploited ruthlessly.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 16 Mar 2007 @ 12:54 PM

  156. Re 152: Actually, in no way is the triumph of a genius inconsistent with the process of scientific consensus. Wegner triumphed because he gathered sufficient evidence that his peer had to agree with him. That’s science. What is not science is expecting deference to an opinion that is not backed up by evidence–as the denialists have demanded. Yes, it may take a while for the evidence to become cogent, but it eventually will do so if the proposition is true. And the beauty of scientific consensus is that it keeps a genius from triumphing when he is wrong–as was Einstein with Quantum Mechanics or as Newton was wrt optics. The adoption of Newton’s corpuscular theory of light set English optics more than a decade behind the Continent–that was before the idea of scientific consensus developed. On the other hand, Einstein opposed quantum mechanics to his dying day–and science accepted it despite his opposition. Science has adopted the conservative position of going with evidence-driven scientific consensus because ultimately it is more efficient than pursuing blind alleys where evidence is weak.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Mar 2007 @ 1:01 PM

  157. Well, I dont’ know about dip in temperatures. I read in general media that NOAA reported this winter as the warmest ever, I think that’s meant on the all hemisphere. This is conditional, I haven’t yet seen anything from NOAA myself.

    Comment by Philippe Chantreau — 16 Mar 2007 @ 1:03 PM

  158. How many of you guys are driving hybrid cars I wonder? Have you taken your homes off the grid? Put your money where your mouths are. [edit]

    [Response: I don't own a car at all, and my electricity comes purely from renewables. Happy? Of course not. I would have to be living in a cave with no internet access before these kinds of attacks would fade - and then it would only be because I wasn't around to put the scientific case. The point is pretty much moot though. No conceivable amount of change of personal behaviour is going to fix this. Campaigns to enact legislation need to understand this (and mostly I think they do) . The ozone depletion problem wasn't fixed by people ceasing to use deodorant - it was fixed by new technologies - and that is mostly what's going to happen here. -gavin]

    Comment by TJ — 16 Mar 2007 @ 1:19 PM

  159. I am not a scientist and I am trying to reach conclusions regarding AGW by reading. As an outsider looking, I am very skeptical of the computer models.
    In this debate, Richard Linzen stated: “I think that it is crucial to distinguish between the claim that models can display past behaviors from the actual situation, which is that models can be adjusted to display past behavior once it is known. There is no reason to suppose that the adjustment corrected the relevant error.”
    A similar point is made by Professor Freemon Dyson, a well regarded physicist, who says, “Concerning the climate models, I know enough of the details to be sure that they are unreliable. They are full of fudge factors that are fitted to the existing climate, so the models more or less agree with the observed data. But there is no reason to believe that the same fudge factors would give the right behavior in a world with different chemistry, for example in a world with increased CO2 in the atmosphere.” http://www.staff.livjm.ac.uk/spsbpeis/Freeman-Dyson.htm
    I realize I so far down in the comment section that maybe no one will read this, but I would be interested in hearing responses to these assertions or at least some links to relevant websites.

    Comment by Paul — 16 Mar 2007 @ 1:24 PM

  160. Crichton mis-described Wegener’s contribution. Wegener didn’t have plate tectonics in mind when he noticed how closely allied Brazil and Africa were and wondered if they’d once been joined. (And Wegener wasn’t the first with that, either.) Harry Hess made the first substantive discoveries that led to plate tectonics. Several scientists beginning in the late 50s through the late 60s developed plate tectonics.

    Crichton was just making a misleading joke.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 16 Mar 2007 @ 1:33 PM

  161. Re #158:

    Lose the snarky attitude TJ. Yes, I drive an Insight hybrid. Yes, I’ve changed over to CFL bulbs. Yes, I recycle. And, no, I don’t have any illusions that my personal actions to reduce my carbon footprint will ‘save the planet’. But I know that my actions when summed with similar actions by millions of environmentally conscious people will make a positive difference. I vote for candidates I feel will act responsibly at the state and national levels. And I will continue to look for ways I can make things better.

    So now it’s your turn . . . are you doing all you can to improve the situation? And, if not, what possible justification can you offer for wasting finite resources? Are you sociopathic or just ignorant?

    Comment by Phillip Shaw — 16 Mar 2007 @ 1:45 PM

  162. Gavin,

    Lindzen said in the debate:
    “What is less often noted is in terms of greenhouse forcing we’re already three quarters of the way to that doubling.”

    Do you know where the 3/4 comes from? If we are talking about just CO2 with its log effect, I think a 41% increase (increase by a factor of sqrt(2)) is half way to doubling. At 35% increase, we are almost half way to doubling.

    [Response: During the Q&A. I was asked directly whether I thought the other side was being sincere. I hemmed and hawed about that because I don't want to get into those kinds of issues. However, the use of this argument by Lindzen - which he know full well is completely bogus tests my politeness to the limits.

    The issues are as follows. To do a calculation of the climate sensitivity you need a) to be at equilibrium (or know what the imbalance is), b) to know the net forcings, and c) to know the global mean temperature change. In the case of the last 100 years, we only now c) reasonably well, but a) and b) only approximately. Both of those uncertain points were brought up specifically by Lindzen - the ocean heat content growth (which he appeared to dispute entirely, but if pressed would probably go with 0.3 W/m2 based on Lyman et al) - and the role of aerosols - which he claimed were a complete unknown. Those uncertainties feed directly into his calculation of the likely sensitivity and yet they are no-where to be seen in his calculations.

    That isn't even to deal with his deliberate exaggerration of the forcing and minimisation of the temperature rise: From CO2 along you get about 1.6 W/m2, including all other well mixed GHGs you get 2.6 W/m2 but if you take the best guess for all the forcings you get back to 1.6 W/m2. A full doubling of CO2 is 3.7 W/m2, and so by looking at all well-mixed GHGs you get about 70% of the way to a doubling. But that is not the appropriate number- that would be about 1.6 (the net effect) and it's substantial uncertainties. The temperature change is around 0.8 deg C (again with a little uncertainty) and the imbalance (as alluded to above) is about 0.3 - again with some uncertainty. So a correct calculation would give a best guess from the 20th C of 3.7 * 0.8 / (1.6 - 0.3) = 2.3 deg C for a doubling. But the error bars on this are very large indeed, and would easily encompass the standard range - 1.5 to 4.5 deg C.

    Lindzen is in full possession of these facts - and indeed, insists that the error bars are larger than is generally supposed. How he can sincerely use this argument to argue for a low sensitivity is beyond my ken. -gavin]

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 16 Mar 2007 @ 1:50 PM

  163. Ultimately TJ, the day your are stuffed into a hybrid-type thing and taken off the grid, as it exists now, is going to happen, and your side is the reason – because when conservatives feel threatened they go hard draconian.

    And feel the earth buddy – that buzzin’ in the ground is ExxMob, etc. waking up to the realization that gated communities and all their billions will do them and their progeny no good if the fossil-fuel future is not averted.

    You really need to wrap your head around this – ExxMob has abandoned you. They agree on major points with most of these guys whether these guys own hybrids or not.

    Comment by J.C.H — 16 Mar 2007 @ 1:56 PM

  164. Re 161 and other responses to 158–what do you expect from an individual whose URL links to nonexistent blog under the title “leftist scum must die”. I would much rather that scientists consumed energy to fight the good fight than leave civilization to the tender mercies of individuals such as TJ.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Mar 2007 @ 2:02 PM

  165. Re #159: Paul — I have been reading RealClimate (also books and papers on climate) for over a year now. This is enough for me to have some understanding of the climate models. These are quite good and keep getting better as more of the physics and chemistry is understood and added to the models.

    I am under the impression that the statement by Dyson occured quite some time ago. Prehaps at that time he was correct. But not in the year 2007.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 16 Mar 2007 @ 2:11 PM

  166. And wouldn’t you know it, the next debate challenge was indeed already issued: “I am very eager to have all the science properly debated with scientists qualified in the right areas and have asked Channel 4 if they will stage a live debate on this subject.â�� — Durkin.

    Don’t take the bait.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Mar 2007 @ 2:17 PM

  167. David Benson said “I am under the impression that the statement by Dyson occured quite some time ago. Perhaps at that time he was correct. But not in the year 2007″

    The comments by Dyson are current. The interview from which they are lifted is dated March, 2007.

    Comment by Paul — 16 Mar 2007 @ 2:22 PM

  168. Re 158

    There are lots of things which can be done to fight climate change. One does not need to take their house off the grid or drive a hybrid, not everyone can afford to. People can reduce their consumption of everything: electricity, gasoline, and goods and services in general. I do drive a hybrid and by 100 % renewable energy, and have never flown in anything but economy class. No doubt one could comment that as an individual this makes little difference, the idea is to get as many people as possible to join in the effort, together we can make a difference.

    Re. 159

    The models account for changing atmospheric chemistry going back at least 1000 years. Lindzen suggests the models are not accurate, he can’t seem to find a peer-reviewed journal that will publish this.

    A general comment on the debate is that it is easy (having finally read the transcript) to see how an uninformed audience might have been fooled by the crisis deniers. The two main arguments seemed to be: just because scientists agree does not make something true (because scientists have been wrong in the past, so they may be wrong now), and that we should not worry about global warming when there is so much poverty in the world. So should all science be dismissed ? There is always some measure of uncertainty or areas for further research in every field of science. As climate changes, those most unlikely able to adapt will be those in poverty, so a false dichotomy has been created, help the poor or fight climate change.

    Comment by Dennis Coyne — 16 Mar 2007 @ 2:28 PM

  169. I am quite surprised that the Dr. Lindzen arguments in the debate could not be refuted. As someone who developed “simple” models for estimation of terrestrial solar radiation in the 1970s and 1980s (published for example in the book “the Solar/Wind Handbook” US Department of Energy 1979), I remember that even then there was an understanding of the effect of aerosols on insolation values. In fact I came across some general rule of thumb equations for calculating the effect of aerosols in one of my papers from the early 1980s. I would be very surprised if the field has not expanded its knowledge dramatically in the last 20 years.

    Also with regard to the predictions of Global Cooling in the 1970s I must remind everyone that the level of pollution in the Western world was near its peak. It was clear to scientists at the time that if this type of pollution was not curtailed it would reduce insolation values on the ground, thus causing global cooling. As we know there was a dramatic reduction in the level of air pollution (especially aerosols) in the 1980s in the US and Western Europe. This no doubt mitigated global cooling “forces” and eventually the global warming “forces” became dominant. (The cooling “forces” are still present and with further industrialization of countries such as China and India could become more significant.)

    Finally, I believe that the global climate models have matured significantly in the last two to three decades (especially by the year 2000) and this combined with the computer power available and the mountain of data, makes the claim that global warming is a figment of the imagination of thousands of credible scientist a non-issue. Too bad the public is so influenced by a few slick jokes and a handful of ridiculous arguments.

    W. Falicoff (former Professor University of Hawaii)

    Comment by W. Falicoff — 16 Mar 2007 @ 2:39 PM

  170. A bit of light relief

    Listened to this on the radio on my journey home from work

    Could of done with him on your side !

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/radio4_aod.shtml?radio4/nowshow

    Fast Forward to 18mins 20 secs

    Comment by PeteB — 16 Mar 2007 @ 2:40 PM

  171. A comment (repeated) criticizing my skeptic cohorts: Get off the fussing about Gore’s use of private jets or additional electrity in his home(s), and chastizing Gavin, et al because they don’t use enough F-bulbs or drive enough hybrids. It’s all show and no dough! It does not enhance our skeptical arguments. It’s a little like the Biblical story (sorry, guys) of Jesus’ diciples fussing at him for using expensive oil to clean and massage his worn feet when it might be put to use somehow helping the poor. He essentially told them to lighten up, don’t be so anal retentive, and don’t sweat the trivial stuff. [Though Gore's trumpting his going carbon free... by buying carbon credits from his own investments is a little shaky.]

    While I’m at it, the AGW proponents should likewise get off the “you’re just like (evil evil) Exxon-Mobil” crappy argument.

    Comment by Rod B. — 16 Mar 2007 @ 3:01 PM

  172. re 166 not sure if you’ve seen the times expose of mr durkin’s response to being questioned by a couple of emminent scientists – a rather intemperate reaction that suggests he’s not really so interested in debating the science at all (posted it on another comment board but thought it relevant here too – sorry for repetitiveness)

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article1517515.ece

    Comment by k rutherford — 16 Mar 2007 @ 3:07 PM

  173. [[A similar point is made by Professor Freemon Dyson, a well regarded physicist, who says, "Concerning the climate models, I know enough of the details to be sure that they are unreliable.]]

    Right. He’s never written one himself, you understand, or used one, but he’s sure. He knows.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Mar 2007 @ 3:12 PM

  174. There are several factors that exist in the world today that I have seen evidence for that leads me to believe that they could well lead to future crises, the depletion of: oil, fisheries, forests, ground water, the continuing growth in world population, heading towards 9 billion on a planet that many argue can sustainably support only 3 billion, the rise in China’s power leading to disputes with the West, all these I accept because I have seem evidence in one form or another.

    I also accept that AGW is occurring, I have argued this successfully with denialists on several right wing site; NZ CSC, NAM’s shopfloor, kiwiblog.
    I have always been careful only to put forward arguments that the science, as I understand it, supports. This means that I have argued, amongst other things, for advancing Kyoto on the basis of the precautionary principle.

    Through all this though, I have never come across what I consider to be good evidence that global warming is a crisis, present or future, either to Man or the planet, and none was presented in the debate.

    Comment by Andrew Worth — 16 Mar 2007 @ 3:48 PM

  175. #162 Gavin comment and #169

    Everyone agrees that climate sensitivity is the most important feature we need to know in order to evaluate our future.

    1,5-4,5 K for doubling CO2 was already the range of very first EBM and RCM models in the 1970′s.

    It’s still the range 30 or 40 years later (2,1-4,4 K for AR4 models, but usually a bit larger in literature).

    Another observation: 2100 likely range (T change for all scenarios) is 1,1-2,4 K for the low values, 2,9-6,4 K for high values. Two different planets.

    So, if you want to seriously reduce the skeptic voices, you need to basically answer the question: if there are decisive progress in climate science, why don’t they translate in much more convergence between models? Why a layman should “believe” the 2,1 K climate sensitivity of PCM or INM-CM3.0 models rather thant the 4,4 K of IPSL-CM4 or HadGEM1, or how can he believe that our “very good and out of doubt” understanding of major climate mechanisms leads to such disparate results?

    [Response:Because all you need to know to be worried about the future is that the low values can be ruled out on the basis of paleo-data. We've gone over this a dozen times. Anything like 1 deg C would require an underestimate of LGM forcings by a factor of 3, or an overestimate of LGM temperature change by the same token. This is way outside of the uncertainties. The only way to support a low-enough sensitivity to make the problem go away is to cheat (see above). - gavin]

    Comment by Charles Muller — 16 Mar 2007 @ 3:58 PM

  176. Jason,

    “Propaganda films forecasting 20 foot rises in sea level”

    If you had taken the time to actually pay attention what Gore said in that movie and not just run away with a oversimplified impression
    you would know that Gore did not forecast 20 feet rises in sea levels.
    Rather he argued (correctly) that IF the Greenland ice sheet or the West Antarctic ice sheet melted or broke up and slipped into the sea
    (or half of Greenland and half of West A.) sea levels worldwide would go up by 20 feet. That itself is true (if not an underestimation)

    Potential Sea-Level Changes
    If Earth’s climate continues to warm, then the volume of present-day ice sheets will decrease. Melting of the current Greenland ice sheet would result in a sea-level rise of about 6.5 meters; melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet would result in a sea-level rise of about 8 meters (table 1).

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs2-00/

    Gore didn’t mention any time frame for a good reason: noone knows at this point of time when and under what scenario this could happen.
    So why did Gore talk about it at all?

    Paleoclimatic Evidence for Future Ice-Sheet Instability and Rapid Sea-Level Rise
    Jonathan T. Overpeck,1* Bette L. Otto-Bliesner,2 Gifford H. Miller,3 Daniel R. Muhs,4 Richard B. Alley,5 Jeffrey T. Kiehl2

    Sea-level rise from melting of polar ice sheets is one of the largest potential threats of future climate change. Polar warming by the year 2100 may reach levels similar to those of 130,000 to 127,000 years ago that were associated with sea levels several meters above modern levels; both the Greenland Ice Sheet and portions of the Antarctic Ice Sheet may be vulnerable. The record of past ice-sheet melting indicates that the rate of future melting and related sea-level rise could be faster than widely thought.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/311/5768/1747

    Simulating Arctic Climate Warmth and Icefield Retreat in the Last Interglaciation
    Bette L. Otto-Bliesner,1* Shawn J. Marshall,2 Jonathan T. Overpeck,3 Gifford H. Miller,4 Aixue Hu,1 CAPE Last Interglacial Project members

    In the future, Arctic warming and the melting of polar glaciers will be considerable, but the magnitude of both is uncertain. We used a global climate model, a dynamic ice sheet model, and paleoclimatic data to evaluate Northern Hemisphere high-latitude warming and its impact on Arctic icefields during the Last Interglaciation. Our simulated climate matches paleoclimatic observations of past warming, and the combination of physically based climate and ice-sheet modeling with ice-core constraints indicate that the Greenland Ice Sheet and other circum-Arctic ice fields likely contributed 2.2 to 3.4 meters of sea-level rise during the Last Interglaciation.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;311/5768/1751

    Hansen and his colleagues at the Goddard Institute observed in an article entitled “Global Temperature Change” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on September 26, 2006, that the temperature of the earth is now at the Holocene maximum and within approximately 1°C (1.8°F) of the maximum temperature of the last million years when the sea level was maybe as much as 5 meters (16 feet) higher than today. At a time when the earth’s temperature was 2-3°C (3.6-5.4°F) warmer than today in the Middle Pliocene three million years ago, the sea level was 25-35 meters (80 feet or more) higher. As Hansen notes, based on this and other research:

    We do have a lot of information available to us both from paleoclimate; the history of the earth and how ice sheets responded in the past and also the new data from satellites, and on surface measurements on the ice sheets which shows that there are processes beginning to happen there, exactly the processes that we’re afraid will accelerate. The last time a large ice sheet melted sea level went up at a rate of five meters per century. That’s one meter every 20 years. And that is a kind of sea level rise, a rate which the simple ice sheet models available now just cannot produce because they don’t have the physics in them to give you the rapid collapse that happens in a very nonlinear system (“Gorilla of Sea Level Rise”).

    http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/02/362580.html
    http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.htm?programID=07-P13-00005&segmentID=1

    Gore didn’t pull dynamic glacial response out of his ass and he didn’t forecast anything. He merely pointed out that business-as-usual could lead to major ice sheet disintegration. You should not exaggerate what he actually said.
    Now, in case you want to hope for the best and say no way this could happen no matter how much GHG we emit you must know much more than any scientist today.
    I for one am not so confindent. Concern about ice sheet movement and collapse is based on legitimate scientific research and thus even if we don’t know exactly what will happen in the future it is foolish to dismiss his warning as propaganda.

    Comment by gringo — 16 Mar 2007 @ 4:36 PM

  177. UK Question Time this week has a question on emission targets
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/question_time/6457111.stm

    Its an interesting lesson on how the professionals deal with the dissenter – they very effectively dismiss him.

    Good to see the politicians haven’t been ‘swindled’!

    Comment by alex — 16 Mar 2007 @ 4:51 PM

  178. Through all this though, I have never come across what I consider to be good evidence that global warming is a crisis, present or future, either to Man or the planet, and none was presented in the debate.

    Hi Andrew,

    You need to move beyond the pure climate science – the stuff you have to argue with the likes of the NZCSC and the denizens of David Farrar’s blog – and take a look at the impacts literature. That’s where it starts to get frightening. Small numbers – like 0.2C per decade – actually imply large changes.

    A very good overview is the chapter by Rachel Warren in Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change (available FOC here, 16MB download): Impacts of Global Climate Change at Different Annual Mean Global Temperature Increases.

    In that context WG2 of AR4 is going to be very interesting.

    There is little doubt of the potential for crisis, but assigning a probability remains difficult. I might offer shorter odds than you…

    Cheers

    Comment by Gareth — 16 Mar 2007 @ 5:38 PM

  179. Comment by Dennis Coyne > …and that we should not worry about global warming when there is so much poverty in the world. So should all science be dismissed ? There is always some measure of uncertainty or areas for further research in every field of science. As climate changes, those most unlikely able to adapt will be those in poverty, so a false dichotomy has been created, help the poor or fight climate change.

    What you are not including is that by the time substantial adaptation is required, everyone will likely be much richer (at least if they are allowed to have access to cheap energy) and able to aford it.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 16 Mar 2007 @ 5:41 PM

  180. Re: 75 – Such a book has been written, it’s called “An Inconvenient Truth”. It paints an accurate, compelling and scientific case for AGW. You can lead a horse to water….

    Comment by robert davies — 16 Mar 2007 @ 6:29 PM

  181. [uncertainty] There are a lot of denier comments about “Gore made up a crisis” and “climate scientists haven’t got a clue” which only reinforces in my mind that these people are doing seat-o-the-pants statistics (which we all do) to decide if the risk of loses from doing nothing exceeds the risk of loses if one changes their lifestyle or behaviors to reduce their contribution to AGW (or that of an entire nation where national policy is being crafted).

    People game systems all the time. Driving is a good example. When they drive they’ll tend to maintain a speed that optimizes their gain, including going over the speed limit or beyond prudence, in proportion to their need to get somewhere in a certain time period either to make a date or to use that saved time on some more important task than travel. If the risk of being late (or wasting time) incurs a cost that exceeds the percentage cost of being caught speeding (or the cost of leaving the roadway and hitting a tree at speed) then they’ll drive fast.

    The logical fallacy is that they don’t have all the data and are unable to actually calculate the potential loses in total. And their guess work tends to reflect and reinforce their values. For example, driving really fast in a residential neighborhood and running a few stop signs will probably only shave off a few seconds, maybe a minute, from a short trip. This “savings” amounts to nothing at all, less time than it takes to tie a shoe. And yet all the time you see people racing in your neighborhood… until someone hits a child. Then they pause to reflect that maybe, in the exchange, saving those seconds in one’s personal life wasn’t really worth the loss of many decades in the life of the person thus slaughtered.

    On the topic of AGW, people can fairly estimate their gain from BAU because they already know what their lifestyle is worth; it is worth a paycheck, and nice house, a fast car, libertarian freedoms, and a nice vacation to Europe once a year. They then try to balance those absolutely understood and easily measured personal gains (and the personal pleasures therein) against far less understood or measureable gains to society as a whole if they were to drop those activities and adopt a lifestyle and values that create less impact. Measured again against the suffering they would endure in the absence of all their familiar things, which though the suffering is unknown is nevertheless in the category of “I’m suffering somehow” and so cannot be a good thing.

    There is a challenge here. Returning to our driving analogy: One way to keep people from driving fast in a neighborhood and killing the children is to install speed bumps to physically slow them down (otherwise they suffer the known costs of replacing the undercarriage of their vehicle) or installing lots of stop signs at intersections to essentially increase both the risk and cost of being caught by authorities and dragged into a very real and understandable court of law, and perhaps having one’s driving permit taken away. Another way is to have law enforcement camp out in areas where people speed and write tickets until they recognize that the risk is far higher than they at first imagined, and the costs really hurt. Yet another way (which I would like to see, as it is technically possible) is to some how equip vehicles with throttles that sense when the driver is exceeding a safe speed and slow them down no matter how stupid they are about risk assessment.

    But we all know what would happen if we did these things (and cities have tried); drivers would not sense that going slow served them personally, they would fixate endlessly on the unacceptable costs in personal time (measured in seconds) cruelly stripped forever from their personal lives, and they would complain and litigate until the measures were removed. Then they would run over children.

    And that’s where we’re at with AGW. Everyone can point, red-faced and finger shaking in rage, at the costs to their personal lives caused by any mitigations whatsoever, but nobody can see the looming shadow over our society and indeed our entire species that is cast by the very real, physical, predictable impacts of global warming.

    The death toll on our streets from drivers shaving seconds off their drive times is all the indication you should need that we will NOT be able to turn this ship around EVER. Or at least not until every person on the planet has had the equivalent emotional and moral shock of having just run over and killed a child.

    Comment by cat black — 16 Mar 2007 @ 6:56 PM

  182. re. 177 “Its an interesting lesson on how the professionals deal with the dissenter – they very effectively dismiss him.”

    I don’t get quite what you mean. If you mean that a climate change dissenter is dismissed because of his “views” on climate change…then he is dismissed because of his “views” on climate change….not because of his provable evidence in the world court of science.

    If this is what you mean, then you obviously do not understand the scientific process…I live in it and have for over ten years (not that I always understand everything mind you!)

    This is how it works (or suppposed to and usually does). You have provable evidence on a new provable idea (new evidenced-based ideas are sought after by Nature and Science Journals …wow, what a concept. It might at this point be right or wrong…but
    you have evidence that you can point to.

    You now get it published in a juried peer-reviewed journal where the whole world (100+ countries get to rip it apart and check it for accuracy, and see if it is usually repeatable and solid over many decades of testing and counter testing and not just a big lie or pseudo science….

    ooops who is lying, now…Richard Lindzen who states that that temperatures started going down in 1998…or Gavin Schmitt who says that world average temps are going up.

    Bummer I don’t know who is lying or wrong… and neither do you…but science knows because it has hashed this out for 200 years in an OPEN process and has slaved over this evidence and found the holes. How the hell is anyone going to know the difference otherwise?

    Without the peer-review process either person could be lying or wrong…and certainly, ONE of the two IS either lying or just plain wrong.

    So how to tell. How could scientists tell since the early 1800s who is lying and who is not or what is pseudo science and what is not?…the answer they came up with is the tedious, slow-moving, arduous painful to ego juried peer-review journal process. It catches liars and exposes things that are not true…especially if it is debated and published for 200 years in an open process.

    Now, back to our journey… many people now publish counter and counter counter-results to the original evdence in many juried peer-reviewed journals after the first study came out until there is no evidence left to discuss

    Over say, 200 years of this point and counter-point publishing, a body of evidence is built, I repeat a huge body of thousands of studies… by the end every conceivable angle has been hashed and rehashed…if you bring something up…it has most likely already been microscrutinized or boy are you smarter than Einstein. But the point is that new provable evidence is always open to be published even if it runs counter to the current thought.

    Your new evidence had better be provable, however, if you are going try to counter the thousands of papers that constitute the body of evidence.

    Now, it if holds up (like Global Warming since 1824 (Fourier)) and all serious counter-arguments are shown with proof, to be false over hundreds of years…it finally becomes a concensus. However, if provabable evidence is brought up counter to it, then is is published.

    It IS NOT EASY for scientists to agree on anything…I have known many over ten years on a daily basis…and god bless them…they don’t want to agree on anything…and boy oh boy will they let you know it if they disagree with something you have stated… and they don’t care who is listening…it has happened a number of times to me personally and to those around me for ten years…and they are often not polite about it.

    Getting them to agree on anything is a job. For them to have a concensus is incredible…it means the provable evidence is overwhelming and the counter arguments (often their own) are expired…they don’t want to agree on anything.

    So currently, someone wants to say to the public and Congress:
    “Hey, Mac… “I” know the truth but they and thousands of studies from all around the world from 200 years ago don’t and I’m a climate scientist and I know that they are all wrong…and I represent such and such an institution.

    Yeah, YOU might get fired. What is wrong with this?

    You are not using the scientific vetting process, don’t have provable evidence, are not a real scientist (though you might have a PHD) because you are not openly allowing your evidence to be examined for truth or falseness.

    Who knows if you are telling the truth and misleading people. Are you allowed as a scientist to have your own opinions…yes…it is essential for new ideas. Are you allowed to state as fact things which have been proven wrong for over 200 years and for which you have no provable evidence …

    YOU HAVE TO HAVE EVIDENCE AND IT HAS TO STAND UP UNDER harsh SCRUTINY FOR MANY DECADES in the scientific process. Perfect…no…but do you have a better idea to keep out the wrong evidence?

    It is an open process even to you…just read the weekly or monthly journals…It stops psychopathic and political liars over time. May I remind you that 200 years ago with the then primitive tools, global waming (human caused) was strongly doubted…and certainly could not be proved under scrutiny. It had to be proved or disproved, study by painful study over 200 years.

    Now, do you understand science a little better…and why these charade “scientists” sometimes get fired?

    They don’t have provable evidence…but state it as fact….but there is a solution…just get your evidence printed for the whole world to examine.

    Even Lindzen and others have been published…but what a shock…their “Iris” GW cooling effects, solar AGW warming effects and such were proved over many years by many agencies and groups to have fatal holes in them.

    If you’ve got a better way to sift the truth over hundreds of years as technology and techniques improve…please let me hear it.

    If you read the juried peer-reviewed journals you will see whether Gavin or Lindzen is giving the correct arduously-arrived at provable evidence on human-caused global warming.

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 16 Mar 2007 @ 7:00 PM

  183. Re #181: cat black — Not just humans. It is clear that many specialized organisms are going to have a tough time coping with the coming heat. The result is going to be a simplified ecology, which will, in turn, be bad for humans.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 16 Mar 2007 @ 7:16 PM

  184. #175 “Because all you need to know to be worried about the future is that the low values can be ruled out on the basis of paleo-data.”

    Gavin, you don’t really answer my question: I’m not searching a reason to worry (or not worry) about future. Just want to understand why models still diverge by a factor 2/3 about CS (2 for AR4 runs, 3 or more for most stat. analysis at 90% confidence) and why 30 yrs of intense research did not really succeed in reducing this range, from the 0 or 1-dimension energy-balance and radiative-convective models to the most recent and impressive AOGCMs coupled to carbon cycle models.

    I’m hardly convinced by paleoclimates as the better field to constrain equilibrium CS (because uncertainties tend to accumulate from proxy-based values of T and forcings ; eg Schneider vom Deimling et al. 2006: 1,2-4,3 K range from LGM).

    If you mean that CS values inf. to 1-1,5 K are likely ruled out (either by LGM/Holocene or by modern GW), I agree with you in the light of what I’ve read. But I think the main debate is not here (Earth had already warmed of approx. 0,8-1 K from 1750, after all).

    Otherwise, I don’t consider a 1,5-2,5 K equilibrium CS as a “worrying” future for humanity or biodiversity. But “worry” is a subjective matter, not very interesting.

    Comment by Charles Muller — 16 Mar 2007 @ 7:42 PM

  185. Re #184: Charles Muller — What means CS?

    As for biodiversity and increasing temperatures, it is not the amount, but rather the rate of change which is the concern…

    Comment by David B. Benson — 16 Mar 2007 @ 7:51 PM

  186. Througout my work as a low level government biologist I advocated scientists become more political based on what I’d seen inside: political appointees essentially vetoing scientific conclusions. I’d do the fieldwork, make recommendations to fix it based on the data and they’d toss it in the file cabinet and keep doing what had cause the problem in the first place. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the last six years. I’ve worked twice in that time for under a year in length.

    What needs to be advocated though is good science which suggests a course of action and “what if” collection of scenarios A, B, C. This is precisely what Jim Hansen gave that Crichton et al deliberately manipulated, and used to smear him. I wrote him to say he’d have to fight back becasue this bunch doesn’t care about using sleight-of-hand techniques. Now that’s politics in action. Happily he fought back and well. Being politically neutral is one thing; becoming Lysenkoist according to the wishes of the leadership is another.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 16 Mar 2007 @ 8:52 PM

  187. Re. #181, many of the measures that need to be implemented are cost-free and pretty painless in terms of lifestyle, e.g. see:
    http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/new-vehicle-design-surpasses-0011.html
    and
    http://www.reuters.com/article/gc06/idUSSYD26236520070220

    The problem seems to be not so much that major changes in lifestyle are required, but that some very influential people have an emotional attachment to the concept of zero regulation.

    But there are many precedents that should give you hope: The Clean Air Act, the ban on whale hunting, the creation of national parks, and hundreds of others. Don’t give up hope.

    The most important issue currently is that those with the above emotional attachments have succeeded so far in preventing a majority of people from being convinced of the seriousness of the problem. That is what we need to address first – education. When enough people are convinced there’s a problem, a lot of things will suddenly seem much less painful to them than they do now, like using a low energy lightbulb, or driving a fuel-efficient car, or turning off one’s heating when not in one’s house.

    Education about the hard science is the most important battlefront, and RealClimate is doing it’s bit in that respect.

    Dave

    Comment by Dave Rado — 16 Mar 2007 @ 9:09 PM

  188. Re #158: [How many of you guys are driving hybrid cars I wonder? Have you taken your homes off the grid? Put your money where your mouths are.]

    Chalk up another Honda Insight driver here. Had mine nearly 4 years now, averaging 70 mpg, zero problems. I must be honest, CO2 was well down on the list of reasons I bought it. I like small, sporty cars, and need a hatchback for carrying dog, bike, and suchlike. Had a Honda CRX previously (only about 40 mpg), and the Insight was the nearest thing I could find.

    Haven’t taken the house off the grid, but efficiency improvements have gotten my monthly electric bill under $50. Heating is maybe 80% solar & renewable wood (a good bit of it from my own lot), and I hope to improve that next year.

    So yeah, you could say I’m putting my money where my mouth is, though I prefer to see it as putting it in my pocket instead of giving it to oil & power companies :-)

    Comment by James — 16 Mar 2007 @ 9:53 PM

  189. Re #183(David B.): Jellyfish tartare… mmmmm.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 16 Mar 2007 @ 10:00 PM

  190. #185 CS = Climate sensitivity

    Comment by Charles Muller — 16 Mar 2007 @ 10:00 PM

  191. re 182: Richard’s treatise on peer review is quite good and accurate. But, a word of caution. The peer review process with all of its contentions and proving is not a paragon and does not operate quite in practice as the ideal described. Peer review publication is not adverse to biases, prejudices, favoritisms, and cronyism. Such instances, while maybe not prevalent, occur with not infrequent regularity. It still is likely the best process for what it does, but let’s not impart perfection to it.

    The same can be said for the proof/verification process. Works well in fields and situations where the action lends itself to such a process. But there are many examples that don’t — explosions of supernovae an easy example. Climatology, in part, is another, where “proof” is often just a syncing up of assumptions, or running your (less than exact, if truth be known) model and getting pretty much the same indications and results of the (also less than exact) model being “proved”.

    Peer review? A very good system; but not an absolute, not perfect by a long shot, and not the end-all. The argument that “my thoughts must be right because peer-reviewed Nature published it” is not a fait accompli.

    Just doing my job as iconoclast, trying to keep all on the strait and narrows .

    Comment by Rod B. — 16 Mar 2007 @ 10:18 PM

  192. Re: 85

    Gavin:

    You indicated that you might post on this again soon, and I would welcome any insight — not just for debate, but think you would probably be able to provide a lot of insight.

    A few quick points:

    1. We probably need a proper definition of “signal-to-noise”, or more precisely forecast validation, to be able to make progress in this part of the discussion.

    2. I think that clear issues in arguing that the 1988 predictions have been validated fall into two sub-topics (i) accuracy, and (ii) definition

    i: Issues with accuracy can be seen in two ways:

    a. The temperature difference predictions 1998 – 2005 that Hansen reports in his paper were actually higher over this timespan in Scenario C (strong emissions reduction) than in Scenario B (base case). I think this indicates that there has not even been clear spearation in the predicted effects over the 1988 – 2005 time period.

    b. If instead of the 17 year period 1988 – 2005 one were to evaluate prediction accuracy over the 12 year period 1988 – 2000, you would find the predictions of warming rates are off by a factor of 6 in the base case (I had to read the values form the chart as I don’t have the underlying data tables, so these are approximations). In fact, you won’t find convergence of the predicted – actual residuals to zero as you proceed from 1988 – 2005 year-by-year, which I is I think a rigorous version of finding validation, subject to the caveat in the next item.

    ii. The deifnition issue is really one of what we mean by validation. It seems to me that the question on the table is atrribution of temperature change to changes in GHGs. Any temperature forecast includes a number of assumptions about future events. For example, as Hansen discusses in the paper each scenario makes assumptions about furture volcanic eruptions. You don’t want to conflate errors in estimating temperature sensitivity with errors in forecasting furture forcings. Therefore, I assume the proper way to do this evaluation would be to escrow a version a model at the time of prediction, and then populate it with actual input values at the time of validation. This is a technique used widely in other analogous modeling fields. I think Scenarios A/B/C is a crude verison of this concept.

    3. Michael Crichton was shameless (in my view) in doing the comparison of forecast to actual in about the year 2000 to come up with his claim that this prediction was “off by 300%”. Hansen has been much more rigorous in concluding that it too early to draw any conclusions.

    Thanks,
    Dana

    Comment by Dana Johnson — 16 Mar 2007 @ 10:25 PM

  193. RE: 127

    Chuck,

    Probably not. Although Einstein did once famously explain the concept of the relative nature of time by saying that a minute with your hand on a hot stive seems longer than an hour with a pretty girl sitting on your lap. Not bad, really.

    Best,
    Dana

    Comment by Dana Johnson — 16 Mar 2007 @ 10:28 PM

  194. Re #153: [James, surely you don't believe women would have to work for 6 hours a day to pay their electric bill, do you?]

    I don’t do belief, I do the math. Do a quick search for average per capita annual incomes in sub-Saharan Africa. Excluding South Africa, it seems to be about $300/year. Call it $360, or $30/month. I use quite a bit less grid electricity than most, but my typical monthly bill is between $40 and $50. I’ll be generous, and figure that half of that cost is due to higher prices & taxes in the US. So a typical African using the same amount of electricity as I do would have to pay 2/3 of current income for it.

    [And just how are you going to preserve all of those vaccines, drugs, etc. without refrigeration--and therefore electricity.]

    Lots of useful drugs don’t require refrigeration. For those that do, you electrify the medical clinic (and perhaps the local school and so on) using readily available OTG solar & wind technology, thus avoiding all the costs of generating plants and electric supply grid, and not contributing to fossil fuel CO2.

    Comment by James — 16 Mar 2007 @ 10:29 PM

  195. Re:159

    Paul,

    This is, in my opinion, an excellent question.

    The basic purpose of climate models is to simulate the multiple complex feedback effects that drive the majority of the projected global temperature impacts of increasing concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs.

    Similar models are used in many scientific, engineering and financial areas. Normally the two key questions that are asked to evaluate these models are: (1) do the the equations that undergird the model constitute a reasonably complete representaion of known physical laws that drive the outcome of interest?, and (2) has the model been shown to reliably predict the outcome of interest when presented with correct input data?. For climate models, my review of the relevant scientifc literature indicates that the answers to these questions are ‘partially’ and ‘no’. In the interests of fairness, please note that Gavin and I are exchanging posts on this thread in which he does not necessarily agree.

    Also, please note that remaining unconvinced about the proven reliability of climate models doesn’t mean that you think they are a crock. All of my interactions with climate modelers have consistently shown them to be smart and dedicated scientists, just wrestling with an incredibly complicated problem with tools, that in comparison, remain primitive.

    Finally, please note that my position doesn’t mean you don’t beleieve in AGW. If you argue that there is no radiative forcing from CO2, you’ve got a fight with Bohr, Heisenberg et al.

    Good luck,
    Dana

    Comment by Dana Johnson — 16 Mar 2007 @ 10:42 PM

  196. All very interesting — thanks.

    Here in Australia, the Murdoch press loves the denialists to the extent of claiming that calling them that is a deliberate insult, designed to invoke a connection with Holocaust denial.

    In their latest article, Rebels of the Sun we are told things like: “greenhouse gases in the atmosphere account for only about 2 per cent to 3 per cent of the overall warming effect, meaning even major increases in gases lead to only slight shifts in temperature: between 0.5C and 1C”, IPCC models neglect the effects of cloud variation, IPCC reports are massaged for maximum political effect [Lindzen and Carter], Al Gore’s dramatic presentation of CO2 vs. temperature ignored the fact that temperature rises (pre)historically preceded CO2 rises by 800 years, and more.

    This stuff has generally been debunked on this site but it would be useful if as many people as possible sent authoritative letters the The Australian attacking the errors: letters@theaustralian.com.au

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 16 Mar 2007 @ 10:47 PM

  197. > richer later

    Biodiversity will get you through time with no money
    better than money will get you through time with no biodiversity.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Mar 2007 @ 12:06 AM

  198. re 197
    Ha ha ha ha, spot on.

    Going back to Stott’s pre-debate statement about fear of the climate in earlier civilisations, the evidence from Jared Diamond in ‘Collapse: how societies chose to fail or survive’ (2005) Viking Penguin is that 1) several large and complex civilisations have collapsed due to climate change when they had spread to the point where their agriculture relied on marginal lands. 2) modern civilisation is very vulnerable to a change in climate. Which leads to 3) fear of civilisation collapsing may be hard to quantify but is justified by the historical evidence – you don’t have to think it’s a punishment from God etc.

    Comment by Ed Sears — 17 Mar 2007 @ 1:51 AM

  199. RE 151

    …”I’m puzzled: exactly how would electricity – just electricity and nothing else – change this? It would seem to depend a lot more on medical care – trained personel, immunizations & antibiotics, public education – which could all be had without electricity.”…

    You can’t have medications, and or medical care, without petroleum and their by products.

    For example:

    a) it requires electricity to run a pharm plant as well as cover R&D to develop new pharm medicines
    b) petroleum and their products are a crucial ingredient in many things including and besides medications such as asphalt, tires, plastics, and agriculture.
    c) it requires the use of energy to transport the medications, to provide
    medical care..

    The one good thing to mention here, is that some of these products are sinks for the CO2, such as plastics.

    Energy in the United States: 1635-2000
    Total Energy

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/eh/total.html

    …”Petroleum got its start as an illuminant and ingredient in patent medicines and did not catch on as a fuel for some time.”…

    Petroleum Products EIA September 2005
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/neic/infosheets/petroleumproducts.htm

    …” Less obvious are the uses of petroleum-based components of plastics, medicines, food items, and a host of other products. Petroleum products fall into three major categories: fuels such as motor gasoline and distillate fuel oil (diesel fuel); finished nonfuel products such as solvents and lubricating oils; and feedstocks for the petrochemical industry such as naphtha and various refinery gases.”…

    …”In 2004 petroleum products contribute about 40.2 percent of the energy used in the United States. This is a larger share than any other energy source including natural gas with a 23 percent share, coal with about a 22 percent share, and the combination of nuclear, hydroelectric, geothermal and other sources comprising the remaining 14 percent share.”..

    …”Electric utilities use residual fuel to generate electricity. Although this sector uses relatively little petroleum compared with the transportation and industrial sectors, the electric utility sector depends on petroleum for about 5 percent of its total energy requirements. “…

    …”Petrochemical Feedstocks
    Petroleum feedstocks have been used in the commercial production of petrochemicals since the 1920′s. Petrochemical feedstocks are converted to basic chemical building blocks and intermediates used to produce plastics, synthetic rubber, synthetic fibers, drugs, and detergents. Naphtha, one of the basic feedstocks, is a liquid obtained from the refining of crude oil.”…

    …”Industry data show that the chemical industry uses nearly 1.5 million barrels per day of natural gas liquids and liquefied refinery gases as petrochemical feedstocks and plant fuel. Demand for textiles, explosives, elastomers, plastics, drugs, and synthetic rubber during World War II increased the petrochemical use of refinery gases. Gas byproducts from the production of gasoline are an important source of many feedstocks.”…

    Sustainable Table: The Issues: Buy Local
    http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/energy/
    …”The biggest culprit of fossil fuel usage in industrial farming is not transporting food or fueling machinery; itâ??s chemicals. As much as forty percent of energy used in the food system goes towards the production of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. xii .”…

    …”(In 2005, more than $120 billion of agricultural products crossed U.S. borders as imports and exports.)xx As a result, the average American foodstuff travels an estimated 1,500 miles before being consumed“…

    …”The USDA estimates that making all our farmlandâ??s irrigation systems just ten percent more efficient would annually save eighty million gallons of diesel gasoline spent on pumping and applying the water.xxii Similarly, reducing repetitive fertilizer application on the 250 million acres of major cropland in the United States would save approximately one billion dollars worth of petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides (not to mention prevent soil and water pollution).xxiii “…

    Biodegradable Plastics – Developments and Environmental Impacts
    http://www.environment.gov.au/settlements/publications/waste/degradables/biodegradable/chapter9.html
    …”In the manufacture of hydrocarbon polymers, carbon is taken from one carbon sink (e.g. an oil deposit) to another carbon sink (plastic) with no net production of atmospheric carbon other than that generated during energy production for the conversion process.”

    Letter: ‘Green’ plastic bottles will not help the environment
    Independent, The (London), May 31, 2006 JOHN BARTON
    http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20060531/ai_n16431382
    …”A conventional plastic bottle going to landfill just sits there, not as energy efficient as recycling but at least it’s a cheap carbon sink and, who knows, in decades to come one that can be mined when we’re really desperate. “…

    MODERN MEDICINE AND FOSSIL FUEL RESOURCES
    Caryl Johnston, M.Ed., M.L.S., Center for Research in Medical Education and Health Care, Jefferson Medical College
    http://mysite.verizon.net/vze495hz/id19.html
    …”The progress of medical knowledge and practice in the modern era has depended on the steady rise in fossil-fuel usage.[1] “…”Yet medical educators have yet to make themselves and their students aware of how much medical practice and supplies depend upon the energy released in hydrocarbon fuels, specifically oil and natural gas.”…”Petroleum is the key ingredient in the wide variety of plastic medical supplies used in medical and surgical life-support systems, such as airways, anesthesia, bags, catheters, dishes, drains, gloves, heart valves, needles, syringes, tubes, etc. Petroleum impacts on medical care at every level. As Burt Kline, a former director of the Division of Energy Policy of the Health Resources Administration put it back in 1981 — “Advanced technology is worthless without the energy to run it.”“…“Energy scarcity presents all of us with major challenges, but perhaps no sector of society will be more challenged than the medical field.”…

    Comment by BarbieDoll Moment — 17 Mar 2007 @ 1:52 AM

  200. RE 157. …”I haven’t yet seen anything from NOAA myself. “…

    NOAA SAYS U.S. WINTER TEMPERATURE NEAR AVERAGE: Global December-February Temperature Warmest on Record
    NOAA News Online (Story 2819), (15 Mar 2007)
    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2007/s2819.htm

    “The December 2006-February 2007 U.S. winter season had an overall temperature that was near average, according to scientists at the NOAA National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. “…”The global average temperature was the warmest on record for the December-February period.“…

    …”The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the sixth warmest on record in February—”…

    …”El Niño conditions contributed to the seasonâ??s record warmth, but the episode rapidly weakened in February, as ocean temperatures in the central equatorial Pacific cooled more than 0.5 degrees F/0.3 degrees C and were near average for the month. Separately, the global December-February land-surface temperature was the warmest on record, while the ocean-surface temperature tied for second warmest in the 128-year period of record, approximately 0.1 degree F (0.06 degrees C) cooler than the record established during the very strong El Niño episode of 1997-1998.”…

    Comment by BarbieDoll Moment — 17 Mar 2007 @ 2:01 AM

  201. Re 162
    Gavin
    With both sides responding ex tempore to Q&A from a lay audience, could Richard’s ‘three quarters’ be a casual reference to where we are on the way to 450 ppm?

    [Response: I'm pretty sure he's referring to the total forcing from well-mixed GHGs, but as I explained above that's fundamentally misleading. -gavin]

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 17 Mar 2007 @ 2:23 AM

  202. RE:182, Richard, thanks for your reply/lesson. I completely agree with your point and am all in favor of both the peer review process and open debate. In defense of my probably ill worded post � I was not talking about a quest for scientific truth, but a group of politicians using a debating technique to get their point across in a very short period of time.

    Comment by alex — 17 Mar 2007 @ 4:32 AM

  203. Re #182: this post, however accurate or erudite, is over 1000 words long and would automatically be rejected if submitted as a brief communication to Nature, without even getting to the peer-review stage, because of its length. I think one skill that needs more work in this debate is developing the art of brevity without loss of accuracy.

    Comment by Ben.H — 17 Mar 2007 @ 4:58 AM

  204. Herein lies the problem of climate change and climate science and its discourse with the media and the wider public. Even scientists are hyping up the issues and misunderstanding the science it would seem.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/6460635.stm

    This seems to be politically to be playing into the hands of the skeptics who surely will tell us that science has not got its act together on climate change due to their being to many unknowns.

    Comment by pete best — 17 Mar 2007 @ 5:09 AM

  205. Gavin and others, I have learned so much from Realclimate that
    I can use in debates. Great thanks and hope you will continue to
    do this work to assist us laymen who try to learn and take part
    in the discussion forums where we try to convince other laypeople.

    A number of books have been suggested here. I will add another,
    which actually explains many of the difficulties you may face.
    Georg Lakoff recently published a book “Whose Freedom?”, where
    he shows from a scientific understanding of cognitive processes
    how with the selection of cognitive framework and metaphor you
    are able to direct the discussion to the issues that you wish.

    I have practiced with my own audiences and debates, using the
    selection of metaphors and questions to lead the audience to the
    proper mindset. We all are limited. We only consider few issues
    at a time. We are incapable of holding more that few issues at
    our mind. We emotionally base our deductions on those issues
    and forget the other related items as they do not belong to our
    current metaphors or framework. Many of the spesifics have come
    up in this discussion intuitively but Lakoff as a master of his
    own field of cognitive research and mataphors, eloquently and with
    very good examples of just thist type of debate, how you lose and
    how you win and what is the structure of the discussion in the meta-
    level of the audiences mind. It is fast and easy to read and very
    insightful and morally sound analysis to political debate. How not
    to lose your debate to cheaters and simplistic deduction even when
    your message is more complex that your opponents claims.

    Comment by Risto Linturi — 17 Mar 2007 @ 6:06 AM

  206. It looks like the Scientific American article on your recent debate has come to the attention of James inhofe:

    http://blog.sciam.com/index.php?title=note_to_inhofe_and_morano_climate_change&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

    However as the editor of scientific american states, even the contrarians seem to be accepting CO2 warming as fact and has swung their vitriol towards what to do about it ?

    Comment by pete best — 17 Mar 2007 @ 6:31 AM

  207. [[ Just want to understand why models still diverge by a factor 2/3 about CS (2 for AR4 runs, 3 or more for most stat. analysis at 90% confidence) and why 30 yrs of intense research did not really succeed in reducing this range, from the 0 or 1-dimension energy-balance and radiative-convective models to the most recent and impressive AOGCMs coupled to carbon cycle models. ]]

    You are fixated on the range. Try dealing with the mean and the standard distribution. Estimates cluster around 3 K. The IPCC is citing a range when they say 1.5-4.5 K. They’re not saying that any possible value in that range is of equal likelihood.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 17 Mar 2007 @ 7:08 AM

  208. Re: 197

    I think our moderators are too young to recognize the reference.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 17 Mar 2007 @ 7:31 AM

  209. Re: 196 IPCC reports are massaged for maximum political effect

    It galls me to read that since the political effect the IPCC reports are massaged to is one of minimizing the threat. That’s not only having one’s cake and eating it, too — it’s complaining about the icing as well.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 17 Mar 2007 @ 7:35 AM

  210. Hilarious: Marcus Brigstock on the “Now Show” demolishes Martin
    Durkin’s “Global Warming Swindle”

    Real Audio BBC Radio 4

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/radio4_aod.shtml?radio4/nowshow
    (from 18 mins 20 seconds -25mins 15 secs)

    (C) British Broadcasting Corporation 2007

    Comment by Alex Nichols — 17 Mar 2007 @ 9:29 AM

  211. RE # 204 Pete, I linked to the BBC article you posted and wish I had not. It is yet more credentialed voices urging prudence and caution; as if AGW impacts are the evidence science must have to tell us the impacts are upon us.

    Professors Paul Hardaker and Chris Collier, of the UK Royal Meteorological Society are likely respected and heeded by informed British (and their words bring comfort to those invested in BAU).

    Quoting from the article:

    Both men are highly respected across the world and hold the mainstream view on climate change – that human activity is the cause.

    But they think catastrophism and the “Hollywoodisation” of weather and climate only work to create confusion in the public mind.

    They argue for a more sober and reasoned explanation of the uncertainties about possible future changes in the Earth’s climate.

    As an example, they point to a recent statement from one of the foremost US science bodies – the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

    The association released a strongly worded statement at its last annual meeting in San Francisco in February which said: “As expected, intensification of droughts, heatwaves, floods, wildfires, and severe storms is occurring, with a mounting toll on vulnerable ecosystems and societies.

    “These events are early warning signs of even more devastating damage to come, some of which will be irreversible.”

    According to Professors Hardaker and Collier, this may well turn out to be true, but convincing evidence to back the claims has not yet emerged. END QUOTE

    So, here we have the local fire marshall asking the local meteorologist if the storm clouds west of town might brew into a tornado and should the marshall tell school principals to take the students to safe areas in the building. The meteorologist replies that may will turn out to be true but convincing evidence to back that claim has not yet emerged. The marshall slams the phone down in disgust and calls a city-wide alert because he has witnessed, in his profession, enough evidence of the failure to act in time.

    Respected though they might be, Professors Paul Hardaker and Chris Collier should climb down from their perch and travel the back roads to see the evidence of AGW impacts and report it.

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 17 Mar 2007 @ 9:55 AM

  212. Re: 194. Yes you do the math, but you do the math with lots of wrong assumptions. First, one of the reasons why per capita income is so low in Africa is because half of the population (female) is stuck doing chores that should be easily supplied by infrastructure (e.g. gathering firewood and water). Productivity and therefore wages would be considerably increased if thes people were freed to produce and be educated. What is more, the hunt for firewood is a serious cause of deforestation. Second, I paid considerably less than $20/month for electricity and water when I lived in Africa.
    And I will say it again. It is flat wrong to glorify poverty. All I can do is suggest you spend some time in rural villages in Africa and India and see if you find it reasonable that they be denied the possibility of increasing their energy consumptions. And in any case, they will consume more in the future. All we can do is help guide their consumption along lines that make more sense for them as well as for the world.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Mar 2007 @ 10:03 AM

  213. >not old enough to recognize …

    Same point, different words:

    “The center doesn’t have to hold if everything’s connected.” — Anne Herbert

    http://peaceandloveandnoticingthedetails.blogspot.com/2005/11/center-doesnt-have-to-hold-if.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Mar 2007 @ 10:05 AM

  214. Re #211 [So, here we have the local fire marshall asking the local meteorologist if the storm clouds west of town might brew into a tornado and should the marshall tell school principals to take the students to safe areas in the building.]

    So, you are saying that only US-based science is valid in this debate? The media here in UK are going crazy over the repeated claims and counter-claims in the AGW debate. All these guys are saying is exercise some restraint and don’t be tempted to over-speculate beyond what can be supported by evidence.

    Comment by Ben.H — 17 Mar 2007 @ 10:34 AM

  215. The idea of Global Warming is NOT science, it’s a guess about the future. No matter how many people agree on that guess, it is still a guess.

    The EARTH’s temperature has always fluctuated UP and DOWN. For the fluctuation to stop for no reason and say it’s going to freeze or burn up is ridiculous. We know the EARTH has been hotter than now in the past and Co2 has been at higher levels as well and the planet did not burn up then.

    What made the EARTH’s temp stop fluctuating? Global Warming is a multi-million dollar business now.

    It’s so funny, we are always looking to the weather man wondering why he was wrong again and again and they are only guessing at tomorrow temperatures. However when they try to guess about 50 to 100 years in the future…what…we just believe them???

    Jake

    Comment by Jake — 17 Mar 2007 @ 10:44 AM

  216. I’m astounded that we continually treat global warming in isolation when it is one of a number of issues that will determine the fate of millions in the course of this century. Consider global warming in conjunction with depletion of non-renewable resources. Then consider those in conjunction with spreading desertification. Add those up and then consider them in conjunction with exhaustion of groundwater resources due to excessive exploitation of the world’s aquifers and the effect this is already beginning to have on large areas of the most productive arable land. Then take in air, land and water pollution generally. Add water and stir.

    Take that witches’ brew and then consider all those factors in conjunction with population migration, terrorism and global security including the proliferation of nuclear weaponry. Debating global warming in isolation of all these other factors (and there are more) is a waste of breath.

    When you add these things up it strikes me that we need to look for several solutions; some scientific, some geopolitical, some social and others, perhaps, even philosophical. Piecemeal approaches probably aren’t going to work very well.

    Comment by Rob — 17 Mar 2007 @ 12:07 PM

  217. Re 215: So Jake, ever hear of a scientific predition. What do you think scientists do when they model a new aircraft or missile design, when they extrapolate whether an asteroid may strike Earth, when they calculate a trajectory for a space probe to slingshot to Pluto via Jupiter?
    You are right about one thing–we cannot predict with 100% certainty what the result of our experiment on Earth’s climate will be. That is not because of any deficiency in the models, but rather because Earth’s climate is chaotic. And lack of predictability is not a comforting thought, since a risk you cannot quantify is even more of a concern than a high risk.
    The proper thing to do is look at past behavior of climate when the energy of the system was comparable–and that’s a very big range of behaviors, some of which would not be consistent with continuation of civilization as we know it. What we do know is this–the more CO2 and other ghg we pump into the atmosphere, the more variable the climate will become, the more difficulty we will have in adapting to it and the more draconian will be the response of governments as they try to maintain order.
    Would it not be sensible to take reasonable actions–like increased conservation and diversifying our energy sources–now, rather than waiting until more severe action will be needed?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Mar 2007 @ 12:19 PM

  218. A few short comments: First to Gavin. IMHO you and your colleagues made an ENORMOUS mistake in accepting the basis of the debate. On the basis of the science alone “Global warming IS a crisis” was the place to start. If the organizers didn’t like it you should have told them to take a walk.

    Second you will have to accept that you MUST call out the Lindzens of the world as dissemblers. He has made a living calling everyone else a liar but depends on your sense of honor and collegiality to survive. You would have done well to simply say yes, here is an example.

    To Charles Muller: Regarding the range of estimates for carbon sensitivity, one should compare the range to the “natural” greenhouse effect for ~280 ppm, about 30 K, which makes the variation in the estimate about 10%. That the range has not moved much over 100 years and with increasing sophistication is a measure of the robustness of the result. As Gavin points out, the fact that 0 to negative response is ruled out (indeed that < 2K now is seen to be exceedingly improbable) provides both sufficient certainty and reason for concern. The sky is lifting. (if the response were negative it would be falling pv=nRT)

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 17 Mar 2007 @ 12:41 PM

  219. >215
    I recommend caution re the link behind the “Jake” name, it’s some aggressive commercial site, not a person.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Mar 2007 @ 12:42 PM

  220. re. 215. Jake,

    Your comments don’t make sense. They sound either emotional or political. Your questions are addressed if you click on headings on the brown box on the right.

    For example, click on the words “FAQ” or “climate science” and it will give you sub-topics.

    Then you can come back and quote specific questions.

    But just to come on this blog and start ranting does not do anyone any good and makes your motives suspect.

    “The idea of Global Warming is NOT science, it’s a guess about the future.” This sounds like a political statement. If you are interested:

    You can start here,

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/01/is-climate-modelling-science/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/08/short-and-simple-arguments-for-why-climate-can-be-predicted/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/02/dummies-guide-to-the-latest-hockey-stick-controversy/

    Just keep clicking on the headings on the right.

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 17 Mar 2007 @ 12:56 PM

  221. Re #216: Rob, you forgot population growth.

    Comment by Phil — 17 Mar 2007 @ 1:18 PM

  222. Re #212: [It is flat wrong to glorify poverty.]

    I have to ask you again, how am I in any way glorifying poverty? That’s not my intent. I am simply trying to say that access to electricity, in and of itself, is not some sort of magic bullet that eliminates poverty. Those who use it as a proxy for poverty (as in the remark quoted from the debate) are using an inappropriate metric, and that choice could have adverse impacts on both efforts to reduce poverty and future CO2 emissions.

    Comment by James — 17 Mar 2007 @ 1:28 PM

  223. re. #212 and 222, it’s a red herring anyway. See here and here.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 17 Mar 2007 @ 1:48 PM

  224. I would wonder if we’re seeing the new form of blogspamming with the “jake” post — might be worth searching for other seemingly-relevant posts that only link back to commercial sites pushing javascript stuff. As with email spam, there’s more effort being made to include superficially relevant text to get past filters.

    If there’s a real Jake, there will be more than one post and evidence he’s reading the suggested references.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Mar 2007 @ 1:50 PM

  225. And further to my post 223, also see here: here.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 17 Mar 2007 @ 2:04 PM

  226. RE # 214

    Ben H., I will use your words:

    [don't be tempted to over-speculate beyond what can be supported by evidence.]

    and ask how you came to that conclusion based upon the evidence in #211.

    I did not say [only US-based science is valid in this debate].

    Where did you get that idea?

    My comment was directed at Paul Hardaker and Chris Collier being satisfied to wait out the experiment; then gather evidence to determine the accuracy of the AAAS statement.

    AAAS statement: [As expected, intensification of droughts, heat waves, floods, wildfires, and severe storms is occurring, with a mounting toll on vulnerable ecosystems and societies.]

    The article summarized their reaction to that statement:

    [According to Professors Hardaker and Collier, this may well turn out to be true, but convincing evidence to back the claims has not yet emerged.]

    I trust the professors will render their verdict in time to avert the calamity.

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 17 Mar 2007 @ 2:47 PM

  227. I read the transcript quickly. Frankly, I wouldn’t engage in THIS kind of debate again: it degenerates very easily into he said/she said due to the lack of time.

    if the media were even remotely serious, they’d give the debate more time, a lot more time, and over several days, which would allow panelists to sum up the previous day’s transcripts and rebut points where there was insufficient time to rebut. Panelists could also gather relevant references and present them to the auditors or viewers.

    Perhaps fewer people would tune in. But it’s a risk we (as if we have much control over the media) have to run. As it is now, people often tune in to hear a good fight, not to learn anything. This has to do with a soundbyte culture and widespread antiintellectualism–especially in the u.s. You can’t combat this culture without demanding a reasonable amount of time to discuss issues of paramount import like global warming.

    it seems to me that lots of bankrupt positions in the world from climate skeptics and creationism to pro iraq war arguments (to change fields a bit) depend upon sound byte he said/she said environments. All these issues are complex enough such that inadequate time for discussion facilitates mystification much more than deepened understanding.

    If the media simply won’t give this kind of time to the question, then I guess it doesn’t really matter if the debate takes place or not. the point is though that these debates don’t facilitate understanding.

    Comment by greg meyerson — 17 Mar 2007 @ 3:50 PM

  228. Re 204 – I entirely agree with John McCormick, the statement of Professors Paul Hardaker and Chris Collier anything but helpful. But far worse is what happened when Hardaker appeared on the BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme this morning (17th). The news of this statement was the lead story, and when John Humphries interviewed him, Humphries actually started by asking his if such a statement was wise. Rather than stepping back, Hardacker went right on. When asked about his problem with the AAAS statement, he replied that he actually didn’t disagree with the statement, but that he wasn’t totally sure things were happening now, which frankly made the whole thing a bit of a non-story. But he really compounded his general stupidity by, when asked for a yes or no answer as whether the Channel 4 ‘Swindle’ programme was correct, he ignored the question, and then said it was all part of the ‘the debate’ At this point I started to bang my head against the kitchen wall.
    Whatever his credentials, the man proved to be a complete fool. Given a chance to stop the ‘Warming Swindle’ bandwagon in its tracks (a quick look at the comments on the BBC, Times and Guardian websites shows the worrying number of people convinced by the programme), he blew it, and instead gave the impression that there was still some kind of debate..
    For the love of God… if this it the level of naivity involved in people who are supposed to be defending science, then we are in deep shit. This is the headline setting programme for the british media, so his comments must have been music to the ears of every denier. Dumb, Dumb, Dumb. Listen to the interview at the BBC website and marvel at it.
    BTW – the confernece he co-wrote the statement for was hosted by ‘Sense About Science’, which is closely linked to Spiked and what used to be the RCP – guess which TV producer is also associated with the the RCP – the name is spelt DURKIN..
    No wonder we are losing.

    Comment by MikeB — 17 Mar 2007 @ 5:34 PM

  229. RE #226

    [[Ben H., I will use your words:

    [don't be tempted to over-speculate beyond what can be supported by evidence.]

    and ask how you came to that conclusion based upon the evidence in #211. ]]

    I didn’t, I’m paraphrasing what Collier and Hardaker expressed – which, incidentally, has been covered as a main news item by all TV and radio channels in UK since this morning.

    [[ I did not say [only US-based science is valid in this debate].

    Where did you get that idea?]]

    What, then, was the point of the “local fire marshall” phraseology?

    BTW we have a hurricane in Northern Scotland this evening. Guess that won’t make Fox News.

    Comment by Ben.H — 17 Mar 2007 @ 5:52 PM

  230. Jake,

    “It’s so funny, we are always looking to the weather man wondering why he was wrong again and again and they are only guessing at tomorrow temperatures. ”

    You must have found the dumbest weather man on the planet.
    The weather men I listen to are not wrong again and again.

    Anyway, climate is not weather. Climate modellers do not and do not even try to predict how warm or cold it will be in New York on March 17, 2068 or whether it’s gonna rain in Austin on Apr 14, 2025.

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

    You would have a point if climate models which in the past predicted global warming had been wrong again and again. But they were not. And that’s not a guess. That’s something we already know based on actual
    measurments.

    Of course if you don’t think we can measure temperature (there are folks out there running around with that idea) or you don’t think one can believe his own eyes when he sees 15 celsius instead of 10 then obviously you will think global warming is just a guess.

    But then I wonder why you believe anything which is now widely accepted scientific fact. Such as plate tectonics or apoptosis.

    Comment by gringo — 17 Mar 2007 @ 8:45 PM

  231. re 222 and 223. Access to modern sources of energy, including electricity and cooking fuel (other than wood and charcoal) are a very important metrics for development. I agree that there need be no all-encompassing electrical grid. Brazil has done some very impressive rural electrification off the grid. My experience has been that such developments have been a near universal good to the community–especially to women in the community. And perhaps the most important thing the electrification brings with it is the ability to access information. Even where there is no electricity, one of the hottest selling items in the markets is the portable radio. However, the batteries to run these radios are cheap and they wear out in the tropical heat and humidity rapidly.
    In my experience, the best metric for development and for prioritizing development efforts is the opinion of the villagers–and universally, they all cite electrification, right after clean water and availability of health care. This has been true in Africa, India, China, Brazil and every other developing country I’ve traveled in.
    And Dave, I do agree that in these debates, the false dichotomy between development is a red herring. These regions will develop, and they will use more energy. The question is whether it will be coal or an energy source that doesn’t contribute to ghg.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Mar 2007 @ 9:24 PM

  232. To: people who compared the debate to creationist debates and feel that the odds have been stacked against global warming advocates.

    Message: DID YOU EVEN READ THE TRANSCRIPT?

    In number of votes alone, the global warming advocates have won. In fact, during the pre-debate voting, MORE THAN HALF OF THE AUDIENCE BELIEVE THAT GLOBAL WARMING IS REAL AND IS A CRISIS! If anything, this is a debate that is stacked against Lindzen, Crichton et al because half of the audience have already made up their minds that global warming is a crisis.

    As an atheist, I am willing to enter into a debate about the existence of God inside a christian church filled with believers. The fact that Crichton et al, have proved to be better debaters than Schmidt et al does not mean that the odds have been stacked against them. It also does not mean that the debate was useless and a waste of time.

    Grow up and stop acting like a bunch of sour-graping whiny kids.

    Comment by Robert Punzalan — 17 Mar 2007 @ 10:00 PM

  233. May I say, I had a very similar experience.

    I was doing an experiment. I went to newsbusters. That’s a conservative, anti-GW blog. I presented my case for global warming. I mentioned this explicitly: only on whether there is a scientific consensus on GW. No Kyoto discussion. No Al Gore discussion.
    Here‘s the whole discussion (warning it’s very very long).

    I was stunned on reading the transcript how similar the arguments I was hearing was to my firsthand experience. To recount:
    1) “Consensus is not science”
    2) The “global cooling consensus”
    3) CO2 has no effect on climate / it’s not the primary greenhouse gas/variants.
    4) People had a problem identifying what scientific consensus is. They seemed to think statements in Newsweek and NY Times were consensus (compare global cooling) but refused to believe my SciAm, IPCC and AGU sources.

    A few observations:
    a) The primary problem was: people don’t like to be told by somebody that there’s a huge problem. They don’t believe something they can’t see clearly. This is a hard idea GW crowd has to sell – GW is much more dangerous in the future than you can see today.
    b) Some people who did believe global warming was taking place (but not man-made) believed it because of events they saw. They said my area is hotter/colder than normal.
    c) Al Gore appeared heavily in the discussions, even though I didn’t respond to any comments on him. People seemed to think I was copping out on Al Gore.
    d) They seemed to believe all kinds of crazy “dissenters” like Oregon petition and Benny Peiser’s critique. Wonder why they don’t believe SciAm and AGU?
    e) They seemed to think the media is giving a “liberal” twist on things. That the “dissent” is not covered.

    I believe these basic points have to be addressed, not just the science.

    Comment by belag — 17 Mar 2007 @ 10:59 PM

  234. You know what this all boils down to, don’t you?

    We need Al Gore.

    Who else has the combination of gravitas and star power to meet the public head on?

    Take note of the before and after for-against-undecided: before: 30-57-13; after: 46-42-12.

    To me this means, the audience went in liking Al Gore and came out liking Michael Crichton. Why? Because Gore was not there.

    By the way, Gavin, would you like an opportunity to rebut Lindzen’s closing comments?

    RICHARD S. LINDZEN Yes. I think it’s a little bit difficult to know how to respond,
    to be told that, uh, one shouldn’t attack scientists while you’re attacking scientists,
    to go and say you have to control methane without explaining that methane has
    stopped growing. You don’t explain why there’s global warming on Mars, Jupiter,
    Triton and Pluto. You don’t look at the ocean data and see, that whereas your boss
    Jim Hansen was saying that the heating of the ocean proved the flux that he needed
    for high sensitivity, that in the last year there’ve been two papers in the same
    journal, that point out that the original Levitus data’s wrong, that the ocean is cool,
    and that the new numbers would call for one-tenth the sensitivity that Hansen
    mentioned. If all this is so certain, why is the data changing, or is it a case when the
    data changes you ignore it, and
    BRIAN LEHRER One
    RICHARD S. LINDZEN stick to the point. [APPLAUSE]

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 17 Mar 2007 @ 11:15 PM

  235. Do I think the debate is good, relevant?

    The outcome of the debate came up against the GW crowd. It’s bad in that way because the science is fully on the side of them.

    In such debates, by their very format, you don’t encourage people to go check back sources, reflect, compare arguments. They basically go by what they hear and how plausible it seems.

    However bad the conditions are, these debates and other such events go a long way in shaping public opinion.

    The need of the audience and the presentation of the consensus side didn’t jive imho. Since science has to explain itself to a lay audience it has to make changes in its presentation and address the concerns of the audience. Simple facts won’t convince them, however persuasive.

    Comment by belag — 17 Mar 2007 @ 11:17 PM

  236. Here is a strange twist. Could Gavin Schmidt (see photo here) actually be the long lost twin of Tim Flannery who is the current Australian of the Year, and writer of The Future Eaters and The Weather Makers?

    Since receiving his award from the Australian Prime minister Tim Flannery has using his new status to good effect giving the politicians plenty of curry over their slow response to climate change.

    But I particularly liked the 4 part TV documentary Two Men in a Tinnie in which he and comedian John Doyle traveled thousands of kilometer down the Murry River (a waterway in crisis due to poor management and Southern Australia’s unprecedented and seemingly never-ending drought) talking to scientists, farmers and historians as they went about the history and ecology of this once great waterway.

    The combination of a well spoken scientist, clueless but fascinated comic, and a drama that is gripping the nation worked a treat for holding the viewers attention long enough to get complex ideas across.

    Take home message: There are lots of approaches other than debates that can be used to get complex information across. Gavin, perhaps you can find John Doyle’s doppelganger to do a series with. The four episodes format with epic landscapes and crusty locals works well, perhaps a trip to the Arctic, then to the Colarado River, down to Central America and Brazil and then nip down and check out the poor old Murray River with Tim Flannery. (Of course it goes without saying that you would have to carbon off-set all those flights – for the Australian leg I recommend Greenfleet. They pay for the trees for farmers revegetating degraded farmland. The first thing you would have to do in the show is discuss the pros and cons of offsetting).

    Comment by Craig Allen — 18 Mar 2007 @ 12:07 AM

  237. RE: 215
    Jake, I believe it is known with near certainty that the Earth would freeze if the CO2 and methane in the atmosphere were removed.

    Comment by Daniel Morris — 18 Mar 2007 @ 12:42 AM

  238. RE: 206 “It looks like the Scientific American article on your recent debate has come to the attention of James inhofe”

    Well, the actual press release regarding Inhofe
    is at the Inhofe EPW Press Blog
    which is hosted on the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Press Room’s site.

    It wasn’t as though Inhofe, or a representative, posted upon the original blog thread on SciAm’s blog, but rather something entirely different. (Incidentally, ScienceWeek has a recent piece on Inhofe;
    Enemies of Science: Senator James Inhofe)


    Note to Inhofe and Morano: Climate Change is No Hoax
    BLOG: SCIAM OBSERVATIONS
    …”However, the core point of my post–not surprisingly–seems to have
    eluded them: the contrarians won through charm, picking on amusing soft
    targets like private jets, and not any perceivable scientific
    grounding. “…

    Even more bizarre, the Inhofe EPW Press Blog
    release references RealClimate and Gavin twice (CONCEDE); and ironically,
    in the second Inhofe EPW Press Blog
    reference, the writer (Marc Morano) fails or chooses to correctly spell
    the name of the blog site of RealClimate…

    Wonders never seem to cease…

    Scientific
    Smackdown: Skeptics Voted The Clear Winners Against Global Warming
    Believers in Heated NYC Debate


    …”After the stunning victory, one of the scientists on the side promoting the belief in a climate “crisis” appeared to concede defeat by noting his debate team was â??pretty dull” and at “a sharp disadvantage” against the skeptics. ScientificAmerican.comâ??s
    blog
    agreed, saying the believers in a man-made climate catastrophe
    â??seemed underarmed for the debate and, not surprising, it swung against
    them. “…

    …”Scientist Concedes Debate To Skeptics

    NASAâ??s Gavin Schmidt, one of the scientists debating for the notion
    of a man-made global warming “crisis” conceded after the debate that
    his side was â??pretty dullâ?? and was at “a sharp disadvantage.” Schmidt
    made the comments in a March 15 blog posting at RealCilmate.org.

    …”I’m afraid the actual audience (who by temperament I’d say were
    split roughly half/half on the question) were apparently more convinced
    by the entertaining narratives from [Novelist Michael] Crichton and
    [UKâ??s Philip] Stott (not so sure about Lindzen) than they were by our
    drier fare. Entertainment-wise it’s hard to blame them. Crichton is
    extremely polished and Stott has a touch of the revivalist preacher
    about him. Comparatively, we were pretty dull,” Schmidt wrote.
    “…

    Comment by BarbieDoll Moment — 18 Mar 2007 @ 1:01 AM

  239. I thought you guys handled yourselves very well, though I’m a bit concerned about the audience reaction, and the implications for public debate on the topic.

    One point the opposition panel and questioners seemed to raise repeatedly was the potential fallibility of scientific consensus, which is always a possibility, however unlikely. I thought your side handled the “global cooling consensus” charge very well, and drawing the difference between the typical rogue scientist and Galileo was devastating.

    However, I wonder if more time and energy might be usefully spent countering this line of criticism at these types of debates. With that in mind, can anyone here recommend any books or articles that deal with the history of scientific consensus? I’m aware of Kuhn’s work, but I’m wondering if there is much work that demonstrates how rare it is that consensus proves to be wrong, or, when it is, what kinds of arguments are typically at issue (and I’m guessing that consensus is rarely challenged by anyone in the first place unless politics/economics is at stakeâ�¦ when was the last panel discussion on the theory of gravity anyway?).

    I thought that the woman who mentioned that it used to be the consensus that “women are all hysterics and ought to be bled” should have been strongly challenged. To my knowledge, this type of “remedy” was the consensus before science was actually applied to the human body in any rigorous way. In fact, it seems to me that “scientific consensus” is the whipping boy for a whole host of historical nasty practices/beliefs that actually demonstrate the value of the scientific method versus faith, tradition, etc, when the topic is fully understood!

    In any case, it seems like there is a great lack of appreciation or respect for scientific consensus given the little weight it seems to carry with even apparently thoughtful listeners across a wide array of critical debates.

    Comment by Steven Horn — 18 Mar 2007 @ 2:01 AM

  240. I have just read the transcript, astounded as usual with Lindzen’s MSU allegation that there was no warming since 1998. How could this be? Was not 2005 warmer than 1998? Is not the Radiosonde data on the rise? Since 1998? Just recently exceeding or equaling 1998. How disingenuous, not informed or biased. . Crichton named Wegener as an example of a scientist introducing a correct theory, refuted by community consensus, till it was finally accepted, may be wishful thinking on Crichton’s part that he may be correct. Unbeknown to Crichton, Wegener did some very good work with atmospheric refraction, which I am following up on, turns out that there has been less refraction on a gradual year by year basis while using the sun as a fixed sphere of reference. Refuting in turn MSU’s inability to pick up a mid tropospheric warming signal when there were many! I suggest the contrarians to use another flawed measurement champion so we can refute it again.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 18 Mar 2007 @ 2:25 AM

  241. Scientific sphagetti-language

    I read about half of the responses, many of them excellent. But when I came to Gavin’s comment:

    “The forecast signal is clearly distinguishable from noise – it not yet useful as a test of the precise values of the sensitivity. I may post on this soon”.

    I had to stop. The word choice is abysmal. The concept is not difficult, but the wording makes it seem so. I realize that it is perhaps unfair to attack Gavin’s phrasing here, but it forcibly reminded me of all that is wrong with much of scientific discourse.

    Unfortunately, too many scientists are accustomed to writing for other scientists. In contrast, I am reminded of Feinman’s marvelous explanation for 0-ring failure: simple, clear – anyone could understand it, even a child. And yet prior to Feinman’s clear explanation, we had the contorted, pretentious jargon of the engineers.

    I read a number of scientific journals and studies. And I just despair. Programmers write spaghetti code; scientists write spaghetti prose. Pronouns rarely have clear antecedents; concepts are buried in jargon; sentence structure is contorted and misleading. Clear, expository prose is a delightful rarity. If I were an editor of any of these journals, I would have the majority of articles rewritten … and rewritten again.

    Anyone who says that the public does not understand because the concepts are too complicated is just kidding himself. Stop talking to other scientists for a change; they just reinforce bad habits. Try explaining the concept to a normal ninth grader. If you cannot do it, then you do not have real control over the language or the concept.

    Why are Huxley and Sagan so often mention in this thread? The reason is simple: Both had control over the language.

    Here is a good way to test a piece of writing: Give it to your wife/husband/friend. They cannot be scientists. If they cannot explain it back to you, you failed.

    Gavin,

    When you write a thread on ‘the forecast signal,’ try the suggested test. You may find that the phrases ‘forecast signal’ and ‘test of the precise values of sensitivity’ will have to be dumped into the wastebasket. You may find also, for example, that you will have to recast the sentence into a clearer ‘even though’ structure. You may also find that pronouns should have clear and precise antecedents, ones that do not create confusion.

    Sorry for being hard.

    Comment by Stormy — 18 Mar 2007 @ 3:38 AM

  242. Re 240: Stormy, while I agree with much of what you say, and I also regret the difficulty scientists often have putting their science into plain English, I would offer the following analysis. First, we live in a very different time than did Huxley or even Sagan. Now, a volley by one side demands an instant response by the other–in part because such a response is possible. Even Sagan had at least a 24 hour news cycle to craft a response, whereas Gavin, Raypierre, et al. are responding in real time.
    In political circles, the response is to come up with talking points–responses that can be reliably trotted out without thinking. In science, a greater premium is placed on “thinking on one’s feet”, so we often wind up with a sort of stream of consciousness response. Having said this, I do not think it would be inappropriate for the scientific community to begin having mock debates to see what works and what doesn’t. An elegant turn of phrase doesn’t have to be a soundbite. And we are much more likely to respond intelligently to a line of attack if we have repulsed the same attack repeatedly in the past.
    Strongly recommend your tactic of bouncing ideas/lines of reasoning off of family members. My wife reads everything I write that I care about–unfortunately, being a scientist, herself and damned smart besides, she is often more advanced than some of my target audience.
    Language is important. I might also recommend the book, “Eats Shoots and Leaves” for a somewhat lighter approach than “The Elements of Style”.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Mar 2007 @ 7:50 AM

  243. Gavin,

    thanks for the offer…

    if you have any questions, I have a web site realclimate.org, you can go and check that out and I�ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.

    Depending on how you define the scope of the argument, it seems you either won or lost. the other side actually gave you most of the scientific points being that warming has occured and greenhouse gases contribute. what they did not give was that

    - man was the prime cause
    - warming is significantly bad to be a crisis
    - responses and costs related to changeing are justified.
    - warming is entirely a bad thing.

    These should not be difficult to refute.

    I would really like to hear your side’s rebuttal to the main claims that Lindzen, Crichton and Stott put forward.

    the consistent thread that all of them picked up on was that the models are questionable. the number of factors and complexity of climate modelling is beyond our ability for accurate prediction into a longer term future. this objection was not dealt with other than to say that the worlds best scientists all agree… perhaps you could point to other posts that deal with this issue?

    Also, Crichton’s point about private jets while not a scientific one, is appropriate to the debate as the issue of what real changes can we implement and what is the pain involved with change is relevant and it is not without reason that people doubt the real and present danger of the crisis when its proponents do not reinforce this by their actions.

    You have an excellent site here and an opportunity to set the record straight with giving the “last word” and addressing the big and small points of the debate (aerosols, the reliability of T records beyond 400 years, etc.) please point out the fallacies, cherry picking and red herrings. i am certain that i am not the only one who wants to see more clarity brought to the limited but very interesting debate.

    Comment by Brian — 18 Mar 2007 @ 9:11 AM

  244. Re # 239 Of course scientific consensus can be wrong. But, why are the arguments made by Stott, Crichton, and Lindzen accepted by other AGW skeptics as the infallible truth? Aren’t they just as likely to be wrong as the mainstream climatologists (perhaps even more likely as they are often making claims outside their area of scientific expertise)?

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 18 Mar 2007 @ 11:07 AM

  245. Look, the offers and challenges to “debate” are coming from people who can’t get anything published in the science journals, for the most part.

    If anything is debated — it should be the Conclusions section of a specific research paper, and footnotes required to be provided for assertions made.

    A far more edited weblog would be the only way I can imagine that happening — one set up specifically to handle questions about science.

    Kind of like, oh, maybe the Public Library of Science, eh? http://www.plos.org/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Mar 2007 @ 12:33 PM

  246. Re: 241 / 242

    Stormy:

    I noticed your post about Gavins’s statement that:

    “The forecast signal is clearly distinguishable from noise – it not yet useful as a test of the precise values of the sensitivity. I may post on this soon”.

    Since it was actually a reply to something I had written.

    In fact in Post 192, I responed to Gavin’s statement that you quote by saying:

    “We probably need a proper definition of “signal-to-noise”, or more precisely forecast validation, to be able to make progress in this part of the discussion.”

    Stormy, I think that most scientific journal articles could be written better, however, there is some irreducible component of scientific jargon that is an artifact of trying to be precise enough to make statements that are truly falsifiable. Of course, one effect of jargon is to shut out listeners who have not made the investment of time required to understand it. It also invites two forms of abuse: (1) pseudo-science apes these forms to seem more impressive without any of the real content, and (2) legitimate scientits can use it to shield themselves from careful audit and review.

    My experience is that most valid scienfitifc concepts can be made understandable to an intelligent lay audience at a sufficent level of depth to inform policy decisions. Enabling a lay audience to adequately referee a scientific debate is another matter. This is why, in my view, it is essential for AGW advocates (amng many others) to be able to cite critical preditions that have been made using the theories under consideration. This strikes as something that non-scientists who being asked to make decisions based on the sceince can understand and are perfectly entitles to demand before accepting the science as “true”, i.e., sufficiently reliable as a predictive tool to guide behavior.

    Dana

    Comment by Dana — 18 Mar 2007 @ 1:12 PM

  247. Dana (#195), you say that
    “Normally the two key questions that are asked to evaluate these models are: (1) do the the equations that undergird the model constitute a reasonably complete representaion of known physical laws that drive the outcome of interest?, and (2) has the model been shown to reliably predict the outcome of interest when presented with correct input data?. For climate models, my review of the relevant scientifc literature indicates that the answers to these questions are ‘partially’ and ‘no’.”

    This doesn’t mean anything. What are the known physical laws that are being neglected? What published scientific literature are you referring to? Keep in mind that climate models have been making predictions for some time now, and there is a record that they can be compared to, so the claim that ‘models may be ‘tuned’ to past behavior and yet have no utility for predicting the future’ just doesn’t hold.

    Climate models predicted water vapor feedback effects; such effects are real. Climate models predicted warming of the polar regions; such effects are also real. The feedback processes included in climate models are fairly well understood, with the greatest uncertainty still coming from clouds, aerosols, and cloud-aerosol interactions: see http://www.atmos.ucla.edu/csrl/publications/Hall/Bony_et_al_2006.pdf for the gory details (a very readable review of the topic).

    What aren’t included in the current climate models are: ice sheet dynamics that will lead to faster rates of sea level rise than the models predict, and carbon cycle feedback effects that will lead to an amplification of anthropogenic CO2/CH4 emission rates due to perturbation of natural systems. The magnitude of such responses will certainly be a positive feedback, of uncertain strength.

    While there may be limitations to climate models, the probability is that they are underestimating future climate change due to the above variables.

    Increase In Carbon Dioxide Emissions Accelerating, Nov 2006:
    “A danger is that the land and oceans might take up less carbon dioxide in the future than they have in the past, which would increase the rate of climate change caused by emissions.”

    Thus, if you are going to make such statements, and expect to be taken seriously, provide some references, if you can.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 18 Mar 2007 @ 2:23 PM

  248. Against Gavin’s apt closing comments about scientific success in predicting current Climate conditions,
    Lindzen failed to rebut any of his claims, rather he went extraterrestrial to escape the facts, literally:

    RICHARD S. LINDZEN:
    “You don’t explain why there’s global warming on Mars, Jupiter, Triton
    and Pluto. You don’t look at the ocean data and see, that
    whereas your boss Jim Hansen was saying that the heating of the
    ocean proved the flux that he needed for high sensitivity, that in
    the last year there’ve been two papers in the same journal, that
    point out that the original Levitus data’s wrong, that the ocean is
    cool, and that the new numbers would call for one-tenth the
    sensitivity that Hansen mentioned. If all this is so certain, why
    is the data changing, or is it a case when the data changes you
    ignore it, and…”

    It is awfully strange when a scientist refuses to recognize his colleagues achievements, it would be something like positive reinforcement, a conviction building process which steers the entire field in the right direction. Failing to recognize achievements essentially means that Lindzen’s science, is essentially dead, or going nowhere.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 18 Mar 2007 @ 3:00 PM

  249. Comment by Brian> “what they did not give was that

    - man was the prime cause
    - warming is significantly bad to be a crisis
    - responses and costs related to changeing are justified.
    - warming is entirely a bad thing.

    These should not be difficult to refute.”

    On the contrary, the last 3 of those are very difficult to refute. The last – warming is entirely a bad thing – is clearly not true.

    It is not fair to ask Gavin to refute the third – responses and costs related to changing are justified – because economics is not his specialty. In fact, the peer reviewed consensus of economists is essential the opposite, that the cost for drastic CO2 emission reductions is not justified.

    Whether this is a crisis seems more a matter of opinion than science.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 18 Mar 2007 @ 7:18 PM

  250. I read the transcript very carefully. It’s taken me months of studying to come to any firm conclusion about global warming for myself. And all i can say is that it looks a LOT more dangerous to me now than i ever imagined.

    In this forum (the television or radio show, whatever it was), i can’t imagine people have the time to learn anything. They are going to tend to vote for who was the most entertaining, or who was the most assured in their demeanor. Sincerity and accuracy didn’t count in this contest. Nevertheless, Gavin, i’m glad i wasn’t in your shoes. I would have been crushed.

    I just wanted to say that hundreds of thousands of people are supporting you guys in your efforts out here, in one way or another. I certainly am.

    Comment by Nando — 18 Mar 2007 @ 9:13 PM

  251. GAVIN SCHMIDT I don’t think that they are completely…doing this on a level playing field that the people here will understand. And, there are… AUDIENCE MEMBERS [MOANS, VOICES, ETC.]

    Thats where you lost it Gav….from then on you came across all pretentious

    Comment by Dave — 18 Mar 2007 @ 10:25 PM

  252. Why dont you come up with some “expert” climate scientist predictions about something that will happen next year and let everyone see how brilliant your models are. After your predictions show how gifted you are send them to the hurricane forcast dudes who predicted the end of the world last year because of the accelerated climate change. They had some super climate scientist “expert” models that were spot on accurate. Oh wait a minute I think those experts completely screwed up and werent even close. In fact I think they were off by 65%. In fact I dont think those experts have come closer than 60% in the past 20 years. Now isnt that an observeable trend that should point to you clowns not knowing anything about how our weather systems will act in the next 12 months let alone the next 100 years. Make one accurate prediction that isnt just an average of the last 100 years of collected data and then maybe you will have some credibility. All you do is say what has happened and tell us why it HAPPENED!!! MAKE ONE ACCURATE PREDICTION. All you need to do is comee within 75% to significantly beat the average expert analysis.

    Comment by tim blincoe — 19 Mar 2007 @ 12:48 AM

  253. I think you lost it on three levels:
    1. Refusing to use logic to support your view: “..you’re not gonna hear us arguing about obscure details…”
    2. Using straw men, by implying that sceptics are like tobacco companies and creationists
    3. Ad hominem attacks: [edit] “…we just need to tap Philip Stott”
    You say of Stott “He also brought up the whole cosmic ray issue as the next big thing in climate science”. This seriously undermines your credibility, for he in fact said: “I’m not saying they’re right or wrong, they’re pointing however at the edge, to new research. You cannot dismiss that, because it’s a consensus for CO2″

    Comment by Mark Everingham — 19 Mar 2007 @ 1:09 AM

  254. re: 251. No. If someone does not understand something and that point is made, that is not being prententious at all. It is a failure of the audience to comprehend. Place fault where it rightfully should go.

    Comment by Dan — 19 Mar 2007 @ 4:53 AM

  255. By the way. Is the debate going to be put on Youtube?

    Keep up the good work.

    Mike

    Comment by Mike Donald — 19 Mar 2007 @ 8:32 AM

  256. Re: 247

    Ike, thanks for your thoughtful reply.

    You write (in reference to my post in which I claim that (1) global climate models are bases on an incomplete representation of the physical processes that drive climate change and (2) there is no example of a validated prediction on a multi-year or multi-decade timescale made by a climate model):

    “This doesn’t mean anything. What are the known physical laws that are being neglected? What published scientific literature are you referring to? Keep in mind that climate models have been making predictions for some time now, and there is a record that they can be compared to, so the claim that ‘models may be ‘tuned’ to past behavior and yet have no utility for predicting the future’ just doesn’t hold.”

    Let me take this in two parts.

    First, “What are the known physical laws that are being neglected?” In my experience climate modelers are smart and dedicated, and they attempt to ground models in known physical laws as best they can. One big issue, however, is that the element size in a typical model used for this purpose is about 200KM X 200KM X 1KM (or about 14,000 square miles by a half-mile thick). Most of the relevant physical processes that drive temperature change, such as cloud formation, convection, etc., take place at a physical scale that is far smaller than this. These aggregated processes are represented within models as parameters that are modeler-created, rather than being based on physical measurements.

    Of course, any model in any context is a simplification of the system, and the acid test of a simulation model is typically how well it predicts the outcome of interest in the presence of complete inputs. This brings us to your second point: “Keep in mind that climate models have been making predictions for some time now, and there is a record that they can be compared to, so the claim that ‘models may be ‘tuned’ to past behavior and yet have no utility for predicting the future’ just doesn’t hold.”

    I don’t believe that there is a single validated example of a climate model that has demonstrated material predictive skill over a period of multiple years. I would welcome a counter-example.

    Please note that I am referring to an actual prediction (i.e., a forecast made on date X for some date after X), rather than a ‘hindcast’ (i.e., validation on a hold-out set). As you’ve probably gone through, there is a long string of posts on this thread that go into some specificity on this request, as well as a fairly detailed discussion of evaluation of Hansen’s model-based 1988 forecast. In the interests of space, I’ll just refer to these, rather than repeat them here.

    Best,
    Dana

    Comment by Dana Johnson — 19 Mar 2007 @ 8:41 AM

  257. [[The idea of Global Warming is NOT science, it's a guess about the future. No matter how many people agree on that guess, it is still a guess.]]

    No, it’s not a guess. It’s something we’ve been measuring for about 150 years. It’s already happening.

    [[The EARTH's temperature has always fluctuated UP and DOWN. For the fluctuation to stop for no reason and say it's going to freeze or burn up is ridiculous. We know the EARTH has been hotter than now in the past and Co2 has been at higher levels as well and the planet did not burn up then.]]

    Nobody is saying it’s going to burn up. They’re saying our agriculture and economy will be damaged.

    [[What made the EARTH's temp stop fluctuating? Global Warming is a multi-million dollar business now.]]

    Huh? What?

    [[It's so funny, we are always looking to the weather man wondering why he was wrong again and again and they are only guessing at tomorrow temperatures. However when they try to guess about 50 to 100 years in the future...what...we just believe them???]]

    Do you understand the difference between weather and climate? Weather is day to day variation and is chaotic. Climate is a long-term average (30 years or more) and is deterministic. I don’t know what the temperature will be in Riyadh tomorrow (weather), but I predict that it will be higher than in St. Petersburg (climate). To put it yet another way, weather is an initial values problem, climate is a boundary values problem.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 19 Mar 2007 @ 9:21 AM

  258. [[MAKE ONE ACCURATE PREDICTION.]]

    They already have. They predicted the stratosphere would cool as the troposphere warmed. It’s cooling.

    They predicted the poles would warm faster than the equator — “polar amplification.” That’s also happening.

    Hansen gave an estimate (1988, scenario B, the middle one) that still looks pretty close to what happened over the next decade or so.

    Your information is incomplete.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 19 Mar 2007 @ 9:45 AM

  259. Gavin, the site’s becoming a lot more like my favorite flashlight or car repair site’s threads on global warming (yes, they really have them) — dominated by many long repeats of the standard elementary questions.

    One thought, is there any way to sort the FAQ from the main thread? In this thread it’s no great loss, but in the science threads, the same thing’s happening.

    You all are very, very patient; I fear the average reader isn’t going to notice that you’re trying to be helpful and instead just see the same old same old being proclaimed faster than you can answer each one.

    Perhaps asking each poster to come back at least once and prove they’re not a robot-driveby, or something like checking IPs? Because it’s really feeling cluttered. Backing off myself, can’t tell the trolls from the children right now.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Mar 2007 @ 10:18 AM

  260. re 252. [[Why dont you come up with some "expert" climate scientist predictions about something that will happen next year and let everyone see how brilliant your models arehis has been done in at least two instances.]]

    Here’s at least four instances where the CLIMATE models (which are different than chaos-based WEATHER models), not to mention the stratospheric cooling that was already mentioned.

    The first was Jim Hansen’s (NASA) global climate models predictions for future temps made in the 1980s…

    He showed three variations including a most likely scenario and two more extreme scenarios. (which the skeptics selectively chose a more extreme scenario to “prove” that he was wrong…good lie.

    His “most likely scenario” was very accurate for average temp rises.

    Second, Jim Hansen did models predicting what would happen with Mount Pinatubo’s volcanic effects just after Pinatubo blew (that was putting his balls,and model’s reputation on the table for sure)… He was very accurate on both counts.

    Thirdly, the models predicted more warming at higher latitudes than mid latitudes. That was accurate.

    Fourthly, the models precicted more warming during the winter than during the summer in northern latitudes. This was also accurate.

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 19 Mar 2007 @ 10:42 AM

  261. There’s one point in the debate that needs to keep being repeated: none of the participants denied that AGW is happening. In fact, they all affirmed that it was. Crichton faulted some for NOT taking it personally serious. Stott criticized it for deflecting attention from taking care of the poor.

    As Cheech Marin’s character in “All Dogs Go to Heaven” might have said, “If is denial, then chain me to the wall.”

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 19 Mar 2007 @ 10:56 AM

  262. Some of this is getting silly. I sense that the trolls have found RC, notice that real climatologists live here, and have come to beard the lion.

    Recommendation: Can we add a moderation function to the comment software? Just a simple thumbs up/down thing or maybe a label system (insightful/interesting/troll) al la slashdot, so that visitors can set their fence to filter out trolls and keep the science stuff at the top of the float.

    I know that filtering is nasty business, but the important “pure science” discussion is doomed to be lost under the shrill diatribes of extremists if something isn’t done. And getting the readership to help in the effort of winnowing the wheat from the chaff would provide a sort of democratic process that restores respect.

    If this were a climate symposium and some wing-nut stood up in the seats and started ranting on his favorite conspiracy the nice men in jackets with “EVENT” stenciled on the back would help him to the door. The important issues to be addressed here probably do warrant a suitable response to deliberate or even ham-handed attempts to derail them.

    Comment by cat black — 19 Mar 2007 @ 12:54 PM

  263. You know, I have to say, that one of the most disturbing aspects of the denialists presentation was how readily Lindzen launched into the “warming in Mars, Pluto, Triton…)”. There’s not an iota of truth in most of that and the small amount of possible warming on Mars is readily understandable if you know anything about drivers of Martian climate. Rush Limbaugh can convincingly claim ignorance here. Richard Lindzen can not. It is a sad day when a scientist resorts to outright obfuscation to score points in a debate for the benefit of nonscientists who do not know any better.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Mar 2007 @ 1:14 PM

  264. Gavin, thank you and your panel colleagues for having the courage to participate… now, consider the experience as an experiment. Having heard opinions on approach beforehand (two threads back) and now, having had the experience and seen the audience poll, are there lessons that you would recommend to the science community for how to effectively communicate the correct level of urgency to an interested (if non-expert) audience?

    A hypothetical concluding remark: “The best estimate of current climate science is, extending current trends over the next 50 to 100 years, we will indeed see effects like ocean levels rise 8 to 12 meters due to melted ice caps, tropical pests and diseases migrating into more densely populated temperate regions, and increases in desertification. All these predictions make the current “crises” described by others on this panel worse in the not-so-distant future. If handing an extreme slow motion remake of “Day after Tomorrow” to generations of children and grandchildren does not constitute a crisis, what should it be called?”

    You and your colleagues rightly decry both alarmism and do-nothingism or denialism. Fair enough, but to me, the middle path is sounding increasingly alarmist.

    Being a good scientist should not prevent a role of policy advocate. It’s a matter of keeping the respective hats straight.

    So the question: are there any lessons learned if the objective is to communicate the “proportional” level of crisis to the general public?

    Comment by Jerry — 19 Mar 2007 @ 1:27 PM

  265. Re: 260 and 262

    I don’t think these are good examples of global temperature forecasts (the issue, as I see it, under consideration). The only actual global temperature forecast is Hansen’s 1988 forecast, which has not been validated. See, for example, Hansen’s own evaluation of this in his 2006 paper from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science(http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/103/39/14288), in which he says:

    “a 17-year period is too brief for precise assessment of model predictions, but … comparison with the real world will become clearer within a decade”.

    In other words, even according to the author, we have to wait another 5 – 10 years before we can empirically evaluate the accuracy of those specific models. It’s not that the forecast was wrong, simply that we are simply in a period when the forecast signal can not yet be statistically distinguished form noise.

    You can see in this paper the follwoing data observations:

    1. The temperature difference predictions 1998 – 2005 that Hansen reports in his paper were actually higher over this timespan in Scenario C (strong emissions reduction) than in Scenario B (base case). I think this indicates that there has not even been clear spearation in the predicted effects over the 1988 – 2005 time period.

    2. If instead of the 17 year period 1988 – 2005 one were to evaluate prediction accuracy over the 12 year period 1988 – 2000, you would find the predictions of warming rates are off by a factor of 6 in the base case (I had to read the values form the chart as I don’t have the underlying data tables, so these are approximations). In fact, you won’t find convergence of the predicted – actual residuals to zero as you proceed from 1988 – 2005 year-by-year, which I is I think a rigorous version of finding validation.

    In the interests of fairness, please note that Gavin has a different interpretation of this and has indicated that he may post on this in the near future.

    [Response: I will. But I reiterate, there is a big difference between using 17 years to precisely determine climate sensitivity, and being able to show that it's not zero. -gavin]

    In terms of Pinatubo, I think Knox and Douglass did a pretty thorough job of demonstrating in GRL that climate sensitivity as approximately measured in the Mt Pniatubo “natural experiment” actually contradicts model seensitivities to GHGs. See: Climate forcing by the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo
    David H. Douglass and Robert S. Knox GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 32, L05710, doi:10.1029/2004GL022119, 2005. At best, when considering multiple papers on this subjects, the results are ambiguous.

    [Response: K&D is rubbish, and the response by Wigely et al to their paper shows exactly that their methodology gives no information on climate sensitivity at all. Secondly, all the GCM physically determined matches to the Pinatubo response are much better than K&D's empirical fit - which if you are truly open-minded on this, should give the models a boost no? - gavin]

    In terms of your third and fourth examples, it is an entirely different thing to predict relative geographic and/or seasonal rates of warming than to predict temperature (or more precise, temperature sensitivity to GHGs).

    Best,
    Dana

    Comment by Dana Johnson — 19 Mar 2007 @ 1:55 PM

  266. Dana, you say that: “These aggregated processes are represented within models as parameters that are modeler-created, rather than being based on physical measurements.”

    That’s not true; the parameterization schemes are indeed based on physical measurements. This has been gone through before. That is a distortion of how the process is carried out, though it is true that some parameterizations are on firmer ground than others. You also skip the more relevant point:

    “Thus, if you are going to make such statements, and expect to be taken seriously, provide some references, if you can.”

    Don’t you think that if the contrarians could demonstrate disagreement between models and observations, they would have published such results? They tried to make the claim that troposphere temperature trends disagreed with model predictions, but that was clarified by correct analysis of the satellite data. They have nothing to go off, and if they did they certainly would have published it – so where is the evidence that the climate models are not agreeing with observations?

    Let’s also look at the upper tropospheric moistening in comparison to model predictions: see http://www.colorado.edu/chemistry/chem5151/McBride.pdf (Radiative signature of upper tropospheric moistening, Soden et al 2005) Looks like the model is tracking it with good accuracy, yes?

    Let’s also consider the current trend of new temperature records, and compare it to what Richard Lindzen said in Congressional testimony ten years ago:

    One of the common claims in support of the reality and seriousness of global warming is that we have had a large portion of record breaking warm years during the last decade or so. This is not a claim used by the IPCC, and its presence in any discussion is a rather clear piece of evidence of the intent to deceive (especially when the claim is made by a scientist). As noted by Solow and Broadus (1989) and Bassett (1992), this is an inevitable occurrence when one has a single record breaker in a time series characterized by interannual variability, interdecadal variability and an underlying trend or longer period variability. Solow and Broadus show the clustered nature of record breakers….Not surprisingly, record breakers cluster in exactly the manner found by Solow and Broadus (1989) in the observed temperature record. The occurrence of such record breakers contributes no additional information. Our prime concern remains with the determination of trend and the identification of such trends with emissions of carbon dioxide, and this remains a difficult and contested issue as the IPCC freely acknowledges..

    Now we have ten more years of temperature records, and Lindzen no longer mentions the topic. Hmmm… what does that indicate? That the temperature record trend can no longer be justified on the basic of ‘statistical clustering’. In fact, this is an example of how a large number of isolated events, none of which can individually be attributed to global warming, in sum represent a trend. Roger Pielke Jr. won’t discuss whether or not he expects this trend to continue – now, why is that?

    Talk is cheap – where’s your data?

    Comment by Ike Solem — 19 Mar 2007 @ 5:18 PM

  267. #207 Barton You are fixated on the range. Try dealing with the mean and the standard distribution. Estimates cluster around 3 K. The IPCC is citing a range when they say 1.5-4.5 K. They’re not saying that any possible value in that range is of equal likelihood.

    I read all chapters of AR4 second draft relative to this estimate of climate sensitivity, and I find nowhere a clear explanation for the statistical basis of the “best estimate” (near 3 K) in the SPM. Maybe I miss the reference, if you get it, I’m interested.

    In fact, 3,2 K (mentioned in chapter -8) seems the aritmetic mean of the 23 models in table 8.8.1. But that’s not really conclusive as all these GCMs are supposed to be equally efficient for simulating and projecting climate, so a 2,1 K result does not rule out a 4,4 K result (and the mean of these results does not tell me which model better implements physical processes of climate).

    #218 Eli Regarding the range of estimates for carbon sensitivity, one should compare the range to the “natural” greenhouse effect for ~280 ppm, about 30 K, which makes the variation in the estimate about 10%. That the range has not moved much over 100 years and with increasing sophistication is a measure of the robustness of the result. As Gavin points out, the fact that 0 to negative response is ruled out (indeed that

    Your comment was apparently cut as you posted. I don’t understand the first point about natural GH effect.

    Comment by Charles Muller — 19 Mar 2007 @ 6:58 PM

  268. Re #263: [...one of the most disturbing aspects of the denialists presentation was how readily Lindzen launched into the "warming in Mars, Pluto, Triton...)". There's not an iota of truth in most of that...]

    Worse yet, in the one instance where planetary warming is indisputable – Pluto – there’s a reason, utterly unrelated to solar changes, that should have been obvious to anyone who’s had even a decent high school science class, let alone a professional scientist. Pluto has a very eccentric orbit: it’s been closer to the sun for the last few decades, so of course it warms up. Duh!

    As for the rest, I see and I wonder. These planets are hundreds of millions of miles away; in most cases, we have only scattered telescope information for more than the last decade or so, and yet the same people who on such scanty evidence claim that these other planets are warming will with their next breath say that we have insufficient records of Earth’s climate to prove that warming is happening.

    Comment by James — 19 Mar 2007 @ 7:14 PM

  269. Watching the contraian news, one sees various scientists quoted
    against global warming. It would be helpful to have a survey
    of who these people are and what arguments they are making.

    Comment by Lance Drager — 19 Mar 2007 @ 8:13 PM

  270. Re: 265

    Gavin:

    In terms of the Pinatubo analysis, thanks for the Wigley reference, I’ll dig it up and read it. Once I’ve done my homework on this, I’ll cycle back. If you put your ‘outside the debate’ hat on, would you say that “K&D is rubbish” is a universal point of view among serious scientists, or would you characterize there being a legitimate debate on this point? I do agree that the premise that a natural experiment which validates pre-existing model predictions (ie, those made prior to the eruption) leads to the conclusion that such models have passed a useful falsification test.

    I believe I understand the reiterated distinction you are drawing on the evaluation of the 1988 forecast. In effect, I think you are saying there is difference between showing that a value is statistically different than zero and showing that a value is within some confidence interval of an estimate. But if we all agree that global temperature, sensitivity to CO2 > 0 based on the radiative physics, then the issue of interest is exactly the confidence intervals, at various levels of certainty, around the estimate produced by a given model / scenario under consideration. Said differently (though without quantification of the term “precise assessment”): “a 17-year period is too brief for precise assessment of model predictions, but … comparison with the real world will become clearer within a decade”. Am I missing something here? (asked seriously, not rhetorically)

    Gavin, thanks again for spending so much time on this given all of the professional work you are doing in this area.

    Best,
    Dana

    [Response: Nothing is universal, but I'd be very surprised if anyone sensible cited the K&D paper approvingly. I understand your comment about the uncertainty estimates - however, the transient response of the model to ongoing forcing is not really a simple function of the sensitivity. At best what can be said here is that a model with a sensitivity of ~4 deg C (if I recall correctly) gives responses that are within the uncertainties of the measurements - given the level of interannual 'noise' in both the model run and the observations. I will do this point justice at some point - patience! - gavin]

    Comment by Dana Johnson — 19 Mar 2007 @ 8:52 PM

  271. re 262-cat black says ….Recommendation: Can we add a moderation function to the comment software?….”

    It’s not nearly obvious what the filter’s criterea would be. Uses a shrill tone? Every now and then expert scientists get shrill. No political flavor? AGW has a political flavor that occassionally is helpful to address; when it goes solidly into more distant related politics, it probably ought to be properly filtered out, but there’s no decent software that comes close to the moderators. (BTW, a big hand for the moderators who spend mucho time doing a very credible job of it.) Block the agin-ers? Also a very difficult massive algorithm; plus you end up with a boring circle-jerk.

    Comment by Rod B. — 19 Mar 2007 @ 9:18 PM

  272. Dana wrote : [[I don't think these are good examples of global temperature forecasts (the issue, as I see it, under consideration).]]

    What you are saying does not make sense… If you have read the threads, you know how climate models differ from weather models.

    Here is some more reading from this site if you are really interested.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/03/climate-sensitivity-plus-a-change/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/07/climate-sensitivity-and-aerosol-forcings/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/06/make-your-own-forecasts-of-future-energy-carbon-emissions-and-climate/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/05/planetary-energy-imbalance/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/03/how-long-will-global-warming-last/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/01/climatepredictionnet-climate-challenges-and-climate-sensitivity/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/temperaturevariations-in-past-centuries-and-the-so-called-hockey-stick/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/08/climate-feedbacks/

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 19 Mar 2007 @ 9:22 PM

  273. Re: 265
    Ike, let me see if I can address your issues / questions one-by-one:

    POINT 1:

    IS: Dana, you say that: “These aggregated processes are represented within models as parameters that are modeler-created, rather than being based on physical measurements.”
    That’s not true; the parameterization schemes are indeed based on physical measurements. This has been gone through before. That is a distortion of how the process is carried out, though it is true that some parameterizations are on firmer ground than others. You also skip the more relevant point:
    “Thus, if you are going to make such statements, and expect to be taken seriously, provide some references, if you can.”
    Don’t you think that if the contrarians could demonstrate disagreement between models and observations, they would have published such results? They tried to make the claim that troposphere temperature trends disagreed with model predictions, but that was clarified by correct analysis of the satellite data. They have nothing to go off, and if they did they certainly would have published it – so where is the evidence that the climate models are not agreeing with observations?
    Let’s also look at the upper tropospheric moistening in comparison to model predictions: see http://www.colorado.edu/chemistry/chem5151/McBride.pdf (Radiative signature of upper tropospheric moistening, Soden et al 2005) Looks like the model is tracking it with good accuracy, yes?

    RESPONSE TO POINT 1:

    DJ:Iâ??m looking for something pretty specific: an example of a published multi-year global temperature forecast with a comparison of prediction to observation. Note, not predictions of relative geographic or seasonal trends or anything else. (As I’ve said earlier, to specify this somewhat more precisely, a copy of a model plus operational scripts escrowed at the time of prediction and a comparison of this model output with actual temperature at some future data when presented the actual input data as of that later date – the standard method of model validation.)
    I agree that if contrarians had demonstrated examples of prediction -observation disagreement they would be published. I’m enough of a scientist to believe that most scientists, whatever their a priori beliefs, would publish such findings. But think about your question. If there are no published examples of prediction – observation disagreement, and there are no examples of prediction – observation AGREEMENT (to be fair, we are debating one possible example, though I don’t believe any fair-minded observer would characterize the evaluation of the 1988 Hansen forecasts as either agreement or disagreement as of today), then what does that say about validation studies that have been conducted of climate models? There are no published examples of either one. There has only been hindcasting analysis, and no true prediction validation. In a normal simulation modeling field there would be hundreds of such studies. Why not here?
    I can think of at least one good potential reason why not. If it takes 30+ years to validate a model because that’s how long it takes for the phenomena to become evident at a level distinguishable from noise, we would have to wait until 2037 to validate a model built today, and if very dire forecasts are acurate, our goose would already be cooked by then.
    If that’s the argument, fine. But there is a huge difference between making a forecast using a tool that has actually been validated as predicting with some defined accuracy vs. one that has not. Note that this doesn’t mean I think that any specific model is wrong or, more extremely, that this somehow ‘disproves’ AGW. If it’s correct that we are using non-validated models, however, we should just be somewhat more humble about our predictions.

    POINT 2:

    IS: Let’s also consider the current trend of new temperature records, and compare it to what Richard Lindzen said in Congressional testimony ten years ago:
    One of the common claims in support of the reality and seriousness of global warming is that we have had a large portion of record breaking warm years during the last decade or so. This is not a claim used by the IPCC, and its presence in any discussion is a rather clear piece of evidence of the intent to deceive (especially when the claim is made by a scientist). As noted by Solow and Broadus (1989) and Bassett (1992), this is an inevitable occurrence when one has a single record breaker in a time series characterized by interannual variability, interdecadal variability and an underlying trend or longer period variability. Solow and Broadus show the clustered nature of record breakers….Not surprisingly, record breakers cluster in exactly the manner found by Solow and Broadus (1989) in the observed temperature record. The occurrence of such record breakers contributes no additional information. Our prime concern remains with the determination of trend and the identification of such trends with emissions of carbon dioxide, and this remains a difficult and contested issue as the IPCC freely acknowledges..
    Now we have ten more years of temperature records, and Lindzen no longer mentions the topic. Hmmm… what does that indicate? That the temperature record trend can no longer be justified on the basic of ‘statistical clustering’. In fact, this is an example of how a large number of isolated events, none of which can individually be attributed to global warming, in sum represent a trend. Roger Pielke Jr. won’t discuss whether or not he expects this trend to continue – now, why is that?

    RESPONSE TO POINT 2:

    DJ: I donâ??t believe that either Richard Lindzen or Roger Pielke have validated the ability to make accurate multi-year global temperature predictions.

    POINT 3:

    IS: Talk is cheap – where’s your data?

    RESPONSE TO POINT 3:

    DJ: I think you have this exactly backwards. I don’t claim to be able to predict global temperatures 100 years from now. In fact, I think this is an example of a very hard scientific problem. If you believe that you can do this where is your data? Specifically, to go back to the original point, please provide validated examples of accurate multi-year global temperature forecasts.
    Best,
    Dana

    Comment by Dana Johnson — 19 Mar 2007 @ 9:30 PM

  274. Re: 270

    Gavin, looking forward to the detailed treatment when you get a chance.

    Best,
    Dana

    Comment by Dana Johnson — 19 Mar 2007 @ 9:34 PM

  275. Re: 272

    Richard,

    I think I understand the distinction between weather and climate, and between weather models and climate models.

    What I meant by the clause you quote


    I don’t think these are good examples of global temperature forecasts (the issue, as I see it, under consideration

    was that a salient output of climate models is a prediction of global temperatures under various carbon emissions scenarios. I was, an am, searching for validated examples of accurate global temperature predictions, as opposed to predictions of geographic or seasonal temperature differences. I’ve specific previously that, of course, the “prediction” would really be an escrowed version of the model at the time of prediction plus the actual imput data at the time of validation.

    I have read the threads that you recommend, and while all interesting and valuable, they don’t really go to this precise point (as far as I can tell).

    Best,
    Dana

    Comment by Dana Johnson — 19 Mar 2007 @ 9:42 PM

  276. Dana, you understand I hope that the prediction has been for increased _variability_ with a longterm warming trend — and that’s what’s being observed thus far. What beyond that do you want, that you think the physics is able to produce? You’re asking for some specific longterm weather prediction, or what?

    Why don’t you consider the biological changes, or ocean alkalinity changes, as evidence?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Mar 2007 @ 10:00 PM

  277. I’m not sure what other posters have written and do not have time to look but, if you want to know, I will tell you why I think the audience responded more favorably to the other side.

    You did not give any examples. The other side had plenty, almost completely uncontested by you guys. You basically told the audience that “scientists” have decreed this and that without giving any reasons why, and insinuated that they were too dumb to understand it. You’ve got to get into the nitty-gritty and, you’ve got to present it in a way that they can understand it. That does not mean “dumbed-down.” It means, in a way that meshes with their personal experience.

    I once had a manager tell me, in my younger days when I was fuming over the customer’s inability to understand what I was telling them, that if I couldn’t put it in terms that most men on the street could understand, then I didn’t really understand it myself. Most men (and women) on the street have a good store of common sense and, if you break your argument down into the essentials, you can persuade them. Too technical is bad, but not technical enough is bad, too. I mean, you had an audience that came in largely expecting to emerge on your side and, you lost them. Do you think that is their fault? Why?

    Oh, and then you brought in “the children.” I mean, how hackneyed can you get? I bet the eye-rolling meter was pegged on that one. And, when you said “I don’t think that they are completely…doing this on a level playing field that the people here will understand,”, well, that really gave the game away. Even your post here gives off an odor of sour grapes, [edit]

    Why in the world do you think you can succeed like that? I can’t imagine why you expected this kind of presentation to be received favorably. For the life of me, I really can’t.

    Comment by Reid — 19 Mar 2007 @ 10:04 PM

  278. Comment by Hank Roberts> “…you understand I hope that the prediction has been for increased _variability_ with a longterm warming trend…”

    Is there really a credible prediction for increased _variability_?
    Or does the longterm warming trend just cause more high temperature records?

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 19 Mar 2007 @ 10:36 PM

  279. Re: 276

    Hank:

    Thanks for your post.

    OK, well what I’m still looking for is a model prediction made on date X for future global temperatures that was subsequently validated or falsified on some date after X. In principle, that could be, for example, a warming trend, cooling trend or inreased variability with no underlying trend at all.

    I think there is a ton of evidence for AGW from biological and other sources, if that’s what you’re getting at.

    Best,
    Dana

    Comment by Dana Johnson — 19 Mar 2007 @ 11:26 PM

  280. Every once in a while, a key turn of phrase on the part of the good guys, a key step out of bounds on the part of the bad guys, does have the power to completely turn around a public debate. Everybody who has ever been involved in a public debate over critical issues hopes for a moment like Joseph Welch’s obliteration of Joe McCarthy, with the phrase “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?” That moment clearly didn’t happen in the global warming debate under discussion here, and maybe it will never happen for a problem like global warming. I do think that this case too, in the end, comes down to a fundamental lack of decency, a fundamental shamelessness, on the part of opponents like Lindzen or Crichton. My hat is off to Gavin, Brenda and Richard, who I think did about as well as can be done playing the science straight, but the response shows that some other tactic is necessary to engage the hearts as well as minds of the audience. I’m not, of course, suggesting that one play crooked with the science the way Lindzen does, but that tactics which play more to peoples’ feelings, tactics which even extend to ridicule of opponents where they deserve ridicule, may be needed to win in fora like this one. I’m not sure what such tactics would look like, but I doubt many scientists have the requisite theatrical skills.

    Comment by raypierre — 19 Mar 2007 @ 11:47 PM

  281. Re #277: [...if I couldn't put it in terms that most men on the street could understand, then I didn't really understand it myself.]

    Either that, or you don’t understand the man in the street :-)

    Re #279: [OK, well what I'm still looking for is a model prediction made on date X for future global temperatures...]

    A lot of people seem to get this backwards: it isn’t evidence of warming that’s motivated people to come up with theories and models, it’s those theories (grounded in physical laws and very sound facts) that predict warming. So if I can make a “man on the street” sort of analogy, you’ve just jumped off a cliff. We can use Newton’s Laws and aerodynamics to construct a computer model that’ll predict how hard you’ll hit. Of course we may not have exact figures for the height of the cliff or the air temperature, you might tumble a bit on the way down, or even encounter an updraft. And of course our theory isn’t perfect: we’re not taking into account relativistic velocity corrections, for one. So with all that, there’s a good chance our model is wrong, and so our prediction of your terminal velocity may be somewhat in error.

    Now if you were to follow the lead of the AGW denialists, you’d claim that because our gravitational model isn’t perfectly accurate, we can all go around jumping off cliffs and never worry about the consequences. Hit bottom, you say? But falling is just a conspiracy of the liberal gravitational scientists, so they can keep on getting research grants :-)

    Comment by James — 20 Mar 2007 @ 12:16 AM

  282. Re #281 Jumping off a cliff (James)

    James, that’s a great analogy.

    You might have added that our computer models has been able to accurately reproduce the measured velocity of the person falling down for the first 3 metres or so. Some contrarians are claiming that no, it’s not Earth’s gravity, it is the moon that determining what is happening. Or the moisture content of the air.

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 20 Mar 2007 @ 3:07 AM

  283. Re. #279, see here.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 20 Mar 2007 @ 3:23 AM

  284. Re 281 , 282.
    Pity the result will be the same for modeller and contrarian alike: splat.
    Unless the modeller had the foresight to attach a bungee cord, using the model to estimate the length needed (where length is less than the distance to splat point). In which case there will be a certain number of ups and downs, but s/he will be left dangling; albeit lower than the original starting point, but alive. And in a position to rectify the situation.

    Comment by Serinde — 20 Mar 2007 @ 7:40 AM

  285. Two points to add to the debate:
    1. I read Chrichton’s State of Fear with astonishment – not at the science, but at the basic premise. I couldn’t help wondering if he planned the book expecting Al Gore not George W Bush to be in the White House. The idea that the first Bush government was using Climate Change as a means to keep the population in a ‘state of fear’ was like suggesting that [edited--sorry, this was a bit inflammatory].
    2. It was interesting to watch the film ‘Amazing Grace’ on Wilberforce’s battle to abolish the slave trade in the light of the GW discussions: notably the arguement of the anti-abolitionists that abolition would ruin the economy of the British Empire. Funnily enough, it didn’t. Post 1807 the Empire continued to rise in power and wealth for another century.

    Comment by Mike Goss — 20 Mar 2007 @ 7:56 AM

  286. re 278: Steve, Consider that what you are doing is putting energy into a chaotic system. This has the effect of not only raising the temperature (averaged over the entire system), but also of increasing the phase space available to the system (hence increasing its variability). This is just physics, and there’s no need to even refer to a model here. Now, a chaotic system may have regions of phase space that are quasi-stable–i.e. a small perturbation does not lead to a completely different part of phase space, but rather to a nearby point. The past 10000 years of exceptional climatic stability could possibly represent such a region. If so (and I admit it is a reasonable-sized if), then the question is how much energy do you need to add before we fly away from the region of quasi-stability and become very unpredictable.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Mar 2007 @ 9:10 AM

  287. >279, Dana
    Dave’s pointer is the right answer. Read it through carefully. If you don’t understand it, the AIP History of Global Warming (also linked in the right hand column of the main page) is a good explanation.

    You can always argue that an answer isn’t precise enough, or global enough, or statistically significant enough to suit you. Nature isn’t that picky, from all the evidence in so far — it’s happening as expected.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Mar 2007 @ 9:11 AM

  288. All:

    Sorry for my seeming obsession with the question of validated predictions, and sorry if I’m semi-hijacking this thread. So, I’ll make just one more post on this subject and then stop.

    Consider an analogy to climate models. Instead of a very smart group of thousands of scientists and engineers who assert that they have built a piece of software that can accurately predict the global temperature impact over several decades of increased GHG concentration, imagine that this same group of people assert that they have built a car with a new kind of engine that can go 1,000 miles per hour.

    Now, I think it would be natural for an outside observer to say ‘great, where is the data from the road tests where this car has actually achieved that speed?’ When the response is ‘here are thousands of scientists who agree that this car can go 1,000 miles per hour, and pretty much nobody who knows about this kind of engine disagrees’ and ‘let me show you the data on the engine tests that demonstrate that the relative rotation speed of part A is 47 times that of part B, which is consistent with going 1,000 miles per hour’ and ‘here are computer simulations of this engine that demonstrate that it goes 1,000 miles per hour’ and ‘let me explain the physics of this device’ etc., it does lead naturally to the question ‘OK, all of that makes sense, but why don’t you just take it out on a track and drive it at 1,000 miles per hour and then we’ll all know for sure?’.

    By analogy, it seems sensible to ask for demonstrations that climate models can actually perform a specific, crucial advertised task: predict the multi-decadal global temperature impact of increasing levels of GHGs. In any technical field with which I’m familiar that uses complex simulation models, the lierature has hundreds of validation studies that do exactly this.

    Let me reiterate that this question about model validation doesn’t mean that I deny AGW (I don’t) or that I think the models have been proven to be wrong (I don’t) or that I think there is some nefarious conspiracy among climate scientists (I don’t) or that I know of anybody who has a reliable alternative method for preciting long-term climate change (I don’t). I just think that predicting the climate 100 years from now is an incredibly hard scientific problem, and therefore demands real rigor in evaluation of claims.

    Thanks for all for your time and attention. This discussion has been very illuminating for me, and really helped to clarify my thinking.

    Best,
    Dana

    Comment by Dana Johnson — 20 Mar 2007 @ 9:46 AM

  289. Re #288 (Dana)

    [By analogy, it seems sensible to ask for demonstrations that climate models can actually perform a specific, crucial advertised task: predict the multi-decadal global temperature impact of increasing levels of GHGs. In any technical field with which I'm familiar that uses complex simulation models, the lierature has hundreds of validation studies that do exactly this]

    Dana: honestly, I don’t understand your question. If measured GHG concentrations are fed into the models, they reproduce the temperature record 1850-2000 very well, both in time and space, and a lot of other things besides (and this is not just a matter of curve fitting.)

    What more do you want?

    PS Dave Rado had a link to the two most compelling graphs (temperature and attribution) somewhere in a recent thread, but I can’t find that post just now.

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 20 Mar 2007 @ 11:18 AM

  290. Re # 288

    “I just think that predicting the climate 100 years from now is an incredibly hard scientific problem, and therefore demands real rigor in evaluation of claims.”

    I’m curious – do you think that rigor has been lacking in the peer-reviewed papers on this subject, or that the climate modelers somehow don’t recognize the difficulty of modelling global climate and projecting future temperature increases?

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 20 Mar 2007 @ 11:44 AM

  291. Re #288: [By analogy, it seems sensible to ask for demonstrations that climate models can actually perform a specific, crucial advertised task: predict the multi-decadal global temperature impact of increasing levels of GHGs.]

    I think you’ll find that your question contains its answer: “multi-decadal”. So you’re suggesting that the modellers make predictions now, and we all wait around doing business as usual for several decades to find out if the predictions are correct, no? By which time, if the predictions do turn out to be correct, it’s probably too late to do anything.

    On the other hand, if we proceed on the assumption that the models are right, many of the actions that would help mitigate the problem are relatively inexpensive (some even result in savings), and give us cleaner air & water to boot. Seems like a pretty clear choice to me.

    Comment by James — 20 Mar 2007 @ 11:52 AM

  292. Imagine your engineers promising a 1000-mph vehicle
    – Over more than a century, kept at it:
    http://www.roadsters.com/welcome/
    – Stepwise through the years, kept promising higher speeds.
    – Kept showing their ideas worked, year after year
    By 1997
    http://www.roadsters.com/ssc_770x390.jpg
    “… Monday, October 13th [1997],… two runs, at 764.168 miles per hour (Mach 1.007) and 760.135 miles per hour (Mach 1.003)”
    And keep promising exactly what you specify:
    http://www.sonicwind.com/page1.html
    “… its design speed of 900 mph and possibly even to 1000 mph!”

    Believe it?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_speed_record

    Start with Arrhenius, in the AIP history, watch how it’s improved over the years.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Mar 2007 @ 1:01 PM

  293. Just read the transcript. You did an excellent job, Gavin. The audience already knew plenty about GW, so it was good you focused on the contrarian’s fallacious arguments. Great.

    I do really resent the program’s frame – “GW is NOT a crisis.” That may be the null hypothesis for false-positive avoiding scientists (and the contrarians who need 99% or 101% confidence before rejecting), but it is not the position regular people should be taking — unless they are very old and very selfish, and don’t give a %*&$#@ about the kids or grandkids, or where they’ll spend eternity. Also “crisis” might be too harsh a term, since I look outside and the sun is shining and birds are singing, and it’s hard to even find a storm cloud on the horizon. The word “problem” may have gotten more votes against that stupid proposition.

    But at least the contrarians haven’t started arguing “it’s happening, but it’s too late to do anything about it” — which will be their next argument.

    The contrarians have badly abused this Galileo & paradigm shift idea. They claim as Galilean the position “the world (climate) is as it’s always been, amen, totally flat,” while characterizing the “AGW is a new phenom based on principles we now understand” as anti-Galilean. AGW, not climate-as-usual, is the big paradigm shift, which even the believers are struggling to grasp.

    Eventually, many years after Galileo, most of the world came to believe his position. So one would expect that 100+ years after Arrhenius first proposed the AGW hypothesis, that lots of scientists would come to his position, and the proof is in the pudding of mounting evidence.

    As a member of NRDC (& ED, etc), I resent Crichton’s criticisms. For one thing, NRDC build a very “green” building in NY. And since when did I own a private jet? And how is it that not switching to CF bulbs and turning off lights not in use will solve the problem? AGW is a problem with thousands of solutions – and we need to start implementing one after another ASAP. No measure is too small to implement. (If everyone put out just one little candle, what a cool world this would be.) Everyone needs to do everything, including carrying a hanky to wipe hands in public restrooms. We need to see our electric bills cut in half by all our measures, and then by another half, then get on Green Mountain 100% wind energy (they’re having a lock-in sale right now at 2.5 cents lower per KWH than the going rate).

    And with all the money we save, we can send it over to help all those poor people. Another thing, my husband and I give 20 times more to such charities than we do to NRDC, ED, and RMI combined. I just don’t see how saving money from all that energy/resource conservation/efficiency is going to prevent us from giving to the poor, who as Somerville pointed out, are suffering much more greatly from AGW (even right now as I write) than us 1st world folks, who will also eventually become very poor & disease-ridden if we fail to mitigate — but there won’t be any rich people to provide us aid.

    Re Stott’s discussion of “it’s mostly unknown” (e.g., re aerosols), here’s an analogy: There’s a rockslide up ahead, but it’s unknown if it impacted the railway tracks, ergo we should proceed full speed ahead on our train.

    And Lindzen’s emphasis on how the impact per unit CO2 goes down…That’s UNLESS, of course, the warming it causes (1) releases xxxxxx gigatons of CH4 & CO2 from melting permafrost, ocean clathrates, GW-induced forest fires; and/or (2) impedes nature’s ability to reabsorb those GHGs.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 20 Mar 2007 @ 2:03 PM

  294. Re: 289 – 292

    I said that I’d stop, but you guys have raised some great points and questions, so at leat I’ll try to be brief. :)

    Dick:

    The distinction is one between ‘hindcasting’ and actual prediction.

    In the rigorous version of hindcasting, I parameterize a model on data for, say, 1900 – 1950 and then use this model to simulate global temperatures for 1951 – 1980 and compare these simulated temperatures to actual. This is normally the first test applied to a predictive model in any field. Climate models have passed this test.

    The next step is to make an actual series of predictions at time X for some future time Y and then when Y rolls around compare predictions to actual to create a distribution of prediction error. This has not been done for climate models It might seem like this is not that big a deal, but there are numerous examples in many fields of predictive models that do well on hold-out samples but fail in real trials.

    Chuck:

    In my experience, climate modelers are smart and dedicated. Some modelers have made trying to quantify model uncertainty a key research focus — James Annan is a prominent example.

    There is an empirical tendency for all predictive modeling communities (not just climate modelers) to over-estimate accuracy in the absence of validation studies. I assume, but do not know, that climate modelers are typical of other scientific communities in this regard.

    I think the lack of validation studies is most likely a function of how long it is believed to take to compare a prediction to actuals, as per my response to James below.

    James:

    I completely get your point. I said something very similar in a prior post on this thread.

    My only point is a narrow one: we should know, when making these decisions, whether or not the predictive model we are using is validated (in the sense of validation I describe in my response to Dick) or non-validated.

    Hank:

    LOL — great post. My hypothetical was not that the group of engineers asserted they had developed the first car to go 1,000 miles per hours, just a car that could go 1,000 per hour. But consider your extensions to my analogy. If “road test” = “validated prediction” (in the sense of validated prediction as described in my response above to Dick), then in your analogy it would be as if climate modelers had first predicted accurately for 1 year, then 3 years, then 5 years, then 10 years, then 20 years and were now claiming that they had extended the predictive envelope to 30 years. But my point is that the models haven’t even done a road test that shows that they can 100 miles per hour, because they haven’t done any road tests at all.

    Best,
    Dana

    Comment by Dana Johnson — 20 Mar 2007 @ 2:27 PM

  295. I am a neophite trying to better understand global warming, so advanced apologies if this is naive. In looking at the 400kyr ice core data, it’s clear that there is correlation and some feedback loop between CO2 and T. What caused the high spikes in T every ~100kyrs and how are those factors relevant in today’s temp increases, if at all?

    Comment by Dan — 20 Mar 2007 @ 2:38 PM

  296. RE #174 & “I have never come across what I consider to be good evidence that global warming is a crisis, present or future,”

    There’s a (I know it’s going to be) great book by Mark Lynas coming out now, SIX DEGREES. He’s done tremendous research and presents what each degree rise in warming means in terms of impacts and harms.

    Even a few degrees means lots of harms. I’m even thinking with the way the glaciers are melting today, that if we just stayed at this current level of warmth even, that could mean no water for drinking, much less agriculture for a large chunk of the world’s population, once the glaciers that provide their water are all melted. So it looks like some bad things are in the works right now at our current level of warmth…

    Same with droughts in Africa.

    I think what the improved science will eventually be able to tell us is just how much harm has been caused over the past 30 or so years from AGW. Maybe we’ll find out in the next IPCC AR, or the one after that. It takes science a long time to reach 95% confidence on these various issues. And I, for one, am not waiting around for the definitive proof, but already into my 17th year of reducing my GHGs. And I think I could bring my husband on board more to help in this effort, if there were more of a community consensus out there that this is a problem and we need to address it.

    So the crisis (or serious problems — whatever you wish to call it), I think, has already been with us for some time, and will just get worse.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 20 Mar 2007 @ 2:39 PM

  297. >modelers … road test

    Simplest model: Arrhenius. Results? In the ballpark (he defined the ballpark, admittedly)
    Watch the developments from there, see the AIP History document.

    Your simplest model is “add CO2″ as Arrhenius did, estimating the result; he’s got the longest baseline so far, starting with the very simplest model, just the basic physics he discovered.

    Each physicist along the historical track has known a bit more and had a bit more complex model, and from the 1950s has needed computers to do the math.

    They’ve all said the same thing, to about the same magnitude, and all been correct so far within reasonable error bars.

    It doesn’t have to be huge to be a model; Arrhenius did it first.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Mar 2007 @ 3:16 PM

  298. [[What caused the high spikes in T every ~100kyrs and how are those factors relevant in today's temp increases, if at all? ]]

    “Milankovic cycles.” The Earth’s orbit and axial tilt change cyclically over time, and that affects how sunlight is distributed over the Earth’s surface. These cycles seem to correlate well to the pattern of ice ages during the Pleistocene.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 20 Mar 2007 @ 3:46 PM

  299. Thanks! It seems that each of the previous T spikes have gone higher than we are today. So how much of warming today is from Milankovic cycles versus anthropomophic CO2 increases? (not arguing against GW, but trying understand how much is natural vs artificial)

    Comment by Dan — 20 Mar 2007 @ 4:23 PM

  300. Re #299: Dan — Accoring to orbital forcing theory, the climate should be very slowly cooling now, heading for a try at a stade (ice sheets) in about 20,000 years. So based just on this, slightly more than 100% of the warming is anthropomorphic.

    But given the physics, the fact that the carbon dioxide in the air is higher than any time in the last 600,000 years ought to be a source of serious concern. After all, Homo sapiens sapiens only evolved about 200,000 years ago. We are adapted to cold (global) climates…

    Comment by David B. Benson — 20 Mar 2007 @ 4:33 PM

  301. No question, the CO2 is off the charts, from any previous point. Very concerning and no CO2 slow down in sight!

    So why did T, not spike up as high this time, as it has in the past?

    Comment by Dan — 20 Mar 2007 @ 4:49 PM

  302. Re #301: Dan — About all that can currently be said is that the Eemian (last previous interglacial) was warmer than the Holocene. Enough so that the sea stand was about 5 meters higher. Due to anthropogenic contributions, we may still get to that point and beyond.

    Each glacial period proceeds slightly differently. Rocks weather and erode, biological organisms evolve, etc…

    Comment by David B. Benson — 20 Mar 2007 @ 5:00 PM

  303. Rate of change, Dan.

    You can’t say it didn’t happen until your grandchildren tell you it didn’t happen; it’ll be happening on their watch, not yours.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Mar 2007 @ 5:11 PM

  304. Dan, a better (more informative) answer here:

    We Can’t Afford to “Wait and See” on Climate Change
    …. think of GHGs in the atmosphere as water in a bathtub. …
    http://www.sustainabilityinstitute.org/pubs/columns/07.19.02Jones.html

    The CO2 isn’t hot all by itself; it’s just holding the heat in slightly better.

    Go to bed. Put on a big down comforter or two. Do you overheat instantly?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Mar 2007 @ 5:13 PM

  305. Re #301 T-spike

    The temperature will spike, don’t worry. Or come to think of it, better do worry.

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 20 Mar 2007 @ 5:20 PM

  306. ok, but if we’ve already past the peak, from an orbital forcing perspective, why did we not reach the T max from past cycles?

    You are saying we will peak because of anthropomorphic CO2(no argument from me). I am asking why we did not peak to the levels seen in the past, in the natural cycle?

    (…and yes, I will worry, regardless)

    Comment by Dan — 20 Mar 2007 @ 5:29 PM

  307. Re #303 Why no Milankovich spike now?

    OK, I misunderstood your question. Dunno, I will have to look it up. Maybe somebody else knows offhand?

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 20 Mar 2007 @ 5:34 PM

  308. RE #303, I think it takes a long time (from our ordinary view point) for the temp to respond to the CO2. As per God and geologists, a thousand years is as a day.

    The phrase scientists are using is “the warming’s in the pipes.” So, even if we reduce our GHG emissions to zero today, there will still be a lot of warming catching up to our previous emissions — I think on the order of up to 2 degrees or so. I’m not sure.

    And the really problematic thing is that up to one quarter of our CO2 emissions can stay in the atmosphere up to 100,000 years, according to David Archer. That’s alot of global warming bang for the buck’s worth of CO2. So adding more & more only compounds a serious problem.

    At any rate it really behooves us to reduce our GHGs AMAP, bec even a tiny bit of help in a heating world would be like offering a jigger of water to a greatly thirsting person — much appreciated.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 20 Mar 2007 @ 6:04 PM

  309. Dan, we are nowhere near the end of this warming epoch, and there is no telling exactly where this will go.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Mar 2007 @ 6:05 PM

  310. Re: 308 and 309.

    Ray and Lynn,

    Thanks, but I am not disagreeing with any of that, at all.

    I am asking, if we’ve already past the peak, from an orbital forcing perspective, why did we not reach the T max from past cycles already? Anthopomorphic CO2 should only make it worse, but we did not reach the T max seen in the other cycles? I would just like to understand why or please correct me if this is wrong.

    Comment by Dan Lawless — 20 Mar 2007 @ 6:54 PM

  311. Re #310: Dan Lawless — Perhaps you missed my #302. Possibly a smaller orbital forcing explains (part of) the answer you want. This seems ok for previous interglacials I, II, and III. But not for IV, about 420 kya. Hence my reply in #302…

    Comment by David B. Benson — 20 Mar 2007 @ 7:05 PM

  312. Re #311 Thanks and sorry, I did miss your #302. It just looks like this cycle caps off, in a much different way than the past cycles. Is there any paper or article on why T did not max out yet, the way it did in the past cycles? Is there any article/paper/study on the “smaller orbital forcing”, in this cycle?
    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/pastcc.html

    (Note: my point IS NOT to counter GW theory! I am just trying to understand this one part.)

    Comment by Dan Lawless — 20 Mar 2007 @ 7:27 PM

  313. Sea Change in Public Attitudes Toward Global Warming Emerge; Climate Change Seen as Big a Threat as Terrorism

    New Haven, Conn. � A new Yale research survey reveals a significant shift in public attitudes toward the environment and global warming. Fully 83 percent of Americans now say global warming is a �serious� problem, up from 70 percent in 2004.

    read the article here:

    http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=30085

    Comment by J.C.H — 20 Mar 2007 @ 7:35 PM

  314. Re. 289, Dick are these the graphs you were looking for?
    http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Climate_Change_Attribution_png
    http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/figspm-4.htm

    Comment by Dave Rado — 20 Mar 2007 @ 7:53 PM

  315. Dan, did you read this?

    We Can’t Afford to “Wait and See” on Climate Change
    …. think of GHGs in the atmosphere as water in a bathtub. …
    http://www.sustainabilityinstitute.org/pubs/columns/07.19.02Jones.html

    Illustration here: http://www.opendemocracy.net/content/articles/2455/images/bathtub.gif
    (and another copy of the article, with more sidebars and notes)

    Try asking questions about an available explanation, that might help us understand what you’re using as your source for your information. If you’re looking at someone’s page, anywhere, tell us your source and why you’re relying on it for your facts.

    Very simply — until this time, the rate of change of climate was all natural, and at a far slower pace than the current spike, with one exception at the “PETM” event that was still slower than today’s by far.

    Look up “biogeochemical cycles” or “carbon cycle” and look in particular at how fast things happen.

    Human activity is like an asteroid impact — 200 years of fossil fuel burning is much closer to one huge explosion than to any cyclical natural change.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Mar 2007 @ 7:55 PM

  316. Re: #311 Thanks and Sorry, I had missed your #302
    [Possibly a smaller orbital forcing explains (part of) the answer you want]
    Is there any data/research/articles on this smaller orbital forcing? I am interested to better understand, more specifically, why T caps off in a very different way, than previous cycles.

    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/pastcc.html

    (Note: to be clear, I stipulate that massive anthropomorphic CO2 increases are making the planet hotter. I am not challenging this!)

    Comment by Dan Lawless — 20 Mar 2007 @ 8:10 PM

  317. Dan, this is also perhaps helpful in understanding what’s different about today’s situation.

    http://web.mit.edu/jsterman/www/StermanSweeney.pdf

    “wait-and-see policies erroneously presume climate change can be reversed quickly should harm become evident, underestimating substantial delays in the climateâ��s response to anthropogenic forcing. We report experiments with highly educated adults–graduate students at MIT–showing widespread misunderstanding of the fundamental stock and flow relationships, including mass balance principles, that lead to long response delays. GHG emissions are now about twice the rate of GHG removal from the atmosphere. GHG concentrations will therefore continue to rise even if emissions fall, stabilizing only when emissions equal removal. In contrast, results show most subjects believe atmospheric GHG concentrations can be stabilized while emissions into the atmosphere continuously exceed the removal of GHGs from it. These beliefs–analogous to arguing a bathtub filled faster than it drains will never overflow–support wait-and-see policies but violate conservation of matter.”

    Note also, the problem isn’t that it’s human-caused, it’s the rate of change that’s the problem,:

    “Natural climate changes in times past, perhaps the closest paleoclimate analogy being the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum 55 million years ago (when lots of stored carbon was released to the atmosphere), would be no less a problem for being natural if their analogue occurred today on human timescales.”

    as posted in some guy’s weblog at
    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/climate_change/001004less_than_a_quarter_.html
    (my excerpt from much good info posted there) by: Scott Saleska at December 3, 2006 09:49 AM

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Mar 2007 @ 8:21 PM

  318. Hank – I’m unsure why you are writing to me about “wait and see” policies. I am not advocating waiting in any way and that has nothing to do with what I was asking. I don’t see how your answers relate to my question, though maybe I am missing your point.

    I simply looked at these charts and wanted to understand why T had not reached the max in this cycle, that it had in past cycles:

    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/pastcc.html

    Comment by Dan Lawless — 20 Mar 2007 @ 9:32 PM

  319. During the debate Richard Somerville took the example of a few holdouts (contrarians) against plate tectonics after it had been accepted by the scientific mainstream. Michael Cricton responded to this by saying that Richard was wrong, the theory was an example of the lone scientist (Wegener) being correct when the scientific consensus was wrong (see comments # 152,160 and 240 above). The excellent book by Hallam, Great Geological Controversies has a chapter on the story of Wegeners theory of Continental Drift and how new data, and improved theoretical understanding led to the theory of Plate Tectonics which was eventually generally accepted. Crichtons description is misleading since this is essentially a story of a controversial idea that is not quite correct, but later revised as more data becomes available and then the improved idea is (basically) proven correct. Richard got it right, not Crichton. New ideas often have to overcome strong opposition and convince many a sceptic before being accepted. That’s how science works, and it is good practice. Now, if the “scientific consensus” on Plate Tectonics had been overturned and the contrarians proven right (this would have needed some data to disprove plate tectonics, and there isn’t any) then Crichtons point would have been valid.

    However, Crichton cannot help it but to bring Albert Einstein into the fray. He recounts the well known story of the the anti-semetic rant “100 scientist against Einstein” and Einsteins retort : “If I were wrong, one would be enough”.

    I found this example to be amusing. It is hard to appreciate just how controversial many of Einsteins ideas were at the time. Einstein got the Nobel prize in 1921 “for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”. No mention of Relativity which at the time still had to many powerfull contrarians opposing it (especially the powerful academy member Allvar Gullstrand, see http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/barany1 for an account), and this despite a growing body of evidence in its favor. Now-a-days the contrarians would have their own webpage “RelativitySceptics.org”.

    What I found amusing about Crichtons anecdote was simply the obvious conclusion when one considers the science of anthropogenic greenhouse warming : If this science was wrong, Richard Lindzen would be enough!

    Comment by Halldor Bjornsson — 20 Mar 2007 @ 9:58 PM

  320. Dan, temperature _did_ reach the max — about 11,000 years ago. Ice ages end suddenly (for geologic time values of sudden, not for human time scale values).

    You can see each of those events in that 400,000 year scale.

    Next look a bit further down the page and follow the link to this picture:
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/globalwarming/images/petit150.jpg

    Look at about 11,000 years ago — that’s where the temperature peaked, the last time.

    (You’ll ask why each glaciation and subsequent warm peak isn’t exactly the same, perhaps; nature’s not precise.)

    Temperature began the very slow downward trend after the peak, which persisted for, oh, ten thousand years or so. During that time span — at a rate of change imperceptible to human life spans and oral history — people developed agriculture (see Ruddiman’s work) and then coal, and then petroleum.

    Why does temperature start to go down after each spike that ends a glaciation? Life, probably — biogeochemical cycling efficiently pulls carbon out, at geological rates. That’s the process that was going on all the time, and you can probably find plankton data in the sedimentary core records showing how life adjusted to the warming and started packing carbon away faster and more efficiently.

    Remember we and the more efficient forms of plankton (those living worldwide rather than just in shallow continental shelf water) both evolved in the last 100-200,000 year stretch. We change things a bit, eh?

    Now look at the same stretch of 11,000 years, with an insert showing the last two hundred years.

    http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Holocene_Temperature_Variations_Rev_png

    Look at the science on how plankton populations are changing with warming and with increasing CO2 dissolved in the ocean. The first prediction is more variability.

    http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/els/03064565/1995/00000020/00000001/art00043

    Is this making sense yet? The temperature peak and CO2 peak at the end of the last glaciation happened 11,000 years ago.

    Then people dumped a huge amount of CO2 into the tail end of that period, when temperature was in a very slow decline as it’s done each time before.

    What happens now is all but unprecedented. There’s the PETM — look at this picture,

    http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:65_Myr_Climate_Change_Rev_png

    you’ll see the spike labeled. No other event known now dumped so much carbon so fast into the biosphere; temperature spiked. Get a picture of that at higher resolution — you see how to find this by now, eh? Google Image Search, put the terms in, to find that sort of imagery.

    Compare the rate of change during the PETM to current rate of change.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Mar 2007 @ 10:19 PM

  321. #280 raypierre
    Its hard to win a game when the other side doesn’t play by the rules.

    Even when you play by the rules you need someone who can play both sets of rules. Like Dione Sanders who could play both baseball and football very well, and unlike one of the best basketball players, Michael Jordan, who could not get into the majors in Major League Baseball.

    Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 21 Mar 2007 @ 12:52 AM

  322. So 11Kyrs ago temp comes up and stays relatively flat for a long time, as compared to previous cycles. Why? The last 11Kyrs look a lot different than previous cycles. So you are saying this is because of animal and plant life? or is this just accepted as normal variation? Is the smaller orbital forcing mentioned above a factor in why T did not spike as high 11Kyrs ago, as it had in previous cycles?

    http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Ice_Age_Temperature_Rev_png

    Comment by Dan Lawless — 21 Mar 2007 @ 1:36 AM

  323. I found the “debate” mentioned on the US Senate website (Inhofe presumably?) — screeching how the scientists (and Al Gore) got their butts whipped! I just find it amusing that this minutiae from perhaps better-spoken fiction writers is considered a “knockout blow” — what about all that climateaudit “we’re real scientists too” ululating? ;-)

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=5ac1c0d6-802a-23ad-4a8c-ee5a888dfe7e&Region_id=&Issue_id=

    Comment by Carl Christensen — 21 Mar 2007 @ 5:22 AM

  324. [[Thanks! It seems that each of the previous T spikes have gone higher than we are today. So how much of warming today is from Milankovic cycles versus anthropomophic CO2 increases? (not arguing against GW, but trying understand how much is natural vs artificial) ]]

    The present warming is almost entirely artificial. The CO2 is not coming from the oceans because the oceans are a net sink at the moment. It is coming from burning fossil fuels, which we know from the isotope ratios. Carbon from the biosphere has a certain fraction of 14C, but carbon from fossil fuels has none because it’s too old — all the 14C has decayed away. Hans Suess first demonstrated the presence of CO2 from fossil fuel burning in 1955.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 21 Mar 2007 @ 6:22 AM

  325. [[No question, the CO2 is off the charts, from any previous point. Very concerning and no CO2 slow down in sight!

    So why did T, not spike up as high this time, as it has in the past? ]]

    Because there isn’t enough to cause a very large temperature rise yet. Radiative forcing from CO2 in the present regime is proportionate to the log of the concentration. We’ve gone from 280 to 390 ppmv, ln (390/280) = 0.33. Doubling it (ln 2 = 0.69) only gives you +1.2 K by itself (3.0 K with feedbacks, and absent other forcings). But the warming so far (about 0.8 K since 1900 or so) is enough to cause significant climate effects. And other forcings are present, some of them negative (like airborn aerosols).

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 21 Mar 2007 @ 6:27 AM

  326. Re #289, #294, #314 Predictive value of models (Dana)

    Dana, thanks for your answer.

    However, I tend to disagree with your distinction between hindcasting and forecasting to verify a computer model’s performance. If I want to test my gravity model, or my predictions of wind loads on a bridge, there’s really no need for me to do the experiment AFTER I made the prediction. In fact, meteorologists are using the same old measured data sets all the time to verify model improvements.

    Therefore In my opinion, the climate models have been verified – at least to such an extent that we’re entirely justified in trusting them more than somebody’s gut feeling. The figures I referred to earlier are in #314 (thanks, Dave).

    (It goes without saying that in hindcasting you should play it fair and make your ‘postdiction’ without peeking.)

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 21 Mar 2007 @ 8:05 AM

  327. RE# 325

    So 11k years ago, we reach the peak T, from an orbital forcing perspective(assuming above is correct). Why did T 11k years ago, not reach the T max it has in previous cycles? I’ve heard smaller orbital forcing and/or natural variation. I’m wondering if there is any background on this or other explanations.

    Then why did T stay relatively(relative to previous cycles) flat for the next 10K years. In other cycles T spikes up then drops much more rapidly.

    Comment by Dan Lawless — 21 Mar 2007 @ 9:55 AM

  328. Re 327 and precedent. Dan, I think one misconception you have is that you seem to expect that the same input to the climatic system should produce the same output. Since climate is chaotic, this is not necessarily the case. In a chaotic system the same input when the system is in even a slightly different initial state may produce a very different outcome.
    Moreover, paleoclimatology is a somewhat fraught discipline. We can only infer what the climate was like via proxies, and different proxies have differing degrees of reliability. The paleoclimatologists have done an amazing job with what they have to work with, coming up with a very self-consistent picture of climate over the millennia and eons. It is very difficult, however to compare two paleoclimatic epochs of warming or cooling and state with 100% certainty how they were the same or how they differed.

    In terms of the current epoch, paleoclimate provides a guide for the range of outcomes we might expect. Predicting which one will be realized is not possible, as we don’t know which region of phase space we are pushing our climate into or how stable it will be once it gets there.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Mar 2007 @ 11:16 AM

  329. Re #280

    …tactics which play more to peoples’ feelings, tactics which even extend to ridicule of opponents…I’m not sure what such tactics would look like…

    Is that supposed to be some kind of joke?

    Comment by Eric — 21 Mar 2007 @ 11:31 AM

  330. #328. [joke] Um…. no I think it isn’t intended that way. It is intended to allow decent people to call liars and frauds to task by calling them liars and frauds. Or perhaps to do that more politely, not that I would know a why to do so and get the point across.

    Comment by cat black — 21 Mar 2007 @ 12:02 PM

  331. It sounded like the other side had no scientists, but two of them seem eminently qualified. I would like to see the podcast because the transcript reads much differently than I was lead to believe on this blog.

    Comment by chris — 21 Mar 2007 @ 12:20 PM

  332. Re: 328 Thanks. I don’t know that I have an expectation. Just trying to understand what is known and quantifiable vs unknown and not quantifiable.

    If the real answer is just natural variability + differences in animal and plant life, I can live with that. I would have guessed that there are some very specific theories around this, but I don’t know.

    Comment by Dan Lawless — 21 Mar 2007 @ 12:23 PM

  333. Re Dan Lawless’ questions.

    I think part of the confusion here has arisen by Dan’s usage of ‘now’ and ‘current’ in his earlier Qs. He wasn’t referring to the present day situation, but rather the characteristics of the most recent glacial/interglacial transition (which is ‘now/current’ on a geological scale of course, but not in common usage).

    Dan – my initial guesses (I’m just an interested layman so this is really a bit of a stab in the dark) regarding your questions about the 11kya warming would either be:

    i) It just is that way, some transitions spike higher than others (paleoclimatologists might be along soon who can explain some of the factors in this variability).

    or

    ii) It’s an artifact. That is, data quality and resolution tends to degrade as you go further back in time, so the ‘difference’ you see in the most recent warming may have actually been present in those other warmings but has now sunk into the noise (again a paleoclimatologist could probably add detail here).

    Regards

    Comment by Luke Silburn — 21 Mar 2007 @ 12:27 PM

  334. Luke: good clarity. That’s along the lines of what I am wondering. I had thought about your ii), but don’t know enough about it. Thanks

    Comment by Dan Lawless — 21 Mar 2007 @ 12:35 PM

  335. Re #330

    You see what I mean…

    Comment by Eric — 21 Mar 2007 @ 12:55 PM

  336. Dan, look for pictures of what the planet looked like during each of the past glaciations — and a timeline of what evolved over the timespan.

    Also worth noting that the glacial cycles themselves are just a fairly “recent” phenomenon, and if you look at the really long ago information, the planet was very much warmer for a very long time; you can see that Antarctica iced over and melted a couple of times.

    Correlate that with the slow changes in the astronomical conditions, the intermittent asteroid bombardment that rearranged the carbon cycle ….

    Remember both we and the coccolithophorids evolved in the last 100-200k years — and didn’t become dominant in our own realms (agriculture, plankton shell formation) until a while after that.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Mar 2007 @ 1:08 PM

  337. Dan, you have read the AIP History? This is a real solid basis for shared conversation. The ice age section is:
    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/cycles.htm

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Mar 2007 @ 1:22 PM

  338. Sen. Inhofe referred to the apparent shift in debate sentiment in last week’s debate in NYC from before to after in his opening statement as VP Gore’s appearance before the Sen. Enviro. Committee began.

    Comment by Alvia Gaskill — 21 Mar 2007 @ 2:05 PM

  339. It is quite amusing when collaborating scientists have their prevailing dogma challenged by common sense and observational fact. What did Lincoln say about fooling all the people all the time? The concept that .012% manmade CO2 gasses overides the fact that the sun accounts for 99.9% of climate variablity just does not wash with the little people. Especially when that same 99.9% has been studied far less than the vaunted CO2 trace gas. Now if you really want to do a true-blue cause-effect study determine how many of the global warming proponents adhere to liberal and socialist views….how does….. oh 90-100% sound?

    Comment by Steven Soleri — 21 Mar 2007 @ 4:08 PM

  340. Re 339: Uh, Steve, we’ve studied the sun up the kazoo. We can in fact measure its output and we know that it has not changed sufficiently to account for the massive changes we are seeing. We know it cannot explain why we are seeing such dramatic effects at the poles. CO2 has in fact increased by >40% since about 1800, and we know by the changes in isotopic abundance that the source of the new carbon in the atmosphere is a fossil source. We know that CO2 accounts for roughly 12% of the greenhouse effect. We know a lot of things about Earth’s climate, and the contributors to Realclimate.org are among those who have helped to figure these things out. Finally, we know that politics are irrelevant to the science. Contributors include those who are pro nuclear power and pro markets (myself among them) and those who are to the right and left of me.
    Now, are you going to accuse Jim Baker of being a liberal. How about the CEOs of GE, BP, Boeing and even all but one of the utility CEOs who testified on Capitol Hill yesterday. Even George W Bush has said that humans are causing climate to change. Steve, it’s time to contact the mothership. You’re behind on your talking points.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Mar 2007 @ 5:24 PM

  341. Dan Lawless — Looking at the graph in Archer/Ganopolski, A movable trigger: Fossil fuel CO_2 and the onset of the next glaciation, one sees that they think the Holocene is a most unusally long interglacial, even in the absence of anthropogenic effects. If correct, the naturally warmest part of the Holocene would have been in about 30 ky, after a most gradual cooling trend for about 20 ky.

    This assumes that far north insolation, orbital forcing, is the major factor in adjusting the global temperature.

    The paper, by the way, is easy to locate, but there is also a link to it on the What triggers an ice age thread. down a few in the thread stack.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 21 Mar 2007 @ 6:31 PM

  342. Gavin (and Ray)
    I don’t know if you are still listening. I donâ��t know if I missed it in the 300+ postings above, but I suspect no-one gave this version of why you lost the debate.

    A debate is hand-to-hand verbal battle where to win is to be believable as a human being. So if your opponent presents a “fact”, you have to counterpunch with a “counterfact”. You didn’t do this enough but kept too much to script. Counterpunching has the following advantages:
    1. It shows you are a good listener.
    2. It shows respect for your opponent.
    3. It shows that you have done your homework because you are ready to respond.
    3. It shows you can think on your feet.

    All of the above give credibility, which is how the audience is assessing you, not only on what you know.

    The audience doesn’t need facts as such (they can look up those in a book). It needs to know where you and your facts are coming from. Crichton did this very well with his little story of how he started off as an AGW believer and, after investigating things, ended up a skeptic. When faced with a story like this you need to counter with your own story. Why exactly were you at that debate, Gavin? When did you first believe in AGW? Alternatively, what went through your mind when you knew you would be up against someone like Crichton? Stories. Stories. Stories.

    The above does not require theatricality, it requires being willing to present yourself as a whole human being rather than an abstract font of knowledge.

    Comment by Ian K — 21 Mar 2007 @ 8:16 PM

  343. re 289, et al: I recall there being a pile of fine-tuning many of the parameters over the years — the power/log relationship between forcing and CO2 concentrations until it came out right comes to mind. Now, I recognize that that is how modeling is done and would not make the accusation of, devious at least, curve fitting. But, in fact, out of necessity it’s not far from curve fitting and ought to mitigate the “110% absolutely positively true” stuff because “the model says!”

    [Response: The power-log relation between CO2 and radiative forcing is not "tuned." That comes from radiative transfer and laboratory measurements. The relationship was nearly correctly done even by Arrhenius' formulation based on atmospheric measurements; this part of the radiative transfer has hardly changed further since Manabe and Wetherald's work in the 1960's. If you want to focus on aspects of the models that are really subject to tuning, you should be thinking about clouds and sea ice. --raypierre]

    Comment by Rod B. — 21 Mar 2007 @ 9:44 PM

  344. Mr. Gore Goes to Washington

    I watched most of VP Gore’s testimony yesterday online and some was repeated overnight on TV. It was both great public policy and theater on display at the same time. The Republicans objected as expected, but most of their objections were about how to solve the problem and far less time was devoted to attacks on the science. Indeed, Sen. Inhofe and Rep. Barton seem more and more marginalized as other former skeptics on the right now focus on pet issues like promoting nuclear power instead of questioning the conclusions of the IPCC reports.

    Gore made a number of proposals for the legislators to consider.

    1. Moratorium on any new coal-fired power plants without carbon capture controls. Objections were that this would force up the price of natural gas since there are no such control technologies at present and natural gas would be the only viable alternative. Gore himself cited an MIT study that said such technologies are at least 10 years off.

    2. Immediate freeze on CO2 emissions to achieve a 90% reduction by 2050. Proposals to gradually reduce emissions over time are not enough, he said.

    3. Move the start date of the next Kyoto treaty to 2010 so that the new U.S. president can use his/her political authority more effectively to get the U.S. involved. He cited the example of how nuclear arms treaties in the 1970′s were stalled for various reasons, but ratified in the 1980′s under a different name. So out with Kyoto, in with: New York?

    4. Include land use changes, methane emissions and black carbon aerosol from soot in the follow on treaty to bring China and India in.

    5. Make companies report their CO2 emissions in financial reports as this is a risk that investors need to know.

    6. Raise CAFE standards as part of a comprehensive plan that includes homes and commercial buildings.

    7. Ban incandescent light bulbs.

    8. Encourage cap and trade plans for carbon emissions.

    9. Develop a decentralized electrical grid he called the “ElectraNet” analogous to the Internet to encourage the widespread generation of distributed power by individuals using PV and wind. Allow net metering at market and not utility set rates.

    10. Establish a new quasi governmental home mortga*e entity, Connie Mae to package carbon neutral mortga*e elements like energy efficiency improvements and give discounts to home buyers.

    11. Shift federal taxes from payroll and production to energy consumption and carbon taxes in a way that is revenue neutral while also earmarking revenues to soften the effect on low income taxpayers.

    12. The U.S. should lead on climate change, not obstruct and censor. If we lead, China will follow, he says. The Chinese are not dummies. They know they are going to get screwed big time by GW unless something is done.

    Back to the Inhofe opening act. I was making a joke the other day when I suggested that MOCs might want to quiz Gore on “how GREEN was his HOUSE.” Inhofe took that recommendation all the way with a demand that Gore pledge to use only as much energy as the average American family.

    Look, I don’t care if Al and Tipper live in a McCastle and burn peat and baby pandas to stay warm. The kind of changes Gore is recommending would affect everyone, including him and Sen. Inhofe.

    Inhofe also produced a chart purporting to show the names of 65 members of NAS who dispute there is any global warming. I guess the 17,000 or whatever number it was of “scientists” on the petition he used to refer to is no longer operative. NAS has some 2300 members, so 65 is less than 3% and I would have to see the 65, their credentials and what they actually said in order to believe there are even that many.

    As I mentioned earlier in this thread, Inhofe also talked about the NYC debate, citing the change in the vote from those who thought it was a crisis to the other way around. I seriously doubt most people at the hearing or watching on TV understood what he was talking about. A little too inside the GW baseball.

    Methinks that Jimmy Mountain may have had his Army McCarthy moment yesterday also. Badgering the witness may cut it on Law and Order or Perry Mason, but it played rather poorly in front of the other senators. I sense that the GOP may be about ready to replace the man, who of all things, ran an insurance company into the ground before becoming a professional politician with self-made millionaire John Warner as ranking member. If not, the Roy Scheider line in Jaws is prescient. Barbara, you’re going to need a bigger gavel.

    [Response: Minor note. The names Inhofe produced were basically a list of the standard sceptics. As far as I can tell only Lindzen and Allegre are members of their respective National Academies. - gavin]

    Comment by Alvia Gaskill — 22 Mar 2007 @ 5:11 AM

  345. [[It is quite amusing when collaborating scientists have their prevailing dogma challenged by common sense and observational fact. What did Lincoln say about fooling all the people all the time? The concept that .012% manmade CO2 gasses overides the fact that the sun accounts for 99.9% of climate variablity just does not wash with the little people.]]

    The little people don’t get a vote. You have no right to an opinion on a scientific subject if you haven’t studied the science involved. And your 0.012% figure is completely bogus. CO2 is 40% higher than the background level due to fossil fuel burning and deforestation.

    [[ Especially when that same 99.9% has been studied far less than the vaunted CO2 trace gas.]]

    Climatologists haven’t studied the sun? No, that’s the job of solar astrophysicists. But climatologists have studied how changes in insolation have affected climate in the past. Again you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    [[ Now if you really want to do a true-blue cause-effect study determine how many of the global warming proponents adhere to liberal and socialist views....how does..... oh 90-100% sound?]]

    How does… you’re wrong sound? How does… ad hominem arguments don’t prove anything because they’re a logical fallacy sound? How does… trying to provoke people instead of trying to learn something is stupid sound?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 22 Mar 2007 @ 5:51 AM

  346. Ok, I am sorry my comments raised ire and defense for GW theory advocates. I appreciate this site and have learned from it. First let me say in response to the “little people do not get to vote”. Well now that is where the core of this issue lies isn’t it. They do get to vote and decide not only on the science but on policy at the ballot…and we all know this is where the challenge is. Convince the “little folks” and you can change the world (right or wrong). The aforementioned debate shows that “consenus scientists” have a long way to go.

    You say my comments were ad hominem….the argument is simply this and you may wish to do a sincere search of your convictions (scientific or emotional) before answering:

    If the observational record for the next 15 years showed a cooling trend would you be willing to admit the science was totally flawed? Can you imagine the impact such a likely occurence would have on the credibility of scientific consensus hence forth. Something to consider before stating such a complex theory as man made GW as fact.

    The observational record (not proxy data) shows significant cooling/warming trends before the industrial revolution. Knowing this why would you want to show such strong conviction on a theory that has not been empirically proved?

    A statistician recently offered up the statement that he had the data to prove that the occurence of a large meteor strike (a much more dire scenario) is a much greater potential than a GW catastrophe. If this could be proved true would you have the same fervor to deploy all of our resources to this threat.

    If GW is such a threat why do most adovacates agree with the trade of pollution credits. The threat is dire and all peoples in all countries (especially china) need to change fossil fuel behavior now. And please do not tell me US leadership is needed…. totalitarian contries do not follow our lead (except through might and I think there are no advocates of that persuasion here).

    At one time I worked with a large group of Oceanographers (PhD’s all at the USCG Oceanographic Unit) and I recall always that the older more contemplative scientists were very reluctant to speak in the realm of “conclusive evidence” or “consensus” when discussing theory. In fact to an individulal nearly all emphasized the very real possibility of countering opinion being correct. One must admit (or do you admit) this seems to be missing on the GW argument.

    And I do thank you for providing the time to at lease consider the above.

    Comment by Steven Soleri — 22 Mar 2007 @ 12:24 PM

  347. re 346: “The aforementioned debate shows that “consenus scientists” have a long way to go.”

    No, to the contrary, across the world the consensus scientists have been listened to and respected, resulting in significant policy changes taking place. One example: Just look at what has occurred in the UK in the past month.

    ” In fact to an individulal nearly all emphasized the very real possibility of countering opinion being correct. One must admit (or do you admit) this seems to be missing on the GW argument.”

    Bear in mind that not one skeptic/denialist has published any “counter opinion” (theory) with suitable scientific evidence which can explain the recent global warming over the past 30 years. The warming simply can not be explained with natural variations/forcings. Only when anthropogenic CO2 is factored can warming be explained. If one has a “counter opinion”, it has to be based on science that can withstand the usual scientific analysis/scrutiny. In many scientific fields, including my own, they do. Not so for AGW deniers.

    Comment by Dan — 22 Mar 2007 @ 1:03 PM

  348. #342, Gavin didn’t loose the debate and Lindzen did not win. It was just a start, in especially demolishing Lindzen’s and friends obstinance in explaining that its colder out there (since 1998), you don’t need your senses of temperature, “trust us” – “you are feeling nothing unusual”. The basic premise
    of anthropogenic climate change is that it is different than natural variation. It was a big leap for stubborn contrarians to admit that there is a warming going on world wide, that took them many years to admit (there are very few contrarians who are exclaiming no recent warming). Being experts in this domain they should have been with their colleagues and admit a world wide warming decades ago, since it is their business to know these things. Now that they have joined the group, they are holding on to natural temperature variation theory, driven by? “Natural variation”… How does it work? “Temperature varies naturally”. Recent world wide warming trend? “It is normal, there will be a cooling trend soon”. How soon? “as soon as it happens!” – So they say, and exposing this non academic comedic stance is the job of boring scientists.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 22 Mar 2007 @ 1:32 PM

  349. Re #346: [...why would you want to show such strong conviction on a theory that has not been empirically proved?]

    Because the only way to provide empirical proof is to let it happen. If it does happen then you’re left with the consequences, while the whole point of taking action to mitigate AGW is to avoid (as much as is still possible) those consequences.

    [...a large meteor strike (a much more dire scenario) is a much greater potential than a GW catastrophe. If this could be proved true would you have the same fervor to deploy all of our resources to this threat.]

    Of course. And if you bother to look, you will find that money is being spent on locating and tracking asteroids, so that if one should happen to be on a collision course, we’ll know in time to do something about it.

    [If GW is such a threat why do most adovacates agree with the trade of pollution credits.]

    Where’s the evidence that they do? If in fact that’s so, it might be because while such schemes are far from optimum, they’re the best they can get the bureaucrats to accept?

    [...totalitarian contries do not follow our lead (except through might and I think there are no advocates of that persuasion here.]

    Wrong again :-)

    As for your earlier claim that AGW supporters are 90-100% liberal/socialist, I don’t suppose there’s any way to take a poll? I’m certainly not in that camp.

    Comment by James — 22 Mar 2007 @ 1:35 PM

  350. Re: 346

    Temperatures go up and down for reasons. Not randomness. There’s no such thing as variability that doesn’t reflect underlying causes. Right now, due to an increase in GHG, we’ve got a calculable addition to the earth’s energy budget which is sufficient to have warmed the atmosphere by the observed amount. There’s no other candidate among the leading causes. Occam’s Razor: the GHG did it.

    Pleading “natural variability” is a non-starter. There isn’t some independent force called “natural variability”.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 22 Mar 2007 @ 1:41 PM

  351. Re 346: Steven, first to your questions:
    If we saw a 15 year cooling trend, we would have to re-examine our understanding of the drivers of climate. That does not mean throwing out current models, but rather looking to see if some other factor is contributing significantly–that’s the way science usually works. If a model works well, much of it is retained in its successor. You can see the imprint of classical mechanics in both relativity and quantum mechanics precisely because classical mechanics works over a broad range of phenomena. In physics, this is known as the Correspondence Principle.
    Different climate epochs have had different drivers. However, ALL of them had drivers–change does not just happen. Some of the drivers of the system must change if the system is to change. While paleoclimate is a difficult discipline, we have sufficient understanding of it to be confident that in most cases we know what caused climate to change. In the current case, there is only one big change–the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Solar output has not changed much at all. The next most important factor is the greenhouse effect. Water vapor, the most important greenhouse gas hasn’t changed sufficiently to explain the effects and has only a short residence time in the atmosphere. CO2 is next on the list–it has changed dramatically (up 40%), and that is sufficient to explain the changes we are seeing. Nearly every other factor is WAY DOWN the list in terms of its potential contribution. The famous “cosmic ray hypothesis” suffers from a fatal flaw–GCR fluxes aren’t changing.
    Your statistician’s arguments need to be considered. Every threat needs to be considered and ranked according to the risk it poses. Other studies show a much smaller risk from large meteoric and cometary impacts. Space is mostly empty space. The potential of some putative future risk does not excuse inaction on the risks we know we face today.
    On the question of scientific certainty–don’t take the reluctance of scientists to speak in terms of certainty as a confession of doubt. Science provides greater real certainty than any other way humans have of knowing things. However, it does so in the language of probability. As such scientists’ language tends to be couched in terms of “we believe”, or “we think” or “it is probable”. We know that it is possible to flip a coin 100 times and have it come up heads each time, but if we did so, we’d suspect the coin was loaded. A layman would say–”Hey, that coin IS loaded.” A scientist would say, “Hey, that coin is probably loaded.”
    Finally, you have a lot to learn about scientific consensus–it is not a one-man-one-vote affair. There is no voting at all. It is merely a bunch of scientists getting together and agreeing–overwhelmingly–on what the evidence supports. It is like a jury, but every member is a forensic pathologist or a criminal psychologist–you ain’t gonna get OJ off with this jury. But the conclusion it will come to will always be conservative–that is less strong–than what the evidence indicates. Why is it important? Because without it, science can be led astray by very influential individual. This happened in the case of Newton’s corpuscular theory of light. British scientists were swept along by Newton’s force of personality and it set British optics back decades relative to the continent. On the other hand, Einstein rejected quantum mechanics and the physics community went right ahead and embraced it–exactly the right thing to do. The number of climate scientists who reject the anthropogenic hypothesis is tiny–a dozen or so. Those that embrace it are in the thousands. Then there are those like me–not experts, but we understand enough to see the model holds together well, and we certainly have no dog in that fight–nothing to gain by embracing anthropogenic causation.
    I will once again recommend Helen Quinn’s excellent essay:

    http://ptonline.aip.org/journals/doc/PHTOAD-ft/vol_60/iss_1/8_1.shtml

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Mar 2007 @ 2:14 PM

  352. For those who do not believe global warming is an issue, or think only liberals are conerned, I suggest you read these quotes:

    “The risks to society and ecosystems from increases in CO2 emissions could prove to be significant – so despite the areas of uncertainty that do exist, it is prudent to develop and implement strategies that address the risks, keeping in mind the central importance of energy to the economies of the world.”
    -Exxon Mobile(Worlds largest corporation, Forbes)

    “We were one of the first energy companies to acknowledge the threat of climate change; to call
    for action by governments, our industry and energy users; and to take action ourselves.”
    -Royal Dutch Shell(Worlds 3rd largest corporation, Forbes)

    “The likely effects of global warming include a greater frequency of extreme weather conditions: droughts; heat waves; and floods caused by rising sea levels.Carbon dioxide concentrations have risen from an estimated 280 parts per million (ppm) before the industrial revolution, to 380 ppm today. During the last century, the earthâ��s surface temperature rose by about 0.6°C.”
    -British Petroleum(Worlds 4th largest corporation, Forbes)

    “As stated in its 2003 Climate Change Position Statement, ConocoPhillips recognizes that
    human activity, including the burning of fossil fuels, is contributing to increased concentrations
    of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere, which can lead to adverse changes in global
    climate.”
    -ConocoPhillips(Worlds 10th largest corporation, Forbes)

    “It may surprise you a little bit, but maybe it’s because I’m a hunter and a fisherman, but I think we need to a pay a little more attention to what we need to do to protect our environment,” he told the Houston Forum Club. “When you have energy companies like Shell and British Petroleum, both of which are perhaps represented in this room, saying there is a problem with excess carbon dioxide emission, I think we ought to listen.”
    -James Baker

    “First, we know the surface temperature of the earth is warming. It has risen by .6 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years. There was a warming trend from the 1890s to the 1940s. Cooling from the 1940s to the 1970s. And then sharply rising temperatures from the 1970s to today.”
    -George W. Bush

    Comment by Dan Lawless — 22 Mar 2007 @ 2:57 PM

  353. I keep hearing this statement of a “small faction of countering sientists”. Grandiose statments of 12 climate scientists disagreeing with “thousands”. This is completely disingenuous. We/you know that only a very small fraction of GW advocating scientist actually work in the climate field. The remainder are model builders, biologists, mathematicians, geologists and yes even human behaviorists. This is the X-section of UN IPCC scientists.

    As one researcher has noted “we should listen most to scientists who use real data to try to understand what nature is actually telling us about the causes and extent of global climate change. In this relatively small community, there is no consensus, despite what Gore and others would suggest”.

    Here is a small sample of the side of the debate we almost never hear:

    [[Appearing before the Commons Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development last year, Carleton University paleoclimatologist Professor Tim Patterson testified, "There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth's temperature over this [geologic] time frame. In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years.” Patterson asked the committee, “On the basis of this evidence, how could anyone still believe that the recent relatively small increase in CO2 levels would be the major cause of the past century’s modest warming?”]]

    This debate is far from being over. And yes if I include all scientists that disagree with man made global warming one can produce thousands of names as well. It is a neat hat trick to say thousands agree (of all scientists/technicians) and then only include those actual paleoclimatologist’s that disagree. It works the other way as well. So pleeeeease do not offer up the old ratio’s which the public is beginninig to well understand.

    Comment by Steven Soleri — 22 Mar 2007 @ 3:19 PM

  354. Exxon Mobile? Right.

    Comment by Dr. J — 22 Mar 2007 @ 4:02 PM

  355. ExxonMobil:
    http://exxonmobil.com/corporate/campaign/climate_view.asp

    Comment by Dan Lawless — 22 Mar 2007 @ 4:42 PM

  356. re: 353. No, the debate is actually over within the scientific community. And specifically the climate science community. The list of scientific institutions that have all concluded there is a real danger:
    NASA GISS http://www.giss.nasa.gov/edu/gwdebate/
    NOAA http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/globalwarming.html
    IPCC http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/index.htm
    NAS http://books.nap.edu/collections/global_warming/index.html
    SOCC http://www.socc.ca/permafrost/permafrost_future_e.cfm
    EPA http://yosemite.epa.gov/OAR/globalwarming.nsf/content/index.html
    UK RS http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/page.asp?id=3135
    AGU http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/climatechangeresearch_2003.html
    NCAR http://eo.ucar.edu/basics/cc_1.html
    AMS http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/jointacademies.html
    CMOS http://www.cmos.ca/climatechangepole.html
    http://nationalacademies.org/onpi/06072005.pdf
    Every major scientific institute dealing with climate, ocean, atmosphere agrees that the evidence says the climate is warming rapidly and the primary cause is human CO2.
    See also this joint statement endorsing the conclusions of the IPCC issued by the Australian Academy of Sciences, Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts, Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of Canada, Caribbean Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, French Academy of Sciences, German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina, Indian National Science Academy, Indonesian Academy of Sciences, Royal Irish Academy, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy), Academy of Sciences Malaysia, Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and Royal Society (UK).
    http://www.royalsociety.org/displaypagedoc.asp?id=13619

    (Kudos to http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/)

    Comment by Dan — 22 Mar 2007 @ 4:51 PM

  357. Re #346 Cooling and warming

    Cooling: If the next 15 years showed cooling, AGW scientist would not rest until they had found an explanation for it, and incorporated the new phenomenon causing it in their models.

    Cooling/warming before the industrial revolution. Yes, that happened, and the natural forcings are known. Basically all these forcings have remained constant over the last century or so, so they cannot explain what is happening now. At the same time we dumped lost of CO2 into the atmosphere, and should expect warming on solid physical grounds. And that is exactly what is what we see.

    I don’t understand why people like you are so bent on denying the obvious connection between GHGs and current GW. If I showed you a graph with two lines following the same pattern, and both showing a sharp spike in the 20th century, anybody’s normal reaction would be (even without knowing what was in the graph): “Hey, these lines behave similarly – I wonder if there’s a (causal) connection! And clearly something’s going in the 20C, because there’s no spike like it anywhere else.’

    Then we investigate, and find that we can explain the whole thing qualitively and quantatively – based on known physics, build a model that reproduces the records, etc, etc. Layman’s conclusion: GW theory is right. Scientist’s conclusion: there is an X probability etc.

    Why then would you reject that GW/GHG theory?

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 22 Mar 2007 @ 5:05 PM

  358. Steven, unfortunately your quoted section nicely proves that you are not interested in science.
    Neither, clearly, is Prof Patterson.

    Nobody is saying that CO2 is the only driver of climate. Prof Patterson is making a logical fallacy, by suggesting that because it has been cold in the past, with high CO2 levels, that this shows that CO2 levels are not related to climate.
    Meanwhile, in opposition to this, we have the wide field of modern climatolgoy, relying upon modern data and models. Guess which one is more accurate?

    Comment by guthrie — 22 Mar 2007 @ 5:40 PM

  359. FYI – Looks like the podcast is available now at: http://www.intelligencesquaredus.org/downloads/global_warming.mp3

    It’s not actually linked yet from the NPR site, but it is an NPR report/summary. Here’s the Intelligence^2 page for the event. http://www.intelligencesquaredus.org/Event.aspx?Event=12

    Comment by Julia R — 22 Mar 2007 @ 5:43 PM

  360. Come ON people, use the search tools instead of just proclaiming opinions.

    Please.

    You _can_ look quotes, and people, up and post knowledgeable comments about them based on facts available by looking.

    Regardless of your political bias -OR- that of the person you’re talking about, look at the person’s published work — follow the cites, in refereed journals — see if it’s respectable as science, eh?

    People can be of different political opinions — maybe even blinded by their own politics on some issues.

    It doesn’t mean their work isn’t good science. Look at the work.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Mar 2007 @ 5:55 PM

  361. Re #353, maybe the cold climate during high CO2 period had to do with the earth’s wobble or orbit….or maybe the cosmic rays just weren’t doing their thing (that’s sort of a new theory, so we need to find out if there were substantially less cosmic rays back then).

    Remember, climate is very very complex, and the causes and consequences are very complex (including biota dying out), and that’s why we need scientists from all fields to study it — including psychologists to find out why people are so crazy to keep on causing AGW when they should know better by now.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 22 Mar 2007 @ 6:02 PM

  362. Anyone familiar with Project Steve? It is a list of the biologists named Steve who believe in Evolution. Maybe we could do the same thing with climate change.
    Scientists who publish in the field of climate change and support the anthropogenic model for climate change and are named Steve (or Michael, or David–Gavin or Thibault might be a stretch.)
    I mean we keep hearing about this groundswell of opposition against the prevailing view, but then we get quotes from the same tired old voices. So, Steve, care to name a dozen climate scientists who have published at least once in the field in the last, say 2 years and who oppose the idea of anthropogenic causation. Oh, I don’t think Patterson counts, as I don’t think he’s published anything in a peer reviewed journal on a relevant subject.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Mar 2007 @ 7:02 PM

  363. Re. 347

    No, to the contrary, across the world the consensus scientists have been listened to and respected, resulting in significant policy changes taking place. One example: Just look at what has occurred in the UK in the past month.

    I think there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors going on with British Government policy, unfortunately – see here for instance.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 22 Mar 2007 @ 7:42 PM

  364. re 343: fairly decent point, raypierre. But I recall in my near neophyte exploration of AGW, I have seen a half-dozen or so different formulas for CO2 forcing over the years. Granted, some might have just been plain wrong; and most were in the same (very large) ballpark. But to say that it hasn’t been fine-tuned is dumbing down “fine-tuning.”

    Comment by Rod B. — 22 Mar 2007 @ 9:32 PM

  365. Re #353 (Steven)

    Here is a small sample of the side of the debate we almost never hear:

    [[Appearing before the Commons Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development last year, Carleton University paleoclimatologist Professor Tim Patterson testified, "There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth's temperature over this [geologic] time frame. In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years.” Patterson asked the committee, “On the basis of this evidence, how could anyone still believe that the recent relatively small increase in CO2 levels would be the major cause of the past century’s modest warming?”]]

    Prof. Patterson obviously didn’t (and still doesn’t apparently) believe in the effects of aerosols in cooling and is/was taken by Dr Veizer’s galactic cosmic ray theory:

    When CO2 levels finally began to increase dramatically in the postwar years why was there a concomitant interval of about 30 years of cooling? One would think that if CO2 had such critical control over climate that the relative abundance of CO2 in the atmosphere would be in lock step with global temperature. Many researchers realize the difficulties that are presented by trying to make CO2 the key factor in climate change. As a result there has been renewed research, much of it in the past year or so, into the idea that there really is a connection between variability in solar output and global temperature.

    Both subjects are covered on RC if you’d care to read them.

    Prof. Patterson made his “450 million years ago” speech in 2005, which is coincidentally the year that Saltzman and Young produced this Geology article: Long-lived glaciation in the Late Ordovician? Isotopic and sequence-stratigraphic evidence from western Laurentia (press release here). In late 2006 Saltzman’s co-workers presented papers at the Geological Society of America Meeting (Philadelphia, October), the press releases for which can be seen here and here.

    One wonders what Prof. Patterson might make of this work by Saltzman and co-workers, especially in light of his 2005 comment (it’s obviously still work in progress, so perhaps it’s cobblers).

    Yes, ~450 Ma the CO2 levels were high, much higher than today, but it seems they dropped something like 40% (from 7000 ppm to 4400 ppm) into the ice age.

    This cold episode might have to do with the supercontinent Gondwana moving over the South Pole and/or weathering-induced drawdown of CO2 courtesy of the newly formed Appalachians (and recently exposed rocks on account of sea-level drop caused by Gondwana glaciation), and/or CO2 drawdown as plants invaded the land? Perhaps there was a long Maunder-minimum-type of event, too (much too long ago for a 10Be signal presumably). And since the Ordovician ice age lasted about ~1(+/-0.5) My, this is ~10 eccentricty cycles, ~20 tilt cycles and ~40 precession cycles (which would presumably also have an effect).

    Volcanic activity was prevalent throughout the Ordovician (presumably the sustained cause of very high CO2 levels). If that were the case, then one might also presume large amounts of stratospheric dust and sulphate aerosols being present (negative feedbacks). Perhaps a palaeo(climato)logist might like to confirm/deny some of these details (as my understanding is woefully inadequate going back this far).

    One wonders what the effects may have been like then with “today’s” CO2 levels, except it probably couldn’t happen – for obvious reasons. Extremely frigid, anyway, I’d warrant.

    Comment by P. Lewis — 22 Mar 2007 @ 9:50 PM

  366. Folks, this thread seems to have attracted its share of diversionaries and I see no benefit from accommodating them. As small as is their number, they cannot assuredly sway a national election so be done with them.

    We have all had encounters with seemingly sincere and lucid types that strike up conversations to which we wish we had not been subjected. Such are the occasional and sometimes frequent visits of RC contributors who have nothing to offer but odd-ball questions or pontifications based upon limited or no knowledge of the subject that seems not to impede, in any way, their foolish and trollish monologue.

    We easily recognize them and some (brave souls..e.g., Barton and Ray) try to appeal to their intellect and honesty to suss out what they are saying and offer reasoned retorts. Too often, there is no positive product but RC accommodates their next drivel and eventually hit the delete key when they overstep the bounds of decency.

    I say, recognize the bottom feeders early and take away their right to abuse the hospitality and commradory of RC. When we recognize a repeat offender who evidently refuses to read and response to legitimate retorts, PULL THE CORD and dump them into the BOZO BIN. Democracy has its limits and time is the most critical factor in this discussion of AGW.

    This web page is too vital to be open to false sceptics!

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 22 Mar 2007 @ 10:18 PM

  367. a hodge-podge of being picky:
    Ray says Climate Scientists supporting AGW number in the thousands. “Thousands”?? Do all of the climate scientists together number in the thousands??

    For the record, Ray, your implied really good jury of smart guys is precisely the type of jury that no prosecuter or defense lawyer wants. Want to get out of jury duty? Tell ‘em you got a PhD. Why is that? Because lawyers know that degreed guys are totally self-assured, think they’re the smartest in the world, and probably don’t need to hear the evidence to figure it out and so won’t.

    re 350: If Occam’s Razor is taken literally, GHG is not the simplest answer.

    To Steve’s statement that “older more contemplative scientists were very reluctant to speak in the realm of “conclusive evidence” or “consensus” when discussing theory” Dan replies that ‘yeah, but we’re right and needn’t be bothered with any of this doubt stuff.’ Which I think was Steve’s point.

    Comment by Rod B. — 22 Mar 2007 @ 10:25 PM

  368. Widely accepted scientific fact has changed though-out history and will continue to do so.

    Rob

    I loved your reply even though Richard Ordway might say you were politic or emotional. Quickly, you posted that we have to look at all problems GW, terrorism, renewable resources, global security, nukes etc.

    The answer? Cut all oil use. If GW was really caused by emissions than cutting their use would help. Terrorist would lose funding from their oil selling friends. It would also shift the balance of power, money and security… yes, it sounds political because it is, (not on my behalf though, just by the fact that we are all in this together). I loved your reply the most since you brought up some real issue that need more subscriptions, (attention)

    Richard, how could this topic NOT be an emotional one if the fate of the human race is at stake? I’ll tell you, if one does not agree with the GW theory then there is no need to fear. I am not saying that you are in fear only that I am not. This is not a topic for emotion as it may cloud judgment, the only factor here is knowledge and the lack of. Example: Can CO2 really stop the Sun’s radiation from leaving our atmosphere? Yes, if it were the same type of radiation on it’s way out and it was not effected by the radiation the Earth emits. However that is not the case hence the absorption rate of CO2 on radiation is not great enough to stop it.

    Ray,

    Scientific prediction is fine for small experiments, designs etc because if we are missing some variables we will find out, fail and try again. Earth on the other hand has no control model, no examples to follow, it is unique and vast in history that humans know absolutely nothing about. Scientific prediction has been wrong in the past even though at the time it was crazy to think they were wrong. I do agree that variation is the spice of life so yeah, alt energy sources can only benefit everyone, new jobs and markets and finally new very much needed competition, sweet.

    Hank Roberts,

    I’m Jake a real person and I do own a few silly websites but that does not motivate me to choose between following the crowd or thinking for myself, (Is that ok by you?). I will not ask if you are a real person as it doesn’t matter, only the content on the subject you offer is relevant if there was some.

    When I first heard of GW I thought, “who in their right minds would think that humans know enough about the Earth’s temperature to predict such a thing?” Earth has been around for 4 billion years, if it’s life span was that of a 12 inch ruler the life span of all humankind would not be as big as one of the lines that marks the inches. The Earth’s average temp should be 49.? … according to what humans know. However according to what humans do NOT know it could easily be 59.1, we don’t know. We talk about world temperature records of 50, 100 or even 200 years, what? Would we not have a better idea of the working of our own planet if we had records for 10,000 , 10 or 100 million years? I think we would but we don’t have those records. It’s almost like judging a book by it’s cover.

    gringo, you wrote,

    “Climate modelers do not and do not even try to predict how warm or cold it will be…”

    Like I said the Earth has always been warming and cooling and since we are NOW in a warming mode, (I do agree warming) and we now have the technology to measure it 12 different ways so some people put it all together and say it will keep warming. That is why people refer to GW has life threatening…because the temp is going to keep rising, (going to = predict). Also, there are countless mentions of 2030, 2050, 2086 aka the future. Always referrals to, “If we cut emissions now then by the year so and so, (the future) our CO2 count will be whatever. Where? Everywhere including this web page. People are using the information to predict something the Earth has never seen before. Climate modelers may not predict but everyone else is and that’s the cause of the whole dooms day idea.

    Yes gringo, the weather people are good at telling us tomorrow’s weather but have you ever remembered what they said the weather would be last week for today? Try it, listen to what they say for next week and write it down and then see how close they were not on average.

    Daniel,

    I believe it is known with near certainty that the Earth would freeze if the CO2 and methane in the atmosphere were removed.

    Really? Is it well known that no other gas would take it’s place with near certainty? Is it known what confines or controls the layer of ghg to it’s location and size? Is it known what a dangerous high or low level of these gases really are? Is it known that CO2 stops radiation from entering the lower atmosphere the same way it is said to stop it from leaving?

    If it is truly known that CO2 is warming the Earth why are we all, (including many reading this right now that do believe in GW) still driving to and from work everyday and going on planes etc. Why do we still have 16 planned Space Shuttle launches on the books for the near future? Why aren’t the big auto manufacturers building and promoting electric cars? Since GW is so widely accepted you would think it would be an enormous market. Honestly, no one is doing anything about it other than discussion. If GW was totally wrong it would be much wiser not to take the chance and actually do something anyway but no one is not even to make money off of it. Then again, many are making money off of the topic hmmm… I don’t think they would like to see it go away, just a thought.

    Thank you

    Comment by Jake — 23 Mar 2007 @ 1:06 AM

  369. Re #366 React on diversionaries (John McCormick)

    There is something to be said for practicing John’s idea to stop reacting to people who simply do not want to know the facts about global warming. I think Hank Roberts made the same point a little while ago.

    How about giving some posts (the extreme cases, say) a standard answer (in green ink): “Please read the FAQ first”, or “Go to How to talk to a climate sceptic” (http://gristmill.grist.org/skeptics) ?

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 23 Mar 2007 @ 2:52 AM

  370. RE #369

    Dick, #368 made your case clear to all of us. Jake said of Hank Roberts:

    [I will not ask if you are a real person as it doesn't matter, only the content on the subject you offer is relevant if there was some.]

    That is vulgar.

    Even a casual visitor to RC comes to respect, even be astonished by, Hanks knowledge, reasoning and helpful links to things none of us would come upon without that nudge. Thank you Hank.

    Yes, RC moderators can have a few automatic links to previous threads to get the diversionaries to read and learn. Give them a quite room with lots of light to study basics and come back to the discussion with understanding and a new pride in accomplishing something useful.

    Being a responsible adult is truly a challenge and I am watching my recent high school graduate wrestle with some of his challenges.

    Nothing about AGW will be easy but survival is our nature.

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 23 Mar 2007 @ 5:26 AM

  371. Re #368
    The errors contained within your message Jake are many; so many that it is difficult to know where to start: from a misunderstanding of the difference between weather and climate, to a basic lack of knowledge about the textbook physics behind IR absorption and CO2 (from which you then continue to make erroneous suppositions), to a complete lack of knowledge of what is happening in the hybrid and electrical vehicle market (Honda, Mazda, Toyota, … and very recently GM getting in on the act – are these big enough players? Bear in mind it can take ~5-10 years to get a car from initial concept to production).

    Perhaps your message should have Dick et al.’s (#369) tags “Please read the FAQ first”, or “Go to How to talk to a climate sceptic” attached.

    Comment by P. Lewis — 23 Mar 2007 @ 5:28 AM

  372. RE #353 “Appearing before the Commons Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development last year, Carleton University paleoclimatologist Professor Tim Patterson testified, “There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth’s temperature over this [geologic] time frame. In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years.” Patterson asked the committee, “On the basis of this evidence, how could anyone still believe that the recent relatively small increase in CO2 levels would be the major cause of the past century’s modest warming?”

    Patterson’s failure to understand that different causal factors can have predominant influence at different temporal (and for that matter spatial) scales is really quite remarkable. To make the point as simply as possible, the factor most likely to account for differences between the temperature where I am (Scotland) now and in 12 hours time is neither CO2 levels nor the amount of radiation the sun is producing, but that this bit of the Earth is currently facing toward the sun, and in 12 hours, it won’t be. The general point of different factors predominating at different temporal scales, however, is by no means limited to the domain of terrestrial temperature or even of science, and I suggest you consider it in any context where you have appropriate expertise. To give a non-science example, how much munny (misspelling needed to get past spam filter!) I have available for immediate use has a monthly rhythm determined by regular inputs and outputs, on somewhat longer scales is most affected by things like holidays, on a longer scale still by career progression and life-stage, and on still longer scales by my aptitudes and career choices, and the fact that I was born into the lower middle class in a rich country.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 23 Mar 2007 @ 8:45 AM

  373. It seems that the argument of the dissenter is either discounted out of hand on this site or very easily glossed over. Look, this is how the casual observor to the GH gas debate views the subject (and it is the casual observor that you must convince).

    To believe CO2 is causing our earth to warm, one must believe:

    [edited--see comment policy, item #7 ]

    Comment by Steven Soleri — 23 Mar 2007 @ 11:11 AM

  374. [[If the observational record for the next 15 years showed a cooling trend would you be willing to admit the science was totally flawed?]]

    Yes, that would certainly require an explanation.

    [[ Can you imagine the impact such a likely occurence would have on the credibility of scientific consensus hence forth.]]

    It’s not likely at all. At this point, it’s damn near impossible. I suppose a major asteroid hit could do it.

    As for the scientific consensus — that’s how modern science works. What do you suggest replacing it with?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 23 Mar 2007 @ 11:19 AM

  375. [[Ray says Climate Scientists supporting AGW number in the thousands. "Thousands"?? Do all of the climate scientists together number in the thousands??]]

    Here’s a way to check: Enter into an Excel spreadsheet all the names on articles in the Journal of Geophysical Research, Geophys. Res. Letters, and Journal of Atmosphere Sciences for the past 20 years. Sort them and eliminate duplicates. Then count the remainder.

    Oh, and include the various climatology journals in other countries.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 23 Mar 2007 @ 11:33 AM

  376. Re # 367 “If Occam’s Razor is taken literally, GHG is not the simplest answer.”

    Occam’s Razor (“Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate” or “plurality should not be posited without necessity”; http://skepdic.com/occam.html) does not mean the simplest answer is the correct, or best, one. It means an answer shouldn’t be more complex than is required to explain an observation. If the empirical evidence that the earth is warming up could be explained by increased influx of cosmic rays (or, for that matter, Martian scientists aiming a laser at earth) , there would be no need to invoke CO2. But, the computer models of the climate cannot account for observed temperature increases without factoring in elevated levels of CO2, which is perfectly consistent with basic atmospheric physics (as Arrhenius recognized over a century ago). It would be easy for climatologists to increase the complexity of their models, but, as the RC moderators have frequently pointed out, adding new factors that are known to have minimal impact on climate would not improve the predictive power of the models. So, in keeping with Occam’s Razor, they don’t make their models more complex than is necessary.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 23 Mar 2007 @ 11:40 AM

  377. [[I believe it is known with near certainty that the Earth would freeze if the CO2 and methane in the atmosphere were removed.

    Really? Is it well known that no other gas would take it's place with near certainty?]]

    Yes. CO2 by itself only provides about 7 K of the 33 K Earth greenhouse effect, but if temperature fell that much, water vapor would also fall (the Clausius-Clapeyron law), and it provides a lot more warming. Take out the CO2 and the methane and yes, Earth will very likely freeze over.

    [[ Is it known what confines or controls the layer of ghg to it's location and size?]]

    Yes, this is part of the discipline of “geochemistry.” A good overview, though a bit dated now, is J.C.G. Walker’s “The Evolution of the Earth’s Atmosphere” (1977). There have been many articles over the years tracing all the major gases in the Earth’s atmosphere and most of the minor ones.

    [[ Is it known what a dangerous high or low level of these gases really are?]]

    OSHA limits are a good guide. If you mean dangerous level as greenhouse gases, well, it’s not so much the level that’s the problem as rapid change in the level.

    [[ Is it known that CO2 stops radiation from entering the lower atmosphere the same way it is said to stop it from leaving?]]

    CO2 doesn’t really stop or trap infrared radiation, it absorbs it. It also absorbs sunlight, but much, much less. Thus sunlight gets to the ground without much being absorbed, but the infrared light from the ground does get absorbed on the way back out. The greenhouse gases heat up and they, like the surface, emit infrared light. Some of that goes back to the ground. Thus you have both sunshine and “atmosphere shine” warming the ground, and the ground is warmer than it would be if there were no greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The more the greenhouse gases, the warmer the ground, other things being equal.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 23 Mar 2007 @ 11:46 AM

  378. Re #376: [If the empirical evidence that the earth is warming up could be explained by increased influx of cosmic rays (or, for that matter, Martian scientists aiming a laser at earth), there would be no need to invoke CO2.]

    But the logic is reversed there. The warming has been predicted to happen, deduced from radiation physics and the known increase in CO2. We expect to see it, and when we do, take it as confirmation. if we didn’t, we’d look around to see what other things might also be happening to cancel out the expected warming, as with the 1940-1970 aerosol cooling.

    Comment by James — 23 Mar 2007 @ 1:20 PM

  379. Well tried to shed some light on your responses and why convincing a plurality of policy makers and the public of man made GW is not going to happen…..but sadly I seem to be censored on this site. First time out of all the sites I visit on GW. It must be truly comfortable singing to only the choir. Well….time to put my jacket on and work on the Alfa, it is unusually cold here in Portland this spring.

    Comment by Steven Soleri — 23 Mar 2007 @ 2:31 PM

  380. Re #378
    James,
    I don’t disagree with your comments about CO2. My point was that RodB.’s comment (#367) that AGW is not the simplest explanation appears to me to be a mistaken application of Occam’s Razor – there may well be simpler explanations for global warming (I used cosmic radiation as that seems to be a favorite one put forth by the skeptics; I have no idea what explanation Rod B. was referring to), but Occam’s Razor doesn’t “require” that the simpler explanation be the correct one. CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas, and any model based only on rising CO2 levels would have low explanatory and predictive power. Instead, the models include all of the factors thought to have a significant effect on climate, and exclude those factors considered to be trivial – that is, models incorporate an appropriate level of complexity to explain the empirical data, but are not more complex than necessary, which is consistent with Occam’s Razor. This doesn’t rule out the possibility that the models could be made more (or less) complex in the future, as new data come to light.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 23 Mar 2007 @ 3:11 PM

  381. …”cosmic ray argument was being used to fool them, which didn’t go over well – no-one likes being told they’re being had (especially when they are). “….

    Weeell, frankly I’d say it was more the “oh you little brains are being fooled, I’d explain it to you, but it’s hard to do so on .. a level playing field that people here will understand” response that turned people off. Your point may be 100% valid, but your delivery was pretty condescending and a bit insulting. Not your intent I’m sure, but that’s how you came off.

    An individual named Jason also pointed out the remarkably high level of emotion present in the GW camp, so again, to dismiss your opponents as the types appealing simply to the emotions of all those little brains out there, seems a bit hypocritical, and the only real overt personal attack made to appeal to the crowd – a comment about solving the energy crisis by tapping Phillip Stott – came from someone named Gavin Schmidt, who I think is the author of this post. So Gavin, I think you’re letting your emotions get the better of you. [edit]

    [Response: I have no idea why anyone would think that was an ad hom, or an example of emotions out of control. It was a joke based purely on his hyperactive mode of delivery. You might not think it funny, but it wasn't insulting. - gavin]

    That said, I’ve one question that I hope hasn’t been answered here too frequently. Why is it that one group refers to a 0.6C increase in temp while another refers to a 1.0C increase temp over the same period? How is it that there isn’t agreement on such a simple point?

    [Response: It's closer to 0.8 deg C now, 0.6 C was the best estimate in 2001. -gavin]

    Comment by Marc — 23 Mar 2007 @ 3:21 PM

  382. Local conditions Steven, do not a rule make. The censorship is within your realm. The public is already convinced, even if certain partisan audiences are not. I thought Gavin’s responses in the debate were excellent, but the audience clearly liked the hypocrisy of advocates thesis of Crichton. Since it is the overall CO2 contribution, not just from a handful of private jets, and the space program, that make the increase real, this is a red herring. Advocates should take this to heart though and remove this excuse from the table.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 23 Mar 2007 @ 3:41 PM

  383. The many of us who chime in with pointers to others’ knowledge are trying to be as helpful as a good librarian, and as useful as an honest reporter; I try to be a reliable pointer, as do many other readers whose names come up.

    It’s the scientists to whom we owe respect and credit–many names we don’t see often. They’re doing the work.

    —”Don’t Mistake the Finger Pointing at the Moon for the Moon” — Zen Buddhist Saying.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Mar 2007 @ 3:45 PM

  384. [[Well tried to shed some light on your responses and why convincing a plurality of policy makers and the public of man made GW is not going to happen.....but sadly I seem to be censored on this site. First time out of all the sites I visit on GW. It must be truly comfortable singing to only the choir. Well....time to put my jacket on and work on the Alfa, it is unusually cold here in Portland this spring. ]]

    “I weep for you,” the walrus said,
    “I deeply sympathize.”
    With sobs and tears he sorted out
    those of the largest size,
    Holding a pocket handkerchief
    before his streaming eyes.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 23 Mar 2007 @ 3:48 PM

  385. I’m not confusing weather with climate,

    I’m comparing how they are both being predicted, need I say incorrectly. If there was no prediction for the climate in relation to ghg then there would be no worries or discussion such as this only further study yet the IPCC has graph after graph with dates from 2000 to 2100 or even 2300. Yes weather prediction is only in the lower atmosphere, (trop) and it is not always correct on it’s predictions for one week. While the climate includes all of the layers of the atmosphere and is subject to 50 or 100 years of prediction. How is it we can be mistaken on a small part of all over a short time but we are correct on a much larger area over a much longer period of time? Do you see what I mean now? I’m comparing human information analysis, (small area, one week : : large area, 100 years?).

    My lack of knowledge? Didn’t you notice I was asking questions like, if CO2 were removed would it be replaced by another ghg? Not would things get hotter but would they be replaced? It would if the size of the ghg layer were regulated by the constance of the Sun, Earth and their relationship which in effect are exactly what regulate our entire climate. It also would if water vapour and ozone stopped absorbing the bulk of solar ultraviolet radiation but that it unlikely. CO2 is only 3.6% of ghg and humans only contribute 3.2% of that or 0.11% of all CO2. Thank you Barton, yes CO2 stops radiation as well by absorbing it on the way in which is minor in comparison but still a help. Now, with more CO2 being produced even more of it will be absorbing radiation on the way IN making the Earth cooler unless the increase of CO2 is counter balanced or replaces other ghg. How could it be counter balanced? The layer of ghg are not one thin layer all by themselves, they take up most of the trop and stream into the stratosphere at distances of 20 to 30 kms upward world wide. These layers are only the way they are based on the constance, 0.11% of the atmosphere does not out weigh the effects of the Sun, Earth relationship.

    Is the rapid change you speak of plus one degree in the past decade in the northern hem and minus one degree in the southern hem according to IPCC? What about the 4 degree fall in the 70s or late 80s…that’s rapid.

    Electric cars not hybrids are the answer. If we did make hybrids and continued we would keep on making them and selling them and their population would fall back to dangerous levels of emissions again because they still use gas. The trouble here is not just building an electric car as good as gas car but they can only go up to 90 mph, they have limited distance and the fuel is home based so far. The major trouble is placing them in our society everywhere, this is a major shift life style, economics, comfort and reliability.

    Today in the News:

    Ugh now it’s polar bears could go extinct by 2100, come on people. Even the News is all about guessing about what would happen in 93 years due to global warming, (always assuming the temps will go up up and away). That’s not News, it’s hysteria. I know I know, bad news sells even if it is just a guess, I mean a prediction.

    Comment by Jake — 23 Mar 2007 @ 5:46 PM

  386. This shows you don’t understand the basic discovery about how this works:

    > with more CO2 being produced even more of it will be absorbing radiation
    > on the way IN making the Earth cooler

    You should read the AIP history, at least the part about Arrhenius and his discovery.

    Once you get that part, you won’t make the above mistake, and everything else will be possible to follow; until you do, no wonder none of it makes sense.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Mar 2007 @ 6:29 PM

  387. “I say, recognize the bottom feeders early and take away their right to abuse the hospitality and commradory of RC. When we recognize a repeat offender who evidently refuses to read and response to legitimate retorts, PULL THE CORD and dump them into the BOZO BIN. Democracy has its limits and time is the most critical factor in this discussion of AGW.

    This web page is too vital to be open to false sceptics!”

    Hey Barton got the Alfa running good and I’m back. By the way what car are you driving these days and hope that computer is running off solar panels. Have you been able to find any geo-thermal vents for heating your house. Please tell us all your carbon foot print before instructing the rest of us.

    This why the GW proponent folks will never win the long race….you are working against gravity (and the historical record). You would pretend that a theory with such a complexity of variables it defies any emperical study should be outside the realm of challenge. Well the challenges are easy. For every correlative graph you provide I can match you with a published data graph showing CO2 in not a cogent variable (and my graphs will not show a downward “hocky stick”). For every conclusion of proxy data supporting GW I can show you a published paper showing the opposite conclusion. If the moderator will so accept I will certainly post them here and can match you for published study to published study. Just why do you think Chricton was so effective….you say theatrics…I say facts are on his side. In a couple of responses he actually made (and not by intention) the GW proponents sound reaching and ridiculous. I am not saying the learned scientists ARE ridiculous just that their debate points were strained. In fact I DO NOT consider myself qualified to counter their research but I do have lot’s of sources that do. Chricton is very well researched on the subject and has the done the leg work and found the fallacies. Again if the moderator allows we can list his foot noted conclusions as well.

    I have worked and provided code for 20 years on fire modeling and thermodynamics and without a doubt trying to model the climate using one or two control variables and then using “feedback” mechanisms to make the scenario “happen” borders on the absurd. Am I saying a GW proponent is wrong…absolutely not…but the observational, sattelite, historical and physical data does not bend their way at this point in time. At least not enough to resign the 3rd world to worsening poverty and the US to a very controlled life. There is one last reason GW proponents will never win the hearts and minds: If we were to implement Gore’s economy wrecking recommendations it would create such a depression that the politics would change on a dime and the public would want some heads. Remember: “it’s the economy stupid”

    Comment by Steven Soleri — 23 Mar 2007 @ 6:54 PM

  388. Perhaps someone else can take a turn at whack-a-mole over on http://freestudents.blogspot.com , a fairly well-read liberal (libertarian) weblog done by the head of a German think-tank.

    Comment by Ben Kalafut — 23 Mar 2007 @ 6:59 PM

  389. “How is it we can be mistaken on a small part of all over a short time but we are correct on a much larger area over a much longer period of time?”

    Because the longer view is easier to predict than the short term. This has been pointed out over and again. January will be colder than July, but how chaotic local weather will be is difficult to predict until it gets too close to avoid. A higher global mean temperature means more chaotic local weather patterns; 1 degree and counting. What part of this is so hard to understand?

    Comment by Mark A. York — 23 Mar 2007 @ 7:05 PM

  390. re 371 P. Lewis, are you trying to refute Jake by saying atmospheric CO2 can/does not absorb in the same IR band if the radiation is from the sun, like it does from the earth??? I never knew CO2 was that smart…

    Comment by Rod B. — 23 Mar 2007 @ 9:27 PM

  391. re 371 – part 2 — in support of: If memory serves I think Ford also has a hybrid on the market.

    Comment by Rod B. — 23 Mar 2007 @ 9:31 PM

  392. Jake, forecasting weather is much more difficult than forecasting climate. Two ways of seeing this. With weather you are trying to forecast an event, whereas with climate you are looking at an average behavior. If you were asked to pick the closing price of a stock on the NYSE 5 days running, you would very probably fail. However, if you invest in a 401k, you are betting that on average, the stocks that make up your portfolio will rise over time–a much more probable proposition. Moreover, weather is a very complicated phenomenon, depending on prevailing winds, solar input, barometric pressure and so on. Climate depends only on the conserved quantities like energy, angular momentum, etc. This makes it much easier to get right. Now, you should realize that climate is chaotic, so no one can truly predict how it will respond. However, if you draw comfort from this, you are crazy–an unquantifiable risk is always a greater concern than even a high risk. Given that climate cannot be predicted, it is difficult to see what would be a truly alarmist prediction other than thermal runaway, a “Day After Tomorrow” scenario or something like a mass extinction. Short of scenarios like these, it is hard to eliminate serious consequences as impossible.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Mar 2007 @ 9:34 PM

  393. I thought your side did fairly well when you were grappling on specific issues of fact, but the continuing references to scientific consensus turned me off. As for the hot exchange with Lindzner on the NAS report, if I remember correctly, the exact word they used to describe climate reconstructions more than 400 years old was “plausible.” In my old Webster’s Collegiate dictionary, plausible means apparently credible but possibly way off the mark. The suggested synonym is “specious.”

    [Response: Lindzen, as usual (see here, here, and here) was being highly misleading at best. Gavin's characterization was indeed, as on all major points of the debate, correct. You should carefully read our previous post on the NAS report. Quoting from that report:

    The basic conclusion of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) was that the late 20th century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years. This conclusion has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence that includes the additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions and documentation of the spatial coherence of recent warming described above (Cook et al. 2004, Moberg et al. 2005, Rutherford et al. 2005, D’Arrigo et al. 2006, Osborn and Briffa 2006, Wahl and Ammann in press), and also the pronounced changes in a variety of local proxy indicators described in previous chapters (e.g., Thompson et al. in press). Based on the analyses presented in the original papers by Mann et al. and this newer supporting evidence, the committee finds it plausible that the Northern Hemisphere was warmer during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period over the preceding millennium.

    Of course, Lindzen committed an even worse error of omission by failing to note that the IPCC, in a far more deliberate and exhaustive international assessment, came to the far stronger conclusion that recent Northern Hemisphere warmth likely exceeds that for at least the past 1300 years. Indeed, a stronger statement than that reached in the previous 2001 IPCC report. -mike]

    My vote would have been undecided before, and still undecided afterwords.
    I would like to see a debate between Robert Samuelson and the English guy who wrote the report on economic impacts of AGW. I didn’t detect much expertise on either team on economic issues. Personally, I don’t think there is a chance to reduce CO2 emissions without mandatory population control, and that would be a very Orwellian world.

    Comment by Steve Funk — 23 Mar 2007 @ 9:42 PM

  394. re 375,376: Barton, If you include every Tom, Dick and Harry who ever wrote anything about climate, I suppose it is many many thousands…

    Chuck, good and more precise point about Occam’s Razor

    Comment by Rod B. — 23 Mar 2007 @ 9:44 PM

  395. They’re touting the victory all over the wingerville web including the Senate minority site.

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=5ac1c0d6-802a-23ad-4a8c-ee5a888dfe7e&Region_id=&Issue_id=

    The line used is Gavin lost bcause he called Crichton tall. This really is the best they can do.

    http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/001957.html

    Somebody should try to get Marohasy here to see what exactly it is she does believe. The other site trumpeting the loss is too insignificant to link. He’s been here before and is still brain dead. Nothing new there. Some are just lost and always will be.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 23 Mar 2007 @ 9:56 PM

  396. re Gavin’s comment in 381. Hold The Phone!! Maybe I missed it in the details of the report, but is it accurate that in 2001 IPCC et al said the temp increased 0.6 degrees in about 100 years, then 5 years later say Oops! we meant 0.8 degrees? Are they saying it rose 0.6 in hundred years but another 0.2 in only five years??? Or that they royally screwed up the “measurements” in 2000?

    Comment by Rod B. — 23 Mar 2007 @ 9:58 PM

  397. [[How is it we can be mistaken on a small part of all over a short time but we are correct on a much larger area over a much longer period of time? Do you see what I mean now?]]

    I have always seen what you meant, and I thought I explained why it was wrong. I’ll try again with an example from nuclear physics. Take a large amount of carbon-14. We have no way of knowing which 14C nucleus will decay next — it’s probabilistic at the most fundamental level of reality and we will never be able to know which one is next, no matter how good our instruments get. But for the large amount, we know with pretty good certainty that half those nucleii will decay in about 5,570 years. Similarly with weather and climate. Climate is not just “weather continued for longer.” It’s an average over the underlying conditions.

    [[CO2 is only 3.6% of ghg and humans only contribute 3.2% of that or 0.11% of all CO2.]]

    CO2 is 40% higher than when the industrial revolution started, and that’s almost all from fossil fuel burning. Your 0.11% figure is completely bogus. Whoever you got it from didn’t know what they were talking about.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 24 Mar 2007 @ 8:31 AM

  398. The debate between both sides of the GW debate seems to be those who assert the degree of certainty of the pro-GW science against those who assert the uncertainties within the pro-GW science. One part of what is driving both sides is their vision of the realistic technical manageability of climate change by humans.

    But another part is their vision of the economic and social costs and benefits for managing climate change, and the social desirability of absorbing the costs and achieving the benefits versus developing adaptive strategies to that change. Both sides, of course, will, depending on their position, accent or demphasize either the costs or benefits. But what is scaring the bejebus out of many people about the pro-GW crowd is that policy will be driven by hysterics like Gore and Hansen who emphasize: outlier scenarios for the future; the need for massive societal and economic dislocations now; and take particular glee that when all is said and done, the hysterics will be driving the societal bus through micro- and macro-management of American energy use, which will allow them to thereby control just about every aspect of American life. And make no mistage, those policy prescriptions are draconian, are based on one side of the debate that says of GW is exclusively anthropogenic, and thus the dismissal of skeptical critiques as “science fiction” can be seen as self-serving.

    Comment by Jerry Magnan — 24 Mar 2007 @ 8:35 AM

  399. [[Please tell us all your carbon foot print before instructing the rest of us. ]]

    Your premise is bogus. I’m not saying everyone should abandon technology. I’m saying they should switch to alternative energy sources. My carbon footprint will go down when my local utility is running off wind and solar power and the car I drive once or twice a week can run off ethanol or biodiesel. In the meantime your challenge is stupid, wrong, smarmy, and offensive.

    [[This why the GW proponent folks will never win the long race....you are working against gravity (and the historical record). You would pretend that a theory with such a complexity of variables it defies any emperical study should be outside the realm of challenge. Well the challenges are easy. For every correlative graph you provide I can match you with a published data graph showing CO2 in not a cogent variable (and my graphs will not show a downward "hocky stick"). For every conclusion of proxy data supporting GW I can show you a published paper showing the opposite conclusion]]

    No, you can’t. The study has already been done. Someone went over the past 900 or so papers on climate change in peer reviewed journals and found that none of them — not one! — disputed that human-caused climate change was happening. Any “graph” showing that “CO2 is not a cogent variable” is bogus, because honest graphs are constrained by the data. I can show you a “graph” that shows that “relativity is not a cogent variable,” but I can’t do so honestly and neither can you.

    Yes, there are “papers” disputing AGW. NONE of those papers have appeared in peer-reviewed journals. They’re all on the internet or in political or corporate foundation studies. Lindzen got a couple of papers on the subject published in real journals, but in neither paper did he try to show that CO2 had no effect. No one who understands radiation physics would take such a stance. It would be like saying gravity makes things fall up. The real world doesn’t work that way.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 24 Mar 2007 @ 8:40 AM

  400. Re: Lindzen – “in neither paper did he try to show that CO2 had no effect”. Did either paper say CO2 had at least some effect?

    Are there peer-reviewed papers out there that posit the possibility that CO2 increases are a lagging effect re: temperature change? Or other p-r’d papers that claim some climate effect by sun activity or cosmic rays? Or that there has been wide statistically significant variations in temperature or CO2 concentration since the last ice age or the last 2000 years?

    Comment by Jerry Magnan — 24 Mar 2007 @ 9:24 AM

  401. >371, 390
    See 386.

    Until you understand what Arrhenius discovered, none of this will make sense to you all. Your repeated postings, repeating the same mistakes, show that you haven’t understood the physical world.

    Until you understand the basic physics, you can’t believe how the world is known to work.
    It took until the 1950s to figure out the details, but if you get the very basic concept, you’ll at least be able to start with the same fact and be talking about the same world that the scientists describe.

    Until then, your trying to mock the scientists is just trolling, perhaps for praise from your friends who don’t understand the science either and just for the fun of wasting people’s time here.

    I pray you, consider that you may be uninformed.
    Read at least the AIP History, first link under Science in the sidebar.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Mar 2007 @ 10:27 AM

  402. “Are there peer-reviewed papers out there that posit the possibility that CO2 increases are a lagging effect re: temperature change?”

    Read the archives here for this nonissue.

    “Some climate effect” is low. No matter how hard they try all posit the same debunked reasons over and over and…

    Comment by Mark A. York — 24 Mar 2007 @ 10:33 AM

  403. RE#
    387
    “At least not enough to resign the 3rd world to worsening poverty and the US to a very controlled life.”

    And what are they doing for this poverty now? Who lives in the low lying areas like Bangladesh? Who controls you now? And how will a greener power company control you more?

    “For every correlative graph you provide I can match you with a published data graph showing CO2 in not a cogent variable (and my graphs will not show a downward “hocky stick”). For every conclusion of proxy data supporting GW I can show you a published paper showing the opposite conclusion.”

    I’m sure Dr. Mann will find this curious so I’d suggest you pony up so we can see this new trend. No you can’t.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 24 Mar 2007 @ 10:51 AM

  404. Jerry, how much have you read from the Science links on the sidebar? Can you ask a more focused question, or are you asking us to help you pick from that list where to start reading? None of us does recreational typing and you’re asking such a general question it’s hard to tell where to start.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Mar 2007 @ 11:10 AM

  405. Re: #1-#403 How to post (various athors)

    A suggestion to further improve the readibility of the threads here. How about starting a contribution (as some people already do) like this one? I.e. Re #number subject (author of post referred to) ?

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 24 Mar 2007 @ 11:55 AM

  406. re 399, Barton et al: You guys do not help your cause any when you keep spouting that “study” which Googled the internet and found “zero papers out of 900″ that refuted AGW. That argument is stupid and false prima facie and you guys just sound silly shouting it from the rooftops. The only way “no papers” can be found is to define all such look-like-it papers as written by “evidently stupid” guys and therefore not count.

    Comment by Rod B. — 24 Mar 2007 @ 12:14 PM

  407. The number isn’t reliable in the short term, Dick, because posts are held for review and don’t always appear right away. When a post that was being held for review does show, it shows up in time-stamp order.
    Post 1- “alpha” 10am
    Post 2- “beta” 11am
    Post 3- “gamma” 2pm
    (with two posts pending that get approved at 2:01 am but were written earlier)

    Changes to

    Post 1- “alpha” 10am
    Post 2- “foo” 10:30am
    Post 3- “beta” 11am
    Post 4- “bar” 1pm
    Post 5-”gamma” 2pm
    (after the posts entered at 10:30am and 1pm are approved at, say, 2:01pm)

    You can copy the timestamp (or ‘View Source” and copy it as HTML so it’s a link when pasted in)

    To refer to your post I can
    – ViewSource,
    – type the actual hour:minute number of your posting I want to refer to into search,
    – copy from the
    left angle bracket a
    to the
    slash a right angle bracket
    – And paste
    – and you see this, which ought to be a working link to what you typed.
    11:55 am

    Note there are some websites (not this one) where hosts routinely delete postings from threads afterwards, even making users disappear entirely — where that happens, the index numbers decrease instead of increasing (even more confusing, I think).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Mar 2007 @ 12:33 PM

  408. re 401: Hank, are you or are you not asserting that CO2 does not absorb any solar radiation??

    You keep sending us back in history like we missed sandbox-1 of radiation absorption. Are you referring us to Arrhenius’ work which the overwhelming consensus (heh heh) of scientists refuted? Or maybe Angstrom’s contemporary work that showed more CO2 would absorb no additional radiation? Maybe you shouldn’t be so pedantic and just send us back to the 50s or so when the physics started to become clear.

    [Response:For what it's worth CO2 is a weak absorber in the shortwave - it's about 0.1 W/m2 for a doubling of CO2, much smaller than the impact in the long wave (Collins et al 2006). -gavin]

    Comment by Rod B. — 24 Mar 2007 @ 12:47 PM

  409. Absolutely Rod and here is the exact reference that Barton is citing (re Wikipedia):

    A 2004 essay by Naomi Oreskes in the journal Science reported a survey of abstracts of peer-reviewed papers related to global climate change in the ISI database.[13] Oreskes stated that of the 928 abstracts analyzed, “none contradicted” the view of the major scientific organizations that “the evidence for human modification of climate is compelling.” Benny Peiser claimed to have found flaws in her work, writing
    .
    .
    [edited]
    .
    .

    [Response: Give us a break. If you've got something new to bring to the table, by all means do so. If you're simply going to recycle long since debunked contrarian talking points (the Peiser stuff is an embarassment, see e.g. here or here), then take it somewhere else. --mike ]

    Comment by Steven Soleri — 24 Mar 2007 @ 12:47 PM

  410. Mark, Hank,

    Thanks for the sidebar tips – I missed it. I’m new to the blog and just jumped into the thread. I’ll read up on the sidebar.

    Comment by Jerry Magnan — 24 Mar 2007 @ 1:10 PM

  411. Re #407 Post (Hank)

    Thanks for the info, Hank.

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 24 Mar 2007 @ 1:31 PM

  412. Just read the ice core temperature/CO2 lagging thread. All I can glean from it is that one position holds that there is a lag time for CO2 to affect temperature of some 800 years. CO2 goes up, the full impact on temperature increase isn’t felt for 800 years. CO2 goes down, the temperature decrease does finally hit its stride for 800 years. This implies there’s a momentum to CO2 forcing.

    But I’ve got a conceptual problem with that postulate, though I’m not saying it’s not true. What can Kyoto, with a reduction in CO2-based impact of about 0.15 deg. C by 2100, have on stopping this climatological freight train? If humanity absolutely disappeared today, the lag theory implies that temperature will climb inexorably due to that lag, wouldn’t it? Sort of like when the days begin shortening on June 20, but the weather doesn’t start cooling off until mid-August?

    [Response: The lag is almost all on the "T affects CO2" side due to the role of the ocean carbon cycle and the timescales of advection etc. in the ocean. The "CO2 affects T" side also has a lag, but it is on the order of a few decades at most (and related to upper ocean heat capacity). - gavin]

    Comment by Jerry Magnan — 24 Mar 2007 @ 1:34 PM

  413. Gavin,

    Thanks. I missed that part in the thread I perused. I’ll keep digging.

    Comment by Jerry Magnan — 24 Mar 2007 @ 1:46 PM

  414. Hank, thank you for the tip but this is a theory or an idea that posses more questions than answers. Example: Cloud cover was intentionally omitted yet a warmer Earth would create more cloud cover reducing the temperature, (balancing it really). Second, higher CO2 would produce greater growth in plant life which in turn would use the CO2, (also omitted in the models). Also there are too many, (by this I mean many, many!) statements like this one at 22:

    “The chief problem had to do with the simple physics of radiation. New studies seemed to prove that adding or subtracting CO2 could make little difference in how much radiation penetrated the atmosphere. Most scientists, including Chamberlin, concluded that Arrhenius had failed to get his physics right. They did not examine the technical objection as closely as they should have (it contained an error that was not detected for half a century), for it agreed with ideas that everyone found reasonable. Scientists were confident they could dismiss changes like the global warming foreseen by Arrhenius, because the climate was known to be self-regulating.”

    I have no idea if the link I provided is the one you meant but it is a good read of before, during and after Arrhenius.

    Ray, Barton, thank you for the respect and your reply and I do agree totally. As weather can be erratic it can change a once correct prediction making it wrong. Climate on the other hand may also be just as erratic or even more so but we just don’t have the data to know. I think we can agree that we have temperature records, (not ww) that go back 100 years that are in fact accurate and this is helpful for the weather. Why is it that some feel these same records are accurate for the climate then? I realize we have theories of the heat wave in the middle ages and before the last huge ice age plus core samples etc but these are not fact leaving us with little information on the average to make a real call on warming or not.

    Mark, like I stated earlier, the Earth has been around 4 billion years and if the climate is all about the larger view or as someone else put it, ‘the long term’ or ‘the average’ where’s the real data from 1 million years ago up to today? Need I say a billion or 2? If the whole idea that the climate is about the long term and we have no info for the long term means again we have no theory unless we base it on the short term.

    Carbon foot print? I’ve only seen a couple forms to determine a CFP and they are based on 10 questions. They also assume CO2 does impact the environment in a non-reversible way, (meaning the Earth has no way of self regulating it, as if we know that to be true). In other words, a carbon foot print is not worth mentioning… if you were joking I apologize for bring up that nonsense, lol.

    Comment by Jake — 24 Mar 2007 @ 11:05 PM

  415. Jake,
    First, remember that clouds are rather complicated entities–they can both warm and cool. Moreover, increased water vapor alone is not a sufficient condition for more clouds. This is, by the way, one of the shortcomings of the GCR mechanism in my opinion (The other is that it’s very hard to understand how a flux of 5 particles per square cm per second would have such a dominant forcing role).
    The other issue you raise–the length of the climate record and how well we know it–represents a misunderstanding on your part. Just because we did not have thermometers around 600000 years ago does not mean we cannot determine the temperature and other characteristics of climate in those epochs. Many, indeed most, physical, chemical and biological processes are thermally activated, and when reconstructions based on these process agree (as they do) it is strong evidence that we understand the climate record. The fact that the chain of evidence is inductive rather than deductive or empirical does not weaken the evidence. I would also contend that the recent past (millions of years to hundreds of thousands of years, etc.) is more relative than the distant past. Climate is chaotic: it will respond to the same perturbation in different ways depending on its initial state. It is much more relevant to look at responses in the recent past than responses when the climate occupied a very different region of phase space–that is unless we want to know if the future climate will be conducive to the re-emergence of giant lizards.
    The past 10000 years are particularly interesting in their relative stability–a rare thing if you look at the climate record. They are also interesting in that they are the period when ALL the infrastructure of human civilization evolved–especially our crops. It is certainly relevant to ask how the changes we are making will affect that stability and therefore our civilization.
    I have no doubt that Earth and life on Earth will do just fine in the new climatic epoch. I also have no doubt that our continued civilization or even our existence are matters of complete indifference to the planet. They are of great concern to us, however, and that is why we need to understand the effects we are having on the climate that sustains us.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 25 Mar 2007 @ 8:12 AM

  416. No one needs to include climatic conditions when the Earth was just forming. If you do though one thing is clear: it wouldn’t support human life. If one happens to be a thermophile well, that’s another matter, but we aren’t.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 25 Mar 2007 @ 10:48 AM

  417. Re #414: [Second, higher CO2 would produce greater growth in plant life which in turn would use the CO2, (also omitted in the models).]

    I think you’re forgetting about the ocean, and ocean life. Ocean productivity decreases with increasing temperature, due to layering that rectricts nutrient availability. That’s why polar seas are much more productive than tropical ones. Since oceans cover 3/4 of the Earth, decreased growth there is likely to outweigh any possible increases on land.

    [...but these are not fact leaving us with little information on the average to make a real call on warming or not.]

    External factors such as changes in the sun’s output may indeed have caused the Medieval Warm Period or Little Ice Age. While it would be interesting to know more about the causes of these and other past variations, they’re pretty much irrelevant to AGW. That is a prediction of what will happen to “normal” climate (which includes all natural past variation) in response to the extra CO2 that humans have added.

    Comment by James — 25 Mar 2007 @ 1:11 PM

  418. Re #414: [Second, higher CO2 would produce greater growth in plant life which in turn would use the CO2, (also omitted in the models).]

    But apparently greater growth rate in plant life is an assumption that is open to question.

    “Most studies have looked at the effects of carbon dioxide on plants in pots or on very simple ecosystems and concluded that plants are going to grow faster in the future,” said Field, co-author of the Science study. “We got exactly the same results when we applied carbon dioxide alone, but when we factored in realistic treatments — warming, changes in nitrogen deposition, changes in precipitation — growth was actually suppressed.”

    http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2002/december11/jasperplots-124.html

    and

    http://jrbp.stanford.edu/

    Comment by Tavita — 25 Mar 2007 @ 7:04 PM

  419. Re #385

    Hi Jake

    I was about to say you obviously didn’t follow the link about hybrid and electric cars, but I find I must have cut and paste the wrong URL, and so you couldn’t anyway. Suffice it to say, whilst many electric vehicles on the market are hybrids (and they are only a partial answer), you will find that all-electric vehicles are present in the market and have been for some considerable time if you follow this link, which is the one I meant to give earlier. From this, it would seem your question

    Why aren’t the big auto manufacturers building and promoting electric cars?

    is slightly misplaced and its inference wrong. And, as I said, it can take anything from 5 to 10 years to get from concept to production, so they’re not doing too badly given the evident political inertia concerning AGW these last 10 years or so.

    With regard to climate/weather, I’ll take your word for it, but it was/is difficult to discern what you were trying to get at from that post. I’ll endeavour to try harder to read what you’re trying to say.

    And as to being confused on CO2 … your “questions” showed some confusion.

    So … a simplified treatment (all quantities approximate, since I can’t be bothered to check them – but they’re all “ball-park” correct IIRC) goes something like this (all corrections gratefully received).

    About 70% of visible light from the sun passes through the atmosphere to reach the ground. The rest is scattered by the atmosphere or reflected back into space by clouds, aerosols, etc. The remaining visible light strikes the ground and is reflected back or absorbed by the ground. Absorption warms the ground. The warmed ground re-emits this radiation at a longer wavelength, i.e. in the IR wavelength range.

    If this IR radiation were to escape back directly into space, e.g. if there were magically no CO2, then this departing energy would cause the Earth to have a global average temperature some 7 or 8°C lower than it is with CO2 (in practice the temperature drop would be more than this – probably to somewhere close to >0°C – because the atmosphere would hold less water vapour, which is a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2).

    However, thankfully for us (up to a point), the re-emitted IR radiation is absorbed by CO2 molecules (by the bonds bending and vibrating in resonance with the IR radiation frequency).

    The CO2 molecules then reradiate the IR radiation in a random direction (on the order of 1 to 10 microseconds I think(?)); ~50% of the time this reradiated IR radiation is sent back towards the ground.

    So radiation that would have been lost to space is returned to the ground, again warming the ground. If an IR-excited CO2 happens to hit another gas molecule before it has time to reradiate the IR, then it can transfer some of this energy to this other gas molecule (termed translational motion) directly, resulting in a kinetic heating of the atmosphere parts that haven’t interacted with or don’t interact directly with IR radiation; i.e. it raise the general temperature of the atmosphere a fraction.

    In addition to the visible light there is also a direct IR component from the sun itself, and molecules that are “IR active” will absorb, re-emit, and indulge in translational collisions as a result of this direct IR component. Increasing the CO2 won’t result in cooling because of the interception of this direct component! If the CO2 somehow magically interacted with the IR radiation and then held on to it and didn’t bump into other molecules then there wouldn’t be a problem (given the relative low abundance of CO2 in the atmosphere), but it doesn’t work like that.

    (There are also UV interactions with oxygen species that work along similar lines to CO2 absorption and emission.)

    Comment by P. Lewis — 25 Mar 2007 @ 8:58 PM

  420. Re # 390 (Rod B.)

    Lord knows how you can infer that from what I wrote. Anyway, the answer is no, that is not what I was inferring.

    Comment by P. Lewis — 25 Mar 2007 @ 8:59 PM

  421. Rod B., Looking back at the exchange between P. Lewis and Jake and your subsequent comment, I have to say that the most charitable interpretation I can come up with is that you, yourself, do not understand how the greenhouse effect works. What is different in the incoming and outgoing radiation is of course the spectrum of the radiation itself. The Solar spectrum peaks in the green. This radiation is absorbed by Earth’s surface, which heats up, and radiates a spectrum closer to a black body spectrum, which peaks in the IR. That is why CO2 works like a blanket to hold in the IR. Now, if you already know all this, I am left with the question of why you chose to misinterpret P. Lewis’s response. That is why I chose to be charitable and assume you were merely ignorant.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 26 Mar 2007 @ 6:18 AM

  422. [[re 399, Barton et al: You guys do not help your cause any when you keep spouting that "study" which Googled the internet and found "zero papers out of 900" that refuted AGW. That argument is stupid and false prima facie and you guys just sound silly shouting it from the rooftops. The only way "no papers" can be found is to define all such look-like-it papers as written by "evidently stupid" guys and therefore not count. ]]

    They didn’t Google it. They looked through the peer-reviewed journals for a number of years. I’ll see if I can’t find the reference.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 26 Mar 2007 @ 8:45 AM

  423. I’ve come into this discussion really, really late, but what strikes me from looking at the write-up page is that the facial prejudice theory of voting preferences seems to have been borne out. See 2005 New Scientist article.

    No insult intended of course Gavin, you touched on this yourself in talking about the opposition’s entertainment skills and Crichton’s height. As the article notes, if Zebrowitz is correct, those who lose votes tend to be the more intelligent, assertive and educated!

    Comment by Jim Roland — 26 Mar 2007 @ 7:41 PM

  424. re 420,421: Jake said (amongst a whole lot of stuff) that CO2 absorbs solar radiation, then you (P. Lewis) said he didn’t understand physics, so I inferred you thought CO2 does not do such, which is wrong. But I’ll admit Jake’s original post on this subject was large and easily confused. Anyhoo, your post #419, while not precisely accurate (which you said), is a pretty good ballpark description.

    I will take Ray’s details to task, only ’cause he calls me ignorant. First, solar radiation covers a spectrum, the peak being just where the energy flux is strongest. (And I think it’s more yellow-green than just green.) The solar spectrum does include a number of CO2 absorption bands, and, while small, the absorption of incoming solar radiation is real. Secondly, the sun emits at near black body emissivity. So does the earth — neither being perfect black bodies. The earth’s radiation peaks in the IR range because of its surface temperature per Stefan, Boltzman, Wien and those cats, as opposed to the Sun’s surface temperature.

    Comment by Rod B. — 26 Mar 2007 @ 8:52 PM

  425. re Barton,422: I’m familiar with the reference, the ISI database (and I think mentioned in earlier posts.) My point was that the study was precisely and narrowly defined though includes subjective judgments by the author, which I think is misleading. But, I’m really trying to be helpful (why, I have no idea…): I think your position loses credibility overall when you vociferously push a point that, while interesting, is likely specious and not significant. What the hell difference would it make to your argument if Ms. Oreskes found 31 (say) peer-reviewed, published-in-certain-journals that met here subjective definitions? Your absolute need for ZERO just looks, well, silly. It’s similar to the trumpeting of the “consensus” which many proponents (not all…, but including Gore) have backed themselves into a corner by implying 100% (because skeptics “don’t count”)– it’s just a stupid loss of their credibility, for what???!!!???

    Comment by Rod B. — 26 Mar 2007 @ 9:23 PM

  426. re: 42.
    Oh c’mom! How many times does “consensus” have to be defined for you? Only until there is a definition you like?

    Comment by Dan — 27 Mar 2007 @ 4:59 AM

  427. RE # 425 Rod B. said
    [But, I'm really trying to be helpful (why, I have no idea...):]

    Does any one else catch his drift? We should. And, let him drift.

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 27 Mar 2007 @ 7:39 AM

  428. [[re Barton,422: I'm familiar with the reference... Your absolute need for ZERO just looks, well, silly. It's similar to the trumpeting of the "consensus" which many proponents (not all..., but including Gore) have backed themselves into a corner by implying 100% (because skeptics "don't count")-- it's just a stupid loss of their credibility, for what???!!!??? ]]

    The paper reviewed 928 journal articles. It found several hundred in favor, several hundred making no mention, and ZERO against. That’s what she found. My preference has nothing to do with it. Deal with it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 27 Mar 2007 @ 7:51 AM

  429. re 426 and my own 425: I should clarify that the use by others of the paper study is misleading. Oreskes’ parameters made this possible, but she was very clear on that so was not (much) misleading herself.

    I don’t know why Dan thinks I don’t know the definition of “consensus”. I’m just saying that many proponents, Gore e.g., try hard to get listeners to believe it means (damn-near) ALL. And I think that stupidly hurts their cause because when the “insignificant” deception comes to light all of their arguments get tainted. It’s similar to Gore’s subtle “fine print” caveat, if 1/2 of Greenland and Antarctica melted…. followed by long histronic images and graphics of the sea rising 20 meters, flooding most of Florida, Manhatten, et al, and hoping that’s what the folks will believe is definitely going to happen pretty soon. It of course works for awhile. But as the deception comes to light people are starting to reject the entire movie. Gore likewise stupidly hurt his cause, IMHO.

    Just a helpful suggestion.

    Comment by Rod B. — 27 Mar 2007 @ 10:14 AM

  430. Chuckle. We need a new skeptic bingo “Gore Card” for that hitlist.
    You got most of them.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Mar 2007 @ 12:41 PM

  431. re:429 “Just a helpful suggestion.”

    Yes, I see what you mean, if Gore and all those other advocates would just drop those hard to understand deceptive words like “if” probably 99.9% of the public would think that global warming is a serious problem and not just 83%!!! Gore and those other advocates are blinding people to the reality of the science!

    http://www.yale.edu/envirocenter/

    Thanks for the tip, I’ll pass it on to Al.

    Comment by Tavita — 28 Mar 2007 @ 3:28 AM

  432. Gavin,

    I’m not sure it was a good idea for you to debate whether or not “global warming is a crisis” — for one thing, how do you define “crisis”? — but the end result was enlightening. Lindzen as usual has the most serious critique of conventional wisdom. He is basically saying that (1) the theory has holes and (2) the case for anthropogenic climate change is not proven. In my opinion, both statements are correct, because geophysical science (1) tries to comprehend everything about a planet and (2) cannot make much use of controlled experiments. Therefore, geophysical theories will always have errors and geophysical propositions will never be assessed as conclusively as, say, Newton’s Law of Gravity.

    Anyhow, hope to see you in NYC when I visit GISS on the 13th of next month.

    Comment by Curt Covey — 28 Mar 2007 @ 7:49 PM

  433. Actually, Rod B., I said that I would assume out of charity that your comment was made out of ignorance and that you were not trying to be deliberately obtuse. If you feel that being deliberately obtuse is a lesser charge, feel free to plead guilty to that.
    A relevant plot of solar irradiance can be found here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:MODIS_ATM_solar_irradiance.png
    Note that the peak in the spectrum is well in the green, and while the absorption features of the greenhouse gases are clear, they aren’t representing much energy. On the other hand, Wien’s displacement law states that the wavelength at which the peak of the black-body radiation occurs varies inversely with temperature. Moreover, the intensity vs. frequency distribution becomes much more sharply peaked for high temperature. This means proportionally much more of the energy Earth radiates away is long wavelength than the energy it receives. In short, as I said, the reason there is a greenhouse effect is because of the difference in the spectra of incoming and outgoing radiation.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 28 Mar 2007 @ 8:04 PM

  434. P. Lewis, I have to say I enjoyed the car link thank you, it was cool but that’s just me. However, if I was serious about getting an electric car that page would have crushed my dreams, lol. In each instance there were unbearable limitations of money or mileage or speed or access. You are right thought the future does look good but I don’t think 2010 is realistic only because of range; the home base deal has to be replaced by electric stations as we do now with gas stations, (not to rechange but replace the battery with a charged one).

    Ray, I don’t know if you or others out there get the Discovery Channel with the program The Daily Planet but this week they are doing GW everything. Today they showed the many ways to stop GW, (in theory). One idea was to have a ship that only sailed just to produce water vapor and stated if it increased water vapor by 3% that would counter all CO2 effects and bring us back to a balance. Problem: It would have to always sail to keep the effect active but if it sailed too much it could cool things off in a bad way. Result: Not a good plan, lol. Now I don’t know but that theory seems less realistic than the GW one to me. I think the only good info in this paragraph is the TV program suggestion.

    Mark, as for the time frame of study, information from a billion or 2 years ago is not necessary, I think I was exaggerating, (to say the least). However, the creation of the Earth was more than twice that and your right we weren’t here anyway.

    Ray, I agree that looking closer into the past is fair but not too close or we don’t know what the real average is, (in turn we wont know if we are going above or below it). We do have real data for 100 years, (even though much of it is questionable since it is not world wide data). However, the data we have from 10,000 and years ago and earlier is weaker evidence since it gives us the temperature but does not explain what the cause was. To say the temp was 60 degrees 10,000 years ago and not know if that is due to a series of solar flares, fires, volcanoes or the natural way of the planet tells us it was only 60 degrees. That does not tell us it was the same temp the next year or five years later. The science can not tell us the Earth’s temp every year from that date so we don’t know if that temp is normal or due to some type of occurrence that is out of the norm. Right now I believe the Earth’s proper temp is 49.3 but data from 10,000 years ago up to today, (and including everything in between) might give us the correct temp of the Earth being 59.3 which would mean we are way off base with our GW theory. Again, core samples are not world wide records only local hints to conditions that we don’t know the cause of. It’s the same thing with crops of the past, was it global warming that killed them or humans at war trying to starve out the enemy? We have to know the cause of everything in every instance to know if what we are seeing is seen in the right light. On the other hand using data from only 1 or 2 hundred years is like looking at the cover of a book and coming up with a theory on it, never a good move.

    The CO2 idea, hmmm. I’ll try to be clearer. First both explanations were very good and I did learn from them, thank you. Now for the but part, but…

    More CO2 means more radiation is absorbed on the way in, this means there’s less to come to Earth and less IR to leave Earth and less to keep things the way they are, so it gets cooler. Cooler because there is less radiation being sent from Earth to the ghg that control the gh effect.

    Comment by Jake — 28 Mar 2007 @ 9:45 PM

  435. “Highlights” of the debate were broadcast on NPR here Wednesday afternoon. I listened to the full podcast later that night. It seems to me that you had hostile hosts as well as opponents for the debate. The edited “highlights” feature your awkward comparison of the AGW deniers to creationists but omit your more calm, considered opening statement. I have blogged about my impressions here:

    http://gamoonbat.blogspot.com/2007/03/global-warming-is-not-crisis.html

    Comment by Don Thieme — 29 Mar 2007 @ 6:56 AM

  436. [[Lindzen as usual has the most serious critique of conventional wisdom. He is basically saying that (1) the theory has holes and (2) the case for anthropogenic climate change is not proven. In my opinion, both statements are correct, because geophysical science (1) tries to comprehend everything about a planet and (2) cannot make much use of controlled experiments. Therefore, geophysical theories will always have errors and geophysical propositions will never be assessed as conclusively as, say, Newton's Law of Gravity.]]

    Science doesn’t deal in “proof” in the first place. Experiment and observation can only disprove theories, not prove them. But when you have something like anthropogenic global warming, where the evidence has been piling up for decades and fits physical science known since the 19th century, there comes a point where it is perverse to withhold at least provisional assent. On that point, Lindzen hasn’t got a clue.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 29 Mar 2007 @ 6:56 AM

  437. Re 434: Jake, They probably hadn’t posted 433, when you wrote your post. I recap here. The peak intensity in the intensity vs wavelength distribution occurs at a wavelength inversely proportional to the temperature. Thus, for the sun, the light intensity peaks in the green, while for Earth (<1/10 the temperature of the sun) the thermal emission peaks in the IR. Moreover, the intensity vs. frequency distribution is much more sharply peaked for high temperature. That is why the net effect of ghg is warming. This is well known physics, and Earth would be uninhabitable if it didn’t work. And, no wedo not need to understand every nuance of past climatic variation–just the important aspects. And we do. How do we know this? Because we can measure or estimate the contributions of different factors and look at the response of models over the range of uncertainties. In climate, we are not looking at variation on one-year or even five-year scales; we are looking a long-term average behavior, and we actually understand that–past and present–very well.
    There simply is no place left to hide from the fact that we are changing Earth’s climate.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 29 Mar 2007 @ 8:27 AM

  438. I am a layman. I was a knee-jerk “denialist.” I was a denialist who had conflated (1) the scientific hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming with (2) the statist (and therefore unacceptable) political “solutions” advocated by Environmentalists and by a few scientists (who were speaking politically, not scientifically). I realize now that what I had denied was the conflation. That was a mistake. I needed to “unpack” the package deal that Environmentalists had offered for sale and then deal with the components.

    I have tentatively become a stage 2 advocate of anthropogenic global warming: For the last 150 or so years, there has been a trend toward global warming and that trend has generally accelerated in the last several decades.

    I am looking — with no scientific background — at the next stage in the anthropogenic global warming staircase: The acceleration is caused mostly by human activities. The arguments (that is, proofs) offered by some of the climate scientists on RC are leading me in that direction, but the process will take time.

    However, when I read (from Mr. Levenson’s March 29 post 436) a statement like this …

    “Science doesn’t deal in ‘proof’ in the first place. Experiment and observation can only disprove theories, not prove them.”

    … then I recoil momentarily from any further support for AGWH. I wonder, for a moment, what have I gotten myself into?

    Proof means logically connecting, in a series of inferences, facts of reality (“evidence”) to a conclusion. If scientific ideas cannot be proven, then they are “floating” — that is, not connected to reality. In that case, why should I “assent” to them?

    The article writers here at RC generally take the approach of proving their statements. They refer to evidence (measurement data) and they draw conclusions from that data. That is proof. Whether the proof holds up in all cases has to be determined individually, but RC generally accepts the idea of proof in science. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be spending so much time here reading.

    Comment by Burgess Laughlin — 29 Mar 2007 @ 11:30 AM

  439. Re #434 [More CO2 means more radiation is absorbed on the way in, this means there's less to come to Earth and less IR to leave Earth and less to keep things the way they are, so it gets cooler. ]

    No. CO2 absorbs no visible light and relatively little solar shortwave IR (700-2500 nm) so it has relatively little impact on incoming solar radiation reaching the earth. However, CO2 absorbs significant levels of terrestrial longwave IR (> 2500 nm), so it absorbs IR emitted by the earth (and re-emits some of that back toward the earth),. That is why it is called a greenhouse gas.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 29 Mar 2007 @ 11:32 AM

  440. RE # 437

    Chuck, you exemplify the resources of RC. In marketing, the public needs to hear the message about 13 times before it becomes wired into their cortex.

    Questions pertaining to CO2 and its ability to absorb IR while giving a (pass) to UV may have to be answered forever.

    Thanks.

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 29 Mar 2007 @ 11:45 AM

  441. Jake, you’ve been misinformed. Where are you getting your opinions? Why do you believe your sources? You’ve gotten the most basic science wrong.

    Look up Arrhenius — his discovery — that’s what you need to understand before anything else here will make sense to you.

    Have you read the American Institute of Physics (AIP) History of Global Warming page? That’s one of many sources.

    There’s nobody arguing with Arrhenius, not even the people who argue with Darwin as far as I know. If you find something you rely on — tell us what it is. We want you to know the very basic science here, that everyone agrees with, so the rest makes sense.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Mar 2007 @ 1:00 PM

  442. Re #438 Proof (Burgess Laughlin)

    There is always a lot of confusion about the word “proof”. Barton is right that in science (except math) you can never prove anything – there’s always the possibility that some inconvient fact turns up tomorrow that disproves your theory. Personally I like the word “evidence” better.

    There is a continuum from mere conjectures to things like the theory of gravity or big bang theory. Purely theoretically there is the possibility that these theories will be disproven. But the amount of evidence is so overwhelming that I don’t think they ever will be, and I wouldn’t object to the word “proven” here.

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 29 Mar 2007 @ 1:37 PM

  443. Re 438: Burgess, the epistemology of science is complicated. However, it is true that scientists tend to shy away from the word “proof”, usually in favor of terms like “evidence”, “probability”, etc. The thing is that we never know everything about a phenomenon, and it is always possible that the next observation or experiment may not conform to a theory, thus “disproving” it. But what does that mean? A theory that has proven correct repeatedly shouldn’t just be discarded, should it? The answer in many cases is “no”, and the new theory may often contain the old one as a special case (e.g. the relationship between relativity or quantum mechanics and classical mechanics). This is called the Correspondence principle. Please beware, scientists often used words used in common parlance, but mean something very different by them. Again, I’ll recommend the editorial by Helen Quinn:

    http://ptonline.aip.org/journals/doc/PHTOAD-ft/vol_60/iss_1/8_1.shtml

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 29 Mar 2007 @ 2:44 PM

  444. Well done Gavin, Brenda and Richard! These debates are a good thing. And, even though the audience voted you down, the debate audio and transcript will likely present your side of the argument in a more favourable light. You made some very good points. There were some ‘admissions’ from the other side that will stand for future reference – e.g. the 1970s global cooling scare was basically media hype.

    Gavin, if you will forgive me for pointing out a weakness when I did think you did well, I think you did underestimate the audience and this came across as being patronising.

    Did I just miss your side’s referral to the Oreske study? Indispensable, I would have thought, as the most economical way for establishing the weight of scientific consensus and tying in with the crucial point that the peer reviewed scientific literature is the established scientific testing ground.

    One of your side’s biggest cheers of the night was stating (RS?) that, in contrast to the opposition points, support for your position could just be looked up in the scientific literature. *This* is what you can hammer in a debate, briefly presenting your scientific case but also backing it up with a reference to one or more relevant scientific papers – yes, actually give the lead author, journal and year; and tell them you will provide the exact reference in this blog.

    So, in summary, I think you all did great and could do even better next time by better referencing the scientific literature so you are debating more on your terms than on the sociological issues that are the currency of your opponents.

    Please be willing to do this again. It really does help with educating the public.

    Cheers,
    Bruce

    Comment by Bruce King — 29 Mar 2007 @ 10:36 PM

  445. Hank, if you followed the link I provided you would see it was from an AIP page, (as you suggested) even though the link didn’t work since the page is no longer available. I searched the rest of their links on him but most come up no longer available or they just has the theory not the history, (before and after). So, when all else fails I used the Internet Archive to find the page I was referring to here.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20060521034022/http://www.aip.org/history/climate/simple.htm

    On that page you’ll find the quote at link 22 I placed here earlier.

    P. lewis, an update on the car situation from the tv program I suggested. The greatest trouble with electric cars is the catch 22 I almost but didn’t think of. I said they would have to be station based not home based, (to be refueled since this means you could go anywhere and not worry about getting home to recharge). They agreed but their addition was auto makers will not mass produce these cars since there are no stations to refuel them AND no one will build the stations until there are enough cars to use them. My solution, have existing gas stations also sell batteries that they will exchange, (yours for a fully charged one). All other alts bio and hybrids are dead ends, as I am off the topic a bit I will not go into why but these can be studied to learn why if desired.

    As for info over too short of a time period. Yes, temps are going up and we are producing CO2. However, if the temp can be seen to go up and down peaking every 500 years and this happens over the course of 1000s and 1000s of years we will know that this is normal. It just so happens that the temps are going up now and we are producing CO2, if we didn’t produce CO2 temps would still go up since that is normal. However we do not know that temps go up and down over 1000s plus years so we don’t know the norm. Actually, we do have an idea but no one is willing to publish it since they will be called a user of junk science and that may harm their rep as a scientist and even endanger their livelihood.

    Models: Why do I keep saying we need real info? Models and comp sims are not accurate enough to prove anything because they are only as good as the data that is put into them. Any missing factors could change the entire out come of these methods. Look at Arrhenius, his models omitted clouds, cooling and warming, moisture, atmospheric movements and ocean currents, updrafts, vegetation, 100,000 tons of meteorites every day… the more data left out = the less accurate it is.

    Chuck, thank you for your explanation. I can see why the GW theory is around with said. Don’t the Oceans and plant life have any effect at all on CO2? We know they do but do we know the rate of their contribution? As you can see I’m still in the whole self regulated planet idea since I can not follow how 172ppm of CO2 increase, (from 188 to 360) can counter all other effects of the entire planet. I don’t want to say a drop in the bucket but I just did, hee hee.

    Comment by Jake — 30 Mar 2007 @ 6:02 PM

  446. re “…the 1970s global cooling scare was basically media hype.”

    I know I’m a sometimes pain in the butt stickler for details, even if not terribly significant. But the 70s cooling scare was not basically media hype. The folks involved with the science back then were uncertain in the least over AGW via CO2, and were pretty much aware of the general global cooling going on since 1940. The AGW/CO2 theory was being explored by a few daring souls, but in fact global cooling was pretty much the consensus of the scientists.

    Comment by Rod B. — 30 Mar 2007 @ 10:42 PM

  447. Sorry, Jake, I don’t know what you’re talking about by now.

    The current link to the AIP History page is in the right hand column, and all seems to work.

    I asked where you got “More CO2 means more radiation is absorbed on the way in” — you didn’t put it in quotes when you wrote it above.

    Are you saying you got it from the old 2005 version of the AIP History from the Internet Archive?

    That phrase is true — CO2 absorbs and emits longwave infrared no matter what direction — but that can be misunderstood.

    What’s coming from the Sun is energy that peaks in the visible range — shorter wavelength, higher energy photons to a great extent. Those go right through the atmosphere on the way in; a little infrared gets scattered by greenhouse gases, but it’s a small part of the total coming from the sun. Most sunlight goes right through to us.

    Did someone quote that phrase somewhere to claim CO2 can’t trap heat on Earth (can’t be a greenhouse gas) — did someone claim that CO2 would block incoming heat and outgoing heat equally so makes no difference? If so that doesn’t follow, wrong answer.

    Or did you read that in 2005, and think that’s what he meant at the time? If so, again, wrong conclusion.
    Could be that’s why the text changed, if that phrase came from some page in the old version from 2005.

    Check the current version. See what it says there — it should be improved a bit from the 2005 version, and should make clearer what’s going on.

    Most of the incoming energy from sun to Earth is in our visible range and not blocked by greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Once it gets here, it can become heat energy — it’s absorbed, drives chemical reactions like photosynthesis for example, warms things up in many ways.

    The energy that Earth then radiates — outgoing energy — is mostly in the infrared, and that’s the band that gets trapped by greenhouse gases.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Mar 2007 @ 10:52 PM

  448. Re #145: [All other alts bio and hybrids are dead ends...]

    Perhaps off-topic, but I don’t think you’ve thought through that. What’s the main reason we don’t have practical, affordable electric cars now? Answer: lack of good enough batteries. So how do you get people to build better batteries? Create a market for them, no?

    The basic hybrid technology was worked out back in the ’70s, but never went anywhere because the only affordable batteries were heavy lead-acid ones. It wasn’t until laptop computers came along, and created a market for lightweight batteries (even though they were expensive at first) that people began investing in new battery technology. Then of course experience and economies of scale brought the price down to where you could build affordable mild hybrids. And as price/performance drops, plug-in hybrids will eventually become common, and then possibly full electrics. (Though there are reasons why an advanced PIH is a better solution.)

    So hybrids aren’t a dead end, but a stepping stone.

    Comment by James — 31 Mar 2007 @ 12:33 AM

  449. Jake,
    I think the new link is
    http://www.aip.org/history/exhibits/climate/cycles.htm

    Your assertion that we do not understand past climate is not correct. We have many reconstructions using many different proxies. While it is true that a single proxy can give misleading results, when you have many that all give consistent results, this establishes high confidence that you understand the phenomenon. Inductive reasoning is no less valid than deductive reasoning.

    Likewise, your contention that the whole theory is a house of cards where a single result would cause it to tumble is incorrect. We understand the different climate drivers quite well. We know how much solar radiation is incident, what portion gets through and what portion gets reflected, etc. We understand the contributions of various greenhouse gases (CO2 accounts for somewhere around 10% of the greenhouse effect). We understand that the CO2 is rising and why. We understand pretty well what the oceans are doing and the contribution of the biosphere to the carbon cycle. We’ve been investigating climate science for over 100 years. At this point it is mature.
    So not only does the current theory of our climate lead to a remarkably self-consistent picture of both past and present climate. There simply is no well developed alternative.
    At this point, it is clear that your objections to this theory are rooted in social and economic concerns rather than science. Given that neither you nor anyone else has been able to come up with substantive objections to the science, would it not be more profitable to focus your energies on coming up with solutions that are more consonant with your political and economic views? After all, since we are dealing with a system that has positive, nonlinear feedbacks, the sooner we start to act, the less draconian will our actions have to be.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 31 Mar 2007 @ 7:46 AM

  450. [[As for info over too short of a time period. Yes, temps are going up and we are producing CO2. However, if the temp can be seen to go up and down peaking every 500 years and this happens over the course of 1000s and 1000s of years we will know that this is normal. It just so happens that the temps are going up now and we are producing CO2, if we didn't produce CO2 temps would still go up since that is normal.]]

    The world is warmer now than in the last 1,300 years. And CO2 is higher than it has been in 650,000 years. More CO2 in the air yields a hotter ground, all else being equal. We know that from radiation physics.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 31 Mar 2007 @ 5:19 PM

  451. [[ global cooling was pretty much the consensus of the scientists. ]]

    No, it was not. There was no scientific consensus for global cooling. The scientific consensus in the 1970s was that we didn’t know enough one way or the other. RealClimate did a whole article on this if you look for it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 31 Mar 2007 @ 5:21 PM

  452. I might have stretched the word “consensus” a bit (“many” or “most” is the usual description), but that seems perfectly acceptable these days.

    Comment by Rod B. — 1 Apr 2007 @ 12:25 PM

  453. Re # 446 “The AGW/CO2 theory was being explored by a few daring souls, but in fact global cooling was pretty much the consensus of the scientists.”
    Rodb: Can you cite a reliable reference to support that assertion? And I don’t mean Time or Newsweek magazine.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 1 Apr 2007 @ 2:03 PM

  454. Rod, Yes, from the 40s to the 70s, it was indeed cooling. And they even pretty much knew why–aerosols from burning of hydrocarbons. So, let’s see, we have concern over warming temperatures prior to the 1940s due to greenhouse gas emissions, concern about cooling due to aerosols in the post-war boom, and when developed economies started cleaning up emissions in the 70s, the warming trend emerged again. So, it looks to me like they were right throughout.
    The use of this canard to suggest that we don’t understand climate is getting tiresome. The truth of the matter is that we understand it quite well and have for some time.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 1 Apr 2007 @ 3:12 PM

  455. Rod, either you’re “stretching” or you’re quoting from someone who’s “stretching” — and claiming that you can lie because you claim others are lying is …. pathetic.

    You can look this stuff up. Use the Search box, top of page.
    One example of one result:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/01/the-global-cooling-myth/

    If you’ve been fooled once, no shame — you aren’t giving your sources, and that makes it appear that you don’t yet have the habit of being skeptical about information.

    Learn how to be skeptical: give the sources for what you read, as the first step toward sorting out science from PR that pretends to be scientific.

    Learn to check the footnotes — and read them.

    If you’re repeatedly going to sites that fool you, then coming here to repost what you believe based on those sources, tell us what you’re relying on, because that’s sad. If you’re intentionally reposting bogus information, please stop. That’s recreational typing, and wastes everyone’s time.

    Insisting people try to be accurate will get people’s feelings hurt sometimes. I’m awful tough on journalists myself, or try to be — maybe tougher on those who usually get things right, because I expect better than average writing. But it gets better info to try.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Apr 2007 @ 4:02 PM

  456. re #446, (which was Rod B.’s response to my #444): “I know I’m a sometimes pain in the butt stickler for details, even if not terribly significant. But the 70s cooling scare was not basically media hype.”

    Rod, I simply refer you to the relevant part of the transcript …

    RICHARD C.J. SOMERVILLE
    there wasn’t a scientific consensus in the ’70s about global cooling. There was hype in the news media. Quoting Newsweek is not the right way to evaluate, uh, scientific thought, you can look it up. [APPLAUSE]
    BRIAN LEHRER (moderator)
    … do you agree on this 1970s global cooling thing, that that was media hype, Richard Lindzen?
    RICHARD S. LINDZEN
    Actually, I do not disagree with Richard on that.
    RICHARD C.J. SOMERVILLE
    Thank you
    RICHARD S. LINDZEN
    I think it is true that the media amplified what was going on considerably …

    So Rod, since you are a stickler for details is it then safe to assume that you will be sending letters of correction to both Dr. Somerville and Dr. Lindzen?

    Comment by Bruce King — 2 Apr 2007 @ 5:57 AM

  457. In comment 441, 29 Mar 2007 @ 2:44 pm, Ray says, in part: “[...] However, it is true that scientists tend to shy away from the word “proof”, usually in favor of terms like “evidence”, “probability”, etc.”

    If that is true, then the situation is very unfortunate. If a scientist tells a layman, “We don’t prove our theories,” then the layman goes away with the conclusion that the theories are unproven — which means to him they are no better than the “beliefs” of others who rely on mystical “insight.”

    Ray, thank you for the link to Helen Quinn’s article. She confirms my view that proof is an appropriate word and concept in science. She speaks in terms of validation and inference (if I recall correctly) and argumentation. Well that is what proof is — a chain of arguments (inferences) leading from from evidence (facts of reality) to a conclusion (the point to be proven). And a proof is one kind of validation (that is, one kind of way of making sure that our ideas are tied logically to the facts of reality).

    I have added the Quinn link to my folder for “neutral” sources on the debates over anthropogenic climate change.

    Ray also notes: “Please beware, scientists often used words used in common parlance, but mean something very different by them. Again, I’ll recommend the editorial by Helen Quinn:
    http://ptonline.aip.org/journals/doc/PHTOAD-ft/vol_60/iss_1/8_1.shtml …”

    Ray, what you say is true of everyone, not only scientists. Aristotle pointed out in On Sophistical Refutations (165a6-10) that “names are finite [in number] … while things [to be named] are infinite in number. Inevitably, then, [...] a single name [may] have a number of meanings.” In other words, there are more things in the world than we have names for, so we end up using the same names to mean different things in different contexts.

    There is, of course, a simple solution to this problem, both for scientists and laymen: Ask the question, “What do you mean by that term/idea?” And then the conversation can proceed.

    Comment by Burgess Laughlin — 2 Apr 2007 @ 8:25 AM

  458. And if you come up with any cite — check whether it’s not not already collected:
    http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/iceage/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Apr 2007 @ 8:33 AM

  459. > Quinn

    Dr. Quinn does not say “proof” in the article (the word does not appear); as I read it, she’s she’s saying scientists need to explain better what science can discover. Feynmann put it well when he said the easiest person to fool is ourself; science helps us go beyond our own foolishness.

    As I read it, claiming science has “proved” anything guarantees confusing people further. Perfectly good word, no reason to misapply it.

    ___________________
    “… In science the essential point is that every idea has a tentative natureâ��if data tell us we are wrong, we must give up that idea. …

    “The existence of universal scientific laws is certainly an effective postulateâ��so much can be predicted and understood based on its application. This postulate is tested over and over again, …. we can say it is no longer just an assumption, but an observed fact over a wide range of space and time.”
    —————————–

    So she’s saying we “postulate” — because they so far survive being tested in new environments — “universal scientific laws” but that’s (as the grammarians say) descriptive, not prescriptive.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Apr 2007 @ 12:33 PM

  460. re 453-456, et al: [potentially inflammatory language edited] First of all there was only a small set of the small number of climatologists who believed the concept of noticeable AGW from CO2 in the late 60s. In 1970 Landsberg stressed how little is truly known; Lamb said the effects of CO2 were dubious. All stemming from the 1940-1970 cooling (and lack of accurate measurements) just as the AGW theory was starting to gain some interest. It’s true the scientists weren’t terribly worried about a global cooling crises — the same as they had no belief (other than a minority opinion from a couple of respected scientists) in a crises from AGW. Further, other than literally a couple of cats who speculated on aerosol reflection, nobody had a clue about that [edited], nor about other greenhouse gasses. It wasn’t until the 70s that AGW started filling in some of the blanks and becoming more mainstream, from the late 60s new computer analyses, better measurements, and, in the 70s, significantly more cross-pollination of scientific fields.

    I supplanted some of my awareness from AIP.org. Don’t know if it was “peer reviewed” or not and don’t particularly care. It ain’t rocket science. [edited] Nor did I make any claim that the 40s-1970 cooling period disproves AGW. You guy(s) just read that in [edited] Lighten up guys. Nothing here refutes your AGW theory. [edited]

    Comment by Rod B. — 2 Apr 2007 @ 5:18 PM

  461. Re. #448, what I don’t understand is why serial hybrids aren’t available in mass market cars yet? They’re much more efficient than parallel ones. And also why hybrids using Li-ion batteries still aren’t available in mass market cars – they’re far more efficient than NiMH ones. Any ideas?

    Comment by Dave Rado — 2 Apr 2007 @ 6:06 PM

  462. Li-ion batteries used in packs have had a variety of problems
    (good chargers charge each cell independently, but those are expensive — look for the computer battery connectors with multiple contacts, it’s one per cell if done that way).

    A charger that handles a pack of Li-ion cells either in series, or in parallel by averaging them, is apt to cause problems* when one cell is failing. I don’t currently know of any chargers for them that have the Underwriters Labs seal of approval. There’s a wide range of chemistry and voltage and protection circuitry for Li-ion.

    One of the advantages of NiMH over either NiCd or Li-ion chemistry is that when NiMH cells are in a fire for any reason, whether because of charging problemsw or just being in a conflagration, they don’t make extremely toxic smoke.
    ————
    * Google will find them.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Apr 2007 @ 6:27 PM

  463. #462. Don’t NiMH suffer from the memory effect – rather dysfunctional for PIH or fully electric cars? Any idea what type the Li-ion battery pack of the Venture Vehicles 3-wheeler series would be?

    Comment by Jim Roland — 2 Apr 2007 @ 10:35 PM

  464. Moderators: you edited out of 460 all of my cutsey cynacisms of which I was so proud. But then it ended as a well composed cogent note. Great job! You guys are amazing.

    Comment by Rod B. — 3 Apr 2007 @ 4:52 PM

  465. Rod,
    What is your source for saying that climatologists in the 60s and 70s didn’t believe CO2 influenced climate. Everything I’ve seen suggests that the two were viewed as competing effects and aerosols were winning. See for example:
    http://www.aip.org/history/exhibits/climate/aerosol.htm#s2

    The PNAS also had a study that reached similar conclusions. Certainly the scientists understood the relative dwell times of aerosols and CO2 as well. I’ve never known good scientists in any field to appreciate the importance of competing effects.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Apr 2007 @ 5:38 PM

  466. Re 465 “I’ve never known good scientists in any field to appreciate the importance of competing effects.”

    Ray, did you mean to say “I’ve never known good scientists…FAIL to appreciate the importance of competing effects”?
    I hope so.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 3 Apr 2007 @ 10:08 PM

  467. Ray (re 465), One of my references is: http://www.aip.org/history/exhibits/climate/co2.htm

    And a couple of quotes I gleaned from your reference:
    “…Through the early 1960s, ideas about human influence on climate had focused on greenhouse effect warming caused by industrial emissions of carbon dioxide gas (CO2)… …At the time the effect seemed no more than a fuzzy speculation, and it sounded all the less attractive after weather experts reported that a world-wide cooling trend had been underway for a decade or so… ”

    “[in 1970]..a calculation of the actual effects was still far beyond reach. Such work was admittedly closer to plausible story-telling than scientific rigor. Neither laboratory nor theoretical studies had gone far in studying the kind of [aerosol] particles that mattered for climate.
    Aerosol science was just emerging as a field standing on its own… …And these problems, involving dust and pollution, “had no glamour to offer for young researchers,” as one pioneer admitted. The field’s first journal (named, naturally enough, the Journal of Aerosol Science) was not founded until 1970, and the editor remarked that even then “academic status has not been achieved.” [...and very few of these worked with climate...]”

    This doesn’t mean that a few outliers from the (almost) consensus weren’t convinced and working on it, and later were proven to be at least close. Just that climate science (including CO2 and aerosol related) was loose, fuzzy, uncertain, and broad-guaged until around the late 60s to early 70s.

    Why is this contentious?

    Comment by Rod B. — 3 Apr 2007 @ 10:53 PM

  468. I think you’re jumping back and forth between two very different kinds of knowledge, and mixing them:

    > noticeable AGW from CO2 …. the effects of CO2 were dubious …
    That’s talking about observed changes attributable to fossil CO2 increases, and this was not clearly distinguishable from the natural variability — nor expected to be — even much later in the 20th Century.

    But don’t confuse clear, attributable, specific effects in the observations with the knowledge of the basic physics that was establishing the basis for expecting to see this effect, because of a change in the planet’s radiation balance. That, as the AIP history points out, became clear as early as the 1950s.

    These are very different. This is something a lot of people have difficulty with (that’s why the AIP page says radiation balance is a difficult area.

    This is something many people have difficulty understanding about science and scientists — how can they be so sure of what they know based on basic facts established about how the world works, even when they can’t point to a clear human-scale observation and claim it proves something’s true.

    Are you clear on how that works?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Apr 2007 @ 11:53 PM

  469. Re 466-468: Yes, Chuck, thanks for the correction.

    Rod, the link I cited on the role of aerosols makes it quite clear that the greenhouse effect due to CO2 was known and understood, but that “a rapid and world-wide rise of atmospheric turbidity was counteracting the CO2 greenhouse effect.” The science of aerosols was not fully understood, true, but we had considerable experience with volcanic eruptions, etc. The reason your phrasing is controversial is that it downplays the level of understanding climate scientists had even in the 1970s. And since a time-honored tactic of the denialists is to downplay the level of scientific understanding, I believe it is important to emphasize the fact that the science of climate change is in fact quite mature. I mean, think of it: we saw warming and correctly attributed it to increasing CO2. Then things started cooling, and rather than throw out what we knew and start over again, we asked, “Well, what has changed?” Answer: we’re dumping a lot of aerosols into the air, and we know aerosols can have a cooling effect. And then pollution controls decrease the aerosols, and the warming trend re-emerges. That type of synthesis is characteristic of a mature field of investigation, not of an exploratory phase. It suggests that future developments in our understanding of climate will likely be incremental, rather than revolutionary. And the implication of that is that it is appropriate–indeed essential–to base policy on that science.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Apr 2007 @ 7:58 AM

  470. re 468: No, Hank, I’m not sure I comprehend your point. It sounds a little like inductive vs. inductive rationale… ???, but I’m struggling with it.

    Maybe this is off the mark, but my point is: measurement and observation of CO2 in the atmosphere was fuzzy and just becoming accurate in the 60s or so. There was a little more common agreement on the measure/observation of global temp — but that got a temporary hiccup with the cooling going on. The basic science also was dubious: CO2 absorption of infrared was becoming a little clearer following the (mostly) military work of the 40s and 50s, but the ocean’s not absorbing most added atmospheric CO2 got its first following, beyond the 2 or 3 scientists making the contentions, in the early 60s or so.

    All in all, with a few individual (and notable) exceptions, AGW was not an accepted proposition in the 60s, though there was much suspicion, and it started gaining a following in the later 60s.

    Comment by Rod B. — 4 Apr 2007 @ 9:23 PM

  471. I dunno, Ray; maybe we’re splitting hairs. But, fact: In the 60s, scientists, other that a very few notable individual exceptions, DID NOT have a solid accepted understanding that industrial CO2 emissions cause global warming. You might be correct on the necessity to assert this anyway in a political arena because that usually requires great hyperbole to get anything across. But you’re flat wrong in a scientific arena.

    The science was making progress. Then it hit that “global cooling” speed bump and got knocked around a bit. But recovered. You are correct that in the 70s then, AGW thought started to advance further, come together, gel, and gain acceptance.

    Comment by Rod B. — 4 Apr 2007 @ 9:47 PM

  472. For context on that global cooling “speed bump”, see “The Global Cooling Myth” at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=94

    Comment by Dan — 5 Apr 2007 @ 6:35 AM

  473. Rod, to state that scientists suddenly stopped believing in the importance of CO2 as a ghg or in the possible importance of anthropogenic ghgs is misleading. The question was which effect would be dominant. Yes, the cooling trend raised questions about the level of CO2 forcing, but this was uncertain in any case at the time.
    The difference is important in the following sense: I contend that progress in climate has been fairly steady, with the uncertainties being reduced, the methods developed and refined and the conclusions strengthened. I contend your point of view suggests a science more in its infancy, subject to false starts and stops, and feeling its way in the dark. I would contend instead that the science is mature and has been for over 25 years–maybe even 50 years.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Apr 2007 @ 9:00 AM

  474. Dan, you’re projecting today’s knowledge back to the 60s and 70s. Not my point. Today you proponents have a fairly decent explanation for the 40-70 cooling and might even rebut the “myth”. But, BACK THEN, they, other than a couple of dedicated outliers, had nary a clue.

    Comment by Rod B. — 5 Apr 2007 @ 9:31 AM

  475. re: 474. As explained at the http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=94 link, the science in the 60s and 70s was not saying there was impending global cooling. That is not projecting today’s knowledge backward. It is simply a statement of fact regarding the misconceptions that people have about what was actually said/known then.

    Comment by Dan — 5 Apr 2007 @ 10:25 AM

  476. “nary a clue” is exactly wrong, you know. What they had at the time was a variety of hypotheses.
    Each, eventually, was refined and checked against observations.

    Young people today forget what it was like before satellites — heck, before there were even a lot of aircraft available to do science. You’re talking about the time when there were serious (among politicians) discussions of winning a preemptive nuclear war with only a few thousand or ten thousand nuclear bombs being used and people only having to shelter for a couple of weeks then resume their normal lives.

    I lived in North Carolina. I recall the Scientific American cover article that showed an aerial view of the first long duration exposure test there —- a cobalt source in a pit in the pine forest, used to dose the area with radiation estimated to match that from the “winnable nuclear war.”

    All the trees died. Big, brown circle in the forest. Oops. Back to the drawing board for the policy planners.

    Remember ‘nuclear winter’? That was — in hindsight — an overestimate of how badly the world would be cooled by the soot from burning a few thousand or ten thousand cities and industrial facilities in “winning” that hypothetical nuclear war.

    The whole question of how much difference aerosols and soot made on climate was not some lightweight theoretical question puzzling a few scientists in the 1950s.

    It was a question the scientists wanted to address, because the politicians assumed “no problem” and were planning on that basis, wrongly.

    Sound at all familiar?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Apr 2007 @ 10:31 AM

  477. Ray, Dan, Hank, et al: I keep saying, “is not.” You keep saying, “is too.” Don’t know about you all, but I’m getting tired. The intransigence here is how much climatology was developed and accepted in the 60s and early 70s. I admit that it was coming into its own in the 70s (25 yrs. back) but I would hardly call it “mature” then — though this is a quibble. But mainstream/mature in the 60s (let alone 50 yrs. back!)? This can only be supported with blind religious dogma, or at least a grossly hyperbolic interpretation of the very few scientists still carrying the water. I’ll simply repeat part of my #460 which quoted two of the reportedly top climatologists of the day: ” …In 1970 Landsberg stressed how little is truly known; Lamb said the effects of CO2 were dubious. All stemming from the 1940-1970 cooling (and lack of accurate measurements)… “

    Comment by Rod B. — 5 Apr 2007 @ 1:55 PM

  478. I have changed my mind.

    On reflection, I don’t think informed people should abstain from public debates of any sort.

    I think we should try harder to frame the discussion sensibly, and to ensure that the careful middle is presented as the careful middle rather than as an extreme. However, we can’t simply abstain.

    The reason is evident here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McsZ1U20W0M

    Here, Bill Nye “the science guy” (a pop science TV personality), apparently only casually acquainted with the science, speaks for the consensus position as he vaguely understands it. He blurts the all-too-common nonsense about the “Gulf Stream shutting down” and is promptly and summarily eaten for breakfast by Dick Lindzen.

    It would have been nice to have someone up there who had something of substance to say that wasn’t completely wrong.

    Comment by Michael Tobis — 5 Apr 2007 @ 11:35 PM

  479. One last time — “is too”
    (grin).
    You’re right, we’re roughly on the same page by now I think.

    You’re talking about this page:
    http://www.aip.org/history/exhibits/climate/co2.htm

    “a calculation published by Princeton computer specialists in 1967: the first reasonably solid estimate of the global temperature change that was likely if the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere doubled.(41)

    Few scientists at this time were centrally concerned with CO2 as an agent of future global warming. They addressed the gas as simply one component in their study of biological, oceanographic or meteorological systems.(42) Most stuck with the old assumption that the Earth’s geochemistry was dominated by stable mineral processes, operating on a planetary scale over millions of years. People did not easily grasp how sensitive the Earth’s atmosphere was to biological forces – the totality of the planet’s living activity – to say nothing of the small fraction of that activity affected by humanity.

    Leading scientists continued to doubt that anyone needed to worry at all about the greenhouse effect. The veteran climate expert Helmut Landsberg stressed in a 1970 review that little was known about how humans might change the climate. At worst, he thought, the rise of CO2 at the current rate might bring a 2°C temperature rise over the next 400 years, which “can hardly be called cataclysmic.”(43) Meanwhile Hubert H. Lamb, the outstanding compiler of old climate data, wrote that the effects of CO2 were “doubtful… there are many uncertainties.”

    and this one:

    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/RainMake.htm

    Lamb: “As the respected British climate expert Hubert Lamb suggested, before taking any action it seemed like ‘an essential precaution to wait until a scientific system for forecasting the behavior of the natural climate… has been devised and operated successfully for, perhaps, a hundred years.’(9)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Apr 2007 @ 12:30 AM

  480. Hank, both sides of the equation way too often dogmatically use hyperbole to make points. I think that this, in scientific circles and discussions, actually detracts from their total credibility, spilling over and reducing acceptance of other more reasoned arguments. But, unfortunately, hyperbole is probably required in political circles.

    Comment by Rod B. — 6 Apr 2007 @ 9:30 AM

  481. Speaking of debates, Newt Gingrich and John Kerry are about to “square off on climate change” at NYU next Tuesday, although the formal program lists it as a “conversation”.

    Comment by Michael Tobis — 7 Apr 2007 @ 11:50 AM

  482. Kerry vs. Gingrich Debate SOLUTIONS to Global Warming

    RE: 481. The debate actually took place in DC and was moderated by someone from NYU. Of special note is that both agree that the warming is anthropogenic and a crisis worthy of policymaker attention.

    Kerry favors a cap and trade system, Gingrich tax credits and other business incentives, which Kerry says will take too long to be effective.

    From an historical perspective, Gingrich’s about face on climate change is quite remarkable. During his tenure as Speaker in the 1990′s, it was his “Contract with (on) America” that required Republican members to march up to the microphone on a regular basis and state “I do not believe in global warming,” as if children reciting a pledge.

    More ominously, it was the Gingrich years that saw the beginning of the attempts to discredit scientists warning of the coming global warming crisis. Now that their prophet is reciting from the IPCC instead of the CON (Contract on America), will the remaining holdouts in Congress stand down and become part of the solution instead of fighting a war that he has decided is already over?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/10/AR2007041001457.html

    http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/04/10/gingrich.kerry/index.html?section=cnn_latest

    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2007/04/11/gingrich_drops_skepticism_on_global_warming/

    Comment by Alvia Gaskill — 11 Apr 2007 @ 7:27 PM

  483. OK….now you have me rolling around laughing. You say aerosols eclipsed CO2 effect between the 40′s and 70′s resulting in cooling but now we reduced aerosols and CO2 is back in the saddle???. Come-on have you looked at world population growth. Have you visited a 3rd world country lately. Sorry to break the news but burning of carbon based materials and aerosol production makes the 40′s-70′s look like child play. Show me a study where the NET amount of aerosols has reduced. I go to Beijing and south China every year and the air gets thicker every year. Please let’s get the feet back on the ground.

    [Response: Errr... try this: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abstracts/2007/Mishchenko_etal_1.html and regionally, US and European emissions have been falling since the Clean Air Acts. Asian sources are increasing though. You are missing the point though. CO2 accumulates, aerosols don't - even if emissions had the same rate of growth, CO2 would win in the end - it's just more persistent. - gavin]

    Comment by Steven Soleri — 12 Apr 2007 @ 1:38 PM

  484. > show me
    http://www.heartland.org/apps/images/imgPics/ECN6.06pg9graph.gif

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Apr 2007 @ 2:43 PM

  485. “Show me a study where the NET amount of aerosols has reduced.”

    Here’s the relevant graph,

    http://www.rpi.edu/~sternd/Sulfur.html

    Here’s the study,

    http://www.rpi.edu/~sternd/Chemosphere2005.pdf

    Meanwhile C02 levels continue to go up,

    http://scrippsco2.ucsd.edu/

    and

    http://scrippsco2.ucsd.edu/graphics_gallery/other_stations/global_stations_co2_concentration.html

    Comment by Tavita — 12 Apr 2007 @ 3:24 PM

  486. Re: 483
    Good comments by Gavin, but I suspect Steven is not a Science subscriber, so here are a couple more accessible references:

    A nice overall chart:
    http://www.rpi.edu/~sternd/Sulfur.html

    A study of SO2 from Himalayan ice-core (i.e., by comparison with Greenland):
    www-bprc.mps.ohio-state.edu/Icecore/Abstracts/Duan%20et%20al%20GRL%202007.pdf

    “In Asia, although the fossil- energy-related SO2 release is nearly an order of magnitude smaller than that of North America and Europe, Asia is rapidly catching up.”

    As awful as the pollution is certainly getting in some places in China, China is a big country, and there is a great deal of it that is not doing heavy industry. We did the ride up the Yangtze from Wuhan to Chongqing a few years ago, and only a few areas had industrial pollution.

    The issue to is to avoid replacing measurements by personal anecdote:
    If you had visited downtown Pittsburgh, PA in the 1950s, you would think Beijing only modestly polluted. Businessmen used to bring in an extra white shirt to change into mid-day. On the other hand, 20 miles north, where I lived, it was *not* “dark at noon.”

    The bottom line is that, as fast as China is coming, it still hasn’t gotten close to the huge surge of heavy industry that happened during & post WW II in N. America, Europe, Russia.

    I don’t have the reference handy, but I did see a paper that modeled what would happen if we removed Clean Air Acts and encouraged SO2 to go back up: it cools climate in Eastern USA, Eastern Europe, and Eastern China, but only at the cost of really ferocious acid rain, and the cooling only works for 10-20 years, before it gets overpowered again.

    Finally, note that black carbon soot is like CO2 in heating the atmosphere, i.e., it has opposite forcing from the sulfates, so third world population increase often increases the former.

    Comment by John Mashey — 12 Apr 2007 @ 3:44 PM

  487. Looked at the quoted study for aerosol reduction….very short on data reference and top heavy on modeling. Let’s see; 1) World population has trebled since 1930 2) Industrial output has more than quadrupled 3) Coal burning plant construction is 5-10 X the magnitude of the 1940′s…and will continue to escalate particulary in the 3rd world 4) Auto emmisions have doubled 5) Automobile tire usage (carbon black) is something like 20 X the mag. of the 1930′s…….and aerosols have decreased? This is all easily researched and I am not even going to refer to J. Mashey’s vague reference to opposite forcing from sulfates or something equivalent to “even when it’s cooling it’s warming”.

    It is time to face the sobering fact; we are not going to fine tune the world climate with ad-hoc CO2 reduction when: 1)the science is immature and under much debate, 2) the 3rd world has no interest in western world enviro-cause’s 3) the known economic down side speak much louder than the theory 4)there has not been one Kyoto signatory that has met targets and neither will California.

    Comment by Steven Soleri — 17 Apr 2007 @ 3:39 PM

  488. [[It is time to face the sobering fact; we are not going to fine tune the world climate with ad-hoc CO2 reduction when: 1)the science is immature and under much debate, 2) the 3rd world has no interest in western world enviro-cause's 3) the known economic down side speak much louder than the theory 4)there has not been one Kyoto signatory that has met targets and neither will California. ]]

    Your sobering “facts” aren’t exactly facts.

    1. The science (climatology) has been maturing since it began over 200 years ago and there is no longer a debate among competent people that global warming is real, that humanity is causing it, and that it’s a major problem.

    2. The Third World will be the greatest sufferer from global warming, especially the 100 million or so who will be without water due to reduced glacial runoff. They won’t have to worry about western causes, they will have their own environmental cause to deal with.

    3. This comment isn’t even coherent. The economic downside speaks louder than the theory? What does that even mean? If you’re saying economic damage from controlling global warming is a sure thing and warming mitigation isn’t, you’re wrong. Controlling global warming can be good for the economy, like cleaning up air pollution in the 1970s was.

    4. Who cares about Kyoto? I certainly don’t. I prefer a more comprehensive treaty with more teeth in it. Kyoto barely did anything at all.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 18 Apr 2007 @ 8:35 AM

  489. re: #487
    1) The Ohio state study I cited is strictly an observational analysis, with no modeling I could see. Perhaps Mr. Soleri read something else,. or that paper didn’t make sense to him. As usual, my favorite accessible source, especially for somebody non-technical, would be Ruddiman’s book, in this case p155-158, which has a lucid short discussion.

    2) Some aerosols have negative forcing, some have positive forcing, and different activities generate different mixtures. Is a reference to sulfate aerosols having cooling effects vague? In RC?

    3) I didn’t say anything about Kyoto either.

    Comment by John Mashey — 18 Apr 2007 @ 11:24 AM

  490. When I read climate science has been maturing for 200 years, I am reminded that the temperature measurements began at the end of the Little Ice Age and thankfully warmed up.

    Comment by Peter Brunson — 18 Apr 2007 @ 6:15 PM

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