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  1. sometimes I feel as if we need a Madame Defarge with her knitting needles recording the names of the deniers in a scarf … but I was reading Northrop Frye today and came upon this:

    “In interviews i am almost invariably asked at some point whether I feel optimistic or pessimistic about some contemporary situation. The answer is that these imbecile words are euphemisms for manic-depressive highs and lows, and that anyone who struggles for sanity avoids both.”

    it seems to me that many people are going through the pop-psych grief cycle: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance; and we don’t all go through it at the same rate, enough to sift the news as you are doing

    and as acceptance comes then is time to face the music and get on with building ‘wedgies’ or Stabilization Wedges if you like :-)

    be well, I am sure glad that you are doing the work that you are doing.

    Comment by David Wilson — 4 May 2007 @ 11:56 AM

  2. One of the problems with new blogs hoping to raise awareness about global warming, is that the delusionists come out of the woodwork and try to turn it into a debate over the truth or falsehood of anthropogenic climate change.

    In fact, they still show up regularly here! But they don’t come here that often, or stay very long, because the readers here are quite knowledgeable, and usually deliver a speedy and effective “smackdown.” So, their efforts to cloud the issue on RC generally make them look like idiots — which, I suppose, they are.

    Whether or not the Nature blog will descend into pointless argument depends greatly on how the moderators handle delusionists, and how knowledgeable the regular readers are. Until they can develop a well-informed core readership (like RC has), it’s up to the mods to deliver the smackdown when idiotic comments come in.

    Comment by tamino — 4 May 2007 @ 12:02 PM

  3. Re: Cockburn

    You may be pleasantly shocked to find my scathing post from Weds. on exactly the point that you raise about “Cockburnian” analysis of CO2 emissions and concentration at Planet Gore of all places.

    http://planetgore.nationalreview.com/post/?q=MWY4N2FlY2U1MGNiYjJmMGUwNTM0ZjE0MDlmZjkxMGQ=

    Best,
    Jim

    Comment by Jim — 4 May 2007 @ 12:26 PM

  4. Comment on “4 May 2007 This Week”

    From CNN
    Deal reached on climate change
    POSTED: 1048 GMT (1848 HKT), May 4, 2007

    � Science appeared to have trumped politics, delegates said
    â�¢ Environmental groups hail report as a “roadmap” and that it is time to act
    � China had pushed for lowest targets, delayed action
    � Much of debate centered around costs of adopting greener policies

    http://edition.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science/05/04/climate.report.ap/index.html

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6620909.stm

    Comment by Eyal Morag — 4 May 2007 @ 12:28 PM

  5. Has anyone seen the May 2007 article by Jack Barrett and David Bellamy? It’s in the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers and argues (like Monckton) that climate sensitivity is around 1C.

    [Response: Read it carefully. They don't claim this at all. Their 1.5 deg C number is in the absence of feedbacks, which conveniently they don't enumerate... I am thinking about a response. - gavin]

    Comment by stephan harrison — 4 May 2007 @ 12:37 PM

  6. As the problems get more extreme, and our knowledge of them get more precise, and the projections into the future get more accurate, the science deniers will get more desperate. We’re starting to see that now. It will only get worse. This is a ‘War on Science’, just one of many concurrent wars. It’s going to get nasty.

    Either you are willing to fight, or you aren’t. I see a lot of highly educated and knowledgeable people who are simply not willing to fight for fear of losing their jobs. Once they come to the harsh realization that if things continue the way they are going, they won’t have any jobs, then they seem willing to fight. It takes an extraordinary amount of intelligence to see that big picture, a level that most ordinary scientists simply don’t have, immersed in their specialties and lives as they are.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 4 May 2007 @ 12:38 PM

  7. You do know that you are all climate alarmists don’t you ;) ?

    Comment by pete best — 4 May 2007 @ 12:46 PM

  8. Over at the new Nature blog, Zorita and von Storch chant incantations and resurrect the “hockey stick is broken” zombie.

    But down in the comments, Lubos Motl and Hans Errens start their own voodoo and launch a give credit to McKitric and McIntye for breaking the “hockey stick” zombie after von Storch.

    Wonder who will win the zombie war.

    Comment by Thom — 4 May 2007 @ 1:03 PM

  9. In a press release, the US Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG) says this about the latest IPCC report:

    To prevent dangerous global warming (as documented in the second volume of the IPCCâ��s report), global emissions would need to peak no later than 2015 and then decline by as much as 50 percent by 2050, thereby limiting the global average temperature increase to about 2 degrees Centigrade over pre-industrial levels … While not specified in today’s release, the U.S. must reduce its emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050 to meet the global target of about 50 percent reductions, given our greater contribution to the problem.

    Would anyone care to place bets as to what year global emissions will peak and then begin to decline?

    “No later than 2015″ means we have no more than eight years in which to slow, stop and then reverse the present accelerating growth in emissions. Is that likely?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 4 May 2007 @ 1:12 PM

  10. Where does he claim we don’t know what humans have contributed to atmospheric c02?
    “in this graph it starts in 1928, at 1.1 gigatons (i.e. 1.1 billion metric tons). It peaks in 1929 at 1.17 gigatons. The world, led by its mightiest power, the USA, plummets into the Great Depression, and by 1932 human CO2 production has fallen to 0.88 gigatons a year, a 30 per cent drop. Hard times drove a tougher bargain than all the counsels of Al Gore or the jeremiads of the IPCC (Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change). Then, in 1933 it began to climb slowly again, up to 0.9 gigatons.”

    And the other line, the one ascending so evenly? That’s the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, parts per million (ppm) by volume, moving in 1928 from just under 306, hitting 306 in 1929, to 307 in 1932 and on up. Boom and bust, the line heads up steadily. These days it’s at 380.There are, to be sure, seasonal variations in CO2, as measured since 1958 by the instruments on Mauna Loa, Hawai’i. (Pre-1958 measurements are of air bubbles trapped in glacial ice.) Summer and winter vary steadily by about 5 ppm, reflecting photosynthesis cycles. The two lines on that graph proclaim that a whopping 30 per cent cut in man-made CO2 emissions didn’t even cause a 1 ppm drop in the atmosphere’s CO2. Thus it is impossible to assert that the increase in atmospheric CO2 stems from human burning of fossil fuels.

    Comment by Dana — 4 May 2007 @ 1:23 PM

  11. Reason through graceful explanations always trumps name calling and idiotic statements. I watched G. Beck’s show “climate of fear”, who claims he wants a debate on AGW theory, its nice that he wants one since there was none on his program. There were a few jabs against common sense as usual, like Christies
    Kilimanjaro was melting during Hemingway’s days, Wikipedia explains:

    ” the mountain for the past 11,700 years are rapidly disappearing. Over the past century, the ice cap volume has dropped by more than 80%
    a study led by Ohio State University ice core paleoclimatologist Lonnie Thompson [2] predicted that ice on top of Africa’s tallest peak would be gone between 2015 and 2020 [3] [4]. In 2007 a team of Austrian scientists from University of Innsbruck predicted that the plateau ice cap will be gone by 2040, but some ice on the slope will remain longer due to local weather conditions ”

    Over the same past Century humans have been dumping CO2 in the atmosphere. Many other glaciers to date from all over the world are loosing their ice as well. A debate would be nice Mr Beck!

    Comment by wayne davidson — 4 May 2007 @ 1:38 PM

  12. Thank you for your great blog. It is a reference for my blog.
    Good job

    Comment by Jose Larios — 4 May 2007 @ 1:44 PM

  13. With respect to the Nature blog, I’m not sure I agree with Lambert so much. First, just because the IPCC says that most of the warming in the last 30 years is anthropogenic doesn’t mean that trends in only the last 30 years are relevant. Does it? I mean, that is starting from a depressed baseline (due to anthropogenic cooling). Second, I personally (although I have no expertise in the matter) agree with Von Storch and Zorita’s view that greater interest in the (higher) variance in the handle portion of the hockeystick is a good thing. I hope a lot of new, widely dispersed, and representative proxies are developed for analysis.

    [Response: That's motherhood and apple pie. We are all of course interested in that (see e.g. this piece by the PAGES/CLIVAR intersection working group, Mann, M.E., Briffa, K.R., Jones, P.D., Kiefer, T., Kull, C., Wanner, H., Past Millennia Climate Variability, Eos, 87, 526-527, 2006). Problem is that Von Storch and Zorita are a red herring (and a highly problematic one at that--see e.g. the previous discussions of the problems in their analyses on site here and here. - mike]

    Comment by Steve Latham — 4 May 2007 @ 2:21 PM

  14. Unfortunately I was trapped in a doctor’s waiting room the other day and subjected to many repetitions of the commercial for Glenn Beck’s “Climate of Fear” episode. Of course I then had to watch some of it. At the very beginning of the episode, he stated that this was not going to be a balanced view. Sure enough, the show was neither balanced nor truthful. I think it’s rather sad that CNN would allow such misinformation under the guise of opinion on their news show. In my view, it significantly diminishes their whole organization’s credibility. This was one step below FOX presenting the lunar landing as a hoax. Somewhat ironically, after I watched a few minutes of the Glenn’s misguided and misleading episode, I became extremely nauseous, cancelled my plans to drive to dinner, turned off the TV, turned out the lights, and went to bed.

    Comment by The Wonderer — 4 May 2007 @ 2:23 PM

  15. The two lines on that graph proclaim that a whopping 30 per cent cut in man-made CO2 emissions didn’t even cause a 1 ppm drop in the atmosphere’s CO2.
    Dana:

    Why should a cut in CO2 emissions necessarily cause the atmospheric CO2 level to drop? Does your bathtub suddenly become empty when you turn down the water? To achieve negative growth in CO2 in the atmosphere, emissions would have to be cut to less than the amount being absorbed by the oceans and other sinks. I don’t believe oceans were absorbing 70% of fossil fuel emissions in the 1930s, nor at any time since.

    Comment by Paul Dietz — 4 May 2007 @ 2:25 PM

  16. I haven’t yet seen an explicit refutation of Cockburn’s argument about the Great Depression of the thirties.

    First of all, is what he says accurate? How closely can we estimate Carbon Dioxide production during those years? How accurate are the readings from ice cores for such a short period of time? I still haven’t found a reference discussing the details.

    But let’s suppose he is describing the graphs approximately correctly. My explanation would go something like the following. Cokcburn imagines that scientists are treating the atmosphere as a fixed reservoir to which CO_2 is added by human activity. He then claims it can’t be building up from such activity because it didn’t drop when the activity dropped for a few years. Presumably he doesn’t worry about where the extra CO_2 went during this time. (Gremlins anyone?) But, the concentration of CO_2 in the atmosphere is dependent on how the Carbon cycle operates. The contributions by human activities such as burning fossil fuels, clearing land, and cement production are a relatively small part of the mix. So it is not a simply a matter of adding CO_2 to a reservoir which would otherwise be fixed. Human contributions are a perturbation to a complex dynamic system. To determine the repsonse, you need a model, and construction of such models is what Carbon cycle specialists do. From the little I’ve read on the subject, they have a pretty good understanding of how the system functions, and have concluded the effect of the perturbation is pretty much what has been observed.

    In other words, his argument would be like arguing that the accepted theory of the tides is wrong because tides don’t follow the moon exactly.

    Do I have it approximately right?

    Comment by Leonard Evens — 4 May 2007 @ 3:00 PM

  17. Paul, good answer to Dana. Dana, are you listening?

    Read this letter — written years ago—- from Donella Meadows to John Sununu, if you want to learn more:

    “A Letter to a Very Smart Man

    “Dear John Sununu,

    “I know how smart you are. I know about your engineering degree, and I watched you perform as my governor all those years before you went to the White House. I’ve seen your mind snap up information, quick as a trap. Therefore I was surprised the other day when you made a statement unworthy of your mental abilities….

    ” … Picture a huge bathtub half full of water. Now imagine 110 gallons of water a minute pouring in through the faucet and 110 gallons a minute pouring out through the drain. Water flows through the tub like crazy, but the level stays constant. Now turn the input flow up by five gallons a minute. What happens? The water in the tub starts to rise. It will keep going up, as long as that extra five gallons is flowing in — until it spills over and makes a big mess.

    “That’s what’s happening to the CO2 in the atmosphere. It has risen from 270 to 350 parts per million, and it’s still rising. And we’re not leaving the faucet alone; we’re turning it on ever faster….”

    http://www.sustainabilityinstitute.org/dhm_archive/index.php?display_article=vn340sununued

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 May 2007 @ 4:06 PM

  18. #10. Strawman. Miss Dana wrote “Thus it is impossible to assert that the increase in atmospheric CO2 stems from human burning of fossil fuels.”

    Wow… I, personally, could not understand what you were saying. Your post is all over the place, bases its evidence on undesignated “charts”, strange people called “he” and the use of extremist words like “jeremiads.”

    Anyway, Miss Dana, could you please say who “he” is and what “chart” “he” is refering to so we can at least have a basis for discussion?

    For the sixth time or seventh time, people on this website have asked you to please read this site’s material before acting like you or (Beck, is is it?) know more than all the peer-review publishing scientists from the world’s 89 at least countries who can prove in peer-review what they are talking about as part of a body of evidence started in 1842 (Fourier)?

    To refresh your memory please read either the 2007 IPCC documents (not the charts which some non-publishing, non-scientist says is the truth), and the following links:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/11/cuckoo-science/
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=87
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=81
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/beck-to-the-future/

    Then maybe, you and someone on this realclimate site can have a relevant discussion.

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 4 May 2007 @ 4:56 PM

  19. #18 I’m sorry, i was quoting Dr. Hertzberg’s article. 6 or 7 times what are you talking about? i can’t find the graph they refer to.
    http://breakfornews.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=106&start=180

    Comment by Dana — 4 May 2007 @ 6:27 PM

  20. Finally … Alexander Cockburn has shown that obdurate scientific illiteracy is not a trait reserved to those on the starboard side of the political spectrum.

    It’s been awfully uncomfortable of late having to listen to fellow Republicans indulge in a kind of political correctness that somehow compels them to deny the validity of evidence for the human role in climate change. In so doing, they have forsaken true conservatism, which is all about restraining physical appetites, taking responsibility for one’s actions, avoiding unnecessary risks, practicing frugality, and being good stewards.

    Please do not assume that the politicians and poseurs who cling to absurd arguments in denying a human role in climate change are “conservatives.” They may think they are; they most certainly are not.

    Comment by Jim DiPeso — 4 May 2007 @ 7:22 PM

  21. Thanks for the interesting post – RealClimate continues to be an excellent source for solid climate change information. I recently saw Christopher Horner on Glenn Beck’s show saying that we haven’t experienced any warming since 1998! Of course, he failed to discuss the contribution of ENSO. In fact, he was wrong anyway since according to NASA, 2005 was the warmest year in more than a century (see http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/2005_warmest.html)
    It is refreshing to see Real Climate confronting disinformation in the media.

    Comment by Justin Schoof — 4 May 2007 @ 7:55 PM

  22. Dana, the guy you’re quoting is wrong. And you didn’t even read what he wrote.

    You said you couldn’t find the graph. Here’s what the article says:

    “Now imagine two lines on a piece of graph paper. ”

    Okay? Can you understand where the graph is? He’s asking you to imagine it.

    Then he tells you something about that picture. What he tells you is simply wrong.

    It takes upwards of a century for CO2 to go away (and it’s not simple). Two things remove CO2 — photosynthesis, and weathering of rock. Before people started adding fossil fuel CO2, the level in the atmosphere was steady for some thousands of years (since the last ice age ended, roughly).

    We reduce the extra CO2 people are adding, what happens? It accumulates slightly less rapidly.
    After a century or two, you’ll see a difference worth talking about in the atmosphere.

    Many people don’t understand this. There’s no shame in not understanding it. The shame is on the people who aren’t giving you accurate information or pointers to how to learn for yourself.

    Try the links given you in the earlier post. Read some of the science. This isn’t simple, but it’s understandable.

    Don’t be fooled by people who won’t give you sources where you can read for yourself what’s known and published in the science journals. Look for footnotes. Read some. See if they’re right.

    Trolls don’t footnote.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 May 2007 @ 8:03 PM

  23. Keep posting, people. Those who knew there was human induced climate change long ago but no one really listened so they got a menial job and let the Phd’s do the talking can feel a little vindicated while we all perish together. The only meaningful thing the climate change is going to do for people is expedite nuclear war so that the suffering people are experiencing in places like Iraq and Sudan can be global, and the human condition when there is no food or water can really come out and show us who and what humans really are. The changing climate will make people kill other people, plain and simple. Look at the history books. Human induced climate change and global industrialization equals kaboom! Now, excuse me, I need to fry some doughnuts before my boss comes over and screams. While you go to your talks or whatever it is you do, and discuss this over coffee and scones, remember, the next generation will be suffering.

    Comment by Paul M — 4 May 2007 @ 9:38 PM

  24. RE:#17 Back then I worked for John Sununu for his NH Fish & Game Department. It was pure turmoil, politically. He was for the power company and against our wildlife concerns. Sound familiar? It’s the same song from all of these folks so-inclined.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 4 May 2007 @ 10:11 PM

  25. Off topic, but worth it.

    If you haven’t picked up a copy of the May 2007 Vanity Fair, do so. You’ll be surprised that their 2nd annual “Green Issue” is so thoroughly researched, in depth, and skewers the denialist machine better than I’ve ever seen done. There’s not much about the science, but if you want the real story about the politics and propaganda, this will knock your socks off.

    Comment by tamino — 4 May 2007 @ 10:23 PM

  26. Thanks Hank, you are right i ran off to find a graph that doesn’t exist in response to #18′s request for the graph! Sorry, i’m new to this being a musician i usually only have to keep track of where one is in the harmony and rhythm.
    My interest has been picued by the media bliz
    Do we have or is it possible to measure the actual heat generated by co2? Is there something like a thermometer for co2 heat?
    I will use that bathtub analogy!
    Thankyou for your well considered replies, Dana

    Comment by Dana — 4 May 2007 @ 11:21 PM

  27. I was interested to see what Nature had to say about your site but if you follow the RC links, the link to the the original “welcome” from Nature is broken. Just a minor point, but it’s the kind of thing your ditractors will jump on.

    [Response: Thanks for the heads up. Fixed now. - mike]

    I have been interested in this issue since the 80′s and I’m a long time fan of your site and the “republic of science” philosophy it embodies. The link would come in handy elswhere as refutation to those who often claim RC is some sort of political front intent on ripping off taxpayers.

    Comment by Alan — 5 May 2007 @ 12:12 AM

  28. I just watched the Glenn Beck thing. It needs a fsck’ing. I may post one tomorrow.

    Comment by John Sully — 5 May 2007 @ 1:03 AM

  29. Is this true?
    ” as the earth warms, carbon sinks will become carbon emitters. In other words, while nature is expected to decrease absorbing mankind’s CO2 emissions 30% by 2030, carbon now fixed in the ground is expected to reemit into the air.

    Specifically, methane hydrate has TWICE the carbon of all other fossil fuel combined, and it is ice, so only needs to melt to emit (whereas other fossil fuel needs to be burned to emit).”

    This was a comment posted at another link from one of the blog postings.

    Comment by Edo River — 5 May 2007 @ 2:01 AM

  30. Jim:

    Libertarians like a Cartesian plane for determining political positions, but Cockburn, LaRouche and a few others are what Robert Anton Wilson called political non-Euclidians – maybe another axis would help though – Cockburn wouldn’t like it, but I’d put him and other denialists with most of the 9/11 conspiracy theorists and a few others at one end, and people who insist on the primacy of facts and reason at the other. Maybe we could call the Cockburn end “Trutharians” and us “Factarians.” We’re the superficially boring end.

    Comment by Marion Delgado — 5 May 2007 @ 3:02 AM

  31. Does anyone have comments on Implications of “peak oil” for atmospheric CO2 and climate (P.A. Kharecha, J.E. Hansen).

    If Peak Oil theory is to be believed, it would appear that the IPCC emission scenarios are much higher than can be expected. Or put another way, increasing energy prices caused by depleting fossil fuel reserves could create a de facto surcharge on carbon emissions.

    [Response:There's still plenty of coal, even if oil becomes scarce. David]

    Comment by Bob Cousins — 5 May 2007 @ 4:24 AM

  32. Re 26 Dana. Not quite what you were asking, but near … In our modelling we use temperature scales to define the temperatures of business, industry and economies, which is related to CO2 emission pathways. For example, one can look at the carbon downsizing curves and identify various phases that require execution. The initial phase is a turning phase, then a primary synchronisation phase, followed by several other phases as economies proceed to initial lock-down (ie severe emissions control). If an economy is targetting at a 2 degree Celcius rise then the carbon emissions will need to peak between 2010-2013 as the turning phase is executed. (There are a lot of complexities in this, relating to synergetic processes, resonances, scaling phenomena, etc, and those are modelled). Roughly, the temperature scales we use are 0-1000 days for 1 deg C, 1000-2000 days for 2 deg C, etc, for delivery of emissions peak. From this, one can scale through businesses and industries within an economy and identify equivalent temperatures which relate to their carbon downsizing activities. The temperature dependence can subsequently be related to Climate Change Richter Scales for global infrastructure, and from these business and industrial risk can be identified.

    The opportunity over the next 1000 days is for hot corporations to realise they are overheating, and put in place and commence execution of a 1 degree C business plan. Considering that a typical corporation may have 200,000 upwards businesses in its global supplies networks, each 1 deg C corporation has the potential to bring about significant positive change worldwide.

    A question that people may ask of the board members of a corporation is “what is the target temperature of the corporation, and please explain why the board has chosen a target temperature which is higher than 1 degree Celcius?”

    A second question that people may ask of the board members is “what is the material business risk that the board has identified for different target temperatures and how and why have higher-than-1 degree Celcius business risks been discounted?”. These are the sort of questions (perhaps phrased somewhat differently) that insurers and reinsurers are asking, for example.

    They are the sort of questions that stakeholders should be asking companies. As far as climate change is concerned, we are all stakeholders.

    Comment by Michael Gell — 5 May 2007 @ 4:57 AM

  33. Re #9 , I keep on coming back to this very subject myself in many posts here at real climate. The USA needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, a seemingly insurmountable task I would suggest not least due to emerging economic growth and their available coal reserves. Carbon sequestration technology is slated to come online (just one plant mind) by 2012 on an industrial scale and its rollout will take x years and will need to become cheaper to in order for the market place to adopt it. Then their is americas vehicle fleet which takes around 10 to 15 years to replace. Cellular ethenol has yet to be really cracked and hence it cannot scale to more than a few percentage points of use over petrol, so we are talking 20 years before that technology is replace by even a small percentage. The list goes on and on.

    Although yesterdays UN climate change conference does paint a apocolypse postponed picture of climate change due to the reports upbeat reporting by the UK media in general I for one am skeptical of its overall merits although I do concur that humanity might at last begine to start to get to grips with the emissions issues but it just might be too little to late. After all to date May 2007 very little has been done although the IPCC and other official bodies have been droning on about it for years. The present US administration needs to be gone before anything happens anyway and that is another 2 years away.

    So lets make it 6 years shall we.

    Comment by pete best — 5 May 2007 @ 5:11 AM

  34. Thanks David Wilson [#1] for saying: “pop-psych grief cycle: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance”. Knowing the cause, or at least a first hypothesis about the cause, is a step in solving the problem. Another puzzle is: WHY do some people think that their own/human extinction is OK if “god” does it? Why do they think the extinction of Homo Sapiens is OK if “natural causes” are the cause of global warming? Could we get some psychologists to study this?

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 5 May 2007 @ 6:04 AM

  35. [[The two lines on that graph proclaim that a whopping 30 per cent cut in man-made CO2 emissions didn't even cause a 1 ppm drop in the atmosphere's CO2. Thus it is impossible to assert that the increase in atmospheric CO2 stems from human burning of fossil fuels. ]]

    Not true. You are assuming ambient CO2 concentration is directly proportional to CO2 output. It isn’t. The fraction emitted every year is just a tiny proportion of the amount already out there. Ambient CO2 is 40% higher than when the industrial revolution started because the industrial revolution has had 250 years to work.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 May 2007 @ 6:38 AM

  36. Hi Dana

    As you’re a musician you probably won’t have access to this paper but it explains the lack of understanding of the ‘bath-tub’ effect really well.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/f367413412565006/

    Regards

    Comment by Hugh — 5 May 2007 @ 7:22 AM

  37. #29

    Edo here’s a quick resume of methane clathrate

    http://www.benfieldhrc.org/activities/issues/issues3.pdf

    Comment by Hugh — 5 May 2007 @ 8:40 AM

  38. Dana, Hugh suggested this paper; putting the authors and title into the Google searchbox brings up a copy made available to the public reader by the authors:
    http://web.mit.edu/jsterman/www/StermanSweeney.pdf

    It’s excellent, thanks Hugh for the reminder.
    Other useful and clearly written articles show up from the same search:

    Why â��wait-and-seeâ�� wonâ��t do John Sterman & Linda Booth Sweeney …
    John Sterman & Linda Booth Sweeney�s simple physics lesson (the bathtub analogy, very clear)
    http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-6-129-2455.jsp
    (illustrated) —this could be an icon for caring about this issue!
    http://www.opendemocracy.net/content/articles/2455/images/bathtub.gif

    and

    [PDF] Supporting Effective Participation in the Climate Change Debate …
    http://www.sustainer.org/pubs/siclimate.PDF

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 May 2007 @ 9:49 AM

  39. While the bathtub analogy provides some insight, it is in fact hopeless to try to understand what is happening to the Carbon Cycle as a result of human activities by a simple model. Try studying the discussion of Carbon Cycle dynamics in ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Report/AR4WG1_Ch07.pdf
    to see how complicated it actually is. There are large fluxes in both directions between the atmosphere and the biosphere and between the atmosphere and the surface ocean. In each case, the fluxes back and forth are roughly in balance. Human activities contribute a steadily growing much smaller flux adding Carbon to the atmosphere which results in changes in the above mentioned fluxes, but not in any simple to explain way.

    Also, instead of imagining graphs, as Cockburn suggests, it is helpful to look at actual graphs. The above report doesn’t discuss what happened in the thirties, but graphs of yearly increases in CO_2 concentration, as measured at Mauna Loa and in Antartica, show considerable variation from year to year. There is clearly no simple relation between the size of the increase in any given year and the amount of CO_2 emitted by burning fossil fuels.

    The same article contains FAQ 7.1 which lays out the reasons why we know the observed increase in CO_2 arises primarily from human activity.

    Comment by Leonard Evens — 5 May 2007 @ 9:57 AM

  40. Oddly, when one clicks the “Google that” link from the post [http://www.google.com/search?q=CO2+lags+Temperature+ice+core&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a], the second choice, is the RealClimate post entitled “The lag between temperature and CO2. (Goreâ��s got it right.)” The address associated with this on the google listing, however is “www.realclimate.org/index.php/ archives/2007/04/barton-gets-it-wrong/” which is a nixie.

    [Response: Thanks. It should be ok now (fixed using a redirect). This happens when the permalink didn't get updated from the original draft and then propagates into the ether. -gavin]

    Comment by jhm — 5 May 2007 @ 9:58 AM

  41. Dana, here’s a brief excerpt from the Sterman&Sweeney paper, right on point.
    This is what Wossname, Cockburn, is blithering ignorantly about. Whoever checks facts for his publication really blew it completely, utter nitwittery under his name.

    Quote from http://web.mit.edu/jsterman/www/StermanSweeney.pdf

    “We found a widespread misunderstanding of climate change dynamics. Two-thirds of the subjects believed global temperature responds immediately to slight or dramatic changes in CO2 emissions. Still more believed that reducing emissions near current rates would stabilise the climate, when in fact emissions would continue to exceed removal, increasing greenhouse gas concentrations and radiative forcing.

    “Such beliefs make current wait-and-see policies seem entirely logical, but violate basic scientific principles of conservation of matter.

    “Low public support for policies to reduce emissions may be based more on misconceptions of climate dynamics than high discount rates (that is, putting a low value on the future) or uncertainty about the risks of harmful climate change.

    “If greater resources were devoted to developing public understanding of the dynamics of climate change, citizens and policymakers would have a more reliable basis for assessing current and future climate policy proposals. ”
    ——– end quote ———

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 May 2007 @ 10:07 AM

  42. Re #31 (Bob Cousins): I don’t think you are reading the abstract of Kharecha and Hansen very accurately. They may be saying that what you say is true of oil alone but not of coal and “unconventional fossil fuels” (like oil from tar sands, I guess?). Hence their statement, “We suggest that, if estimates of oil and gas reserves by the Energy Information Administration are realistic, it is feasible to keep atmospheric CO2 from exceeding approximately 450 ppm, provided that future exploitation of the huge reservoirs of coal and unconventional fossil fuels incorporates carbon capture and sequestration. Existing coal-fired power plants, without sequestration, must be phased out before mid-century to achieve this limit on atmospheric CO2.”

    So, they are arguing that reaching the peak in oil production may help…but it ain’t going to solve the problem all by itself. We still have to take action to avoid releasing the CO2 from coal and unconventional reserves into the atmosphere.

    Comment by Joel Shore — 5 May 2007 @ 10:16 AM

  43. Leonard, to teach, start where people are, not where you wish they were. People show what they don’t understand; Dana gets it immediately when shown; Cockburn never got it at all, and writes nitwittery.

    Where most people (including most graduate students) start from:

    —- failing to understand even the bathtub analogy —

    but it is understandable.

    Once conservation of matter is understood in this context, progress can be made looking at the IPCC.
    Not before. SSRN makes this available from four university sites and includes a link to email either the abstract or the full text to anyone you think could learn from it — an admirable presentation:

    Sterman, John and Booth Sweeney, Linda, “Cloudy Skies: Assessing Public Understanding of Global Warming” (May 2002). MIT Sloan Working Paper No. 4361-02. Available at SSRN: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=306983

    “… We presented highly educated graduate students with descriptions of greenhouse warming drawn from the IPCC’s nontechnical reports. Subjects were then asked to identify the likely response to various scenarios for CO 2 emissions or concentrations. The tasks require no mathematics, only an understanding of stocks and flows and basic facts about climate change. Overall performance was poor. Subjects often select trajectories that violate conservation of matter. Many believe temperature responds immediately to changes in CO 2 emissions or concentrations….”

    Only 240 people have downloaded that paper, in all the years since it went online. That’s really sad.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 May 2007 @ 10:18 AM

  44. just to keep the perspective straight, pete (33), the W. Bush administration has spent more on assessing and responding to (potential) global warming than all previous administrations put together. Also recall it was under Clinton/Gore that the Senate voted unanimously to can the Kyoto treaty.

    Comment by Rod B. — 5 May 2007 @ 11:04 AM

  45. Re: #42

    Did you read the paper?

    Their statement

    “Thus, it is evident that most IPCC scenarios
    implicitly assume that a large amount of unconventional or undiscovered resources will become a
    viable substitute for dwindling conventional reserves.”

    is what interests me. The maximum emissions modelled by Kharecha & Hansen are about half of the maximum emissions projected by the IPCC.

    The Peak Oil adherents hold that these unconventional resources will be expensive to produce, and the undiscovered resources will be insignificant. The Peak Oil people think that the EIA estimates of energy resources are overly optimistic. A reduction in oil (and gas) production would cause all energy sources to become more expensive, suppressing demand. A regime of dwindling, expensive fossil fuel energy is quite different to the unlimited supplies envisaged by the IPCC.

    The question I was wondering is does it matter that the IPCC are working with unrealistic emission scenarios.

    Comment by Bob Cousins — 5 May 2007 @ 11:28 AM

  46. Re # 36 bathtub analogy

    There is another aspect of bathtub physics that is easily overlooked but may have some relevance for understanding changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations:

    As the water level in the tub rises, the rate of outflow through the drain also rises due to increased hydrostatic pressure (height of the water column). Likewise, if the inflow rate from the faucet is reduced to less than the outflow rate through the drain, the water level will start falling but outflow rate will decrease because the hydrostatic pressure is reduced.
    This analogy applies to the rate of CO2 diffusion from the atmosphere into the ocean which is directly proportional to the partial pressure gradient (air –> ocean, assuming the ocean is a CO2 sink) in accordance with the Fick diffusion equation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fick's_law_of_diffusion). As CO2 partial pressure in the atmosphere falls, the rate of CO2 diffusion into the oceans will also decrease. Many other factors influence CO2 uptake by the oceans, of course, but the physics of diffusion is fundamental to this process.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 5 May 2007 @ 11:54 AM

  47. Re # 44 Bush vs. previous presidents on AGW

    How many years after Bush took office did he finally conceded that global warming is real? And how much was known about AGW during previous administrations?

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 5 May 2007 @ 12:00 PM

  48. RE: Comment 5 “Has anyone seen the May 2007 article by Jack Barrett and David Bellamy? It’s in the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers and argues (like Monckton) that climate sensitivity is around 1C.”

    Barrett and others have argued that there is a net negative feedback, not a net positive feedback to an increase in forcing, GHG or other.

    The hypothesized negative feedback mechanism is an increase in low level clouds, due to higher evaporation. The higher evaporation is hypothesized to be a response to a warmer planet. (70% of the planet is covered with water.) Clouds reflect both short and long wave radiation. The reflected short wave radiation is not affected by GHG and hence passes back out to outer space.

    The effect of a net negative feedback to an increase in forcing as opposed to a net positive feedback is to reduce rather than to amplify the forcing.

    My understanding is the standard GCMs use a response to forcing of 0.75 +/- 0.25 C/W/m2 which would require that there would be a positive feedback response to an increase in forcing.

    Others have argued that the planet’s response to forcing should be 0.2 C/W/m2 with a variance of about +/- 0.2C/W/m2. The lower response to an increasing in forcing would require negative as opposed to positive feedback.

    Comment by William Astley — 5 May 2007 @ 12:14 PM

  49. The Sterman, John and Booth Sweeney, Linda, study suggests that decision makers will not take action on global warming until well after tipping points have been passed.

    In fact, decision makers and leaders that really understood stocks and flows might have already worked out aggressive greenhouse gas control plans, because tipping points may already have passed unnoticed by the climate models.

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 5 May 2007 @ 12:25 PM

  50. Rod B. (#44)

    just to keep the perspective straight, pete (33), the W. Bush administration has spent more on assessing and responding to (potential) global warming than all previous administrations put together.

    No doubt all of the administration’s hard work on climate change has secured it a place in history.

    Setting this aside, there do seem to be republicans who take global warming as seriously as many democrats. Not seriously enough, but it is a positive development none the less.

    Please see:

    On the Right Track
    New Republican leaders emerging in battle against climate change
    By Amanda Griscom Little
    04 Feb 2005
    http://www.grist.org/news/muck/2005/02/04/little-repubclimate/

    Schwarzenegger has been an especially pleasant surprise in this regard.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 5 May 2007 @ 1:08 PM

  51. Gavin, from this just past story:

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/north/story/2007/05/01/climate-arctic.html

    Has there been a correlation made between sea ice models not matching ice shrinkage and current Arctic atmospheric temperatures which seem to be very much like Polar amplification some 20 years from now? The models seem correct, all be out of sync only if you look at their projections 20 years ahead. What goes with the Polar Ice also goes for the atmosphere right above. As an example, March just past very cold temps on the North American sector continue to have an impact, and particularly a footprint : http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/arctic.jpg

    which is acts as cooling feedback.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 5 May 2007 @ 1:52 PM

  52. Regarding #32
    Thankyou Michael for that information.It’s way over my head but the gist of it is we have a way for industry to measure and make effective changes.

    Regarding #36 Right, the ambient co2 is the net difference between emissions and sinks per the bathtub?
    Now on the rising co2 levels recorded in the late 20′s thru the 30′s does this represent the result of emissions from 50 years up to 100yrs before the late 20′s? So the current ambient co2 represents the emissions from the mid 50′s on back to 1900?

    Thanks for all the great replies,Dana

    Comment by Dana — 5 May 2007 @ 2:16 PM

  53. The Peak Oil scenarios and models are too simplistic, I think. Probably in a chicken little way, but the precautionary principle applies there, too. Something to be said for acting as if they’re close to correct. Especially since (I think, this is all from memory) we’re already applying fairly serious extraction technology that, had it been all in place from the start of extraction in the US, might have shifted Hubbard’s peak in the US ahead a few years.

    On the other hand, for certain there will gradually be de facto surcharges, if you want to call it that, The difference is like the difference between tariffs and a foreign importer simply jacking up prices. In the case of tariffs and energy taxes, you have money available to take actions that free market agents won’t or can’t. The de facto surcharges leave you with less ability to adapt to them, and definitely encourage bad alternatives like, say, more coal for instance. Or completely eliminating wilderness set=asides and cashing them in for (now-profitable) reserves.

    It’s always better to encourage conservation up front. For one thing, since you know conservation measures are coming, one way or another, the industries, companies and countries that jump on them will eventually have market, political and stability advantages over others that will offset current short-term profits lost by retooling.

    Comment by Marion Delgado — 5 May 2007 @ 2:36 PM

  54. According to Maxine, apparently from Nature publishing, that blog doesn’t represent Nature, the magazine.

    Comment by Marion Delgado — 5 May 2007 @ 2:42 PM

  55. I finally tracked down actual data for the period Cockburn is talking about. I must say that even if you don’t know anything about the intricacies of the Carbon Cycle, provided you have some minimal experience with thinking about scientific issues, you will find his argument underwhelming.

    The figures for CO2 production are at

    cdiac.ornl.gov/ftp/ndp030/global.1751_2003.ems

    You see that production dropped about 26 percent from a high in 1929 to a low in 1932, but it was back up to the 1929 level by 1936.

    Ice core estimates for atmospheric CO2 concentration can be found at

    cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/graphics/lawdome.smooth20.gif

    The graph shows the trend averaged over 20 years. There is too much year to year variation not to so average. The trend is definitely upward during the 30s, but it levels off for about 10 years in about 1940. Given the averaging and the possiblity of a time lag, that should not be too surprising, even if you accept the validy of such an argument. An unbiased person looking at the data would conclude that perhaps something interesting was going on there, but that it would be best to leave it to experts to interpret.

    Presumably Cockburn didn’t dream this argument up himself. Does anyone know where it came from originally?

    Comment by Leonard Evens — 5 May 2007 @ 2:51 PM

  56. Chuck, that part of the analogy is not overlooked; that’s covered at the same site, in the followup to the original John Sununu post. Worth reading the original.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 May 2007 @ 2:53 PM

  57. After reading this latest report at RealClimate, I thought of a response that is similar to what Thomas, #6, wrote. My version of it is that, when those opposed to dealing with anthropogenic global climate change started anticipating the latest IPCC reports, they became so worried that they might lose the PR battle about climate to those scientists who know what�s going on that they started to produce their own version of the �Surge.�

    Suddenly there was a glut of articles attacking everything about climate science and the IPCC. It has been intense, but it has even less chance of working than does the surge in Iraq. It is too frantic and too noisy, and it comes as the general public has become very worried about climate change. Polls show that this public is rapidly moving away from the positions of climate change skeptics.

    A week ago I presented a 15 minute paper on some of the very basic features of the physics of climate change at a meeting of about 40 high school and college physics teachers. No one suggested that what I said was wrong and many asked me additional questions during the morning break and during lunch. This was a group of well-educated teachers who know that there is a problem. Yet many of them lacked fairly basic knowledge about climate change. The important thing is that they were very receptive. In addition many of the other teachers and the students at my school are asking me for more information. It seems that people are becoming more interested in knowing what is going on with climates and less interested in opinion pieces on the subject.

    In general I�ve found that there is a relatively small group that is totally against doing anything about actions destructive to the Earth as a whole. Yet the members of this group write and talk so prolifically that they seem to be a much larger group. They are now desperate because they are loosing the information battle, and they will continue to lose now that the effects of climate change are becoming apparent and groups of scientists such as those in the IPCC and in RealClimate keep presenting good science.

    Comment by Bob Reiland — 5 May 2007 @ 3:24 PM

  58. Re #48: In the past it’s been found difficult to explain the recent glacial cycles using this sort of idea since an overall stabilizing feedback would have to keep things from getting colder as well. There’s also the fact that the glacial cycles are triggered by insolation changes (due to Milankovitch orbital wobbles) that by themselves require substantial positive feedbacks to result in the climate changes observed in the ice core records.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 5 May 2007 @ 5:34 PM

  59. Please excuse the question if this has been answered before, but I’m interested in the logic on “the isotopic smoking gun”. While I don’t personally doubt that a large portion of the recent CO2 increase is driven by man-made fossil fuel combustion, I’m not sure I understand why the isotopic evidence is a smoking gun.

    To make my point of confusion clearer, here’s a thought experiment: Imagine you have a bucket with two spigots leading into it, one labeled A and one B. Both spigots deliver water (but with different isotopes of oxygen, say) to the bucket. Spigot A is running at a given rate and the bucket has filled up. Spigot B is off. The bucket is overflowing at a certain rate (that must equal the rate of spigot A flow). If you were to turn on Spigot B a small amount, it might have a negligible effect on the overall flow into and out of the bucket, but you would still expect the water in the bucket to grow (from zero) in the concentration of B isotopes over A. This would be true even if the flow from spigot A was increasing (or decreasing) according to other cycles, or even if the bucket was growing or shrinking.

    Yes there would be a limit to how much B you would expect based on the comparative flow rates of A and B, the extent of mixing that occurred, and the rate of change of bucket size. But it’s a complicated relationship and it doesn’t seem to follow that just because concentration of B isotope is increasing that we therefore know that the flow from the B spigot dominates the overall growth.

    Hopefully the analogy to natural (A) and anthropogenic (B) CO2 production is clear. Can someone help me understand why an increasing fossil fuel isotopic ratio necessarily entails that the total increase in CO2 is driven by fossil fuels? Wouldn’t you expect the concentration of the isotope found in fossil fuels to go up because you’re burning fossil fuels, even if the increase in the total CO2 was driven by other natural factors?

    Thanks,

    -rv

    [Response:The CO2 release from fossil fuels is already double the atmospheric rise, the difference due to uptake by the oceans and land biosphere. What need is there for a heretofore undetected natural source? David]

    Comment by Richard Vermillion — 5 May 2007 @ 7:56 PM

  60. Re: Cockburn. Neither the left nor the right has a monopoly on anti-science stupidity. The left has its Cockburns and Feyerabends and countless liberal arts academics who want to shut down science and engineering departments because they are sexist or racist, the right its Crichtons, Monktons and 3 Presidential candidates who say they don’t believe in Evolution. It is not that centrists by their nature are any more reasonble. The center is just the only place where reasonable people from right or left can come together when they get tired of the idiots who are on their side.

    Comment by ray ladbury — 5 May 2007 @ 9:35 PM

  61. Hugh thanks for the link. I am slowly trying to digest the 26 pages
    I hate to ask this and sound dumb but I am wondering about other links mentioned here as well,http://www.benfieldhrc.org/activities/issues/issues3.pdf
    is there some reason I can’t save this link? The Adobe reader won’t let me save it.

    Comment by Edo River — 5 May 2007 @ 11:18 PM

  62. #61 Edo

    Sorry Edo I’m not quite sure I understand the problem you’re having but all BHRC publications are available here:
    http://www.benfieldhrc.org/activities/publications.htm

    Regarding the 26 pages. Yes, sorry I said ‘quick resume’ didn’t I? I should have said ‘good’. Sometimes reading a paragraph just can’t get all the information across :)

    Comment by Hugh — 6 May 2007 @ 6:09 AM

  63. Richard, Your thought experiment would be better phrased as having the initial state of the bucket with spigot A on being one of equilibrium–flow in equals flow out. We know this because ice cores tell us that CO2 content of the atmosphere fluctuated about some equilibrium value in the 200-289 range up to the industrial revolution. So, we’ve got a long record of observation that says we have more or less a stasis–despite occasional perturbations such as volcanic eruptions etc. Now WE turn on spigot B, and lo and behold, the bucket begins to overflow and due to the isotopic composition from B, we have our smoking gun. What is more, we have no way of regulating A, really (unless you can think of a way to control the decay of vegetation, or the exchange of carbon between atmosphere and ocean, etc.), so it makes sense to throttle back on B, while at the same time, perhaps finding ways of sequestering what’s already in the bucket (A+B). Does that make sense?
    The situation ante 1750 was a quasistable equilibrium, which we perturbed beyond its ability to compensate.

    Comment by ray ladbury — 6 May 2007 @ 6:13 AM

  64. Re 44. Rod B. Yes, and the helmsman on duty when the Titanic sank did more to avoid the ice berg than any previous helmsman.
    The histories of W’s and Clinton’s efforts on climate change reflect the weaknesses of their respective administrations. Clinton et al. really did a pretty good job of imposing a market viewpoint onto Kyoto. Prior to the US effort, the approach was more regulatory than market. Where Clinton failed (well, other than morally) was in not getting China, India and Brazil on board and in not mustering support among the American people, and particularly in the Senate. That was where we needed someone like LBJ who would (literally) kick you in the shin if you voted against him. The China-India-Brazil thing is probably understandable–it was during the Asian Financial Crisis, so it looked like growth would take a hiatus. The failure in the senate was pure Clinton–not having the courage to fight for his convictions.
    This is not a failing one would ever accuse W of. The problem with the current administration seems to be a conviction that you can spin reality–whether that reality is the degree of opposition an invading army will face or atmospheric physics. It really is a pity, because a lot of the solutions I see being posed to the issue seem to be trying to spin the laws of economics. These are just as immutable as the laws of physics and it seems that the input of businessmen and economists would be more valuable on the economics of climate change than it would on the physics.

    Comment by ray ladbury — 6 May 2007 @ 6:34 AM

  65. Re: 7.

    Dear climate alarmist,

    To be or not to be, that is the question.

    Nature’s carbon ‘sink’ smaller than expected
    Earth in 2100 could be up to 2.7 degrees F. hotter than previously predicted, studies say.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0503/p01s02-wogi.html?page=1

    Comment by pat n — 6 May 2007 @ 6:35 AM

  66. #2
    So to ask questions clouds the issues and makes me an idiot. This is an excellent position for scientific discovery. Unfortunately, I missed the chance to ask my questions because I did not really get into the “debate” until ipcc4 summary came out in February. I guess the early bird really does get the worm. And yet when I look at the about page here at RC I find-
    “RealClimate is a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. We aim to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary. The discussion here is restricted to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science.”

    Perhaps, they could change that last sentence to “…The discussion here is restricted to our point of view only.”

    A few unthreaded questions I have regarding the science, If the addition of CO2 is algorithmic, does this not mean that the more CO2 in the atmosphere the less effect each molecule has on IR radiation, what is the saturation point whereby adding more CO2 will have no effect on the energy budget?

    [Response:I don't know if there is a concentration at which temperature loses all sensitivity to CO2. Venus, as Hank Roberts notes below, has 70 atmospheres of CO2, and I think increasing CO2 still further would heat the planet up even more. David]

    If the troposphere is warming and the stratosphere is cooling does this not point to a zero sum equation?

    [Response:Perhaps to some extent but we live in the troposphere. David]

    How could less ozone in the stratosphere possibly be a negative forcing on the troposphere, as more UV radiation is making it to the surface, should this not be a positive forcing?(I know this will be covered in the coming weeks as RC delves into ipcc4).

    [Response:Ozone is a greenhouse gas.]

    Speaking of the IPCC, why can’t they just release the scientific report and then the summary of conclusions?
    (I am pretty sure this is no big deal, in terms of the science released, but wouldn’t it be just as easy to do things the right way?)

    [Response:I agree, it would be better to release it all at once. David]

    Anyway, I am sure all of this has been covered, but I am to much of an idiot to know for sure.

    Comment by Ellis — 6 May 2007 @ 9:06 AM

  67. I’ve been reading The Nation for quite some time and while I find Cockburn’s writings to be entertaining, they are not always illuminating. I suspect many of his rather dyspeptic screeds are written (a) because he’s on a deadline and has to write something to fill is space and (b) because he just likes the extra ink he gets in the letters column the week after wherein he is allowed to bloviate at length in reply to his critics.

    For a long time I figured that at some point, like Christopher Hitchens before him, he’d eventually go stomping off in a huff over some slight, real or imagined, but I’ve come to believe that he just delights in stirring the pot and taking combative stances on the pages of The Nation in order to provoke comment on his writing and feed what seems to be an enormous ego.

    Comment by Steve — 6 May 2007 @ 9:06 AM

  68. Not sure if this has appeared here before, but a climate skeptic pointed me to this article from 21stcenturysciencetech magazine which suggests the levels of C02 in the atmosphere have been higher prior to the 1950s :
    http://21stcenturysciencetech.com/Articles%202007/True_CO2_Record.pdf

    Would anyone care to pick this article apart?

    [Response: Georg Hoffman already did in this previous RC post (the record shown is Beck's record). - mike]

    Comment by beyondtool — 6 May 2007 @ 9:20 AM

  69. Ellis, unthreaded

    > algorithmic
    What? I think you’ve read a joke somewhere and thought it was a science term, or you’re trying to joke.
    Assuming you’re serious: It appears you’re asking what happens if all the available carbon is burned. It won’t be a Venus-type atmosphere, but it wouldn’t be like Earth’s is either. Search “Venus” in the Search box.

    > troposphere warming, stratosphere cooling, zero sum?
    No. See the AIP History (first link in the list of other science sources, right side of main page)

    >less ozone/forcings
    Ozone is a greenhouse gas, that may be what’s involved, but I don’t know where you’re reading that.

    >summary
    The summary is negotiated by the representatives from each country involved, as a way to publish what their policy-makers are willing to accept, before the science is released. The scientists released their final draft so you can compare that to what the politicians did revising it; ideas unacceptable to various countries were taken out. You can look this up.
    Otto von Bismarck: If you love sausage and the law, never watch either being made.

    I’m just another reader here; people who know more will, I trust, correct me and add pointers to sources.
    Hope that helps.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 May 2007 @ 10:15 AM

  70. Re # 64. Ray,
    That would have been a good analogy, but the Titanic was on its maiden voyage. So, there was no previous helmsman to share the blame. Had he survived, perhaps the Titanic’s Captain, Edward John Smith, could have blamed the unseen iceburg on global warming?

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 6 May 2007 @ 10:22 AM

  71. In reply #58 Bloom “There’s also the fact that the glacial cycles are triggered by insolation changes (due to Milankovitch orbital wobbles) that by themselves require substantial positive feedbacks to result in the climate changes observed in the ice core records.”

    The data from the paper discussed in the attached link appears to question Milankovitch’s theory. What are your thoughts?

    http://www.news.wisc.edu/9557.html

    What’s more, the group found evidence that the last major glacial period prior to the last ice age, from a time dating to 150,000 years ago, mirrored North American climate for the same period.

    “During the last two times in Earth’s history when glaciation occurred in North America, the Andes also had major glacial periods,” says Kaplan.

    The results address a major debate in the scientific community, according to Singer and Kaplan, because they seem to undermine a widely held idea that global redistribution of heat through the oceans is the primary mechanism that drove major climate shifts of the past. The implications of the new work, say the authors of the study, support a different hypothesis: that rapid cooling of the Earth’s atmosphere synchronized climate change around the globe during each of the last two glacial epochs.

    “Because the Earth is oriented in space in such a way that the hemispheres are out of phase in terms of the amount of solar radiation they receive, it is surprising to find that the climate in the Southern Hemisphere cooled off repeatedly during a period when it received its largest dose of solar radiation,” says Singer. “Moreover, this rapid synchronization of atmospheric temperature between the polar hemispheres appears to have occurred during both of the last major ice ages that gripped the Earth.”

    The data from the paper referenced in the attached link provides evidence that contradicts Milankovitch’s hypothesis. The data shows that a planet wide forcing function is simultaneously affecting both Northern and Southern Hemisphere. The Northern and Southern hemisphere glacial and interglacial cycle are synchronized. (i.e. The Northern hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere cool and warm at the same time.) The Milankovitch orbital change mechanism is not capable of simultaneously affecting both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The insolation changes due to the orbital changes are symmetrically opposite from North to South Hemisphere. i.e. If summers are warmer in the Northern hemisphere due to orbital changes they are colder in Southern hemisphere.

    Comment by William Astley — 6 May 2007 @ 10:32 AM

  72. Ellis, You will note that the restriction is to scientific discussion. Since denialists have yet to bring any science to the discussion, I see no problem with smacking them down when they seek to cloud the issue. I think you mean to say that the addition of CO2 is “logarithmic” rather than “algorithmic”. Yes, the next 100 ppm will have less greenhouse effectiveness than the previous 100, but this does not take into account feedback mechanisms. It may well be that the next 100 ppm could take us to the point of no return, where the ocean, permafrost, etc. contribute their ghgs as well.
    As to the ozone, a quick look at the solar spectrum shows why this is not a significant effect–there’s simply not a lot of energy in the UV. Moreover, we can measure the energy from the Sun, and it can’t account for the effects and trends seen.
    If you care to learn rather than pontificate, you will find a lot of answers on this site. The editors of this site have literally a couple of centuries of combined experience in climate matters.

    Comment by ray ladbury — 6 May 2007 @ 10:57 AM

  73. Re: #63 Landbury

    “We know this because ice cores tell us that CO2 content of the atmosphere fluctuated about some equilibrium value in the 200-289 range up to the industrial revolution.”

    Hi Ray, this paper indicates that CO2 levels have been as high as 326 ppm during warm periods and dropped to 271 ppm during the 8200 year BP cooling event. (See Table 1, in the paper and figure 1.) Someone in this forum suggested that changes in CO2 levels in part could be due to changes in the surface temperature of the ocean.

    That is to say when the surface temperature changes there is a step response change in CO2 level. Over time the step increase or decrease of CO2 levels due to ocean surface temperature changes, will be mitigated as the CO2 level reaches equilibrium with the CO2 level in the deep ocean.

    How can the CO2 isotope data and analysis, be used to determine what is the expected CO2 equilibrium level?

    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/99/19/12011?ck=nck

    Excerpt from the above paper:

    “It should be noted that early Holocene records from Greenland ice cores have repeatedly indicated rapidly fluctuating CO2 levels including values > 300 ppmv (36, 37). At present, the Antarctic record is usually considered to be reliable, so that discrepancies are ascribed to CO2 enrichment within the Greenland ice (38, 39). However, there is evidence that in polar ice also postdepositional CO2 depletion could occur, but underlying chemical processes of this potential source of error have not yet been investigated in detail (38, 39). The documented coupling between CO2 fluctuations and the 8.2-ka-B.P. cooling implies a distinctive involvement of the oceans, where short-term perturbations of sea-surface temperature and_or salinity allow rapid CO2 transfer between the atmosphere and surface waters.”

    Comment by William Astley — 6 May 2007 @ 11:09 AM

  74. The Peak Oil scenarios are far from Chicken Little. Cost of bringing in a barrel per day of production continues to increase. My understanding, and I re-read the article yesterday and can find it if anyone objects, is that it costs $5,000 per barrel per day of production (so, that’s 365 barrels per year, etc.) to develop Saudi oil, and $10,000 to $15,000 to develop the same outside of Saudi Arabia.

    The “Peak Oil Contrarians” (people, like myself, who reject the IPCC projections because we believe rising fossil fuel costs will price fossil fuels out of the market, while favoring the development of renewables) argue that the cost difference is what will drive carbon reduction. If you look at organizations like NativeEnergy, they are aiding in the development of energy projects that are 100% renewable, produce 0% carbon, and have fixed costs relative to rising fossil fuel costs.

    While I think oil sands and stripper wells will continue to provide heavy petrochemicals into the 22nd, 23rd, 24th centuries (and beyond!), relying on centralized, fossil-based energy supplies, and cheap petrochemicals for transportation, is an idea whose time seems to be coming to a close. I’m not fond of the Algore, but his PowerPoint chart showing the decline of the leading non-hybrid vehicle makers along with the ascent of hybrid makers (and average gasoline prices) signals a sea-change in attitudes. The hobbyists have already begun attacking the pluggable hybrid problem, and if the history of hobbyists and computers is any indication, Toyota, Honda, and the other major hybrid players will begin offering them soon.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 6 May 2007 @ 11:34 AM

  75. Re: 66

    “If the addition of CO2 is algorithmic, does this not mean that the more CO2 in the atmosphere the less effect each molecule has on IR radiation, what is the saturation point whereby adding more CO2 will have no effect on the energy budget?”

    CO2 addition is logarithmic. What it means is that you cannot assume linearity in adding CO2. As a result, we discuss the impact of doubling CO2 (increase temp by 3C). Since pre-industrial CO2 levels were at 290 ppm, if we increase to 580 ppm we will see close to a 3C increase (given everything else is equal). It would require another doubling to 1160 ppm to increase temp another 3 C. So far as I have seen, there is no suggestion that the saturation point could be reached while the Earth was still habitable by anything except bacteria.

    “If the troposphere is warming and the stratosphere is cooling does this not point to a zero sum equation?”

    as the troposphere warms, it expands (as all gases do). this pushes the stratosphere further out in to space, causing cooling. I’m not sure how the two layers interact, but if they stay segregated to any degree, you would not see a zero sum equation, but two isolated events. Furthermore, stratosphere cooling has not had an impact on the surface of the Earth (where humans live).

    “Speaking of the IPCC, why can’t they just release the scientific report and then the summary of conclusions?
    (I am pretty sure this is no big deal, in terms of the science released, but wouldn’t it be just as easy to do things the right way?)”

    I’m not sure what “the right way” would entail, but I don’t believe releasing the summary after the report is the best way. Simultaneous release might be nice, but the current way is similar to a trial when the lawyers make introductory statements summarizing their position before diving into the evidence. Evidence before summary seems backwards to me.

    Comment by ks — 6 May 2007 @ 11:40 AM

  76. Re: #73 (William Astley)

    Wagner has been trying for years to contradict ice core CO2 records with estimates of past CO2 levels based on leaf stomatal density. I dealt with this at length on my blog.

    Comment by tamino — 6 May 2007 @ 11:54 AM

  77. Ray and Hank thank you for your responses. Yes, logarithmic is the word (I guess spell check can only help the appearance of intelligence to a point.) And, I am pretty sure that by asking questions implies I want to learn, as I stated above, I am sure every question has been asked a thousand times before, however, since I was not privy to the answers, in order for me to learn, I need to ask so then I’ll be in the know.

    Ray, I asked a simple question about whether the saturation point of CO2 in the atmosphere is known. I am not suggesting that we ever want to reach this level or that approaching it will not bring us to the tipping point, I just wanted to know what the level is, if this is known.

    As to ozone, I suppose it is all a matter of perspective, yes we know the amount of energy hitting the top of the atmosphere from the sun, however, a change in the amount of UV in the troposphere due to a decrease in ozone, would still be a positive forcing, not to mention the feedback from tropospheric ozone as more UV is available to be absorbed. My question was not can ozone describe all of the effects and trends seen, but simply how could a decrease in stratospheric ozone be a negative forcing.(ipcc 4 has a complete listing of forcings).

    I will leave the pontifications to those that are disgusted that us idiots exist.

    Comment by Ellis — 6 May 2007 @ 12:12 PM

  78. Ray (64), I think your assessment of the political situation and personalties are right on; I agree, but have one quibble: I probably wouldn’t call the laws of physics immutable, though they’re pretty close and not worth an argument. But, the laws of economics are definitely a long ways from immutable, though we stumble across things that work out occasionally. Economists don’t fully understad it; and, btw, climate scientists probably don’t have a clue, which is why I chuckle when some of the RC posters describe in clear detail how draconian carbon controls will be enormously great for the entire world’s economy. Maybe it will; maybe it won’t. Nobody knows .

    Comment by Rod B — 6 May 2007 @ 12:33 PM

  79. Re 59 and the isoptoppic “smoking gun”:

    I’ve tried to make this argument before, but no one ever takes me up on it.

    In my own specialty in mathematics, I often find that other mathematicians, even in closely allied fields, misunderstand certain crucial points about my area. Also, when I enter a new field, even with quite a lot of background, I often find that the first five ideas I have about it are wrong. That has led me to respect experts who have the requisite knowledge and have actually taken the time to investigate an idea. This is particularly true where the reasoning involves a mathematical model. It may not be possible to explain the subtlties in words. So I am releuctant to question a general scientific consensus unless I have done some homework and have a strong reason to do so.

    So my advice to Richard is to consider the possibility that his conceptual model is just too simple minded to catch the reality of what is going on. It is good to ask such questions as a beginning in developing an understanding, but one shouldn’t take one’s own initial ideas seriously. In such circumstances, it is best to assume first that you are wrong and the experts are right.

    Comment by Leonard Evens — 6 May 2007 @ 12:38 PM

  80. Ellis (66): a brief partial input/answer: mathematically the log of something never goes to zero, but gets there practically sometime. Also bear in mind that the models assume a log relationship to the 5th+ power of the CO2 concentration.

    Comment by Rod B — 6 May 2007 @ 12:41 PM

  81. Ellis, type “ozone” into the search box at the top of the page, and you’ll have about a week’s worth of reading. Realclimate is a tremendous resource, but don’t expect things to be simple.

    Comment by ray ladbury — 6 May 2007 @ 12:48 PM

  82. Re: #77: See the response to #1 in the RealClimate post http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/11/broadly-misleading/ .

    Basically saturation of infrared CO2 bands is not expected to ever occur on Earth.

    Comment by Bob Reiland — 6 May 2007 @ 1:15 PM

  83. Re: “the log of something never goes to zero, but gets there practically sometime.”

    I presume you mean the rate of change of the log function. Of course, log(x) goes to infinity as x does. Its derivative varies inversely with x and goes to zero as x goes to infinity.

    Comment by Leonard Evens — 6 May 2007 @ 1:56 PM

  84. Re: #76 Thanks for the information Tamino. The following are my comments.

    I believe you have not disproved Wagner’s hypothesis that there has in the past been fairly rapid step changes in atmospheric CO2 due to changes in ocean surface temperatures. The step changes in atmospheric CO2 are in response to the sudden coolings and then a return to “normal” temperatures, such as the 8200 kyr ago cooling event. Your blog notes that the step atmospheric CO2 changes, that Wagner determines by studing leaf stomatal density in fossils, is not recorded in the Antarctic ice core data.

    The Antarctic ice core gas data is, however, smoothed due to the following process (From Paleoclimatology, Second Edition, Raymond Bradley, Page 167):

    “A fundamental problem in constructing a paleo-record of trace gas concentrations from ice cores is the fact that the air in ice bubbles is always younger than the age of the surrounding ice (Schander and Strauffer, 1984)”

    The problem is the ice continues to breath and hence is an integration of atmospheric air rather than a spot sample. In your blog you state that the Taylor dome ice tracks current atmospheric changes in CO2, which it may, however it will also track changes a hundred years from now and will integrate the change. (i.e. As the ice “breathes” the ice core air is a mixture of atmospheric air over a long period of time rather than a spot sample.) Hence if CO2 levels increase 25 ppm and then decrease 25 ppm and then return to the original 280 ppm, in a relatively short period of time, the Antarctic ice core will have 280 ppm trace CO2 which is the average over time.

    Continuing from “Paleoclimatology”, Second Edition: “Pore close-off varies with accumulation rate, ranging from approx. 100 yr at high accumulation sites such as Dye-3 in Greenlandâ�¦ to as much as 2600 yr at very low accumulation sites such as East Antarctic.”

    Comment by William Astley — 6 May 2007 @ 2:10 PM

  85. The basic level of background information required to grasp climate change is actually pretty high – but it is very available. The best way to get up to speed on the topic is, of the books I’ve seen, “The Discovery of Global Warming” and its associated website, http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html

    There, you can quickly learn about the history of the scientific investigation into the appearance of fossil fuel-sourced CO2 in the atmosphere:

    None of this work met the argument that the oceans would promptly absorb nearly all the CO2 humanity might emit. Plass had estimated that gas added to the atmosphere would stay there for a thousand years. Equally plausible estimates suggested that the surface waters of the oceans would absorb it in a matter of days.(29) Fortunately, scientists could now track the movements of carbon with a new tool – the radioactive isotope carbon-14. This isotope is created by cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere and then decays over millennia. The carbon in ancient coal and oil is so old that it entirely lacks the radioactive isotope. In 1955, the chemist Hans Suess reported that he had detected this fossil carbon in the atmosphere.

    The amount that Suess measured in the atmosphere was barely one percent, a fraction so low that he concluded that the oceans were indeed taking up most of the carbon that came from burning fossil fuels. A decade would pass before he reported more accurate studies, which showed a far higher fraction of fossil carbon. Yet already in 1955 it was evident that Suess’s data were preliminary and insecure. The important thing he had demonstrated was that fossil carbon really was showing up in the atmosphere. More work on carbon-14 should tell just what was happening to the fossil carbon.(30)

    It will take a bit of time, but for Dana et al, reading the book and checking the website (which takes some time and effort!) should answer many questions. It should also be required reading for all science journalists who cover this issue. It’s very surprising to see how many of the ‘skeptical arguments’ are recycled from 50+ years ago… at a time when the science was not nearly as well understood (you can find references to ‘the discredited theory of plate tectonics’ in geology textbooks from the 50s, as well)

    Comment by Ike Solem — 6 May 2007 @ 4:42 PM

  86. Re: #84 (William Astley)

    Your blog notes that the step atmospheric CO2 changes, that Wagner determines by studing leaf stomatal density in fossils, is not recorded in the Antarctic ice core data.

    I established a lot more than that. For one thing, that according to other scientists working in the same field, Wagner’s methodology is questionable on a number of grounds. For another thing, that leaf stomatal estimates of CO2 don’t give the precision necessary to support the results he claims. For yet another thing, that the large fluctuations on decadal timescales — which according to his studies are the rule rather than the exception — are simply not possible in light of the remarkable smoothness of the modern instrumental record, which (despite Beck’s protestations) is unimpeachable, and has better time resolution than any paleo record.

    Wagner’s claims are pretty well busted. And you’re on thin ice.

    Comment by tamino — 6 May 2007 @ 6:03 PM

  87. Re #55 – Leonard, I went searching around for the data that Cockburn is talking about and came to similar conclusions on my blog. I thought his description of how smoothly the CO2 kept increasing was the giveaway that he was looking at smoothed data. As far as I know, there aren’t any measurements from that era to resolve trends to the sort of accuracy he is talking about – though perhaps the experts here can correct me if I’m wrong.

    Comment by Stu — 6 May 2007 @ 6:32 PM

  88. Reid Bryson, founding chairman of the University of Wisconsin Department of Meteorology, when asked on how much outward radiation is absorbed by carbon dioxide, answered:

    Eight hundredths of one percent. One one-thousandth as important as water vapor. You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as doubling carbon dioxide.

    This begs questions about the widely publicized mathematical models researchers run through supercomputers to generate climate scenarios 50 or 100 years in the future. Bryson says the data fed into the computers overemphasizes carbon dioxide and accounts poorly for the effects of clouds�water vapor.

    http://www.wecnmagazine.com/2007issues/may/may07.html

    The response on the Cockburn claims (above article) should work for Bryson, I assume.

    Comment by pat n — 6 May 2007 @ 9:26 PM

  89. Re #74: [The "Peak Oil Contrarians" (people, like myself, who reject the IPCC projections because we believe rising fossil fuel costs will price fossil fuels out of the market...]

    You’re overlooking a couple of things. First, assuming your peak oil arguments are correct, you’re still overlooking the fact that oil is responsible for only a fraction of CO2 generation. A big chunk comes from coal, and I seem to recall projections of a several century supply. Rising oil prices won’t affect this at all.

    Second, there is still plenty of room for oil prices to rise before they start making significant cuts in demand. US gasoline prices have about doubled in the last few years without noticably cutting consumption, or creating any general demand for fuel-efficient vehicles. European prices are roughly double US ones, but likewise have had little effect. That seems to suggest that even if peak oil is reached soon (or has been already), consumer demand will go on supporting higher prices for a long time to come.

    Comment by James — 6 May 2007 @ 11:36 PM

  90. >Bryson
    Curious article; I emailed the editor asking if there’s a chance for a followup (it’s a monthly) to ask Dr. Bryson to give his sources and cites so people can read the material on which he bases his opinion.

    The two opinions that stood out to me were his statement that warming continues for this period, long after the rapid rise that ended the ice age, and that that’s typical — it doesn’t show up in what I’ve seen, so I’m curious what he relies on for that.

    I’ve seen this and the footnotes to it: http://www.globalwarmingart.com/images/thumb/b/bb/Holocene_Temperature_Variations_Rev.png/350px-Holocene_Temperature_Variations_Rev.png

    The other point that stood out was his belief that the industrial age hadn’t started in 1800, and that human activity couldn’t increase warming or CO2 before that. I understood coal was being used as a fuel well before that time, and Dr. Ruddiman’s work on agriculture and climate looks at changes for thousands of years before the present. Again I’m hoping they are willing to provide cites and footnotes to the statements.

    Opinions are entertaining curiousities. Sources and cites are the making of an educational experience.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 May 2007 @ 11:44 PM

  91. #88 [We ask about that evidence, but Bryson says itâ??s second-tier stuff. â??Donâ??t talk about proxies,â?? he says. â??We have written evidence, eyeball evidence. When Eric the Red went to Greenland, how did he get there? Itâ??s all written down.â??]]

    If Bryson thinks that he can prove AGW is a normal trend, then there is an *open* way for him to debate his views for veracity…in the peer-review journals.

    If he has evidence, it will be evaluated by the whole world in the court of the world…not sneaking his views in through the rear and beating his chest claiming that everyone else is wrong, everyone should listen to him and national policy should be based on his findings.

    Can you imagine science without the open peer-review journal process-even as slow and imperfect as it is?

    Tobacco-paid PHDs pushing that cigarettes are good for you and laws should be passed to ensure that teens use it for medicinal reasons in high school.

    Environmental groups’ paid scientists stating that the wild sabretooth cat is endangered (“they have had actual living examples…but they died”) and the whole USA must become a preserve with no individual property rights.

    Oil companies’ paid scientists stating that they have definitive evidence that burning oil, coal and gas keeps the climate stable, so we have to burn all we can.

    Religious-sponsored scientists stating that all MD doctors should be outlawed because they can prove that more people die with doctors then without them.

    John Doe, a newly minted PHD research scientist “finds” that an asteroid is going to hit the Earth in five years and the USA has to dedicate 90% of our total resources to combat it in the next five years.

    Without the peer-review process, science does not work.

    Errrrr…get the point?

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 6 May 2007 @ 11:58 PM

  92. [[A few unthreaded questions I have regarding the science, If the addition of CO2 is algorithmic, does this not mean that the more CO2 in the atmosphere the less effect each molecule has on IR radiation, what is the saturation point whereby adding more CO2 will have no effect on the energy budget? ]]

    Logarithmic. Yes, it becomes less effective with each additional molecule. But as far as I know there’s no limit at which it stops. We know it can get at least as bad as on Venus, where the greenhouse effect — due primarily to the planet’s 96.5% CO2 atmosphere — has raised the surface temperature from 232 to 735 K.

    [[If the troposphere is warming and the stratosphere is cooling does this not point to a zero sum equation?]]

    No. The troposphere is much more massive than the stratosphere. Also, we live in the troposphere.

    [[How could less ozone in the stratosphere possibly be a negative forcing on the troposphere, as more UV radiation is making it to the surface, should this not be a positive forcing?(I know this will be covered in the coming weeks as RC delves into ipcc4).]]

    Darned if I know. Anyone…?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 May 2007 @ 5:55 AM

  93. [[The "Peak Oil Contrarians" (people, like myself, who reject the IPCC projections because we believe rising fossil fuel costs will price fossil fuels out of the market, while favoring the development of renewables) argue that the cost difference is what will drive carbon reduction.]]

    Coal is still cheap.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 May 2007 @ 6:00 AM

  94. [[I believe you have not disproved Wagner's hypothesis that there has in the past been fairly rapid step changes in atmospheric CO2 due to changes in ocean surface temperatures.]]

    Skeptics have not disproved MUFON’s hypothesis that the unexplained events in UFO incident compilations were caused by alien starships.

    It’s not up to climatologists to disprove Wagner’s hypothesis. It’s up to Wagner to prove it. The burden of proof is on the affirmative.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 May 2007 @ 6:04 AM

  95. You know, it is absolutely amazing to me that someone who is trained in the sciences can look at the changes we are seeing and say: “It’s all a natural trend.” Look, if temperatures are rising, if ice is melting, then you are adding energy to the system. WHERE is that energy coming from? CLUE TO DENIALISTS: Energy does not just happen. It does not just increase naturally. It has to come from somewhere. The pathetic attempts to claim that this is just a continuation of warming from the last ice age are reminiscent of a 4 year old standing over a brokek vase and saying, “It just happened!”

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 May 2007 @ 6:57 AM

  96. Re #94 – King Coal and fossil fuels

    humandkind has enough fossil fuels reserves to blast out business as usual scenarios for at least 50 years even if Peak Oil and Peak Gas come into effect because although economically it might be disasterous the falloff in use and affordability is gradual and hence coal reserves can sustain humandkinds level of carbon output for some time to come even if peak oil was 2018 and peak gas 2020/2040 time lines.

    No, we are in a warmer world reality, 2 degrees minimum or 0.2 degrees per annum for another 50 years adding to the 0.6 already here makes 1.6 and we are expecting another 0.5 from the oceans making 2.1 degrees C.

    By 2030 my country the UK can expect relatively speaking temps to hit 40 C during some summers. Rain concentrations and amount will also alter. It could makes things much more difficult for us and increase costs of everything to.

    Comment by pete best — 7 May 2007 @ 7:19 AM

  97. Re: 90

    As the population in Britain increased, the need for fuel supplies also increased, wood became scarce as great tracts of forest were felled for both fuel and building materials.

    By 1683, some of the bigger mines were using timber to support the roof, this enabled coal to be mined much further away from the mine entrance.

    http://www.pitwork.net/history1.htm

    Comment by pat n — 7 May 2007 @ 7:33 AM

  98. Luckily I don’t have cable and no time to read other blogs, so I just check in here now & then. Unfortunately an influential person I know seems to be checking in somewhere else, where all they do is complain that their (denialist) theories are not given fair coverage and consideration in the media, and he thinks that’s unfair, that all ideas should be given a fair chance. I think I’ll send him this entry.

    But it’s sort of weird that people think the media and their consumers should be the arbitrars of science; I thought scientists were supposed to be.

    Pretty soon the people may wrest science back from the scientists and we’ll know for sure that the sun goes around the earth and not vice versa. Any idiot can stand outside & see that it rises in the east, heads westward during the day, and set in the west. And the earth certainly is not moving. Do you feel it moving? Hunh? Now where the sun goes at night is anyone’s guess. A Chinese myth has it that the fire bird flies through the sky during the day and goes to the underworld and sleeps on a tree at night. But since I’m from California, I say it sinks into the ocean and get extinguished, then a new sun comes up each dawn.

    Hey, I think I solved it. Global warming. It’s all those suns sinking in the ocean that’s warming the earth. And there’s even evidence the ocean is warming.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 7 May 2007 @ 8:02 AM

  99. Can somebody explain how global warming morphed into ‘climate change’?

    Climate change seems to me a useless term as: A> the climate always changes and B> ‘change’ implies that the globe could be cooling.

    Comment by tom — 7 May 2007 @ 8:14 AM

  100. How could less ozone in the stratosphere possibly be a negative forcing on the troposphere, as more UV radiation is making it to the surface, should this not be a positive forcing?

    As I understand it, ozone also has absorption features in the infrared, so independent of its effects on UV it can act as a greenhouse gas.

    Comment by Paul Dietz — 7 May 2007 @ 8:34 AM

  101. Tom,
    Actually climate change morphed into global warming when the press needed an intuitive term they could use. Global warming is not really a scientific term, because what is happening is that the energy in the climate system is increasing. While this can lead to increased temperature, it could also affect ocean currents, climate patterns etc. and, at least locally, lead to cooling. Just because you want things to be simple doesn’t mean they will be. To be accurate, climate change is more proper than global warming.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 May 2007 @ 8:47 AM

  102. There’s increasing concern about stratospheric ozone decline (the US has joined the other Montreal Protocol members in trying to speed up the phaseout of the HCFC chemistry). China appears to have discovered the Protocol’s original grant of a long slow phaseout as a way to increase revenue by maximizing production of the stuff so they get paid more to stop producing it —- realpolitik from the “mutually assured destruction” school of international politics, I guess.

    Lots of links mentioning upcoming seminars like this:
    CSD Seminar Schedule
    May 9, Insights into future ozone depletion and climate forcing attributed to ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) John Daniel, NOAA ESRL CSD …
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/csd/seminars/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 May 2007 @ 9:22 AM

  103. Frank Luntz had a lot to do with the change in the U.S.

    “Can somebody explain how global warming morphed into ‘climate change’?”

    Comment by ghost — 7 May 2007 @ 9:29 AM

  104. >Ozone
    This may help:

    http://www.atmosp.physics.utoronto.ca/SPARC/initiativesNEW2005Climate.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 May 2007 @ 9:29 AM

  105. Tom (#99)

    In the scientific circles it always has been climate change. The press started with global warming. The press has to some degree started going back to the term climate change due to the influence of public relations people (eg Luntz) who want to influence the language of the debate to sway the political outcome.

    Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 7 May 2007 @ 9:36 AM

  106. RE: 77, 92

    Ozone is a GHG. To make it very short, less ozone means less GH effect, means negative forcing on the atmosphere.
    But ozone depletion shouldnâ??t be considered as a good thing for GW problem, as far as Ozone Depleting Substances (like CFCs) are also GHG, and have an effect of positive forcing much more important that the negative forcing due to the ozone depletion itself
    Very short answer, if some want to develop it, theyâ??re very welcomed :)

    Comment by nicolas L. — 7 May 2007 @ 9:49 AM

  107. Re #94

    Paul Barton,
    Stomata index proxy of past CO2 levels is a relative newcomer in the proxy world. As every proxy (or even direct measurements), it has its own problems in contamination and accuracy.
    One problem with the stomata index is that stomata density is fixed when leaves start to grow. At that moment, CO2 levels are at their highest level, due to decay of previous years leaves, especially in forested areas and more at ground level (moss) than at the canopea of trees. This gives some positive bias compared to ice cores CO2.
    At the other side, ice cores only give smoothed data, the fastest accumulation cores still need some 60 years before the ice is closed. Stomata index is fixed the year they grow, so in theory, the resolution is 1 year. Practically, one can’t distinguish individual layers with such a resolution, but averages of less than a decade are possible.

    In fact, the difference between stomata data and ice core data is smaller than you may think, see the abstract of the work of T. van Hoof ea.:
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2004AGUFMPP41B..07V
    Where the larger variations of CO2 levels in the 13th century for stomata were smoothed in ice cores:

    A period where both methods consistently provide evidence for natural CO2 changes is the 13th century.The results of the two independent methods differ significantly in the amplitude of the estimated CO2 changes (10 ppmv ice, versus 34 ppmv stomatal frequency). Here, we compare stomatal frequency and ice core results by using a firn-diffusion model in order to assess the potential influence of smoothing during enclosure on the temporal resolution as well as the CO2 mixing ratios. The seemingly large discrepancies between the CO2 levels estimated by the contrasting methods, diminish when effects of natural smoothing of the ice-core record is simulated for the raw data of the stomatal frequency record.

    Comment by Ferdinand Engelbeen — 7 May 2007 @ 9:54 AM

  108. Re: #197 (Ferdinand Engelbeen)

    No, there were not “larger variations of CO2 levels in the 13th century.” The large, ubiquitous, decadal-timescale fluctuations in van Hoof et al.’s analysis are just not realistic, given the incredible smoothness of the CO2 fluctuations seen over the last 50 years. Nor do very-high-snowfall sites (like Law Dome) smooth the CO2 signal so much that we can’t discern changes on sub-decadal timescales. See my blog for details.

    I’m quite familiar with the van Hoof et al. paper, and they do not “assess the potential influence of smoothing during enclosure on the temporal resolution as well as the CO2 mixing ratios.” They simply assume smoothing, and assert assessment.

    You’re just attempting to revive the ideas of Wagner (who is a co-author on the van Hoof paper) and colleagues, which frankly don’t make sense.

    Comment by tamino — 7 May 2007 @ 10:27 AM

  109. Re: #73 and #84

    William Astley, you state:

    “Continuing from “Paleoclimatology”, Second Edition: “Pore close-off varies with accumulation rate, ranging from approx. 100 yr at high accumulation sites such as Dye-3 in Greenland� to as much as 2600 yr at very low accumulation sites such as East Antarctic.”

    However, the high resolution data from Law Dome has far lower differences between ice age and trapped air age than your excerpt indicates (around 30 years in the DE08 cores) and the air-age spread (around 10-15 years) is much, much smaller than 100 years:

    Natural and anthropogenic changes in atmospheric CO2 over the last 1000 years from air in Antarctic ice and firn Etheridge et al (1996) J. Geophys. Res. 101, 4115-4128 [This has recently been extended to 2000 years: Geophys. Res. Lett. 33, L14810 (2006)]

    Thus one would have to propose some extraordinary upwards driving (sources) and downwards driving (sinks) of atmospheric CO2 during the last 2000 years to accommodate the possibility that sharp spikes of atmospheric CO2 were “hidden” in the ice core record of the last 2000 years.

    Might these occur in the ice core records covering the early Holocene some 8000 years ago? Of course it’s possible, but not that likely.

    Far more likely is the possibility that the problems that others have noted with Betula as a stomatal frequency proxy for atmospheric CO2 is causing a misinterpretation in the data of Wagner et al.

    For example the since qua non of proxy measurements is that the proxy is reliably calibrated with respect to independent measures of the parameter being “proxied” (temperature in this case). This seems to be problematic for Betula:

    Stomatal frequency of Betula pubescens and Pinus sylvestris shows no proportional relationship with atmospheric CO2 concentration, Eide W & Birks HH (2006) Nord. J. Bot. 24 327-339

    And Jessen et al, who also looked at Holocene (later) CO2 estimations using both Betula and Quercas, and found CO2 levels rather more in line with those from ice cores. Referring to their Betula data, they say:

    â??For the purposes of comparison with other data, the longer Quercas reconstruction is considered in the following discussion, but the inconsistencies with the Betula record ensure that it must be considered tenuous.â??

    Abrupt climatic changes and an unstable transition into a late Holocene Thermal Decline: a multiproxy lacustrine record from southern Sweden Jessen CA (2005) J. Quart. Sci. 20 349-362

    The practitioners of the fascinating method of fossil stomatal frequency indices as a proxy for atmospheric CO2 need to agree themselves on the methodologies of their technique before the rest of us can be confident of its merits.

    Comment by Chris — 7 May 2007 @ 10:35 AM

  110. Lynn Vincentnathan (#98) wrote:

    Luckily I don’t have cable and no time to read other blogs, so I just check in here now & then. Unfortunately an influential person I know seems to be checking in somewhere else, where all they do is complain that their (denialist) theories are not given fair coverage and consideration in the media, and he thinks that’s unfair, that all ideas should be given a fair chance. I think I’ll send him this entry.

    He believes there ought to be checks and balances.

    Seems reasonable enough on the face of it. If two people have different opinions, both should be heard and others can decide for themselves what is reasonable – given all the available evidence and the relative strength of the arguments.

    The only problem is that when you are dealing with science, not all opinions are equal and the opinion of someone who has not devoted years to the study of a given discipline matters a great deal more. The “common man” doesn’t have time to familiarize himself with all of the evidence or to follow through the arguments step by step.

    Nevertheless, there are checks and balances. One of the most important is “peer review.” Journals don’t want to publish articles which will be judged poorly reasoned or as being the result of so much arm-chair theorizing entirely divorced by reality, so they will have experts in a given field judge articles as being worthy of publication or not. Of course, the experts doing the peer review for a given article at a given journal may be biased. But then there are other journals.

    Now one can imagine that there is some sort of dominant paradigm that becomes entrenched. People in the discipline become used to viewing the world through that paradigm – and they might see some new theory which nevertheless better accounts for new evidence (and accounts just as well for older evidence) as a threat of some sort. However, it should also be recognized that scientists do not earn a reputation or go down in the history books simply by means of supporting an old paradigm. The best way to earn a reputation and a place in the history books is by overturning an paradigm whose time has come and gone. This, too, is one of the checks and balances in science.

    Then there are checks and balances associated with the science itself. Some of these are fairly basic. The mathematics, for example, which for a disciplined mind acts as a form of checks and balances upon the conclusions the individual arrives at before even sharing his results with others. Another form checks and balances are general physical principles which are so well established they are considered basic to science as a whole. For example, the conservation of energy, the second law of thermodynamics, or the conservation of momentum.

    Then there are the results of independent lines of investigation. New evidence is constantly being acquired. And while a given piece of evidence may offer only a limited amount of support for a given conclusion, when there are multiple independent lines of investigation which support the same conclusion, the justification which that conclusion receives is far greater than it would receive from any given line of investigation in isolation from the rest.

    Now when a given individual within a given discipline decides to bipass the checks and balances which are at the heart of the scientific endeavor and instead attempts to have his case tried in the courtroom of public opinion, one should immediately consider this highly suspect, for it suggests that they realise they could never win their case in the courtroom of science itself. It suggests that they believe they can have their views judged reasonable only by those who are unfamiliar with the subject, unfamiliar with the evidence, unfamiliar with the fundamental principles, and who are not as disciplined or rigorous in their reasoning – within the context of that subject. People who are more likely to be swayed by appeal to emotion, appeal to the majority, appeal to tradition, or the all-too-common ad hominem attack.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 7 May 2007 @ 10:49 AM

  111. Re: 105, 99

    At least one scientist used global warming in talking about a past episode of global climate change (Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum 55 million years ago).

    The emissions that caused this past episode of global warming probably lasted 10,000 years. By burning fossil fuels, we are likely to emit the same amount over the next three centuries,

    James Zachos, professor of Earth sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz
    Santa Cruz CA (SPX) Feb 16, 2006

    http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Ancient_Climate_Studies_Suggest_Earth_On_Fast_Track_To_Global_Warming.html

    Comment by pat n — 7 May 2007 @ 12:21 PM

  112. [Response:There's still plenty of coal, even if oil becomes scarce. David]

    Unfortunately, if you are not familiar with the Peak Oil problem, this might seem true, but is not. Coal is only plentiful now because we don’t use it much. Coal use is about 25% of total global energy use, oil and gas over 60%. Coal is not a good substitute for liquid fuels. If coal to liquids (CTL) was used to make up for declining oil supplies, the hundreds of years of coal [presumed] reserves suddenly become 30 years, or less. CTL is not very efficient either.

    As oil and gas supplies decrease, coal prices will increase, as energy is largely fungible. Therefore, for various reasons, coal will not remain cheap nor plentiful.

    While a few countries have large coal reserves, notably USA and China, these countries have voracious domestic demand for energy. Increased coal production in those countries would likely be swallowed up by domestic demand, leaving the rest of the world, like Europe, with little coal reserves.

    I don’t wish to be rude, but dismissing Peak Oil by saying “there is plenty of coal” does not do the topic justice, it’s like dismissing AGW by saying “climate variation is natural”.

    I am not saying that PO will prevent damaging climate change, I think it is already too late to prevent that. The point is, that the solutions to PO and GCC are the same – reduction of use in fossil fuels, increase of carbon neutral, sustainable alternatives. However, other people might use PO as an excuse to avoid action on AGW, and it would help the credibility of the IPCC reports if they took better account of likely future energy reserves. If we are not prepared for PO, there is a real danger that people will turn to dirtier fuels, like coal, in desparation.

    The conclusion from Kharecha and Hansen, that coal use should be phased out or have mandatory carbon sequestration, is something I think we can all agree on.

    [Response:Oil and gas reserves are measured in hundreds of gigatons, maybe 200-300 each, while of coal there is 5000 gigatons. I don't think coal is usually included in the peak oil predictions, I think that's generally just oil. David]

    Comment by Bob Cousins — 7 May 2007 @ 12:25 PM

  113. Re #108

    Tamino, I have no stake in stomata data, and indeed this rather new method has its own problems, including calibration problems, bias to higher values and overestimate of the accuracy in the first publications. But you have to be careful for the smoothing problem in ice cores too. Law Dome today shows sub-decadal resolution with the South Pole CO2 measurements, because the trend is going up continuously. If there was bidirectional variability, the smoothing would be more visible…

    Comment by Ferdinand Engelbeen — 7 May 2007 @ 12:39 PM

  114. re. 99 Tom stated: [Can somebody explain how global warming morphed into 'climate change'?

    Climate change seems to me a useless term as: A> the climate always changes and B> 'change' implies that the globe could be cooling.]

    I have to deal with these terms every day and how I use them in presentations.

    Global warming means only part of the problem. There is also colder areas, more rain and snow in some areas in greater amounts and more desertification in other areas. The troposphere is wetter. The oceans are rising, glaciers are melting, whole animal species are disapearing or are already permanently gone (Golden Toad).

    The Stratosphere and Mesosphere are cooling and getting wetter. Storms are getting bigger in at least some areas.
    The oceans are becoming too acidic for sea life to function normally.

    Reefs are dying and could mostly go extinct.

    Human migrations are already taking place.

    Our entire civilzation could go extinct (wars, water, stress, etc.).

    The melting permafrost is destroying infrastructure. Whole cultures are disapearing and will be exterminated at this rate (Inuits).

    The changes are very long term in set areas. Some scientists call the current geological period, the “Anthropocene” because of all the changes CO2 is doing.

    Now how to relay this concept to the public that it is bigger than just “warming” and to be more scientifically accurate for long term changes…so use the term “climate change.”

    I have also heard the phrases, global change, climate distortion, global distortion, climate catastrophe and such to explain global warming.

    Others will have other explanations, but that is mine after being in it for 11 years.

    Comment by richard ordway — 7 May 2007 @ 12:59 PM

  115. Realclimate folks -

    With Dr. Reid Bryson coming up in the blogosphere and other places recently, I decided to take a further look into his work. What are your general thoughts about him? It seems like he really advanced climatology and meteorology throughout his long career but his stubborn dismissal of increasing CO2 as a climate problem is rather confusing to me.

    Also, what do you think of his Macrophysical Climate Modeling (MCM) methodology? More info can be found here: http://ccr.aos.wisc.edu/cpep_web/archaeo_method.html

    Thanks for any info.

    Comment by egbooth — 7 May 2007 @ 1:36 PM

  116. 114

    “our entire civilzation could go extinct”

    [edited]

    That’s rhetorical.
    [edited]
    I’d counsel against using such bombastic language.

    but the answers are what I suspected. The term is being played as if the climate in year 1995 < or thereabouts > was in a state of perfect equilibrium and man’s influence is knocking the whole perfect system out of kilter.

    Comment by tom — 7 May 2007 @ 1:56 PM

  117. Just noticed this in something Google News pulled up; seems like an ‘oops’ moment for the sensitivity calculations. Has anyone got a better pointer to real information?

    Grabbed in passing from an article Google found via ‘Hindu News’:

    “‘We found that the region affected by this cloud field ‘twilight zone’ extends to tens of kilometers beyond the identified cloud edge,’ said Koren. ‘This suggests that 30 to 60 percent of the atmosphere previously labeled as ‘cloud-free’ is actually affected by cloud-aerosol processes that reflect solar energy back into space.’
    “… ‘Current estimates of the effect of aerosols on global temperatures, which is primarily cooling, may be too small because the large contribution from this transition zone has been overlooked,’ Remer said. ‘If aerosols are offsetting warming more than we thought, it’s possible that warming could increase more than expected in the future if aerosols continue to decline, as has been reported recently.’”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 May 2007 @ 2:05 PM

  118. Tom, I find it rather amazing that you can chastise someone else for bombastic language and in the next paragraph claim that “The term is being played as if the climate in year 1995 was in a state of perfect equilibrium and man’s influence is knocking the whole perfect system out of kilter.”

    How much credibility do you think that leaves you with? The term climate change “is being played” as if human beings had developed an infrastructure during a 10000 year period of exceptional climatic stability and then started perturbing the system to the point where it cannot be predicted whether that infrastructure will still be functional. There is nothing magic about 1995, or any other year. Rather what is amazing is the stability of the past 10000 years relative to just about any other period in geologic history and certainly in human history.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 May 2007 @ 2:06 PM

  119. My comment hasn’t showed up yet, so I guess I’ll ask again. I followed the “feedback not a forcing” link above, and I have a question.

    I don’t disagree, of course, with the conclusion–the water vapor is obviously a feedback. But, at the link, you appear to address the question of whether computer models correctly handle water vapor by… wait for it… asking a computer model if computer models correctly handle water vapor.

    [edit - word to the wise, don't insult those who you wish to respond]

    [Response: You conflate two issues. The first is why water vapour is a feedback and not a forcing and the second is how well do models treat water vapour. The first was a the subject of the post, the second was not. If I were addressing the second, I would compare water vapour changes that have been measured with those that have been observed (see Soden et al (2001 etc.) for examples). Instead, I gave an explanation of what goes on in the models, backed up by line-by-line calculations and heuristic arguments for why the results are likely to be correct. This would appear appropriate for a blog post that isn't part of the technical literature. If you have a good reason why the calculations are wrong, let me know. -gavin]

    Comment by DaveS — 7 May 2007 @ 2:13 PM

  120. Hank, here’s a link to a press item from NASA that seems to be related–it points to an 18 April GRL publication.

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NasaNews/2007/2007050324883.html

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 May 2007 @ 2:28 PM

  121. Richard: “our entire civilzation could go extinct”

    Tom replied: “[edited, 'bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep'.]”

    Tom, I did not say that humans would go extinct….or that it was probable that our civilization would go extinct.

    I said that it is a “possiblity”. Your saying, “bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep” to me is rather naive, in my opinion. The Pentagon and military is studying this very possibliity.

    Let’s run though some possible percentages and scenarios to investigate why the pentagon and others are taking this seriously.

    Yes, I’ll be “handwaving” a little…but not too far off what I understand peer reviewed studies are indicating for current and possible future climatic
    conditions.

    Okay, let’s say that abrupt climate change occurs in the next 50 years (15-25% possibility? might be a good guess.)

    We know from paleoclimate evidence that our climate system historically works by tipping from one state to another in as little as ten years, is unstable, chaotic and most likely being forced closer to a tipping point by extra human CO2 forcing.

    This CO2 forcing is expected to increase almost exponentially in the next 200 years.

    So we can say with a 95% probability, that abrupt climate change *will* happen in the future (it always has)…the question is when?

    Okay, if this happens, could it alone (without even other GW forces alone) cause the possible end of our civilization…that is a possible question that the Pentagon and others are investigating.

    The scientific communtity is conservative, and treats this, correctly, as an extreme scenario (but so was the ozone hole which proved to be a near-worse-case scenario).

    All right, so we get abrupt climate change (We know its going to happen sometime).

    Now let’s look at possible scenarios. “Permanent” droughts might result over the Amazon, Australia, Africa, US west and Indonesia by altering the Pacific warm pool and associated pressure systems and oceanic systems. The asian monsoon could be “permanently” derailed or interrupted.

    Now, melt the polar ice cap during the summer (70-80%? possiblity at this rate in 100 years) and there goes a permanent stablizing high pressure system…this could screw up rain patterns at least in the US.

    Rain-carrying jet streams are moving rain farther poleward of where they usually go (70%?).

    Hmmm, now you have “a billion +” angry starving people in near proximity to unstable atomic bomb states of Pakistan and China, Russia and perhaps India. Secondly, you have several hundred million desperate terrorist candidates at least. It is when conditions get bad historically, that despots often rise to power.

    Hmmm, that could result in martial law in the USA, as we have to close our borders to trade and start a police state as A-bombs or other scintilating treats cook off in US cities. That might be just one pressure on Western civilization. The world economy could collapse as all freight, airplane cargo, ships, etc. have to be inspected crate by crate.

    Hmmm, when do you historically get disease pandemics…when people are really stressed out and starved…this scenario certainly fits…Whoops, there goes all international and local trade and cross border movement that could be added simultaneously to this witches stew. Pandemics often recircle the world over a period of years…so how do you get help to a billion people with diseases and save your country?

    Now, Da immigrants, man. Historically, ancient peoples could just move to better areas…now there is a little thing called borders. Imagine, people with no reefs to fish (50%?) in developing countries, hard to get food, if at all due to GW, rising sea levels (95%), flooding and drought (95%) and lots of people (hmmm, tens of millions flood US and European borders.

    Let’s add the possibility of what we know to a (70%+? confidence level) that sea levels have risen easily eighteen meters in 100 years in the past. This can happen by the collapse/disintigration of Greenland ice shelves/glaciers and the west Antarctic ice sheet or portions thereof (10-20% possiblility in 50 years?)

    Guess what if this happens…it most likely (90+%) means the permanent evacuation (or extreme decadal damage) of New York City, Boston, Washington DC, Seattle, Miami, London. How is the USA going to handle tens of millions of USA refugees, at this point not to mention from the USA’s south, not to mention millions of blood-thirsty terrorists all over the world?

    I have only gone lightly into some of many *possible* GW risk scenarios. The bottom line is…that these extreme scenarios are possible…and must be, and arebeing, taken seriously.

    http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F40B12F93B5B0C768DDDAD0894DF404482

    [Response: Frankly, I mostly agree with Tom, exaggeration of even worst case effects is not particularly helpful - it generates a backlash and makes any proposed action seem pointless. However, I 'm not going to get involved in this other than to insist that all such discussions remain polite at all times. - gavin]

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 7 May 2007 @ 4:25 PM

  122. Re 121. Richard, what is (are) the source(s) for “the possibility of what we know to a (70%+? confidence level) that sea levels have risen easily eighteen meters in 100 years in the past.”

    I am aware of James Hansen’s suggestion that a reasonably good estimate of sea level rise by 2100 would be 5 metres.

    [Response: Sea level rise during meltwater pulse 1A (during the last deglaciation) was on the order of meters per century. Hansen has not suggested that 5 m is a "reasonably good estimate" for 2100 - instead, he has stated that the sea level rises on the order of a meter may occur by 2100 (and with larger changes over time) if current forcing trends are maintained and the ice sheets are less stable than often thought. '5m' is very much a worst case scenario, not a likely estimate: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abstracts/inpress/Hansen.html - gavin]

    Comment by Michael Gell — 7 May 2007 @ 5:50 PM

  123. I’ll simply encourage tom and Richard Ordway to read Jared Diamond’s Collapse (if they haven’t already) and leave it at that.

    Doesn’t seem that directly related to climatology. Well, maybe land use change…

    Comment by David B. Benson — 7 May 2007 @ 5:52 PM

  124. Re 122. Gavin, what I was referring to was the paragraph by Hansen in his Scientific Reticence paper (which you linked) in which he wrote “Under BAU forcing in the 21century, sea level rise undoubtedly will be dominated by a third term (3) ice sheet disintegration. This third term was small until the past few years, but it is has at least doubled in the past decade and is now close to 1 mm/year, based on gravity satellite measurements discussed above. As a quantitative example, let us say that the ice sheet contribution is 1 cm for the decade 2005-2015 and that it doubles each decade until the West Antarctic ice sheet is largely depleted. That time constant yields sea level rise of the order of 5 m this century. Of course I can not prove that my choice of a 10 year doubling time for non -linear response is accurate, but I am confident that it provides a far better estimate than a linear response for the ice sheet component of sea level rise.”

    How do I reconcile this with your edit comment?

    [Response: It's quite clearly a worst case scenario - not a likely estimate. I'm not as confident that a 10 year doubling time for the ice sheet disintegration is accurate, but I would agree that the response is very unlikely to be linear. His later comment is clearer: "The nonlinearity of the ice sheet problem makes it impossible to accurately predict sea level change on a specific date. However, as a physicist, I find it almost inconceivable that BAU climate change would not yield a sea level change measured in meters on the century time scale." Note however, this is if we stick to business as usual - it is therefore a cautionary warning, not a prediction. - gavin]

    Comment by Michael Gell — 7 May 2007 @ 6:40 PM

  125. Gavin wrote: [Frankly, I mostly agree with Tom, exaggeration of even worst case effects is not particularly helpful - it generates a backlash and makes any proposed action seem pointless]

    Thanks Gavin. I needed and appreciated your thoughts on this.

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 7 May 2007 @ 7:43 PM

  126. We’ve had World War 1 and WW2. In the face of the apparent inability of the world’s political processes to get their heads around the war on climate change (WWC) shouldn’t we be slapping ourselves around the face a bit with a dead fish with a few home truths written on it?

    As far as I understand it, roughly, the IPCC’s Business as Usual position is a view of the future assuming we hold emissions at around present day levels.

    Can you please point me to a source that gives an idea of a true Keep Doing What We Are Going To Do future that entails elements such as:

    *Fossil fuel use in western world increasing at population growth plus 10percent pa,

    *Asian fossil fuel use increasing at population growth plus 20 percent pa, including (and if appropriate adding) about 150 coal-fired power stations a year.

    *Artic summer ice cover running down to 5% of present over the next 20 years.

    *Permafrost GHG emissions doing what they do in response to temperature increases

    *… and any other obvious realities that reflect a view of a likely world over the next 10 to 20 years, in the absence of any practical change in direction…

    I know this is not a politically correct view, but from my perspective this is a realistic view of the near future. For some perverse reason, (because it will not be a nice picture) I would like to know what impact that truth will have on emissions and GHG and hence temperature over the next 50 years.

    Comment by Nigel Williams — 7 May 2007 @ 8:05 PM

  127. Is there a website I can go to to discuss the disappearance of the bees? I am scared to death because there is no way we will be able to feed 300 million plus people without bees. Isn’t anyone else scared? This is the real deal folks. Forget about the climate, it’s not going to be a good year for humankind. Is this the beginning of the end? Is this what they were talking about?

    Comment by Paul M — 7 May 2007 @ 8:32 PM

  128. “Can somebody explain how global warming morphed into ‘climate change’?”

    Yes and a key line from my novel on this subject. It’s a political euphamism that equates change with: may be good, whereas warming means a negative conotation even thoug that’s where the evidence leads. It’s pure politics.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 7 May 2007 @ 10:37 PM

  129. Re #124: A minimum “far better estimate” that the AR4 would be on the order of 2 meters this century, still rather a lot. I assume it’s probably the case that human society would respond to such a change by taking very sharp action, but will that necessarily be the case in 2050 when that pace of rise has only resulted in on the order of 25 centimeters of SLR? I’m not so sure. The problem is that waiting too long will subject our immediate descendants to something much worse. As Jim says, we are seeing the early signs now.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 8 May 2007 @ 12:48 AM

  130. Jeez!

    Gavin points out the Hansen paper in #122. And I thought that I might earn some credit bringing it up first.

    Quite readable, incidently. Prior to reading it, I didn’t realize that melting would cause the snow or ice to be darker and absorb more sunlight that without melting. Puddles being darker, sure, but not this.

    I should have remembered this much from my childhood.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 8 May 2007 @ 12:55 AM

  131. I’d be interested to know what the climatologists here think of Hansen’s “scientific reticence” paper. He makes a worst case scenario suggestion of metres per century sea level rise. What he is doing seems reasonable in terms of risk analysis in bringing attention to a low (but not negligible) probability risk because its consequences are so severe. Yet it does go against the scientific grain a bit (which is the point of the paper i guess) – do other scientists feel he is sticking his neck out?

    Comment by SCM — 8 May 2007 @ 3:21 AM

  132. Re #112 “Coal is not a good substitute for liquid fuels…

    As oil and gas supplies decrease, coal prices will increase, as energy is largely fungible.”

    Those two statements are surely inconsistent with each other.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 8 May 2007 @ 4:29 AM

  133. I think a 5 meter rise in sea level will occur this century.

    http://www.mnforsustain.org/climate_snowmelt_dewpoints_minnesota_neuman.htm

    Comment by pat n — 8 May 2007 @ 6:39 AM

  134. [[ I am scared to death because there is no way we will be able to feed 300 million plus people without bees. ]]

    I was under the impression that cereal crops didn’t need insect pollination, but maybe that’s wrong. Does anyone here know?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 8 May 2007 @ 7:07 AM

  135. Cereal crops are mostly wind pollinated. Notice they don’t have showy, insect-attracting flowers.

    Comment by Paul Dietz — 8 May 2007 @ 8:25 AM

  136. Re #132:

    Re #112 “Coal is not a good substitute for liquid fuels…

    As oil and gas supplies decrease, coal prices will increase, as energy is largely fungible.”

    Those two statements are surely inconsistent with each other.

    Energy being fungible doesn’t mean the price is constant. If CTL was cost-competitive with oil, it would already have taken place to large extents. Economic markets generally work fairly well and there’s no large scale (that I’m aware of) coal-to-gasoline or coal-to-diesel project in the works.

    The most likely post Peak Oil scenario, if people don’t move from fossil fuels, is escalating coal prices as coal is used as feedstock. Further increases will occur as infrastructure to liquify or gasify coal is produced. That assumes that waste stream biomass (which is a “free”) is piled into landfills and methane capture ignored. It’s the fact that waste stream biomass is “free” that will move the market away from coal as the feedstock.

    Using coal as an oil substitute isn’t just environmentally stupid, it’s also economically stupid.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 8 May 2007 @ 8:39 AM

  137. Re #136. On CTL I believe that the USA have recently announced a large scale project in Virginia.

    There is also gas to consider and it will peak too not long after oil it has been suggested. if that happens then unless we have a lot of alternative vehicular and heat around we are all going to suffer economically.

    It is imperative that alternatives to Oil, Gas and coal are found and brought online very quickly. But do not hold your breath, alternatives for the masses are years off.

    Comment by pete best — 8 May 2007 @ 9:27 AM

  138. Re: Nature’s new blog – I will be having a look at it I suppose, but you guys are the original and best!

    Comment by Vicky — 8 May 2007 @ 10:19 AM

  139. My view (as someone who is by no means an expert) is that it is likely we will see an acceleration in the rate of decline of the cryosphere within the next decades, and that given runoff, it will not simply overtake the thermal expansion of the ocean as a cause of sealevel rise, but that it will be several meters. Numerous feedbacks – of the sort that Hansen suggests. Likewise, given the droughts and human migration, politics will most certainly be a problem.

    I would expect new totalitarian ideologies and wars – before the end of the century. Likewise, I would expect significant feedbacks from the ocean as it becomes a source rather than a sink, from permafrost and from shallow methane hydrates near the coastlines. Exceeding 1000 ppm of CO2 and equivilents is a real possibility some time next century – largely due to feedbacks.

    However, technological investment may lead to breakthroughs, first in energy – within the next several decades. Commercial solar energy currently stands at 20% efficiency. We may be able to achieve the efficiency of photosynthesis at 95%. The first nuclear fusion commercial prototype is due to start construction by about 2050 – but this could be accelerated.

    Then there is the possibility of genetic engineering, archaea or prokaryotes perhaps, so as to create additional carbon sinks. We have already genetically engineered mosquitos which are immune to malaria and which do better than their non-immune counterparts only in regions where the rate of infection is high.

    However, all of this will require investments in science. With some luck, we might avoid sustained levels of greater than 1000 ppm and non-H2O equivilents.

    In the meantime, I agree with Gavin that we need to avoid worst-case scenarios or even reasonable scenarios – assuming they can’t be quantified and substantiated by reference to available evidence. What I have suggested above seems reasonable – but it clearly doesn’t fall into this category.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 8 May 2007 @ 10:23 AM

  140. If CTL was cost-competitive with oil, it would already have taken place to large extents.

    The estimates I’ve seen for mine-mouth CTL using Wyoming Powder River Basin coal have it competitive with oil in the mid $40/barrel range (+- 25%). At today’s oil prices, the internal rate of return is estimated to be around 100%/year. Sequestration of the extra CO2 produced would add a few dollars per barrel equivalent (CO2 from combustion of the synfuel itself would still be released, of course.)

    So why hasn’t it been built? These are large facilities (economies of scale are needed to reach that cost figure), very capital intensive, and take years to plan, permit, and build. Billion-dollar investments are very risk intolerant, and there’s not yet confidence that oil will remain at current prices. Give it a few more years, and some smaller efforts to reduce technical and cost estimation risks, and you’ll see more of this.

    Comment by Paul Dietz — 8 May 2007 @ 10:52 AM

  141. #140, which is, of course, the point of a carbon tax to put a floor under fossil fuel prices that reflects the actual cost and will encourage new developments.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 8 May 2007 @ 11:43 AM

  142. Is it possible to see a link showing GCM model projections 20 years from now? Particularly the period betweem 2027 to 2037 map animations including ice coverage and temperature anomalies. 2007 is on its way to shatter all records, but perhaps 2007 was already mapped by models but only for 2027?

    Comment by wayne davidson — 8 May 2007 @ 12:08 PM

  143. Re #131 (SCM): “Low probability” assumes some ability to model the course of events, which we don’t presently have. Another difficulty is that the Pleistocene deglaciations are imperfect analogies for what’s happening now, although some things can be postulated (e.g. Hansen’s observation that slightly higher temps during the last interglacial correlated with somewhat higher sea levels). In any case, “unknown probability” is a better term to use for the moment. I would add that the recent discovery of all that mobile subglacial water in Antarctica is cause for great nervousness since it presents the possibility of very rapid movement of the ice.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 8 May 2007 @ 12:16 PM

  144. I was collecting some links on news about discoveries of the water moving under the Antarctic ice (rapid drumlin formation for example). I put them in the comments under “why do science in Antarctica” thread over at Stoat, in hopes more of the researchers would find them and comment when they can:
    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2007/02/why_do_science_in_antarctica.php

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 May 2007 @ 1:00 PM

  145. re:#127 Disappearing bees

    http://pollinator.com/downforcount.htm

    The disappearances are mainly reported by commercial honeybee keepers, who transport large hives of bees via truck. Some beekeepers state that these ‘die offs’ have been happening regularly all along, and have received press attention that is unwarranted.

    http://www.entm.purdue.edu/Entomology/research/bee/ccd.html

    There are a great many species of bees that also pollinate crops, so there is not a famine situation in the works. At least, not from the decline of honeybees.

    I want to say how much I enjoy the discussion at this website. Even though I’m politically far to the right end of the spectrum, I loathe the subjugation of science by politicians and lawyers. This includes both fringes, liberal and consevative. It’s nice to find some place where science is the yardstick. I was leaning pretty heavily toward the “there’s little evidence that global warming is anthropogenic” side of the debate, until I found this site and followed the math through CO2′s contribution to warming, and the isotopic evidence of fossil carbon’s contribution to global CO2 levels.

    A special thanks to all the climate scientists who post here for their temperance around politcs, and their adamance about accurate and peer reviewed science.

    Great resource.

    Comment by Jim Frank — 8 May 2007 @ 1:17 PM

  146. RE # 9, SecularAlarmist, you asked:

    “No later than 2015″ means we have no more than eight years in which to slow, stop and then reverse the present accelerating growth in emissions. Is that likely?

    Despite the reassuring words of the renewables and efficiency advocates, Americans are nowhere near even contemplating – much less accepting – the massive rehab of consumer habits to which we have ascribed an inalienable right.

    Higher gasoline prices appear to have no impact on consumption.

    ……………………………………..Retail
    ……………………………………..Av. Reg.
    ……………………….MMBPD ……$/gal.
    Mar 05, 2004 … 8,968 … $1.74
    Aug 13, 2004 … 9,521 … $1.88
    Mar 04, 2005 … 9,014 … $2.00
    Aug 12, 2005 … 9,408 … $2.55
    Mar 03, 2006 … 9,057 … $2.33
    Aug 11, 2006 … 9,530 … $3.00
    Mar 02, 2007 … 9,191 … $2.51
    Mar 09, 2007 … 9,158 … $2.56
    Mar 16, 2007 … 9,240 … $2.58
    Mar 23, 2007 … 9,250 … $2.61
    Mar 30, 2007 … 9,491 … $2.71
    Apr 06, 2007 … 9,472 … $2.80
    Apr 13, 2007 … 9,247 … $2.88
    Apr 20, 2007 … 9,163 … $2.87
    Apr 27, 2007 … 9,260 … $2.97

    That answers a part of your question.

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 8 May 2007 @ 1:39 PM

  147. The attached prediction for Solar Cycle 24 is of interest. Solar cycle 23 is dragging out and is not following normal solar cycle behavior. As noted in the attached news bulletin, the predictions for Solar cycle 24 are split between a weak and strong solar cycle.

    A weak or very weak solar cycle should provide data to resolve the question how much of the 20th century warming was due to increased solar activity.

    April 26, 2007- The next 11-year cycle – (Solar cycle 24) – will start, March,2007 and peak in late 2011 or mid-2012 – up to a year later than expected – according to a forecast issued by the NOAA Space Environment Center in coordination with an international panel of solar experts. NASA sponsored the panel. Expected to start last fall (Solar Cycle 24), the delayed onset of Solar Cycle 24 stymied the panel and left them evenly split on whether a weak or strong period of solar storms lies ahead, but neither group predicts a record-breaker. â?¦
    In the cycle forecast issued Wednesday, half of the panel predicts a moderately strong cycle of 140 sunspots, plus or minus 20, expected to peak in October 2011. The other half predicts a moderately weak cycle of 90 sunspots, plus or minus 10, peaking in August 2012. An average solar cycle ranges from 75 to 155 sunspots. The late decline of Cycle 23 has helped shift the panel away from its earlier leaning toward a strong Cycle 24. Now the group is evenly split between strong and weak.

    Comment by William Astley — 8 May 2007 @ 1:57 PM

  148. RE # 146

    Any suggestions on how to copy an otherwise legible xcel sheet into the commnets box. Apologies for my pitiful attempt.

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 8 May 2007 @ 2:01 PM

  149. [do other scientists feel he (Hansen-RO) is sticking his neck out?]

    This is a very instructive case study, I think, on how peer-review-type science sometimes works, in my opinion.

    To my knowlege and talking with peer-review research scientists who know him, Hansen has had quite a reputation for sticking his (and climate science’s) neck out since his first big AGW (human warming) declaration in Congress in 1985.

    As I understand it, in 1985, he was really pushing the science to its limits in stating that GW was happening and humans were likely causing it (this was too strong a statement for the peer-review review community as a whole at the time…

    …ie. the peer-review evidence was not strong enough yet for most peer-review scientists to feel comfortable with his statements.)

    The science community in its own ways, put pressure on him…{not to mention the fossil fuel industry} to be “more conservative.”)

    The good? Yes, he did turn heads and help to start some serious debate and start more serious investigations on GW.

    Yes, he was sometimes a maverick… but who knows? Science sometimes needs people to shake things up…

    …and in this case at least, his GW reasoning came to be backed up by hard evidence ten years later by the 1995 IPCC report at least and until today.

    Now on to Hansen’s current research. Firstly, it was accepted for publishing by the peer-review process- so he is not saying things wildly without evidence.

    Secondly, I hear at where I am (no where near a comprehensive report though) that some research scientists are keeping their ears to the ground with his current work and not dismissing his recent report as “irresponsible”…but perhaps his recent work leans to more of the “extreme scenario situation” rather than the most likely one.

    In fact, his report adds to a growing body of evidence, I understand, that “ice sheet disintigration” is something that needs to be further researched with regards to Earth’s future- instead of his recent paper pioneering this concept.

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 8 May 2007 @ 2:13 PM

  150. John, the forum software won’t do tabs and doesn’t like repeated spaces, I’ve had the same trouble trying format as columns. I think
    …….testing……..testing………testing
    …….testing……..testing………testing
    dots might work; is the above in three columns? (“Preview” lies)

    Anything but plain text ASCII (like Microsoft curly quote marks and dashes) gets mangled if “character encoding” settings don’t match.

    Copying and pasting is the problem. Try “paste special unformatted” — even between Word docs, doing that causes less corruption than their standard paste.

    I often move text via a text editor to clean up garbage. More often I forget (sigh).

    A link to the source could be better.


    Jim Frank, thanks! good info. Though the beekeepers I’ve talked to say this is a dramatic loss; seems scary.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 May 2007 @ 2:19 PM

  151. Re: John McCormick (#148) – Making tables

    The following works…

    Top Left Top Right
    Bottom Left Bottom Right

    http://www.w3schools.com/html/tryit.asp?filename=tryhtml_tables

    However, if you want Excel, here is another possibility…

    EditGrid Spreadsheet by user/timothychase.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 8 May 2007 @ 3:02 PM

  152. This is rather off-topic, but I recently bumped into what might be the most important “hockey stick” of them all:

    http://www.google.com/trends?q=global+warming&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all

    Comment by Zeke Hausfather — 8 May 2007 @ 3:03 PM

  153. PS (to #151 – regarding spreadsheets on the web)

    Some of the formatting showed up in the preview, but not in the post. The spreadsheet was actually embedded. Glad to see that the embedding doesn’t work – people might have been pasting in spreadsheets all over the place. But it shows up if you click the link.

    You can upload Excel with formulas, the owner can change the values on the fly with the formulas automatically updating, and there is the possibility of chat all part of “Edit Grid” for free. But there is extra if an org is willing to pay $5/mo. Most of you seem to be in the same timezone, and a “roundtable” chat could be posted here after some formatting.

    Possibilities….

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 8 May 2007 @ 3:19 PM

  154. re #146 John McCormick

    MMBPD?

    Million Miles ????? Per Day?

    I can’t think of an appropriate “B”…

    …”Bicycled” ???

    Comment by Chris — 8 May 2007 @ 3:30 PM

  155. Re #112
    “The point is, that the solutions to PO and GCC are the same – reduction of use in fossil fuels, increase of carbon neutral, sustainable alternatives.”

    While this can be true in theory, in practise the opposite seems to be true . One need only look to the massive ramp up in oil sands production (which is only economically viable now that the price of oil is above $40/barrel) to see how PO and GCC become competing rather than complementary policy drivers. CTL is further down the list in terms of viability but not by much.

    Whether or not the two drivers can be complementary depends in large part on whether or not low-GHG energy sources can compete with dirtier alternatives such as tar-sands derived gasoline or CTL. What I’d like to know what magnitude of carbon levy is needed to ensure that clean renewables will always be more attractive.

    Comment by Marlowe Johnson — 8 May 2007 @ 3:35 PM

  156. Chris,
    MMBPD is million barrels per day (sort of like MMBTU is million btu).

    Comment by Zeke Hausfather — 8 May 2007 @ 5:04 PM

  157. Re: 121 My view of civilization changed forever the week I had to try and evacuate my family from Houston before H. Rita’s landfall. I experienced the modern world being brought to its knees for want of nothing more than a gasoline (petrol) station attendent, a grocery store clerk, the ability to travel, air conditioning, temporary shelter, etc. My view of our civilization is no longer burdened with naievity on that account. Much of our civilization is not at all resilient and is getting less so every year. Take out one piece and it unravels quickly. It wouldn’t take much disruption to drop life expectencies 15 years or greatly increase the death rates of children. Total collapse? No, but it won’t be a walk in the park.

    Comment by Andrew Sipocz — 8 May 2007 @ 5:53 PM

  158. RE # 154

    Chris, the units in that graph should be MBPD, (thousands of barrels per day). So, the Mar. 5, 2004 amount was 8,968,000 barrels of gasoline. But, I like your interpretation better–nearly 9 million new bicylces per day.

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 8 May 2007 @ 6:17 PM

  159. Re Coal-to-liquids projects (#136).
    A CTL pilot project incorporating carbon sequestration is going ahead in the Latrobe valley here in Victoria, Australia. The rational is that the higher value of liquid fuels make carbon sequestration more economically feasible that it would be for say a coal fired power station. The risk for the folks involved was their concern that the price of oil might drop in the short term (I think prices> $40-50 a barrel makes CTL competitive) which worries potential investors in CTL. The company in question secured a govt grant to reduce their risk.

    Comment by SCM — 8 May 2007 @ 7:06 PM

  160. Re #147:

    The attached prediction for Solar Cycle 24 is of interest. Solar cycle 23 is dragging out and is not following normal solar cycle behavior. As noted in the attached news bulletin, the predictions for Solar cycle 24 are split between a weak and strong solar cycle.

    A weak or very weak solar cycle should provide data to resolve the question how much of the 20th century warming was due to increased solar activity.

    I don’t fully understand the physics behind sunspot generation, but my understanding is that the position of the sun relative to the center of mass of the solar system has something to do with it — the further the sun is from the center of mass of the solar system the more sunspot activity there is. The end of the 20th century was really interesting in that most of the bigger planets were all in one tiny wedge more than once.

    On the other hand, the sunspot cycle has a “hockey stick” of its own and it’ll be interesting to see what cycle 24 has to offer and how the climate responds.

    (And here’s a report — http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/solanki2004/solanki2004.html )

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 8 May 2007 @ 7:28 PM

  161. Perhaps scientists need to stick to a false positive avoiding science conservatism, but laypersons do need to keep in mind the worst case scenarios & be fasle negative avoiders.

    We buy insurance against catastrophic total fire & storm damage that most likely will never happen to our homes….Well, now with GW there’s a higher probability of that, I guess. And the insurance companies are certainly concerned about the worse case scenarios, since they could go out of business if they happen.

    I agree with Mark (#128), the term “climate change” seems to me a term deniers might prefer. But frankly there is no term that really does justice to what’s underway. Words fail us.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 8 May 2007 @ 8:06 PM

  162. Re 131, 133, 139, 143

    Increases in humidity result cause additional heat transfer from the latent heat of condensation as water vapor condenses on a snowpack. Climate station data indicates that winter and spring dewpoints have been increasing in Alaska and the Upper Midwest.

    If water from moist air condenses on a snowpack, 590 calories of heat are released by each gram of condensate. This is enough energy to melt approximately 7.5 gm of ice, which when added to the condensate yields a total of 8.5 gm of potential runoff. Dunne, T. Leopold (1978)

    http://www.mnforsustain.org/climate_snowmelt_dewpoints_minnesota_neuman.htm

    Global warming and cryosphere thaw in the 21st century are being driven by greenhouse gas emissions. What drove the Pleistocene deglaciations?

    Comment by pat n — 8 May 2007 @ 8:09 PM

  163. That “Solar Hockey stick”…

    FurryCatHerder (#160) wrote:

    On the other hand, the sunspot cycle has a “hockey stick” of its own and it’ll be interesting to see what cycle 24 has to offer and how the climate responds.

    (And here’s a report — http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/solanki2004/solanki2004.html )

    Beautiful!

    Just what I was looking for…

    Check this out:

    Although the rarity of the current episode of high average sunspot number may be taken as an indication that the Sun has contributed to the unusual degree of climate change during the twentieth century, we stress that solar variability is unlikely to be the prime cause of the strong warming during the last three decades3. In ref. 3, reconstructions of solar total and spectral irradiance as well as of cosmic ray flux were compared with surface temperature records covering approximately 150 years. It was shown that even under the extreme assumption that the Sun was responsible for all the global warming prior to 1970, at the most 30% of the strong warming since then can be of solar origin.

    pp.1086-7

    Unusual activity of the Sun during recent decades compared to the previous 11,000 years
    Solanski, et al.
    Nature, Vol. 431, No. 7012, pp. 1084 – 1087, 28 October 2004.

    (emphasis added)

    The paper this passage is refering to is:

    Solanki, S. K. & Krivova, N.
    Can solar variability explain global warming since 1970?
    J. Geophys. Res. 108, doi: 10.1029/2002JA009753 (2003).

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 8 May 2007 @ 9:47 PM

  164. Re: Solar variability…

    Contrarians who seek to deny the role of CO2 in temperature trends (when they aren’t denying that such trends exist, or that such CO2 is anthropogenic, or that rapidly rising temperatures and sea levels are bad things, etc.) will often try to point at the sun as the cause of current trends – and argue that if we can’t see the correlations, it must be because the earth’s climate system behaves chaotically, and are assuming that somehow this is almost impossible to argue against.

    But the earlier paper by Solanski and Krivova does just that:

    For each of these potential sources it is possible to compute the influence on the Earthâ??s climate [e.g., Wilson, 2000; Cubasch and Voss, 2000; Haigh, 1996; Shindell et al., 2001]. Given the complexity of the climate system, however, such modeling perforce is based on simplifying assumptions, which implies a significant uncertainty in the results. Here we take a complementary approach. We assume that the Sun has been responsible for climate change prior to 1970. Specifically, we consider the period 1856â??1970. Then, using reconstructions and measured records of relevant solar quantities as well as of the cosmic-ray flux, we estimate which fraction of the dramatic temperature rise after that date could be due to the influence of the Sun. Since our original assumption cannot underestimate the solar contribution to global warming prior to 1970, through the present analysis we should obtain an upper limit on the fraction of the warming due to the Sun also after 1970. The two other simplifying assumptions that enter our analysis are (1) the connection between the relevant solar and terrestrial quantities is linear, and (2) this connection remains unchanged with time (and in particular it is the same prior to and post 1970).

    Solanki, S. K. & Krivova, N.
    Can solar variability explain global warming since 1970?
    J. Geophys. Res. 108, doi: 10.1029/2002JA009753 (2003).

    In essence, it is a reductio ad absurdum against the contrarian “solar variability” argument. I guess the “solar variability” contrarians were operating on the assumption that “you can’t prove a negative,” and hadn’t realized that sometimes you can.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 8 May 2007 @ 10:22 PM

  165. RE#162, there is also the large scale circulation – how much of the heat transport to the Arctic goes via the atmospheric route, as sensible and latent heat? How much of the heat transport is via the oceanic route (and then there’s atmospheric-oceanic exchanges along the way, I suppose)? Is there a certain threshold point where the Arctic melting becomes irreversible, and if so, are we at or past that point? If so, that means irreversible declines in sea ice, rapid melting of the Greenland ice sheet, warming of the Arctic surface layer, a decrease in deep water formation, and potential irreversible melting of Arctic permafrost, leading to increased fluxes of CO2 to the atmosphere… I’m not even sure if this is a high- or a low-probability outcome.

    As far as the energy discussion goes, a very good site I recently found is http://www.greencarcongress.com

    Comment by Ike Solem — 8 May 2007 @ 11:19 PM

  166. “Global warming and cryosphere thaw in the 21st century are being driven by greenhouse gas emissions. What drove the Pleistocene deglaciations?”

    pat n: the picture with the most support is that it was partly some of the milankovic cycles coming around (if memory serves there’s a 100000 year eccentricity cycle, a 40000 year angle cycle, and a 23000 year wobble cycle) causing especially the northern hemisphere to heat up a little. That in turn increased the albedo of the earth slightly, and also caused the oceans to absorb slightly less C02. Over the course of a long time, thousands of years, there was a positive feedback cycle reinforced by additional solar heating. Hence, you had more sunlight, more dark ground and ocean to absorb it, more C02 in the air, more water vapor on average, etc. and a lot of that feeds on itself.

    Put another way, you can account for some of the early warming without additional GHGs being involved, but you don’t get the warming we got without some sort of additional GHGs being released – net – including most probably carbon dioxide increasing net after absorption, due mainly to the ocean solubiility of C02 changing.

    Comment by Marion Delgado — 9 May 2007 @ 4:35 AM

  167. [[A weak or very weak solar cycle should provide data to resolve the question how much of the 20th century warming was due to increased solar activity.]]

    It’s pretty much already resolved. Solar warming accounts for much of the 1900-1940 increase and not much of the 1970-2000 increase.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 May 2007 @ 5:31 AM

  168. [[............................................Retail
    ............................................Av. Reg.
    ............................MMBPD ......$/gal.
    Mar 05, 2004 ... 8,968 ... $1.74
    Aug 13, 2004 ... 9,521 ... $1.88
    ]]

    etc.

    Shouldn’t you be using the deflated or real price rather than the retail price? We’ve had inflation of about 2% over that whole period, varying quite a bit up and down.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 May 2007 @ 5:33 AM

  169. [[Global warming and cryosphere thaw in the 21st century are being ]]

    Changes in the global distribution of sunlight due to changes in the Earth’s orbit and axial tilt. Google “Milankovic cycles.”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 May 2007 @ 5:38 AM

  170. Re #164:

    In essence, it is a reductio ad absurdum against the contrarian “solar variability” argument. I guess the “solar variability” contrarians were operating on the assumption that “you can’t prove a negative,” and hadn’t realized that sometimes you can.

    Knowing the answer to the question “how much does the sun’s increased activity affect climate?” is needed to know the answer to “how much do the other things affecting climate have to change?”

    If the sun is responsible for 49% of the current warming, and anthropogenic carbon is reponsible for 51%, the amount of change in carbon emissions is greater than if it’s all anthropogenic carbon. Hopefully everyone here can agree with that statement.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 9 May 2007 @ 7:35 AM

  171. RE # 162, Ike,

    I will add another risk to the list though, as you said:

    [I'm not even sure if this is a high- or a low-probability outcome.]

    It is safe to assume that a longer arctic ocean open water phase vs. ice phase and continuing deforestation of the Amazon will have an impact on temp and precip patterns in the Western North American grain basket.

    That assumed, I ask the question: are we building the US ethanol industry in a box canyon?

    And,

    RE # 168, Barton, the range of dates in the chart at # 146 span from Mar. 04 to Apr. 07. The inflation rate impact is insignificant to the point I was trying to make. But, you can do the numbers and comment.

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 9 May 2007 @ 7:58 AM

  172. FurryCatHerder (#164) wrote:

    Knowing the answer to the question “how much does the sun’s increased activity affect climate?” is needed to know the answer to “how much do the other things affecting climate have to change?”

    Knowing that the sun can’t be responsible for more than 30% of current forcing is sufficient to show that the other part of the forcing must be coming from somewhere else. Gremlins, perhaps, but I think humans are much more likely. The rest is feedback. Don’t forget – the IPCC itself claims that natural forces were the dominant cause of the forcing in the earlier half of the 20th century, but they claim that the dominant cause of the forcing in the latter half of the 20th century.

    As for what happens after the forcing, we call it feedback. Principally the rise of temperature due to carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide resulting in the evaporation of water, with water vapor further raising the temperature, resulting in more evaporation. Water vapour is responsible for perhaps 80% of the heating. But water vapor stays in the atmosphere only so long – without forcing. A few months, and with forcing. Starting with no water vapor at all, it would take only ten years for the same amount of forcing to raise it back up to nearly a hundred percent of its equilibrium level. Methane stays in the atmosphere for a few decades – prior to decaying into carbon dioxide. But carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for centuries.

    If the sun is responsible for 49% of the current warming, and anthropogenic carbon is reponsible for 51%, the amount of change in carbon emissions is greater than if it’s all anthropogenic carbon. Hopefully everyone here can agree with that statement.

    Being generous, if the sun were responsible for the 100% of the forcing in the earlier half of the 20th century, then it was responsible for the slower rate of temperature increase in the earlier half of the twentieth century. After that, human forcing became the dominant cause of the increase in temperature.

    I do have some good news for you, though. While we have been the major source of greenhouse gases, nature has been the sink – principally in terms of the ocean, absorbing most of what we have been putting out. However, as the temperatures increase, the natural sinks will become emitters. Within the matter of a few decades you will be able to claim that nature is the major polluter responsible for the increasing levels of methane and carbon dioxide. In truth, we will have caused that – with our forcing. But there will undoubtedly be some people who won’t be able to connect the dots and recognize that this is feedback. Oh, but I did call this “good news,” didn’t I? It won’t be for the vast majority of humanity – but I suppose it may be for the contrarians who still wish to deny what actually took place.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 9 May 2007 @ 8:54 AM

  173. I highly doubt I will get a reasonable answer to my question but here it goes, Why are there thousands of highly accredited scientists who agree that the earth is warming but do not think humans are having the effect you say they are and certainly don’t blame humans for the increase completley. Also, why just 30 years ago were scientist arguing for another ice age, global cooling and “No end in site to the earths cooling”. I am a doubter of the 100% human aspect of global warming and I would LOVE to have an educated conversation about this. All I get are misinformed global warming fanatics who couldn’t tell you why they believe what they believe except that it was on the cover of Time or on CNN.

    [Response: If I were you, I would not believe the everything I saw on Time or CNN either - whether it was in the 1970s or today. Instead, I would read what the National Academies are saying in their assessments of the science. Compare NAS (1975) with NAS (2001). No fanatics there. - gavin]

    Comment by scott roland — 9 May 2007 @ 9:08 AM

  174. Another great article out in Germany’s Der Spiegel castigating the narrow segment of scientists declaring “we are going to burn for our sins”—One excerpt:

    One member of the levelheaded camp is Hans von Storch, 57, a prominent climate researcher who is director of the Institute for Coastal Research at the GKSS Research Center in Geesthacht in northern Germany. “We have to take away people’s fear of climate change,” Storch told DER SPIEGEL in a recent interview. “Unfortunately many scientists see themselves too much as priests whose job it is to preach moralistic sermons to people.”

    See more and be educated at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,481684,00.html

    [Response: It is a very familiar tactic to claim the middle ground by pushing everyone else to the extremes: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/01/consensus-as-the-new-heresy/ . The differences in actually what is said is usually very small. If you can, please point out the moralistic sermons on this site.- gavin]

    Comment by Steven Soleri — 9 May 2007 @ 9:48 AM

  175. Scott,
    I am a highly accredited scientist. I have a PhD and dozens of publications in radiation physics. That does not make me an expert in climate or cellular biology or seismology. I have a broader background than most scientists, so I can kind of follow the arguments in these other fields, but it would also be easy for me to make mistakes. So the basic answer is you can’t listen to someone just because he is a scientist. You have to listen to the experts–the people who publish in peer-reviewed journals on the subject. You can also check out what independent review bodies like the National Academy of sciences, the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, etc. have to say. Among experts, the nearly unanimous consensus is that humans are responsible for much of the warming in the 20th century. The paper by Solanki cited above even took the extreme position that ALL the warming prior to 1970 (not to advocate this position, but just as an upper limit for solar contribution) was due to solar activity and then looked at how much since 1970 could possibly be due to solar activity. Answer: No more than 30%. And this is an absolute upper bound. The rest pretty much has to be due to human release of greenhouse gases.
    As to the cooling prior to 1975–all of it actually occurred in just 5-6 years just after WW II and then temperatures remained flat for 20 years, probably due to particulate emissions from burning fossil fuels.

    You say there are thousands of scientists who don’t believe humans are causing climate change. Why aren’t they publishing? Because they know they have nothing real to say to scientists.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 May 2007 @ 11:08 AM

  176. re: 173

    Scott, do you know the articles on this blog are written by climate scientists? If you don’t have educated conversation here, you won’t have it anywhere… :)

    Plus I recommend you an excellent report written and reviewed by hundreds of highly accredited scientists who all agree to say the present global warming is due for most of it to human activities: the IPCC 2007 report. It’s very instructive and it’s a good base to start learning about GW causes and issues.

    Last but not least, about the cooling predicted in the 70′s, it has been treated here many times so if you spend some time on this blog you’ll discover there has never been any scientific consensus about a near global cooling.

    Comment by nicolas L. — 9 May 2007 @ 11:29 AM

  177. Steven Soleri (#174) wrote:

    Another great article out in Germany’s Der Spiegel castigating the narrow segment of scientists declaring “we are going to burn for our sins”—One excerpt: …

    None of the climatologists at RealClimate (nor the vast majority of climatologists elsewhere who generally agree with them, recognizing climate change and the problems which it will result in for humanity) are predicting the end of the world. In fact, the climatologists at RealClimate go out of their way to argue that we aren’t confronted with end-of-the-world scenarios.

    As two examples which I know of right on hand, I would suggest the following essays:

    Runaway tipping points of no return
    5 Jul 2006
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/07/runaway-tipping-points-of-no-return/

    Methane hydrates and global warming
    12 Dec 2005
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/12/methane-hydrates-and-global-warming/

    However, they do acknowledge that there will be problems – severe problems. Heatwaves, drought, rising sea levels, water shortages, greatly reduced agricultural harvests and greatly reduced fish harvests. Famines. Probably hurricanes of increased intensity. Things we might want to avoid.

    PS

    Soleri? Any relation to the architect? Just curious.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 9 May 2007 @ 11:48 AM

  178. Re: #175 (Ray Ladbury)

    Amen! I’m similarly qualified to opine on mathematics, particularly time series analysis, but likewise I’m not expert in climate, cellular biology or seismology. I have a good background in physics, so I can generally follow the reasoning, and read (and understand) the peer-reviewed literature on climate science. But I don’t have nearly enough knowledge or experience to claim I’m an expert, so nobody should “take my word for it” on climate physics just because I’m a scientist. I trust the opinions of genuine climate scientists far more than I trust my own opinions on the subject.

    And if I ever do come to the opinion that climate scientists are wrong about some topic, while I’m right — I’ll submit my theory for peer review.

    Comment by tamino — 9 May 2007 @ 12:01 PM

  179. it may be of interest that cockburn is also a proponent of the abiotic theory of oil formation. essentially, he is a cornucopian who believes that every person on earth could live as they do in the developed world if capitalism were not creating artificial scarcity.

    Comment by jay moses — 9 May 2007 @ 12:26 PM

  180. #175 there is a general sense out there that scientists are not infallible, and that even accredited experts have to prove themselves in simple language and especially demonstrate their skills, for instance medical doctors do this by performing extraordinary surgeries or cures, people in general are not overwelmed by New England Journal of Medicine publications, but they are mighty impressed by doctors who read this journal. In the case of Climate science the only way in showing prowess is by predicting what will happen based on their total understanding of the climate system, many use models, perhaps with too much faith in them, they are far from being accurate in the long range. Hansen did not “stick his neck out” as said previously, but rather he practiced his profession. I find many climatologists not doing the same as Hansen as being irrelevant in the AGW debate, many are contrarians that are rather silly arm chair commentators, without demonstrating their skills in understanding of climate either through analyzing models or by placing their own theories to the test, to say something simple like what the world wide temperature will trend for next year, or in 6 months let alone one. Easy for them to bash Hansen even if he turned out to be right, astonishing for other scientists not to praise, let alone not even defend this significant accomplishment. But Hansen is not alone, many IPCC scientists have had their say in details about temperature projections, the future will tell if they are right. Lately, I was much impressed with meteorologists predicting extremely active Tornado activity, cudos to them. But, I am not amused by those who criticize out of the comfort of their none existent predictive record.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 9 May 2007 @ 1:22 PM

  181. Re #172

    Tim, I guess I’m surprised by the tone of your response.

    If we can agree that global warming, whatever the cause, is a bad thing, and we can only change one part of the cause (I’ve suggested we send janitors to the sun at night to clean up sunspots, but no one has taken me up on that …), knowing the amount each contributes is critical.

    If the sun is responsible for 100% of the change, there’s nothing we can do — reducing carbon emissions will accomplish nothing, the ice caps will melt, and we’ll be flooded, broiled, and starved to death.

    If the sun is responsible for 0% of the change, the only thing that needs to be done is reduce carbon emissions by whatever amount is required to combat the effects of CO2 because the sun contributes nothing additional.

    BUT, if the sun is responsible for anything greater than 0%, not only must CO2 emissions be reduced by X amount (to, say, 300ppm), they must also be reduced by some additional amount to compensate for what the sun is contributing. Yes? No?

    While some might find any sort of news that it’s not man-made to be some kind of good news, I don’t think it’s good news, sarcastically or not.

    I’ll also restate something that someone else wrote upthread — the solution to the problems I see as being a major threat, and the solution to the problems you see as being a major threat, are the same solutions. My sense of urgency on the subject of ending fossil fuel consumption is probably about the same as yours.

    I don’t reject the IPCC scenarios because I think they are wrong about the science, I reject them because I think they are wrong about the economics. The A1A scenario, if society as a whole were to try and act it out, would very likely (in my opinion) result in global economic collapse, well before 2100. And that’s ignoring any environmental impacts. I think that even the least environmentally destructive IPCC scenarios will cause significant economic harm.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 9 May 2007 @ 1:51 PM

  182. Comment: #175 Ray

    Note Solanki’s paper, concerning the sun’s affect on climate, does not discuss the reduction in cloud cover post 1994 and does not discuss, cloud modulation, by the mechanism ‘electroscavenging’.

    Solanki’s paper:

    http://www.mps.mpg.de/homes/natalie/PAPERS/warming.pdf

    See Palle’s earthshine paper for the data and mechanism. I thought that as some did not trust satellite data that a different observation technique would add support for the mechanism. If all data and mechanisms are considered, the jury is still out concerning the relative contribution of GHG and solar, in the 20th century.

    http://solar.njit.edu/preprints/palle1266.pdf

    The conclusion of Earthshine analysis is that from 1993/1994 to 2001 planetary cloud cover decreased by 5% +/-1.7%, which would result in an increase in planetary temperature. This finding is consistent with Palle’s other paper that shows satellite data supports the same conclusion. Palle converts the earthshine observation to a forcing of 7.5 W/m2 +/- 2.4.

    The areas where the cloud decrease was observed to decrease is consistent with the mechanism “electroscavenging” where an increase in the global electric current, removes ions from the atmosphere and hence reduces cloud cover. The electroscavenging mechanism is driven by high speed solar winds, which occurred post 1994 due to coronal holes.

    Comment by William Astley — 9 May 2007 @ 1:51 PM

  183. Re #179:

    it may be of interest that cockburn is also a proponent of the abiotic theory of oil formation. essentially, he is a cornucopian who believes that every person on earth could live as they do in the developed world if capitalism were not creating artificial scarcity.

    Cockburn needs to spend some time out in the oil patch learning how hard it is to suck oil out of really deep hole in the ground. A lot could probably be done to rework many of the old fields, but I’m not sure refracturing every well in the world is feasible or cheap.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 9 May 2007 @ 2:08 PM

  184. RE#175, #178, #180 – perhaps the most important thing for the general public to understand about science is that it works best in an atmosphere that is free of external control by political, religious or business interests. This has been understood by the scientists who worked hard to set up scientific bodies like the National Science Foundation – which has funded the majority of climate science over the past 50 yrs. As a result, climate scientists have been very productive – climate models, isotope studies, satellite and remote sensing technologies, ice cores and ocean sediment cores – it’s a remarkable record. Climate scientists have also gone to great lengths to educate the public about their work, via books and now blogs – and they’ve clearly demonstrated that climate science is of critical importance to everyone on the planet.

    However, there are other areas of science that are unfortunately under tight control by various political and business interests, and which have not been allowed to grow and expand. The area that’s releveant to this discussion is renewable energy science. There is no independent scientific body that oversees energy science, and the funding for the small number of programs that do exist in the US (NREL, for example) has been repeatedly curtailed. If you consider that both the computer microprocessor and the solar photovoltaic cell are based on the same discovery (semiconductor p-n junctions), but that PV cells have gone through only three generations, while billions have been poured into multiple generations of microprocessors, it really becomes clear that PV cell science has not been allowed to develop. The same is true for all other areas of renewable energy science. What is really needed, in terms of the development of renewable energy (as just one component of the necessary response to anthropogenic global warming) is to develop an independent scientific body, of similar stature to both the NSF and the NIH, which is dedicated to expanding energy research – and which is not controlled by business or political groups with vested interests in fossil fuels.

    There are a great many physicists and engineers at institutions all across the United States who would love to work full-time on a wide variety of renewable energy studies – but the absolute lack of institutional support leaves them scrambling for funds that just don’t exist. I have some personal experience with this (algal photosynthesis and biochemistry is the area I hoped to go into, based on work done at NREL in the 90′s – but I was told that I’d never get funding for this, and should drop it).

    For a discussion of algal energy science, see http://www.unh.edu/p2/biodiesel/article_alge.html – but if you scroll down to the bottom of that page, you get the punchline:

    “Due to the lack of government funding for this field of work, UNH and its collaborators are seeking private partners to finance the continued development of the technology”.

    Note that there is no guarantee that any technology owned by private interests will ever be put into production…it’s far more likely to be bought up by an established fossil fuel business that doesn’t want to see it developed.

    What’s worrisome, and what should be widely noted, is that a similar assault on climate science funding seems to be underway. The way that climate satellites have been routinely defunded over the past few years, plus the public statements about silencing discussion and suppression of research by government scientists at NOAA, should be taken very seriously by the scientific community, as well as by the general public.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 9 May 2007 @ 2:10 PM

  185. FurryCatHerder (#181) wrote:

    I’ll also restate something that someone else wrote upthread — the solution to the problems I see as being a major threat, and the solution to the problems you see as being a major threat, are the same solutions. My sense of urgency on the subject of ending fossil fuel consumption is probably about the same as yours.

    I don’t reject the IPCC scenarios because I think they are wrong about the science, I reject them because I think they are wrong about the economics. The A1A scenario, if society as a whole were to try and act it out, would very likely (in my opinion) result in global economic collapse, well before 2100. And that’s ignoring any environmental impacts. I think that even the least environmentally destructive IPCC scenarios will cause significant economic harm.

    I most certainly worry about the economics as well.

    Personally, I think that the IPCC muffled the science a bit due to political considerations – to make it acceptable to the representatives of all of the governments involved. However, that is my personal opinion, and I would prefer to hear what climatologists have to say – which is part of the reason why I am looking forward to the structured discussion of the IPCC AR4.

    However, the economic recommendations looked poorly thought-out. But I should probably give you a little of my background first. I am fairly close to libertarian. Limited government, pro-capitalist. I read Ludwig Von Mises’ “Human Action” from cover-to-cover but was perhaps a little less thorough on “The Theory of Money and Credit.” I have read “Knowledge and Decisions” by Thomas Sowell. I know how badly price controls can distort the coordination of economic activity, and I know how hyperinflation can destroy entire economies. And on a more personal note, both Ludwig von Mises and Alan Greenspan are personal heroes of mine.

    But before we can start discussing possible economic or political solutions, we need to have an understanding of the science involved, and we have to understand the magnitude of the problem that we are facing. Contrarians aren’t helping in that regard by attempting to fog the scientific issues. The longer we wait, the more likely that draconian measures will be taken. The longer we are delayed, the more likely that the political “solution” will be something that I would rather see avoided, something which ultimately will not work because it relies upon highly centralized and perhaps dictatorial solutions.

    If we can recognize the science, then we can start examining the economic and political solutions more thoughtfully. Is ethanol really a solution, or will it result in deforestation and starvation in the third world? Are carbon credits the solution – or as they are currently practiced, will they simply push off carbon production to the third world? What about carbon caps? What about biochar – which third world countries could impliment at low costs without deforestation and which would improve the productivity of agricultural land?

    I am not of the view that any sort of transition will involve no net costs. We need to examine those costs and identify optimal approaches. However, the longer we wait, the more likely we will try to compress any solution into a much narrower timeframe – and when this is done, the costs tend to be much greater. I think we should be open to discussing all solutions – centralized or decentralized – becaue in such an environment, we are more likely to identify the problems with each. But this is a luxury we can afford only so long as we have some time in which to do so and while more reasonable voices prevail.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 9 May 2007 @ 3:04 PM

  186. [[Also, why just 30 years ago were scientist arguing for another ice age, global cooling and "No end in site to the earths cooling".]]

    In brief, they weren’t. Nothing like the present scientific consensus for global warming ever existed for global cooling. A few scientists in the ’70s said the Earth might be in a long-term cooling trend, Newsweek ran a sensational article saying a new ice age was imminent, and about a dozen similar articles followed. But that was the media, not the scientific community.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 May 2007 @ 4:10 PM

  187. [[ If all data and mechanisms are considered, the jury is still out concerning the relative contribution of GHG and solar, in the 20th century.]]

    Not really.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 May 2007 @ 4:14 PM

  188. Ike, nice treatise (184). As I’m sure you are aware, neither NSF or NIH are free of political controls as they are both government entities dependent on Congress for funds and under Executive control. Until someone finds the golden egg-laying hen, that’s the way it will be. In part this is good (well, appropriate) because no entity, no matter how noble, should be given unfettered unending funding. In part it also has its drawbacks as you point out. And history is rife with politicians or businesses dictating the result of scientific inquiry — politics being the most pernicious of the pair. NSF and NIH have somehow managed to operate quite well, however, under those constraints.

    Comment by Rod B — 9 May 2007 @ 4:53 PM

  189. In regards to the lag/lead “conundrum”, often I have found it useful to massage it with an analogical question: if I claim that fire causes a rise in the amount of heat and a rise in temperature because they come after the fire, can I then refute that claim by showing that on some occations a rise in heat and temp. has come before the fire?

    Comment by Justin — 9 May 2007 @ 5:00 PM

  190. Re: 184.

    Ike,
    It is absolutely true what you said about NOAA silencing discussion and suppression of research by government scientists.

    In my experience, I received an e-mail (February, 2005) from the Hydrologist in Charge at the North Central River Forecast Center (NCRFC) which said:

    The bottom line is you were told many times to stop working in this area and that still holds true and will continue to hold true until you are directed otherwise.

    NCRFC is part of NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS). My removal (July 2005 from federal service by NWS officials was a direct result of trying to discuss and research climate and hydrologic change from 2000-2005 as part of my position as a NOAA NWS NCRFC Senior Hydrologist. I served 29 years in hydrologic modeling and prediction.

    Comment by pat n — 9 May 2007 @ 5:10 PM

  191. re: #184
    “If you consider that both the computer microprocessor and the solar photovoltaic cell are based on the same discovery (semiconductor p-n junctions), but that PV cells have gone through only three generations, while billions have been poured into multiple generations of microprocessors, it really becomes clear that PV cell science has not been allowed to develop.”

    I think this is misleading, in some sense. a) There certainly hasn’t been as much investment, but b) PV is “harder”, because “Moore’s Law” doesn’t help much, like it has for micros, of which I’ve helped design about a dozen. I also used to work at Bell Labs, where modern PV cells started, and our people were certainly motivated to improve them, but it was hard work.

    I was lucky to attend a fine lecture a few weeks ago at SLAC by Charles Gay, VP&GM of the Solar Business Group at Applied Materials (AMAT), a 40-year-old company that is the world’s leader building equipment for manufacturing semiconductors, i.e., *very* serious people. Gay was also Director of NREL 1994-1997.

    4) Gay gave a very nice presentation, “Gigawatt Scale Solar manufacturing for Grid Power Parity”, showing trendlines, machinery (amazing stuff), and expected cost curves over time. PV isn’t coming down as fast as CMOS has done, but he did have very straightforward predictions. That it’s taking longer isn’t because it hasn’t been allowed, it’s because a) It’s harder, and b) There hasn’t been as been as much investment, but now a) It’s still hard, but b) The investment is going up, and c) As the volumes go up, the unit costs go down, and as the market grows d) People get serious about more technology exploration.

    http://www.appliedmaterials.com/news/solar_strategy.html is useful, and the 8-page whitepaper http://www.appliedmaterials.com/news/assets/solar_whitepaper.pdf has some of the charts Gay used. [I wish the whole talk were online, but I haven't found it anywhere.]

    One key chart shows cost/watt for finished modules, including history from 1980 ($21.83/Watt), through:
    2005 $2.70/W
    2010 $1.82/W
    2013 $1.44/W

    An NREL chart shows the (slow) improvements in efficiencies over the years, which unfortunately bear no resemblance to Moore’s Law explosions.

    Anyway, it was encouraging…. and it was straightforward, serious engineering/business from a highly credible source. I don’t think PV is the panacea, but it certainly helps …

    [Disclaimer: I don't own any AMAT these days, so this is not a commercial :-)]

    Comment by John Mashey — 9 May 2007 @ 6:19 PM

  192. Wow, Pat, this is worse than I thought could happen. It is very concerning. Disregarding reality because it’s unpleasant has never changed reality and certainly does not make one more able to deal with it. Unfortunately that kind of attitude is widespread. I find it enraging that denialists have managed to make it a widely held belief that anti-AGW positions are liable to get retaliation by the scientific community while in reality, the retaliation has come from the other end. Give me even less patience for denialists than I had.

    Comment by Philippe Chantreau — 9 May 2007 @ 9:13 PM

  193. Re #185.

    My concern with worshipping at the altar of Science is that Science answers How and Why and What real well, but it doesn’t answer “Can we get there from here? And at what cost?” If the question is “Would burning every single last ounce of carbon-based fuel left in the ground trash the planet by 2100?”, I think the science is pretty solid — the answer, for me, is an unequivocal “Yes”.

    But at what point on the road to a global population peak somewhere in this century do fossil fuels, at the A1A scenario rate of consumption, begin to compete for food dollars? It’s already happening in this country with corn-for-ethanol. Corn prices are rising, and that’s hurting ranchers, which will create upward pressure on food prices. The current price of corn, at $3.75 or so a bushel, is towards the upper end of historical corn prices. Gasoline is within pennies of its inflation-adjusted historical high, and this isn’t some kind of geopolitical-crisis-that-can-end-tomorrow sort of spike.

    What all of this means is that the choices that are being made are simply the wrong choices — liquifying coal will lock-in minimum fuel prices at significantly higher rates than 5 years ago and do little or nothing to lower prices. Rising demand for coal will raise coal-fired electric rates. Carbon-based fuel prices are on an upward spiral and will outpace CO2 concentrations from now until we either run out or boil the oceans. And guess what? “Energy” shows up in everything we buy.

    Superficially, oil looks “cheap” because a barrel is some 5.9*10^6 BTU, or 1.7*10^6 watt-hours, and producing that sort of capacity from solar ($4M) is dramatically higher than producing it with oil ($10K), and wind is only slightly better ($1.7M). But two have long term potential, and the third will be depleted after 20 years or so, and there’s not a lot that can be done about that. That’s where free market economics, and its focus on short term profits will definitely bite us where we don’t much want to get bit.

    What’s keeping renewables, such as wind (and solar), from being produced isn’t that $1.7M cost per barrel-energy-equivalent-per-day, it’s that wind is marginally more expensive than natural gas or coal. Not prohibitively expensive, like, we’d go broke buying wind, or Sterling engine solar, power but it would cost pennies per kilo-watt hour more. That’s what free market economics does — it focuses attention where peoples attention span lives. About every three months.

    The moral of my little story is simple — we might have 8 or 10 or 12 years to curb CO2 emissions, but if the rise in energy costs the last few years are any indication, we don’t have 8 or 10 or 12 years to curb energy costs. The only declining cost per unit energy technologies out there happen to also be renewable technologies.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 9 May 2007 @ 9:21 PM

  194. Dear Philippe,

    Thank you for expressing your concern in #192. I’ve felt that the problems I had with my employer (NOAA NWS), in trying to research climate change impacts to hydrology, were personal problems not appropriate for discussion at realclimate or anywhere else.

    I think the way I was treated at NOAA NWS partly explains what is described in a recent posting at Climate Science Watch (title and link below).

    IPCC North America climate change impacts chapter shows evasiveness of U.S. Climate Action Report

    http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/index.php/csw/details/ipcc_car/

    Comment by pat n — 10 May 2007 @ 7:45 AM

  195. Is it not true that a 1% change in global precipitation is worth about 1 w/m^2, and we are nowhere near that good in terms of accuracy of global precipitation? Also is it not true that destruction of arable land leading to lessened evapotranspiration which leads to reduced precipitation (what goes up must come down) will bias temperatures upward? With that in mind, how do we know the relative effects of land use vs. ghg’s, especially when ghg’s modify the vertical lapse rate which affects convection?

    [Response: What precipitation gives, evaporation takes away, and so there is no net change in energy flux. Additionally, internal changes in energy fluxe don't give a radiative forcing in the same sense as additional GHGs or aerosols or albedo changes from land use. We can calculate the effects of land use change and GHGs, and all such comparisons show that GHGs give a bigger impact, especially globally - see here for instance: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abstracts/2005/Hansen_etal_2.html - gavin]

    Comment by Harry Haymuss — 10 May 2007 @ 8:47 AM

  196. The 2007 May 7 issue of Spiegel Online has an article by a Herr Stempf claiming global warming won’t be all that bad. I noticed several errors, based on what I have learned here on RealClimate, but am not (yet) qualified to offer a critical review of the piece…

    Comment by David B. Benson — 10 May 2007 @ 4:15 PM

  197. Regarding the new Spiegel article

    One member of the levelheaded camp is Hans von Storch, 57, a prominent climate researcher who is director of the Institute for Coastal Research at the GKSS Research Center in Geesthacht in northern Germany. “We have to take away people’s fear of climate change,” Storch told DER SPIEGEL in a recent interview. “Unfortunately many scientists see themselves too much as priests whose job it is to preach moralistic sermons to people.”

    Not the End of the World as We Know It
    May 07, 2007
    By Olaf Stampf
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,481684-2,00.html

    How odd – one of the few climatologists interviewed for the Spiegel article (von Storch) was responsible for the paper critiquing the hockey stick – where the paper was so flawed that Science had to issue a retraction…

    von Storch et al. (Reports, 22 October 2004, p. 679) criticized the ability of the “hockey stick” climate field reconstruction method to yield realistic estimates of past variation in Northern Hemisphere temperature. However, their conclusion was based on incorrect implementation of the reconstruction procedure. Calibration was performed using detrended data, thus artificially removing a large fraction of the physical response to radiative forcing.

    Technical Comments
    Comment on “Reconstructing Past Climate from Noisy Data”
    Eugene R. Wahl, David M. Ritson, Caspar M. Ammann
    Science 28 April 2006:
    Vol. 312. no. 5773, p. 529
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1120866
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/312/5773/529b

    What a coincidence!

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 10 May 2007 @ 5:39 PM

  198. Re #197: Timothy Chase — Thank you!

    Comment by David B. Benson — 10 May 2007 @ 6:24 PM

  199. Re 197 [Science had to issue a retraction]

    Tim,
    That is not correct. What you cited was a technial comment by Wahl et al. criticizing the 2004 paper by von Storch et al. Immediately following the Wahl et al. comments, von Storch and his co-authors defended their original analysis:
    Response to Comment on “Reconstructing Past Climate from Noisy Data”
    Hans von Storch, Eduardo Zorita, Julie M. Jones, Fidel Gonzalez-Rouco, and Simon F. B. Tett (28 April 2006) Science 312 (5773), 529c.

    There was no retraction of the original von Storch et al. article by Science or by the authors.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 10 May 2007 @ 7:11 PM

  200. That’s how it looks to me too. Better ask the real scientists to check that opinion.

    [Response: The study was not retracted, though that possibility was considered by Science. And it is certainly true that Von Storch et al attempted to save face in their response to the Wahl et al comment. However, that was only by dramatically changing the ground rules of the game in an, at best , disingenuous manner. See what we've had to say about all of this previously in our post "A Mistake with Repercussions" and more importantly with respect to the latter point about "ground rules", "How Red are my Proxies?". -mike]

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 May 2007 @ 9:53 PM

  201. Re the response to #195,

    However, condensation giveth (net) in the mid troposphere and evaporation taketh away (net) at the surface. 1 cm of evaporation is 1 cm of evaporation at the surface.

    Comment by Harry Haymuss — 10 May 2007 @ 10:09 PM

  202. My apologies. After some digging and lost data…

    Storch comes into this rather late.

    The criticism of the hockey stick was largely initiated with “Corrections to the Mann et al (1998) Proxy Data Base and Northern Hemisphere Average Temperature Series” Energy and Environment 14(6) 751-772 by Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick in 2005. Long story: large scientific bodies commissioning peer-reviewed reports supporting the hockey stick, and a representative from the US Congress commissioning a Wegman report against it – which was not peer-reviewed. Over a dozen reconstructions by different teams using largely independent sets of data arriving at essentially the same hockey stick figure as the original paper. Storch came on the seen in April of 2006 with something decidedly different.

    Undoubtedly the “controversy” will continue for some time to come. Personally, I would be far more interested in what odds McIntyre, McKitrick or Storch might give me on whether the Arctic icecap will see the next ten summers.

    In any case, for those who are interested in a brief but fairly detailed history, you might want to see:

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

    When something is this “controversial,” Wikipedia is generally pretty good at keeping it accurate – and keeping it from being vandalized.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 10 May 2007 @ 11:33 PM

  203. I posted something that comes after Mike’s comment in #200, but I believe I may still have some of the chronology wrong – and the tone isn’t right. For those who are interested, I would strongly recommend the links Mike suggested. I had put the emphasis on politics (more or less), and both posts are much more informative and place the emphasis where it most belongs.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 11 May 2007 @ 12:15 AM

  204. Pat, thanks for your posts. I agree with most of them.

    Hank, I quess your post was directed to me.

    “People keep coming in with this same question over and over.”
    Ok, I haven’t seen if before.

    “I keep asking them where they’re getting their information and why they rely on it.”
    From meteorology books like, Fundamentals of weather and climate, Robin McIlveen and Boundary layer climats, T.R Oke. I rely on them because they are written by people working in meteorology and I like especially the first.

    “I haven’t ever gotten a clear answer to how this idea keeps being promoted, where they find it.”

    Researcher in meteorology seems to have the idea. I found the books in University libraries.

    “But it’s been such a steady flow of new names with the same, simple, wrong idea coming in here,”
    Ok, why it is wrong?

    “saying how radiation can’t be important”

    Where did I say that? The only thing I have said is that the diurnal warming/cooling is mostly through the energy transfer with the ground and convection. Radiaten from the sun and atmosphere warms/cools the ground but the direct energy transfer to the atmosphere seems to be small. The above books seems to mostly ignore it atleast.

    “so the whole theory about CO2 is wrong”

    I have never said that.

    “it has to be conduction and convection.”

    The diurnal variatons, mostly yes.

    “I’m convinced it’s a talking point on one of the PR sites for Western Fuels, or one of the political sites.”

    Or maybe universities books?

    “Please, someone, where are you getting it? Who’s being so successful at fooling new readers that they come to RC believing this stuff and then spend large amounts of time insisting the science is missing their ‘fact’? ”

    Try to understand what people write before coming to your conclusion. Just because C0_2 and radiation is not in every sentence doesn’t imply that the writer is incorrect or saying that people dont belive in global warming.

    Seriously, drawing the conclusion that people that belive that the main diurnal energy transfer in the troposphere is due to convection and advection, i.e. they drive the weather, dont belive in the greehouse effect is just ridicoulus. You really have trouble convincing people if one of the main parts in university level books on meteorology and climate is considered as propaganda from the oil industry. To be clear, the energy transfer on the ground depends on both SW and LW radiaten but the temperature in the atmosphere depends more on convection and advection compared to direct absorbation from radiation.

    I have expected more from you Hank and I was offended by your post.

    Ray, I agree with most of your post and tried to make the same point.

    “It does not make sense to look at any of these mechanisms in isolation. ”

    If for example one layer warms 1e8 times more by convection compared to direct absorbation of radiation, then would I say that it make sense to ignore the radiation.
    Conduction can clearly be ignored at 5000 m above the ground. I belive warming of the atmosphere by absorbation (radiation) could be ignored at 300 m on a sunny day.

    Timothy, I agree with your post. The problem is when some people tries to apply there knoweledge outside the correct field. When people with some knoweledge about an averaged climate model tries to apply that knoweledge to diurnal process. That atleast how I see it.

    Barton, try to understand peoples questions and points before you answer. You misunderstood alexander and you misunderstood me. Answering a sentence out of context is pretty bad. You have also clearly been wrong several times in this thread (atleast if context is included)

    I have read parts of Hougton’s book before and looked through it today. Nothing in it seems to contradict what I am trying to say. For example on page 14-15 is it written that the dominant mechanism of heat transfer is convection in the troposphere and radiation in the stratosphere. The first one is what I tried to say. Once again read people’s post before answering. Thanks for calling me a crackpot by the way.

    Comment by fredrik — 11 May 2007 @ 3:51 AM

  205. Re: #172

    Don’t forget – the IPCC itself claims that natural forces were the dominant cause of the forcing in the earlier half of the 20th century, …..

    How come most of the historical proxy reconstructions portray early 20th century warming as “unprecedented” then?

    Is it because early 20th century solar activity was unprecedented (at least as far as the past 1000 years or so is concerned)?

    Comment by caz — 11 May 2007 @ 4:20 AM

  206. Question: Why in the world is Roger Pielke, Jr. a contributor at the new Nature blog? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think he’s a climate scientist. Isn’t his doctorate in POLITICAL science?

    Comment by Reasic — 11 May 2007 @ 8:29 AM

  207. This thread appears to cover just about everything related to climate change and the denialists from Von Storch and the hockey stick to alternative energy engines. However one item not on the list is that of the fact that climate scientists have been fighting the denialists so long now (since 1988 essentially) and still no real action to combat warming has taken place that I for one personally belive that it will take some 30 years before we are really tackling this issue globally and by then it might be too late to stop 2 degrees C of warming.

    430 ppmv currenly I beleive and come 2040 it will be around 490 – 500 ppmv. Surely that is the reality of our current situation.

    Hadn’t we better preapre society for a 2 C rise in temps?

    Comment by pete best — 11 May 2007 @ 9:47 AM

  208. This is the way neocons groom their successors. People like Max Mayfield pave the way, and the next thing you know, Chris Landsea is director of the NWS and NHC. Imagine Roger Pielke, Jr. as presidential science advisor, and the next thing you know, your whole day is ruined.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 11 May 2007 @ 10:20 AM

  209. 430 ppmv currently I believe and come 2040 it will be around 490 – 500 ppmv. Surely that is the reality of our current situation.

    Hadn’t we better prepare society for a 2 C rise in temps?

    You need to double check your numbers. It isn’t going to stop at 2 C.

    Wouldn’t it be more productive to prepare society for the reality of having to necessarily implement a technological planetary engineering solution, the now mandatory Anthropocene era, as an alternative response to the Neocene climate which we know is already coming? The only thing standing between today’s climate and the Neocene, are three large ice sheets and a large ice raft, two of which are already on the way out.

    With 10 billion people soon to be residing on this planet, energy conservation alone is not going to get us out of this situation. This is a universal natural test of intelligence, one of many that civilizations must pass in order to proceed. The conservation of energy is a guide, but it is no longer the solution. We need to get all of these future 10 billion souls interested in science, because it is in their own best interest, whether they know it or not. Religion doesn’t cut it in the real world, surely even cave men must have known that.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 11 May 2007 @ 10:53 AM

  210. cas (#205) wrote:

    How come most of the historical proxy reconstructions portray early 20th century warming as “unprecedented” then?

    Is it because early 20th century solar activity was unprecedented (at least as far as the past 1000 years or so is concerned)?

    1. The proxies don’t show the earlier half of the twentieth century as unprecedented: they show the twentieth century as a whole as being unprecedented.
    2. In the earlier half of the twentieth century, our contributions were masked by aerosols – which nevertheless have a short lifespan in the atmosphere such that trying to counteract the effects of climate change would require greater and greater amounts of aerosols to compensate for increased carbon dioxide levels.
    3. Stating that solar variability was responsible for the majority of forcing in the earlier half of the twentieth century is not the same tehing as saying that it was responsible for all of the forcing in the earlier half. Our contributions would still have been responsible for much of the trend, and in logic, we could have been responsible for 49% of the trend.
    4. The population of the earth has expanded considerably since 1950, and therefore one would expect that our contribution has increased more or less proportionally to the populations since then.
    5. The IPCC may very well have been being conservative in its estimates of our contributions.
    6. Giving contrarians the extreme benefit of a doubt by assuming that the sun was responsible for 100% of the forcing during the earlier half of the twentieth century, according to the articles cited in what you were responding to, solar variability could only be contributing to 30% of the forcing since 1970.

    Now you should also keep in mind that given the natural forcing we are experiencing, we should currently be in a cooling trend. We aren’t.

    I would likewise recommend that you check out what has been happening to the arctic ice over the past fifty years. Currently our best estimate is that it will last only the next few decades before it is gone. However, this is likely an underestimate of the rate at which it will melt.

    I would also remind you that simply in terms of the rise in temperatures we have yet to see the full effects of our past forcing.

    1. So far, the ocean has absorbed the good majority of the carbon dioxide we have been emitting.
    2. As temperatures increase, the ocean’s capacity to absorb our emissions decreases. At some point it will in all likelyhood become an emitter.
    3. As the arctic ice melts, it will be exposing more dark ocean, leading to positive feedback.
    4. As the temperature of the ocean increases, this will increase the rate at which the arctic ice melts.
    5. As the permafrost thaws, organic material which has been locked away for millenia will become available to bacteria, and it will begin to release the methane and carbon dioxide which it has locked away for all that time, this, too will result in positive feedback.
    6. As the temperature of the ocean rises, it may destabilize shallow water methane hydrate deposits, which would further add to the amount of greenhouse gases which are in the atmospehre.

    Now I will note that the positive feedbacks mentioned above will not have an indefinite runaway effect. Nevertheless, they will be considerable. Moreover, the projections so far made by the IPCC have not taken them into account, conservatively estimating the future consequences of past and current emissions, and in the case of carbon dioxide, much of it will remain in the atmosphere for millenia.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 11 May 2007 @ 11:17 AM

  211. Re #209 “With 10 billion people soon to be residing on this planet, energy conservation alone is not going to get us out of this situation. This is a universal natural test of intelligence, one of many that civilizations must pass in order to proceed.”

    My hunch is that something close to this explains the Fermi paradox (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_Paradox). I conjecture that species capable of developing technology arise on many planets, but they all discover capitalism. This swiftly destroys their ecological support systems, and hence renders them extinct before they can get round to sending out von Neumann probes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Von_Neumann_probe). Each will have produced an expanding shell of radio transmissions a couple of light-centuries thick, but the chances we are currently passing through one that’s still strong enough to detect and decipher against all the background noise is probably negligible ;-).

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 11 May 2007 @ 11:25 AM

  212. This paper that shows periodic cooling events in the Southern Hemisphere that appear to be concurrent with periodic Northern Hemisphere cooling events and solar activity minimums is interesting.

    “Solar modulation of Little Ice Age climate in the tropical Andes”

    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/0603118103v1.pdf

    “The underlying causes of late-Holocene climate variability in the tropics are incompletely understood. Here we report a 1,500-year reconstruction of climate history and glaciation in the Venezuelan Andes using lake sediments. Four glacial advances occurred between anno Domini (A.D.) 1250 and 1810, coincident with solar activity minima. Temperature declines of approx. 3.2 +/- 1.4°C and precipitation increases of approx. 20% are required to produce the observed glacial responses.”

    Comment by William Astley — 11 May 2007 @ 12:08 PM

  213. Wlliam Astley (#212) wrote:

    This paper that shows periodic cooling events in the Southern Hemisphere that appear to be concurrent with periodic Northern Hemisphere cooling events and solar activity minimums is interesting.

    Science is interesting, at least when you are interested in science. It is interesting especially when you try experiments which have never been tried before. Then again, there is a saying: “May you live in interesting times.”

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 11 May 2007 @ 1:10 PM

  214. Re #209: [With 10 billion people soon to be residing on this planet, energy conservation alone is not going to get us out of this situation. This is a universal natural test of intelligence...]

    Err… I suppose this is getting far off into non-acceptable politics, but I’d think that the starting point for any intelligent analysis ought to be the premise that 10 billion people will be living on the planet. Or perhaps I should say can be living on it, because at this point it looks as though famines, wars, and other side effects will arrange things so that they won’t be – at least not for long.

    Comment by James — 11 May 2007 @ 3:01 PM

  215. Fredrik, as one pilot to another — I started hang gliding in 1978 — what I’m asking for is your sources.
    A bit more specific than ‘books’ in ‘university libraries’ — if you’ll give specifics I’ll try to get copies and read them and see what sense I can make of them.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 May 2007 @ 4:10 PM

  216. I’d like to know which is the counter argument to Hertzberg’s argument that a 30% drop in human CO2 emissions, by 1930, didn’t affect even by 1 ppm the atmospheric CO2. I found this claim here. I’ve searched a bit for this specific point in this blog but I couldn’t find yet. Maybe there are something, since it’s so big, but I’m asking anyway…

    Comment by Danniel Saores — 11 May 2007 @ 5:29 PM

  217. Ops, forget it. Has been answered already on the comments.

    Comment by Danniel Soares — 11 May 2007 @ 5:40 PM

  218. About conservatism, leftism and environmentalism… the link I gave above, with the already mentioned point of dr. Hertzberg is some sort of leftist publication.

    In the other hand, there are conservatives in “the other side” too, such as “Republicans for Environmental Protection”, and whoever may follow green libertarianism (links to an article on wikipedia about that). I’ve also found what seems to be a far-right publication (frontpagemag.com) with an article (“The Right Conservative Position On The Environment” )defending right conservative environmentalism. Of course, trying to distinguish itself from left environmentalism.

    I think that this thing of labelling everything manicheistically as either left or right is some sort of psychological thing more than the reality of the things discussed. I do not really know the history, but taking these “anomalies” in account, plus somethings Thomas Lovejoy said in an enterview I watched (about Reagan administration, where Lovejoy had some position, having advanced important laws in environmental protection), I think that this political polarization arised initially by chance; prior to any polarization, it probably was discussed apart from that, only by the scientific viewpoint. But then happened to someone from the political left being more notoriously for environment, or someone from the political right being “against”, that then the other side reacted taking the opposite role, disagreeing with the other side just because that’s the way it use to be in politics.

    Perhaps someone could have been a “trigger” of the inverse polarization, if, say, someone from the right wing called attention to the environmental protection first, they could then have assumed the inverse roles instead…

    Comment by Danniel Soares — 11 May 2007 @ 6:21 PM

  219. Re the response to #195, the reference states “The efficacy curve for the Earth must have an overall U-shape, with sharp upturns to snowball Earth on the left side and runaway greenhouse on the right.”

    I didn’t think anyone seriously believed in a “runaway greenhouse effect” anymore as the lapse rate of all planets is roughly adiabatic, with convection (or what?) stabilizing it.

    I think the point was that evaporation moves heat energy up to the middle troposphere, where it is released by condensation. It is moved away from the surface at a rate of ~0.8 w/m^2 per centimeter of evaporation, based on latent heat calculations. At an average global rate of precipitation (therefore evaporation) of one meter per year, that’s a change of one percent. Do we seriously know the rate of global precipitation within one percent? I doubt it.

    That I think is the point.

    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 11 May 2007 @ 7:55 PM

  220. > diurnal warming/cooling is mostly through the energy transfer with the ground and convection.
    > Radiaten from the sun and atmosphere warms/cools the ground but
    > the direct energy transfer to the atmosphere seems to be small.

    But in fact it’s well known; Google will find many thousand pages describing how ice is made in the desert under clear night sky conditions. Now if you up the water vapor (clouds) this won’t work, of course, because the heat radiated up is radiated back down again from them.

    Making ice in the desert (Henry Spencer)
    The Romans made ice in the desert that way: insulate the container with a thick layer of straw during the day, expose it to the sky at night(unless it’s cloudy), repeat as necessary. A clear night sky is very cold.
    yarchive.net/space/ice_in_desert.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 May 2007 @ 10:36 PM

  221. Re 209/214, yes climate change will exacerbate existing difficulties with increased famine or drought or maybe floods and too much warmth. The 2 C of temp rise is allegedly the point where humans can no longer do anything about warming and hence it all becomes totally academic.

    I believe that 10 billion is too high a number and 8 billion by 2050 is more likely, however by the end of the 21st century the population is scheduled to fall back to 6 billion, the birth rate world wide is dropping.

    So lets prepare for a warmer world and tell our children of what is to come so that they can make plans to.

    Comment by pete best — 12 May 2007 @ 5:03 AM

  222. Fredrik, The problem you are having is that you are trying to think of the heat transfer modes in isolation. That won’t work. You can’t neglect radiation just because much of the heat transfer in the day is due to convection and transfer of latent heat. That simply doesn’t work. Yes, energy transfer mechanisms differ between day and night. That doesn’t mean that air isn’t heated over warm rocks at night or that radiation (going up or down) isn’t important during the day. Look at a sunset–clearly the atmosphere is absorbing radiation.

    Comment by ray ladbury — 12 May 2007 @ 6:27 AM

  223. [[the temperature in the atmosphere depends more on convection and advection compared to direct absorbation from radiation. ]]

    Which part of “radiation from the ground transfers 350 watts per square meter to the atmosphere while convection and evaporation transfer 102 watts per square meter altogether” do you not understand? Then there’s the additional 67 watts per square meter the atmosphere absorbs from sunlight. The dominant mechanism which heats the atmosphere is radiation, Fredrik. Deal with it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 12 May 2007 @ 7:27 AM

  224. [[I didn't think anyone seriously believed in a "runaway greenhouse effect" anymore as the lapse rate of all planets is roughly adiabatic, with convection (or what?) stabilizing it.]]

    It happened on Venus. That’s why it’s bone-dry today.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 12 May 2007 @ 7:32 AM

  225. Also Re 225,

    What do you mean by Venus is “bone dry”? The temperature on the surface is about 400° C. What did you expect?

    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 12 May 2007 @ 11:55 AM

  226. > lapse rate … no runaway greenhouse

    But see, for example:
    http://www.physchem.ox.ac.uk/~wayne/atmos/lecture1.pdf

    “Runaway Greenhouse Effect Venus – all CO2 in atmosphere: no H2O”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 May 2007 @ 12:42 PM

  227. The lapse rate on Venus is approximately the same as the lapse rate on Earth. The difference is in the thickness of the atmosphere.

    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 12 May 2007 @ 1:48 PM

  228. This week a forest fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area expanded to 52,000 acres and crossed the international boundary from Minnesota to Ontario. 657 firefighters and 16 helicopters have been employed as the fire continues to grow. A severe drought, which began early in 2006, led to the fire which began about a week ago. Lake Superior is near an 82 year low surface level. Many non-government people are blaming global warming but state and federal managers, and the media, blame Mother Nature.

    A photos of the fire fighting effort and a link to more photos and information are at:

    http://npat1.newsvine.com/_news/2007/05/12/715305-fire-in-the-bwca

    Comment by pat n — 12 May 2007 @ 2:35 PM

  229. This would seem related to #228…

    It appears that a new form of positive feedback has been kicking in a bit. As you are probably already aware, higher temperatures mean increased evaporation and precipitation, but rainfall will tend to occur closer to where the evaporation takes place. This results in increased risk of drought.

    With drought, plants are less able to make use of increased levels of carbon dioxide or even the amounts they had been adapted to, and are also more likely to release dioxide as the result of fire – hence the feedback.

    There is a non-technical article here:

    Surge in carbon levels shows vegetation struggling to cope
    David Adam
    Friday May 11, 2007
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/story/0,,2077117,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=11

    Knorr et al. state in their conclusion:

    A test of model results against both atmospheric CO2 measurements and satellite observed vegetation activity shows good agreement, further supporting this hypothesis. For particular instances, such as the 1997/1998 extreme El NinË?o event, the assumption of additional CO2 sources, such as from fires, is necessary to explain the observations. For the anomalous CO2 rise during 2002â??2003, we find that it was probably caused by extremely widespread drought conditions in 2002 and 2003.

    Impact of terrestrial biosphere carbon exchanges on the anomalous CO2 increase in 2002â??2003
    W. Knorr, N. Gobron, M. Scholze, T. Kaminski, R. Schnur, and B. Pinty
    published 5 May 2007.
    GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 34, L09703, doi:10.1029/2006GL029019, 2007

    Obviously not the best of news…

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 12 May 2007 @ 5:25 PM

  230. Hm?
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2006DPS….38.2612M
    “… The middle and lower cloud deck is sustained by a radiative-dynamical feedback whereby heating of the cloud base by radiation from the lower atmosphere destabilizes the lapse rate within the cloud region. …”

    More news soon:
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2006DPS….38.1607M

    Much isn’t yet certain, at least as far as these folks are aware:

    “The new discipline of Comparative Planetary Climatology deals with the climate on Earth-like planets and addresses the physical processes that determine environmental conditions, the stability in each case against climate change, and the development of new experiments to further investigate these. By comparing the processes at work on Mars, Venus and Titan to those on our own planet we may gain a deeper understanding of global change on the Earth, the origin and evolution over the long term of this habitable world, and the processes behind threats such as greenhouse warming. Model temperature profiles which give a description of the state of the climate for all four of the terrestrial planet atmospheres in terms of simple physics, can be employed to study, and eventually to answer, questions of climate stability and change, such as: What do the climate systems on all four planets have in common? How stable are their current climates? What controls their stability? ….”

    http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/klu/geop/2006/00000027/00000002/00003874

    Raypierre’s “Science Fiction Atmospheres” is an interesting approach to this. It appears not to be cut and dry simple.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 May 2007 @ 5:39 PM

  231. Re 230,

    I’m not sure what your point is. The abstract states “warmings of approximately 10 K are required to significantly reduce the cloud optical thickness”. Let’s not lose sight of orders of magnitude, eh?

    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 12 May 2007 @ 11:02 PM

  232. Point being the scientists publishing as of this year are describing their efforts “to study, and eventually to answer, questions of climate stability and change, such as: What do the climate systems on all four planets have in common? How stable are their current climates? What controls their stability?” — open questions.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 May 2007 @ 12:02 AM

  233. Re: 229, 228

    A big climate change factor that can increase forest and grassland fires is the earlier warm before vegetation greens up. The vegetation from the previous year can dry up more with warmer temperatures, winds and more days before green-up unless early winter and spring rains are persistent.

    Direct link to updates and images from the Ham Lake Fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA).

    http://www.hamlakefire.com/

    Comment by pat n — 13 May 2007 @ 6:21 AM

  234. [[What do you mean by Venus is "bone dry"? The temperature on the surface is about 400° C. What did you expect? ]]

    I’m referring to the fact that Venus very likely started out with oceans, either due to primordial volcanic outgassing or to accumulated material from comets. The water is gone. A runaway greenhouse effect (or Kasting’s (1989) proposed alternative of a “moist greenhouse effect”) is why.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 13 May 2007 @ 6:30 AM

  235. Steve, Hank is right about the value of comparative studies. It has been invaluable for geology. Already, from comparing Mars and Earth, we know that without a planetary magnetic field, the atmosphere gets dragged off into space by the solar wind.

    Comment by ray ladbury — 13 May 2007 @ 6:43 AM

  236. Re #234,

    That just violates basic thermodynamics.

    Re #235,

    I don’t disagree with that point at all. I am pointing out that the lapse rate on all 4 is basically adiabatic, which was the original point.

    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 13 May 2007 @ 7:56 AM

  237. Steve,
    http://www.google.com/search?q=venus+water

    You’ve been making similar statements about what you believe ever since the John Daly days of Usenet; I don’t see you being convinced by the published science, but I also don’t find published science supporting your beliefs. Might this simply be left as a recognized religious debate like DOS vs. UNIX, until some hard science comes in? Else it’s “I believe” vs. “citations” repeatedly.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 May 2007 @ 12:00 PM

  238. 234: That just violates basic thermodynamics.

    Not in any way I can see. Perhaps you could explain your reasoning in more detail?

    Comment by Paul Dietz — 13 May 2007 @ 1:29 PM

  239. Re #238:

    Hot air rises.

    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 13 May 2007 @ 8:21 PM

  240. Re: Venus

    According to Kasting (1988), the runaway greenhouse effect on Venus was more or less independent of the carbon dioxide in its atmosphere.

    The important thing was the increased thermal flux early on in the evolution of Venus. About 15% more than what we get. This would have lead to increased evaporation of the oceans, which would have increased the greenhouse effect. Once the surface reached the boiling point of water (remembering to factor in the difference in atmospheric pressure), this would have boiled away the oceans. The rise in temperature at that point would have lead to the sublimation of silicates, releasing carbon dioxide which now constitutes 95% of the atmosphere. Water vapor would then photodisassociate, and hydrogen would have leaked from the atmosphere. Oxygen, being the highly reactive stuff that it is would have reacted with what was left.

    The temperature on earth would have to be a great deal warmer to put us in danger of this. Nearly 700 Kelvin with an atmospheric pressure of over 100X that which it currently has – unless someone figures out how to shutdown convection. Without that, we are in the realm of positive feedback but no runaway. From what I can see, the chances of our achieving this is somewhere between “not bloody likely” and “nil.” We have plenty of positive feedback to worry about, but it would appear that a runaway effect simply isn’t in the picture.

    Anyway, the tech paper I have in this area is:

    Runaway and Moist Greenhouse Atmospheres and the Evolution of Earth and Venus
    James F. Kasting
    Icarus 74, 472-494 (1988)

    If anyone has something more recent, let me know.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 13 May 2007 @ 8:21 PM

  241. Hank,
    “A bit more specific than ‘books’ in ‘university libraries’ — if you’ll give specifics I’ll try to get copies and read them and see what sense I can make of them.”

    I already gave references to 3 books that I have in my office right now in my post.

    “But in fact it’s well known; Google will find many thousand pages describing how ice is made in the desert under clear night sky conditions. Now if you up the water vapor (clouds) this won’t work, of course, because the heat radiated up is radiated back down again from them.”

    All I have tried to say is that this phenomena is due mainly to the energy transfer at the ground. The energy transfer at the ground depends on the radiation to and from the earth. Clouds radiate back energy and the ground cool less. Isn’t cloud absorbing the energy in the atmospherice window frequencies by the way? How large is the temperature difference at say 2000 meter at a cloudy night and clear night, difference in temperature at cloud level compared to non cloud level? The difference is huge close to the ground. I admitt that I dont have a perfect understanding of everything about the weather and that was the reason I asked questions.

    I still claim that my understanding is in agreement with the books I have read. The explaination in them agree with your explaination.

    Ray
    “You can’t neglect radiation just because much of the heat transfer in the day is due to convection and transfer of latent heat. That simply doesn’t work.”

    Pretty advanced meteorology books seems to mostly ignore the direct absorbation from radiation in short term phenomena, i.e. they dont include the radiation balance and heating from it in the atmosphere. All I have found is a mentioned that it probably isn’t important in the boundary layer but might be higher at higher altitudes where the time constants are longer and that the temperatur would fall 1.1 K per day from the radiation in balance. I was interested in if it actually could be ignored or not and wanted some real numbers but the result was that I had to just defend was it written in the books.

    Barton, why do you just ignore what I write? I am interested in the diurnal variation and heat transfer. Not what makes the mean value. The mean value depends mostly on greenhouse gases as I have said many times before. Happy know?

    Comment by fredrik — 14 May 2007 @ 3:25 AM

  242. Some general comments about approximations. Climatologiest on this site sometime make the assumption that convection doesn’t exist. See for example http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=58 and the learning from a simple model thread. This is a very large approximation as it would give rise to a lapse rate that isn’t close to the real on. Very few people complain about this approximation but a lot of people complain about the approximation that I and most meteorolgy books seems to do. Why? I would say that the first one is a much larger approximations compared to the last one. One gives result that agree with measurement to a much better degree compared to the other one.

    So why the completely different response? It just seems to be a good example that show that people is much more likely to belive an argument if they like the result. It is even more strange in this case because my approximation doesn’t even imply anything about whether the greenhouse effect exist or not. It just seems to be that this is not in 100% agreement with my simplified understanding, CO_2 is not includen in every sentence, and thus must be wrong.

    I wonder why articles with arguments like “Why does the stratosphere cool when the troposphere warms?” is actually written. It is based on a large approximation and a result that cames directly from the large approximation (the higher lapse rate) and uses some strange arguments. It is just here we have a result and we need some words in a row that should leed to the conclusion. I see no reason as why the explaination there should convience anyone that the stratosphere should be cooling as a result of more greenhouse gases. I see no difference in beliving the conclusion of that article or beliving some article from junkscience.com except that it is more likely that the conclusion in gavin’s article is actually backed up by science. The article doesn’t show it though.

    Comment by fredrik — 14 May 2007 @ 6:44 AM

  243. [[Barton, why do you just ignore what I write?]]

    I don’t ignore it. I just have a hard time trying to figure out what you’re saying, and I go with what seems to be the clearest interpretation. Sorry if I got it wrong. When you said “the atmosphere is heated mostly by convection and advection,” that struck me as incorrect.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 May 2007 @ 7:19 AM

  244. Perhaps you could explain your reasoning in more detail?

    Hot air rises.

    The answer to my question is apparently ‘no’.

    Comment by Paul Dietz — 14 May 2007 @ 8:37 AM

  245. fredrik,

    I don’t know what your “approximation” consists of which is presumbly in the meteorology books.

    However, I strongly doubt that there is a “war” of any kind between meteorology and climatology – where one set of explanations contradicts the other. This sounds a little too much like the view by creationists that evolution violations the second law of thermodynamics. While undoubtedly there are some physicists who are creationists, most physicists undoubtedly accept evolution, and no physicist would use the second law of thermodynamics against evolution – unless he were completely misrepresenting the law for the purpose of attacking evolution.

    As for Gavin neglecting the effects of convection, he explicitly states as much.

    Moreover, without taking into effect convection we would be dealing with a runaway effect. In actuality the behavior of the atmosphere is very well understood – and modeling over decades is done at over a trillion flops per second. (The Earth Simulator was operating at that speed but it has been surpassed.) The biggest problem at this point lies with the aerosols and that is becoming quite tractible.

    Beyond the atmosphere, there are clearly more feedbacks in terms of the carbon cycle than what we have taken into account. Likewise, we do not currently understand the feedbacks involved in glaciers and the arctic as well as we would like, but we are beginning to get a great deal of data in this regard. I assume you have noticed that the artic ice has declined dramatically in the past few decades. The same thing is happening to the vast majority of glaciers outside of Antarctica, and even West Antarctica is in the process of collapsing.

    In any case, approximations are used where other effects are neglected because they are meant to illustrate the principles involved so that scientifically literate non-specialist can understand. To arrive at the whole picture, one would need to become a specialist – probably in a variety of different but closely related fields.

    Now why do I trust the climatologists?

    Well, I must admit that I am coming into this as a novice. However, I know that all climatologists accept the greenhouse effect, and while there are a few who claim not to accept the anthropogenic nature of current climate change, they are in the tiny minority. Climatologists have the well-developed and well-tested theories. Theories that make predictions and are in good agreement with the data. A great deal of data.

    They aren’t offering crackpot explanations that ultimately breakdown and contradict each other. And because I understand that given the very nature of a society with the well developed division of cognitive labor which exists in a modern economy, no one can be an expert in all fields. The last time anyone could be was a little over 2300 years ago.

    It is quite possible that you understand a little more science than me, but those who believe that they understand climatology better than the climatologists are self-deluded fools. I chose not to be deluded. And I would prefer not to see others deluded, particularly if it means that a lot of people are going to die. What these guys are doing is trying to save lives – in the decades to come.

    What are the people at JunkScience doing?

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 14 May 2007 @ 9:15 AM

  246. Frederik,

    One more point.

    Now I must admit once again that my understanding is somewhat limited, and I must also admit that the climatologists do not understand all of the positive feedbacks which are likely to make things worse and sooner than their models project. Moreover, in terms of my personal interest, I may be a little more concerned than most americans with what happens in Africa and other parts of the third world. However, as near as I can see, by the end of this century, large parts of the United States will begin to resemble Somalia. This is a future which I would like to see us prevent.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 14 May 2007 @ 10:05 AM

  247. Re # 245 Timothy’s response to fredrik

    I don’t know how much disagreement there is between individual meteorologists and the consensus views in the field of climatology regarding AGW, but the World Meteorological Organization (http://www.wmo.int/pages/index_en.html) appears to endorse the conclusions of the IPCC reports:

    http://www.wmo.int/pages/documents/wmo_role_climate_change_issues.pdf

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 14 May 2007 @ 10:29 AM

  248. Re #244,

    I think the answer is adequate if one understands how convection works – or rather, *that* convection works.

    If one does not know, maybe not. Otherwise…

    http://www.answers.com/topic/thermodynamics

    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 14 May 2007 @ 10:49 AM

  249. “However, I strongly doubt that there is a “war” of any kind between meteorology and climatology – where one set of explanations contradicts the other. ” The theories are definitely in agreement with each other and people working in both fields probably understands most in the other field. I was commenting on the responses I got from people here on the forum, people that aren’t experts in climatology or meteorology. The standard explaination of phenomenenon in the troposphere (weather) was considered incorrect and propaganda.

    “As for Gavin neglecting the effects of convection, he explicitly states as much.”

    Yes, but this doesn’t make the argument for the cooling of the stratosphere any better.

    “In any case, approximations are used where other effects are neglected”

    Yes, ofcourse. All models in any field is an approximation. It was interesting to note that some large approximations is allowed but some smaller isn’t. Radiation in all processes seems very important for some people here.

    “because they are meant to illustrate the principles involved so that scientifically literate non-specialist can understand.”

    Yes, but this is very shaky ground. People have tried to simplify for example aerodynamics and the coriolis force and the result is often far from good. The equal transit time “theorem” in aerodynamics does more harm than good and is completely wrong to take just one example. I thought Gavin’s article did to many simplifications and the result is an explaination of a phenomena that doesn’t seem to agree with reality at all. I have tried to found a good explaination for the cooling of the stratosphere due to CO_2 but haven’t managed to find one. Interested to see one.

    “but those who believe that they understand climatology better than the climatologists are self-deluded fools”

    I mostly agree but experts in a related field like numerical solutions of Navier-Stokes equations and statistics could definitely have valid points.

    “What are the people at JunkScience doing?”

    Propaganda.

    Comment by fredrik — 14 May 2007 @ 10:58 AM

  250. I think the answer is adequate if one understands how convection works – or rather, *that* convection works.

    I do understand what convection is, and how it works, and, no, your answer is entirely inadequate. You appear to be someone who has made an unsupportable claim, and is working very hard from being required to support it.

    So explain your reasoning, sir, or I will be forced to conclude the hot gas is coming from you.

    Comment by Paul Dietz — 14 May 2007 @ 3:32 PM

  251. Re #250,

    Follow the link. [edited--please retain a civil tone.] Ghg’s heat up Earth’s surface, and convection, along with latent heat of evaporation, moves some of the heat upward into the mid troposphere where the water vapor condenses, releasing the heat up, away from the surface. This is aided by the fact that moister air is lighter.

    If you still don’t get it “I will [edited] not respond further to your … comments.

    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 14 May 2007 @ 4:13 PM

  252. I guess the civil tone part doesn’t apply to Paul?

    [it applies to everyone! Folks: any further comments that do not maintain a civil tone will not be screened through. -moderator]

    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 14 May 2007 @ 4:35 PM

  253. Steve appeared to write
    >> Re #234,
    >> That just violates basic thermodynamics.

    What is the actual statement you believe violates thermodynamics?
    Possibly the numbers have changed.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 May 2007 @ 7:54 PM

  254. Re #249 (fredrik): Regarding a good explanation for stratospheric cooling, look at this subsequent RC post and the links thereto.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 15 May 2007 @ 2:33 AM

  255. Back to basics, please. Cockburn stated that “there is zero empirical evidence” for AGW. RC of May 4 cites “the new IPCC report” in refutation. It would help to have the specific IPCC link to such evidence, if available. Thanks.

    Comment by Donald B Hagler — 18 May 2007 @ 8:30 PM

  256. Comment #255 is intended for Gavin (or Mike, who posted Real Climate’s May 4 original entry on Cockburn), whichever of the two might be in the best postition to support Real Climate’s refutation of Alexander Cockburn’s assertion that there is no empirical evidence for AGW. This assertion is not original with Cockburn–I’ve seen it earlier in several other places unrelated to Cockburn and it is gaining credence and momentum. So if there is a link to specific evidence countering it, it would be helpful.

    Comment by Donald B Hagler — 20 May 2007 @ 11:21 PM

  257. A recent article by Kjell Aleklett makes an important point. That IPCC scenarios assume an unlimited supply of fossil fuels, so that each scenario can be simulated without any regard to the limited nature of such resources. Indeed, even the most optimistic assessment of fossil fuel resources (the BP Statistical Review) only sees half, or even less, than that necessary for the worst case scenario.

    Does anyone know if, indeed, climate modellers do assume unlimited fossil fuel resources? If so, why?

    Tony

    Comment by Tony Weddle — 21 May 2007 @ 4:43 AM

  258. re: 256. Repeating an assertion does not mean it is “gaining credence” or “momentum”. Furthermore, the latest IPCC report (which is based on peer-reviewed science, not assertions) provides plenty of empirical evidence. It is linked from this site.

    Comment by Dan — 21 May 2007 @ 6:45 AM

  259. Donald B Hagler, if I might be presumptious; you might find a bit of useful info at:

    http://www.ipcc.ch/

    but if getting your head right into that doesn’t do the trick, read RC from go to woa and keep coming back

    I think this RC article by Stefan Rahmstorf is tops,

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/03/the-ipcc-sea-level-numbers/

    as it helps us understand how IPCC *has to be* conservative to ensure its credibility, but the potential for more extreme outcomes is soberingly real:

    Then after absorbing that; if you still have any denialist twinges, go stand on the beach and pretend you’re King Canute.

    Remember for us common folk its not so much a who-dunit anymore, but a whatll-we-do-now at the individual level!

    Im not being cheeky, but getting your head around what matters here does involve a bit of study. Its worth it, for the children, at least.

    Kind regards

    Nigel

    Comment by Nigel Williams — 21 May 2007 @ 7:03 AM

  260. Tony, that article about ‘running out of coal sooner’ is among several on the site; they’re talking about running out of coal at current economic costs and prices and talking about the worst case projections for climate change — the ‘different planet’ scenarios — being impossible. They’re making the “it’s too late to change” argument there in a slightly different fashion.
    One of the links from there points to this:

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/5/13/151248/673

    The comments there point to this: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2516 (“posting there by Stoneleigh on the carrying capacity of the world’s population)

    I didn’t read the thread, just looked at the chart. It doesn’t match what I’ve read everywhere else, can’t evaluate it.

    Even if we’ve burned up half the coal on the planet to date and it’s peaked like oil, we can’t burn the other half in the current century without dismal consequences.

    Yes, we’ve been using far more energy than is available from natural biogeochemical cycles —- that’s just the flip side of the excess carbon dioxide we’re putting into the air beyond what natural biogeochemical cycles can retrieve.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 May 2007 @ 8:56 AM

  261. Re: 256

    “Chapter 2: Changes in Atmospheric Constituents and in Radiative Forcing” simply by itself has over sixteen pages of references – peer-reviewed aticles that it cites. I haven’t performed an exact count, but I believe this would put it in the neighborhood of 650. And that is just one chapter.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 21 May 2007 @ 9:16 AM

  262. Is the sun moving towards a Maunder Minimum? Implications to climate?

    A) The following is a 2003 Prediction, based on solar observations and a Physical Model that the Sun is moving towards a Maunder Minimum (See link for details.)

    Comment:
    The sun is currently not following the expected solar cycle behaviour. The NASA solar cycle prediction group are planning to meet every 3 months to re-evaluate the cycle 24 prediction based on new data.

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2003SPD….34.0603S

    “Long-range (few years to decades) solar activity prediction techniques vary greatly in their methods. They range from examining planetary orbits, to spectral analyses (e.g. Fourier, wavelet and spectral analyses), to artificial intelligence methods, to simply using general statistical techniques. Rather than concentrate on statistical/mathematical/numerical methods, we discuss a class of methods which appears to have a “physical basis.” Not only does it have a physical basis, but this basis is rooted in both “basic” physics (dynamo theory), but also solar physics (Babcock dynamo theory). The class we discuss is referred to as “precursor methods,”… My colleagues and I have developed some understanding for how these methods work and have expanded the prediction methods using “solar dynamo precursor” methods,… This has led to better monitoring of the Sun’s dynamo fields and is leading to more accurate prediction techniques….

    …The surprising result of these long-range predictions is a rapid decline in solar activity, starting with cycle #24. If this trend continues, we may see the Sun heading towards a “Maunder” type of solar activity minimum – an extensive period of reduced levels of solar activity.

    B) The following is a 2004 paper that predicts the sun is heading towards a Maunder Minimum based on an analysis of the paleo record of solar activity.

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2004ApJ…605L..81B

    We have examined the long-term trends in the solar variability that can be deduced from some indirect data and from optical records. We analyzed the radiocarbon measurements for the last 4500 years, based on dendrochronology, the Schove series for the last 1700 years, based on auroral records, and the Hoyt-Schatten series of group sunspot numbers. Focusing on periodicities near one and two centuries, which most likely have a solar origin, we conclude that the present epoch is at the onset of an upcoming local minimum in the long-term solar variability. There are some clues that the next minimum will be less deep than the Maunder minimum, but ultimately the relative depth between these two minima will be indicative of the amplitude change of the quasi-two-century solar cycle.

    Comment by William Astley — 21 May 2007 @ 11:00 AM

  263. On the basis of less than 1 solar cycle’s data to determine that we are going to enter another Maunder Minimum: NOW THAT IS ALARMIST. Slight deviations from the 7-yr max, 4-yr min are common. I’ve seen nothing that would lead me to believe we’re seeing anything other than variability within the normal range of the solar cycle.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 May 2007 @ 12:03 PM

  264. re: #262

    I don’t know whether to wish harder for:
    a) Another Maunder Minimum, soon, to slow the rise a bit.

    b) Not, as a) might well convince people there was nothing to worry about.

    Comment by John Mashey — 21 May 2007 @ 4:59 PM

  265. When I see papers which proclaim, on the basis of proxy data “which most likely have a solar origin,” that “the present epoch is at the onset of an upcoming local minimum in the long-term solar variability,” the red light on my skeptimeter flashes. When I further see predictions based on “quasi-cycles,” I know that the authors may have fallen prey to the too-common tendency to see genuine periodicities where there are only characteristic timescales, or simply random fluctuations. Believe me, it happens all the time.

    I’ve looked at a lot of statistical analysis of “solar cycles” as well as the statistical analysis of climate data. I find the climate analyses very solid, and the solar-cycle analyses very flabby.

    It’s certainly possible that there are long-period solar cycles; it’s even possible that we’re headed for another “Maunder-like” minimum. But the evidence is very sketchy. The evidence for AGW is solid as a rock.

    Comment by tamino — 21 May 2007 @ 9:23 PM

  266. Re: 259 and 261 Thanks Nigel and Timothy for taking the time to note your suggestions. They look promising.

    Comment by Donald B Hagler — 22 May 2007 @ 2:33 AM

  267. In reply to comment #263 “On the basis of less than 1 solar cycle’s data to determine that we are going to enter another Maunder Minimum: NOW THAT IS ALARMIST.”

    As there is no modern instrumentation record of how and how quickly the sun moves from a normal cycle to Maunder state, there are definitely unknowns concerning what could or will take place. Based on my understanding of the mechanism, the cycle change would be abrupt. Solar cycle interruption as opposed to a cycle slow down. If the cycle change fails to occur or is gradual and has no or a minor affect on climate, I would be surprised. I would expect the cycle change to be complete in roughly 4 years. I could of course be incorrect.

    Comment by William Astley — 22 May 2007 @ 1:29 PM

  268. Re: 260. Thanks for the comment. Hank. One reason I posted was that the argument took what many regard as a very optimistic (depending on one’s point of view) assessment of fossil fuel resources – the BP review – and still can’t come up the amount of CO2 needed for the worst case scenarios. James Hansen and Pushker Kharecha also came up with a similar study, though more cautious on coal. It’s linked to from here:

    Implications of “Peak Oil” for Atmospheric CO2 and Climate

    But I’m still curious as to whether the IPCC scenarios do assume unlimited fossil fuel resources.

    Tony

    Comment by Tony Weddle — 25 May 2007 @ 7:13 AM

  269. Alexander Cockburn has an unfootnoted response over at Counterpunch, also behind the subscriber firewall at The Nation. He asserts the reducing C13/C12 ratio could just as easily be due to oxidation of plant sources of carbon other than fossil fuels. And also could be due to action of cold oceans which he says prefer to absorb one isotope over another. Since he’s not a scientist and doesn’t cite scientific sources there, it’s hard to evaluate. Can anyone who knows the science comment on his assertions?

    Comment by Nigel Goddard — 28 May 2007 @ 7:55 AM

  270. Re: #267 (William Astley)

    As there is no modern instrumentation record of how and how quickly the sun moves from a normal cycle to Maunder state, there are definitely unknowns concerning what could or will take place.

    I believe that was the point of #263. The uncertainties are great enough that predictions of an imminent Maunder minimum are an interesting speculation, but nothing like a reliable forecast.

    Comment by tamino — 28 May 2007 @ 8:51 AM

  271. It’s very sad. Specific attack on RC included.
    He attempts to source some of what he believes. Boiled down, amateur reader version:

    —-begin excerpt—-
    … primitive rhetorical pandybats…
    … affinity to those who insist the Holocaust never took place.
    … the consensus of “scientists”
    … coterie include very few real climatologists or atmospheric physicists.
    … plenty who do not accept the greenhousers’ propositions.
    … intimidated into silence by the pressures of grants, tenure and kindred academic garottes.
    … University of Virginia’s Pat Michaels
    … Dr Fred Goldberg
    … the probable culprit, Professor Bert Bolin, a politically driven Swede
    … 1995 IPCC … Executive Summary … stated that humans have influenced the climate
    … Fredrik Seitz … Wall Street Journal …
    … day and night or seasonal variations in photosynthesis cause clearly visible swings in the curve, the 30 percent drop between 1929 and 1932 caused not a ripple.
    …the naïve and scientifically silly assumption that the only way that plant-based carbon can get into the atmosphere is by people burning fuels …
    … low-C13 carbon most certainly would have been released massively into the atmosphere over the course of the world’s warming trend since 1850, when the Little Ice Age ended.
    … I was offline, in Russia, flying thither over the Arctic and thus able to make a direct review of the ice cap.
    —–end excerpt——

    So he’s discovered an Arctic ice cap, and a dramatic change in the temperature of the oceans since 1850 — both of which are claims open to attempts at confirmation by others. And he believes he can see day and night variations in CO2 in the chart.

    He believes the temperature change he believes he discovered in the ocean would cause release of C12 and C13 to explain the C14 depletion.
    No mention how long ocean circulation takes to turn over. No sources given for the belief the ocean has warmed.

    He apparently doesn’t believe the Arrhenius and subsequent work, or he’d worry that if all the CO2 since 1850 came out of the ocean already, that there will be a whole lot more coming out in the subsequent centuries. Logically he may believe a Venus-type runaway is implicit in this, but it’s hard to tell.

    He doesn’t say where he believes the fossil fuel carbon went. No numbers.

    For the rest I’d refer to the biogeochemical cycle, rate of ocean circulation, the work documented in the AIP history section on C14, and

    Happy Birthday, Rachel Carson.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 May 2007 @ 10:53 AM

  272. First I want to say I appreciate to opportunity to make a comment and ask a question.

    I am an AGW skeptic, but not a cynic. I can be convinced.

    When I search RC on Dr. Zbigniew Jaworowski I am very surprised to find only two hits. One regarding his refusal to make a bet, and one in Alexi’s response to another post.

    Dr. Jaworowski’s claim is that the CO2 levels taken from ice cores are inaccurate because the ice cores are not a closed system, etc., would appear to be an important point. It does not appear to be discussed anywhere on RC that I can see. Can you point me to the discussion of the issues Jaworowski raises? Or, explain why he is wrong?

    Thank you

    Comment by Phil G — 1 Jun 2007 @ 3:17 PM

  273. >Jaworowski
    This may help:

    “… Jaworowski makes several specific assertions…. Each and every one …mistaken.
    He makes sweeping accusations … unsupported by any evidence, direct or indirect.
    These … reveal a deep misconception of the state of climate research …
    … where to start. Hereâ��s a map: ”

    http://www.someareboojums.org/blog/?p=7

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Jun 2007 @ 12:08 PM

  274. More on Cockburn, and his response to repeated requests for his sources:
    http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=12951

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Jun 2007 @ 1:10 PM

  275. Not having scientific training, yet deeply troubled by Cockburn’s assertions, I have been chewing on them. The statement that global CO2 emissions scaled back so severely during the Great Depression has started to trouble me. If the emissions did not scale back as much as he baldly asserts, one of Cockburns legs is out from under him. I find no report (disclosure: hasty ill-informed search) that seems to source his assertion of quantities of CO2 being emitted annually starting in 1928. And I have a hard time believing it anyway. Sure, the early 1930s was a time America went into an industrial slump–but how does that match up with the rise of industrial production in the Soviet Union and Japan? And maybe industrial use of coal plummeted, but I recall much mention in recent times about the importance of coal and firewood for American families during the Depression–both for heating and cooking, and as income sources. So is Cockburn accurate about the scaling back of CO2 emissions? Or just very sure of himself and weak on the facts?

    Comment by Warren Hoskins — 5 Jun 2007 @ 8:59 PM

  276. Wikipedia may help:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Carbon_History_and_Flux-2.png
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Global_Carbon_Emission_by_Type.png

    Or CDIAC:
    http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/trends/emis/glo.htm

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Jun 2007 @ 10:22 PM

  277. re: #275
    Warren: not having scientific training, how about math & statistics, and skepticism towards such? If you’ve haven’t read books like the following, you owe it to yourself to buy most (or all) of these, which will be one of the bet investments you can make for your ability to sort sense from nonsense.
    You can get the first 3 for a total of less than $50 from Amazon,

    0) Un-Spun finding facts in a world of disinformation, Brooks jackson, Kathleen Hall Jamieson (2007)

    1) How to Lie with Statistics, Darrell Huff & Irving Geiss 1954

    2) Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the media, Politicians, and Activists, Joel Best (2001).

    3) How to Lie with Charts, Gerald Everette Jones (2006)

    and maybe
    4) How to Lie With Maps, Mark Monier, H. J de Blij

    and of course:
    5) “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information:, Edward Tufte, is classic.

    =======
    However, I wouldn’t lose sleep over what Cockburn says, and if you read only book 0), you will find some examples.

    1) I believe his assertion that CO2 production dropped is correct, although I couldn’t find the exact numbers. I did find:
    http://exploreourpla.net/climate-change/co2-emissions-historical/

    which had numbers supposed to be from CDIAC.
    They’re slightly different, but close enough, and it makes historical sense.

    2) (Basic, disquieting, but relatively minor): Cockburn either can’t do simple arithmetic, or else is following a well-known trick. In Cockburn’s piece:
    http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=57&ItemID=12728

    He says a plummet from 1.17 to .88 is a 30% drop.
    Actually (1.17-.88)/1.17 = .29/1.17 = 24.8%.
    [.29/.88 = 33%, but that's not the right math; using the wrong denominator is a classic trick.]

    However, Cockburn has also pulled another classic trick. He picked the highest peak and the lowest dip, which maximize the difference. If you instead do a simple 4-year moving average, it’s less.

    3) Of course, no references are given for anything. (This is a red flag.) When it comes to time-series, be very wary of choice of starting and ending dates, especially when somebody picks a very short period.

    That makes it hard to analyze, but even if we know nothing about the relevant science, we can still think about simple math.
    Let’s phrase his assertion as:
    X = tonnage of CO2 emitted
    Y = concentration of CO2 increase
    and Y ~ X, i.e., if X rises or drops, then so should Y, in proportion.

    You’ve focused on X, and what he says there sounds OK, but of course, exactly how do we know? These are estimates, since there was no giant CO2 meter running. But let’s assume they’re OK.

    But how about Y? He says it is a smooth rising line.
    He mentions Mauna Loa, which offers records down to *daily* resolution, i.e., this is very good data, and on a yearly basis it is smooth. Of course, it has *nothing* to do with 1929… but it sounds good.
    He says, ice core records were used pre-1958.

    Now, do you know: what’s the resolution of ice-core records (not Mauna Loa), i.e., how sure are you that a meaurement is for 1929 or 1930? Or mabye you can tell the difference between 1930 and 1935
    How much uncertainty is there in the measured CO2 ppm?

    Since he didn’t give sources, it’s hard to know anything, but fortunately:

    Google: co2 law dome gives us:
    http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/lawdome.html,
    which says outright:

    “The Law Dome ice core CO2 records show major growth in atmospheric CO2 levels over the industrial period, except during 1935-1945 A.D. when levels stabilized or decreased slightly.”
    Of course, Cockburn didn’t mention 1935, did he? Was he looking at a graph that just had 1929-1933?

    and here is their data:
    http://cdiac.ornl.gov/ftp/trends/co2/lawdome.combined.dat

    If you look carefully at the columns “Mean Air Age” and CO2 Mixing ratio, in the first 3 pieces are the data sets for the individual ice-cores.
    Let’s suppose we know nothing about ice-cores, but just look at the numbers:
    a) For mean Air Age, the years don’t go 1928, 1929, 1930…
    they go:
    DE08: 1924, 1932 1938
    DE08-2: 1832, 1934, 1940 (1832 is not a typo)
    DSS: 1926, 1929, 1936

    Why is that? Well, the date resolution is +/-2 years (from the paper), i.e., they’re pretty sure that any of those dates lies in a 4-year range, but the intervals they give are sometimes 6 or 8 years apart, adn they think the CO2 ppm resolution is .2ppm. This makes it rather difficult to be really sure about an effect that would lag the emissions drop, which only asteda few years. It’s like trying to compute the hourly temperature, given that you only read the thermometer a few times/day. You might geta rainshower that drops the temparature for a while in between measurements.

    In the next table, they give you a year-by-year CO2 number. How do they do that? (That’s like doing hourly temperatures). Well, they do 20-year-smoothing, using original data 4-6 years apart. With 20-year smoothing, you’re not going to see much effect from a 25% (peak) drop for a couple years. So, if Cockburn was looking a yearly chart, OF COURSE IT’S SMOOTH. it can’t be anything else, and this is a scientist’s way of showing that we really don’t know what’s going on every year, even though we trust the overall numbers.

    SUMMARY:
    1) There is a clear flattening/dip in ice-core CO2 that lags the emissions dip.

    2) The flattening happens shortly after the period Cockburn cites. What a funny coincidence!

    3) The ice-core resolution and 20-year smoothing *guarantee* that when you generate a year-by-year chart, it will be fairly smooth, and cannot show moderate effects that last a couple years.

    4) Cockburn is either almost totally innumerate or trying to fool people, or both…

    Please go read those books and help protect yourself from nonsense.

    Comment by John Mashey — 6 Jun 2007 @ 3:46 AM

  278. [[Not having scientific training, yet deeply troubled by Cockburn's assertions, I have been chewing on them. The statement that global CO2 emissions scaled back so severely during the Great Depression has started to trouble me. If the emissions did not scale back as much as he baldly asserts, one of Cockburns legs is out from under him. I find no report (disclosure: hasty ill-informed search) that seems to source his assertion of quantities of CO2 being emitted annually starting in 1928. And I have a hard time believing it anyway. Sure, the early 1930s was a time America went into an industrial slump--but how does that match up with the rise of industrial production in the Soviet Union and Japan? And maybe industrial use of coal plummeted, but I recall much mention in recent times about the importance of coal and firewood for American families during the Depression--both for heating and cooking, and as income sources. So is Cockburn accurate about the scaling back of CO2 emissions? Or just very sure of himself and weak on the facts? ]]

    Cockburn is making the tacit assumption — which is grossly incorrect — that the ambient level of CO2 in the atmosphere is directly proportionate to the amount being burned by the United States. But the amount being burned only affects the change in the CO2 level, not the total amount. His 1933 burn of 0.9 gigatons of carbon was half absorbed by the natural sinks (mostly the ocean), leaving, say, 0.5 GtC. But the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere at the time was about 600 GtC. Therefore, the amount burned would be about a 0.1% increase — not a decrease — in the total level.

    How could adding more CO2 to the air possibly result in a decrease of CO2 in the air? If you think it through, Cockburn’s contention — CO2 in the air should have shown a big drop when the US burned a lot less carbon — is completely batty.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 Jun 2007 @ 7:47 AM

  279. I should add to the above that John Mashey’s statistical discussion is very well done — concise and to the point. The way he nails Cockburn’s statistical illiteracy is lovely. There are annual time series for CO2 before 1959, but they are not anywhere near as reliable as the Mauna Loa data from 1959 and later. We can be very sure of the average CO2 level for 1900-1950, less sure for 1930-1940, and not sure at all for 1933. An average is almost always more certain than an individual measurement.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 Jun 2007 @ 7:54 AM

  280. Warren, beware true believers, be they from the right or the left. Usually they are people who start from the answer they believe they already know and work backwards. Man in general is not a rational animal, but a rationalizing. Any fool can lie with statistics. What takes skill is using them to tell the truth as John Mashey has done.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Jun 2007 @ 8:20 AM

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