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  1. “CH4 (the second biggest GHG forcing),”

    Isn’t water vapor the predominant greenhouse gas?

    [Response: It's not a forcing - gavin]

    Comment by John — 27 Jul 2007 @ 2:37 PM

  2. Just to be pedantic. It should be “principal causes”.

    [Response: fixed. thanks -gavin]

    Comment by Henry — 27 Jul 2007 @ 2:44 PM

  3. Nice post. I saw the BBC article and was going to post on it, but haven’t had the time. Now I’m glad I waited, as your article will provide valuable insight. Thanks.

    Comment by Reasic — 27 Jul 2007 @ 2:49 PM

  4. I understand that there are some climatologists who believe that at least in the short-term, methane should actually be a greater focus than carbon dioxide. In essence, by working on this front, we could buy some time in the reduction of carbon dioxide. Additionally, the success which we have made in terms of reducing our methane emissions so far does not appear to have been especially costly or difficult. Improvements in farming practices, properly sealing pipes, etc.

    How does this work in terms of doubling? To what extent has increases in methane been responsible for the change in the world average temperature that we have seen so far?

    Likewise, I understand that Hansen has argued that black carbon has been at least as important are carbon dioxide in the loss of Arctic sea-ice. In the near-term, reductions in black carbon emissions could be quite important.

    PS Not sure what the problem is, but in my IE6 the bronze column is partly covering the textbox today. I believe the textbox is considerably wider than normal.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 27 Jul 2007 @ 3:18 PM

  5. One way to reduce mankind’s CH4 emissions is to adopt vegan diets. No animals raised for food means far less CH4 released from farming, manure, and animal flatulence and burping. A tremendous side benefit would be much healthier people.

    I’ve been on a mainly vegan diet for about 12 yrs now, and would never go back to my old animal foods-based diet. My cholesterol is only about 144, my BMI is about 21.5, and all other vital signs are well within the normal range. I’m 67, have a recently diagnosed mild case of cystic fibrosis. Now that I’m being properly treated for that condition, am healthy as can be. No more constant bronchitis. The vegan diet, I believe, has sustained me through 14 yrs of bronchitis.

    Comment by Jack Roesler — 27 Jul 2007 @ 5:05 PM

  6. Even though ozone isn’t produced directly by human activity,the methane contribution to ozone, has a number of anthropogenic sources, such as emissions from sewage treatment plants, mining leaks, rice paddies, the leakage of natural gas pipelines, and landfills( which could be cut substantially if more waste were recycled).

    Steps can be taken in these areas that could cut down on CH4 emissions, and it would seem to be worthwhile to do so to mitigate climate change since CH4 is much more effective greenhouse gas on a molecular basis than CO2,even though it’s less prevalent and has a shorter atmospheric lifetime.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 27 Jul 2007 @ 8:56 PM

  7. Re #5: I fear the vegan diet only helps with GHGs if you don’t live a lot longer as a result, since your very existence in the modern world almost certainly contributes to the problem. I think I’ll eat lots of cheese and die young of a heart attack. It’s the least I can do to help.

    Comment by S. Molnar — 27 Jul 2007 @ 9:03 PM

  8. Or you can change the animal’s diet.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 27 Jul 2007 @ 9:45 PM

  9. Can anyone tell me what the pre-industrial atmospheric concentration of methane is?As well as being easier than CO2 to reduce anthropogenic CH4, it is also easier to capture from natural sources.

    [Response: About 700ppb (today's value is close to 1750 ppb). - gavin]

    Comment by Marco Parigi — 27 Jul 2007 @ 10:14 PM

  10. There are those that hold out for trees and tree planting to save us from our sins. Yet our sins, it seems, have rendered our photosynthetic allies less useful than we’d hoped, perhaps not even as well as has been modeled. And thus by degrees we paint ourselves ever more tightly into our cramped little corner. Little left now but to change our ways. I wonder… what are the chances of that? And while we have fewer options all the time, political leadership are not apparently disturbed into meaningful actions.

    If one were to conceive a trap for a technological society, they could have done no better than the trap we are currently caught in. We are stuck in our patterns, and thus we walk in lock-step over a cliff knowing full well what is happening to us.

    Comment by Cat Black — 28 Jul 2007 @ 12:57 AM

  11. Since ozone levels have actually been dropping in the developed world for 20 years or so, shouldn’t the focus of the paper have how this helps the climate rather than the potential damage from a modeled increase? Methane concentrations have leveled off and nox and voc levels are down substantially.

    Re: #5&7. The obvious answer is cannibalism. We get to eat our meat, reduce population, and shorten lifespans. A win win. :)

    Re: #6 Methane emissions are no longer allowed from landfills in Europe and the US.

    Comment by B Buckner — 28 Jul 2007 @ 7:09 AM

  12. Would anybody from Real Climate care to comment on a recent article by Schwarz,Charlson and Rodhe in Nature Reports June 27, “Quantifying Climate Change- too rosy a picture?”? http://www.nature.com/climate/2007/0707/full/climate.2007.22.html
    Thanks for a great site.

    Comment by Linda N — 28 Jul 2007 @ 7:38 AM

  13. I spotted the BBC’s post so neat timing.

    Here’s my favourite stat on Ozone. If the Ozone layer was at sea level it would only be 3 millimetres thick – the thickness of a pound coin.

    Dive in with your own favourite coin.

    Comment by Mike Donald — 28 Jul 2007 @ 7:58 AM

  14. Man-made ozone [albeit manufactured in indirectly through emissions of other gases] also affects the oceans , because much of man’s pollution is in near-coastal cities and much of the seas’ productivity is focussed at the coasts , and the response time for phytoplankton to die is much shorter than land plants…

    Also phtoplankton get arond the seas by being bourne by the winds in clouds , they live in the clouds and seed the oceans from there [and lakes and rivers for that matter) ,this is how they get around the earth and many have UV absorbing pigments to give them long lifetimes in the clouds ...

    This is something which climate models seem to have ignored, but the UV absorption by phytoplanktom influenecs the climate, changes the temperature profile in clouds and simplifying models by ignoring this factor simply must give the wrong answers [bearing in mind the instabilities from positive feedbacks of many varieties, physical, chemical, biological,all-too-human, ...]

    We now know that phytoplankton have controlled [in co-operation with other life-forms] the temperature of the earth way below the purely physical models would predict for aeons of time before mankind arrived on the scene , this recent ‘paleo-science’ thus conclusively proves that climate models must be made more sophisticated , including all major biological influences, including plankton in the clouds, to have any hope of being predictive, the effect is just too massive to be ignored in simplification of the modelling .

    Phytoplankton also synthesise and emit dimethyl sulphide, a gas which interacts with atmospheric gases to generate sulphate nuclei in the air, potent cloud-generation by living organisms with a reason for their major investment in this seemingly unuseful gas to their immediate metabolism… they do so when under stress from lack of iron [a necessary trace element for them which is i very short supply in the seas because it precipitates out and is lost from the surface very quickly, becoming unavailable tp phytoplankton who live in the light of the surface of the ocean only...

    There is then a complication of man-created ozone in the dynamics of cloud creation and distribution on the planet...

    It comes back to the most pressing need of mankind which has not been fully recognised yet, that we are killing the oceans from out too rapid usage of fossil fuel;s to make life 'easy' for us in the short-term , the effect is likely to be mostly from CO2 which has already acidified the oceans and is killing the base of the food webs, the corals and phytoplankton , so that all life is slowly dying in the seas because of our industrialisation of huamn activities ...

    Besides killing off our fisheries eventually, we are also killing off our main safe place to put the CO2 back into, the potentially much larger biomass of sea [and land] lifeforms ,where it came from in the first place [that is why we know it is the safest place for the CO2 , it is a method tried and tested by nature long before we came along - it works, so long as one does not kill off the very things one needs to make it work!]

    Worse still, killing off the oceans only adds further methane and CO2 to the air since dead life eventually decays if there is no life left to consume it [hence the insanity of putting CO2 underneath or on the sea-bed as some seriously propose, it would kill the life down there, some of it as much as 300metres below the seabed surface
    and craete insoluble long-term problems when the CO2 re-emerges eventually]

    Man has gleefully exploited what nature left us as a legacy in oil, without caring to do anything about recycling what we use or realising the terrible impact on us, now much-committed in infrastructure to the ‘easy’ life, whhen the artificially maintained low ‘price’ of oil can no longer be maintained because ‘demand’ exceeds max poss supply … we have behaved like spoiled brats on the earth and if we do not change and become as inteligent as we like to think we are, then our future is very troubled indeed and inceasingly more likely to be impossible for humans to live… It is thus not prudent that we still talk about things and take no action to cease behaving like uneduicated brats in our way of life , people need leadership to change our whole infrastructure and way of living to something which can last…

    If one thinks about it but a short while, sustainability is NOT optional, it is a requirement … but it is not made a requirement of governments put in term for just a few years …

    we are getting what we instituted to get in our lives, but people will not insist on sustainability until they see that it is necessary for themselves and their children and their childrens’ children … making the models good enough then is a primary task , else even the best fall under the welter of propaganda put out by those who think we do not have to change in order to live a sufficient lifestyle on this earth.

    Since ew cannot have perfect knowledge before we begin to ACT ,we must have restraining control and close monitoring of our actions to ensure that they do not do more harm than good … one major advantage of providing the missing trace elements [mostly just iron] to bring the deadand dying seas to life, is that it is reversible to very great extent since simply ceasing to give iron causes the sea to revert to its previous dead state … it allows a dynamic monitored solution to getting the CO2 back into biomass where we know the earth can cope with it.

    Strangely enough we would all live healthier lives WITHOUT the petrol-driven car , so one could hope that the oil price becomes realistic even more quickly than it is so that this vast hazard to short-term and long-term health of all of us dies out quickly… sadly few people realise that every car on teh road could be responsible for seven deaths in the future according to one model I developed … assuming, as many do, that tomorrow will e much like today, really is an imprudent way to live which could very conceivably not only cost much life on earth its existence, but spell the chnage of civilisation for man back to just smallis local communities living much in isolation from each other, much like in the past…not from choice, but from necessity … and the earth then supports far fewer people than today …

    It does not seem worth taking the very describable risk of this happening for sake of the inaction we see today , but equally those trying to make perfect models of how tings work will also run out of time [and cheap oil] todo their research … we are complacent today in our industry and life support , but it is very largely fully dependent on cheap oil [which is already showing that it will never be cheap again, but will keep rising in 'price']

    This site and forum does good work indeed in spreading the truth to combt the endless propaganda of ‘dinosaurs’ [who believe the 'growth paradigm' still, desp[ite the evidence already that it is a short-sighted and inefficient principle , thsu incompatible with sustainable life of men and other animals ,and plants!] ,but the dynamic question is can it spread the word fast enough and are minds open enough to change to learn and act on the truth before we have killed our seas and have no way to a sustaiable life left… ?

    Comment by Roger William Chamberlin — 28 Jul 2007 @ 9:07 AM

  15. Animal farming accounts for 18% of GHGs–more than transportation. (UN Food & Agriculture Organization) One thing we can all do is eat less animal-based meals. Eating vegan vs eating animals, in terms of the impact on climate change is like riding a bike vs driving a Hummer.

    The resistance to changing diet is huge. Sierra Club, Al Gore, etc. don’t even mention the vegan option in combating global warming. We must expand our imagination to see the cause & effect relationship between our life habits & the dying planet. The mega-corporations that take grain & water to feed to animals don’t want you to know how much methane they produce or how it affects the climate. They want you to eat more burgers & drink more milk.

    We are in an emergency situation. We must act on all levels to reduce GHGs, including changing our personal habits & cultural traditions of eating.

    Comment by Bird Thompson — 28 Jul 2007 @ 10:11 AM

  16. Relying far less on animal husbandry (i.e., eating less meat) doesn’t require going all the way to “vegan.”

    It’s possible to drastically reduce one’s intake of animal products without quitting entirely. Eating meat only a few times a week, emphasizing seafood over beef, expending the effort to secure meat products that are much more local than intercontinental, all will reduce the energy requirements (and therefore greenhouse gas emission) involved in animal husbandry.

    And while a vegan diet brings undeniable health benefits, strict adherence to a strictly vegan diet over the long term also carries certain health *risks*. Moderation, rather than extremism, is likely to be more effective, and vastly likely to win more converts.

    Comment by tamino — 28 Jul 2007 @ 10:48 AM

  17. Re #15 [The resistance to changing diet is huge.]

    Yes indeed, it’s interesting how even on this site, there’s what appears to be a defensive resort to levity (#7, #9), or proposing measures which would have much less effect (#8), when this is suggested. (I’m a lacto-ovo-vegetarian with occasional fish-eating, I’ve reduced the animal-derived content of my diet considerably over the past few years, but I hereby promise to shift further in a vegan direction from now on.) Methane production is not the only issue: large amounts of tropical forest have been and are being cleared to ranch cattle, and to grow soya to feed them in intensive systems elsewhere.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 28 Jul 2007 @ 11:09 AM

  18. This is just my 2nd posting on climate matters, and as I’ve only been studying this for 2 months part time, and am not a climate scientist but merely a Ph.D in mathematical statistics, aficionados can take my views with a pinch of salt if they wish. Certainly, I am extremely impressed, and somewhat humbled, by the wealth of knowledge both here and on ClimateAudit.org. Even so, I am hoping that a posting from an outsider may have some value in summarizing the central issues.

    Accordingly, I am going to ask 4 questions here, and then discuss the relevance to these of 3 recent papers.

    I have to say that I am certainly in two minds on the issue of the extent of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) – I do worry that in central England clear winter skies no longer guarantee frost the way they used to do, but from studying climate data I also find it difficult to believe in the IPCC’s central projection of a 3C increase during this century. In other words, I am not yet convinced that the CO2 effect will be as large as claimed.

    The crucial questions, modulo changes to my chosen time intervals, seem to be along the lines of:

    Q1: what degree of global warming actually occurred between 1970 and 2000?

    Q2: how do we apportion this between CO2, the Sun, and other causes, and therefore how much is a doubling of CO2 worth?

    Q3: how much warming will occur over the next 100 years?

    Q4: how good, or bad, will this warming be for the world?

    These questions are fairly simple to state, but furiously difficult to answer, apparently. I am not going to attempt that here, but merely discuss them.

    For Q1, some would argue that a different interval should be studied, but the CO2 brigade (to distinguish from the “solar brigade”) have a valid question as to why it warmed significantly in that period – about 0.4C according to the ‘hadcrut3′ figures. But as an outsider I find it deeply disappointing that the physical basis for the accuracy and fairness of the quoted data is in some doubt for some of the terrestrial stations. Nevertheless I do not find it necessary to invoke a conspiracy to account for this – I have always believed in the cock-up version of history (sometimes with the occasional conspiracy to cover up the cock-up). I believe that it is important to establish a non-controversial set of data, for example from rural sites with thermometers placed a good distance from air conditioners etc.

    Q2 is the biggy (insofar as it impacts Q3, which is where the politics come into play). In the CO2 brigade it may be possible to find claims as high as 125% for the CO2 effect – i.e. the sun weakened in that time, so CO2 warming covered the 0.4C plus more for solar loss. In the solar brigade, it might be put as low as 0%, but some of this brigade allow it to be in the region of 25% (i.e. 0.1C out of the 0.4C). The modellers rate the CO2 effect at a very high level, but it is quite possible that God is playing a cruel trick on them – making the CO2 models fit well in this period but really using some different effect for most of the change. I shall discuss this more below.

    For Q3, even if we allow for 0.0133 = 0.4/30 degrees per year in 1970-2000, I don’t see how the IPCC can turn that into 0.03 degrees per year for their central 3.0C per century (or is it 92 years?). But I’m not an expert, so perhaps it comes from bits of modelling I cannot be expected to understand. The other thing about the 3.0C though, is that it ignores solar effects. I have seen no refutation of the association of the depths of the Little Ice Age with the Maunder Minimum of solar activity; further it appears that sunspot effects are greater than is the total solar irradiance (TSI). Now, if the Sun had been in an average state since 1960 or so, it would be reasonable for the IPCC to argue that over the next 100 years it might, on the whole, remain average. But Solanki et al have shown that the Sun has been in an unusually active state, and as with the housing market one might therefore be expecting a fall before 100 years are out.

    Regarding Q4, I have seen many and many more arguments on both sides. Personally, I am quite happy for England to be a little warmer, and I am happy if more CO2 helps all those beautiful plants to grow. But my house currently (27/7/07) has no tap water, and the stream through our garden rose 5 feet to a torrent, coming within a couple of inches of our floorboards. Was that caused by global warming? The Met Office tells me that it probably was. On the other hand, the last time the River Severn got almost as near to Tewkesbury Abbey, in 1947, was at the onset of a period of global cooling, and there were several famous floods in the 50′s too. And the time when it got *really* high, in 1760 when the canon of the Abbey was rowing along the aisle rather than merely paddling, was – well I don’t really know, but it wasn’t during CO2-induced global warming. Warming followed by cooling (globally) is arguably the best recipe for heavy rains – just like with a cold front (locally), you have warm moist air precipitated by cold air.

    Moving on to the 3 papers/talks, I want to start with Green and Armstrong. Here in RealClimate they have been criticized for translating their forecasting criteria formulated in the econometric world to the climatic world, as if that’s a bit of a dirty trick. As an interested outsider, I think that forecasting is forecasting – there are data, models, parameters, and errors between the data and the models. I don’t care if the models come from physics or economics, I just want a sound forecast. I am amazed that there could be so many forecasting principles as they claim, and I wonder how many forecasters in any sphere of life could pass a test of so much red tape. Nevertheless, if real climatologists want to convince me, then they need to answer the searching questions posed by that paper of Green and Armstrong; as others have said, they are at liberty to give their own versions of scores if they can demonstrate that G and A’s ignorance of climatology led to unreasonable assessments.

    The second paper is Lockwood and Frohlich. I found this really interesting reading, and it certainly notched my personal CO2 brigadometer up a bit for a few days. But then I thought, if very little of the 11/22-year solar signal comes through in global temperatures, what effects there are must be smeared over longer time spans. So if the sun was extra active from (say) 1910 to 1985, then with the smearing time lag, one would expect global temperatures to rise beyond 1985, flatten off, and then fall. There’s a lot of argument over whether 2001-2007 data represents a flattening, but that’s the way it looks to me. I would be tempted to argue that this British summer represents a cooling, but that would be parochial, since it’s hot in Eastern Europe, and ‘hadcrut3′ is still holding up reasonably.

    The third item is slides from David Archibald’s talk in Melbourne in June 2007. I had never seen this relationship between solar cycle length and temperature before – that an early (late) onset of a solar cycle is correlated with an increase (decrease) in global temperatures. There are things I don’t understand about this, especially the time lag, so I am trying to follow up some of the references to understand more. Possibly Archibald is over-egging it, especially since there are wide variations in the predictions for the sunspot count in Cycle 24, but a real downturn in the Sun would be a wonderful test between the two brigades. Lockwood and Frohlich say the Sun turned down from 1985 onwards, but by the measure of cycle length, Cycle 23 started earlier than average in 1996, so it can only be after Cycle 24 starts late (probably around 12.0-12.5 years compared with a mean 10.6) that there will be a concensus that the Sun is on the way down. Then, if the temperatures do not dip by as much as Archibald predicts (for given lateness of cycle), or even increase, we will be able to get a better estimate of how much effect a doubling of CO2 really has. And then we shall know whether they are right, those correspondents on this site who share thoughts of the ilk “Lockwood and Frohlich have banged in the last nail in the coffin of the solar theory of global warming”.

    Comment by See - owe to Rich — 28 Jul 2007 @ 12:00 PM

  19. Re: #18 (See – owe to Rich)

    I too am a statistician (my specialty is time series analysis), and I confess that certain aspects of your post puzzle me. There’s too much covered to ask all my questions in a single response without begin excessively long, so I’ll start at the beginning. You say:

    Q1: what degree of global warming actually occurred between 1970 and 2000?

    … about 0.4C according to the ‘hadcrut3′ figures.

    … even if we allow for 0.0133 = 0.4/30 degrees per year in 1970-2000

    How did you arrive at these figures? Straightforward linear regression of HadCRUT3 data from 1970 to 2000 gives a slope of 0.016 deg.C/yr, not 0.0133, and would imply an overall warming for the three decades of 0.048 deg.C, not 0.4.

    For Q3, even if we allow for 0.0133 = 0.4/30 degrees per year in 1970-2000, I don’t see how the IPCC can turn that into 0.03 degrees per year for their central 3.0C per century (or is it 92 years?). But I’m not an expert, so perhaps it comes from bits of modelling I cannot be expected to understand.

    Your estimate of 0.0133 deg.C/yr as the “present” warming rate (or even the rate from 1970 to 2000) is considerably in error. Furthermore, since 1970 global warming has shown statistically significant acceleration. The overall rate over the last 30 years is more like 0.018 deg.C/yr, and the rate since the year 2000 is 0.020 deg.C/yr according to HadCRUT3, and a whopping 0.031 deg.C/yr according to GISS. As you say, you’re not expected to know the details of the physics or the models, but as a statistician, I do expect you to know these details. So again — I’m sincerely curious — how did you arrive at your figures?

    Comment by tamino — 28 Jul 2007 @ 1:49 PM

  20. Good post. It’s along the lines I’ve been thinking from the beginning: we need a holistic approach.

    I’d been mainly telling people, that measures to reduce GHGs, also reduce lots of other pollution (which cause harm & death), and have other positive non-environmental benefits, like:
    1. saving money without lower living standards or economic productivity (up to perhaps a 3/4 reduction of GHGs or more)
    2. improving health/spirits and crime and taxes for road building/repair (by off-setting some driving with walking/cycling)
    3. reduce wars over oil
    4. etc

    But even the internal issue of GHGs & climate change are extremely complex.

    I know science trudges along slowly and gets to the complex picture only after dealing with the more simple pictures. But we can conceive that our world is indeed exceedinly complex….so much so that, as anthropologist Roy Rappaport suggested, we need to hold the environment in awe and respect. Because we don’t know it all (& perhaps never will), and we should be careful in our dealings with it.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 28 Jul 2007 @ 3:41 PM

  21. Re #18. It is not obvious that global warming will be beneficial for plant life on earth. For example see http://www.newswithviews.com/Peterson/rosalind4.htm for an indication of how trees are dying. The critical condition of the amazon is well documented.

    In terms of your Q4, the situation we face is an emergency.

    It is a bit like driving a car on motorway at 70 mph and seeing a pile up in a front at a distance of 96 metres and knowing that your stopping distance is about 96 metres. One might be tempted to slam on the brakes.

    Comment by Michael — 28 Jul 2007 @ 4:30 PM

  22. I recently read something on the heretofore unperceived threat of water dimers. I am wondering if Gavin-or anyone-would care to comment on this issue.

    Comment by Paul — 28 Jul 2007 @ 4:41 PM

  23. Re #s 18 + 19: Uses of phrases such as “the wealth of knowledge both here and on ClimateAudit.org” and “CO2 brigade” give away the game, IMHO. A PhD in mathematics honestly approaching the climate change issue for the first time would know better than to engage in the sort of cherry-picking of evidence and out-and-out asyllogisms evidenced throughout #18. Tamino’s pointing out of some pretty basic stats errors are the icing on the cake.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 28 Jul 2007 @ 5:45 PM

  24. Re # 18 a Ph.D in mathematical statistics

    I don’t mean to be flippant, but isn’t “mathematical statistics” redundant? Is there any kind of statistics that isn’t mathematical?

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 28 Jul 2007 @ 8:52 PM

  25. Paul (#22) wrote:

    I recently read something on the heretofore unperceived threat of water dimers. I am wondering if Gavin-or anyone-would care to comment on this issue.

    I hope that someone will comment on their specific application to greenhouse gas theory. Doing just a little research, I found that these weak hydrogen couplings between water molecules isn’t as well understood as we might like, and that part of the problem involves the interaction of the light hydrogen atoms with zero-point energy – that is, the virtual particle buzz thats always there even when space is “empty.”

    I suppose the uncertainty involved in its interaction with the zero-point might help to explain why is able to amplify the chirality of the weak force at roughly ten times the magnitude that was predicted, and perhaps why we are able to freeze at room temperature with an electrical field at one one-thousand the strength that had been predicted.

    Crazy stuff.

    Going off of what Eli wrote earlier this afternoon (A Saturated Gassy Argument, comment 306), it would appear that they result in additional dimensions in the phase space description of water as it exists in the transitory dimer state. And it appears to be a bit of a black hole in our knowledge for the time being, but would apparently operate in the far IR spectrum.

    At first glance a 2004 paper didn’t look that promising – but I am no expert.

    However, doing a little more digging, I ran across something which is clearly related and from the perspective of theoretical understanding looks quite promising – which I had brought up previously – although I didn’t have the paper at the time.

    Here is the write-up for it:

    Computing water’s quantum properties. Despite water’s centrality to life, its quantum properties are still not fully understood. Alexander Donchev et al. have developed a mathematical model that accurately describes water’s properties from first principles. The model may be useful for understanding water’s properties in a pure state and in biomolecular systems. Donchev et al. applied a quantum mechanical polarizable force-field model, which they had developed for studying organic systems, to the simulation of pure water. The model accurately calculated water’s thermodynamic and structural properties, including its unique density changes near 0 C. The model, which is based on quantum mechanical calculations for systems of small molecules and their dimers, showed as good or better agreement with the measured properties of liquid water than previous computer models devised strictly to fit those properties. The authors say that further refinement of the equations and parameters in their model should bring it even closer to reproducing water’s properties. The model may also be useful for understanding the interactions between water and organic molecules such as proteins.

    In This Issue
    Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 June 6; 103(23): 8573–8574
    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1482620

    The paper is free access to any and all on the other side.

    If you are interested in the other topics, you might check out the following:

    2006 (technical)
    P-Violation Manifested at the Molecular Level – A Simple Means for an Absolute Definition of “Left” vs. “Right”
    Avshalom C. Elitzur, Meir Shinitzky
    arXiv:physics/0601010 v1 3 Jan 2006
    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/physics/pdf/0601/0601010.pdf

    Number 742 #1, August 19, 2005 by Phil Schewe and Ben Stein
    Room-Temperature Ice in Electric Fields
    http://www.aip.org/pnu/2005/split/742-1.html

    Oh, and an interesting implication of parity-violation…

    2005 (technical)
    Subtle differences in structural transitions between poly-L- and poly-D-amino acids of equal length in water
    Yosef Scolnik,et al
    Received 3rd October 2005, Accepted 21st November 2005
    First published as an Advance Article on the web 5th December 2005
    DOI: 10.1039/b513974k
    http://www.rsc.org/delivery/_ArticleLinking/DisplayArticleForFree.cfm?doi=b513974k&JournalCode=CP

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 28 Jul 2007 @ 9:11 PM

  26. PS (post #25)

    It should be obvious, but I was still tuning into KWTC when I started writing the post. A little of that all too common static. Or perhaps it has something to do with the structured water in one of my brain cells or within the hydrophilic catalytic core of some ribozyme…

    Who knows?

    The second sentence should read:

    Doing just a little research, I found that the weak hydrogen couplings between water molecules aren’t as well understood as we might like, and that part of the problem involves the interaction of the light hydrogen atoms with zero-point energy – that is, the virtual particle buzz thats always there even when space is “empty.”

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 29 Jul 2007 @ 12:51 AM

  27. Re: 18

    “The third item is slides from David Archibald’s talk in Melbourne in June 2007. I had never seen this relationship between solar cycle length and temperature before”

    Archibald’s paper, published in Energy and and Environment, was called by one commentator “The worst climate science paper ever, of all time, anywhere” (see: http://n3xus6.blogspot.com/2007/02/dd.html), and if you had taken the time to read it, as a PhD, you should have seen several of the most glaring statistical errors it is possible to make.

    Here are a few of the howlers:

    - Instead of using the world wide temperature, from say GISS or Hadley, he choses a total of five stations. Yes five, all in the within several hundred kilometers from each other in the South Eastern United States.

    - The stations chosen buck the trend of increasing temperatures in the later half of the twentieth century. The stations chosen indicate lower temperatures in the later part of the twentieth century, which is not reflected in the vast majority of stations worldwide. Since so few met stations were chosen, one has to wonder if they were chosen so that they would fit Archibald’s argument.

    - In order to predict the temperature response to the changing solar cycle length, he uses a single temperature station, (De Bilt in the Netherlands). Not even 5 stations. A single station.

    - He then decides that the correlation between De Bilt and the solar cycle length is good (but fails to mention the R^2 value, because the correlation is poor). He also uses cherry picks data from the complete set of temperature records from the station. This is misleading and wrong. When the full data set is used, the R^2 value
    for the correlation is only 0.0177.

    - Archibald then predicts a reduction in temperature of 1.5C over the next solar cycle. He claims he can do this due to correlation with cycle amplitude, but then presents a graph of solar cycle length to illustrate the correlation. He offers no explaination. He also has used very strange predictions of the solar cycle.

    In short, this paper is weak as starbucks coffee, and citing it is unlikely to earn you any credibility. As one who has studied stats, you should probably be able to pick these errors from the paper without difficulty.

    -

    Comment by ChrisC — 29 Jul 2007 @ 1:35 AM

  28. Re: #16 If you are in the US, then you can’t increase fish consumption unless some other country
    volunteers to decrease its consumption because the US is a net fish importer by about
    2.4 billion pounds — http://www.st.nmfs.gov/st1/fus/fus06/fus_2006.pdf
    Fish farming, as currently practiced (usually with carnivorous fish), is a net consumer of fish,
    not a producer.

    Re: #6. The list of anthropogenic methane sources omitted the biggest source: livestock.

    Researchers at Sydney University in conjunction with the Australian Conservation Foundation
    have recently put a very good eco-calculator on line. Pretend you live in Australia and
    see what influences your personal carbon footprint:

    http://www.acfonline.org.au/custom_atlas/index.html

    For most people on the planet (except the sort of people who perform at “Live Earth”) what
    they eat is the principle determinant of their own personal climate forcing footprint. This is
    usually obscured because most studies simply don’t follow the full production chain.
    Even the much publicised Japanese “Life Cycle Analysis” looking at the ghg emission intensity of beef
    stopped at the farm gate — no refridgeration, no abattoir costs, etc etc. It still found
    the emissions cost of a kg of beef to be about double that of aluminium.

    Lastly: back to #16, No you don’t need to be a vegan to lower you emissions substantially, just
    like I am not car-free, but I use a bicycle for most of my transport and my car is
    small and old. Lastly, given
    that vegetarians/vegans have lower rates of most diseases than meat eaters, then whatever these
    risks are, they are smaller than the risks associated with meat — like heart disease,
    colorectal cancer, the destruction of the amazon, etc.

    Comment by Geoff Russell — 29 Jul 2007 @ 1:54 AM

  29. re#21, your link is a giggle. Damn those jet contrails. Loved the references, and 5 year old tree photos.

    You were joking, Michael?

    Comment by rojo — 29 Jul 2007 @ 8:46 AM

  30. I’ll go with the vegan diet the day the vegans agree to shoot the 100 million cattle that call the good old USA home.

    And say goodbye to wool.

    And having human beings live longer does what to greenhouse gas production?

    And how many ruminants do countries that eat little meat have? Not eating them is enough. That really does nothing much at all. All the grain will still be needed for ethanol, so that won’t stop. Additional fossil fuels will be burned to add the mountains of vegetables that will be needed to replace meat calories. The net benefit is unlikely to be as advertised.

    How many greenhouse gases will all these long-lived people be producing when they’re vegetating in nursing homes until they’re 110?

    You have to kill ruminants them to stop them from belching.

    Comment by J.C.H — 29 Jul 2007 @ 10:17 AM

  31. Gavin: Improved Modeling of Tropics Temperatures?
    … and IR absorption by clouds?

    Laboratory measurements of water vapor absorption using cavity ring-down spectroscopy revealed a broad absorption at 405nm with a quadratic dependence on water monomer concentration, a similar absorption with a linear component at 532 nm, and only linear absorption at 570nm in the vicinity of water monomer peaks.

    The resulting estimation of 15–30Wm−2 could cause a difference of 4 C in the calculated average surface temperature of the earth (Carlon, 1979; Arking, 1996, 1999). Observations of this anomalous absorption found that the discrepancy was measurable in tropical regions and near clouds (Hill and Jones, 2000), but were complicated by the presence of scattering by particulates. Potential sources of the additional absorption include absorptions due to water dimer and water far wing continuum absorption. Water dimer has been calculated to absorb 3–6Wm−1 of solar radiation from calculations that used an outdated model for Helium clusters (Tso et al., 5 1998), and were then recalculated to be less (Vaida, 2001; Daniel et al. 2001).

    Water dimer absorption of visible light
    J. Hargrove
    Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 7, 11123–11140, 2007
    http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/7/11123/2007/acpd-7-11123-2007-print.pdf?FrameEngine=false

    Exciting stuff… Just a guess, but this might help with modeling of the Indian Monsoon and the western edge of the Tibetean Plateau – which has been a bit of a problem for all models so far.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 29 Jul 2007 @ 10:29 AM

  32. Re #30: [You have to kill ruminants them to stop them from belching.]

    Not that I’m buying into the “vegetarianism stops climate change” argument, but you don’t have to kill them all unless you want an immediate effect. You just stop letting them breed, and in a decade or two you’ll find the numbers greatly reduced.

    Of course you could short-circuit the vegetarian phase, and just apply the same logic to H. sapiens :-)

    Comment by James — 29 Jul 2007 @ 11:57 AM

  33. Just another reason for the denialists claims we should eradicate termites, rather than reduce emmissions. But there’s an even more ominous hurdle, from AnnCoulter sychophant:
    Mr.Magoo
    Location: California

    al-Gore and his tree kissing minions insult God with their global warming claptrap. They think the Almighty was stupid for putting sloppy SUV driving humans on this planet, when in fact He designed it and the universe to withstand just about anything humans could do.

    Mr Magoo was blind, wasn’t he?

    Comment by wildlifer — 29 Jul 2007 @ 12:32 PM

  34. Re 33. wildlifer’s comment. The Ann Coulters of this world have one main interest;to draw attention to themselves, regardless of who might get hurt by the outrageous comments. It’s good for her book sales. I don’t know of anyone who has less credentials to call global warming “claptrap”.
    Plant species are migrating northward in the northern hemisphere, as are animal species. Does the cockroach have more of sense about global climate change than the Cockburn and Coulter. I’m afraid so.
    The subject of this latest article prompted me to read up on the strength of methane gas and I found that the enhanced greenhouse effect of a molecule of methane is about 8 times that of a molecule of CO2 (“Global Warming”- by John Houghton p. 42), but when an index called Global Warming Potential(GWP) is used,which measures the instant release of 1 kg of a gas to that of the release of 1 kg of carbon dioxide, then methane has a GWP of 23, since the atomic weight of methane is 16/44 or 36% of that of CO2(same source as above Table 10.2).This is for a time horizon of 100 years. GWPs have to be used with caution because GWPs for different time horizons are very different.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 29 Jul 2007 @ 2:16 PM

  35. Paul (#22) wrote:

    I recently read something on the heretofore unperceived threat of water dimers. I am wondering if Gavin-or anyone-would care to comment on this issue.

    Paul,

    I believe this is what you were refering to:

    This transition peaks at 409.5 nm, could be attributed to 8th overtone of water dimer and the 532nm absorption to the 6th overtone. It is 10 possible that some lower overtones previously searched for are less enhanced. These absorptions could increase water vapor feed back calculations leading to higher global temperature projections with currently projected greenhouse gas levels or greater cooling from greenhouse gas reductions.

    Water dimer absorption of visible light
    J. Hargrove
    Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 7, 11123–11140, 2007
    http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/7/11123/2007/acpd-7-11123-2007-print.pdf?FrameEngine=false

    It is from the article I mentioned in #31.

    The good news is that this is something climatologists can use to objectively improve the predictive power of climate models – assuming its real. And as Hansen has pointed out, they tend not to feel comfortable in suggesting the existence of vague threats – but only in stating that there exist certain well-defined threats which they can identify.

    If it is real, then it will be great that we have identified it sooner rather than later.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if we have made another one of those big discoveries regarding water. As I’ve said, its crazy stuff!

    [Response: Don't get too excited. The dimer idea has come up repeatedly in the past as a solution to the 'anomalous absorption' issue that was all the rage a decade ago. Since then, most of the anomaly has disappeared (mainly due to improved understanding of aerosol effects), but the dimer idea persists. A brief conversation with our radiation people left me with the impression that the only substantial effects can be seen in the microwave region, which is irrelevant for climate purposes. This latest paper seems interesting, but there are a couple of howlers in the intro and conclusions (confusion of a short-wave absorption effect with the long wave water vapour feedback - SW effects do not contribute to the greenhouse effect!), and so I'd wait for the reviews to come in before assessing it's worth. The biggest problem is that existing line-by-line models do a really good job of explaining what is seen either at the ground or at the surface, and so there isn't any huge discrepancy that requires exotic new physics to explain. Having said that, this isn't my field and I'm open to being corrected by people who know better. - gavin]

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 29 Jul 2007 @ 2:36 PM

  36. gavin (inset to #35) wrote:

    Don’t get too excited. The dimer idea has come up repeatedly in the past as a solution to the ‘anomalous absorption’ issue that was all the rage a decade ago. Since then, most of the anomaly has disappeared (mainly due to improved understanding of aerosol effects), but the dimer idea persists… The biggest problem is that existing line-by-line models do a really good job of explaining what is seen either at the ground or at the surface, and so there isn’t any huge discrepancy that requires exotic new physics to explain. Having said that, this isn’t my field and I’m open to being corrected by people who know better.

    Sounds good enough for me.

    I will let the experts worry about it, at least until they say there is something to worry about.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 29 Jul 2007 @ 4:08 PM

  37. Re #18, the writer seems to have some sincere but easily avoided misunderstandings. Instead of posting here, the writer should first read more carefully the basics, for example in the IPCC reports (it won’t take two months!). For me the first tipoff was in Q1, the phrase,

    “I believe that it is important to establish a non-controversial set of data, for example…” (etc.)

    The writer evidently is unaware of the enormous efforts by literally thousands of people to establish a land temperature record independent of urban effects etc. The writer is not even aware that one can leave out all the land-based data altogether, just use ocean data, and get entirely convincing evidence of the warming since 1970 and its relationship to greenhouse gases (since the pattern seen in the oceans cannot be explained by solar forcing).

    One could go on with the lack of knowledge shown elsewhere, but why bother. The writer should go and learn the basics before trying all this fancy number stuff.

    Comment by Spencer Weart — 29 Jul 2007 @ 4:36 PM

  38. Gavin (inset to #35) wrote:

    A brief conversation with our radiation people left me with the impression that the only substantial effects can be seen in the microwave region, which is irrelevant for climate purposes.

    I have run across some new stuff being found out there, but it makes sense that it would be more or less irrelevant with respect to climatology. Time to start digging for what they’ve found on aerosols.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 29 Jul 2007 @ 4:37 PM

  39. Vegan diets arguments are complicated by nature of the meat production itself. If the beef is grain-fed or grown on lands that could be ploughed then this is an inefficient use of earths resources. On the other hand, I dont see many crop options for land around here where sheep are raised and the Soviet union had some disastrous forays into cropping steppe grazing lands.

    Comment by Phil Scadden — 29 Jul 2007 @ 4:37 PM

  40. Re 29. Whoops, wrong link. Trees in UK: see report “A Midsummer Night’s Nightmare” by Woodland Trust http://www.woodland-trust.org.uk/publications/publicationsmore/climatechangereport.pdf There are many other studies of specific species being impacted in different ways.

    Comment by Michael — 29 Jul 2007 @ 4:51 PM

  41. [[Personally, I am quite happy for England to be a little warmer, and I am happy if more CO2 helps all those beautiful plants to grow.]]

    Will you be happy if European agriculture crashes due to droughts in continental interiors and more violent weather along coastlines? And would you be as happy if you lived in Bangladesh, or Florida?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 29 Jul 2007 @ 5:32 PM

  42. [[I recently read something on the heretofore unperceived threat of water dimers. I am wondering if Gavin-or anyone-would care to comment on this issue.]]

    Water dimers are the probable (not certain yet, I don’t think, although I could be wrong on that) cause of the “continuum absorption” in the big 8-12 micron IR window in Earth’s atmosphere. But their prevalence is most likely a function of the prevalence of water vapor in general in the atmosphere. I don’t see how you could reduce one without reducing the other. Or am I missing your point?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 29 Jul 2007 @ 5:34 PM

  43. Regarding the various veggie arguments. The post was about
    ozone. Methane produces ozone in the troposphere and water
    vapour in the stratosphere. Its a triple nasty whether it
    comes from leaky gas pipes or livestock and suggestions to
    reduce livestock are as clear and simple as suggestions to
    fix leaky gas fields in the soviet union (and elsewhere) or
    drive less and be more energy efficient. What is it about
    suggestions to eat less meat that prompts such a defensive
    reaction?

    Comment by Geoff Russell — 29 Jul 2007 @ 6:49 PM

  44. I’m probably mistaken, but I thought that ozone’s main indirect GHG forcing effect was due to the fact that it retards the atmospheric decomposition of methane. It’s a pretty fascinating subject and I’m hoping that RC or a certain wily rabett can explain the dynamics in an idiot-proof manner…

    Comment by Marlowe Johnson — 29 Jul 2007 @ 7:14 PM

  45. Re #36 Yes, I think that’s pretty much right: if the only sources of meat and dairy were land that couldn’t be cropped (used for ruminants), and food waste (fed to pigs or chickens), then we’d see an enormous reduction in both methane emissions and animal suffering. One complication is the use of animals for labour and as sources of manure in many countries – not easy to find affordable substitutes, or ones that would not cause worse environmental problems, but as discussed on this site some while ago, there’s a lot of scope for reduction e.g. in India.

    Re #30 A fine example of the sort of defensiveness any suggestion of changed diets evokes.

    [I’ll go with the vegan diet the day the vegans agree to shoot the 100 million cattle that call the good old USA home.]

    I’d have no problem with that. Admittedly I’m not a vegan, and I imagine many vegans would, but even if you just stopped cattle breeding the problem would solve itself within a few years.

    [And say goodbye to wool.] The market for wool is in decline anyway – sheep are mostly kept for meat these days.

    [And having human beings live longer does what to greenhouse gas production?]

    So you’re against medical research, improved diets generally, reducing accidents and smoking, etc., I presume?

    [And how many ruminants do countries that eat little meat have? Not eating them is enough. That really does nothing much at all. All the grain will still be needed for ethanol, so that won’t stop. Additional fossil fuels will be burned to add the mountains of vegetables that will be needed to replace meat calories. The net benefit is unlikely to be as advertised.]

    For reasons discussed previously on this site, biofuels are almost certainly not a good idea from a GHG emission perspective, but if the grain were used for ethanol it would at least not be producing methane. As for the “mountains of vegetables needed”, this is just nonsense. It is enormously inefficient to grow crops to feed to animals and produce meat rather than for humans to eat directly. For cattle, I think the loss in terms of calories is about 90% – less for pigs and chickens but still substantial.

    [How many greenhouse gases will all these long-lived people be producing when they’re vegetating in nursing homes until they’re 110?]
    So is it mass suicide you’re advocating, or genocide?

    [You have to kill ruminants them to stop them from belching.]
    True, but the amount they belch depends on how much (and what) they are fed. Intensively reared ruminants are fed enormously amounts to maximise the rate of meat and dairy production.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 30 Jul 2007 @ 4:54 AM

  46. RE #30 [I’ll go with the vegan diet the day the vegans agree to shoot the 100 million cattle that call the good old USA home.]
    Incidentally, notice the structural and emotional similarity to all the statements of the “I’ll take global warming seriously when Al Gore goes to live in a cave” variety, coming from what I’d call “amateur denialists” (members of the public making casual denialist comments).

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 30 Jul 2007 @ 5:16 AM

  47. RE #37 – Nick Gotts Says:

    You are way off base. I do not deny the science of global warming in any respect, and see little in it to be very skeptical about.

    Animal populations that are not harvested tend to increase in size, so a vegetarian diet is likely to result in more enteric fermentation, not less. You have to kill a ruminant to prevent its production of methane.

    And my family has supported Al Gore’s family politically since Al Gore was his father’s snot-nosed kid.

    Comment by J.C.H — 30 Jul 2007 @ 8:29 AM

  48. Re: #28
    Are we individuals capable of influencing the state of the planet by our lifestyle choices or are we aggregates (countries) who must act in a unified fashion in order to have a positive effect?

    Quote:
    “If you are in the US, then you can’t increase fish consumption unless some other country volunteers to decrease its consumption because the US is a net fish importer by about 2.4 billion pounds — http://www.st.nmfs.gov/st1/fus/fus06/fus_2006.pdf
    Fish farming, as currently practiced (usually with carnivorous fish), is a net consumer of fish, not a producer.”

    You imply that if you eat fish and live in the US, the fish must result from aquaculture; furthermore you imply that all locations in the US suffer equally from a shortage of fish and must import it from other countries.

    Perhaps tamino lives in Vermont and decides to go trout fishing in the local stream on Fridays? Maybe he will hunt a moose, have it butchered, and freeze the meat to use for the rest of the year. Every one of us has to make judgment calls and decide how best to improve our lifestyle–based on our individual circumstances–to make a positive impact.

    Comment by James Walker — 30 Jul 2007 @ 8:44 AM

  49. Also, recent research done on dairy cows in California indicates cattle fed quality diets produce less methane than grass-fed range cattle.

    Comment by J.C.H — 30 Jul 2007 @ 9:00 AM

  50. Re #47 True. But assuming this research is correct, which seems intuitively likely (ruminants house methanogens as part of a complex symbiosis with various bacteria that allows them to make use of cellulose), what follows? Whatever they’re fed on, the enormous numbers of cattle kept to provide people with meat and dairy products are going to be an important source of methane.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 30 Jul 2007 @ 9:16 AM

  51. re #47 [RE #37 - Nick Gotts Says:

    You are way off base. I do not deny the science of global warming in any respect, and see little in it to be very skeptical about.

    Animal populations that are not harvested tend to increase in size, so a vegetarian diet is likely to result in more enteric fermentation, not less. You have to kill a ruminant to prevent its production of methane.

    And my family has supported Al Gore’s family politically since Al Gore was his father’s snot-nosed kid.]

    Most of this is simply irrelevant, since I neither implied nor believed that you are a global warming sceptic, nor anything about your attitude to Al Gore. Rather, I think the rhetoric you’re coming out with on this specific issue shows marked similarities to that we repeatedly encounter among denialists.

    The vast majority of ruminant-derived methane production is from domestic animals, mostly cattle. Their huge populations are almost entirely dependent on human-provided food supply (this is largely true even of grass-fed range cattle, when we consider the destruction both of forests to produce ranges, of competitor species, and of predators). Domestic ruminants produce far more methane per head than wild ruminants, because they have been bred to maximise the rate at which they turn their food into meat and milk, rather than survival and reproduction under natural conditions. The populations of wild ruminants are of course limited by a combination of limited food supply and predation. If we decided to reduce the number of domestic ruminants, the only sensible course would be to continue to slaughter the existing animals for food, while reducing the breeding rate until the desired reduction in numbers was achieved.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 30 Jul 2007 @ 9:35 AM

  52. re: #45 Nick
    “For reasons discussed previously on this site, biofuels are almost certainly not a good idea from a GHG emission perspective, but if the grain were used for ethanol it would at least not be producing methane.”

    I think this is an over-generalization, albeit a common one.
    Ethanol is ethanol.
    a) Brazil has done well with sugar cane.

    b) IMHO, corn-based ethanol is a transient approach. Corn wasn’t bred for this, and it’s seriously non-optimal, but the corn infrastructure is there, people are doing corn ethanol for a raft of different reasons, and the efficiencies are improving. If doing corn ethanol for a while helps get the distribution infrastructure in place, and induces a big increase in Flex-Fuel Vehicles, that’s a Really Good Thing.

    c) But, in the long-run, we’re likely to use other C4 crops, like my current favorite, miscanthus. We’ve had millennia of food crop breeding. We’re in for a period of intense design of fuel crops, as there is a lot of work to do, as we’ll need variants tuned to different climates and soils. We’ll have to build infrastructure, and likely optimize harvester design for this.

    http://bioenergy.ornl.gov/papers/miscanthus/miscanthus.html
    http://miscanthus.uiuc.edu/

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-07/asop-iso070607.php
    [This says miscanthus looks about 2X more productive than switchgrass.]

    Comment by John Mashey — 30 Jul 2007 @ 11:01 AM

  53. Re #52. I’m sceptical, but certainly prepared to take another look at the biofuels issue. In the current context, if you’re right this would strengthen the case for a shift toward vegetable-based diets, since there would be competition for land between food and biofuel, and the amount needed for the former increases with the proportion of animal products eaten.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 30 Jul 2007 @ 12:40 PM

  54. OK, it is good to see posts about GH gases other than CO2. What is confusing in reports about those, is claims like “X is N times more potent than CO2 in producing global warming…” but they don’t specify the calibration: Do they mean, comparing the same ppm by mass/vol., the same gas pressure, etc?

    [Response: The only calibration that makes sense is in terms of the radiative forcing - and usually the global mean number. See http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/10/attribution-of-20th-century-climate-change-to-cosub2sub/ - gavin]

    Comment by Neil B. — 30 Jul 2007 @ 2:40 PM

  55. Re #37

    “(since the pattern seen in the oceans cannot be explained by solar forcing)” – could you possible elaborate a bit on that statement, e.g. which pattern and which kind of solar forcing??

    Comment by Hans Henrik Hansen — 30 Jul 2007 @ 4:11 PM

  56. re: #53 Nick
    Some of the negative press on biofuels derives from the famous Pimentel/Patzek paper, http://petroleum.berkeley.edu/papers/Biofuels/NRRethanol.2005.pdf.

    However, their negative results seem to be outliers compared to other studies.
    One meta-study is this one in Science:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/311/5760/506

    There’s a nice chart on p 18 of:
    http://enews.lbl.gov/Publications/Director/assets/docs/03_20_2007_EBI_Forum.pdf

    and p.21 has nice photos of switch grass and miscanthus (this stuff grows like the bamboo that some previous owner planted on our property, i.e., indefatigable).

    p.26 has some nice charts from BP about expected cost reductions of biofuels.

    ===
    Bottom-line: unsurprisingly, there are plenty of disagreements about exact numbers for relatively immature technology, but some serious people (including some very smart local venture capitalists) think biofuels will be economic and important. In particular, from both farming & semiconductor experience, one always has to allow for learning-curve and volume improvements over time, and not get hung up on early-stage economics.

    As for methane, since many people wish to keep their beef & milk, at least people are starting to use approaches to lessen the amount of methane added to the atmosphere:
    http://www.epa.gov/methane/sources.html

    and certainly people are generating electricity from cow-generated methane in poop-filled lagoons. Note: we eat mostly veggies, fruit, grains, and fish, so this isn’t me wishing to preserve cows :-)

    Comment by John Mashey — 30 Jul 2007 @ 4:17 PM

  57. Nick Gotts — I recommend you follow

    http://biopact.com

    for awhile to learn some approaches to sensible, even carbon-negative, biofuels.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 30 Jul 2007 @ 4:55 PM

  58. I admit I have not read all of the above posts. But isn’t any one concerned that this article is about a computor modeled plants response to a computor modeled change in ozone levels. Best as I could tell no living plants were used in this study.

    Comment by Gary — 30 Jul 2007 @ 8:46 PM

  59. Re # 58 computer models
    Yeah, but the models are based on established scientific principles and documented responses based on actual experiments on plants. That is the nature of models – it is best to consider them hypotheses that need to be tested, either experimentally, or naturally over time. The problem is, if we wait to see how plants in their natural environments respond to increased CO2 and ozone levels for, say, a decade or two, and the models turn out to be correct, it may be too late to take corrective measures.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 30 Jul 2007 @ 11:20 PM

  60. Er, Chuck, nope. You can look this stuff up. Field biologists have been doing this kind of experiment for a very long time with all sorts of different tweaks.

    Tell ya a story: When I was a kid in North Carolina, in the 1950s, some botanists decided to test the notion that Civil Defense was telling everyone, that a nuclear war would be survivable, wouldn’t hurt the plants much, the people would just have to stay in fallout shelters for a couple of weeks then come out and everything would be fine. They took a gamma source out into the piney woods (in a well fenced off area) and put it down a well and cranked it up and down to provide the same radiation dose in the immediate environment that was predicted for a one-shot atomic war. The results made the cover of Scientific American — a big, brown, dead circle of killed trees, killed grass, killed soil, around the source. Oops. It caused the whole notion of winning an atomic war to be reconsidered. Good thing, that. Nothing like actually testing what you’re being told to find out if it’s right.

    Similarly botanists have been putting big tents over all kinds of plants and environments and boosting carbon dioxide, varying humidity, and so forth, for years. The model study documents exactly which of that kind of study they looked at, to get an idea whether their model was getting it right.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Jul 2007 @ 11:25 PM

  61. Could someone please comment on James Hansen’s report in New Scientist (25 July) that the IPCC is far too conservative and that a business-as-usual scenario is more likely to give a sea level rise of 5m in the next 100 years.

    http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/mg19526141.600-huge-sea-level-rises-are-coming–unless-we-act-now.html

    Comment by Bill Tarver — 31 Jul 2007 @ 2:39 AM

  62. John Mashey, David B. Benson – Thanks for the refs. on biofuels, which I’ll follow up. I’ll send anything further on this to the “Friday roundup”.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 31 Jul 2007 @ 4:13 AM

  63. Re: 59 Except of course that ozone levels have been falling for 20 plus years, at least in the US and Europe. Nox emissions are down as well, and methane in the atmosphere has leveled off. We are already taking the corrective measures and they are working.

    Comment by B Buckner — 31 Jul 2007 @ 8:28 AM

  64. Is there an accepted reason for why methane has leveled off (the corrective measure)?

    [Response: Not really. There has been speculation that it was related to the economic downturn after the collapse of Communism, and there are ongoing methane reductions through landfill management, flaring and reducing pipeline leaks, but there are too many uncertain terms in the total budget for a clear answer to emerge. Note however, that stabilisation only implies that the increased sources are balanced by increased sinks (atmos. oxidation), not that the sources are back down to pre-industrial levels. This Sci. Am. piece has more details. -gavin]

    Comment by J.C.H — 31 Jul 2007 @ 8:46 AM

  65. Gavin – OT, but looking at the monthly global temperature anomaly plots produced by UAH, GISS, RSS, HadCRUT3, and NCDC, almost all of the monthly high temperature spikes occur in January. Are you aware of a reason for this? It seems odd given the different methods of measuring temperature and the five databases involved. Thanks.

    [Response: Maximum usage of AC units obviously! Seriously though, you are probably seeing the impact of ice-albedo feedbacks on the NH land - warming is greatest there and during winter. You could make a case that direct CO2 effects are strongest during the coldest months and the effect of water vapour feedback more important in the drier periods. However, I haven't seen that quantified. - gavin]

    Comment by B Buckner — 31 Jul 2007 @ 10:33 AM

  66. Re # 59 Hank,
    I think your clarifications were covered by my comment that:

    “the models are based on established scientific principles and documented responses based on actual experiments on plants.”

    The “mesocosm” experiments you described (“big tents over all kinds of plants and environments”) are still community-level experimental manipulations that don’t necessarily tell how an intact forest (or grassland, or whatever) ecosystem will respond over decade- or longer time scales. I’m not disputing the methods or conclusions of the Sich et al paper. But, I think Gary made a valid comment.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 31 Jul 2007 @ 12:08 PM

  67. Gary “Best as I could tell …” can read online or download from the same page where the abstract appears the details he didn’t find about the plant studies. I tried a longer post quoting from them with pointers, but it’s not showed up.

    Gary: The models were evaluated compared to real plant studies. The supplemental material for the paper is online as a PDF file available to nonsubscribers, via links on the same page as the abstract.

    See that — it has descriptions and references.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 31 Jul 2007 @ 12:31 PM

  68. You do realize that if the temperature proxy being used is not actually measuring temperature or the instrumented readings for some reason are wrong, most of this discussion is meaningless?

    Briffa (2006) The spatial extent of 20th-Century Warmth in the Context of the Past 1200 Years (http:www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/osborn2006.html) clearly shows that the temperatures decreased from an early 20th century high and that the proxies and the instrumented readings do not match (or are even close).

    With the out the connection between abnormal warming now and increased CO2, then what does O2 matter? Without graphing on the instrumented reading to the proxies, then what is being shown is that the climate is not as sensitive as we were lead to believe and CO2 will cause some warming but not the warming that is being proposed.

    Please point out where I am wrong on this.

    Comment by Vernon — 31 Jul 2007 @ 12:55 PM

  69. RE #33, the religious right’s denial of GW or that it’s harmful.

    This goes to both behavioral science & religious dimensions of GW. As for the social sci dimension (including the cultural, social, and psychological), people who consider themselves long ago “saved” or deeply religious might be less amenable to believing their GHGs could cause harm, than others who see themselves as less holy and more sin-prone. For instance, I became a GW activist around 1990, shortly after (or while) I was undergoing a conversion to a deeper spirituality — and I was already looking at my sins & ways to become a better person, so I was amenable to accepting my fault & responsibility re GW. I wonder if I had undergone that experience a decade earlier, if I would have been as open to accepting GW.

    In attribution theory, it is found that people have ways (cognitive manipulations) of downplaying their own failures and inadequacies, & magnifying those of disvalued others. Sort of like focusing on the speck in the other person’s eye, but failing to see the plank in one’s own. In highly complex situations (as in GW in general, and as in this post’s discussion of ozone complications), I think false (self-serving) attributions would surface up even more easily.

    RE the religious dimension of GW, I’m sure there’s a method in God’s madness — of allowing humans to cause GW, then deny it — though we can’t 2nd guess God. However, going beyond “GW is just further sign the Apocalypse upon us” attitude, it occurred to me that perhaps we have come to this era that requires us to truly convert and change, to truly establish a world of love & peace. Up till now it’s been a lot of preaching, & good practices on the part of a few saints here & there. All the previous world and personal problems (that God as allowed) have somewhat helped some to “convert,” turn to righteousness. But obviously not much, or not enough for this problem of GW at hand.

    So now to stop global harm from global warming, we all (or most of us) will have to mitigate and stop killing by turning to a more perfect life. That’s the only way. And if this conversion is profound (which I think it has to be to work – along the lines of a revitalization or social movement), people would reduce their meat consumption and live more simply not just to save lives by mitigating GW, but because of a desire for holiness, whole-ness, holism, and I’d think this would be a joy to do so, not just a drudgery.

    I’m thinking of my husband’s uncle — who was a parish priest in a boondocks village in India. He never thought of himself as a vegetarian & knew nothing about GW, but in his holy simplicity, he rarely ate meat, ate very little food, in fact (a strong wind would blow him away — but he lived up to 89), and had only 3 sets of clothing. He never had much money, and what he had, he shared with the needy. He also helped a religious order make a bio-gas pit, where the villagers put in dung and converted it to gas for cooking and electric generation for the few tube lights the village had.

    Perhaps GW could be the instigator for humanity of a true conversion to a truly holy lifestyle — not just a fake, self-righteous religiosity that serves to make one feel superior, and cover up one’s own flaws and sins.

    But the 1st step is accepting what we are doing is wrong (or at the least could be wrong). And that is a very difficult hurdle.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 31 Jul 2007 @ 1:06 PM

  70. Vernon,
    That’s almost a correct cite. It gets a 404 Not Found result.
    That means it’s wrong, but keep trying.

    This is a correct cite, that actually gets you to the page. http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/osborn2006/osborn2006.html

    You make some claims about what you believe is on that page.

    I don’t see what you claim to see.
    What are you talking about?
    Did you download the data file and do something with it?
    Did you read the actual Science paper?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 31 Jul 2007 @ 1:44 PM

  71. Vernon, I gave you more cite help in the Friday Roundup thread where you were talking about this. Let’s not confuse the ozone thread.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 31 Jul 2007 @ 1:55 PM

  72. Vernon said in 68:
    “Please point out where I am wrong on this.”

    You are wrong in this that you do read the actual articles you claim to support your opinions. By reading the articles it is very easy to see, that you distort their conclusions completely.

    Other posters here have educated you in detail, in what respect your opinions are based on the twisted denialist arguments. Please, do not degrade you by twisting the truth yourself.

    Comment by Petro — 31 Jul 2007 @ 3:02 PM

  73. Vernon,

    If you want people to keep pointing out to you the same things and correcting the same errors as in the Friday Roundup, take it over there. I might even oblige you. Or perhaps not – I find repetition so… repetitive.

    Briffa (2006) The spatial extent of 20th-Century Warmth in the Context of the Past 1200 Years (http:www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/osborn2006.html) clearly shows that the temperatures decreased from an early 20th century high and that the proxies and the instrumented readings do not match (or are even close).

    You might want to find another link before posting it on the Friday Roundup: NOAA seems to have noticed you were trying to use the page and took it down.

    I suppose its part of that conspiracy… You know the one: they keep adjusting the temperatures upwards to a greater and greater degree in order to create the impression that temperatures keep rising. They are probably shining hot spotlights on the Arctic sea-ice and glaciers, too. Or perhaps they are just editing all those images. You might want to do some digging there, Vernon.

    Anyway, see you back at the Friday Roundup, perhaps.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 31 Jul 2007 @ 3:18 PM

  74. Re #68:

    “Briffa … clearly shows that the temperatures decreased from an early 20th century high and that the proxies and the instrumented readings do not match (or are even close).”

    A pdf of the paper is available at:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/311/5762/841.pdf

    Nowhere in the paper is there any graph of temperatures, proxy or instrumental. The paper performs a statistical measure of the geographical extent of historical variations of northern hemisphere proxies. The figures in the paper illustrate this geographical extent by displaying the relative fraction of proxy locations which show anomalous variation expressed as standard deviation from the normalized mean.

    The authors specifically point out that their results are indicative only of “periods of unusually high or low proxy values rather than as indicative of warm or cool periods”. The comparison with a similar analysis of instrumental records is used to support the argument that (italics added): “analysis of these proxy records is a useful indicator of Northern Hemisphere temperatures”.

    Comment by spilgard — 31 Jul 2007 @ 5:24 PM

  75. RE:54 There is an index called the Global Warming Potential, which might be used to facilitate trading of emissions reductions among countries and nation by nation rankings of individual contributions to climate change, would be a possible use.

    Back in 1992 The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted the index called the Global Warming Potential ( GWP). It’s a weighting factor to allow comparisons between the global warming impact of 1kg of any greenhouse gas compared with 1kg of CO2, and includes a time horizon for which the impact will be felt. An example is that since the 20 year GWP for NO2 is 280, 1kg of NO2 emitted today will have 280 times the global warming effect over the next twenty years as 1kg of CO2 emitted today, or 1kg of NO2 emitted today will have the same effect as a release today of 280kg of CO2 over the next 20 years. A book titled “Introduction To Environmental Engineering and Science” 2nd Ed. by Gilbert M. Masters has some interesting comparisons using the GWP. Methane, for example has a GWP of 56 over a time horizon of 20 years, but decreases to 21 for 100 years.( above ref.- Table 8.6).The difference is due to the longer atmospheric lifetime of CO2.
    Here’s an interesting example given in the source cited above- In 1992 anthropogenic emissions of CO2 were approx. 24,000×10^9 kg per year, emissions of CH4 were about 375 X10^9 kg per year. A comparison over a twenty year time span shows:
    CO2: GWPx emissions= 1×24,000×10^9=2.4×10^13
    CH4: GWPx emissions= 56x375x10^9 =2.1×10^13
    In other words the impact on warming of methane is almost as much as CO2 over the next twenty years! But over longer time horizons, CO2 becomes the dominant greenhouse gas. The GWP for methane over a 500 year time horizon is only 6.5.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 31 Jul 2007 @ 5:49 PM

  76. Re #69: [RE #33, the religious right’s denial of GW or that it’s harmful.]

    In respect of which, those inclined to believe on religious grounds that AGW can’t/won’t happen because “…He designed it and the universe to withstand just about anything humans could do” might want to reflect on the Biblical account of Noah and the Great Flood :-)

    Comment by James — 31 Jul 2007 @ 10:04 PM

  77. Re 68 Vernon: “Please point out where I am wrong on this.”

    If at first you don’t succeed, try spamming another topic, eh Vernon?

    Your problem is that you have already reached your conclusion and are 1) looking for data points to cherry pick in support of it, and 2) looking for any _perceived_ chink in the real science in order to use it to discredit evidence that does not support your conclusion. Given that you repeatedly ignore those who make a serious attempt to answer your “questions” it is quite obvious that your sole purpose for posting here is to obfuscate and waste people’s time.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 31 Jul 2007 @ 10:09 PM

  78. Vernon said:

    “Briffa … clearly shows that the temperatures decreased from an early 20th century high and that the proxies and the instrumented readings do not match (or are even close).”

    I chased his URL to the abstract page and saw no graph of temperature.

    Nowhere in the paper is there any graph of temperatures, proxy or instrumental.

    Guess this explains why.

    Vernon is representative of the people who are going to overturn the work of thousands of climate scientists?

    Comment by dhogaza — 1 Aug 2007 @ 12:30 AM

  79. On #18. A classic howler:
    “I am an eminent mathematician (string theorist, thermodynamic engineer,…) and I have some serious objections to the theory of AIDS (Climate, Evolution, …)”
    See e.g. Serge Lang (Lubos Motl, Stuart Burgess,…)

    Comment by Florifulgurator — 1 Aug 2007 @ 8:49 AM

  80. PBS had a piece on the end-Permian extinction last night (7/31/07) on Science Now (also here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/3318/01.html )

    This could happen to us eventually over the following many thousands of years, but triggered by us in this time period. However, as some have pointed out here, life is now more resilient, so maybe only 70% of all life rather than 95% will go extinct this time around.

    I’ve also been reading about dead zones in Oregon & the Gulf of Mexico (the latter largely caused by nitrogen run-off from synthetic fertilizers, but also because the fresh water stays on top, bec there isn’t enough “roiling”?)

    I think (I may be wrong) that these synthetic fertilizers are also implicated in GW in several different ways, and the less roiling may be (if not now then later) caused by a slowing or halting of the THC ocean conveyor (which, by the way, no one is talking about how that might make the south a lot hotter, since people here say it won’t make the north a lot cooler, and the 1st law of thermodynamics says that GW heat has to go somewhere — like my home).

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 1 Aug 2007 @ 9:28 AM

  81. I am an eminent mathematician (string theorist, thermodynamic engineer,…) and I have some serious objections to the theory of AIDS (Climate, Evolution, …)”

    You forgot to add …
    “even though I’ve not bothered to take the time to understand the theory I object to”.

    Comment by dhogaza — 1 Aug 2007 @ 11:23 AM

  82. Okay, Mr. Eminent Mathematician, here’s how I deal with it, since I, too, don’t have time or the necessary post doctoral work in climate science to understand the finer intricacies of the matter….

    (Of course, I already knew a little about the natural greenhouse effect (that it warmed the earth enough so life could exit) before I learned about anthropogenic global warming…..so perhaps I did have some background that made it easier for me to understand. Too bad others didn’t have such good science classes in high school, or fell asleep during that part.)

    Let’s assume for a moment that we are back in 1990, before 1995 when the first climate science studies started coming out at .05 significance on AGW, or before today, when virtually all bonafided, honest climate scientists are now (if not 15 years ago) highly confident AGW is indeed happening, and most agree many consequences and effects are and will be harmful to people (not to mention to much of biota).

    So in this heuristic world there are only theorists, neither side with conclusive evidence, debating whether or not AGW (with negative consequences for people) is happening or will happen. Take Pascal’s model (being a statistician, you may have heard of him), and look at the following scenarios to help you decide what to do (mitigate or fail to mitigate):

    1. THE FALSE POSITIVE: If AGW is not happening, and we think it is and we mitigate, that will save us money and strengthen the economy, without lowering living standards or productivity …. at least down to reducing GHGs by three-forths with known technology; perhaps there could be further reductions with future tech. We also reduce many many other problems associated with emitting GHGs (e.g., other pollutants, wars for oil, taxes for roads damaged by Hummers and SUVs, etc). Making AGW perhaps be the best fallacy we ever believed in. (Just remember to divest from Exxon early on, and you should be fine.)

    2. THE TRUE POSITIVE: AGW is happening & we mitigate. All the benefits above, plus we reduce a serious problem and avoid the worse.

    3. THE TRUE NEGATIVE: AGW is not happening and we don’t mitigate. Well, we don’t have problems from GW, but we do run into economic, financial, and political (war) disaster (not to mention all sorts of other environmental harms) from our proligate, wasteful, gluttonous use of energy and resources.

    4. THE FALSE NEGATIVE: AGW is happpening, but we fail to mitigate because mathematical statisticians have convinced us not to do so. Not only do we have all the problems listed in #3 from failure to become resource/energy conservative/efficient, but we cause tremendous death and suffering through AGW for people and much of biota after passing the tipping point where nature in response to the warming causes a lot more warming over the next many thousands of years. Of course, when the water warms and oceans go superanoxic leading to massive hydrogen sulfide outgassing, humans can wear gas masks (assuming we’ve saved a few resources to make those gas masks), but gas masks and oxygen tanks for crops in the field, I don’t know about that (see: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/3318/01.html ).

    Oh yeh, that’s right, we haven’t achieved 95% scientific certainty yet on the hydrogen sulfide outgassing mass extinction scenario. It’s just a theory, based on known chemical/biological principles.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 1 Aug 2007 @ 12:34 PM

  83. Re 68. Vernon, I have to say that your interpretation of Osborn and Briffa 2006 is certainly creative. Most of the graphs I see show significant positive anomalies late in the 20th century. In particular, I wonder if you read the abstract, which says: “but comparison with instrumental temperaturesshows the spatial extent of recent warmth to be of greater significance than that during the
    medieval period.” What is more, I’m going to trust the instrument readings where we have them over the proxies. Certainly they show no reason to believe things are cooling significantly. Moreover, note that O&B specifically smoothe most of their graphs to eliminate trends less than about 20 years. I must say, you work very hard to justify your preconceived notions.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 1 Aug 2007 @ 12:35 PM

  84. On my post #75 I unforgiveably didn’t put in the units of the last GWP calculations.
    The lines showing the 20 year comparison of CO2 and CH4 should read:
    CO2: GWPx emissions= 1×24,000×10^9=2.4×10^13 kgCO2
    CH4: GWPx emissions= 56×375×10^9 = 2.1×10^13 kg as CO2
    first mistake I ever made(not!)

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 1 Aug 2007 @ 12:51 PM

  85. [Response: Not really. There has been speculation that it was related to the economic downturn after the collapse of Communism, ...")

    Well, I guess perhaps the cowmoonists ceased rumination after the collapse.

    Comment by J.C.H — 1 Aug 2007 @ 12:58 PM

  86. Off topic: I need to find the emissions of diesel per kilwatt hour for Nox and CH4. I’m writing a grant to put solar panels on a school and I want to boast about the amount of emissions we’ll be offsetting. I will appreciate any assistance from the brain trust here.

    Comment by Tavita — 1 Aug 2007 @ 2:59 PM

  87. What specific fuel and model of diesel generator is the school using, Tavita? Probably the manufacturer of the generator will have the info.
    (Assuming you don’t mean you’re using an electric utility that burns diesel, but if you do, the utility should have the info.)

    Diesel is a type of engine, and they can run on all sorts of fuel. If you’re using a diesel generator running on biodiesel, for example, that’s going to be very different than one running off of high sulfur #2 diesel typically used for home heating oil.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Aug 2007 @ 3:29 PM

  88. Lynn Vincentnathan (#80) wrote:

    I’ve also been reading about dead zones in Oregon & the Gulf of Mexico (the latter largely caused by nitrogen run-off from synthetic fertilizers, but also because the fresh water stays on top, bec there isn’t enough “roiling”?)

    Actually the problem in Oregon isn’t the fertilizers – with most deadzones which are occuring at present it is, but not in Oregon. In Oregon the problem is that at certain times of the year, the coastal lands warm much more quickly than the coastal waters – and of course there is that lag in the ocean due to its thermal inertia – and the temperature differential should greater the more prolonged the warming trend. The higher temperatures over land result in a low pressure near the coastline – and thus roiling near the coastline.

    The roiling dredges up nutrients from below causing a burst of algae growth – giant “blooms” must like those one gets from sewage and fertilzer – but which have been common at certain times in the distant past during earlier instances of rapid global warming. When these die off, their organic decay takes all of the oxygen from the surrounding water – creating the hypoxic conditions which – in the case of Oregon at least – kills off everything except some of the heartiest species. So far, starfish have survived, but even the crabs are dead – for as far as they looked.

    The vertical coastal roiling may also warm the shallow water methane hydrates – one of those things we should try and avoid. But the vertical roiling along the coasts will also disturb the oxycline – the boundary between the normally oxygenated waters and the anoxic layer of the deep where one finds the anaerobes – including the sulfate reducers – which also have the ability to render the waters more anoxic.

    We have seen thick mats of anaerobes whose growth is promoted both by the increased conditions of anoxia and the nutrients from the algae blooms of the Oregon coastline. They were described as being white – which would be suggestive of sulfate reducers. More recently the Oregon deadzone has been extending into Washington State waters. If I stay here long enough I will probably see it. And I can’t really imagine living anywhere far from the coasts. I love the sea and the port cities too much.

    *

    Normal ocean circulation and turnover which carries water from the lower latitudes to the higher latitudes is generally good – and currently it has become even more pronounced. Its driven by the temperature differential of between the waters of the higher latitudes and the equatorial latitudes. But there are a number of reasons you want to avoid especially pronounced vertical roiling along the coasts.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 1 Aug 2007 @ 5:20 PM

  89. RE: 76

    Re #69: [RE #33, the religious right’s denial of GW or that it’s harmful.]

    In respect of which, those inclined to believe on religious grounds that AGW can’t/won’t happen because “…He designed it and the universe to withstand just about anything humans could do” might want to reflect on the Biblical account of Noah and the Great Flood.

    One of the godbotherers (again from chat.anncoulter.com)stated that since he didn’t know the mind of his god, he couldn’t be certain his god didn’t want man to warm the earth ……… That this was all part of “THE PLAN.”

    Comment by wildlifer — 1 Aug 2007 @ 5:21 PM

  90. Hank it’s a diesel generator that the utility uses. The fuel is diesel No. 2 and the generator is a 4 stroke diesel engine made by Deutz Mannheim, Germany.

    Thanks for your assistance.

    Comment by Tavita — 1 Aug 2007 @ 5:41 PM

  91. Is there a simple explanation for the vertical leading of warming in the lower troposphere? Or at least a basic statement of the dominant physical mechanism for it? And is this leading only expected in the tropics, or is it expected at all latitudes?

    [Response: Yes. It's the moist adiabat. This is independent of the mechanism of warming and works for solar driven changes as well as for GHGs. The enhancement of the warming aloft is seen purely as a function of the surface warming and a relative humidity that is roughly constant. Since the humidty is a nonlinear function of temperature the amount of latent heat available for moist convection increases strongly as temperature rises - as that latent heat is condensed in the tropopshere it will increase the temperatures aloft by more than the surface warms. Since moist convection (and the moist adiabat) are predominantly tropical issues, this will be true in the tropics only. - gavin]

    Comment by mzed — 1 Aug 2007 @ 5:41 PM

  92. Tavita, this site might have the answer for you (though some of their info is just promised but not yet available online):
    http://www.eere.energy.gov/afdc/altfuel/altfuels.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Aug 2007 @ 6:13 PM

  93. Re #79: I hate to defend a man whose Algebra book caused me so much pain many years ago, but as far as I am aware Serge Lang never suggested that anything he said about either mathematical or non-mathematical topics should be believed on the basis of his prior work. An appeal to lack of authority is every bit as fallacious as an appeal to authority.

    Comment by S. Molnar — 1 Aug 2007 @ 6:40 PM

  94. Re: The Attitudes of the “traditionally religious” towards climate change

    My last post on this topic for a bit, but…

    I would be careful about generalizing too much in this area. There are those who believe that God made the world resilient enough to withstand anything we might throw at it, and thus we couldn’t possibly cause dangerous climate change, there are those who believe that climate change may very well be part of the End Times, but there are also those who believe that this world is a gift which we should cherish and take care of, that we are responsible for taking care of it.

    This last attitude is growing even among the Evangelicals. I have seen at least a couple of different evangelical organizations promoting this sort of an approach – and I haven’t been looking but just noticing when I bump into them on the net.

    As for myself, although not being traditionally religious, I have always liked the view of the priest in the original Poseidon Adventure – he thought that God wanted and intended for people to do everything the could in the face of any disaster. Then again, he was a bit of a rebel. I think he and I would have some serious differences in politics – but that is probably another topic I should try and avoid.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 1 Aug 2007 @ 8:00 PM

  95. Lynn (82), I appreciate your logic structure, but your certainty leads to not well-developed conclusions.
    Your conclusion that the world economy will be just peachy if we mitigate GHGs, whether we have to or not(!!), is way obviously blithe and pat, and evidently stems from your view that mitigating AGW will produce a world and economy that you would choose for everybody else so therefore must be great.

    Comment by Rod B — 1 Aug 2007 @ 9:01 PM

  96. Rod, you’re aware the same people expressed the same doubts about controlling chlorofluorocarbons. Lead. Asbestos. Many other industrial byproducts. And they were wrong. So far they’ve been wrong every single time the business and market people have argued against the health and science people.

    If we use the linear trend method of forecasting, assuming things will go on the same as always, you can see it’s most likely the scientists are right this time too. (That’s irony.) The evidence isn’t arguable, though it will always be deniable by individuals who can’t imagine the world could be different than their politics allows them to imagine. Dustbin of history, awaits such believers.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Aug 2007 @ 9:54 PM

  97. Re 96 Hank Roberts: “Rod, you’re aware the same people expressed the same doubts about controlling chlorofluorocarbons. Lead. Asbestos. Many other industrial byproducts.”

    Not to mention even the Paris sewer system.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 1 Aug 2007 @ 10:43 PM

  98. I could not read the entire paper so I don’t know exactly what the researchers said. How big an issue is this? How much effect will it have on the biosphere’s ability to absorb CO2?

    Ozone is present when air pollution reaches certain levels. These area are generally urban areas where there is little vegetation. Ozone does drift down wind into non-urban areas but how big are these areas? If am right ozone is very reactive so doesn’t have a long residence time, so how much vegetation will be subject to the negative effects of ozone? If ozone harms a large amount of plants a large amount of CO2 will not be sequestered, but if ozone harms only a relatively small number of plants then only a small amount of CO2 would not be removed from the atmosphere.

    Rod B. the claims of economic catastrophe that environmental regulation would have have been proved wrong time and time again. The National Academy of Sciences has researched the costs and benefits of laws that reduce air and water pollution and concluded that the monetary costs of reducing pollution have had substantial positive monetary benefits.

    There have been some in the US business community that have come out in favor of laws that will require GW pollution reduction in the US. They think that this will encourage US companies to develop technologies that will make them better able to compete in a global economy that is trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 2 Aug 2007 @ 12:23 AM

  99. Re 96 –

    Hank,

    The problem is that the linear models were accurate at a time when the economics and resource availability made linear models feasible. That’s no longer the case — gasoline prices are at record levels (actually, just below all time inflation adjusted record levels) and supplies are exceedingly tight. That’s not an environment that would tolerate linear growth in fossil fuel consumption.

    As regards the “health” argument, I’d argue that increasing life expectancies demonstrate that the “marketing” people were right, and the “science” people were wrong. So long as the increase in lung cancer deaths is less than the decrease in fire-related deaths, “asbestos” was a decision that made sense.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 2 Aug 2007 @ 2:47 AM

  100. Not to mention even the Paris sewer system.

    Or the mandated installation of seat belts and (later) airbags in new automobiles.

    Or the mandated installation of catalytic converters which was necessary to ban lead from gasoline.

    All of which were destined to lead to the collapse of the auto industry, the consequences of which would be … hmmm … I was never clear on the concept. The return to the horse-and-buggy era?

    Comment by dhogaza — 2 Aug 2007 @ 3:01 AM

  101. RE: [[76

    Re #69: [RE #33, the religious right’s denial of GW or that it’s harmful.]

    In respect of which, those inclined to believe on religious grounds that AGW can’t/won’t happen because “…He designed it and the universe to withstand just about anything humans could do” might want to reflect on the Biblical account of Noah and the Great Flood.]]

    I understood that Noah’s flood was a deliberate act on the part of God (Genesis 6:7). On this issue as on many others, it seems clear religion can be used to justify practically any position, and attitudes to AGW cut across the religious/nonreligious divide, although it’s my impression that you would find a higher proportion of religious believers among confirmed denialists than in the general population.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 2 Aug 2007 @ 3:51 AM

  102. Surface ozone that damages plants is really the irony of the age because ozone higher up in the atmosphere actually helps protect life in the Earth’s biosphere.

    Strangely, in the Antarctic, algae that grow on the ice release iodine oxides that help deplete surface ozone. The sea salt around them also releases another ozone depleting halogen—bromine. It’s good to hear that natural processes do keep a balance of chemicals in the air. It’s the artificial infusion of them that causes problems.

    There’s more to read in this link to TheNewsRoom, the place where you can find news on global warming you can use. Email jtowns@voxant.com for details.

    - Alvin from TheScienceDesk at TheNewsRoom.com

    Comment by alvinwriter — 2 Aug 2007 @ 7:33 AM

  103. [[it’s my impression that you would find a higher proportion of religious believers among confirmed denialists than in the general population.]]

    Evidence? I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I’d like to see some kind of survey or poll results.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 2 Aug 2007 @ 7:36 AM

  104. Here’s the link to TheNewsRoom on ozone depleting algae in the Antarctic: http://www.thenewsroom.com/details/536112?c_id=wom-bc-ar

    - Alvin from TheScienceDesk at TheNewsRoom.com

    Comment by alvinwriter — 2 Aug 2007 @ 7:38 AM

  105. RE 101, you may be right about a higher proportion of AGW deniers among religious than nonreligious. That has been my vague impression. But if religions (those that hold killing is a sin) are doing their job of getting adherents to walk the talk, then we would expect the religious to be in the forefront of mitigating GW. One “religious” person told me (in response to my suggestions that GW is and will be killing people), “well, people have to die anyway.” My response was, “yes, that’s right, but they don’t have to kill.”

    Maybe it’s because worse sinners are attracted to religion — if not hoping to improve themselves, at least to find justifications for their evil. But I sort of think (as mentioned) that it has to do with self-righteousness. Those who consider themselves religious tend not to accept that they might be doing something wrong (a la social psych’s attribution theory & cognitive dissonance) — it goes against their self-concept & ego. Perhaps those who are not religious are aware that the religious majority (at least here in the U.S.) looks down on them, so they have to show they are morally superior by actually being morally superior at least in some sphere of life (saving the earth, if not other areas).

    There is also the problem of U.S. politics where pro-life candidates tend to be GW denialists and pro-choice tend to accept GW and our need to mitigate. The voters wanting to save the unborn, end up voting for persons that may be steering us in a direction that extremely harms the unborn via environmental harm. But to justify their vote, they paint the other candidate as wrong on everything, and their candidate as right on everything.

    Another factor: I’ve met plenty of pro-lifers (I’m one myself), and most tend to be so wrapped up in their narrow anti-abortion cause, that there’s no room for other pro-life issues. In fact some have very nastily told me, “you greenies are only concerned about saving the baby seals, but not human babies.”

    Others have told me, “first we need to end abortion, then we can turn to other issues.” They see other issues as a detraction from their important issue, and this gets to the post here — our Western analytic, compartmentalization. We tend to lack a holistic perspective, but focus on what the “atoms” are and how they are causing things, rather than the whole system in dynamic interaction and feedback loops. We think if we are involved in one issue, we can’t ba involved in another. If we reduce our meat consumption to mitigate, ergo we can’t reduce our driving.

    I know this is just pop soc sci and we don’t even know if GW denial is lower among atheists. And even if it is, whether there are other intervening variables that are the bigger causal factors, and when controlled for, reduce the religion-denial correlation to zero. But it is good to be considering ALL AGW components, including human social, psychological, and cultural dimensions (including religion).

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 2 Aug 2007 @ 8:47 AM

  106. Re #103 [[ [[it’s my impression that you would find a higher proportion of religious believers among confirmed denialists than in the general population.]]

    Evidence? I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I’d like to see some kind of survey or poll results.]]

    No, I don’t know of any such surveys, which is why I said “It’s my impression”. The chain of reasoning was:

    Most confirmed denialists are conservatives, particularly US conservatives.
    There is a close association between conservative political views and churchgoing, at least in the USA (see e.g. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2004-06-02-religion-gap_x.htm), and I would think in Europe (in Germany and I think some other continental European countries, the main conservative political party calls itself “Christian Democrat”), though a quick Google search didn’t show up any surveys.
    So it’s likely the proportion of religious believers is higher among confirmed denialists than in the general population.

    This is admittedly a fairly loose chain of reasoning, if only because “confirmed denialist” is a vague term, as is “religious believer”, and I didn’t specify, even to myself, whether “the general population” is to be taken country-by-country or worldwide.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 2 Aug 2007 @ 8:49 AM

  107. This is interesting, but it never sounded like a good idea, anyway.

    ‘Sunshade’ for global warming could cause drought
    08:13 02 August 2007
    NewScientist.com news service

    Pumping sulphur particles into the atmosphere to mimic the cooling effect of a large volcanic eruption has been proposed as a last-ditch solution to combating climate change – but doing so would cause problems of its own, including potentially catastrophic drought, say researchers.
    read more:
    http://environment.newscientist.com/article/dn12397-sunshade-for-global-warming-could-cause-drought.html

    Comment by catman306 — 2 Aug 2007 @ 9:00 AM

  108. RE #95, Rod B, well, I did write with too much certainty about mitigating (even without AGW upon us) as economically beneficial, mainly because I’ve been presenting evidence on this many times over since the beginning of RealClimate. And I would agree it is counter-intuitive: you’d think then why aren’t people already doing those things. That, my friend, is the $64,000 question.

    My husband and I have reduced by about 2/3 and not lowered our living standards, so I know this from personal experience. Also you can follow the work at Rocky Mountain Institute ( http://www.rmi.org ), and read NATURAL CAPITALISM ( http://www.natcap.org ).

    I also started prepping for a “Business & the Environment” course some 12 years ago, and got lots of info on how various businesses having to meet upcoming environmental regs, grudging told their employees to try and come up with the least costly fixes….and were stunned to find there were many ways to reduce the pollution that actually saved them money. Re 3M’s 3P (Pollution Prevention Pays) plan, the manager asked the engineers, “then why didn’t you come up with these money-saving (to the tune of $1 billion) before?” and the engineer responsed, “Because it wasn’t put to us that way.” Re Dupont’s WRAP (Waste Reduction Always Pays), they said that if the person behind that had not retired, they’d still be finding really great ways to be more productive with less environmental impact and greater profits.

    So mitigating AGW (at least here in the U.S., & assuming we do it right) can reduce other environmental problems (which has financial pay-off in lower medical problems and bills, etc.) AND save us money without lowering productivity or living standard (at least to a 2/3 or 3/4 reduction in GHG emissions). I am very certain of that. So it is a win-win-win situation. Why many choose the lose-lose-lose path is a big question, which may have to do with other factors I mentioned elsewhere here.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 2 Aug 2007 @ 9:07 AM

  109. Lynn Vincentnathan: do you know of a site that collects energy saving tips such as this one:

    Just thoroughly shaking out laundry from the washer so that each piece is separate can cut drying time by ten minutes. In the US, three hundred million people must wash clothes every three days, or 100 million loads a week. A tremendous amount of fuel and greenhouse gases could be saved with this simple step that anyone can do, doesn’t cost money, and is probably recommended by dryer manufactures anyway.

    Comment by catman306 — 2 Aug 2007 @ 9:57 AM

  110. re: denialist wingnuts and religion/politics/philosophy

    Human beings are not rational animals but rather rationalizing animals. Those rationalizations may take the form of political, religious or philosophical, depending on the bent of the individual. It may well be that more “religious” people are in the denialist camp. However, as we hear continually, correlation is not causation. There are more conservatives who deny climate change. There are more conservatives who are religious. You could probably do some sort of Bayesian calculation (in the sense of using Bayes’ theorem, not in the sense of subjective probability) to see if this explains the effect. Conservatives might be expected to be more in the denialist camp since
    1) their sources for news (e.g. Faux News and the Wall Street Urinal) tend to emphasize denialist opinion. On the other hand, The Economist has had excellent coverage AND from a pro-business perspective.
    2) they tend to be suspicious of government regulation, and they find it hard to believe that it will be possible to regulate CO2 emissions without heavy-handed regulation.
    3) they tend to be suspicious of “environmentalism” in general. In fact most conservatives I know who value the environment will not even use the word–they prefer “conservation”
    4) They view the issue as a platform for politicians like Al Gore and other so-called liberals. Ironically, by abandoning the high ground on this issue, they have handed liberals just such a platform.

    So, I think the association between religiosity and denialism is accidental–or put another way: there is no contradiction betwen science and religion, only between science and stupidity.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 2 Aug 2007 @ 10:01 AM

  111. Hank, if you’re responding to my post 95 responding to Lynn, then you missed the point. Lynn said in one of the alternative logic paths that doing everything necessary to get carbon emissions down by 80% was a super thing to do for the world and economy even if the AGW theory turned out to be false and wrong. I thought that was a simple blithe logical conclusion based on no evidence what-so-ever other than Lynn’s desires.

    BTW (for Jim, too), history is rife with wrong and wrong-headed environmental actions. The “do-gooders” (I don’t want to classify them more specifically to avoid pigeonholing), rather than being right “EVERY TIME”, were/are wrong more often than right, your wishful observations not withstanding.

    Joseph, some of what you say is true; some not. You’ve probably forgotten the short-lived Federal law that required all towns with a municipal water supply to provide water with ZERO pollution. There was in fact a number of towns that went bankrupt until the stupidity and impossibility was recognized. Though admittedly most of the blame goes to politicos — though they were aided and abetted by many “scientific” do-gooders. And, because the economic costs of, say, air pollution standards didn’t match the aginers prediction (though the economic benefits, opposed maybe to well being, of same are greatly overblown), doesn’t affect at all anyone’s scientific prediction of the cost/benefit of mitigating AGW.

    The businesses in favor of laws to mitigate AGW see a niche that they can profit from. Their scientific assessment of AGW has nothing to do with it, if it even exists.

    Comment by Rod B — 2 Aug 2007 @ 11:10 AM

  112. Lynn (105), I’m not sure I would agree with your distribution of attitudes, but the post is very astute and thought provoking.

    Comment by Rod B — 2 Aug 2007 @ 11:21 AM

  113. Re #105, #110 (religion, politics and denialism)

    I’d agree with Lynn and Ray that conservative political views are an important factor in any religion/denialist correlation, assuming the latter is a fact. I think those with strong “free market” beliefs are quite right to see the issue as threatening – cutting emissions will indeed require strong regulation and interference with markets at the least. I’m interested to hear what Ray says about The Economist, which I don’t often read: a few years ago it was one of Lomborg’s cheerleaders, so that’s a welcome change. I’ll have to take a look at how it tries to square the circle.

    It may be that the religion-denialism correlation would be far more marked in the US than elsewhere, as I think free-market beliefs and religiosity are more closely associated in the US than elsewhere (social conservatism and religiosity are I would think closely associated everywhere). Indeed, free-market beliefs and religiosity weren’t always linked in the US in the way they are now – consider the early twentieth century anti-Darwinian movement, motivated in large part by religious opposition to the brutality of “Social Darwinism”.

    I do think there may be a more direct religion-denialism connection – but I won’t make any assertions about it unless and until I’ve found time to look at the relevant literature!

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 2 Aug 2007 @ 11:21 AM

  114. Gavin cites a mainstream thinking which is a bit of a puzzle to me:

    ” The enhancement of the warming aloft is seen purely as a function of the surface warming and a relative humidity that is roughly constant”

    This roughly constant RH idea does not make sense, there is no such thing as a natural constant RH independent of temperature. RH varies alot depending on various factors, evap sources and distribution systems (a cyclone for instance). Implying that RH remains constant means that there can only be so much water in the atmosphere, Wikipidea http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_chemistry:

    “Water vapour Highly variable; typically makes up about 1%”

    Highly variable is more correct. With higher temperatures evaporation occurs more readily (http://www.ems.psu.edu/~fraser/Bad/BadClouds.html), this water vapour is a strong greenhouse gas. It would be better in finding out the global atmospheric chemistry water vapour percentage, as the world warms water vapour average composition should be constantly higher. Too bad there are no such daily calculation available, it would be very revealing an should be a metric in the progression of GW.

    [Response: Total water vapour amounts are called specific humidity and they are highly variable. Relative humidity is the ratio of the actual water vapour amount to the maximum (saturation) specific humidity at that temperature. Observations and modelling both show that RH is close to constant under climate change (implying that the specific humidity changes substantially as a function of the Clausius-Clapyeron equation). - gavin]

    Comment by wayne davidson — 2 Aug 2007 @ 11:39 AM

  115. Lynn (108), I agree that some individuals, some businesses, maybe some industries could be better of after a global CO2 reduction of 80% (again, whether it proved necessary or not), or that some people/enterprises came out ahead responding to environmental concerns contrary to their initial thought. But to project a super macro world economy is just preposterous. If nothing else, nobody can predict, with any certainty, the economy 30-50 years from now with any and all assumptions. On a smaller level, reducing medical bills by reducing CO2 requires some really loosey-goosey assumptions and wild guesses.

    Comment by Rod B — 2 Aug 2007 @ 11:39 AM

  116. RE # [BTW (for Jim, too), history is rife with wrong and wrong-headed environmental actions. The “do-gooders” (I don’t want to classify them more specifically to avoid pigeonholing), rather than being right “EVERY TIME”, were/are wrong more often than right, your wishful observations not withstanding.]

    Rod, you give one example in the next paragraph. Others?

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 2 Aug 2007 @ 11:55 AM

  117. re: 111. “The “do-gooders”…were/are wrong more often than right…” and “The businesses in favor of laws to mitigate AGW see a niche that they can profit from. Their scientific assessment of AGW has nothing to do with it, if it even exists.”

    Can you provide any objective citation/study to support those unsubstantiated statements?

    Comment by Dan — 2 Aug 2007 @ 12:01 PM

  118. “…BTW (for Jim, too), history is rife with wrong and wrong-headed environmental actions. The “do-gooders” (I don’t want to classify them more specifically to avoid pigeonholing), rather than being right “EVERY TIME”, were/are wrong more often than right, your wishful observations not withstanding. …

    There was in fact a number of towns that went bankrupt until the stupidity and impossibility was recognized. Though admittedly most of the blame goes to politicos — though they were aided and abetted by many “scientific” do-gooders. …”

    I think some specific examples would be helpful.

    Comment by J.C.H — 2 Aug 2007 @ 12:06 PM

  119. > “Federal law” +”municipal water supply” +”zero pollution”
    Rod, how about over at the Friday Roundup thread? Way off topic here.
    If you can find any cite to back that story, bring it over there?
    (Note “net zero” means cleaner water going out than in, attainable.)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Aug 2007 @ 12:31 PM

  120. RE 109, that’s a very good tip. I tried to put together some webpages years ago (including links to other websites), but for two of them I forgot the login info to update it, and can’t reach the person in charge of hosting it….

    http://www.auroraonline.net/conservation/
    http://www.auroraonline.net/interfaithccc/
    http://www.panam.edu/orgs/eaclub/

    It’s important to keep in mind that nearly all products have GHG components — in the extraction of resources, shipping, processing, manufacturing, more shipping, and consumption. For instance, hot water requires energy to pump and heat it. Also there are other GHGs not directly related to energy consumption – such as methane from landfills….which can be turned into gas to produce energy, avoiding the bigger impact of methane than CO2.

    And simple slogans, if activity followed, can help, such as: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (all of which reduce GHGs — except, I read recently, recycling glass).

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 2 Aug 2007 @ 12:31 PM

  121. Re #101: [I understood that Noah’s flood was a deliberate act on the part of God (Genesis 6:7)]

    Just to clarify things, what I meant was that since the Biblical God had no compunction about wiping out 99.999% of the human race when they pissed Him off, today’s believers are quite unwise to count on a Divine design that will save humans from the consequences of their own acts :-)

    Comment by James — 2 Aug 2007 @ 12:39 PM

  122. Re 109 catman306: “Just thoroughly shaking out laundry from the washer so that each piece is separate can cut drying time by ten minutes.”

    Better yet: Just thoroughly shaking out laundry from the washer and hanging it on the line cuts drying energy use and CO2 emissions by 100%.

    We’ve _always_ done it that way.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 2 Aug 2007 @ 12:59 PM

  123. Re 111 Rod B: “BTW (for Jim, too), history is rife with wrong and wrong-headed environmental actions.”

    Fair enough, Rod, but then you make your own leap of unsubstantiated generalization:

    “The “do-gooders”…. were/are wrong more often than right”

    Comment by Jim Eager — 2 Aug 2007 @ 1:06 PM

  124. Don’t conflate scientists and ‘environmentalists’ let alone them and ‘do-gooders’ please. Stick with what you can cite: footnote to science sources. Trolls don’t.

    Friday topic is there for digressions. Let’s help by using it eh?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Aug 2007 @ 1:26 PM

  125. Re: 111

    “You’ve probably forgotten the short-lived Federal law that required all towns with a municipal water supply to provide water with ZERO pollution. There was in fact a number of towns that went bankrupt until the stupidity and impossibility was recognized.”

    I’m concerned about mythology here. I have seen too many myths recited as fact, especially in this debate, to accept any such statements at face value. A quick read of the EPA site (http://www.epa.gov/history/topics/fwpca/05.htm) uncovered this:

    “By July 1, 1983, public treatment works must use the best practicable waste treatment technology over the life of the works. New sources of discharge are required to use the best available technology as determined by the Administrator and published in the regulations. Zero-discharge by 1985 is a goal, not a requirement under the law.”

    What I’d like is for the original poster to provide some sort of support for the assertion that (a) the law ever required zero pollution (as opposed to zero discharge); and (b) that specific municipalities spent themselves into bankruptcy attempting to abide by such a law.

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 2 Aug 2007 @ 1:58 PM

  126. Gavin doesn’t like these diversions much (and probably rightly so), but:

    Nick, I can’t find my reference paper at the moment but a couple of “scares” that cost wasted money that come to mind: the cranberry scare, Times Beach, Love Canal, it’s highly doubtful that the cost of asbestos abatement came any near the benefits, auto emission controls is probably not cost effective (though might be close), and the mother of wrong-headed actions: ban on DDT.

    Dan, can you cite one example where a law that either ate into profits or was contrary to a customer base was supported by a business enterprise — because it thought it was good science???

    Walt, et al: You’re correct. The EPA was quick to call an oops and said, too late for a few, that they were just kidding about the zero pollutant thing. I’m not inclined to dig out the cites and sources; you all can if you wish or disbelieve if you wish. And, Hank, the law was originally interpreted as ZERO — less than one molecule per 6.02×10^23 of H2O. As my quote marks indicate, I’m not sure of the credibility of the scientists who fed the politicos. You’re right about the Friday Roundup is more appropriate, but I don’t know how to transfer…

    Jim, you’re right. My estimate is a smart guess and may be off by 20% or so. But it’s certainty closer the EVERY.

    Comment by Rod B — 2 Aug 2007 @ 4:01 PM

  127. Rod, click here for my reply
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/07/friday-roundup/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Aug 2007 @ 4:52 PM

  128. Re 126 Rod B: “a couple of “scares” that cost wasted money that come to mind: the cranberry scare, Times Beach, Love Canal….”

    Ahhh, I’ve been to Love Canal, Rod. I’ve also been to where the leachate emerges and flows into the Niagara gorge. You were saying….

    Comment by Jim Eager — 2 Aug 2007 @ 5:00 PM

  129. Thanks Gavin, Its perhaps too hard yet to use Global specific humidity numbers, would be nice to have them though. My beef with constant RH goes like this, 78% rh at 30 C has more water than 78% at 15 C of course, but the mechanisms that guaranty world RH will stay at 60% (as an example) is a bit astonishing despite GT average changes which affect lake formations (or Glacier disappearances) for instance . It is also hard to phatom Polar region RH staying the same given that the more open Arctic Ocean is an added moisture source not previously part of the landscape. I prefer specific humidity as a means to explain GW though, theoretically there should be on average more water vapour with warming.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 2 Aug 2007 @ 5:07 PM

  130. RE #115 – I didn’t claim the whole world could reduce GHGs by 80% without loss of productivity or living standard, only that America might be able to reduce by 2/3 or 3/4 cost-effectively, and I think you can get some good perspective on this by reading NATURAL CAPITALISM. They found that some aspects of industries could even cut energy requirements 9/10th without loss of productivity… you’ve really got to read it.

    “If nothing else, nobody can predict, with any certainty, the economy 30-50 years from now with any and all assumptions.”

    Well, I’m only suggesting that we all dig in right now with current tech & conservation ideas, starting with measures that save us money; then we can go on to measures with no net loss. After that and by that time (which could take many years, bec there are tons of cost-effective measure to implement), we can think about sacrifice…..or maybe there’ll be a tech fix by then that lets us conserve more without much cost.

    “On a smaller level, reducing medical bills by reducing CO2 requires some really loosey-goosey assumptions and wild guesses” –

    See, you have to think holistically. Most of the very same measures that produce CO2 also produce lots of other harms, such as pollution (as well as admitted benefits, like getting us to places we want to go). If we can, say, move closer to work next move (while satisfying our other house-buying parameters), then not only will we save money on transportation, but also reduce harmful emissions that, for one, cause abortions and birth defects — from the other pollutants in gasoline, not the CO2. Or, if we can buy a plug-in-hybrid next car buy (I heard they will be out in 3 years), get on Green Mountain 100% wind generated electricity (which is cheaper than its dirty competitors by a few $$ a month, but only available in a few states), we can perhaps “drive on the wind” for 70 to 95% of our driving and do a lot of good and hopefully save money, depending on the relative price of those cars, AND much greatly reduce all those other medical problems that burning gasoline would entail.

    And we might also save lives from global warming harms, if our combined efforts do mitigate those harms…which is the ultimate aim. You have to think that a portion of the CO2 we emit today may be in the atmosphere up to 100,000 years doing harm – that’s a lot of bang per pound of CO2 (see http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/03/how-long-will-global-warming-last ). So I figure any reduction will likewise prevent a lot of harm, and may prevent us from passing the tipping point, at which nature takes over and causes warming, triggered by the warming we people have caused, regardless of how much people reduce the GHGs.

    There’re many many many examples of how are action to reduce CO2 might save lives. We just have to put our heart and mind into coming up with solutions.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 2 Aug 2007 @ 5:24 PM

  131. Re #68

    The commentor is concerned that one of the quantities graphed by Osborn and Briffa (2006)
    namely — the proportion of proxy records indicating above-average local temperature —
    does not track the instrumental record of global mean temperature
    temperatures very well. (http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/osborn2006/osborn2006.html)
    The commentor appears to conclude from this that the proxy records are meaningless. However,the graph
    that shows the proportion of records
    indicating tempeartures more than two standard deviations above the mean DOES appear to track the instrumental record pretty well. A more reasonable interpretation would be that the latter quantity is
    simply a better proxy for GLOBAL mean temperature than the former.

    Comment by Jerry Steffens — 2 Aug 2007 @ 7:36 PM

  132. Jim says, “…where the leachate emerges and flows into the Niagara gorge. You were saying….” I say, and the SuperFund folks finally declared that they spent way too much money at Love Canal because….? I don’t doubt the pollution or if it should be mitigated; but the debate is if control costs exceed the economic benefits.

    Comment by Rod B — 2 Aug 2007 @ 8:04 PM

  133. re: 126. “Dan, can you cite one example where a law that either ate into profits or was contrary to a customer base was supported by a business enterprise — because it thought it was good science???”

    Of course!!!! (If you use three question marks and think that helps make your case, I guess four exclamations tops that. Whatever.) But first, please do not so conveniently and obviously avoid the basic question: “Can you provide any objective citation/study to support those unsubstantiated statements?” by suddenly claiming it is off-topic (yes unfortunately it is, although you brought the issue up). I take it the answer is “no” so you are just making things up as you go along with no scientific surveys/studies or basic data to support your statements. Therefore you have to answer the question with a question to divert attention from the issue at hand. That is classic.

    Two answers to your question, both from the same company: 1. Back in the 1980s when I was working in my state on some possible acid rain policy analyses of the various emission reduction proposals (which were eventually enacted into law in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990), the local power company specifically supported the idea of emissions trading and the idea of using lower sulfur coal to reduce SO2 emissions, which was certainly more expensive for them (local/regional coal is higher in sulfur content than what they could import from South America). 2. Not a law yet but within the past year, the CEO of the same power company expressly said that GHG emission reductions are necessary as part of the country’s energy policy and legislation.

    Now either please answer the question asked or simply admit you have nothing to back up your fairly ludicrous claims. And do not forget the “”do-gooders” are wrong more often than right” part. Emphasis on the “more often”. You’ve got the entire resources of the Internet at your fingertips.

    Comment by Dan — 2 Aug 2007 @ 8:12 PM

  134. Wayne, thanks for posting real stuff! [edit]

    Comment by Rod B — 2 Aug 2007 @ 8:21 PM

  135. Re:107 “Pumping sulphur particles into the atmosphere to mimic the cooling effect of a large volcanic eruption has been proposed as a last-ditch solution to combating climate change – but doing so would cause problems of its own, including potentially catastrophic drought, say researchers.”

    I don’t think technological solutions are the answer or even a good plan B. There’s a good deal that we don’t know, except that you can’t do one thing without having secondary effects. The Earth is not an experimental lab, in the same sense that you can perform an experiment and if the results are negative go back to square one . There’s no going back with our planet. Let’s try to change some of our fossil fuel addictions first.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 2 Aug 2007 @ 8:27 PM

  136. Lynn, what is the difference between holistic and loosey-goosey, anyway. Actually I subscribe to a holistic approach. It makes the best business cases for enterprises because it offers truth over accuracy. Unfortunately those cases are seldom accepted by executives because they are too “loosey-goosey”.

    I have little disagreement with the trust of post 130. I think, even as a skeptic on AGW, that there are a number of things that individuals and enterprises can do to alleviate some of the potential ills — direct and indirect — suggested for AGW. Could and should — it’s prudent, and, on an individual case basis, might be a net improvement economically. And I admire your individual efforts. I just think projecting it to a world (or U.S.) economy over 30-50 years is a bit of a stretch. Actually a hellava stretch.

    Comment by Rod B — 2 Aug 2007 @ 8:46 PM

  137. wayne davidson (#129) wrote:

    Thanks Gavin, Its perhaps too hard yet to use Global specific humidity numbers, would be nice to have them though. My beef with constant RH goes like this, 78% rh at 30 C has more water than 78% at 15 C of course, but the mechanisms that guaranty world RH will stay at 60% (as an example) is a bit astonishing despite GT average changes which affect lake formations (or Glacier disappearances) for instance . It is also hard to phatom Polar region RH staying the same given that the more open Arctic Ocean is an added moisture source not previously part of the landscape. I prefer specific humidity as a means to explain GW though, theoretically there should be on average more water vapour with warming.

    Poking around a few seconds, I found this:

    It is thus hard to escape the conclusion that CO2 provides a measurable direct addition to the atmospheric trapping of infrared radiation leaving the surface of our planet. However, a simple comparison of the relative greenhouse efficiencies of water vapor and CO2 quickly becomes problematic because water vapor enters the climate system mostly as a “feedback” gas. All models and observations currently indicate that as climate warms or cools, to a pretty good approximation, the observed and calculated global-mean relative humidity of water vapor remains roughly constant as the climate changes, whereas its mixing ratio does not.5 Thus, as climate warms (cools), the holding capacity of atmospheric water vapor increases (decreases) exponentially.

    http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/~gth/web_page/article/aree_page3.html

    AN OVERVIEW OF THE SCIENCE OF GLOBAL WARMING
    Historical Setting
    J. D. Mahlman
    Annu. Rev. Energy Environ. 1998. 23: 83-105
    Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory/ NOAA, Princeton University
    http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/~gth/web_page/article/aree_page1.html

    It is a little odd that the relative humidity stays roughly constant given all the variability of climate, but the fact that it does makes it relatively useful, does it not? Anyway, this isn’t something which is assumed by the climate models – it falls out of them, and it would that we don’t entirely know why. But observations confirm that this is the case.

    Theory and evidence walking hand in hand. It is a lovely picture. They seem to do that a lot in climatology.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 2 Aug 2007 @ 9:23 PM

  138. Dan, I don’t think I can scientifically prove that horses don’t climb trees, even with a jillion cites maybe I could find. !!!!!! However, if you claim they do, you ought to be able to point to an example. The example #1 you do discuss does not describe any evident negative business case for the power company, only that their cost of coal was going up. Did id the conversion to low sulfer coal negatively affect their net or cash flow after a year or two? Or, if if it did, is it what was expected? And I mean really expected, not necessarily what they sobbed to the State regulators. (why is this post inserting colons all over???)

    #2 sounds like Duke, and they are clearly playing to the perceived beliefs of their customers, my other criterea. As a whole bunch of power companies are doing, and rightly so. Companies do not succeed by telling their constituents that their beliefs are stupid. Power companies especially, as good public relations is about all that they can exploit. And Duke (?) (just one ? to be nice) clearly does not foresee any negative impact from supporting AGW regulation, or they have the confidence to overcome potential negative impacts. Or are you claiming the CEO of Duke (I’m aware that his belief in AGW is valid BTW) is going to the annual meeting and proclaiming to his shareholders that “we need AGW regulation so or profits can take a dive?” I don’t think so… though I can’t find any readily available cites…..

    Maybe you can get with Hank and go to the cite dance together [;-)

    Comment by Rod B — 2 Aug 2007 @ 9:24 PM

  139. Re #129 (wayne davidson) Relative humidity will be most significantly determined by the temperature difference between the ocean and the atmosphere. In spite of the recent British floods, the tendency for drought to be prevalent is due to the atmosphere warming faster than the oceans, as this condition tends to reduce relative humidity.

    Comment by Lawrence McLean — 2 Aug 2007 @ 10:25 PM

  140. Maybe this a little bit off-topic, but we would like to inform to the part research community that is working on Climate Change issues, that there are job opportunities open on the Basque Cuntry Climate Change Research Centre in the north of Spain.

    We are lloking for a Scientific Director and Senior Research Managers on Integrated Modelling, Mitigation and Impacts. The profile of a good candidate can be from economists to physics or computer scientist.

    Please visit http://www.ikerbasque.net/climatechange for more information and share the this info with whoever might be interested, please.

    Thank you very much.

    Comment by CCRP — 3 Aug 2007 @ 2:27 AM

  141. [[Those who consider themselves religious tend not to accept that they might be doing something wrong (a la social psych’s attribution theory & cognitive dissonance) — it goes against their self-concept & ego.]]

    So all those Catholics confessing their sins every week, and all those Protestants praying to do God’s will and not their own, don’t think they’re doing anything wrong?

    Do you actually know any “religious people,” Lynn? Why don’t you talk to a few instead of doing your own armchair psychoanalysis of people you’ve never met?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 3 Aug 2007 @ 6:37 AM

  142. [[ The “do-gooders” (I don’t want to classify them more specifically to avoid pigeonholing), rather than being right “EVERY TIME”, were/are wrong more often than right, your wishful observations not withstanding. ]]

    Take that, Abolitionists!

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 3 Aug 2007 @ 6:40 AM

  143. To return to the subject of this thread. An interesting article but full of holes. For instance, the authors note that ozone sensitivity is modelled on temperature species, yet current ozone levels in the tropics are well above the level at which the models induce growth reductions, suggesting tropical/semi tropical species are less ozone sensitive. The authors also fail to factor in NOx which has a fertilizing effect and rainfall. Their model also seems to be a bit screwy, as figure 1 seems to include random grid squares where productivity is increased by ozone.

    Comment by Paul — 3 Aug 2007 @ 7:07 AM

  144. I want to apologize if my last couple of comments were a bit more aggressive than needed. The sun was in my eyes.

    P.S. I’ve added the response to Rush Limbaugh to my climatology pages:

    http://members.aol.com/bpl1960/Climatology.html

    I was too lazy to dig up all the stupid things he’s said about global warming over the years, but I tried to cover some of his repeated themes, like the one about how puny man can’t affect enormous nature. (Tell it to the Passenger Pigeon…)

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 3 Aug 2007 @ 8:48 AM

  145. [[Not an important point, but I always thought Milloy was the leader of that bandwagon.]]

    You may be right. I’d have to find primary sources and compare the dates. I think it took a while for Crichton to get into the environmentalism-is-bad movement.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 3 Aug 2007 @ 8:49 AM

  146. I don’t know what has become of this thread, frankly.

    I don’t come to RealClimate for unsubstantiated claims and personal opinions. I come to RealClimate to cut through that sort of junk.

    Rod, it’s real simple: I don’t care what your opinion is, I care what you can prove or at least justify. We can to any of 10,000 other places if people want to see whose jawbone can outlast the other’s.

    I would beseech those who post here to be direct and forthright. When asked for clarification or citation, don’t dodge and don’t behave as though such requests are annoying or bothersome.

    I would urge the moderators to nip in the bud any back-and-forth which detours into unsubstantiated posturing.

    And specifically: If Rod cannot name a municipality that “went bankrupt” attempting to follow an “EPA Mandate” for “zero pollution”, then frankly: the assertion is dismissed.

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 3 Aug 2007 @ 9:21 AM

  147. > can you cite one example where a law that either ate into profits or was contrary to a customer base was supported
    > by a business enterprise — because it thought it was good science???

    Click here for a reply in the Friday thread: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/07/friday-roundup/
    leaving this one for discussion of the topic it’s meant for

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Aug 2007 @ 10:04 AM

  148. Re 132 Rod B: “I don’t doubt the pollution or if it should be mitigated; but the debate is if control costs exceed the economic benefits.”

    Never mind the human health benefits, given that well over 2 million people get their drinking water from down stream of the leachate. But then since they are mostly Canadians that would be of little concern to the US SuperFund folks.

    I’m not familiar with the cost overruns of the Love Canal cleanup, but I would wager that the end cost would have been far less had the problem been properly and forthrightly addressed when the problem was discovered rather than action being deliberately delayed and resisted until it was no longer politically tenable to do so. (Sound familiar?)

    [edit]

    Comment by Jim Eager — 3 Aug 2007 @ 10:56 AM

  149. Please no discussion of DDT. Take it elsewhere.

    Comment by gavin — 3 Aug 2007 @ 12:27 PM

  150. Might I suggest we take further discussion of cost-benefit analysis and climate change over to the Friday Roundup thread, as that seems to serve better as a grab bag. While we may not agree with Rod about this subject, it is an important one, and there are rational ways of dealing with it even when there are uncertainties about consequences.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Aug 2007 @ 12:29 PM

  151. #137 Timothy, Polar models failed to catch present Arctic Ocean all time low ice depletions, as they are known to be less than perfect, it is good to find out why (not to say that they are nevertheless awsome). I simply can’t reason with the same results as the models, an open Arctic Ocean will contribute to greater days with higher RH. On the opposite , fixed landscape scenario, an Increase in temperature in the desert would likely reduce RH (giving that no immediate moisture sources are around), in situ. highly localized effects of increasing temperatures change RH, it is that simple. Why would RH stay roughly the same then? I can imagine that this constant RH conclusion, should work if the entire planet was an ice free Ocean though, this may give a constant, but continents and ice provide the “roughly” (constant).

    Comment by wayne davidson — 3 Aug 2007 @ 3:12 PM

  152. I enjoyed Barton’s responses to Limbaugh’s inanities on global warming. Where do these pundits get their (self appointed) expertise on every subject known to humankind? If you ask Coulter, or Buchanan or Bob Novak or , any of them, a question on anything they never say “I don’t know enough about that subject.” ! How can that be?
    If one were to ask one of them…. If a cylinder with a piston and a mole of any gas,were fitted with a membrane through hydrogen could pass, what would the entropy be, if two thirds delta gamma equals one half delta p? ……… They wouldn’t say “I don’t know”, instead they would dance around it and give a nonsensical answer( just like the question).

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 3 Aug 2007 @ 8:15 PM

  153. wayne davidson (#151) wrote:

    #137 Timothy, Polar models failed to catch present Arctic Ocean all time low ice depletions, as they are known to be less than perfect, it is good to find out why (not to say that they are nevertheless awsome). I simply can’t reason with the same results as the models, an open Arctic Ocean will contribute to greater days with higher RH.

    I most definitely agree with you regarding the sea-ice being a serious matter. I expect the summers to free of sea-ice after 2020. This is according to projections based on current ice-loss. And from what I understand, much of the reason why the polar regions rise in temperature more quickly than the rest of the globe is due to loss of albedo. Not good – for a variety of reasons. Obviously something we need to work on. Aerosols are another area. Currently we are making a fair amount of progress on the later and working on the former.

    Regarding relative humidity, it is my understanding that the relative humidity due to ice tends to be greater than that of open water due to sublimation. There is a partial pressure to water vapor that extends well below freezing, and the partial pressure of saturation rises exponentially with temperature. But the loss of sea ice will no doubt raise temperatures simply as the result of the lost albedo.

    Regarding the continents, I believe what you point out is the key to a problem that has been puzzling me: why is it that the continental interiors will tend to suffer more from drought? The relative humidity will be lower. But this is something which is being captured by the models.

    Anyway, relative humidity is a useful concept, a normalized physical measure – which captures dew points, phenomena related to net evaporation, sublimation and condensation quite nicely. Which is why I like it.

    As for the models, obviously there are areas which are in need of work. It is an ongoing process of development, incorporation of the relevant physics. But when the models predict cooling in the stratosphere, the raising of the tropopause, the formation of hurricanes in temperate zones, the increased prevailence of droughts in the southern hemisphere despite the fact that temperatures there are rising more slowly, etc, I am impressed.

    Particularly when it is something which the models predict when why they do this is something that we can’t quite figure out, and yet they turn out to be right, or when the predictions seem especially counterintuitive, but are right nevertheless. Then again, Hansen’s prediction from 1988 was fairly impressive.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 4 Aug 2007 @ 12:45 AM

  154. Timothy #153: I agree the accelerating trend in Arctic sea ice reductions since 1997 is troubling. You said you expect the ice to disappear by the year 2020, much quicker than most report. A couple of questions for you. Are you simply extracting the current trend out to 2020? Is it known what the global forcing would be from the decreased albedo resulting from ice free summers? It would seem this value would be low due the sun being low in the sky. Also, as the temperatures drop in the fall/early winter, the oceans would cool substantially more than if they were insulated by the ice cap, perhaps partially offsetting the albedo effects. I understand factors other than temperature also effect the ice, such as ocean currents that move thicker ice away from the pole to be replaced by thinner ice that melts quicker in the summer. Lastly, what do you think of the antarctic sea ice, which has been expanding over the same time period?

    Comment by B Buckner — 4 Aug 2007 @ 7:13 AM

  155. Which Antarctic sea ice would that be? It’d help if you’d tell us your sources instead of making claims that seem overbroad.

    Perhaps you’re referring to part of it described in http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/20020820southseaice.html

    If so the change follows the general trend in temperature.

    “Overall, the area of the Antarctic with trends indicating a lengthening of the sea ice season by at least one day per year was 5.6 million square kilometers (2.16 million square miles), about 60 percent the size of the United States. At the same time, the area with sea ice seasons shortening by at least one day per year was 3 million square kilometers (1.16 million square miles).”

    Why the general trend? Look at the area involved — central to the Antarctic vortex. The ozone hole is persistent; it had been expected to be much reduced in size by now, before climate change produced extra cooling in that area. We know about it.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Aug 2007 @ 10:17 AM

  156. http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2006/05/antarctic-sea-ice-is-increasing.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Aug 2007 @ 10:36 AM

  157. Re #152 — Thanks. :)

    -BPL

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 4 Aug 2007 @ 10:41 AM

  158. B Buckner (#154) wrote:

    Timothy #153: I agree the accelerating trend in Arctic sea ice reductions since 1997 is troubling. You said you expect the ice to disappear by the year 2020, much quicker than most report. A couple of questions for you. Are you simply extracting the current trend out to 2020?

    Here are two articles on it in the newspapers:

    Arctic set to melt by 2020
    May 03, 2007 12:00am
    http://www.news.com.au/sundaytelegraph/story/0,,21660293-5009640,00.html

    Arctic ice cap melting 30 years ahead of forecast
    Tue May 1, 2007 3:11PM EDT
    By Deborah Zabarenko
    http://www.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idUSN0122477020070501

    Although the figure of 2020 is not specifically mentioned in the technical paper, the claims are based on the analysis found in:

    Arctic sea ice decline: Faster than forecast
    Julienne Stroeve, Marika M. Holland, Walt Meier, Ted Scambos, and Mark Serreze
    GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 34, 1 May 2007

    From what I understand, this prediction is still regarded as somewhat extreme within the scientific community where I believe 2040 would still be considered mainstream. But it is based upon the most recent research and trends identified as the result of empirical studies. I believe I remember recently that the specific projection was based upon the average rate of percent rate of loss since 1979 having been 9%, the average net ice loss for the past several years as a linear trend, and the assumption that this would be roughly constant for the next 13 years.

    As such, this estimate is of 2020, although considered extreme could in fact be conservative since it does not take into account the fact that most of the feedback processes involved should be both positive. However, I prefer to stick with the figure of 2020 simply because we do not know enough about the positive feedback to make any better estimate.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 4 Aug 2007 @ 2:56 PM

  159. Maybe, instead of talking about computer models you might talk about real world data.

    How about commenting on the “Asian brown cloud” and how that affects climate. There is real world data on that.

    Comment by joel — 4 Aug 2007 @ 4:35 PM

  160. Thanks for the reply Timothy. I apologize for not providing the cite regarding the growing antarctic sea ice. I got if from the web site “The Cryosphere Today” as mentioned on realclimate many times as documentation of the shrinking arctic ice.

    Does anyone have information quantifying the albedo effects of the arctic sea ice melting? Sorry to impose by I have not been able to find such info.

    Comment by B Buckner — 4 Aug 2007 @ 7:59 PM

  161. RE #141, most people I know are religous & consider themselves religious, some “very religious,” and only a tiny portion of those are concerned about global warming, and quite a few (even the “very very religious”) adamently object to the idea GW is happening or that it is caused by humans. I’ve gotten into some pretty strong fights with “religious” people over global warming. Even some from my own Carmelite order. It’s been extremely demoralizing for me, to say the least.

    OTOH I actually don’t associate with any atheists or non-religous people, so I don’t know if they might be the same — mostly opposed to any idea that GW is happening or that humans are causing it. Like I said, some study would have to be done to see if there actually is a difference.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 4 Aug 2007 @ 8:26 PM

  162. Timothy et al, a December 22, 2006 post in the archive on this very weblog discusses the issues I raised in some detail regarding the melting ice and albedo. An interesting read.

    Comment by B Buckner — 4 Aug 2007 @ 9:13 PM

  163. B Buckner (#160) wrote:

    Thanks for the reply Timothy. I apologize for not providing the cite regarding the growing antarctic sea ice. I got if from the web site “The Cryosphere Today” as mentioned on realclimate many times as documentation of the shrinking arctic ice.

    The Cryosphere Today
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere

    Good site!

    I am glad you are taking time to look at it.

    Yes you are right: sea ice has been growing it the South Ocean this summer. Then again, our summer is their winter so this should come as no surprise.

    The following page gives a chart that is somewhat inconclusive:

    Southern Hemisphere Sea Ice Anomaly
    Anomaly from 1979-2000 mean
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/current.anom.south.jpg

    It in fact seems rather variable – not much of a trend either way.

    But that is sea ice area.

    I would suggest that the actual mass of the Antarctic ice sheet may be more important…

    Using measurements of time-variable gravity from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites, we determined mass variations of the Antarctic ice sheet during 2002–2005. We found that the mass of the ice sheet decreased significantly, at a rate of 152 +/- 80 cubic kilometers of ice per year, which is equivalent to 0.4 +/- 0.2 millimeters of global sea-level rise per year. Most of this mass loss came from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

    Measurements of Time-Variable Gravity Show Mass Loss in Antarctica
    Isabella Velicogna and John Wahr
    Science 24 March 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5768, pp. 1754 – 1756
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/311/5768/1754

    Of course, if and when a major sheet ice breaks off, that will mean more sea ice. So if you were to offer me a bet where I would win only if sea ice decreased the next one or five years, I probably wouldn’t take you up on it…

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 4 Aug 2007 @ 10:07 PM

  164. B Buckner (#162) wrote:

    Timothy et al, a December 22, 2006 post in the archive on this very weblog discusses the issues I raised in some detail regarding the melting ice and albedo. An interesting read.

    What you had stated (#154) is:

    Is it known what the global forcing would be from the decreased albedo resulting from ice free summers? It would seem this value would be low due the sun being low in the sky. Also, as the temperatures drop in the fall/early winter, the oceans would cool substantially more than if they were insulated by the ice cap, perhaps partially offsetting the albedo effects. I understand factors other than temperature also effect the ice, such as ocean currents that move thicker ice away from the pole to be replaced by thinner ice that melts quicker in the summer.

    Albedo loss would seem to be a significant problem, despite the latitude. Temperature drop in the fall? Well, what about temperature rise in the spring? I don’t see that much here. Partial offset? Perhaps.

    I remember someone arguing recently that an increased poleward warm ocean water flow due to stronger hurricanes is a negative feedback – and it clearly is – for hurricanes. But in terms of overall global warming it would seem to be a positive feedback which in the long-run would tend to increase the severity of hurricanes – at least for a while. Likewise, the smaller the Arctic sea ice gets, the farther north it seems the warm branch of the thermohaline must go before it sinks. This would seem to be a positive feedback.

    Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to examine and acknowledge the evidence regardless of whether it supports your view or tends to undercut it. The identification of reality must take precedence over any value, allegiance or political agenda. This is something which the contributors at Real Climate understand quite well.

    The post you are refering to…

    Not just ice albedo
    22 December 2006
    by Rasmus Benestad
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/12/not-just-ice-albedo/

    … is a shining example of that – where the author seeks to view the issue in terms of all the feedbacks, positive and negative. I hope this never changes. Then again, I rather doubt it will.

    My personal view is ultimately my own personal view. I wouldn’t ever claim to be an expert.

    However, since we have managed to push ourselves so well outside of the stable attractor, I expect the positive feedbacks to dominate – until we find a more stable attractor. That and the trends which I have seen so far lead me to expect the rate of loss to accelerate.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 4 Aug 2007 @ 10:40 PM

  165. [[Maybe, instead of talking about computer models you might talk about real world data.]]

    Since the computer models are constantly updated to reflect what is known about the relevant physics, and since that enables them to match historical climate data very closely, there’s no particular reason to distrust the models.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 Aug 2007 @ 4:51 AM

  166. If we’re talking about sea ice…

    Cryosphere Today doesn’t show much decline of sea ice in the long or short term – bouncing along above the mean at the moment. But ‘oop North, the picture is rather different. About 2 million km2 below mean. And the NCIDC sea ice index isn’t pretty sight for July. Albedo flip in action?

    Comment by Gareth — 5 Aug 2007 @ 6:52 AM

  167. Barton Paul Levenson (#165) wrote:

    [[Maybe, instead of talking about computer models you might talk about real world data.]]

    Since the computer models are constantly updated to reflect what is known about the relevant physics, and since that enables them to match historical climate data very closely, there’s no particular reason to distrust the models.

    There is also the simple fact that data can’t tell you very much about the future. You can see a trend, but how do you know that the trend will continue? Ten years? Twenty years? Forty years? Perhaps what currently looks like a straight line will end up being a curve. Perhaps other factors will interact. What if we chose to reduce emissions?

    To the extent that we can incorporate the relevant physics, we are able to base our projections upon a far larger body of knowledge than just a few points on a graph – things as tried and tested as the laws of thermodynamics, the laws governing fluid motion, chemistry, the study or radiation in terms of the blackbody radiation, absorption and reemission – and even quantum mechanics.

    If I may quote from a different post:

    This is really part of the beauty of climate models – and at an abstract level, one of the most fundamental principles of climate modeling itself. It argues from general principles, typically fundamental principles of physics – although not strictly – as when the responses of organisms are incorporated into the models. It doesn’t allow the arbitrary element of curve-fitting. Such an approach would have little grounds for regarding its conclusions as applying to anything outside of what the curve was based on – and given the complexity of what we are dealing with, it would quickly evolve into a Rube Goldberg device which no one could understand the basis for – but which we would adopt merely like superstitious rats which are randomly rewarded – dancing about in the belief that some increasingly complex set of motions determines whether or not they get the reward.

    Green and Armstrong’s scientific forecast, comment 64

    The problem with the arctic ice cap which I mention above is that it is clear that we don’t know all of the relevant physics, at least not in the the form that would be necessary to incorporate it into the models. As such I believe there is some justification in making projections outside of the models based on some data points.

    But we are working on incorporating the relevant physics. As we do, we will know that the model will have a far greater range of applicability than simply the next thirteen years. It will apply to ice in the next forty or a hundred years, or the past billion years and beyond. It will apply to any given course of action we might choose to take – so that we can compare the alternatives and choose our actions based in part upon their consequences.

    The models have already proven themselves quite powerful, but they are a work in progress. The important thing is that, like the knowledge upon which they are based, it is cummulative.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 5 Aug 2007 @ 7:01 AM

  168. RE #136 & what is the difference between holistic and loosey-goosey, anyway. Actually I subscribe to a holistic approach. It makes the best business cases for enterprises because it offers truth over accuracy. Unfortunately those cases are seldom accepted by executives because they are too “loosey-goosey”.

    If you mean a holistic approach is difficult to carry out, I agree. For instance, in social science we can only deal with several variables at a time. And if we get a moderate correlation….yeah!!! Because we know there are many many things impacting humans, & there are feedback loops. However, I keep the idea in mind that there are these many many other factors and dimensions (some in complex relations and feedbacks — as this post indicates was found for re ozone).

    So what we usually do is “hold the other factors (artificially) constant” & look at the 2 variables of interest. But that could be dangerous, if there are other variables involved and lives are at stake. So even if it is “loosey-goosey” in your opinion, it is good IMHO to keep as many known and potential factors in mind…to think out all the repercussions we can. (I guess we should have done that before inventing industrialization :) )

    Problem is we humans are fininte, limited beings in our thinking and science and technological aids. I understand that only with improving computer technology has climate science been able to advance as it has, including more and more variables in complex formulas.

    And still (I think) they don’t know how melting ice sheets will be acting & reacting, so they can’t even add that into the formula. And that seems to be an important factor. But if you can’t predict or quantify it, it gets left out. I wonder how many such (known and unknown) things are being left out of the formulas.

    There seems to be a trend in climate science of “we are now more certain” and “it’s worse than we thought.” Has anyone done a meta-study of climate science in this regard (I’m familiar with Oreskes’s study).

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 5 Aug 2007 @ 9:26 AM

  169. Tim has a good point about the Antarctic sea ice. A fast sliding ice sheet means possibly more sea ice but that will really not be good news, especially if the particles identified as a factor in a recent Sciam article can melt that sea ice extra fast. In any case, the current depletion of actic sea ice suggests to me that models might underestimate how fast it is going to disappear. And then Russia will move in to extract oil from the Arctic sea floor and reduce the price of oil…
    The more I think about the whole picture (and the more I read Rod B’s comments), the less I believe we will do anyting about this until consequences are so far reaching as to render any mitigation impossible. An interesting experiment, indeed. All because a few fat ogres would not have any of their enormous profits threatened. Curious species of ours really.

    Comment by Philippe Chantreau — 5 Aug 2007 @ 7:06 PM

  170. Re #169 –

    I’m not convinced there is enough oil in the Artic, or the Orinoco, or up in Alberta, to make things as nasty as the worst (or even the middlest) warming scenarios.

    Also, don’t blame the corporate giants. There are a lot of not-so-fat ogres driving around in SUVs for no good reason. We’ve had the choice of fuel efficient vehicles for more than a decade now here in the States and the average car buyer is still buying on the high end of huge and wasteful. The United States could have been energy self-sufficient a decade or more ago.

    On the subject of the ozone hole and it not reducing as fast as expected. Is this being driven by CFC persistence that exceeded projections, or by climate change? And if the first (or why not answer anyway …) are the new coolants “safe” or just “safer”?

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 6 Aug 2007 @ 2:10 AM

  171. #165
    Stating “Since the computer models are constantly updated…” is one of the reasons there is a scepticism about computer models. If they are constantly updated then the moment before they are updated they were presumably inaccurate.

    Comment by Alan K — 6 Aug 2007 @ 4:29 AM

  172. I am not as pessimistic as many here, people are starting to come around. For instance, there was an article in the Wall Street Journal (or urinal as named by some) last week that talked of the demand for new coal electric generating stations in the US. Many utilities had been planning new coal stations to replace plans for natural gas stations as gas is becoming more expensive. The number of planned coal stations was 143 if I remember correctly. Well most of these coal station projects have now been canceled. Each and every new coal station is being stiffly resisted by the public because of global warming concerns. As a result, business, political and wall street interests are pulling their support as well.

    Comment by B Buckner — 6 Aug 2007 @ 8:26 AM

  173. Phillippe #169 The antarctic sea ice extent varies from about 2 million sq km in the summer to 16 sq km in the winter. This process is dominated by the seasonal freeze/thaw of the ocean, not the slow or fast sliding of the ice cap.

    You place blame for our current climate situation on a few fat cats who are more interested in profit than the well being of the human race. Please, name some names. Lets take Exxon Mobil. It has 5.5 billion shares outstanding, is half owned by 1500 mutual funds, and has millions of share holders. Who is the bogey man?

    Perhaps it is us. Large companies provide services and products to meet a market demand. The problem is not the fat cats, it is us. We could kill all the fat cats and it would not change a thing. The entire developed world heats and/or cools their homes, uses electricity for work, light and the internet, and owns a car. Blaming someone else is easy, but you are part of the problem. Everyone talks a good game here, but few of us (Lynn V comes to mind) actually walk the walk.

    Comment by B Buckner — 6 Aug 2007 @ 8:56 AM

  174. Re Lynn’s comment #158, even with shortcomings in the models, like the lack of complete of understanding of clouds and the fact that the current speed of the fastest computers makes cells greater than 100 miles on a side impractical and limits atmospheric elevation divisions to 20 to 40 divisions they have a remarkable record of success. See the thread Hansen’s 1988 Projections posted on this site on 15 May by Gavin for example. In addition, climate models starting with past conditions successfully reproduce today’s climate. Future projections of different models using different assumptions of unknowns instances show consistency.
    There are uncertainties to be sure. This is true at the most elemental state of matter where a sub-atomic particle’s position and momentum can’t both be known. thank’s to Heisenburg’s principle. Even the queen of the sciences, mathematics has it’s Godel’s Undecidability Theorem.
    The success in predicting the world temperature that would follow the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo is another example of climate models reliability.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 6 Aug 2007 @ 9:18 AM

  175. >ozone, CFCs, climate
    http://www.theozonehole.com/jonathanshanklin.htm
    http://www.nilu.no/projects/nadir/o3hole/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Aug 2007 @ 9:24 AM

  176. Re #173:

    That happened here in Texas, and I’m not sure of the causality, but the electric utility I use was recently bought out by an environmentally friendly investment group. I was going to switch from TXU to Green Mountain for both environmental and cost reasons (Green Mountain (wind) is cheaper than TXU (goal, gas and nukes)), but with this buyout I may stick with them. Additionally, I suspect the rise in such things as CFL usage have got to be worrying the utilities, so I suspect they are seeing pressure from several sides –

    1). State mandates to begin producing renewable energy by some date in some amount.
    2). Environmentalist opposition.
    3). Consumer conservation.

    As regards long term change, the positive signs I’m seeing are shortages of many “green” products, or a surge in the number of “green” products on the market, and greatly increased discussion about climate change amongst the unwashed masses. This mirrors, to some extent, the discussions and behaviors I saw when “ozone friendly” products were starting to be produced ahead of the ban on CFCs. At this point in time, if consumer reaction to CFCs and ozone depletion is a guide, we’re just a few short years away from a major change in consumer attitudes.

    One really big event that I see on the horizon is the 2008 Olympics in China. From what I understand, China is going to restrict driving ahead of the Olympics in hopes it will reduce polution, but with the problem being as severe as it is, I suspect there will be a lot of focus on what Chinese and Indian development is doing to the environment. Which can only be a good thing.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 6 Aug 2007 @ 9:42 AM

  177. Archibald’s criticized graph of relationship of temp and sunspot cycle length in De Blij – probably derived from similar comparisons published for Armagh observatory:
    http://climate.arm.ac.uk/publications/global-warming-man-or-nature.pdf

    also in Butler and Johnston (1996), cited by Archibald.
    Butler, C.J. and Johnston, D.J. 1996.
    A Provisional Long Mean Air Temperature Series for Armagh Observatory,
    J. Atmosph. and Terrestrial Phys. 58, 1657

    Comment by EW — 6 Aug 2007 @ 9:58 AM

  178. a minor query re #170. Don’t CFCs persist in the stratosphere for years and tale decades to get into the stratosphere?

    Comment by Rod B — 6 Aug 2007 @ 10:06 AM

  179. Just to veer back to the topic for a moment, the first post ends:

    “this is actually good news. There are plenty of reasons to reduce NOx emissions already because of it’s impact on air pollution and smog, but this new result might mean that reductions wouldn’t make climate change any worse. It also, once again, highlights the role of CH4 (the second biggest GHG forcing), and points out a further reason (if that was required) why further methane reductions could be particularly welcome in moderating future changes in climate and air quality.”

    This really is encouraging. It means that burning fuel in pure oxygen — rather than in air — is a win-win choice, for one thing.
    Any fire hot enough to oxidize nitrogen (any internal combustion engine, and as far as I know any current coal power plant) not only puts out nitrogen oxides, it also puts out a far greater total volume of exhaust gas since air is only 20 percent oxygen.

    Given this news that we can safely reduce nitrogen oxides without making climate change worse favors the more efficient, higher-tech idea of burning coal in pure oxygen and producing pure CO2 exhaust gas — using a closed system —- making the exhaust gas exactly what we need to sequester if we’re going to use coal at all.

    It suggests it makes sense to leapfrog the intermediate designs for “slightly cleaner” coal plants — the ones that would still be producing huge amounts of nitrogen oxide and be a big problem for separating out the CO2 — and going straight to plants that don’t release exhaust gas to the atmosphere at all.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Aug 2007 @ 10:27 AM

  180. RE: Hank #175
    So global warming warms the troposphere and cools the stratosphere. A cooler stratosphere effects atmospheric chemistry and reduces ozone. Stratospheric temperatures have cooled on a nearly linear basis since 1958, except for the blips provided by three large volcanic eruptions. For temp data I am relying on HadAT2 since 1958, and UAH and RSS since 1978. I am not aware of any pre-1958 data, and the UAH and RSS data pretty much fall right on top of the HadAT2 data.

    Stratosphere temps had been falling since at least 1958 at a constant rate of about 0.5C/decade. There is no evidence in the stratosphere temp record, however, of the 30 year cooling/flattening of the surface temps that occurred from the 40s to 70s. Why is that? Are they not directly related in that as the troposphere warms or cools, the stratosphere has to react accordingly to maintain the overall heat balance? Also, all three temp measures show a pronounced flattening of the stratosphere temps since 1993 or so. What is up with that?

    Comment by B Buckner — 6 Aug 2007 @ 10:27 AM

  181. FurryCatHerder (#170) wrote:

    On the subject of the ozone hole and it not reducing as fast as expected. Is this being driven by CFC persistence that exceeded projections, or by climate change? And if the first (or why not answer anyway …) are the new coolants “safe” or just “safer”?

    Well, the “hole” (which is actually a thinning) was of course put there by CFCs, but at this point, the cooling of the stratosphere and warming of the is leading to higher windsts as the result of the temperature differential. This is in large part because the stratosphere is closer to the surface in Antarctica than just about anywhere else. I believe Alastair may have more to say on this.

    In any case, the increased winds are carrying water vapor up into the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere – and water vapor destroys ozone. So yes, at this point it is being driven by climate change – and in part driving climate change as the destruction of ozone leads to increased cooling since, unlike other greenhouse gases, the largest part of the direct effect of ozone is to warm the atmosphere rather than cool it. But interestingly enough, CFCs are also greenhouse gases. No doubt it gets rather complicated.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 6 Aug 2007 @ 11:28 AM

  182. RE #171 & Stating “Since the computer models are constantly updated…[#165]” is one of the reasons there is a scepticism about computer models. If they are constantly updated then the moment before they are updated they were presumably inaccurate.

    That’s the nature of science, in general; it keeps improving & refining & paradigm shifting. More predictive theories & better data collection and techniques replace older ones. However, I agree with #174 that the older predictions many times still hold up very well…including Arrhenius’s prediction over 100 years ago that industrial GHGs might cause anthropogenic global warming.

    OTOH, there ARE unknowns & (currently) unquantifiables. While climate science can nicely predict the effect of volcanos, such as Pinatubo, I don’t think it can predict whether or not there will be tremendous vulcanism in the future (to my knowledge it can’t predict that). I’m not saying we should worry about things not under our control, but we could do what we can to reduce our own GHGs. (Note that volcanos initially have a short run cooling effect because of the aerosols, but long term they have a warming effect because of their GHGs persisting much longer).

    I think the idea is that initial warming from extreme vulcanism (or some such other natural event) may have triggered the tremendous global warming at end-Permian extinction era (in positive feedback ways).

    We can probably hold that end-Permian extreme warming (and that of the PETM) as a bookend of what’s possible, and understand that some unknowns or unquantifiables may kick in and cause such a warming in this era (which is being triggered by initial warming from us). This might take hundreds or thousands of years before reaching those extremely high temps and causing massive extinction (we’ll all be long gone by then), but it’s morally untenable that we might be the cause of (pulling the trigger on) our progeny’s and other biota’s extreme suffering.

    OTOH, bookends have a way of toppling over when books aren’t set right, so who knows how hot it might get in a hysteresis type of event. A couple of years ago a poster here at RC suggested 6C higher than now as the absolute hottest is could possibly get (worst worst case), but then another poster suggested we don’t really know.

    We’re playing with fire.

    See, we just found out here re tropospheric ozone that what we thought was a negative feedback is actually a positive feedback. Science keeps changing….but for climate science the overall trend seems to be “it’s worse than we thought.”

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 6 Aug 2007 @ 11:51 AM

  183. Stating “Since the computer models are constantly updated…” is one of the reasons there is a scepticism about computer models. If they are constantly updated then the moment before they are updated they were presumably inaccurate.

    Next year if you step into a Boeing 787 after it enters commercial service, keep in mind that models used by the company to predict whether or not their products will fly are constantly being updated and refined.

    This means the model used during the design of the 787 was inaccurate.

    I presume your skeptism will cause you to turn tail and walk or drive to your destination?

    Comment by dhogaza — 6 Aug 2007 @ 11:55 AM

  184. Re:176 Furry Cat. It is even better than that. The buyout firm is Kohlberg Kravitz Roberts & Co, a huge private equity firm specializing in leveraged buyouts. This is not an environmentally sensitive firm, they are capitalist with a capital C, where profits always come first. If KKR saw benefits to going green, prospects for progress on the warming front just got a little brighter.

    Comment by B Buckner — 6 Aug 2007 @ 11:58 AM

  185. Since this thread’s about surface ozone and nitrogen oxides, rather than take it off topic, how about asking your stratosphere question in the Friday Roundup topic?
    Click here: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/07/friday-roundup/

    I’m just a regular reader here like you. I’ll use the search tools and follow up if you will ask there, and others will try to help.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Aug 2007 @ 12:26 PM

  186. Back on topic, I really would appreciate comments about the implications of this study for actual practice. Did I guess right with “leapfrog the intermediate designs for “slightly cleaner” coal plants … going straight to plants that don’t release exhaust gas to the atmosphere at all”? What else might this finding change in practice?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Aug 2007 @ 12:52 PM

  187. Re #186: Hank Roberts — Follow

    http://biopact.com

    for thoughtful and imformative posts about a variety of such implications.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 6 Aug 2007 @ 3:14 PM

  188. Found this, which turns on the definition of “clean” (misposted the first time, reposting in appropriate topic)

    On arguments for clean coal, this has policy implications:

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/07/31/america/nuke.2-106441.php
    “The little-noticed provision in the Senate bill refines and expands the loan guarantee program that Congress passed in the Energy Policy Act of 2005…. the bill essentially allows the Department of Energy to approve as many loan guarantees as it wants for both new nuclear plants and those that use other “clean” technologies.”

    I’d like to think someone carefully limited the definition of “clean” for coal plants to mean only those run as closed cycle plants. But I’d fall over in a dead faint if that were true.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Aug 2007 @ 5:04 PM

  189. Re #18, this is author’s response to ##19, 23, 27, 37, 41, 79, 82.

    First, a little about myself. I did not claim to be an “eminent” mathematician – that epithet was put into my mouth by #79 and reinforced by #82. And in fact I am not eminent; but I am still a practising mathematician, albeit not so much in statistics these days, and I believe that I am the sort of analytical person whom both sides of this argument should be trying to persuade. #23 says that my use of “CO2 brigade” ‘gives the game away’, despite the fact that I introduced the term “solar brigade” in the same paragraph, and despite the fact that I said “I am in two minds about…”. I really do see it as a fascinating scientific bust-up which I am trying to view impartially, and which would be funny if it wasn’t so important. (Actually, some of what I read on this is still pretty humorous anyway.) I am not sure whether to think of it as Montagues v. Capulets, or as David v. Goliath (because in terms of bulk, both number of scientists and number of newspaper articles, the CO2 brigade certainly seems to have the advantage).

    I regard myself as moderately ‘green’ – I usually cycle 5.5 miles each way to work, for health and reduction of pollution. Personally, as a cyclist, I hate diesel fumes and am sad about the increasing number of diesel cars on the roads, though no doubt someone will tell me I’m wrong to object to their smell and they’re really much better for the environment than petrol cars. But as said, regarding CO2 as a ‘pollutant’, I have still to make up my mind about that one.

    Re #19 (and the source of my 0.013), I am happy to apologize, at least as far upwards as the 0.016 C/y regression fit. My ’0.4C per 30 years’, only 1 significant figure please note, was taken by looking at a graph of HadCRUT3 data somewhere. I agree that that is a sloppy way of doing it, and apparently 0.5 per 30 years would have been closer to the mark. When at greater leisure I intend to analyze the figures more carefully, and may then comment further on the extra data presented by #19.

    Re #82, being a statistician I would rephrase it in terms of:
    Null hypothesis (H0) = no global warming from anthropogenic CO2 since 1970
    Alternative hypothesis (H1) = all global warming since 1970 is from anthropogenic CO2
    Then #82′s 1-4 become:

    1. False Positive = decide H1 but H0 is true = Type I error, with probability alpha
    4. False Negative = decide H0 but H1 is true = Type II error, with probability beta
    2. True Positive = decide H1 and H1 is true, with probability 1-beta
    3. True Negative = decide H0 and H0 is true, with probability 1-alpha

    Of course, life isn’t so simple, and the truth may lie somewhere between, hence my Q2:
    “how do we apportion this [1970.0-2000.0 warming] between CO2, the Sun, and other causes, and therefore how much is a doubling of CO2 worth?”

    I do have just one comment on #82′s statement in the False Positive that mitigation will save us money and strengthen the economy. When I see the amount of expenditure being proposed to combat global warming, I rather doubt this. Nevertheless I agree that evolutionary / revolutionary advances in technology may well have dramatic effects on CO2 output whether or not they are instigated by AGW politics.

    Turning now to #27, and the Archibald stuff, I’d like to point out that I did say “There are things I don’t understand about this, especially the time lag, so I am trying to follow up some of the references to understand more. Possibly Archibald is over-egging it…”, so I was certainly not taking it at face value, and I was especially worried that without epoch data one could not tell whether the better fitting points were older or newer or mixed. I have only seen the slides and not the full paper, so I thank #27 for pointing out things I should check when I find it. But the real point I was making was that if Solar Cycle 24 really does turn out to be as weak as predicted then the solar brigade will not have a leg to stand on if global temperatures continue to rise as per IPCC predictions. Therefore for the sake of settling the scientific argument I think a weak Cycle 24 will be a Very Good Thing. Of course, I realize that the CO2 brigade believes the argument has already been won incontrovertibly, and they are appalled that agnostics like me exist. Well, sorry, but I think, therefore I am.

    On the other hand, a weak Cycle 24 might be a Very Bad Thing. Because if temperatures drop, and the solar brigade wins the argument (or most of it, as its members mostly allow for a certain amount of CO2 warming), then we may discover that global cooling is devoutly less to be wished than global warming. For the sake of settling an argument we might have a worse world. But I believe that few readers on this site will be alarmed by this idea, as the majority will think it a false premise – and they may be right!

    In closing I’d like to thank correspondents for pointers to extra reading I should do. On the whole I prefer having been flamed to having been ignored :-)

    Comment by See - owe to Rich — 6 Aug 2007 @ 5:05 PM

  190. Re #65 and Gavin’s response, I know it isn’t cool on this site to mention heat, by which I mean the Sun, but regarding the January spike it should be pointed out that since Earth is at perihelion early in that month, the solar input is about 6.4% higher than in July. This comes from eccentricity ~ 1.6%, double that for (1+e)/(1-e) comparison of aphelion and perihelion, double again for the inverse square law of radiation.

    I think that’s right, but if not some friendly physicist will explain no doubt.

    Comment by See - owe to Rich — 6 Aug 2007 @ 5:17 PM

  191. Timothy (181), water vapor destroys ozone?? I never heard that; are you sure? I guess I don’t know. But why then doesn’t the overwhelming water vapor at ground level destroy the “bad” ozone?

    Comment by Rod B — 6 Aug 2007 @ 5:22 PM

  192. Re 179 and 186. there are various NOx formation processes (eg fuel NOx, thermal NOx, prompt NOx) and varying oxygen and flame temperature, as well as burner structure and recirculation and various forms of catalysis can affect them. Increasing oxygen may increase flame temperature, resulting in enhanced thermal NOx, although some studies have shown that opposite effects can be seen. Different types of coal may influence fuel NOx formation processes in the early combustion reactions. Synergetic interaction between various NOx formation processes is complicated, especially as there may be hundreds / thousands of reactions taking place in the combustion process (or processes if these are multiply staged, eg through reburn).

    Comment by Michael — 6 Aug 2007 @ 5:34 PM

  193. Well, you can look these things up. It’s a useful skill worth learning.

    Pasting “water vapor destroys ozone” into the Google box:

    NASA GISS: Science Briefs: Reaction of Ozone and Climate to …
    Water vapor breaks down in the stratosphere, releasing reactive hydrogen oxide molecules that destroy ozone. These molecules also react with chlorine … http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/shindell_05/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Aug 2007 @ 5:38 PM

  194. Re 108. It is odd why business leaders allow so much waste. Even more odd why Chief Financial Officers do not insist on a monthly waste account, providing tangible waste reduction figures delivered within the business each month (through energy conservation, water minimisation, waste minimisation, energy efficiency, product ecodesign, recycling, reuse, remanufacture, product repurposing, etc) . Climate change can be mitigated and the world economy can be shifted to an emissions profile which would limit warming to two degree C. It doesn’t require silver bullet technology solutions, because the solutions are already available. It requires a change in mindset and a change in attitude: a shift from destructive growth to one of restorative growth.

    Re 189. On the whole, implementation of mitigation within an organisation can provide considerable savings in direct costs (through utility bills, materials costs, logistics costs, process costs) as well as reductions in indirect costs (eg climate liabilities, brand damage, reduced competitiveness). However, the message hasn’t yet got home to business and industry of the urgency with which it needs to act. Emissions are still on an upward trajectory, which is of concern since there is only about 800 days to peak global emissions before we lose the chance to keep warming below 2 degree C. There is a window in which to limit warming to avoid dangerous climate change (when positive feedbacks are triggered). That window may close within the current business cycle (eg
    http://www.ippr.org.uk/publicationsandreports/publication.asp?id=501 ). When the window to limit warming to 2 degree C does close, what is currently perceived as a value-adding product or service, may switch to being viewed as a value-deducting (or climate liability laden) product or service. People’s notions or measures of what is a cost may then be thrown in the air as the world find itself on an uncontrollable trajectory. Costs of mitigation are small compared, for example, with the costs of a BAU trajectory that takes us, say, to sea level rises of 5 metres by 2100. For example see http://environment.independent.co.uk/climate_change/article2675747.ece and James Hansens article “Huge sea level rises are coming” at http://environment.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg19526141.600

    Assuming the sea level does rise by 5 metres in the coming decades, one can take representative supply chains through various sectors in the world economy and identify critical nodes in those supply chains and work out the potential for such supply chains to operate or function. Estimates can be made of rebuild costs as supply chains with attendent infrastructures are decommissioned, and moved / rebuilt inland. One can go through these scenarios self-consistently and backcast through the century to identify thresholds (eg indicative capex, risk contagion) and determine safety mechanisms or avoidance strategies that are required, etc. Costs may relate, for example, to rebuilding ports, rebuilding refineries, establishing new primary and secondary manufacturing plants, realigning transport and logistics infrastructure, as well as an array of reconfiguration, downtime, and hazard management costs. The supply systems involving chemicals are a case in point, as chemicals, particularly specialty chemicals, may be a critical element of multiple supply chain systems at higher levels of current-decade value-adding structures, such as may be found in pharmaceutical markets, electronics, IT and telecoms infrastructure markets. The chemicals may, however, be sourced from single points of synthesis on world markets, on account of complexity and costs of synthesis processes. Some of those single points of synthesis may be chemical plants next to present shoreline. Sea capture of industrial capability, much of which is next to the sea, may make it difficult to maintain continuous rebuild capacity as the sea level continues to rise.

    Re 58. There have been a lot of large-scale experiments done on plants (eg see work by Robert Jackson’s group http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2002-05/du-eo051502.php ) in which large enclosed areas have various gas mixtures (eg with varying levels of CO2) introduced. It is a very complex area of study as different plant species may react in different ways. Also, there are wild cards such as ways in which fungal and bacterial systems proliferate under the warming conditions and the effects these may have on other flora, which incidentally may undermine possibilities for biofuel and food-to-eat yields. There are also subtle interactions between insects, birds etc and how these may or may not be able to synchronise their life cycles in response to ecological confusion and seasonal pattern disruption as plants and trees also attempt to respond.

    Comment by Michael — 6 Aug 2007 @ 6:19 PM

  195. > clean

    As an aside — if closed cycle coal plants are used, there’s another immediate benefit to removing the nitrogen from the gas input, at least if it’s condensed out. One big hope is for superconducting power transport at liquid-nitrogen temperatures. It’d be great if the coal plant was able to put out electricity, liquid nitrogen, and CO2 to be sequestered.

    Need a distribution network? There’s nothing like a railroad right-of-way for long distance cross country. Bury the liquid nitrogen/superconducting cable alongside the tracks. Next, electric power for the coal trains ….

    Whether the energetics make sense, I don’t know. But it’d be a nice package.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Aug 2007 @ 6:30 PM

  196. Rod B (#191) wrote:

    Timothy (181), water vapor destroys ozone?? I never heard that; are you sure?

    Yep. Here is an article that deals with it over at NASA, although it doesn’t really get into the specifics.

    Wetter Upper Atmosphere May Delay Global Ozone Recovery
    Apr. 17, 2001
    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20010417/

    The reason why I know about it is that it is one of the recent feedbacks creating problems in Antarctica…

    1. Ozone depletion in stratosphere leads to stratospheric cooling…
    2. Stratospheric cooling leads to temp diff between stratosphere and surface
    3. Temp diff leads to higher winds lofting more water vapor leading to more ozone depletion.
    4. Higher winds bring up nutrients from the deep leading to the release of methane and carbon dioxide.
    5. Methane and carbon dioxide lead to more greenhouse warming of surface.
    6. Warming of surface leads to more moist air convection which warms the troposphere.
    7. Temp diff between troposphere and stratosphere leads to higher winds.

    But why then doesn’t the overwhelming water vapor at ground level destroy the “bad” ozone?

    Not sure. Water vapor is supposed to act as a catalyst for some chemical reaction which may be dependent upon ultraviolet radiation, perhaps. But I will have to dig to find out.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 6 Aug 2007 @ 6:59 PM

  197. > ground level
    See #193, now that it’s appeared.
    Yes, it’s the ultraviolet that breaks the H2o apart, then the ions of OH and O- react with the ozone.

    And the ozone decreases, and more UV gets through to lower levels.

    True, if we had no ozone layer, we’d have the higher energy UV cleaning up the ground level ozone pollution. But we’d have other problems.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Aug 2007 @ 8:01 PM

  198. #183
    A Boeing jet will have been proven to fly. Computer models are making 100-yr predictions. Imagine a climate model was “updated” to correct, say, a 0.5% inaccuracy today. Imagine that error hadn’t been corrected. What would the magnitude of that inaccuracy be after 100 years?

    Comment by Alan K — 7 Aug 2007 @ 1:35 AM

  199. [[Stating “Since the computer models are constantly updated…” is one of the reasons there is a scepticism about computer models. If they are constantly updated then the moment before they are updated they were presumably inaccurate.]]

    That’s like saying evolution by natural selection is a conservative process, incapable of shaping new creatures, because it only eliminates the unfit. No. It eliminates the less fit, and that’s why natural selection is such a savage shaping process.

    Similarly, your last sentence above should read, “If they [the computer models] are constantly updated then the moment before they are updated they were presumably less accurate.” Not “inaccurate.” There’s a big difference.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 Aug 2007 @ 7:08 AM

  200. A Boeing jet will have been proven to fly.

    And GCMs are checked against the real world, too.

    Comment by dhogaza — 7 Aug 2007 @ 9:00 AM

  201. #189, I think my response in #82 was a bit rude, so I apologize for that. However, I will stick to my guns about reducing GHGs in the U.S. cost-effectively….up to a 2/3 reduction. This, however, means that in addition to the many many “no cost” solutions (as per #109), in order to make such drastic cuts we will need to put up some money on energy/resource efficient/conservative measures, many of which will eventually pay for themselves in savings, and many of which will go on to save even more (like SunFrost refrigerators, http://www.sunfrost.com ).

    If the government puts more tax on oil/coal (or better yet, reduces their tax-breaks and subsidies — which I think they just decided to do, but Bush promises to veto), this will cause gasoline & coal-based energy to increase in price, which hopefully will cause people and businesses to implement measures to reduce consumption cost-effectively. I suppose those who still refuse to do so then would be losing money. But I don’t have tons of sympathy for them. We’ve known about global warming for 20 years, and we’ve known about the cost-effective measures, and they really should have started reducing much sooner (for economic reason, if not for the sake of their kids’ future).

    My grandmother (born 1887) used to save string and do many many conservative things; in just a few generations we have become a very liberal (with Earth’s goods), profligate society.

    RE “truth may lie somewhere between, hence my Q2:
    “how do we apportion this [1970.0-2000.0 warming] between CO2, the Sun, and other causes…”

    The way I approach that issue (as a non-scientist) is to look at the component I can change, then make changes (reducing my GHGs). Can’t do much about the sun or volcanoes. However, my thinking is that if the sun or volcanoes were to start contributing to even greater warming, then it would behoove us all to reduce our GHGs even further — maybe even sacrifice drastically to do so — because we’d not only need to reduce our own contributions to the warming, but try to off-set those of the sun/volcanos. So the idea that the sun may start increasing in its irradiance (which seems it could…all the skeptics keep bringing it up), then we need to reduced our GHGs all the more.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 7 Aug 2007 @ 9:07 AM

  202. #199
    sorry to prolong this thread (maybe I’m the only one left on it now) but given the length of forecasts we are dealing with, the supposed huge difference in effect on humanity of a matter of tenths of a degree temperature change and the magnitude in 100yrs time of a very small lessaccuracy today, I think inaccurate and less accurate can be used interchangeably.

    Comment by Alan K — 7 Aug 2007 @ 9:07 AM

  203. RE my recent comment re #189, I had another idea.

    One of the reasons (I guess) why businesses don’t implement energy/resource conservation/efficiency measures is that the costs are artificially low bec of the subsidies and tax-breaks on fossil fuels. So they focus on labor to increase profits — less raises, layoffs, less benefits, disappearing pension funds, out-sourcing, etc.

    Now if the government were to take some of the money it saves from reducing the tax-breaks and subsidies to fossil fuels, it could redirect that to labor costs in some way….providing, say, some medical insurance (reducing the amount employers have to pay) or tax-breaks to businesses for employing people. Jobs would not have to go overseas as much.

    Meanwhile, with the money businesses save, they would more easily have up-front money for energy/resource conservation/efficiency measures, that would go on to save them even more.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 7 Aug 2007 @ 9:32 AM

  204. RE #189, & Null hypothesis (H0) = no global warming from anthropogenic CO2 since 1970
    Alternative hypothesis (H1) = all global warming since 1970 is from anthropogenic CO2. Then #82’s 1-4 become:
    1. False Positive = decide H1 but H0 is true = Type I error, with probability alpha
    4. False Negative = decide H0 but H1 is true = Type II error, with probability beta
    2. True Positive = decide H1 and H1 is true, with probability 1-beta
    3. True Negative = decide H0 and H0 is true, with probability 1-alpha

    Another thing I sometimes bring up here is the enivornmental victims’ perspective, which would be opposite the scientists’. The idea that we need .05 or .01 significance (95% confidence) that AGW is happening (or that poison will kill us, or the lump is cancerous) to accept that it is happening is an unwise approach….albeit scientists have to follow this path to maintain their reputations & not become “the boy crying wolf.” We as lay persons living in the world do not.

    I propose that for us the null hypothesis should be that AGW IS happening & is harming (will harm) people, and we only stop mitigating if we become 95% confident or reach less than .05 probability that the null hypothesis (AGW is happening) is wrong, before we reject it for the alternative hypothesis (that AGW is NOT happening). I call this the “medical model” as opposed to the “scientific model” above.

    OTOH, we may not want to stop mitigating even if we reach 95% confidence AGW is not happening, due to all the money we save & all the other problems we off-set from mitigating. But we can at least celebrate.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 7 Aug 2007 @ 10:06 AM

  205. Re 171 Alan K: “If they are constantly updated then the moment before they are updated they were presumably inaccurate.”

    Change the wording to “less accurate” and you change the meaning of what you wrote to more accurately reflect reality.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 7 Aug 2007 @ 10:22 AM

  206. #200
    ho hum and back we are at the beginning. GCMs, it transpires, are “updated” to reflect the real world once they have been checked and found to be less accurate.

    I am near begging now for the moderator to ban me from this thread.

    Comment by Alan K — 7 Aug 2007 @ 11:10 AM

  207. Re 206 Alan K: “I am near begging now for the moderator to ban me from this thread.”

    Why, you’re harmless?

    Comment by Jim Eager — 7 Aug 2007 @ 11:42 AM

  208. Re #206 [ho hum and back we are at the beginning. GCMs, it transpires, are “updated” to reflect the real world once they have been checked and found to be less accurate.]

    I could be wrong here, but it seems likely from your wording in #198: “Imagine a climate model was “updated” to correct, say, a 0.5% inaccuracy today. Imagine that error hadn’t been corrected. What would the magnitude of that inaccuracy be after 100 years?”
    that you misunderstand the kind of updating that is going on. GCMs are not updated to fit a new estimate of climate sensitivity, or what’s happened to the weather or climate since the last updating, i.e the modellers are not saying anything like “Oh, we predicted a .02 rise in global mean temperature over the last year, and we got .01 [or .03], we’d better change the model”. The updating is to reflect changes in the understanding of specific processes such as cloud formation or glacier flow. As such changes have been made, the ability of models to reproduce past conditions has generally improved – but this is not a foregone conclusion, it has to be tested in each case. Improved ability to reproduce past conditions increases confidence in models’ ability to make conditional predictions about the future, i.e. predictions assuming that greenhouse gas emissions and other relevant factors follow certain trajectories. However, modellers do not rely on a single run of their model, or a single set of parameters; and the conclusions drawn from GCMs do not rely on a single model. The broad agreement between models indicates that the kind of instability in the face of small changes to initial conditions or model parameters which you seem to assume, isn’t a real problem. Of course there may be important processes that are not included or are misrepresented in current models – for example, related to ice sheet stability, as explicitly noted in the IPCC’s AR4. It would be most unwise to assume that any such processes will reduce rather than increase the dangers we face. In any case, what’s the alternative to acting on the basis of the best models we have? Stick our heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away?

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 7 Aug 2007 @ 12:06 PM

  209. Re #194: [It is odd why business leaders allow so much waste. Even more odd why Chief Financial Officers do not insist on a monthly waste account...]

    Apropos of which, this factoid from the current employer’s company newsletter: “XXX’s energy conservation programs from 1990 – 2006 also saved 4.5 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and $291.1M in energy costs”. It is a pretty large company, but adding an extra $17 million per year to the bottom line is still appreciated :-)

    Comment by James — 7 Aug 2007 @ 12:09 PM

  210. Alan, you’re misreading what’s written. GCMs are updated to reflect the _physics_ as our understanding of the real world improves.

    Nothing in the deep past happened as fast as current climate change is happening, except the one big asteroid impact event; see the current Scientific American article and Peter Ward’s current book.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Aug 2007 @ 12:40 PM

  211. Re Alan K and his repeated posts about GCMs (207, 198, etc)

    Funny thing about human knowledge – it just keeps increasing. As much as we think we know now, we can be certain that we will know more tomorrow, and still more the day after that, and so ad infinitum.

    No one ever said current GCMs are perfect – nothing in the natural world ever is perfect – there is always room for improvement. Sure, the potential for erroneous forecasts increases the further you extrapolate. But, it’s safe to assume that models will improve with time long before we find out if last year’s long-range predictions we accurate, or not. Modelling is an iterative process, so as they keep improving, the long-range forecasts keep getting pushed further and further into the future. But, surely you know this?

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 7 Aug 2007 @ 1:13 PM

  212. RE #211, of course we could follow a business-as-usual path and see how much damage AGW does over the centuries — which is our current national strategy here in the U.S. Then we wouldn’t need models or other predictive tools. We’d be 100% certain.

    Of course, there might not be any scientists left to document it, since people may have been reduced to scrounging around for survival & all institutions of higher learning long since closed.

    But if 100% certainty about AGW & its harms is required, which many seem to want, that’s the way to go. Though I’d never suggest doing that.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 7 Aug 2007 @ 4:32 PM

  213. re O3: Well, I guess. I don’t quite understand how other analyses (the effect of CO2 vs. H2O on GW, e.g.) rely on water vapor not getting into the stratosphere, but now it’s up there in spades to destroy ozone. Doesn’t the photodissociation of H2O take higher UV energy than for O3? (Or is the OH-1 made some other way.) I’m confused. But then I understand little here… just sounds strange and a little convenient.

    Comment by Rod B — 7 Aug 2007 @ 4:49 PM

  214. Lynn, so now your going to throw a couple of “null hypotheses” and a few alphas and such to convince me the economy will be better off if we fully mitigated AGW even though we would find out that it wasn’t real… [;-}

    How much beyond the ~$100 billion of (all) taxes Exxon-Mobil paid in 2006 would they pay if we cut their subsidies?

    Comment by Rod B — 7 Aug 2007 @ 5:22 PM

  215. What’s your source for what you believe, Rod?

    http://finance.google.com/finance?fstype=ii&q=XOM

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Aug 2007 @ 5:46 PM

  216. That would be their applicable tax rate times the subsidy cut.

    Comment by J.C.H — 7 Aug 2007 @ 6:29 PM

  217. Imagine a climate model was “updated” to correct, say, a 0.5% inaccuracy today. Imagine that error hadn’t been corrected. What would the magnitude of that inaccuracy be after 100 years?

    This is really interesting. Alan K, do you suppose that the climate models are spreadsheets doing compound interest?

    If, in fact, the models reacted in an accelerating way to any small change, they would be telling us that we are about to go over a tipping point. The typical behavior of an interated systems is to have relatively small change for relatively small changes. But as the system approaches the edge of a basin of attraction, it starts responding much more dramaticly to small changes.

    I have occasionally had the odd of esxperience of discovering that the person I’m talking to doesn’t define the words we are using the same way I do. (especially distressing when I took a job based on that conversation) It may well be that many of our drive-by scolders just don’t grok science.

    Comment by Tim McDermott — 7 Aug 2007 @ 11:33 PM

  218. No, serioiusly, Rod, where do you get the belief Exxon-Mobil paid a hundred million dollars in taxes?
    Just made the number up?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Aug 2007 @ 12:10 AM

  219. Hank,

    The link you provided to Exxon (XON) financial data shows that for ’06, XON had revenue of 377.6 billion, profit before taxes of 67.4 billion, and profit after taxes of 39.5 billion. That means they paid 27.9 billion in taxes. Of course this likely includes the gasoline tax, their portion of employees’ social security, real estate taxes, etc.

    That’s a lot of money, but they made, after tax, almost 32 million an hour in ’06.

    Comment by Tim McDermott — 8 Aug 2007 @ 9:09 AM

  220. Re 219 Exxon taxes

    U.S. Energy Bill Showers Tax Breaks on Oil Drillers, Utilities
    By Jim Efstathiou Jr.

    July 29, 2005 (Bloomberg) — The energy bill Congress is set to pass today will spread $14.5 billion in tax breaks among hundreds of U.S. companies.

    Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips and other oil and gas producers get incentives to drill wells in the deepest waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Utilities including Southern Co. and American Electric Power Co. gain support for building coal and nuclear plants, and power-line owners such as American Transmission Co. benefit from tax changes. A mandate to boost the amount of corn- based ethanol in gasoline aids Archer Daniels Midland Co.

    “There are a lot of pigs at the trough and the pigs got fat,” said Philip Verleger, a senior fellow at the Institute for International Economics in Washington. “It’s the way politics works in the United States.”

    Environmental and consumer groups say the package is a giveaway with oil prices near $60 a barrel are generating record oil company profits. Exxon Mobil earned $7.64 billion in the second quarter, the company said yesterday. The past three quarters were the most profitable ever for the company.

    The U.S. House passed the bill by a vote of 275 to 156 yesterday afternoon. The Senate is scheduled to vote on the measure today after debating it last night.

    President George W. Bush, who has been seeking an energy bill since he took office in 2001, said last month he favored a less expensive package. He still plans to sign the bill. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman this week called it a “common sense” measure to help meet the country’s energy needs.

    Oil companies such as Exxon Mobil and utility owners such as Southern spent $367 million over the past two years lobbying Congress on energy legislation, according to data from PoliticalMoneyLine and the Center for Responsive Politics. The legislation contains tax breaks of $1.6 billion for oil and gas producers and refiners and $3.1 billion for utilities….

    http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=a1eDReAgtETw&refer=news_index

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 8 Aug 2007 @ 9:47 AM

  221. Hank,it’s 100billion, which I got from their annual report. Remember Income taxes (State and Federal, etc.) are less than half of the total taxes paid. Tim’s $28B is only income taxes.

    Comment by Rod B — 8 Aug 2007 @ 11:01 AM

  222. XON’s 2006 summary annual report (page 40) says that they paid 30.4 billion in sales-based taxes, 39.2 billion in other taxes and duties, and 27.9 billion in income taxes. Grand total is 97.5 billion. That’s a lot. I wonder how much of that was paid in the US?

    Comment by Tim McDermott — 8 Aug 2007 @ 12:17 PM

  223. Just curious, does that 100 billion include the gasoline tax that consumers pay at the pump?

    Or the royalties paid to the government for the extraction of product from land the government owns?

    Or the sales tax people pay on their coffee?

    I have all my annual reports. What year, what page?

    Comment by J.C.H — 8 Aug 2007 @ 12:17 PM

  224. OK, I screwed up the link (why don’t we have a preview button any more?) It is http://exxonmobil.com/corporate/files/corporate/xom_2006_SAR.pdf

    Comment by Tim McDermott — 8 Aug 2007 @ 12:18 PM

  225. Okay.

    So they remit the tax I pay them at the pump to the appropriate government entity. So what? I’m the one who pays that tax, not ExxMob. What ExxMob pays is the expense of collecting that money from me – like any other business.

    Comment by J.C.H — 8 Aug 2007 @ 12:24 PM

  226. JCH, I don’t know for certain, but a really good guess is that the gas tax paid at the pump is included (as (as is the comparable revenue), sales tax not — it’s paid by the retailer, not by XON-MOB and not included in gross revenue, and royalties not — that’s not a tax but a cost of production like the royalties they pay to everybody else. There are also numerous other taxes that they pay.

    I’m not in favor of the subsidies either, though I might support them for smaller upstart enterprises on an ICB. Nor do I support giving subsidies then taking it back with the demagogic excess profits tax which Congress imposes every few years, usually close to elections, then later usually retracts as being stupid. It’s ignorant to demonize them to the furthest extreme.

    Comment by Rod B — 8 Aug 2007 @ 2:52 PM

  227. Million, billion …

    My point being — cites, please, gentlement.
    It’s the assertions of belief without a reference that amount to asking for help with homework; checking before posting gives one a chance to accumulate some credibility.

    I don’t care if your number is big or small. I care if it’s based on facts I can look up.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Aug 2007 @ 3:16 PM

  228. ExxMob owns a substantial number of retail outlets, so they do transfer the sales tax from the consumer to the applicable government, and that would be in those numbers.

    Claiming that ExxMob pays 100 billion in taxes is fuzzy math. As a longterm investor in ExxMob, which I am, I am only concerned with the demand side of a flow-through number on a transaction tax. If an excise tax is high enough to thwart demand, then it could significantly reduce ExxMob’s federal income tax liability, and that would be horrible.

    All ratios remaining the same, as a shareholder I would love it if that 100 billion you’re talking about was 500 billion as I would be 5 around times as rich.

    Comment by J.C.H — 8 Aug 2007 @ 3:57 PM

  229. What are the sources of surface ozone? Emissions from vehicles, industrial processes, and vegetation fires. here is a good discussion of tropospheric ozone formation from NOx and VOC precursors, and Here is a good, non-technical educational video on ozone formation.

    Coal-fired power plants account for 25% of the emissions in the US. There are two ways to form NOx from burning fossil fuels in air – one is to add oxygen to N atoms present in the coal, and the other is to split the very stable N=N bond of atmospheric N2. Not only that, there’s the sulfur oxides, arsenic and mercury.

    There really is no way to use coal safely. The sequestration schemes are highly energy-intensive, meaning that if 90% CO2 capture at coal fired plants was put in place, an ~40% reduction in power output would result.

    Nevertheless, DOE is spending several billion dollars on their FutureGen project, a collaboration with coal companies and electric utilities that aims to build an emission-free coal-fired power plant that will sequester millions of tons of CO2 in a geological formation. In contrast, their budgets for similar-sized solar and wind projects are non-existent. Not only that, but they are taking a restrictive approach to intellectual property that is keeping China and India from being very interested.

    The fact of the matter is that most of the coal reserves will have to be left in the ground, unburned. However, politicians and the coal industry (dirty and dangerous, as the latest coal cave-in demonstrates) still refuse to acknowledge this basic fact. In fact, the owner of the mine used the accident as an opportunity to lobby against global warming action.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 8 Aug 2007 @ 5:16 PM

  230. #214 RE doubts about the economy will be better off if we fully mitigated AGW even though we would find out that it wasn’t real… “

    I didn’t say “fully” mitigate AGW, only reducing here in the U.S. up to, say, 2/3 our GHGs, perhaps more. However, for those who doubt even this, I would suggest we start by reducing 10% of our GHG cost-effectively. Then once we get our feet wet, try for another 10%.

    OTOH, Amory Lovins suggests in some instances of how “tunneling through” can get us more drastic reductions cost-effectively, for instance, by designing the building in the first place so it doesn’t even need air conditioning (you’ve got to read NATURAL CAPITALISM to see what I mean).

    And you’ve got to keep in mind all the other problems the measures will off-set….a more thorough cost/benefit analysis, holding the GW factor a constant (= 0) to analytically tease out the cost/benefits beyond the GW factor. Of course, when you add in the GW factor, then we should have done all these things 20 years ago…..We’ve been completely remiss on this.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 8 Aug 2007 @ 6:01 PM

  231. Hank, the annual report isn’t “cite” enough for you??

    Comment by Rod B — 8 Aug 2007 @ 10:36 PM

  232. Re #229 [The sequestration schemes are highly energy-intensive, meaning that if 90% CO2 capture at coal fired plants was put in place, an ~40% reduction in power output would result.]

    That’s too pessimistic, at least according to the IPCC’s “Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage” of September 2005. In the SPM, p.4, the Working Group say:
    “Available technology captures about 85–95% of the CO2
    processed in a capture plant. A power plant equipped with
    a CCS system (with access to geological or ocean storage)
    would need roughly 10–40% more energy than a plant of
    equivalent output without CCS, of which most is for capture
    and compression. For secure storage, the net result is that a
    power plant with CCS could reduce CO2 emissions to the
    atmosphere by approximately 80–90% compared to a plant
    without CCS…”

    In a footnote, they say:
    “The [10-40%] range reflects three types of power plants: for Natural Gas Combined Cycle plants, the range is 11–22%, for Pulverized Coal plants, 24–40% and for
    Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle plants, 14–25%.”

    (For clarification, IGCG plants use coal.) Even if we take the higher figure for pulverized coal plants, that’s 40% more fuel for the same output, which is slightly under 30% reduction in efficiency. The lower figure for IGCG plants gives less than a 13% reduction in efficiency.

    The AR4 WGIII SPM, p.18 says “CCS in underground geological formations is a new technology with the potential to make an important contribution to mitigation by 2030.” Since India and China in particular are going to be burning a lot of coal, we’d better hope they’re right – and that the US DOE abandon the restrictive attitude to intellectual property you rightly censure. I’m not saying CCS is the answer – as I’ve said before, I don’t believe any combination of technologies is going to allow the rich to continue their current lifestyles, particularly with respect to air and auto transport, meat every day, and ever more power-hungry electronic gadgets, in a way compatible with avoiding dangerous climate change. But for China and India particularly, I don’t see a feasible alternative any likely government would adopt voluntarily, and they’re too well-armed and economically important to be forced to do so.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 9 Aug 2007 @ 4:43 AM

  233. [[OK, I screwed up the link (why don’t we have a preview button any more?) ]]

    Thanks to Tim for bringing this up. The lack of preview makes it much easier to incorporate unseen mistakes in posts now. Why did RealClimate fix something that wasn’t broken? Please bring back preview.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 Aug 2007 @ 6:16 AM

  234. They’re working on it, Barton; the blog software changed recently, and tweaking is still being worked out. Remember back when all the comments loaded along with the original post instead of separately as a popup window, killing people with slow connections by forcing everything to come at once? It’s incremental fixes.

    I gather it’s how they spend their weekends, when others are out looking for barbeque grills (grin).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Aug 2007 @ 3:20 PM

  235. Re #232: Nick Gotts — If you would follow

    http://biopact.com

    you would read, for example, that China recently announced they will invest $US 2 billion to build 100 biomass fired power plants in the interior, eventually displacing 10% of their use of coal.

    Similar news reports from India, Southeast Asian countries, Africa and South America, although all of those projects are much smaller…

    Comment by David B. Benson — 9 Aug 2007 @ 5:57 PM

  236. Nature has always had a way to offset excess greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Not only does algae in the Arctic do the job quite well, but also melted ice, which also absorb it.

    Melted Sea Ice Absorbs Carbon Dioxide: http://www.thenewsroom.com/details/37151?c_id=wom-bc-ar

    I’m writing in from TheScienceDesk at TheNewsRoom. We have a group of users interested in global warming who have found great content they have used online. You can also do the same. Email jtowns@voxant.com for details. We’ll be glad to hear from you!

    Comment by alvinwriter — 10 Aug 2007 @ 4:42 AM

  237. [[Nature has always had a way to offset excess greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Not only does algae in the Arctic do the job quite well, but also melted ice, which also absorb it.]]

    The natural sinks are not enough to absorb all the carbon dioxide human technology puts out, which is why the carbon dioxide content of the air around us continues to rise.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Aug 2007 @ 4:53 AM

  238. Here’s an interesting contest that has a $100,000 prize money to whoever proves that global warming is anthropogenic: http://www.thenewsroom.com/details/575853?c_id=wom-bc-ar?c_id=wom-bc-ar

    What entry would you give?

    - Alvin from TheScienceDesk at TheNewsRoom.com

    Comment by alvinwriter — 10 Aug 2007 @ 5:27 AM

  239. There are plenty of natural carbon sinks and most of these already contain tons of carbon dioxide, especially volcanic lakes. Sometimes, these sinks release carbon dioxide at a brisk pace. It happened in Africa before when a lake there suddenly released a cloud of carbon dioxide which killed all those within the vicinity, it being a heavy gas that kept close to the ground.

    The carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by people come from natural reserves of fossil fuels. These fuels will soon be exhausted since their volume is finite. When that happens, I think this issue of global warming will subside. Frankly, I would want artificial carbon dioxide emissions minimized, I would want a clean atmosphere with a suitable balance of gases just right for people and all the other organisms that they share the Earth with.

    Otherwise, if global warming activists are right about possible disasters due to global warming, maybe we should prepare. The construction of a seed depository in a mountain is one way of ensuring food supplies in the future. Read about it in this link to TheNewsRoom: http://www.thenewsroom.com/details/67851-c_id=wom-bc-ar

    - Alvin from TheScienceDesk at TheNewsRoom.com

    Comment by alvinwriter — 10 Aug 2007 @ 6:46 AM

  240. Re #235 [If you would follow

    http://biopact.com

    you would read, for example, that China recently announced they will invest $US 2 billion to build 100 biomass fired power plants in the interior, eventually displacing 10% of their use of coal.]

    The story itself is at
    http://biopact.com/2007/08/chinas-dragon-power-to-raise-us2.html
    Potentially good news, but the article seemed to be based on unnamed “sources”. And the writer apparently thinks sweet potatoes are a non-food crop! (Mentioned in the context that the Chinese government has, according to the article, banned corn-to-ethanol conversion). And of course one would need to know what the land devoted to biomass was used for previously, what the inputs are, etc.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 13 Aug 2007 @ 4:39 PM

  241. re #239 [These fuels will soon be exhausted since their volume is finite. When that happens, I think this issue of global warming will subside.]

    If this is the level of argument found on “TheScienceDesk at TheNewsRoom.com”, I won’t be visiting any time soon. Just because something is finite, doesn’t mean it will be exhausted “soon”. The sun’s supply of hydrogen is finite, but is going to last a couple of billion years. There’s certainly more than enough accessible fossil fuel to cause disastrous climate change if we keep burning it at anything approaching the current rate.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 13 Aug 2007 @ 4:45 PM

  242. re #241
    Hi, Nick! Of course. The fossil fuels we’re using came from forests like those which dominated Devonian times 350 million years ago. That time, a cooling trend was happening. It’s likely due to the rate at which carbon dioxide was used by the fern forests which were then quick to spread. Volcanic activity was what was releasing carbon dioxide then. When the forests subsided and died off, these became the fossil fuel reserves we now use today, with carbon doioxide which was once already in the atmosphere courtesy of ancient volcanos. If the reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was responsible for the cooling then, it is possible that by releasing the CO2 back into the atmosphere, a warming trend will be experienced again. Will more carbon dioxide cause more trees to grow again, like what happened in Devonian times? Studies show that trees do grow faster if the air is more saturated with carbon dioxide. But it would take a lot of trees to effect a change in the atmosphere. There are just too few of them left, sadly.

    Drilling could unearth global forecast: http://www.thenewsroom.com/details/486007?c_id=wom-bc-ar

    Scientists test trees’ ability to combat more carbon dioxide: http://www.thenewsroom.com/details/515820?c_id=wom-bc-ar

    Oldest tree fossil found, scientists say: http://www.thenewsroom.com/details/218996?c_id=wom-bc-ar

    TheNewsRoom is all about news. You may want to see how it can work for you. I invite you to email jtowns@voxant.com if you want to partner with it for licensed news you can use. We’ll be glad to hear from you.

    - Alvin from TheScienceDesk at TheNewsRoom.com

    Comment by alvinwriter — 29 Aug 2007 @ 6:05 AM

  243. There is an interesting interview with interview with Dr Chris Rapley, former Director of the British Antarctic Survey, now Director of the Science Museum in London.
    http://www.electricpolitics.com/media/mp3/EP2007.08.31.mp3

    Comment by ClimateCriminal — 7 Sep 2007 @ 2:59 PM

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