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  1. What about being able to review the raw data when performing a peer review?

    Comment by Robodruid — 9 Aug 2007 @ 11:50 AM

  2. It is getting to the point where there is peer reviewed research published in journals that are on both sides of most every issue discussed in the IPCC. I have the impression that most of the authors of these chapters fall on the AGW side of the debate, so all of the other possible causes of the current warming are downplayed. This includes the cosmic ray flux theory, UHI, changes in areosol concentrations, and land use changes. I don’t think the IPCC has enough diversity in its authors to sort through all of the conflicting research in an unbiased way.

    [Response: I would certainly disagree with your characterisation of the literature (look at the average table of contents of any of the mainstream journal or conference proceedings), and I don’t see why you think the IPCC reports don’t deal with the issues you raise. Look these things up – there is plenty of discussion of aerosol issues, land use and UHI. Even cosmic rays get a mention. If there was a huge debate in the serious literature, you’d see it in the reviewer comments. You don’t – and I doubt that is because people are shy. – gavin]

    Comment by VirgilM — 9 Aug 2007 @ 12:35 PM

  3. RE #1 (Robodruid): That doesn’t happen in my field (immunology). Why hold climate science to a different standard?

    Comment by Deech56 — 9 Aug 2007 @ 1:29 PM

  4. For which study? The raw data is for the studies that are in the footnotes, published in a great many different journals (the IPCC doesn’t do research, it reads research and draws conclusions).

    Peer review means review by experts who know the area, for the journal, before the journal decides to publish an article.

    It doesn’t mean that Lord Monckton gets to review it all, eh?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Aug 2007 @ 1:42 PM

  5. Re #3
    It does in mine. (Analytical Chem)

    Comment by Robodruid — 9 Aug 2007 @ 1:44 PM

  6. Gavin, I read the short blurb on cosmic rays in the IPCC. The report described this theory “controversial” and didn’t attempt to quantify it in the list radiational forcing. I know of your debate with Roger Pielke Sr on the IPCC’s lack of consideration of land use changes on the radiational forcings. I also get the impression that the IPCC is concluding that the UHI effect is so small compared to the effect of greenhouse gases, that the UHI can be ignored. I’m not saying that greenhouse gases isn’t a player, but I’d like the IPCC and the climate community to work towards understanding the other potential causes of warming, before jumping to conclusions on the impact of greenhouse gases.

    [Response: That’ s just the problem with the CR idea, no-one has done the work required to even get close to proper calculation of it’s radiative forcing. We detailed the ‘missing steps’ in an earlier post. IPCC is an assessment process, and they cannot assess what hasn’t been done. What is controversial are the conclusions drawn by some scientists involved, not the basic concept. However, even without a good calculation of the impacts, the lack of trend in any cosmic ray related index since 1960 rules out any role of CR changes in recent global warming. Coming to that conclusion is not ‘jumping’. It’s just concluding. – gavin]

    Comment by VirgilM — 9 Aug 2007 @ 2:12 PM

  7. I went through an entire PDF file and didn’t see what appeared to be a significant disagreement – a surprising number of comments resulted in partial to complete changes. In what section(s) is there an example of a climate scientist(s) who had material disagreement(s) with the report that went unheeded?

    Comment by J.C.H — 9 Aug 2007 @ 2:35 PM

  8. It makes me wonder whether IPCC press releases should come with a disclaimer explaining the IPCC process. The criticisms seem to neglect the fact that the IPCC is a review by a large panel of scientists of (already peer-reviewed) published literature that is then subject to a wide-open review by the community. What other research is subject to three levels of scrutiny? If anything, the resulting reports should be assumed to be conservative, since all multiple levels of review are likely to eliminate extreme views.

    Comment by Simon D — 9 Aug 2007 @ 3:52 PM

  9. The challenging of the review process sounds like grasping at straws. If you can’t criticize the substance(the Report), then criticize the style, in this case the method of the review process. This is nothing new. Alexander Cockburn criticized the peer review of the IPCC ‘s 1996 report in the June 11,2007 edition of “The Nation”.

    One of the big reasons for the inertia in accepting the reality of climate change is the belief that the changes involved in mitigating it are going to cost money. Almost everyone acknowledges that world temperature has increased about .6 or .7C in the last century or so, but balk at the human factor,as a cause, due to fear of the financial cost of changing over to alternative sources of energy. Actually, changing over to solar and wind power, for example, will create jobs, and add to the strength of our economy.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 9 Aug 2007 @ 5:03 PM

  10. I have to ask Lawrence Brown (Gavin you are free to comment) this question. Of the .6 to .7 deg C warming, how much of it is due to greenhouse gases? 100 percent? 80 percent? How much is due to UHI? How much is due to direct and indirect solar processes? How much is due to lower areosol consentrations? How much is due to land use changes like deforstation? Even the IPCC admits that many climate forcings outside of greenhouse gases are poorly understood, and therefore, poorly modeled.

    I came across this paper: Stanhill, G. 2007. A perspective on global warming, dimming, and brightening. EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 88: 58.

    It estimated that global dimming of solar energy due to aerosols was 20 w/m2…much larger than the response of greenhouse gases. While this paper was published in 2007, surely the IPCC had research available to them to consider? Can you understand my reservations of the IPCC conclusions when I see research published undermining the basis of their conclusions?

    [Response: There’s no doubt that it can be confusing to outsiders and we spend a lot of time here going through the subtleties. The Stanhill paper confuses (and exaggerates) surface flux changes and compares them to radiative forcings – it just isn’t an appropriate comparison, and anyone writing the relevant IPCC chapter is aware of that (notwithstanding that there actually is a discussion of global dimming in the report). This is why assessment processes exist. You need experts in the field to cut through the confusion and put things into context. – gavin]

    Comment by VirgilM — 9 Aug 2007 @ 5:41 PM

  11. Re#9. The inertia isn’t about the money, its that a significant number of
    rich and powerful people think that they should be able to live exactly like
    they want to live. Drive huge moster 4WD (SUV to U.S. readers) vehicles and
    live in 600 sq meter houses and coopt the entire realm of nature to their
    service. Such people do not take kindly to being told they have to
    change by a bunch of nerds with equations and computer models. And of course
    plenty of nerds are telling them, no you don’t have to change, we will change
    the technology and you can keep your lifestyle — just throw a few more
    research dollars my way.

    Comment by Geoff Russell — 9 Aug 2007 @ 5:46 PM

  12. #3 Deech56 That doesn’t happen in my field (immunology). Why hold climate science to a different standard?

    Because it’s wrong. Steve McIntyre shouldn’t have to file a FOI request to get data. I can understand 20 years ago when data might have had to have been shipped all over the world on magnetic tape. But with the internet, an important job of a journal should be archiving the data and source code used to arrive at conclusions in the article.

    Where else should this job reside? We’ve seen from numerous requests with unsatisfactory answers that the researchers aren’t up to the task. I dont’ fault the researchers. With job changes, HDD crashes, etc, it’s too big of a task to put on the individual.

    Comment by Matt — 9 Aug 2007 @ 6:33 PM

  13. #11 Geoff Russell Re#9. The inertia isn’t about the money, its that a significant number of
    rich and powerful people think that they should be able to live exactly like
    they want to live. Drive huge moster 4WD (SUV to U.S. readers) vehicles and
    live in 600 sq meter houses and coopt the entire realm of nature to their
    service.

    Whether you drive an SUV or ride the subway is irrelevent. The subway rider that lives in London is producing massive amounts of CO2, while the SUV driver that lives is Los Angeles is producing massive amounts + 10%. Note that the point of comparison for both is the simple farmer in China today.

    In the end, both lifestyles lead to the tipping point once places like India and China begin to produce CO2 at rates that are 1/5 of what a Londoner might produce CO2 today.

    Comment by Matt — 9 Aug 2007 @ 6:40 PM

  14. I’m disappointed that the IPCC hasn’t responded to recent suggestions that the CO2 emissions scenarios they use may not be realistic. The case has been made by researchers in the US (Caltech) and Sweden. The key claim is that most alleged coal reserves cannot be profitably recovered under existing or potential technologies. Therefore a forcings timeline that shows increasing manmade CO2 after about year 2025 is arguable.

    I think IPCC needs to respond to this, not just hope it goes away.

    Comment by Johnno — 9 Aug 2007 @ 6:56 PM

  15. #1. The release of the comments was the result of several FOIA results made by memebers of
    ClimateAudit. I have my response letter framed. The FOIA requests were made because the
    IPCC refused to post the comments and instead put them in Harvard library, restricting access.
    The whole tale is told on CA.

    Several points:

    1. The comments are still RESTRICTED. you cannot copy them or redistrubute.
    2. Criticial comments in certain cases are ignored.
    3. A page limited minority report would be more open and transparent.

    #2. Comments are not data and methods. The IPCC could of course adopt a policy that it would only
    rference studies that provided data and methods.

    A report is only as transparent as its most opaque source.

    Comment by steven mosher — 9 Aug 2007 @ 7:29 PM

  16. Re #12: Obviously things that are legally public records need to be treated like that regardless of who’s requesting them, but the reason Steve McIntyre generally does not receive cooperation beyond that minimum is because his interest in these matters is not scientific. Even his use of the financial audit meme is fraudulent since financial audits don’t just cherry-pick small parts of a company’s operations. He’s a denialist, just smarter and more polite than the average.

    Re #14: Links to that material?

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 9 Aug 2007 @ 7:35 PM

  17. Q.E.D

    That you should write this shows either hubris or a profound misunderstanding about the difference between formal proofs and science. Science is always contigent. It is never Q.E.D

    IF it were QED then consensus would be immaterial.

    Theory is always underdetermined by the evidence which is why consensus is a consideration is the adoption ( not the truth) of a chain of hypotheses.

    Here is a test. Reduce your steps to LOGICAL FORM.
    then show each step with the appropriate logical rule that allws yu to move from one step to the next.
    ( eg Modus Tolens)

    The you get to write QED grasshopper

    Comment by steven mosher — 9 Aug 2007 @ 8:06 PM

  18. I’m not at all surprised that the Financial Times would object. In the first place, they are journalists, alias innumerate [anumerate?] humanitologists. Since they have no idea what science is about, they may ascribe all sorts of irrelevant motives to scientists. They probably think that scientific opinion is just another opinion. See “The Republican War on Science” by Chris Mooney, 2005, Basic Books.
    In the second place, the coal industry is a $100 Billion per year industry in the US alone. Being economics oriented, “Return On Investment” [ROI] is a really big thing with them. Thinking decades ahead is something they just don’t do. Most of their readers are also economics oriented and probably either investors or managers who would be upset if the Financial Times didn’t object.
    The first problem could be overcome by requiring everybody in the country to get a degree in science………….

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 9 Aug 2007 @ 8:17 PM

  19. RE 16.

    A smart auditor knows the most likely places to find
    “shifty” business. Inventory evaluation for example.
    and especially evaluation of prducts with a volitile
    market value. They have caught cheats before so they know where to look.

    Put differently. When we sample nature we sample randomly because we do not expect nature to hide from us on purpose. She has no intent. When we audit human organizations we do not randmly sample. We look in the places were Mistakes or deception have occurred before.

    So, Mistakes: like y2k errors. Mistakes are all that has been found. This is to be expected because no human is omnscient and all science is contingent

    [Response: The error was not a ‘Y2k’ bug in any traditional sense (nothing to do with two digit year codes, and wasn’t even a program bug) and so I’m unsure of your reasoning here. – gavin]

    Comment by steven mosher — 9 Aug 2007 @ 8:30 PM

  20. Therefore a forcings timeline that shows increasing Beyond mere guesses about quantity consumed, what does their timeline/projection assume about the development of clean coal?

    Comment by DaveS — 9 Aug 2007 @ 8:52 PM

  21. Regarding comment #10 by VirgilM where he says in part:
    “I have to ask Lawrence Brown (Gavin you are free to comment) this question. Of the .6 to .7 deg C warming, how much of it is due to greenhouse gases? 100 percent? 80 percent? How much is due to UHI? How much is due to direct and indirect solar processes? How much is due to lower areosol consentrations? How much is due to land use changes like deforstation? Even the IPCC admits that many climate forcings outside of greenhouse gases are poorly understood, and therefore, poorly modeled.”
    Total forcings due to the increase of GH gases is 2.6W/m^2 ( Source “Global Warming,The Complete Briefing by John Houghton). A graph from the same source (fig. 3.8) for the period 1750 to 2000 shows that radiative forcings due to the GH gases,CO2,CH4,N2O,and the Halocarbons dominate all other forcings in the figure, which includes stratosphere ozone,tropospheric ozone,sulphates,land use,solar and other forcings.
    I can’t answer (nor do I imagine anyone else can) with, certainty what percentage of the temperature change is due to GH gases. But I do know that this is the component that has changed the most in the last 250 years, CO2 in particular. So GH gases have to be
    the primary suspect.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 9 Aug 2007 @ 9:09 PM

  22. One problem is that the IPCC draws from the ranks of reputable, established, conservative, and conventional professionals. It does not recruit radicals. The IPCC recruits diplomats rather than people like me that just say what we think. The IPCC has established a paced, linear process for evaluating a potentially rapid nonlinear process. And, human nature being what it is, our leaders are waiting for that definitive answer before they take serious action.

    Global warming is likely to unfold much faster than the IPCC can write its reports. It is not possible to report the progress of a highly non-linear process with 3-year old data. And, some of the folks on the IPCC panels are making a career out of global warming. They are more interested in a job for life than solving the problem as fast as possible. Any elected leaders that are waiting for those reports are in for a surprise.

    Are we sure that the computer models are correct? I compare the various models projections of Arctic sea ice against actual sea ice and I see discrepancies. However, the sea ice projections in the models inform the other modules in the models, so if the sea ice projection is wrong, other things must also be wrong. For example, how many people did the computer models say would be affected by flooding this year? Now, the UN says the number of people affected by flooding is 500 million per year. That is a lot a of latent heat. That is significant.

    Recently, gavin commented to me that N2O was not a greenhouse gas of global climatic importance. In fact, N2O is a powerful greenhouse gas, it is just cleared from the atmosphere more rapidly than CO2. I think that we should be looking for a whole group of small effects that we can sum together; so that we can fully explain why ice in the real world is melting faster than the ice in our computers.

    Maybe there are some other things we should be doing. Maybe there are low hanging fruit that we can pick. (Both in modeling and in the real world to curb global warming.) For example, maybe everyone needs to operate under the Bay Area Air Quality Rules for N2O? Gavin’s baby could spit out the ROI for that in seconds. What else is cheap to fix? The only thing is: We better get this done faster than the IPCC writes reports.

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 9 Aug 2007 @ 9:34 PM

  23. “It doesn’t mean that Lord Monckton gets to review it all, eh?”

    Touche! Look, either criticism is valid or not. What we have here as always, is an unacceptance of reality. And possibly a failure to communicate, but methinks to accept on one party.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 9 Aug 2007 @ 11:21 PM

  24. RE 21…How can you say that CO2 is the primary driver in the climate system, when the effect of areosols and land use changes are poorly understood (so the IPCC says) and unquantified?

    Comment by VirgilM — 9 Aug 2007 @ 11:32 PM

  25. Virg, have you read Ruddiman’s book? What level of explanation do you need to start at?-

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Aug 2007 @ 11:51 PM

  26. Even simpler — Virgil, did you read “Start Here” yet? The link’s at the top of the page; this is where it takes you, beginner questions:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/start-here/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Aug 2007 @ 11:58 PM

  27. I would like to know the approximate watts per meter produced from the daily burning of the Earth’s fossil fuels. If the burning of coal, methane and gasoline are added together, would the watts per meter of energy produced have a significant or miniscule effect on the global climate? The calculation seems easy enough if only the average daily energy released from fossil fuels is known.

    Comment by david klar — 10 Aug 2007 @ 12:36 AM

  28. Global warming newbie

    I recently saw the ‘Global warming snowjob’ video on the website of the heartland institute. Three of Al Gore’s claims were refuted by lot of people. Can someone shed more light on Gore’s side of the argument ?

    Claim 1 : Rising Co2 levels do not cause temperature rises but it is the other way round (rising temperatures cause increases in co2 levels).

    [Response:See old post. There are feedbacks both ways, so that temperature/biological activity affects CO2 in the atmosphere and CO2 affects the temperature by perturbing the longwave radiative balance. -rasmus
    ]

    Claim2 : Co2 is a very small component of greenhouse gases in comparison with water vapor and therefore is not responsible for global warming.

    [Response: Although water vapour (H2O) carrys strongest weight, CO2 plays a non-neglegible role – see the most recent IPCC (AR4) report. While H2O has a short life time in the atmosphere (precipitates out) and varies strongly in time and space, CO2 is longlived and well-mixed. -rasmus]

    Claim3 : Global warming will not raise sea level by 20 ft but by 23 inches.

    [Response: There are large uncertainties around this issue. The sea level will depend largely on what happens to the ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctic, but for sure, the thermal expansion of the oceans and melting glaciers alone gives a minimum estimate typically less than 1m. -rasmus]

    [Response: I would add that Gore made no such prediction for 2100. – gavin]

    Comment by Prashanth — 10 Aug 2007 @ 1:05 AM

  29. Re #28 and Rasmus’ reply.

    Claim3 : Global warming will not raise sea level by 20 ft but by 23 inches.

    If nothing is done to stop the increase in the concentration of CO2, sea level rise will not stop at 20 ft. The Arctic sea ice has nearly gone. See http://www.abmcdonald.freeserve.co.uk/north.htm and when it does, the Greenland ice will follow soon after. Rasmus, when are you and the IPCC going to get real? Their prediction of only 23 inches for sea level rise is criminal.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 10 Aug 2007 @ 4:36 AM

  30. Totally OT sorry, but would it be possible for a post on this paper?:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/317/5839/796

    “Improved Surface Temperature Prediction for the Coming Decade from a Global Climate Model
    Doug M. Smith,* Stephen Cusack, Andrew W. Colman, Chris K. Folland, Glen R. Harris, James M. Murphy

    Previous climate model projections of climate change accounted for external forcing from natural and anthropogenic sources but did not attempt to predict internally generated natural variability. We present a new modeling system that predicts both internal variability and externally forced changes and hence forecasts surface temperature with substantially improved skill throughout a decade, both globally and in many regions. Our system predicts that internal variability will partially offset the anthropogenic global warming signal for the next few years. However, climate will continue to warm, with at least half of the years after 2009 predicted to exceed the warmest year currently on record.”

    It looks to me to be a very interesting new(? I see references to the approach in 2003 from Google) line.

    NB I can’t read the paper as I don’t have a subscription.

    Comment by Adam — 10 Aug 2007 @ 4:37 AM

  31. [[I would like to know the approximate watts per meter produced from the daily burning of the Earth’s fossil fuels. If the burning of coal, methane and gasoline are added together, would the watts per meter of energy produced have a significant or miniscule effect on the global climate? The calculation seems easy enough if only the average daily energy released from fossil fuels is known.]]

    Direct heating from fossil fuel use is on the order of 1013 watts worldwide. Solar energy input is on the order of 1017 watts. Therefore direct heating from fossil fuel use can be ignored.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Aug 2007 @ 4:46 AM

  32. Re#13. How do you calculate that a US SUV user uses 10% more than a UK
    tube user? UK GHG emissions per capita = 11, US GHG emissions per capita =
    24, from: http://www.carbonplanet.com/home/country_emissions.php

    But a more relevant comparison is to compare the SUV driver with someone
    who drives a smaller vehicle. To build and service a vehicle generates
    about 17 tonnes ghg emissions per tonne of vehicle:

    http://www.carbonneutral.com.au/rose_bj_2006._ghg-energy-calc_background_paper_august_2006.pdf

    so 3 tonnes of Toyota Prado generates well over 50 tonnes of emissions
    to build and service + 0.3kg per km to run. Which is about triple the total
    emissions cost of any small vehicle.

    Comment by Geoff Russell — 10 Aug 2007 @ 5:53 AM

  33. Re 29 – the guardian (uk newspaper) have covered this paper:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/aug/10/weather.uknews

    Comment by kevin rutherford — 10 Aug 2007 @ 6:36 AM

  34. RE 19 Gavin,

    Like it or not it will always be referred to as the “y2K” error. As SteveMc Noted early on he was not, and I am not, claiming it was a 2 digit coding error.

    Had we be given access to the code produced at taxpayer expense it is highly doubtful that the error would have mislabelled as the “Y2K error” The lack of transparency at NASA has purchased a misleading moniker for the mistake.

    Free the code.

    Comment by steven mosher — 10 Aug 2007 @ 6:48 AM

  35. Re #16
    It does not matter who is asking for the data. Part of the scentific process requires tranparency in data collection and analysis.

    Comment by Robodruid — 10 Aug 2007 @ 6:54 AM

  36. No. 24. Hi Geoff. One question I would like an answer to is: Is it better to run an old and relatively inefficient car into the ground, or to scrap it and buy a newer, more efficient one?
    Thanks.

    Comment by stephan harrison — 10 Aug 2007 @ 7:14 AM

  37. What is all this hype going aroung the internet the 1934 is now the warmest year thanks to a “Y2k” bug in the nasa data that Mcintire exposed. They yahoos are rallying around this and trying to make the point that if Nasa does not allow other parties to check the data and see the original alogrithms, then NASA is keeping secrets.

    Comment by FP — 10 Aug 2007 @ 9:37 AM

  38. It’s getting really rare to see a new or thoughtful question science here from new readers.

    Is it possible to keep a ‘Roundup’ thread always at the very top of the main page, to capture those who feel they need attention so “post at the top” regardless of what topic’s recent?

    Perhaps at the main top center a big link labeled “Climate Chatroom” that opens to say the Globalchange page, to direct people there who want to post “right at the top where everyone will see it” instead of looking for a relevant thread?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Aug 2007 @ 10:08 AM

  39. Adam wrote: “NB I can’t read the paper as I don’t have a subscription.”
    Adam, you can read the abstract _and_ the extensive online supplementary material at http://www.nature.com, and you can go to any public library anywhere — most will have Nature available to read and any that don’t can borrow the copy for you free and easily.

    Stephan: an old car run _rarely_ can last a long time yet not burn much gas. Check gas mileage and miles driven.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Aug 2007 @ 10:21 AM

  40. Re: #22 (Aaron Lewis):

    I think you are confusing NOx and N2O. Gavin’s comment to you was about NOx, which is not a significant direct greenhouse gas, but has some indirect effects through ozone creation and methane lifetime: and because the ozone effects and methane effects are in different directions, and the non-linearity of the chemistry involved, it is not clear that a reduction in NOx will actually lead to a reduction in temperature (all else equal).

    My guess is that the Bay Area Air Quality Rules apply to NOx and not N2O, because N2O isn’t really a traditional air pollutant.

    N2O is produced in large part as a byproduct of fertilizer use in agriculture, though also some from adipic acid synthesis and some from combustion, and it is a long lived (120 year half-life) greenhouse gas, 3rd behind CO2 and CH4 in terms of anthropogenic contributions to well-mixed gas radiative forcing.

    Comment by Marcus — 10 Aug 2007 @ 10:54 AM

  41. Re. Financial Times article. It seems while we’ve been busy with other things, many in the financial community have become so wealthy, they are now doing a daily commute to work from the planet Mars.

    Comment by Jim Roland — 10 Aug 2007 @ 11:28 AM

  42. #39 Hank, thanks for that, but it’s not so easy for me to get to a library that has the subscription – not impossible but unlikely to happen soon or often. Also, just for reference, the paper was published in Science. I’ll keep an eye out for it elsewhere. Just for reference though, it’s published in Science (the abstract’s at the url I posted above). But thanks, I hadn’t seen the Nature article: http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070806/full/070806-10.html

    Comment by Adam — 10 Aug 2007 @ 11:57 AM

  43. Re 40
    see http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/ggrpt/nitrous.html >> 18% from non-ag uses in US, much from mobile sources.

    They had higher numbers in the days when I was at DOE. My guess is that for SE Asia the percentage is way higher than the current US what with our air quality rules.

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 10 Aug 2007 @ 1:15 PM

  44. #32 Geoff Re#13. How do you calculate that a US SUV user uses 10% more than a UK
    tube user? UK GHG emissions per capita = 11, US GHG emissions per capita =
    24, from: http://www.carbonplanet.com/home/country_emissions.php

    The US is a big place. States like Wyoming are at 125 tons/per capita, while states like NYC are at 11 tons/capita. So I’d venture to guess that a New Yorker and a Londoner are very close to the same. I’m happy to be educated on that, however.

    Now, NYC subway efficiency is around 3500 BTU per passenger mile, or 1.03 KWH/PM. For a place like the US that derived most electricty from coal, that means about 0.61 kg of CO2 per KWH delivered. So, to go 1000 miles on the NYC subway emits about 0.625 tons of CO2. I’m sure nuke-powered TRV is quite a bit better than this, but I suspect the older Tube is closer to NYC than TRV. Again, I’m happy to be educated.

    A 2WD Ford Explorer, according to TerraPass, emits 0.496 tons of CO2 per thousand miles.

    Now, if you are a soccer mom with two kids, and you have the option of taking mass transit to a destination OR your SUV, the you’d generate about 75% less pollution in your SUV. Weird, huh?

    So, my statement that whether or not you drive an SUV is a very, very small part of your carbon footprint stands. There are so many other factors that matter much, much more.

    Side note: building mass transit to reduce pollution is a scam. Cities would do much, much better to give hybrid cars to those that drive the most. Mass transit is very good at reducing congestion, however.

    Comment by Matt — 10 Aug 2007 @ 2:40 PM

  45. #24

    (1) The Earth has been warming, implying a net positive radiative forcing. (2) The largest positive radiative forcing — by far — has been the one due to long-lived greenhouse gases, most notably, CO2. Thus, it is quite reasonable to say that the main cause for the warming has been the increase in these gases.

    Comment by Jerry Steffens — 10 Aug 2007 @ 3:20 PM

  46. Jerry Steffens (#45) wrote:

    (1) The Earth has been warming, implying a net positive radiative forcing. (2) The largest positive radiative forcing — by far — has been the one due to long-lived greenhouse gases, most notably, CO2. Thus, it is quite reasonable to say that the main cause for the warming has been the increase in these gases.

    … and GISS best estimates are that with 1880 as the baseline, positive forcings due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases have exceeded that of solar for the entire 20th century – although not by much in the earliest few decades.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 10 Aug 2007 @ 3:57 PM

  47. Re 24. There are uncertainties in Quantum Theory as well, yet it has been a very successful accomplishment responsible for the many electronic wonders of our age. The Theory of Evolution has gaps and uncertainties, yet forms the basis of molecular biology.

    The past 40 or 50 years of global warming can’t be explained without factoring in anthropogenic influences. Natural influences such as vulcanism and solar influences are sufficient to explain the first half of the twentieth century but they can’t alone explain the last half. Only including the net effect of human made greenhouse gases and aerosols, can the more recent decades be reproduced to match the actual record.( Parallel Climate Model/DOE/UCAR-Meehl,Washington,Ammann et al.Combinations of Natural and Anthropogenic Forcings in Twentieth Century Climate. Journal of Climate 17:3723,fig.2(d).

    This looks, acts and quacks like a duck. Odds are that it’s a duck. You don’t need to get a DNA sample to remove all doubt.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 10 Aug 2007 @ 4:26 PM

  48. re: 40
    Marcus is correct: Bay Area Air Quality Rules include NOx and many others, but sets no limits on N2O.After all, N2O is “laughing gas”, and we need all the laughs we can get these days :-)
    http://www.baaqmd.gov/dst/regulations/index.htm

    Much of it comes from farming (of which not much is left in the Bay Area), and it is not so much a BAAQMD issue as a broader one, i.e., at least locally the California ARB is the relevant agency.
    People are certainly discussing what to do about N2O: see Part III in “International Symposium on Near-Term Solutions for Climate Change Mitigation in California, march 5-7, 2007″,
    http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/030507symp/030507agenda.htm has many useful presentations.

    Comment by John Mashey — 10 Aug 2007 @ 5:12 PM

  49. #24
    “How can you say that CO2 is the primary driver in the climate system, when the effect of areosols and land use changes are poorly understood (so the IPCC says) and unquantified?”

    I must confess that I have a rather poor understanding of some of the charges on my monthly phone bill; yet I am reasonably confident in attributing the increase in my bank balance over the past year to my salary.

    Comment by Jerry — 10 Aug 2007 @ 5:31 PM

  50. Re#44. Yes, it hit me a few hours after I posted that you were, effectively
    comparing petrol (SUV) with electricity (London Tube), so I went digging.
    “Total requirements of energy and greenhouse gases for Australian transport”
    Transportation Research Part D 4 (1999) p.265–290, comes to similar
    conclusions – there isn’t much difference between electric driven mass transit
    and petrol motor vehicle — on average. But there are substantial differences between mass transit systems and between private motor vehicles and those
    little differences add up in a mass transit system (hence the name “mass”) so
    that 10 or 20% per passenger km adds up to one hell of a lot if lots of
    people use it.

    And yes, my mom was a soccer mum, but did it without an SUV — we walked.

    Comment by Geoff Russell — 10 Aug 2007 @ 6:18 PM

  51. Re #44 Matt Efficiency of rail transport

    Matt, I have trouble believing your contention that rail transport is LESS efficient than driving SUVs as far as CO2-emissions go, so I looked up some numbers myself. Generally, my conclusion is quite different from yours: traveling by rail could help a lot in reducing emissions.

    I happen to have a Dutch study at hand (by the Dutch National Environmental Institute), which gives for trams/subway: 0.8 MJ/passenger-km. This is a average figure over the day, resulting from 30% of the capacity being used. This gives an emission of 60 gCO2/pkm, or about 5 times as little as an SUV (300 gCO2/km). Note that this is a figure for mixed gas/coal electricity generation, giving 0.3 kgCO2/kWhE, using your 0.6 kg would double it to 120 gCO2/pkm.

    Trains yield pretty much the same emissions as trams/subway in this study.

    I found some more numbers here (scroll down to “trains”):
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_efficiency_in_transportation#Trains

    Wiki gives 0.1-0.4 MJ/pkm for several European studies. There’s also an Amtrak number in the list of 2935 BTU/pmile = 2 MJ/pkm (if my conversion is correct).

    This site is also quite interesting: http://strickland.ca/efficiency.html

    Since I can’t find anything wrong with your figures, the conclusion seems to be that a. US trains are quite empty, or b. they are not very energy efficient (or both). On the bright side: there’s a lot of energy to be saved.

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 10 Aug 2007 @ 6:39 PM

  52. #51 Dick Veldkamp Matt, I have trouble believing your contention that rail transport is LESS efficient than driving SUVs as far as CO2-emissions go, so I looked up some numbers myself. Generally, my conclusion is quite different from yours: traveling by rail could help a lot in reducing emissions.

    I should have used SI units, sorry.

    I think our numbers agree if I did the math right. Note that 0.8MJ/pKM is 2.84 PM/KWH. I noted NYC subway at 0.975 PM/KWH. NYC’s subway is old and runs 24×7 (and likely has a figure below the 30% you note). A smaller city with a brand new subway could indeed do better. And seldom do subway transportation authorities quote the energy required by the terminals. That can be 20% of the transportation budget! Remember the original comparison was with the Tube, which I can’t find data on, but I’d venture to guess it’s closer to something like NYC’s subway than a subway built in the last 20 years. Note the reference I made was to inter-city travel (subway). Intra-city travel (trains) can be quite a bit more efficient than inter-city travel.

    You note SUV CO2 output at 300gCO2/KM, which is 480gCO2/mi. My figure was 496, so we’re very close. But also note I said a mom with two kids, which gives 496/3 = 164 gCO2/mi, or 102g/KM/passenger.

    So, an SUV with 3 occupants total will get you from point A to point B with 102g/KM, while a modern subway from your Dutch study would emit 60-120g/KM, depending on how your electricity is generated.

    I stand by my original statement that a Londoner using the tube, and a NYCer using an SUV are identical beasts when it comes to CO2 output.

    And I trust most reading this are still shaking their heads that an SUV with 3 occupants is more efficient for getting from point A to point B in a city than most every subway system in the world. And a family of 4 riding in a smaller hybrid makes the lone subway rider look outright wasteful.

    Comment by Matt — 10 Aug 2007 @ 8:29 PM

  53. Re #52, etc: I think you are leaving out one very significant factor. The CO2 per mile figure for the SUV is probably calculated on the assumption that it’s actually moving, and probably on an open highway with few stops and little congestion. These are not conditions that are frequently found in places where mass transit exists – certainly not in my (admittedly small) experience of NYC & London. You might need to revise the number upwards quite a bit to allow for traffic lights and gridlock.

    I think you’re also assuming that for the electric mass transit system 100% of the electricity is generated from fossil fuels (“mixed gas/coal electricity generation”), but IIRC in the US something like 20% of total generation is nuclear, another 10% or so hydroelectric &c, so the CO2 figures need to be adjusted for whatever the actual mix happens to be. And of course an electric mass transit system will run just fine on electricity from any source, while the SUV needs gasoline.

    Comment by James — 11 Aug 2007 @ 12:09 AM

  54. I think the only possible hole in his numbers is subway occupancy. Right now demand for gasoline is at an all-time high. That means there is little motivation for people to endure the inconvenience of planning their commutes and errands around a subway schedule and its limited destinations. The last time I was in New York the streets were jammed to their brims with cars.

    The rub in the United States is not just SUVs (should be low-mileage passenger vehicles), it’s commuting distances. Converting all vehicles to hybrids would help, but I think it falls far short of a useful solution. The insane commuting distances remain, and are getting longer each year.

    Comment by J.C.H — 11 Aug 2007 @ 6:53 AM

  55. #54 JCH: The rub in the United States is not just SUVs (should be low-mileage passenger vehicles), it’s commuting distances. Converting all vehicles to hybrids would help, but I think it falls far short of a useful solution. The insane commuting distances remain, and are getting longer each year.

    And the way we fix the insane commuting distances is to build wider roads and recognize that people want to go where they want when they want.

    If an SUV with 3 occupants can rival a modern mass transit system for pollution and fuel efficiency, then we can be sure that smaller electric cars can move people more cheaply and with less pollution than any mass transit system can even if you could hit 100% occupancy on the mass transit system. And the cost of mass transit is incredibly high. Seattle is currently building a $3B 16 mile train to carry folks from downtown to the airport. If general mass transit system can get 3-5% of cars off the road, this highly specialized train will likely succeed in getting a paltry 0.1% of cars off the road. For $3B. What a waste. And every day tens of thousands sit idling in their cars because the floating bridges are too narrow.

    Comment by Matt — 11 Aug 2007 @ 11:45 AM

  56. Average occupancy for cars in the UK would appear to be a shade over 1.5:

    http://www.statistics.gov.uk/STATBASE/ssdataset.asp?vlnk=5154

    Comment by SomeBeans — 11 Aug 2007 @ 1:24 PM

  57. As a doubter concerning AGW, I have the following questions that have never been addressed publicly.

    1) Solar activity is dismissed, on the basis that solar activity has not noticeably increased over 400 years. The troughs, however, have very much increased and appear to be reaching the maxes. What effect does this have?

    [Response: I don’t think this is true. See recent article by Lockwood & Frohlich for more up-to-date information. -rasmus]

    2) Can someone please issue a simple proof that the trend over the last 400 to 1000 years is statistically significant? This is very doubtful to me as measurement error appears to be geater than the reported increase.

    [Response: It would be a fairly pointless exercise, as the AGW didn’t really kick in before the industrial revolution. Hence, we are trying to test whether the global warming over the last 100 years is due to increased CO2 concentrations, and therefore the preceding 200-800 years are irrelevant for the trend estimations used in this context. -rasmus]

    3) If the trend continues, what are the benefits as well as the detriments to man and the earth? Only negatives are published. Methinks the earth will survive and mankind will profit. We fixate on the least of people and worry they will be flooded out. In past times, they migrated. Why not this time? Food should be plentiful, oceans bountiful.

    [Response: People will get affected, by e.g. sea level rise, changes in the hydrological cycle and more frequent heat waves. I recommend the latest IPCC report. -rasmus]

    4) And last: Based on statistical control methodology, prove that the control mechanism is well enough understood that the current attempts to reduce AGW will not drive it hotter and faster? (attempting to change a process that is not out of control limits can double the negative response) I worry more over this than any trend because fixing the issue, if it is real, is not a climatological issue, but more in line with my profession of chemical engineering.

    [Response: ???]

    John MS Chem Eng

    Comment by John Lagace — 12 Aug 2007 @ 7:28 AM

  58. [[1) Solar activity is dismissed, on the basis that solar activity has not noticeably increased over 400 years.]]

    No, it is not. Neither clause above is correct. Solar intensity has grown very much over the past 400 years, since 400 years ago takes you just past the Maunder Minimum. And solar influence on climate is already accounted for in climate models. Its connection with the current rapid warming is because solar intensity has not increased noticeably in the last 50 years, thus cannot have caused the sharp upturn in warming of the last 30.

    [[2) Can someone please issue a simple proof that the trend over the last 400 to 1000 years is statistically significant?>

    Don’t you know how to do a linear regression? The significance can be tested with the t statistic on the coefficient of the time term.

    3) If the trend continues, what are the benefits as well as the detriments to man and the earth? Only negatives are published. Methinks the earth will survive and mankind will profit.]]

    How, precisely, will we profit from the collapse of our agriculture and economy? Global warming will cause droughts in continental interiors and more violent weather along coastlines. In the long run, it will mean trillions of dollars worth of infrastructure is covered with seawater, hundreds of millions of refugees will be created, and in Asia, a billion people will be without fresh water.

    [[ We fixate on the least of people]]

    What the HELL does that mean? Who are “the least of people?” [edit]

    [[ and worry they will be flooded out. In past times, they migrated. Why not this time? Food should be plentiful, oceans bountiful.]]

    See above.

    [[4) And last: Based on statistical control methodology, prove that the control mechanism is well enough understood that the current attempts to reduce AGW will not drive it hotter and faster?]]

    Prove that turning off an erratically performing oven won’t actually increase its internal heat? Prove that stopping an out-of-control car won’t make it even harder to control?

    [[ (attempting to change a process that is not out of control limits can double the negative response) I worry more over this than any trend because fixing the issue, if it is real, is not a climatological issue, but more in line with my profession of chemical engineering.]]

    Oh boy, I saw that one coming.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 13 Aug 2007 @ 6:58 AM

  59. re # 57:

    Your point # 3 takes no account of overpopulation. The estimates I have seen are that well over 90% of all arable land is already under cultivation, yet 2/3 of the world’s population is calorie deficient, and 1/3 protein deficient. Much of the very land that will be flooded is agricultural land, leaving an ever-increasing population with less acreage to till.

    Migration may have worked in earlier times, but where will millions of people (say, Bangladeshis) go that millions don’t already occupy?

    “Food should be plentiful, oceans bountiful.” This takes no account of the effects of air pollution on all types on crops, nor of erosion of fertile soils (not to be replaced, if ever, for decades), nor both overfishing and pollution of our oceans.

    I realize this is a little OT, but see little discussion of these issues here. My rationale is simple: there is no environmental problem which would not be made easier with fewer people on the planet. And that includes AGW.

    Comment by Bob Bergen — 13 Aug 2007 @ 9:51 AM

  60. John,

    human emission of CO2 are decreasing the pH of the ocean, which is having the opposite effect as bountiful. since you are a chemE, I shouldn’t have to explain the negative impact of a more acidic environment.

    Comment by ks — 13 Aug 2007 @ 10:32 AM

  61. Well, Mr. John MS Chem Eng, you…I mean, really. You…wow. And I thought I knew from hubris.

    You’re the first person, to my knowledge, to so provoke Barton that he had to be edited. Now, will you answer his question? I too want to know what the HELL you mean by “the least of people”. Please do explain, expand, elaborate; you know, spell it out. I dare ya.

    Comment by Arvella Oliver — 13 Aug 2007 @ 5:46 PM

  62. The physical modeling work and the paleoclimate work and the observational data analysis all show that human use of fossil fuels is warming the planet and destabilizing the climate. The IPCC report demonstrates this to be true… although it could use a more convenient web-based format.

    However, some IPCC predictions and statements have already been shown to be overconfident underestimates of future change, such as this one:

    “Carbon dioxide cycles between the atmosphere, oceans and land biosphere. Its removal from the atmosphere involves a range of processes with different time scales. About 50% of a CO2 increase will be removed from the atmosphere within 30 years, and a further 30% will be removed within a few centuries. The remaining 20% may stay in the atmosphere for many thousands of years.”

    It seems that the definitive nature of this statement is not that well supported. It relies (in part) on the oceanic sink for CO2 maintaining its strength. However, see Southern Ocean Carbon Sink Weakened, 2007

    “…the Southern Ocean carbon dioxide sink has weakened over the past 25 years and will be less efficient in the future. Such weakening of one of the Earth’s major carbon dioxide sinks will lead to higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide in the long-term.”

    Exhaustion of carbon sinks is a very real possibility, and those who claim that ‘CO2 fertilization’ will result in greater future absorbtion of CO2 by the biosphere (an assumption included in some carbon cycle models!) should take a look at the effect of droughts, floods and heat waves on plant growth. Sink exhaustion would mean that a 50% reduction in fossil fuel use would have zero effect on atmospheric CO2 content (accumulation rates double).

    Thus, it seems that the upper range of IPCC estimates are more like the bottom end of the actual range of possible outcomes.

    As far as complaints about transparency? Well, if you want a non-transparent political process, look no further than the preparation of the US scientific research budget – which, despite all the hoopla by politicians over renewable energy and global warming, contains zero, yes, zero, earmarks for solar photovoltaic or wind R&D, but a hefty $500 million for fossil fuel R&D. Good luck seeing how that process transpired.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 14 Aug 2007 @ 3:05 PM

  63. I will first respond to Rasmus’s and Bergen’s rational replies:

    1) The statistical significance either is or isn’t. If it is not significant, then it is in control and the drivers remain irrelevant. If it is out of control, then we have something to work on.
    2) The argument over heat impact on fish, crops and livestock remains an unsettled argument. I happen to see migration of flaura and fauna as a means to sustain or improve the availability of food to feed the masses. The reason we do not feed all of the masses is due to cost and logistics, not availability. Could Canada become the world’s bread basket? Hudson Bay Oranges? Manitoba rice farms?

    To others: That such simple questions excite this intensity is suggestive of deep emotional involvement. Partly good and expected, but focus on the questions.

    1) Mr. Barton. If the system is performing erratically, then the drivers are not understood enough to propose a fix and any attempt to fix it COULD drive it twice as far off. If you support AGW you cannot believe the system is erratic because you state the cause based on your measurements and modeling.

    I state that the system is not erratic. The climate is following known and unknown systematic drivers on a macro scale however complex. Control stats will simply show whether the trend has changed significantly over some measured duration.

    I expect supporters of AGW to show the stats that this is a statistically important trend. NOTHING is published in this regard. Show control limits! Simple! DO IT!!! It is imperative of supporters to develop the proof in so far as possible.

    2) “The least of people”. Those less able to control their own lives. Let’s use Bangladesh as a basis. Meant to state that all folks must grab some responsibility for not standing in rising water. They are smart enough to move inland over a few hundred years. I had a Bangladeshi driver in Saudi. Quite smart, but poor.

    3) Nothing PROVES the CO2 level will make the oceans and land mass less boubtiful. The question remains OPEN as to which direction AGW or GW will move this one.

    4)”Arvella Oliver Says:
    13 August 2007 at 5:46 PM
    Well, Mr. John MS Chem Eng, you…I mean, really. You…wow.
    And I thought I knew from hubris.”
    That is Mr. MS Phi Kappa Phi to you by the way.
    Hubris? I think not. Simple questions I find no answers for YET. Keep going, I remain skeptical, yet not anti. Your attitude could be suggestive of political rather than scientific motivations, however.
    Keep shoulder to shoulder facing the issues and not head to head. Only butt heads butt heads!

    John
    $%^* happens, but things of value take time and effort.

    Comment by John Lagace — 15 Aug 2007 @ 5:49 AM

  64. “That is Mr. MS Phi Kappa Phi to you by the way.” You’re saying that with a wink, right? It’s a gentle, self-effacing reply to my snark, yes? The point is that most of us don’t feel the need to wave our graduate degrees in the air, esp. while making thoughtless comments about “the least of people”, and then come back later to wave our honors around while calling people names that hold pride of place with third graders.

    I’m not clear how my taking exception to your statement, “We fixate on the least of people”, makes me political, unless a firm belief in human equality is political…

    Comment by Arvella Oliver — 15 Aug 2007 @ 7:57 PM

  65. Arvella,
    Take off line. I want to learn about AGW. I am comfortable with who I am and how I relate to others. None of my comments are ‘thoughtless’.

    John

    Comment by John Lagace — 16 Aug 2007 @ 5:14 AM

  66. re #57 [Methinks the earth will survive and mankind will profit. We fixate on the least of people and worry they will be flooded out. In past times, they migrated. Why not this time? Food should be plentiful, oceans bountiful.], and
    #63 [“The least of people”. Those less able to control their own lives. Let’s use Bangladesh as a basis. Meant to state that all folks must grab some responsibility for not standing in rising water. They are smart enough to move inland over a few hundred years.]

    Is it not a simple matter of compassion and to “fixate on the least of people” if this means those least able to control their own lives? Also a matter of justice if, as in the case of most Bangladeshis and the world’s poor in general, they have very little responsibility for the greenhouse gas emissions causing the problem, but are going to be the ones most affected? I’m not sure where you think Bangladeshis are going to move to, particularly as your timescale of “a few hundred years” is ludicrous: much of Bangladesh is liable to soil salinity, due both to rising water tables and to occasional inundation: a sea level rise of a few centimetres could be devastating. Finally, you demand proof for this, that and the other, but are quite happy to say blithely “Food should be plentiful, oceans bountiful”. On what grounds do you make this claim? We are dealing here with complex social-ecological systems, already highly stressed by rising human populations, overfishing, soil erosion, deforestation, introductions of invasive species… Food production and disease control systems are both adapted to current climates: rapid climatic change is likely to cause devastating disruption.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 16 Aug 2007 @ 9:20 AM

  67. John, you’ve made three statements:

    > I want to learn about AGW.
    > I am comfortable with who I am and how I relate to others.
    > None of my comments are ‘thoughtless’.

    All of us are here for the first reason. Learning about science means learning that we are wrong. Over and over.

    To begin to understand what’s happening, I found I had to reconsider my ideas about who I am, and what constitutes ‘thoughtless’ behavior in the world — because the questions raised force that reconsideration, to be able to understand the connections.

    I commend to you something Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote:

    “If only it were all so simple. If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Aug 2007 @ 10:29 AM

  68. John Lagace, you win the prize for the most nonsensical comments on this thread.

    You say that the effect of droughts, flood and heat waves on crops and livestock is ‘an unsettled issue’? Please! Recall that despite the fact that human beings invented fire many tens of thousands of years ago, it is only in the past 10,000 years of remarkable climatic stability that agriculture was established.

    If you want, go to google and look up ‘crop losses’ and ‘heat waves’ – here’s just one example: Rise in temperatures will impact crops: study.

    The notion that agriculture will ‘simply move north’ ignores the soil issues and the short growing season (global warming won’t change the tilt of the planet, will it?) as well as the increased likelihood of flooding, etc. See Crop losses due to flooding (NKorea) and Crop losses due to flooding (Britain>. So much for that.

    As far as the bit about controls and statistics, stringing a bunch of words together in an effort to appear ‘scientific’ is not going to fool very many people. Take a look at The Physics of Climate Modeling, RC. That might help.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 16 Aug 2007 @ 1:58 PM

  69. No Ike, they’re going to feed the masses with gigantic veggies from the land of the midnight sun.

    Comment by J.C.H — 16 Aug 2007 @ 2:34 PM

  70. Hank Roberts (#67) wrote:

    All of us are here for the first reason. Learning about science means learning that we are wrong. Over and over.

    To begin to understand what’s happening, I found I had to reconsider my ideas about who I am, and what constitutes ‘thoughtless’ behavior in the world — because the questions raised force that reconsideration, to be able to understand the connections.

    Its been tough for me as well.

    I am very much pro-capitalism. Ludwig von Mises, Thomas Sowell and even Frederich A. Hayek to some extent – although not quite as much.

    I wanted to believe that if we just gave things enough time, the market would switch over to a cleaner approach. No more worries. But looking at what I see things are moving just too quickly. I suspect that government regulation is slowing the market down some, but in any case we need to move on this sooner rather than later.

    Likewise, I wouldn’t ever call myself an environmentalist, but on one issue or another I have had to work together with environmentalists and syndicalists. When the issue is important enough you set aside your differences and work together. I decided that this is what I must do because this is important. With the various feedbacks, I know that we could be hit rather hard by 2080 and even harder in the early part of th 2100s.

    Now of course this won’t affect me, but by the end of my life I will know people who will be affected, and I have some sense for how hard the economy will be hit. I have to do something about it. And while I am having some difficulty sorting out who I am and probably will for some time to come, I suspect that it will be easier for me to live with myself than if I did otherwise.

    So I’ve decided. Whatever it takes. For the individuals that come after me.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 16 Aug 2007 @ 2:54 PM

  71. John Lagace wrote:
    “I want to learn about AGW.”

    Fine, start reading. Your Mr. MS Phi Kappa Phi brain should understand the basics of climatology in no time.

    Comment by Petro — 16 Aug 2007 @ 3:34 PM

  72. PS to #70

    I am sure that right now there are quite a few people thinking, “Well, of course this is going to affect you.”

    Some.

    I will probably face some personal difficulties.

    But I doubt that I will make it much beyond 2050 – assuming I make it that far. I won’t be affected like those who make it to 2080 or 2100. But for me the point is that I will know those who will.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 16 Aug 2007 @ 3:44 PM

  73. (As a complete layman) From what I’ve read of the proponents and the detractors of this issue is simply this … If you only look at the world through rose colored glasses, eventually you’ll see the world as red. However, it seems with this issue, that any other person making a suggestion of a different color are viewed as heretics. Both the detractors and the proponents are guilty of this; and I’m not sure that’s the way science is supposed to work. Scientists should accept that their understanding is always incomplete and you need others with the ability to think laterally to challenge your assumptions and conclusions with new ideas, hypotheses and proofs. If you don’t, the world is always red.

    Comment by G.J. — 17 Aug 2007 @ 12:24 PM

  74. G.J., you say that “However, it seems with this issue, that any other person making a suggestion of a different color are viewed as heretics. Both the detractors and the proponents are guilty of this.”

    That’s quite a misrepresentation of how this issue has developed. It started off as a purely theoretical discussion of how ice ages come and go, and how the atmosphere behaves. Those who originally pointed out that adding CO2 and other gases to the atmosphere could warm the planet believed that such changes would take place over thousands of years, not over centuries or decades. That’s c. 1906.

    What they didn’t predict was the rapid rise of human population and associated fossil fuel use as well as deforestation during the 20th century. In the seventies, people started becoming alarmed when calculations began to indicate that the warming would be greater and faster than any of the original scientists had predicted.

    The predictions of the 1970s are coming true – we see all the detailed scientific evidence from observations, we have the glaciers in full retreat, we have melting polar regions, warming oceans, increased land surface temperatures, etc. The climate is being destabilized, which many problems for human agriculture and industry as well as for natural ecosystems.

    However, even though the science is clear, a massive public relations effort has been mounted by the coal, oil and natural gas industries and also by the financial centers that rely on those industries. Their goal is to prevent any action from being taken that would result in the necessary 90% reduction in CO2 emissions to the atmosphere. At the same time, these interests have lobbied long and hard against development of renewable energy systems that could replace fossil fuels.

    This is a very short-sighted perspective. It’s entirely possible to rebuild the global energy infrastructure from the ground up using renewables, but let’s be honest: this will cost trillions of dollars and will necessitate a complete reorganization of the global economy – and the vested interests are afraid of this, so they’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars on efforts to prevent needed change. Their efforts are doomed to failure, but they have managed to keep any real action from being taken for about 30 years now.

    When future generations look back, these past 30 years might very well be viewed as one of the greatest missed opportunities in human history. It seems quite possible that fossil fuel interests will face serious future legal and financial responsibility for global warming damages as a result of their actions, just as was the case for the tobacco industry.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 17 Aug 2007 @ 12:49 PM

  75. Mr. Solem, when you say “the science is clear” are you also saying “the science is complete”?

    Comment by G.J. — 17 Aug 2007 @ 9:36 PM

  76. re: #75
    A) Science models approximate reality, and better models give better approximations. Newton’s models were clear, and incredibly useful (and still are, for most things on Earth). Einstein’s are clear, and better … and still don’t cover quantum mechanics.

    Bohr clear model of atoms (collections of protons and neutrons with orbiting electrons) got us a long way. Schrodinger’s clear model or electrons was better, was better. The “Standard Model” is clear, and better yet.

    Science can give quite clear (and useful answers on which our civilization is built) … but “complete” is hard.

    B) As a layman, you need to get informed to avoid being misled by the arguments. In particular, it sounds like you think the visible arguments over AGW are normal scientific arguments, i.e., like what you;d find in Science or Nature. They aren’t: there is a large political component, in which some people employ tactics to obfuscate normal science, well-practiced in fights over cigarettes, acid rain, CFCs, etc, in which normal science threatened somebody enough to give them motivation to suppress it.

    There is some of discussion of this in:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/08/1934-and-all-that, comment #210 [and there will be more tomorrow].

    Comment by John Mashey — 17 Aug 2007 @ 11:27 PM

  77. Re #74:

    I don’t think anyone is going to be suing the then-bankrupt oil and gas and coal industries. Okay, maybe coal won’t be bankrupt. And the way several oil companies are getting into solar — BP and Shell — they won’t be bankrupt.

    Capitalism is founded on growth — once “growth” ceases for a business or industry, Adam Smith’s Hand is going to start moving capital dollars towards wherever “growth” is, and that is not going to be oil and gas and coal.

    When I read about the supposed trillions of dollars it will take to rebuild the infrastructure, I wonder what sorts of technologies are being envisioned. Renewable electricity is approaching the point where it is cost-competitive with non-renewables. We already have to have new plants built, and with tens of gigawatts of renewable power in plan, and gigawatts of conservation still available to us, we are at a point where we can start making headway — without these trillions of dollars being spent — against electric generation related CO2.

    Biomass to liquid fuels has been proven at medium scale levels of production, making it possible to continue using the liquid fuels infrastructure that much of transportation uses in a renewable way. Electricity-based personal transportation is moving out of the hobbyist arena, and into the commercial arena with PHEV conversion kits, as well as pre-converted cars, increasingly available.

    All of this points to a very healthy process, all that’s needed is for people to make green choices moving forward. A conventional hybrid now instead of gasoline, a PHEV in 7 to 10 years, an all-electric in 15 to 20 years. You will already likely need the vehicle, just resolve to buy those kinds. Let your favorite company — GM, Ford, whoeverChryslerIsThisWeek if you’re into American cars — know you want them moving in that direction, if they haven’t already (which is why I listed them …), and will be buying from someone who does have hybrid products otherwise.

    The costs aren’t trillions. I get tired of seeing that. Many of the costs, including building thermal depolymerization plants, is already going to have to be paid — dino-oil refineries don’t last forever, nor do coal fired plants.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 18 Aug 2007 @ 2:47 PM

  78. I tried to make a complex and detailed post on the top topic and it didn’t take. Bummer! The comments were in a box. Yet I can post here where I click on the “more” link and the comments fill the whole screen. How do I post when there is no “more” link?

    [Response: Click on the title of the post, or on the ‘Comments (pop up)’ link. – gavin]

    Comment by Mike Alexander — 27 Aug 2007 @ 5:28 PM

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