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  1. To be pedantic, I think you mean “foist”, not “hoist”.

    Thanks as always for the valuable website.

    [Response: Thanks, yes indeed. Already fixed. -mike]

    Comment by Rod — 20 Sep 2007 @ 7:42 AM

  2. On Climate Change science, WSJ only trusts Northern Light experts.

    Comment by Ark — 20 Sep 2007 @ 9:46 AM

  3. Ah, but their atom feed is badly broken, so this blog is not (yet) for me. (There is an RSS feed that works, but that has all the comments in it, and that is too much.) Argh.

    Comment by Harald Hanche-Olsen — 20 Sep 2007 @ 10:24 AM

  4. Someone who’s very much on top of the population ecology of polar bears might want to wander over there to rebut Willis Eschenbach, who is pretty much the only respondent to this post.

    Willis has published in E&E in the past so you can guess where he’s coming form (polar bears have flourished during ice-free artic conditions in the past).

    Comment by dhogaza — 20 Sep 2007 @ 2:05 PM

  5. From the WSJ article (thank God I’m not a subscriber & can’t read the whole thing): “Climate change reared its [I think he means "ugly"] head again last week at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Sydney.”

    Yeh, well, you might expect that since Australia looks to be the first developed nation victim of GW, they might be talking about it. I read somewhere that they might be in for permanent drought in many parts, and I guess they could expect fiercer cyclones.

    RE the WSJ writer’s claim (from Trenberth’s piece) “that natural climate variations have been forgotten….” All I have to say is I’m thankful for the denialists bringing up the natural variations, of which as a layperson, I had not been very aware. But now thanks to them, I am totally aware that we are at the height of a natural warming trend — we’re in an inter-glacial period. So hypothetically, if there were no anthropogenic GHG emissions, we might be slated to start cooling down sometime in the geological time scheme.

    But instead we are using this warm period as a launching pad into a super-hot hysteresis period of runaway GW in which most of earth’s biota (including us humans) could die out….like the end-Permian extinction 251 mya, during which 90%+ died out. That of course was due to natural processes, but it certainly doesn’t follow that ergo we human can’t do the same. It seem we certainly can at least cause enough warming to jumpstart nature into a super extinction scenario via positive warming feedbacks (which the denialist are experts in — by their constant ranting of how warming causes GHG emissions from nature…Remember, you laypeople out there heard it first from the denialists!!! And I haven’t heard even one scientist dispute it…so that’s universally accepted.)

    So thanks to the denialists, I’m very aware now of even much greater threats from GW…..whereas before I had been thinking on scales less of GW harm — which would still be bad, bad enough so that we should do everything possible to mitigate it.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 20 Sep 2007 @ 3:29 PM

  6. @Lynn. If you want to treat yourself to the full truckload of nonsense, you can find it at: http://downloads.heartland.org/21973.pdf

    Comment by Ark — 20 Sep 2007 @ 3:56 PM

  7. Re: The APEC climate talks:

    There is a stark contrast between the dire climate scenario playing out here in Australia, and the lameness of our response as exemplified by the pathetic climate change statement that came out of the Sydney APEC meeting.

    This is the nub of the statement:
    “We agree to work to achieve a common understanding on a long-term aspirational global emissions reduction goal to pave the way for an effective post-2012 international arrangement.”
    … which is essentially meaningless.

    You can read the whole thing here.

    In the meantime, the outlook for the coming spring and summer are very discouraging, yet again. I returned to my home town a few months back to visit my father. It’s a little place in South Australia called Kimba (you can find it with a Google Earth search). It is pretty dry there with an historical average rainfall of 10 inches. But they haven’t been getting anywhere near that for a long time.

    This year the Australian Bureau of Meteorology predicted a reasonable likelihood of above average winter and spring rainfall because of the incipient La Nino building in the Pacific. So in common with many Australian farmers, the farmers of Kimba, who haven’t had a good year for a long time, each took a gamble, borrowed as much as they could from the banks, and planted every paddock they could. Unfortunately the rains haven’t materialised, yet again.

    I spent a sad day driving around with dad, stopping here and there to jump fences and walk into pathetic fields of struggling or dieing wheat. And as we drove he pointed out farm houses here and there telling me of the farmers who have committed suicide and the families that have broken up under the strain.

    There is talk of 25% of broad acre farmers in south east Australia going under. Much of Australia’s agriculture occurs in regions with very marginal climates. This means that even modest shifts in climate can have very bad consequences, and it appears that we are now seeing this play out.

    Some news reports on the situation:
    Calls for widespread desalination
    Dry spring delivers blow to wheat crop
    More SA farmers seek out drought relief
    Grim outlook for Lower Murray Lakes
    Murray Darling shortages could endanger crops permanently
    Murray water shortage worsens
    Drought killing Coorong ecosystem, says scientist

    Comment by Craig Allen — 20 Sep 2007 @ 8:38 PM

  8. re #7

    Craig, I feel your pain, if distantly.

    For the past few months I’ve been noting my local supermarkets (I live in the Silicon Valley, California) that a chunk of our citrus products originate in Australia. The question I invariably ask myself is “Why is Australia shipping its water here when they have so little of it there. Foolishness. For what it is worth, in terms of produce and, increasingly, in many products, I have adapted a think globally, shop locally mindset, and I wish more people would do so.

    Consider the carbon footprint of a bottle of , say, bottled water from France. Tons of it are shipped and otherwise transported in a fashion that isn’t doing any of us any good, either in terms of AGW, or pollution.

    Time to wake up. Years ago.

    On a simi-related note, National Geographic magazine’s new issue, due out in the next few days, contains one of the most beautifully conceived breakdowns of the effects of AGW. It’s a pullout map/graph containing several ways of looking at the problem were facing from an instructive, pratical perspective. Obviously this stuff will be old news to people who follow the climate issues, but if you want an excellent tool for illustrating the problem (after all, we’re often very receptive to visual information, particularly if presented well, and this is), this month’s installment rates up there with the best I’ve seen.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 20 Sep 2007 @ 11:06 PM

  9. Reference: “Times of Triumph, Times of Doubt; science and the battle for public trust” by Elof Axel Carlson, 2006, Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory
    Page 7 of this book says something that is very startling to me: “Many students, who were willing to tell me so, shunned science and feared science. They looked on it as alienating, threatening to their religious beliefs, and capable of monstrous evil. They saw science as cold and aloof from the life in the humanities they preferred. . . . They feel that science has let them down through its bad outcomes.”
    I could say: “Same to the humanities and religion,” but there is something we have to deal with here. It is more basic than denial of global warming. It isn’t just irrational fear of nuclear electric power. It has to be pathology. Something is seriously wrong with Homo Sapiens as a species, or at least Americans. Evolution has gone very wrong. Just blogging on AGW and nuclear energy and a number of other subjects suddenly seems so much like trying to empty the ocean. Is there something the French are doing right that we need to copy? France has nuclear power without protest. If it is species wide, does anybody have a clue as to what to do?

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 21 Sep 2007 @ 12:26 AM

  10. Citrus fruits have more immediate problems than AGW. Our domestic citrus market might go the way of much of the worlds’ trees – dead.
    Citrus Greening is a bacterial disease, easily spread by an insect vector. That bacteria is, as yet, unidentified.

    http://mgonline.com/citrus_greening_disease.html
    http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/citrus_greening/index.shtml

    Comment by Terry Miesle — 21 Sep 2007 @ 8:52 AM

  11. A more complete link comment about citrus greening.
    Sorry to hijack the thread….
    http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/citrus_greening/index.shtml

    Comment by Terry Miesle — 21 Sep 2007 @ 8:53 AM

  12. re #9

    “Many students, who were willing to tell me so, shunned science and feared science. They looked on it as alienating, threatening to their religious beliefs, and capable of monstrous evil. They saw science as cold and aloof from the life in the humanities they preferred. . . . They feel that science has let them down through its bad outcomes.”
    ========================

    This reminds me of a telling quote by the late Robert A. Heinlein that more or less applies:

    “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded – here and there, now and then – are all the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

    “This is know as “bad luck”.”

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 21 Sep 2007 @ 9:54 AM

  13. Re #9. Edward, the sentiments you are citing are really not new. C. P. Snow’s “The Two Cultures” lamented the distrust of science even by those well educated in the humanities. And really, you can trace anti-rationalistic trends back through the Middle Ages and even to the ancient Greeks (Zeno’s paradox was such an assault on rationalism as a reductio ad absurdum.). To this our only reply is the success of science.
    Science is simply power–the power of reliable knowledge about how the world works. And nobody could seriously argue that science has failed to deliver reliable knowledge. Rather, to argue that science has failed is to say that humans cannot be trusted with power. It is a crisis of confidence in our competence and decency as a species. Well, that too is hard to argue with. However, we as a species have an ability rare among animals–to rise above our base natures and be good and wise. So, ultimately, we cannot even lay the blame for our failures at the door of human frailty. If people are saying they don’t trust science, they are saying they do not believe that THEY are worthy of power.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Sep 2007 @ 9:55 AM

  14. RE #10, & “Citrus Greening is a bacterial disease, easily spread by an insect vector. That bacteria is, as yet, unidentified” & also re the disease killing off bees….

    I’m not a gambling person, but if I were, I’d place a small bet they eventually find out that GW had something to do with those diseases.

    For one, it seems these are new diseases, or at least becoming more harmful in this era of GW. For another thing, many diseases and problems are complex, involving many factors — one of which could be GW, since it is happening & we don’t know all its effect.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 21 Sep 2007 @ 11:25 AM

  15. Your questions are interesting to me Edward, I’ll put my grain of salt hoping it’s not too OT and won’t be dropped. As far as using nuclear energy goes, France did not have much of a choice, no other source was readily available. When the initial nuclear power thrust was developed, De Gaulle and his ideas of grandeur were still quite influential, so not having some level of autonomy regarding energy was unthinkable. The first oil shock helped that process and nuclear was presented not only as an indispensable savior but also as a pride generating achievement, with the motto “on n’a pas de petrole mais on a des idees” (we don’t have oil but we have ideas). It also helped that there was never a serious incident, and that the enormous reprocessing plant at La Hague was developed concurrently for waste management, although authorities never fully engaged in a serious debate about the problem of waste. All this did not, however, go without protest. Various groups have opposed nuclear under all its forms, including, unfortunately, the more novative ones (such as Super-Phoenix). New, later generation plants nowadays face stiffer opposition than in the past, partly due to Chernobyl, but protests do not normally stop anything from entering operation. It is also common for high school kids to go visit a nuclear plant, a very informative experience that I remember enjoying, despite being more into life sciences. Conservation was also heavily advertised on TV and other media, with campaigns like “la chasse au gaspi” (from gaspiller=to waste). For me, to this day, it is a reflex to turn the light off when living a room and I would never let an engine run if it looked like the vehicle was not going to move for the next 5 minutes.
    About the general attitude toward science, it may be a cultural thing, partially related to the enlightment period. Scientists, doctors and egineers enjoy great consideration. Engineers and people with technical backgrounds are trusted for high positions in public service, under the assumption that someone who knows about a subject is best able to run an administration related to that subject (this led to the rise of a class dubbed as “technocrats”). There are nowhere near the numbers of lawyers in government that is found in the US (where they seem to be everywhere). Education puts a heavy emphasis on hard academics, especially maths and science. I went through a scientific high school path and, by the time I graduated, I had to be conversant in the basics of calculus, probabilities, statistics, trigonometry, newtonian physics, electicity and magnetism, ondulatory processes, acid-base titration, oxidation/reduction, organic chemistry, principles of ecology and evolution, cellular biology, anatomy/physiology, world markets for wheat and oil, geography and sociopolitics of the US and the USSR (it was a while ago), basic economic theory, and I had to sustain a conversation about a text not known in advance in a foreign language. Teaching of French stopped at the equivalent of K11 and in the last year was replaced by introduction to major philosophical ideas. I remember talking with guys in C and D sections doing 3 dimensions calculus, matrices and mechanics that were much more involved than what I had, but they were not exposed to intricacies of hormonal regulation like I was. Other guys in technical sections had to be able to produce a fully usable, complex blueprint, which would be ready to go straight into the industrial process, all in the course of an 8 hrs exam with optional breaks. None of this was elective and we were tested at the end on every subject except phys.ed., which had a score based on overall performace through the year. From talking with American kids in US colleges, it seems that things are different here in high school. From my experience in US colleges, I would say that the biggest problem I see with the kids is their reading/writing/comprehension and critical thinking skills.

    Comment by Philippe Chantreau — 21 Sep 2007 @ 11:57 AM

  16. Edward, Philippe et al. When Roy Schwitters was trying to build the ill-fated Superconducting SuperCollider (SSC), he was continually plagued by fact-finding commitees, Congressmen, etc. looking for an accounting of how funds were being spent to the last penny. It got to the point where he could barely get anything done. He probably didn’t help his cause when he referred to this as “The Revenge of the C Students,” but he certainly summarized the world we live in.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Sep 2007 @ 1:01 PM

  17. RE #9 & 13, I’ve already said much about problems with the nature of scientific conservatism & reticence (I also teach that in my criminal justice methods course re that dang null hypothesis, etc.).

    Here is another complaint. Yesterday our Environmental Club on campus regretted it had not gotten it’s act together in time to participate in the sci/tech fair next week. I asked if the fair was doing anything on the environment, & the other adviser (a biologist) answered no, except maybe a concept car.

    I suggested that we could do an impromptu alternative sci/tech thing by showing WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR over in the Behavior Sci building, and the adviser got really angry & said the university wouldn’t allow that since big powerful industries (like car companies) contributed huge fund to the university’s sci & engineering programs (we are in the poorest county in the U.S., & the students in general are poor).

    I pretty much brooded the rest of the day about how truth and really helpful (to the enviro & econ) tech have to fall victim to the industrial powers that be. I just wonder how many other institutions of “higher learning” are also muzzled that way.

    Another problem with science and rationality (or the misconception that people are rational beings, like Mr. Spock), is that analysis (from the root meaning to cut up), loses something in its un-holistic perspective, a perspective that does not admit our affective or emotional side (which we can never totally suppress, except at some peril).

    I watched the TV film some 30 years ago THE DAY AFTER (about all out nuclear war), and afterwards a panel of “experts” were discussing it, talking about triage and civil defense, and how to deal with it (all a high rational discussion). Then this little philosopher on the end of the dais said with due emotion, “You don’t understand, we can’t let this happen in the first place.” My friend said he was the only one that made sense.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 21 Sep 2007 @ 1:27 PM

  18. Science is cultural. Dislike and distrust of science is cultural. In the days of “Yankee Ingenuity,” Americans were much taken with science. Even “Southerners” were appreciated Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, and the markets provided by new fangled, Yankee mill equipment.

    I do not know when America lost this deep respect for science. But, by the time I was taking high school science in the 1960s, other kids in my class were asking, “Why do we need to take science?” The answer that the teachers at school gave them, was that they needed so many credits of “science” to get into college. That was the wrong answer. Those teachers had already forgotten the purpose of science.

    My Grandfather knew the purpose of science. He was a farmer with essentially no education, and yet, on many winter nights he drove 70 miles each way on dirt roads to the land-grant university at Hays to learn “scientific farming.” My Grandfather, said, “You need science so you know when to plant the crops, and you need to get it right, or you will not get a crop!” That is the right answer. We need science so that we understand what is going on in the world. His annual income depended on his being a “pretty-good climatologist.”

    I am sure that some of you have rolled your eyes when I wrote, “Go look in your Grandmother’s Journal for evidence of global warming.” But, in those early days on the Kansas plains, Grandmother’s Journal was the primary database of a pretty-good climatologist. That was science put to work on a daily basis. They systematically gathered data, organized and recorded that data, formed hypothesis about expected weather, tested the hypothesis by putting seed in the ground, and seeing if they got a crop of grain. That is science.

    How many profession climatologists are willing to bet this year’s income on the quality of their predictions? They do not want to be alarmist, so they do not come out and say, “It is likely to be too hot and dry for wheat this year, so plant something else.” On the other hand, the farmers now depend on the professional climatologists with their computers and satellites for climate projections. If, all the profession climatologists understate global warming, the loss of reputation to any one climatologist for understating global warming is very small, because everyone was understating the problem. However, if all the profession climatologists understate global warming, then society does not adequately plan for global warming. Then, all of society suffers.

    Do not worry about shouting fire when you smell smoke. It is better to raise the alarm and have 20 buckets of water when you only need one to put out the fire, than to have only one bucket of water, when you need 20 buckets of water to put out the fire.

    As for the deniers? Ignore them. Let them grow their own wheat – if they can. Maybe they will learn some science.

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 21 Sep 2007 @ 1:28 PM

  19. Re: #18: Aaron. The people who wrote this article wouldn’t roll their eyes upon hearing you say to go look in your Grandmother’s journal.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070916/ap_on_sc/switzerland_weather_monks_4;_ylt=AtIklldZZT0_x6tYOX5WlUVrAlMA

    As you’ll read, they’d suggest you look into your great, great, great Grandmother’s journal, or even farther back than that.

    This is a very informative article.

    Comment by Jack Roesler — 21 Sep 2007 @ 4:42 PM

  20. [[Zeno’s paradox was such an assault on rationalism as a reductio ad absurdum]]

    Huh??? Zeno’s paradox was an example of rationalism. It was a logical argument, and entirely logically valid. It wasn’t sound because one of its premises was wrong.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 22 Sep 2007 @ 6:17 AM

  21. OT, but I’d be very interested to hear comments on the new Crutzen paper:

    Biofuels could boost global warming, finds study

    Growing and burning many biofuels may actually raise rather than lower greenhouse gas emissions, a new study led by Nobel prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen has shown.1 The findings come in the wake of a recent OECD report, which warned nations not to rush headlong into growing energy crops because they cause food shortages and damage biodiversity.

    Crutzen and colleagues have calculated that growing some of the most commonly used biofuel crops releases around twice the amount of the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O) than previously thought – wiping out any benefits from not using fossil fuels and, worse, probably contributing to global warming. The work appears in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics and is currently subject to open review.

    ‘The significance of it is that the supposed benefits of biofuel are even more disputable than had been thought hitherto,’ Keith Smith, a co-author on the paper from the University of Edinburgh, told Chemistry World. ‘What we are saying is that [growing many biofuels] is probably of no benefit and in fact is actually making the climate issue worse.’ …

    Comment by Jim Galalsyn — 22 Sep 2007 @ 12:30 PM

  22. Jim Galalsyn (21) — Biopact

    http://biopact.com/

    has a good analysis of this paper. Summarizing, current, so-called first generation, methods of producing ethanol are the culprits, except, I believe for sugarcane. However, biodiesel production is benign, as are a number of other bioenergy production products.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 22 Sep 2007 @ 4:28 PM

  23. Re: 15. A school trip to a nuclear facility had to have been more instuctional than my field trips as a kid in California — one trip to a Nike “Ajax” launching facility and one trip to the U.S.S. Midway (aircraft carrier). Farsightedness was not common then, and . . . well . . . it doesn’t appear to be, now either.

    Comment by Dan G — 22 Sep 2007 @ 5:47 PM

  24. Re# 22:

    Greenhouse gases aren’t the only issue with biofuels. Two other major ones are starvation (of humans) and environmental degradation. Most biofuels compete with crops (either directly or by using land that could be planted with crops) for feeding humans and, in a capitalist system, food doesn’t have to be very expensive to cause a major increase in starvation in poorer areas. Bringing more area under cultivation also leads to issues such as deforestation, water depletion, and agricultural pollution.

    A US vehicle has about a 100 kW motor at perhaps 20-25% efficiency. A human needs about 30 W also at 25% efficiency (2,400 kcal heat/day). That is a 3333-1 difference in energy usage (400 kW vs. 120 W). At full power, such a car will burn a day’s worth of food in about 26 seconds. At normal power levels, it will take less than 5 minutes.

    Comment by Robert Edele — 22 Sep 2007 @ 9:51 PM

  25. I’m sure Jennifer Marohasy is still mocking any connection between the Aussie drought and AGW. It’s hard to say why some chose to stick their heads in the sand. Even some Ph.D’s.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 22 Sep 2007 @ 9:52 PM

  26. 22> Biopact has a good analysis of this paper.

    I did not see any analysis of the paper there…

    And I thought the paper said biodiesel was the worst offender.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 22 Sep 2007 @ 9:55 PM

  27. There was an interesting reaction to Kevin Trenberth’s last piece. How is triggered (during the interglacials) the cooling – especially – how is the CO2 absorbed from the atmosphere. Could the probable feedback mechanism be the cooler oceans?

    Further, in a cooling world, one would suggest that overall impact of vegetation climate-feedback would be source, instead of sink. (In both, cold-to-warm and warm-to-cold “transition state” the vegetation should be carbon source, as a result of increased stress on vegetation). Maybe the phytoplankton could do better in a cooler oceans?? Any literature??

    Comment by Alexander Ac — 23 Sep 2007 @ 4:46 AM

  28. The Crutzen paper discussion is here:
    http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/7/11191/2007/acpd-7-11191-2007.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Sep 2007 @ 9:57 AM

  29. To David Benson, thanks for the link.

    For Steve Reynolds:Here’s the Biopact link:

    Study: some first-generation biofuels could contribute to global warming because of N2O emissions

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 23 Sep 2007 @ 10:19 AM

  30. Re “biodiesel is the worst offender”:

    For rapeseed biodiesel, which accounts for about 80 percent of the biofuel production in Europe, the relative warming due to nitrous oxide emissions is estimated at 1 to 1.7 times larger than the relative cooling effect due to saved fossil CO2 emissions. For corn bioethanol, dominant in the US, the figure is 0.9 to 1.5. Only sugarcane bioethanol—with a relative warming of 0.5 to 0.9—looks like a better alternative to conventional fuels.

    Study: some first-generation biofuels could contribute to global warming because of N2O emissions

    Comment by Jim Galalsyn — 23 Sep 2007 @ 10:26 AM

  31. RE #27, Lovelock’s REVENGE OF GAIA book mentions how ocean life prefers it cooler rather than warmer. So maybe a cooling ocean would support more plant life, which would absorb more C02. I remember the part about why warm tropical waters look so clear and pristine — because they have less life.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 23 Sep 2007 @ 10:40 AM

  32. Re biofuels and greenhouse gas: There’s a very important phrase in the biopact link that seems to have been missed in all the reports I’ve seen.

    “N2O is a by-product of fixed nitrogen application in agriculture…”

    In other words, dumping a lot of chemical fertilizers on conventional crop fields produces lots of greenhouse gasses. Not exactly a surprise. But other sources of biomass that don’t need much fertilization or cultivation are GHG-negative. See for instance recent U. Minnesota research on native prairie biomass, discussed here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061207161136.htm

    Comment by James — 23 Sep 2007 @ 11:35 AM

  33. Robert Edele (24) — The people running Biopact are well-aware of the potential problem that you raise, biofuel competing with food and animal feed. They conclude that properly done, there is no competition. For example, Jatropha grows just fine under conditions too poor for crops. For another, sugar (mostly from sugarcane) is a glut on the world market so Brazil and increasingly, India, are using it to produce bioethanol.

    I hadn’t realized there was a problem with producing biodiesel from rapeseed, so thanks to all for bringing this to my attention.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 23 Sep 2007 @ 1:07 PM

  34. La Nina seems to have developed now: http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/ It’s interesting that every hurricane forecast is off by such a large amount – Gray and Klotzbach were predicting 17 named storms back in May, and we are now at 3. Is it the teleconnection to the Indian Ocean that Trenberth mentions in his post? The topic just seems to get more and more complicated. The above link also indicates that this late-developing La Nina is exhibiting some bizarre behavior unseen in previous La Ninas.

    [Response: Ike, those forecasts are for the total number of named storms. Three is the number just of the hurricanes so far. We're at 10 total named storms (as many as we had all of last season) already, as of today w/ the new subtropical storm "Jerry". And there are a few additional areas in the Atlantic that look like they could potentially develop over the next few days. We're reasonably on track for own predicted 15 +/- 4 named storms, made prior to the storm season start, based in part on a predicted La Nina this fall/winter. Paper has since been published: Sabbatelli, T.A., Mann, M.E., The Influence of Climate State Variables on Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Occurrence Rates, J. Geophys. Res., 112, D17114, doi: 10.1029/2007JD008385, 2007, available as pdf here. -mike]

    The references to Australia’s once-in-a-lifetime drought in an AFP article are perhaps misleading. While such a drought may have been a once-per-century event in the past, such droughts should become far more common as the climate continues to warm.

    Regarding the N2O issue and Cruzen’s methodology:

    “The IPCC’s N2O conversion factor is derived using data from plant experiments. But Crutzen takes a different approach, using atmospheric measurements and ice core data to calculate the total amount of N2O in the atmosphere. He then subtracts the level of N2O in pre-industrial times – before fertilizers were available – to take account of N2O from natural processes such as leguminous plants growing in forests, lightning, and burn offs. Assuming the rest of the N2O is attributable to newly-fixed nitrogen from fertilizer use, and knowing the amount of fertilizer applied globally, he can calculate the contribution of fertilizers to N2O levels.”

    That calculation involves a lot of assumptions. It assumes knowledge of all sources and sinks of N2O except agricultural ones, for example. The IPCC’s experimental approach is far more reliable.

    The real problem here is that realistic life-cycle energy-carbon-nitrogen estimates for agricultural production in general, as well as for biofuel production, are not very well studied or understood, and are sure to be highly variable. Trying to assign a specific number to sugarcane or rapeseed or corn is a futile effort. A realistic study would focus more on trying to compare most efficient strategies to least efficient strategies, and would produce a range of estimates.

    For example, was coal used to distill the ethanol? Or was natural gas? Or was solar-wind generated electricity used? What was the irrigation source? Fossil fuel-powered groundwater pumps, or rainfall? That factor can vary from season to season.

    What is clear is that all agricultural and biofuel production should be shifted to fossil-fuel free renewable-energy based systems. Not much R&D work is being done in this area, unfortunately. For example, the Haber process for producing NH3 from N2 consumes large amounts of fossil fuel, esp. natural gas. There are certainly better ways to do that – bacteria can fix N2 using low-energy pathways, for example – but research is needed.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 23 Sep 2007 @ 1:20 PM

  35. Thanks, I will check it! I have already written to NOAA’S paleoclimate – maybe they will have sth to say…

    Comment by Alexander Ac — 23 Sep 2007 @ 1:56 PM

  36. Ike Solum (34) — See

    http://biopact.com/2007/09/edg-to-support-dutch-company-with.html

    for a better way to produce fertilizers, according to the Dutch.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 23 Sep 2007 @ 2:09 PM

  37. re: #24
    Familiarity with realities of farming might be useful.

    0) Peak oil happens in the next decade. Certainly, by 2100, some museum may well feature a barrel of oil as a curiosity of the past. I suspect there will not be 9B people on the planet, and maybe not even 6B. 3B would be better, although I’m glad I won’t be around to see how the world would get there.

    1) Poor subsistence farmers/herders grow what they can, and their life probably doesn’t change much. They’ll have never had the chance to go the petroleum route.

    2) Cash-crop farmers grow whatever they can that makes them the most money. According to WSJ:
    http://www.charlotte.com/business/story/283773.html
    “Science 2005, US tobacco acreage has risen 20%, to about 355.000 acres.”
    Well, we certainly ahve to preserve tobacco :-)

    REALLY, if biofuels makes more money, that’s exactly what they’ll grow.

    3) Some American farmers already get paid *not* to grow crops.

    4) It is hard to figure out, in 2100, why anyone expects that low-value bulk crops are shipped very far, certainly not halfway across the world.

    5) The large farms of North America simply DO NOT WORK without fertilizer, tractors, and transportation to move the food from where it’s grown to where people live. Places like New York City DO NOT WORK unless they get food from somewhere, because Central Park really isn’t a big enough garden. Likewise, the rest of the really big cities in the world that depend on cheap petroleum to get food there are in for trouble, at least the poorer residents thereof.

    Some familiarity with Old Order Amish lifestyle might be useful … because that’s a much closer approximation to how more people are going to live…
    horse-lovers will be pleased.

    What good does it do to grow a field of wheat, if you can’t harvest it, and can’t ship it? Fertilizer will be a problem anyway, and in some areas, solar power and electric tractors will work, but it’s not obvious what to do about long-distance surface transport. I haven’t seen electric tailer trucks. Hydrogen? big maybe.

    But, in 2100, one can hope that someone has done some genetic tuneups on things like miscanthus and jatropha, and that *some* of the big farms are growing that, for power (to help replace the natural gas-fired plants), and for ethanol / biodiesel, so there’s enough fuel to get crops to buyers, and the infrastructure is not radically different on the distribution side. At least, some of these use much less fertilizer and water.

    Let’s just hope the world isn’t burning lots of unsequestered coal, or doing lots of CTL … because it’s going to get really warm then, which at least would end up eliminating the need to worry about feeding people in some of the big coastal cities.

    Comment by John Mashey — 23 Sep 2007 @ 2:38 PM

  38. In Ccmment #17 Lynn says:”I suggested that we could do an impromptu alternative sci/tech thing by showing WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR over in the Behavior Sci building, and the adviser got really angry & said the university wouldn’t allow that since big powerful industries (like car companies) contributed huge fund to the university’s sci & engineering programs……….”

    My first reaction was that I’m glad that scientists like Hans Christian Oerstad, Michael Faraday,and James Clark Maxwell didn’t have to supress their findings, concerning the interrelationship of magnetism and electricity, for fear of losing the support of companys who manufactured steam engines at the time. We’d still be reading by candlelight.

    We’ve come to an intolerable situation if our schools of higher learning are becoming dependent on the same people as our political parties, namely big Pharma, big Oil,Big Auto, et al, to remain financially solvent.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 23 Sep 2007 @ 8:17 PM

  39. Mr. Benson should look at http://www.biofuelwatch.org for a different view on biodiesel (sic). The New York Times has covered the effect of spreading oil palm platantions on tropical rainforests–destruction of forests biomass and biodiversity and oxidation of soil carbon. Benign? I think not. Let’s stop this madness before it gets going any further. Go over to for more information as well.

    Comment by David Graves — 24 Sep 2007 @ 1:13 AM

  40. RE #17 & 38 – I went to the sci/tech fair kick-off dinner last night & saw banners for the funding industries. Exxon Mobile was among the oil companies. No wonder when I arrived here in 2002 & mentioned global warming at an environmental club meeting, a student said his geology prof said it was all nonsense & that the earth was always changing, etc….

    All I can say is CIVIL SOCIETY IS DEAD — if people around the world are wondering what happened to America. There is no public. There is only private. Public, gov funding for this “state” university has dwindled to 12% of its income; it is dependent mainly on outside support. Even the social/behavioral sciences are now getting funding from the CIA. Why can’t we get funding directly from the state and federal governments? Why does it have to come via the CIA? Via industries which our government funds through tax-breaks & subsidies?

    There is precious less & less public or objective science and more & more private, perverted (to special interests) science. And the industrial powers that be have managed to co-opt speech by claiming environmental interests are “special interests,” while in truth they are the broadest of the general interests, like the ground on which we walk.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 24 Sep 2007 @ 6:32 AM

  41. Following up on my post (#7) about the impacts of the Australian drought; there was a program about it today on the ’7:30 Report’ on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission). You can read the transcript here.

    Another item on the news revealed that dairy farmers have begun selling their cows to abattoirs because there will not be enough fodder to get them through the summer and they are trying to beat the meat glut. I don’t think that this has happened before; dairy farms are in regions with higher, more reliable rainfall.

    Comment by Craig Allen — 24 Sep 2007 @ 9:02 AM

  42. Barton,
    I was using rationalism in perhaps a more modern scientific sense–rational analysis of perceptions ultimately resulting in understanding. Yes Zeno’s argument is rational. However, the paradoxes are clearly designed to show that rational analysis of our perceptions leads to contradictions–that we cannot trust conclusions based on rational analysis of our perceptions. See:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeno_of_Elea
    and
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeno%27s_paradoxes

    In this sense, he is much more in the predecessors of anti-science rather than science.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Sep 2007 @ 10:17 AM

  43. Re “Peak oil happens in the next decade.”, it appears increasingly likely that Peak Oil occurred in July, 2006:

    Peak Oil Update – September 2007: Production Forecasts and EIA Oil Production Numbers

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 24 Sep 2007 @ 10:32 AM

  44. Re #13 [Ray] “If people are saying they don’t trust science, they are saying they do not believe that THEY are worthy of power.”

    They could be saying: “We don’t trust those who currently do, manage, organise and fund science”, perhaps?

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 24 Sep 2007 @ 10:33 AM

  45. re 40 (and previous)

    Discover mag’s State of Science in America issue is out and it contains a very unsettling survey on the subject of corporate influence on scientific research – “commercialized science”, as they term it. Just one of many articles in the mag that should give people pause.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 24 Sep 2007 @ 12:29 PM

  46. David Graves (39) — Yes, Biopact has considered this subject as well and found a paper, which they reviewed, suggesting that environmental organizations purchase and operate a palm oil biodiesel plantation! These are quite profitable and the enivronmental organization could use the profits to purchase and patrol sections of tropical rainforest. Sounds sensible to me.

    Here is another problem in Indonesia and elsewhere:

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20060802/ai_n16655192

    In Indonesia the approximately 1300 coalfield fires are destroying the already set-aside nature reserves. Nothing to do with palm oil.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 24 Sep 2007 @ 12:40 PM

  47. I was not aware of Zeno (of Elea) and find the discussion interesting. One of the quotes in a post is, “…the paradoxes are clearly designed to show that rational analysis of our perceptions leads to contradictions–that we cannot trust conclusions based on rational analysis of our perceptions….”

    Sounds a lot like “impeccable logic doesn’t always lead to impeccable conclusions,” President JF Kennedy.

    Comment by Rod B — 24 Sep 2007 @ 5:38 PM

  48. The latest Nature’s blog post (The Hurricane-Global Warming Debate, No Clarity Yet), and other hurricane/global warming articles since Katrina, have not been helpful in public education that rapid and dangerous greenhouse global warming is happening and people need to deal with this now by cutting their emissions and getting prepared for large increases in sea level.

    “We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.”
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Comment by pat n — 24 Sep 2007 @ 10:29 PM

  49. Re Zeno posts. I’m trying to remember philosophy classes of almost 50 years ago, so I sure won’t be offended by corrections. Rod B (47)the connection of Zeno to trusting “…conclusions based on rational analysis of perceptions…” seems a bit tenuous considering the much bigger episto-ontological fish being fried by the Pythagorians (and their Reality composed of spatial parts known by the senses), and the Heraclitians (with their Reality which never really Is but instead is always “becomining”, i.e, an ever changing flux) and the Parmenidians (with their Reality that must be thought of as a unity that is unchanging and eternal “being” known by reason). Zeno’s paradoxes were intened to help his friend Parmenides by showing that the Pathagorian concept of reality ended in contradictions. Rod, it gets more interesting when you see how Plato and Aristole tried to resolve these issues and laid the foundations of our Western intellectual traditions. If you want more on this in a very readable fashion check Copleston’s A History of Philosophy Vol 1—it’s an oldie but was generally accepted. So, if I’m right about this stuff I’d have to suggest to Ray Ladbury (42) that Zeno wasn’t trying to show we couldn’t trust our rational analysis of our perceptions, but that instead we must trust our rationality and have a healthy skepticism about those sense perceptions. Ray, I hope this isn’t merely a distinction without a difference.

    Comment by Ron Durda — 25 Sep 2007 @ 3:03 AM

  50. Some technical questions (1) what is the best estimate of the global warming impact (100 year integration including estimated feedbacks) of 1000kg of CO2 emitted in 2007 given in MJ units? (2) How is this likely to vary in time (1890 – 2090)? (3) Solar energy: If solar voltaic or solar thermal plants are established in high albedo desert areas I would assume the short wave radiation intercepted is turned into electricity, out going longwave and sensible heat. All of which seem to me to contribute to global warming. Are there calculations that measure systems greenhouse efficiency taking into acount system albedo changes and how big are these impacts for PV placed on land surfaces with a 20% shortwave albedo and a 40% shortwave albedo?

    Comment by John Carter — 25 Sep 2007 @ 7:21 AM

  51. Ron Durda, I’m a physicist, not a philosopher, but I perceive in Zeno an assault on objective reality. One of the problems Parmenides had was that he could never really describe what he meant by reality as unity. What was clear, though, was that if he was right, our perceptions of reality could not be trusted. In other words, knowledge of reality could not be obtained empirically.
    In order not to take the discussion too far afield, such assaults on the concept of objective reality persist today. On the right, we have fundamentalists castigating those pesky scientists for letting empirical facts get in the way of what the “know” to be real. On the left, we have New Age (rhymes with sewage) types thinking all we have to do to combat war and climate change is “thing good thoughts” or that climate change can’t be happening because “the Universe is friendly”. There are times when I think Lindzen’s belief in his Iris comes dangerously close to such thinking.
    Empiricism remains the only thing that grounds our rational analysis–to the point I would contend that no analysis can be called rational if it doesn’t start with an empirical basis. And empirical evidence says we’re heating things up–a lot.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 25 Sep 2007 @ 7:48 AM

  52. Following up on my posts on the building Australian drought catastrophe :

    The government has just announced over a billion dollars for the next two years to help farmers and rural communities, including assistance for farmer to leave the land. See here for details.

    Meanwhile the following press release from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology talks about research findings, about to be published, that suggest that the cause of our drought is a long term weakening trend in the Walker Circulation. A trend that is likely to continue under global warming.

    Walker circulation weakens to record levels

    Australian climate scientists are investigating changes in the El Niño, tropical climate and one of the planet’s most important atmospheric systems – the Walker circulation.

    In research published in the latest edition of Geophysical Research Letters scientists from the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO have confirmed that since 1977 changes in the tropical atmosphere and ocean reached record levels.

    The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (an index used to track the El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon) has never been lower and the trade winds have never been weaker, while tropical ocean surface temperatures and air pressure recorded over northern Australia have never been higher in the observed climate record.

    The changes reflect a record weakening of the Walker Circulation – one of the largest and most important atmospheric wind systems in the world. Changes in the Walker Circulation are known to increase the risk of drought, flood and agricultural production in many countries – including Australia.

    Writing in the latest edition of Geophysical Research Letters, Dr Scott Power from the Bureau of Meteorology and Dr Ian Smith from CSIRO suggest that ENSO values have actually shifted to lower mean values.

    “El Nino activity only seems very high if climate is assumed to be the same now as it was 50 years ago. It isn’t. ENSO is now driving climate variability about new climatic averages” said Dr Power.

    “While concerning, taking these changes into account has the potential to unlock more accurate seasonal climate forecasts.”

    For their research Dr Power and Dr Smith examined changes in 30-year averages in sea surface temperature, air pressure and wind-stress records.

    Comment by Craig Allen — 25 Sep 2007 @ 9:18 AM

  53. There is a Powerpoint Presentation making the rounds which seeks to discredit CO2 as a driver of major climate change. Below is an excerpt from one of the slides. I need somebody better educated than I am to make sense of it:

    http://folk.uio.no/tomvs/esef/whatisco.ppt

    “In thermodynamics we separate between two different properties: intensive and extensive. Intensive properties are mass independent, like temperature, pressure, concentration, pH, etc. Extensive properties are mass dependent, like mass and heat energy. Physics professor Bengtsson likes to show his students the difference between intensive and extensive properties by walking barefooted on burning coal. How is it possible to walk on coal, burning at >500°C? There is a fundamental difference between temperature and heat energy. The high temperature is not backed by high heat energy, because the charcoal has such low mass. His feet have more mass and they are cooling the high-temp. charcoal. Heat energy and heat capacity are fundamental parameters for climate modeling, coverning temperature. Ask climatologists for an energy budget!”

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 25 Sep 2007 @ 9:50 AM

  54. Re Zeno, et al., nowadays, aren’t we comfortable with the idea that capital-R Reality is both continuous and discrete, static and dynamic, quantum and relativistic, fractal and smooth, random and deterministic, fuzzy and crisp, etc. and etc., all at once?

    Just sayin’.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 25 Sep 2007 @ 9:54 AM

  55. > 52, Power and Smith, weakening of the Walker circulation

    I’d sure like to see more on this, I realize it’s not well understood; there are a lot of questions about changes in humidity and global wind that are wide open.

    I recall five years ago,2002, mention of “decadal-time-scale strengthening of the tropical Hadley and Walker circulations”
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/295/5556/838

    But was that a transient increase, info from different instruments, different analysis?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Sep 2007 @ 10:37 AM

  56. Re the question of showing a political film like Who Killed the Electric Car? at a science meeting:

    GM was insensitive to the those who loved the electric car — I rode in two of them and personally found them QUIET!

    I thought the electric car was hurt by relatively little consumer interest, but killed by analyses of how much lead was getting into the environment by batteries of a few years ago.

    Isn’t the fate of the plug-in hybrid resting on a combination of the cost and environmental effects of batteries?

    Comment by Karen Street — 25 Sep 2007 @ 11:29 AM

  57. Ray, in a post referencing Lindzen’s beliefs, shouldn’t your last statement read; “And my interpretation of empirical evidence is we’re heating things up–a lot.”? Or are you a card-carrying-member of the ‘purely scientific’?

    Comment by Michael — 25 Sep 2007 @ 1:38 PM

  58. John Carter (50) — Regarding your first question, try

    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abstracts/2007/Hansen_etal_2.html

    and the references therein.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 25 Sep 2007 @ 1:54 PM

  59. I just created a global warming prediction market here:

    http://globalwarming.inklingmarkets.com/

    Please sign up and trade ($5,000 of play money). Let’s hope we can get a real market up and running, and better inform our policy on global warming.

    Comment by caveat bettor — 25 Sep 2007 @ 3:22 PM

  60. Climatic degeneration apparently spurs technological innovation, Realclimate.com is very boastful of all the new technological instruments that are used to measure growing ecological pathologies. I suppose the AIDS virus must do something similar for large pharmaceutical bureaucracies.

    Comment by John — 25 Sep 2007 @ 4:35 PM

  61. Ron and Ray, Gee, the Zeno thing is now starting to remind me of quantum electromechanics and particle physics!, and how that ties into Zen Buddism per ??? (somebody — mind went temporarily blank). But then I’m just weird, I guess.

    Comment by Rod B — 25 Sep 2007 @ 5:23 PM

  62. Re #53 regarding temperature and heat,climatologists do use energy budgets in their calculations. A simplified model is given in the following link:
    http://www.soes.soton.ac.uk/research/groups/ocean_climate/demos/ebm/
    and more complex models use these energy balance basics as well. To say that they aren’t energy based is disengenuous at best and fraudulent at worst.

    Heat measures an amount of energy flow, while temperature measures the intensity of the heat. A lit match for example will burn your skin when touched, but won’t supply much energy to say heat a room while a tank of water at a lower temperature than the match will heat the room. Heat refers to the transfer of energy from a hotter to a colder body. Once it’s transferred the internal energy of the receiving body has increased.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 25 Sep 2007 @ 6:23 PM

  63. So, Michael (#57) what evidence do you suggest suggests a cooling climate? If you have no suggestions, might I suggest a rule even Ernst Mach could swallow: If all the evidence points one way, that’s a pretty safe bet. Might I suggest Helen Quinn’s recent essay:
    http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-60/iss-1/8_1.html

    Comment by ray ladbury — 25 Sep 2007 @ 6:59 PM

  64. RE #52 & “El Nino activity only seems very high if climate is assumed to be the same now as it was 50 years ago. It isn’t. ENSO is now driving climate variability about new climatic averages” said Dr Power.”

    I’ve also been thinking that El Nino is a warmer ocean (& La Nina, cooler), but warmer compared to what??? Last year, 10 years ago, the entire recorded history of ocean temps? And how do we know if it’s only El Nino (and nothing to do with GW) and not mainly global warming.

    It’s like when the weatherman says “the temperature is average for this time of year,” he means compared to the past 10 or 20 years, not compared to the whole of the recorded temp history. So if GW increases slowly enough, we may only be seeing in general only slightly above average temps well into the future…..

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 25 Sep 2007 @ 10:14 PM

  65. Re 60
    John, it might also be said that necessity is the mother of invention.

    Comment by Serinde — 26 Sep 2007 @ 6:28 AM

  66. Walt Bennett @53

    I had a look at that slideshow and even I, as a reasonably well informed layman, could spot some severely dodgy bits to it.

    For starters he mentions on the ‘daily life uses for CO2′ slide a couple of pages in that CO2 is used as a neutralising agent for acid lakes which is 100% wrong – CO2 is actually the reason those lakes are acid in the first place. He also includes Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) on that page – that’s less egregious since baking soda is used as a precursor for CO2 in cookery, but still.

    The middle sequence of slides discussing stuff like recent temp trends and the various chemical reactions that involve CO2 are a bit haphazard and all over the place – this might be because these are slides intended to support a spoken lecture – but various denialist talking points (CO2 is the Gas of life, no MWP in the IPCC global temperature series) crop up every couple of slides or so.

    Then there’s the bit towards the end with the diagram of the balance beam which is arguing that because the oceanic reservoir of CO2 is 50 times the atmospheric reservoir there isn’t enough fossil carbon in the lithosphere to double atmospheric concentrations of CO2 (per the IPCC’s projections). Leaving aside the fact that this ignores other sources of carbon (tundra melt, methane clathrates etc) this visualisation only holds for when the various reservoirs are in equilibrium (ie. you’ve mined all of the fossil carbon out, dumped it into the atmosphere and then waited for a millenium or three for the various carbon sinks in the earth system to draw down the increased C02 concentrations in the atmosphere and establish a new equilibrium).

    Now the whole point of the IPCC is that they are concerned about the effects on our civilisation of the [i]transient impulse[/i] of carbon that we are injecting into the system – to argue that the final equilibrium cannot possibly be as high as the IPCC is projecting for the height of the disequilibrium and that therefore the IPCC’s work can be discounted, displays either an astonishing ignorance of the subject or intent to deceive. Given that the slideshow then goes on to discuss at some length the residence times of CO2 in the atmosphere it would appear to be the latter – although to be charitable, from looking at his website, the author (Tom V. Segalstad) thinks that the atmospheric residence times for C02 is only 5 years – much shorter than people like David Archer believe to be the case (eg. this entry http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/03/how-long-will-global-warming-last/#more-134).

    Doing a bit of digging turns up the following post by Eli Rabbett that mentions Segalstad in passing:

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2006_12_01_archive.html

    (It’s the post entitled ‘Gift For John H…’ dated Dec 14th)

    and his name turns up linked to various astroturf outfits (European Science and Environment Forum, CFACT).

    So on balance (and as a layman) I’d say that the slideshow is a crock.

    Regards
    Luke

    Comment by Luke Silburn — 26 Sep 2007 @ 6:53 AM

  67. Re 53. Damn, what sloppy work. I mean, I think he only managed to mention about half the denialist talking points! He needs to contact the mother ship immediately for an update.
    The main fallacy, though, is the “equilibrium” assumption. Equilibration between atmospheric and geologic/oceanic CO2. Worst of all, he’s demonstrated he is entirely ignorant of the processes that go on in a brewery! Here’s a pretty thorough refutation:
    http://climateprogress.org/2007/07/22/leading-geologist-has-rocks-in-his-head/

    Proof once again that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing–and this guy has way too little knowledge.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 26 Sep 2007 @ 7:45 AM

  68. Luke Silburn (#66) wrote:

    Then there’s the bit towards the end with the diagram of the balance beam which is arguing that because the oceanic reservoir of CO2 is 50 times the atmospheric reservoir there isn’t enough fossil carbon in the lithosphere to double atmospheric concentrations of CO2 (per the IPCC’s projections). Leaving aside the fact that this ignores other sources of carbon (tundra melt, methane clathrates etc) this visualisation only holds for when the various reservoirs are in equilibrium (ie. you’ve mined all of the fossil carbon out, dumped it into the atmosphere and then waited for a millenium or three for the various carbon sinks in the earth system to draw down the increased C02 concentrations in the atmosphere and establish a new equilibrium).

    I realize you probably already know most of this, but for the benefit of anyone new and my own understanding…

    One of the big problems with the analysis of the oceans by climate skeptics is that they will treat the ocean as if it were a single block of ocean and carbon dioxide is absorbed uniformly throughout its volume rather than relying upon ocean circulation and diffusion before it reaches an equilibrium distribution. There are layers to the ocean, and even now anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions have are fairly concentrated within the top two meters. Likewise, there is a skin to the ocean where due to the increased acidity that results from carbon dioxide which has already been absorbed – and creates a barrier to the absorption of additional carbon dioxide.

    Then there is another common “error” in which they will assume that the carbon dioxide which is absorbed by the ocean isn’t largely replaced by the carbon dioxide which is leaving the ocean. Even under equilibrium conditions, the ocean is emitting carbon dioxide, but this is balanced against that which it absorbs.

    *

    Additionally, as carbon dioxide raises results in higher temperatures in both the atmosphere and the ocean (we are able to measure the effects of global warming as far down as 1500 meters), this tends to raise the rate at which carbon dioxide is emitted by the upper layers of the ocean – just as a soda is less able to hold its fizz at higher temperatures. Absorption tends to take place by the colder waters of the Arctic and Antarctic – and these are already losing their ability to absorb the carbon dioxide which we are emitting.

    *

    But the mechanism is a little different from that which we were expecting, at least in the case of the Antarctic. However, it helps to have a little background on the structure of the atmosphere to understand why. The lower part of the atmosphere, where we live, is called the troposphere. It is warmed principally by moist air convection.

    The reradiation of thermal radiation by greenhouse gases has the direct effect primarily of cooling the atmosphere. It absorbs plenty of thermal radiation, but this is more than balanced by the thermal radiation which it emits. The additional radiation which the surface receives as the result of greenhouse gases reradiating more thermal radiation (more or less in all directions – about half of which goes back to the surface will warm the surface resulting in more moist air convection.

    *

    The farther you go up, the drier the atmosphere becomes until finally you reach the tropopause where there is very little moisture. As a result there is less and less moist air convection with altitude within the troposphere until finally at the boundary of the troposphere there is no moist air convection at all. Consequently the temperature drops with altitude in the troposphere. But above the tropopause which marks the end of the troposphere, the temperature actually rises with altitude in the stratosphere.

    More greenhouse gases will have the effect of cooling the stratosphere rather than warming it, principally because it lowers the rate at which thermal radiation is able to leave the lower layers of the troposphere and surface. As such, while the climate change that results from more greenhouse gases warms our part of the climate system, it has the effect of cooling the stratosphere – with a long term thermal equilibrium within the stratosphere coming about only as the result of thermal diffusion. And it cools the stratosphere first – even before it begins to warm the troposphere.

    *

    However, one exception to greenhouse gases lowering the temperature of the atmosphere is ozone. This gas is able to absorb ultraviolet radiation directly from sunlight rather than being limited to the infrared thermal radiation being radiation from the surface. However, it tends to be destroyed in moist air – as the result of OH radicals resulting from water molecules being struck by ultraviolet radiation. Consequently it tends to be limited to the upper parts of the troposphere and stratosphere.

    The layer of ozone in the atmosphere has been partly damaged as the result of CFCs which were in use until the 1970s – and this damage shows up particularly near Antarctica. This has already reduced the temperature of the stratosphere to a fair extent in that area. However, the increased moisture in the troposphere is reducing it further, resulting in the stratosphere becoming cooler due to additional moisture in the lower atmosphere resulting in more water molecules reaching the stratosphere – and thus more OH radicals which destroy ultraviolet-absorbing ozone.

    *

    The lower temperature of the stratosphere and the higher temperature in the troposphere then results in increased atmospheric circulation – wind. This will carry the moisture in the troposphere higher, resulting in the destruction of more ozone – lowering the rate at which the ozone layer is able to heal.

    Now given the lower temperature of the Antarctic, this is where much of the carbon dioxide gets absorbed by the ocean. However, this is also where the stratosphere tends to be closer to the surface. As a result, the warmer temperature of the troposphere and the cooler temperature of the stratosphere will result in increased wind at the surface of the ocean. This brings up organic material from the depths of the ocean – resulting in more carbon dioxide being emitted in that part of the ocean. And as a result it has been lowering the ability of the southern ocean to absorb as much of our carbon dioxide emissions.

    *

    Incidentally, the cooling of the stratosphere is one of the key pieces of evidence which demonstrates that what is causing the current trend towards warming in the troposphere is increased greenhouse gases – not solar radiation. More solar radiation would result in the warming of both the stratosphere and the troposphere.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 26 Sep 2007 @ 8:55 AM

  69. Once again on Walt’s comment on the slide presentation, I get the feeling that walking on hot coals can be more readily explained by a magician like James Randi, rather than a scientist. This looks suspiciously more like show biz, than physics.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 26 Sep 2007 @ 9:04 AM

  70. Re: 68 And is it this increased wind speed in the Antarctic that is causing the recently reported melt anomolies on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet? Or is it global temperature increases finally feeding down to Antarctica? I’m unclear on this point.

    Comment by Andrew Sipocz — 26 Sep 2007 @ 9:08 AM

  71. Andrew Sipocz (#70) wrote:

    Re: 68 And is it this increased wind speed in the Antarctic that is causing the recently reported melt anomolies on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet? Or is it global temperature increases finally feeding down to Antarctica? I’m unclear on this point.

    Not sure – I hadn’t thought of it. But given the sporadic nature of such melting I would suspect that the increased windspeed and changing ocean circulation is changing the atmospheric circulation, making it more likely that at least occasionally the isolation created by the circumpolar circulation will breakdown to some small extent, bringing warmer air into the interior of the continent. If so I have to wonder whether this trend will become more pronounced as time goes on. Might not be good.

    But this is just an (un)educated guess on my part.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 26 Sep 2007 @ 11:52 AM

  72. #56, WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? did implicate consumer lack of interest — largely due to bad advertizing. It implicated nearly every sector — car cos, oil, gov, us people, limited range, etc. And it is also a great film for discussing the technology, as well, and the history (EVs were some of our first cars).

    But I was surprised — though I shouldn’t have been, bec I knew people into EV conversion & their mantra about very low maintenance — that the very low maintenance and need for parts was perhaps one of the biggest factors. Car companies make big bucks off of parts sales and maintenance, sort of like those darned expensive ink jet cartridges.

    I think that although lead acid batteries are still the primary ones used in EVs, there’s lots of other battery options, and more are coming on-line, that would allow greater range, less charge time, and ? be less polluting. If EVs were a big thing right now, the battery tech would be developing a lot faster.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 26 Sep 2007 @ 1:32 PM

  73. Re: #72 and others, what came across most clearly to me were (1) those who leased the EVs loved them dearly; (2) in the vast majority of trips for which the EVs were used, the mileage was well within the vehicle’s range.

    Poor marketing doomed the EV, as well as a legislative sellout in CA.

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 26 Sep 2007 @ 2:42 PM

  74. Re #68, I followed along agreeing ’til I came to the following paragraph and began to get snowed under (not an unusual circumstance,for me):
    “The reradiation of thermal radiation by greenhouse gases has the direct effect primarily of cooling the atmosphere. It absorbs plenty of thermal radiation, but this is more than balanced by the thermal radiation which it emits. The additional radiation which the surface receives as the result of greenhouse gases reradiating more thermal radiation (more or less in all directions – about half of which goes back to the surface will warm the surface resulting in more moist air convection.”

    Did you mean to say that the reradiation by greenhouse gases has the direct effect of warming the atmosphere? It, the CO2, of course absorbs thermal radiation and reradiates thermal radiation in all directions,about half of which goes back to the surface warming the surface. I can’t see where the cooling comes to play.
    Would you expand on this paragraph? Thanks

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 26 Sep 2007 @ 3:04 PM

  75. One thing to clarify — this is nitpicky but finding the right words for what’s happening can reduce people’s confusion:

    “The term reradiate is a nonsense term which should never be used to explain … don’t ever teach nonsense by claiming that the radiation is trapped, …”
    http://www.ems.psu.edu/~fraser/Bad/BadGreenhouse.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Sep 2007 @ 3:23 PM

  76. Lawrence Brown (#74) wrote:

    Re #68, I followed along agreeing ’til I came to the following paragraph and began to get snowed under (not an unusual circumstance,for me):…

    Did you mean to say that the reradiation by greenhouse gases has the direct effect of warming the atmosphere? It, the CO2, of course absorbs thermal radiation and reradiates thermal radiation in all directions,about half of which goes back to the surface warming the surface. I can’t see where the cooling comes to play.

    Would you expand on this paragraph? Thanks

    No problem – a little messed up just judging from the parentheses – although most of it requires a little more explanation…

    “The reradiation of thermal radiation by greenhouse gases has the direct effect primarily of cooling the atmosphere. It absorbs plenty of thermal radiation, but this is more than balanced by the thermal radiation which it emits. The additional radiation which the surface receives as the result of greenhouse gases reradiating more thermal radiation (more or less in all directions – about half of which goes back to the surface) will warm the surface resulting in more moist air convection.

    Conservation of energy implies that the amount of energy which greenhouse gases emit have to be equal to the amount of energy which they absorb – assuming their temperatures remain constant. But much of the energy in the lower atmosphere where moist air convection takes place is from moist air convection itself, latent heat which moist air gives up to the surrounding atmosphere as the moisture condenses. This is energy which greenhouse gases absorb as the result of collisions and radiate as thermal radiation.

    So no, typically the net effect of reradiation by greenhouse gases is to cool the surrounding atmosphere. The difference between absorption and reemission is made up by latent heat due to moist air convection. Greenhouse gases warm the air principally by the indirect means of warming the surface, giving rise to moist air convection, and the release of latent heat by moist air is what warms the atmosphere.

    Anyway, that was extemporaneous. The final copy will look better…

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 26 Sep 2007 @ 3:29 PM

  77. Re: #75,

    Hank,

    What a cool site. I wish more people would post links to academic resources such as this, to give us non-college folk a leg up :-)

    Comment by Walt Bennett — 26 Sep 2007 @ 3:49 PM

  78. Hank Roberts (#75) wrote:

    One thing to clarify — this is nitpicky but finding the right words for what’s happening can reduce people’s confusion:

    “The term reradiate is a nonsense term which should never be used to explain … don’t ever teach nonsense by claiming that the radiation is trapped, …”
    http://www.ems.psu.edu/~fraser/Bad/BadGreenhouse.html

    Sound good.

    Actually, I should have checked the following diagram, too:

    The Energy Balance and Natural Climate Variations
    http://www.cara.psu.edu/climate/climatechangeprimer-pr4.asp

    More radiation is actually thermal radiation radiates towards the surface than radiates towards space, at least from the atmosphere as a whole – although at any given altitude, it may be either direction. I believe this has something to do with the variation in atmospheric density, but don’t know for sure. More digging. But it might be worthwhile for me to just try and get to the point that I can redraw the diagram and then work on explaining various aspects of it in more detail. Overkill, perhaps.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 26 Sep 2007 @ 4:17 PM

  79. PS to #78

    Regarding more of the atmospheric thermal radiation reaching the surface…

    I believe one way of looking at this is as a random walk:

    The energy of thermal radiation is first emitted at the surface or else rises from the surface in the form of moist air convection and then is converted to thermal radiation when the moisture gives up its latent heat. Most of the energy comes from surface thermal radiation, but in any case, when it is emitted as thermal radiation, it will typically be closer to the surface, and assuming multiple absorptions and emissions for a given packet of energy where emission is largely isotropic (i.e. equal in all directions), it has a much shorter distance to travel to reach the surface than it does to reach space. As such, the majority of energy which the atmosphere emits in the form of thermal radiation will end up returning to the surface rather than escaping into space.

    Anyway, I have given the same answer before, more or less, but it took me a little bit of time to recall it. However, if anyone knows better…

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 26 Sep 2007 @ 4:48 PM

  80. Timothy Chase (79) — Yes, a one-dimensional random walk with a reflecting barrier at the surface provides a simple model (one which is sufficient for me).

    Comment by David B. Benson — 26 Sep 2007 @ 6:14 PM

  81. Regarding Timothy Chase’s comment 76, thank you for taking the time and trouble to further clarify the process – and for the link to the energy balance chart in a later post. I’ll go over the explanation,and chart,and work through the numbers on the chart in detail,and I’m sure the light will come at some point. And I won’t use the term “rerad….” again, thanks to Hank Roberts link to Mr. Fraser’s short course in Bad Greenhouse.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 26 Sep 2007 @ 6:30 PM

  82. Re Lynn and Who Killed the Electric Car

    The only thing that killed the GM EV1 was insufficient battery technology. This is why Time mag recently named it one of the 50 worst cars of all time.
    http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1658545_1658544_1658535,00.html

    Wikipedia offers a more even handed histroy of the EV1
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ev1

    It seems that things have not changed much since I was on campus. You said, “Yesterday our Environmental Club on campus regretted it had not gotten it’s act together in time to participate in the sci/tech fair next week.” Back in the good old days when I was in school (majoring in chem/env. sci.) I noticed that most of the members of the environmental club were loud, lazy, and usually ill-informed.

    I would suggest that you start preparing for next years science fair now. Perhaps you could do a review of battery technology. A good place to start might be finding out where the US gov and some evil corperations are putting battery development money:
    http://www.doe.gov/news/5523.htm

    Then you could look into what the future might hold, start here:
    http://www.technologyreview.com/special/batteries/

    But remember, there are many optimistic claims and few breakthrough products especially with a mature technology like batteries.

    I think it is important that when addressing a problem like GW, that we don’t down-play the real difficulty of finding solutions. In this case indentifying the problem is the easy part (as complicated as it is). Finding solutions will be much more difficlt.

    But I’m optimistic.

    Good Luck

    Comment by Lucky — 26 Sep 2007 @ 10:19 PM

  83. Lucky, thanks for your links.

    I did not see much reference to the environmental cost of batteries, which I heard/thought I heard was the final straw for California Air Resources Board. What do you know about that?

    The cost of the electricity has to include the cost of batteries, which unfortunately is enormous. Hopefully both economic and environmental costs can be brought down to make the plug-in hybrid viable. People in policy I respect are optimistic, or at least hopeful.

    Comment by Karen Street — 27 Sep 2007 @ 10:22 AM

  84. Tim, you wrote
    > it has a much shorter distance to travel to reach the
    > surface than it does to reach space.

    And more dense gas below than above, so a shorter average path before the next interaction.

    I think ‘random walk’ is close and I’ve seen the term show up often; my take is that it would be a slightly biased walk because of the density gradient.

    The drunk on the sidewalk staggers around the lamppost til he finally falls off the curb; the sidewalk’s tilted away from the curb. Add more CO2 is like tilting the sidewalk slightly more, so he staggers randomly a bit longer before he finally falls off the curb and leaves the picture.

    This is doggerel, looking for words to describe …. you know.

    And it’s 3-D, so … a drunken sparrow flying in a downdraft.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Sep 2007 @ 10:48 AM

  85. #82, First of all there is good battery tech that gets pretty good daily commute range with shorter charge times, but it’s expensive right now, & lead-acid is much cheaper. If EVs were a bigger thing, I’m sure the price on good battery tech would come down. And now they’re planning plug-in hybrid EVs.

    And I’m offended by your insinuation about our Environmental Club ((“Back in the good old days when I was in school (majoring in chem/env. sci.) I noticed that most of the members of the environmental club were loud, lazy, and usually ill-informed.”))

    Our problem is this is the poorest county in the US, and I imagine many students (many of whom work full time, some double time, take care of their families, and take college courses) have many other things that occupy their time, that students born with silver spoons in their mouths could never never understand.

    There seems to be some interest in environmental issues here, but precious little time for participation, so the club keeps dying out. I’m the only one who’s been around since it’s inception in 2002, trying to get it restarted again and again. It was just reconstituting with its 1st meeting last week, a week before the SciFair, but clubs had to sign up a month in advance to have refreshment booths, etc. And I can’t really say if our club will be around for next year’s SciFair. The environment is a pretty back seat issue here.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 27 Sep 2007 @ 11:21 AM

  86. These people in Silicon Valley are trying to push for plug-in hybrids by spending their own money.
    There are some very big Silicon Valley names on that list.

    Comment by dhogaza — 27 Sep 2007 @ 3:03 PM

  87. Re 83 Karen
    I don’t know what the “final straw” was, but I do know there are energy costs in the manufacture and recycling of these high tech batteries that most people don’t consider.

    Re 85
    I’m sorry you were offended, I should have phrased that with some kindness. But let me tell you what offends me. The state of Calif. demands the impossible. GM responds by building a marvel of automotive engineering. A beautiful vehicle that was extreamly limited by its power supply and ridiculously expensive. In doing so, GM advanced EV technology more than any other auto maker at the time. And when they finally pulled the plug on the project for any number of legitimate reasons, they are labeled as the company that killed the electric car by a bunch people who couldn’t build a pinewood derby car.

    They build what amounts to a beautiful toy or showpiece for the likes of Ed Begley Jr. They subsidize his desire to be green by selling it to him well below cost, and what do they get in return? Stabbed in the back by the people who made the unrealistic demand in the first place.

    And how does GM respond? They continue to pour money in their fuel cell platform and their PHEV the Volt. I hope the succeed.

    Comment by Lucky — 28 Sep 2007 @ 9:09 AM

  88. Thanks, Mike, for the clarification and the paper. As I read it, ENSO + SST + NAO all interact to determine the number of named storms, but there is no reliable method of predicting the future NAO index, so ENSO + SST are used as the basis of the prediction of 15 +/- 4 storms. I wonder if this paper will be a discussion topic at sites like Climate Science , CO2science and Climate Audit?

    It looks like Climate Science has shut down for good, as of Sept 1. The others are still at it, however.

    NASA Goddard won an NSF/Science award for their video, “Towers in the Tempest”:
    http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Towering_Achievement_For_Goddard_Visualization_Studio_999.htmlTowering Achievement For Goddard’s Visualization Studio

    The video is available here

    By the way, if readers have a moment, consider writing a letter to your elected reps encouraging them to expand funding for the climate-monitoring satellite and ocean sensor programs at NASA and NOAA.

    RE the electric car: Tesla motors is building an all-electric modern version, but they’re going slowly to make sure the durability issues don’t end up being a problem. See Tesla delays electric car’s debut. Currently, they are predicting a 200-250 mile range on a fully charged battery.

    If electric cars take off, however, it’s likely they’ll eventually depend on battery-swapping stations – instead of a gas station, one will pull into a battery station, with some system that lifts the depleted battery out and installs a fully charged one. The economics of that will have to be worked out – eventually batteries will wear out, but that can be included in the price/contract.

    Then the question will be, how much does the electricity cost, and how will the electricity be sourced?

    Comment by Ike Solem — 28 Sep 2007 @ 9:46 AM

  89. #87, Lucky, I’m sorry but that just doesn’t compute that EVs are more expensive to build than ICE cars, unless we’re speaking prototypes or low production volumes (as in specialty item).

    I know EV conversion guys & what they tell — these are much more simple cars than ICEs, even with the regenerative breaking, etc (which is not required, but a good idea to recapture that energy).

    When they crushed those EVs it really crushed my heart. I was hoping to buy one (once they became mass produced enough to bring the price closer to ICEs), then plug into my $100 wind generated energy & drive on the wind. I’ll just have to wait, because I don’t really have any time to learn how to do a conversion (which is not all that hard), and make my own.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 28 Sep 2007 @ 4:01 PM

  90. Well Lynn, you have some choices. You can check out the Tesla Roadster that Ike mentioned in 88. How much does it cost? How much does the battery cost? How long will the battery last? The answer to all three questions is the same, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. The car is $100,000 my guess is that close to half of that is in the battery. By the way, the the 200-250 range is for a full charge down to nothing which will shorten the battery life. But still this is a very cool vehicle.

    You can buy a Prius and convert it to a Plug-in hybrid, there are kits out there, and as dhogaza linked in #86 a group is trying to get a better system for doing this while getting Toyota to not void the warranty. It may be difficult to get the battery they want for $10,000. This group is working with A123, a company that is also working with GM on the Volt battery. And also was one of the companies getting the DOE grant that I linked in #82.

    By the way, the reason Toyota can get 100,000 miles out of their Prius battery is they have a system that very closely controls the level of charge and discharge that their battery goes through. You lose that with a BEV or PHEV because the range of charge and discharge is wider and less consistent. So the batteries for the converted Prius Plug-in will not last 100,000 miles.

    You could buy a neighborhood BEV. I would consider them to be a souped up golf cart. Top speed of 25 MPH with a 30 mile range. which means they can’t be driven on highways, but the price is in the $5,000 to $15,000 range new.

    Or as you said, there are ICE to BEV converts out there. You could do it yourself (but I beg to differ with your not all that hard statement) But there are certianly companies that will do the conversion for you. Also, check out places like ebay, they are out there for sale. But these are not nearly as sophisticated as the EV 1

    I agree with you that BEVs have many many advantages over ICEs, But they have one big downside, the battery. It is a huge challenge. I have co-workers who are working on new battery technology and I have seen the potential, but the progress is slow and will require patience.

    On a final optimistic note, if EEStor’s ultracapacitor does what they claim, they will blow every other battery technology away (see the tech review link in #82). I am skeptical, but I wish them the best.

    Good Luck

    Comment by Lucky — 28 Sep 2007 @ 9:48 PM

  91. Re #90:
    “On a final optimistic note, if EEStor’s ultracapacitor does what they claim, they will blow every other battery technology away (see the tech review link in #82). I am skeptical, but I wish them the best.”

    It surely is bogus. Replacing car batteries would be one of the last places to put better capacitor technology. You could get much better returns on investment by applying it to rail guns, high-powered lasers, or other places where massive amounts of power must be supplied for a few milliseconds or so. Even after that, laptops and remote control planes are much more lucrative and useful places to put high-performance batteries than in low value/joule applications such as auto batteries.

    Even if I did feel it was practical, I hate secrecy and the lies that secrecy breeds and encourages. My attitude is that there is no valid purpose for secrecy in science or engineering. All it does is aid the spread of lies and retard the spread of knowledge. As such, I disdain groups (almost always for-profit corporations or militaries) that use secrecy.

    Comment by Robert Edele — 28 Sep 2007 @ 11:25 PM

  92. RE EVs, I drove an EV conversion of a ’72 Toyota Corolla some 15 years ago. It got a top speed of (I think) 40 mph, went 30 miles on a charge (my daily commute is 4 miles), had lead-acid batteries, no regenerative breaking, no AC.

    The main conversion cost was the motor, the cost of the used Toyota (less the sale of its ICE engine), and lead acid batteries. It was the time & labor it took to do the conversion, which I just don’t have & there’s no EV club where I live now — but hope springs eternal. When I asked if I could do a conversion, club members told me there was a guy in the club doing conversions, who had never held a screw driver in his life.

    They told me EVs are like sewing machines with wheels & batteries. And the Toyota sounded like a quiet sewing machine when I drove it, minus the needle clatter.

    And I almost never drive on highways — nearly all I need (shops, doctors) is within a 6 mile radius. We were conscientious in selecting our home location, and make it a point to run multiple errands. The 5 times a year we do go on the highway, we could use our ICE car. So such EVs might be a problem for one-car families. However, the woman that owned the EV I drove was single. She liked the EV not only for its lower environmental impact, but also for its very low maintenance & energy costs.

    We need to start THINKING SMALL, smell the flowers along the way, and halt this incipient mega-extinction from global warming before its process becomes unstoppable and its toll vast.

    We need to buck ourselves up against this “can’t do” attitude, and become “can do” scouts.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 29 Sep 2007 @ 8:54 AM

  93. Re #90: [The answer to all three questions is the same, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. The car is $100,000...]

    How much did the original IBM PC cost? About $5K IIRC. I just bought a new laptop that is, at a rough guess, about 10,000 times more powerful for a quarter of that price. Or if that example’s a little too high-tech, consider how much automobiles cost before Henry Ford came along and started mass producing them?

    You have this vicious circle with electric cars, or indeed with any new product. The first ones are pretty much hand made and therefore expensive: you can’t get the costs down until you can get into volume production, but you can’t sell many until you get the cost down. That’s why Tesla’s marketing strategy makes sense. Sell the first to people who can afford them as toys.

    [But they have one big downside, the battery.]

    Batteries aren’t the only option. Consider what’s being done with high-speed flywheels…

    Comment by James — 29 Sep 2007 @ 10:41 AM

  94. Re #91
    “It surely is bogus. Replacing car batteries would be one of the last places to put better capacitor technology.”

    Zenn motor company has a deal with EEStor. I don’t know if it will result in product or not. Maybe they are planning to mount a rail gun on top of their electric vehicle. That way eco-warriors can shoot people who don’t recycle.

    “My attitude is that there is no valid purpose for secrecy in science or engineering. All it does is aid the spread of lies and retard the spread of knowledge. As such, I disdain groups (almost always for-profit corporations or militaries) that use secrecy.”

    I (and my large multi-national corperation) use secrecy every day. It protects our intellectual property, allows us to make money, and fund our future R&D. We have our hands in many aspects of new energy technology. I have seen the future and I am very hopefull. But you’ll have to wait, because I’m not telling…

    Comment by Lucky — 1 Oct 2007 @ 9:32 PM

  95. Re# 92
    That’s it Lynn, you are without a doubt the absolute perfect candidate for a neighborhood (or low speed) electric vehicle. Small, lightweight, top speed of 25-40 MPH (depending on local regulations) with a 40+ mile range. Check out companies like Zenn, Gem, Spark-EV or Kurrent. I’m sure there are others. Most are under $10,000 new. Used ones are cheaper, but check the age of the battery.

    Converting an old ICE wouldn’t make much sense. You would waste a lot of energy carrying all that extra weight and turning those big fat tires.

    You would continue to lead by example. Asking Who killed the electric car is counter productive cynicism. Driving an electric car is promoting a better greener life style. And think of the positve conversations that this type of car would stimulate.

    They are out there Lynn, Good Luck

    Comment by Lucky — 1 Oct 2007 @ 9:55 PM

  96. #94, The statement “That way eco-warriors can shoot people who don’t recycle” is appalling. I know plenty of environmentalists, and they are all very concerned about saving human lives, and doing so in ways that are least harmful, even helpful to people’s financial situation and the economy. Sure, we are frustrated that people don’t at least do those environmental things that make economic sense (which could, as I’ve pointed out many times on this blog, cut our GHG emissions by 1/3, maybe 1/2 or more).

    It seems to me that it’s the anti-environmentalists that wish others dead, or just don’t care if they die from environmental harms, as long as they themselves can go on living their profligate, wasteful lives.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 2 Oct 2007 @ 7:09 PM

  97. Lynn, I think Lucky was being flippant. I don’t think it was his intent to disparage environmentalists.

    Comment by ray ladbury — 2 Oct 2007 @ 7:49 PM

  98. Congrats to Al on his Nobel peace prize. An English judge – Burton – has just pronounced his verdict on An Inconvenient Truth. A court case brought by a chap called Dimmock with a bottomless expense account presumably.

    Any thoughts on it?

    http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2007/2288.html

    Comment by Mike Donald — 12 Oct 2007 @ 11:22 AM

  99. Try scienceblogs.com, they’re all over that story.
    Note the judge approves using the movie; he said it has to be discussed, not taken without discussion — that’s good.
    His specific questions are, well, arguable, but the movie’s a snapshot of what was known several years ago, everything in it needs to be checked for new info and that’s a habit kids are supposed to learn in science classes, eh?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Oct 2007 @ 11:32 AM

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