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  1. Wow! You are really trying to help the guy out on this one aren’t you! Can’t you concede that AIT is a tool to convince people to follow an action plan and thus is not subject to typical conventions such as complete and total truth. Mr. Gore made some very good points in the film and he screwed a few up. He did this to get people motivated. Telling straight facts is rarely enough to motivate people to act so all leaders push the edge of the envelope.

    I would have expected a site as well written as this to take a more binary response and simply point out where Gore was wrong and where the judge was wrong. Instead it feels like you are doing a political spin on the judgment which is a little disappointing. I think you should leave the spin for Mr. Gore and stick to just the facts.

    I do think you post some good counter arguments to the judge though (even if some of them are obviously spin). I will tell my readers of my site http://www.globalwarming-factorfiction.com about your article and suggest that they come and read so that they have both sides of the story. I will have caution them as to which answers I think are spin though.

    Comment by Sean O — 15 Oct 2007 @ 10:57 PM

  2. Sean, could you detail specifically where the Real Climate folks got it wrong?

    Thanks in advance.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 15 Oct 2007 @ 11:05 PM

  3. Indeed, on the science, a full examination of the evidence backs up the Gore movie and book assertions. While he might not have given Charles Keeling full due, frankly, both the movie and book seem to distill much of the science into palatable popular form. Gore for president….

    Comment by Jim Redden — 15 Oct 2007 @ 11:26 PM

  4. First time visitor to your site and picked the Polar Bear point to start reading. This puzzles me:

    “As we presaged in August, summer Arctic sea ice shattered all records this year for the minimum extent.”

    If you click through, the records only go back until 1979, which is well within the 30 or so year cycle in which everyone agrees the world has warmed.

    So when you say records are shattered, don’t you think you’re being a little excitable?

    For what it’s worth, I have read several books about Britain’s search for the NW passage in the 1800s, and they often mention years when the Arctic waters were largely ice free. Canada’s wooden-hulled St.Roche reported the same thing in navigating the passage in the 1940s.

    Comment by chip — 15 Oct 2007 @ 11:52 PM

  5. So, after all the court foofaraw, the bottom line is what they actually provided for the teachers; RC readers may want to review this.

    For context, and then 2 links deeper is the 56-page guidance
    http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/sustainableschools/news/news_detail.cfm?id=172

    I haven’t gone over it in detail, but on the surface, I’d say it was …
    terrific material … going to to a whole lot of students. I don’t know what materials US schools in general are using (and I’m sure they vary mightily), but I’d be interested in comparisons / opinions, especially with those who have kids in school.

    And ironically, I think the very minor tweaks from the court case made this STRONGER, and of course, gave it even more publicity.

    Comment by John Mashey — 15 Oct 2007 @ 11:54 PM

  6. RE #1

    Sean, see yourself here:
    http://www.cpi.cam.ac.uk/gore/about/news_and_events/inconvenient_truth_court_rulin.aspx

    The main “inaccuracies” the court found were that AGW and some x (hurricanes, lake chad, polar bears, coral loss, etc) are inextricably linked. In fact, while Gore may have kind of emotionalized it a bit with katrina and such, I cannot recall him making a definitive link so these “inaccuracies” don’t hold much ground, especially when the effects on corals, heat waves,droughts, (and with some less confidence) hurricanes is extremely well documented (See AR4 WG2). Moreover, we know a lot of analogous events will occur in a warmer climate with high confidence. A bit like playing dice: double-threes might come up by chance, but if I load the dice I might make double-threes more likely. If I played a game vs. you and I win by rolling double-threes is it all natural variability or did I help? Would you be happy with me? At the same time, I think RC has been careful enough to show that one event cannot be linked to GW or AGW or that matter with certainty.

    As for sea level rise, they are going up like an inch a decade and we don’t have a plausible way to get 23 feet vertical in a few decades, but it is possible in centuries. To some people, a few more generations might not be a “long way away” (really no criteria by the judge for what ‘soon’ is). We might lose summer ice this century in the arctic though, and glacial melt is very fast so it is of big concern and Gore illustrates this. You crank up CO2 a bit and you have something similar to the 125 kya event, crank it up to like 4x and you have the steamy, iceless cretacious. The implications for these future climates in maybe just a couple hundred years (still being wary of higher end projections) is nothing trivial, and I think Gore gets this across.

    The thing with the ocean conveyor is we cannot yet quantify a numerical amount of fresh water flux for a shutdown, and although it is unlikely (IPCC

    Comment by Chris — 16 Oct 2007 @ 12:00 AM

  7. Regarding 2 from J.S. McIntyre
    Unfortunately, I find it too hard to write long dissertations in comment boxes. I put up a post on my site http://www.globalwarming-factorfiction.com to discuss the issue. The post won’t be live for another hour or so but it will be the top post on the site for at least a day or two so it should be easy to find.

    BTW, I don’t say that RC is wrong! I am just pointing out that they are putting spin on the answers to defend the movie. Mr. Gore took literary license several times in the film to make a point. He made that point incredibly well but that doesn’t mean that the movie wasn’t political in agenda which is what the judge found.

    An Inconvenient Truth had a goal of influencing others. People believed it had the goal of telling the truth (especially with that name). To influence people Mr. Gore chose to only give parts of the answers or one version of a hypothesis. Some of these were pointed out by the judge.

    I just wish that RC, which has such a great reputation as a scientific site, would have clearly said that Gore was 100% correct or 100% wrong on each issue – instead they spin their comments and use phrases like “representative species” and “legitimate illustration”. If Mr. Gore would have used those phrases then RC can use them to defend but that isn’t what the film says and to reinterpret the fraudulent statements is uncalled for in a site that prides itself on scientific and factual discussion.

    Comment by Sean O — 16 Oct 2007 @ 12:23 AM

  8. The judge’s use of the word “error” was an unfortunate choice of language and apt to mislead (as indeed it has looking at the media reports about it) so it is good to see your clarification of these points.

    Looking at the unusual approach the court took to the proceedings the “errors” would have been better termed “nine departures from the latest IPCC report and the opinions of the expert called by the UK government”. The findings are perhaps due to the limited evidence the judge appears to have had before him. Gore was not a party to the litigation or called as a witness so the scope of the inquiry was quite limited.

    In rejecting the application to ban the film or order it be recalled from schools the judge seems to have impliedly rejected the evidence of the climate change sceptic, Bob Carter, who appeared for the claimant. That gets only a passing mention in the judgment (at paragraphs 22 and 23).

    Sifting through the convoluted manner in which the judge gave his reasons it is easy to miss the point that the “nine errors” he identified were not findings that the film was actually wrong, merely that (in the judge’s view) it departed from the mainstream scientific consensus reflected in the latest report of the IPCC and the opinions of the expert called by the UK government, Dr Stott.

    The judge pointed out (at paragraph 23) “it was essential to appreciate that the hearing before me did not relate to an analysis of the scientific questions, but to an assessment of whether the ‘errors’ in question, set out in the context of a political film” infringed UK law.

    The judge’s convoluted approach and choice of language laid the groundwork for the misreading of the judgment that has occurred so it’s good to see your critique.

    Comment by Chris McGrath — 16 Oct 2007 @ 12:38 AM

  9. “If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble,… “the law is a ass—a idiot..,”
    CHARLES DICKENS, Oliver Twist, chapter 51, p. 489 (1970 edition).

    Comment by ScaredAmoeba — 16 Oct 2007 @ 12:39 AM

  10. I resent you saying mega-fauna are more charismatic than bivalves!

    gw as always.

    Comment by Adam — 16 Oct 2007 @ 12:42 AM

  11. re: Sean O ( A software salesman; I think for Oracle in Cincinnati)

    1) link-spam

    Sean pops up in climate blogs, writes a few words, usually isomorphic to “I wrote about this in my blog….” and links to his blog.
    Google: globalwarming-factorfiction

    2) Others can assess the quality of the blog, to consider how much original content is offered and of what quality, if they want to spend the time. It does have some ads.

    As a sample: of the recent Schulte-Oreskes silliness, Sean writes:

    “I think that Mr. Schulte said it correctly: “If unanimity existed in the peer-reviewed literature between 1993 and 2003 – which I have reason to doubt – it certainly no longer exists today.”

    This was AFTER Tim Lambert @ Deltoid proved conclusively that Schulte:
    - was a plagiarist (of Monckton’s use of Peiser’s erroneous work)
    - was incompetent (didn’t notice the errors)
    - and then, had the letter containing this published on the same website as Monckton’s @ SPPI! Really, really smart.

    Days later, Sean was still defending Schulte.

    (Anyway, no need to publish this, it’s more for RC’s FYI).

    Comment by John Mashey — 16 Oct 2007 @ 12:43 AM

  12. You won’t publish my quote, but I’ll make my point anyway. We are talking about children here, not attorneys pouring over printed transcripts! Quibbling over insinuations or verbal omissions in this case is shameful. Gore clearly used fear of climactic disaster to further his political ends in much the same way he accused the Bush Administration of doing with regard to Saddam Hussein and 911. Bangladesh, Tuvalu, New Orleans and other places like them are perilous places to make a home in the best of climates. The human race has stopped trying to adapt to its environment – but to adapt its environment to itself instead. To adapt, we should move people from the lowland coastlines in any case. It is, and has been for many years, a civil engineering problem. .

    Comment by Edward A. Barkley — 16 Oct 2007 @ 12:49 AM

  13. I think the whole film is a load and is taking advantage (MONEY) of a real situation. How ever i do know the following

    • Ice-sheet driven sea level rise
    “No time scale was specified” what the hell type of excuse is that. This is to be used in schools you can’t just assume that there is no time frame? Irresponsible he knew exactly what he was doing. Selling a movie.
    Pacific island nations needing to evacuate:
    the point about Tuvalu and the visas to NZ are an absolute Load of rubbish. No such agreements exists the visas are working visas/labour mobility visas to work on farms so they can send money back home due to lack of employment on the island. The fact is these islands are a long way from going under. Why is their a requirement for “environmental” visas now?
    • Kilimanjaro: gore associates the situation in Kilimanjaro with climate change and nothing more.
    • Hurricane Katrina and global warming “Individual hurricanes cannot be attributed to global warming, but the statistics of hurricanes, in particular the maximum intensities attained by storms, may indeed be” well said realclimate.com
    • existing vulnerabilities in eco-systems, potentially playing the role of the straw that breaks the camel’s back in many instances.

    Comment by cant say — 16 Oct 2007 @ 1:13 AM

  14. Thanks folks. Your responses to the 9 issues fits closely to what was my initial reaction. The polar bear thing is particularly egregious. If the Arctic sea ice shrinks dramatically, it is tautological that polar bears will be impacted dramatically. That stands on first principles and does not require population studies, which by definition, cannot have been undertaken yet. Catch-22.

    Comment by Doug Watts — 16 Oct 2007 @ 1:36 AM

  15. #2
    Well Steve if your remark isn’t agenda-driven obsessiveness I don’t know what is.

    Comment by Mike Donald — 16 Oct 2007 @ 1:58 AM

  16. http://www.walrusmagazine.com/u/register/teaser.php?ref=2007.11-arctic-global-warming

    There is a really good article by a Canadian professor here. Just the first 500 words of a 10,000 word piece. IMPORTANT.

    Danny Bloom, the ”Polar Cities” blog guy (google the term)

    Comment by danny bloom — 16 Oct 2007 @ 2:32 AM

  17. Having watched the film many times during the past few days, having read all those for and against the AIT, I still find the film to be as true as one can get it, today. I truely believe that the school governor is biased, when it comes to climate change, and that the judge is wrong find these so called errors. Errors can be found anywhere, is all down to how one reads the script. This attitude is very clearly shown when one visits blogg sites or HYS sites, where the discussions are climate related. The vast majority of comments on these sites dont believe there is any climate change or G,W. happening, and most of these comments mix weather happenings, and climate change. Developments in the Arctic and the Antarctic, are changing as each week goes by. Only a year or two ago, scientists were predicting that the Arctic summer sea ice could disappear by 2050. This summer approx 50% has melted, opening the NW passage as well as the eastern passage. With more water area open the sea temperature will rise, speeding up the melt of the sea ice, after all it is only 1 meter thick. The complete melt of the Arctic sea ice will have no effect whatsoever on sea levels. What is more worrying, is the fact that the Greenland ice cap is melting at an astonishing rate, the ice cap is receding away from the sea exposing even more land area, which in turn warms up, melting even more ice and so on. The process escalates for every year. Even the maritime glaciers of Norway are melting quicker than ever, this is something that scientists had not expected, but its happening.

    Comment by George Robinson — 16 Oct 2007 @ 2:57 AM

  18. For a couple of reactions in the British press to the judge’s ruling (and Nobel prize), from the ridiculous to the informative see:

    “Nobel Prize ignores inconvenient untruths to reward Gore”
    by GERALD WARNER, Scotland on Sunday, 14th Oct at:

    http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/opinion.cfm?id=1641212007#new

    and “Revealed: the man behind court attack on Gore film”
    The Observer, 14th Oct, at:

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,2190770,00.html

    Comment by Roy Turnbull — 16 Oct 2007 @ 2:58 AM

  19. Hello,

    Thanks for the review of this legal judgement. This is a copy of a letter I sent to our local newspaper, The Dominion Post, Wellington, New Zealand, in response to an article about this judgement in the paper.

    Today you report a recent British court judgement on the veracity of Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth. Apart from pondering the absurdity of a legal process attempting to define a scientific theory, let’s examine the most important finding, that Gore sensationalised the likely rise in sea levels, which the judge said would take “millennia”. It’s true, by neglecting ice-sheet melt, that the IPCC has predicted a modest increase of sea levels over the next century of up to about 59 cms. James Hansen has demonstrated that sea level rises have doubled in the last ten years, due to ice melt – if this rate of increase continues, a sea level rise of 5 metres this century is scientifically plausible. On the basis one insures one’s house on the principle of dealing with the worst that can happen, not the best, it seems prudent to take Hansen’s warning more seriously than the opinions of a bewigged lawyer. The IPCC also predicted that the Arctic summer ice wouldn’t melt until near the end of this century. With this year’s unprecedented melt, some scientists are now saying it is possible that the summer ice will be gone by 2013.

    The letter was published in the paper today.

    When I watched the film I had some reservations about these very matters that were part of the court judgement. Whilst I don’t criticise Al Gore too much, perhaps, knowing the sort of opposition this film would engender with vested interests and global warming deniers and contrarians, some sort of caveat or brief explanation of the debate about the time frames involved would have been sensible and would have rendered the film less open to such criticism. Having said this, I am sure Al Gore was much nearer what will turn out to be the truth of all these matters than Mr Justice Burton. As I say in my letter, the whole exercise was absurd, and I am ashamed to think that it took place in the UK, whilst I might expect such nonsense in the USA, with its long tradition of such legalistic inanity. If Lewis Carroll were alive now, I think he’d make use of this case in his revised version of Alice in Wonderland.

    Comment by John Monro — 16 Oct 2007 @ 3:34 AM

  20. 2nd bullet in your post: Pacific island nations needing to evacuate
    Well, Gore just looked in the wrong place: In December 2006, The Independent reported from an inundated Indian island (Lohachara in the Gulf of Bengal) from which 10,000 people had to be evacuated.
    See:
    http://environment.independent.co.uk/climate_change/article2099971.ece

    Comment by Helmut Wolf — 16 Oct 2007 @ 3:55 AM

  21. I have the impression that the ultimate goal allows for exaggerations and half truths?
    If the “errors”, where Al Gore suggests things beyond what the IPCC and mainstream science says are not errors, are they deliberate deviations, to give a certain impression (thus deliberate lies)?

    One doesn’t need to tell direct lies to convince people of some disaster. Just impressive, suggestive pictures will do the job, especially when one doesn’t tell relevant details. Like in the case of the 650,000 year ice core, where Gore suggests that CO2 drives temperature. Of course he didn’t say that, but 99% of the people watching the movie will be convinced that that is the case. The same for the Greenland melting. The same for Katrina and New Orleans (which was not directly caused by wind – the hurricane landed in Mississipi, not in Louisiana), where the disaster was caused by levies which were not heightened, despite several warnings. The same for Tuvalu, where the increase of sea level in the past 30 years is virtually zero…

    If I had been a US citizen, I probably would have voted Gore for president. Now that I have seen his film and his own carbon footprint (do what I say, but don’t see what I do?), I should have regretted my vote.

    Comment by Ferdinand Engelbeen — 16 Oct 2007 @ 4:16 AM

  22. “Secondly, the judge’s characterisation of the 9 points is substantially flawed. He appears to have put words in Gore’s mouth that would indeed have been wrong had they been said (but they weren’t).”

    I’ve seen Gore quoted, in press reports, as having erroneously stated in the film that the ice sheets would raise sea level by 20ft in the “near future”. Apparently this is not the case. I think what happened here was that the judge accepted what the plaintiff’s “expert” witness said that Gore said.

    An “error” in his judgement? It would appear that minor oversights happen to the best of us…

    Comment by Timothy — 16 Oct 2007 @ 4:27 AM

  23. Re #6,

    There is some more nuance about that story at Wiki:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lohachara_Island

    Comment by Ferdinand Engelbeen — 16 Oct 2007 @ 4:40 AM

  24. With regard to the ninth point, on coral reefs, says “The actual scientific view, as recorded in the IPCC report, is that, if the temperature were to rise by 1-3 degrees Centigrade, there would be increased coral bleaching and widespread coral mortality, unless corals could adapt or acclimatise, but that separating the impacts of climate change-related stresses from other stresses, such as over-fishing and polluting, is difficult.”

    I am not a coral reef scientist, but I do pay attention to what they say, and it is certainly the case that they and others with a well-informed view agree that reefs face a combination of stresses. But very few indeed, if any, think that coral reefs could adapt or acclimatise to a temperature rise of as much as 3 degrees Centrigrade in the 21st century. The 3 C figure in the IPCC 4AR is more about political consensus than scientific one.

    Comment by Caspar Henderson — 16 Oct 2007 @ 4:45 AM

  25. Forgive my ignorance, but isn’t sea level a worldwide thing? How can the sea level rise in the area of some Indian islands without its being noticed, say, around England or New York? Could the flooding of low lying islands not equally be due to tectonic plate activity? Of course, the latter can’t really be blamed on man, so it won’t get much publicity. While I am writing this, exactly how do we know CO2 is a greenhouse gas? There isn’t a hell of a lot of it in the atmosphere – 0.036% of the global atmosphere – so how does this minuscule proportion affect the global temperature? And as human exhalation accounts for 38 billion tonnes of CO2, and animals probably the same again, what remedies do the warmers have in mind for this? Mass genocide?

    Comment by David Kelsey — 16 Oct 2007 @ 5:25 AM

  26. re. #1

    I’m with J.S. McIntyre (re. #2) on this one. Sean, do you have arguments that counter what Gavin and Michael have presented from relevant, comprehensive, well-reasoned scientific analysis, consensus, perspective? If so please post with references.

    I am not at all disappointed in Gavin and Michael’s analysis of these points. I think it is rather obvious that Al Gore did a decent job of presenting a relevant perspective to our time and our reality. He used imagery to portray reality and potential on multiple points that have strong scientific basis in the vast majority of points made in the film.

    As pointed out by Gavin and Michael, Al Gore is likely ahead of his time on his statement: “That’s why the citizens of these pacific nations have all had to evacuate to New Zealand”. It is certainly still reasonable to see that this evacuation is in the cards in the future (while the exponential acceleration and melt rates are still debatable, the debate seems largely around the time factor, not the likelihood).

    Comment by John P. Reisman — 16 Oct 2007 @ 6:45 AM

  27. Oh Gosh, I forgot the plants. There are apparently 1877 billion tonnes of biomass, half of which is carbon. Virtually all of this is presumably expressing CO2 during the hours of darkness, and oxygen in daylight, due to photosynthesis. What’s the green answer to that? Cut down all the forests?

    Comment by David Kelsey — 16 Oct 2007 @ 7:06 AM

  28. It has always been a bit of a stretch to model the YD purely on circulation. As I’m sure you know, a NAS Team recently concluded that one or more meteorites or comets have probably caused the big freeze and even before that, many ocean circulation experts (including people like Rahmstorf) said, that very likely external factors accounted for the YD’s extreme shifts.
    As to the rest of Gore’s Film, I do see a certain danger in the way he presents science. Especially children tend not to listen to the exact word or phrase. They will draw a direct line from climate change to spectacular disaster. And if disaster won’t come, they’ll tend to dismiss the whole idea rather than mere aspects of it. If the next years won’t see disastrous hurricanes, drowning polar bears and sinking islands, you and me know that it means nothing. But will the kids know or will they conclude that Gore simply didn’t know what he was talking about?

    Comment by henning — 16 Oct 2007 @ 7:27 AM

  29. Re #6, Gore would have had to be mad to use Lohachara as an example of global warming in An Inconvenient Truth – not because the Independent reports the island as having disappeared after the film was made but because its disappearance had little or nothing to do with global warming. The island actually disappeared in the 1980s. The main factors appear to have been mangrove destruction, which increased erosion, and reduced silt deposition (probably in part because of inland dams and embankments): the Hoogly washed it away. If rising sea levels did play a part – well, how much of that would have been due to global warming? The entire coast of Bengal is sinking (under the weight of up to 20km of sediment) at least twice as fast as the world’s seas are rising.

    OT: I looked into this a while back and was puzzled by a statement in a Bangladeshi study of the Sunderbans. Can anyone help? The study said that the depth of sediment in the Bay of Bengal meant that gravity was slightly weaker there than elsewhere. (I get that bit.) It then said that this weaker gravitational pull meant that the sea level was slightly lower in the Bay than elsewhere. (I have occasionally understood that bit but would welcome permanent enlightenment.) Finally, it said that the weaker gravity meant that the sea level in the Bay of Bengal would rise at a slower rate than elsewhere in the world. How can that be? My brain fries whenever I try to think about it.

    Comment by Vinny Burgoo — 16 Oct 2007 @ 7:27 AM

  30. Re. 7 from Helmut.

    I question your reference. While there is no doubt that the sea level has risen slightly in the last century it does not appear that Lohachara was the victim. Rather, it appears that this “island” was nothing more than a sandbar in a river and, as is typical with this type of land mass, the river eroded it away. While it appears that this was ultimately caused by man (over harvesting of mangroves which kept the land intact) it is unfair to say that it was caused by global warming.

    If Mr. Gore would have used this reference, he would have been stretching the truth – which it appears that he did several times.
    http://mc-computing.com/qs/Global_Warming/NewsPapers/Lohachara.html

    Comment by Sean O — 16 Oct 2007 @ 8:07 AM

  31. Re. 9 from Mr. Mashey
    Not that it is relevant what I do for a living, but your background information on me is faulty.

    Comment by Sean O — 16 Oct 2007 @ 8:24 AM

  32. > Kilimanjaro
    What do they teach in grade school these days? Rainier, Fuji, and other notable cone-shaped snow-capped mountains losing their snow are also volcanos. It’s easy to look up and find there has been no change in the vulcanism in recent history.

    Vinny, water actually piles up thicker over areas where gravity is a bit stronger — this is gravity from a “mass concentration” that makes a bump over it, not the average gravity of the planet but a slight variation from average. And in an area where gravity is a bit weaker, where the mass below is a bit less dense, water doesn’t pile up.

    http://sealevel.jpl.nasa.gov/education/images/geoid.gif

    Remember the water on the planet piles up in line with the Moon and the Sun too, and those high spots travel around the planet. It’s not that the Moon and Sun actually drag that lump of water around as the planet turns of course. The water near the point in line with the Moon or Sun gathers together and thickens up a bit higher, by the amount of the tidal change.

    Yet it’s a tiny difference, you don’t notice a rock fall any slower when the Moon’s overhead and the tide is high, but the Moon’s mass is gathering the ocean’s water near you together enough for the tide to rise.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Oct 2007 @ 8:36 AM

  33. #10: I just don’t see how Gore used fear of climatic disaster to further an agenda.. It is one thing to say we have to live with natural disaster and adapt. The operative word there is “natural.” It is a completely different issue to be altering the natural state of things to our detriment and then saying “it’s ok, just move to higher ground.” Of course if sea level is rising, the only thing to do is to get out of the way. But if this anthropogenic sea level rise is preventable, it is irresponsible to not take action to prevent it. Scientist, lawyer, fireman or yoga instructor…

    So I ask again, how is Gore’s movie taking advantage of fear to further a political agenda?

    Comment by Figen Mekik — 16 Oct 2007 @ 8:41 AM

  34. “Fuel and mining magnate backed UK challenge to An Inconvenient Truth”
    Is The subtitle of the Observers
    Revealed: the man behind court attack on Gore film
    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,2190770,00.html

    Comment by Eyal Morag — 16 Oct 2007 @ 8:44 AM

  35. David Kelsey asks:Forgive my ignorance, but isn’t sea level a worldwide thing?

    True, but there are local conditions which mask the effects including subsidence or rising of land at the water’s edge, tidal effects, etc. It is not a trivial thing to measure average global sea level changes.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 16 Oct 2007 @ 8:48 AM

  36. Unfortunately the Court rules on the arguments (good and bad) laid before it and there will always be miscarriages of justice when there are opposing views and if the facts are not well presented on one side. Gavin and Michael correct some of the misconceptions that seem to have influenced some of the statements made in the Court in this ruling.

    The film “An Inconvenient Truth” has probably got the message about global warming / climate change across in a way that the scientific process alone was failing. Scientific evidence, debate, reasoning and an emerging consensus alone has failed to convince a large part of the population, and some scientists, of the reality and significance of man-made global warming / climate change.

    People tend to believe what they witness and experience for themselves and for most the evidence for global warming / climate change still remains scant. Yes there are pictures of melting sea ice, there have been some milder winters, some hotter summers, some wetter summers, some stronger winds – but this could down to the vagaries of the weather or part of a natural cycle? Until more people are affected in more immediate, regular, and direct ways by a warming earth and changing climate the scepticism will remain.

    Al Gore’s film, for all its flaws, has helped to catalyse a wider debate (into the Courts in the UK) and has raised a more general awareness of the issues involved. In public perception terms, the Oscar and Nobel Peace Prize are seen as establishment endorsement and the sharing of the Nobel Peace Prize with IPCC as an acknowledgment of the role of IPCC and the many unsung scientists around the world, ON ALL SIDES OF THE DEBATE, who work to sift out the facts.

    Global warming / climate change is complex with many unknowns, uncertainties, challenges, and probably surprises still remaining. The subject, however, is now firmly established at the top of the scientific and political agenda allowing research and debate to continue and develop so that we move closer to a more complete understanding and the solutions we all desire. Scientists and activists alike deserve the credit they are receiving for achieving this.

    Gareth

    Comment by Gareth Evans — 16 Oct 2007 @ 8:50 AM

  37. 23 David Kelsey – We know that CO2 is a greenhouse gas becaue of laboratory experiments that establish that it absorbs radiation in the infrared part of the spectrum. This is late 19th century physics. Please feel free to win yourself a Nobel Prize by writing a paper that refutes it.

    As to your point that it constitutes only “0.036% of the global atmosphere” well you could probably say the same about many toxins such as arsenic. The LD50 for pure arsenic is “763 mg/kg (by ingestion)”, which means it only needs to constitute 0.000763% of your body mass in order to have a 50-50 chance of killing you.

    Consequently I conclude that trace quantities can have a disproportionate impact.

    Finally, you claim that respiration (by humans and animals) is a net source of CO2. This is false. All of the CO2 from animal/human respiration comes from carbon eaten by those animals from plants and the plants took that carbon out of the atmosphere. Consequently there is a balance in the amount of carbon. (However we can upset that balance by cutting down forests)

    It is well established that the rise in CO2 levels is due to fossil fuel burning (carbon that was buried millions of years ago).

    I hope that you can accept these logical arguments that are backed by an overabundance of evidence. I hope that you are not merely clutching at straws in an attempt to avoid having to think about what we *do* because of this threat.

    Comment by Timothy — 16 Oct 2007 @ 8:59 AM

  38. Sorry, forgot to multiply by 100. The LD50 for arsenic implies it needs to be 0.0763% of your body mass to… etc. (Still only twice the level of CO2 in the atmosphere, and there are far more toxic compounds/elements)

    Comment by Timothy — 16 Oct 2007 @ 9:02 AM

  39. Also highlighted in court arguments was Al Gore’s admission in Grist Magazine that, “I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it [global warming] is.”

    Comment by flowerplough — 16 Oct 2007 @ 9:12 AM

  40. Apparently, the guidance came out pretty garbled on the CO2/Temp. rise connection in reponse to the judge’s ruling. Seems the judge did some harm here.

    See William’s comment on Micheal Tobis’s blog here:

    http://ninepoints.pbwiki.com/an-exact-fit

    Comment by Tom Adams — 16 Oct 2007 @ 9:29 AM

  41. Vinny Burgoo and David Kelsey, the sea level follows an gravitational equipotential, and since Earth is not a perfectly flat sphere, that equipotential is not spherically symmetric at the surface. A weaker graviational force means water will “flow downhill” following the stronger pull. Now add more water–the same thing will happen, so you will get less additional water where the field is weak. The new sea level must follow the new equipotential.

    David, in addition to this effect, you also have to consider prevailing winds, currents and a variety of other effects. Ever see the Panama Canal? There’s a reason why they have to take the boats through multiple locks–the Pacific and Atlantic oceans are at different levels.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Oct 2007 @ 9:30 AM

  42. re 7

    “Unfortunately, I find it too hard to write long dissertations in comment boxes.”

    When my replies are lengthy, I normally write it in Word, and then C&P. You might consider that going forward. Obviously, that seems to be what others do. In short, that really isn’t much of an excuse, and I think we both understand this.

    “I put up a post on my site ”

    I understand. But you made your comments here, and I don’t think it too extreme to expect you to substantiate them here. If nothing else, it strikes me as good manners.

    “BTW, I don’t say that RC is wrong! I am just pointing out that they are putting spin on the answers to defend the movie.”

    If I may be somewhat forward, I would suggest that what you were doing was making unsubstantiated (at least, in your initial post) remarks regarding RC’s intent. This is at best infamatory and at worst disengenuous.

    You made the claim here. Defend it here.

    “I just wish that RC, which has such a great reputation as a scientific site, would have clearly said that Gore was 100% correct or 100% wrong on each issue – instead they spin their comments and use phrases like “representative species” and “legitimate illustration”. ”

    Again, you resort to what appears to be spin of your own, inferring something without substantiating it.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 16 Oct 2007 @ 9:38 AM

  43. “Forgive my ignorance, but isn’t sea level a worldwide thing? How can the sea level rise in the area of some Indian islands without its being noticed, say, around England or New York?”
    Because if your shoreline rises fairy steeply say to at say 5 or 10 feet, a three inch rise is not going to show much. On the other hand if you live on an island that is not more than a foot or two above sea level, it will be very noticeable.
    Even in steeper areas if you live on the water you notice it, as things like docks that were built just above high-water mark, now spend much of their time underwater.

    Comment by Chris — 16 Oct 2007 @ 9:47 AM

  44. re 12

    “Gore clearly used fear of climactic disaster to further his political ends in much the same way he accused the Bush Administration of doing with regard to Saddam Hussein and 911. Bangladesh, Tuvalu, New Orleans and other places like them are perilous places to make a home in the best of climates.”

    You know, I am getting rather tired of hearing this, particularly as it usually is nothing more than a hand-wave, an “everybody knows” statement.

    Well, everyone does not know! If you are going to make the accusation, back it up! What political ends were furthered? Please be clear and concise.

    Sure, there is a movement to draft him to run for President, but it is unlikely to the extreme. Are you somehow saying that because he wants to raise the alarm re AGW we should consider this a political move on his part?

    Here’s the real problem: AIT has been labeled “political” by people who want to shape the debate. But it isn’t a political message. It’s a societal message, a human message, one that is saying, quite simply, “Wake up! Pay attention. Look into this. Something is happening.”

    This is political?

    The fact that the people who put it together tend to likely have a political leaning as private citizens is not enough proof to claim this movie was politically motivated. As I understand it, Gore was doing these lectures long before the movie was dreamed up. The lectures weren’t being attacked as a political “ploy”. So why, then, should the movie?

    But here’s a thought: going back to the idea AIT was likely done by people with a liberal mindset, and it – and the idea of AGW – seem to be resisted by people with a decidedly conservative bent, what does this suggest to you about who is really playing politics with this problem?

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 16 Oct 2007 @ 9:50 AM

  45. I find it bizarre that this even reached a court. If the UK Government is so concerned about climate change (which we are assured they are), then education is surely a huge part of this.

    I’m interested to see what the US education system has to offer in terms of debating the AGW issue, as nearly every group on facebook (not wanting to take the tone down, but bare with me as I think this is a valid point!) that declares AGW as fantasy, is set up and commented on by US high school students. It amazes me that so many young people in such an important GHG producing country can feel this way.
    Is it my imagination or is fighting global warming more a college thing than a school thing in the US, and if so, any ideas as to why?

    Comment by Vicky Ingram — 16 Oct 2007 @ 10:22 AM

  46. I cannot help thinking that RC have been a little creative regarding the MOC as I thought that I had read on several occassions here that there is little chance of the MOC actually stopping due in part to the wind and the unknown actual volumes of water that flow through the MOC.

    So argument is not about it stopping but about it slowing down and decreasing in its intensity, ie; less water flowing on average I presume but as yet there is no evidence of this.

    I also believe that it is James Hansen who has thrown the IPCC’s projections out of kelter regarding land ice melt claiming that a “rapid non linear collapse” of ice sheets is likely this century which will raise sea levels far more than the IPCC predicts or expects.

    Comment by Pete Best — 16 Oct 2007 @ 10:25 AM

  47. I’d like to see someone, anyone, who is 100% correct about any of these topics. In most of these cases, Gore is more “correct” than the Judge.

    On a previous point, I don’t see the value of teaching children that it’s OK to do something as long as the total effect of your actions requires 1000 years to play out. Even that sets aside strong evidence that the sheets will disintegrate in centuries, but unfortunately no model to date understands the physics of the melting/discharge we are seeing today.

    Comment by cce — 16 Oct 2007 @ 10:29 AM

  48. The core compliant by Mr Dimmock, who took the issue before the courts, agaist AIT, was that the film was “political indoctrination” so contary to the 1996 (UK)Education Act.

    This is probably more interesting, and the arguments for and agaist, than the science itself.

    The judge most usefully ruled that AIT was not “political indoctrination”.

    I note on the judge’s summary that AIT is but one of four videos on Climate Change available to schools. I would be interested if anyone can locate these on the web, to see how RC folk rate these.

    But back to Mr Dimmock. Yes, here in England we also have a bunch of right-wing climate sceptics. Mr Dimmock is a member of the New Party, an obscure political party that has few members but one massive funder – who is a quarry owner and dislikes greenies.

    That being said, I find that AIT is a little bit too “Hollywood” for me, rather than sober eductonal documetary – in a way its slickness is a fault as an educational resource.

    THeo

    Comment by Theo H — 16 Oct 2007 @ 10:42 AM

  49. #25 and others –
    David Kelsey,
    You shouldn’t expect people to forgive your ignorance if you subsequently post allegations that you could easily have checked out beforehand.

    Furthermore, please show us your calculation that human exhalation accounts for 38 billion tonnes of CO2 – I’ve done it and got 4 – 7 billion tonnes.
    Anyway it doesn’t matter because you have shown that you don’t really understand the basic science – this human exhaled CO2, and that from animals, is just a small part of the normal carbon cycle.

    The biggest, but not the only cause of our current phase of GW, is CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels.

    Comment by Bob Clipperton (UK) — 16 Oct 2007 @ 10:59 AM

  50. Re $36: [As to your point that it constitutes only “0.036% of the global atmosphere” well you could probably say the same about many toxins...]

    A better analogy might be to the films on low-E insulating windows. They’re a tiny fraction of the window mass (though I don’t know the exact number), yet produce a significant change in thermal properties.

    Comment by James — 16 Oct 2007 @ 11:07 AM

  51. RE: #25 and #27: Kelsey expects a world wide sea level rise and this is well-documented by dozens of studies in the peer-reviewed scientfic literature including the Bahamas (using Mangroves-and the Bahamas are amongst the most tectonically stable places on the face of the earth), New England, using salt marshes, from tide gauges all up and down the east coast, and those are only the ones that I’m familiar with.

    In terms of plants…we have to differentiate between CO2 that is in the active part of the carbon cycle and that which is fossil. Any carbon in plants came out of the atmosphere recently (years to dozens of years) and goes back in. There is a balance. Where the excess is coming from is fossil fuels, which are “fossil” because for the most part they come from fossil plants that were buried (along with their carbon) tens to hundreds of millions of years ago. When we burn them, we are releasing this “fossil” carbon from storage and releasing it at a rate far greater than the active carbon cycle can pick it up.

    I know I’m wasting my time presenting real science as it’s so inconvenient when it conflicts with political opinion, but it’s worth the try if only to answer Kelsey’s “points”

    (from a geologist/college professor)

    Comment by R. Laurence Davis — 16 Oct 2007 @ 11:28 AM

  52. Ever see the Panama Canal? There’s a reason why they have to take the boats through multiple locks–the Pacific and Atlantic oceans are at different levels.

    The Panama canal would have multiple locks even if the Atlantic and Pacific were at precisely the same level — the middle of the canal is higher than either end. A sea level canal would have been prohibitively expensive to dig.

    Comment by Paul Dietz — 16 Oct 2007 @ 11:28 AM

  53. Opinions are opinions.

    Comment by Raplh Smythe — 16 Oct 2007 @ 11:42 AM

  54. I agree with Sean O (#1) that RC has spun this. I have no complaints with the factual information in their entry and in the background links. But given the facts, they’ve tried to cast Gore’s comments in the best light possible.

    RC on ice sheets: “the rate at which this will happen is highly uncertain”. Spin-free comment: Gore omitted relevant information essential for understanding the threat.

    RC on Pacific islands: “could be said to be only a little ahead of its time”. Spin-free comment: The statement is false, or at best an exaggeration.

    RC on ocean conveyor: “few are willing to completely rule out the possibility of a more substantial change in the future”. Spin-free comment: Research since the making of AIT suggests that this danger is less likely than it was portrayed.

    RC on CO2 in ice cores: “Gore’s terse explanation of course does not mention such complexities, but the crux of his point–that the observed long-term relationship between CO2 and temperature in Antarctica supports our understanding of the warming impact of increased CO2 concentrations–is correct.” Spin-free comment: The crux of Gore’s point was that any idiot could see that temperature goes up when CO2 goes up. If my notes from the movie are correct, he said something like “When there is more CO2, the temperature gets warmer.” His portrayal was misleading.

    RC on Kilimanjaro: “a legitimate example” of a real, widespread phenomenon caused by global warming. Spin-free comment: a poor example of a real, widespread phenomenon caused by global warming.

    RC on Chad: “Gore uses this example to illustrate that there are droughts in some regions even while other areas are flooding.” Spin-free comment: He also implies that this specific drought is caused by global warming, and that global warming was the primary cause of the vanishing of the lake. The final statement, given the variety of causes of both lake shrinkage and drought, is less defensible.

    RC on Katrina: “Katrina is used in the film as a legitimate illustration of … the kind of thing that could well get worse in a warmer world.” Spin-free comment: AIT presented Katrina in the context of natural signs that global warming was already having a visible effect, not as a hypothetical example.

    Polar bears: I agree with RC’s assessment that Gore’s description was accurate but oversimplified.

    Coral reefs: I agree that Gore’s description was accurate and fair.

    In my opinion, overall the science (in AIT and elsewhere) is quite robust enough to stand up to a spin-free discussion of it.

    Comment by John Nielsen-Gammon — 16 Oct 2007 @ 11:43 AM

  55. I would like to call attention to what I feel is a very serious psychological manifestation: Goreophobia. Yes, I know that politicians of all stripes tend to elicit a gag reflex among all right-thinking people, but the visceral reaction to this one particular politician seems to have severe debilitating effects on many individuals. Effects include: inability to accept conclusions backed by overwhelming evidence merely because they resemble talking points of Al Gore, foaming at the mouth, an overwhelming urge to engage in “debate” and make irresponsible wagers that the sufferer later forgets.
    The cure for this malady is long and involved. It involves first and foremost accepting the need to address the issues of climate change. If enough of the sufferers do that, they will find that Al Gore doesn’t have a podium to stand on. Until then, he will be in their face constantly, and their prognosis will be grim.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Oct 2007 @ 11:44 AM

  56. Oh my, we seem to have attracted more than few posters who don’t seem to have even a basic grasp of the carbon cycle, let alone the physics of greenhouse gasses, but then threads about Al Gore and AIT tend to do that.

    Re 4 chip: “For what it’s worth, I have read several books about Britain’s search for the NW passage in the 1800s, and they often mention years when the Arctic waters were largely ice free.”

    I suggest that you take a look here http://nsidc.org/news/press/2007_seaiceminimum/20070810_index.html
    to get some idea of where the bulk of Arctic ice melt occurred this summer and how truly large a mass of ice melted. We’re not talking about the northwest passage, which runs through the more southerly channels through the Canadian Arctic archipelago. We’re talking about the open Arctic sea to the north and northwest of the archipelago.

    Re 7 Sean O: “I just wish that RC, which has such a great reputation as a scientific site, would have clearly said that Gore was 100% correct or 100% wrong on each issue”

    That would have required that he be 100% correct or 100% wrong on each issue. Humans rarely attain that level of black and white perfection or error.

    Re 13 cant say: “Ice-sheet driven sea level rise
    “No time scale was specified” what the hell type of excuse is that.”

    It’s not an excuse, it’s a fact. Gore’s exact words were: “If this [West Antarctic Ice sheet] were to go, sea levels worldwide would go up 20 feet.” How long it would take for it to melt depends on how hot it gets and how fast. What time scale would you have had him choose? Imagine the hue and cry if he HAD picked a time frame.

    Re 25 David Kelsey
    Let’s see, you question that CO2 is a even greenhouse gas, which has only been known and demonstrated experimentally since the 19th century, and assert that there is too little of it to matter in any case. Is it too much to expect that you would do even a rudimentary bit of research on the subject of greenhouse gasses before making such comments? Here’s a good place to start: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html

    Then you go on to assert that human respiration is contributing to the rise of atmospheric CO2, complete with gratuitous and disingenuous comments about mass genocide. Did you come straight here from the comments section of Huffington Post? Perhaps you should do some reading on the carbon cycle, which can be found in any basic high school physical geography or earth science textbook.
    Here’s one that’s real easy to grasp: http://www.geography4kids.com/files/cycles_carbon.html
    And here’s one that’s more comprehensive on-line source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_cycle
    Here’s another: http://visionlearning.com/library/module_viewer.php?c3=1&mid=95&l=1

    Comment by Jim Eager — 16 Oct 2007 @ 11:51 AM

  57. Gavin and Michael wrote: “Individual hurricanes cannot be attributed to global warming, but the statistics of hurricanes, in particular the maximum intensities attained by storms, may indeed be.”

    Certainly no one can say “this particular hurricane formed at this particular location at this particular time because of global warming.” Thus it would be unsupportable to say that hurricane Katrina, for example, was “caused by global warming.”

    However, it is my understanding that the development of hurricane Katrina — which had weakened while passing over Florida from the Atlantic, and then strengthened to Category 5 and grew to enormous size over the Gulf of Mexico — can be directly attributed to the unusual warmth of the Gulf water in August 2005, and thus can be attributed to global warming.

    In this sense I believe it is legitimate to “link” hurricane Katrina to global warming, not in the sense that global warming caused that particular hurricane to come into existence at that particular time, but in the sense that global warming directly contributed to Katrina’s growth into a highly destructive “mega-storm”. Thus the destruction and devastation that we have come to refer to as “Hurricane Katrina” can legitimately be pointed to as an example of what global warming has in store for us in the future in terms of more frequent development of such hurricanes as do occur into more powerful and destructive storms.

    And Gore’s point about our lack of preparedness to deal with Katrina is very important. We — and I mean the USA, the richest and most technologically advanced society on Earth — are ill-prepared to deal with many of the likely effects of global warming; not only mega-hurricanes but droughts, floods and fires. Much of New Orleans and the surrounding region is still in ruins two years later. Most of the world is even less prepared and less well-equipped to deal with such disasters.

    And as far as I can tell, all of the empirical evidence indicates that the disasters will be many, frequent, and bigger and sooner than anyone has anticipated.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Oct 2007 @ 12:02 PM

  58. Re globalwarming-factorfiction.com

    This site seems to be little more than a platform for google ads, with little original content, and lots of false controversy borrowed from the wrong side of the media tracks. You can check it’s street cred by googling links to the site. Not a very powerful or plentiful harvest.

    Please don’t feed the trolls.

    Comment by Tom Fiddaman — 16 Oct 2007 @ 12:21 PM

  59. #39 Sea level & gravity

    Ray, your equipotential argument sounds very convincing to me.

    However I do not think that a level difference between the oceans is the reason for locks in the Panama canal. As far as I know, you just have to get over the hill somehow. The Suez canal has no locks; apparently if the resistance of a canal is large enough it doesn’t matter that there is a little flow back and forth.

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 16 Oct 2007 @ 12:29 PM

  60. Re. 25 and 27, David Kelsey, you clearly have not read up on the subject. Try reading up on the carbon cycle and once you’ve read that, click the Start Here link on menu at the top of this page, and follow the links from there.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 16 Oct 2007 @ 12:39 PM

  61. Re 25, 27 (human and plant respiration)

    “Forgive my ignorance” was a good way to begin the discussion of genocide and deforestation as strawdog green policies.

    All of the CO2 contributed to the atmosphere by plants, animals, and humans was originally removed from the atmosphere by photosynthesis. As long as the inflow and outflow are in equilibrium, there’s no problem. Trouble only arises when there’s a net contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere, from burning forests or fossil fuels for example.

    Comment by Tom Fiddaman — 16 Oct 2007 @ 12:47 PM

  62. Re: 25 & 27, David Kelsey,

    Not to pick on you Mr. Kelsey, but I’d like to use your comments as an example of what I find particularly exasperating in this and other scientific discussions among lay people (and, by the phrasing of your comments, I’m assuming you’re not a scientist):

    The questions Mr. Kelsey raises are perfectly reasonable questions for a lay person to ask. It’s true CO2 is a trace gas, that anthropogenic additions to the total carbon cycle are small, and that living systems outgas CO2. Further, it’s true that, at first glance, these facts seem to run counter claims of AGW. But one would hope it would also occur to a lay person that it’s likely that the scientists who study climate change are aware of these facts and have taken them into condideration. Consequently, it’s likely that there’s a perfectly good explanation as to why they do not, in fact, refute AGW.

    So in asking the questions, one would hope the phrasing were more congenial, rather than confrontational. In particluar, Mr. Kelsey’s comment #27 is phrased less like a question than a “gotcha!” It makes him look downright ignorant – not of the science, but of the competency of the scientific community. And it’s this attitude among a significant number of lay people, that is difficult to reason with. If you’re seriously posting a comment as basic as “biomass returns carbon to the atmosphere, so there!” on a blog run by and frequented by professional climate researchers, it’s clear you have no idea how much you don’t understand, and how much others do. It’s a complete lack of appreciation for the level of knowledge among the professionals – as though anyone could be a climate expert w/ just a few night courses at the local community college.

    Sure, ask the questions, they’re not dumb questions. But give the community of thousands of researchers, working for decades, the benefit of the doubt.

    Comment by robert — 16 Oct 2007 @ 12:50 PM

  63. Dick Veldkamp (52) — The Red Sea has a slightly higher stand than the Mediterranean Sea. The Suez cnal has led to an invaszive species problem in the easttern Mediterranean Sea.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 16 Oct 2007 @ 1:05 PM

  64. Re. the CO2 lag in the ice core record, the guidance notes [PDF] for schools state:

    “Note: Pupils watching this segment might get the impression that the graph plotting CO2 against temperature over 650,000 years proves that recent rises in temperature are caused by CO2. The latter conclusion is accepted by the great majority of the world’s climate scientists, but cannot be proved by reference to this graph. Closer examination shows that, for most of the last 650,000 years, temperature increase precede CO2 increases by several hundred years. Some sceptics have used this to support their claim that recent temperature rises may not be caused by CO2. But it is generally accepted that the causative relationship between CO2 and temperature over the last 650,000 years goes both ways and that, now, it is CO2 which is driving temperature. The relationship between increases in CO2 and increases in temperature is not linear, it is logarithmic. The IPCC estimates that the equilibrium warming if CO2 concentrations were doubled is likely to be in the range of 2°C to 4.5°C with a best estimate of 3°C.”

    Not exactly a clear explanation of the feedback mechanism! And no mention of the fact that that most of the eventual warming was GHG-induced.

    Poor show.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 16 Oct 2007 @ 1:14 PM

  65. Re Theo (currently #46): “The core complaint by Mr Dimmock, who took the issue before the courts, against AIT, was that the film was “political indoctrination” so contrary to the 1996 (UK)Education Act. This is probably more interesting, and the arguments for and agaist, than the science itself. The judge most usefully ruled that AIT was not ‘political indoctrination’.”

    I agree that the political aspect is more interesting than the “errors” (though I think some of the “errors” were indeed errors) but that last statement is wrong. The judge didn’t rule that AIT isn’t political indoctrination; he ruled that no teaching material, no matter how controversial (he mentioned Nazi propaganda films), is itself politically indoctrinating. It all comes down to how materials are presented in the classroom.

    Everyone in court – defendant, claimant and judge – agreed that the film is politically partisan: that it promotes a particular view of what we should do in response to climate change. If teachers didn’t point out these political aspects, that would be political indoctrination. The judicial review worked out a new set of guidance notes for teachers that would help them stay on the right side of the law and allow the film to be shown. No matter what Mr Dimmock’s intentions were (he is said to be a GW sceptic), by the time his complaint came to court, the science was secondary.

    Vicki (#43), it came to court because whoever decides these things thought there was a real chance that the government’s initial distribution of the film was in breach of the law. And so it proved. There was initially a clearly stated intention to indoctrinate children. There was also a lack of guidance to teachers on how to treat those parts of the film that were political (and/or non-IPCC science).

    (Thanks to those who provided explanations of weak gravity, low water. My brain is still sizzling slightly, but that’s my problem.)

    Comment by Vinny Burgoo — 16 Oct 2007 @ 1:14 PM

  66. Re 55. Tom – I am sorry that my site doesn’t fit your standards. I try to be fair and balanced and discuss both sides of the issue. The site is barely 6 months old so it only has a few thousand links (use the Google Webmaster tools not the link tool that you referred to). According to my feed stats, I have several hundred regular readers that must see value in the format that you deride.

    You don’t have a URL tied to your posts. What is your site on the subject and how many external links does it have? I am wondering if a glass house analogy may not be in order.

    Yes, I have ads on the site. The pennies that I get per click on an ad barely cover my hosting bill and come nowhere near my time and effort. Don’t disparage me because I am not independently wealthy and want to cover my costs.

    Comment by Sean O — 16 Oct 2007 @ 1:28 PM

  67. Dick Veldkamp. No, there are many reasons for locks in the PC. Gravitational differences are not one. Wind and currents are. The Pacific sea level is different than that of the Atlantic–mainly due to prevailing winds. As I said, a lot of things contribute to local sea level. The gravity reference was specific to Vinny’s question.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Oct 2007 @ 1:36 PM

  68. Sean O. Oh dear, another “fair and balanced” site. So tell me, Sean, how do you balance the fact that all the evidence is on only one side?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Oct 2007 @ 1:37 PM

  69. Sean O’s wish that RC would provide “100 %” answers, and claim to presenting “both sides” of questions, shows he’s not writing about science in his “fact or fiction” page. RC gets a lot of people posting their sites blogflogging. Setting “nofollow” might avoid pagerank benefits, if it’s an option you can elect per site.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Oct 2007 @ 1:57 PM

  70. Gavin and Michael, this

    http://uwnews.washington.edu/ni/article.asp?articleID=34106

    …is just a news story, but glacier guy P. Mote seems pretty adamant that the Kilimanjaro thing CAN’T be blamed on GW.

    [Response: Ray Pierrehumbert, our resident atmospheric water vapor expert, has clearly articulated here before an argument for why the imminent demise of Kilimanjaro likely is related to anthropogenic climate change. This was from before Ray was a regular here--the article was posted as a guest article by our resident glaciology expert Eric Steig. -mike]

    #4 The St. Roche spent several months on its first arctic run stuck in the ice. The second, shorter run still took 86 days. Conditions were hardly “ice free”.

    Comment by bigcitylib — 16 Oct 2007 @ 2:15 PM

  71. [[Forgive my ignorance, but isn’t sea level a worldwide thing? How can the sea level rise in the area of some Indian islands without its being noticed, say, around England or New York?]]

    Sea level is not the same everywhere in the world. It varies with local gravity, temperature, salinity, currents, and winds.

    [[ Could the flooding of low lying islands not equally be due to tectonic plate activity?]]

    No, probably not.

    [[ Of course, the latter can’t really be blamed on man, so it won’t get much publicity. While I am writing this, exactly how do we know CO2 is a greenhouse gas? ]]

    Because John Tyndall demonstrated that it was in the lab in 1859.

    [[There isn’t a hell of a lot of it in the atmosphere - 0.036% of the global atmosphere - so how does this minuscule proportion affect the global temperature?]]

    For a precis, try John Houghton’s “The Physics of Atmospheres.” And the 384 ppmv of CO2 in the air amounts to 5.88 kilograms for every square meter of the Earth’s surface, which is plenty to affect radiative transfer.

    [[ And as human exhalation accounts for 38 billion tonnes of CO2, and animals probably the same again, what remedies do the warmers have in mind for this? Mass genocide?]]

    Animal and plant respiration is balanced in a natural cycle. The vast majority of CO2 produced every year is taken up by natural sinks. Human burning of fossil fuels raises the source levels enough that the total in the atmosphere keeps accumulating.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Oct 2007 @ 2:35 PM

  72. Re 39. What do you take this statement to mean and what was the claim in the court arguments about it? Are you implying that “over-representation” somehow equates to “falsification” or am I mis-interpreting your reason for posting this statement?

    Comment by Mary C — 16 Oct 2007 @ 3:04 PM

  73. # 70

    looks like it can be, but, the vast majority of glaciers are retreating world wide and humans are having a great deal of influence on this. When Lonnie Thompson said a few more years before it’s gone, I don’t think Kilimanjaro cared too much- but it is like the dice game in my comment 6 — Chris

    Comment by Chris — 16 Oct 2007 @ 3:17 PM

  74. [[Oh Gosh, I forgot the plants. There are apparently 1877 billion tonnes of biomass, half of which is carbon. Virtually all of this is presumably expressing CO2 during the hours of darkness, and oxygen in daylight, due to photosynthesis. What’s the green answer to that? Cut down all the forests?]]

    Where did you get the idea that photosynthesis reverses itself at night? If your model were correct, plants would get no nutrition and would all die.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Oct 2007 @ 3:18 PM

  75. [[ I am sorry that my site doesn’t fit your standards. I try to be fair and balanced and discuss both sides of the issue.]]

    Do you address both sides of the issue of white supremacy, slavery, or the Holocaust?

    Sometimes it has been established by massive amounts of evidence that one side or the other is WRONG. So giving equal play to both sides is like giving equal play to a real physicist and a crackpot who claims he can disprove relativity.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Oct 2007 @ 3:36 PM

  76. Yes, sea level rise is a relative phenomena, as many coast lines on the globe are rising in response to isostatic rebound (from glacial unloading as the ice sheets melted during this interglacial, and it is still occuring in many parts of the northern hemisphere). Tectonic uplift of coast lines around the Pacific Rim (ring of fire) is also common. These uplift effects are many times 3 to 5 times more rapid than sea level rise due to ice melt over the last century or so, many are 10mm per year. There are also coast lines that are subsiding due to downwarping of the earth’s crust by rapid sediment loading, such as the deltas of the Mississippi, Ganges, Nile, etc. and due to rapid fluid withdrawal. So Mr. Gore’s gross exaggerations on ice melt drowning the world are total misrepresentations of the scientific facts for political gain. Why any true scientist could endorse his distortions and half truths is beyond my comprehension and ethical understanding of what science should stand for in society. However, it also tells me some scientists are willing to compromise their professional ethics to salve their environmental motives and use any means to justify their ends.

    Comment by Dr. J — 16 Oct 2007 @ 3:37 PM

  77. A bit generous with Mr Gore, I think : maybe even partial, particularly with the Pacific
    Islanders.

    But having said that, Mr Gore has actually stood up and been counted.

    I didnt think that the Judge in the case did at all badly : he is clearly almost as
    switched on as most of the posters on RC. I particularly liked his comments on ‘balance’,
    which the media might like to read and take to heart.

    The prime issue for me is not temperature increases, which looks like a slam dunk, and its
    evident effects on marine and land based life and land based agriculture, whilst not forgetting
    the impacts of extreme weather events, mass migrations and the rest, but on sea level rise
    which is a known unknown (if I may put it like that).

    I keep reading the science stuff on this as recommended by your excellent selves
    and then I read some of Mr Hansen’s stuff and it does all fit. The problem seems to be that
    we dont know how it fits because the detailed science hasnt yet caught up with the informed
    and educated intuition.

    Starting from base, I would doubt that there is a respectable climate scientist/modeller who
    would bet against a more than 1m rise by the end of the century. I suspect that the futures
    market is insufficiently developed for that time frame, so we shall never know.
    But 1m does seem to be the base number, hunches included

    But if the base is 1m then how do the bets shape up for 2m or more. One metre is bad
    enough, perhaps a major disaster, but 2 and then three looks to me like a
    mega disaster in the making.

    Returning to the Hansen et al 2007 paper which tried to be positive about controlling
    temperature to 1C, sea level rise popped up again.

    I dont know how organised the science community is with respect to ice sheet study but
    does it make sense to keep a running commentary at 6 monthly rests in one easy to read
    document, on : mass balance, melt water flows, glacier movement, glacier calving, quakes
    and/or whatever is important ? A bit like a doctors report on the patient’s progress.
    It seems important enough to me, but is it, and if it is then who would do it?

    Comment by Eachran — 16 Oct 2007 @ 4:05 PM

  78. Off topic of course, but the “recent comments” and “with inline responses” lists on the main page don’t seem to be working. I miss ‘em.

    [Response: Sorry. We are having database overload issues and the recent comment searches are particularly unfriendly. Any experts in mySQL and php who want to help can email me! - gavin]

    Comment by tamino — 16 Oct 2007 @ 4:39 PM

  79. Re 55 / 66

    I gave your site a second look. There’s more material than first meets the eye, but I don’t see the balance to which you aspire.

    For example, I chose the Getting Warmer-Human Fault category, and looked at the first few links. The first four, while they report on pro-AGW developments, all have AGW-skeptical editorial comments. On the other hand, the Not Getting Warmer category’s first few posts are presented without criticism, even though they come from what I would consider to be extremely dodgy sources and contain flaws which have been repeatedly pointed out elsewhere. I see a distinctive anti-AGW slant to your content; the tone reminds me of Tech Central Station.

    I would like your site better if you did one or more of the following:
    - abandon the pretense of balance (or get some balance; balance does not mean equal quantities )
    - go meta, i.e. continue reporting on developments in the popular media, but just keep score on which side is winning, rather than treating the product of lobbyists as science
    - go deeper, tracing skeptical and other arguments back to reasonable sources in the science literature
    There’s plenty of noise out there, so GW sites need to serve as filters, not repeaters.

    Comment by Tom Fiddaman — 16 Oct 2007 @ 4:48 PM

  80. re 79. “but I don’t see the balance to which you aspire. ”

    I think you are confusing balance with something else. In the first place, the ‘skeptical’ arguments you refer to ARE sourced, the problem is that those arguments are simply very weak. That is why the climate science community has largely agreed with the IPCC findings; there are no substantive counter-arguments. Ths discussion points now are revolving around 1. how bad will it get 2. what can be done.

    Comment by richard — 16 Oct 2007 @ 5:14 PM

  81. Dr. J stated: “So Mr. Gore’s gross exaggerations on ice melt drowning the world are total misrepresentations of the scientific facts for political gain.”

    Not so. There is ample evidence that during the previous interglacial, the Eemian around 134,000 years ago, the sea stand was about 4 meters higher that it is now. This is attributed to higher temperatures in at least Greenland and possibly also West Antarctica.

    Mr. Gore did not state how long it would take for the sea stand to rise this far. No one knows, although Dr. James Hansen has recently stated that it might be much sooner than previously estimated.

    With mis-statements such as yours, I suppose our descendants will find out…

    Comment by David B. Benson — 16 Oct 2007 @ 5:14 PM

  82. [[Forgive my ignorance, but isn’t sea level a worldwide thing? How can the sea level rise in the area of some Indian islands without its being noticed, say, around England or New York?]]

    You need to learn physics. Two forces, at least can make this so. One is that water expands when heated. If warmer ocean currents are shifted then they rise more than colder ones. El Nino raises its tongue surface height by at least 15 cm (or about 1/2 of a foot).

    Second reason, some places like New England are still rebounding from the last ice age…yes, they are rising after the weight of the ice…but that is taken into account.

    Some places in Australia actually had no real sea level rise over the last 50 or so years…you need averages, averages averages….not single cherry pickings.

    All this is not really radical.

    The peer review system (Fourier), although it was hard to accept for the times, indicated that humans might be able to change local surface climates even in 1827.

    http://www.cicero.uio.no/media/182.pdf P.21.

    The basics have been hashed out pretty well by world scientists since 1827.

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 16 Oct 2007 @ 5:32 PM

  83. Same for me Tamino. The web site was down for part of the weekend and maybe it hasn’t fully recovered yet?

    Comment by Figen Mekik — 16 Oct 2007 @ 5:35 PM

  84. Ah… just for some levity…

    http://tinyurl.com/3bcupx from “The Daily Mash”:
    GORE FILM IS ‘INCONVENIENT BOLLOCKS’ SAYS JUDGE
    Excerpt:
    He said the former US Presidential candidate’s assertions that all dolphins had melted and that elephants were being forced to make footballs for Nike in India for slave wages were also, “a lot of cock”.

    Justice Brubaker said: “According to Mr Gore climate change has forced monkeys to install air conditioning in their jungles and led to snakes growing arms so they can hold one of those personal electric fans. I don’t think so.

    “Anyway, if it is that bad why doesn’t he try turning off a few lights in his own mansion before telling the rest of us we have to recycle our own turds to stop our children from catching fire.”

    However, the judge said the film could still be viewed in British schools as long as the head teacher stood up before each showing and said: “This is a flammed up can of old shite. Ignore it.”

    Comment by tidal — 16 Oct 2007 @ 5:38 PM

  85. Re 76 Dr J: “So Mr. Gore’s gross exaggerations on ice melt drowning the world are total misrepresentations of the scientific facts for political gain.”

    Please define gross exaggeration in this case.

    What is exaggerated or half true about the statement: “If [the West Antarctic ice sheet] were to go, sea levels worldwide would go up 20 feet?”

    Or the statement: “If Greenland broke up and melted, or if half of Greenland and half of West Antarctica broke up and melted, this is what would happen to the sea level in Florida?”

    It’s easy enough to calculate if those statements are factual or not, is it not? And is it or is it not a fact that sea level has been that much higher in the past at times when temperatures were only 1-2ºC higher than they are today, as Gavin and Michael stated?

    It was you, Dr J, who used the phrase “drowning the world,” not Gore. It seems to me that it is you who is exaggerating and misrepresenting what Gore said for political gain.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 16 Oct 2007 @ 5:39 PM

  86. Well, this just reconfirms it to me that Gore is much closer to the conservative “science” side of the discussion than the “environmentalist” side. Too bad. I don’t blame him, the way the denialists have snuck into to the discussion with a forceful vengeance and railroaded it over somewhere between denialists’ “we need 99% or 101% certainty” and scientists’ “we need 95% certainty,” totally pushing out the victims’/potential victims’ position of wanting to avoid harm. I just wish someone would stand up a bit stronger for the victims and potential victims, and just ignore the denialists.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 16 Oct 2007 @ 5:51 PM

  87. In geological circles it is well understood that coral islands develop on volcanic sea-mounts which may or may not reach sea level. It is also known that the weight of the volcanic edifice, and the coral structures developed on it, cause subsidence since the underlying oceanic crust yields to the weight. Volcanic activity can re-commence, lifting the whole edifice. This is demonstrated on many coral islands by the coral ‘terraces’.

    So, apparently rising sea-levels on coral islands are much more to do with local subsidence than an overall global rise in sea-levels. How can it be so difficult to miss this obvious point?

    We should also acknowledge that coral islands have a self-correcting mechanism to deal with subsidence. Coral is an active organism, and it grows to reach the surface. If the island sinks a little, the coral grows a little to compensate.

    I think you will get much further in understanding the issues relating to sea-level rise on coral islands if you look at the politics of the situation. Many coral island based nations are losing population due to the lack of a viable local economy. An example I am familiar with is the island nation of Niue which has only 1500 local residents, but a population of 20,000 expatriates living mostly in New Zealand, but also in Australia. Niue is keen to find ways to restore the local economy so that it can welcome many of the expatriates back home.

    It is not surprising that some of the small island nations are capitalising on the AGW situation in an attempt to secure funding support.

    Comment by truthout — 16 Oct 2007 @ 5:56 PM

  88. Re. 79
    Tom – thank you for taking another look. I followed the links that you referred to (I am not going to reproduce them here since I was called a link troll here today and that was not my goal). I have to politely disagree with your characterization of the 10 posts at each category. While I was probably harder on Mr. Gore (whom I think created a sham movie) and carbon trading (which I think is counter-productive to the goals of appropriate energy usage), I have been chastised much harder for my comments against the skeptics (I don’t think that Imhofe’s people will ever talk to me again).

    Oh well, thank you for at least being open minded enough to take a look.

    Re. 69 Hank – Nofollow is already set for RC. It is a WordPress blog and nofollow is automatically set for WP blogs unless the administrator explicitly turns it off. My comments here were not a link trolling expedition but rather pointing out that Gore took liberties with the truth and RC wimped out by not calling him on it.

    Comment by Sean O — 16 Oct 2007 @ 7:18 PM

  89. Re. #88, Sean O, other than possibly “Pacific island nations needing to evacuate”, I don’t see what evidence you have that AIT “took liberties with the truth”. It over-simplified at times (most documentaries do), and in one case (sea level rise) it departed from the scientific consensus by implication, but that’s not the same thing as taking liberties with the truth. With only minor tweaks and qualifications (such as using a different illustration of glacier retreat rather than Kilimanjaro) his film could have stuck to the consensus and yet made exactly the same points. Fundamentally the AIT film is accurate (unlike the Swindle film, which the AGW deniers are trying to promote as a counterpoint to AIT, and which is fundamentally dishonest).

    Also, in a documentary film which mentioned hundreds of facts it is not surprising if it got a small number of them wrong and over-simplified others. It’s main points were all scientifically accurate, again in stark contrast to Swindle.

    Even in the case of the evacuation issue, there seems little doubt (and the IPCC AR4 WGIII report confirms this) that the balance of probability is that huge numbers of people (probably tens of millions) worldwide will be displaced during the coming century as a result of sea level rise, so although his specific illustration was misleading, the point he was making was accurate.

    Having said that, I do wish Gore had had the film’s transcript peer reviewed before release – that would have prevented it from becoming a relatively easy target for the AGW deniers. It could have made the same points just as effectively, with better illustrations and more qualifications, and would have been better for it. But fundamentally it seems an honest film to me, unlike Swindle, and I see no evidence to back your implication that it this isn’t the case.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 16 Oct 2007 @ 8:16 PM

  90. I’ll second Sean (#1) with a little twist. I do think you’re looking carefully for obscure loopholes that correctly conclude that Gore did not say exactly this or that, when the perfectly clear implication from the movie is to get people to believe all those things that Gore did not actually say. That said, I think the original court case was making much todo over nothing, let alone trampling all over freedom of expression (which I don’t know if it has the same legal weight in England.) If the courts assessed all textbooks and media with the same guidelines, students would have nothing to read or watch. Most things have an error here and there, and, as RC cogently states, “….people expecting the same depth from a movie as from a scientific paper are setting an impossible standard.” I’m on the skeptic side of things and disagree with Mr. Gore on a number of things, and think he skewed a few things in the movie; but there is no good reason under the sun that it should not be able to be distributed and shown in schools or any place else. Nor should it be obligated to be shown with a “truth-in-lending” disclaimer — that’s downright silly.

    I congratulate Mr. Gore on winning the Nobel Peace Prize, but I have no idea what his stance on global warming has to do with wars, conflicts, disarmament, armies, peace, and such. Academy Award? Well, it was at least a movie, and for all I know the best of the category. More congrats.

    Comment by Rod B — 16 Oct 2007 @ 9:37 PM

  91. I was somewhat disappointed that Gore’s film didn’t go far enough with the harms — like leaving out a discussion of possible runaway warming or hysteresis — positive feedbacks of our initial warming causing nature to emit more GHGs, causing more warming, causing nature to emit more, and so on up to massive extinction and tremendous human genocide. That’s a lot of bang for our GHG emissions. However, on the AIT DVD in the extra info section he does mention it a bit.

    I think any classroom in which AIT is shown should make it a point to discuss the high end harms, which though less likely are something we need to keep in mind. Cautious claims are for scientists and ultra-cautious claims for denialists with politico-economic agenda. Those concerned about avoiding serious threats to our life-support systems in the near and distant future should not require high certainty to address these issues. Would a life-loving person take poison because there was only a 70% chance it would kill them, even 30% chance? Yes, of course, many people do eat and drink things that harm them, but it is unconscionable to bring death and destruction upon other people, upon our progeny.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 16 Oct 2007 @ 10:22 PM

  92. Comment by Sean O — 16 October 2007 @ 7:18 PM

    … While I was probably harder on Mr. Gore (whom I think created a sham movie) …

    MR JUSTICE BURTON:

    I have no doubt that Dr Stott, the Defendant’s expert, is right when he says that:

    “Al Gore’s presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in the film was broadly accurate.”

    Comment by J.C.H. — 16 Oct 2007 @ 10:41 PM

  93. Re. #90, Rod B:

    but I have no idea what his stance on global warming has to do with wars, conflicts

    Are you really serious that you have no idea? See here, for example. It really isn’t rocket science!

    Comment by Dave Rado — 16 Oct 2007 @ 11:08 PM

  94. truthout, here’s a response from somewhere deep inside a geologic circle (sometimes a hole!).

    In geological circles it is well understood that coral islands develop on volcanic sea-mounts which may or may not reach sea level. It is also known that the weight of the volcanic edifice, and the coral structures developed on it, cause subsidence since the underlying oceanic crust yields to the weight. Volcanic activity can re-commence, lifting the whole edifice. This is demonstrated on many coral islands by the coral ‘terraces’.

    Oops, you have it backwards – volcanic activity provides the load that depresses the crust (and raises an annular ‘donut’ around the point load). When the activity ceases, slow uplift (or subsidence in the surrounding annular arch, as the ‘donut’ is more properly called) occurs as the load erodes away. But putting that aside, for flexural volcanic loading to affect uplift measurements, you need an active, or recently active volcano — of which there are surprisingly few in the Pacific; it drops off quickly after Hawaii, Samoa, and the Society Islands. Your example, Niue, is long dead and readjusted.

    So, apparently rising sea-levels on coral islands are much more to do with local subsidence than an overall global rise in sea-levels. How can it be so difficult to miss this obvious point?

    This is far off the mark – and in two directions. First, it’s simply not true that all coral islands subside. A closer look at the history of your example, Niue, is a great illustration along these lines – more on that below. Second, eustatic sea level rise (not ‘apparent’ or ‘relative’) is clear from long-term tide global gauge records and, most convincingly, from satellite measurements in an external reference frame. The obvious point, in geologic circles, is that accelerated eustatic sea level rise is bad news for low-lying atolls.

    We should also acknowledge that coral islands have a self-correcting mechanism to deal with subsidence. Coral is an active organism, and it grows to reach the surface. If the island sinks a little, the coral grows a little to compensate.

    This one is true, and truly beside the point. Live coral requires sea water, so islands would already be flooded in this scenario. Are you envisioning coral somehow growing beyond low-tide elevation? I’m baffled. The few meters of relief that defines most of the lowest-lying Pacific atolls reflects the mid-Holocene far field highstand, when corals were indeed playing catch-up to a quickly rising sea level.

    An example I am familiar with is the island nation of Niue

    Your example of Niue bears closer examination. It is a beautiful emergent atoll that sits on the forebulge of the Tonga trench. As Niue moves toward the subduction zone, it is climbing up and over the flexural trench forebulge – and consequently, it has actually emerged 0.4 – 0.9 m since the mid-Holocene (even with the mid-Holocene RSL high taken into account). Take a closer look at the fringes of Niue on Google Earth and admire the emergent wavecut benches cut into the Pliocene to modern reef. This is hardly an example of continual subsidence. If this type of thing catches your fancy, check out Rennell Island in the Solomons for another beautiful example of an island lifted by the forebulge.

    For everybody who is truly interested in sorting out geodynamic/eustatic/hydro-isostatic contributions to relative sea level, the paper “Paleoshoreline record of relative Holocene sea levels on Pacific islands” by W.R. Dickinson (2001) in Earth-Science Reviews is a great place to start (and the rates for Niue above are his work).

    Comment by Rich Briggs — 17 Oct 2007 @ 1:40 AM

  95. 1. The legal profession has jargon like all professions. The judge may have been using the word “err” to mean something other than what we mean by “error.”

    2. Al Gore was very mild on the problems caused by global warming. It is almost like he is trying not to scare people. I have found more scientists who say that we have only about 200 years before we humans go extinct. The cause would be H2S. The web sites are:
    http://www.geosociety.org/meetings/2003/
    prPennStateKump.htm

    http://www.astrobio.net/news/modules.php?op
    =modload&name=News&file=article&sid=672

    http://www.astrobio.net/news/modules.php?op
    =modload&name=News&file=article&sid=1535

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=00037A5D-
    A938-150E-A93883414B7F0000&sc=I100322

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 17 Oct 2007 @ 1:59 AM

  96. Woops! the web sites are:

    http://www.geosociety.org/meetings/2003/prPennStateKump.htm

    http://www.astrobio.net/news/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=672

    http://www.astrobio.net/news/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=1535

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=00037A5D-A938-150E-A93883414B7F0000&sc=I100322

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 17 Oct 2007 @ 2:04 AM

  97. I’m a bit confused by the folks who say they are a “skeptic” but fail to provide any scientific evidence which supports their skepticism. Using the same argument and evidentiary standards, I guess I could say I’m skeptical about the existence of gravity and the chemical formula of sodium chloride. I’m just skeptical.

    Comment by Doug Watts — 17 Oct 2007 @ 2:32 AM

  98. I think the film AIT may be a good teaching material if it is suitably used. It will give pupils a rough sketch on the global warming issues. How should it be “suitably” used then? I want to show an example here.

    Pupils in England would not care if the first thinker of the CO2 measurement is Keeling or Revelle (the former, according to S. R. Weart, “The Discovery of Global Warming,” Harvard University Press, 2003). But, they will have a strong impression that the reason for the frequent close of Thames Barrier is that sea level is rising due to the CO2 increase. Of course, this is not true; according to London City, “The Barrier is now also being closed in response to high water levels in Thames tributaries rather than only when a tide is exceptionally high (www.london.gov.uk/assembly/reports/environment/flood_thamesg.pdf). An interesting point is that the amount of rain was relatively small during 1995-1997 when the barrier was closed often. Thus, it may be a good traning for the pupils to look for real reasons why the Thames Barrier are closed so often recently.

    Moreover, the sea level rise near London is largely due to the subsidence of the southern part of the Great Britain; this is, as is known well, because of post-glacial rebound (the northern half is raising).

    Thus, the film should be supported by “accurate information”when it is shown in the classrooms. I hope Mr. Gore will revise his film in near future.

    Comment by Kiminori Itoh — 17 Oct 2007 @ 3:06 AM

  99. “An Inconvenient Truth” was a movie and people expecting the same depth from a movie as from a scientific paper are setting an impossible standard.”

    No one has ever accused the members of Norway’s Storting,whence Peace Prize nominations and Committee members largely stem, of having any better taste in films than nominees, many of whom are not exactly in Ingemar Bergman’s bracket.

    I took the precaution of blowing the whistle on CEI’s Iain Murray last week, for glossing over the High Court ( no more to be confused with the Law Lords than the Low Kirk) invocation of the IPCC report and ignoring the judge’s focus on the problem of partisanship in nations where Green is a Party:

    http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2007/10/tangled-web-use.html

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 17 Oct 2007 @ 5:11 AM

  100. “it is clear that the purported ‘errors’ are nothing of the sort. The (unofficial) transcript of the movieshould be referred to if you have any doubts about this.”

    Really? The thing speaks for itself in all its sublime truthiness.

    What fraction of the audience do you suppose kept their eyes closed ? The film is about 100 minutes times 50 words long, and consists of several hundred beats, each picture being canonically worth a thousand words. Go figure.

    Like most intelligent laymen, judges can recognize cant when they hear it and cartoons when they see them, and evidently this judge did. Seldom in the annals of rubber graph paper has the disconnect between text and icon been more guilefully constructed than when Al uses a virtual cherry picker_ to obscure the scale expansion of the opening graph, and even for the sake of a movie trailer, inundating a Silicon Graphics Statue of Liberty is a very odd way to validate a GCM or illustrate a centimeter per year of maximum sea level rise.

    He and Guggenheim should be ashamed of themselves, but that’s not much of an occupational hazard among those hell bent to save the world. With the conspicuously honorable exceptions of Mike MacCracken , Jerry Mahlman and Steve Schneider , the only lesson those involved seem to have garnered from the media hype attending Carl Sagan’s modeling run for the Peace Prize a generation ago is:

    ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try waiting for scarier special effects ‘

    [Response: You appear to be talking about The Day After Tomorrow, rather than AIT. And if you think a cm/yr sea level rise is nothing to worry about, I have some basement property in Battery Park City to sell you. - gavin]

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 17 Oct 2007 @ 5:59 AM

  101. Check out this guy and his “How It All Ends” series…
    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=wonderingmind42

    Comment by Kyle Gyurics — 17 Oct 2007 @ 7:45 AM

  102. Re 44

    J.S McIntyre – Three cheers! And, Amen. This accusation that AIT serves a political agenda is getting tedious in the extreme.

    Comment by Ron Taylor — 17 Oct 2007 @ 8:41 AM

  103. Re 74 by Barton Paul Levenson

    >Where did you get the idea that photosynthesis reverses itself at night? If your model were correct, plants would get no nutrition and would all die.
    ——–
    Of course – I am a berk. The concept of plants giving off CO2 at night was so ingrained in me from my early childhood in the thirties, I never thought to question it until now. The words ‘egg’ and ‘face’ spring to mind. Thanks!

    Comment by David Kelsey — 17 Oct 2007 @ 8:52 AM

  104. Re 71 Barton Paul Levenson

    [[Forgive my ignorance, but isn’t sea level a worldwide thing? How can the sea level rise in the area of some Indian islands without its being noticed, say, around England or New York?]]

    Sea level is not the same everywhere in the world. It varies with local gravity, temperature, salinity, currents, and winds.

    [[ Could the flooding of low lying islands not equally be due to tectonic plate activity?]]

    No, probably not.
    ———
    I think I had better leave you to argue this one with various others on this blog who take differing views. However, would you agree that the drowning of islands is not likely to be down to warming at this early stage? I saw a TV film recently which showed a man standing up to his waist in water saying that he was standing on the former main street of the island. This would have required a rise in sea level of about four feet minimum, which seems a lot when it is not reflected elsewhere.

    Comment by David Kelsey — 17 Oct 2007 @ 9:06 AM

  105. Can anyone calculate the world wide average temperature drop it would take in melting say 5 million square kilometers (minima reduction compared to 2005) of ice on average 2 meters thick? Mike suggests that advection (winds) played a role in this years melt. If so it affected the Northern hemispheres average temperature….

    Comment by wayne davidson — 17 Oct 2007 @ 9:38 AM

  106. re 87

    “So, apparently rising sea-levels on coral islands are much more to do with local subsidence than an overall global rise in sea-levels. How can it be so difficult to miss this obvious point?”

    Um, I don’t think so.

    Would you be so kind as to revisit this in terms of timescale, human vs geological?

    Can you provide us some refernece citations that show a dramatitic subsidence in the relatively short span of time we are watching the rise in sea levels?

    Can you provide us a breakdown re observed sea level rise vs. observed subsidence?

    You might consider looking at this as you formulate a response:

    “The process of atoll formation may take as long as 30,000,000 years to occur.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atoll

    Also:

    http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/GG/HCV/haw_formation.html

    Thanks in advance!

    Regarding your comments re population vs economics, this strikes me as a bit of a Red Herring. The point raised in AIT was not whether populations were dwindling due to obvious sustainability factors (something, btw, Jared Diamond discusses at length in “Collapse”), but whether the rising sea levels would force populations in toto to evacuate because the islands would lose their ability to support poulations altogether.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 17 Oct 2007 @ 9:57 AM

  107. First, Gavin and Michael, thanks. This non-scientist appreciates your efforts.

    People are missing a bit of context on this one. I am a historian who regularly works in litigation.

    Judges are bound to view situations such as this very narrowly. In this particular case, the judge had to look at everything in the context of the British statute that prohibits politics in schools. Judges in these cases look for certainty and uncertainty, based only on what evidence is distinctly before them in court.

    In a controversial case in which I was involved, a Candian Supreme Court judge remarked that historians complain “that the judicial selection of facts and quotations is not always up to the standard demanded of the professional historian, which is said to be more nuanced. Experts, it is argued, are trained to read the various historical records together with the benefit of a protracted study of the period, and an appreciation of the frailties of the various sources. The law sees a finality of interpretation of historical events when finality, according to the professional historian, is not possible.”

    In other words, this case was not about science, and it was not about a film about science. It was about a particlar law and the evidence presented in court.

    But before the judge found the nine uncertainties, “errors,” he found one major certainty (Section 17 of the judgement): that there is no possible doubt about the basic theses of Gore’s film. That essential foundation is not political, the judge said.

    Comment by Bob Beal — 17 Oct 2007 @ 10:39 AM

  108. I would have thought that a basement in battery park city was already under sea level.

    Comment by JamesG — 17 Oct 2007 @ 10:48 AM

  109. Dave Rado Says (93): “Are you really serious that you have no idea [what his stance on global warming has to do with wars, conflicts...]? See here, for example. It really isn’t rocket science!”

    Well it’s pretty much of a stretch, but probably good enough for a handful of Norwegians who spent too long in the sauna. Congrats anyway to Mr. Gore.

    Comment by Rod B — 17 Oct 2007 @ 10:49 AM

  110. Re. Mike’s response to #70:

    [Response: Ray Pierrehumbert, our resident atmospheric water vapor expert, has clearly articulated here before an argument for why the imminent demise of Kilimanjaro likely is related to anthropogenic climate change. This was from before Ray was a regular here–the article was posted as a guest article by our resident glaciology expert Eric Steig. -mike]

    I wrote to Philip Mote about Ray’s article, and he replied:

    Yes, I read it partway through writing our article. It’s an excellent treatise on tropical glaciology, but it was written 2.5 years ago and missed some recent observations and analysis. The main point is that the rate of ice loss by sublimation is not controlled by air temperature (unless the temperature rises above freezing, and we have measurements
    that show that is very rare). Furthermore, it is far from clear that air temperature has risen at Kibo’s summit.

    Maybe an update from Ray would be helpful?

    Dave

    [Response: Despite what Philip says, there's not really much to update. Simply put, most of the arguments put forth by Kaser et al (similar to ideas by Mote, who has been a co-author on some of these things), purporting to show that Kilimanjaro decay is definitely not associated with global warming, are incorrect. They ignore the earlier history of precipitation, the evidence from dynamics and satellites that the tropical upper trop is generally warming, and the possibility that changes in circulation patterns and seasonality ( indirectly due to global warming) affect the ablation. Moreover, it is not true that sublimation is insensitive to air temperature, since air temperature affects the energy supply sustaining the sublimation. Moreover, it is not true that sublimation is the only thing going on at Kilimanjaro. Ask Lonnie why his boreholes are full of water! For that matter, melt is predicted by the energy balance models of Molg and Hardy, but they just ignore the meltwater by fiat. Note also that the American Scientist article is almost entirely a rehash and popularization of the same tired old arguments presented by Kaser et al. That doesn't stop it from being trotted about by the Heartland Institute as a "new study." I can't believe that Phil is happy about the way that article is being shopped around, nor about the over-the-top banner it was published under.

    Note that in the article I wrote way back when, I didn't claim that Kilimanjaro was one of the clearest cases for tying glacier retreat to global warming. The evidence there is still somewhat circumstantial, but the people who claim they know it's not global warming are just dead wrong, at least on the basis of the arguments to date (and the arguments available at the time AIT was being made). With regard to Gore, he's certainly on firm ground in that he didn't literally claim that the retreat had been rigorously attributed to global warming. It's certainly consistent with the sort of change one would expect from overall tropical warming, and Gore is on solid ground (at the level of a movie) in that there is credible peer reviewed work by a National Academy member which makes a strong claim of attribution. --raypierre]

    Comment by Dave Rado — 17 Oct 2007 @ 11:19 AM

  111. I would love to see a review of the “Great Global Warming Swindle” by the same judge according to the same rigorous standards. I don’t think that that documentary would be judged to have more than 9 correct statements. :)

    Comment by Count Iblis — 17 Oct 2007 @ 11:47 AM

  112. > global warming has to do with wars,
    > conflicts, disarmament, armies, peace, and such.

    Rod, read the classic book on the subject at least, it’s still in print and your library will have it or can borrow it. If you don’t read the book, at least look it up online. It’s much quoted, much excerpted, you can get the sense of it. Biologists have known this for a very long time.

    When any local area can’t feed itself off local sources without degrading the local area, any disruption in commerce causes people to degrade their local area.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=_e-Q56mT6k4C&dq=catton+overshoot&pg=PP1&ots=2P2fwJ-50K&sig=BvPoyeD6nxgzNL_c0pOufhmP2mc&prev=http://www.google.com/search%3Fq%3Dcatton%2Bovershoot%26ie%3Dutf-8%26oe%3Dutf-8%26aq%3Dt%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26client%3Dfirefox-a&sa=X&oi=print&ct=title&cad=one-book-with-thumbnail
    http://www.greatchange.org/footnotes-overshoot-graphs.html
    http://www.ecoglobe.ch/overshoot/
    http://dieoff.org/page15.htm
    http://www.powells.com/partner/25450/biblio/0252009886
    http://www.mnforsustain.org/catton_excerpt_overshoot_1982.htm

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Oct 2007 @ 12:14 PM

  113. Since audio often communicates more than text, try this:

    http://www.evworld.com/article.cfm?storyid=1072

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Oct 2007 @ 12:16 PM

  114. wayne davidson (105) — The Pacific Northwest had an unusally cool (mild) summer this year. (I’m not including Alaska, because I don’t know about that far north.)

    Comment by David B. Benson — 17 Oct 2007 @ 12:33 PM

  115. Re Rich Briggs #94.

    Thank you for your comments which throw light on the issue. I think that we can agree that there are a range of interacting geological processes that can cause apparent rises and falls in sea-level, at least over geological time.

    However, we have seen in recent weeks that on occasion, geological time can move quite quickly. The volcano off the coast of Yemen is an example, and there was an even better example on You-Tube where sailors on a yacht witnessed the birth of a new island.

    Also, there is the documented example (not volcano related) of Port Adelaide where local subsidence is giving an apparent rise in sea level over a period well within our own lifetimes. Have a look at:

    http://www.ozestuaries.org/indicators/sea_level_rise.jsp

    http://www.coastal.crc.org.au/coast2coast2002/proceedings/Theme3/Sea-level-change-coastal-stability-SA.pdf

    http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/jsct/kyoto/sub44c.htm

    I think that we can agree that local subsidence (and emergence) can cause changes in apparent measured sea-level, and should not be dismissed.

    Comment by truthout — 17 Oct 2007 @ 1:02 PM

  116. RE: #114

    And the Antarctic has had a surprisingly strong winter this year. I’m not sure how that fits the predictions, but it would be quite interesting to hear why a cold antarctic verifies AWG.

    One thought (and with little to back it up): could the cold in the antarctic be caused by a surprisingly strong wobble in the earth’s orbit? one that causes the north pole to have a more direct face toward the sun? that would not only explain the cold antarctic winter, but also the northern ice cap melting.

    Comment by dean_1230 — 17 Oct 2007 @ 1:24 PM

  117. #112 & “When any local area can’t feed itself off local sources without degrading the local area, any disruption in commerce causes people to degrade their local area.”

    Which is also why we need to tackle GW more vigorously now, while we’re rich and have surpluses (beyond our survival needs). Once we get too poor to afford a compact fluorescent bulb over an incandescent — or other measures that have upfront costs but pay for themselves in savings from efficiency — we’re really doomed.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 17 Oct 2007 @ 1:25 PM

  118. #103: Don’t feel too bad… you were sort-of right. Plants do produce CO2 at night, just like animals. But it’s only a small fraction of the CO2 they convert to oxygen and sugar in the daytime.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 17 Oct 2007 @ 1:54 PM

  119. There’s now an article at Wikipedia on this case and the nine ‘errors’. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimmock_v_Secretary_of_State_for_Education_and_Skills – you may find the background to be interesting. Feel free to edit it as required! :-)

    Comment by ChrisO — 17 Oct 2007 @ 2:43 PM

  120. re 115

    “I think that we can agree that local subsidence (and emergence) can cause changes in apparent measured sea-level, and should not be dismissed.”

    But none of these examples you give really address the thesis you were putting forth in your earlier posting on the subject re

    “… apparently rising sea-levels on coral islands are much more to do with local subsidence than an overall global rise in sea-levels.”

    The examples of Yemen and Port Adelaide are isolated incidents that do nothing to actually address the inference that we should look at the phenomena of subsidence on a global scale. Nor do they address the understanding it isn’t just islands that are affected by the rise of sea levels, but large coastal areas, as well.

    It would follow that if coral atolls were experiencing rising sea levels due to subsidence, then the effect on continental coastlines would be of a different measure. I do not see anything being offered that would suggest this.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 17 Oct 2007 @ 2:52 PM

  121. In my opinion, AIT does what no climate scientist or environmental news writer had been able to fully accomplish, make a future threat real to today’s people (though I think James Hansen has been pretty darn good). When I read the posts to RC, and the comments, I usually come away with the thought, “many people don’t understand how profoundly climate change is going to affect the lives of future generations”. I grit my teeth when I hear for the umpteenth time the comment “so it will be a 1-2 degrees warmer in Minnesota, they would appreciate it”.
    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20070509/
    Take a look at this GISS study. Future summer temps in Chicago or New York will resemble those currently experienced in my home, Houston. If that happens that means kids won’t want to play outside and you’ll never see your neighbors as they’ll be holed up in the AC for the summer; camping means sweating it out in a tent in 100% humidity and nightime lows of 74 f; older people will often die from heat stress anytime a T-storm cuts the power; you can’t sit outside on the ground as the fire ants will chew you up (they and other imported tropical nasties will find the new climate pretty tasty); and on and on. Spend a day outside in Houston anytime between May 15 and Sept. 30 and see what you think. I knew the numbers before I saw the movie and yet it still shattered my understanding of AGW. It made the numbers real.

    Comment by Andrew Sipocz — 17 Oct 2007 @ 2:53 PM

  122. truthout,

    I think that we can agree that local subsidence (and emergence) can cause changes in apparent measured sea-level, and should not be dismissed.

    Absolutely. But you’re still arguing that these effects are somehow ignored or dismissed. Your repeated contention that non-eustatic effects on RSL are overlooked by careful researchers is way off base. You’re also implying that sites such as Port Adelaide (which I admit I know nothing about) somehow negate the global eustatic signal. In fact, the data at Port Adelaide (or any other individual site) tell us something important about what is happening at that site alone, but don’t detract from the global signal. This line of argument (‘site x shows y so AGW can’t be true) comes up on RC all the time; it seems to be a standard way for folks to confuse themselves.

    Geologists are frightfully good at recognizing and measuring vertical deformation, going way back. Even Darwin had a headfull of vertical tectonics straight from Lyell, which helped him immensely as he traveled along the South American coast. The interplay of tectonics, sedimentation/compaction, and sea level is an oldie and a goodie.

    The Yemen volcano example is interesting, but doesn’t illuminate the issue at hand.

    Comment by Rich Briggs — 17 Oct 2007 @ 3:29 PM

  123. The differences in RC critiques of Michael Crichton’s and Al Gore’s works is very illuminating and discouraging. The spin on this website has become ridiculous, and it would not be much of a stretch to imagine RC suppressing truths and discouraging truth-searching as long as the goal was saving the planet.

    [Response: Yes it would be a stretch. When people have exaggerated and got things wrong we are just as willing to call them on it - see the piece about Flannery last week, or the media reaction to the Bryden paper last year. There is no equivalence between Crichton and Gore. I have talked to both of them, one of them listened, took note and changed his text, the other did not and distorted the truth even further. You guess which is which. - gavin]

    Comment by Michael — 17 Oct 2007 @ 3:44 PM

  124. #114 — favorite point of people who don’t want to think about global warming: it’s cold here today, so what’s the problem? Problem is the average global temperature. (The American South & Southwest roasted this year).

    Comment by veritas36 — 17 Oct 2007 @ 3:49 PM

  125. Re#123: And sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. Michael Crichton wrote a “fictional” novel where he twisted science and the motivations of scientists to build a story; Al Gore’s work is an instrument for making the science of global warming accessable and understandable to the general public (a task he suceeded at, I might add). Gore may have made some very small mistakes, but there is no deception or even stretching of the truth in his movie. It isn’t fair or even really possible to put Crichton’s work on the same scale as Gore’s. One is intentional fiction (which should be for entertainment purposes only, though even Crichton seems to miss that point) while the other is not fiction at all. And I don’t think one needs to be a scientist to understand the difference. So I don’t see how the spin on this web site has become “ridiculous.” Ridiculous in what reality?

    Comment by Figen Mekik — 17 Oct 2007 @ 3:55 PM

  126. Michael, if you have specific facts, can point to published science in refereed journals, it’ll be possible to talk about them. But it sounds like you want to ignore the science and have people be nice to the authors because they both wrote books.

    Every author is entitled to his or her own opinion and to publish their opinions. Authors aren’t entitled to their own facts — the facts have to be checked by people like you, and me, and the scientists whose research is being pointed to.

    So point to the science. You’ll find a whole lot of work has been done on this site and others looking into the science claimed by these and other authors.

    You may not like one author and may like another. That can’t make a difference looking at the facts. You have to check the papers, read the footnotes, and consider the sources.

    There is a whole lot of PR out there. There’s a whole industry dedicated to fooling most of the people most of the time. Got lead paint in your house? Ever breathed tobacco smoke? Look up what was said about those over time, who said it, who paid the people who said it, and how time has treated their claims.

    There are very nice people out there who are paid to lie, or who truly believe what they’re telling you, and tell you what you want to hear. On _all_ spokes of the political wheel.

    Read the footnotes. Point to your sources and say why you believe them.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Oct 2007 @ 3:55 PM

  127. Re #115: It’s certainly true that any of a variety of factors that can cause a relative increase in sea level will be a problem for an inhabited island with only a couple of meters elevation rise. This is the case regardless of whether it’s a coral atoll. What’s different about SLR from AGW is that it is in the early stages of affecting all such islands around the planet.

    I don’t think anyone mentioned it above, so it’s worth noting that the large immediate problem for these islands isn’t inundation as such but rather the loss of a fresh water supply. If that becomes too contaminated by sea water, evacuation becomes inevitable even though a given island might still appear to a casual observer to be habitable. Humans and their crops require lots of fresh water.

    Finally, the evacuation process will tend to not be abrupt. Islands will simply become able to support fewer and fewer people, and gradual immigration will remove the excess. As well, and I suspect we’re seeing this effect already in the South Pacific, if someone is told that their home will become uninhabitable for their children or grandchildren, they’re going to start looking for good opportunities to relocate before being forced to.

    IOW, the evacuation process could be and I suspect is already underway even though it does not now and may never take the form of short-term mass evacuations.

    Speaking of sea level rise, pasted below is a short description of the results of a new paper (just posted in GRL pre-pub, so sorry no abstract yet) that’s frankly pretty alarming. I’m not sure what the 60 cm figure means, but it’s pretty bad even if it’s simply a projection of the present discharge rate through 2100. Plus one wonders about the rest of Greenland.

    “Greenland is melting at record speed

    “The inland ice on Greenland is vanishing much faster than scientists previously believed. This can be seen from new research results from the Danish National Space Center.

    “Each year, in the south eastern part of Greenland alone, the glaciers produce a mass of icebergs which is equivalent to a gigantic ice cube measuring 6-1/2 km on all sides. And the reduction of the inland ice is accelerating. At the moment, four times as much inland ice is disappearing compared to the beginning of the decade.

    “‘If this development continues, the melt water from the inland ice will make the world’s seas rise by more than 60 cm this century’, says senior researcher Abbas Khan of the Danish National Research Center, who was responsible for the research project. The results were obtained in co-operation with the University of Colorado and have just been published in the international research magazine Geophysical Research Letters.

    “The researchers have measured the rate of melting with special, highly sensitive GPS stations placed on the mountains along the inland ice. When a quantity of inland ice disappears, the pressure on the surrounding mountains eases and they therefore rise slightly. This can be measured by the GPS stations. The measurements show that the mountains along the fast glaciers in south east Greenland are rising by 4-5 cm a year. Meanwhile, the rim of this inland ice will be 100 m thinner a year.”

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 17 Oct 2007 @ 4:15 PM

  128. Gavin:
    re 100:” [Response: You appear to be talking about The Day After Tomorrow, rather than AIT."

    There are stills of TDAT's Great Wave of Manhattan embedded in AIT- and footage from it appears in AIT's ads and trailers.

    I rest my case as to the need to keep your eyes peeled lest your brain be skint at the movies.

    [Response: I just reviewed the trailer, there is no TDAT imagery in there. What are you referring to? This seems like you just want to link the ridiculousness of the TDAT to Gore for no reason other than it looks bad. - gavin]

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 17 Oct 2007 @ 4:27 PM

  129. Figen Mekik,

    We have two critiques of pop-culture media: one forgiving and lenient on partial truths, and the other damning and judgmental. The author’s intent is irrelevant. The intended audience of the published work should not determine a scientist’s analysis of the validity of the science content.

    Comment by Michael — 17 Oct 2007 @ 4:30 PM

  130. My point is there is hardly any science content in Crichton’s “State of Fear.” Even the science he presents is fictionalized, which is fine as long as it is presented and accepted as fiction (entertainment if you will), not fact. And entertainment is not popular culture. It is just entertainment.

    Comment by Figen Mekik — 17 Oct 2007 @ 4:37 PM

  131. re 113

    Michael, could you explain what was unfair about RC’s critique of Crichton’s book and use of the science within it?

    And how the Gore discussion by RC is somehow characterized as spin? What did they get wrong? Specifics, please?

    Thanks in adavnce.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 17 Oct 2007 @ 4:40 PM

  132. Re #122 Rich Briggs:

    The key point that I am trying to make is that we need to be careful when different, and greater, levels of sea level change are experienced in different places. The effects of AGW on sea level change should be pretty much uniform world-wide. Anomalously high rates of sea-level change at a particular site should be investigated as being perhaps more likely to do with local subsidence.

    In fact, the references that I posted demonstrate the august CSIRO, Australia’s leading scientific organisation, engaging in what can only be called alarmism. If you look at the first reference (I haven’t been able to find the actual press-release. It appears to have been taken off-line) you will see that they claim that the average sea-level rise from 28 Australian tide gauge locations is 0.3mm per year, and they comment that this is quite a bit lower than the IPCC (2001) global estimate of 1-2mm over the last 100 years.

    They also point out the significant difference between the fall of 0.19mm in sea level at Port Pirie and the ‘>2mm’ per year sea level rise at nearby Adelaide. They go on to talk about factors that could explain these anomalies. Interestingly, they do not mention local subsidence.

    Googling subsidence at Adelaide yields the other links that I posted which demonstrate that it is well known that Adelaide is undergoing local subsidence due, it is thought, to factors associated with drawing water from the underlying acquifers. My understanding is that Fremantle is also subject to local subsidence.

    If you remove the three anomalous outliers from the table provided (two of which are Port Adelaide – Inner, and Port Adelaide – Outer, and the other being Fremantle), the average Australian sea level rise drops to only 0.0975mm per year.

    The CSIRO people must surely have known this, but chose instead to allow publication of the most alarming interpretation of the facts.

    This experience has caused me to be cautious about accepting claims of AGW related sea level rise until local subsidence factors have been excluded.

    Comment by truthout — 17 Oct 2007 @ 4:43 PM

  133. Al Gore was an oasis in the political desert when he served in government, and remains one of the few willing to be a lightning rod, for the extremists among skeptics, in the cause of public relations to spread the truth about AGW.
    Having said that,I read the article in “American Scietist” when it first came out and thought it was even handed. The authors, Philip W. Mote and Georg Kaser don’t seem to have any axe to grind. They acknowledge that it is generally correct that glaciers are disappearing because of warming, but they have a different take on the disappearance on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and say that another possible suspect is sublimation. The ice turning directly to vapor which occurs when the moisture in the air is less than the moisture delivered from the ice surface.
    Their analysis is restricted to high elevations near the equator and since the topic is still up in the air(pun unavoidable?), this could be a factor in that circumstance. Every warming ocurrence doesn’t have to be caused by greenhouse gases in order for AGW to be true. In fact this criterion would be very difficult to meet.Their paper as well as Raypierre’s both cite Lonnie Thompson as a reference as does Al Gore, who shows him standing at the top of Kilimanjaro in 2000 next to a lonely icicle.
    Please pardon the following whimsy-

    Once upon a time there was a mountain
    Where we used to ski,it was our due.
    Remember how we skied away the hours,
    Think of all the great things we would do.

    Those were the days my friend
    We thought they’d never end
    We’d slalom and jump forever and a day
    We’d live the life we choose
    Our mount we’d never lose
    For we were arrogant and sure to have our way.

    The busy years went rushing by us
    We lost our glacier cover on the way
    If, by chance, I’d see you on the mountain
    We’d smile at one another and we’d say

    Those were the days my friend
    We thought they’d never end
    We’d slalom and jump forever and a day
    We’d live the life we choose
    Our mount we’d never lose
    For we were arrogant and sure to have our way.

    Just tonight I stood before the mountain
    Nothing seemed the way it used to be
    On the top I saw a strange rerlection
    Could that lonely icicle really be.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 17 Oct 2007 @ 4:46 PM

  134. Most Americans use quotation marks incorrectly. That’s apparent. Most seem to think using quotation marks around a word emphasizes its meaning: like shining a spotlight on an entertainer on a stage.

    So they see it as ERRORS ERRORS ERRORS singin’ and dancin’ their fool heads off.

    Do the British use quotation marks in a different manner? To me the judge is alerting the reader that he does not really mean errors in the conventional sense when he writes it as “errors”.

    So what does he mean by “errors”? I take him to mean the errors are not especially significant.

    If he had agreed the film is “broadly accurate”, that would mean something like he thinks the film is at best a mile wide and an inch deep. He said he agrees the film is broadly accurate, which to me means the judge thinks the film is essentially accurate across its width and depth.

    But then, I drew no implication in the film at all that land-based ice was going to melt in any imminent timeframe. We all joked about our dwelling being on the 4th floor, but it was a joke. I didn’t run out in the garden and put up a sea-level depth gauge. The fair and balanced seem to have dreamed up this implication that is not there. And it’s not exactly an especially “inconvenient” dream for their non-alarmist agenda.

    Comment by J.C.H. — 17 Oct 2007 @ 4:48 PM

  135. re 128

    We have two critiques of pop-culture media: one forgiving and lenient on partial truths, and the other damning and judgmental. The author’s intent is irrelevant. The intended audience of the published work should not determine a scientist’s analysis of the validity of the science content.

    =====================

    In each case, what was discussed was the way science was used by both men. “Pop-culture media” is an interesting use of terminology, an effort to label and thereby define and limit the discussion, but has little bearing on the actual approach RC took with both men.

    Your characterization re author intent and targeted audience is a non-sequitur in relation to those critiques. It’s not about intent or targets, it’s about what was said and how much scientific credibility what was said has. Much different issue.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 17 Oct 2007 @ 4:48 PM

  136. Re 123 Michael
    When Michael Crichton writes a non-fiction book that seriously deals with the science of climate change we’ll have something to discuss.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 17 Oct 2007 @ 4:52 PM

  137. Michael (125) — Crichton does not know much science, even in his earlier books labeled science fiction. It is very easy to find pages in those novels with four science errors, ones which are not part of the intension and do not advance the story. While the man often writes well, his notion of science fiction lacks the high standards of such luminaries as Asimov.

    But worse, he passed his more recent book off as semi-factual, when it is nothing of the sort. This is simply dishonest, IMO.

    Finally, I seem not to know what aspects of the movie you consider to be ‘partial truths’. If you are referring to the nine, go re-read the main post of this thread. Then come back if still not saatisfied…

    Comment by David B. Benson — 17 Oct 2007 @ 5:00 PM

  138. Jim Eager,

    Than why have a RC point-by-point rebuttal on “State of Fear” at all?

    Comment by Michael — 17 Oct 2007 @ 5:08 PM

  139. re 133

    “Than why have a RC point-by-point rebuttal on “State of Fear” at all?”

    Perhaps because Mr. Crichton has used the book and the material inside to promote a false picture of the issue of AGW. This is, after all, the science-fiction author trotted out before Congress to provide “proof” that AGW was a hoax, nothing to worry about.

    It’s one thing to write a piece of fiction; quite another to then make a career out of trying to present it as fact.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 17 Oct 2007 @ 5:12 PM

  140. Possibly, the point-by-point rebuttal was in response to “State of Fear” being widely touted as a science-packed refutation of the left-wing global warming myth?

    Comment by spilgard — 17 Oct 2007 @ 5:20 PM

  141. David Benson, The first and last thing I ever read by Michael Crichton was “The Andromeda Strain”. Actually, I even junked that book about the time that all the ET bugs mutated exactly the same way at exactly the same time. I figured, “How can anyone this ignorant of even the most basic principles of science be worth reading?” Crichton has given me no reason since to re-examine my decision.
    Michael,
    Al Gore at least made an attempt to get the science right. He consulted scientists. His errors are those of a politician who is trying to get scientists to state a conclusion without so damned many weasel words. Indeed, many of his “errors” were within the realm of possibility when the film was made (e.g. the Kilimanjaro thing). See the difference: Good faith effort vs. a deliberate smear job not just individual scientists, but of the scientific method as well. Michael Crichton, deep down, is afraid of science. It is a theme that pervades everything he has written. I doubt he could write down his phone number without somehow reflecting fear of science.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Oct 2007 @ 5:41 PM

  142. Competent scientific analysis of current movies, books, politicians, etc, is very much needed especially anything climate change related. AIT is not a peer reviewed scientific paper and neither is SOF yet RC chose to comment on both (and rightly so). I am not looking for balance – balance is unachievable, and a waste of time. But lately I am wading thru opinion after opinion, and have look for reality somewhere in between the lines. Obstructing truth is unforgivable for any reason.

    Comment by Michael — 17 Oct 2007 @ 5:57 PM

  143. What does it really matter? In the seventies there were those commercials with the guy littering and then they showed the Indian shedding one tear because of the litter. Nobody stopped using the land as a dumping ground, and now that it is too late we may try to clean up our mess. Human nature dictates we don’t do anything until it is too late, and Man induced global warming is no different. Furthurmore, does anyone realize we are on the verge of World War III? It is going to get a lot worse for humanity before it gets better, if it gets better.

    Comment by PaulM — 17 Oct 2007 @ 6:03 PM

  144. In comment #138, Michael,who refers to Jim Eager’s comment about fiction, asks [[Than why have a RC point-by-point rebuttal on “State of Fear” at all?]]

    Because there times when fiction can be useful. When most people want to learn about social injustice in the 19th century, do they read Marx or Dickens?
    Crichton is a far,far cry from Dickens. He misuses his literary form to distort and confuse.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 17 Oct 2007 @ 6:08 PM

  145. Than why have a RC point-by-point rebuttal on “State of Fear” at all?

    Crichton was asked to testify to a committee of Congress as an *expert* on climate science and global warming *based on* his book, “State of Fear”.

    You are seriously suggesting scientists should ignore his errors, given the level of influence and power held by those who depend on him in part for an expert appreciation of the state of climate science?

    Gore made a few little piddly little errors, but largely go the science right.

    Crichton’s errors are substantial, including his conclusion that climate science is a fraudulent field driven by left-wing activists who have been engaged in a world-wide conspiracy.

    Your claims that the errors in the two works are roughly equivalent and that therefore RC’s treatment of the two show bias makes no sense.

    Comment by dhogaza — 17 Oct 2007 @ 6:10 PM

  146. Re #124: I think you’re missing the point of #114 (or else I am). It is a reply to the perfectly reasonable question of whether the massive arctic melt of this summer left a discernable fingerprint as regional cooling somewhere in the northern hemisphere.

    One other point that I think is worth making: The film in question is really not Al Gore’s. It’s a documentary that, as I understand it, Gore initially resisted. The talks he gave were constantly evolving, and I think it’s fair to say no one, least of all Gore, ever expected the film to become so immensely popular or so closely scrutinized. Few people who give a lecture or write a paper would not change a few things given a chance; after all, that’s why books have second editions.

    Comment by S. Molnar — 17 Oct 2007 @ 6:23 PM

  147. I notice that of page A6 of today’s TNYT there is a quarter page ad sponsored by Heartland stating that climate change is not a crisis.

    Just so you know…

    [Response: Yes, Heartland is having a real hissy-fit over Gore’s prize. The Chicago Tribune had a letter yesterday from Diane Carol Bast (wife of the director of Heartland) claiming that the Nobel prize in chemistry was given for showing that CO2 is “harmless.” It turns out that the Chemistry prize citation did not actually refer to CO2 as harmless. This bit of fabrication stemmed from a tortured interpretation of the fact that the surface chemistry for which the prize was awarded (to Gerhard Ertl) has, among its other uses, catalytic conversion of carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. Heartland has no shame, but I guess we knew that. –raypierre

    Comment by David B. Benson — 17 Oct 2007 @ 6:25 PM

  148. Dave Rado (#110) wrote:

    I wrote to Philip Mote about Ray’s article, and he replied:

    “Yes, I read it partway through writing our article. It’s an excellent treatise on tropical glaciology, but it was written 2.5 years ago and missed some recent observations and analysis. The main point is that the rate of ice loss by sublimation is not controlled by air temperature (unless the temperature rises above freezing, and we have measurements that show that is very rare). Furthermore, it is far from clear that air temperature has risen at Kibo’s summit.”

    Maybe an update from Ray would be helpful?

    From what I understand, sublimation is largely controlled by dry air, but as a form of evaporation where ice undergoes a direct phase transition from solid to gas. The rate of sublimation is determined largely by the partial pressure of water vapor in the atmosphere. Thus the lower the relative humidity, the greater the sublimation, where if the atmosphere is saturated, the system will be in equilibrium.

    Thus if the temperature remains constant but the humidity (relative or absolute) drops, the rate of sublimation will increase. Likewise, if one raises the temperature while keeping the absolute humidity constant, the rate of sublimation will increase – and as the partial pressure of saturation increases exponentially with temperature, it would seem that temperature will be a factor, even at temperatures below zero.

    Likewise, I note that the authors blame both less precipitation and solar radiation. However, solar radiation has remained roughly constant since the roughly 1950. So this would seem to be less of a factor. Likewise, ice has a relatively high albedo, unless of course it is subject to melting – at which point the amount of solar radiation which it absorbs will increase roughly by a factor of three, or alternatively either aerosols (e.g., black carbon) or dust lower its albedo.

    Of course, another thought comes to mind: while ice has a high albedo in the visible part of the spectrum where sunlight dominates, ice behaves as a blackbody in the infrared spectrum. Thus if something were to increase the amount of infrared radiation which exists in the atmosphere, this would seem to have more of an effect than that of increasing sunlight. Additionally, we know that with higher temperatures in the tropics, there exists a super greenhouse effect where the amount of downwelling infrared radiation increases more quickly than surface emissions relative to sea surface temperature.

    Thus the increased rate of sublimation may be due in part to higher temperatures, but it may also be in part due to a drier atmosphere which is in part due to climate change. Likewise, while increased sunlight should directly have little effect upon ice given its high albedo in the visible part of the spectrum (unless augmented by black carbon or dust), a stronger greenhouse effect (particularly in the tropics) may be an important factor. Now with regard to dust, increased dust would in all likelihood be due to a higher prevalence of drought.

    The authors are undoubtedly correct that melting has not been a factor with Kilimanjaro – given its altitude. If higher temperatures are a factor (and they may very well be even at below-freezing), this may very well be the result of global warming. Lower humidity and lower precipitation would be the result of climate change, and given what is currently happening, quite likely anthropogenic climate change. Increased infrared radiation would in all likelihood be due to an increased greenhouse effect, and given the latitude, quite possibly a super greenhouse effect – which is quite significant at that latitude.

    I would suspect that all of these are playing a role in the glacial retreat on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. With a all of these factors other than temperature, technically one might state that “warming” is not the direct cause, but nevertheless anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions would in all likelihood be the major factor.

    Now it is of course at least theoretically possible that what is driving ice loss with Kilimanjaro is local climate change that is unrelated to global climate change, or alternatively, that black carbon pollution is “the cause.” However, it would be quite difficult to argue for a local climate change which is unrelated to global climate change. Likewise, since after having hit their high, black carbon emissions dropped so much fairly early in the twentieth century, this would seem to be much less of a factor in the latter part of the 20th century.

    Setting these last two potential factors aside, I suspect that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (e.g., carbon dioxide and methane) are major factors in the demise of the glaciers of Kilimanjaro, albeit through a variety of processes. Or I suppose you could just chalk it all up to some unknown “natural variability.” But in any case, I believe this wouldn’t change the fact that most glaciers are melting rather than disappearing as the result of sublimation. Likewise, I believe it wouldn’t change the fact that the lion’s share of global mass balance loss is due to global warming.

    What do you think, Dave?

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 17 Oct 2007 @ 6:54 PM

  149. Regarding the Michael Crichton vs. Al Gore discussion – I did read Crichton’s recent book, “Prey”, in which industrial nanoparticles turn themselves into self-organizing humanoid photovoltaic-powered nano-monsters somewhere out in the Nevada desert – yet I notice that Crichton hasn’t been invited to testify before Congress on the unforeseen dangers of silicon photovoltaic nanotechnology. That book has some real scientific blunders – but then, science fiction novels aren’t required to be scientifically accurate.

    My only problem with ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ is that the film should have pointed out at the end that we can replace fossil fuels with renewable energy generated from wind, sunlight and photosynthesis. This is entirely possible, especially in the sunnier lattitudes (and more northerly regions can use wind). It will require massive infrastructure investment, however – but countries like The Netherlands are already well along this path. It’s entirely plausible from a technological viewpoint – the only barriers are economic and political.

    Perhaps the film should have focused less on Kilimanjaro and included all the other high-altitude regions – the Alps, the Andes, the Himalaya, Alaska, the Sierra Nevada glaciers, and so on – where glaciers are also in retreat. However, the film had to stick to a time limit – and glacier retreat is just one subject.

    In any case, this post is a very useful summary of the science behind An Inconvenient Truth, complete with lots of useful links. Perhaps Al Gore and the distributors of AIT should use it as the basis of an informational teaching packet to be included with all copies of the film? That’d really annoy some of the above posters, I think.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 17 Oct 2007 @ 6:57 PM

  150. More inconvenient truths:
    Hidden Costs of Climate Change in the U.S.: Major, Nationwide, Uncounted

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071017085305.htm

    Comment by David B. Benson — 17 Oct 2007 @ 7:32 PM

  151. re Peace Prize
    One last whimper on the sidebar (re 112, Hank, et al) before it gets lost in the dust. Almost any cultural/societal perturbation can be projected to upset the peace and create conflict given a long enough time to fester: global warming, global cooling, major oil discoveries, running out of oil, to name a few. It seems the Nobel Peace Prize was focused more on the near term, even the present. It’s charter says, “…[awarded] “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses” (sourced from Wikipedia). But then they have in the recent past awarded it for some very general (and likely very worthy) human rights activists. So, what do I know? And frankly I care little. Just a small observation of reality. Didn’t mean to rain on your parade.

    Comment by Rod B — 17 Oct 2007 @ 8:40 PM

  152. Re. #134, J.C.H.:

    To me the judge is alerting the reader that he does not really mean errors in the conventional sense when he writes it as “errors”.

    So what does he mean by “errors”? I take him to mean the errors are not especially significant.

    No, he meant alleged errors. See Deltiod.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 17 Oct 2007 @ 8:49 PM

  153. As far as I know, the only footage from “The Day After Tomorrow” used in AIT is the sweeping (virtual) shot of the Antarctic ice shelf.

    Critique my presentation on climate change scepticism here:
    http://cce.000webhost.org

    Comment by cce — 17 Oct 2007 @ 9:37 PM

  154. Al Gore in his documentary said not only that the CO2 data and temperature “fit” but that the data showed “when there is more CO2 in the atmosphere, the temperature goes up”. Your defense of this point does not mention this. He would be accurate only if he said the converse.

    Comment by jonathan — 17 Oct 2007 @ 11:44 PM

  155. truthout, I’ve had a chance to glance at your links (day job intruded earlier).

    The key point that I am trying to make is that we need to be careful when different, and greater, levels of sea level change are experienced in different places.

    Okay, now I see the confusion. Apparent spatial variation in rates is the rule, not exception. Every sea level curve is local. Every measurement location has a different set of geodynamic and geologic processes that need to be accounted for.

    In fact, the references that I posted demonstrate the august CSIRO, Australia’s leading scientific organisation, engaging in what can only be called alarmism. . . They go on to talk about factors that could explain these anomalies. Interestingly, they do not mention local subsidence.

    I checked out the page; they say the following:

    “Regional variation in sea level rise
    Factors that can cause regional variations in sea level include [2]:

    * geological effects caused by the slow rebound of land that was covered by ice during the last Ice Age (‘isostatic rebound’);
    * flooding of continental shelves since the end of the last Ice Age, which pushes down the shelves and causes the continent to push upwards in response (‘hydroisostasy’);
    * changes in land height in tectonically or volcanically active regions;
    * changes in atmospheric wind patterns and ocean currents; and
    * local subsidence due to sediment compaction or groundwater extraction.”

    Doesn’t that say “local subsidence?”

    Googling subsidence at Adelaide yields the other links that I posted which demonstrate that it is well known that Adelaide is undergoing local subsidence due, it is thought, to factors associated with drawing water from the underlying acquifers.

    The second link is a short paper by Nick Harvey that makes the simple point that local impacts of sea level rise will need to take local processes into account. Sounds sensible.

    The third link is a ramble by somebody named John Daly that looks like a fair amount of rubbish. Perhaps other RC readers familiar with this piece could comment.

    This experience has caused me to be cautious about accepting claims of AGW related sea level rise until local subsidence factors have been excluded.

    But they are! The cool thing about RC is that there is a group of folks here willing to talk about the science, but you keep talking around the science. Anybody else care to chime in about the science?

    And it occurs to me that it’s ironic that Australian data are being held up as somehow disproving the whole ball of wax, when such solid work has been done by Lambeck, and Church and White, and Harvey, and others down under.

    Comment by Rich Briggs — 18 Oct 2007 @ 1:01 AM

  156. re 128
    Gavin:
    I think it looks funny, not ‘bad’- Al has certainly played TDAT slides for laughs, but what film publicists do istheiroen responsibility.

    Grist has the complete slideshow at
    http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2006/5/19/10294/4690
    So frame matching can settle the matter, albeit I have no frame grabbing software to automate the search.
    I believe I saw the same frames on TV that I saw Al use in his successive annual presentations of his slideshow here, and I’ll ask Mike McElroy if we have a video that can be checked.

    As to the public record on the visual concordance of the two films the Washington Post offers this:

    ” The film came about after Laurie David, wife of Larry David, saw Gore’s slide show in New York after the 2004 premiere of the mega-budget global-warming feature film “The Day After Tomorrow” (starring Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal).

    Laurie David gathered a team, including Lawrence Bender (producer of Quentin Tarantino films, including “Pulp Fiction”) and Jeffrey Skoll, the billionaire eBay founder and movie mogul. They met with Gore. “We said you have to let us make this into a movie,” David says in an interview over breakfast.

    It took some convincing. The slide show, she says, “was his baby, and he felt proprietary about it and it was hard for him to let go.”

    “This isn’t about box office,” David says. “None of us are going to make a dime.” What is at stake, she says, “is, you know, the planet.”

    We evidently have come a long way since the days when Alfred Hitchcock could say:

    “It’s just a movie”

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 18 Oct 2007 @ 1:44 AM

  157. An important aspect for Lake Chad is that its water level did not recover even after rainfall recovered to some extent. This appears to be because the soil is worn out and degraded ( http://www.nwo.nl/nwohome.nsf/pages/NWOA_6XZHP2_Eng) due to cultivation at dried area of the lake. This is of course a human factor, but very different counteracts are necessary.

    Comment by Kiminori Itoh — 18 Oct 2007 @ 2:32 AM

  158. For treatment of the word “errors”, see this report from the BBC this morning:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7049377.stm

    Comment by Nick O. — 18 Oct 2007 @ 4:56 AM

  159. #153 cce: looks good!

    My Ubuntu system plays it, which is better than what the Potsdam people managed.

    Clearly an amateur production, and I do not mean that condescendingly. There is some good stuff there.

    I loved the slide “Science is not made by consensus — BUT POLICY IS”.

    Personally I use the example of consulting a doctor there. If you are not sure your own doctor is getting it right — or the matter is too important to only rely on one person — you get a second opinion. And a third, and a fourth… taken to its logical extreme, you would consult the whole medical community, if you had the money for that. Now, that’s precisely what we’re doing with the IPCC ‘climate doctors’.

    Anyone is free to trust his own judgment on medical matters more than that of trained professionals, if only his own health is at stake. But I resent him doing the same with my climate!

    …and then the server went down :-(

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 18 Oct 2007 @ 4:58 AM

  160. Re 123

    Amen- Mike Crichton’s “Congo” is completely and hilariously off the wall– rift volcanoes spouting hollow geodes full of diamonds guarded by telepathic cousins of King Kong.

    This earned the film of his yarn a cult following as Bad Geophysics beer movie of the year , but failed to stop the American Association of Petroleum Geologists brass in Dallas and Imhofe’s back yard from giving Mike the AAPG Gabriel Dengo Journalism award for Climate Of Fear.

    This makes the matter vexing, for Dengo’s respect for ground truth made him the grand old man of Mesoamerican geology.

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 18 Oct 2007 @ 5:37 AM

  161. > …and then the server went down :-(

    Probably my media player. When downloading and playing offline, no problem.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 18 Oct 2007 @ 5:52 AM

  162. The truth about AGW is that disaster for the west is many decades away. Yer Africa, Asis and others may suffer somwhat but hey they are suffering anyway as the media portray it.

    On the one hand western governments talk the talk on sustainables but on the other hand plans are afoot for a new generation of coal fired power stations (USA,UK and Germany) and fretting over the Arctic and Antartic (UK Governments porposals anyway) to be able to drill underwater once the technology becomes available.

    An AIT may have been a wake up call but who has really seen it, a few millions out of several billions and a Nobel Peace Price might make some more impact to influence the US president. So what does GW say, no impact on our economic prosperity but other technologies to oil will and are being considered.

    We await CCS as it does not exist yet. We await PV as it is too expensive at the moment, we await solar as it is also too expensive, we await biofuels to be energy efficient and deliver on their promise, we await hydrogen, we build more coal and gas fired power stations, we prospect and drill more oil and queue up to exploit the Arctic and possibly the Antartic and we continue to destroy forests and rain forests in particular.

    Comment by Pete Best — 18 Oct 2007 @ 6:35 AM

  163. Re. #154, jonathan, when there is more CO2 in the atmosphere, then all other things being equal, the temperature does go up. This fact is very basic physics and has been known since the 19th century.

    For an introduction to the basics of climate science, click the “Start Here” link on the menu at the top of the page. Or read the following article:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_effect

    Comment by Dave Rado — 18 Oct 2007 @ 6:38 AM

  164. …and now the server is permanently down. Overload?

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 18 Oct 2007 @ 7:16 AM

  165. Re. #148, Timothy Chase, a very helpful and thorough explanation, thanks. Thanks also for Ray’s response to my post (#110), which was also very helpful.

    Dave

    Comment by Dave Rado — 18 Oct 2007 @ 7:29 AM

  166. [[could the cold in the antarctic be caused by a surprisingly strong wobble in the earth’s orbit? one that causes the north pole to have a more direct face toward the sun? that would not only explain the cold antarctic winter, but also the northern ice cap melting.]]

    No. Such a shift would be noticed by thousands of astronomers all over the world. Everything in the sky would shift position enough to be noticed at observatories.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 18 Oct 2007 @ 7:36 AM

  167. Slightly off-topic but tangentially related, I would urge people here to add a review to the Amazon UK reviews for Swindle, as the reviews there are being dominated by denialists, which is likely to influence less well informed people who are thinking of buying the DVD. The review by “Dave G” listed under “Most helpful reviews” is particularly disturbing – science teachers talking such rubbish …

    Comment by Dave Rado — 18 Oct 2007 @ 7:37 AM

  168. #138 Michael: “Than why have a RC point-by-point rebuttal on “State of Fear” at all?”

    Because a good many ill-informed people think the book IS factual about the science and that Crichton IS knowledgeable about the science, including the resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 18 Oct 2007 @ 7:41 AM

  169. [[Al Gore in his documentary said not only that the CO2 data and temperature “fit” but that the data showed “when there is more CO2 in the atmosphere, the temperature goes up”. Your defense of this point does not mention this. He would be accurate only if he said the converse.]]

    Jonathan, when there is more CO2 in the atmosphere, the temperature does go up. CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 18 Oct 2007 @ 7:48 AM

  170. [[The third link is a ramble by somebody named John Daly that looks like a fair amount of rubbish. Perhaps other RC readers familiar with this piece could comment.]]

    The late John Daly maintained a crackpot anti-global-warming-science site called “Still Waiting for Greenhouse.” He died last year, I believe, and his relatives keep the site up, and post a lot of articles that seem scientific (e.g. they often use equations or charts), but aren’t accurate. For a nice overall rebuttal, google for the site “What’s Wrong with Still Waiting for Greenhouse.”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 18 Oct 2007 @ 7:51 AM

  171. Re 154 jonathan: “Al Gore in his documentary said not only that the CO2 data and temperature “fit” but that the data showed “when there is more CO2 in the atmosphere, the temperature goes up”. Your defense of this point does not mention this. He would be accurate only if he said the converse.”

    No, Gore is quite correct: when there is more CO2 in the atmosphere, the temperature DOES goes up.

    This is true even if the initial cause of the warming is not increased CO2, as in the case at the end of a glacial period and the start of an interglacial period, when the initial warming is caused by increased solar insolation due to orbital and rotational changes. Once the warming starts, however, atmospheric CO2 and H2O increases, which leads to yet more warming.

    That said, this particular distinction was ignored in that passage. Had it been better explained, this particular club would not be available for the skeptics to wield in ignorance.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 18 Oct 2007 @ 8:07 AM

  172. You say that – “First of all, “An Inconvenient Truth” was a movie and people expecting the same depth from a movie as from a scientific paper are setting an impossible standard.” However, we must keep in mind that this movie is being shown to very young children who may not be able to make this distinction. They will believe what they see in this movie, whether they think it a movie or a scientifically accurate presentation. This article here illustrates that point nicely.

    Comment by Ike — 18 Oct 2007 @ 9:06 AM

  173. Hi:

    Sorry if this is a bit off topic, but I thought I’d add this here as this thread is the most recent on the web site. I was sent the following comment from a climate skeptic acquaintance of mine after he attended a presentation I gave on climate change. I’m sure others will see this. I know Dan Botkin, and I wrote back to my acquaintance with my response. Let’s just say I was disappointed in Dan, and I suspect he will get an earful.

    I will say that I don’t understand the argument (made by Lomborg, Botkin in this piece, and others) that there are more pressing needs to spend time and resources on, e.g., habitat loss, malaria, clean drinking water. I find this argument to be a red-herring – yes those are threats, but can’t we also deal with climate change at the same time. It certainly is not an either or question.

    I think someone should also point out that being a contrarian is not being scientific – merely throwing out negative arguments (which sometimes contradict one another) is primarily a distraction and does little to advance the state of the argument. As we know, skeptics have little or no interest in advancing the argument about the threat of global warming – their intent is to undermine, and that is why I found Dan Botkin’s piece so disappointing.

    Here’s the url

    http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB119258265537661384-lMyQjAxMDE3OTEyNzUxODcyWj.html

    Comment by Taber Allison — 18 Oct 2007 @ 9:23 AM

  174. Re 154 jonathan: “Al Gore in his documentary said not only that the CO2 data and temperature “fit” but that the data showed “when there is more CO2 in the atmosphere, the temperature goes up”. Your defense of this point does not mention this. He would be accurate only if he said the converse.”

    jonathan, google up “PETM” and read up a bit (ignore the PET SMART hits).

    Comment by caerbannog — 18 Oct 2007 @ 9:47 AM

  175. Ah the miracle of climate change. Suddenly, even the Wall Street Journal has discovered the plight of the poor! Unfortunately, what these arguments ignore is the fact that climate change, environmental degradation and development are all coupled and fall under the heading of “sustainability”. If we concentrate on mitigating climate change without ensuring “clean” development of poor countries, our efforts will be frustrated as poor people continue to have large families and burn whatever fuel they can find–coal, wood, dung…. Likewise, if we concentrate on development as Lomborg et al would (now that they’ve suddenly discovered it), adverse climatic changes will frustrate our efforts there–by inundating low-lying areas, creating populations of refugees, decreasing agricultural yields, increasing disease…
    Lomborg’s argument goes beyond cynical, verging on evil.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Oct 2007 @ 9:52 AM

  176. #159/161

    Martin,

    Thanks for the kind words and input.

    It probably was the server giving you trouble. I chose that free hosting site because it offered both uploads of videos (many do not) and a high monthly bandwidth limit. It can be pretty flakey at times. I will probably switch to something else.

    ***********
    Critique my presentation on climate change scepticism here:
    http://cce.000webhost.org

    Comment by cce — 18 Oct 2007 @ 9:58 AM

  177. something i posted elsewhere on the recent judicial process and sea level rise issue

    http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/2007/10/nine_slaps_on_the_wrist_for_al.html

    Comment by MG — 18 Oct 2007 @ 10:17 AM

  178. Re #162: [We await CCS as it does not exist yet. We await PV as it is too expensive at the moment, we await solar as it is also too expensive, we await biofuels...]

    But we’ve got nuclear, which could be built as easily as that new generation of coal fired power stations.

    Comment by James — 18 Oct 2007 @ 10:27 AM

  179. What a lovely piece of sophisticated sophistry, the first bit…when will scientists begin to admit
    how little they/we really know? (as distinct from believe)

    Comment by Sonja Christiansen — 18 Oct 2007 @ 10:50 AM

  180. James (Re 178)
    We haven’t got nuclear. A large number of the nuclear plants (about 423) we have could end up under the sea if Hansen is correct about a 5 metre sea level rise this century. Nuclear power stations need to be decommissioned, not built.

    Comment by MG — 18 Oct 2007 @ 10:55 AM

  181. People may be interested to know that John Stossel is going to be discussing Al Gore and Climate Change on 20/20 Friday at 8PM on ABC. Stossel is a contrarian and his newsletter indicates that he hasn’t changed his mind.

    Comment by MEG — 18 Oct 2007 @ 10:56 AM

  182. Lomborg is simply taking a page out of the Tobbaco Industry handbook for defeating environmental movements, e.g. Africa Fighting Malaria. His reference is emotive for the demonstrable and express purpose of distracting and disabling discourse, rather than to make any sort of productive point (and clearly the association with charity is convenient for manipulative purposes). As any social scientist worth a spit should know, fighting poverty or malaria is no more the opportunity cost of mitigating GHG emissions than ski vacations, a trip to the movies or a bunker busting nuclear missile. If this obfuscator honestly wanted to make a point about priorities, he should be arguing it in the context of a capital allocation where he has demonstrated such things as malaria and GHG mitigation reside at the same margin. Otherwise, he should plug a discount rate, argue for its appropriateness, and move on.

    You don’t have to go too far for additional evidence of Lomborg’s insincerity. For example, Lomborg’s near-continuous, in interview and in print, misquotation of Al Gore as claiming sea levels will rise 20 feet within the century is a transparent ploy to discredit him (as it’s far more sensational than arguing about Kilimanjaro to the every man). It’s possible to make a mistake once, but when you keep repeating it in high profile settings, well, you’ve given the game away.

    Still, my favorite has to be the bit in “Cool It” where Lomborg cites a report that states, “It is difficult to envisage the survival of polar bears as a species given a zero summer sea-ice scenario”, to substantiate his position that concerns about polar bears illustrate the exaggerated claims of global warming, i.e. that they will be just fine regardless. Apparently, Lomborg bases his view on the study authors’ speculation in the sentence following the above that the ONLY way polar bears could survive is if they managed to evolve backward. The authors make no statement as to how probable that would be, and are clearly merely gilding a dire prognosis. But from Lomborg, the reader gets that the worry over polar bears exemplifies global warming hysteria.

    The guy is not a ‘global warming denier’, simply an opportunist especially lacking in scruples (not that the two are remotely mutually exclusive).

    Comment by Majorajam — 18 Oct 2007 @ 10:57 AM

  183. re 179

    Sonja, I really am VERY curious regarding your post.

    Could you possibly expand on what it is you are saying, as it comes off somewhat vague and ambiguous? Are you suggesting the scientists don’t know what they are talking about, and that the evidence they are presenting is little more than, as you put it, “sophisticated sophistry”?

    More to the point…what informs your opinion?

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 18 Oct 2007 @ 10:59 AM

  184. Sonja Christiansen,

    I may be over reacting to your comment because I don’t have enough info in what you are saying to know exactly where you are coming from, but I get comments like yours a lot… Where do people get the idea that scientists think they “know” everything? Good science is based on repeatable observations which are tested, retested and tested again. So that gives scientific predictions more plausibility and likelihood to be correct than other predictions. Scientific predictions are based on facts and testable (and tested) hypotheses. What anyone believes is irrelevant.

    I have a friend who recently had a horrible accident and was in a coma for over ten days. He just came out of it two nights ago and is still on a painfully slow course to recovery. His doctors are saying “We simply do not know how fast and how much he will recover. Every person’s brain is different, we simply have to wait and see.” So what should I do? Ask the doc what he believes? Is it relevant?
    And what do you mean by really know? If you are refering to the fact that climate change of the last several decades is caused by human activities, then yes, that is a fact. People can debate it, take a poll, do whatever they want to see who believes what and how much, but the fact remains: anthropogenic global warming is happening and we need to take action to prevent further damage.

    Comment by Figen Mekik — 18 Oct 2007 @ 11:08 AM

  185. I was just wondering. If breathing creates CO2, but that CO2 is a ‘closed system’ so the net effect of breathing on CO2 is zero, then how come so much CO2 is buried in fossil fuels. Was that CO2 not part of the closed system at one time?

    I am missing something or else breathing and life are adding to the CO2 as well.

    Comment by FP — 18 Oct 2007 @ 11:11 AM

  186. FP, before life emerged the atmosphere of Earth was much like the atmosphere of Mars and Venus is now — mostly carbon dioxide.

    Most of the CO2 is now in limestone, dolomite, and chalk — look up “White Cliffs of Dover” — because the early forms of life were mostly in the ocean, and made shells out of calcite and aragonite that sank to the bottom and became sedimentary rock.

    Some dead plant material also got into sediments. That was carbohydrates (carbon with hydrogen and oxygen attached); over geologic time that became petroleum (“octane” is a chain based on eight carbons, for example). Some of it lost all its hydrogen and remains as fairly pure carbon (coal).

    Look up “biogeochemical cycle” for more on the amounts and rates.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Oct 2007 @ 11:58 AM

  187. Sonja Christiansen,
    What a sophisticated piece of…crockery. When will people who don’t understand science stop projecting their own ingorance onto the rest of the world. Might I suggest a perusal of Helen Quinn’s piece from the January 2007 Physics Today as a starting point, and then come back as I have lots of other suggestions to further your education about science.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Oct 2007 @ 12:09 PM

  188. FP, well there’s something about getting inundated and buried in an anaerobic swamp that tends to take the carbon out of the system. Vast forests were buried and the carbon locked up in petroleum and coal and natural gas reserves. In essence we are now returning to the atmosphere we had hundreds of millions of years ago.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Oct 2007 @ 12:14 PM

  189. No matter how alarmist Gore might be sound, some people still refuse to heed his message. As a case in point, consider the following letter-to-the editor that appeared in yesterday’s Hartford (Connecticut) Courant. Responding to an article about the growing size of homes and their demand for energy, a local resident responded:

    “…His scolding of us all for leaving a larger carbon footprint than he would select for us is just the tip of the environmentalist’s agenda. “I’m proud of my carbon footprint. I wish it could’ve been larger, but my inherent fiscal restraint in not leaving an inordinate residue for my progeny to contend with has constrained me. Speaking of progeny, I’m also proud of all six of them, and I hope they will outdo me in the footsteps they leave behind.” The presumption inherent in Mr. Cox’s article is that there’s only so much of the Earth for each of us, and our purpose here is to sequester as much of it as we can so that only the occasional lightning strike, forest fire or volcano will ultimately survive us and release and redistribute it. The question: Do life-forms have a place in this system at all, and if so, how great should it be? “I would not choose the overly prescriptive wisdom that Mr. Cox presents, believing as I do that only our choices are about us and should remain in our free purview. The Earth will always win; we may choose lives of abundance or paucity as long as we inhabit it. Anything less than that is a true waste of life’s gift.”

    Fortunately, the author of the letter is out of step with the state of Connecticut – as I noted on another thread, the governors of the New England states have teamed up with the Premiers of the eastern Canadian provinces to set a series of targets aimed at reducing total GHG emissions by 75% (relative to the 1990 level) by the year 2050 (www.env-ne.org). It is their position that action must be taken now to assure economic stability in the future.

    RE: # 180 FP “I am missing something or else breathing and life are adding to the CO2 as well.”

    I think you are missing something. CO2 is recycled between the atmosphere, plants (which capture CO2 during photosynthesis), and organisms that consume the plants (animals, bacteria, fungi) and release CO2 as a by-product of respiration (plants also respire as a result of metabolizing their carbon-containing cellular fuels). If plants die and, instead of undergoing decay, are buried in an anaerobic environment, their carbon is sequestered, and sometimes ends up as a fossil fuel (coal, natural gas, etc). So, that carbon is taken out of the carbon cycle until that fossil fuel is burned, returning the sequestered carbon to the atmosphere as CO2 (and other by-products).

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 18 Oct 2007 @ 12:16 PM

  190. Re 179 comment by Sonja Christiansen – could she be at all related to Dr Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen the editor of that obscure journal the eschews peer review, Energy & Environment?

    [Response: In the words of Henry the mild mannered janitor: "Could be...!" - gavin]

    Comment by k rutherford — 18 Oct 2007 @ 12:38 PM

  191. A bit off topic but interesting . . . as I write this, according to the weather site http://www.wunderground.com, the temperature in Narsarsuaq, Greenland, is 52 degrees F, which is warmer than any of the locations they list in Alaska. Of course it is earlier in the day in Alaska, but for southern Greenland to be that warm with just eleven weeks left in the year is astonishing.

    Comment by Phillip Shaw — 18 Oct 2007 @ 1:19 PM

  192. Re 173. At the risk of appearing dense, I admit to being confused by the Botkin piece. I understand the argument that we can deal with climate change and other threats at the same time and have no problem with that idea. For the most part, Botkin does not seem to me to be making the argument that it is either or but rather that if the threat of GW is “over-hyped,” we may concentrate on relatively minor threats at the expense of more immediate and consequential ones. Botkin also does not appear to be among those people who have suddenly discovered the cause of the previously invisible poor in the world’s developing countries. Rather, the argument I get from the column is the idea that, yes, GW is happening but it is not nearly the threat that it is being made out to be. Botkin presents a background that gives his arguments some credibility to someone like me. What is it that I’m missing in reading it?

    Comment by Mary C — 18 Oct 2007 @ 2:02 PM

  193. Re: #153 (cce)

    I have a strong criticism of your presentation. It’s about the presentation, not the content. Don’t take it the wrong way, this is meant to be constructive criticism.

    The narration is poorly done. There’s a lot of “um” and “er” and so on, the speech doesn’t flow very well — it’s a poor tribute to the words behind the voice. So I’d suggest re-recording the sound track, and actually rehearsing it before you do so. I know you’re not aiming for a professional job, but the more easily the narration flows, and the more *engaging* it is, the more persuasive you’ll be.

    Comment by tamino — 18 Oct 2007 @ 2:07 PM

  194. Mary C (192) Did you read the article I linked in comment #150 of this thread?

    Comment by David B. Benson — 18 Oct 2007 @ 2:22 PM

  195. Mary C (192)

    I had written a “brilliant” post (:-) to respond to your query, which go lost as I was posting (I got a error due to heavy traffic).

    Suffice it to say, I don’t see what we gain by separating our response to the various threats such as habitat loss and climate change. First, polar bears are losing habitat (summer sea ice) due to arctic warming, so the threats are one and the same. Second, climate change, as an earlier poster suggested, will amplify the effect of other threats, including habitat loss. We can save a piece of land for orangutans (or other species) and watch the habitat change out from under them in response to the rapid warming (Botkin completely ignores that it is the rate of warming that is at issue – in the words of IPCC AR4 Ch. 6 – the rate is unprecedented. What took 5000 years at the end of the last ice age, may take only 100 years, if models are correct.)

    Finally, his comments about anonymous colleagues are gratuitous and not worth comment.

    Comment by Taber Allison — 18 Oct 2007 @ 2:54 PM

  196. Ray, do you realise how anti-science it is – in ANY situation – to say “stay away, the science is settled”?

    Comment by Michael — 18 Oct 2007 @ 2:55 PM

  197. RE the Sonja Christiansen comment #179, I think what she might mean is that there is still up to a 1%, maybe up to a 5% chance AGW is not happening; or there’s no gravity; or E does not equal MC2; or that there’s no universe, not even a stochastic universe; and that it’s all just maya – illusion.

    Now don’t wake me up…or is it only when we’re sleeping that the universe and AGW seem to be real.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 18 Oct 2007 @ 3:20 PM

  198. re 195

    “Ray, do you realise how anti-science it is – in ANY situation – to say “stay away, the science is settled”?”

    I don’t think he said that.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 18 Oct 2007 @ 3:20 PM

  199. J.S. McIntyre
    The AGW crowd is hostile to challenge and investigation.

    I don’t think I would be too far off for me to say science IS challenge and investigation.

    This puts much of the AGW movement outside of science and into another realm.

    [Response: We at realclimate are neither a 'crowd' nor a 'movement', we are just scientists. Scientific challenges and investigations are welcome and indeed relished (what would be the fun otherwise?), but mis-informed contrariness is not. It's up to you which line you choose to pursue. - gavin]

    Comment by Michael — 18 Oct 2007 @ 3:41 PM

  200. Question for the modelers:

    In Botkin’s Wall Street Journal piece (referenced in 173 above), Botkin claims

    “The climate modelers who developed the computer programs that are being used to forecast climate change used to readily admit that the models were crude and not very realistic…”

    Do modelers today consider their models crude? My impression is no, but since there are people here to ask…

    Comment by robert — 18 Oct 2007 @ 3:44 PM

  201. J.S. McIntyre, go ahead, ask Ray if he thinks climate science is settled. Look thru every one of his posts from the beginning and tell me if there is a trend of support for anything other than strict AGW.

    Comment by Michael — 18 Oct 2007 @ 3:47 PM

  202. Michael (#195) wrote:

    Ray, do you realise how anti-science it is – in ANY situation – to say “stay away, the science is settled”?

    Michael, maybe I have overlooked some passage, but I didn’t see anything to that effect. And obviously there is never a point at which anything is settled in the absolute sense in empirical science. Nevertheless, science is capable of a degree of justification which most people rarely run into in their day-to-day lives.

    Do you believe that the moon orbits the Earth which orbits the sun? Do you believe that electrons exist? Do you believe that light is both a wave and a particle? How do you feel about Maxwell’s Equations? Do you think that most of those points of light in the night sky are mostly stars similar to our sun? Do you accept the chemical formula for water? Do you have any problems with Schroedinger’s equation? Do you accept the view that many subatomic particles are subject to exponential decay? How does electric charge strike you? Do you think it exists? What about quarks? Would you agree that Newton’s gravitational law works well in weak gravitational fields at small velocites?

    Alright. How about the following…

    Does carbon dioxide both absorb and emit longwave radiation – due to molecules achieving excited vibrational and rovibrational states? Can we image the reemissions using satellites and know what it is that we are imaging? Do we know how to determine the isotopes of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and reach well-justified conclusions to the effect that the carbon came from fossil fuels? Are we able to measure the expansion of the Hadley cells of atmospheric circulation? How many data points are required before you can acknowledge the existence of a trend?

    What makes the latter set of questions different from the first set?

    If scientific conclusions never warrant being called knowledge, what could be? But now would you consider it in keeping with the scientific spirit if someone were to refuse to accept any given scientific conclusion no matter how overwhelming the accumulated body of evidence for it is? If they refused to accept it as a form of knowledge and encouraged others to take the same view simply because it was something they would rather not believe or have others believe? Because they considered politically unpaletable? Because they thought that the recognition of it not in keeping with their financial interests?

    Don’t worry – I’m not really expecting a response.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 18 Oct 2007 @ 4:01 PM

  203. Michael,

    I’d be shocked if you can find a bonafide scientist anywhere, much less a climate scientist, who believes “climate science is settled.”

    What does seem to be settled in the minds of most climate researchers, however (as indicated in the IPCC AR4), are the following: (1) Earth’s climate is warming, globally; (2) the probablility that the lion’s share of the warming is anthropogenic is high; (3) the potential for consequential, negative impact to the human ecosystem this century is substantial; (4) the potential for catastrophic impact to the human ecosystem this century is significant and growing.

    Of course there are many unanswered questions about the climate, hence the ongoing research; but the answers to these questions are unlikely to change the above conclusions.

    Comment by robert — 18 Oct 2007 @ 4:16 PM

  204. Taber (173) your words are, “…being a contrarian is….. primarily a distraction and does little to advance the state of the argument.” I infer from all your words you really mean contrarians do not advance the state of the consensus.

    Comment by Rod B — 18 Oct 2007 @ 4:44 PM

  205. Off topic
    We keep seeing bad climate data being circulated and cited by the deniers. I keep wondering, why they keep using the bad data. Is it a conspiracy by the “Carbon Industries?”

    Then, last night I got an environmental remediation design report from one of the big engineering firms. The topic is non-political and the report had been reviewed by two different branches of the Department of Defense, and the US EPA. In the report are 10,000-pages of bad data. It is not political, it is just full of errors.

    I do not think that Americans (even engineers) are very good a telling at telling good data from bad data. Taking the simplest explanation, the citing of bad climate data thing is not a conspiracy, it is ignorance. If we are going to do something about global warming, we have to improve our science education.

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 18 Oct 2007 @ 4:47 PM

  206. BTW, Taber (173), I should also add that I, a skeptic, agree with your point that if AGW is a problem that ought to be addressed, addressing other ills of the world at the same time should not get in the way. It’s just a little more work.

    Comment by Rod B — 18 Oct 2007 @ 4:48 PM

  207. re 201

    “J.S. McIntyre, go ahead, ask Ray if he thinks climate science is settled. Look thru every one of his posts from the beginning and tell me if there is a trend of support for anything other than strict AGW”

    ==================

    I’d be happy to.

    Ray?

    While we’re waiting, I should point out that instead of replying to my query with specifics, you have engaged in an overarching swipe at the manner in which Ray conducts himself. This is ad hominem, not an effort to substantiate your claim.

    Now, while I don’t wish to be contentious, the simple fact is that one thing I have learned over my years watching forums on the internet, if someone has “proof” of someone’s behavior or attitude and they want to make a point about it, they have no trouble at all providing specifics. This you have failed to do.

    I follow this site – and developments in the science and politics – closely. In my experience Ray seems to know what he is talking about, and seems to choose his words carefully. I do not believe he has said what you claimed. The onus is on you. Prove me wrong. Specifics, please.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 18 Oct 2007 @ 4:50 PM

  208. Re #201 (Michael) Is AGW science settled?

    For the umpteenth time, the following is beyond dispute (in everyday words, without the “95% confidence” stuff – and I think Ray would agree):
    1. GW is happening.
    2. It is caused by human action (hence it’s AGW)
    3. It is bad.
    4. We better do something about it asap.

    Why is this beyond dispute? Because there is tons of solid interlocking evidence. And with “tons” I mean a few thousand or so peer reviewed articles.

    Sure, the scientists will be sorting out details for some time to come. But we know enough to be sure that action must be taken now. If you knew it was “very probable” that the brakes of your car wouldn’t work, what would you do? Wait for more evidence?

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 18 Oct 2007 @ 4:51 PM

  209. Rod B (206) — If you follow Biopact, you will discover that addressing AGW and many another problem go hand in glove:

    http://biopact.com/

    Comment by David B. Benson — 18 Oct 2007 @ 4:54 PM

  210. Gavin, being a climate science outsider, I don’t know what happens inside the circle of your peers. I can only comment on what has been packaged for the general public, such as realclimate. It would be very refreshing to see (on this website) this ‘welcoming of challenges and investigations” you refer to.

    Comment by Michael — 18 Oct 2007 @ 4:57 PM

  211. Michael, there is a huge difference between saying “the science is settled” and saying “the science is mature”. The former means there is nothing left to learn–and I would not say that about any field. The latter means that future investigations are unlikely to significantly change the basic theory or the conclusions that it implies. Climate science is a mature science. The greenhouse effect is one of the tenets of that mature science, and anthropogenic climate change is an implication of the greenhouse effect.
    Why are you not saying Maxwell’s equations are wrong? Climate science has as venerable a history as electromagnetism. Or evolution–again about the same age. What I am saying is don’t come to me with the same damned arguments I’ve heard again and again until you have at least made the effort to actually understand the basics of the theory. Is that too damned anti-scientific for you?
    On the other hand, if you have sincere questions, people here, including myself will be happy to help you. This site is about learning science–and I include myself in that as a rank amateur when it comes to climate science. I am, however, a rank amateur who has made an effort along with others on this site to understand the subject. It is not trivial. Several of us have spent months just dealing with the concept of thermal radiation–skeptics and supporters of the theory alike.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Oct 2007 @ 4:58 PM

  212. Michael,

    “The science is settled” is a usefully succinct but overly general allusion to the fact that the most important questions, the basics, have been settled (that is, to the extent any explanation of natural phenomena is settled). As straightforwardly as possible, that putting more carbon in the atmosphere heats the planet to such an extent as to have significant consequences for humanity. By corollary, that it is in the best interest of humans to put much less carbon in the atmosphere all else equal, (because putting less carbon in the atmosphere also means other things, i.e. all else is not equal, debatable issues such as the extent and timing of negative consequences and of mitigation costs are relevant, but only to the question of extent, timing and policy- not to ‘global warming is a sham’ ninnyism).

    The scope of the expression is not difficult to understand, hence its use. That AGW denialists have seized on what ambiguity is there to buttress a flimsy persecution narrative is par for the course. Their sole interest is in scoring rhetorical points in the minds of an unwitting populace and arming their ideological army with yet more snark, (and certainly has nothing to do with scientific discovery). The real question then Michael is whether you’ve fallen for this tactic or are using it.

    Comment by Majorajam — 18 Oct 2007 @ 5:26 PM

  213. Timothy, the difference between the first and second set of questions is the friction and hostility you will encounter when challenging the latter. If some hot-shot scientist thinks he has discovered a new climate forcing, encourage his research to run its course.

    If we are to just ‘accept a body of knowledge’, there will never again be breakthrus in any of the sciences.

    Comment by Michael — 18 Oct 2007 @ 6:04 PM

  214. Hello,

    I was pointed to a site which contains some critique of “An Inconvenient Truth”:

    http://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/2007/10/04/detailed-comments-on-an-inconvenient-truth/

    I wonder if make a post respond to the objections presented there or generally objections made against the film (other than the 9 you already dealt with here).

    Comment by Ossi — 18 Oct 2007 @ 6:35 PM

  215. To Rod B:

    Yes, I think that is another way to say what I have wrote. I view argument as a means to reach a consensus, i.e., in an argument opposite viewpoints are aired, reconcilable differences are reconciled, and when differences can’t be reconciled, there is agreement to disagree.

    I don’t use argument in the perjorative sense of two people yelling at each other (literally or otherwise) with no intent of reaching a resolution.

    Contrarians just need to be different and will constantly think of ways to undermine a point of view. The purpose is not consensus.

    Comment by Taber Allison — 18 Oct 2007 @ 6:53 PM

  216. Michael said: “If some hot-shot scientist thinks he has discovered a new climate forcing, encourage his research to run its course.”

    OK, Michael, we’re waiting. Where’s that hot-shot scientist with a new idea. There hasn’t been a new one proposed by a scientist who actually understood climate in well over a decade. I know, Michael, as I was covering the beat a year ago, and you had the same “alternative” theories. What would you propose as the latest hot-shot idea that hasn’t been shot down more times than Snoopy in his duels with the Red Baron?

    [Response: Actually, hot-shot scientists with new ideas about climate forcing are listened to all the time. That's what brought you the more prominent role of aerosol forcing in the Second Assessment Report. A great deal of work has gone into seriously evaluating the magnitude of the solar variability component, and the result has actually been a reduction in the estimate of how important this component is. On the other side, Hansen's ideas about the importance of black carbon are being very seriously evaluated. There's no shortage of people rocking the boat. The fact that greenhouse gases (particularly CO2) remain the 800 pound gorilla in the climate change pen attests to the robustness of the basic theory as set forth by Arrhenius. --raypierre]

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Oct 2007 @ 7:18 PM

  217. I am disapointed that many of my posts asking questions about climate change (and anything questioning Dr. James Hansen) are not posted on this web site. But let’s face it. Who ever owns the media decides on what gets said.

    Comment by Gary — 18 Oct 2007 @ 8:32 PM

  218. Michael (#213) wrote:

    Timothy, the difference between the first and second set of questions is the friction and hostility you will encounter when challenging the latter.

    Actually I suspect that if you: accuse an astronomer of being narrow-minded because he insists that stars are objects similar to the sun, argue that a biologist believes in evolution because of his presumably leftist politics or lack of religious belief, insist on teaching students about the “four elements” as an alternative to the mainstream view in chem labs, … you are going to make more than a few people wonder whether you’ve lost it, and if they see that you may succeed in getting your “theories” treated as if they were the equivilent of well-established mainstream theories -upset.

    In terms of how bizarre the theories get, this is roughly where we are at with most climate skeptics. And actually we get some instances of people who are roughly that far out there. There are still people who argue that the earth is only six thousand years old – and argue that they have some alternative to the big bang theory, general relativity, and special relativity all rolled up into one – which no one will listen to in mainstream science – for one “presumed reason” or another. But typically such individuals don’t have a great deal of political pull or money backing them up.

    Michael (#213) wrote:

    If some hot-shot scientist thinks he has discovered a new climate forcing, encourage his research to run its course.

    Will this scientist have the scientific background? Or be simply someone in a fairly unrelated discipline who is well out of their depth? Have a familiarity with what has already been discovered? Sufficient knowledge of the literature and research which has already been done? Submit papers to peer review – in credible journals that specialize in the relevant discipline?

    Will the theory that is being proposed be consistent with what is already known in other relevant disciplines – such as radiation transfer theory or thermodynamics? Not involve the suspension of quantum physics or the denial of the existence of empirical evidence? Will it offer a causal explanation which is consistent with what we already know? Will it offer specific testable predictions? Will it have greater explanatory power than the existing mainstream theory that it is intended to replace?

    If your hot-shot scientist is able to meet these requirements, I doubt that there will be all that much hostility. Maybe in certain segments of the scientific community – but there are generally more than a few relevant journals, any one of which would like to publish something cutting-edge, or better yet, revolutionary. It is how they earn a reputation for excellence, attract subscribers and even better authors.

    But if it doesn’t meet any of these requirements, if the “hot-shot” scientist has little or no familiarity with what he is arguing against and consists largely of naysaying what is well-established by a large body of evidence. If in addtion his view of promoting his theory involves a short-cut in which no attempt is made to go through a legitimate process of peer review, but instead simply involves running to the papers, this won’t be looked upon all that well.

    If it appears that he is simply trying to create the appearance of legitimate doubt by means of so much handwaving and denies well-established principles without any justification for doing so that he is willing to explain, and if it appears that he is doing so merely to further certain political objectives and is well-financed, I suspect that his activities won’t be well recieved at all – at least by the scientific community itself as a whole.

    Should things be otherwise? If so, why?

    Michael (#213) wrote:

    If we just ‘accept a body of knowledge’, there will never again be breakthrus in any of the sciences.

    No one is talking about simply accepting any conclusions or theories. However, if the mainstream conclusions are well-tested, having a large body of evidence which supports them, and if they fit-together quite well with what we have learned in other disciplines, then it is likely that rather than being entirely replaced they will simply be added to – or shown to be approximations for some more accurate theory.

    Such was the case with galilean mechanics and special relativity, classical mechanics and quantum mechanics, and Newton’s gravitational theory and general relativity. Generally speaking, knowledge is cummulative.

    And when a new theory finally does suplant an older, well-established theory, it explains something which the earlier theory did not. But there also exists a correspondence principle by which the newer theory is related to the older one.

    The correspondence principle that since the older theory may be viewed as an approximation for the newer, the newer theory corresponds to the older theory where the older theory was successful. As such we will know that the newer theory is consistent with all of the evidence which had accumulated for that earlier theory – over the period of decades or centuries that this older theory stood the test of time.

    Generally speaking, what supports our core premises, the fundamentals which are widely accepted within a given discipline, is a wide array of evidence which comes from having those fundamentals tested in many different contexts by a great many individuals, quite easily thousands of man-hours within a single day – depending upon how many individuals are working within that and related disciplines.

    It is extremely unlikely that the fundamentals themselves will be overthrown – particularly in the modern age, although they may be transformed, re-expressed within a different language. Or we may realize that they were good approximations that work well within many contexts, but have to be replaced by something more exact in other contexts.

    *

    Incidentally, I noticed that you didn’t address the first point I raised: what it was that one Ray or the other had said that you were responding to. I couldn’t find anything which either Ray had said to which you could have reasonably responded, and I quote:

    Ray, do you realise how anti-science it is – in ANY situation – to say “stay away, the science is settled”?

    Did I miss it?

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 18 Oct 2007 @ 8:48 PM

  219. Please direct me to the “tons of solid interlocking evidence” that supports Dick’s (#208) 2nd postulate!

    I agree with his #1 and there IS “tons of solid interlocking evidence” for that…but it’s the premise of Gore & the IPCC that #2 is assumed. It does not have solid empirical evidence to support it. Further, the IPCC predictions based on their own models have proven to be inaccurate, to say the least. Being the premise, then, the whole idea of humans saving us from ourselves collapses. This is where my students have been lead down the proverbial path – it’s very tempting to view urban emissions and conclude that humans MUST be causing the CO2 increase…but that’s not science. Neither are inaccurate models.

    [Response: You ought to spend at least a little time trying to understand the scientific arguments before you spout off like this. Where your ignorance shows most acutely is in your assumption that there's only a circumstantial link between "urban" emissions and CO2 rise. This is the best proved part of the whole business, in fact. Leaving aside some rather convincing CO2 budgets showing there's no question we're emitting enough CO2 to do the trick, there's also the carbon isotope ratio of atmospheric CO2, and the fact that oxygen is decreasing by the right amount to correspond to a source by fossil fuel burning. If you haven't even bothered to understand the simplest arguments, why should anybody pay attention to your opinion about the validity of the radiation physics or other modelling aspects, which you are even less well equipped to understand? --raypierre]

    Comment by Rich — 18 Oct 2007 @ 8:58 PM

  220. > This is where my students have been lead down the proverbial path

    What do you teach?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Oct 2007 @ 9:58 PM

  221. Re. #219

    Rich, you utter ignorance on this subject is pretty evident. So, please go study a little bit before spouting non-sense like this. Your ignorance is especially troubling given the fact that you seem to be a teacher. A teacher has to know how to learn if he is to teach effectively and lead by example.

    You say: “… it’s very tempting to view urban emissions and conclude that humans MUST be causing the CO2 increase …but that’s not science.”

    You should study the article titled “How do we know that recent CO2 increases are due to human activities?” here in RealClimate (http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=87).

    Here is the pretty solid evidence indicating that the CO2 increase is caused by us:

    1) We can account pretty accurately for how much oil and coal have been burned by humanity (especially because the bulk of the burning has happened from the start of the 20th until now). From that it’s trivial to calculate how much CO2 has been produced and how much oxygen has been consumed by the burning. The result from that calculation is that we have, in fact, injected into the atmosphere enough CO2 to increase the concentration in the atmosphere by a lot more than it has increased. Fortunately for us, several natural processes remove CO2 from the atmosphere and reduce the impact of our emissions. The main processes are dissolution of CO2 into the oceans, absorption of CO2 by plants and other photosynthetizing organisms (with subsequent sequestration in living biomass or organic matter in the soils). We have verified experimentally that the oceans are absorbing CO2 in large quantities because we have measured the decrease in pH (increase in acidity) of the oceans (dissolved CO2 reacts with water and produces carbonic acid).

    We have also measured a decrease in atmospheric oxygen that is consistent with what we estimate has been consumed by our burning of fossil fuels.

    If we have produced enough CO2 to increase the atmospheric concentration by more than the observed amount there are two options: (a) The observed increase in CO2 is indeed caused by our activities, or (b) the observed increase is caused by some mysterious natural/unnatural mechanism that nobody can yet explain, AND all that huge amount of CO2 we have produced has just disappeared in an equally mysterious and magical way so that very little of it is in the atmosphere now.
    I’ll let you pick which explanation is more “scientific”.

    2) The burning of fossil fuels produces CO2 with a particular ratio of carbon isotopes C13 and C12. A change in this ratio, consistent with the amount of fossil fuels we have burned, has been measured in the atmosphere.

    Comment by Rafael Gomez-Sjoberg — 18 Oct 2007 @ 10:31 PM

  222. Rich (#219) wrote:

    Please direct me to the “tons of solid interlocking evidence” that supports Dick’s (#208) 2nd postulate!

    You were refering to the second enumerated statement by Dick Veldkamp (#208):

    For the umpteenth time, the following is beyond dispute (in everyday words, without the “95% confidence” stuff – and I think Ray would agree):
    1. GW is happening.
    2. It is caused by human action (hence it’s AGW)

    Here is one of my favorite pieces…

    NASA AIRS Mid-Tropospheric (8km) Carbon Dioxide
    July 2003
    http://www-airs.jpl.nasa.gov/Products/CarbonDioxide/

    If you will notice, even at 8 km altitude, the carbon dioxide has not become evenly mixed. Per capita, Americans produce approximately twice as much carbon dioxide as Europeans, where Europeans produce about five times that of the world average. You can see it – particularly over the west coast – albeit drifted a little due to atmospheric circulation. Same with the east coast. Both are where the US population density is especially high. (Coasts – go figure!)

    What you are seeing is increased infrared emissions due to carbon dioxide – in those parts of the spectra where it is effective for that altitude (i.e., atmospheric pressure and temperature). By selecting specific wavelengths we are able to peel away layers of the atmosphere, looking at the emissions at lower or higher altitudes, seeing how they diffuse through the atmosphere.

    A picture is presumably worth a thousand words, and these pictures are detailed. With the AIRS satellite we have over two thousand channels to choose from – although many are for different gases and atmospheric constituents.

    We even have motion pictures:

    AIRS Multimedia Animations
    http://www-airs.jpl.nasa.gov/Multimedia/Animations/

    This isn’t simply evidence for the emission of carbon dioxide but evidence for the thermal radiation which it emits, much of it back to the surface. And we are able to measure the increased infrared radiation (both upwelling and downwelling) at the surface – or at different altitudes using balloons and planes – in addition to the satellites responsible for images like the above. In the case of water vapor in the tropics, we are actually able to measure the amount of thermal radiation emitted back to the surface and statistically show that it increases more rapidly with sea surface temperature than thermal emissions from the surface.

    We have a database with over a million spectral lines identified: HITRAN. We are able to measure the isotopes of the carbon in the atmosphere – which indicate that the carbon came from fossil fuel. We are able to measure the decrease in atmospheric oxygen which comes from the burning of fossil fuel.

    With statistical analysis we are able to calculate roughly how much carbon dioxide gets produced – including emissions due to the process by which cement dries. We are able to calculate how much thermal radiation gets emitted by carbon dioxide at various altitudes given the rough concentration levels which it and other gases exist in within the atmospheric column and the results of extensive, detailed lab experiments originally performed at the request of the Air Force in the 1980s.

    We are able to calculate how much carbon dioxide will raise the temperature prior to amplification due to water vapor feedback. Same calculations. As far as the amplification due to the effects of water vapor, the most reliable evidence we have for this comes from the paleoclimate record – over 400,000 years worth.

    This is pretty much off the top of my head. Does it help?

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 18 Oct 2007 @ 10:59 PM

  223. Tamino,

    Thanks for the input. Unfortunately, the only way to improve the narration signifcantly is to switch the narrator. Each slide was recorded multiple times over several weeks. I tried with and without a script. The script sounded even worse — very monotonous.

    I will try again.

    Comment by cce — 18 Oct 2007 @ 11:04 PM

  224. Re #220: English, apparently :-)

    Comment by James — 19 Oct 2007 @ 12:23 AM

  225. Does anybody know if any of the authors of the section on sea level in the IPCC4 have since published additional work on sea-level rise?

    I looked and did not see this posted – worth a read:

    http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/2007/10/an_inconvenient_truth_team_gor_1.html

    Comment by J.C.H. — 19 Oct 2007 @ 1:21 AM

  226. Re: Dick V (208)
    1. GW is happening. – Well, climate change is happening, but not the first time in human history, and, so far, not at a greater rate already experienced.
    2. It is caused by human action (hence it’s AGW. This is one possibility, but not proven (however many peer-reviewed articles there may be, the IPCC shows significant uncertainty remains)
    3. It is bad. We survived: entering and leaving the medieval warm period; entering and leaving the Little Ice Age; the 0.5 deg rise of 1910 to 1945. So far, observed changes have been no more.
    4. We better do something about it asap. There are many other causes of the so-called ‘bad things’, and there are more certain problems in the world that we should tackle first.

    Scientific naivity will not save the world.

    Comment by PHE — 19 Oct 2007 @ 1:32 AM

  227. Re #226 (PHE)

    1. We agree that GW is happening. How fast? The rate is roughly +0.1 degK/decade over the period 1950-2000 [see here: http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Report/AR4WG1_Print_SPM.pdf (fig. SPM3)]. As far as I know this rate is unprecedented.
    2. It is proved beyond any reasonable doubt that GW is human caused (see for example #221, #222).
    3. It is not the question whether we will survive – the matter is that we are creating huge problems for many people (droughts, flooding, melting of glaciers etc). In other words: it is bad. That we have made it so far means nothing for the future, because we are entering a new, different situation.
    4. Should we do something about it asap? Your argument that there are more certain problems and that we should therefore do nothing about AGW is a non sequitur. We should (and can) address both.

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 19 Oct 2007 @ 2:41 AM

  228. PHE (#226) wrote:

    Re: Dick V (208)
    1. GW is happening. – Well, climate change is happening, but not the first time in human history, and, so far, not at a greater rate already experienced.

    Looking at the hockey stick, the rate would seem to be much higher than in any of the past nine centuries.

    A New Take on an Old Millennium
    9 Feb 2006
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/02/a-new-take-on-an-old-millennium

    PHE (#226) wrote:

    2. It is caused by human action (hence it’s AGW. This is one possibility, but not proven (however many peer-reviewed articles there may be, the IPCC shows significant uncertainty remains)

    Nothing is ever proven in science – however, evidence is cummulative – and we have accumulated a great deal of evidence. Being the conservative types they are, they say that it is very likely that trend cannot be explained by natural causes alone. Additionally, forcing due to carbon dioxide is one of the best understood aspects of climatology.

    PHE (#226) wrote:

    3. It is bad. We survived: entering and leaving the medieval warm period; entering and leaving the Little Ice Age; the 0.5 deg rise of 1910 to 1945. So far, observed changes have been no more.

    The passage both into and from the medieval warm period would appear to have been much more gradual. And in fact, it would appear that temperatures have risen in the 20th century as much as they had from the depths of the Little Ice Age to the beginning of the 20th century – or roughly three times as quickly. As for the medieval warm period, it would appear that the current global average temperature is half a degree centigrade above the peak of the medieval warm period – and climbing.

    And with regard to your choice of the period from 1910 to 1945, lets compare it with the most period of the same timespan ending with 2006 (since 2007 isn’t over yet). First, the global average temperature, both land and sea combined:

    Combined (Annual)
    0.0132 per yr from 1910-1945 R^2 = 0.7975
    0.0173 per yr from 1971-2006 R^2 = 0.8194

    The rate at which the global average temperature has been rising for the more recent 36 year period would seem to be significantly higher – at over 130% of the earlier period, meaning a 30% increase.

    Now lets do land:

    Land (Annual)
    0.0119 per yr from 1910-1945, R^2 =0.4596
    0.0287 per yr from 1971-2006, R^2 = 0.7505

    The more recent period is rising at a rate of over 240% the rate for tthe period you chose – with the latter period having a rate of change being 140% higher than for the period you chose.

    *

    Note: the figures for warming between 1910-1945 and 1971-2006 where calculated from the data available here…

    NCDC: Global Surface Temperature Anomalies
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/anomalies/anomalies.html

    *

    PHE (#226) wrote:

    4. We better do something about it asap. There are many other causes of the so-called ‘bad things’, and there are more certain problems in the world that we should tackle first.

    Well, let’s see. We have:

    1. The apparent nonlinear response of ice melt in the Arctic, Greenland and the West Antarctic Peninsula, this would seem to be rather questionable.
    2. Only 20% of the world experiencing drought at any given time during the 1950s, 30% of the world at present, and a projected 50% later in this century.
    3. Increased flooding which the IPCC would attribute to global warming just this year.
    4. Agricultural harvests projected to be cut in half for many countries.
    5. Carbon cycle positive feedback kicking in from the Southern Ocean, and it would appear similar feedback kicking in from vegitation during the warmer, drier years.
    6. A former senior economist of the world bank projecting an economic crisis of the same order as the Great Depression under business as usual – which is likely a conservative estimate.
    7. Retired generals arguing that climate change will become an issue of national security and is something that we must plan for.
    8. The glaciers of the Tibetean Plateau being projected to disappear by the end of this century – when they are what feed the six major rivers of Asia.
    9. Half of the world population living within sixty miles of the coastline.
    10. Your claim that climate change should be one of our lesser priorities, your lack of expertise and your track record – as evidenced above.

    I believe I will have to disagree.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 19 Oct 2007 @ 4:01 AM

  229. Rafael (#221) uses the simplistic logic that works well in H.S. debates, but does not necessarily stand up to scientific scrutiny, i.e., if/then statements are hypotheses, not scientific fact. His conclusion that the reader accept his conclusion or a “mysterious” alternative doesn’t wash as truth. CO2 solubility decreases with rising ocean temps…that’s not very mysterious and it’s also a logical alternative! My point in joining this forum was to learn, not to be indoctrinated. I found Timothy’s (#222) comments very enlightening and I wasn’t aware of the links he directed me to.

    One problem keeps gnawing at me (besides the oceans representing the biggest natural CO2 interchange) is why water vapor is always left out. It’s by far the most important & effective GHG and I’ve seen models that would explain the atmosphere’s CO2 increase as a result of increased H2O. Again, using Rafael’s (and my students’ logic) it would be a small step to believe that WHATEVER process began heating the Earth 10,000yrs ago (that’s 9,900yrs before serious anthropogenic CO2) continues to increase the evaporative process, which continues to increase oceanic release of CO2. Please…I don’t need any of the personal attacks – I realise that significant amounts of anthropogenic CO2 from hydrocarbon use have been released. I’m also aware of the temperature increase over the past 100yrs. I have seen models that support myriad reasons why these two occur. I’m not arguing against anthropogenic causes…I just don’t see enough empirical evidence to support one model over another.

    I’m a geologist trying to learn, James (#224), not a meteorologist. I’ll argue paleoclimatic data with you all day. If you take the time to look at the past 2mill yrs, you find that what appears to be “normal” (graphically) would be for the Earth to warm up a little more before plunging into another cold period.

    Comment by Rich — 19 Oct 2007 @ 7:57 AM

  230. I am disappointed that RC has not been more constructively critical of ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. Whilst the film may be “broadly accurate”, in the sense that it acknowledges climate change is being driven by greenhouse gas emissions, it clearly has exaggerated the immediacy and magnitude of impacts. Here are two examples. When the film discusses the melting of the ice sheets on Greenland and West Antarctica, it shows an aerial photograph of Manhattan showing it being gradually inundated. Whilst Gore does not mention timescales, the sequence clearly gives an impression of sudden flooding, rather than encroachment over centuries and millenia. Indeed Gore even says “They can measure this precisely, just as the scientists could predict precisely how much water would breach the levy in New Orleans”. You can try to argue that the statements are not explicitly inaccurate, but they are clearly, and probably deliberately, misleading. The second example is the sequence on infectious diseases. The accompanying slides refer to SARS, antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis and avian influenza. If there is a link between climate change and the spread of these diseases, it is not very direct and there are other factors that are far more important. It gives a misleading impression of what is driving the spread of these diseases.

    There are other examples. The images showing Katrina are clearly designed to make the audience believe there is a connection to climate change, even though this cannot be proved. It is a tactic that has been used to great effect in the United States, such that the majority of the public now appear to believe that the two are connected.

    The scientific evidence on climate change is clear enough without the need for exaggeration. ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ misleads about several aspects of the science, and RC should be willing to acknowledge these rather than defending them as ‘technically not wrong’.

    And before anybody tries to cast doubt on my motives, I am definitely not in the ‘denial camp’ (see http://www.climateofdenial.net).

    Comment by Bob Ward — 19 Oct 2007 @ 8:14 AM

  231. Re 220
    Hank asks of Rich: “What do you teach?”

    James suggests: “English, apparently”

    Might I suggest: Disinformation Science snd Revisionist History?

    It has always amazed me how some people can remain so apallingly ignorant of even the basics and yet be so damned certain. As Mark Twain says, “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Oct 2007 @ 8:43 AM

  232. Rich, I think that what has taken people aback here is that you admit that you don’t know much about climate science, and yet you profess near certainty that humans aren’t doing it. Such an attitude is not conducive to learning. There are some things we know with absolute certainty:
    1)Humans are responsible for the vast majority of the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere (known via isotopic signature)
    2)CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
    3)CO2 is the 2nd most important ghg in the atmosphere after water vapor (which contrary to your assertions IS considered in climate models)

    We also know that things don’t “just happen”. A scientist doesn’t just assume that the same causes are behind the warming of the interglacial and the current epoch–particularly when we can show convincingly that they are not.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Oct 2007 @ 9:39 AM

  233. It continues to amaze me that some scientists(?) (#231) would rather disparage others than clearly cite their evidence. Another quote from Mark Twain (after discussing the vagaries of glacial epochs): “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”

    Comment by Rich — 19 Oct 2007 @ 9:41 AM

  234. Re 230.

    Rich look through the index on the top of the page…

    In particular,
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/04/water-vapour-feedback-or-forcing/

    and
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/06/how-much-of-the-recent-cosub2sub-increase-is-due-to-human-activities/

    These two articles should clear up some questions you seem to have.

    Dave

    Comment by David Donovan — 19 Oct 2007 @ 9:47 AM

  235. re 230:

    “Whilst Gore does not mention timescales, the sequence clearly gives an impression of sudden flooding, rather than encroachment over centuries and millenia.”

    Really? That’s odd. I never got that impression from his lecture, nor did the people I was with. Perhaps my problem was I understand there can’t be “sudden” flooding; the idea doesn’t fit with the science.

    “You can try to argue that the statements are not explicitly inaccurate, but they are clearly, and probably deliberately, misleading.”

    Okay. What, specifically, what do you think motivated the effort to be “misleading”? Now if you are going to say it was “political” I expect you to provide specific evidence of this claim. (see #44) Otherwise, why should I take your opinion/bias as anything more than uninformed.

    “The accompanying slides refer to SARS, antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis and avian influenza. If there is a link between climate change and the spread of these diseases, it is not very direct and there are other factors that are far more important. It gives a misleading impression of what is driving the spread of these diseases.”

    Here I do believe you might have a point, BUT … wasn’t malaria and a variety of other diseases also mentioned, diseases that DO thrive in warm climes?

    “The images showing Katrina are clearly designed to make the audience believe there is a connection to climate change, even though this cannot be proved.”

    Real quick: do you believe that if ocean water is warmer, the severity of hurricanes is likely to increase, fueled by this heat?

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=181

    I believe that was general the point Mr. Gore was making, that we could face a future where extreme weather evnts become more common.

    “The scientific evidence on climate change is clear enough without the need for exaggeration.”

    As others have pointed out and I will echo, regardless of accusations of exaggeration, the real point is that AIT did something that the science by itself could not do, which is grab the public’s interest. The genie is out of the bottle, so to speak, and that can’t help but be a good thing. Because without the public waking up to the potential of a problem, consider how difficult it would be to get anything accomplished.

    Finally, given the the constant, misleading noise from the denial/skeptic camp, the idea that somehow Gore’s presentation lacks credibility because things were not 100% accurate and presented in such a way as there would be absolutely no confusion is really a little absurd. The movie has done what its creators set out to do. Instead of nit-picking because this detail or that doesn’t meet someone’s high standards of what should be allowed we should really be concentrating on the film’s overarching message: we need to get to work on this problem, not debate the fine points of a slide presentation.

    Gore got it right for the most part, IMHO, and more importantly he got people’s attention. And that, at the end of the day, those are the two most important factors.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 19 Oct 2007 @ 10:14 AM

  236. David (209), I kinda agree. But you don’t need AGW fixes to address the other problems.

    Comment by Rod B — 19 Oct 2007 @ 10:24 AM

  237. Comment by Bob Ward — 19 October 2007 @ 8:14 AM

    This is the AIT response from yesterday’s Washington Post:

    Ice-sheet driven sea level rise.

    Scientists agree that the melting of Greenland or the West Antarctic ice sheet would raise sea levels around six meters. The movie does not give a timescale for when that melting might occur. There are uncertainties in the scientific community about the timescale, but this uncertainty does not negate the need to seriously consider these scenarios when considering solutions to the climate crisis. IPCC estimates a sea level rise of 59 centimeters by 2100. However, they exclude any water contributed by the melting of Greenland or Antarctica because they don’t know when either could happen. …

    Gore included no timeframe, the IPCC4 left out Greenland and Antarctica, and you say Gore is being “clearly, and probably deliberately, misleading”? Those are pretty serious words.

    If you want to see examples of being clearly, and probably deliberately, misleading, read a paragraph from this critique of Gore and AIT:

    … Gore told the world in his Academy Award-winning movie to expect 20-foot sea-level rises over this century. He ignores the findings of his Nobel co-winners, who conclude that sea levels will rise between only a half-foot and two feet over this century, with their best expectation being about one foot. That’s similar to what the world experienced over the past 150 years. …

    The author of the above could have avoided being clearly, and probably deliberately, misleading by mentioning that in the section of AIT where Gore discusses sea level rise, Gore gave no timeframe; instead, out of thin air he creates the end of the century as being the timeframe. The author of the above could have avoided being clearly, and probably deliberately, misleading by mentioning that the IPCC report he is accusing Gore of ignoring did not exist when AIT went into the can. The author of the above could have avoided being clearly, and probably deliberatively, misleading by mentioning that the IPCC4 did not include sea level rise caused by melting on Greenland and Antarctica. The author of the above could have avoided being clearly, and probably deliberatively, misleading if he had added when he said the IPCC does “painstaking work that establishes exactly what the world should expect from climate change”, that the IPCC is also influenced by governments and is purposefully conservative, which might mean the IPCC sometimes perhaps falls a little short on exactness.

    MIslead means to lie to take something in the wrong direction. Is Gore’s intended direction wrong? Clear means free of ambiguity or obstruction. How can it be clear he is misleading when he gives no timeframe? You cannot establish a timeframe unless you put words in his mouth. Guessing a clearly misleading intent in Gore’s heart is a bit reckless.

    Comment by J.C.H. — 19 Oct 2007 @ 10:43 AM

  238. Rich, Yup! Scientist. PhD in physics specializing in radiation physics. And speaking of facts, you have yet to state one. Plenty of baseless assertions, lots of misconceptions and an astounding amount of certainty. Now given that a couple of hours perusal of this site would have been sufficient to correct all of your misconceptions, one wonders why you found it acceptable to broadcast your ignorance rather than remedy it. If that is not an attitude worthy of disparagement, what is?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Oct 2007 @ 11:10 AM

  239. Regarding #235

    OK, imagine that you have little prior knowledge about climate change (the target audience for An Inconvenient Truth) and you are shown a map of Manhattan with the water apparently encroaching street by street, with the narration mentioning the levees in New Orleans. What timescale would you be thinking of? Are you suggesting that the film-maker had no idea that it could be misinterpreted? I am happy to concede that it is accidental, but not that it is a reasonable representation.

    Let me be clear that I think Gore’s film is an admirable call to arms, and if it motivates people to take action then all the better. But it is a political film, and the film-maker has exercised some license when dealing with the evidence.

    Comment by Bob Ward — 19 Oct 2007 @ 11:24 AM

  240. Well, I thought I would chime in here. This may be a little off topic, but it is not mentioned very much. In my opinion, it is a good thing that Al Gore has increased the visibility of climate change, but does he really deserve all the respect or even the Nobel Peace Prize? I have my reservations about the man, but I just read an article today that succinctly summarized some valid points on Al:

    http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=56&ItemID=14074

    The particular relevance of the article is in the last half. If Al cares so much for the environment, why didn’t he do anything in office or as a senator? Why does he accept lobbying dollars from Big Oil or Big Tobacco?

    Comment by Stephen — 19 Oct 2007 @ 11:41 AM

  241. # 240. Ah, Stephen, nothing like a little revisionist history in the morning, is there. Might you be the same Stephen who authored the hatchet job–I mean editorial piece–you recommend so highly?
    Say what you want about Al Gore–he has been consistent on environmental policy. Land use, superfund cleanups, logging. In the absence of public funding of political campaigns, politicians take funds from whatever donors they can find.
    You know, it’s funny, I’m agnostic on Al Gore. I like some of his environmental policies, but I feel that the entire Clinton Administration was a great disappointment–they didn’t have the courage of their convictions. And then there was the piss poor campaign he ran in 2000. But it’s amazing to see right-wing nutjobs squirm whenever they hear Al’s name. They really sound scared.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Oct 2007 @ 12:21 PM

  242. This
    > why didn’t he do anything in office or as a senator?

    is assumption is false.

    The reason we have Navy submarine data on arctic sea ice is that while he was a Senator, Al Gore pushed — successfully — to remove the secret classification on the Navy’s data for a very large area of the Arctic.

    You can look this up. The area is referred to in the literature of the time based on that declassified data as the “Gore Box” — you can find it on the maps as well.

    http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=102863

    So — did Zmag say what you attribute to them? If so they’re wrong.

    Check your sources. Look up what’s claimed. Do not believe people from any spoke of the political wheel who are spinning and lying about facts.

    Check what you think is true.

    You _can_ look this stuff up.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Oct 2007 @ 12:24 PM

  243. Well, Ray (#238) I don’t know what you think I’ve stated as “certainty,” but I would like to make it clear that uncertainty is what drives scientific investigation and as I previously stated, I’m trying to LEARN. The last thing I have is certainty on GW. Thirty years ago I had climatologists telling me that we could experience a “glacial blitzkrieg” in less than a decade (from the same CO2 data). This hypothesis was printed in texts, magazines, and I even heard a National Park Ranger give a fireside talk about it! Now you’re the one telling me the “truth?” I don’t want to hear your opinion of me or GW, I want to see the data.

    Thank you David (#234) for your direction. I’ll peruse those sites.

    Comment by Rich — 19 Oct 2007 @ 12:30 PM

  244. One problem keeps gnawing at me (besides the oceans representing the biggest natural CO2 interchange) is why water vapor is always left out.

    And what gnaws at many of us is that someone like yourself can state a falsehood with such certainty.

    Water vapor is NOT left out.

    Your saying so just underline the fact that the only accurate statement you’ve made thus far is that you’re mostly ignorant of climate science.

    Perhaps you should spend less time posting and more time reading so that in the future, your posts showcase your knowledge rather than absolute ignorance of the subject.

    Comment by dhogaza — 19 Oct 2007 @ 12:47 PM

  245. 239

    OK, imagine that you have little prior knowledge about climate change (the target audience for An Inconvenient Truth) and you are shown a map of Manhattan with the water apparently encroaching street by street, with the narration mentioning the levees in New Orleans. What timescale would you be thinking of?

    ==========================

    No prior knowledge of climate change required. All you really need is a practical understanding of how Ice behaves. Watching a refrigerator freezer defrost can be instructive in this regard.

    I am only being half-facetious here. You are making an “in a vacuum” argument, the idea that without knowledge of how climate change behaves, someone will take what they see (re the “instant” flooding of New York by melt from Ice Shelves in Greenland and West Antarctica) at face value (or dismiss it entirely, if they took what they saw as a literal demonstration). The thing is, this is a medium where time-lapse photography sped up video demonstrations are commonplace, and the viewing audience is likely much more sophisticated than you give them credit for. I think if you polled people as they left the theater you would find few saw it as you represent they would, and those that did, thinking “that’s not possible” might be curious enough to look into it.

    “…with the narration mentioning the levees in New Orleans.”

    But the narration was distinct in separating the two events.

    Look, I’m really sorry, but you are, as I alluded earlier, nitpicking, essentially making an argument that has little basis in fact, and one, quite frankly, that gives little credit to the intelligence and attention spans of the audience who watched the film.

    “But it is a political film,…”

    Red Herring. If you want to make a case for this being “political”, please respond to 44. Otherwise, you are making a hand wave of no substantive power.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 19 Oct 2007 @ 12:54 PM

  246. Check out the Fox News OPINION by Steven Milloy for some more spin on the topic. Amazing.

    Comment by scottra — 19 Oct 2007 @ 2:08 PM

  247. Rich (#229) wrote:

    One problem keeps gnawing at me (besides the oceans representing the biggest natural CO2 interchange) is why water vapor is always left out.

    dhogaza (#241) responded:

    And what gnaws at many of us is that someone like yourself can state a falsehood with such certainty.

    Water vapor is NOT left out.

    If I could add a little…

    Water vapor plays a role, both in terms of water vapor feedback and moist air convection. But it does not initiate change: it amplifies change initiated by something else, whether that something else happens to be increased solar radiation due to our planet’s orbital cycles that result in periodic ice ages, an eruption of a supervolcano in Eastern Siberia that lasts for a million years, or our burning of fossil fuel.

    Given a constant temperature, the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere will tend towards a very stable equilibrium. Evaporation will be balanced by precipitation, with any given parcel of water remaining in the atmosphere for perhaps a couple weeks.

    To raise the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere on a more long-term basis, one has to raise the temperature of the climate system. Carbon dioxide does that – much of the carbon dioxide which we inject into the atmosphere will remain there for centuries. A doubling of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will directly raise the global average temperature by approximately 1.2 degrees Celsius due to its absorption and re-emission of thermal radiation.

    The radiation which is absorbed by the surface raises the surface temperature – including the oceans – which raises the rate of evaporation. The latent heat of moist air convection raises the temperature of the atmosphere. This raises the partial pressure at which the atmosphere becomes saturated by water vapor.

    Water vapor is a greenhouse gas that is more powerful than carbon dioxide, but it can only do what carbon dioxide bids. Think Master-Blaster from “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”: water vapor is Blaster, not Master. Its effect is one of amplifying the change brought about by carbon dioxide, adding an additional 1.8 degrees Celsius to the initial 1.2 degree change caused by the doubling of carbon dioxide, not initiating the change itself.

    With regard to the “natural CO2 interchange,” once again, we are talking about “equilibrium,” where the amount entering the ocean equals the amount which is leaving it – prior to our actions. However, we are digging up and drilling for carbon which has been locked away for millions of years – then injecting it into our atmosphere.

    If you were to permanently, drastically increase the rate at which carbon leaves mineral sequestration, even this would not mean that the climate will be unable to achieve equilibrium – only that it will be a new equilibrium with a different balance of carbon between the atmosphere, biosphere, ocean and soil. The equilibrium which the carbon cycle has achieved becomes disturbed – and it will take a while before a different, new equilibrium is achieved.

    In the square meter column of air directly above your head there is approximately two kilograms of anthropogenic carbon dioxide. And while that carbon dioxide is transparent to visible light, it is opaque to the infrared through which the planet otherwise radiates away excess heat. Being opaque to thermal radiation, carbon dioxide scatters it, sending much of the radiation back to the surface, heating the surface.

    Radiation balance can be achieved only once the earth heats up enough that the rate at energy leaves the system balances the rate at which it enters. Is it any wonder that our emissions are having a profound effect upon the energy balance of our planet’s climate system?

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 19 Oct 2007 @ 2:27 PM

  248. In the context of showing AIT to school children in a classroom setting, which is what the judge was considering, can it not be argued that the so-called nine “errors” were presented in the movie in a manner that was at least a bit misleading (some would argue for the purpose of evoking fear) to the minds of 10 year olds.

    Comment by joe — 19 Oct 2007 @ 2:28 PM

  249. Timothy, you are getting dangerously close to attempting to predict when and where a scientific breakthru will occur.

    McIntyre, you are right, this is turning into a smear Ray thread, not my intention. My apologies, Ray. I have had conversations in the past with Ray about how settled climate science is. I added the ‘stay away’ comment, because of the zero tolerance for anyone objecting to AGW (such as Sonja).

    Comment by Michael — 19 Oct 2007 @ 2:33 PM

  250. re 243

    Well, Ray (#238) I don’t know what you think I’ve stated as “certainty,” but I would like to make it clear that uncertainty is what drives scientific investigation and as I previously stated, I’m trying to LEARN. The last thing I have is certainty on GW. Thirty years ago I had climatologists telling me that we could experience a “glacial blitzkrieg” in less than a decade (from the same CO2 data). This hypothesis was printed in texts, magazines, and I even heard a National Park Ranger give a fireside talk about it! Now you’re the one telling me the “truth?” I don’t want to hear your opinion of me or GW, I want to see the data.
    =================

    Rich, you’re making an apples and oranges comparison re what happened 30 years ago and now. See:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=94

    “I want to see the data.”

    Have you looked at the IPCC report?

    http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/wg1-report.html

    Wikipedia’s breakdown/outline here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intergovernmental_Panel_on_Climate_Change

    Failing that, have you seen this one? It’s of a different nature but interesting in its own right. (The links to the report summary and the report are at the top of the article.)

    http://www.sigmaxi.org/about/news/UNSEGReport.shtml

    If it’s data you want, there it is.

    Dive in.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 19 Oct 2007 @ 2:33 PM

  251. Re. Rich, 243:

    Thirty years ago I had climatologists telling me that we could experience a “glacial blitzkrieg” in less than a decade (from the same CO2 data).

    This is another myth, as far as peer reviewed science is concerned. See here. You are confusing popular news articles (and a fairly small number even of those) with peer reviewed science.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 19 Oct 2007 @ 2:35 PM

  252. re 248.

    “some would argue for the purpose of evoking fear”

    Rhetorical question:

    If you knew with any certainty that the likelihood was strong that your chidren’s and grandchildren’s lives would be compromised in terms of resources, health and safety, would you fear for them?

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 19 Oct 2007 @ 2:37 PM

  253. Rich, you write:
    > Thirty years ago I had climatologists telling me

    Name one. Just one.

    > …a “glacial blitzkrieg”

    in quote marks — got a source? Who are you quoting?

    Why do you believe what you think you know?
    You’re claiming personal recollection. Name one name.
    You’re using quotation. Name one source.

    Let’s give you the benefit of all the doubt.

    You may not be a troll.
    You may not be posting well known nonsense on purpose.
    You may not be trying to stir up people for fun
    You may not be posting stuff from the PR sites knowingly.

    But a little bit of reading would save you from the appearances.

    Why do you believe what you’re posting is true?
    What source do you trust for the things you’re posting?
    Do you have a science library near you?
    Do you know and rely on a good reference librarian?

    See, you’re managing to hit all the wrong notes on your first appearance.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Oct 2007 @ 2:41 PM

  254. Re. J.S. McIntyre, #245:

    “But it is a political film,…”

    Red Herring. If you want to make a case for this being “political”, please respond to 44. Otherwise, you are making a hand wave of no substantive power.

    In the context of the ruling and this thread, the judge had the following to say:

    “It is now common ground that it is not simply a science film – although it is clear that it is based substantially on scientific research and opinion – but that it is a political film, albeit of course not party political. Its theme is not merely the fact that there is global warming, and that there is a powerful case that such global warming is caused by man, but that urgent, and if necessary expensive and inconvenient, steps must be taken to counter it, many of which are spelt out.”

    and:

    “the Defendant, does not challenge that the film promotes political views”

    In #44 you asked:

    What political ends were furthered? Please be clear and concise.

    Clearly, the policy end of waking people up to the need for governments to take action on climate change. That in the judge’s sense of the word, is clearly political.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 19 Oct 2007 @ 2:52 PM

  255. Re 229.

    Rich, I should apologize for the tone of my previous post. I shouldn’t have attacked you personally in the way I did. But too many people come here to post nonsense statements and I start getting annoyed and trigger-happy.

    So, back to the science. The following statement of yours makes no sense:
    “His conclusion that the reader accept his conclusion or a “mysterious” alternative doesn’t wash as truth. CO2 solubility decreases with rising ocean temps…that’s not very mysterious and it’s also a logical alternative!”

    Decreased CO2 solubility is not at all a “logical alternative” to the observed increase on atmospheric CO2 for a few simple reasons:

    1) If the decrease in CO2 solubility were responsible for the observed increase in atmospheric CO2, we still have the problem of figuring out what happened to the huge amount of CO2 we have produced. If the oceans were currently outgassing large amounts of CO2, we would have a much larger increase in atmos CO2 than what has been measured. The increase in the atmosphere would be equal to what we produced plus what the oceans would emit. However, the increase is *less* than what would be if *all* of the CO2 we have produced had stayed in the atmosphere. As I said earlier, we have produced much more CO2 than what has accumulated in the atmosphere, so a lot of that human-produced CO2 has gone somewhere other than the atmosphere (mainly the ocean). Your reduced ocean solubility hypothesis cannot explain any of this. That’s why you would have to resort to some mysterious mechanism for removing *all* or most of the CO2 we have produced.

    This is all easily sorted out by asking: Where is all that CO2 us humans have injected in the atmosphere if the observed increase in CO2 is *not* caused by us as you claim?!?!?!

    At some point, if we don’t do anything about global warming, the oceans will indeed start outgassing CO2 due to reduced solubility as they warm. But we are not there yet, and hopefully we won’t reach that point.

    2) Decreased CO2 solubility in the oceans cannot explain, and is actually directly contradictory, with the fact that the absorption of anthropogenic CO2 has been measured in the ocean. A good reference for this is here:
    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/feel2331/feel2331.shtml

    3) The change in C13/C12 isotopic ratio of the atmospheric CO2 would not match so well with what is expected from CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels.

    Comment by Rafael Gomez-Sjoberg — 19 Oct 2007 @ 2:59 PM

  256. Re. J.S. McIntyre, 235:

    “The accompanying slides refer to SARS, antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis and avian influenza. If there is a link between climate change and the spread of these diseases, it is not very direct and there are other factors that are far more important. It gives a misleading impression of what is driving the spread of these diseases.”

    Here I do believe you might have a point, BUT … wasn’t malaria and a variety of other diseases also mentioned, diseases that DO thrive in warm climes?

    Malaria is another bad example (like Kilimanjaro).

    For example, the IPCC TAR Working Group II, states:

    “Malaria was successfully eradicated from Australia, Europe, and the United States in the 1950s and 1960s, but the vectors [i.e. the mosquitoes] were not eliminated (Bruce-Chwatt and de Zulueta, 1980; Zucker, 1996). In regions where the vectors persist in sufficient abundance, there is a risk of locally transmitted malaria. This small risk of very localized outbreaks may increase under climate change. Conditions currently exist for malaria transmission in those countries during the summer months, but few nonimported cases have been reported (Holvoet et al., 1983; Zucker, 1996; Baldari et al., 1998; Walker, 1998). Malaria could become established again under the prolonged pressures of climatic and other environmental-demographic changes if a strong public health infrastructure is not maintained. A particular concern is the reintroduction of malaria in countries of the former Soviet Union with economies in transition, where public health infrastructure has diminished (e.g., Azerbaijan, Russia).” [Emphasis added.]

    This is a very cautious statement. It makes it quite clear that malaria is not a tropical disease (stating that is was eradicated from temperate regions only quite recently); it states specifically in its third sentence that Anopheles mosquitoes (i.e. those that could carry malaria) do currently live in many temperate countries; and it makes it clear that the reintroduction of malaria into temperate regions due to climate change is highly unlikely, except possibly in countries whose health services break down.

    Better examples of diseases that are likely to move north as a result of climate change would have been tick borne encephalitis and West Nile virus. The less severe winters in Sweden are already thought to be causing an increase in tick borne encephalitis.

    A better examples of a disease that is likely to become more widespread (rather than moving north) as a result of climate change is cholera (see IPCC).

    So as in the case of Kilimanjaro and Lake Chad, the point Gore was making was sound but the examples of diseases that he gave were very badly chosen.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 19 Oct 2007 @ 3:10 PM

  257. re 256.

    I stand corrected. Thanks.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 19 Oct 2007 @ 3:17 PM

  258. re 254:

    Clearly, the policy end of waking people up to the need for governments to take action on climate change. That in the judge’s sense of the word, is clearly political.
    ==================

    Okay.

    Now, when you hear the word “political” being used in the context of the movie by climate skeptic/denialists, do you believe that they are doing so in the same context as the judge?

    In the judges context of the word it’s pretty much of what I was saying about the movie in 44 – this is a social, human issue. Government is a biproduct of our need to socially interact, to govern our affairs.

    But when you see someone arguing against the movie and AGW at the same time, I would argue the word is viewed in a different context re AGW is a “liberal” position, as reflected by the conservative leanings of the skeptics.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 19 Oct 2007 @ 3:28 PM

  259. Milloy at his best (from the link above):

    Gore also says in the film that 2005 is the hottest year on record. But NASA data actually show that 1934 was the hottest year on record in the U.S. — 2005 is not even in the top 10.

    Comparing apples to oranges ummm global temp record to the US record.

    This dishonesty of this man never ceases to amaze me.

    Comment by dhogaza — 19 Oct 2007 @ 3:32 PM

  260. re. #252, to fear for one’s children is one thing; for them to have fears of their own that keep them awake at night (this has been documented by some psychiatrists), and that to some extent may be overblown (e.g. if they believe that Manhattan is likely to be flooded suddenly within their lifetime), is another thing entirely.

    Part of the problem is that so much of the debate has been couched in either alarmist (“apocalypse is imminent, so there’s nothing we can do”) or denialist (“there’s no need to do anything”) terms. Mainly because both extremist viewpoints sell newspapers/TV ads, whereas a more rational approach does not.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 19 Oct 2007 @ 3:36 PM

  261. I guess I missed the book in Al Gore’s Presidential Library containing the chapter celebrating the fantastic zenith of his Machiavellian shrewdness.

    Comment by J.C.H. — 19 Oct 2007 @ 3:42 PM

  262. Rich — Orbital forcing theory offers a very good explanation of the paleoclimate data for at least the last 3.8 million years. Using this to predict the future, baring anthropogenic influences, the earth should be gradually cooling now, moving towards a stab at a stade in about 20,000 years.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 19 Oct 2007 @ 3:45 PM

  263. joe (#248) wrote:

    In the context of showing AIT to school children in a classroom setting, which is what the judge was considering, can it not be argued that the so-called nine “errors” were presented in the movie in a manner that was at least a bit misleading (some would argue for the purpose of evoking fear) to the minds of 10 year olds.

    Interesting question.

    If you say that global warming will result in droughts, water shortages, rising sea levels, etc., what time-frame is a ten year old likely to be thinking in terms of? Next week, perhaps? Or next year? Typically I suspect that kids that age will do a great deal better at it than this, but…

    … was at least a bit misleading(some would argue for the purpose of evoking fear) to the minds of 10 year olds.

    … some would argue, and sometimes kids will get spooked by anything which suggests that the world isn’t always a safe place, that it might be vulnerable to disasters. However, I when the movie was produced, it wasn’t produced specifically for ten year olds.

    It was meant for a wider, generally older audience who realizes that a quick, early disaster may stand in as a symbol for later, more prolonged disasters, helping one to think of what may come not simply in cold, abstract statistical terms but in terms of the human impact of disasters. Thus for example, Katrina can stand in for rising sea levels, even though Katrina was a relatively quick disaster, and rising sea levels will be much more prolonged – but will in all likelihood require that we abandon major cities, in some cases (even given a fairly conservative estimates of sea level rise) within this century itself.

    We don’t know what the exact time scale is for the sea level rise, and the movie doesn’t pretend to say. The IPCC gave one set of estimates earlier this year in the neighborhood of half a meter within this century, Hansen has said that given the nonlinear response of ice and the paleoclimate record five meters would be more realistic, and more recently it looks like in light of recent events the IPCC may be getting ready to revise upwards to between one and two meters. However, on the scale of centuries we can be pretty confident that it will be in the tens of meters.

    At a certain level, beyond a certain point, the speed of the disaster becomes irrelevant. This isn’t an is of politics, but an issue of ethics for humanity as a whole. Even if the worst of the disasters brought about by climate change do not happen in my lifetime, they will happen to someone, in fact to a lot of people, and they will affect the legacy of our world that we leave to future generations – in all likelihood in dramatic ways for the next thousand centuries.

    The relevance of a thing should not end where it no longer directly affects my life. As a human being I should recognize the importance of what happens to others, to be able to identify with those I do not know or who may not live until long after I am gone.

    *

    But ten year olds…

    I think the movie would be an excellent beginning for a discussion of what cities are, what kind of investment they entail, the vulnerability of aquifers, sewer systems and subways to rising sea levels even when the surface of the city remains above water, and why you can’t simply expect to pick up a city and move it. Discussions of the dependence of agriculture upon a stable climate, including its patterns of rain. Discussions of long-term planning and of the investments required for long-range human action.

    This would give people an opportunity to deal with whatever shortcomings the movie might have for an audience of ten year olds and would give them a deeper understanding of the modern world which will soon be theirs, then theirs to pass on.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 19 Oct 2007 @ 3:58 PM

  264. The hysteria of the pro-AGW commentators here really paints a picture.

    The only reason that ‘climate cooling’ of the 60′s/70′s didn’t result in a solid load of peer-reviewed papers is that it didn’t last long enough. If it had, the very same people crying out about AGW would be crying about polar bears starving due to not being able to catch fish through the ice, of the threat of growing glaciers, increased rainfall and flooding, etc, etc.

    Comment by PHE — 19 Oct 2007 @ 4:03 PM

  265. With a warming debate raging over at my blog after I criticized the film “An Inconvenient Truth” for it’s obvious hyperbole, I find myself searching for “expertise”. Here I thought I’d find it, and I’m ready to burn my M.S. if this kind of advocacy is what science has become.

    Clearly you are climate experts, but clearly you are applying some odd and non-scientific standard to the *implications* of the film, which are far more relevant than the specific factual statements. Facts become increasingly irrelevant when presented out of any context, and the film is a perfect example of using true statements to lead people towards unreasonable, catastrophe conclusions.

    You seem to defend the clear implication of the film that sea levels are going to rise catastrophically and that Katrina was caused by Global Warming. You do this by stating that the film provides some qualifications as if that somehow makes the implications true. It does not make the implications true. As you know very well (but very few watching the film could possibly know), no responsible researcher would say “Katrina was caused by GW” and no responsible researcher would conclude that “sea levels are likely to rise twenty feet”. This line | is (approximately) the IPCC’s estimate of average sea level rise. This could have some ominous implications but it doesn’t compare to calving glaciers and flooded coastlines.

    I’ll try to leave my respect for your scientific credibility intact while I read more, but you sure are suckers for alarmism thata supports your grant budgets, and defending it is unbecoming at the least, and unscientific at the worst.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 19 Oct 2007 @ 4:24 PM

  266. Re 243. Rich, Why the hell would you want to believe me. That’s not what I’m asking you to do. I am asking you to familiarize yourself with the science–peer-reviewed, generally accepted, consensus science. If you do, you will find that:
    1)GCMs include H20 as both a driver and a feedback
    2)No. There was no consensus on a “glacial blitzkrieg” or ice age or whatever else Rush has called it.
    3)Human beings have actually produced more than enough CO2 to account for the increased amount in the atmosphere. The rest has gone mainly into the oceans, whose ability to absorb ever more CO2 may be diminishing.
    4)The content of C-13 in the atmosphere is decreasing. This indicates that the source of the new carbon is largely fossil, since living organisms tend to be composed of carbon richer in C-12 than the background.

    And lots, lots more. I would also be very interested in where you have been getting your information. It really strikes me as odd that you would come on so strongly saying climate scientists don’t know what they are talking about on a site run by professional climate scientists. Not every source is equally reliable. Stick with peer-reviewed (at a minimum) literature or sources that derive their facts from peer-reviewed and generally accepted research.
    And if I have been harsh on you, I apologize. The trashing of good scientists by ignorant food tubes like James Inhofe has my back up.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Oct 2007 @ 4:38 PM

  267. And Michael, I must apologize to you as well if I have been harsh. It does get tiring addressing the same contrarian arguments over and over. I hope that I was able to convey at least one point: there is a huge difference between saying a scientific field is “settled” and saying it is mature. In a mature field, we still expect breakthroughs in our understanding, but these will not change the basics of the theory. For instance, we will likely understand aerosols better in 10 years, but would you expect a change in magnitude of forcing due to aerosols to change our understanding of CO2 forcing in which we have high confidence or some other forcing we do not yet understand? The state of our understanding of global climate is comparable to our understanding of, say, semiconductors. We continue to learn new things, but the theory stays the same.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Oct 2007 @ 4:46 PM

  268. Re. 258, I agree, words are often ambiguous, and parts of the press take advantage of that fact. In its strict definition, the film is political, and the judge ruled on that basis; but the denialist press has twisted this to imply “left wing”. The judge should have made it explicit that not only did he not think it was party political but that he also didn’t think it it was political in the left-right sense of the word.

    Similarly he should have referred to “alleged errors” rather than “errors”, and stated explicitly that he wasn’t ruling that they were actually errors (which it is clear that he wasn’t if you read the judgement carefully) – a failing of his which the denialist press has also twisted to its advantage.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 19 Oct 2007 @ 4:53 PM

  269. RE Arctic Sea Ice

    Just a quick note regarding the arctic sea ice this year…

    It has been recovering noticeably since about 1 Oct 2007 and more so as time goes on. However, the recovery has been very weak when compared against previous years. In fact the Arctic Sea Ice Anomally has plummeted to below -2.75 million square kilometers and would appear to be still falling. Tough to say – as it is now quite literally off the charts.

    Please see the charts “Hemispheric Anomaly” or “Tale of the Tapes” at:

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

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 19 Oct 2007 @ 4:53 PM

  270. Clearly you are climate experts, but clearly you are applying some odd and non-scientific standard to the *implications* of the film, which are far more relevant than the specific factual statements.

    Care to provide some specifics to back up this blatant ad hom attack on the owners of this site?

    Or are we just supposed to take your word on it?

    Comment by dhogaza — 19 Oct 2007 @ 5:05 PM

  271. What is one to do in the face of this?

    http://rawstory.com/news/2007/Bush_climate_advisor_says_temperate_change_1019.html

    Cry?

    [Response: I'd complain about the journalist. I've talked to Marburger on a number of occasions and he very clearly 'gets it' - no denial there. This piece is more of a 'gotcha' piece of journalism where normal caveats are taken out of context in order to fit an pre-existing frame. - gavin]

    Comment by David B. Benson — 19 Oct 2007 @ 5:06 PM

  272. re 271

    Um…Don’t worry, be happy?

    *sigh*

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 19 Oct 2007 @ 5:16 PM

  273. Re. 264. P.H.E.

    The hysteria of the pro-AGW commentators here really paints a picture.

    Which post(s) are you referring to? In what specific way do you consider them to be hysterical? Resorting to blanket insults that you are unwilling to back up with a single concrete example is hardly the behaviour of someone who has any interest in the truth.

    The only reason that ‘climate cooling’ of the 60’s/70’s didn’t result in a solid load of peer-reviewed papers is that it didn’t last long enough.

    Where did you get that idea from? Please cite your sources.

    If you really want to know about the history of the science, rather than just spouting uninformed opinions, start here. But from your posts you come across as someone who would never let an inconvenient fact get in the way of a good opinion.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 19 Oct 2007 @ 5:17 PM

  274. Re 260. Have you seen AIT? It is far from an alarmist, “there is nothing we can do,” presentation. I constantly wonder where that idea comes from. It seems to me that your characterization of the two sides is confused. Those scientists who believe that global warming is real and that it is largely human-caused wouldn’t bother to participate in something like the IPCC or to sustain a website like RealClimate if they were promulgating the idea that it’s hopeless. What articles in the media can you point to that make the claim that “apocalypse is imminent, so there’s nothing we can do”? If there are some–which there well may be–they’re rare enough that those are not the ones that come to mind for me. Rather, it is the claims, or perhaps more accurately the accusations, of the denialists about those with whom they disagree that the other side is “alarmist” than any actual “hysteria” (see 264) on the part of climate scientists and others who accept the likely reality of global warming.

    As for the children, well, various recent generations have grown up with things like the Depression, World War II, the Cold War (anyone remember “duck and cover,” air raid drills–yeah, those school hallways alwasy seemed so safe, backyard bomb shelters?), and terrorists who bomb buildings, to say nothing of the more visible threats of, for example, polio and other diseases. Life–and bad stuff–happen.

    Comment by Mary C — 19 Oct 2007 @ 5:19 PM

  275. Joe Duck, it is a rather novel standard to which you are holding Mr. Gore. I mean, he’s responsible not just for what he says, but also for you YOU think he implies or what a “ten-year-old” thinks he implies, or what an imbecile thinks he implies. I wonder how your own missive might fare under such a standard. After all, you are clearly implying that the prime motivation of the contributors is supporting their “grant budgets”. This could be interpreted as alleging scientific fraud.
    For whatever reason, Al Gore has become the whipping boy of the anti-environmentalists–the man they love to hate. Do you think that maybe your view of the film might be colored by your clear antipathy toward the man? Do you realize that at this point your opposition only elevates his status?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Oct 2007 @ 5:22 PM

  276. Re. #271, it’s a very confused article that you linked to. The headline and the article contradict each other. The headline is “Bush climate advisor says temperature change won’t ‘affect people’s lives, not linked to events’”. But in the article, he only seems to be saying that 2 degrees C isn’t a “magic number”, and that things could get very bad with a less than 2 degree rise:

    “While admitting that humans are producing too much carbon dioxide, he added, “you could have emerging disasters long before you get to two degrees… There is no scientific criterion for establishing numbers like that.”

    So logically he’s really saying that the emissions reduction targets need to be much tougher than the EU, with its 2 degree C stabilisation target, is arguing for. But the headline implies that he’s saying the opposite of that.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 19 Oct 2007 @ 5:38 PM

  277. Re 264. Ae you saying that if we now found ourselves in cooling off period that had already lasted for over forty years, it would be inappropriate for scientists to be looking into the causes of that cooling off, the potential for continuation or worsening of the pattern, the implications for human beings and other living creatures, and possible mitigation efforts to avoid the worst of the problems?

    Comment by Mary C — 19 Oct 2007 @ 5:42 PM

  278. David B. Benson Says:
    19 October 2007 at 5:06 PM

    What is one to do in the face of this?

    Perhaps hope for the return of the days when America had leadership that paid attention to its climate scientists:

    http://celebrating200years.noaa.gov/events/wwii/iwo_jima.jpg

    Comment by J.C.H. — 19 Oct 2007 @ 6:06 PM

  279. Timothy Chase @269: yes, I’ve been watching the Tale of the Tape for most of this year.
    What I would like from CT is more raw data, but their graphs are very striking.

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 19 Oct 2007 @ 6:19 PM

  280. Also re. #271, Marburger’s statement that there are no scientific criteria for the 2 degree stabilisation target is also rather puzzling – see for example Oppenheimer and Petsonk, 2004.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 19 Oct 2007 @ 6:25 PM

  281. > leadership that paid attention to its climate scientists

    Yeah. Last time was probably around 1776.
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Library/Giants/Franklin/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Oct 2007 @ 6:28 PM

  282. Re #271: I haven’t seen the full transcript, but it seems to me that Marburger is making a very narrow point, that there’s nothing magical about 2 degrees, as opposed to, say, 1 or 3 or 2.1, which can easily be interpreted by the unsophisticated listener (e.g., the president of the United States) as meaning there’s no problem with an increase of 2 degrees. There was a time when only lawyers spoke that way, but now science advisers are in on the act.

    Comment by S. Molnar — 19 Oct 2007 @ 7:30 PM

  283. Did anyone watch John Stossel on 20/20 tonight about how global warming is not happening and the IPCC is made up of government appointed officials… He ends with Gore saying “the debate is over” and actually says “the nobel winning vice president may say the debate is over but I say it’s not.”

    Who is this Stossel guy? A comedian?

    Comment by Figen Mekik — 19 Oct 2007 @ 7:44 PM

  284. re: #281 Hank
    Now, now, not quite that bad…

    Actually, even skipping Clinton/Gore, we find the following from George H. W. Bush Nov 7, 1989, who perhaps was listening to climate scientists:

    http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=17765

    He at least *says* that stabilization of CO2 should be achieved as soon as possible… obviously a different Republican party … which is a reminder that climate change should never have been a general partisan political issue, except that it was convenient for some people to make it so.

    Comment by John Mashey — 19 Oct 2007 @ 7:46 PM

  285. In view of gavin’s reply to #271, I retract the last sentence of my previous post: I have no basis for comparing Marburger to a lawyer (and some of my best friends are lawyers – really).

    Comment by S. Molnar — 19 Oct 2007 @ 7:55 PM

  286. Re 271 and 285. Marburger is not well, and in any case it can’t help that any credibility he had was lost when he didn’t resign when the administrations attitudes toward science became clear.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Oct 2007 @ 9:41 PM

  287. A quick tangential note of thanks here from a long-time reader and first time poster. I’m not sure if you folks at realclimate.org have ANY idea what an immense public service you are performing. Please know that it is greatly appreciated by thousands of (often) anonymous readers like myself. In the vast sea of questionable “information” that is the internet, it is invaluable to have a place to go to run by real climatologists. Even with your occasional dry-witted (and understandable) cracks toward the denial media, your articles are incredibly even-handed and the discussions surprisingly civilly moderated. I have relied on this site countless times to inject sanity into “debates” on blogs and discussion forums. You are measurably helping to undo the confusion engendered by more than a decade of industry-sponsored disinformation, a sometimes hapless and passive (if generally well-meaning) mainstream media, and a public that is often woefully undereducated for interpreting scientific news and therefore easy prey for those whose goal it is to obfuscate.

    All that glowing adulation aside, I did feel you were a tad generous with Mr. Gore on one point. Getting the “tense” wrong on the evacuations – even if there is little doubt that they are going to occur – is exactly the kind of tolerance for error (without quotation marks) that the denial crowd loves to inflate out of proportion in their desperate attempt to impugn an otherwise sound and thorough rebuttal of the unfortunate court ruling by a non-climatologist judge. It’s important to rigorously call a spade a spade in such a review. Otherwise, you unnecessarily draw into question the objectivity that *I* happen to know (from reading dozens of other pages here) that you are honoring during the other 99% of your discussion. Remember that people like me are directing non-scientists – some of them very skeptical and already predisposed against the scientific community by the drivel they are reading elsewhere – to your site. While much of the discussion here may fly right over their heads (even with the impressively cogent and clear writing), something as simple as “present versus future tense” is at an elementary school level that anyone can “latch onto”. While it’s a tall order to make your discussions 100% bulletproof to someone who may already have their mind made up to dismiss them, lax moments like that make things too easy for them.

    Again, a deep and grateful bow of kudos to all of you here. I take it that this site is self-funded, but if you ever run into trouble in that area I do hope you would make your readers aware. This is a public resource that should NEVER go away.

    Comment by Mark — 19 Oct 2007 @ 11:05 PM

  288. Re. #274, Mary C, I didn’t say that Gore’s movie is alarmist overall, but many respected climate scientists believe that a few parts of it were presented in an alarmist way (and the judge also ruled that this was the case). See for example James Annan’s take, or William Connolley’s, or Bob Ward’s comments in this thread (Bob was until recently the UK Royal Society’s senior manager of policy communication).

    And I didn’t mean that alarmist presentations *state* that there’s nothing we can do, but rather that the effect on the public of alarmism tends to be one of creating despair and of the feeling that there’s no point in acting because apocalypse is inevitable. As for alarmist articles in the media, they appear all the time and Realclimate mentions them regularly – e.g. see here (where Stefan writes “I reject the hype in a recent article in the Independent about a “point of no return” for CO2 emissions.”). Or see Gavin’s criticisms of the BBC’s Global Dimming programme. There are many, many other examples of realclimate articles criticising media hype of this sort.

    The Australian Academy of Science’s rebuttal of Swindle starts by saying:

    It is both exasperating and unfortunate when the media either exaggerate stories, sometimes to idiotic degrees, or air poorly-vetted and inaccurate presentations that are purported to provide journalistic balance. It has been so for global warming ever since the topic burst into the media in the late 1980s with images of floods, droughted crops, storms, lightning bolts, cracked clay pans, carcasses in deserts, and people in deck-chairs on the beach up to their necks in sea water. This has created vividly false impressions. Now the TV program ‘The great global warming swindle’ (aired on Australian Broadcasting Corporation television on 12 July 2007) presents a counter story with even greater, but opposite, exaggeration and inaccuracy. What can the man in the street make of this? How can the publics’ right to be well informed be addressed by such polarizing and incompatible presentations in the media? Is human-induced climate change the biggest threat to the world this century, or is it just a fraudulent claim by climate scientists trying to drum up research dollars?

    My post in #260 was not in any case meant to be a specific criticism of AIT but rather I was making the general point that the media’s love of controversy and sensationalism has often given the uninformed public a false and counter-productive impression; and also that (in response to #252) that it is possible to be irresponsible about how one presents the science to children.

    True science is full of nuances, which it is difficult to convey in popular presentations, but one should try to convey them nevertheless.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 20 Oct 2007 @ 12:48 AM

  289. Nick Barnes (#279) wrote:

    Timothy Chase @269: yes, I’ve been watching the Tale of the Tape for most of this year.

    What I would like from CT is more raw data, but their graphs are very striking.

    Heck, I have seen the raw data – or at least links to the massive files that I could download if I really wanted to. Graphics, if I remember right. Then its pixel counts, more or less. In this case I would be more than happy to settle for some processed data.

    Ideally, whenever you make available a chart along these lines (assuming it isn’t any more trouble than a moment’s thought) make available the data at different levels of processing. I don’t mind a megabyte or more if its just numbers – and the appropriate labels. Oh… and with description… and sourcing.

    Jeez! Beginning to sound like some perverse Christmas wish-list – and I don’t know if the guy still has a place to call home. (Sorry… black humor. Probably too much Trent – or something.)

    Anyway, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if next year is another jaw-dropper. Especially with the “recovery” we are seeing so far.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 20 Oct 2007 @ 1:24 AM

  290. Rich writes:

    [[One problem keeps gnawing at me (besides the oceans representing the biggest natural CO2 interchange) is why water vapor is always left out. It’s by far the most important & effective GHG and I’ve seen models that would explain the atmosphere’s CO2 increase as a result of increased H2O.]]

    Water vapor is not left out. Every global climate model in the world accounts for radiative transfer due to water vapor.

    [[ Again, using Rafael’s (and my students’ logic) it would be a small step to believe that WHATEVER process began heating the Earth 10,000yrs ago (that’s 9,900yrs before serious anthropogenic CO2) continues to increase the evaporative process, which continues to increase oceanic release of CO2.]]

    The ocean emits about 90 gigatons of carbon dioxide a year. It absorbs about 92 gigatons. So the oceans are a net sink for CO2, not a net source.

    [[ Please…I don’t need any of the personal attacks - I realise that significant amounts of anthropogenic CO2 from hydrocarbon use have been released. I’m also aware of the temperature increase over the past 100yrs. I have seen models that support myriad reasons why these two occur. I’m not arguing against anthropogenic causes…I just don’t see enough empirical evidence to support one model over another.]]

    Then you’re not familiar with the bulk of the evidence. Try here:

    http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/wg1-report.html

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 20 Oct 2007 @ 6:57 AM

  291. “In the context of showing AIT to school children in a classroom setting, which is what the judge was considering, can it not be argued that the so-called nine “errors” were presented in the movie in a manner that was at least a bit misleading (some would argue for the purpose of evoking fear) to the minds of 10 year olds.”

    =====================
    Here’s a thought re children, fear and resiliency:

    I’m reminded as I read Tom Holland’s history of the fall of the Roman Republic, “Rubicon”, the Romans never raised their children as “children”, but to be the people their parents believed they should be, beliefs dictated by gender roles, societal perceptions, competition and so forth. I recall reading somewhere that even in the 19th century, children were still viewed as “small adults”. As I understand it, this is not an exception; we see in varying times and cultures that children, by and large throughout history, have not lived the sweet, uncorrupted and free-of-the-world’s-horrors lives we seem to imagine our children of this era live. (And we’re not even touching upon the effect of war and starvation, religious fanaticism and so forth upon inflicted upon children worldwide.)

    Yet somehow, through all of this, in spite of less-than-ideal childhoods (by our “standards”) humanity still ended up with dreamers and scientists, writers and historians, great leaders and people of compassion … people of exceptional ability, people who, both publicly and privately, often in ways we’ll likely never know, helped to make life better for the people around them, either directly or by virtue of their creativity.

    I’m a child of the “duck-and-cover” 50s. I grew up with the bomb. We all did. Now while we could probably devote wings of libraries to the psychological effects and societal implications of a generation of children raised in this fashion, the simple truth is we turned out okay. If anything, a good portion of us grew to not only fear the bomb, but to respect its power to destroy our civilization.

    So pardon me if I’m not getting too worked up about exposing children to a very real threat that, when they reach their majority, will likely have a great and deleterious effect upon their existence. If anything, they might grow to respect and understand the power inherent in the climate, something far too many people seem oblivious to.

    But whatever happens, their psyches will likely do just fine, that you very much. Children are nothing if not resilient.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 20 Oct 2007 @ 10:40 AM

  292. Re #268

    I think you are being a bit harsh on the Judge, Dave. Take a look at his full ruling at: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2007/2288.html, particularly point 40. You see that the guidance distributed with the film now states: “AIT promotes partisan political views (that is to say, one sided views about political issues)”. You can also see that the judge uses the word error in inverted commas. I think he did a reasonable job. He assessed the nine points against the consensus position represented by the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, and the Government in its defence was aided by Peter Stott of the Met Office, who appears not to have contested that the film differed from AR4 on these points.

    Point 9 of the Judge’s ruling is also interesting, because a representative for the Government gives the following explanation for distributing the film:
    “8. …I should say at once that it was recognised from the start that parts of the Film contained views about public policy and how we should respond to climate change. The aim of distributing the film was not to promote those views, but rather to present the science of climate change in an engaging way and to promote and encourage debate on the political issues raised by that science.”

    It is a shame that the Government could not find a better way of presenting the science of climate change in an engaging way. Instead, through it’s actions, it has now encouraged Viscount Monckton and his cronies to distribute to schools ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’ along with his own Christmas pantomime (full of fantasy and fiction) about climate change (presumably based on the flawed logic that two wrongs make a right): http://environment.independent.co.uk/climate_change/article3061137.ece

    Pity Britain’s schoolchildren!

    Comment by Bob Ward — 20 Oct 2007 @ 12:52 PM

  293. Re. #292 (Hi Bob):

    “Re #268

    I think you are being a bit harsh on the Judge, Dave … You can also see that the judge uses the word error in inverted commas”

    He did, but that is a subtlety that was missed in almost every media report of the ruling (even the BBC, The Independent and The Guardian missed it, and they are hardly denialist in outlook); and in my opinion the judge should have realised that it would be missed and that he needed to spell out that he was referring only to “alleged errors” and was not ruling that they were actually errors (see also here).

    Similarly, as you say, all the judge seems to have meant by “political” was that it expressed views about how one should respond to climate change, whereas many of the press reports have implied that he meant “left wing” or “liberal” or “part of the environmentalist lobby”, which he didn’t mean; and in my opinion, he should have realised that his ruling was likely to be misreported in this way, and he should have made it clearer at the head of the main ruling in an unambiguous way that this was all he meant.

    It is a shame that the Government could not find a better way of presenting the science of climate change in an engaging way.

    Has an engaging documentary ever been made that explains the science effectively? And that explains what the policy options are without doing so in a partisan way?

    Comment by Dave Rado — 20 Oct 2007 @ 2:28 PM

  294. re 292

    “AIT promotes partisan political views (that is to say, one sided views about political issues)”.

    Actually, I believe this reinforces Dave’s point. Regardless of point 9, or to the use of definition in 11, or even the judge’s note in 11 that

    ” Although there was some earlier suggestion on behalf of the Defendant that partisan might relate to ‘party political’, it soon became clear that it could not be and is not so limited.”

    the “partisan” label as used further aids in the misrepresentation of what he was ruling to the uniformed, particularly in light of the understanding that regardless of the merits of the case and the elements that were used to come to a conclusion, it would be inevitable that “partisan” would be interpreted differently re the anti-AGW political spin that followed.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 20 Oct 2007 @ 2:37 PM

  295. Re: Mark’s comments in #287. I second those emotions,especially paragraphs 1 and 3. I also agree with the thrust of paragraph 2. Al Gore, nor anyone else involved in calling out the cavalry, have to be right on every point, to be right on the overall picture that global warming is happening and it’s primary cause is the burning of fossil fuels.
    Trying to defend the occasional error by minimizing it, only gives fuel to those with their heads still in the sand.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 20 Oct 2007 @ 3:54 PM

  296. Re: 291
    I concur with J.S. McIntyre’s stance as far as children’s resilience, especially when presented with the truth.

    My own two eldest kids (aged 11 and 13) watched AIT with me last year, and it raised questions in their minds that I have tried to answer since.

    By coincidence, the day after the High Court Judgment was handed down, I watched AIT again, this time in a classroom with older pupils and staff at my 13-year-old’s school. Afterwards I attended a session that was deliberately set up to provide “an alternative view” for sixth formers, and this was followed by Q&A moderated by a science teacher. As a result, I think I now have (at least) a fresh perspective on this film and the way it is perceived by students in England in the particular age group for which the climate change pack for schools has been prepared.

    By and large, I think perhaps the student reactions I have encountered so far tend to reflect those of their parents or key leaders in their peer groups. (This is an important point for boys. If they have a “leader” who waxes lyrical on certain well-known arguments, such as the importance of Milankovitch cycles, in an attempt to dismiss anthropogenic influences on climate as insignificant compared to natural factors, it is hard for lads in that group to disagree. This is especially so if, for example, their “leader” is studying Physics at A-level, and his Science or Geography teachers do not have sufficient knowledge nor confidence to point out the flaws in his sceptical argument in class.) Of course, high school students will challenge teachers on particular points that they are familiar with. This is why the Guidance Notes to teaching staff in the climate change pack circulated to state secondary schools in England provide what I would consider to be crucial background material for any Geography or Science teacher, as well as those members of teaching staff in charge of Citizenship studies.

    Certainly, I have watched AIT with students several times this year, and they do NOT appear to find it alarmist (any more than it needs to be to wake dozy adults up from their slumbers and grab the attention of busy people leading busy lives). Even students admit that they are, themselves, far too busy to tackle climate change in earnest, so they can easily see how busy adults may never get around to addressing the issues. Yes, the truth is alarming, and is certainly inconvenient, but the film AIT itself is not half as bad (i.e. excessively scary) as people are led to believe.

    Comment by inel — 20 Oct 2007 @ 4:27 PM

  297. Mr. dhogaza I certainly don’t mean to be making ad hominem attacks here (though it sure seems to be the standard – this is a scary place even if you think as I do that IPCC is the best standard but AIT was too alarmist).

    You asked for specifics and I certainly thought I was clear with this obvious point:

    You [the post authors] seem to defend the clear implication of the film that sea levels are going to rise catastrophically and that Katrina was caused by Global Warming.

    Are the many scientists / activists participating here saying the film did not exaggerate at all, or that it did not exaggerate enough to be concerned?

    Where in the world would the folks here draw the line with respect to alarmism? IPCC is fairly clear on sea level rise – huge sea level rises attributable to GW are possible, but they are very unlikely. Likely are sea level rises of approximately one to two feet over the next 100 years.

    How in the world can anybody maintain the film made a reasonable case for the most likely scenario of a 1-2 foot sea level rise over the next 100 years?

    Facts and implications are different. If you state factually that several scientists now hypothesize a connection between hurricane strength and global warming and then show pictures of Katrina, the implication for most is that there is a powerful and scientifically documented connection between Katrina and GW.

    The film was designed to spur people to action using a powerful presentation with some alarmist tactics. That’s fine as filmmaking and activism, but the pretense that this was an objective examination of the best data to date is unbecoming to the scientists who are stating that this was an objective, reasoned, unbiased film without any alarmism or exaggeration.

    But I’m starting to get it. We are all silly primates, and rather than stick to the facts and the clear implications of the facts we tend to pick sides and blast away. Science can rise above this tendency, but often scientists cannot. That is too bad, because the stakes here are huge.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 20 Oct 2007 @ 5:42 PM

  298. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/315/5810/368

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Oct 2007 @ 7:06 PM

  299. Joe Duck, Excuse me, but Mr. Gore says pretty clearly under which scenarios the various sea level rises he cites apply–melting of Greenland, melting of the WAIS, etc. The fact is that there remains considerable uncertainty about how much melting will occur and how fast. I repeat my point above. You cannot hold someone else responsible for your interpretation of what they say. They are responsible for what they say.
    Look, Joe, I’m not a big Al Gore fan. However, he made a real good faith effort to be consistent with the science as it was accepted at the time. He did a good job at making an entertaining presentation and he deserves credit for it. An academy award, probably not; a Nobel prize–that’s downright funny. However, his status has been elevated to this point because 1)he has stood alone among politicians in calling attention to these risks, and 2)the very vitriol spewed at him by the right exaggerates his importance. So conservatives (real conservatives–not the neocons) need to get a grip. Admit that rejecting sound science and focusing attention on Al Gore aren’t doing them any good.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Oct 2007 @ 9:19 PM

  300. Hank Roberts directed us to a linear projection of sea rise as a function of temperature in 298:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/315/5810/368

    Hank, I don’t like it. Doesn’t take into account the positive feedback that we know exists.

    But the graphs look good, and obviously a linear approximation should work for a little bit. Likewise it is a great deal better than the constant rate the IPCC has been using – and will keep having to adjust.

    Given the dynamical response of ice sheets observed in recent decades and their growing contribution to overall sea-level rise, this approximationmay not be robust. The ice sheets may respond more strongly to temperature in the 21st century than would be suggested by a linear fit to the 20th century data, if time-lagged positive feedbacks come into play (for example, bed lubrication, loss of buttressing ice shelves, and ocean warming at the grounding line of ice streams). On the other hand, many small mountain glaciers may disappear within this century and cease to contribute to sea-level rise. It is therefore difficult to say whether the linear assumption overall leads to an over- or underestimation of future sea level. Occam’s razor suggests that it is prudent to accept the linear assumption as reasonable, although it should be kept in mind that a large uncertainty exists, which is not fully captured in the range shown in Fig. 4

    A Semi-Empirical Approach to Projecting Future Sea-Level Rise
    Stefan Rahmstorf
    Science 19 January 2007:
    Vol. 315. no. 5810, pp. 368 – 370

    … and the author is well-aware of the limitations.

    Ok.

    Not happy about it, but definitely an improvement.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 20 Oct 2007 @ 9:33 PM

  301. > Sea level rise paper

    Yep, it’s a pointer to an area of ideas, not to one single paper — it’s not a last word, it was then an early warning that there was more news than made it into the last IPCC report. That’s not news _now_ but it was _then_.

    And as usual down at the bottom of the page are the papers citing and commenting on that one — and there are more comments here at RC of course. Point being it’s possible to look at how this is being studied and follow the scientists, who do leave excellent tracks for anyone who wants to know “what did someone say _next_ about that?”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Oct 2007 @ 10:12 PM

  302. The cites followed forward lead to more — and that’s the main lesson, the one people learn who want to follow in the tracks scientists leave to see where they’re going.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/317/5846/1866d

    And more cites at the bottom of _that_ page. This is the lesson, look at what’s coming out, look forward, not at any one single old paper.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Oct 2007 @ 10:14 PM

  303. Re # 283 Figen,

    You can read about John Stossel here:
    http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Stossel/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stossel

    I posted this on the WSJ thread, but will repeat it here: The Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting website (FAIR; http://www.fair.org) has an archive of its threads critiquing John Stossel’s “news” stories about junk science and other purported exposes (http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=19&media_outlet_id=19; if this link doesn’t work, you can search the FAIR site for “stossel”, or search the FAIR Archives under Media Outlets-Personalities). I will given him credit – a few of the case studies he discusses in his various 20/20 segments and hour-long news specials are right on the mark, and his appeal to common sense is very convincing. However, many of his stories are filled with half-truths, distortions, and downright incorrect facts,all woven together with a libertarian spin. About 20 years ago, he had an hour long special on ABC titled, Junk Science, which was…well.. mostly junk.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 20 Oct 2007 @ 11:49 PM

  304. Oh, and Timothy, look under Contributors at the right side of the page.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Oct 2007 @ 11:52 PM

  305. Ray I think we’ll have to agree that Gore is sincere and a wonderful activist for greater GW awareness, but disagree about how reasonably the film represents the facts about sea level rise and hurricanes.

    I’m reviewing the online transcripts of the film and I still think the implications are for pending catastrophe. It is certainly possible that my impressions were not what others would take away from the movie.

    Frankly though I’m still shaken by how this debate seems more about people and alliances than about facts and testing. Good science does not spring from personal alliances or enemies – it springs from reason and data.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 21 Oct 2007 @ 3:28 AM

  306. Re # 305 Joe Duck

    You seem to think that people here (RC contributors, who are climatologists; RC posters who come from all walks of life, some being scientists, some not) get their science from Al Gore and his film – they don’t. Scientists, and those who want to know what science has to tell us, look to the peer-reviewed literature. RC reviewed Gore’s movie and pointed out some flaws. But,on the whole, the RC contributors felt the movie did a credible job of presenting the case for AGW and its potential consequences. I have yet to see a science documentary that got everything right, but Gore’s movie did pretty well. Moreover, the goal of the movie was to increase awareness, not serve as a textbook on the subject. Finally, to those who keep attacking AIT as as politically-motivated spin: As Al Gore does not presently hold an elected office, and there is no evidence that he is seeking elected office (in fact, there is good evidence to the contrary), I don’t see how AIT can be considered “political.” And why would concern about a large scale environmental change that will affect everyone regardless of their political leanings be considered politically partisan?

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 21 Oct 2007 @ 8:52 AM

  307. Thanks Chuck, I appreciate your response #303 to my query.

    Comment by Figen Mekik — 21 Oct 2007 @ 9:27 AM

  308. It’s really regrettable that no one from the moviemakers, or from Mr. Gore’s group, participates in these threads or has a website at which they can post updated pieces of his slide show. That would be a way to keep the focus on what’s currently known, against the strong attempt to attack “founder” work.

    It’s sad to see success by the PR people attacking the movie’s snapshot of an early version of Gore’s work.

    Science moves on. PR can’t keep up so they attack old information and pretend it’s more important than new work.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VFV-4MY0TS1-1&_user=10&_coverDate=10%2F31%2F2007&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=9a07ac9974791f3f99dee25bcd29ac81
    “The temperature is expected to rise by a greater amount in higher northern latitude mountains than in mountains located in temperate and tropical zones. The rate of warming in mountain systems is projected to be two to three times higher than that recorded during the 20th century. The tendency for a greater projected warming in northern latitude mountain systems is consistent across scenarios and is in agreement with observed trends…..”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Oct 2007 @ 10:41 AM

  309. Hank Roberts (#304) wrote:

    Oh, and Timothy, look under Contributors at the right side of the page.

    So I noticed, but I didn’t want to give him any special breaks.

    I’m not the sort that believes in playing favourites, you understand.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 21 Oct 2007 @ 11:27 AM

  310. I’m a little chagrined that The Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting website is cited as an exemplary source of fairness and accuracy in reporting…

    Comment by Rod B — 21 Oct 2007 @ 11:46 AM

  311. Joe Duck, the “debate” does not deal in facts because the facts are all on one side–and Gore has aligned himself with those facts in the vast majority of cases. Look, Gore is a politician. He is a politician who has been convinced by the scientific facts. He is now doing what politicians do–trying to persuade people to his position. Frankly, as a scientist, I’m gratified when a layman even tries to get the scientific facts right. Moreover, you are looking at his presentation through the eyes of a film producer, who is trying to put together an entertaining–and perhaps incidentally educational–film. For the most part they succeeded without doing great violence to the scientific facts.
    The fact that Gore did not spend 30 minutes going into all the nuances of the theory may not suit you, but it certainly results in a much more watchable movie. But look at Gore’s presentation compared to anything else the media has produced (except maybe the NPR/National Geographic series), and it comes off quite well.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Oct 2007 @ 12:20 PM

  312. Allthough I found AIT an excellent movie and I agree with its main points, I have one issue with the movie that I’m surprised is not addressed here: When talking about the relation between CO2 and temperature in the ice ages, Al Gore steps on the lift to show where CO2 is right now (ie off the y-scale of the last 650,000 years). He then makes the case that it would be extremely problematic when the temperature will follow suit and go off the y-scale oin the same manner. He is not explicitly stating that the temperature will follow in the same manner (which would amount to a 10 degree warming or so?), but he’s implying it will. So allthough he’s not making a factual error on this point, the implied message is wrong. He may be excused for not explaining the whole set of causes and effects of the ice ages, but not for making an incorrect implication. That said, the main point of his movie stands on firm ground, and I would wholeheartedly recommend this movie for showing at schools since it is very good in its kind.

    Comment by Darrel — 21 Oct 2007 @ 12:36 PM

  313. Re. #306, Chuck Booth:

    I don’t see how AIT can be considered “political.”

    See #254.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 21 Oct 2007 @ 1:25 PM

  314. Re # 310 Dave Rado

    Action requires policy changes, yes, but that is independent of which political party is in office at the time decisions have to be made. The term “political” is typically used pejoratively to imply that the views of one political party or philosophy are favored over another. Despite what the British judge wrote, I don’t see that raising awareness of AGW or developing policies to forestall it is inherently political. It seems to me that the effects of sea level rise will be non-partisan – people of all political persuasions and all socio-economic groups will be affected.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 21 Oct 2007 @ 1:47 PM

  315. I would point out that the film does not recommend the construction of dikes around New York City sufficient to mitigate 20 feet of imminent flooding, which is consistent with the obvious theme of the film that the worst negatives are well into the future and avertable without a hastily constructed 40-foot levee surrounding Lady Liberty.

    Comment by J.C.H. — 21 Oct 2007 @ 1:48 PM

  316. Re. #314, Chuck Booth, the problem with the English language is that many words are ambiguous in their meanings. In one sense of the word, the judge was right that the film was “political”. You are right that the word “political” is often used to mean something quite different. Also, the film was “partisan” in the sense that it didn’t cover the uncertainties in the science or qualify statements that ought to have been qualified; and in the sense that it promoted a set of policies that Gore believes in, rather than objectively and impartially analysing the policy options and pointing out their possible costs as well as their possible benefits.

    Have you read William Connolley’s take on AIT?

    Comment by Dave Rado — 21 Oct 2007 @ 3:37 PM

  317. Joe Duck posts (typically):

    [[Frankly though I’m still shaken by how this debate seems more about people and alliances than about facts and testing. Good science does not spring from personal alliances or enemies - it springs from reason and data.]]

    Then why don’t you show us some reason and data, instead of endlessly coming up with ad hominem arguments? Write down the reasons you don’t believe in AGW and we’ll see how they hold up in the reason and data department.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 21 Oct 2007 @ 7:19 PM

  318. Re # 316 Dave Rado: ” rather than objectively and impartially analysing the policy options and pointing out their possible costs as well as their possible benefits.

    That would make a great documentary, but I would expect to see it (in the U.S.) on public television (e.g., Frontline) where it would reach a very small audience. Had Gore taken this approach, his film would have been a total flop and the message lost – any good speaker knows you have to get the audience’s attention and warm them up with basic information before you can present data and more complex concepts. Now that Gore has successfully raised the public’s awareness of AGW, someone should produce the documentary you described.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 21 Oct 2007 @ 8:06 PM

  319. Re # 310 Rod B “I’m a little chagrined that The Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting website is cited as an exemplary source of fairness and accuracy in reporting”

    I never stated that FAIR was an exemplary source – I merely said it has an archive of its critiques of Stossel’s reporting. In those cases with which I am familiar (mostly Stossel’s attempts to portray legitimate scientific controversy as “junk science,” I have found FAIR’s critiques to be pretty much on the mark – quite frankly, Stossel tends to do a very poor job reporting on scientific matters, and he certainly advocates a partisan viewpoint. As I have noted elswhere, there are websites devoted to defending Stossel against FAIR’s “attacks,” but I have found those defenses quite lame – usually no more credible than the Stossel reports they are trying to defend.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 21 Oct 2007 @ 10:31 PM

  320. Re. #318, I agree. Given the need to reach a wide audience I think Gore’s film did a very good job overall, although I wish it had been peer reviewed prior to release, so that for example, some of the less well chosen illustrations it used to stand in for valid points (Chad, Katrina, Kilimanjaro, malaria) could have been replaced by better chosen ones; so that some important qualifications could have been added (20m sea level rises unlikely in foreseeable future, large scale evacuations due to sea level rises have not yet started albeit they are expected, spelling out the feedback mechanism that explains the ice core records and mentioning the initial “lag”). It would then have been a far more difficult target for the denialists.

    Re. the policy options, I agree it would be difficult, maybe impossible, to discuss those in a non-partisan way in a mass-market film, but merely pointed out that it was therefore partisan in one definition of the word “partisan”.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 21 Oct 2007 @ 11:17 PM

  321. Write down the reasons you don’t believe in AGW

    I can’t , because I believe in AGW and accept the 90%+ likelihood standard used in IPCC 2007 reporting. Yet 90% is far from the 100% standard I see applied, absurdly, in many of the arguments here and in AIT. You don’t believe that AGW is 99.9% likely, but you write as if you do!

    Ad hominem? Hardly, though clearly I’m under attack by you for suggesting the obvious – that AIT implies a strong connection between Katrina and GW and implies that sea level rises of 20 feet are not an unreasonable expectation.

    Ray if you are a professor I hope you apply a different standard with your students than with commenters here who don’t tow the line of GW catastrophism you seem to hold so dear. Do you seriously believe no rational scientist should challenge AGW and no scientist should get funded for research that would challenge AGW?

    Although I’m very interested in the science I’m comfortable with IPCC’s excellent treatments. I’m primarily interested in how we should allocate resources to mitigation. My read on this is that Lomborg has the right idea of allocating first to immediate and pressing third world problems rather than expensive and difficult mitigation efforts here in USA.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 22 Oct 2007 @ 12:00 AM

  322. Ray – Whoa – I owe you a big apology here. I think I just responded to Barton Paul thinking his comment was from you.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 22 Oct 2007 @ 12:02 AM

  323. Re. 321, Joe Duck, re. sea level rise, as has been pointed out many times in this thread and elsewhere, the IPCC projection specifically excluded any melt from Greenland and Antarctica, despite the fact that Greenland is melting rapidly and Antarctica is melting slowly, because of the fact that ice flow dynamics are not well understood.

    Furthermore Arctic ice melt is already way ahead of the AR4 projections, and this is likely to compound itself due to positive feedback from the loss of albedo.

    For all these reasons, most climate scientists would say that the IPCC figure is no more credible as a forecast than the 20 foot figure. The true figure is likely to be somewhere in between, and many distinguished climate scientists would bet on it being nearer the higher end than the lower. The IPCC took the understandable position that it would not include effects such as ice dynamics and some feedbacks that are not yet understood; but that necessarily makes their projections extremely conservative and almost certainly far too low.

    In 1988 James Hansen went out on a limb with models that indicated that a clear AGW signal was already evident and that the consequences were likely to be extremely serious; and his scenario B projections for temperature changes over the next 20 years have proved remarkably accurate. Now he has gone out on a limb regarding sea level rise and it would either be a very brave or a very closed-minded person who would say that, with his track record, his projections can be written off as “implausible”.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 22 Oct 2007 @ 6:59 AM

  324. Joe, no offense taken. However, I’m just curious, on what basis would a rational scientist challenge anthropogenic causation of climate change when all the evidence points to it. The 90% confidence number is a product of the fact that we don’t know what evidence WILL BECOME AVAILABLE in the future, not of any inconsistency in the current evidence. By all means fund good research, regardless of its implications, but it’s very hard to oppose the consensus position on the basis of empirical evidence at this point.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Oct 2007 @ 7:49 AM

  325. Dave Rado, make sure to distinguish between projections and observations; look again at Hansen (1988). You write that his models indicated that a clear AGW signal was already evident at that time.

    That’s not what he wrote or observed.

    This is why a direct quote with cite is always going to be more helpful. In the abstract you can read “(2) The greenhouse warming should be clearly identifiable in the 1990s”

    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abstracts/1988/Hansen_etal.html

    This makes your point stronger above. “Prediction is always difficult, especially about the future.” Models Hansen was using then were already good. He’s continued to improve the models and to project scenarios, and those for sea level rise are increasingly clear.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Oct 2007 @ 9:25 AM

  326. most climate scientists would say that the IPCC figure is no more credible as a forecast than the 20 foot figure. The true figure is likely to be somewhere in between, and many distinguished climate scientists would bet on it being nearer the higher end than the lower.

    Dave if this is true I’m simply floored and also confused by IPCC’s conclusions. Am I reading correctly that you feel there is a consensus that due to melting not addressed in IPCC 4 the actual sea level rise is likely to be more like 10 feet in next 100 years than in the IPCC range of 18-59cm? This does not sound reasonable to me at all – are you a scientist yourself?

    [Response: The so-called IPCC range is not what you think it is. Read our discussion on the topic. The IPCC specifically state that the extra effect from dynamic changes to ice sheets is hard to quantify but may be large. It does indeed appear to be the case that many scientists think that this number could be large - but we lack the understanding to say how large how soon. It's not a great soundbite, but that's just the way it is . - gavin]

    Comment by Joe Duck — 22 Oct 2007 @ 10:46 AM

  327. J.S. M.

    “I’m a child of the “duck-and-cover” 50s. I grew up with the bomb. We all did.”

    I agree that children are resiliant but I’m wondering if the showing if AIT to children in school and suggesting that they do X,Y and Z to combat AGW (IE: from changing lightbulbs through Kyoto) is any different that telling kids in the 1950′s that hiding under their desks and covering their heads would somehow protect them from a nuclear blast.

    Comment by joe — 22 Oct 2007 @ 10:55 AM

  328. on what basis would a rational scientist challenge anthropogenic causation of climate change when all the evidence points to it

    Since I accept the consensus view in favor of AGW this is hard to answer, but unless I’m mistaken there is enough uncertainly to suggest we should keep investigating alternative hypotheses to AGW.
    The stakes are simply *enormous* with respect to GW and the costs of mitigation, so if you are wrong (and I’d sure like to see people here assign a likelihood to that possibility), the costs to society are dangerously high. Even if the IPCC numbers are right (I think they are right), then the costs of massive mitigation are probably not justified, but we want to act on GW to the degree suggested by many responsible economists who study resource allocation (rather than allocate mitigation resources to the degree recommended by emotion and politics).

    Now, if I thought Dave was right above where I think he’s suggesting that sea levels are more than 50% likely to rise catastrophically within a century I would agree that we should probably feed the AGW skeptics to the Polar Bears to mitigate the effects of GW on their food sources, and then spend like crazy on mitigation and levee systems.

    Have I misconstrued the meaning of the 90% number in IPCC 4? Isn’t it suggesting an uncertainty level between 0 and 10%?, presumably closer to the 10% uncertainly level or they would have used a 95% likelihood of AGW?

    If we were talking about evolutionary theory we could say it is 99.9+% likely evolution explains change in animals. Science is reasonably certain about this and few rational scientists study creationism.

    However I’m under the impression that many climate scientists still feel there *may be* alternatives to the AGW interpretation of GW. I think they are scared to come to this blog, so maybe you didn’t realize how many there were out there :)

    Comment by Joe Duck — 22 Oct 2007 @ 11:39 AM

  329. Several asked what I meant by ‘sophisticated sophistry’ as a description of teh defence of Al Gore’s position. Wished I had as much time as the Real Climate people !
    I am indeed biased against environmental alarmism (limits to growth, death of ocean from oil, acid rain and forest death, population bomb, ozone hole and skin cancer etc) and consider it an ideological position not based not on science but on the belief that humanity is destroying the earth. It is a new version of many old religions which predict the end of the world thanks to human wickedness. While all ‘predicted’ environmental catastrophes had a grain or two of truth in them, or even more- humna beings can degrade the earth but they can also enhance it – were always exaggerated as part of normal politics. The climate change debate is hugely politiced. Why?? I can’t anser this here.

    Environmental threats/computer model predictions have become the foundation of a pseudo-religion, in my view, of a pessimistic, often puritanical and in the end anti-human ideology that selects and misuses science, and especially computer models. The latter are highly sophiticated but in the end, predict what you want them to, or hwat is ‘policy-relevant’and hence fundable.

    I have followed the global warming science and energy policy debates since the mid 1980s, and know how ‘interests’ use environmental threats. I know about the behaviour of Big Science, apowerful and well organised political actor with excellent communication skills, and I know a lot about how the energy industries are using the climate threat, most skilfully. I have written a book with A Kellow on the Kyoto Protocol.(Boehmer-Christiansen and Kellow, EE, 2002) and have done three years research on the politics of the IPCC, and published a lot on this. I still see as a political body underpinning policy made to a large degree alreay in the 1970s aimed at the replacement of fossil fuels. Nuclear power interests have long supported the AGW hypothesis, just as coal and oil have been more sceptical. I consider this normal behaviour and wished there was more emphasis on admitting this. All political and economic interests/institutions use ‘science’ and what they declare to be science.
    I wished you discussant would put less emphasis on what is not known than on proving a belief with still doubtful ingredient, and stopped insulting each other science – this is sophistry and done by very experienced communicators and spin doctors on BOTH sides.
    This is also normal political behaviour, given the high stakes. Climate modeling is based on one practical science, or rather mixture of sciences, meteorology and statistics. I read the critiques and teh IPCC, and do not believwe that science advances by consensus, though I admiot that scientists can be persuaded to negotiate a consensus among a selected group.
    I was warned in France in 1992 that if we listened too much to them, meteorologists would soon run the world! How true in one sense, a great deal of political ambitions are now dressed up as ‘saving the planet ‘ from climate change, or is it fossil fuels and overconsumptions? As if climate has ever been stable! Meteorology and climate modelling excludes many branches of science’.

    I am primarily a physical geographer that switched to political science/environmental international relations and science policy later in life, and now research the arguments and interests of ‘climate sceptics’. I must admit, they have persuaded me to say that we do not know enough about the causation of climate and how it changes to rush into policies that go beyond ‘no regret’. Such policies cannot be global as climate change will affect regions very differently. I opt for adaptation and and encouragement of technology change by those who can afford it. I remain critical of cap and trade schemes, and artificially high energy prices.
    I have experienced so many environmental alarms in my life (and di dmy PhD on one of teh early ones…teh dyong of teh ocean ion the 1970s), and met so many people that confuse knowledge with ideology, and had so many bad experiences with ideology, that I remain happy to be counted among the moderate and rational sceptics, distrustful of ideologues with political ambitions like Al Gore, and contemptuous even of people like Lovelock and O’Flannery…. However, among sceptics you also find extremists, people too optimistic or too averse to state intervention in anything. Our personal beliefs and financial interests tend to shape what science, or rather which bit of science, we select to believe in.
    Sonja

    Comment by Sonja Christiansen — 22 Oct 2007 @ 11:43 AM

  330. A rational scientist would have many reasons for doubting AGW, Ray (324).

    Take James Hansen, for example, writing in 1978:

    He charts a 1 degree centigrade fall in average global temperatures from 1200 to 1700, and a lesser increase from 1700 to 1980. Over the past century, he shows the peak temperatures to have been in the late 1930′s.

    Not surprisingly he writes:

    “Although the observed warming in the 1970s is consistent with the increased trace gas abundance, the changes cannot be confidently ascribed to the greenhouse effect. However, if the abundance of the greenhouse gasses continue to increase with at least the rate of the 1970s, their impact on global temperature may soon rise above the noise level”. For significance, he was looking for 0.4 degrees centigrade increase.

    His well known scenarios A, B and C, postulated in 1988, anticipated a temperature increase of 0.2 degrees centigrade for scenarios B and C to year 2000, which the charts show. Thereafter, scenario C assumed no further increase in CO2 and, consequently, no further increase in temperature. Scenario B, often quoted as the most accurate, looked for a further increase of almost 0.5 degrees between 2000 and 2010.

    In fact, global temperatures peaked in 1998 and have not risen since 2000. CO2 has continued to increase at a rate consistent with scenario A, which looked for an increase of more than 1 degree by 2019. We are experiencing scenario A CO2 combined with scenario C temperature increases.

    [Response: You are strongly mistaken about both the forcings we have experienced, the temperature trends and the Hansen projections. The graphs can be seen in this post. - gavin]

    More fundamentally, the 33 degree K difference between the surface temperature and the tropopause temperature cannot be attributed wholly to the presence in the atmosphere of trace “greenhouse” gasses, any more than the temperature inside a greenhouse can be attributed to back radiation from its glass. As Professors Gerlich and Tscheuschner point out, the simple blanketing effect of low thermal conductivity gas will increase the surface temperature. If the surface of the bare rock earth would be 255 degrees K, the earth surface with a dry N2/O2 atmosphere would be very much warmer.

    [Response: G&T are as useful to a science debate as a G&T is useful to an alcoholic. For the same albedo, the planet would be cooler by 33 deg C (ish) with a pure N2/O2 atm. - gavin]

    The lapse rate of air temperature depends on pressure,not radiation, and you can reach a zero average by climbing a very modest mountain.

    Take the planer Venus for a worked example.

    James Hansen calculated the surface temperature (at a presssure of 90 bar) to be 720 degrees K from the lapse rate, and 685 degrees K from the “greenhouse” radiative balance.

    So here is a simple question. If the almost 100% CO2 atmosphere on Venus were to replace with an equivalent mass of dry air, would the surface temperature go up or down?

    Comment by Fred Staples — 22 Oct 2007 @ 12:10 PM

  331. “I am primarily a physical geographer that switched to political science/environmental international relations and science policy later in life, and now research the arguments and interests of ‘climate sceptics’.”

    The prosecution rests.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 22 Oct 2007 @ 12:10 PM

  332. Joe Duck writes:

    [[You don’t believe that AGW is 99.9% likely, but you write as if you do!]]

    On the contrary, I think AGW is virtually certain at this point. Kindly don’t tell me what I think.

    [[Ad hominem? Hardly,]]

    Ad hominem arguments are exactly what you are engaging in when you say this site is about partisanship rather than science. You are accusing people and talking about their motives. If you aren’t doing that, what do your comments mean? As long as you are discussing the people or their motives or their behavior, rather than the issue, you are by definition engaging in ad hominem argument. That’s what the term means.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 22 Oct 2007 @ 12:10 PM

  333. Joe Duck posts:

    [[The stakes are simply *enormous* with respect to GW and the costs of mitigation, so if you are wrong (and I’d sure like to see people here assign a likelihood to that possibility), the costs to society are dangerously high.]]

    Most qualified observers of the subject feel that there are enormous costs to doing nothing, too. You’re assuming that everything will be fine if we do nothing. And you’re not factoring in the benefits from mitigation that have nothing to do with climate change — like reducing pollution, saving the oceans, and eliminating dependence on foreign oil.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 22 Oct 2007 @ 12:15 PM

  334. Re #329 [Our personal beliefs and financial interests tend to shape what science, or rather which bit of science, we select to believe in.
    Sonja]

    True, but much more so for some people than for others.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 22 Oct 2007 @ 12:20 PM

  335. Sonja Christiansen posts:

    [[I am indeed biased against environmental alarmism (limits to growth, death of ocean from oil, acid rain and forest death, population bomb, ozone hole and skin cancer etc)]]

    There are limits to growth, since we live in the real world. Do you think industrial production can rise forever? You do realize the Earth’s volume is finite, don’t you? Or do you think an increase of several percentage points a year can be sustained forever by mining asteroids? I have news for you — given an exponential rate of growth, we’re going to run out of asteroids, too.

    [[ and consider it an ideological position not based not on science but on the belief that humanity is destroying the earth.]]

    Ad hominem argument. Strike one.

    [[ It is a new version of many old religions which predict the end of the world thanks to human wickedness. ]]

    I’d say human wickedness is pretty much an established fact for anyone with an ounce of knowledge about what’s going on in the world, or even in their own community.

    [[While all ‘predicted’ environmental catastrophes had a grain or two of truth in them, or even more- humna beings can degrade the earth but they can also enhance it - were always exaggerated as part of normal politics. The climate change debate is hugely politiced. Why?? I can’t anser this here. ]]

    Ad hominem again. Strike two.

    [[Environmental threats/computer model predictions have become the foundation of a pseudo-religion, in my view, of a pessimistic, often puritanical and in the end anti-human ideology that selects and misuses science, and especially computer models.]]

    And ad hominem again. Strike three, you’re out.

    [[ The latter are highly sophiticated but in the end, predict what you want them to, or hwat is ‘policy-relevant’and hence fundable.]]

    And ad hominem yet again.

    Such models can’t “predict what you want them to” if they remain at all true to the physical laws they embody. And the “fundable” is yet another ad hominem smear. The fifth, by my count.

    If you want to learn how climate models work, I’d suggest reading McGuffie and Henderson-Sellers’s “A Climate Modeling Primer.” Other helpful books would be John Houghton’s “The Physics of Atmospheres” and Grant W. Petty’s “A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation.”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 22 Oct 2007 @ 12:26 PM

  336. Re #333 p.s. And some of us think we should at least try to resist that tendency, individually and collectively.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 22 Oct 2007 @ 12:28 PM

  337. Sonja Christiansen writes
    > policies that go beyond ‘no regret’

    Problem is, for a conservation-minded biologist, reducing coal use is a “no regret” step.

    The Western Fuels Association is there to lobby for burning more coal. They argue for burning coal as a “no regret” choice.

    Have you any suggestions for “no regret” steps everyone could agree on?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Oct 2007 @ 12:37 PM

  338. Nick Gotts says:

    “Re #333 p.s…”, but should have said (unless the numbering changes again!) “Re #334 p.s…”

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 22 Oct 2007 @ 1:00 PM

  339. RE # 329

    you said:

    [I am primarily a physical geographer that switched to political science/environmental international relations and science policy later in life, and now research the arguments and interests of ‘climate sceptics’.]

    Yes, you might be all of what you claim. But, you are uninformed or failed to read the science of acid rain and forest death (dieback). Even high school students are taught the consequences of acid rain on forest and lake ecology.

    And, regarding the ozone hole: where have you been practicing your old and new professions? There are alarmists and there are educated persons who understand the problems of acid rain and the Antarctic widening ozone hole. They might, in fact, be the same persons and have been proven to know that of which they have written and speak. Join the club.

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 22 Oct 2007 @ 1:08 PM

  340. Gavin – thanks for link about the IPCC sea level rise projection discussion. I appear to have more reading to do on this topic.

    Sonja – a very thoughtful post about how human dynamics drive discussions. Science and reason are the remedies which is why alarmism dressed up as science is so troubling.

    Barton-Paul wrote:
    I think AGW is virtually certain at this point … what do your comments mean?

    In short, my comments mean that I think the science has taken a back seat to alarmist rhetoric, and that for the sake of rational, long term policy making and resource allocation everybody should rally around the best science rather than the best rhetoric.

    I’m worried that talking about catastrophe is leading to our foregoing GDP or funding very expensive mitigation efforts while current catastrophic conditions of health and poverty in 3rd world are too widely ignored.

    If others here share your level of certainty about AGW it helps me understand the confrontational tone here against those suggesting anything but unqualified support for AGW and in most cases a strong likelihood of catastrophic change within 100 years.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 22 Oct 2007 @ 1:14 PM

  341. re 327

    “I’m a child of the “duck-and-cover” 50s. I grew up with the bomb. We all did.”

    I agree that children are resiliant but I’m wondering if the showing if AIT to children in school and suggesting that they do X,Y and Z to combat AGW (IE: from changing lightbulbs through Kyoto) is any different that telling kids in the 1950’s that hiding under their desks and covering their heads would somehow protect them from a nuclear blast.

    ==============

    Ah, so we’re going from the rhetoric of “It’ll frighten the kids” to “It’s probably no better than hiding upder a desk.”

    Actually, your example is a bit of an apples and oranges, not to mention a comparison of opposites. Hiding under a desk is a defeatest, do nothing and hope I survive sort of act.

    Suggesting that people do something to lessen their personal impact upon the climate – and by extention, the environment, for pretty much ANY negative effect on the climate parallels negative effects on the environment.

    You cite specifics (“light bulbs”), but that is but a part of the larger message: when you look at what AIT was really doing, it was pushing the idea that people make an effort to help turn the situation around.

    That’s a far cry from asking people to give up and cower under a desk.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 22 Oct 2007 @ 2:00 PM

  342. Re #329: [Environmental threats/computer model predictions have become the foundation of a pseudo-religion, in my view, of a pessimistic, often puritanical and in the end anti-human ideology...]

    Anti-human? Hardly. Anti the subset of humans who think I’m gullible enough to be convinced that they’re doing me favors by dumping their trash in my back yard? Yes, indeed :-)

    I see this “anti-human” claim all too often. It seems that those with a vested interest in pushing Madison Avenue’s latest consumer fad are so egotistical that they dismiss anyone who doesn’t want it (or its side effects) as being somehow less than human. I’d say the truth is more the other way around.

    Comment by James — 22 Oct 2007 @ 2:36 PM

  343. Re #340 Certainty about AGW

    Joe, the tone of some people here is confrontational because they are tired of hearing the same old arguments against AGW, which have been considered, and shown to be false. Scientists agree about the basics of AGW (although there is plenty of discussion about the details): that is: IPCC + every scientific body that put out a statement on the subject, they all agree: AGW is real, it is human caused, it is most probably bad. What more do you need?

    If all those people who have studied the matter tell us we’d better do something about it before it’s too late, that is a warning we should heed. That is not alarmism, that is common sense.

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 22 Oct 2007 @ 2:37 PM

  344. Paul Barton your use of “ad hominem” is rather unique (not to mention excessive!). Usually it would take this form:

    “Joe Duck’s study maintained that sea levels are unlikely to rise more than a meter over the next century”. However Joe Duck is ugly and stupid. Therefore, we reject Joe’s findings.

    You seem to suggest that questions or speculations about motivation, ideology, economic relationships, and other societal or psychological factors are not relevant here. But have you forgotten that this is a discussion about alleged alarmism in the film AIT, and alleged support here for that alarmist tone?

    Alarmism is a subjective charge – by definition. Motivation, ideology, psychology, and politics are very relevant to that discussion and frankly even to a discussion of potential bias in grant funded science.

    Also, though you keep asking for discussion of data I’ve tried desparately to get some feedback about why people seem to think sea level rises dramatically greater than the IPCC projections are “likely”, but commenters here seem very reluctant to speak in terms of mathematical probabilities associated with various events. That’s too bad because assigning probabilities accurately is a cornerstone of good science and critical to how we should allocate resources in an effort to mitigate the negative effects of GW.

    Gavin (thanks!) directed me to a discussion where he concluded that perhaps an extra ~25cm [Gavin pls correct me if this is not a good read of your points there] should be added to the IPCC’s 18-59cm ranges due to likely additional melting of ice. This is hardly the 20 feet many here and in the film seem to be obsessing about, so I remain very confused by the support for the film’s extensive discussion of a 20 foot rise without much discussion of the scenarios that are highly likely – a rise of (per my read of Gavin’s take on this) about a meter.

    There appears to be only an extremely tiny probability of a 20 foot rise. My take (based admittedly on a modest level of study) is that the likelihood of a rise greater than 20 feet in the next century would be on the order of “less than 1 in 1000 chance” – is that also your take on this probability?

    I would love to hear from the scientists here about this key point of the likelihood of catastrophic sea level rises this century.

    There are many ad hominem attacks in this thread but aren’t most of them against those nasty “ignorant food tube” AGW deniers? Am I correct that you are OK with that, because you see them as deserving of the attacks? Hmmm – you’ve got me really curious and I’ll try to count those pesky ad hominems.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 22 Oct 2007 @ 3:04 PM

  345. Sonja Christiansen,
    I would contend that there is a lot you do not understand about science. First, if science is not decided by consensus, then how is it decided? There are biologists who do not believe in evolution and physicists who do not believe in in quantum mechanics or in quarks. Yet these are the standard model, yet Einstein went to his grave dissenting from accepted science. Now contrast this situation with that of Newton’s advocacy of the corpuscular theory of light–it set English optics behind the continent by DECADES. If you do not understand the need for consensus in science, you do not understand science.
    You also have a rather distorted idea about the scientific consensus about climate change. Nearly every professional scientific society (AGU, AIP, NAS…) has accepted this consensus–and it is certainly not because it benefits them. On the contrary, it means there is likely to be less resources for them to explore their specielties in the future. They have acquiesced to the consensus because that is what the overwhelming evidence indicates. That is not alarmism. It is not even environmentalism. It is science.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Oct 2007 @ 3:05 PM

  346. AGW is real, it is human caused, it is most probably bad. What more do you need?

    Dick I agree but we all need more than that – a lot more!. I see those reasonable assumptions as the beginning rather than end of the important part of the GW discussion which is *what are we going to do about it?*. Lomborg and many economic experts (though notably not the Stern report, which allocates benefits and costs in a fairly unique fashion) suggest we should do the cheap mitigation stuff but not the expensive stuff.

    This makes sense to me. However if a 20 foot sea level rise within 100 years is “likely”, then I’d agree we damn well better start mitigating, and even bailing water like there is no tomorrow because … there is not!

    Fortunately the chance of catastrophic sea level rise is much smaller than the film implies, so we can and should do the cheap mitigations but not the expensive ones.

    Agree? If not, what do you think the chance of a 20 foot rise is based on your take on the science? Also relevant would be the probabilities associated with mitigation efforts.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 22 Oct 2007 @ 3:20 PM

  347. Joe, why do you keep talking about a 20′ sea level rise “this century” please? Aside from one error in an Associated Press bulletin that got reprinted a lot before it was corrected, nobody’s evern said that was likely. It’s clear what would have to happen to cause it — collapse, sudden breakup — this century — rather than slow melting over centuries — of that much water currently in the form of ice above sea level.

    Odds of a big meteor impact on an icecap, or a massive volcanic outbreak under an icecap? Quite low.

    Odds that surface melting will pour enough meltwater into moulins and crevasses to lubricate glaciers and break up icecaps? Nobody knows — that’s why it’s not in the IPCC, that’s why it’s not in the models currently in use.

    Click the link in the right hand column for Rasmus Benestad and follow links to his publications and read up on what’s actually been published about what we can’t yet say for sure.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Oct 2007 @ 3:23 PM

  348. Joe Duck (#344) wrote:

    Gavin (thanks!) directed me to a discussion where he concluded that perhaps an extra ~25cm [Gavin pls correct me if this is not a good read of your points there] should be added to the IPCC’s 18-59cm ranges due to likely additional melting of ice. This is hardly the 20 feet many here and in the film seem to be obsessing about, so I remain very confused by the support for the film’s extensive discussion of a 20 foot rise without much discussion of the scenarios that are highly likely – a rise of (per my read of Gavin’s take on this) about a meter.

    The IPCC estimate largely assumes a linear growth in the rate of sea level rise – and as has been pointed out numerous times before, does not take into account the non-linear behavior of ice melt. The empirical evidence simply in terms of the trend in rise over the past few years already appears to be showing that it is underestimating the rate at which sea levels will rise. Based on that trend, more recent estimates have included 1-2 m, with the likelihood of exceeding 2 m being less than one percent.

    Alternatively, Stefan Rahmstorf has published a paper recently which gives a semi-empirical analysis based on trends relative to temperature in which he concludes that the proper estimate is more about 1 to 1.4 m. However, his analysis neither includes positive feedback nor the declining mass balance of glaciers which after a time will contribute less to sea level rise.

    Then there is Jim Hansen who expects considerable positive feedback, partly based upon the paleoclimate record and geometric growth which appears to be taking place in Greenland. Given a doubling per decade, he concludes that the actual rise in more likely in the neighborhood of several meters. In fact assuming just a doubling per decade puts the amount of sea level rise in the neighborhood of 5 m, although at no point does he suggest that it may be higher than this. This would put the level at 16 feet. However, the most recent decade for Greenland showed a tripling.

    I wouldn’t suggest calculating the consequences of a tripling per decade, however, as I have already done so and the results do not seem realistic even to me.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 22 Oct 2007 @ 3:58 PM

  349. Re. #346, Joe Duck:

    I’ve tried desperately to get some feedback about why people seem to think sea level rises dramatically greater than the IPCC projections are “likely”

    The current consensus is that sea level rises significantly greater than the IPCC projections are likely, and that sea level rises dramatically greater than the IPCC projections are possible. As for why some distinguished climate scientists think that the latter are likely, please read Hansen 2007 a bit more carefully than you appear to have read the articles Gavin linked to.

    commenters here seem very reluctant to speak in terms of mathematical probabilities associated with various events.

    As the articles Gavin linked to make clear, that’s because the probabilities are unknown – largely because ice flow dynamics are not well enough understood to be included in the models; which is precisely why the IPCC AR4 ignored ice flow dynamics, while stating (as Gavin has already mentioned to you) that the extra effect from dynamic changes to ice sheets is hard to quantify but may be large.

    Gavin (thanks!) directed me to a discussion where he concluded that perhaps an extra ~25cm

    That’s only if one uses the observed sea level rise of the past century to calibrate a linear projection of future sea level. Read the article Gavin linked to more carefully. Your estimate ignores ice flow dynamics, and also ignores other possible factors that the article discusses.

    I would love to hear from the scientists here about this key point of the likelihood of catastrophic sea level rises this century.

    I’m not a scientist but even I know that “catastrophic” is not a word that has any scientific meaning.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 22 Oct 2007 @ 4:12 PM

  350. J.S. M.

    Apples and oranges…maybe, maybe not, and I’m not saying AGW isn’t occuring.

    In retrospect, the “duck and cover” of the 1950s WAS “defeatest” and “do nothing and hope I survive”… I agree. At the time however, “D&C” was the conventional wisdom. You practiced it at school. It was pro-active behavior and people actually believed it could make difference. Could this be occuring now with regard to AGW, and what we do about it?

    Bjorn Lomborg (with much critizism from the “do something,do anything… but do it now” crowd) has written that full Kyoto implemetation would have a “miniscule” effect on warming, at great expense.

    I’ve got no problem with keeping the earth as clean as possible, but in 30 or 40 years (if not sooner or already), the notion of different light bulbs or driving a Prius… all the way to Kyoto implementation, in order to stop the earth from warming is likely to be just as absurd as the”D&C” protocol of the 1950s. Seems a bit hasty just to make yourself feel good.

    Comment by joe — 22 Oct 2007 @ 4:17 PM

  351. Re. #346, Joe Duck – you keep citing Lomborg. See here and here.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 22 Oct 2007 @ 4:22 PM

  352. Re #346 Sea level rise

    The reason I think we know enough to start mitigating yesterday is the probability that we cross a tipping point, combined with the time constant of GW (= a few hundred years). Hence it is possible that things will spin totally out of control – like 5 K warming for example, massive droughts etc.

    Suppose we had this discussion about acid rain. If the view that we’d better wait for more evidence before doing something prevailed, I would be disconcerted, but not overly so. Acid rain would stop within months of us ceasing to put dirt into the air, and we could more or less bring the situation back to what it was before ,any tiem we chanegd our mind. Raypierre has a nice piece on this (see p8 in particular): http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~rtp1/papers/LawReviewCatastrophe.pdf

    About sea level rise, people talk about a rise of up to 1 m this century, and oh I guess that’s ok then. Firstly, a 1 m is definitely NOT ok. Secondly, like there will be some magical cut off in 2100! Do you think another metre after 2100 will not be bad?

    Besides that Hansen makes a good case that faster melting is in fact possible:
    http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/mg19526141.600-huge-sea-level-rises-are-coming–unless-we-act-now.html
    He may be wrong of course. But should we base public policy on that assumption? Isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 22 Oct 2007 @ 4:27 PM

  353. Sorry the second link in my post regarding Lomborg is broken – I meant here.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 22 Oct 2007 @ 4:28 PM

  354. 344. Comment by Joe Duck — 22 October 2007 @ 3:04 PM

    Why are you saying “in this century” or “likelihood of a rise greater than 20 feet in the next century”?

    Where did you get those timeframes?

    Most of the people here read the post about the IPCC’s section on sea level the day it was posted. Read the 308 comments to “The IPCC sea level numbers” posting and count the number of times anybody says there is going to be 20 feet by 2100, or 2200.

    Who is the person who first strung those type of words (20 feet of sea level rise by) together?

    Comment by J.C.H. — 22 Oct 2007 @ 4:35 PM

  355. Joe Duck:

    Does the world end in 2100?

    Do you breathe a big sigh of relief if SLR is less than 20 feet in 2100 and say “no problem”?

    New York City and Boston are close to 400 years old. Do you care what they look like 400 years from now? How much will it cost to defend/replace them and all the other cities built on low-lying coastlines?
    Especially in an era where there is *no* petroleum left for cheap energy?

    Try:
    http://flood.firetree.net, set meters=7 as an example, and look around at the Boston and NYC metropolitan areas to see what’s above sea level and what isn’t. Don’t bother looking for New Orleans, look at Baton Rouge.

    ===
    Question for everybody: firetree is nice for looking at sea levels and doing what-ifs. I haven’t seen an interactive combination of that with population. Anybody know one?

    I have seen the USGS website:
    http://cegis.usgs.gov/sea_level_rise.html

    and a nice presentation by E. Lynn Usery, with lots of useful charts:
    http://cegis.usgs.gov/pdf/aag-2007.pdf

    although I think the SLR’s there are just from the melt, so don’t count thermal expansion.

    Comment by John Mashey — 22 Oct 2007 @ 4:47 PM

  356. Joe Duck — This is not really the proper forum to consider policy. However, to see how correcting some of the other problems fits well with adapting to climate change, follow Biopact:

    http://biopact.com

    Comment by David B. Benson — 22 Oct 2007 @ 5:07 PM

  357. Hank asked:
    Joe, why do you keep talking about a 20′ sea level rise “this century”

    I’m confused Hank – Al Gore started this dialog… I’m quoting this because 20 rises are presented here and in AIT as something we should be worried about. My read of the science suggests this rise is unlikely enough, and the models are so uncertain, and even if it’s coming it’ll be extremely difficult to mitigate against, that I can only conclude we should choose to put the resources and potentially forgone GDP towards current catastrophic conditions in developing countries. My beef is not so much with people worrying about unlikely events, it’s with the suggestion we should allocate resources according to those concerns.

    AIT and many folks here suggest this is likely enough to be of some concern – are you saying it’s of great concern but if we don’t start doing things now we have little hope of changing it? If something is very unlikely to happen in 100 years I’d argue we can reasonable assume that it’s best to wait for technological improvements and better information before acting in expensive ways.

    John Mashey:
    No the world won’t be ending anytime soon and certainly not this century, which is my key point. Most of the people here are worrying in great disproportion to a reasonable assessment of risk, assuming as I do that IPCC data is the best science to date. Large scale mitigation efforts generally have huge costs and often yield questionable benefits. Am I wrong to think that these huge costs are largely ignored here, while the benefits are generally discussed in terms of preventing planetary catastrophe?

    Dave: I’m familiar with the Danish decisions on “A Skeptical Environmentalist”. The initial criticism of the book was *overturned* by the Danish body supervising the scientific dishonesty folks who chastised Lomborg. The mess was highly political and IMHO sheds no light on Lomborg’s scientific credibility or lack thereof.

    Lomborg is a firm believer in AGW, but suggests that alarmism is trumping a quality discussion of science in the political and public media realm. He’s right on both counts.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 22 Oct 2007 @ 5:39 PM

  358. Who is the person who first strung those type of words (20 feet of sea level rise by) together?

    I was. Read my lips. 20 feet of sea level rise by 2100.

    Get used to it.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 22 Oct 2007 @ 5:42 PM

  359. Another inconvenient truth:

    http://www.livescience.com/environment/071022-co2-accelerating.html

    Comment by David B. Benson — 22 Oct 2007 @ 6:31 PM

  360. > Read my lips
    Or your website, here.
    But … well …. you are this Elifritz, right?
    http://www.ufoseek.com/Predictions/Formation_Inc._-_The_Information_Corporation_L490/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Oct 2007 @ 6:40 PM

  361. Yet another inconvenient truth:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071021225256.htm

    Comment by David B. Benson — 22 Oct 2007 @ 6:44 PM

  362. That’s me. Dr. Michael Shermer the skeptic speculates that there is NO EVIDENCE for intelligent life in the universe. I agree.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 22 Oct 2007 @ 6:51 PM

  363. Still another inconvenient truth:

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=C92C3262-E7F2-99DF-30FA22A938862F9A&chanID=sa003

    Comment by David B. Benson — 22 Oct 2007 @ 6:52 PM

  364. NOx is another one:

    http://biopact.com/2007/10/researchers-find-effects-of-nox.html

    Comment by David B. Benson — 22 Oct 2007 @ 7:10 PM

  365. #357, Joe Duck

    The mess was highly political

    Evidence please.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 22 Oct 2007 @ 7:27 PM

  366. Re. #357, Joe Duck

    while the benefits [of reducing emissions] are generally discussed in terms of preventing planetary catastrophe

    Have you read the IPCC AR4 Working Group II Report? No mention of planetary catastrophe there, but it projects far greater costs if we do nothing to reduce our emissions than Lomborg would have you believe, especially for the third world.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 22 Oct 2007 @ 8:02 PM

  367. Joe Duck, Actually, even if we had a 20 foot sea-level rise by 2100, this would probably not even be the most serious consequence of climate change. Rather the increased likelihood of extreme weather events, of droughts and of increased unpredictability of weather (especially rainfall), will make it extremely to feed, house and otherwise meet the needs of 12 billion people. There is also a high probability that ranges of invasive species, pests and possibly diseases will expand in a warmer world. Decreased fertility of Earth’s oceans is also something that seems to be coming about.
    I think that what you and Lomborg and many others are not taking into account is that all of the infrastructure of civilization has been developed during the past 10000 years of relative climatic stability. To meet the challenges of the next 100 years, we will have to develop sustainability–both ecological AND economic. We cannot sacrifice the economy or development to combat climate change, because these are coupled problems. If we sacrifice economic health to combat climate change, we will both lose public support and fail to be able to pay for new technology to help us mitigate adverse climate effects. If we sacrifice development, then the poor will burn whatever energy resources they can obtain, making our efforts in vain. And, of course if we ignore climate change, it will negate progress in both development and the economy. If we don’t solve all of these problems, we will solve none of them.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Oct 2007 @ 8:26 PM

  368. Re 357 Joe Duck: ” I’m quoting this because 20 rises are presented here and in AIT as something we should be worried about. My read of the science suggests this rise is unlikely enough…”

    The rapidity and enormous extent of Arctic sea ice melt that we’ve just witnessed was not thought likely to happen this early either. If nothing else, it illustrates that all bets are off on likely time lines for changes in the cryosphere, so pardon me for not being persuaded by your argument that discussion of the consequences of destabilization of the Greenland ice cap is nothing more that rank alarmism.

    “If something is very unlikely to happen in 100 years I’d argue we can reasonable assume that it’s best to wait for technological improvements and better information before acting in expensive ways.”

    This sounds remarkably similar to the new fall-back position of those who have been resisting acknowledgment of AGW from the outset.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 22 Oct 2007 @ 8:44 PM

  369. re 350

    Gosh, Joe.

    If all anyone was discussing was Kyoto, you might actually have a point, and even then a lame one, as Kyoto was never intended to be anything more than something to build on.

    Given this site is rife with a large number of discussions re proposals that postdate Kyoto one would think that you wouldn’t stoop to such an obviously transparent straw man, but then, given as you were channeling Lomborg, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 22 Oct 2007 @ 10:52 PM

  370. #363 Re-sciam article

    David,

    I read that article before somewhere. It states :- “after emissions of CO2 from burning fossil fuels rose to 8.4 billion metric tons (1.85 X 1013 pounds) per year, “. I think they’ve mixed up their “C” with “CO2″. Multiply your carbon tonnes by (44/12) to get the right amount of CO2 tonnes I believe.

    They got it right in another article. But they’re not the only offender.

    “The world emitted 25 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2003″
    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=4D9BFC3D-E7F2-99DF-3E6E1A60C23D44E6

    Comment by Mike Donald — 23 Oct 2007 @ 6:35 AM

  371. [[So here is a simple question. If the almost 100% CO2 atmosphere on Venus were to replace with an equivalent mass of dry air, would the surface temperature go up or down?]]

    Way, way down.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 23 Oct 2007 @ 7:45 AM

  372. [[I’m worried that talking about catastrophe is leading to our foregoing GDP]]

    Who, precisely, is suggesting “foregoing GDP?”

    [[ or funding very expensive mitigation efforts while current catastrophic conditions of health and poverty in 3rd world are too widely ignored. ]]

    Who is advocating ignoring third-world poverty? If you’re implying that fixing AGW means we can’t alleviate third-world poverty, I think that’s grossly wrong, not only because the two are not mutually exclusive, but because fixing AGW will improve, not hurt, third-world conditions. A billion Asians depend on glacial melt for their fresh water. If we just let AGW happen, many of those people are going to die.

    If you, personally, want to alleviate third-world poverty, may I suggest giving money to Presbyterian World Missions, Oxfam, or CARE? I can get you contact information for any of the three. Or are you advocating a massive increase in foreign aid?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 23 Oct 2007 @ 7:56 AM

  373. T Elifritz says:

    [[That’s me. Dr. Michael Shermer the skeptic speculates that there is NO EVIDENCE for intelligent life in the universe. I agree.]]

    Even on Earth?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 23 Oct 2007 @ 8:02 AM

  374. re 362

    That’s me. Dr. Michael Shermer the skeptic speculates that there is NO EVIDENCE for intelligent life in the universe. I agree.

    ========================

    No evidence is not the same thing as saying the likelihood for complex life (from which, by our understanding, intelligent life could emerge) is unlikely, as I’m sure Dr. Shermer would point out. That said, discussions of whether there is intelligent life elsewhere strike as interesting and hopeful, but right now one wonders how long it will reign here.

    Speaking of Shermer, he was a climate skeptic until relatively recently:

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=000B557A-71ED-146C-ADB783414B7F0000

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 23 Oct 2007 @ 10:03 AM

  375. #330 and #371

    Paul, I think you fell for the lack of qualifiers in Fred’s trick question. He specified the equivalent mass of dry air. But Venus’ current atmosphere has a high albedo reflecting nearly all of the incoming solar radiation. If you replaced it with the equivalent mass of dry air you would change the albedo of Venus at the same time. I don’t have the tools or the data to do the calculation but I’d guess a prediction of way way down without crunching the numbers is risky.

    If however you specified all other things being equal, ie you changed the atmosphere without changing the albedo then I think you would be correct.

    Kevin

    Comment by Kevin Meaney — 23 Oct 2007 @ 10:06 AM

  376. Re 371: [[So here is a simple question. If the almost 100% CO2 atmosphere on Venus were to replace with an equivalent mass of dry air, would the surface temperature go up or down?]]

    Way, way down.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson

    Absolutely!

    See:

    Chemistry of Atmospheres: An Introduction to the Chemistry of the Atmospheres of Earth, the Planets and Their Satellites by Richard P. Wayne

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 23 Oct 2007 @ 10:41 AM

  377. may I suggest giving money to Presbyterian World Missions, Oxfam, or CARE? I can get you contact information for any of the three. Or are you advocating a massive increase in foreign aid?

    Yes you may. Other excellent charities serving the developing world effectively are Grameen Bank, KIVA, and
    NETAID.

    RE: Foreign aid: Yes, on purely strategic as well as moral grounds I support a massive reallocation of a portion of our current military budget to foreign aid -primarily infrastructure development in health, education, and water.

    RE: Foregoing GDP. Most large scale mitigation approaches involve foregoing GDP for participating countries. Above I was asked not to use “Kyoto” to suggest this type of challenge because it’s too easy a target to show the huge economic challenges of mitigation. This comes from the reduction in productivity associated with decreases in fossil fuel consumption. I think this is true even in the Stern report which is among the most optimistic scenarios for how the economics would shake out, though I think Stern maintains that we’d “get back” the lost GDP in the future. If Stern’s characterization of the economics is right, then most economists who are experts in this field are wrong.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 23 Oct 2007 @ 10:44 AM

  378. Joe Duck,
    I think that it is a mistake to assume that mitigating climate change will not impact the global economy. However, I think it is also a mistake to assume all of the impact will be negative. First, for the US to shift away from Oil cannot be a bad thing. Second, the new technologies required will undoubtedly find applications outside of their original mitigation applications, just as the space program or the Manhattan Project were net growth generators.

    It is also a mistake to assume that if we do nothing we will not incur heavy costs. Sea level rise gets most of the attention because its occurrence (though not its magnitude) is a certainty. However, while we are unsure of how probable other adverse outcomes may be, these could have much higher costs. A measure of the credibility of these risks is the fact that many government agencies (DOD, DOC, HHS, DHS…) are already planning for them.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Oct 2007 @ 11:38 AM

  379. The Fred Staples Red Herring Challenge: What would the surface temperature of Venus be if its atmosphere were replaced by dry air. Careful here, as this takes out not just the CO2, but also the SO2. Thus, Venus albedo would decrease by a factor of ~1.7 and more sunlight would get in. There’s also the question of the reactivity of 20% O2 at 92 atmospheres, so it might be a short-lived thought experiment.
    However, the net effect would have to be a decrease in temperature. For one thing, while the surface temperature of Venus (now) is ~750 K, the blackbody temperature is only about 237–below that of Earth. That shows that the greenhouse effect is very important in the energy balance. Moreover the pressure broadening in a 92 Bar atmosphere has to be significant. Finally, if we assume logarithmic scaling, the drop from ~100% to 380 ppm for CO2 has to make a big difference–much more than the 1.7x increase in sunlight reaching the surface.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Oct 2007 @ 12:20 PM

  380. Mike Donald (370) — Thanks for noting the mistake in the Sci-Am article. My understanding is that the additional carbon beig added to the active carbon cycle is about 8 gigatonnes per year. Maybe you would care to post a correction on their web site. For some arcane reason I cannot post there.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 23 Oct 2007 @ 12:23 PM

  381. Okay, time to compare Google vs. Google Scholar.

    There are a _lot_ of pages now claiming that Hansen and Lea (2007) predicts 20-feet by 2100. It’s just amazing how these have accumulated since I last checked a year or more ago.

    This is how gossip trumps facts — people say things in print and people don’t check.

    Example, just one recent one of many such:
    http://independent.com/news/2007/jul/05/new-study-predicts-greater-sea-level-rise/
    July 5, 2007
    By Ben Preston (Contact)
    “… a group of six American scientists — including UCSB paleoclimatology professor David Lea (pictured above, left, with NASA’s James Hansen) — recently published a paper stating that the IPCC’s sea-level rise estimate of approximately 16 inches during the next century is too conservative.

    “The group — led by James Hansen, of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies — predicts a sea rise of about 20 feet by 2100. The paper — which references nearly 100 scientific articles, publications, and statistical reports — unequivocally states ….”

    Followed by a quote that doesn’t support the statement made.

    There’s a contact link on the page if anyone wants to bother the author about facts and fact-checking. Sigh.

    You can look this stuff up. Ben Preston apparently did not.
    He doesn’t say WHAT study, but by author names, my guess is he claims to be describing this one:

    http://www.journals.royalsoc.ac.uk/content/l3h462k7p4068780/
    http://www.journals.royalsoc.ac.uk/content/l3h462k7p4068780/fulltext.pdf

    But you can look this stuff up.

    The closest language I can find in the actual paper is this:

    —–begin excerpt——

    “…. We find it implausible that BAU [Business As Usual] scenarios, with climate forcing and global warming exceeding those of the Pliocene, would permit a West Antarctic ice sheet of present size to survive even for a century.

    “Our concern that BAU GHG scenarios would cause large sea-level rise this century (Hansen 2005) differs from estimates of IPCC (2001, 2007), which foresees little or no contribution to twenty-first century sea-level rise from Greenland and Antarctica. However, the IPCC analyses and projections do not well account for the nonlinear physics of wet ice sheet disintegration, ice streams and eroding ice shelves, nor are they consistent with the palaeoclimate evidence we have presented for the absence of discernable lag between ice sheet forcing and sea-level rise.”

    —– end excerpt ——-

    Why do people let gossip convince them even against the facts?

    “Gossip, apparently, is so valuable to us that we rely on it even when it contradicts the hard evidence we have on hand.”

    http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/2007/10/the_economic_value_of_gossip.php

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Oct 2007 @ 12:40 PM

  382. Al Gore speaks:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSL2352047720071023?feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews&rpc=22&sp=true

    Comment by J.C.H. — 23 Oct 2007 @ 4:20 PM

  383. I question just how much of a negative impact mitigation efforts will have on the GDP in the U.S. Almost certainly a negative impact on the fossil fuel industries, of course, but they are a “mature” industry with little to no growth potential (with the exception of coal in the U.S., China, and perhaps a few other places–but coal has other huge problems). Research and development of alternative energy sources, followed by manufacturing and installation programs,etc., have great potential for a positive impact and even a major boost to the economy in unexpected ways. Of course, that assumes that the people who wish to maintain the status quo get out of the way. And it would be a major help if the U.S. government got behind and supported the transition. There are many ways the political establishment could do this, from tax policy to research funding to use of the bully pulpit to get people on board. In spite of the fact that we have a lot of naysayers in this country, money is starting to flow from the venture capitalists into alternative energy start-ups, and new businesses are springing up, growing, and making money. A danger is that rather than leading the way through the use of one of America’s strongest assets–our attitude toward innovation and refinement of technology–we’ll be held back by the head-in-the-sand attitude of the denialists and the go-slow crowd so that other countries such as China and India with fast developing economies and a thirst for energy will bypass us. Right now, China is building coal plants like crazy but they are not uncognizant of the problems they are unleashing. India is taking advantage of wind energy in some interesting ways. It’s likely to be a question of which major economy wises up first.

    In addition to the economic potential from the development of renewable energy sources, some existing companies have already discovered that they can operate significantly more profitably by switching to renewable energy sources–in spite of the fact that the prices for such systems are still quite high–and by finding various ways to reduce energy use, which is, of course, a way of operating more efficiently.

    Developing countries also have huge potential for benefiting from the development of alternative energy. Although some African countries, for example, have large reserves of oil, they don’t have the infrastructure to use it locally. Currently most of it is flowing to the industrialized world, and, as the Nigerian women keep proclaiming, the citizens of those countries are not the ones primarily benefiting from its extraction. Dispersed local power supplied by solar energy or wind energy could make a difference much faster and much more cheaply.

    I never understood the thinking behind the refusal to sign on to Kyoto. Ideally, yes, it would have been desirable to put constraints on those countries where fossil energy use was expected to be growing rapidly. However, turning American ingenuity loose on the goal of reducing CO2 could have had entirely positive consequences for both this country and for the world in spite of whatever was happening in the developing world. Unfortunately, there were a few powerful vested interests that knew that the results for them would not be wonderful, and they somehow managed to instill in people like Joe the idea that ingenuity, innovation, new technology, and greater efficiency would have a negative effect on the economy.

    Political analyst and author Kevin Phillips points out in an interview (http://www.leoweekly.com/?q=node/1204) that Holland prospered mightily through the use of wind power but, for a couple of reasons, the baton shifted to the British with the development of coal. That era, too, eventually was superceded to a certain extent by oil, and it was the young United States that was poised to prosper there. Sticking with old technologies in the face of changing realities is not the recipe for prosperity.

    Comment by Mary C — 23 Oct 2007 @ 4:43 PM

  384. Ray said: “A measure of the credibility of these risks is the fact that many government agencies (DOD, DOC, HHS, DHS…) are already planning for them.”

    So are the insurance companies, and if that doesn’t tell you something,….

    Comment by Mary C — 23 Oct 2007 @ 4:48 PM

  385. Yeah.

    And have you ever had your used but beloved car hit by someone, and had their insurance company tell you

    “We’ll pay you the “total loss” amount and take the car, because it would cost us more than that to fix the damage on that old thing.”

    What will they say about our old Antarctic ice cap? It’s melting a bit, gotten a bit ragged around the edges. Will they say it’s a total loss just to avoid the cost of fixing it?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Oct 2007 @ 5:09 PM

  386. Al Gore & Nobel Prize – (un)justifiably attacked by Stephen Lendmann, Alex Cockburn etc:,

    I am not from the USA and have no idea of the validity of below criticisms of Al Gore posted on InformationClearingHouse…
    As far as I am concerned ANY reasonable !!! politician who advocates mitigating and adapting to global climate change has a role to play. It is unrealistic to expect life long politicians to have a sqeaky clean slate….we don’t really have much choice at the moment.
    Excuse the vociferous nature of below which I have shortened..

    ”…..the current Nobel Peace Prize honoree, Al Gore. CounterPunchers Alex Cockburn and Jeff St. Clair wrote the book on him in 2000 titled “Al Gore: A User’s Manual.” It’s a critical account of a “man whom his parents raised from birth to be president of the United States” and who always put politics over principle. He built his credentials for the high office around pro-business, pro-war, anti-union and phony environmental advocacy as no friend of the earth then so who can believe he’s one now.

    His 1992 book “Earth in the Balance” was more theater than advocacy. In it, he assessed the forces of planetary destruction that included air and water pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, overpopulation, ozone depletion and global warming. He highlighted the impact of auto emissions and need to phase out the internal combustion engine but made no effort in office to do it.

    Then as vice-president he used his “green credentials” to sell the pro-business, anti-worker, anti-environmental NAFTA to the environmental movement. He also supported clear-cutting logging practices including in old-growth areas. He ignored an assessment that this practice risked the extinction of hundreds of species. He backed a 1995 spending bill “salvage logging rider” that opened millions of National Forest lands to logging and exempted sales of the harvest from environmental laws and judicial review for two years. He and Clinton further allowed South Florida’s sugar barons to devastate thousands of Everglades acres and gave away consumer Delaney Clause protection that kept carcinogens out of our food supply.

    Throughout his political life, Gore supported Big Oil and was tied to Occidental Petroleum Company and its “ruthless tycoon” chief, Armand Hammer. In return for supporting company interests, he got political favors and patronage from Hammer and his successor, Ray Irani who was a major DNC contributor and got to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom as a bonus reward.

    Does this man deserve a Nobel Peace Prize (let alone to be president) along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.” The Nobel Committee ignored Gore’s environmental record and went on to say “for a long time (he’s) been one of the world’s leading environmental politicians (through) his strong commitment, reflected in political activity, (that) strengthened the struggle against climate change.” Contrary to his easily accessed public record, not his posturing, The Nobel Committee blindly added “He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted.”

    Comment by Svend Jensen — 23 Oct 2007 @ 5:55 PM

  387. 2006 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN 50 RECOGNIZES
    RESEARCH, BUSINESS AND POLICY CONTRIBUTIONS
    TO SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
    WITH SPECIAL PROMISE FOR SOCIETY

    • Business Leader of the Year: Swiss Re. The Zurich-based insurer “has a history of
    sensitivity to climate change concerns.” Among its recent initiatives: co-sponsorship of
    a major 2005 report highlighting the disastrous effects of global warming, calling on
    governments to take stronger action to address the issues.

    They’ve been doing reinsurance since 1863. They are masters at doing the math on the likelihood of premiums paid escaping their grubby (pencil lead, actuaries) little fingers.

    So why is one of the more successful capitalist entities around requesting governments damage their own GDP by mitigating global warming now?

    Comment by J.C.H. — 23 Oct 2007 @ 6:42 PM

  388. > I am not from the USA and have no idea of the validity …

    Hmmm, got any rumor sites about _your_ country’s leaders I can quote from without knowing anything about their validity? Seems like fun.

    Trust me, as the USA’s politicians go, Gore’s not half bad.
    And as our _ex_politicians go, he’s quite fine.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Oct 2007 @ 6:48 PM

  389. 388 Hank Roberts
    Point taken, I hardly expect US politicians or EU spin artists for that matter to be Ralph Nader clones or coming from Vermont.

    Even in Angela Merkel’s Germany where i am working at the moment, at the recent Potsdam Nobel prize winner climate convention Merkel and other politicians ” were pushing the interests of the German energy cartel (RWE, E.ON, etc.) in all respects, inter alia by approving ca 40 coal-fired power stations and donating emission rights to those corporations in the near future, is quite risible.”
    Furthermore, german highways cater for sacred 160km an hour plus drivers in large Mercedes, BMW and SUVs etc:,. Automobile and petro-chemical big boys carry a lot of clout in germany and have generous slush funds…
    Dutch politicians are in a dilemma with rising sea water lapping around and the largest Petrol refinery, Royal Dutch Shell-nigeria connection, and largest container port in europe…
    Scandinavian politicians could be considered as reasonably ‘honest’. However the French and Brits with Tony Blair at the top, who has surprise, surprise disappeared from public view, are not even worth thinking over..

    Comment by Svend Jensen — 23 Oct 2007 @ 7:22 PM

  390. re 387 Swiss Insurance..
    Classic written on Swiss banking system back in the early 90s I think where it stated :
    ‘If a Swiss Banker jumps over a cliff, you jump straight after him – it has to be worth it !!!’
    Only problem today there is not much snow to break the fall, glaciers are receding, ski industry is collapsing and various mountain faces are crumbling with the perma-ice melts..
    Dour Swiss are getting nervous…
    Then all these Katrinas, Greek and Calif Fires, English floods, German storms etc.,….their backs are to the wall..
    These Swiss Re guys are spooked..

    Comment by Svend Jensen — 23 Oct 2007 @ 7:39 PM

  391. “The prosecution rests.” (331)

    I’ve never seen it rest…

    Comment by Rod B — 23 Oct 2007 @ 8:00 PM

  392. Mary, Ray, others RE: mitigation and GDP
    Ray wrote:
    I think that it is a mistake to assume that mitigating climate change will not impact the global economy. However, I think it is also a mistake to assume all of the impact will be negative

    True of course, which is why cost benefit calculations are so important when you are allocating resources, and why allocating them emotionally or politically (as humans almost always do) is so problematic. In the same way a rational person looks for climate guidance from climate scientists, we look for economic guidance from economists. Both disciplines use predictive models that are subject to levels of uncertainty, but since we can’t all become experts in all fields we look to the experts for guidance in their fields of expertise. I worry that some climate scientists think they have a good sense of how to allocate economic resources and form policies in response to climate change. I think they have no better sense of that than I do, and probably much worse sense than an economist would.

    My understanding is that most economists suggest we should do cheap but not expensive GW mitigations (looking for citations to support this now).

    Doesn’t reason suggest we should assume peer-reviewed, expert economist calculations are the best way to proceed rather than allocating massive resources based simply on the assumption that GW is bad, therefore mitigation must be massive?

    Comment by Joe Duck — 23 Oct 2007 @ 8:13 PM

  393. Meanwhile, the White House is at it again, editing the Center for Disease Control climate change testimony. See http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071024/ap_on_sc/global_warming_health;_ylt=AsAhE7.xeeYz_3V2xU2pbJis0NUE
    There can not be a more disingenuous, anti-science (when it does not conform to their preconceived beliefs) administration in the history of the US.

    Comment by Dan — 23 Oct 2007 @ 8:42 PM

  394. Re 392 Joe Duck: “Doesn’t reason suggest we should assume peer-reviewed, expert economist calculations are the best way to proceed rather than allocating massive resources based simply on the assumption that GW is bad, therefore mitigation must be massive?”

    Would these be the same economists who have always considered environmental damage and degradation to be “external costs” and thus excluded them from their calculations?

    Comment by Jim Eager — 23 Oct 2007 @ 8:59 PM

  395. And from the “some things never change” department:

    White House edits CDC climate testimony
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071024/ap_on_sc/global_warming_health;_ylt=AtEWhu8UzGTOHi7XEbpo53l34T0D

    Joe,
    While the low-hanging fruit certainly makes sense–things like increased conservation, etc. What we should be aiming for is cost-effectiveness of the solutions. For instance, development aid in terms of energy solutions may not be a cheap option, but it is one that will pay dividends now and well into the future if we handle it properly.
    As far as trusting the economists, it needs to be remembered that many of these economists have been in the denialist camp until recently. Then they were in the global-warming-is-good-for-us camp or the do-nothing camp, and now they are in the Do-little camp (BTW, one of the first hearings on climate change in the House was chaired by Congressmen Tom Delay and Jim Doolittle–Doolittle and Delay–you can’t make this stuff up.) Estabilishing trust may take awhile, but I agree, talking to the economists is essential.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Oct 2007 @ 8:59 PM

  396. Joe Duck,

    Look all you like, but stay well clear of Lomborg if you’re interested in veracity or rigor for that matter. His analysis, if the word applies, is not worthy of passing grade on an undergraduate thesis. He has not even considered risk, let alone uncertainty, (his conclusions are predicated entirely on mistaking expected values for point estimates not subject to variability- one wonders whether the man is familiar with the multi-billion dollar gaming industry). The former turns out to be a pretty big deal- to a dominating degree- as the best thinkers on this subject, including Stern, will eagerly tell you.

    Even forgiving these eye-popping oversights, there is no value added- he eschews cost and benefit analysis, favoring instead emotive stories about poor suffering 3rd world: this is an example of a) a red herring error (there is no analysis to support that this trade-off is the operative trade-off in funding decisions) b) conflating charity and self-interest (which is patently and transparently manipulative), &, by coincidence of the first two, c) exploitative of 3rd world suffering, (meaning he’s learned well from Big Tobacco’s Africa Fighting Malaria lobbying group).

    As for Lomborg’s honesty, which has come up a number of times, see comment #182 on this thread. The polar bear bit is the stuff of legends. Of course, it is only the oblique tip of the veritable planetoid that are Lomborg’s audacious and dishonest ‘errors’. The finding of the Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty was well substantiated- http://www.lomborg-errors.dk. This contrasts well with the political motivations of the conservative government ministry that asked them to reconsider their verdict. The DCSD cited The Skeptical Environmentalist for fabrication of data, selective discarding of unwanted results, deliberately misleading use of statistical methods, distorted interpretation of conclusions, plagiarism, & deliberate misinterpretation of others’ results. They may have had him on the Kennedy assassination too, but I’ll have to check that. I could go on about other things he has written and said ad nauseum, btw, but one should acknowledge the point where there is little credibility left to call into disrepute.

    If you are interested in a CBA that supports moderate mitigation of emissions, look no further than one Richard Tol, for example. He is likewise not a denier, not that I would endorse his thinking. Having corresponded with him on a few blogs, I have very little faith in the robustness of these analyses (Tol for example believes ‘there is no obvious relationship between drinking water and heat stress’, which I find laughable in its lack of substantiation. And I’m not entirely picking on him in that these will nearly exclusively have it that global warming will reduce death from disease as a result of the balance between CVD and infectious disease in a planet of rich people. The assumptions in the later and the cavalierness of the former speak for themselves).

    The most promising paper I have seen is a working paper by Weitzman that goes directly to the money issue on this subject- uncertainty. Unsurprisingly, it looks very likely that uncertainty will auger for more pain in terms of mitigation than a center of the distribution CBA would- and rightfully so. I will see if I find a link.

    Comment by Majorajam — 23 Oct 2007 @ 10:29 PM

  397. Re #389: [..I hardly expect US politicians or EU spin artists for that matter to be Ralph Nader clones...]

    Since this seems to have degenerated towards politics, we might consider the fact that Ralph Nader made his reputation by destroying the US auto industry’s first (and to date only, IMHO) attempt to build a fuel-efficient automobile. How soon some people forget…

    Comment by James — 23 Oct 2007 @ 10:42 PM

  398. ‘The IPCC’s economic models reckon, on average, that if the world adopted such a price the global economy would be 1.3% smaller than it otherwise would have been by 2050; or, put another way, global economic growth would be 0.1% a year lower than it otherwise would have been. …”

    Read the rest of the article here:

    http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9135283

    Comment by J.C.H. — 23 Oct 2007 @ 10:46 PM

  399. “the sake of rational, long term policy making and resource allocation everybody should rally around the best science rather than the best rhetoric.”

    I think that’s true Joe Duck from S. Oregon. Unfortunately all you have is fallacious rhetoric. Education is here for the taking.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 24 Oct 2007 @ 12:01 AM

  400. Joe Duck, #392

    Doesn’t reason suggest we should assume peer-reviewed, expert economist calculations are the best way to proceed rather than allocating massive resources based simply on the assumption that GW is bad, therefore mitigation must be massive?

    How about the IPCC’s WGIII report, which is a peer review of all the peer reviewed literature in the relevant areas.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 24 Oct 2007 @ 12:58 AM

  401. Can somebody point me at economic studies of global warming mitigation that do a good job of integrating the effects of Peak Oil in the next decade?

    Comment by John Mashey — 24 Oct 2007 @ 2:11 AM

  402. #387 “So why is one of the more successful capitalist entities around requesting governments damage their own GDP by mitigating global warming now?”

    Firstl, any risk manager who thinks through the Hansen 5 metre SLR scenario and examines their asset portfolio and risk exposure on a coastal infrastructure node-by-node basis (eg refinery, power plant, port) and maps that into their global economic risk models realises that Stern was way off the mark.

    Secondly, risk managers appreciate that massive (40-70%) reductions of ghg emissions over the coming business cycles not only equate with massive reductions in unnecessary expenditure (and hence goes direct to bottom line) but also creates lower risk investment opportunities. When the markets transition, global supply chains that have not emission-crunched may be market-bypassed, which may trigger second-stage emission reductions as non-ghg-reducing global supply chains dissolve. The markets are transitioning into a global competition based on business-speed&scale-of-emissions-reduction. Risk managers would not be doing their job if their didn’t asset/exposure shift to the low-ghg-markets.

    Comment by mg — 24 Oct 2007 @ 3:45 AM

  403. I think it’s a shame! the future of our children depends on what we are doing now to stop this climate “disaster”, so why shouldn’t they be informed?
    This is a very interesting site, may I put the link on my blog? http://start-acting-now.blogspot.com, feel free to visit and tell me if you agree.
    If you decide to link mine to yours it would be a great help and honour.

    From Switzerland,
    see you
    josephine

    Comment by Josephine — 24 Oct 2007 @ 6:44 AM

  404. Since this seems to have degenerated towards politics, we might consider the fact that Ralph Nader made his reputation by destroying the US auto industry’s first (and to date only, IMHO) attempt to build a fuel-efficient automobile. How soon some people forget…

    The Corvair was neither the first nor the only of Detroit’s attempts at small, fuel-efficient cars.

    http://content.answers.com/main/content/wp/en/thumb/7/78/250px-Nash_Metropolitan.jpg

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 24 Oct 2007 @ 7:05 AM

  405. I decided to compute how the surface temperature of Venus would change if replaced by one of equivalent mass but the composition of dry air. The Venus International Reference Atmosphere (Seiff et al. 1986) gives a surface temperature for Venus of 735.3 K and pressure 9,210,000 Pa. Carbon dioxide fraction is 0.965 and water vapor fraction averages 0.00003. NASA gives the present albedo of Venus as 0.750. I get an effective temperature, based on a solar constant at Venus’s orbit of 2,611.2 watts per square meter, of Te = 231.6 K.

    I used Hart’s (1978) convection-corrected gray method, with greenhouse coefficients estimated from Houghton (2002), to compute the present atmosphere of Venus, obtaining Ts = 669.6 K, which is too low by 65.7 K. I then ran through the calculations for “Venus A” with carbon fraction = 0.000332 (that of Earth in 1976) and water vapor fraction = 0.0. I got Ts = 341.1 K, too low by 394.2 K.

    I then ran through “Venus B” with the same atmosphere as Venus A but with Earth’s albedo of 0.306 (again from NASA). This gives Te = 299.0 K and Ts = 436.4 K, too low by 298.9 K.

    So under any conceivable circumstances, replacing Venus’s present atmosphere with one the same mass but the composition of Earth’s dry air would result in a large decrease in surface temperature.

    Hart, Michael H. 1978. “The Evolution of the Atmosphere of the Earth.” Icarus 33:23-39.

    Houghton, John T. 2002 (1977). The Physics of Atmospheres. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    NASA 1998. http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/ and subsidiary pages.

    Seiff A., Schofield J. T., Kliore A. J., Taylor F. W., Limaye S. S., Revercomb H. E., Sromovsky L. A., Kerzhanovich V. V., Moroz V. I., Marov, M. Ya. 1986. 3-32 in Advances in Space Research Vol. 5, The Venus International Reference Atmosphere, Ed. Kliore A. J., Moroz V. I., Keating G. M. NY: Pergamon Press.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 24 Oct 2007 @ 7:44 AM

  406. Thanks to several people here for links and comments in response to mine. I’ve got some follow up to do on the economics of GW mitigation.

    Ray wrote:
    it needs to be remembered that many of these economists have been in the denialist camp until recently

    Hmm – that does not ring true to me but I’m not well informed about it – a very interesting topic.

    Majorajam – I’m interested in your thoughtful mitigation economics views, but it seems to me that personal attacks on Lomborg have replaced informed discussion of the excellent points he raises about prioritization of global resources and alarmism dressed up as science.

    This latter point is why I’ve been spending more time here at the RC blog after I read the spirited point by point defense of what (to me) was clearly alarmism in the film AIT. I’m coming to realize that when well-informed people, like most here, have a strong political view they tend to view the importance of causality differently than I do. Although it’s reasonable to suggest there may be some causal connection, if you isolated the GW contribution to Lake Chad or Katrina it would likely be extremely small compared to non-GW contributing factors.

    For me the issue of optimal resource allocation is the most important factor here, so I worry that exaggeration of the GW causality connections (Katrina and Lake Chad) and exaggeration of the likelihood of big sea level rises leads people to demand sub-optimal resource allocations. That is nothing new but it’s not a good thing.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 24 Oct 2007 @ 8:17 AM

  407. Joe – Just what is it that you fear when you talk about “sub-optimal resource allocations.” You have yet to provide even one example of what that would be. Seems to me that the real alarmist scenarios come not from those who say that GW is real and almost certainly caused largely by human activity but from all the folks who scream that the sky will fall if we do anything about it. “The economy will crash, the economy will crash. Help! Help! Make sure you don’t do anything more than tinker around the edges or the economy will crash.” Where is any sort of proof of this claim that even begins to come up to the level of scientific evidence that climate scientists are able to provide. Note that I believe that economic proof and predictions are in a whole different realm from scientific proof and predictions, but still. Please provide some specific examples of the kind of things that you think will be so damaging.

    Comment by Mary C — 24 Oct 2007 @ 9:02 AM

  408. Svend, if you’re worried about US politicians now, remember they’re drawn from the US educational system. This may be cautionary:
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2007/10/24/notes102407.DTL

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Oct 2007 @ 9:51 AM

  409. Joe Duck,

    You say, “have a strong political view they tend to view the importance of causality differently than I do”. This is tantamount to accusing me and I guess others of bias inspired irrationality. You go on to write, “if you isolated the GW contribution to Lake Chad or Katrina it would likely be extremely small compared to non-GW contributing factors. ” This is despite the fact that people who have studied this, which is to say, create the knowledge on the subject, do not have such definitive views on likelihood. Frankly, if we isolated the contribution of your political views to your conclusions here, it seems likely to be large compared to information related factors.

    As regards Lomborg, there is a pretty distinct difference between a personal attack and pointing out where he has badly misused studies and data to support a contrarian point, (while I concede that accusing him of doing so on purpose is indeed a personal attack, if not an unsubstantiated one). I should draw your attention to the chapter in “Cool It” where the man argues that environmentalist concern about global warming’s effect on polar bears exemplifies the type of alarmism that he purports to abhor. To substantiate this point he cites a study whose conclusion reads, “It is difficult to envisage the survival of polar bears as a species given a zero summer sea-ice scenario”, (highly likely according to the source of his forecasts, the IPCC), quoting instead the following sentence where the study authors speculate that the polar bears could survive is if they managed to evolve backward. Is it your opinion that calling Lomborg on this shockingly duplicitous citation is a personal attack? All apologies, but that simply doesn’t follow, (not to mention, if Gore ever made such an effort to hoodwink, Matt Drudge and the multitudes of Gore Derangement Syndrome sufferers out there would be all over him like a cheap suit, and rightly so).

    I must say, I am frankly exasperated that Lomborg, whose analytical points are thin in the rare instances when they’re not overwhelmingly fatuous, and whose main allure is that he smiles a lot and possesses an even keeled disposition, has received so much attention. It really harms the debate. The irony is bitter- Gore maintains fidelity to the science and can be accused at most of some bad choices of language, while Lomborg leaves a trail of mis- and disinformation roughly the size of Delaware in his wake, and yet Lomborg is the reasonable counterpoint to Gore’s alarmism. Where’s Twain when you need him.

    Btw, here is the Weitzman paper I alluded to.

    Comment by Majorajam — 24 Oct 2007 @ 10:23 AM

  410. Joe Duck,
    Look, I am a firm believer in markets. I believe that markets work for the same reason that science works–and for that matter, democracy and trial by jury (well sort of, for the latter two). That is, all of these systems emphasize a measure of the central tendency of the distribution (of prices, of scientific opinion, political opinion and legal opinion, respectively) rather than the extremes.
    However, for markets to function effectively, they must reflect the cost of the commodity. However, we have some pretty serious distortions in markets these days. Otherwise how would mangos be cheaper than apples in the US. One of the most important distortions has to do with the cost of fossil fuels, and one of the costs not reflected is the environmental cost, including the costs of climate change. Now, I know market regulation is a fraught proposition, but sometimes it is essential to the efficient functioning of the markets. So it is pointless to talk about “inefficient allocation of resources”. Resources are already being allocated inefficiently. Why else would we be interested in the sandbox of the Middle East?
    Lomborg’s argument, aside from being technically incorrect and distorted, is also a false dichotomy. It is not “either climate mitigation or development,” it is both. It is not “either clean drinking water or climate mitigation,” it is both. And so on. The goal has to be sustainability (both ecological and economic), and “Business as Usual” isn’t going to get us there.
    What I would propose is by all means start with the measures that make sense–we should be doing those already anyway. Increase efficiency and conservation, plant trees (as per podwalker) and so on. However, additional measures are necessary to overcome economic inertia–perhaps a carbon market or a carbon tax, coupled with increased R&D to develop technologies with a lower carbon footprint. As George Washington pointed out, people act in accord with their interests as they perceive them–and that usually means immediate interests. If we don not reward efficiency, we will not achieve it.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Oct 2007 @ 10:41 AM

  411. Mark York:
    I think that’s true Joe Duck from S. Oregon. Unfortunately all you have is fallacious rhetoric

    Except for the only time you quote me and then say you agree?

    OK, here’s some real rhetoric: RC’s comment sections are a pretty good study in how groupthink tends to prevail even among intelligent, well-informed people. Perhaps this comes from the many unjustified attacks on AGW and the scientific community by several politicians and the evangelism-before-science attitude of the current administration, but it still makes me very uncomfortable. Attacking specific people rather than their ideas is fairly common here, and it’s a bit scary. It looks like many folks post once, then leave rather than endure abuse.

    Am I mistaken to think that few people who participate here diverge much from the idea that AGW poses the greatest threat to humanity in history and that no cost is too great in terms of trying to mitigate the effects of AGW? It’s dangerous to focus on an issue to the exclusion of all other human concerns, which is my main beef with the tone of many comments here and with what I saw as an unjustifiably alarmist tone in the film.

    Mary C RE: resource allocations. Kyoto is probably the best example of what I’m talking about in terms of sub-optimal actions. In general I think we should be very concerned that the cost of mitigation scenarios like Kyoto appear to be greater than the benefit to society. I certainly need to study this more, but it seems most economists suggest this is the case and most recommend moderate mitigation efforts.

    I think mitigation is on topic for this comment thread because some people are concerned that the film is representative of how we now focus on the possibility of catastrophic problems and focus on warming events that are only vaguely connected to AGW.
    Some would suggest it’s better to assign probabilities to problem scenarios and fund mitigation accordingly. I think IPCC did more with this early on.

    When I read the defense of the film that started this huge thread I’m still not clear if the view is that catastrophes are *highly unlikely* but a good point of discussion or saying that catastrophes *are likely enough* that no cost is too great in terms of mitigation, or simply just saying the film is a reasonable take on the topic. I’m not comfortable with any of those conclusions.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 24 Oct 2007 @ 10:55 AM

  412. Re 406 Joe Duck: “and exaggeration of the likelihood of big sea level rises”

    Joe, you keep holding onto this meme, despite it being pointed out repeatedly 1) that the current IPPC projection of 18-59 cm explicitly does NOT include any increase in the rate of melt of the Greeenland or West Antarctic ice sheets, 2) that the observed rate of destabilization and melting in both is increasing, and 3) that the speed and extent of Arctic sea ice melt this year was unprecedented, begging the question: when there is less sea ice to melt where will the excess heat end up, and how far will it’s impact be felt?

    Clearly the IPCC projection of sea level rise is becoming increasingly unrealistic based on what is being observed in the real world. This is not to say that we will definitely see a “20 ft rise by 2100″ (a figure and date only those seeking to assail AIT use), but to continue to assert that we will see only an 1-2 ft rise by then is becoming increasingly untenable, yet you continue to base much of your argument on it. You might want to rethink that.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 24 Oct 2007 @ 11:06 AM

  413. Joe Duck, #406:

    that personal attacks on Lomborg have replaced informed discussion of the excellent points he raises

    Not so – we have provided many links to articles by distinguished scientists and economists showing in detail that the “excellent points he raises” are mostly either dishonest or cherry-picked or misleading or unscientific – and you have not addressed or commented on any of these articles. You have also accused the DCSD of being politically motivated, but have been unwilling to substantiate this very serious allegation.

    Your posts are full of general statements and accusations but you don’t ever cite any specific evidence to back up anything you say or to answer any of the points that others raise. This gets very tiresome in the end.

    if you isolated the GW contribution to Lake Chad or Katrina it would likely be extremely small compared to non-GW contributing factors.

    Which peer reviewed paper(s) are you referring to in the case of Lake Chad? In the case of Katrina your statement is meaningless, because the issue is not whether hurricanes would occur in the absence of warming, but whether they are likely to become more intense as a result of warming. As has been pointed out over and over again, AIT did not specifically ascribe Katrina to global warming but used Katrina as an example of the sort of intense hurricane that is likely to be experienced more frequently as a result of warming. Where is your peer reviewed evidence that increased SST does not increase average hurricane intensity? Cite peer reviewed papers please.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 24 Oct 2007 @ 11:32 AM

  414. Re. 411, Joe Duck

    When I read the defense of the film that started this huge thread I’m still not clear if the view is that catastrophes are *highly unlikely* but a good point of discussion or saying that catastrophes *are likely enough* that no cost is too great in terms of mitigation, or simply just saying the film is a reasonable take on the topic. I’m not comfortable with any of those conclusions.

    As has been pointed out to you before, catastrophe is not a scientifically meaningful word. If you read the IPCC WGII report, however, you will realise that the consensus is that under business as usual, the effects of global warming on human society and on ecosystems are highly likely to be very serious.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 24 Oct 2007 @ 11:45 AM

  415. Re 411: [Am I mistaken to think that few people who participate here diverge much from the idea that AGW poses the greatest threat to humanity in history and that no cost is too great in terms of trying to mitigate the effects of AGW?]

    Yes, you are mistaken. Perhaps not about the “greatest threat” part, but most certainly about the cost. As I, among many others, keep trying to point out, the actual cost of mitigation could be quite low. If you put reasonable values on things like quality of life, it could even be negative: we could mitigate GW and have a more pleasant world to live in.

    Comment by James — 24 Oct 2007 @ 1:01 PM

  416. Joe Duck,

    It’s pretty rich to call arguments that I have made a product of groupthink while you neglect to elaborate on the implied accusation that they are flawed, even as you parrot erroneous talking points that fester amongst the pandemic of libertarianism we are suffering. Cost/benefit analysis, in whatever form it will take, is indeed the operative concern here (as opposed to fanciful Lomborg-esque stories), and arguing for it is by no means a counterpoint to what anyone, to my knowledge, has advocated here. Arguing against something that no one is arguing is an exercise in straw man, fyi, and it’s invalid.

    If, as you seem to want to create the impression of, you actually take the economics of the issue seriously, feel free to read/respond to my prior two posts to you. I am perfectly willing to engage in debate on the subject. If you’d rather persist in making vague and baseless accusations regarding the positions and thought processes of people here, don’t mind me if I explain you away as a troll and move on.

    Comment by Majorajam — 24 Oct 2007 @ 1:22 PM

  417. Joe Duck–I would perhaps be more sympathetic to Lomborg’s arguments about opportunity cost of mitigating climate change if he’d shown any commitment to issues like development or habitat restoration, etc. prior to now. I would also be more sympathetic if so many of his arguments were not so consistently wrong–and always erring in the same direction. And while the Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation did overturn the the stinging indictment of the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty, the MSTI decision hardly constitutes a ringing endorsement. Hell, it even questions whether his work constitutes science.
    One thing I really object to is Lomborg’s assertion that anyone who is claiming that climate change is a concern is rejecting cost-benefit analysis. That is simply a lie. What I advocate is a full and accurate treatment of the costs, and that includes environmental costs.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Oct 2007 @ 1:26 PM

  418. Joe Duck,

    I should also point out that, this

    Kyoto is probably the best example of what I’m talking about in terms of sub-optimal actions. In general I think we should be very concerned that the cost of mitigation scenarios like Kyoto appear to be greater than the benefit to society. I certainly need to study this more, but it seems most economists suggest this is the case and most recommend moderate mitigation efforts.

    boggles the mind. You are, first of all, are neither qualified nor it appears interested in attesting to what, “most economists suggest”. Second of all, there is zero evidence to support your assertion of consensus on Kyoto, and in fact the truth is closer to the other way around (although ‘for or against’ Kyoto is a vast simplification in and of itself due to the huge agency issues that are being approached). Finally, your penchant for believing that you have some insight into optimal resource allocations or the extent to which global warming dried lake Chad short of any knowledge of either subject, let alone studying the issue or looking at data, is a very large, very luminescent, very bright shining red flag. If you have any sincerity to speak of, you should examine the foundations upon which you make your assertions.

    It would also behoove you to stop asserting that AIT somehow implied that global warming mitigation was the only every and all of what societies should worry about or spend time on. Please point me to the part in the film where this can be remotely inferred. Rather, the film can be seen as explicitly endorsing the Kyoto process, if not that particular treaty, which is well supported by any thorough, thoughtful economic analysis- especially those that explicitly account for the vast number of goods and bads that society is interested in, and not simply charity. Speaking of, I gave you a link, I suggest you click it, read it, think about it, and then return to posting.

    Comment by Majorajam — 24 Oct 2007 @ 1:44 PM

  419. Joe Duck,

    I got so excited with being called a name again I overlooked where you made claims beyond accusatory hand waving. Leaving no rock overturned, this

    Kyoto is probably the best example of what I’m talking about in terms of sub-optimal actions. In general I think we should be very concerned that the cost of mitigation scenarios like Kyoto appear to be greater than the benefit to society. I certainly need to study this more, but it seems most economists suggest this is the case and most recommend moderate mitigation efforts.

    boggles the mind. There is, first of all, zero evidence to support your assertion of majority opinion regarding Kyoto or otherwise, and in fact the truth on the former is closer to the other way around (although ‘for or against’ Kyoto is a vast simplification in and of itself due to the huge agency issues that are being approached).

    Second of all, your penchant for believing that you have some insight into optimal resource allocations or the extent to which global warming dried lake Chad short of any knowledge of either subject, let alone studying the issue or looking at data, is a very large, very luminescent and very bright, shining red flag. If you have any sincerity, you should examine the foundations upon which you make your assertions. Finally, it would behoove you to stop asserting that AIT somehow implied that global warming mitigation was the only every and all of what societies should worry about or spend time on. Please point me to the part in the film where this can be remotely inferred. If you can’t you should acknowledge you’ve constructed yet another straw-man. Indeed, the film can be seen as explicitly endorsing the Kyoto process, if not that particular treaty, which is well supported by thorough, thoughtful economic analysis- especially those that explicitly account for the vast number of goods and bads that society is interested in, and not simply charity. Speaking of, I gave you a link, I suggest you click it.

    Comment by Majorajam — 24 Oct 2007 @ 1:53 PM

  420. Also, re,. Joe Duck, #406 and #411, many people have addressed your specific point about resource allocation, in some detail, and you have simply ignored many of the points they made and/or the questions they asked you.

    For example, see Majorajam’s post #182:

    As any social scientist worth a spit should know, fighting poverty or malaria is no more the opportunity cost of mitigating GHG emissions than ski vacations, a trip to the movies or a bunker busting nuclear missile.

    Or Barton Paul Levenson’s post, #372:

    [[ or funding very expensive mitigation efforts while current catastrophic conditions of health and poverty in 3rd world are too widely ignored. ]]

    Who is advocating ignoring third-world poverty? If you’re implying that fixing AGW means we can’t alleviate third-world poverty, I think that’s grossly wrong, not only because the two are not mutually exclusive, but because fixing AGW will improve, not hurt, third-world conditions. A billion Asians depend on glacial melt for their fresh water. If we just let AGW happen, many of those people are going to die.

    Or the second paragraph of Ray Ladbury’s post #378:

    It is also a mistake to assume that if we do nothing we will not incur heavy costs. Sea level rise gets most of the attention because its occurrence (though not its magnitude) is a certainty. However, while we are unsure of how probable other adverse outcomes may be, these could have much higher costs. A measure of the credibility of these risks is the fact that many government agencies (DOD, DOC, HHS, DHS…) are already planning for them.

    Or Mary C’s post, #383:

    I question just how much of a negative impact mitigation efforts will have on the GDP in the U.S. [followed by a detailed explanation of her basis for questioning it, which you haven't responded to.]

    Or Mary C again in #407:

    Joe – Just what is it that you fear when you talk about “sub-optimal resource allocations.” You have yet to provide even one example of what that would be.

    Or Ray Ladbury again in #410:

    Lomborg’s argument, aside from being technically incorrect and distorted, is also a false dichotomy. It is not “either climate mitigation or development,” it is both. It is not “either clean drinking water or climate mitigation,” it is both. And so on. The goal has to be sustainability (both ecological and economic), and “Business as Usual” isn’t going to get us there.

    You did respond to one of Ray’s posts on the subject, #367, although you posted your reply in the wrong thread (not the only time you’ve done that – it makes the discussion very difficult to follow); and although all you wrote in response to him was:

    Ray wrote:
    To meet the challenges of the next 100 years, we will have to develop sustainability–both ecological AND economic. We cannot sacrifice the economy or development to combat climate change, because these are coupled problems. If we sacrifice economic health to combat climate change, we will both lose public support and fail to be able to pay for new technology to help us mitigate adverse climate effects. If we sacrifice development, then the poor will burn whatever energy resources they can obtain, making our efforts in vain….

    A very thoughtful passage IMHO.

    And yet you subsequently repeated the same point that Ray had already rebutted, several more times, without saying why you (apparently) disagree with Ray (and with others who have made the same point to you that Ray made).

    Are you just trolling, Joe?

    Comment by Dave Rado — 24 Oct 2007 @ 2:31 PM

  421. > It looks like many folks post once, then leave
    > rather than endure abuse.

    Joe, when people are discussing science, it is _not_abuse_ to ask them to provide a basis to support their beliefs: citations to published sources in the literature, their own or others.

    You’re posting your beliefs. We’re asking you where you get what you believe to be true and why you believe the sources you trust.

    So far you aren’t answering. Please say where you get what you think is true. We can talk with you once we have some common sources to read and discuss.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Oct 2007 @ 2:40 PM

  422. RE: Joe Duck harping on the 20 foot sea level rises mentioned in AIT vs the IPCC projections of 1-2 feet.
    Jim wrote:
    … to continue to assert that we will see only an 1-2 ft rise by then is becoming increasingly untenable, yet you continue to base much of your argument on it. You might want to rethink that.

    Jim, those IPCC projections were released recently. We must use *some sort of metric* to determine how to proceed. I recommend we use IPCC. Here at RC blog Gavin suggested earlier [again Gavin, pls correct if I misunderstood what you said about this] that he felt it was appropriate to add another approx 25cm to those to get a more realistic estimate that included the melting, an estimate that he felt was closer to a meter over next 100 years. Is this the extra sea level rise you are talking about?

    Dave RE: Lake Chad. I know of only one study of Lake Chad which is Coe & Foley at UW Madison, 2001. I’m trying to find a copy of that paper and I’m hardly an expert on Lake Chad, let alone the Sahel drought, but my understanding was that Coe Foley concluded after extensive research that the seasonal rather than GW inspired drought conditions and human use factors were key at Lake Chad.

    There are a lot of challenges implying that Lake Chad’s demise is caused by global warming’s relationship to the Sahel – have you seen any studies that suggest GW has played more than a trivial role in the water volume there, which is some 1/20th of what it was in the 50′s? How would you characterize the effect of AGW on Lake Chad?

    I think the second climate model paper (about Sahel and AGW) cited above in the Lake Chad comments on AIT suggests that some scenarios predicts more moisture there thanks to global warming.

    Dave – Yes, agree there is reason to believe average hurricane intensity will increase as a result of AGW. However I’d suggest it is not responsible to say Katrina tells us much, if anything, about this hypothesis because the causal connections between Katrina and AGW are at best highly speculative, and even if you accept there is a relationship would not the *magnitude of the increase in the strength of Katrina due to AGW* need to be very small to fit into the models predicting intensity increases?

    The burden of proof for somebody saying “there is no AGW” should be on the skeptic because AGW is well established. However, the burden of proof with respect to an AGW connection to Katrina intensity and Lake Chad drying should be on those who suggest the connection.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 24 Oct 2007 @ 2:40 PM

  423. I have a question and hope you folks can help he out regarding the 30 years of cooling in the 1900s. From what I’ve read, this cooling was throughout the Northern Hemisphere (TAR). The TAR also states that the Southern Hemisphere was warming during this time. (Haven’t seen this section in the FAR, has this changed?) I have also read that the argument for the cooling in the NH was due to aerosols, which masked the GHG forcing.
    But now I hear the NH is warming faster than the south, apparently due to more land mass which is more susceptible to forcing, while the large volume of ocean in the south is less likely to warm. I’ve also read that aerosols only appear to be responsible for localized cooling. Also, the error margin in the fourth assessment for negative forcing from clouds/aerosols is very high.

    So how is it that we can explain this mid century cooling with any certainty?

    Looking forward for some clarity.

    PS. Does anyone have information regarding the ratio of GHGs/Aerosols now, compared to the 1940′s-1970′s? With so many coal plants coming online, and the industrialization of China and India my gut tells me there should be more cooling. (My gut however, is not a climate scientist)

    Comment by Jon — 24 Oct 2007 @ 3:22 PM

  424. Majorajam – here is what I wrote above. I’m sorry it offended you but it does reflect my view based on a few days here at the wild and wooly RC blog.

    “when well-informed people, like most here, have a strong political view they tend to view the importance of causality differently than I do. Although it’s reasonable to suggest there may be some causal connection, if you isolated the GW contribution to Lake Chad or Katrina it would likely be extremely small compared to non-GW contributing factors.”

    My point is that I think the film presented things in a way that would inspire action, rather than working to present the likelihood of events as accurately as possible. Also that the film implied a degree of causal connection between AGW and events like Katrina and Lake Chad that is not reasonably assumed from the science on the subject.

    But more to the point – why do you think there is a well established connection between AGW and Lake Chad water levels? I think AIT implied that but others here say AIT did no such thing.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 24 Oct 2007 @ 3:57 PM

  425. Re. my comment #420, I’ve just realised that one of the examples I gave in my post was unfair, in that Joe did reply to one of Mary’s questions, where she asked in #407) : “Joe – Just what is it that you fear when you talk about “sub-optimal resource allocations” – and Joe replied “Kyoto” in #411. But this ignores:

    1) the point Ray and others have made that third world development is not an opportunity cost of emissions reductions, that both are inter-related, and that neither will succeed unless both succeed;

    2) the fact that Lomborg’s analysis of Kyoto assumes misleadingly that it will run in its present form for the next hundred years, whereas it will only run in its present form until 2012 at the latest, and was only ever intended to be a building block to base an improved subsequent treaty on (as already pointed out by J.S. McIntyre in #369);

    3) the fact that Lomborg’s claims about the costs of Kyoto have not been backed up by any peer reviewed paper;

    4) the fact that the economies of the Kyoto signatories have not done discernibly less well than the non-signatories in comparison to their relative performance pre-Kyoto;

    5) and the fact that Lomborg completely ignores in his analysis the generally accepted finding in environmental economics that tight environmental regulations are frequently a business opportunity rather than a cost, and that they often lead to innovation and new products (e.g. see Porter and Van der Linde (1995)) – a point Mary has already made in #383).

    And see also Majorajam’s comment #418), particularly with reference to reading the link.

    In another thread you recently wrote:

    Yikes – I simply don’t have enough time read each article [that I had linked to in order to demonstrate points I was making]

    This site is for people who are here to learn. If you are simply here to debate for debating’s sake, and not to learn, you’re trolling. If people link to articles written by distinguished scientists and economists that make points that you are disputing, and if you are unwilling to read those articles, then you are simply trolling.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 24 Oct 2007 @ 5:13 PM

  426. re 420

    “Are you just trolling, Joe?”

    Dave, ever read the Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster? It’s intended for “young” readers, but happens to be one of those books imbued with a universality that speaks to people of all ages.

    The “conversation” people have been having with Joe these reminds me of the climax of the book when the hero, a young lad named Milo, aided by his companions Tock and Humbug, are about the rescue the Princesses Rhyme & Reason, trapped in a floating castle suspended above the Mountains of Ignorance. (Sorry about the set-up, but it kind of helps.)

    The last obstacle to their goal is an old man who identifies himself as the Census Taker, and before they can ascend the stairs to the castle they need to first answer “just a few questions”. But as the heros soon realize as they spend what seems like an unending period of time answering his questions that he is really the Senses Taker, whose one talent is to waste people’s time.

    That Joe Duck. A senses taker, as in he’s getting you to play his game, waste your time. He’s not interested in a real conversation, per se, only in jabbing a stick to get you to react.

    Joe’s tactic parallels what I see from Creationists: ignore corrections and clarifications (and the facts), cherry-pick items to create straw man arguments and red herrings while repeating the same nonsense over and over, no matter how many times he’s been shown to be in error. What he is doing, imho, is conscious, deliberate and – mildly – malicious, in the sense it is also apparent by the manner in which he conducts himself he knows precisely what he is doing.

    He may be a troll, or he may be not. But the end result is the same. Just my opinion, as I said, but having watched this tactic at play over the years, a reasonably informed one.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 24 Oct 2007 @ 5:16 PM

  427. > ratio of GHGs to aerosols
    This comes up repeatedly, you can look it up.

    Briefly: half the fossil fuel burned so far was burned before about 1970. That was mostly before the Clean Air Act, much of it by the US, and produced the sulfates that caused acid rain. That aerosol cooling happened against the forcing from the first half of the CO2 emitted.

    Then Clean Air Act and a stretch with much lower sulfate emission, while CO2 from fossil fuel burning continued to be added. Second half of the fossil fuel burned so far, burned since about 1970.

    Now we’re starting into the ‘third half’ — sulfates from China are being emitted locally (they don’t have the laws about high smokestacks, that got the USA’s coal smoke up from the local area and caused it to fall out far downwind).

    China’s sulfates are emitted against a background forcing from the CO2 from the coal already burned, as compared to the pre-1970 US.

    Sulfates from China are also being emitted closer to the Equator — the photochemistry differs.

    “A commonality across future man-made emissions projections
    is a regional shift with decreases at NH midlatitudes and
    increases at the more photochemically active subtropical and
    tropical latitudes. In the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
    Change A1B future, the man-made emissions changes dominated
    the impacts of physical climate changes on sulfate and O3
    composition….” http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/103/12/4377

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Oct 2007 @ 5:28 PM

  428. RE. J.S. McIntyre, #426, I guess you’re right. I had been about to post something in response to his questions about Chad and Katrina, but his questions already have been answered multiple times elsewhere, and as you say, he’s just wasting our time, probably on purpose.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 24 Oct 2007 @ 5:47 PM

  429. I think we’d all agree that there’s too much Duck in this thread, so I’ll try to restrict myself to fewer posts and the specific topic of this fascinating thread, which are the (in)famous “9 points” of AIT.

    The moderation (needed of course) means a delay that seems to vary and I’m bouncing around quite a bit from post to post. As Dave notes I posted at least one answer in another thread. It’s hard to keep up, especially because at the same time some say Kyoto is a straw man others imply it’s essential policy.

    … neglect to elaborate on the implied accusation that they are flawed, even as you parrot erroneous talking points that fester amongst the pandemic of libertarianism we are suffering ….

    WoW Majorajam, did I really do all that? I want a peer review!?

    Comment by Joe Duck — 24 Oct 2007 @ 6:05 PM

  430. I wrote the “too much duck” before I read J.S.’s and other concerns that I’m wasting people’s time here so I’ll leave now. I have become much better informed as a result of the experience, and thank everybody for that benefit.

    No, I was not trolling. (Sheesh!) and in parting I would simply encourage people to read the judge’s nine points with an open mind.

    If people want to bash me that’s fine but please post a copy at my blog so I may at least respond over there.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 24 Oct 2007 @ 6:38 PM

  431. re 416 (M.) “…parrot erroneous talking points that fester amongst the pandemic of libertarianism we are suffering.”

    What on earth??!!? What is that? Is it good or bad? Pandemic of libertarianism: is that like everybody going their own way at once? Who is suffering?

    Comment by Rod B — 24 Oct 2007 @ 7:29 PM

  432. You missed it Joe- you just had one.

    Comment by Majorajam — 24 Oct 2007 @ 8:18 PM

  433. http://www.sciencepoles.org/index.php?articles/thomas_stocker_comments_ipccs_polar_perspective&s=2&rs=home&uid=925&lg=en

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Oct 2007 @ 8:40 PM

  434. Back to the An Inconvenient Truth. I recommend Al Gore’s book as well which presumably came out before the film. From memory (I work away from home) it has that famous picture of a river in Greenland disappearing down a moulin. Google-Images moulin greenland to see what I mean.

    Book’s down to nine quid now. Bargain!

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Inconvenient-Truth-Planetary-Emergency-Warming/dp/0747589062

    Comment by Mike Donald — 25 Oct 2007 @ 1:15 AM

  435. And Bellamy’s at it again. Now there’s someone who should be up before the beak.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article2709551.ece

    Apparently he’s “brave” for taking the Murdochite shilling.

    Comment by Mike Donald — 25 Oct 2007 @ 5:15 AM

  436. Lomborg,the Dane bashes Gore,Nobel Prize winner..

    It might give another perspective to consider Mr Lomborg the individual and his ideas in the light of Danish politics and economic activity over the past 35 years. After all, the guy is Danish..

    When I lived in Denmark (population 5 million) over 30 years ago it was a decidedly left wing-social welfare orientated state – environmentally friendly technologies, pushing organic farming, generous subsidies to all groups and associations, welcoming all political-economic-refugees, bitterly opposed to the Vietnam war, trips to Albanian ‘workers paradise’ and students running round with Mao’s Little Red Book etcetcera:,
    Maybe some of you readers visited Copenhagen with the (in)famous ‘Christiana’ free state etc:, Tolerance and free-thinking and living was overflowing…

    Naturally the pendulum swings – there were national budget blowouts, growing intolerance to foreign refugees and workers and of course, a right wing coalition government with the early Danish military contribution to the US Afghanistan and Iraq military operations !!! Introduction of severe immigration laws often obliging mixed Danish couples to live over in Sweden..
    However, renewable alternative energy saving technology was well established and exports boomed.

    Lomborg was nurtured in this fluctuating social-economic environment.
    Furthermore, Denmark was fortunate enough to discover reasonable reserves of oil-gas in their sector of the North Sea, not as much as those ‘blue-eyed Arabs’, our Norweigan cousins, but enough to save the failing economy.
    A.P. Moeller, now Denmark’s largest company, with activities including shipping-containers and oil-gas exploration and refining is a multinational player.
    I am sure all of you have seen those light blue AP Möller containers in US ports and on your highways. Another export from little Denmark, like the Lego, bacon and Bang & Olufsen stereo equipment.

    However, this year when an European Union (EU) survey wanted to establish the Carbon Dioxide Budgets and CO2 saving measures of large companies in the EU, AP Moeller which is Denmark’s largest contributor with their shipping, airline & oil-gas operations refused to cooperate. Yeah, Moeller told them to get stuffed..or ‘we will leave Denmark and be based elsewhere’….heard that one before !!

    Lomborg, was and is still thriving in this ‘business friendly’ environment, even receiving substantial funding from the faltering right wing coalition to start an Environmental study group etc., with the Copenhagen Consensus… – some Danes are reaLLY hopping mad !!!

    Of course, the Brit magazine, the Economist and the Financial Times are completely besotted with Lomborg… what do you expect !!!
    Once again, naturally the pendulum is now swinging back to the Danish centre again – more funding is becoming available for sustainable energy, more money for medical and education services which became dysfunctional and falling apart etc., the Iraq military contingent is being withdrawn – it was a misadventure and extremely unpopular,…

    In Denmark itself, Signorissimo Lomborg is a very controversial figure. bUT I have to respect him, he is a smart and wily individuaL…
    In Scandinavia, individual freedom of expression is sacred and all these successful economies are run by coalition governments with numerous political parties sharing the same bed !! No big deal…

    Some Danish comments on Lomborg – even if slightly over the top..

    Danish – ‚’Lomborg er farligere end Adolf Hitler og Josef Stalin tilsammen’
    Lomborg is more dangerous than Hitler and Stalin together !!
    Danish – ‘ er han stadig fuldstændigt forvirret og tosset på alle videnskabs områder…’
    He is completely confused and crazy in all areas of science….
    Danish – ‘Lomborg forvirrer klima-debatten’
    …he confuses the climate debate.

    But one political commentator makes a VERY VALID observation:

    ‘If one compares Lomborg’s way of thinking to the developments between east and west Europe during the days of the Iron Curtain before the collapse of the Wall, one would have to say that the western countries (Germany, Holland, Austria etc) were wasting infinite amounts of money on investing in energy and resource saving technology – Money , that the east was saving…
    But who was most economically competitive when the Wall fell ??
    And the expensive ‘clean up’ operations (still ongoing or not even started…) in the east and who had or did not have to pay for these !!’

    Be optimistic and realistic – as little Norway (population 3.5 million) dishing out controversial Nobel prizes but it is also the worlds 5 largest oil export country: They will take appox. 25 billion kroner (5 billion dollars) from their enormous Oil fund and use this for large scale investments in environmental protection and efforts to slow down global warming… (100 Nor. Kroner = 18 US dollars)

    Al Gore with Inconvenient Truths has made an immeasurably positive contribution to furthering the ‘Global Climate Change’ debate..
    Sure, Lomborg has made one-hell-of-a-name for himself..he has come and is now on his way out…

    Comment by Svend Jensen — 25 Oct 2007 @ 5:30 AM

  437. Re. Svend Jensen, #436, a very helpful analysis, thanks. It’s amazing though that such a small country should produce not only Lomborg, but also Svensmark and Friis-Christensen – per capita it seems to have become the world’s leading country at producing disingenuous AGW denialist scientists. I’ve wondered for some time why this was so.

    Al Gore with Inconvenient Truths has made an immeasurably positive contribution to furthering the ‘Global Climate Change’ debate..
    Sure, Lomborg has made one-hell-of-a-name for himself..he has come and is now on his way out…

    What gets me is that someone can get upset about a small number of statements in AIT that, while they probably were misleadingly presented in some cases, they were not actually inaccurate; and were in any case only meant to be illustrations of points the film was making that were unarguably accurate; and yet the same person seems to be quite happy to condone someone like Lomborg, whose main arguments are almost all inaccurate, who thinks nothing of fabricating and cherry picking data and of misquoting people; and who generally prefers to cite press articles rather than peer reviewed scientific papers. On the one hand one has a film that is mostly accurate (surprisingly so, considering the complexity of the subject and the fact that it was made by a layman); and which is obviously sincere, for all its faults; and on the other hand you have someone who is clearly insincere and whose claims are almost all demonstrably scientifically inaccurate. I find it quite shocking that anyone who is informed and intelligent could argue against the former and for the latter.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 25 Oct 2007 @ 4:25 PM

  438. re: #435 Mike

    I’ve tried 3 times over as many days to point out that the credibility of Bellamy, in citing endocrinologist/plagiarist Schulte’s unpublishable (even in Energy&Environment) piece, is not high… but somehow that message doesn’t get through – maybe I’m on some badlist, although guthrie reports a similar problem over at Stoat. They have been printing some real rants.

    Maybe someone else can try, especially UK residents.

    As far as I know, this is the only mainstream-media mention of Schulte, admidst the blogosphere froth.

    Comment by John Mashey — 25 Oct 2007 @ 5:13 PM

  439. Many thanks for the very interesting responses, Ray and Barton (405) and (379).

    For the calculated Venus surface temperature to be so low, radiative effects must dominate in the models. With dry air atmosphere replacing CO2, the pressure at the surface would still be massive (90 times the earth’s), the thermal conductivity would be much the same, and since the specific heats are similar the lapse rates per kilometre would also be similar at about 10 degrees K per kilometre.

    The thickness of an air atmosphere on Venus would be an order of magnitude greater than on the earth, some 50 kilometres, so why would the overall lapse temperature not be about 500 degrees, and the surface temperature more than 700 degrees K?

    In conventional greenhouses the absorption/emission from the glass makes little difference to the internal temperatures, which result from a combination of solar heating, insulation and inhibited convection.

    Is it possible that the conventional atmospheric models also over-estimate atmospheric radiative effects, exaggerating the impact of the greenhouse gasses? It is easy to see that, back on earth, the atmosphere will provide us with a 33degree K surface temperature increase over Te. It is not so easy to see why all this should be down to greenhouse gasses.

    Comment by Fred Staples — 26 Oct 2007 @ 4:01 AM

  440. Your reference to the 1998 post on Hansen’s projections is interesting, Gavin. Your final paragraph (very fair) is not sufficient to put you into the sceptical scientist ranks, but it is close.

    We always have to bear in mind that measurements errors (quite independent of natural variations) are large in comparison with the effects we are monitoring. However, Mr Hansen expected significant warming before 1990, “raising the mean global temperature well above the maximum of the late 1930’s”.

    In the late thirties winter sea ice appeared regularly in the English Channel, northern ports were impassable. It was very cold, but not as cold as in the previous century, when the Thames was regularly used both as a highway and a market, with bonfires.

    We were clearly emerging from the little Ice Age, as Mr Hansen charts. Bearing in mind that we have experienced an increase of only 0.6 degrees centigrade across the twentieth century it is astonishing that mean global temperatures actually fell from the thirties to the seventies, and not at all surprising that they increased thereafter.

    I follow the Hadley centre data. Using their long run chart, HadCRUT3, it is obvious that, without the increase from 1985 to the artificial peak in 1998, no-one would have worried about global warming. Could that step, about 0.5 degrees C in 10 years, really have been the result of accumulated CO2 from pre-industrial times?

    Actually, there are many similar steps in the record (1920 to 1940, for example). What is surprising is that the temperature did not fall back, as all the others did. Instead, temperatures remained roughly constant along Hansen’s scenario C line, as I said.

    I notice many references to rising seal levels in these posts. Today’s Guardian reminds us that Captain Ross, of ice shelf fame, failed to get past Greenland while looking for the NorthWest passage in October, 1833. He suspected that future generation would be interested in the sea level, so he marked it on the most stable rock he knew in a region of low tides. You can see his mark featured prominently on John Daly’s web site.

    [Response: I'm not sure about the rising seal level - something to do with the reduced hunting perhaps? - but it is rather unlikely that a sea level mark made on an Arctic journey would be found in Tasmania. I can't find the Guardian article though, do you have a link? In general, you'll find it useful to provide them if you want to discuss specifics. - gavin]

    Comment by Fred Staples — 26 Oct 2007 @ 6:28 AM

  441. I have just noticed other responses to my Venus question.

    It was not meant to be tricky, and I do know what the text books say. For example “We can account for the observed thermal structure of Venus’s atmosphere by a combination of thermal balance at the surface, with space, and in the stratosphere, and convective equilibrium in the troposhere. The high surface temperature results from the very deep and thermally opaque atmosphere, containing large quantities of efficient greenhouse absorber, in particular CO2 and H2SO4″.

    The same text then calculates a layer by layer radiative temperature gradient, “which gives the correct surface temperature if the next lowest layer is just 2K cooller than the surface”. And the wrong answer if it isn’t (my comment).

    Elsewhere the same text calculates pressure/temperature lapse rates from conventional gas laws and specific heats, and arrives at a surface temperature of 730 degrees K, just as James Hansen did.

    What I am really asking is why we are so certain that the radiative effects dominate the more intuitive (and observable)pressure/temperature effects. If they do, removing the CO2 will lower the temperature drastically. If they don’t, it won’t.

    In my day, the fifties, some text books still asserted that greenhouses were heated by back radiation from their glass, 50 years after RWWoods had demonstrated the contrary. Could we try the experiment on Venus?

    Comment by Fred Staples — 26 Oct 2007 @ 7:28 AM

  442. #440: the last frost fair was in 1814, and lasted only 4 days. The heyday of frost fairs on the Thames was in the 17th and 18th centuries.

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 26 Oct 2007 @ 7:50 AM

  443. [[It is easy to see that, back on earth, the atmosphere will provide us with a 33degree K surface temperature increase over Te. It is not so easy to see why all this should be down to greenhouse gasses.]]

    Fred, the lapse rate comes about because the greenhouse gases heat the surface. With no greenhouse gases the lapse rate would be different. It’s the temperature differential that determines the lapse rate, not vice versa. Earth’s atmosphere will NOT provide us with a 33 K temperature increment without greenhouse gases.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 26 Oct 2007 @ 8:36 AM

  444. Conspiracy theories continue about Mr. Gore’s movie: http://images.ucomics.com/comics/db/2007/db071026.gif

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Oct 2007 @ 10:41 AM

  445. Re. #440, and #442, and the Thames frost fairs see page 7 of Jones and Mann 2004 (PDF), which states:

    We have thus far emphasized the work of historical
    climatologists who have combined detailed information and
    rigorous statistical techniques in order to develop long,
    continuous, and well-replicated series. Despite these extensive
    research efforts, anecdotal evidence concerning the last
    millennium based on factually dubious beliefs is still rife.
    We note three specific examples that are often misrepresented
    in terms of their relevance to past climate:

    1. River Thames freeze-overs (and sometimes frost
    fairs) only occurred 22 times between 1408 and 1814
    [Lamb, 1977] when the old London Bridge constricted flow
    through its multiple piers and restricted the tide with a weir.
    After the bridge was replaced in the 1830s, the tide came
    farther upstream, and freezes no longer occurred, despite a
    number of exceptionally cold winters. The winter of 1962/
    1963, for example, was the third coldest in the central
    England temperature (CET) record (the longest instrumental
    record anywhere in the world extending back to 1659
    [Manley, 1974; Parker et al., 1992]), yet the river only froze
    upstream of the present tidal limit at Teddington. The CET
    record clearly indicates that Thames (London) ‘‘frost fairs’’
    provide a biased account of British climate changes (let
    alone larger-scale changes.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 26 Oct 2007 @ 10:58 AM

  446. Fred Staples said:

    In the late thirties winter sea ice appeared regularly in the English Channel, northern ports were impassable.

    We are talking about the 1930s here, aren’t we? In which case, where do you get your information?

    Comment by Robin Levett — 27 Oct 2007 @ 2:18 AM

  447. Gosh Barton (443) I hope that comment does not form part of Ray’s famous scientific consensus. Can I suggest that you recall the second law of thermodynamics, read RWWoods comments on his greenhouse experiment and begin again with “It is the sun that heats the surface……..”

    The Guardian reference to Captain Ross, Gavin, (people got about in those days) is at the foot of page 42 of the October 26 edition. You can see a description of his “Isle of the Dead mark, with a photograph, at john-daly.com/deadisle/index.htm.

    For anecdotal reference to sea and river ice in the UK (with photographs) can I suggest Frozen in Time by Ian McCaskill and Paul Hudson . For example “the winter of 1683-84 may have been the coldest ever, with as much as 11 inches of solid ice” “Coaches plied from Westminster to the Temple” They agree that the New London bridge ended the frost fairs in 1814, but there was ice on the Thames in 1816 (the year of no Summer) and in 1894 “the whole of the Thames was blocked by ice floes six or seven feet thick. In 1947 along the Belgian Coast “an ice shelf ten inches thick formed 300 yards out to sea”. At Dungeness, Eastbourne etc “the sea was frozen up to 100 feet from the shore”. The Thames froze at Windsor.

    In 1962/63 “the Thames was soon frozen right across” and at Torquay (the English Riviera) “sea water froze for the first time in living memory”.

    The last really severe Winter was in 1979 (the third coldest January of the century). Thereafter things improved, more or less following the HadCRUT3 global trends, which I mentioned in 440.

    [Response: The Isle of the Dead mark is in Tasmania, not anywhere near the Arctic so your initial point was completely misleading. During the winter of 1963 the Thames only froze above the lock at Teddington, which frankly is not the same thing as a frost fair at all, despite the winter being one of the coldest in the CET record. And you have provided no evidence that during the 1930s 'northern ports were inaccessible'. It probably comes as no surprise that I can find no mention of Ross in the Guardian on 26/Oct/2007 - 'p42' not being a useful URL (my only access is through the web). But regardless of all that, what is your point? - gavin]

    Comment by Fred Staples — 29 Oct 2007 @ 5:25 PM

  448. [[Gosh Barton (443) I hope that comment does not form part of Ray’s famous scientific consensus. Can I suggest that you recall the second law of thermodynamics, read RWWoods comments on his greenhouse experiment and begin again with “It is the sun that heats the surface……..” ]]

    I knew the second law of thermodynamics when you were in diapers, Fred. I’ll say it again — the Earth’s atmosphere, without greenhouse gases, will not give you a 33 K temperature increment from the Earth’s effective or emission temperature, and such an atmosphere would not have the same lapse rate as the one we have now. Lapse rates don’t just come down out of the sky. They are determined by physical principles. For the adiabatic lapse rate, it’s determined by how a convecting parcel of air fares in rising due to its lower density which is in turn due to its higher temperature. For the saturated lapse rate, physical states of water vapor come into play (or, if you’re analyzing Titan and not Earth, physical states of methane). If you want a review I’d suggest checking out John Houghton’s The Physics of Atmospheres (3rd ed. 2002).

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 30 Oct 2007 @ 6:46 AM

  449. Fred Staples, The world is full of folks who try to get by on bluff and bluster–never stating their point clearly enough that it can be clearly refuted. They think this makes them look more intelligent. They are wrong. I have found that really bright people generally communicate their points clearly and courteously. If I understand your point correctly, you seem to be under the erroneous impression that forcing by the atmosphere would somehow violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics. This is not true. The greenhouse effect occurs because the only way for energy to leave Earth is radiatively. Greenhouse gases keep radiation at certain wavelengths from leaving Earth (at least from below a certain altitude). You have been dancing around the same point for months now, when the same time spent studying atmospheric physics would have resolved your confusion.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 30 Oct 2007 @ 12:13 PM

  450. re 449

    And here I thought the 2nd Law was only getting abused and misused by Creationists.

    So many parallels, so little time…

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 30 Oct 2007 @ 1:11 PM

  451. Ray, I have been, and it hasn’t (449). I would consider it vulgar to have only one point of view on anything, Gavin.(447).

    I will not mention the second law again, if Barton will agree that the sun warms the earth and the earth warms the atmosphere, not the other way round. Obviously, any effect that inhibits cooling will allow the sun to warm the earth still further. (447).

    If we begin at the beginning with a bare rock, we can make sweeping assumptions and calculate a temperature of 255 degrees K. Now surround that rock with a thick layer of dense, low thermal conductivity gas which allows incoming heat to pass.

    The surface temperature will rise and the atmosphere will warm near the surface.

    [edit]

    [Response: Why? At equilibrium the surface energy balance only depends on exactly the same physics as the situation with no atmosphere. The rest of your post is just a litany of mis-representation and irrelevancies. Drive-by catalogues of supposed problems while never engaging on substance is pointless. Keep that for the newsgroups. - gavin]

    Comment by Fred Staples — 31 Oct 2007 @ 9:02 AM

  452. Fred, consider this: How does a thermos work? It uses a vacuum as an _insulator_. If I were to put a small heat source inside the thermos, it would eventually reach an equilibrium when the radiation out equals the heat input. Now, if I replace the vacuum in the thermos with a gas, does the inside heat up? No. If anything, the inside cools down, because now you have another method for transferring heat away.

    In your planetary example, the low thermal conductivity gas will conduct some amount of heat away from the surface, but since the gas itself is surrounded by a vacuum, it won’t serve for significant cooling. But if the sign is in any direction, it is negative, not positive, since it hasn’t impeded the radiative flow out (the planet’s only mode of cooling before), only added a new cooling mode.

    Comment by Marcus — 31 Oct 2007 @ 1:44 PM

  453. Yes, Fred, we all know that pretty much all the heat that warms Earth comes from Mr. Sun. We also know that all the energy that leaves Earth must do so as LWIR. However, once energy leaves the surface, the portion of it that is trapped by ghg absorption, etc. is most easily viewed as a new source of energy. After all, you do have IR and thermal energy that goes into heating the atmosphere and surface. No one is violating any physical laws, Fred. So if you have a specific objection, state it clearly. If you have not worked it out clearly enough to state it clearly, go do so and come back, or try to enunciate what is bothering you and we’ll try to help you work through it.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 31 Oct 2007 @ 4:37 PM

  454. “I would consider it vulgar to have only one point of view on anything”

    Really? That’s a dangerous blanket statement for science.. Wouldn’t you really consider your doctor incompetent if he said “well you might live or you might die, it’s all relative.” Multiple points of view on the same subject is for lawyers who make a living with creating “the reality” that suits their client’s needs the best. A scientist can’t say “you can interpret the data this way or maybe that way,” and then pick the version that advances some preconceived notion or agenda the scientist has. While there may be multiple ways of interpreting observations, a scientist has the responsibility to present the one explanation that best fits all the data (not just the convenient, cherry picked ones). Can’t waffle much, or you aren’t doing science any more.

    Comment by Figen Mekik — 31 Oct 2007 @ 5:58 PM

  455. Fred posts:

    [[I will not mention the second law again, if Barton will agree that the sun warms the earth and the earth warms the atmosphere, not the other way round]]

    The sun warms the Earth. The Earth warms the atmosphere. And the atmosphere warms the Earth.

    No, I won’t agree to a falsehood, or to an incomplete truth which gives a misleading picture. The Earth gets a great deal of infrared radiation from the atmosphere. We’ve measured it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 1 Nov 2007 @ 8:32 AM

  456. Marcus,(452)don’t forget the reflector in the thermos. Take that away and radiation losses would increase dramatically, and your source would cool. The radiative energy is proportional to the difference between the fourth powers of the temperatures in degrees K – source to room. Put low thermal conductivity gas into the vacuum and its inner surface temperature would rise towards that of your source. The radiation losses would fall dramatically, (that fourth power), and the source would warm again.

    My bare rock is radiating to space, near zero temperature. The atmospheric gas blanket works just like a conventional blanket (warmer on the inside), and the surface heats. The atmosphere conducts, convects, (and from the sea evaporates) the heat away, and reduces the radiative loss (negligible in the troposphere). At the top of the atmosphere the heat radiates to space (fourth powers again).

    Into that simple model, Ray wants to introduce “a new source of energy”, but he does not really mean that. He means that the water vapour, CO2 et al will absorb radiation, increase the troposphere temperature and reduce the radiative heat loss, so warming the surface still further.

    In a greenhouse you get much the same effect, with the glass taking the place of the atmosphere. I have calculated elsewhere the 18.9% increase you could expect in the interior. Sadly, there is no sign of it, and greenhouse design does not it into account (Google casts a wide net).

    So, Ray I will repeat my original question, and then go away and think about entropy (I worked in Atomic Power stations, so I know something about waste heat, sources, and sinks).

    Of the 33 degree increase in temperature between the surface and the tropopause, how much can be attributed to the greenhouse gasses?

    And one more thing, 454, I thought it might be useful to introduce a note of scepticism into this otherwise excellent web site.

    Comment by Fred Staples — 1 Nov 2007 @ 12:19 PM

  457. Fred: If your gas is transparent in the wavelengths of the radiation, then the bare rock of the planet is still radiating to space, and therefore radiation loss DOES NOT CHANGE. What _does_ change is that you’ve added the possibility for convective heat loss as well as radiative heat loss.

    If your gas _isn’t_ transparent in the wavelengths that the rock is radiating in, then your gas is a greenhouse gas.

    Yes, the reflector in a thermos improves its insulative properties, but even without the reflective layer a double layered glass bottle with vacuum in between the two layers makes a better insulator than one with air in between the two layers.

    Comment by Marcus — 1 Nov 2007 @ 1:38 PM

  458. So is your analogy here
    – the reflector in the thermos is acting somewhat like the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, sending heat energy back down toward the middle?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Nov 2007 @ 1:44 PM

  459. Fred posts:

    [[Of the 33 degree increase in temperature between the surface and the tropopause, how much can be attributed to the greenhouse gasses?]]

    All of it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 2 Nov 2007 @ 7:06 AM

  460. #41, the reason that there are locks in the Panama Canal is due to the topographical differences in the country (often referred to as the Continental Divide).

    Comment by Blloper — 6 Nov 2007 @ 8:41 PM

  461. Thank you , Barton (459).

    Of a 10 degree increase between the interior and the exterior of a greenhouse, how much can be attributed to radiative effects from the glass?. (In our globally warmed UK climate, I spend a great deal of my time in a glass conservatory, and the interior surface of the glass is warmer than the exterior, but not as warm as the interior atmosphere).

    Comment by Fred Staples — 7 Nov 2007 @ 10:29 AM

  462. Fred,
    The atmospheric greenhouse effect has little to do with the way a real greenhouse works. So the first thing you need to do is get that model out of your mind. Then go find a good text on atmospheric radiation and learn the real physics.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Nov 2007 @ 12:43 PM

  463. I have done that, Ray,(to some extent anyway)and I remain sceptical. We both know that neither a greenhouse interior nor the earth’s surface is warmed by back radiation, although there are many examples on the internet of people who think the opposite. The single slab model, after all, is the same for both: W in, 2W from the interior/surface, W back from the glass/atmosphere, W out – temperature ratio increase the fourth root of two. Until Mr Woods’ experiment ( and for at least 50 years afterwards) that was conventional wisdom.

    We both know that the explanation for a real greenhouse is convection inhibition, and the only possible explanation for atmospheric greenhouse is the “higher is cooler” effect whereby the inhibition of surface radiation moves the radiant point to space to a higher/colder level, and the necessary warming increases all the lapse rate temperatures, including the surface.

    That is plausible, but is it true? After all, inhibiting radiation implies energy absorption which will be rapidly disseminated and should differentially increase the troposphere temperatures over the surface temperatures. I do not see that effect in the satellite measurements. Is there any land-based experimental evidence?

    Comment by Fred Staples — 9 Nov 2007 @ 7:07 AM

  464. Fred,
    Actually, yes, the surface is warmed by back radiation–or you can look on it as the net radiation away from the surface decreasing–they are equivalent. And yes, the troposphere is warmed. Even the UAH group concede this now. Land based experimental evidence? Looked at the GISS results? Have you looked at the inferred temperatures in the CO2 band? That there is warming is beyond question. That we have a physical mechanism that explains it both quantitatively and qualitatively is also beyond question. Beyond this, I’m not sure what kind of evidence you could be looking for.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Nov 2007 @ 12:09 PM

  465. [[ We both know that neither a greenhouse interior nor the earth’s surface is warmed by back radiation]]

    No matter how many times you repeat this, it still won’t be true. The Earth receives 324 watts per square meter, on the average, of back radiation from the atmosphere. We’ve measured it with instruments. It’s there. Deal with it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 Nov 2007 @ 12:23 PM

  466. Fred — Have you read the AIP Discovery of Global Warming pages, linked in the Science section of the sidebar?

    Comment by David B. Benson — 9 Nov 2007 @ 2:52 PM

  467. My reply to 464 has been delayed by a holiday in Venice (height above sea level two or three feet for the last 800 years or so). The two explanations are not equivalent, Ray. One is sensible and the other (because it ignores energy quality) isn’t.

    The sensible explanation has consequences which can be tested. If back radiation from increased “greenhouse” gasses in the troposphere is responsible for a 0.75 degree centigrade rise in temperature at the surface, the troposphere temperature increase must be greater. The troposphere increase can be estimated from the Stefan-Bolzmann fourth power law, and is about one-third of a degree higher.

    No data I have seen shows that differential increase. Houghton (Global Warming, The Complete Briefing, Third Edition, Page 59) states “The trend in the difference of the surface and lower troposphere of 0.13 +- 0.06 degrees centigrade per decade is statistically significant.”

    Sadly, it is in the wrong direction.

    Comment by Fred Staples — 19 Nov 2007 @ 7:49 AM

  468. Fred, you don’t have the foggiest notion of what you are talking about. Is energy being absorbed by the greenhouse gasses? (definitely yes) If so, what happens to it? (most of it goes into kinetic energy via collisions with atmospheric gasses; some goes into radiation; however, it can’t leave the system via any mechanism other than radiation) Is the energy absorbed sufficient to account for the warming seen? (Yes) It’s pretty simple, Fred. Once the energy gets trapped on its way out of the system, it can’t get out until the entire climate warms enough so that the atmosphere above the trapping layer is warm enough to radiate away the difference.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Nov 2007 @ 10:46 AM

  469. Yes, David (466), I have.

    Yes, I have. He presents most of the standard objections to AGW and then attempts to demolish them. He suggests that looking at the atmosphere as a series of interacting layers, rather than a single slab, and a minute change of greenhouse gas concentration in the upper layers will perturb the entire system.

    He states that the warming which took place up to 1940 was probably not due to CO2, which had not increased significantly. (Actually, that bitterly cold period was the previous temperature peak between the Little Ice Age and the current warming)

    He quotes Vostok to suggest that temperature and CO2 had always been closely correlated. He mentions that, during past glacial periods, temperature changes had preceded CO2 increases by several centuries (not the other way round). He faces the problem squarely, and passes on.

    He asserts that the warming “since the 1980’s” was unprecedented (it was not) and “scarcely any reputable expert doubted that greenhouse gasses were at least partly responsible”. (Did any reputable expert think they weer wholly responsible)

    His quotes two crucial observations to confirm the AGW theory: first, sea temperatures up to 2005 were rising with a temperature distribution predicted by the AGW models, and second, the rate of heating was caused by a radiation imbalance – the earth was receiving more energy than it was radiating (James Hansen’s smoking gun).

    Sadly, since the essay, the iron law of confident assertions has come into play. CO2 has continued to rise faster than ever (along James Hansen’s A line), global temperatures from 1998 ceased to increase (the Hansen C line corresponding to constant emissions) and the sea temperatures ceased to warm.

    [Response: Not so. Why make claims that are so easily shown to be wrong? The current net forcings are slightly lower than the B scenario (see http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/hansens-1988-projections/ ). - gavin]

    Comment by Fred Staples — 19 Nov 2007 @ 3:56 PM

  470. I will check that link, Gavin, but if the CO2 and temperature lines continue to diverge, the AGW theory will get into trouble, because the models follow the CO2.

    In the meantime I have been comparing and contrasting Ray Pierrehumberts excellent on-line account with the G and T paper. Ray’s first mention of thermal conductivity is in section 8, G and T’s in section 1. As Churchill said “they will never agree. They are arguing from different premises”.

    Ray’s “greenhouse in a nutshell” is the clearest “higher is colder” explanation I have found, and this theory is the only plausible explanation of AGW.

    He says
    “As more greenhouse gas is added to an atmosphere, more of the lower parts of the atmosphere become opaque to infrared, preventing the escape of infrared radiation from those regions. This increases the altitude of the effective radiating level (i.e.decreases prad).” And
    “. It is very important to recognize that greenhouse warming relies on the decrease of atmospheric temperature with height, which is generally due to the adiabatic profile established by convection. The greenhouse effect works by allowing a planet to radiate at a temperature colder than the surface, but for this to be possible, there must be some cold air aloft for the greenhouse gas to work with.”

    If we accept these ideas we have a warmer lower atmosphere triggering the entire “greenhouse” effect. The clear implication is that AGW starts in the atmosphere, heat is trapped, and the atmosphere will warm more than the surface.

    The evidence (467) is in the opposite direction – since 1979 the surface has warmed more than the atmosphere

    The entropy argument is worth stating to deal with the notion that the atmosphere could warm the surface directly. Suppose a section of the atmosphere at a temperature Ta absorbs OLR, and radiates energy deltaQ in the form of heat to earth. If the earth absorbs the heat at a temperature Ts, the change in entropy is –deltaQ/Ta + deltaQ/Ts. But that means that the overall entropy will decrease spontaneously, (the negative ratio is greater than the positive) because the surface temperature is higher than the atmospheric temperature.

    And that, Barton, (465) is impossible. To put the second law more technically, however long you stand there, and however hot it gets, your bum is not going to warm that fire.

    There is another implication of “higher is colder”. If the lapse rate is necessary for greenhouse gasses to have any effect, how can we attribute the 33 degree atmospheric temperature increase entirely to the greenhouse gasses?

    [Response: It's certainly true that without a lapse rate there is no greenhouse effect. But there is always a lapse rate and would be even in the absence of GHGs. - gavin]

    Comment by Fred Staples — 24 Nov 2007 @ 12:57 PM

  471. Fred, you’ve written above:

    > (Did any reputable expert think they weer wholly responsible)

    and a few postings later you write

    > how can we attribute the 33 degree atmospheric temperature
    > increase entirely to the greenhouse gasses?

    You sound confused.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Nov 2007 @ 5:04 PM

  472. Fred Staples (#470) wrote:

    If we accept these ideas we have a warmer lower atmosphere triggering the entire “greenhouse” effect. The clear implication is that AGW starts in the atmosphere, heat is trapped, and the atmosphere will warm more than the surface.

    Strangely enough, I dealt with this briefly yesterday:

    Anyway, if people want to see the effects of the different greenhouse gases in terms of the cooling or warming of the atmosphere at various altitudes, I would suggest:

    Radiation & Climate: Major Projects
    Line-by-line calculation of atmospheric fluxes and cooling rates 2
    http://www.aer.com/scienceResearch/rc/m-proj/abstracts/rc.clrt2.html

    They will notice that the direct effect of carbon dioxide is principally one of cooling the atmosphere, not warming it. This is because the radiation which is emitted by carbon dioxide has on the balance the effect of cooling the atmosphere (due to emitting backradiation to the surface and thermal radiation to space) but warming the surface — with the troposphere being warmed principally by thermals and evapotranspiration.

    24 November 2007 at 3:41 AM
    Comment 354 to Post BBC contrarian top 10

    Odd how often that sort of thing happens.

    *

    Fred Staples (#470) wrote:

    The entropy argument is worth stating to deal with the notion that the atmosphere could warm the surface directly. Suppose a section of the atmosphere at a temperature Ta absorbs OLR, and radiates energy deltaQ…

    The surface emits the thermal radiation first – after absorbing sunlight. This in essence warms the atmosphere (assuming you are considering vibrational, rotational and rovibrational states as a form of temperature) by emitting thermal radiation – prior to the atmosphere emitting thermal radiation. And even a cool blanket will reduce the chill if it is warmer than the night air. It slows the loss of heat. I do trust that insolation isn’t a violation of the second law of thermodynamics?

    If energy continues to enter the system at the same rate with a diminished rate at which it is lost to the environment, things tend to heat up. This follows from the first law of thermodynamics. But I prefer to think of it as simply the conservation of energy.

    *

    Just out of curiosity, do you actually think that the second law of thermodynamics somehow slipped the minds of the entire profession of climatologists?

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 24 Nov 2007 @ 8:24 PM

  473. re: Ray..Follows the ol adage that “there are none so blind than those who do NOT WISH to see” Some people are just born contrarians for the sheer hell of it. no matter how serious the issue is they will always seek a contrarian approach. They will be the ones still smoking 3 packs/day because they do not believe it leads to lung cancer; they will gorge themselves silly on big macs because they refuse to accept that it leads to heart disease and diabetes; I’m pretty sure they still belive with absolute conviction that the earth is flat. Sorry Ray, they will learn the hard way..we rather would prefer to stand on the shoulders of giants.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 25 Nov 2007 @ 8:22 AM

  474. Re #473 (Lawrence Coleman) “Sorry Ray, they will learn the hard way..we rather would prefer to stand on the shoulders of giants.”

    Particularly if Hansen’s concern about rapid sea-level rise turns out to be justified :-)

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 25 Nov 2007 @ 1:53 PM

  475. Hello webmaster…Thanks for the nice read, keep up the interesting posts..what a nice Tuesday

    Comment by Tarab — 27 Nov 2007 @ 6:43 AM

  476. Confused (471), quite possibly.

    Take, for example, Gavin’s link (469) on the Hansen scenarios. Hansen’s original paper in August, 1988 states: “Specifically, in scenario A CO2 increases as observed by Keeling for the interval 1958 – 1981 and subsequently with 1.5% per year growth in the annual increment”. Maddeningly, he does not quote the Keeling figure, but the Keeling curve gives about 25 ppm in 23 years, or 1.087 ppm per year.

    His B scenario starts at the same rate and increment, but the increment falls to 1% per annum in 1990, 0.5% in year 2000, and zero in 2010. He quotes the annual increment after 2010 as 1.9 ppm pa, which means that scenario B must have started at 1.59ppm pa in 1988.

    If we use the 1.59 ppm increment (approximately 1965 to 1978 on the Keeling curve), the projected CO2 level in 2006 is Scenario A 384 ppm, Scenario B 383 ppm, and the actual is 382 ppm.

    We are, consequently close to scenario B for emissions, although the current rate of increase is above 1.9 ppm per year.

    For the temperatures, there is an excellent plot in Gavin’s link, the Global Monthly Mean Surface Temperature Change from 1997 to date. Looking at that chart, can anyone see a temperature increase between 1998 and today?

    For UK data alone, the annual average reached 10.53 degree C in 1997, and the ten year average is now 10.30. The GISS global data show no increase since 1997.

    The satellite data is also similar. UAH has not moved since 2001 and peaked in 1998. RSSMU is similar, but is currently falling sharply, almost a full degree below the 1998 peak. The Hadley CRUT3 data peaked in 1998, and has fallen back since.

    The radiosonde data peaked in 1998, fell back, and has been more or less constant since.

    So, are the CO2 emissions and the temperature increases diverging, and if this continues what will happen to the AGW theory?.

    We have an abundance of recent temperature data. In the pre-satellite era the most reliable must be the radiosondes, and the US and UK surface air temperature records. The US data shows that the 1980 – 2000 temperatures (and increases) are little different from the 1910 – 1930 data. Certainly not sufficiently different to cause alarm.

    In the UK, the warmest years in the record were 1990 and 1999, at 10.63 degrees centigrade, and in only 39 of the 347 years was the average temperature between 10.0 degrees and 11 degrees C. Of these relatively warm years, 20 occurred before 1945.

    As for the second law,(472) you are more conscious of it if you have worked on(nuclear) power stations (have you ever wondered what the cooling towers are for) and low (towards absolute zero) temperature physics?. I agree about the cooling blanket effect. That is the alternative (terrestial greenhouse) view of this entire subject (see the G and T paper, which starts with the low thermal conductivity of air).

    I would like to give more thought to Gavin’s lapse rate comment (470), which I think gets to the heart of the matter.

    Comment by Fred Staples — 27 Nov 2007 @ 12:10 PM

  477. Fred, OK, you agree that a CO2 molecule will absorb outgoing LWIR, right? Now the vast majority of CO2 molecules so excited, will relax collisionally, rather than radiatively, due to the relatively long life of the excited state. So, where does all that energy go? It cannot escape the climate system except as LWIR, correct? If a CO2 molecule emits a LWIR photon at low altitude, it will likely be absorbed by another CO2 molecule, right? So the only way for the extra energy to escape is for the entire atmosphere to heat up enough for there to be increased radiation from high in the atmosphere. Net effect: global warming.
    You claim there has been no warming since 1998. Well, 1998 was a very deep El Nino. 2007 is a La Nina year. The trend is still UP. You claim that we should not be concerned about warming because the rate of increase is comparable to the period 1910-1930. Absolute temperature matters, Fred. The warming trend is not stopping or even slowing.

    Fred, I would suggest that you start worrying about all the laws of thermo–not just the 2nd, which you don’t understand. The net flux of energy is still from warm to cold–it’s just that the net flux is decreased.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 27 Nov 2007 @ 1:19 PM

  478. First, Ray, there is no extra energy. There are no energy-generating reactions in the atmosphere.

    To explain what happens in the atmosphere in terms of light particle models (photons) is asking for trouble. That form of analysis is essential for neutrons in reactors, where capture cross sections and mean free paths in fuel and moderator determine the reactor design. It has little to contribute to atmospheric physics where we are dealing with electro-magnetic radiation, sensible heat transmission, and resonant absorption by diatomic and triatomic molecules. Both will absorb and radiate, Ray, both will transfer kinetic energy. Nitrogen and Oxygen are much less effective, but far more numerous. As far as I know, the only electron shell excitation occurs in the diatomic molecules, excited by the high energy incoming radiation.

    You use the Stefan-Bolzmann equations for energy transfer, and neither of those distinguished gentlemen knew anything about the structure of an atom. (Have you ever looked at the original explanations for the interior of a black-body)?

    The energy absorbed by additional CO2 increases the efficiency of heat transfer from the surface. What will that do to the surface temperature? (G and T’s pot on the stove analogy is worth thinking about).

    I agree that the atmosphere will warm (marginally) if the CO2 concentration increases. The rest of your post begs all the questions “So the only way for the extra energy to escape is for the entire atmosphere to heat up enough for there to be increased radiation from high in the atmosphere. Net effect: global warming”

    How? Why? The atmosphere radiated the energy into space before the CO2 increase – it will do so after. It will choose its own height to balance the incoming and outgoing energy.

    The notion of the surface and atmosphere radiating against each other, diminishing the surface output, is something we have discussed several times. It is plausible, but the radiation laws require the atmosphere to heat more than the surface. This could happen, of course, but the measurements show that it doesn’t. (Exactly as the back radiation from the glass could increase the temperature of a greenhouse interior – it could, but it doesn’t).

    We are left with Ray Pierrehumbert’s higher is colder argument, “more of the lower parts of the atmosphere become opaque to infrared, preventing the escape of infrared radiation from those regions. This increases the altitude of the effective radiating level” to a level which is colder (the lapse rate), and which creates an energy imbalance. Consequently, both earth and atmosphere are warmed.

    This is the only explanation possible, and it is plausible if there is any evidence for the “opaque to infrared” notion, and if the atmosphere warms at least as much as the surface. Is there and does it?

    Comment by Fred Staples — 30 Nov 2007 @ 12:46 PM

  479. You mentioned that “absolute temperatures matter” in you response to my comments in 476, Ray.

    Have you seen the NASAGISS data at http://icecap.us/images/uploads/US_Temperatures_and_Climate_Factors_since_1895.doc?

    The annual and five year peaks in the early thirties are very close to the past decade. One of the annual averages is warmer than the El Nino enhanced 1998.

    In the UK, 1949 was the fourth warmest year since 1649, behind 1990, 1999, and 2006, but well ahead of 2007, (1998 is 19th warmest)

    The author of the link quotes some interesting correlations with CO2 levels. From 1895 to 2006 the r squared correlation is just 0.29.Given that the CO2 increase and the little ice-age recovery coincided, this does not suggest CO2 as a significant cause.

    For the last decade, with flat temperatures and increasing CO2, the correlation is negligible. Granted, ten years is too short a period to prove anything, but if this trend continues for another ten years the IPCC trend rate of 0.2 degrees per decade will demonstrably not be there. Objectively, Ray, it is very hard to say that the “the warming trend is not stopping or even slowing” and “the trend is still UP”.

    Twenty years without an increase will be the same elapsed time as the 1978 – 1998 increase on which the whole AGW theory depends.

    [Response: ... and if the moon was made of green cheese.... Look, the issue is that our physical understanding of the system implies that continued high emissions of CO2 (and other forcings) will cause wamring over the next few decades of around 0.2-0.3 deg C/dec. If you have a physical model, or statistical fit, or anything other than your gut feeling, that predicts something else, publish it, and we will see how well it fits what has already happened and eventually how your projection works out. If you are convinced that we are all wrong, why don't you bet James Annan or Brian Schmidt that it will cool? They'll even give you favorable odds. - gavin]

    Comment by Fred Staples — 3 Dec 2007 @ 2:26 PM

  480. Fred, brace yourself. The world is not the UK. Yes, Fred, there is a whole world out there, and it would seem that that world is warming. We can tell that by rising temperatures; we can tell it by melting ice; we can tell it by the fact the winters are shortening and nights are getting warmer. The past 20 years have had 13 of the warmest in the past 130 years. A warming world doesn’t mean we will get warmer every year, and CO2 is not the only forcer, but it is a forcer, and I’ve always found physics to work pretty well.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Dec 2007 @ 8:47 PM

  481. I feel somewhat for Fred on this one, having spent the last 48 hours going through the same routine. I’m pretty sure that the issue here is semantics. Back radiation from the atmosphere cannot directly heat the surface, that would be a violation of the 2nd law of thermo. However the radiation equilibrium explanation of the atmospheric effect is a long period average, and as such the raising of surface temperature is due to a slow down of heat loss from the surface over time not a direct heating, can someone confirm that this is correct, remember it may ease Fred’s pain. Thanks.

    Comment by Gary Moran — 21 Dec 2007 @ 7:46 PM

  482. Gary, It’s really a distinction without a difference. Yes, you can look at it as a change in the net energy flow. On the other hand, the excited GHGs really do radiate and relax collisionally, so you can also view that as a source term. Ask yourself how Earth would behave in the absence of GHGs. Now add them in, and the difference is the forcing of the GHGs. Remember, the 2nd Law (stat mech version) does not say that energy never flows from low temperature to high, just that it is favored (NET) to go the opposite way.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Dec 2007 @ 9:41 PM

  483. Re #481

    “Back radiation from the atmosphere cannot directly heat the surface, that would be a violation of the 2nd law of thermo.”

    Nonsense, it’s the basis of radiative heat transfer!

    I’m sure you’re aware that the radiative heat loss from the earth (Te) with an absorbing atmosphere (Ta) will depend on (Te^4-Ta^4) the second term is due to the back radiation from the atmosphere. If the atmosphere is transparent to IR then the term becomes (Te^4-4^4). No violation of the second law here.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 21 Dec 2007 @ 10:37 PM

  484. RE: 482 & 483

    thank you for your responses.

    I know that 2nd law doesn’t prevent proscribe transfer from cool to warm, just that the net flow must go from warm to cool. Comment 482 is comforting because it supports that; comment 483 is more troubling.

    Phil

    To be clear when I say back radiation can’t heat the surface, I don’t mean the atmosphere can’t radiate energy to the surface, just that in the energy exchange between the atmosphere and the surface that the surface loses more energy than it gains. Any rise in surface temperature is an average rise because the thermal gradient is reduced. Any problems there with my understanding?

    Comment by Gary Moran — 22 Dec 2007 @ 2:54 AM

  485. Gary, this statement is oddly familiar, I’ve seen it repeatedly, but I don’t recall this stated as a generalization by one of the climate scientists. What’s your basis for bringing it up? Do you have a reference somewhere on this subject you’re quoting from or reading?

    There’s no abstract average ‘surface’ — there’s dirt, water, green grass, snow, dry leaves. The air temperature around them changes.
    What point are you getting at? And is there a way to test it that could prove it wrong?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Dec 2007 @ 1:34 PM

  486. “comment 483 is more troubling.
    To be clear when I say back radiation can’t heat the surface, I don’t mean the atmosphere can’t radiate energy to the surface, just that in the energy exchange between the atmosphere and the surface that the surface loses more energy than it gains. Any rise in surface temperature is an average rise because the thermal gradient is reduced. Any problems there with my understanding?”

    Thermal gradients aren’t relevant to radiation heat transfer. A cooling surface does lose more heat than it gains but the net loss depends on the amount ‘back radiated’ as explicitly stated in 483 (not sure why that’s troubling?) In the context of a transparent atmosphere at night the loss is high because the back radiation (∝4^4) is essentially zero, with an absorbing atmosphere at say 250K the back radiation is much higher and the surface will cool much less rapidly. In the case of a cold surface when a warm front moves through and the atmosphere is warm and moist it’s possible that the surface will heat up!

    It’s ok to talk in terms of ‘net transfer of heat’ in the context of the 2nd law but it’s incorrect to say that heating by back radiation violates the 2nd law.
    Consider the following experiment:

    You have a surface at T1 in equilibrium with a cold surface above it, T2, (T2 less than T1). Above that surface you have yet another surface at T3 (T1 greater than T3 greater than T2), remove the middle surface and T1 increases. (do it in vacuum if you want to eliminate convection).
    By the way how can I display mathematical symbols (e.g. less than) on this blog?

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 22 Dec 2007 @ 1:58 PM

  487. Gary Moran (#484) wrote:

    To be clear when I say back radiation can’t heat the surface, I don’t mean the atmosphere can’t radiate energy to the surface, just that in the energy exchange between the atmosphere and the surface that the surface loses more energy than it gains. Any rise in surface temperature is an average rise because the thermal gradient is reduced. Any problems there with my understanding?

    I will take a stab at this. However, I should point out that I am a philosophy major turned computer programmer. But oddly enough, my lack of expertise might come in handy at this point — since I can share a problem or two that I have had — and their resolution.

    *

    You write, “To be clear when I say backradiation can’t heat the surface, I don’t mean the atmosphere can’t radiate energy to the surface…”

    I understand what you are saying – the net energy transfer between the surface and the atmosphere has to be from what is warmer to what is cooler. But strictly speaking, backradiation heats the surface when it is absorbed because radiation which is absorbed heats that which it is absorbed by. When we speak of backradiation, we are specifically focusing on the radiation which is emitted by the atmosphere and absorbed by the surface.

    *

    Anyway, it might help to keep in mind that there are a fair number of energy transfers taking place — and radiation is just part of the picture.

    Please see:

    Earth’s energy budget diagram. Incoming sunlight is on the left; outgoing infrared or “longwave” radiation is on the right.
    Credits: From Kiehl, J. T. and Trenberth, K. E. (1997). “Earth’s Annual Global Mean Energy Budget”. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Association 78: 197-208.
    http://www.windows.ucar.edu/earth/Atmosphere/images/earth_rad_budget_kiehl_trenberth_1997_big.gif

    … which I got from:

    Global Warming, Clouds, and Albedo: Feedback Loops
    http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/earth/climate/warming_clouds_albedo_feedback.html

    This diagram might help in part because it is showing that thermal energy enters the atmosphere not simply by means of radiation, but also by means of thermals and latent heat. They are part of the equation.

    *

    You will notice that the majority of radiation which the atmosphere emits is in fact backradiation — with 324 W/m2 going to the surface but only 165 W/m2 going to space. This seemed puzzling to me, since the radiation which the atmosphere emits should show no preference with respect to direction.

    But as far as this diagram goes, it isn’t showing all of the absorptions and emissions which are taking place within the atmosphere itself. So while radiation which is emitted by the atmosphere from somewhere inside the atmosphere will show no preference for direction, this actually says very little about the final step where the radiation leaves the atmosphere either by being absorbed at the surface or escaping to space.

    This becomes particularly important when one considers the fact that most of the radiation which is absorbed by the atmosphere is actually thermal radiation which was emitted by the surface. Shortwave, visible sunlight is absorbed by the surface then reemitted as longwave thermal radiation. The atmosphere is thicker nearer the surface, so the energy won’t make it very far before it is absorbed by the atmosphere.

    Taking a random walk involving absorptions and emissions, it is more likely to make it back to the surface than to space — at least just after it has been emitted by the surface — since the optical thickness of the path to the surface will generally be much shorter than the optical thickness of the path to space (where by “optical thickness,” we are taking into account not just the distance, but the degree to which the atmosphere is opaque to radiation).

    *

    You write, “… just that in the energy exchange between the atmosphere and the surface that the surface loses more energy than it gains…”

    This is problematic.

    First, at equilibrium, the surface is neither gaining nor losing energy. So the real question is, “What shifts the equilibrium?” An atmosphere that becomes more opaque to thermal radiation will shift that equilibrium because it will reduce the rate at which thermal radiation is lost to space, requiring the surface to warm up so that the rate at which it emits radiation will increase enough that it will compensate for the increased opacity of the atmosphere — such that once the new equilibrium is achieved, the rate at which (thermal) energy enters the climate system equals the rate at which (thermal) energy leaves the climate system.

    *

    You write, “Any rise in surface temperature is an average rise because the thermal gradient is reduced.”

    There would seem to be an initial (“instantaneous”?) drop in thermal gradient – as the increased opacity of the atmosphere near the ground must result in more absorption of radiation by the atmosphere, raising the temperature at that level, but I am not sure how helpful this will be in terms of understanding the process. In fact, as the atmosphere becomes opaque in the lower troposphere, this will actually lower the temperature in the stratosphere as less thermal radiation is able to make it to the stratosphere — until the surface warms sufficiently to compensate for the increased opacity of the troposphere.

    *

    Despite its complexity, the greenhouse effect is well-understood, and not simply in terms of theory but detailed measurements. (“Well-understood” by the experts at least — my own understanding is a work in progress.)

    We are able to image the reemission of thermal radiation by the atmosphere at various wavelengths and at various altitudes using satellites, measure the concentrations of different greenhouse gases and even measure the altitude of land by means of the optical thickness of the atmosphere at a given wavelength. In fact, we are able to image concentrations of carbon dioxide at 8 km by means of the thermal radiation it emits — and see higher concentrations of carbon dioxide rising up from the more heavily populated coasts of the United States than from the surrounding areas.

    Please see:

    NASA AIRS Mid-Tropospheric (8km) Carbon Dioxide
    July 2003
    http://www-airs.jpl.nasa.gov/Products/CarbonDioxide/

    In fact, using the spectral data that the satellites collect from the thermal radiation, we are able to create animations showing the various processes which are at work in the atmosphere.

    Please see:

    AIRS > Multimedia > Animations
    http://www-airs.jpl.nasa.gov/Multimedia/Animations/

    … not that we are entirely dependent upon satellites for this sort of data — we are also able to measure the increase in infrared radiation at the surface — such as when water at the tropics rises above 85 F, and backradiation from “clear skies” water vapor tends to more quickly than the thermal radiation from the surface.

    For example:

    Observations in the tropical Atlantic ocean (11) show that the clear sky downwelling infrared flux incident on the surface (Fa-) also increases faster than the surface emission with increasing SST. The net result is further warming of the surface, which in turn induces additional heating of the atmosphere column above.

    Direct radiometric observations of the water vapor greenhouse effect over the equatorial Pacific Ocean
    F.P.J. Valero, W.D. Collins, P. Pilewskie, A. Bucholtz, and P.J. Flatau
    Science, 274(5307), 1773-1776, 21 March 1997

    Anyway, I hope this helps.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 22 Dec 2007 @ 5:01 PM

  488. Ah, never mind Gary. I found where you’re discussing this at CA.
    Did you notice McI said there: “The problem with the thermodynamic discussions is not that they are dissenting “opinions” but that they tend to be “opinions”….” It’s hard to get to the science.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Dec 2007 @ 5:10 PM

  489. And this ought to wrap up the thermodynamics — an invitation from Dr. Curry to readers (at CA) to pose specific questions, after they’ve read her textbook on the subject. Good reading:
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2517#comment-181548

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Dec 2007 @ 5:18 PM

  490. thank you all for your time and effort on this.

    Comment by Gary Moran — 23 Dec 2007 @ 10:25 AM

  491. Gary, I don’t know if this will help you, but the way I think of it is this: Matter tends to radiate roughly with a blackbody spectrum. So where does the blackbody spectrum come from? It is the equilibrium distribution of a photon gas. However, photons don’t interact with each other, so the only way the photon gas can come to equilibrium is by interacting with the matter around it. Thus, the photons wind up (more or less) in thermal equilibrium with the matter around them as well. Since no matter is a perfect absorber, the photon gas can only interact with the matter in those wave bands where the matter can absorb photons.
    In the IR spectrum where Earth radiates thermally, most gasses are inert. It’s only the greenhouse gasses that can absorb photons and modify the photon spectrum. Since temperature decreases as you go up in the atmosphere, it makes sense that in the greenhouse IR absorption bands, the photons emitted must be at a lower temperature than the noninteracting photons. In fact at low altitudes, most excited ghg molecules don’t re-emit photons at all, but rather relax collisionally. So if we look at Earth from space in the CO2 band, we see radiation at a much lower temperature than if we look well away from that band, because the IR photons only manage to escape if they originate high in the troposphere or lower stratosphere.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Dec 2007 @ 1:40 PM

  492. Gary (490),

    I don’t know how much I might have helped you, but just to let you know, you helped make certain things a little more clear to me.

    The way in which I had been thinking of the greenhouse effect was that by raising the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, one increases the opacity of the atmosphere to thermal radiation. Infrared absorbed by carbon dioxide is emitted, with much of it being absorbed by the surface leading to moist air convection which in turn warms the atmosphere. In fact, this is the essential process as I have described it a number of times on the blog.

    However, what didn’t fully click for me was the fact that when thermal radiation from the surface is absorbed by carbon dioxide, it is warming the atmosphere. So even at this stage, the atmosphere is being warmed — prior to thermals or moist air convection — prior to even the additional warming of the surface itself. I think part of the problem for me was that I was still holding on to a false dichotomy between line radiation and blackbody radiation — where I was thinking of blackbody radiation as thermal radiation but was failing to fully think of the line radiation emitted by greenhouse gases as thermal radiation.

    But thermal radiation is generally somewhere in between. There are no perfect black bodies, and line/band-radiation is always somewhat spreadout. And the thermal radiation of the atmosphere itself (with numerous gases) is actually already beginning to look a lot like black body radiation, a great deal more so at least than the spectra of a single gas. Additionally, viewing it in the way is more of a piece when you get into vibrational, rotational and rovibrational temperatures a little further on when analyzing the greenhouse effect in terms of radiation transfer theory and the underlying quantum mechanics, that is, quantized states of molecular excitation.

    Now at least in what is called a local thermodynamic equilibrium (generally at pressures of 10 mb or above), there will be a million or more collisions for any molecule per half-life of any of the relevant excited states. As such, the collisions will bring these exotic vibrational, rotational and rovibrational temperatures into equilibrium with the the translational temperature — in much the same way that different gases in the same parcel of atmosphere will be the same temperature. In fact, this is essentially what we mean by local thermodynamic equilibrium — that the Planck-Boltzmann temperature of the radiation which interacts with the atmosphere is the same as the Maxwell temperature of the matter with which it interacts.

    As such, when the radiation gets absorbed by the atmosphere, it is thermalized — quickly lost by the individual molecules to the surrounding atmosphere by molecular collisions. However, what greenhouse gases lose to molecular collisions they may also gain by molecular collisions. CO2 and water vapor will lose energy in collisions with oxygen and nitrogen, but they will also acquire energy through such collisions. Furthermore, since we are talking about half-lifes, molecules which are in an excited state have no memory of how long they have been in an excited state. Therefore so long as a certain percentage are in an excited state at any given time, a certain percentage will be emitting over any given period of time.

    *

    Incidentally, I think we both best avoid trying to understand the thermal interaction between the atmosphere and the surface in terms of a thermal gradient. If at certain parts of the spectra, the atmosphere is transparent at the lower levels but opaque at the upper levels, it is as if lower levels don’t even exist for those parts of the spectra. And if so, the radiation won’t heat the lower level, but instead there will be the transfer of thermal energy between the surface and the layer which is opaque to the radiation for those parts of the spectra.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 23 Dec 2007 @ 3:13 PM

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