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  1. Nice response. My sense is that the criticisms of warming will become hot and heavy not that it seems world opinion is changing. Best be prepared formany more of these. Systems always try to resist change.

    Bob Doppelt

    Comment by Bob Doppelt — 18 Oct 2007 @ 7:05 PM

  2. What is a good analog for the future if it is not the past?

    [Response: "There is no precedent in the past 2.5 million years for so much warming so fast." David]

    Comment by Peter Namtvedt — 18 Oct 2007 @ 7:17 PM

  3. One certain way to tell if someone is lying is if their story keeps changing–and when those changes become cyclic as with the WSJ editorial page, you can be sure not only of their mendacity, but also of their limited creativity. Were they hoping we wouldn’t remember having shot down the one about how it’s all the sun, or it’s all a cycle or the one about how CO2 is fertilizer. It would appear that the WSJ has itself been peddling fertilizer, and I for one would like to prevail on Mr. Murdoch to get out of the business once and for all. It is time to send the whole lot on the WSJ editorial board out to spend more time with their families.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Oct 2007 @ 7:30 PM

  4. Good debunking.
    You might like this debunking of another dubious WSJ piece, this one on geo-engineering.
    http://climateprogress.org/2007/10/18/geo-engineering-remains-a-bad-idea/

    Comment by Joe Romm (ClimateProgress.org) — 18 Oct 2007 @ 7:34 PM

  5. Great work David. They are the mouthpiece of denial in the newspaper world even when their own reporters do stories make make fools of the editorial page. Doesn’t faze them. Notice they tap the eldest like Gray. It’s no accident. They need old world thinking. Done.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 18 Oct 2007 @ 7:42 PM

  6. I would also question whether the statement of “climate change of the last 2.5 millinoyears didn to lead to extinctions” As data support, he cites the megafaunal extinctions of North American and the decline of tree diversity in Europe. I’d like to see a little more evidence of analysis backing up this claim.

    Comment by Taber Allison — 18 Oct 2007 @ 7:49 PM

  7. No extinctions?

    No more mammoths and mastodons, no more North American camilids, no more North American ground sloths, no more North American lions, no more saber-tooth tigers, no more dire wolves, no more short-faced bears, no more large bison, no more Irish deer.

    And that’s just some of the mega-mammals gone extinct near the beginning of the Holocene. I’m sure a complete list of the (known) extinctions in the last 2.5 million years is considerably more extensive.

    [Response: True, but to be fair, my understanding is that many of these guys had survived many glacial cycles, and only succumbed when we arrived. It wasn't the weather that killed them. David]

    Comment by David B. Benson — 18 Oct 2007 @ 7:55 PM

  8. While I agree with your response, candidly, the blog entry wasn’t up to RealClimate’s usual excellent standards. In particular I had a difficult time following which were Botkin’s points and which were your rebuttals when you advertised up front that “We’ll summarize some of his points and then take our turn”.

    That having been said, comparisons with the past will never be precisely informative since the climate system is complicated enough to have many noticeable microstates. Comparisons with the deep past may well be informative since the effects of those microstates are blurred by measurement noise, and as long as the comparisons with recent history are understood to have large bands of statistical variation.

    People don’t like using models, since they fear these are susceptible to manipulation and the models they know which are kind of similar are the weather forecasting models meteorologists use. Nevertheless, IMO, we don’t have a lot of choice but to use structurally sound and well calibrated models, and project as best we can. I only wish we had gads more money and time to invest in the geophysics and oceanography of them. It wouldn’t hurt IMO to deliver to the field an emergency flood of funding, given the importance of the outcomes.

    But I suspect people in power know what’s about to come, and would rather bet on managing policy based upon ignorance than trying to manipulate it when there are one or more smoking guns in hand.

    Comment by ekzept (Jan Theodore Galkowski) — 18 Oct 2007 @ 7:55 PM

  9. Peter Namtvedt –

    The future has humans in it (we can hope); the past did not.

    Here’s a good place to start thinking about the difference:

    http://www.davidbrin.com/

    “In a time of increasing political polarization, I have urged (in my most recent essay, “The Ostrich Papers”) that we look past the simplistic and outdated “left-right political axis.” Yes, there is madness going on. But I suggest that the cure is not bitter “culture war.” Rather, moderate and decent citizens of the Enlightenment need to reach out to other decent people — even those who have swallowed nonsense. At stake is preserving a nation of modern confidence from a looming dark age.”

    http://www.davidbrin.com/ostrich.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Oct 2007 @ 7:56 PM

  10. The WSJ piece is classic Botkin: some science, some stuff that sounds like science but isn’t, self-promotion and specious reasoning. It’s hard to pick out the clearest nonsense, but it might be where he correctly observes that orangutans “are endangered because of deforestation.” and then says “In our fear of global warming, it would be sad if we fail to find funds to purchase those forests before they are destroyed, and thus let this species go extinct.” He’s apparently oblivious to the fact that there is no conflict between protecting orangutan habitat and responding to the threat of climate change. Avoiding tropical deforestation is a high-priority strategy for reducing CO2 emissions.

    Peter Namtvedt – If you go back 50 million years or so, there may have been comparable levels of atmospheric CO2, but there weren’t more than 6 billion (and growing) humans with their infrastructure and the variety of stresses (pollution, habitat fragmentation, etc.) they’ve imposed on the natural world. There is no precedent for where we’re headed.

    Comment by Rick Brown — 18 Oct 2007 @ 7:59 PM

  11. This is the same Wall Street Journal that in a recent editorial on the Nobel
    Peace Prize did not mention even once Al Gore’s name in the entire text. What
    can you expect from a rightwing financial rag that exists to protect the
    rich and wealthy corporations from losing what they have?

    Comment by Danny Bloom — 18 Oct 2007 @ 8:03 PM

  12. David,

    Botkin also writes “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…”

    Would you characterize today’s models as crude?

    [Response: If the weatherman says 99% chance of rain, do you take an umbrella? David]

    Comment by robert — 18 Oct 2007 @ 8:20 PM

  13. Also interesting:

    http://money.aol.com/news/articles/_a/former-wall-street-journal-chief-will/n20071015130509990041

    “2007-10-15 13:05:48
    “NEW YORK (AP) – A new venture backed by philanthropists will start publishing investigative journalism articles beginning next year, looking to fill a gap left as newspapers cut costs…. called ProPublica, will be headed by Paul Steiger, who was managing editor of The Wall Street Journal until earlier this year, the group said in a statement Monday….

    “Steiger said in a statement that the group would produce stories about business and government as well as unions, universities, hospitals and other centers of power. ….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Oct 2007 @ 8:24 PM

  14. I have been trying for two weeks to implore some smart person to answer this question: What will be the environmental consequences in terms of climate change as the developing world accelerates their exploitation of fossil fuels? The developing world is hugely more populous than the developed world, and the developed world can hardly tell those countries what to do about their emissions. China is only the beginning of the impact the developing world will have on global warming in the coming decades. Can anybody educate me on this?

    Comment by Laura Wrzeski — 18 Oct 2007 @ 8:25 PM

  15. “There is no precedent in the past 2.5 million years for so much warming so fast”

    Please excuse my ignorance, but what is the basis for this assertion?

    thanks, Steve

    [Response: Ice core records, mainly. There was something like global warming 55 million years ago, the Paleocene Eocene thermal maximum event, but it's not clear if the CO2 went up in a hundred years or in ten thousand years. So it might not have been as sudden a climate change, or as severe an ocean acidification. David]

    Comment by Steven — 18 Oct 2007 @ 8:26 PM

  16. My monitor is 640X480. Please put your margins back the way they were last week.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 18 Oct 2007 @ 8:53 PM

  17. Re: 12,

    David, thanks, but I was actually referring to the AOGCMs, not weather models.

    My point is, Botkin is implying today’s modelers view todays climate models as crude. My sense is, that’s not the case. In fact, I’ve seen the word “sophisiticated” bantered about. This is an important point, because one of the strongest attacks from the contrarian universe goes something like “All this anthropogenic stuff comes strictly from models, and you can’t trust the models because they’re crude.”

    Now, I understand that the anthropogenic evidence is not confined to models. However, by implying they’re crude in his column, Botkin reinforces this particular attack. I just wanted to have some of the RealClimate modelers address this point directly:

    Would you all characterize your models as crude?

    [Response: I think the models do a good job of simulating things that can be observed in nature, in the past and in the present. The models pass all kinds of tests. What do you mean crude? The models are clearly up to the task of concluding that global warming has started already, and will have a significant impact on societies and ecosystems in the future if CO2 keeps rising. Economic models are crude, climate models are fine. David]

    Comment by robert — 18 Oct 2007 @ 9:01 PM

  18. If you knew Dr. Botkin as well as I do, you might think twice about trying to tear him apart. The ecological community in his hood and at UCSB is one of the top ones in the world and has led over the past 35 years to quite a few breakthroughs for environmentalists and ecological awareness in general. Without Botkin and a certain circle of folks (including me) things like the CEC, Mesa Project cum Gildea Center, etc never would have gotten started. The truth is, even the Green / Eco subculture is split on this topic. There is not even consensus amongst card carrying environmentalists regarding how to approach AGW and other elements of Climate Change.

    [Response: I have no comment on Botkin's contributions to ecology. But claiming that global warming is nothing to worry about because the medieval climate was kind to the vikings is not impressive scholarship. David]

    Comment by SteveSadlov — 18 Oct 2007 @ 9:06 PM

  19. I thought it odd that he showed concern about species, like orangutans, going extinct because of deforestation — claiming we should spend money to halt such extinctions from non-global warming causes, rather than on mitigating global warming.

    I thought preserving forests from deforestation was one of the ways to slow down global warming. I thought global warming was in fact partly to blame for deforestations (through greater drought/evaporation & fiercer winds).

    This reminds me of some 7 years ago when I wanted to tackle global warming via our church evironmental committee. A member “scientist” fiercely fought me on the issue that AGW was real. Then I said, well let’s just focus on solutions. She was very happy helping to launch water conservation and energy conservation campaigns — for other reasons. So we ended up best of friends, pulling together in the same directions, rather than slugging it out.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 18 Oct 2007 @ 9:07 PM

  20. To: 14. Laura Wrzeski: See:
    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
    Nuclear power is the safest.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 18 Oct 2007 @ 9:10 PM

  21. Book: “Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism” edited by Petto & Godfrey, 2007. Page 368:
    1. Creation science has grown out of a perception that evolutionary theory [representing science in general] threatens the conservative Protestant moral and ethical belief system.
    2. Creation scientists in practice follow a model of science that differs dramatically from that embraced by modern science.
    Page 372:
    Leon Festinger’s theory of Cognitive Dissonance: “Disconfirmation of a strongly held conviction actually reinforces belief and leads to increased proselytizing activity.”

    I suggest a change in strategy. I’m still reading the above book. I hope it has another strategy. For those of you at universities, could you please consult your local Psychology departments for ideas?

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 18 Oct 2007 @ 9:32 PM

  22. [Response: True, but to be fair, my understanding is that many of these guys had survived many glacial cycles, and only succumbed when we arrived. It wasn’t the weather that killed them. David]

    Are they saying the cavemen (hunters) caused the extinctions all by themselves, and that the extinctions only occurred outside a glacial cycle? Somehow I doubt that, but if true, fine.

    Perhaps the climate change created circumstances in which certain species could no longer sustain themselves against the pressure of humans hunting them (limited range, meat replacing vegetation in the human diet, the dwindling of the prey’s food sources, etc.). If so, can it really be said that hunters did the killing to extinction without the involvement of climate change?

    Would an ice age have to freeze nearly all of them to death (or some other calamity associated with climate change being the instrument of death) in order for climate change to be tagged with causing the extinction? I just don’t see how climate change could be exclusively uninvolved.

    Comment by J.C.H. — 18 Oct 2007 @ 9:39 PM

  23. This is a nice response. It seems more and more that we will be fighting the “middle ground” with people: Bjorn Lomborg in the Washington Post, Pat Michaels in basically everything that comes out of his mouth, and now Daniel Botkin.

    At least we’re past trying to convince them that it’s happening. Progress.

    Comment by A. Fritz — 18 Oct 2007 @ 9:47 PM

  24. As I recall the idea is that if you have a slow breeding large species that requires a large hunting foraging range, introduction of hunters can wipe them out over a long period of time (you only have to knock the species back below replacement in any area, since there are not a lot of animals in any area, a few kills is sufficient.

    Anyhow, the problem is not considered closed, and climate probably did play an important part, but it looks more and more the case that human hunters were the most important factor. See, for example, http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/306/5693/70
    Assessing the Causes of Late Pleistocene Extinctions on the Continents Anthony D. Barnosky,1* Paul L. Koch,2 Robert S. Feranec,1 Scott L. Wing,3 Alan B. Shabel1

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 18 Oct 2007 @ 10:00 PM

  25. September 28, 2007 · In a paper published this week, scientists say they have evidence that a comet or other low-density space object exploded in the upper atmosphere of the Earth about 13,000 years ago. They think the explosion may have led to the extinction of woolly mammoths and the decline of Stone Age people.

    Peter Schultz, professor of Geological Sciences at Brown University

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14799209

    “All the large mammals that once populated the North and South Americas disappeared suddenly right about the estimated time of the extra-terrestrial impact.

    “All the elephants, including the mastodon and the mammoth, all the ground sloths, including the giant ground sloth – which, when standing on its hind legs, would have been as big as a mammoth,” said Professor James Kennett, from the University of California in Santa Barbara.

    “All the horses went out, all the North American camels went out. There were large carnivores like the sabre-toothed cat and an enormous bear called the short-faced bear.”
    http://www.smm.org/buzz/buzz_tags/comets

    That’s the most recent of several possibilities

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Oct 2007 @ 10:04 PM

  26. re 14

    While I’m far from qualified to educate anyone on the subject, I recall E.O. Wilson suggesting that what we’re attempting to do is create a global civilization that requires the resources of three or four earths.

    Can’t happen.

    But if you are really curious, I would suggest Jared Diamond’s book “Collapse” as a good place to explore the concept of civilization vs sustainability.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 18 Oct 2007 @ 10:25 PM

  27. I’ve puzzled for some time about this resistance of certain segments of our society with deeply vested economic interests not to want to accept the reality of GW and the changes it may mean…and that’s really what it comes down to – resistance to a potentially Big change. The readers of the WSJ are not typically inclined to like to hear about Big Change, as it may put at risk their financial security. Better to offer in your publication denials or rebuttals to notions of any change, making readers feel better about things, and to look away toward the clear sky when the storm clouds are gathering rapidly just behind you. What shall the WSJ write when the first claps of thunder are heard so close that denial of the GW storm crisis is impossible even for the naysayers?

    Comment by R. Gates — 18 Oct 2007 @ 11:08 PM

  28. Plants and animals survived past changes in climate by either adapting or moving to areas within their climate envelope. Today habitats around the world have been fragmented into small and isolated fragments. Animals and plants may not be able to disperse fast enough or at all in these fragmented landscapes to escape extinction.

    Comment by Peter Houlihan — 18 Oct 2007 @ 11:09 PM

  29. http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/104/41/16016

    “Eat up all my lovely sloths, will you? Take _that, you greedheads!”

    Hmmm, if so we’re due again…

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Oct 2007 @ 11:43 PM

  30. When Wall Street is under water perhaps the Wall Street Journal will come to its senses.This will occur just after the methal hydrates at the bottm of the world’s ocean release their gases, and just after the Siberian peat moss melts.But, no doubt,even then, the Wall Street Journal will find a way to continue with its idiotic, non scientific jargon.Even a 5th grader could pick apart their arguments.I’m really sorry the world has to put up with their antics.The Wall Street Journal manages to make a very bad crisis, global warming, even worse, by printing this dreck. Once again, thanks, Republican party, for making a truly bad situation even worse.

    Comment by Mark J. Fiore — 19 Oct 2007 @ 12:04 AM

  31. RE: Post 15 Response.
    The assertion that there is no precedent in the past 2.5 million years for so much warming so fast , based on ice core data, is unsupportable. You even admit as much by (truthfully) stating the ice cores can’t differentiate between a hundred years and a thousand years. It is apples and oranges to compare ice cores to the reliable physical measurements we have only been able to do for the last century or so.

    I enjoy reading this web site and the associated blogs. You are to be complemented for allowing the free flow of opinions. I consider myself a skeptic. Not that warming or CO2 are increasing, which I believe the data clearly shows, but with the corallary assertions that a) man is the problem, b) the current rate of change is unprecedented and will continue, c) it’s a crisis, and d)we can realistically do anything about it.

    It must be disconcerting to many of the regulars on this site that the vaunted “consensus” that so many say exists, is disproved by the breadth of posts to be found here, and the credentials of those posting. Sweet.

    [Response: Ice cores can resolve just a few years. There are no ice cores from the time I was mentioning, 55 million years ago. Truthfully. David]

    Comment by EricM — 19 Oct 2007 @ 12:41 AM

  32. It is always worth remembering that Editorial (or Idiotorial) is often very separate from news, and this is especially true of the WSJ. It has many excellent reporters, and prints very straightforward stories that accept AGW, like the recent one on the growth of Canadian wineries. Anyway, I suggest that when people *mean* WSJ OpEd, say that, not just WSJ. (We just went through all this over in Deltoid).

    Comment by John Mashey — 19 Oct 2007 @ 12:49 AM

  33. I took a Proquest tour (courtesy of the UC library system) through the Wall Street Journal looking for unbiased articles on global warming, and found three out of the first hundred hits on “global warming”:

    Next CO2 Worry: Less Absorption; Oceans’ Diminished Power To Sop Up Gas May Result In More of It in Atmosphere, Gautam Naik. Wall Street Journal. May 18, 2007. p. B4

    Huge Dust Plumes From China Cause Changes in Climate, Robert Lee Hotz. Wall Street Journal Jul 20, 2007. p. B1

    Study Links Destruction of Coral to Global Warming, Gautam Naik. Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2007. p. A12

    3% isn’t doing so well. I did read some very curious things – such as an interview with Democrat John Dingell, who seems to be doing everything he can to sabotage clean energy standards, titled “Some Inconvenient Truths.”

    Then I searched with the added tag, ‘editorials’. Ouch. Not a single unbiased result. Here are some quotes:
    Climate of Opinion, Feb 5, 2007
    “The models didn’t predict the significant cooling the oceans have undergone since 2003 — which is the opposite of what you’d expect with global warming. Cooler oceans have also put a damper on claims that global warming is the cause of more frequent or intense hurricanes.”

    That was the study that suffered from flawed temperature sensors on the ARCO floats…the WSJ didn’t see fit to publish a correction…

    Hockey Stick on Ice Feb 18, 2005:
    “Yet there were doubts about Mr. Mann’s methods and analysis from the start. In 1998, Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard- Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics published a paper in the journal Climate Research, arguing that there really had been a Medieval warm period.”

    That would be the same Sallie Baliunas who claimed in 1997 that “Changes in the Sun can account for major climate changes on Earth for the past 300 years, including part of the recent surge of global warming”. The sun cycle was supposed to max out in 2000, leading to a cooling trend that would shock climate scientists… this is pretty well debunked by RC here, among other places.

    Snow and Unilateralism Feb 18, 2003:
    “25 years ago, long before the term “global warming” became chic, plenty of smart people were more concerned about the prospect of a mini-Ice Age. The evidence at the time included such omens as summer frosts in the Upper Midwest that killed crops before they could be harvested.”

    Emissions Impossible? Jul 23, 2001:
    “Why require the nations of this planet to spend the hundreds of billions of dollars necessary to reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions when we don’t even know if the earth’s climate is getting permanently hotter or if that temperature change is caused by human activity or if that change is even dangerous?”

    Now, that one is notable – there you have the fossil fuel lobby’s public relations fallback positions all lined up in one sentence: it’s not happening, we didn’t do it, and if we did, it’s a good thing.

    Bombed by the Beeb Sep 2, 1999:
    “…even if we were to concede the alarmists’ claim that the earth’s temperature might rise one degree Fahrenheit in the next 100 years, we can see nothing terrible about having more palm trees in Scotland.”

    Classic Political Effect Nov 17, 1998:
    “All this is taking place even as the science becomes more muddled — and intriguing. Scientists are beginning to suspect that global warming may in fact may be a direct function of the sun itself.”

    This Is CNN? Oct 3, 1997:
    “Last July, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt lost it when he claimed that “oil companies and the coal companies in the U.S. have joined in a conspiracy to hire pseudo scientists to deny the facts.” (Babbitt was right – and they’re still at it)

    And going all the way back to 1992 (summary): “An editorial criticizes an EPA study on global warming that concluded that the main answer to global warming is population control in Third World countries.”

    Just as with hurricanes and global warming, no single WSJ editorial can, in isolation, demonstrate bias (on the part of the paper’s owners) – but the long-term trend is a different story.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 19 Oct 2007 @ 1:00 AM

  34. re my #15
    thanks for the response. I don’t understand how the ice core sampling has the temporal resolution to be able to see fast warming or cooling transients in the temperature reconstruction? Considering the recent trend is over decades rather than centuries. With no disrespect, I presume I am either missing something with regards to the sampling methodology or that your assertion that ‘there is no precedent in the past 2.5 million years for so much warming so fast’ is scientifically unsound.

    am I missing something?, Steve

    [Response: The highest resolution ice cores, such as those in Greenland, have countable annual layers in the ice. The bubbles are affected by mixing of the air through the firn, above the close-off depth of the bubbles, so they smooth things out some. There's no good CO2 data from the Greenland cores, unfortunately, because of contamination with CaCO3 dust releasing CO2, but there's good CO2 data in Antarctica. Dating the cores in Antarctica has been done by matching methane signals with the well-dated Greenland cores. The CO2 transitions in Antarctica take at least 1000 years, for some of the smaller ones, and maybe 10,000 years for the full transition from low glacial values to higher interglacial values. David]

    Comment by Steven — 19 Oct 2007 @ 1:53 AM

  35. Moving the goal posts is the bane of scientists. It is the trademark of self-identified skeptics. If your argument simultaneous states there is no GW, there is GW but it is natural, there is AGW but its effects will be benign, you are not a scientist. You are a charlatan. Scientists do not write papers like lawyers write briefs.

    Comment by Doug Watts — 19 Oct 2007 @ 3:18 AM

  36. Re #14 & #26

    E. O. Wilson isn’t the only influential thinker that considers we are in big trouble!

    China: Forcing the World to Rethink Its Economic Future
    Convincing new evidence from China shows that its existing fossil-fuel-based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy cannot sustain progress much longer. Lester Brown will look at both China’s current consumption of basic resources, which now exceeds that of the U.S., and at China’s future consumption in 2031 when its income is projected to reach that of the U.S. today. Dr. Brown will discuss ways to restructure the global economy so that it can sustain economic progress through renewable energy, the reuse and recycling of materials, and a diverse transport system.
    http://tinyurl.com/32j84d

    The Worldwatch Institute’s ‘The State of the World Report’, issued annually. [2003 version and earlier are free downloads.]

    ‘The State of the World Report’, has been described as: “The most comprehensive, up-to-date, and accessible summaries…on the global environment.” – E. O. Wilson.

    Comment by ScaredAmoeba — 19 Oct 2007 @ 3:37 AM

  37. Re #2

    Hi Peter, I just wanted to add to what David said.

    The reason we can’t measure the future by the past is because this is a human caused event. In the history of the world, no species on earth has dug up oil and coal, and burned it as fuel to run cars and factories.

    The human race has altered the historical natural cycle through industrial means.

    Re #14

    Laura, I doubt there is a scientific basis to answer your question other than by extrapolation and logic. Developing without constraint will likely exacerbate and further the exponential acceleration leading to other interesting problems referred to as tipping points.

    http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2007/danger_point_prt.htm

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/08/musings-about-models/

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

    http://researchpages.net/ESMG/people/tim-lenton/tipping-points/

    Mainly you need to study. The things we might expect are global, not regional in the scope of ramification.

    I am not an expert, therefore take my words as my perspective based on my examinations thus far.

    What I would expect is:

    Larger climate momentums fed by increased heat energy stored on earth due to trapped greenhouse gasses. i.e. stronger hurricanes, bigger snow storms, decertification, floods, droughts.

    The area between the tropic of Cancer and Capricorn, in the future, if we don’t do something to minimize the effects of our actions that are mainly contributing to the problem of Global Warming, will likely become less and less habitable over time (this has already begun, so expect increasing regional competition and violence for more limited resources especially food and water).

    The floods and droughts as well as decertification will contribute to strains on the economy by virtue of diminished resources in multiple areas, (again unless we figure out some way to counter or minimize the effect). Migration of agricultural systems will be an intersting challenge as climate shifts in the latitudes.

    Well those are just some of the things that seem likely based on what I see. Hope that helps you look deeper and find out more. Try to stick to reading material form peer reviewed scientists that are considerate of the big picture, and not the minutia or limited scope analysis.

    Re#14 and #26

    I believe I heard the 4 earths reference in a speech at one of the IPCC AR4 presentations also. Don’t recall the name.

    #18

    Steve, if Dr. Botkin is not reviewing all the arguments and evidence and is still relying on papers and data that has already been strongly refuted by IPCC and a review group of 2500 scientists, well, that sort of makes his perspective more irrelevant to a common sense point of view. It also would put him in a class of climate science that I would have to say should not be paid attention to.

    #27

    R. Gates, I believe it is a delaying tactic that likely has multiple motives: money (retaining profits in current resource revenue stream); More money (while many are researching other ways to make money in clean energy)

    Market forces will prevail, but how much damage will have been done is an unfortunate reality. The main problem which Dr. Hansen pointed out and many others is the lag effect of what we are doing; So when it is in full force and everyone says hey, we have to do something; we will have put so much inertia in the system that the future effects will be challenging at the least and devastating on many levels at the worst.

    It is a gamble of mankind on a craps table; and the dice are now loaded against us. Unfortunately we are all at the table and can not step away from the results of the next role of the dice, because we (most humans) are not holding the dice (they are held by government, corporations and an energy system that industrial nations adopted in their pursuits of advancement). Clear challenges lie ahead.

    #31

    EricM, you probably believe the media rather than the science. It is interesting to point out that when people examine the issue they are mainly looking at the media, not the science. This is a difficult one to get past. I for one don’t give the media much credit in their ability to deal with relevant subjects as they prefer controversy to sell their product. More and more media are classified as Liberal Left and Conservative right which makes it even worse because some people tend to consider their politics like their religions and only pay attention to one side.

    As to you points:

    a) Man is clearly the problem.

    b) Current rate of change is less relevant than the cause (man). To say otherwise, example: lets say you forget to pick someone up when you said you would: so, to say otherwise is to say that you or we should not take responsibility for your/our actions, respectively. If you believe that people should not take responsibility for their actions are you willing to lobby that we should let all prisoners out of jail and disband the police and military? How far do you want to take that argument?

    c) It actually is a crisis and it will intensify as warming continues. This will strain the economies of the world and will be challenging to cope with.

    d) We absolutely can do something about it without hurting the economy and I believe that in fact efforts in mitigating economic strain are logically strengthening the economy. How else can you interpret it?

    You will not be a skeptic in the near future about these subjects. Like Global Warming it is inevitable. We have inexorably altered the future. Now the challenge is mitigating the effect and driving toward balance.

    I strongly believe we will meet the challenge, but not without consequences. It is the law of economics.

    Comment by John P. Reisman — 19 Oct 2007 @ 4:59 AM

  38. I think extinctions will be even greater in the future than in the the past because of restrictions in the movement of species across political borders and the speed of warming. Some species will not have access to migrate to other latitudes. It is OK for birds, fish and bacteria but what about large mammals and reptiles? Hippo bones were found in Northern England, I can’t see them being able to migrate to lands that aren’t going too arid for them. Already we are seeing reports in the news of migrant alien species being shot etc.

    Comment by Russ Hayley — 19 Oct 2007 @ 5:29 AM

  39. Reading the Botkin piece, I was struck by his anecdote re Northern Mockingbirds in Manhattan. He claims, based on a gardening column in the NY Times (this one I think: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/07/nyregion/thecity/07fyi.html?ref=thecity) that the birds have moved North following the spread of the Multiflora rose and not because of AGW. However, my understanding was the the spread of the latter was driven by warming temperatures…something about not being able to tolerate
    temps below minus 28(?) F. There are several hundred pairs of Mockingbirds now in the Toronto area, and our local experts suspect AGW. So, is there any link between the spread of the rose and AGW? I have been able to find nothing conclusive on the net.

    Comment by bigcitylib — 19 Oct 2007 @ 5:48 AM

  40. Re #31

    To clarify:

    re your point: b) the current rate of change is unprecedented and will continue,

    Current rate of change in context of your point is less relevant; current rate of change is relevant; more relevant is the future rate of change.

    Since this is non linear acceleration of Global Warming, meaning it is getting faster (no meaningful action to counter as yet), the relevance is actually quite immense, now, and more-so moving forward through time becoming exponentially more relevant in affect.

    Comment by John P. Reisman — 19 Oct 2007 @ 6:00 AM

  41. It always gets me when “skeptics” claime to be educated, but don’t realize a painfully obvious fact like “we can’t possibly have an ice core from 55 million years ago.”

    Comment by A. Fritz — 19 Oct 2007 @ 7:23 AM

  42. ” September 28, 2007 · In a paper published this week, scientists say they have evidence that a comet or other low-density space object exploded in the upper atmosphere of the Earth about 13,000 years ago. They think the explosion may have led to the extinction of woolly mammoths and the decline of Stone Age people.”

    I have long been fascinated by the increasing attempts over the last ten or so years to say that something other than humans caused the megafaunal extinctions.

    I should think that a comet exploding in the upper atmosphere would have wiped out megafauna in Eurasia, Africa, and Australia as well as in the Americas.

    Instead, Eurasia, Australia, and America each experienced such extinctions right about the time humans arrived on the scene. The American extinctions were especially quick, but I suspect that occurred because humans had already allied with dogs by that time, making an unbeatable hunting team.

    Once again, many people are just unwilling to face the fact that humans can make severe changes to their own environments. We have done it before and we are doing it again.

    Comment by Randy Ross — 19 Oct 2007 @ 7:26 AM

  43. Eric M. States: “The assertion that there is no precedent in the past 2.5 million years for so much warming so fast , based on ice core data, is unsupportable. You even admit as much by (truthfully) stating the ice cores can’t differentiate between a hundred years and a thousand years.”

    Eric, might I suggest a reading comprehension class–or at least a little homework on ice cores–before you make such sweeping statements. Ice cores have excellent resolution–like the rings on a tree. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but total ignorance is fatal.

    [Response: Note that the ice cores only go back 800,000 years, longer term you need to use the ocean sediment record such as the Liesicki and Raymo stack. What you see is dominated by the slow orbital timescales, but of course we do not have global mean temperature records at hundred year resolution. - gavin]

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Oct 2007 @ 7:56 AM

  44. Randy(#42),

    The thesis (if I remember correctly) was that the rock landed somewhere North of Lake Superior and triggered the Younger Dryas. Hence the effect on NA.

    Comment by bigcitylib — 19 Oct 2007 @ 7:59 AM

  45. It is highly probable that these mega fauna species were already under severe stress from climate change and human hunting pressures when the Younger Dryas Laurentide Clovis Impact occurred. It also nearly destroyed the the Clovis people and we have yet to work out any details of this scenario. Any absolute pronouncements are premature.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 19 Oct 2007 @ 8:02 AM

  46. It is disheartening to see such stuff in the WSJ period. Trying to tease out the difference between the OpEd. and the “real” news is a waste of time because the final impact on the public opinion of businesses that subscribe will not notice the difference.

    I would not underestimate the power of the WSJ to hinder progress in mobilizing America’s resources and gathering the necessary public opinion support from the man on the street. They, the WSJ are truly a formidable obstacle, (a worthy adversary?) As long as they can find individuals with some cloak of credibility to their readers, and give soothing words of “don’t worry yet folks, until we discuss the matter fully in our meetings” to seem rational and compromising… we have not seen the tipping point.
    Regards from Japan,

    Comment by Thomas — 19 Oct 2007 @ 8:09 AM

  47. I liked and understood your response. Of course, I’m on the Science side of the issue. . . WSJ is a corporation, an entity in an unreal non-physical system whose job and reason for existence is to promote one-dimensional profit. . . And we will have to change that, and the battle there is possibly more difficult than the one about the facts and the consequences. . .

    A transition away from the current structural organization of the corporation and the legal mechanisms that prevent it’s accountability to the society in which it exists — is coming. The Science is in. Sure, in a perfect world it (science-knowledge)would all be “firmly” grasped; so there are some minor details that need tweaking, but the species has the meat of this issue and further education, like being done here must continue, and must consider the solutions because of this knowledge.

    You guys, as well as I, sometimes come across as a bunch of “aloof nerds” narrowly focused on an explanation without a real suggestion as what to do to resolve the problems. This isn’t “simply” a problem with the details of the “science” any more. It is a “real problem,” looming. I’m asking you guys, to start working on the “real” problem. I’m not belittling the WSJ, but the WSJ “editorial group” and their selections for publication — is a dead horse, and needs no more beating. It’s corporation structure, on the other hand, does need beating and controlling. The education part is fine, guys. Now lets get to the real problem. . .It is not a need to convince the majority that there is a problem in anthropogenic activities — it is how to address, and solve the problem. RealClimate needs to sponsor a RealSolutions function.

    The austere future gets worse when deceptions like those published in the WSJ continue. It is a corporation. It needs to be brought to account. In fact, to exist, it needs to have the permission of the society. The major failure right now is a structural one. That is, the society must review and allow or deny the existence of the corporation. The one-dimensionality (profit only, measured by economic, not environmental responsibility of function) of the corporation is at fault. But that is a socially amendable structural condition.

    It reaches right into the heart of the WSJ’s transgressions in corporate responsibility. It really does strike “fear” in the hearts of those that sponsor the obvious transgressions. That is, what if they were held civilly and criminally responsible for their positions on issues that affect the species well-being?

    So what is at issue?

    The Corporation as legally structured by the society is at issue. A mechanism for the annual examination of corporate charters could be installed that allowed a social review of their activities with respect to the environment and to social “good.” Does the activity promote the general and overall survivability of the species and other life on the planet?

    Corporations need to be brought under social control, not fiscal control.

    Charters need to be revoked. Corporations that do not display active responsibility to the future of the species need to be dismantled and their assets converted to systems that will demonstrate social responsibility. Who decides that? The society itself. You have a lease on your life, your property, your ideas of freedom, and the choices you make — wholly constrained by your culture. To survive, cultures have to change to meet changes caused within them — else they do die. . . thy do go extinct.

    THAT is what strikes fear into the WSJ’s editors and corporate sponsors. That they are raping the world for the pleasure of a few — that they are polluting and stealing from the “commons” and that they might be held civilly and criminally responsible.

    It is not “just” about losing money any more. . .

    Oh, you think that we need more science to reach a judgment? Come on. Social Science is our hardest (most difficult) science, and absolutely essential to the anthropogenic climate forcing fact for a means of ameliorating the consequences. Do you see that?

    The science is in . . . judgment looms.

    Comment by LesPorter — 19 Oct 2007 @ 8:34 AM

  48. I am a Wall Street Journal subscriber (don’t shoot me…everything but the editorial page is well written) and have noticed something that was mentioned in a post previously, but thought I would point it out more specifically.

    The fact that writers in all of the other sections of the paper don’t even hesitate to cite GW as real and happening and now, but yet the editorial page consistently writes about it not. Do they think that readers of WSJ ONLY read the editorial page? Its baffling.

    Comment by Sinjin Eberle — 19 Oct 2007 @ 8:41 AM

  49. Before people hurl Botkin completely out of the solar system, I think it’s worth pointing out that he was a co-author of a review that was published in BioScience earlier this year about projections of climate-triggered extinctions. A lot of the leading researchers in this area were co-authors along with him.

    The paper pointed out a number of ways in which the projections should be improved (including a better understanding of extinctions, or lack thereof, in the past). The paper is available for free from BioScience here.

    I spoke to Botkin and a number of other scientists on this issue and wrote up an article that ran a couple months ago in the news section of Science. (I’ve posted it on my web site here.)

    Obviously, this particular aspect of Botkin’s op-ed is separate from Kilimanjaro, the joys of the Middle Ages, etc.

    Comment by Carl Zimmer — 19 Oct 2007 @ 9:01 AM

  50. Re #14

    Laura,

    What the developing world does is not important if the developed world continues with its growth. Even it the developing world stopped developing, the advanced nations will soon run out of resources, especially oil on which all our wealth is based. From leaf blowers to jumbo jets, and from home cookers to steel mills, they are all based on burning fossil fuels. Unless we are prepared to stop driving to the hyper market where we load up, and instead go shopping on a bicycle with a basket in front of the handle bars then we are all doomed!

    Of course some people in the underdeveloped world are already setting us a good example!

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 19 Oct 2007 @ 9:14 AM

  51. Carl #49, I tried the link, but it takes you to a press release, not a paper. I’m assuming one can find this directly at the AIBS web site.

    Thanks for the information.

    Comment by Taber Allison — 19 Oct 2007 @ 9:40 AM

  52. re 36

    Speaking of Lester Brown, you left out his “Outgrowing the Earth” present at this link broken down into sections in pdf format.

    http://www.earth-policy.org/Books/Out/Contents.htm

    The chapter on climate is interesting from a purely practical perspective:

    http://www.earth-policy.org/Books/Out/ch7_climate.pdf

    As are the chapters on Security, Water and so forth.

    Published in 2005, it’s well-cited, paragraph by paragraph, and a very uncomfortable book to read when you realize 2.5 years later a lot of what he was projecting near-term seems to have born itself out.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 19 Oct 2007 @ 9:46 AM

  53. Taber [51]–Whoops! Wrong link. Here is where you can grab the pdf of the extinction review:

    Comment by Carl Zimmer — 19 Oct 2007 @ 10:22 AM

  54. RE #47 – there are quite a few “RealSolutions” sites available:

    http://www.greencarcongress.com/

    http://biopact.com/

    http://www.solarserver.de/index-e.html

    http://www.solarbuzz.com/

    http://www.energy-daily.com/

    Of course, part of any renewable energy solution will have to involve ending the use of fossil fuels as well – meaning that, first and foremost, we’ll have to close down all the coal-fired power plants in the US, China, India, and so on. That will require a lot of international cooperation…

    Comment by Ike Solem — 19 Oct 2007 @ 10:23 AM

  55. I am a businessman I make money by providing services to people . many of the responders to this site should tell us how the make money we might have a better understanding their science and which institution they are paid by.ie gov or private enterprise.

    Comment by ken sponagle — 19 Oct 2007 @ 10:30 AM

  56. Les Porter, an answer to the problem of corporations in the US is the simple shift in paradigm: corporations are NOT legal persons and therefore have no RIGHTS, only privileges that can be revoked for cause. Robert Reich is advocating exactly this.

    http://robertreich.blogspot.com/

    Comment by catman306 — 19 Oct 2007 @ 10:33 AM

  57. Interesting spin from WSJ again. Let me understand this correctly – if not one single species is going to get extinct – there is no problem? As long as we have a few hundred polar bears left things are fine? They didn’t all die – hence global warming is no problem, a similar argument to the guy dressed in a tiger-fur arguing that tiger-hunting is no problem – there are after all plenty tigers in our zoos. Thus, our planet with a 2-4 degree fever imposed over 100 years is perfectly fine. Great! Problem solved. Why are my eyes watering – and why do I have the sensation that this will be a story told and retold through the foreseeable future?

    It is also interesting that when environmental stress is concerned all we worry about the mega-fauna (including myself using tigers and polar bears as examples). This concept is as anthropocentric as the definition of the medieval optimum is Eurocentric since I believe anyone trying to keep the Maya and Tiwanaku civilizations operating would oppose the view that this period was optimal.

    Finally, a reflection on the numerous people indicating that the world may have changed more rapidly in our past than at present: Since IPCC presented the SUP I have been wondering why it didn’t include the forcing rate-of-change over the last 20 kyr figure from chapter 6 (paleoclimate) that really shed light on rapid alteration. Put otherwise and maybe more relevant for the general reader – if we applied a conservative estimate of the temperature gradient since 1950, say 0.1 degrees per decade, to the shift from maximum glacial conditions 20.000 years ago to the beginning of our current interglacial (10.000 years ago) the deglaciation would have included a rather whopping 100 degree Celsius warming.

    Comment by Øyvind — 19 Oct 2007 @ 10:37 AM

  58. American Scientist is the magazine of Sigma Xi, a scientific research society to which many (probably most) research scientists in the US belong. In this respect it most closely resembles Physics Today, a pop physics thrill journal. Most articles are by invitation of the editors. I think your hair shirt is showing

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 19 Oct 2007 @ 10:40 AM

  59. Before everyone gets teary eyed about the WSJ news coverage, you should realize that Rupert Murdoch bought the WSJ a couple of months ago, and it is about to be Foxified.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 19 Oct 2007 @ 10:46 AM

  60. RE #39 & Botkin’s mention of Northern Mockingbirds moving north due to certain plants moving north (& not due to GW). It’s really shocking that a prominent ecologist is unable to think holistically.

    Global warming is not only about the air warming. It’s also about plants moving into new areas, more evaporation, greater droughts AND floods, greater storms, greater brush fires, greater deforestation. And then all the effects from these effects. And all the effects from these, and so on (including possible human genocide and wars).

    And, of course, GW is not the only problem we’re facing. There are lots of other environmental and non-environmental problems. And if you put them all together, my sense is they equal some much greater set of harms than the sum of the individual problems and harms. At least they could — and that’s where our focus should be.

    The good news is that many solutions not only mitigate GW, but also many other (environmental and non-environmental) problems, AND strengthen the economy (tho I realize the WSJ is not about economic issues in general, only about stocks going up & down, and “fear” is something they really fear).

    So it is just simply counterproductive to waste time debating which problems are worse. We just need to move on to solutions.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 19 Oct 2007 @ 10:54 AM

  61. Re 12 : David,

    Botkin also writes “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…”

    Would you characterize today’s models as crude?

    [Response: If the weatherman says 99% chance of rain, do you take an umbrella? David]

    My response would be if the weatherman said that it would rain tomorrow I would take an umbrella – if the weatherman said it would rain next week – I wouldn’t bother. That’s the problem with the models – weatherman can’t predict the weather with any accuracy more than 2 days in advance – so why should be believe the models that predict years or scores of year ahead?

    Comment by Chris — 19 Oct 2007 @ 11:01 AM

  62. #53 Reading some of Dr. Botkin’s publications gave me the feeling that he’s throwing rocks at his colleague’s predictions on AGW and extinctions because he believes the extinction threat is overblown. His personal comments reflect this attitude. I believe the threat is understated for many of the same reasons he cites; that is inaccuracies in the models now being used to predict the availability of habitat niches, both physical and biotic (controlled by interactions with other species), under future climate scenarios.

    We’re already in the midst of an exinction crisis without AGW. And extinction is only the last step a species takes on the long road of population decline.

    Survival of species during past climactic swings is not a good indicator of future survival under AGW because we are in control now. We, humankind, have profoundly changed the earth. Things will be different this time.

    Also, regarding the scientific publications on megafaunal extinctions; just because something is published in Science doesn’t mean it has credibility or is even good science as the CRay and Solar AGW debates have shown us. Waves of extinctions have followed human colonization coincident with it, whereever it has occurred. New Zealand, Hawaii, North America, South America, Madagascar. Those extinctions occurred at different times and the extinction events didn’t just occur to megafauna, but rather any class of animal or plant utilized by humans or otherwise tied to the habitat transformations humans caused (such as our vast use of fire). 50% of the birds native to Hawaii went extinct when that Island was colonized. Arguments for other causations fall flat.

    Comment by Andrew Sipocz — 19 Oct 2007 @ 11:03 AM

  63. First, surviving climate change comes down to growing enough food. Growing food on a large scale requires being able to predict the climate well enough to plan crops and cultural methods several years in advance.

    What crop are we going to be growing on THAT field in 5 years? What variety will do best? When do we plant to optimize germination? Do we plan to irrigate? Will we have water to irrigate? When will we harvest? These are questions that farmers answer based on experience with recent climate. If climate is changing, then farmers have less of a basis for answering these questions, and food production suffers.

    Farmers need to plan for seed, equipment, fertilizer, labor, pollination, and capital. Each of these factors requires multiyear planning. In a changing environment, it is harder to plan. At some rate of climate change, planning fails and food production fails. I would estimate that at current rates of return, famers could tolerate about 1 standard deviation of climate change per decade. With crop failures, food costs will go up, but despite higher prices, farmer’s incomes will go down, because they have more crop failures.

    Climate change makes farming much harder.WSJ seems to have forgotten what crop failure and famine look like. I guess the folks at the WSJ do not eat, or maybe they have never tried to grow food.

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 19 Oct 2007 @ 11:37 AM

  64. David, weathermen never say 99% chance of anything!

    Comment by Rod B — 19 Oct 2007 @ 11:39 AM

  65. Chris,
    Re #61. I’m not sure I understand your comment. It is not “weather” we are trying to predict decades into the future, but climate, and climate is largely a function of energy. We can predict with very high confidence that if current trends continue wrt greenhouse gas emissions, that the energy in the climate system in several decades will be significantly higher than it is today. That is different from making long-term predictions of a chaotic phenomenon like weather.

    I have noticed an alarming ignorance of the fundamentals of climate modeling among skeptics. They seem to think that models are “fit” to climate trends with lots of adjustable parameters. This is far from the truth. GCM actually have very little “wiggle room” to play with. Even a casual perusal of the descriptions of these models would acquaint the reader with this fact. As such, I can only conclude that they have not made such a casual effort.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Oct 2007 @ 11:44 AM

  66. This may not be the right thread for this question, but I was referred to this site by another blogger who was unable to answer my question.

    It seems to me, based on what I’ve read so far, that climate models do a fairly poor job of predicting climate reality. In other words, the models can be tweaked until they can predict the past pretty well, but they still don’t do well when it comes to predicting what the climate will do next.

    My take on this is that there’s something wrong with the hypothesis. Perhaps CO2 isn’t the problem after all, or perhaps there’s a lot more going on than is taken into account by the designers of the models.

    I have had proponents of the CO2/AGW hypothesis tell me that it appears the climate is warming even faster than the models predicted, therefore this is proof that the hypothesis is correct. I disagree. I say if the models don’t perform as expected, then there’s a problem with the hypothesis.

    Who is correct here? And where can I find some sort of ‘proof’ that the ‘CO2 causes global warming’ hypothesis is right?

    Comment by Ron — 19 Oct 2007 @ 11:45 AM

  67. re #61

    Chris, rather than throwing a bunch of links at you I will try to help you understand this with some other method.

    Let’s say you live on a railroad track and that track is called earth, so you can’t really jump off of it without a pretty decent supply of oxygen and some rather fantastic technology. For this portrait lets assume you don’t own NASA or any other space agency (guessing you don’t anyway).

    So, humans added billions of tons of Co2 (Nitorus oxide and methane along with a few others) to the atmosphere which makes the place warmer. This is called Global Warming and in this story, Global Warming is the train.

    So you live on the train track and the train is coming, the weatherman (rail-station employee) tells you that he’s not sure when it will hit you but it’s at least more than two days from now, maybe a week?

    So you say, I don’t need to get off the track for a week at least and by the time 6 days are over, I will know if the rain is coming for sure.

    The only problem is that the track is earth and the train is Global Warming. You can’t get off the track, none of us can.

    A real train running down a mountain loaded with, I don’t know, say coal, has a lot of weight. That weight translates to inertia and momentum. It’s pretty easy to get off a real train track though so you don’t have to worry about the train actually stopping before it hits you. You can just step off.

    That is not possible in the case of Global Warming, We can’t just step off the track. Likewise, burying your head in the sand is not going to help. Neurosis might feel good in a given moment but it is not a good cure for inevitability of ones own actions (that of the human race).

    Or are you one of those people that think that responsibility for ones actions is a bad thing and you should be able to get away with anything you want, no matter the consequences?

    So we can’t predict if it will rain tomorrow, but we can predict based on an overwhelming literal mountain of evidence that it is going to get warmer. And unless you know of some magic that is going to happen to stop it or some other event that will produce enough particulate matter in the upper atmosphere to mitigate global warming, say like volcanoes erupting regularly every 3-4 years or so, you might want to reconsider your position.

    Comment by John P. Reisman — 19 Oct 2007 @ 11:54 AM

  68. David said:

    There is no precedent in the past 2.5 million years for so much warming so fast.

    I dunno, the transition from the Younger Dryas into the Holocene was a decent sized temperature shift and occurred reasonably rapidly. For example, 5-10 degrees over a few decades, according to GRIP:

    http://icebubbles.ucsd.edu/Publications/YoungerDryas.pdf

    There are a few other terrestrial archives that show significant and rapid warming at this time. The multi-proxy study at Krakenes for example. Also, it’s probably reasonable to assume that there were other similar events during the Pleistocene, that we can’t resolve so well.

    Comment by SteveF — 19 Oct 2007 @ 11:56 AM

  69. catman306 (56), while it’s been up and down a couple of times, it turns out that corporations do have rights, though just a bit less than people. The Supreme Court ruled that gov’t can’t take corporate property without due process, e.g. This idea to appropriate corporations (and I assume you all would include partnerships and entrepreneurships, including farms (like those that don’t grow enough switchgrass, I suppose)) is right up the alley of criminally indicting and imprisoning any person who disagrees with the thrust. Fascism is such an efficient process.

    Comment by Rod B — 19 Oct 2007 @ 12:06 PM

  70. Human nature baffles me! We are watching the artic and antarctic melting. We are experiencing big changes in our weather, flooding hotter and longer summers, fires where they never were before due to droughts. We seem afraid to say the dirty word, “global warming” when this “different” weather is being described. I get mail and e-mail pleading for money to “Save the Polar Bears”. Can anyone tell me HOW, in real life that can be accomplished? We not only CANNOT suddenly stop driving our gasoline powered cars and CAN’T suddenly convert the world to non- polluting industries. We are and have been further delayed due to “big business” and government interests which deal in their short term interests rather than long term which might “jeapordize the economy” (Bush’s words, I beleive!). When you face the facts, we are doomed to creating more carbon dioxide as humans can’t, haven’t and won’t eliminate the problem of global warming in time. The polar bears are without a single doubt, doomed. There is no way that we can suddenly reverse the effects of global warming. We have absolutely no way to stop the ice at the poles from melting. In time Florida and all low lying coastal areas world wide WILL be under water. Droughts, fires, (which will and are adding still more co2 to the atmosphere), floods, hurricanes and tornados WILL increase. We ARE already experiencing the beginning effects of global warming. We have a compounded problem here, as when land becomes more and more uninhabitable, human beings will be forced to move into the remaining shrinking inhabitable spaces. We have done nothing to reduce human population, (actually, China with “one child only” has made an attempt) so more wars are inevitable as man fights over possesion of inhabitable land. Can anyone tell me that I am wrong in my observations? I doubt it. Al Gore and scientists can be commended for enlightening us about global warming, but I cannot see how in reallity our poor old world can be saved. It is already too late. We are already in the downward spiral, global warming which will be impossible to reverse. (I am not, by nature a negative person, just practical!)

    Comment by Beverley Bonner — 19 Oct 2007 @ 12:15 PM

  71. Ray (65), while I agree that much of the criticism of GCMs is too exessive and unrealistic, your defense of GCM is also. You said, “…GCM actually have very little “wiggle room” to play with….” You make it sound like the old saw that “it came from the computer so it has to be correct.” Are you seriously expecting us to believe that the people who wrote every line of code can’t wiggle any of it??

    Comment by Rod B — 19 Oct 2007 @ 12:18 PM

  72. Rod B:

    Weatherman never say 99% chance of anything!

    Right, they say 100%…

    See where it says 100% chance of showers today and tonight?

    However, despite David’s question, I don’t take my umbrella when the weatherman tells me it will rain. I’m from Portland, Oregon. Umbrellas are for wimps, Brits, and people from NYC … :)

    Comment by dhogaza — 19 Oct 2007 @ 12:25 PM

  73. RE whether climate models are crude and “If the weatherman says 99% chance of rain, do you take an umbrella?” I took this to mean that whether or not one says climate models are crude, the fact that they have reached pretty high levels of certainty is reason enough to start mitigating GW — just as we would take an umbrella when a weather model predicts rain (and everyone knows how unreliable weather forecasts can be).

    And has anyone noticed that the models have been improving greatly over time, as more computer power becomes available and hard-working scientists keep making improvements, adding factors and (I suppose) more complicated equations, and tweaking them, using evidence from the real world as it becomes available.

    I’m even flabbergasted by the weather models, and those 3D dopplers of hurricane cells, etc. It seems weather prediction has also been improving over time.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 19 Oct 2007 @ 12:39 PM

  74. To add to my above comment, I vaguely remember from high school physics some 45 years ago a chapter, “The Nature of Gas” (I think), and something about molecules in Brownian (unpredictable, erratic) motion, but that at a collective macro level the gas was predictable.

    I guess it’s not such an extreme distinction, but weather is much less predictable, and climate (which is the collective, macrolevel of weather) is much more predictable. So if we can take measures to mitigate problems from weather (like boarding up our homes and sand-bagging, because weathermen say we’re within the hurricane path), then we should all the more take seriously what climatologists are warning about climate change.

    A crude model is better than no model.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 19 Oct 2007 @ 1:01 PM

  75. Re: #12,#17, Robert: the reason why David didn’t want to answer your question (to which answers are readily found with a little digging on this site and others, hint: they are pretty good nowadays) is, that it would be enabling and legitimizing a criminally irresponsible risk management philosophy: “Let’s not do anything until we’re absolutely certain”. Imagine your physician to act like that.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 19 Oct 2007 @ 1:12 PM

  76. It sounds like the WSJ editorial pages, have gone from it aint happening, to OK it’s getting warmer but it’s not man made, to,hey! warming aint so bad, after all- anything to avoid putting the blame where it belongs, namely on the burning of coal,oil and gas. Once you admit that there’s a problem, then you need to take action to mitigate the damage, but anything that threatens the fossil fuel industry is anathema to the far right.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 19 Oct 2007 @ 1:12 PM

  77. Aaron, #63, has written a mouthful (pun intended). There is a lot of denial running rampant in our society today. What, other than denial, would allow us to see people watering their lawns in Atlanta when there is less than 3 months of drinking water left in the reservoirs supplying the city?

    The people at the WSJ have seemingly never gone beyond the supermarket or deli to determine just what it takes to get the food they take for granted to their table. However, when the environment begins to change faster than the farmer can adapt they will learn. The present drought in the Southeast US may be the harbinger of the future as farmers sell off their herds because they lack the water to keep them alive.

    Comment by Mike Tabony — 19 Oct 2007 @ 1:15 PM

  78. Re 17
    Models are tools. A good deal of fine science has been done with what we could call “crude tools.” What counts, is not the tools that you use, but the results you produce.

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 19 Oct 2007 @ 1:25 PM

  79. Re: #61, there’s a difference between weather and climate. A fundamental difference. Even if the physics in the models were perfect, the weather prediction would go solidly random in a few weeks max, while the climate projection, describing a state of equilibrium, would reflect only the uncertainties in our knowledge of the relevant forcings… and it makes no real difference if the projection is for today, next year, 2100, the middle ages or the last ice age. It’s not a prediction you see.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 19 Oct 2007 @ 1:27 PM

  80. re: #59 Eli

    So, far, I haven’t been able to see any discernable difference, but only time will tell. The Murdoch signal has yet to emerge from natural variation. :-) Certainly the speculations during the negotiations were fascinating, even to the amusing point of “Will WSJ editorial become less right-wing with Murdoch?” (given that Murdoch has actually recognized GW’s existence.) As I understand it, the deal maintained supposedly maintained Editorial independence. If Murdoch seriously starts messing with the objectivity of reporting, that will be The End, and I hope he’s smarter than that. I don’t think I’m the only person who is a WSJ subscriber solely for the reporting quality, not the editorial.

    Comment by John Mashey — 19 Oct 2007 @ 2:04 PM

  81. As a geologist, I find the use of the longer term records a bit misleading (in both directions, though more frequently from the anti-GW side). The history of global change over the past 50 years of research has evolved dramatically from thinking everything was gradual, to maybe 1000s of years, to some events (Younger Dryas, for instance) being within a human lifetime. This is entirely because the geologic record tends to smear signals out, and with identification of better and better records (pelagic sediments, ice cores), climate has been found to have, at least at times, shockingly rapid changes. So I would hesitate to say that there certainly has not been warming as rapid as we might be experiencing in the past 2.5 Ma, and would very definitely not rule out the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum as having experienced pulses as rapid as now.

    Occasionally less serious advocates of GW as Armageddon act as though the Earth has never been warmer than now, contending that the planet will become a desert with some small pockets of life at the pole. This is utter poppycock, as climate in the Mesozoic and much of the early Tertiary (say, 35-200 million years ago) was considerably warmer than today and probably warmer than any possible human-induced climate change.

    That said, so what? None of the glacial to interglacial warmings started from a climate as warm as our present interglacial, so in fact current biota as a system have no experience with going higher than today’s temperatures at a rapid rate. Add in fragmentation of habitat from human use and it is likely many species presently protected in parks and refuges will be unable to migrate in response to climate changes. Furthermore, as is pointed out here, civilization has not experienced any climate change of comparable magnitude, having arrived since the end of the last glacial period. Food crops are not the result of millennia of exposure to natural changes but are instead the product of artificial selection within a near constant climate. The ability of natural systems to weather glacial/interglacial climate change borders on irrelevant to whether human civilization can weather an artificial change. Same for the old hot climates; I am confident life will survive but unsure of civilization (and it is the transition far more than the end result that will be ugly). It would seem best to avoid arguing over irrelevant aspects of the geologic record and focus on the parts that really matter.

    There are two things from the geologic record that ought to give anti-GW folks pause. One is the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) which is one of the few cases of rapid (1000s year scale at present resolution, probably in pulses) warming from an unglaciated state. First is that the most likely mechanism is the release of methane ices from the shallow seafloor, though the initial trigger remains unknown (volcanism in North Atlantic, gradual warming of the ocean, etc. are out there). Such ices are well known from the modern seabed and are every bit as vulnerable to ocean warming. Second is the timescale of this event: it appears it took something like 80,000 years to put the organic carbon back into the solid earth. This tells you that if we do kick all this carbon out there, it isn’t going to go away without a lot of help anytime soon. And my understanding is that the IPCC projections do not include either permafrost methane or marine methane ices in their calculations. If these are set loose, IPCC projections are probably way low on future temperatures.

    Second thing from the geologic record is that it appears that modern climate models cannot reproduce so-called hothouse climates very well; they appear to overestimate temperatures in the tropics and underestimate them in the polar regions. [There is debate about the accuracy of the geologic proxies in addition to the usual particulars of the models being used; I think Ruddiman's textboook has a description of this]. The global models used are themselves generally physics-based but with a lot of tuned factors to account for things that are too hard to directly incorporate; these fudge factors are tuned for climates today. Observationally, the suggestion from the geology side has been that we should see a lot more warming in the polar regions than is predicted and somewhat less in the tropics (I’ve been pointing out this suggestion for about 5 years in an intro geology class). The rather sudden reevaluation of polar warming in the past couple of years might be a reflection of this geologic observation; if so, it could be very hard to hold on to polar ice.

    Comment by Craig Jones — 19 Oct 2007 @ 2:09 PM

  82. Re: 70

    Except that the Antarctic is experiencing no such melting. In fact, they’ve just experienced the coldest winter in generations.

    The arctic is melting, but the antarctic is growing. Did the climate models predict this?

    Comment by dean_1230 — 19 Oct 2007 @ 2:26 PM

  83. Mega-mammal extinctions in the late Pleistocene: These occurred as early as 50,000 years ago in Africa and South Asia. Regarding those in North America, note that the extinct species were native to North America while all the immigrants from Asia survived. (Of course, immigration was only possible due to sea stand changes and then sufficient ice melt.)

    This suggests that not only predation by humans and the comet impact were at work, but climate change caused vegetative changes and possibly the immigrants brought deseases. Here is a quick review, written before knowledge about the comet impact in North America was known:

    http://www.uwsp.edu/geo/faculty/heywood/Geog358/endangr/Pleistocene/PleistoExt.htm

    An older book, which I am currently unable to locate, states that the average duration of mammalian species as been one million years. If correct, in the past 2.5 million years many species have gone extinct.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 19 Oct 2007 @ 2:39 PM

  84. dean_1230
    Try looking up what you think you believe.

    You’re being misled.

    If you read even the stories _about_ the science you’ll know better.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/02/AR2006030201712.html
    ——- excerpt follows — click link for original —–

    Correction to This Article
    A March 3 article incorrectly identified a Web site sponsored by Exxon Mobil and other corporations opposed to mandatory limits on greenhouse gases linked to climate change. The site is TCSDaily, not TSCDaily.

    Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Melting Rapidly
    New Study Warns Of Rising Sea Levels

    By Juliet Eilperin
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, March 3, 2006; Page A01

    The Antarctic ice sheet is losing as much as 36 cubic miles of ice a year in a trend that scientists link to global warming, according to a new paper that provides the first evidence that the sheet’s total mass is shrinking significantly.

    The new findings, which are being published today in the journal Science, suggest that global sea level could rise substantially over the next several centuries….

    … a major international scientific panel predicted five years ago that the Antarctic ice sheet would gain mass this century as higher temperatures led to increased snowfall.

    “It looks like the ice sheets are ahead of schedule” in terms of melting, Alley said. “That’s a wake-up call. We better figure out what’s going on.”
    ———

    End of excerpt

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Oct 2007 @ 2:48 PM

  85. And, to Beverly Bonner — same message.

    No matter how strongly you believe what you think is true, if you will post an actual citation to a science paper, it’s more useful to the rest of us readers.

    Google Scholar can help, more than Google does.

    http://scholar.google.com/

    As Coby Beck reminds us quite correctly, there is no “Wisdom” button at Google — read and think and quote.

    Example:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;315/5818/1529
    [See long list of related links at bottom of the page -- there is a special issue of the magazine on this topic, all worth reading -- your library Reference Desk can find the actual magazine for you.]

    Science 16 March 2007:
    Vol. 315. no. 5818, pp. 1529 – 1532
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1136776

    Review: Recent Sea-Level Contributions of the Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets
    Andrew Shepherd and Duncan Wingham
    ——excerpt——-
    … the past decade of satellite measurements has painted an altogether new picture …. data show that Antarctica and Greenland are each losing mass overall. Our best estimate of their combined imbalance is about 125 gigatons per year of ice ….
    … much of the loss from Antarctica and Greenland is the result of the flow of ice to the ocean from ice streams and glaciers, which has accelerated over the past decade. In both continents, there are suspected triggers for the accelerated ice discharge—surface and ocean warming, respectively—and, over the course of the 21st century, these processes could rapidly counteract the snowfall gains predicted by present coupled climate models.”
    ——end of excerpt——-

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Oct 2007 @ 2:55 PM

  86. RE the WSJ subscribers here. One thing you could do is write the editor in chief or managing editor, Marcus W. Brauchli, write “personal” on the envelope, and let him know you’ve subscribed for ___ years, and that you are very upset with the anti-global warming editorials. I’ve written to a few editors-in-chief of other journals that way, with good results.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 19 Oct 2007 @ 3:06 PM

  87. RE #82, I think the answer is “yes, the models did predict that,” and I believe I read it on RC some time back. But I’m a bit hazy — was it the Antarctic would warm slower than the Arctic, or get colder (at least for the time being).

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 19 Oct 2007 @ 3:16 PM

  88. Re. 82 Dean wrote: “Except that the Antarctic is experiencing no such melting.”

    Dean, your statement is utterly bizzare. Why don’t you research it first before making blanket statements?

    Antarctica is gaining mass in some places in the middle and losing some mass on the edges where it meets the warming oceans, …to around an 80%-90% confidence level . This is from a recent Science Journal article (A world-wide juried science journal,”-Science, 30 August 2002.)

    “Recent advances in the determination of the mass balance of polar ice sheets show that the Greenland Ice Sheet is losing mass by near-coastal thinning, and that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, with thickening in the west and thinning in the north, is probably thinning overall…”

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/297/5586/1502

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 19 Oct 2007 @ 4:03 PM

  89. Re. #12:

    Botkin also writes “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…”

    Would you characterize today’s models as crude?

    “Used to” is the key phrase here. For an excellent history of the development of GCMs, see here.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 19 Oct 2007 @ 4:21 PM

  90. Re. #87 (Lynn Vincentnathan), as Hank pointed out in #85, the overall ice mass balance of the Antarctic is actually decreasing quite rapidly, not increasing, although the discovery that this is so is fairly recent. And yes, the models do predict that the Antarctic will lose ice much more slowly than the Arctic.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 19 Oct 2007 @ 4:38 PM

  91. catman306 (56), while it’s been up and down a couple of times, it turns out that corporations do have rights, though just a bit less than people. The Supreme Court ruled that gov’t can’t take corporate property without due process, e.g. This idea to appropriate corporations (and I assume you all would include partnerships and entrepreneurships, including farms (like those that don’t grow enough switchgrass, I suppose)) is right up the alley of criminally indicting and imprisoning any person who disagrees with the thrust. Fascism is such an efficient process.

    Comment by Rod B

    You are right, as of about 1880 corporations were given ‘human’ status by the Supreme Court. Since they were legal persons, it has progressed that they also have rights. This is a legal decision and could be changed. Mr. Reich explains in his book that if the corporations loose their ‘legal person’ status, they would also lose their obligation to pay taxes. (Of course, their management and employees would continue to pay taxes.) It might be the kind of trade off that many corporations would support. I doubt that there’s any fascism involved. Just a bit of a check on the powers of multinational giants that often have 1/4 to 1/4 profit motives when the world needs decade to decade environmental improvement reports. It’s for your great grandchildren, you know.

    Comment by catman306 — 19 Oct 2007 @ 4:42 PM

  92. The truth be told it looks as though things will get alot worse alot sooner than whats being talked about. As I understand it, unless there is a global effort sooner rather than later our planet is in for one hell of a ride. And I don’t beleive there will be any real global effort until its way to late for the vast majority of the world population. The real question should be if you know things are going to get bad what’s the best way to maintain power and control?

    Comment by michaelatnip — 19 Oct 2007 @ 4:59 PM

  93. It sounded like American Scientist got undeserved short shrift in the lead article to this post.

    Sigma Xi, the organization that publishes AmericanScientist, is an honor society for scientists and engineers and has many substantial scientists and engineers as members. They have in fact,been asked by the UN to convene an international panel of scientists to write a report recommending procedures for mitigating and adapting to climate change. It can be found at: http://www.sigmaxi.org/programs/unseg/index.shtml

    Pejorative remarks should more deservedly be directed at the WSJ’s editorial page.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 19 Oct 2007 @ 5:49 PM

  94. Re #68: I assume the “no precedent in the past 2.5 million years for so much warming so fast” implicitly means global warming. As I understand it, the Younger Dryas is generally (with some small uncertainty) considered to be a regional phenomenon, so it isn’t a counterexample, at least not obviously so.

    [Response: The deglaciation for example was a larger temperature change than global warming is forecast to be, but global warming reaches a warmer temperature than has happened before. David]

    Comment by S. Molnar — 19 Oct 2007 @ 6:12 PM

  95. Re # 48 “The fact that writers in all of the other sections of the paper don’t even hesitate to cite GW as real and happening and now, but yet the editorial page consistently writes about it not.”

    I used to read the WSJ regularly, and would sometimes see an op-ed article attempting to debunk evolution (some of those were absolute howlers) while in the same issue there was a news story about new findings in genetics that were of great interest to pharmaceutical companies and could only be explained by evolution. The editorial staff and the news staff at the WSJ live in different worlds.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 19 Oct 2007 @ 7:01 PM

  96. The article referred to is a discussion piece, here.

    http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/55553?fulltext=true&print=yes

    “… The fact that the loss of ice on Mount Kilimanjaro cannot be used as proof of global warming does not mean that the Earth is not warming. There is ample and conclusive evidence that Earth’s average temperature has increased in the past 100 years, and the decline of mid- and high-latitude glaciers is a major piece of evidence. But the special conditions on Kilimanjaro make it unlike the higher-latitude mountains, whose glaciers are shrinking because of rising atmospheric temperatures. Mass- and energy-balance considerations and the shapes of features all point in the same direction, suggesting an insignificant role for atmospheric temperature in the fluctuations of Kilimanjaro’s ice.

    “It is possible, though, that there is an indirect connection between the accumulation of greenhouse gases and Kilimanjaro’s disappearing ice: There is strong evidence of an association over the past 200 years or so between Indian Ocean surface temperatures and the atmospheric circulation and precipitation patterns that either feed or starve the ice on Kilimanjaro. … Any contribution of rising greenhouse gases to this circulation pattern necessarily emerged only in the last few decades…”

    Among the references are these two papers by Kaser, one of the two authors of the American Scientist piece:

    # Kaser, G. 1999: A review of modern fluctuations of tropical glaciers. Global and Planetary Change 22 (1-4):93-103.
    # Kaser, G., D. R. Hardy, T. Mölg, R. S. Bradley and T. M. Hyera. 2004. Modern glacier retreat on Kilimanjaro as evidence of climate change: observations and facts. International Journal of Climatology 24:329-339. doi: 10.1002/joc.1008

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Oct 2007 @ 7:20 PM

  97. 3-part split personality:
    WSJ Editorial regularly mocks California & sometimes Scharzenegger, and alternate fuels, etc, etc.
    WSJ News writes straight stories
    AND
    Dow Jones, which owns the WSJ

    Hence I see with some amusement:

    Wall Street Journal to Host First Annual Environmental Capital Conference
    Executive ECO:nomics Conference to Focus on the Fast-Growing World of Green Business
    Arnold Schwarzenegger Added to the List of Confirmed Speakers
    http://www.dj.com/Pressroom/PressReleases/Other/US/2007/1009_US_TheWallStreetJournal_3355.htm

    and coming soon, Oct 23-24, Dow Jones VentureWire Alternative Energy Innovations, which looks pretty good, with a very interesting cast of speakers:
    http://alternativeenergy.dowjones.com/

    Comment by John Mashey — 19 Oct 2007 @ 8:01 PM

  98. Off topic but can anyone point me to well thought out reactions to the paper
    Spencer, R.W., Braswell, W.D., Christy, J.R., Hnilo, J., 2007. Cloud and radiation budget changes associated with tropical intraseasonal oscillations? It appears to resurrect the Iris Hypothesis.

    Comment by Svet — 19 Oct 2007 @ 8:08 PM

  99. Here’s where i read that the antarctic ice cap isn’t melting… but growing.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/science/cold-science/2002-01-18-wais-thicker.htm

    and then there’s this link that throws caution into reading too much into current Antarctic weather trends:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/antarctic-cooling-global-warming/

    now please explain to me how both a warming antarctica (as some here claim is happening) and a cooling antarctica (as some reports are showing) are both indicators of man-made global warming?

    Sound to me like a “heads I win, tails you loose” proposition. Both cannot be true. Either AWG causes the polar ice caps to to warm and melt or they cause them to cool and grow. They can’t cause both.

    Comment by dean — 19 Oct 2007 @ 8:17 PM

  100. I would assume that co2 concentrations are not uniform throughout the world. Since the northern hemisphere releases much more c02 into the atmosphere, is it possible that the arctic is experiencing a higher warming trend than the antarctic because there are more ppm c02 there ?

    [Response: There are differences as you surmise, but they are only a few ppm, and not really large enough to have a noticeable effect. - gavin]

    Comment by mike — 19 Oct 2007 @ 9:35 PM

  101. Dean, re #99. You do know that Antarctica is a big place, right? And you do know that there’s a whole helluva lot of water around it, right? And you do know that the oceans are a really big heat reservoir, right? If you take these trends and read the realclimate piece you cite, that should give you the answer. Basically, most of the energy that warms the poles comes from elsewhere–at least the north pole. Energy flow to Antarctica is a lot more limited, and has been more limited than usual in recent decades. That said, the ice balance to the some of the main ice sheets on the continent is negative, so warming is starting to occur.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Oct 2007 @ 9:38 PM

  102. Re: 99: Dean,

    A classic case (common in science) of a misleading first impression. It is, in fact, possible for Antarctica to warm and grow. The key is that warmer air holds more moisture. Imagine that the temperature over the Antarctic interior rises, yet remains below freezing. The warmer air holds more moisture, so when it snows, it snows more. Warmer, and growing! For now.

    Comment by robert — 19 Oct 2007 @ 9:41 PM

  103. #26 JS McIntyre: I recall E.O. Wilson suggesting that what we’re attempting to do is create a global civilization that requires the resources of three or four earths.

    The problem, of course, is that there is a line of doomsayers spanning hundreds of years whos prophecies never came true.

    In the last hundred years we’ve had everyone from Carnegie telling congress we are almost out of steel, to Carson telling everyone synthetic pesticides were worse than natural pesticies, to Ehrlich telling everyone that we were almost out of everything. Peak oil, dying oceans, nuclear winter, skin cancer from ozone, AIDS killing everyone, and on and on…the din is never ending.

    And incredibly, none have come true, have they? In some cases there has been mitigating factors that were perhaps because of corrective actions. But overwhelmingly folks just seem to lose interest and move on to the next disaster when the first disaster never materializes.

    What is the most grave prediction you can think of that actually had a measurable impact that came true over a 20+ year window?

    Comment by matt — 19 Oct 2007 @ 9:54 PM

  104. Well dean I suggest trying to hold two thoughts in your head at the same time. It can cause both and does. What you desire is the typical either/or fallacy. And that’s exactly what you have.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 19 Oct 2007 @ 10:00 PM

  105. Okay, Dean, you’ve got a USA Today article from January 2002 about the West Antarctic ice sheet (judging just by the URL you gave).

    So put that into a search engine, Google Scholar, look for work published this year. Like this:

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?num=100&hl=en&lr=&newwindow=1&safe=off&scoring=r&q=%22West+Antarctic+Ice+Sheet%22&as_ylo=2007&btnG=Search

    This won’t give you as simple an answer as USA Today, and you’ll want to read through some of the material to make up your own mind.

    Do give up the certainty that “both cannot be true.” You have to specify where, and when, and for how long before you know much about either statement being true or not. Think about how large Antarctica is — do you know how big?

    Think about any country you’re familiar with, for example the United States. Can climate change cause some areas to warm and others to cool? Some to get wetter, and some to get drier? Can both be true of the United States, once you look a little closer at the details?

    This is why it’s important to be skeptical. Simple answers are pushed at you. Don’t trust a 2002 USA Today article to be good information, if you want to understand what’s being learned.

    You know about the International Polar Year studies? You can look them up. If the answers were all simple and understood, they wouldn’t be putting such effort into this new work.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Oct 2007 @ 10:19 PM

  106. Great article as always! I’m glad to see the WSJ called on its stance.

    I’d also kind of like to see RC do a review of John Stossel who is at it again (still).

    Says he: “The truth is, that while everyone agrees that the earth has warmed, lots of good scientists don’t agree that it’s mostly our fault, and don’t agree that it’s going to be a catastrophe. So when Gore says, ‘The debate is over,’ I say, ‘Give Me a Break!’”
    Man vs. Nature, 10/19/07
    http://www.abcnews.go.com/2020/Stossel/story?id=3751219&page=1

    He may be a little low brow compared to your usual fare, but he gets a wide audience and does a lot of damage. Just my 2 cents.

    Comment by Art — 19 Oct 2007 @ 10:25 PM

  107. This may be useful on the original topic:
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2007ERL…..111001K

    PERSPECTIVE: On the verge of dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system?

    ——excerpt——
    “The article by Danny Harvey in this issue [2] offers a fresh perspective by rephrasing the concept of ‘dangerous interference’ as a problem of risk assessment. As Harvey points out, identification of ‘dangerous interference’ does not require us to know with certainty that future climate change will be dangerous—an impossible task given that our knowledge about future climate change includes uncertainty. Rather, it requires the assertion that interference would lead to a significant probability of dangerous climate change beyond some risk tolerance, and therefore would pose an unacceptable risk.

    In his article [2], Harvey puts this idea into operation by presenting a back-of-the-envelope calculation to identify allowable CO2 concentrations under uncertainty about climate sensitivity to anthropogenic forcing and the location of a temperature threshold beyond which dangerous climate change will occur. Conditional on his assumptions, Harvey delivers an interesting result…..

    … we are on the verge of or even committed to dangerous interference with the climate system if we (1) set the risk tolerance for experiencing dangerous climate change to 1% and (2) allocate at least 5% probability to the belief that climate sensitivity is 4.5 °C or higher. In the language of the IPCC, the latter would mean that such a high climate sensitivity is anything but extremely unlikely ([1], footnote 6 and p 9), a view that is shared by many in the scientific community. Even if the risk tolerance is increased to 10%, the maximum allowable CO2 equivalent concentration remains below 460 ppm ([2], figure 7(c)). We are bound to reach that concentration in the near future, as it can be surpassed both by addition of new greenhouse gases and by a reduction of global dimming.

    Given the potential significance of this result, let us take a step back, and investigate its underlying assumptions. The concept of ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference’ is inextricably linked to the idea of a threshold beyond which climate change can be labeled dangerous. This idea enters Harvey’s analysis in the form of a probability distribution for the—as he calls it—’harm threshold’ measured in terms of global mean temperature increase since preindustrial time.

    the magnitude of the anthropogenic perturbation of the carbon cycle forces us to go back far into the past, if we want to look for clues of what might happen in the future. Certainly, some of the climate changes reflected in figure 1 are a result of volcanism and continental drift, in particular the opening and closing of sea passages. However, recent data indicate that the carbon cycle was a major player in the transition from the Eocene hothouse to the modern-day icehouse world (e.g. Moran et al [11], Zachos et al [12]). The studies by Zachos et al [12] and Pearson and Palmer [13] found that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere decreased from well above 1000 ppm during the Eocene to below or around 300 ppm during the Mio-, Plio- and Pleistocene. On the basis of their data, it is likely that present-day levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have not occurred for the last 23 million years. Moreover, projections of the growing anthropogenic perturbation of the carbon cycle in the 21st century, including scenarios that aim at stabilizing atmospheric CO2 concentration at twice its preindustrial value, carry us to carbon dioxide levels that were last seen during the Oligocene, where major restructuring of the climate system occurred.

    But what about time scales? Certainly, climate policy cannot be concerned with climate changes that unravel over millions of years. However, the slowest processes in the climate system, i.e., heat penetration into the deep ocean and changes in ice sheet volume, operate on time scales of thousands of years, with deglaciation potentially occurring much faster within hundreds of years. Hence, if the driver is sufficiently fast, rapid climate change can occur. This is evidenced in the paleoclimatic record shown in figure 1 by the event called Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) 55 million years ago. During the PETM, global temperatures rose by 5 10 °C to presumably the hottest conditions during the Cenozoic era in a matter of several thousand years (Zachos et al [14]) due to a large perturbation of the carbon cycle (Zachos et al [15]) of hitherto unknown cause (Pagani et al [16]). A millennial time scale is still far beyond the time horizon of current socio-economic activity, but this is just the time scale for the system to equilibrate (bar the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere ocean-biosphere reservoir which proceeds much more slowly [15]). Significant changes will be felt much earlier. And when it comes to assessing ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’ that has the potential to change the face of the planet for a hundred thousand or more years to come, an extension of our time horizon to several hundred years seems to be appropriate….
    ——-end excerpt——

    Worth reading, folks, I think as a mere reader of all this.
    I’d sure like to hear more from those who’ve been kicking risk levels around. William Connolley? Judith Curry? Is this the sort of assessment you all are thinking of?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Oct 2007 @ 10:30 PM

  108. Re 61 Chris: “That’s the problem with the models – weatherman can’t predict the weather with any accuracy more than 2 days in advance – so why should be believe the models that predict years or scores of year ahead?”

    Oh, but if I had a penny for every time this simple-minded, ignorant saw has been uttered.

    Once again…., GCMs don’t predict the weather years or scores of year ahead, they predict climate trends years or scores of year ahead.

    You need to learn that there is a difference between weather, which is specific to a particular place at a particular time, and climate, which is the average of weather over long time spans. Knowing the climate that is typical of a particular place will tell you nothing about what the weather will be at that particular place on a particular day in the future.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 19 Oct 2007 @ 11:36 PM

  109. robert (#102) wrote:

    Re: 99: Dean,

    A classic case (common in science) of a misleading first impression. It is, in fact, possible for Antarctica to warm and grow. The key is that warmer air holds more moisture. Imagine that the temperature over the Antarctic interior rises, yet remains below freezing. The warmer air holds more moisture, so when it snows, it snows more. Warmer, and growing! For now.

    I know that based upon altitude measurements it was thought that the mass balance may have been increasing, but the most recent study that I am aware of is based on GRACE but does not appear to be a blessing…

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

    Measurements of Time-Variable Gravity Show Mass Loss in Antarctica
    Isabella Velicogna and John Wahr
    Science 311, 1754 (2006)

    They are showing some very slight growth in EAIS as the result of precipitation increase it would appear, but this is quite small in comparison to the melt loss in WAIS.

    Anyway, if someone has something more recent, I would be interested.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 19 Oct 2007 @ 11:59 PM

  110. Re 103 matt: “Peak oil, dying oceans, nuclear winter, skin cancer from ozone, AIDS killing everyone, and on and on…the din is never ending.

    And incredibly, none have come true, have they?”

    As a matter of fact…
    some data suggests that oil may be peaking
    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3001
    large regions of ocean are dying
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4624359/
    http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/products/pubs_hypox.html
    and skin cancer is very much on the rise in the southern hemisphere
    http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1034/j.1600-0781.2002.02782.x

    You were saying?

    Comment by Jim Eager — 20 Oct 2007 @ 12:01 AM

  111. > What is the most grave prediction you can think of that actually
    > had a measurable impact that came true over a 20+ year window?

    The evolution of antibiotic resistance and its lateral transfer among bacteria. Got MRSA in your high school yet?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Oct 2007 @ 1:14 AM

  112. Could someone comment on the state of this region today referenced on john-daly.com:

    “A considerable change of climate inexplicable at present to us must have taken place in the Circumpolar Regions, by which the severity of the cold that has for centuries past enclosed the seas in the high northern latitudes in an impenetrable barrier of ice has been, during the last two years, greatly abated.”

    “2000 square leagues of ice with which the Greenland Seas between the latitudes of 74° and 80°N have been hitherto covered, has in the last two years entirely disappeared.”

    “The floods which have the whole summer inundated all those parts of Germany where rivers have their sources in snowy mountains, afford ample proof that new sources of warmth have been opened …”

    This is not the latest scare story from the greenhouse industry, but extracts from a letter by the President of the Royal Society addressed to the British Admiralty, recommending they send a ship to the Arctic to investigate the dramatic changes.

    The letter was written, not in the year 2000, but in 1817. History repeating itself?

    Did this area re-freeze or stay melted? Is 2000 square leagues (24000 mi2) a lot or a little compared to melting we are seeing today? Is 24000 mi2 melting in two years a lot?

    Link: http://www.john-daly.com/press/press-00b.htm#ice-melt

    Comment by matt — 20 Oct 2007 @ 1:39 AM

  113. Re #99 / #101 /#105

    Hi Dean, to add more perspective to what Ray/Hank said:

    1st. Simply put more global warming = more moisture, and therefore more rain and snow. The real difference is that the snow melts faster, this is already being evidenced in many areas around the globe. The Antarctic is a bigger refrigerator so it has more potential to stay cooler but it will lose the battle.

    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2006-028

    2nd. Don’t trust newspapers with a blanket ‘they know what they are talking about’ license. Remember they only ask questions from the limits and bias of their own perspective. Trust the science and thousands of experts that study this every day, not a media organization that only looks at it so they can get another article that will help sell papers or support a biased view.

    Comment by John P. Reisman — 20 Oct 2007 @ 3:12 AM

  114. In his response to Botkin’s comments on the melting of the Kilimanjaro glaciers and ice caps, David writes, “The article Botkin cites is from American Scientist, an unreviewed pop science magazine, and it is mainly a rehash of old arguments that have been discussed and disposed of elsewhere.”

    David’s comment is disappointing on several levels.

    Like the Mote and Kaser article (Am. Sci., July-August 2007), most articles in American Scientist are invited and not subject to external review by reviewers selected by the editors. However, Mote and Kaser are summarizing for a general audience of scientists and engineers research that they and colleagues have published in peer-reviewed journals — and recent research, not “old arguments”. I found the M & K arguments subtle and persuasive and in a Google Scholar search didn’t find any sign of those arguments having been “discussed and disposed of elsewhere”. Perhaps David can enlighten us as to where that happened, precisely. Those who select topics for American Scientist do have a bit of the contrarian, frequently choosing recent research that represents a paradigm shift or contradicts some bit of accepted wisdom.

    Perhaps more to the point, even though most American Scientist articles are non-”peer reviewed”, most of the readers of American Scientist are peer reviewed, being members of a Sigma Xi, an honor society for scientists and engineers, founded in 1886. Over the decades, I have found American Scientist one of the best sources of review articles across the breadth of science and engineering and, in addition, containing several excellent continuing columns and dozens of informative reviews of science, math, and technology books.

    David would have done better to point out that Botkin rather substantially mis-represents the point that Mote and Kaser are making. Botkin writes that Mote and Kaser “explained why the glacier on Mt. Kilimanjaro could not be melting from global warming”. A sentence or so later, he writes, “That it could not be global warming directly (i.e., the result of air around the glacier warming) was made clear by the fact that the air temperature at that altitude of the glacier is below freezing.” Ah, yes, “directly” — a weasel word not appearing in his lead sentence.

    Both Botkin’s piece and the Mote and Kaser article suffer from the old investing adage, “What the bottom line giveth, the footnote taketh away.” Mote and Kaser write, “Indeed, warming fails spectacularly to explain the behavior of the glaciers and plateau ice on Africa’s Kilimanjaro massif …”. Toward the end of their article, they write, “It is possible, though, that there is an indirect connection between the accumulation of greenhouse gases and Kilimanjaro’s disappearing ice: There is strong evidence of an association over the last 200 years or so between Indian Ocean surface temperatures and atmospheric circulation and precipitation patterns that either feed or starve the ice on Kilimanjaro. These patterns have been starving the ice since the late 19th century … Any contribution of rising greenhouse gases to this circulation pattern necessarily emerged only in the last few years, hence it is responsible for at most a fraction of the recent decline in ice and a much smaller fraction of the total decline.”

    Given the logarithmic dependence of temperature and unknown dependence of precipitation on greenhouse gas concentration and the gradual accumulation of greenhouse gases since the early 19th century, I am unpersuaded by the last assertion quoted above.

    Another subtlety of the Mote and Kaser argument that Botkin ignores is that completely different mechanisms are at work on the ice cap on the summit plateau and the glaciers on the 55 degree slopes below the summits. They note that the slope glaciers gain net mass from snowfall at high altitude and lose net mass at lower altitude. They define the equilibrium line altitude as that altitude where these processes balance. They further state that “On many tropical glaciers, both the direct impact of global warming and the indirect one — changes in atmospheric moisture concentration — are responsible for the observed mass losses. The mere fact that ice is disappearing sheds no light on which mechanism is responsible.”

    All of this is far away from Botkin’s assertion that Mote and Kaser “explained why the glacier on Mt. Kilimanjaro could not be melting from global warming.” They do nothing of the sort. At the same time, they do show that Kilimanjaro is not quite the “Poster Mountain” for AGW that our “common sense” and environmental enthusiasm might suggest.

    Best regards.

    Comment by Jim Dukelow — 20 Oct 2007 @ 3:15 AM

  115. Full text pdf is here Hank:
    http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/1748-9326/2/1/011001/erl7_1_011001.pdf

    And the referenced paper here:
    http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/1748-9326/2/1/014001/erl7_1_014001.pdf

    …worth a look.

    Comment by GlenFergus — 20 Oct 2007 @ 3:33 AM

  116. LesPorter thunders:

    [[Corporations that do not display active responsibility to the future of the species need to be dismantled and their assets converted to systems that will demonstrate social responsibility.]]

    Does someone here “The Internationale” in the background?

    I think we can leave corporations alone as long as illegal conduct is banned. Government control of economies has a long record of massive failure.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 20 Oct 2007 @ 6:24 AM

  117. Chris writes:

    [[That’s the problem with the models - weatherman can’t predict the weather with any accuracy more than 2 days in advance - so why should be believe the models that predict years or scores of year ahead?]]

    You’re confusing weather with climate. Weather — day to day variation — is chaotic and cannot be predicted past a few days; predicting the weather is an “initial conditions problem.” Climate — weather averaged over a large region over a period of 30 years or more — is deterministic and often easy to predict. To illustrate the difference, I don’t know what the temperature will be tomorrow in Cairo, Egypt (weather). I do know that it is likely to be hotter than in Oslo, Norway (climate).

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 20 Oct 2007 @ 6:29 AM

  118. Hank, Since risk assessment is part of my day job, I thought I’d chime in. I have been advocating a risk-assessment approach to climate change for quite awhile now. The approach is generally a reasonable one for decision-making and resource allocation in situations with varying degrees of uncertainty. The problem is that it requires estimates of both probability of occurrence for various adverse events and for the probable consequences of those events. Both of these are still quite uncertain and there is unlikely to be universal agreement on the probabilities to choose for the outcomes and consequences. We can apply a subjectivist probability analysis–selecting probability distributions for various levels of confidence. This can work quite well if we have many experts and confine ourselves to the mean of their subjective probabilities, but even this can be a fraught proposition if some experts actively seek a particular outcome or if some experts think others will try to manipulate the process. Thus, for the prediction of mean risk to be valid, there has to be confidence among in the process as well. Transparency is essential, but so is a process that gives contributors confidence that the process will not be susceptible to manipulation by making extreme predictions to push the mean in a given direction. An averaging process that rejects outliers is such a process, but the rejection process needs to be agreed upon.
    Once you have a risk estimate, you can make intelligent decisions about allocation of resources toward mitigation–targeting funds so as to maximize risk reduction.
    It is a complicated process, but it is one humans tend to follow naturally when faced with a difficult and complicated project that faces lots of different risks.
    Difficulties arise when you try to formalize it–people don’t seem to like to be told what to do with mathematical certainty. Another difficulty arises when you face many interlocking risks where reducing one risk affects the probability or cost estimates for the others–and remember you have to keep the process transparent. The whole issue of sustainability–preserving environmental quality, development, mitigating climate change…–is such an issue.

    It’s a bit of a challenge, but it is an approach I have strongly advocated for years, so I clearly think the challenges can be managed.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Oct 2007 @ 6:31 AM

  119. [[Who is correct here? And where can I find some sort of ‘proof’ that the ‘CO2 causes global warming’ hypothesis is right?]]

    Try the IPCC AR4 report. Here’s a link:

    http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/wg1-report.html

    If you want to understand the mechanism involved, find a good book on atmosphere physics, like John Houghton’s “The Physics of Atmospheres” (3rd ed. 2002), or Grant W. Petty’s “A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation” (2006). Or try my climatology pages:

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

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 20 Oct 2007 @ 6:43 AM

  120. Regarding Doom Sayers who’s prophecies never come true.. Doom sayers may serve an important function in society……

    Regarding Carson telling everyone synthetic pesticides were worse than natural pesticies….. there really was a major issue there, and it was, in part, that pesticides such as DDT did not break down. These days, pesticide manufacturers make pesticides that break down fairly rapidly. An issue was raised, and a solution was found. One can argue that the reason we have not yet degraded our environment beyond recognition ( no American Eagles , ospreys, hawks, owls,or people ) is because people pointed out that there were problems and then acted on this knowledge.

    …to Ehrlich telling everyone that we were almost out of everything. Peak oil…
    Do you have to commute a distance or heat a house? The price of petroleum products is saying a something about available supply.

    dying oceans…. the dead area at the mouth of the Mississippi? The degradation of Long Island sound? Bleaching of coral..

    nuclear winter… a large scale nuclear exchange is likely to make the planet uninhabitable or barely habitable by humans… the major nuclear powers realized this and have cut back nuclear arsenals and work towards non-proliferation.

    skin cancer from ozone,… you probably mean skin cancer from higher UV from lack of filtering ozone. If I am not mistaken, there has been a significant increase in skin cancer, especially in the southern hemisphere, where the ozone destruction was greatest. We humans have cut down our production of ozone destroying substances in an attempt to mitigate this problem. Is that a bad thing? There was a problem noted, and solutions were found.

    AIDS killing everyone….. when modern western mores met the AIDS virus, humanity was on a high mortality track that fortunately was derailed by research, education and subsequent changes in behavior.

    and on and on…the din is never ending.

    An optimist can discern an important pattern in these examples. The din is a good thing and will continue as long as people identify problems and address them. Many problems did not come to fruition because people addressed them with thought and reason and then took action to mitigate them.

    One can worry about unpleasant possibilities, ignore them, or address them.

    People most likely do have a limited capacity to keep multiple disasters in mind all the time. Ignoring doom sayers does not make them go away however. There is a local urban legend about a highway bridge that collapsed one night. A driver who stopped in time got out and tried to warn an on coming BMW to stop. Legend has it the driver of the beemer was giving the first driver the finger as he sped over the edge and plunged to his death.

    But they can and often do address problems and change their behaviors accordingly and go on with life.

    Comment by Stephen Pranulis — 20 Oct 2007 @ 7:01 AM

  121. Re #103 (Matt) Doomsaying

    It seems to me that your reasoning “doomsayers were wrong before, so there will be no problem now” is not correct.

    Firstly, the conclusion does not follow at all from the premise. It is perfectly possible that doomsayers were wrong a thousand times before, but still are correct today, especially because the problems we are facing now are unprecedented in scale.

    Actually I hate the term doomsayer. Mostly we are talking about people who had the wisdom to look ahead and point out serious consequences of a BAU scenario.

    Secondly, some dire predictions did not came true only BECAUSE people acted on the predictions:
    - the pesticide crisis Rachel Carson pointed out did not come to pass because of reduced pesticide use.
    - skin cancer on a large scale will probably be averted because we stopped destroying the ozone layer

    Thirdly, some other predictions are still about the future, and actually have a good chance of coming true:
    - In 1970 “Limits to Growth” predicted that humanity would get into trouble (under a BAU scenario) about half way into the 21st century. This could be due to various different constraints: raw material depletion, energy shortage, pollution, lack of water. Please do get LtG from the library and check it against what we know now. In fact, Matthew Simmons (investment banker and energy adviser to George Bush, surely an unbiased source in this) already did just this: http://www.greatchange.org/ov-simmons,club_of_rome_revisted.pdf
    - peak oil: if you go through the literature, you’ll see that most experts now agree that it will occur within the next decade or so. The exact point in time largely depends on political events, not physics, so it is hard to pin down. But it is simple arithmetic that oil demand will outstrip production soon. Checked the oil price lately?

    In conclusion then, we’d better take the climate predictions of IPCC very seriously.

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 20 Oct 2007 @ 7:18 AM

  122. I just don’t understand what deniers achieve by first denying climate change, and, now, denying human influence upon it, or whether it is even bad.

    I can’t wait to see responses to Stossel’s latest piece, where a half dozen scientists use ‘facts’ that are seemingly taken directly from the British case regarding the use of Gore’s film in schools.

    Comment by Jhozae — 20 Oct 2007 @ 7:39 AM

  123. #107 Hank Roberts As Harvey points out, identification of ‘dangerous interference’ does not require us to know with certainty that future climate change will be dangerous—an impossible task given that our knowledge about future climate change includes uncertainty. Rather, it requires the assertion that interference would lead to a significant probability of dangerous climate change beyond some risk tolerance, and therefore would pose an unacceptable risk.

    The problem with this line of thinking is that if you set the threshold at 5 or 10% of “something really bad happening” on a binary event (or series of related events) based on the opinion of experts, then we will end up spending money on an almost infinitely long list.

    What is the probability a skyscraper will fall over and kill thousands due to an unexpected even in the next 100 years? What is the probability a volcano will erupt and surprise a large population in the next 100 years? What is the probability and hundreds of bridges deemed “structurally good enough” will collapse without warning? Major city flooding unexpectedly? Skin cancers shooting through the roof? Wars due to misunderstandings? Major city loosing power during an extreme cold or heat wave?

    In fact, I could spend all night writing out a list of things that could happen with 5% probability in the next 100 years that would show potentially 50M lives at risk. And if I give odds of 5% and you accept those, how can you possible refute it when I increase those odds to 85% over a 100 year time scale IF one or more humans are involved OR if a system that isn’t completely understood is involved. You can’t. And since that list would involve 50M lives, how can you NOT want to pursue those?

    The other problem with a 5% (or 95% figure) for a complex system is that it means it’s a guess. If you get to watch an event happen one time and you don’t understand the cause, you have no way of knowing the probability was 90% or 10%. That’s good news for the expert, because it means if they state something bad will happen with 90% certainty, and it doesn’t happen, then the experts can say “thank god, I’m relieved to be wrong” without any accountability for their alarmism. Example? The statement “we’re 85% sure that country XYZ has nukes, and they will use them for evil. They must be stopped”. It doesn’t take much fanning of the flames for everyone to start thinking “Geez, they are right. If just one nuke gets launched, millions could die. And think of a dirty bomb in NYC! We must stop them. And you know what? If we’re wrong, I’ll be relieved. Better safe than sorry.”

    I’d bet that world consensus of world experts was easily at 85% that Iraq had nukes and was planning on doing something bad with them. Yet my guess is that most readers of this board were against the invasion and wanted more study on the subject. How is consensus of world experts there different that here? Experts on both sides were (and are) scared to death.

    Y2K bug? Ozone hole? DDT? Kuwait oil fires and nuclear winter?

    See how troublesome that line of thinking is?

    Comment by matt — 20 Oct 2007 @ 8:08 AM

  124. David:

    A delta T is a delta T and ~10 degrees in a century is an off the IPCC scale killer. So your equivocation on the impact, regional or hemispheric ,of the rapid rate of change of the Younger Dryas is risky , because, being as far as we know, the holocene Worst Thing Yet, the YD excursion is authentically interesting- and the last thing anybody should, pardon the expression, deny.

    Please retract before this microgaff turns into a mutant hockey stick- the usual suspects only need half a data point to fill a rubber spreadsheet, and you are in the process of giving them a whole one

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 20 Oct 2007 @ 8:14 AM

  125. Re: #105

    This is why it’s important to be skeptical. Simple answers are pushed at you.

    Dear Hank,
    This is the crux of the problem. We are swilling in simple answers from both extremes, with op-eds from the likes of Botkin at one pole, and people like Beverley (#70) being influenced by alarmist sources at the other pole …

    … and, although I appreciate the reference you provided, and found this post useful, the excerpt you just posted would not appear to me to reassure Beverley and many others who share her opinion that it is already too late to tackle climate change.

    Meanwhile, there are efforts that could be listed for Beverley from outside the scientific literature documenting actions being taken in the real world (i.e. not invented by journalists!) by engineers, businesses and governments to better understand, address and mitigate climate change.

    Perhaps it is time for another site aimed at highlighting RealSolutions, as mentioned by Les (#47) and Ike (#54), to enable non-scientists to pose questions to be answered by industry professionals (engineers, business leaders)?

    Comment by inel — 20 Oct 2007 @ 8:17 AM

  126. Matt, you dumped a basket of red herrings in the thread. Not useful.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Oct 2007 @ 9:24 AM

  127. Re 112 matt: “Is 2000 square leagues (24000 mi2) a lot or a little compared to melting we are seeing today? Is 24000 mi2 melting in two years a lot?”

    Matt, the area of Arctic sea ice that melted this year was by far the maximum observed since satellite observation of Arctic sea ice began in 1979, exceeding the previous record of 2005 by 1.2 million km2 (461,000 miles2). That is over 19 times the estimated melt referred to in your quote, but it’s hard to make a direct comparison since there was no satellite observation of the entire Arctic in 1817.

    See the extent of this year’s melt for yourself at:
    http://nsidc.org/news/press/2007_seaiceminimum/20070810_index.html

    Comment by Jim Eager — 20 Oct 2007 @ 9:51 AM

  128. Re 99

    Did anyone else notice that the USA Today article reporting that Antarctica is cooling was published in 2002? The Grace satellite results showing significant mass loss of Antarctica was published in 2006. http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2006-028

    Comment by Ron Taylor — 20 Oct 2007 @ 10:03 AM

  129. “University of East Anglia researchers gauged CO2 absorption through more than 90,000 measurements from merchant ships equipped with automatic instruments.

    “Results of their 10-year study in the North Atlantic show CO2 uptake halved between the mid-90s and 2000 to 2005.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7053903.stm

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Oct 2007 @ 10:22 AM

  130. #127 Jim Eager: That is over 19 times the estimated melt referred to in your quote, but it’s hard to make a direct comparison since there was no satellite observation of the entire Arctic in 1817

    Thanks, extremely helpful

    Comment by matt — 20 Oct 2007 @ 10:25 AM

  131. #126 Hank Roberts: Matt, you dumped a basket of red herrings in the thread. Not useful.

    Sorry about that, didn’t mean to derail. I’ll sharpen it to a single question for you since you brought up a very good question on risk assessment.

    In the run up to the Iraq war, world consensus (85%) was that Sadaam had WMDs and was likely to use them. Was it prudent for the US invade or should we have waited for more data? How does this differ from the current state on climate science? I’ll guess your position was “wait for more info on Iraq” and “act now on global warming”

    Is that correct?

    Comment by matt — 20 Oct 2007 @ 10:40 AM

  132. re 103

    “The problem, of course, is that there is a line of doomsayers spanning hundreds of years whos prophecies never came true.”

    Ah, but that’s not the case here. Wilson’s statement is based on observable activity taking place across the spectrum of international economics.

    In case you haven’t been following it, China and India (and the U.S.) – to mention three – have been making every effort to lock up energy reserves across the planet. Ironically, the melting Arctic is spurring talk of securing untapped energy reserves found there. Nuclear power is being reconsidered by more and more nations. Whether oil production has peaked in terms of available supply, it is not increasing in any appreciable manner and all the while demand for energy is on the rise.

    Raw materials are in increasing demand. China, in its efforts to keep its economic progress moving forward, first trashed itself ecologically and is now in the process of taking whatever it can from surrounding nations.

    Food production has essentially leveled out. There is just so much arable land and all the while population is on the rise. The competition for food that is available is also on the rise, increasing grain prices and by doing so, locking out poorer countries

    If the rest of the world were to achieve the lifestyle of the U.S., that would mean they’d want our power consumption levels, as well. 300,000,000 people and we’re using somewhere in the neighborhood of 25% of the world’s energy. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand the math doesn’t add up to a happy resolution.

    I’ll recommend to sources for you to look into this for yourself. The first is “Collapse” by Diamond, mentioned in the post you responded to (26), the second is the Lester Brown book cited in 52, which you can access at no cost in the links I provided. Combined or separately, both lend credence – via well-argued and cited discussions – to the remarks I attributed to E.O. Wilson.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 20 Oct 2007 @ 11:04 AM

  133. This is in response to comment 114 by Jim Dukelow regarding the American Scientist essay “The Shrinking Glaciers of Kilimanjaro: Can Global Warming Be Blamed?”…

    *

    1, Jim, you state:

    Perhaps more to the point, even though most American Scientist articles are non-”peer reviewed”, most of the readers of American Scientist are peer reviewed, being members of a Sigma Xi, an honor society for scientists and engineers, founded in 1886.

    Perhaps even more to the point, American Scientist is not a peer reviewed journal devoted to climatology.

    2. You state:

    I found the M & K arguments subtle and persuasive and in a Google Scholar search didn’t find any sign of those arguments having been “discussed and disposed of elsewhere”.

    Why would it be necessary for the “M & K arguments” to be “disposed of” if they hadn’t appeared in a peer-reviewed journal devoted to climatology?

    3. You state:

    Over the decades, I have found American Scientist one of the best sources of review articles across the breadth of science and engineering and, in addition, containing several excellent continuing columns and dozens of informative reviews of science, math, and technology books.

    Why would it be necessary to “despose of” their arguments if these were simply a “review” (read “rehash”) of arguments from primary literature which had been “desposed of”?

    4. You quote them as saying:

    … Any contribution of rising greenhouse gases to this circulation pattern necessarily emerged only in the last few years, hence it is responsible for at most a fraction of the recent decline in ice and a much smaller fraction of the total decline.”

    Why?

    Best estimates by NASA is that relative to 1880, the forcing due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases has exceeded the positive forcing due to solar variability from 1882 on. The deline in the mass balance of Kilimanjaro was first noticed (at least according to your subtle contrarian paradigm-shifting authors) in the 1880s.

    5. You state:

    All of this is far away from Botkin’s assertion that Mote and Kaser “explained why the glacier on Mt. Kilimanjaro could not be melting from global warming.” They do nothing of the sort.

    At this point you have me confused. In (4) you quoted them as stating that this was precisely what they were doing for all but “the last few years” with regard to atmospheric circulation. And the rest of the article is attempting much the same with regard to the warming by greenhouse gases.

    *

    Now let’s go to the “subtle” article itself. They state that sublimation is independent of temperature.

    I quote:

    These processes are fairly insensitive to temperature and hence to global warming. If air temperatures were eventually to rise above freezing, sensible- heat flux and atmospheric longwave emission would take the lead from sublimation and solar radiation.

    However, the partial pressure of saturation rises as an exponential function of temperature – even at well below zero. As such the process of evaporation directly from solid to gas is very much dependent upon temperature. However, given the latitude, I doubt that temperature has had that great of an effect as seasonality in the tropics is largely expressed in terms of humidity, not temperature.

    They state that the diffuse effects of increased infrared radiation could not be “the cause” of the sculpted appearance and easterly-westerly direction of the sculpted features.

    I quote:

    If infrared radiation and sensible heat transfer were the dominant factors, these sculpted features would not long survive.

    And again:

    The equinox seasons when the Sun is overhead are Solar radiation and sublimation are sculptors; infrared radiation and sensible heat transfer are diffuse, coming equally from all directions, and so they are smoothers.

    In this they are right – if it were simply infrared radiation operating on its own. However, to assume that the resulting structure receives its most of its energy from the source which is responsible for the directionality of the structure is fallacious. It would be like assuming that since hurricanes always spin in a way that is determined by the rotation of the earth, it must be the rotation of the earth which is primarily responsible for the source of their energy and not evaporation.

    They suggest that the directionality is due to solar radiation because of its easterly-westerly direction.

    I quote:

    The careful observer notes another striking fact about these walls: They are predominantly oriented in the eastwest direction. This too implicates solar radiation, whose intensity is modulated by a seasonal and daily pattern of cloudiness: The daily cycle of deep convection over central Africa means that afternoons, when the Sun is to the west, are typically cloudy.

    However, they do not eliminate the possibility that it is actually the wind – which would likely have the same directionality. What is likely is that since sublimation is a form of evaporation, albeit evaporation going directly from solid to gas, and since the gaseous state will result in moist air convection, it is in fact the wind that is responsible for the sculpting – whatever the primary source of energy is which is responsible for the directionality of the sculpting.

    Furthermore, what is in all likelihood responsible for the sculpted appearance of the ice itself is the fact that it is going directly from solid to gas instead of going through the intermediate state of being a liquid which would shapelessly flow in direct contact with the solid over a more extended distance with greater heat exchange, not the source of the energy which is responsible for the sculpted appearance.

    I agree with them on one major point: sublimation is the primary process at work.

    However, greenhouse gases have dominated solar radiation since before the loss of Kilimanjaro’s ice was observed and would have been comparable for some time before this. As such, the sublimation of the ice of Kiliminjaro could historically just as easily be driven by infrared radiation as solar radiation. Moreover, the intensity of forcing due to greenhouse gases would in all likelihood exceeded that of solar radiation in the tropics well before the climate system as a whole given the greater intensity of infrared radiation in the tropics. It is afterall where the super greenhouse effect is observed. The cause of the sculpted appearance of the ice is in all likelihood the fact that it is immediately going from solid to gas. The cause of its directionality is in all likelihood moist air convection combined with the directionality of the wind.

    *

    Finally, it took me a moment’s thought to arrive at each one of my criticisms and each element in my own explanation. As such I find the arguments of the authors of the piece neither subtle nor persuasive.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 20 Oct 2007 @ 11:12 AM

  134. David wrote in the original post:

    > There is no precedent in the past 2.5 million years for
    > so much warming so fast.

    Dr. Seitz points out that the recovery from the Younger Dryas cooling is faster than the current warming.

    I’d guess the distinction is between change in longterm climate due to changing the atmosphere by increasing CO2, compared to a short-term temperature change that ‘fixed itself’ in only a thousand years or so, caused by some onetime event (glacial melt flood, comet strike, both?)

    The various “geo-engineering” fixes like increasing sulfates in the atmosphere would be comparable to creating another Younger Dryas event, maybe?

    http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/pi/arch/examples.shtml
    “… the annual-mean temperature increased by as much as 10°C in 10 years.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Oct 2007 @ 11:38 AM

  135. Ron Taylor (#128) wrote:

    Re 99

    Did anyone else notice that the USA Today article reporting that Antarctica is cooling was published in 2002? The Grace satellite results showing significant mass loss of Antarctica was published in 2006. http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2006-028

    Yep. I did.

    Please see 109. Glad to see someone else bring it up, though. This is something people need to be reminded of, particularly when they claim the opposite.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 20 Oct 2007 @ 11:46 AM

  136. Matt (#123) wrote:

    The problem with this line of thinking is that if you set the threshold at 5 or 10% of “something really bad happening” on a binary event (or series of related events) based on the opinion of experts, then we will end up spending money on an almost infinitely long list… …

    Matt, by your line of reasoning, what of risk of “something really bad happening” would ever qualify as a reason for lifting a finger?

    Incidentally, the probability of something “really bad happening” is more like 100% – if we don’t adjust our course. Droughts, famines, floods, wars – heck, according to the experts all of this is happening already, albeit on a much more limited scale. But continuing as we are things will get a whole lot worse.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 20 Oct 2007 @ 11:59 AM

  137. Re 123
    Risk management is about estimating the likelihood of an event happening and what the consequences will be.

    Skyscrapers do not just “unexpected” fall over. They fall over a result of expected events, such as earthquakes, windstorms, floods, terrorist acts, and human error such as failure to maintain. These risks are carefully considered and engineered allowances made in the basis of design.

    The problem with global warming is that it increases flood and weather stresses on all existing structures, and makes designing new structures more difficult because the climate is changing, and historical baselines are no longer as predictive.

    You may spend all night, but the list of events that will affect a population of 50M with probability of 5% in the next 100 years is rather short.

    1) Global warming
    2) War (made more likely as a result of resource stresses caused by Global warming)
    3) Crop failure as a result of global warming.
    4) Sea level rise as a result of global warming destroying industrial and civic infrastructure.
    5) Population displacement as a result of global warming.

    There are Earthquakes which have likelihood of occurrence that is much higher, but each they will affect fewer than 50M people. Other geologic events such as a collapse of islands into the sea resulting in giant tsunamis would affect more people, but have a lower likelihood of occurrence.

    The policy makers of the world do spend treasure and lives on an almost infinitely long list of priorities. We spent a pile of money fixing the Y2K bug – and it worked. I helped put out the Kuwait oil fires, and it was not easy. We were able to put those fires out because we did our home work, planned, and we worked hard. We put our lives on the line and were lucky enough to come back with a perfect safety record. With good planning and teamwork, anything that can be dreamed, can be accomplished, whether the goal is going to the moon, finding a better way to control malaria, or discontinue the use of the chlorinated hydrocarbons that produced the Ozone Hole.

    I do not know about “world experts” but the guys that I know at Oak Ridge that know more about nuclear fuel cycles than anybody else in the free world, were quite certain than Iraq did not have nukes. In this case, the ”experts” were ignored, and you know what happed. If you want to accomplish things, Do your home work.

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 20 Oct 2007 @ 12:01 PM

  138. Regarding the Kilimanjaro issue, this has been extensively discussed at RC. See, for example:

    Tropical Glacier Retreat, May 23 2005 RC, Raymond Pierrehumbert:

    Quote:
    “The widespread retreat is all the more notable because tropical mountain glaciers are old. They have survived thousands of years of natural climate fluctuations, only to dwindle at a time when other climate indicators — notably surface temperature — are showing the imprint of human influence on climate. Quelccaya is at least 1500 years old, Dasuopo is 9000 years old, and Huascaran has seen 19000 years. A date for the ultimate demise of these glaciers has not been fixed, but the Northern Ice Field on Kilimanjaro may be gone in as little as twenty years, after having survived the past 11,000 years.”

    That’s why the retreat of these glaciers are a strong idicator of unprecedented global warming (and also why the so-called “Maunder Minimum” is not evidence that it has happened before).

    Quote:
    “In contrast to the midlatitude case, tropical glaciers do not have summertime melt seasons characterized by above-freezing air temperature. Lower altitude portions can be warmed directly by year-round exposure to above-freezing air, but at higher altitudes absorption of sunlight ultimately supplies all the energy which sustains ablation. However, the other terms in the energy balance directly or indirectly affect the amount of absorbed solar radiation which is available for ablation. These terms are sensitive to air temperature, atmospheric humidity, cloudiness, and wind.”

    That’s why the ‘freezing temperatures’ claims of M&K are very misleading.

    Final quote:
    “The Kilimanjaro glacier has waxed and waned since the time of its inception about 11,000 years ago. An unusually wet decade around 1880 put the glacier into strongly positive mass balance, bulking up its mass. Early 20th century explorers found the glacier recovering towards equilibrium from this anomalous state. However, rather than finding a new equilibrium in the 20th century, the glacier has continued to retreat, and is now on the brink of disappearing. Though air temperature has so far remained below freezing, melting has begun to occur, and the glacier is suffering net ablation over its entire surface. Air temperature increases similar to those observed aloft since 1960, amplified by associated increases in humidity, account for a significant portion of the enhanced ablation leading to this strongly negative mass balance, but the exact proportion is highly uncertain because of the short span of energy and mass balance observations.”

    In comparison, the M&K article at American Scientist concludes that “If human-induced global warming has played any role in the shrinkage of Kilimanjaro’s ice, it could only have joined the game quite late, after the result was already clearly decided, acting at most as an accessory, influencing the outcome indirectly.”

    So, M&K claim that in the absence of accumulation of fossil fuel-sourced CO2 in the atmosphere, Kilimanjaro would have melted anyway – despite the fact it had been around for 11,000 years.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 20 Oct 2007 @ 12:03 PM

  139. Jhozae (#122) wrote:

    I just don’t understand what deniers achieve by first denying climate change, and, now, denying human influence upon it, or whether it is even bad.

    There are a great many people who don’t want us to do something about climate change, whether it is out of a misplaced desire to avoid the economic costs (e.g., economic conservatives – who don’t realize that things will be must more costly in the long-run if we don’t do something about it soon), out of a misplaced desire to protect individual freedom (those who don’t realize that freedom will be far greater jeopardy later if we do not act, the economy endures a great deal of damage, people become desperate, and governments take truly draconian measures), the desire financial gain (e.g.those who have been recieving money from Exxon in exchange for their “skepticism”), and the desire to see the world through an ideology freed from facts and independent of scientific discoveries.

    In each case, they begin with the conclusion that they want to arrive at, then try to cut their “opponent’s” argument off at the head by beginning with the scientific claims, then when it becomes clear that this position is no longer tenable, work their way forward. Deny the trend. Deny that we are the cause of it. Deny whether it is bad. Then deny whether we can (read “should”) do anything about it. Then there are probably those who have just come in on the middle of it and hew to the opinions of those that they respect and identify with.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 20 Oct 2007 @ 12:25 PM

  140. You write: “There is no precedent in the past 2.5 million years for so much warming so fast.”

    Could you please list the five centuries from the past 2.5 million years when warming has been fastest. An estimate of warming speeds respectively for the top five will be appreciated, with an accuracy of about plus minus 0,2 degrees Celsius.

    Thank you.

    Comment by Dodo — 20 Oct 2007 @ 12:55 PM

  141. Among the vanquished or savaged, there have always been people who’ve screeched non-alarmism even after the cracks were apparent.

    an example:

    “Internal MnDOT documents reviewed by the Star Tribune reveal that last year bridge officials talked openly about the possibility of the bridge collapsing …”

    “MnDOT rejected a recommendation from the consultant to install high-tech sensors to detect cracking on critical sections of the I-35W bridge less than a year before the bridge collapsed. …”

    Comment by J.C.H. — 20 Oct 2007 @ 1:33 PM

  142. Matt, re #123. How many events do you know of in nature that are binary and unique? I don’t count too many. Most of them belong to a class of events and occur with some distribution of cost vs. probability. Probability doesn’t do particularly well with the probability of a single event, but the probability of a given # of events occurring can be estimated quite well. That is why Warren Buffett is a wealthy man.
    And there are ways of reducing subjectivity in setting the probabilities as I alluded to above. One way is to establish a type of futures market. Another is to look at insurance premiums for disasters. And I also dispute your assertion that there are many Super Catastrophes (or Supercats in the insurance business) that have 5% or even a 1% probability of occurrence. The Asian Earthquake/Tsunami is about as bad as it usually gets, and that was a few hundred thousand fatalities. The 1918 flu pandemic comes close. It would appear that you are guided by “hunches” here rather than solid information. Risk assessment works, and lots of people have made money for years off of it.
    Interestingly, one place where things seem to break down is when a risk is hard to calculate–e.g. another major terrorist attack in the continental US. Then insurance dries up. However, this too is reflective of a reality–an unknown risk is an even greater concern than a high risk. This is why a laugh at so-called skeptics who say the models are no good. I respond that we’d better be able to trust them, or we cannot cap the risk due to climate change–and policy will be driven by high-impact, pollitically sensitive events like Katrina. Believe me, if you are a skeptic who wants to limit mitigation of climate change to sane levels, the models are your best friends.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Oct 2007 @ 1:46 PM

  143. Re 131: Matt, your OT question about the response to Sodamn Insane and his putative WMD is way off topic, but to try to keep the issue to risk assessment generally, I would note that
    1)the WMD in question were thought to be chemical and possibly biological, not nuclear
    2)the risks of Iraq’s WMD were contained. Even if Iraq had had smallpox, we could have traced the strain back to them and retalliated massively for an attack–even one perpetrated by a terrorist. Moreover, as everyone who has used them has found out, chemical weapons aren’t particularly effective or easy to use.
    3)Thus, the probability of an attack was negligible, and the impact would also likely have been small.

    Because the risk=probability x consequence was small, there was no justification from a strategic point of view. The decision was 100% political.

    In contrast, the risks from climate are not at present capped. Many remain quite uncertain and those we know potentially could have a very high cost. The two situations are not at all commensurate.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Oct 2007 @ 1:55 PM

  144. Dodo, if you’re not trying to be funny, try the ‘start here’ link at the top of each page, to get a better idea of what’s knowable from the real world. This may help:
    http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Ice_Age_Temperature_Rev_png

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Oct 2007 @ 2:07 PM

  145. [edit for conciseness - there is no need to cut and paste all previous discussions]

    Response to #133 Timothy Chase:

    Timothy Chase needs to work on his reading skills. I noted that although the Mote and Kaser article was a non-peer-reviewed invited article, it was summarizing recent research that they and colleagues had done on the Kilimanjaro ice cap and glaciers and on mountain glaciers more generally and had published in peer-reviewed “climatology” journals.

    The comment about the M&K arguments being neither “old arguments” nor “discussed and disposed of elsewhere” was a reference to David’s snarky throw-away comments in his posting. I did a Google Scholar search looking for the elsewhere-disposal of those arguments and didn’t find anything. I asked David to provide pointers to the elsewhere-disposal and haven’t heard anything back.

    Timothy’s “Why?” mirrors my own regarding the M&K assertions that AGW could contribute at most a fraction to recent ice loss on Kilimanjaro and a small fraction to overall ice loss. I noted the logarithmic dependence of temperature on GHG concentration and the unknown dependence of precipitation on GHG concentration and growth in GHGs since the early 19th century to express my lack of persuasion about M&K’s “fraction” and “small fraction”

    *

    Reading skills again. Exactly how are “independent of temperature” and “fairly insenstive to temperature” the same. Although the partial pressure of water at temperatures below freezing depends exponentially on temperature, the absolute values are small and the incremental increase is also small. Further, the heat required to sublimate ice to vapor is several times greater than the heat required to melt ice to water.

    *

    Reading skills again. Timothy skips over the second part of the M&K directionality argument where they note “whereas when the Sun is to the south or north (soltices) the summit is typically cloud-free. For the same reason, the edges of the ice are retreating more slowly on the west, southwest, and northwest sides.”

    *

    Reading skills again. Timothy Chase skips over M&K’s discussion of penitentes: “Penitentes are seen also in many places in the Andes and the Himalaya, where they are sometimes much larger. These finger-like features arise when initial irregularities in a flat surface result in collection of dust in pockets, which accelerates melting in those places by enhancing absorption of solar radiation. The cups between the penitentes are protected from ventilation even as the wind brushing the peaks of the developing spires enhances sublimation, which cools the surface. If infrared radiation and sensible heat transfer were the dominant factors, these sculpted features would not long survive. Solar radiation and sublimation are sculptors; infrared radiation and sensible heat transfer are diffuse, coming equally from all directions, and so they are smoothers. The prevalence of sculpted features on Kilimanjaro’s peak provides strong evidence against the role of smoothers, which are energetically closely related to air temperature.”

    *

    Perhaps a few more moments and a closer reading of M&K are needed. I found the M&K paper persuasive, except in those areas (e.g., the “fraction” and “small fraction” argument and their failure to note that the loss of mass in the steep slope glaciers was predominantly due to AGW) where I didn’t find them persuasive. I don’t find Timothy Chase’s arguments persuasive, except in those areas where he agrees with me, but doesn’t seem to realize it.

    Best regards.

    Comment by Jim Dukelow — 20 Oct 2007 @ 2:30 PM

  146. Here comes the sun. Again. Or, GLOBAL WARMING DELUSIONS IN THE VATICAN. Just watched ROME REPORTS last night on EWTN, the U.S. Catholic TV channel (do I ever regret getting cable 2 months ago!!), based on their report of 10/10/07, which can be seen at http://www.romereports.com/index.php?lnk=750&id=461 (the part about GW is about in the middle).

    They interview Viscount Monckton, who claims Mars and Jupiter are warming, just as Earth is, and it’s “that large, bright, hot object bang in the center of our solar system” that’s causing the warming, not SUVs in outerspace. [Well, at least these presumably Catholic reporters are OK with the sun, not earth, being in the center.]

    They also claim that despite the Pope speaking out strongly about GW and our need to mitigate it, that secretly he really has no idea what’s causing it, but somehow is speaking with forked tongue by alluding that it’s due to human GHG emissions, which heart of hearts he doesn’t really believe.

    Then they go on to damn environmentalists as nature worshippers — the old “discredit the messengers, discredit the message” technique.

    They refer to a Vatican Climate Change Conference last April. My priest used that to try and dissuade me from believing GW was real. It hosted some scientist, Antonio Zichichi; the RC folks apprised me that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about (see #37 & #38 at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/04/the-lag-between-temp-and-co2 ).

    This isn’t funny to me (the way WSJ editorials are, since I consider them jokes anyway). And I would think this would be demoralizing to Catholics around the world. At least the Church’s earlier Gallileo mistake didn’t involve life-threatening environmental harms, only a shift in world view, but AGW is an issue of much more importance, especially for our moral leaders to be getting wrong.

    If anything they should be erring on the side of (that good old virtue) prudence in avoiding false negatives (failing to recognize a problem when it actually exists), and should not even have to have scientific-level certainty. What’s happened to virtue in our world?

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 20 Oct 2007 @ 3:01 PM

  147. Re 144. Thanks Hank, but I still can’t find a list of the fastest warming centuries. And don’t bother sending more wiki links – my question was actually meant for David Archer.

    I think it is impossible to make such a statement on centennial scale warming speed based on available proxy data from the past 2 500 000 years.

    But David deems it appropriate to make such an assertion, so he should explain.

    [Response: The forecast for 2100 puts the Earth warmer than it has been in 2.5 million years, based on oxygen isotopes in deep sea sediments. The CO2 is rising faster than it has throughout the ice core record which goes back 650,000 years. For atmospheric CO2 to change as quickly as it is now (faster than the atmosphere / ocean exchange time or the silicate weathering time scale of 100,000 years) requires a large source of CO2 released directly to the atmosphere. Such an event leaves traces behind, such as the acid-driven dissolution of CaCO3 in sediments, and, depending on the source of the carbon, a signature in carbon isotopic composition of the ocean. There is no evidence for an analogous event to fossil fuel release since the Paleocene Eocene thermal maximum event, 55 million years ago. David.]

    Comment by Dodo — 20 Oct 2007 @ 3:20 PM

  148. in response to everyone responding to #99

    My point is that I got ridiculed for saying the Antarctic ice sheet was growing. So I posted my sources for claiming such. Now I’m being lambasted because I don’t understand how a warming trend can cause ice sheets to grow.

    I actually do understand how ice sheets can grow due to warmer weather (more precip, still cold, hence more ice). But how can AWG be causing both a growing ice sheet (as the realclimate link explains) AND a shrinking Antarctic ice sheet (as has been pronounced as fact in this discussion)?

    Maybe I can’t hold two thoughts in my head at once, but when someone tells me that I’m damned either way, I tend to just plain not believe them.

    I found another link to a paper that said the south pacific temperature has been decreasing for about the last decade. How does that fit into the argument? I haven’t read the paper, but here’s the link to the abstract:

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2002/2002GL015191.shtml

    So which is it? Is the ice sheet growing or is it shrinking? And where is the size of the ice sheet respective to the historical changes in the ice sheet?

    Does anyone REALLY know????

    Comment by dean — 20 Oct 2007 @ 3:21 PM

  149. #102 Robert wrote:

    >

    Hmmm, although this is easier to understand and sort of correct in this one instance…”that warmer air holds more water vapor”…it is technically more correct to say (the warmer the liquid water the more evaporation happens over condensation and you increase the water cycle).

    This is critical because, the technically incorrect but easier to understand (to the public) “warmer air holds more water” idea suddenly breaks down if you want to use it correctly to explain all the actual observed effects of global warming (climate distortion, climate disruption, the “anthropocene”) by humans warming the air-which warms liquid water by releasing more carbon dioxide.

    For instance, if you warm the air…and it “holds more water vapor”…then how do you explain that parts of land masses world-wide on average can (and are drying out), bigger and longer droughts are happening and hot deserts are expanding by just warming the air while having more rainfall simultaneously!!! (and yes, this is really happening [IPCC]).

    Basically, the air is almost always having both evaporation and condensation at the same time depending on temperature of the “liquid” water. The warmer the liquid, the more evaporation and the more rainfall/snowfall happens all other things being equal…think tropics being so humid.

    The opposite is much more startling. Cool the air down enough (even on the Earth’s surface) and condensation increases while evaporation rates can go down to almost zero…now you have a real desert because there is almost no precipitaion…

    Guess what the biggest and most intense desert is on the entire planet as defined by lack of precipition…ANTARCTICA!!!

    Go far north and you get ANOTHER desert. Go up in the atmosphere…and you get ANOTHER desert…and one of the most important reasons that carbon dioxide becomes THE greenhouse gas to worry about…high up, there is no other abundant greenhouse gas left except carbon dioxide…and THAT is where the Earth’s heat is not being let out…and it’s increasing in thickness!!!

    Now, how do you expain that different isotope ratios of oxygen (O16/O18) can tell scientists temperatures 800,000 and even millions of years ago (in ice cores, corals, stalagmites and ocean bed sediment cores- which is true by the way). The seeming idea that “warm air can hold more vapor than cold air” breaks down again…ouch!!!!

    The real reason is back to evaporation vs. condensation. If the air gets warmer, then there is more energy in the water and now the heavier O18 can escape easier because evaporation is increasing…so the ratios change depending on water temperature…not, incorrectly, that the warmer air can hold more water vapor.

    The answer is that by warming the water, the rate of evaporation exceeds the rate of condensation even more with the air making the water warmer.

    So, if you pursue the incorrect idea that “warmer air holds more water vapor” too much, it can lead you to false conclusions about the threat of global warming. Physics and real life observations show that this evaporation vs. condensation fact is now and will be in the future a real bear for humanity and your kids…

    but only if you forget that partially correct idea that “warmer air holds more water vapor.” This is critical.

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 20 Oct 2007 @ 3:23 PM

  150. Regarding comment no.131 by Matt,who says [["In the run up to the Iraq war, world consensus (85%) was that Sadaam had WMDs and was likely to use them. Was it prudent for the US invade or should we have waited for more data? How does this differ from the current state on climate science? I’ll guess your position was “wait for more info on Iraq” and “act now on global warming”"]]

    We’re comparing starting a preemptive war with building sea walls and erecting solar panels? The former is of unknown length, unknown killed and maimed and unknown cost, the latter is a hedge against the forces of nature. There isn’t a meaningful comparison here.

    Engineering projects use probability of occurrence as a tool to help in the design,of say a dam. You could build it a half mile high and protect against a 1000 year flood, but why would you, when practicality and economic restrictions require that protection be limited to say a 200 year flood.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 20 Oct 2007 @ 3:31 PM

  151. Re 131 – matt

    Why wait for more info on Iraq, but act now on climate change?

    First, the two threats would develop in very different ways. If we had verified a short-term threat from Iraq at any point in time, the threat could have been neutralized in a very short time period. The threat of AGW, however, requires several decades, perhaps even centuries to neutralize. There is also the additional threat of known but unquantified nonlinear feedbacks – the “tipping point” problem. Finally, while a successful nuclear attack in the U.S. would be devastating, our nation and civilization would survive. AGW, however, has signifcant potential to create major world disorder, a very dangerous thing with nuclear arsenals still in place. The two threats are in no way comparable.

    In terms of information at hand, we had no credible evidence of an immediate threat from Iraq at the time of the invasion. The AGW problem, on the other hand, is strongly supported by the science, at least according to the IPCC and the academies of science of all major nations.

    These are simply my views as a laymen.

    Comment by Ron Taylor — 20 Oct 2007 @ 4:30 PM

  152. In other news, the Arctic sea ice began increasing (a month later than usual), but the recovery is lagging.

    Look at the anomaly, the measure this year against the 1979-2000 mean amount, each day.
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/current.anom.jpg

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Oct 2007 @ 4:39 PM

  153. Lynn, Well, since the current Bishop of Rome (pope) seems to be one of the great minds of the 14th century, it is not surprising that he has reservations about empiricism. But then, I would not look to the church to tell me about scientific matters. And the pope has at least recognized Intelligent Design for the heresy it is–I have confidence in his ability to comment on doctrinal matters. But asking an 80 year old layman to comprehend the science of climate change and why it might be a bad thing is probably a bit much to ask.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Oct 2007 @ 5:26 PM

  154. This might be a good time for us non-scientists to take a look a Greenland.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenland

    Comment by catman306 — 20 Oct 2007 @ 5:42 PM

  155. I forgot a point I intended to make in #150

    The destructive potential of the threat of a nuclear attack on the U.S. fostered by iraq under Saddam Hussein remained more or less constant. But the global destructive potential of AGW increases every year. That provides a special sense of urgency.

    Comment by Ron Taylor — 20 Oct 2007 @ 5:45 PM

  156. So Marburger and Botkin say climate change won’t adversely affect people. Hmm!

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071020/ap_on_re_as/sinking_cities;_ylt=Akfp4teUAWyY0zLeFpLEux1vaA8F

    “Of the 33 cities predicted to have at least 8 million people by 2015, at least 21 are highly vulnerable, says the Worldwatch Institute.”

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Oct 2007 @ 6:21 PM

  157. Jim Dukelow (#145) wrote in response to 133:

    Timothy’s “Why?” mirrors my own regarding the M&K assertions that AGW could contribute at most a fraction to recent ice loss on Kilimanjaro and a small fraction to overall ice loss. I noted the logarithmic dependence of temperature on GHG concentration and the unknown dependence of precipitation on GHG concentration and growth in GHGs since the early 19th century to express my lack of persuasion about M&K’s “fraction” and “small fraction”

    I am glad that we agree upon something, but then I noticed this much at the time that I read your comment – but simply chose not to comment on it. Your prose is what first caught my attention.

    Temperature Dependence

    Jim Dukelow (#145) wrote:

    Exactly how are “independent of temperature” and “fairly insenstive to temperature” the same. Although the partial pressure of water at temperatures below freezing depends exponentially on temperature, the absolute values are small and the incremental increase is also small. Further, the heat required to sublimate ice to vapor is several times greater than the heat required to melt ice to water.

    Small does not mean nonexistent. Small but increasing exponentially with temperature would mean that temperature will play a greater role with increased temperature – exponentially so, in fact. Without heat energy, there will be no sublimation. But heat energy comes from the environment as the result of either the Planck temperature of the radiation (whether it is visible solar radiation, or the thermal radiation emitted by either a surface or the atmosphere) or the Maxwell temperature of the surrounding matter.

    However, as I stated in what you were responding to, I do not think that temperature itself has played that large a role given the fact that seasonality in the tropics is a matter of humid vs. dry rather than warm vs. cold. Temperatures rise in the tropics much more slowly than at higher latitudes in response to the greenhouse effect since heat is transported towards the poles – principally by means of convection and circulation of both the atmosphere and ocean.

    Directionality

    Jim Dukelow (#145) wrote:

    Timothy skips over the second part of the M&K directionality argument where they note “whereas when the Sun is to the south or north (soltices) the summit is typically cloud-free. For the same reason, the edges of the ice are retreating more slowly on the west, southwest, and northwest sides.”

    But have they eliminated atmospheric flow as the source of the directionality? This was an issue that I raised.

    Sublimation and Melting

    Jim Dukelow (#145) quotes from the essay:

    These finger-like features arise when initial irregularities in a flat surface result in collection of dust in pockets, which accelerates melting in those places by enhancing absorption of solar radiation. The cups between the penitentes are protected from ventilation even as the wind brushing the peaks of the developing spires enhances sublimation, which cools the surface. If infrared radiation and sensible heat transfer were the dominant factors, these sculpted features would not long survive. Solar radiation and sublimation are sculptors; infrared radiation and sensible heat transfer are diffuse, coming equally from all directions, and so they are smoothers. The prevalence of sculpted features on Kilimanjaro’s peak provides strong evidence against the role of smoothers, which are energetically closely related to air temperature.

    It would appear that I was wrong – as were the authors of the essay. Penitentes can grow as the result of melting. It is their seeding which must be the result of sublimation.

    I quote from from the abstract of a study:

    We report the first laboratory generation of centimeter-scale snow and ice penitentes. Systematically varying conditions allows identification of the essential parameters controlling the formation of ablation structures. We demonstrate that penitente initiation and coarsening requires cold temperatures, so that ablation leads to sublimation rather than melting. Once penitentes have formed, further growth of height can occur by melting. The penitentes intially appear as small structures (3 mm high) and grow by coarsening to 1-5 cm high. Our results are an important step towards understanding and controlling ablation morphologies.

    Controlled Irradiative Formation of Penitentes
    Vance Bergeron, Charles Berger, and M. D. Betterton
    Phys. Rev. Lett. 96, 098502 (2006)
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/physics/0601184

    In this context it is also worth pointing out that when they mention the existence of impurities which lead to the greater absorption of sunlight during the day (no doubt a factor in the more polluted era of higher atmospheric black carbon), they fail to take into account the fact that there will exist a thin film of water at temperatures as low as -40 degrees. (C or F, whichever you prefer.) Given the fact that they are citing a temperature of only -7 C as sufficient evidence for the absence of a role for melting, I believe they should spend more time studying ice.

    Formation and Growth

    Likewise, it would appear that direct sunlight is not what is involved in the formation of penitentes:

    When radiation illuminates a surface, small surface depressions receive more reflected light than high points, leading to greater ablation in troughs and surface instability.

    (ibid., main text.)

    What leads to their initial formation is would appear to be reflected sunlight due to surface imperfections. As such, this shows that they are esquisitely sensitive to their environment as the result of instability – in a way that is comparable to a hurricane in its initial formation and sensitivity to the rotation of the earth. Once they are initially formed, the effects of anything which give the penitentes directionality can be amplified by other forces. As such, directionality could be the result of the sun while the majority of the energy responsible for the process of sublimation itself could be the result of longwave radiation.

    In fact, with the “opposite process” whereby water vapor is “frozen” into ice (the formation of frost), it is the crystaline structure of the ice itself which acts as a scaffold for the elaboration of that structure. Likewise, while wind may not penetrate very far into a deep penitente, in its early formation, surely it must be able to as the penitente is not very deep. In addition, once a penitente forms, there is no reason to think that the diffuse thermal radiation entering it will not be “directional” insofar as the penitente itself has a shape which will determine how even diffuse radiation is able to enter it or leave it.

    The directionality of the penitente would appear to be more dependent upon its seeding than the external forces which continue to operate on it during its growth. Likewise, there is no reason to think that the seeding of its directionality is anything more than a tipping of the balance – where the majority of the forces at play are nondirectional.

    But it would appear that my “tipping of the scales” argument which I made earlier by analogy with hurricane formation was either something that you missed or else that you were unimpressed with – even though I pointed to phenomena which exhibit just such a tipping of the scales.

    The Periodicity of Self Assembly

    The authors point to the fact that ice is subject to the periodic aquisition of energy due to the rising and setting of the sun. This makes sense in terms of a process of self-assembly which, like self-organization, generally involves extreme sensitivity to the environment and tends to be driven in large part by periodic behavior. This may be the thawing and freezing of the soil – resulting in rock circles in the arctic, the waves in sand at a beach, or I would presume the self-organizing structures in ice that result from condensation and sublimation.

    However, when they analyze infrared radiation and the fact that in net it results in the loss of thermal energy, they fail to take into account the fact that ice will drop in temperature principally during the night. The periodic behavior may be the rising and setting of the sun – or the absorption of thermal radiation during the day and the release of such energy either through sublimation or thermal radiation at night. As such, on the whole it may be acquiring thermal energy from infrared radiation during the day even though it is losing thermal energy at night.

    As such the thermal energy for sublimation may come from longwave radiation. Likewise, when pointing to the structure of the ice as a product of sublimation, they fail to take into account that it may also be the product of the condensation of frost – at night. Sublimation during the day may give way to a lesser degree of condensation at night – which would result in the same sort of structure. But as they have not subjected the process of sublimation itself to systematic study (unlike the study which I have cited), they do not know and what claims they make regarding this amount to little more than story-telling.

    The Trend in Ablation

    As evidence for the absence of a role for greenhouse gases, the authors point out that the ablation was occuring at a faster rate earlier on than it is now. This makes sense in terms of pollution by aerosols, whether they are black carbon resulting in the greater absorption of sunlight or in the increased amount of contaminants which seed sublimation, and it also makes sense in terms of melting – insofar as the temperature at which ice melts, particularly in terms of surface melting, may be lowered tens of degrees by contaminants below the “freezing point” of water.

    However, this also makes sense in terms of the fact that temperature of the tropics will not increase as quickly in the tropics as elsewhere given convection – and the fact that temperature drops in a roughly linear fashion with altitude. The further up you go the closer you will get to a stable equilibrium. Likewise, given the random walk of thermal radiation from the surface, the intensity of thermal radiation from lower altitudes will drop the further you go up. But given these alternate causal explanations for such a trend, it cannot be automatically attributed to solar radiation.

    The Role of Greenhouse Gases

    Finally, the reason why I believe greenhouse gases have played a substantial role and in all likelihood greater role than solar variability in the ablation of Kilimanjaro is because according to NASA’s estimates their forcing relative to 1880 has been higher than that of solar variability in all but 1881. Furthermore, the NASA estimates refer to the global energy budget – whereas the greenhouse effect is known to be stronger in the tropics.

    Regardless, global warming obviously plays a far greater role in the global mass balance of glaciers – and Kilimanjaro would do nothing to change this even if its ablation could somehow be attributed primarily to solar variability rather than an enhanced greenhouse effect.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 20 Oct 2007 @ 6:58 PM

  158. Dean, “so which is it” is not a helpful question, it assumes only two possibilities exist. The world is bigger than that.

    I wonder how you find the 2002 articles without finding the more recent articles. What kind of search are you doing, or what kind of source are you relying on as true?

    You should be able to follow even newspaper articles, and certainly published science papers, forward in time by seeing who has cited them more recently. Try that with the AGU paper, it’s been cited about a dozen times, and you can look those up.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Oct 2007 @ 7:02 PM

  159. The comparison of the case for global warming to the case for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is ludicrous.

    The theoretical framework for global warming due to atmospheric gases was establish in the late 19th century. The phenomenon has been studied intensely, and discussed in the scientific literature, for decades. As a result, the world climate science community has reached an extraordinarily strong concensus.

    The evidence for WMDs in Iraq was “whipped up” by the current U.S. administration in a matter of *months*. The evidence was *never* subjected to scrutiny outside the U.S. executive branch.

    BAD analogy.

    Comment by tamino — 20 Oct 2007 @ 7:10 PM

  160. I do not agree with you strategy. This site should be about science, real science and it turns into a AGW movement site. I cannot agree with this. It is one thing to strengthen your voice and to answer your critics, but I do not like what is going over here or please state clearly that there is a political message. Democracy is all about the freemdom of speech and I see handpicked statements, I feel concerned. It is so difficult (you are professionals) to open a discussion with Lindzen or other crictics on this site? Please understand, I like your achievments and great research, but if you continue like this, you will see public support turning to freefall.

    Focus on the science, do not become politicians, bankers or marketing people. They can do it much better (look at Gore).

    Comment by PeterK — 20 Oct 2007 @ 7:24 PM

  161. Anyway, your answers are not correct. Recent research shows that species can adopt very quickly to climate and environmental changes.

    If there is any medieval optimum (I agree,there was one) it is not proven in any way that is a relationship to climate fluctuations in South or Middle America (any proof?)

    Comment by PeterK — 20 Oct 2007 @ 7:40 PM

  162. #143 Ray Ladbury: Re 131: Matt, your OT question about the response to Sodamn Insane and his putative WMD is way off topic, but to try to keep the issue to risk assessment generally, I would note that
    1)the WMD in question were thought to be chemical and possibly biological, not nuclear
    2)the risks of Iraq’s WMD were contained. Even if Iraq had had smallpox, we could have traced the strain back to them and retalliated massively for an attack–even one perpetrated by a terrorist. Moreover, as everyone who has used them has found out, chemical weapons aren’t particularly effective or easy to use.
    3)Thus, the probability of an attack was negligible, and the impact would also likely have been small.

    Because the risk=probability x consequence was small, there was no justification from a strategic point of view. The decision was 100% political.

    Sorry, but you are second guessing the experts, and that isn’t allowed in this game. Becuase you aren’t an expert at WMD and the risks, your opinion doesn’t matter. And in fact, you aren’t even allowed to ask for clarification. Infuriating, isn’t it?

    Recall we had just come off of an event in which 20 people willing to die caused nearly $1T in economic damage. Just prior to the war, even Blix said he wouldn’t be surprised if coalition forces found chemical or biological weapons, meaning that even Blix, a huge critic, believed the odds they were there was >=51%.

    So again, consensus put the probability of WMD being there at very nearly 90%. Consensus put the cost of letting them out at trillions of dollars.

    How can you say probability * consequence was small? You can say that in retrospect, but that’s simply monday morning quarterbacking. But again, I highlight this as an example of:

    1) How easy it is for “experts” to convince us they known more than they do
    2) that anytime someone tell you a probability of a complex event is X, and X is between 5% and 95%, then they are simply making it up. If they understood the complex event, it woudlnt’ necessarily be complex, and their answer would be much closer to an absolute.
    3) It’s very easy for experts to take somethign that might happen with a probability of 30 or 40%, and convince the world it will happen with a probability of 90%.

    The Iraq war tought us a lot about letting experts with an agenda guide policy, and also about the level of accountability we shoudl be seeking from experts.

    I wonder if the war experts would have stated 90% certainty if they had to bet their 401K on it. At a minimum, you can bet there would be a massive list of caveats. Honestly, I’d like to have seen those caveats.

    I suspect the situation is similar here. Folks on this board are overwhelmingly certain somethign will happen with 90%. But if it came time to bet on it, the list of caveats would a mile long, and they’d want even odds.

    Comment by matt — 20 Oct 2007 @ 7:50 PM

  163. Silly me, I asked Dean
    >how you find the 2002 articles without finding more recent …

    So I checked with Google for the URL you quote, and that particular abstract’s URL turns out to be mentioned only at:

    junkscience; co2science; and CEI.

    There’s your problem. You’re getting your info by reading PR sites, sources of outdated and highly spun and slanted takes, paid for by the fossil fuel lobby. They won’t help you learn anything about how to think for yourself or how to look up the science.

    Look them up at Sourcewatch. You know how.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Oct 2007 @ 7:55 PM

  164. Does it invalidate the article. No, it does not. But that is what Anglo American Science seems to be about. Google for the author, look where and when it was published, look if it was peer reviewed, do not care about the content. Give it a nice funeral.

    Great science!!

    Comment by PeterK — 20 Oct 2007 @ 8:11 PM

  165. I am sorry, if I were you, I would not dare to have an discussion with Botkin, it is up to you.

    Comment by PeterK — 20 Oct 2007 @ 8:24 PM

  166. AGW vs WMD in Iraq

    matt: do you understand the difference between science and military intelligence?

    The latter usually worries about intent and capability. Various intelligence services (not just US) certainly thought that it was Saddam’s 100% intent to possess WMD, the argument was about capability, and in retrospect, Saddam’s games with inspection forces even fooled knowledgable people (like Ken Pollack) into thinking he was hiding capability, when he was really hiding weakness from neighboring countries and his own people. There is certainly evidence that they were still working on missile delivery systems. But Saddam’s capabilities were an issue for intelligence (which was bad, and not demanding better was worse), NOT for physics and chemistry.

    During WW II, there was a fairly strong belief in US leadership that Hitler wanted an A-bomb (yes), and also that they were a lot further along with it than they were.

    The universe doesn’t purposefully try to fool us, and AGW is based on science, not intelligence.

    Comment by John Mashey — 20 Oct 2007 @ 8:27 PM

  167. You are aware,

    that some species can adopt within 3 generations. Every rat can do that.

    Best wishes!!

    Comment by PeterK — 20 Oct 2007 @ 8:32 PM

  168. Re # 106 Art mentioned John Stossel and his “junk science” reporting:

    The website Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR, http://www.fair.org) has an archive of its posts debunking the alleged “junk science” junk put forth by John Stossel:

    http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=13

    There are several websites devoted to defending Stossel against FAIR’s critiques, but, IMHO the arguments made in his defense are just as flimsy as Stossel’s own arguments, if not worse.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 20 Oct 2007 @ 8:36 PM

  169. PeterK (#161) wrote:

    I do not agree with you strategy.

    Who is talking strategy?

    This site should be about science, real science and it turns into a AGW movement site. I cannot agree with this. It is one thing to strengthen your voice and to answer your critics, but I do not like what is going over here or please state clearly that there is a political message.

    What are you responding to? Do you have some comment and a number in mind? A first name? A middle initial?

    Democracy is all about the freemdom of speech and I see handpicked statements, I feel concerned. It is so difficult (you are professionals)…

    The contributors are the professionals. The people who comment are just whoever happen to show up – myself included. “Handpicked statements”? Do you mean your post?

    … to open a discussion with Lindzen or other crictics on this site?

    Lindzen? He is certainly welcome to come here. I take it you don’t think he is biased or anything…

    Please understand, I like your achievments and great research, …

    Glad to hear it.

    …but if you continue like this, you will see public support turning to freefall.

    Well, now that is something new. Usually the people who get all worried about how RealClimate will appear to the public and warn us about it are the skeptics arguing against the science. Typically they have a really difficult time giving specifics, though.

    This is downright refreshing! Well, maybe not the lack of specifics…

    Focus on the science, …

    From what I have seen that is pretty much what we do around here — except when someone comes in that has a few loose screws…

    … do not become politicians, bankers or marketing people.

    Wasn’t planning on it.

    They can do it much better

    Oh ye of little faith…

    (look at Gore).

    Whatever.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 20 Oct 2007 @ 8:54 PM

  170. Matt,
    Um, actually, I was expressing an opinion because you brought up the off topic. However, the opinions I expressed were well within the mainstream of real experts (not the political appointees, etc. the administration listened to). Yes, most experts thought Sodamn Insane had WMD. Hell, even Sodamn Insane and his generals thought he did. Read the transcripts of the interrogations. They were surprised when there were no chemical shells being delivered to the front lines! The question is what WMD. NO ONE except maybe Dick Cheney (whose acquaintance with reality is doubtful) thought he had nukes. Most thought he had chemical weapons because he had had them in the past. A few thought he might have had crude biological weapons (anthrax and smallpox [Iraq was among the last places where smallpox was eradicated.]), but few thought it had been weaponized (not a trivial exercise). Even if the biological agents had been weaponized, they would be traceable to Baghdad and we would have reduced the capital to fused green sand within 30 minutes of an attack. That, Matt, is what the experts counseled. The administration was convinced of the threat because they came into 2000 convinced of the threat. 9/11/2001 just provided the falsified Causus Belli.
    But then to go from your revisionist version of this event to claim that “anytime someone tell you a probability of a complex event is X, and X is between 5% and 95%, then they are simply making it up” is beyond the pale! Do you honestly think folks like Warren Buffet would offer Supercat insurance policies if they couldn’t predict risk? Matt, you are projecting your own ignorance and assuming the rest of the world shares it. Look, Matt, I help build satellites. Satellites face risks. I assess risks for a living. I have to make projections about how electronics will behave in a hostile environment on the basis of way too little information, and there are ways of doing this without just “making it up”. Your attitude is not just wrong. It is dangerous, because it means you are too damned ignorant to know when you are being fed a line. Rather than rectify that ignorance you have chosen to just adopt a cynical attitude that all experts lie. Grow up. Educate yourself!

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Oct 2007 @ 9:02 PM

  171. Re 163

    Matt is simply playing mind games and I wonder why anyone would waste time responding to this nonsense. Ray, your time is too important for this.

    Comment by Ron Taylor — 20 Oct 2007 @ 9:41 PM

  172. Re #163, #143, #131, and other comments regarding “the response to Sodamn Insane and his putative WMD”:

    Could we please refrain from using such politically divisive and inappropriate analogies? It’s really only going to waste bandwidth. We’re not going to find any consensus on it or related matters, so the discussion will inevitably degenerate to unrelated political issues.

    Not to mention that it’s a bad analogy anyway. It’s rather like supposing that GW was recognized as a real threat, but blamed on cosmic rays, so the world responded with a massive program to build orbiting radiation shields :-)

    Comment by James — 20 Oct 2007 @ 9:47 PM

  173. #157 Timothy wrote:
    Finally, the reason why I believe greenhouse gases have played a substantial role and in all likelihood greater role than solar variability in the ablation of Kilimanjaro is because according to NASA’s estimates their forcing relative to 1880 has been higher than that of solar variability in all but 1881.

    I’m interested by this quote, what is the reference concerning solar/CO2 forcing reconstruction for 1850-1950 in Nasa models?

    By advance, thank.

    Comment by Charles Muller — 20 Oct 2007 @ 10:22 PM

  174. Actually the experts, people like Dr. Hans Blix, and many members of his inspection team, thought the case for there being WMDs in Iraq was very weak, and they wanted more time to complete the inspection process.

    A group of people in the administration, congress, and the media, many of them also ardent AGW deniers, thought Hans Blix was a bumbling fool. They thought the Iraqis were moving large caches of WMDs out the backdoor as Blix and his guys were coming in the front door, and other such preposterous theories.

    Experts who thought mobile biological weapons labs were technologically implausible were also ignored.

    I don’t know what Matt thought of Blix.

    Comment by J.C.H. — 20 Oct 2007 @ 10:24 PM

  175. I’ve been a biologist for a long time and would like to know which species “adopt?” Sounds like kin theory to me. Hyenas appear in textbooks on the subject.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 20 Oct 2007 @ 11:58 PM

  176. Dean, maybe you were looking for this:
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/

    Look for the section titled “Record SH sea ice maximum and NH sea ice minimum”. Dated “October 1, 2007″. Recent enough for you, Hank?

    Comment by Venkat — 21 Oct 2007 @ 12:06 AM

  177. Re: 164

    Hank, you’re telling me a post from USA Today, corroborated through several other large newspapers (NYTimes, LA Times, etc… I just linked USA Today) are also pawns of junkscience? If so, then this website is ALSO in collusion with Junkscience because the second link was from RealClimate.

    The third link, from agu.org, a site that seems to have more pro-AGW papers published than anti-agw papers. the site did not seem to have a preconceived bias that i could find (and if you google “global warming” on that site, then you’ll see a predominance of pro-agw papers listed).

    As for what i googled, i did google on a growing ice pack, but that’s because i had heard it was growing and wanted to see just who was saying it (if only junkscience was saying it, i’d have not posted it). I found, instead of junkscience and iceagenow sites, accredited institutions publishing papers stating it. That we have scientists that disagree with what is actually going on means that we really don’t know… and because we really don’t know, comments like “we have to do something because the poles are melting” are specuous at best.

    As for Junkscience, are you really surprised they’d pick up on this study? Of course you aren’t! So don’t insult me by saying otherwise. Just because it’s picked up on their site doesn’t mean that the science in the paper isn’t accurate!

    Does anyone else remember the study on scientific studies? the one that said 50% of all studies were wrong? So which ones are wrong? ah… i forgot… only the anti-AGW papers are wrong (and ALL of them are wrong).

    yea… RRRRIIIIIIIGGGGGGGHHHHHTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!

    Comment by dean — 21 Oct 2007 @ 12:10 AM

  178. #162 PeterK wrote: “Anyway, your answers are not correct. Recent research shows that species can adopt very quickly to climate and environmental changes.”

    Yeah, right. So just what studies show which species can rapidly adapt (I assume you didn’t really mean “adopt”) to climate and environmental changes? Do you have some peer reviewed research to share with us? And please don’t tell us you heard it on the Rush Limbaugh show, so it must be true!

    Comment by Jim Eaton — 21 Oct 2007 @ 12:10 AM

  179. Jumping into the fray that matt (103, 163) started, though got a teensy off his main track: His contention was that we need to be cautious when reacting to doomsayers, and cited a few from the past. Jim (110) and Stephen (120), et al responded by saying his examples were really good things. AIDS is one that probably was (and has the potential to be a very bad situation). But, there is little correlated evidence that reducing the ozone hole has improved skin cancer or increasing it has worsened the rate; Jim’s reference of the Chilean city whose melanoma rates “soared” from 1.22 to 1.91 per hundred thousand per year in line with ozone hole changes is hardly strong evidence (the US white male rate is about 14.5) that the cost of reducing the ozone hole has come anywhere close to paying off with less skin cancer; though the jury is still out on this one. Fortunately nobody did much in response to Ehrlich, the epitome of doomsday extremism; though why some would defend him to refute matt is not clear. Then, defending our response to R. Carson’s cry of alarm, which probably caused the greatest human tragedy in this century (and with this scenario, probably “ever”), I find really odd, except for those with a fine pair of rose-colored glasses.

    Dick (121) makes a valid point, though. Past false doomsday alarms have no bearing or effect on whether today’s perceived problem (AGW) is credible or not.

    The tap dancing around matt’s Iraq war comparison has been fun. If we would have nuked Baghdad out of existence 30 minutes after they spread smallpox throughout NYC, Wash. D.C., San Fran and Fargo ND, Ray would be the only American congratulating the President for a job well-thought out and done; Ron (151) would simply say “no big deal”. I think this comparison has some relevance to the main thrust which is reaction to perceived threats, even though John (168) says not because science is correct to perfection and military intelligence is fuzzy; though Ron does make a fine but valid distinction between the two cases, so they are not perfectly comparable.

    Finally, to quickly state the facts for the record: Sadam had WMD, unequivocally (though did something privately with them between 1999 and 2003); we never claimed Sadam had nuclear weapons; like we never claimed the Sadam had anything to do with 9/11.

    Comment by Rod B — 21 Oct 2007 @ 12:41 AM

  180. I have one question: Botkin claims that temperatures on top of Kilmanjaro never drop below freezing and this proves that global warming cannot be the cause of the glacier’s disappearance there. What do people think of this?

    Comment by John Reimann — 21 Oct 2007 @ 12:48 AM

  181. I agree with David that the the problem of dustbowls is one of the most worrisome aspects of AGW. The NY time magazine has a very good article about the problems with climate change in the already water starved US west.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/21/magazine/21water-t.html?ex=1350619200&en=ebd1e9edaa26cdf1&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

    I have commented before on RC about AGW making work for lawyers, but lawyers who work on water rights issues AGW is a godsend. If you are a major water user in the US west its time to lawyer up.

    PeterK (#169), you write that rats can adapt very quickly, are you saying we should not worry about AGW because there will be more sewer rats? That does not seem to be a very good argument for inaction.

    Comment by Joseph O\\\'Sullivan — 21 Oct 2007 @ 1:30 AM

  182. Hi,
    would you be able to post something soon on this new development Oceans are ‘soaking up less CO2′, if possible with links to the data underlying those findings? Thanks in advance if you’re able to do so.
    -NL

    Comment by NL — 21 Oct 2007 @ 1:47 AM

  183. This is off topic, but can anyone direct me to an explanation of the differences between the NASA temperature anomaly analysis and the Hadley center’s? I know the primary difference is at the poles, but I don’t understand the details.

    Thanks!

    Comment by cce — 21 Oct 2007 @ 2:37 AM

  184. #172 Ray Ladbury: Do you honestly think folks like Warren Buffet would offer Supercat insurance policies if they couldn’t predict risk?

    Uh, yes. From the 1996 letter to shareholders: “So what are the true odds of our having to make a payout during the policy’s term? We don’t know — nor do we think computer models will help us, since we believe the precision they project is a chimera. In fact, such models can lull decision-makers into a false sense of security and thereby increase their chances of making a really huge mistake.”

    In other words, they are pretty sure that they are right, but will place a lot of bets to help mitigate the risk. But no way no how would they place a single big bet on something that looked even quite a bit stronger than “pretty sure”.

    AGW is a single big bet.

    BTW, I fully believe in figure where engineers or bean counters have indicated a 70% chance of an event happening AND that even is based on substantial sampling. What I reject is when someone renders and expert opinion between the range of about 5 and 95% based on their analysis of a not-well-understood system. Mortage rates and future temperatures fall into that bucket. I think Buffet is with me in that line of thinking.

    I’ll drop all the WMD references. To me, that serves only as a point to demonstrate agenda-driven experts of marginally understood systems run amok.

    And yes, I’m sorry, but there is enough “at any cost” writings out there from the AGW leaders that makes me think they are agenda-driven. I don’t think they are liars or bad people. But I think it’s very, very easy for a human with a motive to fail to see the full picture. I consider myself in the same boat, and study as hard as I can to try and gain the full picture.

    Comment by matt — 21 Oct 2007 @ 4:44 AM

  185. Mea Culpa, folks. And Matt, I specifically apologize to you for the harsh tone I took. I merely find the argument: “some experts lie, so all experts lie” a bit tiresome. Still, I should not allow myself to be goaded. The essential point is that probabilistic risk analysis works. There are challenges, but there are accepted standards for meeting these challenges.
    I would also like to caution people against unfounded distrust of experts. This attitude is dangerous–as any doctor will attest after counseling a heart patient to exercise more and having the patient say, “Ah, those guys don’t know what they’re talking about,” while lighting up another cigarette and popping another extra-crispy trans-fat chip into his mouth.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Oct 2007 @ 6:45 AM

  186. Re David’s answer to 147. Many thanks for admitting a mistake on your part. Now, you are using the term “forecast” in connection with global climate in 2100. I don’t know if that is appropriate. Usually the talk is only about model-based scenarios or storylines, and AFAIK, the terms prediction and prognosis are frowned upon by most modellers.

    But now we have a forecast, like a weather forecast that met offices sell to the public. How much worth do you think this 2100 climate forecast is? If you had to sell it, how much would you ask, and how much do you think you would get for it?

    Comment by Dodo — 21 Oct 2007 @ 6:55 AM

  187. #168 John Mashey: matt: do you understand the difference between science and military intelligence?

    John, let’s distinguish between well understood science, and not well understood science. Well understood science is science that hasn’t change appreciably in 10 years. I think that is what you were referring to.

    Not well understood science is science that has changed appreciably over the last 10 years. The climate models of 10 years ago look silly today, because they ignored aerosols and and as result the estimates for warming were way too high (50% higher than today).

    In 10 years will our understanding of climate render today’s models silly?

    You don’t know, and I don’t either, and neither do Gavin and company.

    In 10 years, if those models look very much like today’s models, then I think we can say the science has had 10 years to steep without appreciable changes to the understanding, and thus it’s starting to “get there” in terms of understanding.

    today, the IPCC says “circulation systems” (and a host of other things) are poorly understood. Thus, who can say if their are important to a complete model? They might not be, but they might.

    I agree, that in the case of well understood science it is dramatically different than military intelligence. Poorly understood science (eg. science whos understanding has changed appreciably in the last 10 years) often relies on consensus to connect small facts, just like military intelligence.

    Comment by matt — 21 Oct 2007 @ 7:13 AM

  188. Jim Eaton (#175) wrote:

    Yeah, right. So just what studies show which species can rapidly adapt (I assume you didn’t really mean “adopt”) to climate and environmental changes? Do you have some peer reviewed research to share with us? And please don’t tell us you heard it on the Rush Limbaugh show, so it must be true!

    Actually in some cases it has been happening.

    A polymorphism in the genetic pool of a given population where one or two differences (perhaps nothing more than a variable length tandem repeat – or I would presume variable copy number polymorphism where the number of copies of a gene differs from individual to individual) results in a change in behavior. Some members of a given species will be migratory, other non-migratory depending upon the genetic variation, with the genetic difference between the migratory and non-migratory birds being limited to a few key loci within the genome.

    Alternatively, some birds are gradually changing the scheduling of their migratory behavior. Here is a recent story:

    Long-haul birds ‘returning early’
    By Catherine Owen
    Last Updated: Sunday, 2 July 2006
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5130538.stm

    But a really big part of the problem is that a given population will have only so much genetic variation. The genetic variation acts as a buffer of adaptability, but its not unlimited. It gets spent. When the population adapts, there is typically less genetic variation afterwards – until the rate of mutation (or in some happier cases, sexual recombination) is able to replentish it.

    For example, much of the genetic variation you see in dogs would appear to be the result of hypermutative triple repeats in the coding sequences of regulatory proteins. This is what gave us the genetic variation necessary which made possible so many different breeds of dogs within the span of perhaps ten thousand years.

    Molecular origins of rapid and continuous morphological evolution
    John W. Fondon, III, and Harold R. Garner
    PNAS | December 28, 2004 | vol. 101 | no. 52 | 18058-18063
    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/101/52/18058

    But even hypermutable sequences take a while to generate new variation. In some cases they will mutate at perhaps a hundred thousand times the background rate or only a hundred times. But it still takes time, and their indirect selection has taken place within the context of a much slower rate of climate change. The climate change we are talking about is about a hundred times that of the background rate.

    Genetic variation and the mutation which generates it will have limits. Besides, if the rate of mutation were too high, there would be more deleterious mutations. In fact this is a price we pay for the plasticity made possible by triple coding repeats: tripple repeat diseases – such that once the variable length loci has too many repeats it results in disease (called TREDs for short).

    The Chinese have been trying to adapt rice to higher temperatures, different soils and the like as well as increase its nutritional value. They have a little helper, too, which has done a fair amount for them in the past. A large family of still active transposable elements called MITEs. They have given the rice genome a degree of plasticity in the past which made its domestication and adaption to variations in climate possible – although obviously we weren’t aware of it at the time.

    But even MITEs can do only so much – and the Chinese have been irradiating rice in order to encourage more genetic variation from which to artificially select “better” strains.

    Perhaps we should start irradiating birds…

    (“Pay no attention to the lumpy tumors underneath the skin!”)

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 21 Oct 2007 @ 7:44 AM

  189. Re # 103 Matt: “What is the most grave prediction you can think of that actually had a measurable impact that came true over a 20+ year window?”

    Back in 1969, Woods Hole oceanographer John Ryther warned about overfishing in an article published in the journal Science (Science 3 October 1969 166: 72-76; http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/166/3901/72.pdf). We are now seeing the decline of major fisheries around the world, as documented by Daniel Pauly and others, for example:
    http://www.fisheries.ubc.ca/members/dpauly/publications_journalArticles.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overfishing;
    http://www.alaskaoceans.net/facts/overfishing.htm#global).

    There are plenty more examples, if you bother to look for them.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 21 Oct 2007 @ 8:19 AM

  190. Re: #159

    The evidence for WMDs in Iraq was “whipped up” by the current U.S. administration in a matter of *months*.

    Thanks, tamino, for a great example of the use of quotation marks (to indicate an allegation) and asterisks (for emphasis) in one sentence!

    There have been suggestions (in another thread on this site here) that most Americans are unable to interpret a British High Court judge’s use of quotation marks around alleged errors. Excusing misinterpretation and condoning misuse of language to serve a purpose illustrates the need for accuracy (affects for effects, adopt for adapt, and so on … ) in print media.

    Global Warming Delusions go so far beyond the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed pages. However, I still think we need to address the concerns of the growing number of members of the public who believe (even if they cannot cite scientific sources themselves) that we are already beyond the point of no return with climate change.

    Finally, I second Ray Ladbury’s remark #187 that “unfounded distrust of experts” is dangerous. Ignorance of, and contempt for, the weight of scientific evidence and promotion of anti-intellectual attitudes can never achieve the results the world needs. We have to base decisions on world-class knowledge and expertise, to understand and address our climate challenge effectively.

    Comment by inel — 21 Oct 2007 @ 8:31 AM

  191. #153 (RE #146) Ray, it was the news program, ROME REPORTS, and “some [unspecified] Catholic scholars” who think the Pope doesn’t really believe what he says, when he makes strong statements about global warming and our moral duty to mitigate it.

    So either the Pope means what he says (that AGW is happening & we need to mitigate it), or he’s a liar who says one thing but believes another (which is what RomeReports claims “some” Catholic scholars think).

    The upshot is that ROME REPORTS is guilty of extremely bad and (may I use the word) evil journalism, which goes out to many millions of Catholics around the world who now think that when the Pope talks about mitigating environmental problems, he doesn’t really mean it, but is probably just appeasing those evil nature-worshipping environmentalists that keep harping unnecessarily about global warming. Which would make the Pope pretty similar to certain political leaders.

    But I don’t accept that for a moment. I take the Pope’s statements at face value — he says (and I assume he means) we must mitigate global warming. As John Paul II told us back in 1990 (in “Peace with All Creation”).

    So it’s our duty also to let ROME REPORTS know what a disservice they are doing with their evil reports to humankind, to Gods’ creation, to the Pope, and to the Catholic Church.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 21 Oct 2007 @ 8:51 AM

  192. #80, John, we know exactly what will happen with the WSJ since we have the example of what Murdoch did with the Times of London. In many ways he accomplishes this by hiring policy and not overt interference

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 21 Oct 2007 @ 9:09 AM

  193. Charles Muller (#175) wrote:

    #157 Timothy wrote:
    Finally, the reason why I believe greenhouse gases have played a substantial role and in all likelihood greater role than solar variability in the ablation of Kilimanjaro is because according to NASA’s estimates their forcing relative to 1880 has been higher than that of solar variability in all but 1881.”

    I’m interested by this quote, what is the reference concerning solar/CO2 forcing reconstruction for 1850-1950 in Nasa models?

    Well, 1850 is a little before my time, but for 1880 on up, please see the chart on page 26 of the following…

    Climate simulations for 1880-2003 with GISS modelE
    Hansen, et al. (Climate Dynamics, 2007)
    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abstracts/2007/Hansen_etal_3.html
    http://arxiv.org/ftp/physics/papers/0610/0610109.pdf

    I am pretty sure that I have the numbers for the estimated forcings for each component for each year, but it might take me a bit to look it up.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 21 Oct 2007 @ 9:19 AM

  194. When I think of the pope, I think of Galileo and Giordano Bruno.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 21 Oct 2007 @ 9:32 AM

  195. Ref 185. I am on holiday, and not on my own computer. If you find an answer, and I suggest you add NCDC/NOAA to you list, I have a whole long list of people, including myself, who want to know what that answer is.

    Comment by Jim Cripwell — 21 Oct 2007 @ 10:46 AM

  196. Matt said: “The climate models of 10 years ago look silly today, because they ignored aerosols and and as result the estimates for warming were way too high (50% higher than today).”

    Matt, where on Earth are you getting your information? The advances to climate models in the past decade have been incremental. And climate models most certainly did have some treatment of aerosols–Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, and the climate models gave an adequate treatment of the effects of aerosols from the eruption.
    Climate models look pretty much like they did in the 80s or even in the ’70s–same forcers, just slightly different magnitudes. Progress has been steady, and the conclusions have been pretty much the same since Hansen’s studies of the mid ’80s.
    Again, you assume because you are ignorant, everyone else must be as well. While this may absolve you in your mind of the responsibility to educate yourself, it does not remedy your ignorance.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Oct 2007 @ 11:21 AM

  197. The first time on RC that CBNs (not WMDs, the only WMDs are words) have been used as a proxy for ice sheet collapse.

    Tend to agree with Ray Ladbury on risk and Aaron Lewis on agricultural risks.

    Since a number of posters, as always, quote out-of-date numbers, is there not a way to keep information up to date. I know this happens in science amongst scientists but for the average person in the street it can be daunting.

    I bet everyone knows what it is like in a lift (elevator) in a modern US office building : Bloomberg and the like from the first to the 25 floor. Weather forecasts, Dow Jones, the Cubs have lost again, and so on.

    My point is simple. Raising the profile on risks requires something measurable which all can understand.

    The risks from global warming are immediate and continuing and much more important than share prices and baseball scores.

    My proposal is simple and if I had the capability I would do it myself but I am deficient in this department.

    Why can we not have an ice sheet collapse index up-dated each month : we could call it GIMBI – Global (or Gavin if you like) Ice Mass Balance Index. It would be a number, yes one number, compiled from the best model of ice sheet experts and it would be displayed every day just as Footsie is. And up-dated as modelling becomes better. The usual legal disclaimers would naturally accompany the index.

    At least it would have a chilling effect (sorry about that) on one’s office arrival routine. But more importantly it would concentrate our minds, because in a sense it gives us a deadline (sorry about that too) and people tend to work better with deadlines.

    There must be all sorts of ways to make the index accessible to the population but one obvious way would be to do a count back from say a 6m sea level rise : my bet would be an inverse non-linear count back but whatever ; or the best estimate for sea level for 2100 up-dated each month. It would be interesting to see the effect of the index on people’s behaviour when another chunk of Ant or Gr flops into the sea.

    There is a lot of money riding on sea level rise : not least because the Fed Gov picks up the tab for Florida (am I correct here you USians?) and I understand the UK picks up some flood insurance.

    The idea has a certain elegance to it particularly in the UK and US because the first victims of sea level rise would be the City and Wall St.

    Perhaps the index could accompany Mr Annan’s temperature futures market.

    Perhaps the WSJ could sponsor it?

    Yes, I am serious apart from the last comment. Oh, I dont know, perhaps they might.

    Comment by Eachran — 21 Oct 2007 @ 11:47 AM

  198. > where on Earth are you getting

    Let me guess. Association of British Drivers?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Oct 2007 @ 11:51 AM

  199. #176 says, “….Actually the experts, people like Dr. Hans Blix, and many members of his inspection team, thought the case for there being WMDs in Iraq was very weak, and they wanted more time to complete the inspection process.”

    The truth, which has long been lost, is that Blix promised the Security Council something to the effect, “he would search Iraq kilometer by kilometer and find the WMDs. All he needed was time.” He was confident that WMDs were there, given what he knew of the past, what Sadam’s report said, and what his team had found already. It was only long after the fact, when WMDs were a sore spot, that people, including Blix himself, revised his remarks a bit.

    Comment by Rod B — 21 Oct 2007 @ 11:57 AM

  200. RE: 198

    is that accurate? I thought our understanding of the impact of cloud cover has significantly changed during this time period.

    If that understanding has change and it hasn’t changed the model’s results, what does that say about 1) the model and 2) about the effect of cloud cover?

    Comment by dean — 21 Oct 2007 @ 12:15 PM

  201. PeterK writes: “This site should be about science, real science and it turns into a AGW movement site. I cannot agree with this . . . Democracy is all about the freemdom of speech and I see handpicked statements, I feel concerned. It is so difficult (you are professionals) to open a discussion with Lindzen or other crictics on this site?”

    Well, why don’t you drop a line to Richard Lindzen, WIlliam Gray, et. al and ask them to start contributing to the comments section here? I suspect that the reason they don’t is that their arguments would be quickly demolished. Instead, they talk to a handful of reporters who repeat their statements, or publish their opinons in discussion-free forums like the WSJ editorial page.

    PeterK then says: “Anyway, your answers are not correct. Recent research shows that species can adopt very quickly to climate and environmental changes.”

    If you are going to cite recent research, you should tell people what that research is. Otherwise, you’re just using the standard public relations strategy of “appealing to scientific expertise.” For example, something like this: By 2050 Warming to Doom Million Species, Study Says, John Roach for National Geographic News July 12, 2004.

    The researchers worked independently in six biodiversity-rich regions around the world, from Australia to South Africa, plugging field data on species distribution and regional climate into computer models that simulated the ways species’ ranges are expected to move in response to temperature and climate changes.

    According to the researchers’ collective results, the predicted range of climate change by 2050 will place 15 to 35 percent of the 1,103 species studied at risk of extinction. The numbers are expected to hold up when extrapolated globally, potentially dooming more than a million species.

    “These are first-pass estimates, but they put the problem in the right ballpark … I expect more detailed studies to refine these numbers and to add data for additional regions, but not to change the general import of these findings,” said Hannah.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 21 Oct 2007 @ 12:36 PM

  202. Re.#182, John Reimann:

    I have one question: Botkin claims that temperatures on top of Kilmanjaro never drop below freezing and this proves that global warming cannot be the cause of the glacier’s disappearance there. What do people think of this?

    It’s a ridiculous simplification. The causes of the glacier’s disappearance there have been discussed at great length in the Convenient Untruths thread. (Search for references throughout the thread to Kilimanjaro, especially the posts by Timothy Chase).

    Comment by Dave Rado — 21 Oct 2007 @ 2:03 PM

  203. David – struggling to digest your critique. Am I correct you are in basically in agreement or comfortable with each of Botkin’s points, but you think they are all irrelevant and designed to deflect attention from relevant data? His motivation for this is what?
    I’m very interested in the relationship of emotion to science. Can any of the scientists participating here name more than a few global warming skeptics whose science you respect? So far, the writing I see here suggests that any departure from the views *here* is scientific heresy. That said, I’m still reading. This is a great *blogging* project. I’m still out on whether it’s a *science* project.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 21 Oct 2007 @ 2:41 PM

  204. re: #189 Matt, #198 Ray

    Ray already covered most of this, but Matt:

    a) Where do you get the idea that there is something special about a 10-year interval that offers a distinct separation between settled since and otherwise?

    b) Have you studied the history of science and paradigm changes?
    If not, you might want to read, for example:
    Thomas Kuhn, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”
    Naomi Oreskes, “The Rejection of Continental Drift”

    A lot of science (and engineering) act as approximations to reality that keep getting improved, sometimes by big jumps, but often by incremental improvements. Newton’s Laws of Motion were “settled science” (even by your 10-year defintion) for a long time. Einstein’s are better. Did he make Newton silly? I don’t think so, Newton’s laws are fine approximations, even if they’re not good enough for GPS. The disconnect between Relativity & Quantum Mechanics has had star physicists hunting a workable Unified theory for decades. If someone ever finds one, will it make Relativity & Quantum Mechanics look silly? I.e. will GPS stop working? Will transistors not work any more?

    c) Do you speak (or have you spoken) at length with climate scientists, especially modelers, about certainty/uncertainty levels of various parts of their results?

    (I have, as I used to talk with NCAR, GFDL, etc people in the process of helping them evaluate supercomputers I’d helped design.)

    “In 10 years will our understanding of climate render today’s models silly?
    You don’t know, and I don’t either, and neither do Gavin and company.”

    So, you don’t know, but I’m sure Gavin and company know, and actually, I know enough to pretty sure as well. There are plenty of improvements that will get made, and there will be all sorts of fine-tuning, and aerosols and clouds will be better handled, and there will be better modeling of these nonlinear effects like the Arctic ice-melt and Greenland glacier behavior … but physics & chemistry known for 50 years isn’t going to change. Computers will get bigger memories and higher compute rates, and if smaller grid boxes help, they’ll get smaller, but I don’t think the basics behind AGW even need any serious computing power.

    If you distrust all simulation, you should avoid recently-designed cars, airplanes, bridges, and buildings. People built all of these before there were computers, and the models just let us fine-tune their building.

    Comment by John Mashey — 21 Oct 2007 @ 3:06 PM

  205. Re 186 – “AGW is a single big bet.” Matt, I would turn that on its head. Since the overwhelming consensus of climate scientists says AGW is a serious problem, then to reject that consensus and do nothing is to make a single big bet that they are all wrong, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

    By the way, I thought you were simply trying to muddy the waters, but now realize you were trying to make a valid point. My apologies. However, I do not believe you have made your point, except perhaps as an abstract truth, which, in my judgment, does not apply.

    Comment by Ron Taylor — 21 Oct 2007 @ 3:10 PM

  206. Re 202: Dean, think about it a moment. It says that the models are mature and that future advances in our understanding, while they may significantly increase our understanding of that particular contributor, will be unlikely to significantly change the conclusions that have stood the test of time for over 2 decades now.
    Second, about clouds–there are competing effects. Clouds during daylight tend to lower temperatures, while during the night they tend to increase temperatures.

    Re 205: Joe–first, I’m not sure of the antecedent of your “this”. If you mean RC, it is not a science project, but a science-education project–a place where people can come and learn about the science, knowing the contributors are actual climate scientists, and not some professor emeritus of petroleum geology from the University Northern Saskatoon, who assures us that he’s an expert, too, although he’s never published in the field.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Oct 2007 @ 3:17 PM

  207. [[They interview Viscount Monckton, who claims Mars and Jupiter are warming, just as Earth is, and it’s “that large, bright, hot object bang in the center of our solar system” that’s causing the warming, not SUVs in outerspace.]]

    The Viscount is wrong (again). Mars is warming, but Jupiter is not. They discovered hot spots on Jupiter. That is NOT the same as global warming on Jupiter. And if “that large, bright, hot object” is causing Mars to warm, how come Uranus is cooling? I’d like to know how increased sunlight caused that. And how it did it without the total solar irradiance rising — we’ve been observing TSI directly from satellites and it hasn’t moved significantly for decades.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 21 Oct 2007 @ 3:53 PM

  208. Dean posts:

    [[So which is it? Is the ice sheet growing or is it shrinking?]]

    I believe it’s growing in the middle, where precipitation is rising, and shrinking at the edges, where the water is warming. And the overall trend in mass is down according to the GRACE satellite.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 21 Oct 2007 @ 3:56 PM

  209. Re.#205, Joe Duck, can you name a single “global warming skeptic” who meets all of the following criteria:

    1) They are a climate scientist.

    2) They still regularly publish in genuinely peer reviewed journals (that is, that are reviewed by other climate scientists).

    3) They do not issue press releases regarding their peer reviewed papers that state that their papers “prove” things that the papers don’t even discuss.

    4) They understand that science is about making one’s theory fit the evidence, not the other way round, and therefore do not resort to using cherry-picked data in order to further their policy objectives (see also here).

    5) They do not resort to making statements in public debates and in press articles that sound good to uninformed members of the public but which they which they must know to be untrue.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 21 Oct 2007 @ 4:18 PM

  210. Re 190
    >

    At least one mosquito has already changed its genes due to global warming.

    This is according to several major peer-reviewed, juried, open scientific journals such as NATURE and SCIENCE…the Wyeomyia smithii mosquito: First citations in newpapers follow so you can understand it …then the major peer-reviewed, juried, open scientific journal citations follow.

    This sucks. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun).

    “The insect, which lives in the carnivorous purple pitcher plant, is genetically adapting to a warming world”
    http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/04/29/in_mosquito_a_small_tale_of_climate_change/

    http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Mosquito_Genes_Explain_Response_To_Climate_Change_999.html

    “CLIMATE CHANGE:
    Evolutionary Response to Rapid Climate Change
    William E. Bradshaw and Christina M. Holzapfel
    Recent, rapid climate change is driving evolution, as organisms adapt to altered seasonal events rather than to the direct effects of increasing temperature.”

    “Along with Canadian red squirrels and European blackcap birds, the mosquito — a non biting variety found from Florida to Canada — is one of only five known species that scientists say have already evolved because of global warming.”

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/312/5779/1477

    http://www.nature.com/hdy/journal/v83/n5/abs/6886040a.html

    http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0012-9658(200005)81%3A5%3C1262%3AATTTCO%3E2.0.CO%3B2-E

    http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-294X.2007.03509.x?journalCode=mec

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 21 Oct 2007 @ 4:43 PM

  211. In comment #133, Timothy says:[["......... Moreover, the intensity of forcing due to greenhouse gases would in all likelihood exceeded that of solar radiation in the tropics well before the climate system as a whole given the greater intensity of infrared radiation in the tropics. It is afterall where the super greenhouse effect is observed."]]

    In another comment no. 157, he says:”Temperatures rise in the tropics much more slowly than at higher latitudes in response to the greenhouse effect since heat is transported towards the poles – principally by means of convection and circulation of both the atmosphere and ocean.”

    I know the second comment to be true.The polar regions are heating faster as a result of convection, decreased albedo and direct temperature rise, but what is the source of the last sentence in the first comment? I and I believe many others, think of AGW as a temperature increase due to a result of the increase in greenhouse gases. In other words most of the results of the enhanced greenhouse effect is being detected at the poles, rather than at the equator. There appears to be a contradiction here.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 21 Oct 2007 @ 6:06 PM

  212. So this leads me to another question about Botkin: Every prominent global warming “skeptic” (really, denier) that I know of either has direct ties to the fossil fuel industry or to right wing, “free” market think tanks and politicians, or often to both. In other words, they have direct economic and/or political self interest in denying the seriousness of anthropogenic global warming. From what I am able to find, this is not the case with Botkin. Does anybody know anything more about him?

    Comment by John Reimann — 21 Oct 2007 @ 6:12 PM

  213. Dave (211), your criteria are meaningless. Most would have no bearing on a scientist’s credentials. But they do allow what I have often contended: the folks who challenge others to bring forth a credible AGW skeptic have sets of criteria that in essence says if the guy disagrees with all of our cheering section, he is, by [our] definition, not credible. Your challenge is impossible to meet.

    Comment by Rod B — 21 Oct 2007 @ 6:20 PM

  214. [[Lynn, Well, since the current Bishop of Rome (pope) seems to be one of the great minds of the 14th century,]]

    The present Pope has explicitly said the church should take a strong stand against global warming. What more do you want? BTW, the 14th century produced some of the greatest minds in science, ever. Try googling Nicolas Oresme, William of Ockham, or Theodoric of Freiberg. The 14th century was also the time of Dante Alighieri and Geoffrey Chaucer.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 21 Oct 2007 @ 6:47 PM

  215. RE: 208

    Or, conversely, it means that the models are biased towards warming so that nothing will change the result.

    We know that clouds have a major impact on how the atmosphere holds and/or reflects solar radiation. We know that 20 years ago, we didn’t model them worth a dang. Now, we have a much better understanding and yet, nothing changes. To me, on first blush, that shows that there just may be a problem with the model (just not sensitive to known major drivers).

    For example, if I had a computer code that calculated the performance of a car and i found that changing the weight of the vehicle had no impact on the overall performance, I’d suspect that the code was wrong.

    I know weight impact performance. I strongly suspect that clouds affect climate (and that factoring in the clouds would change the results shown by the models). I would have to find a scientific reason that explains why the models don’t show this intuition before i accepted the models.

    Comment by dean — 21 Oct 2007 @ 6:52 PM

  216. [[ Then, defending our response to R. Carson’s cry of alarm, which probably caused the greatest human tragedy in this century (and with this scenario, probably “ever”), I find really odd, except for those with a fine pair of rose-colored glasses. ]]

    I take it you’ve been reading Crichton again. Rachel Carson was right to point out the environmental hazards of DDT, the US was right to ban it, and the fact that it was never banned in the third world means the “human tragedy” attributed to the ban never happened. A little fact-checking goes a long way.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 21 Oct 2007 @ 6:58 PM

  217. [[The climate models of 10 years ago look silly today, because they ignored aerosols ]]

    No they didn’t.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 21 Oct 2007 @ 7:02 PM

  218. Rod B Says:
    21 October 2007 at 11:57 AM

    The truth, which has long been lost, is that Blix promised the Security Council something to the effect, “he would search Iraq kilometer by kilometer and find the WMDs. All he needed was time.” He was confident that WMDs were there, given what he knew of the past, what Sadam’s report said, and what his team had found already. It was only long after the fact, when WMDs were a sore spot, that people, including Blix himself, revised his remarks a bit.

    “How much, if any, is left of the Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and related proscribed items and programs? So far, UNMOVIC has not found any such weapons …” – Dr. Hans Blix, February 14, 2003 (the invasion began on March 20, 2003)

    Comment by J.C.H. — 21 Oct 2007 @ 7:08 PM

  219. Hello Ike, I could drop them a line, I have no idea, if they would respond. I like realclimate and I share the views presented on this board and and I promote their views in my country. Articles and contributions like this have a damaging effect. It is not our role and the role of this blog to educate people and to talk about so called “denialists”. The role of this blog should be to promote scientic truth, not propaganda. It is the job of our elected politicians to draw their conclusions. And sorry, this blog has changed its direction. Do you think, this was a strong article, no it was not. It is weak (not peer reviewed or was it?)

    If Politicians fail, we are doomed, but it is their job.

    Comment by PeterK — 21 Oct 2007 @ 7:46 PM

  220. Thanks, Barton (#209) – I’m including that in my letter to ROME REPORTS.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 21 Oct 2007 @ 8:06 PM

  221. Please, be also careful about methods of research applied. Peer review cannot constitute an ISO 9000 for scientitic research. It is not that easy. It is a fast moving world, I know. But do you you really think an article published by a peer reviewed magazine is of the same scientific meaning than e.g. a thesis?
    IMHO no, it is not and it will never be. It just means, it it not crap. But please never dump a piece of work just because it has not been peer reviewed. Poor Newton and Einstein, everything would have been lost.

    Comment by PeterK — 21 Oct 2007 @ 8:12 PM

  222. For the rats, there was something published by the University of Dublin. I cannot find the link, but I will try, I only have a German abstract.

    Comment by PeterK — 21 Oct 2007 @ 8:35 PM

  223. some professor emeritus of petroleum geology from the University Northern Saskatoon

    Ray this was clever – you almost had me laughing out loud. Yes, I meant RC which I’m “warming up to” if the goal is partly to be provocative and shake people up. I kind of like provocation, even though I’ll be challenging some of the hyperbole that seems to run rampant around here in favor of warming catastrophism and massive mitigation efforts, neither of which are rationally derived from an objective interpretation of the data.

    Dave Rado that’s an interesting set of criteria for scientific respectability, but I’m totally serious here. Unless I am mistaken several writing here (I’m not clear who speaks for RC and who just speaks) feel that people should line up as “with us or against us”, and if you are the latter you are either uninformed, a corporate shill, or a crappy scientist.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 21 Oct 2007 @ 9:28 PM

  224. BTW, the 14th century produced some of the greatest minds in science, ever. Try googling Nicolas Oresme, William of Ockham, or Theodoric of Freiberg. The 14th century was also the time of Dante Alighieri and Geoffrey Chaucer.

    They make the physicists of the 20th century look like rank amateurs.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 21 Oct 2007 @ 9:38 PM

  225. JCH, I don’t disagree with your post. Matter of fact, if my somewhat fuzzy memory serves, it was words like that (may even was that) that immediately preceded my paraphrased quote. At the time you mention the inspectors had not found any WMD, as you relate (though they had found some illegal missle systems), including the ones (or the makings of) that previous inspectors had inventoried and were confident were there in ’98 but left off Sadam’s 2002 inventory list.

    However, whether and when they were actually there misses the point of discussion which boils down to decision and action making based on whatever facts are known (kinda the tie-in to this thread). No decision maker in their right mind in 2002-3 would have said, “99% of the intelligence, including people high in Sadam’s own regime and some close family relatives, says they have the makings of WMD, have some WMDs, are actively pursuing nuclear weaponary and have the capability to produce such, and are incented to support terrorist use of them against the U.S. But then Charlie over here disagrees. I think I’ll go with Charlie for everyone’s benefit.” And that goes for the thousands of politicos who now criticize that not being the conclusion.

    Comment by Rod B — 21 Oct 2007 @ 10:02 PM

  226. Re # 221 PeterK:

    “…do you you really think an article published by a peer reviewed magazine is of the same scientific meaning than e.g. a thesis?”

    A peer-reviewed journal article has rather more credibility, in my mind. A thesis committee typically has a major professor and an external examiner who are intimately familiar with the subject of the thesis; the other members are usually from unrelated fields. On the other hand, a peer-reviewed journal article has typically been scrutinized by at least three reviewers with expertise in the subject of the manuscript.

    “But please never dump a piece of work just because it has not been peer reviewed.”

    No, you just have to conduct your own personal peer review before putting much stake in the results and their interpretation; for a 200-page thesis, that can be a lot of work.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 21 Oct 2007 @ 10:16 PM

  227. RodB, #211, you don’t explain why you think it “meaningless” that one should look for a “climate sceptic” who is a credible climate scientist before respecting his or her climate science work; nor why that it is by definition, in your opinion, “setting an impossible standard” to set this criteria (unless you accept that there is simply no evidence to back up their position).

    Comment by Dave Rado — 21 Oct 2007 @ 10:59 PM

  228. > climate models
    > aerosols

    Good grief, people, you _can_ look this stuff up.

    Haywood, Jim; Schulz, Michael

    Causes of the reduction in uncertainty in the anthropogenic radiative forcing of climate between IPCC (2001) and IPCC (2007)

    Geophys. Res. Lett., Vol. 34, No. 20, L20701

    10.1029/2007GL030749

    “We conclude that significant progress in reducing the uncertainty of the anthropogenic radiative forcing has been made since IPCC (2001). The single most important contributor to this conclusion appears to be the reduction in the uncertainty associated with the aerosol direct effect, followed by the provision of a best estimate for the aerosol cloud albedo indirect effect.”

    Received 21 May 2007; accepted 19 September 2007; published 18 October 2007

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Oct 2007 @ 11:00 PM

  229. PeterK (#222) wrote:

    For the rats, there was something published by the University of Dublin. I cannot find the link, but I will try, I only have a German abstract.

    Rats and crows have fairly plastic minds. Quite adaptable.

    Plants unfortunately do not appear to have minds, but they do have genomes. For a given species of plant there will exist a certain degree of genetic variation. The more the genetic variation, the greater the potential for exploring alternatives. However, within the context of a changing environment, such exploration comes at the cost of a reduction in genetic variation, and it takes a while for the engine of mutation to replentish this variation.

    Currently we are talking about climate change which is about a hundred times that of the background rate. And it isn’t simply species which will have to adapt, but networks of species and entire ecological systems. However, some species are more likely to do better than others.

    Species which have been adapted to our needs as the result of artificial selection over the past ten thousand years have necessarily had their genetic variation reduced simply as the result of the process of artificial selection. We have adapted them with fine-tuning to meet our needs as kept plants rather than to meet the requirements for living in an uncontrolled and variable environment.

    Alternatively, undomesticated plants will tend to have more genetic variation as it is this variation which makes their populations more robust to a changing, natural environment. Those which are most successful under a wide variety of environments are typically refered to as “weeds.” I believe they should do quite well, for a while at least.

    *

    Anyway, Richard Ordway has pointed out the five known instances of species of animals beginning to genetically adapt to climate change in 210. Likewise, I pointed out that we are seeing some adaptive changes in migratory birds back in 188, so I guess this means that you don’t have to show that adaptation will take place – only that it will be sufficient to prevent widespread extinctions.

    I hope this helps…

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 21 Oct 2007 @ 11:03 PM

  230. Re. 221 and 224, why would a credible scientist not want his or her paper to be peer reviewed other than because he or she did not think it would pass peer review?

    Comment by Dave Rado — 22 Oct 2007 @ 12:15 AM

  231. Being an innumerate journalist interviewing a scientist is like being a blind person watching a movie. They both miss most of it. One number is worth many words. One equation is worth many numbers. If you don’t understand the math, you are just not going to understand the science either. A little math can replace a whole book full of words. Math is the language of science. If you want to communicate with the natives, you have to understand the local language. Journalists don’t, in general.

    What the WSJ really proves is that, as usual, the innumerate journalists did not understand what the scientists said, not that they really wanted to. Innumerate humanitologists, like preachers, rabbis, priests, imams, iatolas, historians, journalists and politicians, are dangerous. They may lead us into our own extinction. They led us into Iraq. George W. Bush’s degree is in history.

    In a technological society, all college students, including humanities and fine arts students, should be required to take the Engineering and Science Core Cirriculum + 1 computer course + 1 laboratory course in probability and statistics. The E&S Core Cirriculum is 1.5 years of calculus, 2 years of physics and 1 year of chemistry. In addition, I would explicitly say to all non-E&S students: “Nature isn’t just the final authority on truth, Nature is the Only authority. There are zero human authorities. Scientists do not vote on what is the truth. There is only one vote and Nature owns it. We find out what Nature’s vote is by doing Scientific [public and replicable] experiments. Scientific [public and replicable] experiments are the only source of truth. [To be public, it has to be visible to other people in the room. What goes on inside one person's head isn't public unless it can be seen on an X-ray or with another instrument.]”

    All high school diplomas should require 4 years of physics, 4 years of chemistry, 4 years of biology and 8 years of math at the high school level. Why? So that people would know enough to be responsible citizens of a technological society. Instead, we have people who are paranoid/irrationally afraid of all things nuclear. We have people who try to prevent the teaching of evolution. Etc.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 22 Oct 2007 @ 1:29 AM

  232. Re Lawrence Brown on the Greenhouse effect…

    In 133 I had stated that the greenhouse effect will be stronger in the tropics than elsewhere and that this was where the super greenhouse effect is observed. In 157 I pointed out that the temperatures will rise in the polar regions more quickly than elsewhere due to convection and circulation in the ocean (but forgot to include the albedo effect – which is actually more important, I believe).

    Lawrence Brown (#211) responded:

    I know the second comment to be true.The polar regions are heating faster as a result of convection, decreased albedo and direct temperature rise, but what is the source of the last sentence in the first comment? I and I believe many others, think of AGW as a temperature increase due to a result of the increase in greenhouse gases. In other words most of the results of the enhanced greenhouse effect is being detected at the poles, rather than at the equator. There appears to be a contradiction here.

    The article is:

    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

    In terms of radiation transfer theory, the authors define the greenhouse effect essentially as the thermal radiation flux of the surface (due to its temperature) minus the outgoing radiation flux at the top of the atmosphere. So this is in purely radiative terms, not the consequences with the heat transport, albedo effect and whatnot.

    Here is the abstract:

    Airborne radiometric measurements were used to determine tropospheric profiles of the clear sky greenhouse effect. At sea surface temperatures (SSTs) larger than 300 Kelvin, the clear sky water vapor greenhouse effect was found to increase with SST at a rate of 13 to 15 watts per square meter per Kelvin. Satellite measurements of infrared radiances and SSTs indicate that almost 52 percent of the tropical oceans between 20 N and 20 S are affected during all seasons. Current general circulation models suggest that the increase in the clear sky water vapor greenhouse effect with SST may have climatic effects on a planetary scale.

    … and here is what they are talking about in terms of the super greenhouse effect:

    Satellite studies (8–10) have found that for clear skies and SSTs above 298 K, the spatial variation of Ga with SST, dGa/d(SST), exceeds the rate of increase of sea surface emission, ds(SST)4/d(SST) = 4σ(SST)3. For a tropical SST of 300 K, 4σ(SST)3 ~ 6.1 W m-2 K-1. This effect, termed the “super greenhouse effect” (11), occurs in both hemispheres during all seasons. It is also observed for interannual variations of Ga with SST during the El Nino in the tropical Pacific (12). 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.

    Downwelling thermal radiation (backradiation) flux increases more rapidly than surface flux with increasing temperature. Of course, once you start talking about convection and poleward atmospheric and oceanic circulation and whatnot, you are talking about how energy gets out and not so much about what is keeping a great deal of it in – the latter of which is basically a matter of the opacity of the atmosphere to thermal radiation.

    [Response: Don't get too carried away by this polar stuff. Antarctica *isn't* warming particularly quickly, except for the Peninsula. And what is "The polar regions are heating faster as a result of ... direct temperature rise" supposed to mean? -William]

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 22 Oct 2007 @ 1:38 AM

  233. Re #225 I’m amused to see there are still people who think the invasion of Iraq had something to do with Saddam Hussein’s possible possession of WMDs. If the invaders had really thought he had useable nuclear, chemical or biological weapons (as opposed to the few rusting pieces of rubbish they expected to find to justify their action), they would have proceeded quite differently, and much more cautiously.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 22 Oct 2007 @ 7:37 AM

  234. Peter K said: “But do you you really think an article published by a peer reviewed magazine is of the same scientific meaning than e.g. a thesis?”

    Peer review definitely ranks higher on my credibility scale than a thesis (speaking as someone who has written both). Face it, if something worthwhile is published in a thesis, it will also be published eventually in a peer-reviewed journal.

    A published thesis merely says that one’s committee has deemed the research to be “original” and mainly correct. Peer review means one’s peers have deemed the research worthy of consideration by the commnity as a whole. Ultimately, however, it is the scientific consensus on the research that establishes its value–and one measure of this is how often the research is cited subsequent to publication.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Oct 2007 @ 7:58 AM

  235. Re #113, John P. Reisman. More water vapour in the atmosphere does not necessarily translate to more precipitation.

    Higher relative humidity does translate to higher precipitation. The current situation with global warming is that the atmosphere is heating faster relative to the oceans, so although the atmosphere is holding more water vapour, it is staying as vapour, the relative humidity is actually going down.

    This conjecture of mine could be varified if worldwide levels of cloud are in decline.

    Comment by Lawrence McLean — 22 Oct 2007 @ 8:17 AM

  236. Re#233. Thank you for the response,Timothy.In regard to the Response, by William, I should have said- directly as a result of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the high latitude and (north) polar region.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 22 Oct 2007 @ 9:19 AM

  237. Hi all

    re my comment on #61.

    I do understand the difference between weather and climate – I was not the one that first used the 99% weather forecast metaphor – I just tried to expand it.

    I am, and do not pretend to be an expert on Global Warming, Climate Change, AGW whatever it is called.

    However I have worked with computers/IT systems for over 20 years and find the comment from #65 Ray Ladbury quite inane – so the programmers of these models have “very little wriggle room” – programmers of any computer model have as much “wriggle room” as they want.

    I would class myself as a sceptic (in lots of areas) and find it strange that it seems a form of abuse in the AGW field.

    “Skeptic does not mean him who doubts, but him who investigates or researches as opposed to him who asserts and thinks that he has found.” [Miguel de Unamuno, "Essays and Soliloquies," 1924]

    btw #67 – loved the train analogy. However as I live in England maybe not the best example to use – as the trains are always either late, cancelled or derailling. ;-)

    Comment by Chris — 22 Oct 2007 @ 9:31 AM

  238. Chris, your comment makes it exceedingly clear do not understand how global climate models work. They do not “fit” data with the model. Rather, they use data to constrain parameters in the model, and then apply the model to see how close they get to the data. Until you have rectified your ignorance, you do not merit the term “skeptic” because you have not “investigated” how the models are implemented. You are a classic example of a denialist–someone who on the basis of acquaintance with a tangentially related thinks they know enough to call into question the opinions of the vast majority of experts. Got news for you Chris, there’s a lot more to GCMs than just coding.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Oct 2007 @ 10:18 AM

  239. Chris, have you looked at the list of climate models lately?
    http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/wg1-report.html
    Do you think all the programmers working on all the models happen to “wiggle” in exactly the same direction?

    What accusation are you making exactly?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Oct 2007 @ 10:34 AM

  240. In #237 Chris Says:

    “However I have worked with computers/IT systems for over 20 years and find the comment from #65 Ray Ladbury quite inane – so the programmers of these models have “very little wriggle room” – programmers of any computer model have as much “wriggle room” as they want.

    I would class myself as a sceptic (in lots of areas) and find it strange that it seems a form of abuse in the AGW field.

    “Skeptic does not mean him who doubts, but him who investigates or researches as opposed to him who asserts and thinks that he has found.” [Miguel de Unamuno, “Essays and Soliloquies,” 1924]”

    What I suspect Ray Ladbury meant is that, since the programmers are trying to capture all of the interactions in the climate system using first principles of chemistry and physics and our best knowledge of the atmosphere, ocean, and biological systems, any changes they might make to the code are constrained by those first principles and the current state of our knowledge about the components of the climate system.

    “Sceptic” has become a term of abuse because many of the people calling themselves sceptics are, in fact, nothing of the sort. Some have been willing participants in a disinformation campaign and others are credulous victims of that campaign, who have not taken the trouble to search out the best information.

    Interestingly, recent issues of Sceptic magazine have included a two-part series on climate change, essentially laying out the IPCC consensus. Thus, the editors of Sceptic, habitually sceptical about a lot of things, have come the conclusion that the IPCC consensus is correct and the so-called “sceptic” campaign is wrong.

    Best regards.

    Comment by Jim Dukelow — 22 Oct 2007 @ 11:05 AM

  241. In #157, Timothy Chase wrote:

    “Regardless, global warming obviously plays a far greater role in the global mass balance of glaciers – and Kilimanjaro would do nothing to change this even if its ablation could somehow be attributed primarily to solar variability rather than an enhanced greenhouse effect.”

    We agree on this.

    Part of the problem with Professor Botkin’s WSJ op-ed is that his subtle mis-representation of Mote and Kaser’s American Scientist article could lead the incurious WSJ reader to conclude that the melting of mountain glaciers, arctic sea ice, and polar ice caps is not a problem and not a symptom of serious AGW.

    In his concluding paragraphs, Botkin lays out his concern that responding to AGW will hinder societal response to “other” threats to living species, specifically habitat destruction. He doesn’t say and perhaps doesn’t realize that AGW and habitat destruction are two results of the same overriding cause, human population growth and economic growth and the resulting pollution and use of resources that are shared by humans and other species.

    Best regards.

    Comment by Jim Dukelow — 22 Oct 2007 @ 11:23 AM

  242. [[But please never dump a piece of work just because it has not been peer reviewed. Poor Newton and Einstein, everything would have been lost.]]

    Einstein published in Annalen der Physik, which is, I believe, peer-reviewed.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 22 Oct 2007 @ 11:49 AM

  243. [[BTW, the 14th century produced some of the greatest minds in science, ever. Try googling Nicolas Oresme, William of Ockham, or Theodoric of Freiberg. The 14th century was also the time of Dante Alighieri and Geoffrey Chaucer.]]

    Says my correspondent:

    [[They make the physicists of the 20th century look like rank amateurs.]]

    Think about it for a minute. 20th century physics had integral and differential calculus to work with, not to mention differential equations, vector and tensor calculus, and calculus of variations. They could communicate instantly among any nation with a telephone network, even half-way around the world. They had regular national and international mail delivery. They had superb libraries and abundant, cheap textbooks. They had an established network of peer-reviewed science journals and universities with science departments. They had precision instruments of a thousand different types, including thermometers, telescopes, and microscopes. And after 1950 or so they had high-speed digital electronic computers.

    In the 14th century they had none of that, but the people I mentioned managed to make valuable contributions to science anyway. I don’t know if I could have accomplished what they did given what they had to work with. Could you?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 22 Oct 2007 @ 11:59 AM

  244. Re William on Antarctica (inline to 232)

    William wrote:

    Response: Don’t get too carried away by this polar stuff. Antarctica *isn’t* warming particularly quickly, except for the Peninsula.

    That’s true – but he would seem to be right about the principle, and according to the models we would still see polar amplification even without the albedo effect. Although we don’t know entirely why, convective atmospheric and oceanic circulation and the increased moisture of maritime air would seem to be good candidates – the only candidates that I am aware of – in the absence of a well-placed Antarctica.

    But there are several differences between Antarctic and the Arctic stemming largely from the presence of Antarctica itself.

    First, you have the Antarctic Circumpolar Current which greatly isolates the continent. That current is the strongest oceanic current in the world.

    Second, given the fact that the interior of the continent is so isolated and reaches up in places at fairly high altitudes (given the Transantarctic Mountains) and the stratosphere is lower in that region than anywhere else in the world, the surface is much closer to the stratosphere. In fact, if I remember correctly, the surface and the stratosphere are sometimes in contact. And the tropospheric circulation is descending at the center of the Antarctic Polar Cell.

    Third, we have the strongly depletion of the ozone layer well into the interior of the continent, although it has diminished a fair amount this year – and Gavin gave a projection of it closing up perhaps within the next fifteen years. The temperature differential due to depletion increases winds, carrying moisture into the stratosphere, further depleting the ozone layer as moisture is carried up near the outer boundary of the Antarctic Polar Cell.

    However, in the case of the West Antarctic Peninsula, it is outside of the West Antarctic Front. At least in the antarctic summer, this means that it is more likely to be affected by the moist maritime air. Some of the circulation of air by the westerlies will be along the surface rather than from the upper troposphere. Consequently it is seeing more warming than anywhere else in the world.

    William wrote:

    And what is “The polar regions are heating faster as a result of … direct temperature rise” supposed to mean?

    Sorry, I should have caught that bit.

    PS

    It would be neat to see the trends in temperature across the Antarctic split out according summer and winter. I would assume that this would show a great deal more of the dynamics affecting the continent.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 22 Oct 2007 @ 12:16 PM

  245. Say Barton, when you quote someone before replying, would you mind adding the name the person used to make it easier to know who it is you’re quoting?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Oct 2007 @ 12:25 PM

  246. Barton Paul Levenson (#243) wrote:

    …. Says my correspondent:

    [[They make the physicists of the 20th century look like rank amateurs.]]

    Think about it for a minute. 20th century physics had integral and differential calculus to work with, not to mention differential equations, vector and tensor calculus, and calculus of variations….

    Barton, I wouldn’t forget the existence of a much larger world population, one which exceeds the collective population of all previous generations in the history of civilization. With positive feedback, that has made possible twentieth century technology, but it has also meant a far more extensive division of cognitive labor as well as far more human-hours of the process of empirical science. In all honesty, I believe it is quite difficult for the individual mind to grasp the relative magnitude of what 20th century science achieved.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 22 Oct 2007 @ 12:51 PM

  247. old news, but there’s an interesting little AP article by John Hanna floating around the interwebs about the rejection of a $3.6 billion coal power plant project in Kansas. is that the first time a state has rejected a coal plant on the basis of CO2? at any rate, thanks RC, for pressing the issue every day.

    Comment by A.C. — 22 Oct 2007 @ 2:12 PM

  248. Jim Dukelow (#243) wrote:

    Part of the problem with Professor Botkin’s WSJ op-ed is that his subtle mis-representation of Mote and Kaser’s American Scientist article could lead the incurious WSJ reader to conclude that the melting of mountain glaciers, arctic sea ice, and polar ice caps is not a problem and not a symptom of serious AGW.

    Agreed – and in truth, from what little I have seen so far, much of the research into Kilimanjaro performed by Mote, Kaser and colleagues evident in other papers has been of value, at least on the empirical side. Unfortunately I think there has been considerable overinterpretation on their part of the significance of the penintentes.

    And like you, I believe they have greatly underestimated the duration of anthropogenic global warming, so much that I personally find it difficult to understand how they could do so well-meaningly. But that is quite possibly more a reaction on my part to AGW-skepticism than to either the authors or the paper itself.

    With regard to Botkins, I actually haven’t paid any attention to him as of yet but of course have realized how Kilimanjaro and its significance has been misrepresented in the press.

    Take care.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 22 Oct 2007 @ 2:20 PM

  249. Jim Dukelow () wrote:

    “Sceptic” has become a term of abuse because many of the people calling themselves sceptics are, in fact, nothing of the sort. Some have been willing participants in a disinformation campaign and others are credulous victims of that campaign, who have not taken the trouble to search out the best information.

    Unfortunately, once you have dealt with the “sceptical” arguments of those engaged in misrepresentation and have shown their work to be systematic, it is only proper to turn to the question of motivation – as part of the process of identification. However, those who are involved in misrepresentation will often at least implicitly claim that putting quote marks around the term “sceptic” is itself a form of ad hominem attack.

    And yet with the cummulative evidence and our general understanding of the physics, it is becoming increasingly difficult to believe that at least within the scientific community there are those who are genuinely sceptical of global warming, at least in terms of its fundamentals. But this should not be permitted to stand in the way of genuine criticism of the details of any given theory or detailed causal explanation as this is an essential part of the scientific process. Such complementary schismogenesis is destructive of much of the essence of scientific thought.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 22 Oct 2007 @ 2:48 PM

  250. re: #240 Jim

    The problem with the term “skeptic” is that it has multiple common interpretations, including:
    - someone who takes little on faith, weighs data carefully, and changes their mind.
    - someone who just doesn’t believe something (but could change their mind).

    Some people repeatedly reject masses of data on one side of an argument, and latch onto the flimsiest ideas of the other side, but still want to be called skeptics. Kristen Byrnes (“ponderthemaunder”) got numerous people proclaiming that a 15-year-old student had totally disproved AGW. Sure, that seems likely, happens all the time :-) The terms “denier” or “denialist” seem more appropriate.

    As a result, many people prefer to reserve the term “skeptic” for people who actually weigh data and can be convinced, even if they aren’t at the moment.

    =======
    Minor correction:
    “Interestingly, recent issues of Sceptic magazine have included a two-part series on climate change, essentially laying out the IPCC consensus. Thus, the editors of Sceptic, habitually sceptical about a lot of things, have come the conclusion that the IPCC consensus is correct and the so-called “sceptic” campaign is wrong.”

    I don’t think that was in Skeptic, although its Editor, Michael Shermer, also writes a column for Scientific American, and he wrote about why he changed his mind in 2006:
    “Because of the complexity of the problem, environmental skepticism was once tenable. No longer. It is time to flip from skepticism to activism.”

    There was a 2-part series by Dr. Stuart Jordan (NASA GSFC) in May/June, July/August issues of the Skeptical Inquirer.

    This was a clear, straightforward article, the reaction to which astonished Ken Frazier in its vituperative intensity, with “cancel my subscription” and repetition of typical anti-AGW ideas from a bunch of readers. A few of us did send supportive letters, but this is a clear reminder:

    Someone can think of themselves as a skeptic (in the classic sense of evaluating data carefully), and may even be such on many topics, and on others may still have hard-held beliefs impregnable to any amount of evidence.

    There were some “interesting” multiway email conversations. At one point, I provided a 3000-word writeup on the denialist industry, with lists of notable anti-AGW campaigners, organizations, funders, and websites … which was dismissed in a few sentences by a reader who said they simply didn’t believe it and accused me of “getting into paranoid-conspiracy-theory territory”.

    Anyway, both Skeptic and The Skeptical Inquirer are both *really* clear in support of the scientific consensus, but I think they are now more aware of the intensity of belief otherwise.

    Comment by John Mashey — 22 Oct 2007 @ 2:53 PM

  251. Dave (227, 209, et al) Here’s why

    1) They are a climate scientist.

    Pretty good but not perfect criteria. It would be credible for scientists from many other fields that play into climate to offer skepticism (within their realm).

    2) They still regularly publish in genuinely peer reviewed journals (that is, that are reviewed by other climate scientists).

    It’s not obvious while they have to still be publishing regularly.

    3) They do not issue press releases regarding their peer reviewed papers that state that their papers “prove” things that the papers don’t even discuss.

    I guess this makes sense — for anyone.

    4) They understand that science is about making one’s theory fit the evidence, not the other way round, and therefore do not resort to using cherry-picked data in order to further their policy objectives (see also here).

    This is a classic slippery criteria that depends only on the perception of the receipient. So if a guy says this or that skepticism, you can just holler “cherry picking” and wipe him off.

    5) They do not resort to making statements in public debates and in press articles that sound good to uninformed members of the public but which they which they must know to be untrue.

    The clincher: If the guy or gal makes public statements with which you do not concur, which must make them untrue, give him/her the hook. Again it’s a subjective criteria based entirely on the perception and belief of the referee.

    In 227 you boiled it down to only “a credible climate scientist”. Drop off the “climate” part (usually) and I can accept that.

    Comment by Rod B — 22 Oct 2007 @ 3:49 PM

  252. A very recent article in PNAS suggests that the Younger Dryas was caused by a comet air burst over North America (or something similar), and that this led to mass extinctions (challenging the hypothesis that humans were the cause):
    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/104/41/16016
    This would then be an example of species extinction resulting from climate change (cooling instead of warming) that contradicts Botkin (though the comet event would have effects far beyond cooling–e.g. igniting immense tracts of forest in a few seconds, similar but on a larger scale than the much smaller 1908 Siberia event).

    This also seems to be in agreement with the following evaluation of the YD in the southern hemisphere:
    http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2007/1004/4?rss=1

    [Response: Hey! I had a post all ready to go on just these two papers - now it's going to look like I'm at the commenters beck and call.... oh dear. :) - gavin]

    Comment by Earl Killian — 22 Oct 2007 @ 4:08 PM

  253. Re. 251, RodB:

    In 227 you boiled it down to only “a credible climate scientist”. Drop off the “climate” part (usually) and I can accept that.

    So if a physicist was a creationist (some are), would you consider that was good grounds to doubt the theory of evolution by natural selection?

    Comment by Dave Rado — 22 Oct 2007 @ 4:33 PM

  254. RE #240 & 250, and the concepts of skeptic, denialist, and contrarian (re climate change)….

    My sense is there are virtually no skeptics anymore regarding the basic facts of AGW (those who earnestly weigh the evidence & don’t cherry-pick), but there are lots of denialists (who know it’s happening, but it’s not in their perceived interests to admit so) and contrarians (who just don’t like to go along with the crowd, even when the crowd is right).

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 22 Oct 2007 @ 7:07 PM

  255. Rod B., Actually there are very good reasons why scientists should claim authority only in their area(s) of expertise–Dr. Watson’s eugenics flap being an illustration. First, scientists are busy people, and their work is usually demanding and time consuming. Keeping abreast of all fields of science–let alone every aspect of society–is just not possible.
    There are also very good reasons to demand recent publication in a relevant field–otherwise, one may not be familiar with the nuances of recent developments.
    I’ll agree that there is more to science than fitting theory to observations–the theory has to explain observations…provide insight into them. Still, it is critical to look at the agregate of evidence and not a few pieces of it.
    Finally, it is not the opinion of any one scientist that matters, but the consensus of the experts. Nonexperts do not get a vote in scientific matters.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Oct 2007 @ 7:55 PM

  256. #185 Ray Ladbury: Mea Culpa, folks. And Matt, I specifically apologize to you for the harsh tone I took. I merely find the argument: “some experts lie, so all experts lie” a bit tiresome. Still, I should not allow myself to be goaded. The essential point is that probabilistic risk analysis works. There are challenges, but there are accepted standards for meeting these challenges.

    No need to apologize. I come here to learn, and I appreciate the debate. Mostly, I appreciate the chance to discuss this stuff with the folks actually working on it day and and day out. There are plenty of forums in which I can interact with the cheerleaders, but few places I can interact with the actual players on the field. I thank you very much for that, and I apologize if my stuff appears out of left field at times.

    Now, back to our regular programming…

    Risk analysis fails more often that you will know. In finance, it is mitigated by finace guys by placing a lot of small bets, rather than a single big bet. In engineering, it is mitigated by over-design. Bridges, for example, will have a safety factor than can in places approach 10X. In electronics that go into space, MTTF will exceed the mission requirements by a suitable safety factor backed up by real-world sampling of hundreds or thousands of components that are subjected to excessive heat, humidity, cold, vibration, etc.

    Experts are folks that are needed when a layperson isn’t sure. For example, I don’t need an expert when something will happen with less than 1% or greater than 99% certainty. It’s obvious and there for anyone to see.

    Experts are indeed useful when the probability falls between those extremes. We as a society inherently distrust experts. From doctors we seek second and third opinions. For construction issues we seek licensing that can be revoked in the event of malpractice.

    We as a society know that experts can be bought and sold all the time. When it’s time to “lawyer up” both sides find experts that make their case more convincing.

    We all wonder what to do as experts tell us interest rates will go up, then they will go down.

    Some laugh when the product of countless experts sits broken on the surface of a far-away planet due to a simple software programming error.

    And of course, we inherently doubt experts when we find out they are paid for by someone with deep pockets.

    And this really gets us back to the root argument here: Experts have such a poor track record when it comes to guessing about the not-really known. They will desperately try to convince they know more than they do. Consensus, simulations and “new studies” and eye witness anecdotes are key here, because all play so well on the evening news. But while these tools make it appear the expert knows more than he does, it doesn’t in fact change how much the expert knows. That is a subtle distinction. As Buffet said, models often give his money guys a false sense of security. How do you know you are immune from this?

    Comment by matt — 22 Oct 2007 @ 8:13 PM

  257. Nick (233), we’ve about milked all there is of this, but I can’t pass up your post. If you add “and his prepensity to use or provide for their use by people who are damn good at it” Sadam’s WMD program was exactly why we invaded them (coupled with the risk assessment of being right vs. wrong). Anyone who thinks otherwise has simply swallowed the kool-aid of revisionist wishful political history. What do you know that refutes this? As Hank would say: where are your sources? your cites? your peer reviewed papers? (Just a little friendly ribbing, Hank.)

    Comment by Rod B — 22 Oct 2007 @ 8:27 PM

  258. Hank (239) + Ray and Chris: Ray simply said, in a fit of temporal laxity I’m sure, that modelers and programers do not have any “wiggle room” within their models. Chris and I simply pointed out that that is ridiculous, no more.

    Comment by Rod B — 22 Oct 2007 @ 8:41 PM

  259. Matt, First, overdesign is not a failure of risk analysis, but rather a part of it. Sometimes (actually, usually) it is simply cheaper to overdesign than verify a marginal design. As to your 1% and 99% examples, sometimes 99% is not a passing score–manned space flight comes to mind. Ths space shuttle has performed at almost the theoretical limits of reliability, and yet this is not enough.
    Matt, I agree that there are SOME experts who can be bought. I agree some “experts” are incompetent. However, to go from there to saying no expert can be trusted is not only immature, it is dangerous. The problem is that YOU and many others simply don’t have enough background knowledge to decide which experts are trustworthy. Now, I realize there is no way for your to be your own expert in every field, but there are ways of handling this, and they work. Seeking a consensus of experts (e.g. second and third opinions of doctors, multiple estimates of contractors…) is one way. Ensuring the interests of the experts are aligned with the truth is another.
    Matt, true experts don’t appear on the evening news. They try like hell to avoid it. They’d rather be in the lab or with their family. They value their reputation above their fee or compensation. There are plenty of such people–indeed probably a majority of true experts. If you don’t know any, you haven’t been looking.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Oct 2007 @ 8:53 PM

  260. 242, et al: In the what it’s worth department, the following from Dept. of Comparative Literature, University of Montreal:

    On Mon, 26 Sep 2005, Bo-Christer Björk wrote:

    On the 26th of October 1905 the paper “Zur Electrodynamik bewegter Körper” by an unknown researcher called Albert Einstein was published by Annalen der Physik in Band 17, pp. 891-921
    (http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/109924449/PDFSTART).

    This paper is of course a landmark in the history of science, but it also illustrates the big changes that the scientific publication process has gone through in a century. The paper did not go through an anonymous peer review but was read by the editor (Max Planck) who made a decision to publish it. The process was extremely fast since the manuscript was sent in the 30th of June and published three months later. It would probably have had problems in passing a current day peer review process since it contains no references, breaks with the prevailing paradigms in the field, and at the time lacked empirical evidence to back it up. What would Einstein do if he wanted to publish his results today?. He would probably have posted a copy of the manuscript to the open access repository for High Energy Physics (http://xxx.lanl.gov) and hoped that others would pick up the ideas and spread the word via viral marketing.

    Comment by Rod B — 22 Oct 2007 @ 9:03 PM

  261. Actually there are very good reasons why scientists should claim authority only in their area(s) of expertise

    Argument by authority is not generally considered a viable scientific method – anywhere. Not even in one’s narrow field of specialty.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 22 Oct 2007 @ 9:10 PM

  262. Dave (253) says, “….So if a physicist was a creationist (some are), would you consider that was good grounds to doubt the theory of evolution by natural selection?”

    I dunno. Maybe. But it is an extreme example that misses the point.

    Ray is not a climate scientist but I think he is none-the-less qualified to comment on AGW, e.g., because he understands radiation (emission, absorption, blackbody, power, … that stuff) which is an essential piece on how global warming does (or not) work. People like him could very well know that critical subject better than many climatologists. I submit Ray and the like are qualified to comment on global warming, maybe moreso than climate scientists. I suspect you might agree, but, it seems, because Ray happens to be one of the “good guys” who have much less stringent credentials to meet. I happen to disagree with some of Ray’s stance on AGW, even a little of his radiation stuff (with some trepidation). But I sure as hell would not disqualify him because of that, even though he does not meet your qualifications for a commentator.

    Comment by Rod B — 22 Oct 2007 @ 9:38 PM

  263. Don’t feel alone, Dave. Lynn is right in their with the they’re-credible-if-they-agree-with-me crtieria [;-). (I got to learn how to post those real emoticons!)

    Comment by Rod B — 22 Oct 2007 @ 9:44 PM

  264. You make valid points, Ray (255), but taken literally you might have just wiped out some of the greats: Newton, Maxwell (a mathematician mainly), Planck, Einstein to name just a few — all of whom bounced all over the scientific landscape.

    Comment by Rod B — 22 Oct 2007 @ 9:55 PM

  265. re 261

    Actually there are very good reasons why scientists should claim authority only in their area(s) of expertise

    Your response: Argument by authority is not generally considered a viable scientific method – anywhere. Not even in one’s narrow field of specialty.

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

    You miss the point, Thomas – there are no “authorities”, only experts. That was what he was saying.

    And one DOES listen to experts. Or would you preper getting a diagnosis for brain surgert from an ear, nose and throat man?

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 22 Oct 2007 @ 10:56 PM

  266. I’m pretty sure I can distinguish the spelling and meaning of expert and authority. Who gets to decide who’s an expert and who’s not? Certainly not the ‘experts’. I certainly wouldn’t even want an expert operating on my brain. I prefer preventive maintenance and medicine. I generally make my own judgments, based on advice that I gladly accept from people, whom I myself determine to possess expertise in their particular area of knowledge, by observation.

    The second you claim you are an ‘expert’ at anything, you lose all credibility. One does not claim expertise, one demonstrates it, by example. Preferably over and over again. Even then, the experts still make mistakes. It’s the nature of the learning and scientific process. Education is a continuous never ending endeavor. One just doesn’t one day declare ‘I am an expert’. If they do, I generally refer to them as ‘emeritus’.

    Welcome to a new scientific paradigm. Better late than never.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 22 Oct 2007 @ 11:24 PM

  267. RE # 252 (the paper in PNAS on a possible comet/asteroid cause for megafaunal extinctions): Quote – “A carbon-rich black layer, dating to 12.9 ka (12,900 calendar years B.P.) (1), has been identified. . . . The cause of this extinction has long been debated and remains highly controversial due, in part, to the limitations of available data . . .”

    That could very well be a future scientist 12,900 years from now, examining the sedimentary layers being formed today.

    Regarding the discussion of climate models: keep in mind that there are three largely independent areas of climate science – paleoclimatology from sediments, ice cores, and so on, direct observations from satellites, weather stations, and ocean monitoring systems, and computer based climate models.

    All three indicate that the notion of abrupt global warming (i.e. decade-scale) induced by primarily by fossil fuel-sourced atmospheric CO2 increases and secondarily by global deforestation is indeed correct. The big uncertainty now is twofold: how fast and how far will this progress? The unexpectedly rapid Arctic ice melt and Arctic temperature increase is just one piece of information, but there is a lot of carbon stored in shallow Arctic ocean sediments and in the permafrost.

    Here in California, we’re having some unprecedented insect life-cycle activity. The oak caterpillars are chewing the oaks bare along the coast – this has never happened before. A dry warm fall is allowing them to keep going well past any previous record, and the drought stress is making the trees more vulnerable to this – see Global warming is killing trees in California parks, September 12, 2007. Some people think you can combat this with aerial spraying campaigns!

    All the data, all the indicators point in the same direction – and yet we’ve got the press still repeating things like “Gray, and not a few other scientists, believe the warming is a part of the natural cycle of ocean water temperatures, related to the amount of salt in ocean water, and will begin reversing soon — as in five to eight years.”

    We’ve also got things like this: “MSNBC Live hosts Mika Brzezinski and Contessa Brewer each described as a “top meteorologist” William M. Gray, who has stated that global warming “is one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American people.” (Media matters Oct 15 2007)

    Quote: “Definitely reminding people that apparently there is a debate on some of the issues related to global warming. So his numbers, Mika, not too far off thus far.”

    So, what’s wrong with large portions of the press? Why do they keep giving so much time to a few isolated denialists on this issue? It’s the complete absence of journalistic integrity to keep doing this, in my opinion. It’s the equivalent of running around claiming that HIV doesn’t cause AIDs, and that therefore no public health measures are needed.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 22 Oct 2007 @ 11:52 PM

  268. One can agree with the basic scientific evidence, i.e, warming is occurring, and still be a skeptic (not a denier) as to the conclusions that are drawn from that evidence. One can even agree that ice is melting (a little), ocean levels are rising (a little), and localized flora and fauna will have to adapt or die, and still be skeptical that future changes will be as monstrous as predicted by computer models, or that a “crisis” exists warranting wholesale changes in lifestyle driven by heavy-handed government regulation.

    So what, exactly, is the optimal climate and/or optimal average global temperature to support the greatest global carrying capacity of plants and animals (and humans)? Isn’t the ability to adapt considered a positive genetic trait that strengthens the gene pool? Shouldn’t a valid scientific analysis evaluate potential positive impacts instead of assuming all change is bad?

    LesPorter way back at (47) has the right idea. Focus on real solutions. The last data I saw showed something like 40% of the annual US carbon budget was for electricity generation. A crash program to permit and build new Nuclear and Hydroelectric Plants, using existing proven technology, could drastically reduce our carbon output in less than ten years. Hydro in particular, would also provide increased water storage – a double bonus. Expand alternative fuels research. Subsidize solar technology for residential uses. Forget carbon sequestration.

    The scientific debates here are very interesting, but China and the rest of the developing world aren’t going to stop burning coal and oil until someone comes up with a cheaper alternative. The simple fact is that cheap energy has always been directly correlated with a higher standard of living, and for developing countries, higher CO2 emmissions and a little global warming are a pretty small price to pay.

    A final note to Ray, RE 255: The “truth” is the truth. It isn’t determined by concensus and a vote of the experts. History is repleat with inaccurate concensus and misguided experts.

    Comment by EricM — 23 Oct 2007 @ 1:23 AM

  269. Thomas Lee Elifritz (#266) wrote:

    I’m pretty sure I can distinguish the spelling and meaning of expert and authority. Who gets to decide who’s an expert and who’s not? Certainly not the ‘experts’. I certainly wouldn’t even want an expert operating on my brain. I prefer preventive maintenance and medicine. I generally make my own judgments, based on advice that I gladly accept from people, whom I myself determine to possess expertise in their particular area of knowledge, by observation.

    The second you claim you are an ‘expert’ at anything, you lose all credibility. One does not claim expertise, one demonstrates it, by example. Preferably over and over again. Even then, the experts still make mistakes. It’s the nature of the learning and scientific process. Education is a continuous never ending endeavor. One just doesn’t one day declare ‘I am an expert’. If they do, I generally refer to them as ‘emeritus’.

    I just want to consider two statements of yours from above:

    1. “I generally make my own judgments, based on advice that I gladly accept from people, whom I myself determine to possess expertise in their particular area of knowledge, by observation.”

    2. “The second you claim you are an ‘expert’ at anything, you lose all credibility. One does not claim expertise, one demonstrates it, by example. Preferably over and over again.”

    How are you going to know how much expertise they have in their particular area of knowledge? Judging from the statement itself, this is not your own particular area of knowledge, is it?

    But to properly judge their expertise in their particular area of knowledge you would have to have a considerable amount of knowledge in that area yourself. Then again, chances are that you would only be able to judge them as either knowing more than yourself – or not. Wouldn’t you prefer to have someone more knowledgeable in that particular area judging the level of their expertise for you?

    Of course that someone would in all likelihood have to be an expert as well. A bit of a conundrum, isn’t it?

    Think for a moment of all the products that you buy, from toothpaste to gasoline to bleach and food. You might decide from watching a grocer that he has a certain level of expertise simply given the swift economy of motion with which she stacks the goods in the aisle. But you don’t know the farmers who actually grew the fruit or the vegetables or who raised the chickens which you bring home. How can you judge their expertise? Nevertheless you rely upon it.

    Now here is a common example: do you know how to make a modern pencil? Do you know of anyone who knows how to make such a thing?

    Think about this for a moment: what goes in to making a pencil?

    You have the graphite, the wood, the rubber eraser, and the metal which binds the eraser to the pencil. Seems simple enough. But then how do you get the graphite? You have to mine it. But to mine it you have to have the machines with which to mine it and the people who know how to use those machines. In the case of the paint, you have to have someone who knows how to mix it and prepare it. You have to have the chemical processing plants, the machines and so on. And the same with the wood or metal or rubber.

    Every machine that is involved has parts to it which have to be constructed and then those parts have to be assembled. And typically those parts and machines will be constructed in factories made of processed materials which would have to be traced back as well.

    At each step, someone has to have specialized knowledge, and if you trace things far enough, you will find an interlocking web of factors of production which spreads through much of the economy involving large numbers of individuals with specialized knowledge.

    How do you know that the right concrete was used for a given building? That a fertilizer used to grow certain crops was safe? That produce you buy was handled properly at each step leading from the farm to the grocery store or the kitchen of a restaurant? But you depend on them and you depend upon their knowledge and expertise, don’t you? What do you do when someone switches suppliers – where the new supplier has a different chain of companies and individuals supplying them? Chances are you won’t even know.

    You can’t observe all of these people.

    And you most certainly can’t observe them all repeatedly demonstrating their expertise – let alone judge their expertise – having the specialized knowledge required to judge that expertise, at least not as a member of an advanced economy. Nevertheless you depend upon them and their expertise – and the expertise of the individuals who judge them or know enough to report on events when something goes wrong.

    You of course have your own “independent judgment” based upon what you “know.”

    But I believe we could trace that back as well given that so much of which you “know” you got from others – with all of the implicit assumptions, theories and whatnot, the totality of which you would in all likelihood be entirely unable to justify if you ever tried. Elements of it? To some extent of course. But not the totality from the ground up. There is only so much that you can observe, know and judge.

    Thomas Lee Elifritz (#266) wrote:

    Welcome to a new scientific paradigm. Better late than never.

    Welcome to the modern world.

    We left what you appear to be familiar with more than 10,000 years ago. Society has evolved a bit since then. A systemic process, from what I understand. Don’t know all the details, though.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 23 Oct 2007 @ 1:34 AM

  270. Here is something I don’t understand…

    I had written in 244:

    However, in the case of the West Antarctic Peninsula, [much of] it is outside of the West Antarctic Front. At least in the antarctic summer, this means that it is more likely to be affected by the moist maritime air. [The reason being that the Antarctic Front retreats poleward during the Antarctic summer, but expands towards the equator during the summer.] Some of the circulation of air by the westerlies [just outside of the Antarctic Front] will be along the surface [at least farther out from the pole] rather than from the upper troposphere. Consequently it is seeing more warming than anywhere else in the world.

    However, what this would suggest is that you are going to see the most warming along the West Antarctic Peninsula during the Antarctic summer. This isn’t the case.

    There is a neat diagram in the upper right of this graphic:

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2005/2005cal_fig3.gif

    …which is from:

    GISS Surface Temperature Analysis
    Global Temperature Trends: 2005 Summation
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2005/

    It shows that the temperature of the West Antarctic Peninsula has had a far higher warming trend during the Antarctic winter than during the summer. I would assume this has to do with the retention of heat from the summer – and the insulating properties of carbon dioxide. But perhaps there is more going on as well. I kind of figure there is.

    Anyway, worth taking a look. Not quite the map that I was hoping for of seasonal temperature trends, but it is informative and gives you some sense of the difference in behavior between the two poles.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 23 Oct 2007 @ 2:51 AM

  271. 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.

    Dave – Lomborg’s Danish “scientific dishonest” verdict was rescinded by the body that supervises the body that criticized him – I’m not sure what evidence you mean as this is well documented even at the link you provided.

    Dave thanks for IPCC link. This jumped out at me as something that supports more alarm about melting than I generally assume, though it’s hard to follow what they mean here:

    There is medium confidence that at least
    partial deglaciation of the Greenland ice sheet, and possibly the West Antarctic ice sheet, would occur over a period of time ranging from centuries to millennia for a global average temperature increase of 1-4°C (relative to 1990-2000), causing a contribution to sea-level rise of 4-6 m or more.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 23 Oct 2007 @ 3:18 AM

  272. #259 Ray Ladbury: Matt, I agree that there are SOME experts who can be bought. I agree some “experts” are incompetent. However, to go from there to saying no expert can be trusted is not only immature, it is dangerous.

    Absolutely agree. The question, of course, is how do you know? Remember, bias doesn’t have to mean someone lies to me. Bias need only be that someone isn’t sharing with the entire truth. That’s why motive matters so much in all this. And that’s why I read writings from top scientists with my mouth agape at times. How can they possible be fair to their science with such motive driving their life?

    Hypothetical: Big Oil shows up an an IPCC convention, and says they will pay the top 100 climate scientists $3M/year salary to study any aspect of climate science that interests them. The only catch is that the scientists cannot publish anything pro-AGW. They can only publish things that that refute AGW. They aren’t required to lie or fabricate at any time. If in 5 years they don’t find a single thing refuting AGW, that’s fine. In fact, Big Oil would be equally happy knowing they simple took you out of circulation.

    What % of the 100 scientists do you think would take that? I’d hope that most would as the cost-benefit analysis is sound. But I suspect most wouldn’t, because they feel they are on a crusade and big oil is the enemy. I’d love to hear what you would do.

    Comment by matt — 23 Oct 2007 @ 3:39 AM

  273. #259 Ray Ladbury: Matt, First, overdesign is not a failure of risk analysis, but rather a part of it. Sometimes (actually, usually) it is simply cheaper to overdesign than verify a marginal design. As to your 1% and 99% examples, sometimes 99% is not a passing score–manned space flight comes to mind. Ths space shuttle has performed at almost the theoretical limits of reliability, and yet this is not enough.

    Absolutely agree. However, I think Feynman shined some very interesting light on the probabilities associated with the space shuttle. And again we saw how divergent the opinions of experts could be as they ranged from 1 in 100 to 1 in 10,000 for the failure rate. And in practice those figures are closer to one failed flight per 70 missions.

    I note, too, that the IPCC has a good section on probabilities that I haven’t read recently, but recalled today. There’s isn’t much granularity, and the percentages map to what I would call “gut feelings”

    I’ll re-read when time permits. But I recall reading at the time thinking “this is it? this is the basis for all the confidence?”

    Comment by matt — 23 Oct 2007 @ 4:14 AM

  274. Hank writes:

    [[Say Barton, when you quote someone before replying, would you mind adding the name the person used to make it easier to know who it is you’re quoting?]]

    Sorry about that. I’ll try to do that.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 23 Oct 2007 @ 7:34 AM

  275. Eric M posts:

    [[The scientific debates here are very interesting, but China and the rest of the developing world aren’t going to stop burning coal and oil until someone comes up with a cheaper alternative. The simple fact is that cheap energy has always been directly correlated with a higher standard of living, and for developing countries, higher CO2 emmissions and a little global warming are a pretty small price to pay.]]

    They won’t think so in Shanghai when they have to evacuate it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 23 Oct 2007 @ 7:40 AM

  276. RE #272:

    Biased doesn’t even mean that someone isn’t being totally truthful. Bias can even interject itself in how we arrive at conclusions. A bias can keep a scientist from looking at an anomaly in the data (especially what the scientist considers a minor anomaly) because the results from the test support the hypothesis. And yet, that anomaly could have drastic implications on how the system actually works.

    For example, back before the wright brothers, there was a theory of how aerodynamics works but this theory failed to adequately account for lift. The data that had been taken up until then had clearly shown the discrepancy, but no one recognized the significance until the Wright brothers came along. They couldn’t figure out how the numbers they predicted weren’t realized when using the current theory, so they invented a wind tunnel and redefined aerodynamics.

    In this example, the Wright brothers refused to be biased by ‘scientific consensus’ and decided to work on their own.

    Comment by dean_1230 — 23 Oct 2007 @ 8:10 AM

  277. The ‘modern world’ is one where we discuss global warming, climate change, global mass extinction, overpopulation, environmental pollution, biodiversity loss, and physics, chemistry and medicine, among other things. Your expertise in scientific paradigms is not even in the running, so I do hope you don’t mind that I ignore your long rant, much less read it, thank you.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 23 Oct 2007 @ 8:14 AM

  278. Rod B., First, I am certainly not a climate expert. I am a physicist familiar with the fundamentals who has made an effort to understand how they play out in Earth’s climate. As such, I’m in some position to assess whether the model is self consistent and matches the evidence. I am not in a position to do original work in the field and so influence the consensus of experts. Based on the independent assessments of many, many folks like me, professional societies such as the American Geophysical Union, the American Physical Society, the National Academy of sciences have all weighed in and stated that climate change is likely anthropogenic and that it is likely a significant threat. This contributes to the consensus because it means that scientists who understand the research, but who are part of quite different communities with different interests and priorities have found the consensus of experts to be credible–and not groupthink. So, in that sense I contribute in a very small way to the consensus.

    WRT great scientists of the past, Physics even in 1900 was a much simpler field than it is today. Now, it is a rare scientist who even has a fairly complete view of a field such as geophysics or condensed matter physics, let alone physics as a whole. I can claim some insight here as I used to write for a physics magazine and always had to struggle to find experts who could check what I had written in my news accounts. By contrast, Maxwell still called himself a “natural philosopher”, and pretty much all the influential physicists of his day cold have fit in Westminster abbey.
    Moreover, lot’s look at a couple of your scientists–Newton and Einstein–perhaps THE giants of theoretical physics. Great as he was, Newton was just flat-assed wrong about optics when he insisted on his corpuscular theory. Because Newton dominated science in England, this set English optics behind that of the Continent by decades. Einstein was also amazingly brilliant and broad in his understanding. Yet his objections to quantum mechanics–while profound–were also flat-assed wrong. However, by Einstein’s time, the necessity of scientific consensus was established, and the science continued to flow around the obstacle of Einstein, regardless of how formidable an obstacle he was.
    Eric M.–what is at issue is not what is TRUE (a question of metaphysics), but rather, how do we decide what is true (a question of epistemology). Science deals with the latter. If you want absolute truth, stick to philosophy and religion. Scientific consensus is not a vote by people, but rather a vote by evidence. The scientists assess that evidence and when it becomes cogent follow it. That is scientific consensus.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Oct 2007 @ 8:41 AM

  279. Dean_1230 said: “For example, back before the wright brothers, there was a theory of how aerodynamics works but this theory failed to adequately account for lift. The data that had been taken up until then had clearly shown the discrepancy, but no one recognized the significance until the Wright brothers came along. They couldn’t figure out how the numbers they predicted weren’t realized when using the current theory, so they invented a wind tunnel and redefined aerodynamics.”

    I love the smell of revisionist history in the morning. Smells like…victory. Actually, the physics of lift is fully accounted for by Bernoulli’s principle:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernoulli%27s_equation

    It dates from the 18th century.

    The problems scientist saw with heavier than air flight were mainly controlling the plane and strength of materials. The reality is much more interesting than the revisionist history:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wright_brothers

    Now to the misconceptions about scientific consensus evident in this post. First, scientific consensus does not deal with questions of technology. For example, when the American Institute of Physics took a position against Star Wars in the ’80s and ’90s, it did so based on grounds of economics, and the ease of countermeasures, not “scientific consensus”. Scientific consensus does come into play on questions like faster than light travel and perpetual motion machines, since they violate fundamental physical laws. Moral: Be careful about your sources of information–and be especially careful when they are science fiction writers who don’t understand science. And off topic: Happy Birthday to that science fiction writer.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Oct 2007 @ 9:05 AM

  280. Killfiles were such useful tools. They let people ignore one another simply and silently, without telling everyone who and what and why they were ignoring and getting into discussions about it. There’s a tool out there now for some weblog software. I hope RC can get one.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Oct 2007 @ 9:28 AM

  281. Timothy, just gooogle “Thomas Lee Elifritz.” Quite an eye opener.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 23 Oct 2007 @ 9:46 AM

  282. Matt, I would hope that 100% of the top 100 scientists would reject such an offer from any granting organization, and I think I’d be pretty close to right. The reason is that usually, the best scientists are perfectly happy doing the research they are doing and that there are usually plenty of opportunities to sell out before you make it into the top 100. In my humble opinion, $3M is a very low price for a soul–and any scientist who took this money would have to know that his career would be over.
    What Feynmann exposed was what real scientists and engineers had long known: the reliability calculations coming out of the contractors were faith based. In fact, it was a reliability engineer who tipped Feynmann off about the O-rings. That was not science–that was PR, and it is what happens when you let bean counters write proposals/contracts for technical hardware. It still happens–as I know all too well.
    The IPCC documents aren’t really the best place to look for an education on statistical reasoning. I would start with
    http://www.itl.nist.gov/div898/handbook/
    also
    http://www.weibull.com/
    For a lighthearted intro to Bayesian ideas, try:
    http://yudkowsky.net/bayes/bayes.html

    Bayesian ideas aren’t really quite the black art they are sometimes made out to be. They can be misused, but so can frequentist treatments.

    If you really want to delve deeply into the philosophy, try:

    http://www.amazon.com/Nature-Scientific-Evidence-Philosophical-Considerations/dp/0226789578/ref=sr_1_1/103-0992479-1549404?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1193151197&sr=8-1

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Oct 2007 @ 9:54 AM

  283. I’m so flattered. I’ll save you the trouble, here’s my CV :

    http://webpages.charter.net/tsiolkovsky/bion.htm

    Now, what was the subject again?

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 23 Oct 2007 @ 10:10 AM

  284. I had something I was trying to figure out in 270:

    It shows that the temperature of the West Antarctic Peninsula has had a far higher warming trend during the Antarctic winter than during the summer. I would assume this has to do with the retention of heat from the summer – and the insulating properties of carbon dioxide. But perhaps there is more going on as well. I kind of figure there is.

    Thought about it last night while going to bed just after reading some more of Peter Ward’s “Under a Green Sky.”

    The land acts as a reservoir of heat from during the summer. As the temperature of the atmosphere drops precipitiously with the onset of the antarctic fall, the rate of which is to a large extent a function of the isolation of the continent due the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, resulting in the rapid decline of the absolute humidity of saturation, greatly reducing the ability of the land to lose this heat by means of moist air convection.

    Same principle would apply with respect to the Arctic Ocean except it isn’t as isolated, affected to a much greater extent by the ocean currents from the lower latitudes and remains warmer throughout the year. Interestingly enough, the temperature has risen the most during the arctic spring and the least during the arctic summer. And its split-up, such that the two seasons which have shown the most warming are spring and fall.

    Different patterns of polar amplification – and now the Arctic Ocean’s pattern is puzzling.

    I suspect the summer shows the least warming in part due to the light of the seasons themselves as flux is the fourth power of the temperature. Additionally, moist air convection should play a far greater role during the summer, and as to a first approximation this rises exponentially with temperature higher temperatures will result in more cooling due to the moist air convection.

    And I believe I’ve heard that it is the polar amplification of spring that is most significant in terms of the overall trend of the arctic. Melting of the snow and ice during the spring lowering the albedo to the point that more sunlight will be absorbed during the summer. Something which Hansen brought up in relation to glaciers, if I remember correctly. Likewise, the warmer air of spring which results from the lower albedo should lower the albedo even more just in time for the high sun of summer, resulting in the absorption of more light.

    Spring will warm more quickly as the ice which has melted by the end of fall will be replaced with thin ice which insulates the ocean from losing heat and therefore prevents the ice from thickening much over the winter. Thus what thin ice there is will be lost, exposing the dark ocean resulting in the absorption of more light as the season progresses.

    Anyway, this is all guesswork on my part.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 23 Oct 2007 @ 10:26 AM

  285. Joe Duck said:

    Dave – Lomborg’s Danish “scientific dishonest” verdict was rescinded by the body that supervises the body that criticized him…

    That is true – but only up to a point. In a nutshell, the DCSD finding was that if Lomborg had known what he was talking about, he would have been properly found to be scientifically dishonest. Lomborg appealed his acquittal. The MSTI made four specific criticisms of the DCSD verdict but didn’t actually disagree with the DCSD’s findings on Lomborg’s behaviour; they remitted the case back to the DCSD, which didn’t pursue the claim because they didn’t feel that their original acquittal of Lomborg, or their reasons for it, would change.

    Comment by Robin Levett — 23 Oct 2007 @ 10:39 AM

  286. Jim Eager (#281) wrote:

    Timothy, just gooogle “Thomas Lee Elifritz.” Quite an eye opener.

    Already did – last night before the bit about the pencil – you know me. Probably should have done the same with someone else recently. I suspect I would have liked what I saw and with a different opinion endeavored to be more polite.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 23 Oct 2007 @ 11:01 AM

  287. Global Warming delusions in the Comment pages of the (London) Times here in UK too, propounded by David Bellamy (‘Today’s Forecast – Yet Another Blast of Hot Air’ – 22nd October). See his article in Times OnLine. Many of the usual canards, plus many supportive comments, but also a smaller number of critical replies, including one from myself.
    Bellamy appears woefully ignorant of what the hockey stick curve really was – he seems to think it has been used to predict global warming – not does he have any conception of the basic science (Arrhenius etc.). Doesn’t stop him sounding off, though!!

    Comment by David Bright — 23 Oct 2007 @ 11:15 AM

  288. Thomas Lee Elifritz (283) wrote:

    I’m so flattered. I’ll save you the trouble, here’s my CV :

    http://webpages.charter.net/tsiolkovsky/bion.htm

    Now, what was the subject again?

    Saw that as well but wasn’t sure that it was the same person. Now that I know all the pieces fit. We can keep it our little secret – assuming you know.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 23 Oct 2007 @ 11:16 AM

  289. Re #279

    Ray, what in the world are you talking about? did you even read the wiki entry on the Wright Brothers? Specifically, the section on the 1901 glider? here’s the relevant passage that details what i alluded to earlier:

    “The glider, however, delivered two major disappointments. It produced only about one-third the lift calculated and sometimes failed to respond properly to wing-warping, turning opposite the direction intended—a problem later known as adverse yaw. On the trip home after their second season, Wilbur, stung with disappointment, remarked to Orville that man would fly, but not in their lifetimes.

    The poor lift of the gliders led the Wrights to question the accuracy of Lilienthal’s data, as well as the “Smeaton coefficient” of air pressure, which had been used for over 100 years and was part of the accepted equation for lift.

    The Wrights—and Lilienthal—used the equation to calculate the amount of lift that wings of various sizes would produce. Based on measurements of lift and wind during the 1901 glider’s kite and free flights, Wilbur believed (correctly, as tests later showed) that the Smeaton number was very close to .0033, not the traditionally used 60% larger .0054, which would exaggerate predicted lift.

    Back home, furiously pedaling a strange-looking bicycle on neighborhood streets, they conducted makeshift open-air tests with a miniature Lilienthal airfoil and a counter-acting flat plate, which were both attached to a freely rotating third bicycle wheel mounted horizontally in front of the handlebars. The results, based on which way the third wheel turned, confirmed their suspicion that published data on lift were unreliable and encouraged them to expand their investigation. They also realized that trial-and-error with different wings on full-size gliders was too costly and time-consuming. Putting aside the three-wheel bicycle, they built a six-foot wind tunnel in their shop and conducted systematic tests on miniature wings from October to December 1901. The “balances” they devised and mounted inside the tunnel to hold the wings looked crude, made of bicycle spokes and scrap metal, but were “as critical to the ultimate success of the Wright brothers as were the gliders.”[22] The devices allowed the brothers to balance lift against drag and accurately calculate the performance of each wing.[23] They could also see which wings worked well as they looked through the viewing window in the top of the tunnel.”

    Isn’t that what i said????

    Comment by dean_1230 — 23 Oct 2007 @ 11:22 AM

  290. Re # 261 Thomas Lee Elifritz: “Argument by authority is not generally considered a viable scientific method – anywhere. Not even in one’s narrow field of specialty.”

    Argument by authority is a logical fallacy (aka Appeal to Authority, Ad Verecundiam; http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-authority.html) – anyone, including a Nobel Prize winning scientist, can make a statement that is unsupported by evidence, misleading, or just plain wrong. But, if I have to decide who to believe about a technial matter, such as the scientific evidence for anthropogentic global warming, either Rush Limbaugh or a well-published climatologist, I’ll put my money on the authority with the PhD in climate science. Not everything the climatologist says will be 100% accurate, but he/she is a much more reliable source of correct information.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 23 Oct 2007 @ 12:17 PM

  291. Re # 260 Rod B “The paper did not go through an anonymous peer review but was read by the editor (Max Planck) who made a decision to publish it. ”

    I would suggest that Max Planck reading the paper and then deciding to publish it constitutes peer review. Presumably, Planck read the paper carefully and felt it had merit.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 23 Oct 2007 @ 12:26 PM

  292. I’ll put my money on the authority with the PhD in climate science.

    Someone might try to explain to you why science is not an authoritarian betting game. It won’t be me, though. Carry on.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 23 Oct 2007 @ 12:48 PM

  293. Ray, I pretty much agree with your post 278. You also made my case against Dave’s criteria. All of thos scientists and acadamies would not be allowed to comment on climate science, were it not for the fact that they agree with the thrust. This is what makes his criteria (most of it anyway) specious and meaningless.

    Comment by Rod B — 23 Oct 2007 @ 12:51 PM

  294. re Chuck (291); Ah, the contortions some go through in support of their favorite icon. If peer review had a minor deviation somewhere, can’t just let it be — must redefine peer review!

    Comment by Rod B — 23 Oct 2007 @ 1:02 PM

  295. Dean_1230 No, that is not what you said. You said that the story represented a failure of scientific consensus that said they wouldn’t fly. Instead it was an error in measurement that led to improper design. On the one hand, you have the research of a single individual doing one type of experiment. On the other hand, scientific consensus is based on evidence from many sources and different phenomena that all point to the same conclusion.
    Science does make errors, but those errors are self correcting.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Oct 2007 @ 1:18 PM

  296. Rod and Chuck, Scientific Journals often have means for bypassing the normal peer-review process for articles that are considered very important and obviously of interest to the general public. I believe the paper of Watson and Crick went to publication without peer review because of its obvious importance. As I said, peer review is not an absolute guarantee of correctness–it just says that the article is of sufficient interest and sufficient correctness to be of interest to the larger community. What matters ultimately is the work’s acceptance by the larger community.

    Rod, Actually, a professional body can take a position for or against a finding. Prior to this year, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists had taken a position against anthropogenic causation. They softened their position considerably just this year, so there are now NO relevant professional societies in the dissenting camp.
    Rod, the way it goes is this. The experts are the ones who establish technical details of the consensus position. Normally that’s where it ends. However, if the subject is of sufficient general public interest, those in related fields may weigh in on whether the body of evidence, technical details, etc. all make sense. On rare occasions, you will have general scientific organizations–e.g. AAAS or NAS weighing in. In this case, there is essentially unanimity among the professional societies (with two abstentions–AAPG and the American Association of State Climatologists. When you consider the interests of AAPG, their turnaround is noteworthy!

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Oct 2007 @ 1:35 PM

  297. re 292

    Someone might try to explain to you why science is not an authoritarian betting game. It won’t be me, though. Carry on.

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

    No one said it was…except you, of course, and it is unlikely anyone is really buying into your straw man argument.

    The point everyone is making, and you seem to be missing, perhaps deliberately, is that while you may paste the label “authority” upon someone, what we’re really discussing is experts. A climatologist is an expert in the area of climatology. That means, quite simply, he is informed to a much higher degree on the subject than the average person and thus can be counted on to likely make better, more reliable observations.

    Now if you were going to try to play the game of first labeling everyone authorities and then claiming there are no authorities, you end up with no one capable of offering an authoritive opinion on a subject, or to to be counted on to do competent work.

    That doesn’t jive with reality.

    Again, I offer the question. Would you go to an ear-nose-and-throat doctor when you needed brain surgery, or would you consult with a brain surgeon?

    If the latter, then you would be conceeding that the brain surgeon, by virtue of is specialty, carries more authoritive weight (expertise) in his area of study and practise than the ENT man.

    If you picked the former, while consistant with the position you are offering up here, I wouldn’t give much for your chances.

    Bluntly, your “argument” is a non sequitur in relation to reality, IMHO.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 23 Oct 2007 @ 1:54 PM

  298. Re 295

    Wow… I wish I had known I had said that… (scientific consensus (Lilienthal, Langley, etc)at the time was that they would fly, but the WB were satisfied with the results they were getting so they set out to better understand aerodynamics and thus completely changed how wings are designed)

    My point was that often in history we see examples of “current understanding” woefully misses the mark as to what’s really happening and that oftentimes the “current understanding” leads to a bias among scientists as to what the result should be. That then clouds the judgment of the scientists. No willful misrepresentation. No deception by omission. And yet a bias exists. We should recognize that such biases exist and do our best to identify them and not let them cloud our studies.

    Another post talked about how far we’ve come in our understanding of physics in the last century. I see it as being entirely possible that a century from now, the physicists will look back at today and see our present understanding as being simple compared to what they know.

    Said another way, assuming that we really understand how things are working is in itself a bias and must be addressed. One way of addressing this is to openly seek scientific critique via the peer review process and also to seek out those that don’t fundamentally agree with our conclusions. To not actively solicit such discussion is to surround ourselves with “Yes-men” and any “agreement” has a significant possibility of being tainted.

    Comment by dean_1230 — 23 Oct 2007 @ 1:54 PM

  299. I’ll put my money on the authority with the PhD in climate science.

    Someone might try to explain to you why science is not an authoritarian betting game.

    No one said it was…except you, of course

    No I didn’t, I said exactly the opposite. Are you always that dishonest?

    Ok, then, it’s an entirely new scientific paradigm – science by euphemism. Feel free to discuss it at length.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 23 Oct 2007 @ 2:08 PM

  300. dean_1230, Have you ever been to a scientific conference? If you have 5 scientists, you’ll be lucky if they can agree on Thai or pizza, let alone politics, who should win the World Series or even most scientific issues. The last thing you need worry about is scientists being “Yes-Men”. Yes, science can be uncertain or in error, but chances are the state of the science will be too tentative to establish true consensus.
    Also, do not confuse error with bias–they are very different.
    Finally, you don’t understand the relation of past theory to present. Yes, relativity and quantum mechanics do better than Newtonian mechanisc, but rather than look upon Newton as a rube, scientists hold him in the highest esteem–precisely because he MOSTLY GOT IT RIGHT.
    Look Dean, science works. And it works just fine without congressional audits and amateur investigators etc. It has worked with respect to climate, and the only reason people are questioning the scientific results is because they don’t like the conclusions. That is not science.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Oct 2007 @ 2:11 PM

  301. Re #298 (Dean_1230) How science works

    I doubt very much that scientists a century from now will think our science ‘simple’. Just like we don’t think Newton’s science is simple. Newton’s laws just turn out to be a limit case of the more general theory of relativity; in everyday life Newton is perfectly correct.

    A nice essay by Asimov on how science progresses is here:
    http://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/RelativityofWrong.htm

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 23 Oct 2007 @ 2:40 PM

  302. re 299

    I’ll put my money on the authority with the PhD in climate science.

    Someone might try to explain to you why science is not an authoritarian betting game.

    No one said it was…except you, of course

    No I didn’t, I said exactly the opposite.
    ==============

    Thanks.

    Pot-kettle-black.

    No one was really saying science was a betting game, your representation notwithstanding. Chuck was making a point in relation to what he was saying in 290 when he said “I’ll put my money on the authority with the PhD in climate science.”

    But you conveniently ignored what he was saying regarding the authority of scientific expertise to take his point out of context and imply he had said something different. Your attack on the use of “authority” remains a straw man.

    To quote you: “Are you always that dishonest?”

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 23 Oct 2007 @ 3:07 PM

  303. Hank Roberts wrote: ” Paul Steiger, who was managing editor of The Wall Street Journal until earlier this year, the group said in a statement Monday”

    That might not be bad – the Journal’s *news* pages have historically been pretty good, and have broken plenty of stories about corporate misconduct. The editorial pages, on the other hand, are coming from Republican Dimension X, and often contradict the reporting in the news pages.

    With the Murdoch takeover, I expect the news pages to become more like the editorial pages.

    Comment by Jon H — 23 Oct 2007 @ 3:20 PM

  304. I’m not going to bite, I’ve got better uses of my time. I just check in here every couple of months to see what is going on. With southern California burning it seemed the appropriate time. Good luck with your debating the debate while the world continues to burn. I’ve got other leaves to harvest, and other compost piles to turn.

    I seem to recall an election almost a year ago, but nothing changed.

    I fully expect that nothing much will change the next election too.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 23 Oct 2007 @ 3:51 PM

  305. Ray wrote:
    science works. And it works just fine without congressional audits and amateur investigators etc. It has worked with respect to climate …

    Very nicely put.

    and the only reason people are questioning the scientific results is because they don’t like the conclusions…

    Ray! False and unreasonable – surely you didn’t mean this?

    The reason many people are questioning results is because they are practicing good scientific method and retaining a degree of skepticism.

    Most science, and climate science in particular, has a degree of uncertainty and works towards increasing confidence about how things work rather than claiming certainty in how things work. Informed skepticism drives new findings and revisions to current understanding.

    Skepticism, especially informed skepticism, should be celebrated.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 23 Oct 2007 @ 4:38 PM

  306. Question for Gavin

    Have posts been bouncing today?

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 23 Oct 2007 @ 5:18 PM

  307. Re # 283 Thomas Lee Elifritz “here’s my CV”

    That link leads to an online paper, “On the Nature of Bismuth (I) Iodide in the Solid State.” No CV in sight.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 23 Oct 2007 @ 5:25 PM

  308. Joe Duck (305) — There is essentially no evidence within the comments attached to threads here on Real Climate that ‘skeptics’ are anything but either ignorant or else denialists.

    While climatology has some uncertainties, there is enough solid data and supporting theory so that no one (in their right mind) can doubt either that global warming is occuring or the fact that it is anthropogenic in origin. Informed skepticism has its place, but not when it is clearly time for actions towards mitigation to be undertaken.

    Think of the events of this past northen hemisphere summer as being a call for action analogous to that of Pearl Harbor 46 years ago.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 23 Oct 2007 @ 5:29 PM

  309. Re. Joe Duck, #271, (in which you refer to a post by me in another thread):

    Dave – Lomborg’s Danish “scientific dishonest” verdict was rescinded by the body that supervises the body that criticized him

    As I’m sure you must be aware, the Ministry remitted the case to the DCSD, on procedural technicalities, but they did not rule on the substance of the DCSD’s findings – that is, the ministry did not itself evaluate the soundness of the science or the claims in the book. The DCSD then decided not to act further on the complaints, reasoning that renewed scrutiny would simply result in the same conclusion.

    I’m not sure what evidence you mean as this is well documented even at the link you provided.

    Are you missing the point on purpose or did you fail to read my post properly? I asked you what hard evidence you have for your implicit accusation that the DCSD’s findings were politically motivated (which is a very serious accusation to make unless you have hard evidence to back it up); and that evidence is not documented at the link I provided.

    Also, I notice you didn’t comment on the article in Nature by Partha Dasgupta that I linked to. Do you believe that Dasgupta was also politically motivated, and that Nature is a politically motivated publication? If so, please could you cite your evidence for that accusation as well, with links? Or didn’t you bother to read his article?

    What about Pimm and Harvey’s review of TSE in Nature, and Grubb’s review in Science – do you also consider them to be politically motivated? Please cite your evidence, if so.

    As regards your original, and so far unsupported, accusation against the DCSD, the report of the DCSD’s ruling in Science magazine states:

    It’s “an unusually hard ruling by a committee known for being immensely difficult to convince of any wrongdoing,” says ecologist Carsten Rahbek of Copenhagen University.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 23 Oct 2007 @ 5:49 PM

  310. I’m not seeking an interview for employment.

    The result itself is sufficient to get me in the door, or if you prefer, shown to the door and escorted off the premises, depending on your perspective.

    My perspective in 1992 when I wrote this, was the BCS-BOSE model applied to chemistry, and electronic Bose-Einstein condensation.

    From now on, I’m playing hardball. Get used to it.

    (But don’t worry, I’m not playing it here.)

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 23 Oct 2007 @ 5:55 PM

  311. Interesting that Business is going green. Yet, the so-called “Business Newspaper” denies there is any need to do anything at all.

    There are many examples of dissonance between the news and the opinion.

    Comment by lilybart — 23 Oct 2007 @ 6:47 PM

  312. Joe Duck Re #305. The evidence for anthropogenic causation of climate change is quite strong, and there is NO evidence that strongly suggests otherwise. There are still a few physicists who don’t believe in quarks, but the overwhelming majority do, and you don’t see congressional hearings with ignorant food tubes (an accurate description, not an ad hominem) saying the quark model is the biggest hoax in history. Yet, I would say the evidence for anthropogenic causation of climate change is stronger than that for quarks. It is probably stronger than that for General Relativity and for the Big Bang. And yet, while Young Earth Creationists froth at the mouth, you don’t hear Congressmen baying for the head of Arno Penzias.
    It is extremely difficult for me to imagine what sort of experimental result could come along and dislodge the anthropogenic explanation. Hell, even W is convinced. Even the American Association of Petroleum Geologists has softened its stance to neutral. If that’s not consensus, what is?
    So, given the current state of knowledge, the question is not whether we are changing climate, but what we do about it. I’m all for healthy debate on that front. But challenging the science without empirical evidence is not science. It’s not even good politics, because all it does is leave empty your chair at the table where people are deciding on mitigation.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Oct 2007 @ 8:43 PM

  313. 308 says, “…While climatology has some uncertainties, there is enough solid data and supporting theory so that no one (in their right mind) can doubt either that global warming is occuring….”

    See, that’s how they close the loop of the circle. If he disagrees with me (and my well thought out conclusions) he must be crazy. Hey! Then if he’s crazy he doesn’t get a place at the table. Whew! That was easy.

    Comment by Rod B — 23 Oct 2007 @ 8:51 PM

  314. re: #312 Ray
    Hey, Arno’s Nobel was an *accident*, he and Wilson were trying to get rid of the static plaguing their antenna, so the Creationists have no reason to bug him, as he wasn’t *trying* to prove them wrong.

    It wouldn’t do them much good anyway, he’s just having a good time being a VC doing investments in alternative energy. I expect most VCs around here read the WSJ, but I suspect most ignore what WSJ Editorial says about AGW; too many are investing assuming AGW is real.

    Comment by John Mashey — 24 Oct 2007 @ 12:06 AM

  315. Thomas Lee Elifritz posts:

    [[>>>>I’ll put my money on the authority with the PhD in climate science.

    Someone might try to explain to you why science is not an authoritarian betting game. It won’t be me, though. Carry on.]]

    So you really would believe Rush Limbaugh on climate science over a climate scientist, as in the original poster’s example? I take it if you needed open-heart surgery, you’d be just as happy having Rush Limbaugh do it as having a surgeon do it. After all, medical science is not an authoritarian betting game. And if your car engine dies, I assume you’d just as soon take it to Rush Limbaugh as to an auto mechanic? After all, engineering is not an authoritarian betting game.

    You are more likely to get the right answer from someone familiar with the field. Especially when the alternative is someone known for making things up as needed, like Rush Limbaugh.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 24 Oct 2007 @ 7:13 AM

  316. Joe Duck writes:

    [[and the only reason people are questioning the scientific results is because they don’t like the conclusions…

    Ray! False and unreasonable - surely you didn’t mean this?

    The reason many people are questioning results is because they are practicing good scientific method and retaining a degree of skepticism. ]]

    If you think the global warming skeptics are “practicing good scientific method,” you must not understand what the scientific method is. Ray is much closer to the truth than you are. If you want to know why there’s massive opposition to global warming theory (though not among scientists), Cherchez l’argent.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 24 Oct 2007 @ 7:20 AM

  317. Rod B posts:

    [[308 says, “…While climatology has some uncertainties, there is enough solid data and supporting theory so that no one (in their right mind) can doubt either that global warming is occuring….”

    See, that’s how they close the loop of the circle. If he disagrees with me (and my well thought out conclusions) he must be crazy. Hey! Then if he’s crazy he doesn’t get a place at the table. Whew! That was easy.]]

    You’re right, the original poster was being too extreme. It would be more correct to say “there is enough solid data and supporting theory so that no one (with any understanding of the evidence in question or of how science works) can doubt either that global warming is occuring…”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 24 Oct 2007 @ 7:25 AM

  318. Rod B., OK, so what is the point of your post #313. Are you claiming that science should withhold support from a theory when a “scientist” objects to it even if he has no evidence that contradicts it or even supports another theory? If so, you are advocating faith-based science and there’s nothing more to talk about.
    Or are you claiming that there is evidence supporting a mechanism other than anthropogenic causation being dominant? If so, what might that be? Time to put up or shut up, Rod.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Oct 2007 @ 7:55 AM

  319. Rod B. Here’s some chairs and some blank name cards. Put your men at the table. I’m seriously asking because I want to read their work.

    I stayed up until 2AM reading a 2007 paper by Hansen. Right now I’m a whipsawed wreck. I could use a few rays of hope like the Iris Hypothesis, or the models left out water, or pictures of children playing water pistols at temp stations, or something, anything. I want Hansen to be right like I want a hole in my head. Help me out here.

    Comment by J.C.H. — 24 Oct 2007 @ 8:50 AM

  320. I’m saying there are credible scientists out there who dispute to some degree or another AGW or parts of AGW. You folks, who claim irrefutable and unassailable evidence for AGW (and may prove to be correct), can not countenance any disagreement however slight, and refuse to recognize any opposition (which is different from recognizing the opposition’s arguments and a long way from accepting those arguments, for which I am not being critical in the least) by defining them as not credible simply and only because they have some opposition. True, there is a whole lot of learned-sounding words that describe the rational like, “When’s the last time he published a peer reviewed paper?”, or “She’s not a real climate scientist!” (which, BTW, as I’ve said, would wipe out 95% of posters on RC were it not for the fact they are on the “correct” side of the fence), and maybe, “His neighbor works for the oil company!” — but that is all smoke and rhetoric. This, my friend, is what is not scientific. Poohpooh their arguments? A little extreme, but acceptable. Discard them out of hand becuase “they must be nuts”? Not.

    Comment by Rod B — 24 Oct 2007 @ 9:51 AM

  321. matt wrote: “I’d bet that world consensus of world experts was easily at 85% that Iraq had nukes and was planning on doing something bad with them.”

    You would lose that bet. NO “world experts” believed that “Iraq had nukes.”

    It appears that you are as poorly informed about that off-topic issue as you are about the science of anthropogenic global warming.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 24 Oct 2007 @ 11:21 AM

  322. Rod B. Here’s some chairs and some blank name cards. Put your men at the table. I’m seriously asking because I want to read their work.

    Keep in mind that Rod B’s an Intelligent Design Creationist, so if you asked him for experts on evolutionary biology he might well respond “Behe and Dembski”.

    So you might want to take a close look at the credentials and background of any “expert” on climate science he might put forward, if you’re looking for serious skeptics who aren’t out in la-la land.

    Comment by dhogaza — 24 Oct 2007 @ 11:51 AM

  323. Ray wrote:
    given the current state of knowledge, the question is not whether we are changing climate, but what we do about it. I’m all for healthy debate on that front

    I agree with this strongly. My views on skepticism are that regardless of mainstream or consensus views, skeptics *as people* should be treated with respect even if their ideas or hypotheses deserve derisive treatment.

    Dave Rado:
    Yikes – I simply don’t have enough time read each article and address each of your points but in the other thread people are also suggesting that the DCSD fiasco discredits him and I’ll try to address that over there, because I think it’s unreasonable to say DCSD’s rescinded decision tells us much about Lomborg’s legitimacy as a critic of alarmism in science and science reporting.

    My take on Lomborg’s books is that he intentionally simplifies highly technical issues, and in so doing leaves himself open to technical criticisms. Some of that criticism is legitimate but most I’ve read seems to take the tone of attacking him rather than his ideas, as Lomborg himself did when attacking some scientists in TSE.

    Comment by Joe Duck — 24 Oct 2007 @ 12:48 PM

  324. Barton Paul Levenson (317) — Thank you for the correction. However, I question the degree of sanity of anybody who does not know the science doubting the words of those who do.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 24 Oct 2007 @ 12:56 PM

  325. It seems like this thread on Dan Botkin’s op-ed has nearly run its course and has strayed a bit from its original topic. I would point out in reference to the many posts on “scientific authority” and “expert” that the IPCC couches all of its conclusions in probabilistic terms, e.g., degree of confidence in the data (highly confident) and level of certainty of specific outcomes (very likely). A healthy skepticism (healthy is the operative word) is always advisable, and to paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, a foolish skepticism is the hobgoblin of little minds…

    Bringing the thread back to Dan Botkin’s op-ed, an acquaintance pointed me to a blog from which I pulled the following quote:

    “What’s the equivalent of buying global-warming insurance? Actions to lessen the rate of warming or offset potential effects of global warming. The intriguing thing is that most of the actions we would take to “insure” ourselves would benefit us even setting aside the issue of global warming.

    and

    “Forget about empty debates as to whether or not global warming is going to bring catastrophe and whether it is our fault. Take action that is carefully chosen to both combat global warming and benefit living things with or without global warming. And be particularly careful not to act in such panic as to do things that are dangerous and damaging to life on Earth.”

    Here’s the blog url if you want to read the whole post and other posts on climate change (there are three):

    http://www.danielbbotkin.com/archives/category/global-warming-and-life

    That’s right, it’s Dan Botkin’s blog with a tone that seems to be a far cry of the inflammatory prose of his WSJ op-ed.

    Comment by Taber Allison — 24 Oct 2007 @ 3:43 PM

  326. Those whom you call skeptics maintain that human activity accounts for less than 5% on the CO2 emission into the atmosphere, that is on the order of 6 billion of the 200 billion tons per year total. If “global warming” is anthropogenic, even though the current interglacial period seems much like the previous one, I would expect a number far higher than 5%, at least 50%. What gives?

    [Response: They are trying to mislead you. CO2 has increased 36% from human sources (380ppm from 280ppm), CH4 more than doubled (~140% increase) and N2O increased by 15%. Since they won't even accept basic facts, I think we are justified in describing them as "sceptics" (i.e. not real ones). - gavin]

    Comment by charles Farrell — 24 Oct 2007 @ 5:11 PM

  327. Can anyone ease my confusion? David tells us that the rate of warming is unprecendented in 2.5m years, based on ice core evidence. But the same ice core evidence is cited in the most recent post on Younger Dryas There are still some more YD mysteries though. The ocean models might have won the Southern Hemisphere round, but they still have a hard time explaining why it lasted so long, and how the rapid warming (10 or so degrees in the space of a few decades in Greenland) at the end occurred. The fact that similar events occurred all through the glacial period (Dansgaard-Oscheger events) implies that they must be fundamental to the climate system rather than a one off.

    So, at least during the D-O events we have rapid warming and cooling that dwarfs the current 0.1C / decade?

    Can anyone explain this apparent contradiction?

    [Response: Local vs. Global. - gavin]

    Comment by pjclarke — 24 Oct 2007 @ 5:24 PM

  328. Thanks, Gavin. I guessed it must be a question of spatial distribution. Would it be a gross simplification to say that the YD and other D-O events were more a redistribution of heat as ocean currents switched, with associated feedbacks, whereas AGW is a question of an external forcing producing a net increase in heat?

    Comment by pjclarke — 24 Oct 2007 @ 5:42 PM

  329. Well, it really is a great relief to see that we are coming to the end of the denial parade. Quite a few of the “new” entries have the unmistakable appearance of the undead. The glaring holes in logic, the tattered garments, the aged and wild eyed look of them, even the weird quotations that seem to suggest hopelessly repeated recycling, and close to the elephant’s rump with broom and dustpan who do we see? Why it’s the Wall Street Journal, jostling to claim the honours for biggest and most noisy liar of them all. I can just see a gradual sideways slide of the whole group towards what remains of the Art Bell wonderful world of really weird ideas. Bon voyage.

    Comment by garhane — 24 Oct 2007 @ 6:25 PM

  330. dhogaza says (322) “…Keep in mind that Rod B’s an Intelligent Design Creationist, so if you asked him for experts on evolutionary biology he might well respond “Behe and Dembski”.”

    DAMN! There goes my cover!

    And just how is it that you “know” I am an Intelligent Design Creationis? I trust not from same source(s) that told you about AGW.

    Ray, see what I’m saying?

    Comment by Rod B — 24 Oct 2007 @ 7:44 PM

  331. re 329: “…Quite a few of the… entries have the unmistakable appearance of the undead. The glaring holes in logic, the tattered garments, the aged and wild eyed look of them, even the weird quotations that seem to suggest hopelessly repeated recycling, and close to the elephant’s rump with broom and dustpan who do we see?”

    Yeah, and a few of the skeptics are looking peaked, too.

    Tabor’s (325) paraphrase of Emerson using “foolish sceptism” instead of the actual “foolish consistancy” (purposeful or accidental?) seems to turn the tables and meaning 180 degreees. Or did the meaning fly right past me?

    Comment by Rod B — 24 Oct 2007 @ 8:15 PM

  332. Rod B:

    The substitution was intentional. The point was perhaps too obscure – what did you think I meant? Being skeptical for its own sake is neither constructive nor the basis of good science.

    Comment by Taber Allison — 24 Oct 2007 @ 9:11 PM

  333. #282: Ray Ladbury: Matt, I would hope that 100% of the top 100 scientists would reject such an offer from any granting organization, and I think I’d be pretty close to right. The reason is that usually, the best scientists are perfectly happy doing the research they are doing and that there are usually plenty of opportunities to sell out before you make it into the top 100. In my humble opinion, $3M is a very low price for a soul–and any scientist who took this money would have to know that his career would be over.

    Good, OK. Now, what % of top climate scientists would work for Big Oil Inc if Big Oil Inc paid a $3M/year salary and said “study whatever you wish, publish whatever you wish, here’s a bucket of money for research”

    Comment by matt — 24 Oct 2007 @ 9:13 PM

  334. Here is another item concerning Botkin’s assertion about warming and extinction:
    http://www.journals.royalsoc.ac.uk/content/3x081w5n5358qj01/fulltext.pdf
    Of course by using 2.5My, he excludes the data used in the above, but it seems of concern despite his attempt to draw a line.

    Comment by Earl Killian — 24 Oct 2007 @ 9:20 PM

  335. Re #326 (charles Farrell): Just to add a little to Gavin’s brief response, the point is that there are large exchanges of CO2 between the atmosphere, oceans, and biosphere. So, it is true that the human component is a pretty small part of the GROSS amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. However, it is essentially all of the NET amount emitted. (In fact, it is really more than the net amount emitted because the biosphere and oceans have actually been able to take up about 1/2 of the excess CO2 we have put into the atmosphere but the rest is hanging around and will do so for quite a long time.)

    Fundamentally, the issue is that the exchanges between oceans, atmosphere, and biosphere represent essentially the same carbon being recycled again and again. (This includes, by the way, the CO2 we ourselves breath out after eating the carbon from the biosphere.) What we are doing by digging up fossil fuels and burning them is liberating carbon that has long been locked away from the atmosphere.

    An analogy might be to a fountain that is fed only by the water going down its drain so that it just keeps recycling the same water through again and again. If you come along and start pouring water into this fountain until it starts to overflow, you might try claiming that it can’t be the water you are adding that is causing the overflow since you are adding water at a rate small compared to the rate of the water coming out of the fountain valve itself. However, you would clearly be wrong.

    That humans are responsible for the rise in CO2 levels is clear. First of all, you have the very strong circumstantial evidence that CO2 levels have risen in a period of ~100 years to values that are significantly higher than anything seen for at least the last 750,000 years (which takes us through something like 7 ice age cycles). Second of all, you have the fact I noted above that the amount of CO2 we have liberated by burning fossil fuels is indeed enough to account for the rise. (It is in fact about twice as much as would account for the rise, showing that the system has been able to absorb about half of this excess.) Third of all, scientists can look at the distribution of carbon isotopes in the carbon dioxide found in the air and see it is changing in agreement with what would be expected from the CO2 being liberated by burning of fossil fuels.

    So, believing that the current CO2 rise is not caused by us is akin to believing in a flat earth. It is simply not scientifically tenable whatsoever and the motives of any people who try to present it as scientifically-tenable argument should immediately be questioned.

    Comment by Joel Shore — 24 Oct 2007 @ 9:26 PM

  336. #321 SecularAnimist: You would lose that bet. NO “world experts” believed that “Iraq had nukes.”

    Yes, you are right, I mistyped. Substitute WMD for nukes.

    Comment by matt — 25 Oct 2007 @ 1:06 AM

  337. #282 Ray Ladbury: What Feynmann exposed was what real scientists and engineers had long known: the reliability calculations coming out of the contractors were faith based. In fact, it was a reliability engineer who tipped Feynmann off about the O-rings. That was not science–that was PR, and it is what happens when you let bean counters write proposals/contracts for technical hardware. It still happens–as I know all too well.

    And yet the reliability engineers were able to convince most, if not all, of NASA that their estimates were true based upon their position of expertise. OR, NASA was simply not managing the project properly. Which is it? Your assessment that it was not science is monday morning quarterbacking. Are you seriously proposing that there were folks inside NASA that knew all this was a snow job? Or were they really convinced by the experts?

    FWIW, I am a design engineer (BSEE) with 16 years of high volume product design behind me (architecture, RF, baseband, logic, SW). Folks on this board likely use several products I have worked on. Risk analysis is part of the job. In my first 6 months on the job, at a company I no longer work, I sat in a room while attorneys and engineers debated back and forth how many houses might catch on fire due to a battery charging circuit that could get into a weird state at times. The decisions only got larger from there. Product recalls are extremely expensive–several tens of millions of $ in this business. Of course, not shipping a product soon enough is also extremely expensive as competitors will eat your lunch. Deciding when a product is ready to ship is one of the most amazing exercises in risk analysis you will experience. I don’t really feel I need much more education there, and in fact could likely write a book myself there.

    My background puts me in constant contact with well meaning folks that try to convince me something is “truer” than it actually is. Engineers really want to do the right thing. They do. But at the end of the day, an engineer giving guidance that he’s 90% sure on a problem that he mostly understands isn’t at all bankable. That’s simply engineering speak for “I don’t really have a clue.” When engineers start to tell me they are 99.9% sure and have a host of statistical data to back it up, then I start to listen. I cannot count the number of times I’ve been in a post-mortem where engineers (and business people) got it wrong based on crap assumptions that weren’t challenged early on.

    Comment by matt — 25 Oct 2007 @ 1:55 AM

  338. Rod B posts:

    [[You folks, who claim irrefutable and unassailable evidence for AGW (and may prove to be correct), can not countenance any disagreement however slight, and refuse to recognize any opposition (which is different from recognizing the opposition’s arguments and a long way from accepting those arguments, for which I am not being critical in the least) by defining them as not credible simply and only because they have some opposition. ]]

    List which scientists you mean and what their arguments are. The endless accusations against RealClimate are ad hominem by definition and do nothing to advance your argument. If you disagree with AGW theory, explain why.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 25 Oct 2007 @ 6:28 AM

  339. dhogaza, Rod B. et al., OK, Rod, I don’t think I’m telling you anything you don’t already know when I say that some of the positions you take might be viewed as a bit contrarian. However, I think that the underlying motivation of your skepticism is that you are not willing to sign onto a position unless you feel you really understand it. Since no one can understand everything, this leaves you in a somewhat difficult position when it comes to very technical issues like climate change. Still, I have to say that I have been appreciative of the efforts you have made to understand the physics of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. My attempts to assist you in this effort have helped me to clarify a few points in my own mind.
    So, I would call Rod B. a true skeptic. He simply does not feel that he has sufficient information and understanding to make an informed decision. We can argue about whether we think his standards of understanding are reasonable or not, but I don’t think it is fair to question his bona fides.
    Rod, a couple of things for you to think about:
    1)All the contributors to this site probably went through what you are going through now as they tried to understand the physics of the atmosphere. It is not intuitive. They ultimately succeeded in understanding that physics, and that should give you hope. We owe them a great debt for taking time out from their day jobs to help the rest of us follow suit–as well as sharing with us the insights they develop as part of their ongoing studies on their day jobs.
    2)In a very real way, not to decide is to decide. By stalling over the science, you are removing yourself from the debate over appropriate mitigation. By all means, you should continue to try to understand the science, but at the same time, it should tell you something that there have been no new credible ideas coming from the skeptic side of the argument in almost a decade.

    True skeptics can be persuaded. Indeed it is worthwhile as a skeptic to think in advance what standard of evidence one would require to be persuaded–even St. Thomas the Apostle said he would believe Jesus was risen when he felt the wounds on his hands. He was evidently persuaded eventually, as he traveled all the way to India to spread the gospel. This ultimately led to an interesting confrontation when missionaries arrived from Portugal and found a Christian community that had existed since the first century C.E., when Rome was still pagan.
    BTW, I, too am a skeptic. Although I am an agnostic, I actually made a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Thomas the Apostle in the city of Chennai (formerly Madras). It is a long walk down the beaches, but finally you reach the Cathedral of St. Thomas. It’s nothing to write home about, but I did anyway. We make some pilgrimages for grand ideas rather than grand monuments.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 25 Oct 2007 @ 8:15 AM

  340. matt answered to #321 SecularAnimist: “You would lose that bet. NO “world experts” believed that “Iraq had nukes.” Yes, you are right, I mistyped. Substitute WMD for nukes.”

    You lose that bet as well.

    Comment by Petro — 25 Oct 2007 @ 8:20 AM

  341. The following is the text of an email I sent to the WSJ on 23 Oct: “I would prefer to rely on the collective assessments of Nicholas Stern, Jeffrey Sachs and the IPCC regarding the potential economic damage which Global Warming threatens to bring down on our heads. I consider this article naive, complacent and condescending. Here’s a challenge – how about inviting a supporter of the ‘pro’ camp to write a considered counter-view? I suspect many in the business community would find such an input more realistic.’

    Comment by David Bright — 25 Oct 2007 @ 9:19 AM

  342. Matt, All I can say is that I’m very glad I don’t work where you do. Where I work, people ultimately know that the satellite will be put to the test in space and will succeed or fail. That is not to say that there aren’t slackers or bullshit artists, but they are usually easy to spot.
    The thing is that a bullshit artist can usually produce lots of statistics to back him up. Disraeli’s quip about lies, damnable lies and statistics comes to mind. To which I reply: Any damned fool can lie with statistics. What takes skill is using statistics to elucidate the truth. Or as Twain put it much more succinctly: “If you tell the truth, you’ll eventually be found out.”
    When someone is telling the truth, their story doesn’t keep changing. They don’t say “It isn’t happening;” and then “It may be happening but it’s no my fault;” and then “Well, I may have had something to do with it, but it will be a good thin;” and then “Well, it will be too expensive to fix anyway;” and finally switch back to “It isn’t happening.”
    I used to work for a physics trade publication. We reported on the latest advances in all fields of physics at a level for the general physics community. Cool job. A couple of wise women who worked there clued me in to the key to success: Realize that you will never be an expert in any of these fields. Get to know the experts. Get to know their biases, agendas, etc. Figure out which ones you can trust and when. Never rely on a single source.

    Matt, the proposition that some experts bullshit so therefore all experts bullshit is simply not tenable. What is more, you need to take care that you do not use your distrust of experts as an excuse for complacency. This threat is real. If you don’t trust the experts, then you need to become sufficiently expert yourself that you at least know which experts you can trust. If you do not, then you disenfranchise yourself as to decisions about how to mitigate the threat.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 25 Oct 2007 @ 9:34 AM

  343. Tabor: I think that “foolish consistency” would be a dig at the AGW proponents. “Foolish skepticism” would of course be a dig at foolish sceptics. With the “foolish” part, I, a card carrying sceptic, would agree, with the exception that some proponents routinely define all sceptics as foolish.

    Comment by Rod B — 25 Oct 2007 @ 9:53 AM

  344. > while attorneys and engineers debated back and forth how many
    > houses might catch on fire due to a battery charging circuit
    > that could get into a weird state at times.

    Yep. And how could they possibly know, without studying it?

    A few years back the Association of State Fire Marshals came out with papers arguing that the number was grossly understated because home electronics fires generally destroy the evidence of how they started.

    I recollect hearing that that decades ago the Underwriters Laboratories allowed manufacturers to select the products that were tested for the UL seal, but (shocking!) manufacturers were loading up their samples with expensive fire retardant, passing the fire resistance tests, then changing the formula and selling plastic that burned very easily from a short circuit, for electrical and electronic equipment.

    A while back someone on another forum posted about working for a big manufacturer of home faucets, saying the company was very unhappy that California was buying their products over the counter to test them for lead content, because every other time they’d been checked by a state or national agency, they’d been able to send their special low-lead faucets to the testing agency to avoid problems.

    The assumption that people can honestly fool themselves even when they don’t plan to cheat is hard to get used to, til you get old enough to have experienced it over and over.

    “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself–and you are the easiest person to fool.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Oct 2007 @ 10:09 AM

  345. #337 Matt: But at the end of the day, an engineer giving guidance that he’s 90% sure on a problem that he mostly understands isn’t at all bankable.

    Another interesting case study: NOAA predicted there was only a 5% chance this year that hurricanes would be below normal. And they forecast an 85% chance that it would be above normal.

    Of course these opinions come from a “consensus of scientists at the NOAA”.

    Season isn’t over yet, but it looks like expert opinion over the last two years here was way wrong. Flipping a coin wouldn’t have just done a little better. Flipping a coin would have have done much, much, much, much much better.

    Has anyone reviewed NOAA’s accuracy on years that they have called for a “high likelihood” (>85% chance) for a specific type of activity? It’d be an interesting case study for part of the discussion here: the relevence expert opinion on things that are only partially understood.

    Why is 85% confidence level from climate scientist to be taken more seriously when the mechanisms aren’t completely understood?

    Comment by matt — 25 Oct 2007 @ 10:12 AM

  346. Despite the developing El Nino last summer (which generally reduces the number of Atlantic storms below average), the number of tropical storms last year was remarkable still about average. All things equal, it should have ended up being a below average season. In short, the fact that it ended up around average rather than below average is quite consistent with the concept of global warming raising the baseline. I suspect there is more info at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov.

    Comment by Dan — 25 Oct 2007 @ 10:33 AM

  347. Re: 345. Matt, have you ever looked into what goes into forecasting hurricanes? There you are dealing with a chaotic–and very complex–system. You are looking at extremes of what weather can produce, and we’ve never been good at forecasting extremes. It is an art, not a science. Climate science on the other hand is much less ambitious–it looks at average behavior. We’re much better at averages. Again–you go from a specific example of where experts may be wrong and proceed to indict all experts. Methinks perhaps you have a bias.
    Complete understanding is not necessary when you are looking at average behavior like climate. All you have to do is nail down the main contributors to the energetics of the system–and climate science had done that at least a decade ago. Since that time, progress on climate models has been incremental…tweaking around the edges. That’s the way science is done. You can either learn about it sufficiently that you know how to trust or you can marginalize yourself by trusting no one. Your choice.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 25 Oct 2007 @ 10:57 AM

  348. Barton (338), you have missed my point entirely. I am not attacking RC per se, nor in this discourse arguing against AGW. While RC has imperfections (what doesn’t?), for my money it is far and away one of the most serious/scientific climate warming blog out there. (I also do not have any problem with people with whom I disagree being passionate in what they believe.) Secondly, attacking one’s logical base for their position is not ad hominem, even if the attackee would prefer their logic not see the light of day, or, more often, is blinded to it. My point was very simple. 1)There are many credible scientists who have doubts about AGW, at least in part. 2) There is a large number of AGW bloggers who consign those scientists, and most sceptics, to the trash pile by simply defining them away: “if he is a sceptic, he can not be credible — prima facie”, and come up with all kinds of rationalization backup for that. This is why providing a list is an exercise in futility, even though those folks and scientists are readily evident.

    What I just said is no more an ad hominem that it is a piece of apple pie.

    Ray (339), I think your words are pretty accurate; I appreciate them. Sometimes I let my contrariness go too far — bad trait; I tend to be tenacious (some have said obstinate, but that’s just their frustration showing!) — good trait. But I won’t decide on faith (until all else is exhausted), if that might be what you are suggesting, though I am acutely aware that often (usually) decisions must be made before all of the known facts are in. I am also aware and privately concerned a bit that while we sceptics reasonably press our case, and maybe prevail to some significant extent, and then be proven wrong, great throngs of people will be hurt badly. But, likewise plowing full speed ahead on mitigation will also create tremendous hardships for great throngs — the rose-colored and convenient economic predictions of many AGW proponents not withstanding.

    Comment by Rod B — 25 Oct 2007 @ 11:03 AM

  349. Petro Says:
    “matt answered to #321 SecularAnimist: “You would lose that bet. NO “world experts” believed that “Iraq had nukes.” Yes, you are right, I mistyped. Substitute WMD for nukes.”

    You lose that bet as well.”

    No he doesn’t — not at all.

    Comment by Rod B — 25 Oct 2007 @ 11:09 AM

  350. #342 Ray Ladbury: A couple of wise women who worked there clued me in to the key to success: Realize that you will never be an expert in any of these fields. Get to know the experts. Get to know their biases, agendas, etc. Figure out which ones you can trust and when. Never rely on a single source.

    Matt, the proposition that some experts bullshit so therefore all experts bullshit is simply not tenable. What is more, you need to take care that you do not use your distrust of experts as an excuse for complacency. This threat is real. If you don’t trust the experts, then you need to become sufficiently expert yourself that you at least know which experts you can trust. If you do not, then you disenfranchise yourself as to decisions about how to mitigate the threat.

    Bingo. We’ve just reached a common understanding after thousands of words. I’m thrilled that you have at some point in your life thought it important and healthy to question motive when weighing the opinion of experts.

    As I’ve said, I don’t distrust experts inherently. I distrust experts predicting where the “mostly known” will take us, especially if a suspect motive is involved. And the reason why is because the track record of experts in these “mostly known” situations isn’t great.

    Make no mistake, I’m not for the status quo. If it were up to me, September 12 would be remembered as the day we kicked off an initiative to get 85% of our energy production over to nuclear and 95% of our annual auto miles powered by electricity. But it wouldn’t because I was worried about CO2…

    Comment by matt — 25 Oct 2007 @ 11:24 AM

  351. Haven’t there been 14 named storms so far?

    Comment by J.C.H. — 25 Oct 2007 @ 11:28 AM

  352. Further extending 335′s excellent response to 326: The belief that anthro emissions don’t matter because fossil and land use flows are small compared to the gross natural flows is particularly dangerous when one considers possible feedbacks to the carbon cycle. A mechanism that changes a 100 GT/yr gross flow by 1% is equivalent to a 10% increase in emissions or a 20% change in net accumulation in the atmosphere. This small-difference-of-large-numbers effect gives a lot of leverage on the rate of change of atmospheric CO2 concentration. At best it increases uncertainty; if the feedbacks are mostly positive it’s quite problematic.

    Comment by Tom Fiddaman — 25 Oct 2007 @ 11:30 AM

  353. 348 ” 1)There are many credible scientists who have doubts about AGW, at least in part.”

    I am not sure if it was your intention to mislead, but I believe most climate scientists accept that AGW is a fact. That does not mean they do not have doubts about the extent of the warming as expressed by IPCC or about what can or should be done about it; after all there is always uncertainty. You seem to be implying that there are a substantial number of climatologists who, based on peer-reviewed science, can make a strong case that AGW is not occurring. I don’t believe that is the case.

    “2) There is a large number of AGW bloggers who consign those scientists, and most sceptics, to the trash pile

    In fact, bloggers on both sides of the issue can be accused of that; sceptic sites in my view are far less tolerant (perhaps because they have less peer-reviewed data to support their position). As far as AGW blogs are concerned, I think that one tends to lose one’s temper when sceptic arguments that heve been shown to have dubious facts to support them are nonetheless brought forward again and again.

    Comment by richard — 25 Oct 2007 @ 11:34 AM

  354. Re # 348 Rod B “plowing full speed ahead on mitigation will also create tremendous hardships for great throngs”

    Rod,
    You and other keep repeating that mantra, but you either fail to cite credible sources to support that view, or you fail to read (or acknowledge) credible sources that contradict that view. For rational analyses of the economic costs of dealing with global warming, you might check the publications of Wesleyan University economist Gary Yohe (an ICPP member): http://www.wesleyan.edu/econ/courses/faculty/yohe.html

    And as others have pointed out previously, you and other skeptics seem to have trouble providing names to support your statement (mantra) that “There are many credible scientists who have doubts about AGW, at least in part.” Of course, the vagueness of “credible scientists,” “doubts,” and “at least in part” leaves lots of wiggle room.

    Finally, regarding your comment: “for my money it is far and away one of the most serious/scientific climate warming blog out there.” Be careful – as Thomas Lee Elifritz has informed us, “science is not an authoritarian betting game.”

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 25 Oct 2007 @ 11:35 AM

  355. Rod B:

    George Bernard Shaw said: “Both the optimist and the pessimist contribute to society. The optimist invented the airplane; the pessimist invented the parachute.”

    I think the problem many of us have with the so-called “skeptic” community is that to truly be scientific skepticism, there must be some empirical basis or valid theoretical reservation that underlies the skepticism. It is becoming harder and harder to find a valid empirical or theoretical basis for skepticism. There is no evidence that contradicts the anthropogenic hypothesis–at most there are some phenomena where the evidence is ambiguous. There is no other credible explanation that can cite strong evidence in its favor. Anthropogenic causation is based on well understood and established science, while no alternative mechanism is even truly worthy of the term mechanism. We know that the underlying cause of anthropogenic causation is indeed present and increasing rapidly, while there is no similar evidence for any competing mechansim.

    So the question then becomes on what does one base continued skepticism? If it is just that the physics is not sufficiently clear in your mind, then perhaps you might want to look at what sort of statement you would feel comfotable. For instance, would you feel comfortable with the statement:
    Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have contributed significantly to the current warming epoch.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 25 Oct 2007 @ 11:41 AM

  356. Matt, Re 350. Then the issue you have is that you don’t understand the physics well enough to see that climate science is mature and in fact well understood. Look at the following graph:
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce/
    Add up the forcings–almost all the uncertainty is in the contributions of aerosols. The contributions of ghgs are pretty much nailed down. So, even if there is something the climate models are missing, it will most likely affect the forcers that contribute NEGATIVELY to the climate. The overall forcing due to GHG will stay the same. Look, Matt, I’m not a climate scientist. I have no dog in this fight. In fact, if anything, it would be in my interest if climate change weren’t a problem. However, I’ve looked at the physics and I can find no empirical or theoretical basis for a contention that climate change isn’t occurring, that we aren’t causing it or that it won’t be a significant problem. And I find lots of evidence to the contrary. And I am not alone. That is why there is now not a single professional society that disputes the scientific consensus that humans are causing the current warming epoch. Think about that: Even the American Association of Petroleum Geologists has dropped its opposition.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 25 Oct 2007 @ 12:03 PM

  357. #347: Re: 345. Matt, have you ever looked into what goes into forecasting hurricanes? There you are dealing with a chaotic–and very complex–system. You are looking at extremes of what weather can produce, and we’ve never been good at forecasting extremes. It is an art, not a science. Climate science on the other hand is much less ambitious–it looks at average behavior.

    I don’t care what goes into forecasting hurricanes. The 85% confidence figure provided by the hurricane experts is supposed to wrap all the nasty stuff into a pretty box with a bow for me, the non-expert. If it’s really as hard and random as you indicate, then I don’t see how they can possibly state with 85% confidence. Of course, flipping a coin puts me at 50%, and Uncle Frank’s bursitis probably hits 60%, so there’s not much room their for an expert to scratch out a living unless they are constantly claiming 80% or higher.

    Remember my previous post above: There is little downside to experts over-forecasting doom. If they are right, it makes the next time even easier. If they are wrong, it’s easy to shrug it off on the nightly news: “I’ll be honest with you Katie, we never factored in Event XYZ in our simple models from last year, and as we refine our models, it looks like Event XYZ let us dodge a bullet this time. I cannot tell you how pleased we are to be wrong this time.” Note this works for meteors, interest rates, global temps, gas and milk prices, etc. Does not work for wars, however, that last more than 8 months.

    If NOAA 20 year track record with 85% confidence predictions is 75% or less, then they are BS artists, and they typify the expert opinion I distrust. If it’s 75% or better, then we chalk this up to some good luck that defied the experts. This is why I asked if anyone has actually looked at the track record.

    Comment by matt — 25 Oct 2007 @ 12:05 PM

  358. Finally, regarding your comment: “for my money it is far and away one of the most serious/scientific climate warming blog out there.” Be careful – as Thomas Lee Elifritz has informed us, “science is not an authoritarian betting game.”

    Indeed it isn’t, but it does appear to have become a commercial (free) enterprise.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 25 Oct 2007 @ 12:13 PM

  359. Sorry, the first parachutes were rigid framed, rather like square hang gliders.
    Talk about optimism!

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Oct 2007 @ 12:18 PM

  360. Rod B wrote: “There are many credible scientists who have doubts about AGW, at least in part.”

    No, in fact there are not many credible scientists who have doubts about AGW.

    Human activities, principally the burning of fossil fuels but also including deforestation, agriculture, etc., are releasing large quantities of carbon dioxide, methane and other “greenhouse gases” into the Earth’s atmosphere. The increasing concentration of these gases in the atmosphere is causing the Earth to heat up. The warming of the Earth is causing changes in the climate as well as in the biosphere, some of which changes will reinforce the anthropogenic warming. The basic science underlying all of this is unassailable and empirical observation confirms that the changes to the Earth predicted by the basic science are indeed occurring now, although more rapidly than expected. The changes to the Earth’s climate and biosphere that anthropogenic warming is highly likely to cause will pose serious dangers to the lives and well-being of billions of people. Some of these changes are probably inevitable, given the persistent warming effect from the CO2 we have already added to the atmosphere. We have relatively little time, perhaps no more than a decade, in which to halt and reverse the accelerating growth in GHG emissions, and perhaps a few decades in which to reduce those emissions by 50 to 80 percent worldwide, in order to avoid the most severe warming and most severely harmful changes to the climate and biosphere.

    There are few if any “credible scientists” who have any doubts about any of that.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 25 Oct 2007 @ 12:36 PM

  361. According to my observations, there are at least following reasons to deny AGW:

    1) scientific
    2) economic
    3) political
    4) religious
    5) psychological

    Rational discussion can affect only to those whose doubt it based on scientific evidence. If the denialism is based even partially on some other reason, rational discussion is fruitless. Those who deny reality will not change their views through that written argumentation blogs offer.

    Unfortunately, the denialists in blogosphere do not belong to group 1.

    Comment by Petro — 25 Oct 2007 @ 12:39 PM

  362. Re 357. Matt, another example–going from “Some experts are bullshit artists” to “All experts are bullshit artists”. And without even considering the motivations of the experts–which in this case would be to not underpredict the severity of the season. As long as they overpredict, all that happens is a few individuals bitch about their accuracy. If they underpredict, FEMA doesn’t have enough assets and they have to buy a new wardrobe so they can testify in front of Congress. Matt, I’ll say it again–your problem is that you don’t know enough to know who you can and cannot trust. You may even have a bigger problem–resorting to cynicism to justify complacency in remedying your ignorance, but that remains to be seen.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 25 Oct 2007 @ 12:44 PM

  363. #355: So the question then becomes on what does one base continued skepticism?

    Time is a critical factor in removing skepticism. How long did it take to wind through all the various credible explainations for light propagation? 300 years? And when was the actual speed of light measured with any accuracy (less than 10% error)? Late 1800s? When did subsequent experiments validate that with similar yet improved numbers (less than 2% error)?

    Where is our understanding of CO2 sensitivity? What is the most rigorous derivation to date? Is the largely the same as the most rigorous derivation 20 years ago? Have all these different approaches to understanding CO2 sensitivity delivered results within a few % of each other? No? A factor of 2-3X? What? What is the experimental equivalent of carrying an atomic clock on a jet?

    Comment by matt — 25 Oct 2007 @ 12:47 PM

  364. matt (#350) said in rsponse to Ray Ladbury…

    Bingo. We’ve just reached a common understanding after thousands of words. I’m thrilled that you have at some point in your life thought it important and healthy to question motive when weighing the opinion of experts.

    Matt,

    Trust in experts, organizations, evidence, theories and even one’s own judgment should always be measured. This is simply a fact of the human condition resulting from the basic nature of the individual’s cognitive relationship with reality. However, in human cognition and communication, identification should always precede evaluation and in dealing with others one should begin with the assumption that they are being honest until one has sufficient evidence to the contrary.

    matt (#350) wrote:

    Make no mistake, I’m not for the status quo. If it were up to me, September 12 would be remembered as the day we kicked off an initiative to get 85% of our energy production over to nuclear and 95% of our annual auto miles powered by electricity. But it wouldn’t because I was worried about CO2…

    With regard to the conclusions of mainstream science, while its conclusions are always tentative, the evidence is cummulative and in the case of the fundamentals of our understanding of the greenhouse effect, the role which carbon dioxide has played in the Earth’s climate system overwhelming.

    We have over a century’s worth of laboratory experience with the absorption and emission properties in the infrared spectrum of both carbon dioxide and water vapor. We have precise laboratory experiments in which over a million absorption lines from various gases have been measured then stored the HiTran database.

    We have infrared imaging of the radiative properties of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at over 2000 channels by means of satellites. We have infrared measurements of upwelling and downwelling thermal radiation at the surface, from balloons and aircraft.

    We have a nearly continuous paleoclimate record of the relationship between carbon dioxide and temperature over the past 400,000 years. We are able to identify how high levels of carbon dioxide were directly responsible for four out of the five greatest extinctions in the earth’s history due to its greenhouse effect.

    Which aspect of this are you having difficulty with?

    I assume you have no difficulty with the fact that the Earth is round or that you are using your eyes as your the words that I have written. Nevertheless even this cannot be demonstrated with absolute certainty.

    Why are you treating the role played by carbon dioxide in the Earth’s climate system any differently?

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 25 Oct 2007 @ 12:53 PM

  365. Matt said:

    NOAA predicted there was only a 5% chance this year that hurricanes would be below normal. And they forecast an 85% chance that it would be above normal.

    Of course these opinions come from a “consensus of scientists at the NOAA”.

    Season isn’t over yet, but it looks like expert opinion over the last two years here was way wrong.

    Wikipedia says that the pre-season forecast by NOAA was for between 13 and 17 named storms in the Atlantic basin this season.

    Thus far, there have been 13 named storms.

    The season lasts until November 30th.

    Perhaps Matt does arithmetic differently, but it looks like to me that the NOAA forecast is holding up nicely.

    Also the average number of named storms in the Atlantic basin is about 10. So far, we have had 13 with some weeks to go in the season.

    Matt says that the NOAA forecast that there was an 85% chance that this year would be above normal was wrong.

    Ummm, how?

    Comment by dhogaza — 25 Oct 2007 @ 12:57 PM

  366. matt,

    A good analogy for Ray’s point is price behavior in an economy. In particular, if a monetary authority increases liquidity or acquiesces in the increase of liquidity (ehem) far beyond what is called for by expansion of the real economy at potential, the additional stimulus will eventually result in an increase in the price level. That much anyone would be confident to predict (especially if liquidity were as easy to measure as CO2). However, how that manifests itself is totally beyond the capacity of forecasters to predict. Historically, the labor market was the bottleneck, but dynamics and dependencies change- at the moment, it appears increasingly to be natural resources. In any case, the more granularly one looks, the more the (often times inexplicable) variability in price moves the more difficult is attribution.

    In the same way, if you alter the radiative physics of the planet by increasing GHG concentrations in the upper atmosphere, it will heat up, but where and how are far more difficult to forecast (for many of the same reasons that hurricanes are difficult to forecast). And when I say must, I am saying that if your engineer knew the subject well, the probability he’d assign would have a multitude of significant nines.

    It is probably worth your while to articulate more directly who or what it is you are against or for rather than pointing out the issues with experts, or the expert witness. These are not sufficient as ultimately you will have to explain either why you think a particular expert or group of experts are more likely to be right, or argue the science yourself. As I see it, those currently occupying the ‘skeptic’ universe are far more likely to be wrong because it is clear from their actions that their arguments are changing, as they are blown out of the sky in succession, while their position stays the same. In my experience, that type of behavior in argument does not allign itself well with merit.

    Comment by Majorajam — 25 Oct 2007 @ 1:12 PM

  367. Petro Says:
    “matt answered to #321 SecularAnimist: “You would lose that bet. NO “world experts” believed that “Iraq had nukes.” Yes, you are right, I mistyped. Substitute WMD for nukes.”

    You lose that bet as well.”

    No he doesn’t — not at all.

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

    This might help clarify a few things in this regard:

    http://middleeastreference.org.uk/iraqweapons.html

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 25 Oct 2007 @ 1:16 PM

  368. Ray Ladbury (#356) wrote:

    Matt, Re 350. Then the issue you have is that you don’t understand the physics well enough to see that climate science is mature and in fact well understood. Look at the following graph:
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce/

    Ray, you have my gratitude!

    That webpage is linked to:

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce/RadF.txt

    … which gives the estimated forcings since 1880 from which Hansen et al (2007) made the graphs for 1880-2003. It shows that according to NASA best estimates the forcing of anthropogenic greenhouse gases relative to 1880 have exceeded the positive forcing of solar variability for all but 1881 up to this present day and that forcing due to CO2 has exceeded every other forcing since the 1970s.

    While I have the data thanks to a link posted by Tamino in 2006 and the internet wayback machine, the page at the original location had been taken down and I wasn’t sure that it would be appropriate to give the link by wayback since it had been taken down. Now I can point people to the data rather than just the charts.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 25 Oct 2007 @ 1:28 PM

  369. Eeek. matt, take a breather. No one is forecasting doom. What we have is a lot of good evidence and scientific work showing that AGW is a fact and that it could become a serious problem if we take a Pollyanna, ‘all will be fine regardless’, stance and continue business as usual. That sounds to me more like a diagnosis of syphilis than doom. Not to mention, the idea that a prediction is less credible simply because it’s not to our tastes (convenient?) is not consistent with good decision making- for more on this point, see the invasion of Iraq.

    You continue to assert motive and bias but provide not one iota of backing for that. You also seem to think that the only reason a scientist wouldn’t take a few million from the oil lobby was hate for big oil. Now, I don’t suppose the concept of integrity to science is something you value, but I’m here to say that scientists do, (given that their wages would be much higher in the private sector, why do you suppose they choose to stay in academia?). That you’re trying to reduce them to radical activists is inane. Please the court, if you have an argument available, feel free to make it.

    Comment by Majorajam — 25 Oct 2007 @ 1:33 PM

  370. Regardless of inaccuracy, Matt’s post about NOAA and hurricane forecasting “inaccuracies” not reasonably reducing ones confidence in climate models (and the experts hiding behind them), this site could really use a more user friendly post on why they are not similar things, because the public definitely thinks a climate model is a gizmo or two glued on that proverbially inaccurate weather forecasting program.

    Comment by J.C.H. — 25 Oct 2007 @ 1:44 PM

  371. Matt re: 363.

    And speaking of bullshit… You know you can look this stuff up:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_of_light

    1728–”[James] Bradley calculated the speed of light as about 298,000 kilometres per second (185,000 miles per second). This is only slightly less than the currently accepted value.”

    Meanwhile back on Earth, Fizeau measured 313,000 kilometres per second, within 5% of the accepted value in 1849. Foucault improved the accuracy to better than 1% by 1862.

    Now, re greenouse forcing:
    “Radiative forcing is measured in units of Watts per square meter. A doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations, for example, will cause an imbalance of approximately 3.7 W/m[4]2. The total forcing from all anthropogenic greenhouse gases, as compared to pre-industrial times, is presently (~ year 2000) about 2.7 W/m2, with an offset of perhaps half this amount from aerosol cooling (see below)[5]. The radiative forcing caused by carbon dioxide is known to within about 1%. Uncertainties for the other important greenhouse gases are 5-10%, with higher uncertainties for some halocarbons.[4,6},”

    Have you bothered to look into any of this? Or are you just bullshitting?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 25 Oct 2007 @ 1:45 PM

  372. J.S. McIntyre,

    There’s more. Robert Novak, whom as we well know by now has many sources in the GOP, has been quoted on a number of occasions as saying that the Bush administration was aware of there being no WMD in Iraq before the war- not just nuclear, but the whole kit and caboodle. The extent to which this awareness was based on French intelligence- who had a highly credible source in the Hussein regime- is not clear. In any case, the inspectors knew, the coalition knew- everyone knew. Except the public that is. Ok, I’m off the off topic…

    Comment by Majorajam — 25 Oct 2007 @ 1:49 PM

  373. matt (#363) wrote:

    Where is our understanding of CO2 sensitivity? What is the most rigorous derivation to date? Is the largely the same as the most rigorous derivation 20 years ago? Have all these different approaches to understanding CO2 sensitivity delivered results within a few % of each other? No? A factor of 2-3X? What? What is the experimental equivalent of carrying an atomic clock on a jet?

    Matt, climate sensitivity is complex as it is in large part dependent upon various climate feedbacks including those from the cryosphere and even the effects of the location of the continents. However, our best estimate has been roughly 3 C since the 1960s, and since 2006 it has been known that extensive data from the paleoclimate record strongly supports a figure of 3 C for the short-term climate sensitivity.

    Please see:

    Using multiple observationally-based constraints to estimate climate sensitivity
    J. D. Annan and J. C. Hargreaves
    FRCGC/JAMSTEC, Yokohama, Japan
    Geophysical Research Letters, VOL. 33, L06704, doi:10.1029/2005GL025259, 2006
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2006/2005GL025259.shtml
    http://www.jamstec.go.jp/frcgc/research/d5/jdannan/GRL_sensitivity.pdf

    Thursday, March 02, 2006
    Climate sensitivity is 3C
    by James Annan
    http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2006/03/climate-sensitivity-is-3c.html

    Long-term (the equilibrium value after centuries) is more likely 6 C according to Jim Hansen – although the latter figure would seem less certain.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 25 Oct 2007 @ 1:49 PM

  374. Majorajam (#366) wrote:

    matt,

    A good analogy for Ray’s point is price behavior in an economy….

    Austrian School? Ludwig Von Mises? Rational Expectation Theory? Incidentally, I wrote a paper quite a few years ago during a course devoted largely to the ideas of Keynes in which I did a detailed analysis of the effects of artificially expanding either the money supply or credit supply upon the (im)balance long-term vs. short-term investment and how the resulting recessions are the process through which the free market and pricing system corrects for the malinvestments.

    … so in any case — I approve.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 25 Oct 2007 @ 2:29 PM

  375. re 372

    Okay, my last mention of this subject:

    http://www.amconmag.com/12_1_03/feature.html

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 25 Oct 2007 @ 3:03 PM

  376. Climate sensitivity uncertainty:

    http://www.livescience.com/environment/071025-climate-sensitivity.html

    Comment by David B. Benson — 25 Oct 2007 @ 3:06 PM

  377. richard (353) says:
    “348 “1)There are many credible scientists who have doubts about AGW, at least in part.”

    I am not sure if it was your intention to mislead, but I believe most climate scientists accept that AGW is a fact. That does not mean they do not have doubts about the extent of the warming as expressed by IPCC or about what can or should be done about it; after all there is always uncertainty. You seem to be implying that there are a substantial number of climatologists who, based on peer-reviewed science, can make a strong case that AGW is not occurring. I don’t believe that is the case.”

    There are a few or more than a few climate scientists, but when I said “many scientists” I meant all (probably related) fields. Now don’t come back and say they don’t count. We’ve already been all over that (and which was my central point in #348). If a scientist has doubts, then by definition he can not be credible. Check out SecularAnimist’s #360 as a good example.

    richard (353) further says:
    “2) There is a large number of AGW bloggers who consign those scientists, and most sceptics, to the trash pile ”

    In fact, bloggers on both sides of the issue can be accused of that; sceptic sites in my view are far less tolerant (perhaps because they have less peer-reviewed data to support their position). As far as AGW blogs are concerned, I think that one tends to lose one’s temper when sceptic arguments that heve been shown to have dubious facts to support them are nonetheless brought forward again and again.”

    I agree with that, with a couple of nuances. One, sceptic sites might or might not be less tolerant; but I admit they do seem to be more smart-assed. Second: your last sentence depends. I’ve been in that boat here on RC and many responders have seriously worked with me trying to overcome my skepticism with science without losing their temper. In a lot of areas they were not successful, but I bowed out after a while to do more research, recognizing that they certainly would eventually get tired of me, and they have no obligation to spend their valuable time working with me. On the other side, and my main point in #348 (again) is that others lose their temper at the mere mention of “sceptic” because in their mind sceptics have no place at the table de facto, just because they’re sceptics. I admit some of my “fellow” sceptics deserve it. But I’ve seen many, including here on RC, that raise logical sounding points, and they, not their arguments, just get creamed.

    Comment by Rod B — 25 Oct 2007 @ 3:34 PM

  378. re Chuck (354)

    Any economist worth his salt can make any economic prediction case he chooses. And no, I’m not accusing anyone of skullduggery.

    re “…Thomas Lee Elifritz has informed us, “science is not an authoritarian betting game.”

    I’m not sure I get the meaning, but I certainly agree!

    Comment by Rod B — 25 Oct 2007 @ 3:46 PM

  379. Timothy,

    That’s good to hear- I’m a big fan of approval. Just ask mother. I take it you’re an economist? Would be interested to see your paper. I am a mere practitioner whose belief is in the power of asset prices, so I’d say that Keynes, Tobin & Minsky most closely resemble my influences. However you get there, (bubbles & animal spirits or simple monetarist fractional banking math), it’s fair to say that a) changes in credit activity drive economic activity as much as they are driven by it and b) only so much demand growth is consistent with stability in the price level, (unless firms actually set their prices according to changes in Fed policy as according to some of the more obtuse applications of rational expectations). Interestingly enough, a) is also an echo of the CO2 causality (growth in credit/C02 concentration is both caused by and cause growth in demand/temperature). It’s full of rhythm this world, isn’t it?

    Comment by Majorajam — 25 Oct 2007 @ 4:10 PM

  380. Ray (355): I would be totally comfortable with the statement, “Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have likely contributed to the current warming epoch.” I added the qualifier “likely”, though I’d be comfortable with highly likely, even very highly likely; I removed “significantly”, though that is probably not far off my comfort level.

    The crux of my issue is: 1) questions on how certain aspects of the science works, and 2) the validity of future projections. But I don’t want to be specific. As I mentioned in earlier posts, the ball is in my court to better support my own scepticism, and I don’t want to belabor RC by rehashing it again at this time. But I will toss out one example. In the face of “the science is mature and about as absolute as possible”, I recently went through a lengthy discourse (with you being one of the players) trying to understand the raw basic physics of radiation absorption and emission in gasses. It is clear that this fundemental question has no definitive complete consensus answer (actually a lot of definitive but differing explanations). I have some difficulty buying AGW as an absolute mature science when one of its fundemental physics basis has a pile of uncertainty and disagreement.

    True, my skepticism does not disprove AGW (not even close), but I also do not think that is my onus (and the chorus of disagreement to that is well known.)

    Comment by Rod B — 25 Oct 2007 @ 4:16 PM

  381. Majorajam (#379) wrote:

    That’s good to hear- I’m a big fan of approval. Just ask mother. I take it you’re an economist? Would be interested to see your paper. I am a mere practitioner whose belief is in the power of asset prices, so I’d say that Keynes, Tobin & Minsky most closely resemble my influences.

    Actually I am a physics geek who went into the Navy, majored in philosophy, became interested in economics and history, turned coder who became obsessed with evolutionary biology, retroelements and phages and is now concerned with anthropogenic global warming. The paper was only for an undergraduate course and perhaps five pages tops. My big papers critique Descartes’ Six Meditations, Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and critically analyze early twentieth century empiricism. Eighty pages each.

    Not that fond of Keynes — but I doubt I ever knew him as well as I might have thought at one time. Don’t know about Tobin or Minsky. However, I tend think that there are valuable insights to be found even in the views that I am otherwise strongly opposed to. And my opposition to Keynes wouldn’t go quite that far. Even the academic Marxists were able to turn lead in to gold sometimes — which is impressive — given what they had to work with.

    Reality?

    Rhythm and richness. A gem to be turned and peered into for its refracted and reflected light.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 25 Oct 2007 @ 5:39 PM

  382. Majorajam says (372): “…everyone knew. Except the public that is. Ok, I’m off the off topic…”

    Thank goodness…

    Comment by Rod B — 25 Oct 2007 @ 8:12 PM

  383. Rod B. (#379) wrote:

    I recently went through a lengthy discourse (with you being one of the players) trying to understand the raw basic physics of radiation absorption and emission in gasses. It is clear that this fundemental question has no definitive complete consensus answer (actually a lot of definitive but differing explanations).

    Rod,
    the discussions you have had here about radiation absorption and emission in gases were all with people that are not real experts in the field. While a lot of posters here are very knowledgeable about physics, chemistry, and other areas relevant to climate science, none of them is a real expert on some of the details you seem to be criticizing. NOTE: I’m talking about the people that post comments, like Ray ladbury, Timothy Chase, etc, *not* the authors of the blog (Gavin and Co.). And, even if some poster here was a real expert, the only way to fully understand what’s going on is by sitting down with pen and paper and going through a lot of diagrams and equations in most cases. If you have the necessary background in mathematics and physics you can educate yourself by finding the relevant books in a university library near your home. You cannot judge the state of science on a topic like radiation physics by your discussions with non-experts in a web blog.

    There are whole books on the subject and hundreds if not thousands of papers dealing with the different aspects of radiation emission/absorption in gases, and most other basic physical and chemical phenomena included in climate models. If you are not willing to trust that reputable scientists know what they are talking about in most cases, you will have to bite the bullet and study these details yourself using the original sources (scientific books and papers).

    Again, the understanding of the science exhibited by the readers’ comments in these pages is in no way reflective of the true scientific consensus among the experts on the subject. For a real look at the consensus you will have to go to the original sources: the IPCC reports, academic books, and papers published in reputable scientific journals.

    Comment by Rafael Gomez-Sjoberg — 25 Oct 2007 @ 8:31 PM

  384. Rod B. said “It is clear that this fundemental question has no definitive complete consensus answer… ”

    Don’t confuse the confusion of a physicist (me) trying to remember back to stat mech 25 years ago with a lack of a consensus answer. Look at Landau and Lifshitz on blackbody–that’s about as consensus as it gets. Ray Pierrehumbert could rattle of the physics in his sleep. That’s why it’s important that those active in the field establish the consensus.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 25 Oct 2007 @ 8:58 PM

  385. #365 dhogaza:Thus far, there have been 13 named storms…

    Named storms isn’t what matters. That is rather arbitrary. The key is the ACE, or accumulated cyclone energy index. ACE for the year so far is under 70, while the average since 1851 is 95 (median is 88). My understanding is the ACE is figured first, then the number of named storms is figured from that. What NOAA predicted is that ACE would be 125% to 250% of the median. They estimated a 5% chance that ACE would be below the median.

    This is a major forecasting failure for a second year in a row. Again, I don’t fault them. I use it merely to point out how often experts assign rediculous confidence levels to things they just can’t be that confident about.

    Comment by matt — 25 Oct 2007 @ 9:17 PM

  386. #368 Timothy: … which gives the estimated forcings

    I’m not referring to radiative forcings. I encountered those years ago in my climate readings and accept those. I am referring to climate sensitivity. The Annan paper you referenced in another post is fantastic. Thanks for that.

    And yes, I just have to smile to myself that Hansen is now getting ready to talk about a “long term” CO2 sensitivity of 6′C. :)

    Comment by matt — 25 Oct 2007 @ 9:29 PM

  387. Ray, I don’t think you answered my second hypothetical in #333: What % of top climate scientists would work for Big Oil Inc if Big Oil Inc paid a $3M/year salary and said “study whatever you wish, publish whatever you wish, here’s a bucket of money for research”

    I really am interested in the answer.

    Comment by matt — 25 Oct 2007 @ 9:37 PM

  388. Matt, that’s a classic example of an empirical question.

    You recognize one when you see one, right? Any engineer should.

    The way to find out is to arrange for it to happen and count the results. Do your best to test it. Find out if it’s possible to answer.

    Else you’re like those philosophers in the tavern arguing about how many teeth horses have, relying on what they recall Aristotle said. Or worse, you’re arguing how many angels can dance on the head of the pin.

    First, look in the horse’s mouth. Find the pin and the angels.

    Count for something.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Oct 2007 @ 10:00 PM

  389. Re 348, 377, 380. My original post in response to Rod’s 348 has never appeared. Lost? Moderated and deleted? Whatever, I’ll try again and hope it makes it this time.

    Rod – You still haven’t answered the question of what credible scientists? Who are they? I keep hearing about “lots of credible scientists” who disagree with/deny AGW, not just from you but almost every time there’s a response somewhere by someone who claims that AGW is a bogus idea. But no one ever seems to say who these mysterious scientists are except for Gray, Linzden, and perhaps one or two others, and their arguments are regularly responded to here on RC and at various other places. You claim these “many credible scientists” are “readily apparent”. Well, not to me. I can’t find them. The folks who signed the first OISM letter (the ones who actually are scientists and not fictional characters, of course) cannot be counted unless they 1) are climate scientists (and almost none, if any, are), 2) are not climate scientists but are scientists whose discipline is relevant to climate science and who have somewhere demonstrated that they have some specific level of knowledge about something relevant to climate science that throws a monkey wrench into the whole shebang, or 3) are not climate scientists but are scientists who have shown they have an in-depth understanding of the research and the results and can specifically indicate where something is wrong or missing or off-base. The simple fact that someone is a scientist does not give him or her more than the tiniest bit of credibility to comment on something as complex as climate science. But I simply cannot find the “many credible scientists” in spite of the fact that you claim they are “readily apparent” and the fact that they are regularly cited by politicians and pundits speaking against AGW. And, no, making the claim that “providing a list is an exercise in futility” because “a large number of AGW bloggers … consign those scientists, and most sceptics, to the trash pile by simply defining them away” doesn’t cut it. I don’t buy that for a minute, and I consider it a cop-out. If they exist, tell all of us who are working really hard to understand the situation WHO THEY ARE so we can check them out for ourselves.

    Similarly, I would really, really love to have some evidence for the claim that “plowing full speed ahead on mitigation will also create tremendous hardships for great throng”. What hardships? What great throngs? How? This is another claim that gets made ad nauseum but that no one ever seems able to explain or back up. It seems to me that unless you can at least make an effort to do, it would behoove you to stop making the claim because it is nothing more than some “feeling” you have about the whole thing or you have bought into someone else’s claim without giving it even a bit of critical thinking.

    Along those lines, I recorded “Polar Apocalypse” on Naked Science and watched it tonight. One of the segments they showed was about Bhutan, a mountain kingdom that has 27,000 glacial lakes. These lakes are created by debris dams where the glaciers stopped their advance. As the glaciers recede and melt, the water can put so much strain on the dams that they burst and send walls of water down the valleys and gorges, destroying villages and killing people. These floods were happening about once every ten years in the 1940s and 1950s. They’ve now increased to one every three years. The estimate is that they will increase to one every year by 2010. Okay, so maybe the glaciers aren’t receding and melting because of AGW. And then again, maybe they are. If so, I would say that harm is already here, and the longer it takes us to “plow full speed ahead” in efforts to mitigate AGW, the more people will be victims.

    Comment by Mary C — 26 Oct 2007 @ 12:00 AM

  390. #388 Hank Roberts: Matt, that’s a classic example of an empirical question.

    You recognize one when you see one, right? Any engineer should

    Hypothetical questions usually have a barrier of absurdity you must first overcome to deliver an answer. I don’t believe that an oil company would EVER pay a group of folks to study and write about whatever they wish. So, rather than inviting Ray to answer “it’d never happen, so I’m not even going to answer it” I opted to frame it as hypothetical.

    Of course, to research it as suggested I’d have to work for an oil company, convince them it’d be worthwhile, and have a $50 to $100M budget at hand. I hate to dissappoint, but none of those are true. Ergo…]

    I can tell you what I think the result would be. That without any strings attached 95% would take it. With the restriction that you cannot publish anything negative, 50% would take it. To simply get a PhD I’d venture to guess most have already made some sort of intellectual compromise with a professor at some point along the line. I believe most all humans would slightly (20%) overstate a case to help a cause they really, really believed in and thought important to the human race without thinking twice about it. Roll those two together, add in financial freedom, add in a promise to yourself that “after I have the first $10M, I’ll quit and use you money for good” and you are there. Now, most SAY they wouldn’t take it. I’ll grant you that.

    Comment by matt — 26 Oct 2007 @ 12:51 AM

  391. matt (#386) wrote:

    #368 Timothy: “… which gives the estimated forcings”

    I’m not referring to radiative forcings. I encountered those years ago in my climate readings and accept those.

    Honestly 368 was a thank you to Ray Ladbury – regarding the estimated forcings.

    There are times at which I will point out that the climate forcing of anthropogenic greenhouse gases has exceeded that of solar variability for all but one year since 1880 – as required by the context. It was an element I made use of in point 4 of comment 133 – but I would have liked to include a link to a legitimate source for the actual numerical data from the web. Now I can.

    matt (#386) wrote:

    I am referring to climate sensitivity. The Annan paper you referenced in another post is fantastic. Thanks for that.

    I was pretty happy when I ran into that myself. And I bring up that article fairly often as well — whether I give the link or not.

    matt (#386) wrote:

    And yes, I just have to smile to myself that Hansen is now getting ready to talk about a “long term” CO2 sensitivity of 6′C.

    Well, he explains it — boundary conditions. What the short-run climate sensitivity assumes is constant isn’t.

    From one of his most recent papers, this is what he has to say about the short-run sensitivity:

    Hansen et al. (1993) calculated the ice age forcing due to surface albedo change to be 3.5 +/- Wm^-2. The total surface and atmospheric forcings led Hansen et al. (1993) to infer an equilibrium global climate sensitivity of 3 +/- 1C for doubled CO2 forcing, equivalent to 3/4 +/- 1/4 CW^-1 m^-2. This empirical climate sensitivity corresponds to the Charney (1979) definition of climate sensitivity, in which ‘fast feedback’ processes are allowed to operate, but long-lived atmospheric gases, ice sheet area, land area and vegetation cover are fixed forcings. Fast feedbacks include changes of water vapour, clouds, climate-driven aerosols1, sea ice and snow cover. This empirical result for the ‘Charney’ climate sensitivity agrees well with that obtained by climate models (IPCC 2001).

    Hansen, J., Mki. Sato, P. Kharecha, G. Russell, D.W. Lea, and M. Siddall, 2007: Climate change and trace gases. Phil. Trans. Royal. Soc. A, 365, 1925-1954, doi:10.1098/rsta.2007.2052
    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abstracts/2007/Hansen_etal_2.html
    pg. 1929

    (Notice: for the short-run he was using 3 +/-1 C back in 1993. As I said, its been around for a while, and actually goes back to back-of-the-envelope calculations involving a volcanic eruption in the 1960s.)

    Now here is the long-run and why:

    Real world climate response differs from this idealized case in two ways. First, response on decadal time-scales is much less than the fast-feedback equilibrium response. Half of the equilibrium response is obtained in 30 years, but, as the climate response function (figure 7b) shows, the other half requires a millennium. Second, assumption of fixed surface properties (vegetation cover and ice sheet area) becomes invalid long before equilibrium is achieved.

    Climate sensitivity with surface properties free to change (but with GHG specified as a forcing, a choice relevant to the twenty-first century) is defined in figure 1, which reveals Antarctic temperature increase of 3 C (Wm^-2)^-1. Global temperature change is about half that in Antarctica, so this equilibrium global climate sensitivity is 1.5 C (Wm^-2)^-1, double the fast-feedback (Charney) sensitivity.

    ibid, pg 1944

    Hope this helps…

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 26 Oct 2007 @ 1:42 AM

  392. Matt, if the money truly came with no strings attached, I think most researchers would take it. However, the energy interests have done a lot to poison the well. The fact of the matter is that most researchers are more interested in their research than they are in getting rich. I am a great frustration to my financial advosor because although I understand and follow economics, econophysics…, I can’t be bothered to take an interest in my investment portfolio as it would take too much time away from my research.

    As to your question about forcing, the consensus is 3-4 degrees per doubling. Hansen is asking the question: How bad can it be? That’s certainly a valid and necessary question, particularly when you are trying to allocate resources for mitigation.

    Finally on hurricanes: No wonder you are disillusioned with experts, as you lump them all together with no regard for the difficulty of their field of expertise, political pressures, etc. It would seem that you want to make pronouncements and have them taken seriously without doing the necessary homework to ensure that your opinion is on solid ground.

    Hank,
    Actually the question of how many angels could dance on the head of a pin was at one time in the Middle Ages a critical question of metaphysics. Essentially, there were two possible answers–finite and infinite–corresponding to whether angels had physical, corporeal existence or were purely spiritual with no physical manifestation. It was essentially an argument of whether angels were fermions or bosons.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 26 Oct 2007 @ 7:38 AM

  393. [[ My point was very simple. 1)There are many credible scientists who have doubts about AGW, at least in part.]]

    I don’t agree with your point. I don’t think it’s correct. But even if it were true, what matters is not how many scientists don’t accept it, but what percentage of climate scientists do accept it. If 99% of the biologists in the world didn’t believe in AGW but 99% of the climatologists did, I’d go with the climatologists — because it’s their field.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 26 Oct 2007 @ 7:43 AM

  394. [[ I recently went through a lengthy discourse (with you being one of the players) trying to understand the raw basic physics of radiation absorption and emission in gasses. It is clear that this fundemental question has no definitive complete consensus answer (actually a lot of definitive but differing explanations).]]

    That is not at all “clear.” Radiation physics is an extremely well understood field. The fact that you don’t get something, or even that most posters on this blog don’t get something, does not mean that the scientists who work with it don’t get it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 26 Oct 2007 @ 7:58 AM

  395. Matt, re 390. I can only conclude that you don’t know any actual scientists. Most are not motivated by money as much as they are by curiosity. Couple that with the fact that if a scientist took money under the constraints you first outlined, their scientific reputation would be destroyed and their career in science would be over. Even with no restrictions, as I said, energy interests have done much to poison the well with the scientific community in recent years. It is quite possible that many if not most would reject the money even with no strings attached just to avoid the appearance of taint.

    Matt, scientists are smart folks. Most of them have had more than a few opportunities to make a whole helluva lot more than they are currently making. They could become patent lawyers or take an MBA and become scientific managers and double or triple their salary easily. Hedge fund managers would gladly pay some of these guys very well to analyze markets (indeed, some do).
    I have many interests: history, philosophy, economics, geology… Hell, I almost switched majors from physics to psychology in my senior year. I chose physics because no amount of money I was likely to make would allow me to pursue my interests in physics, and physics allowed me to understand the world around me more than any other field. (It has also given me ample opportunity to practice psychology, but that’s beside the point.) Science allows students to glimpse beauty in the world that remains hidden from most peoples’ eyes. It tells you that you can understand that beauty and then lays down a very strict code that you must follow or be excluded from the realm of science. Once glimpsed, the thought of violating that code and being banished is paradise lost. Or rather, to reverse the myth: Once a scientist has tasted of the fruit of knowledge, he or she is likely to conclude that the loss of paradise may have been worth it after all.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 26 Oct 2007 @ 8:04 AM

  396. [[This is a major forecasting failure for a second year in a row. Again, I don’t fault them. I use it merely to point out how often experts assign rediculous confidence levels to things they just can’t be that confident about.]]

    If they predict an 85% chance, that means they can be completely wrong one year out of seven. Two bad predictions in a row mean almost nothing, because a sample size of two is practically meaningless.

    Why don’t you find the NOAA predictions and the actual figures recorded for 1977 through 2006? Graph them on the same scale. Find the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient (r) between the two series. Calculate the t-statistic (t) from r, and find the significance (p) from t.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 26 Oct 2007 @ 8:06 AM

  397. Barton responded to Matt:

    “Why don’t you find the NOAA predictions and the actual figures recorded for 1977 through 2006? Graph them on the same scale. Find the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient (r) between the two series. Calculate the t-statistic (t) from r, and find the significance (p) from t.”

    Because that would require real work, and that is unheard among denialists.

    Comment by Petro — 26 Oct 2007 @ 8:31 AM

  398. Matt, I was one who pointed out several times in the thread that all of us in that thread poking at finding language about radiation physics were not the experts, all of us posting in that were readers here. I recall saying I hoped one of the experts would look in, several times, to see if our words were approximations of the physics, given the physics requires math to express.

    You are misrepresenting the conversation, or playing dumb about it.

    You kept asking people to explain this in words, ignoring the fact that expertise in radiation physics takes graduate level math.

    Your saying nobody in the field understands it is like footnoting your research source as “guy I met in a bar.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Oct 2007 @ 10:00 AM

  399. re 392:

    “Matt, if the money truly came with no strings attached, I think most researchers would take it. However, the energy interests have done a lot to poison the well.”

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

    They have indeed, and Matt’s arguement is counterintuitive in the sense that independent research is just that: independent, meaning no strings (restrictions) attached.

    But he does have a point in the sense that what is happening in the real world of research appears to suggest that scientists do seek out money to do their research, but not necessarily for the motives or to the ends Matt might infer, particularly not in relation to the motives of scientists raising the alarm re AGW or other issues that can be seen as anti-corporate growth in nature and result.

    The problem, which I’m sure many are well aware of, appears to be privitization of research. IN a recent article in Discover (yes, I know there is a ceratin distain for the so-called pop-sci mags voiced on this site, but bear with me), it was shown that in 1965, the Federal Government funded 60% of all research. Now that figure has dropped to around 35%.

    Here’s an example why:

    ================
    “Early this year, BP (formerly British Petroleum) announced it was signing the largest proposed academia-industry research alliance in U.S. history: a 10-year, $500 million agreement with UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study biofuels and the production of genetically modified crops that might improve their energy efficiency. As of this writing, the deal is still being negotiated. However, according to Berkeley’s official proposal, released in early March, the deal is unusual in many respects. First, it is huge, spanning roughly 25 labs at three campuses. Second, it permits 50 BP employees to lease commercial research space on campus, side by side with Berkeley’s traditional academic labs. On the academic side, all research is publishable. On the BP side, by contrast, the research is proprietary; there is no obligation to publish.

    “Tadeusz Patzek, an engineering professor at Berkeley who formerly worked as a scientist at Shell, believes the deal compromises the university’s ability to look objectively at long-term energy solutions to global warming. He fears that professors, following the money, will steer their research toward BP’s specified area of commercial interest—biofuels—without adequately exploring other energy options. Patzek’s concerns are supported by survey research in the medical field conducted by David Blumenthal and Eric Campbell, policy analysts at Harvard University. Their research finds that academic scientists who receive industry funding are significantly more likely to select research projects that have a higher potential for commercial application. Industry ties, they report, are also associated with longer delays on publication, confidentiality restrictions, and a greater withholding of information from academic peers.”

    …and…

    “(Lisa) Bero (UCSF) points to a large body of research by herself and others that shows industry-funded studies preferentially reach conclusions that favor sponsors’ products or interests. One meta-analysis published in BMJ (British Medical Journal) found that pharmaceu­tical-­industry-funded research was four times more likely to reflect favorably on a drug than research not financed by industry. Even when Bero controls for a variety of other factors, she finds that the effect of industry funding on the research outcome is huge. Research on secondhand smoke conducted by researchers with industry ties is 88 times more likely to find no harm; industry-funded studies comparing cholesterol drugs are 20 times more likely to favor the sponsor’s drug.

    “This happens, Bero contends, because private industry has become increasingly sophisticated about how it uses “science” to achieve its commercial objectives. “We’ve looked at the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries, and now we’re looking at legal documents pertaining to the asbestos, vinyl chloride, and lead industries,” she reports. The techniques they use are remarkably similar: Positive research gets published; negative research doesn’t. The sponsor’s drug is given at a higher dosage than the competitor’s drug. The sponsors control study design, access to data, and statistical analysis. They ghostwrite articles and pay prominent academics to sign on as “authors.”

    “Bero observes that many professors are desperate to find funding for their research, and a lot of them are naive about the potential for industry influence. “You never think you’re at risk for conflicts of interest,” she says. “You always think your coworker is.””

    …and…

    “One 2005 study examining more than 100 academic medical centers found that half would allow the corporate sponsor to write manuscripts reporting on study results and only allow faculty to “suggest revisions”—a policy basically authorizing commercial ghostwriting of academic research. Thirty-five percent allowed the sponsor to store clinical trial data and release only portions to the investigator; 62 percent allowed the sponsor to alter the study design after the researchers and the sponsor had signed an agreement.”

    http://discovermagazine.com/2007/oct/sciences-worst-enemy-private-funding/article_view?b_start:int=2&-C=
    ==============

    There’s lots more in this piece, which starts here:

    http://discovermagazine.com/2007/oct/sciences-worst-enemy-private-funding

    In a sense, Matt’s got it right, but not for the reason he intended.

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 26 Oct 2007 @ 10:02 AM

  400. Rafael Gomez-Sjoberg (383): You make a fair and valid point. (You, too, Ray (384).) I was aware of this during the discourse. I did, however, look beyond RC, including other blogs/forums (climate and general physics) and a few papers and lecture notes from academia and professionals found on the internet. Certainly not exhaustive, and no actual textbooks. None-the-less I think my point still has some merit. Even though I am discussing with folks in the “2nd tier” of knowledge, it is surprising, and, I think, instructive that most of my sources and fellow posters each assert definitive answers that diametrically oppose other’s definitive answers. It is also surprising and curious that “all” of the 2nd tier and below folks (I’m probably 3rd or 4th tier) do not have the basic true information; that only the professional elite know — and they aren’t telling. (I also understand why they would neither be inclined nor obligated to present a full year’s course on a blog — that would be pretty silly and wasteful of them.) None-the-less (again) whether a gas like our atmosphere radiates a continuous spectrum ala Planck function, or not, for example, should not be so mysterious and known only to a select few, at least at the system level. Yet many in the so-called 2nd tier will swear on a stack of Bibles (or evolution texts, if you will — sorry! couldn’t resist [;-) ) that it doesn’t and many (including the forum lectures developing the theory) that it does.

    It just makes it difficult to fully accept this “mature and unassailable” science.

    Comment by Rod B — 26 Oct 2007 @ 10:18 AM

  401. I don’t see that they expressly predicted ACE separately from named storms. They have a range of ACE for each range of season normality, and that is what they predict. They imply something about ACE by their prediction of hurricanes and major hurricanes.

    The experts predicted 13 to 17 named storms. 14 have names. The way they treat ACE, it does not appear to be the centerpiece of their prediction.

    Comment by J.C.H. — 26 Oct 2007 @ 10:19 AM

  402. Mary C (389): You read what you wanted to in my posts. First, I haven’t provided names of credible scientists who have disagreement with parts of AGW theory (I didn’t say “disagree with [totally]/deny” — those are your words) because it is an exercise in futility. As I have said, all of those scientists will have some aspect declared by the proponents that define them as ineligible, as you do, in part, in #389. But I’ll throw out one for fun, the subject of this post: Daniel Botkin, emeritus professor of ecology at UC Santa Barbara.

    I also explicitly included scientists not directly in climatology. You admitted those, too, but you qualified them: they can’t be stupid, or “wrong”, which is a one word equivalent to your 2) and 3) statements. Which was one of my points, because underlying (defining) “stupid” is their partial AGW disagreement.

    On your other point: I explicitly said that if AGW is true as described it will create havoc, including death, for millions of people (and as a maybe successful sceptic accepted blame for that). As for plowing full speed ahead with mitigation, which inherently assumed AGW was not true, you want me to prove that not everyone will be happy living off the land in their cabin with the fishes, birds and trees, or getting rich through their investments in propellers, solar panels, hydrogen stores and CO2 closets. Well, if you wish to assume and believe that, far be it from me to dissuade you. BTW, I believe that while many (throngs) will be significantly worse off, many others will be just as well and likely better off.

    Comment by Rod B — 26 Oct 2007 @ 11:03 AM

  403. Rod (382) says, “Thank goodness…”. I presume that such relief is in order because, like most ‘skeptics’, you have an uneasy relationship with reality. Under the circumstances, I worry this might only serve to exacerbate your phobia:

    Novak: There never were WMD’s
    Bush knew Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction
    Intelligence, Policy, and the War in Iraq
    Downing Street Memo(s)
    U.S. Decision On Iraq Has Puzzling Past
    New Memos Detail Early Plans for Invading Iraq
    Tall tales about Uranium

    On the last point, I could also document the tall tales about aluminum tubes, terrorist links, etc. etc. etc., but u get the point- or are more likely writhing in cognitive dissonance. In any case, as is, it’s enough to convict a man of murder in the first degree, and in a real court to boot- not even one of Bush’s kangaroo jobs.

    If being a skeptic meant being gullible, you would truly be a skeptic. Here in the reality based community, however, we’ll just have to leave the scare quotes on there.

    Comment by Majorajam — 26 Oct 2007 @ 11:34 AM

  404. #396 Accuracy of hurricane forecasts (Barton)

    Barton, I wouldn’t mind doing the test you describe. However the only thing I can find on the NOAA website is the observed ACE over the last 50 years. Does anybody have an idea whether historic forecasts are on the web? (Hank?)

    There is an article at Slate though: http://slate.com/id/2166978/ I quote: “But how reliable are these hurricane forecasts? Not bad at all. In general, the predictions fall within a storm or two of the observed totals.”

    Comment by Dick Veldkamp — 26 Oct 2007 @ 12:55 PM

  405. Rod, Methinks you flatter me (and the other posters) way too much. My expertise is in radiation physics. This is a long way removed from atmospheric physics. So, let’s look at the tiers between me and the top tier.

    1)The best, world-class atmospheric/climate scientists
    2)The Worker-bee atmospheric/climate scientists
    3)The grad students of the above (hey, it’s fresh in their minds.)
    4)Top tier in related fields who are interested enough to follow the field closely (may include meteorologists, oceanographers, etc.)
    5)Worker bees who answer to the above criteria
    6)Top tier physicists, geophysicists, astrophysicists, chemists, etc. who are interested enough to follow the field closely
    7)Worker bees who answer to the above criteria (I am here)

    I am not being falsely modest–believe me, that’s not something I suffer from. I know I’m a reasonably good scientist with a broad understanding of basic physics and broad interests. However, without working it through, there’s no reason why I’d understand this stuff. And what is more, I want to work it through on my own, because that’s part of the fun. The contributors to this board understand this. They know I don’t want to be led by the hand step by step. So they provide thoughtful writeups and the occasional hint and let us work it through ourselves–it’s the only way we’ll really understand it.

    So, having gone through the exercise in radiative forcing, am I an expert? No way. But I understand it a whole helluva lot better than before. That’s why I’m here.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 26 Oct 2007 @ 2:47 PM

  406. First, I haven’t provided names of credible scientists who have disagreement with parts of AGW theory … But I’ll throw out one for fun, the subject of this post: Daniel Botkin, emeritus professor of ecology at UC Santa Barbara.

    Botkin argues that we’re overreacting to global warming, not that it’s not happening or that climate scientists have it wrong.

    Comment by dhogaza — 26 Oct 2007 @ 3:18 PM

  407. Re. Rod B, #402 and Daniel Botkin: in addition to dhogaza’s point, Botkin’s comments about the MWP were clearly either disingenuous or ill-informed – not because I disagree with what he wrote about it, but because I have read the relevant literature on the subject and he either hasn’t read it or has arbitrarily ignored it.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 26 Oct 2007 @ 4:25 PM

  408. od B (#386) writes:

    only the professional elite know — and they aren’t telling. … None-the-less (again) whether a gas like our atmosphere radiates a continuous spectrum ala Planck function, or not, for example, should not be so mysterious and known only to a select few, at least at the system level.

    What do you mean by “they aren’t telling”?
    They are telling it all in the open. As I said, all that information is in the books and thousands of scientific articles that get published every year. They are telling it to all of those that care to go read those books and articles. What else do you want them to do? Go on TV or the radio every night and give a lecture on radiation physics to the public?

    A quick search for the terms “radiative transfer atmosphere” in Google Books show two interesting hits:

    “Radiative Transfer in the Atmosphere and Ocean” by Gary E. Thomas and Knut Stammes

    “Elementary Climate Physics” by F.W. Taylor

    Google Books (books.google.com) won’t let you see the whole of the books, but you can probably ask your local library to get them for you. Or you can buy them online if you really want to study this in depth.

    Obviously, understanding the contents of these books requires a well developed background in math and pnysics, but there’s no way around this with modern science. All natural sciences, from biology to chemistry to climate, speak their own laguages (very often a highly mathematical language), which sometimes take years to learn. So, in that respect all of this knowledge is certainly “mysterious” to somebody that doesn’t speak the language of mathematics or the jargon of modern molecular biology, for example.

    You should do a little experiment about finding the scientific consensus on a topic that is not as politically charged as climate science. Go find what you call 2nd or 3rd tier knowledge about laser physics and optics and try to figure out, on the web, what the consensus is on the subject of “optical pulse propagation in dispersive media”. What is the dominant effect on light loss in a single-mode GeO-doped silica optical fiber at wavelengths below about 1.5micrometers? Is it Rayleigh scattering or something else?
    You are surely going to find some web pages that have one particular answer to this pretty simple question. But how do you know that the answer presented truly reflects the “scientific consensus”?
    Is the answer to this scientific/technical question something mysterious that only a select few know?
    The answer is pretty important to most engineerns and scientist that work with optical fibers, but how do you know what the consensus among these people is? There must be a consensus on all sorts of questions of the same kind since optical fibers form the backbone of the internet today and it wouldn’t work if all of these details weren’t sorted out.

    Or pick another example from biology: Find out what the consensus is about the possibility of having information transcribed from RNA back into DNA. What is the mechanism for that? Is it common in living organisms?

    The scientific methods used to sort these questions are exactly the same as those used to sort out the questions in climate science. Not too long ago, light propagation through a glass fiber and the details of genetic information flow, were basic scientific issues being ivestigated in exactly the same way, and by very similar people, to those now researching the earth’s climate. Now a lot of those questions about fibers and DNA are settled and the knowledge is used routinely in communications and the development of drugs or for forensic analysis of DNA. Do you doubt that the basic infrastructure of the internet or the basic techniques used by the biotechnology industry are based on some “mysterious” knowledge (somehow hidden from you) that is open to uninformed doubts?

    If we had blogs discussing many aspects of quantum mechanics as applied to semiconductor physics, the same way we have blogs about climate science, a lot of people like you would be going around doubting whether Bragg reflection of electrons in a silicon lattice was a settled matter. Bragg relfection could be as “mysterious” and known only to a “select few” as the details about how the atmosphere radiates, if we were having a web discussion about it. But not a single electronic device in the world today would work if the phenomenon of Bragg reflection wasn’t well understood.

    I don’t think you, or for that matter most people outside academia, really understand how science works. This is a serious problem in the modern world where the technology derived from science now dominates our lives, and all citizens have to make very important decisions about how we use the power of technology.

    Comment by Rafael Gomez-Sjoberg — 26 Oct 2007 @ 4:30 PM

  409. Rod B., So what has Botkin published in peer-reviewed science journals pertaining to the subject of climate change? Oops, there go the first 3 tiers. Now, do you think Botkin has ever sat down with pen and paper and tried to understand the ins and outs of radiative energy transfer as we did? Do you think an ecology professor has ever had stat mech and would understand blackbody radiation? How about something pertaining to extinctions from past climate change epochs in a peer-reviewed journal? In the past 10 years? Oops, there go the next 4 tiers. Just because somebody is a scientist does not make them qualified to comment on all areas of science. James Watson was a great biologist. He has a lousy understanding of the psychology of intelligence and race.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 26 Oct 2007 @ 4:57 PM

  410. James Watson was a great biologist.

    He was a great biochemist – I don’t think he was an expert on, or even especially knowledgeable about, any area of biology other than biochemistry.

    Comment by Dave Rado — 26 Oct 2007 @ 6:01 PM

  411. Rod, most of us readers who comment including me are in the peanut gallery here, we’re not on any tiers at all, with a few exceptions who actually do science daily and also help try to explain this.

    Much typing here is spent sorting serious people from trolls, going over old ground repeatedly, finding words to give some feeling for subjects that aren’t understandable without serious math.

    We’re lucky to hear from working scientists in the field — I wish we heard much more.

    Notice how rare it is to hear one of the working scientists say “Good question!” to one of us readers? That’s what we need to be better at to learn much, I think. Proclamations that the scientists don’t know much isn’t the sort of thing that encourages them to participate.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Oct 2007 @ 6:20 PM

  412. Dave Rado (#410) wrote:

    He was a great biochemist – I don’t think he was an expert on, or even especially knowledgeable about, any area of biology other than biochemistry.

    Perhaps, but it was Rosalind Franklin who identified the traditional A and more tightly-wound B forms of DNA, how to separate them, etc. However, she left it to Watson and Crick to discover the base pairings, then to return the favor Crick downplayed her role as much as possible.

    Incidentally, Pauling was thinking triple helices at the time. Turns out that there actually are DNA-triple helices and four stranded versions, the latter of which are called G4 on account of there being 4 or more consecutive Gs to the sequence, although 3 consecutive Gs are enough – and there are actually three different variations on the G4 structure. However, both the triple and G4 are considerably less common than the two-strand A, B or Z.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 26 Oct 2007 @ 7:03 PM

  413. Re #408: While Google Books is an excellent resource, there’s really no need to go so far afield to learn about atmospheric radiative transfer. You can’t do better than this source (pdf), not yet hot off the presses. And everyone should run out and buy it as soon as it’s published!

    Comment by S. Molnar — 26 Oct 2007 @ 8:00 PM

  414. Majorajam (403), no, my “thank goodness” was appreciation for the statement that you were going to cease this blind revisionist drivel re Iraq’s WMDs. Guess not. It’s been pursued on this thread far too much and I’m not inclined to waste more of my (and probably others, both pro and con) time re-explaining.

    Comment by Rod B — 26 Oct 2007 @ 9:56 PM

  415. Re #402: [First, I haven’t provided names of credible scientists who have disagreement with parts of AGW theory...]

    I think you’re looking for the wrong thing. It’s certainly possible to be a credible scientist in a different field (say a particle physicist, or an astronomer), know as little about the theoretical underpinnings of AGW as any member of the general public, and so disagree with it. What you need is scientists (or even non-scientists) who can make credible criticisms of the theory. Either find a flaw in it somewhere, or offer an alternative theory that works better.

    Comment by James — 26 Oct 2007 @ 10:23 PM

  416. Re # 410 Dave Rado

    Actually, Watson wasnt’ a biochemist at all – he is probably best described as a molecular biologist. Both his undergraduate degree and PhD at Indiana were in zoology. He was interested in birds as an undergrad, but his PhD work was with with Salvador Luria, as part of the “phage group” looking at fundamental properties of bacteriophage. Watson did start a postdoctoral fellowship in a lab studying the biochemistry of nucleic acids, but soon became more interested in DNA. So, he moved (possibly in violation of the terms of his post-doctoral fellowship) to Cambridge, where he teamed up with Crick. Watson’s and Crick’s lack of expertise in biochemistry (Crick’s background was in physics) slowed their progress in understanding base pairing in DNA. This is all explained in Watson’s “The Double Helix” and Horace Judson’s “The Eighth Day of Creation” (an outstanding book!). The Wikipedia entry on Watson is pretty good, too (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_D._Watson)

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 26 Oct 2007 @ 10:51 PM

  417. #396 Barton Paul Levenson: If they predict an 85% chance, that means they can be completely wrong one year out of seven. Two bad predictions in a row mean almost nothing, because a sample size of two is practically meaningless.

    Note they forecast there was only a 5% chance the ACE would be below normal. It looks like it’ll be (again) below normal. I think they had the same forecast last year. And yes, last year ACE was 78, again below median which NOAA believed would happen with only a 5% probability. You have put a bit too much lipstick on their expert prediction. Odds of them being this wrong twice is about one in 400, eh? You are right, though, it could happen. We need more data.

    I had to get 2006 data from the internet archive. I cannot find it on NOAA site. Of course, my guess is that if NOAA’s track record was worthy of horn tooting, it’d all be easy to find on NOAA’s site. Maybe I just missed it.

    Before I went to the trouble of doing this myself as you suggest, I thought it made more sense to ask if anyone else had done it already; hence my question above. Again, my guess is that if the forecasts were statistically valid over a reasonable interval, there would be a web page with the analysis in 24 point font.

    Comment by Matt — 27 Oct 2007 @ 3:13 AM

  418. Well thank goodness Rod. I was beginning to worry that some evidence was so blatant even the ‘skeptics’ couldn’t ignore it. Alas, those worries proved unfounded. Just to be on the safe side though, I suggest not clicking those links, especially the Foreign Affairs one authored by the CIA’s National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005. That region includes Iraq btw, which makes it a treasure trove of information you certainly don’t want any part of. Probably also best to avoid the one chronicling the vast divide between public statements by the administration about yellow cake stories vs. what was known and documented to be known before they were made. While you have demonstrated prodigious mastery over dissonant cognitions to date, you never know when the whole thing could go unglued on you.

    Comment by Majorajam — 27 Oct 2007 @ 5:07 PM

  419. Matt,

    You are confusing two important principals- risk and uncertainty. There is far more uncertainty in predicting hurricanes than there is in predicting climate. While uncertainty on the former is large, it is very very small for forecasts such as, “Climate sensitivity to anthropogenic GHG emissions is neither negative, zero nor very close to zero”- around the same size as the uncertainty that “HIV infection can cause AIDS”.

    The reason for that low uncertainty is the demonstrable physics and the perfect consistency between those physics and empirical observation. Citing forecast probabilities for hurricanes as reflecting doubt on the above statement on climate sensitivity is no more valid than citing the recent poor performance of forecast probabilities for hurricanes as showing that we really don’t know that HIV causes AIDS. Not a terribly valid point.

    PS As an aside, you mentioned Buffet- he is on the record as saying that pricing for hurricane risk should be higher as a result of the additional risk and uncertainty from global warming, otherwise it is business that Berkshire is willing to walk away from. Fyi.

    Comment by Majorajam — 27 Oct 2007 @ 5:36 PM

  420. Ray, dhogaza, Rafael Gomez-Sjoberg, and Ray again (405,6,8,9): I prepared a really good reply, but it got lost somewhere amongst my trying to post or the moderators’ dislike. But, man! It was superb! You can trust me on that! [;-)

    Comment by Rod B — 27 Oct 2007 @ 8:46 PM

  421. Majorajam (418), consensus is never 100%, but like AGW aren’t you obligated to go with the consensus and deem the naysayers outliers even if it crosses your politics? (see 225 for admittedly a simple-minded example.)

    Comment by Rod B — 27 Oct 2007 @ 9:02 PM

  422. 421.

    Rod B Says:
    27 October 2007 at 9:02 PM

    I did not respond to 225 because of lack of relevancy.

    Did an exiled nephew of some big shot at ExxMob tell NASA that everybody at ExxMob has known for years that humans are causing global warming? If so, great news.

    With additional evidence like that, this consensus of experts on AGW is going to seriously gain traction at the White House. May even sway Inhofe.

    [Response: I won't hold my breath. -gavin]

    [Response: The assumption that Inhofe can be swayed presumes that (a) he posses some degree of intellectual honesty (he doesn't) and that (b) he has the intellectual capacity to understand why he's wrong (all evidence, again, to the contrary). That having been said, he has become little more than an embarassment, and his days in the senate could well be numbered. -mike]

    Comment by J.C.H. — 28 Oct 2007 @ 1:05 AM

  423. Rod B said:

    Majorajam (418), consensus is never 100%, but like AGW aren’t you obligated to go with the consensus and deem the naysayers outliers even if it crosses your politics?

    On AGW, it is the consensus of the evidence produced by scientific publications and the interpretation by those by those expert in the field that is the issue. The naysayers are not “outliers” because they contradict the consensus of scientists – they are denialists because their positions are not based on, and largely are contradicted by, the evidence.

    Comment by Robin Levett — 28 Oct 2007 @ 6:37 AM

  424. This was either bounced or rejected the first time, so I’ll try again…

    #398 Hank Roberts: You kept asking people to explain this in words, ignoring the fact that expertise in radiation physics takes graduate level math.

    Actually, Hank, I think my question about sensitivity is something many folks on both sides are seeking an answer to. Timothy pointed out several papers that list a range of values, and one that attempts to close that range. IPCC has a 3X range of figures. And SCIENCE has just run a paper where the authors attempt to answer why the sensitivity is so unpredictable (caveat: based on reading my reading of abstract).

    Do you really believe there is consensus around this figure? There is consensus around a range, but I think it’s fair to say that if we had a 3:1 range of figures for a constant such as the speed of light or gravity that it’s fair to say we really don’t understand it. Maybe climate sensitivity doesn’t boil down to a simple number. Maybe it does within a constrained range of parameters. I just don’t think we know. And yet folks continue to chase after this constant.

    Keep in mind, too, that there isn’t a rigorous derivation of 2xCO2 that all agree upon. Much of the ranges happen to come from what a range of models spit out. I’ve been through two of the models. It’s not graduate level math. Simulating an ice berg melting in 200 lines of Fortran is fairly amaturish compared to the physics simulations in most FPS games today.

    And if we don’t understand the system, then how do we know what we don’t know? And if we don’t know what we don’t know, then how can we assign a level of confidence to our predictions? And then that takes me back to root assertion in this thread: it’s very easy for experts to fool folks into believing probability is higher than it actually is (witness hurricane predictions) and that we as a society are generally very kind to experts predicting doom and over-selling confidence intervals to the public.

    I don’t think my position is the least bit unreasonable. If I understand Ray, what he is really saying is that scientists really do understand the impact of CO2 with 85+% confidence levels. But of course, he wants everyone to understand just how hard all this is. And we are again reminded in the “The Certainty of Uncertainty” just how uncertain the climate is with only mild push-back from “the group” here towards Roe and Baker.

    The summary from the AGW side kind of feels like “We’re 85% certain that doubling CO2 will raise temperatures by at least 2.5′C…and oh yeah, there’s a 50% chance that doubling would result in a much lower increase due to mechanisms we don’t yet understand. That’s the nature of this beast name ‘climate’”

    Sounds kind of wishy washy, eh? Or is it just me?

    Anyway, I’ve tried to make my point several times, and at this stage making another run at it probably won’t change things. I’ll think some more on this and try again later. I try really hard NOT to crash into the deep discussion threads folks enjoy here, and I thought the WSJ thread looked light enough in terms of deep discussion to make another run at my root question. My apologies if it has upset folks. Thanks for the forum, and thanks for your time.

    Comment by Matt — 28 Oct 2007 @ 12:59 PM

  425. Re 420. Wow, Rod, I had exactly the same problem with my brilliant (trust me) reply to your post 402 putting words in my mouth. Oh, well.

    Comment by Mary C — 28 Oct 2007 @ 2:05 PM

  426. Rod,

    225 is a flight of neoconservative fantasy, so I’d expect nothing less than a simple-minded example. I’m all ears if you care to put forward a shred of evidence documenting those conditions. By that, I mean something concrete. Here’s an example- the French had a man in Saddam’s inner circle, Naji Sabri, Saddam’s foreign minister, who had told them there were no WMD. That intelligence was relayed to the CIA and the president was briefed. From the Salon article:

    Both the French intelligence service and the CIA paid Sabri hundreds of thousands of dollars (at least $200,000 in the case of the CIA) to give them documents on Saddam’s WMD programs. “The information detailed that Saddam may have wished to have a program, that his engineers had told him they could build a nuclear weapon within two years if they had fissile material, which they didn’t, and that they had no chemical or biological weapons,”

    Is this consistent with your consensus? How about this:

    The [intelligence] officers continued to insist on the significance of Sabri’s information, but one of Tenet’s deputies told them, “You haven’t figured this out yet. This isn’t about intelligence. It’s about regime change.”

    Methinks not. It’s worth pointing out that the intelligence community never gave its opinion on the question of WMD to the Bush administration, (which is to say summarized existing intelligence into a cogent picture of the threat), because it was never requested of them (again, see the Foreign Affairs article- it’s written by a person in the position to know). And it was never requested because “the intelligence was being fixed around the policy”, rather than informing it. Yes, I believe I read that somewhere. Clearly, the worst thing that could happen for the administration was to have the intelligence apparatus on record as saying there was no threat- so they were simply not asked. The administration was going to war- and according to documents and testimony had started plans for it right after 9/11. It needed only cherry picked and credulously embraced raw intelligence to sell the policy and created its own intelligence apparatus, “The Office of Special Plans”, to get around the CIA and DIA and to see to it that even the most dubious claims and sources could be utilized. The aluminum tubes, the Atta meeting in Prague with Iraqi intelligence, the yellow cake, the INC fictions, Curveball (an exiled taxi driver posing as a chemical engineer whom the Germans had informed the Americans was a fabricator) from which we got claims of mobile weapons labs and terrorist links- these were- and this is well documented- all known to be bunkum within the intelligence apparatus before the war, yet they formed the lion’s share of the evidence that was presented to the public.

    One wonders how your trite accounting in 225 accounts for the ominous mushroom cloud warnings when it was obvious even to a layman at the time that there was no nuclear program at all- there being no fissile material outside of that under IAEA lock and key. How much more obvious could this be? The information exists Rob- you need only to pry your mind open, with a crowbar as seems necessary, to access it.

    [Response: That's enough on WMD, anything else gets deleted. - gavin]

    Comment by Majorajam — 28 Oct 2007 @ 2:34 PM

  427. Matt, re 424. It would appear from your post that you assume the uncertainty is symmetric about the mode. As the post “The Certainty of Uncertainty” makes clear, this is far from the truth. Thus, what the uncertainty tells us is that while things could be much worse, they are unlikely to be better. The analyses of the IPCC are actually very conservative documents. They have to be to establish consensus, and this iw what James Hansen has been emphasizint. If you take comfort in uncertainty, it is likely you don’t understand the situation.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 28 Oct 2007 @ 4:19 PM

  428. Matt, there isn’t even one single definition of “sensitivity” — it’s an outcome after a handful of things (chosen for each calculation) occur. Measure temperature of the planet. Double (for example) CO2. Stop adding CO2. Wait til the temperature rise levels off. Sensitivity is the difference.

    Define “levels off” — which generation of your descendants are you going to rely on to take the measurement?

    It’s a hypothetical. Of course there’s no single number.

    Look at the past history of climate. Everything flows. You must know this much by now. Sensitivity is an approximation, an idea of how much changes and how fast, at best, most likely, at worst, pick several and make an estimate.

    Looking at the past helps — but we still can’t explain what we actually know happened during previous fast changes, and the change we’re causing is far faster than anything but an asteroid impact event.

    You want one single number everyone agrees on before dodging an asteroid?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Oct 2007 @ 4:59 PM

  429. Since I can only discuss the decision making process viz-a-viz consensus (and rightly so), I’ll just list stuff:

    The NIE of 10-02 [ http://www.fas.org/irp/cia/product/iraq-wmd.html ]
    A son-in-law in charge
    The nuclear project director until early 90s
    Most of the Clinton Administration
    Etc., etc., et al, et al…..

    Comment by Rod B — 28 Oct 2007 @ 8:11 PM

  430. re: #422
    Inhofe: while his departure would be delightful, I wish the political prognosticators thought it likely, and I fear this is wishful thinking by Mike :-)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_elections,_2008

    Comment by John Mashey — 28 Oct 2007 @ 8:32 PM

  431. [[ I think it’s fair to say that if we had a 3:1 range of figures for a constant such as the speed of light or gravity that it’s fair to say we really don’t understand it. ]]

    Not necessarily. The Hubble constant in cosmology was uncertain to a factor of 2-3 for a long time, but scientists have known how it worked since the 1920s.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 29 Oct 2007 @ 7:54 AM

  432. Ray (427), I don’t comprehend your statement, “…what the uncertainty tells us is that while things could be much worse, they are unlikely to be better.” Why does the uncertainty significantly favor getting worse??

    Comment by Rod B — 29 Oct 2007 @ 10:35 AM

  433. Re 432–it is the what the distribution is skewed–it is not symmetric about the mode. In other words, it is more likely that the feedbacks will make things worse than make them better. That is why I say that if you are a “skeptic”, the models are your friends. Without them we’re flying blind.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 29 Oct 2007 @ 2:32 PM

  434. Ray, thanks. I take it that it is as of the chart in “Certainty of Uncertainty” where the uncertainty of temp projections has some probability that temp will be cooler, but very low all the way from mode to negative; while the probabilities of higher temp than the mode are less than the mode temp, but greater than the negative side. If this is wrong, hit me again, please!

    But, then, I didn’t catch how the models are my friends…???

    Comment by Rod B — 29 Oct 2007 @ 3:50 PM

  435. Well Rod, it looks like we’re done here, and not a moment too soon. The last post approximates an argument- dangerous territory on which to encroach woefully uninformed. If you’d bothered, the first and only relevant element of your list is fully documented in links provided, and accounted for in the narrative outlined. I guess you steadfastly heeded my prior warning, (curiosity it would appear is no peril you suffer). That said, there’s a message board behind the Salon Sabri article I linked to where I’ll be happy to undress the various red herrings and non sequiturs you’ve just run up the flag pole if you wish to continue our discussion. Given your heretofore eager pursuit of information, I’ll be monitoring it as I do the sky for airborne pigs.

    Also fyi, as regards 422, the existence of uncertainty over climate sensitivity does not preclude a very very low probability that it is negative, zero or insignificantly different from zero. It is a statistical concept from which inferences can be made. This just in, a(nother) play on semantic ambiguity does not come across as intelligent.

    Comment by Majorajam — 29 Oct 2007 @ 4:10 PM

  436. Majorajam, I would assume your fully documented links somehow support your assertion that the NIE was not an opinion of the intelligence community that was never given to the administration. Is there any hope that your (in)ability to sort chaff from wheat is any better with AGW?

    A couple more “non sequiturs” for your amusement:
    Blix;
    the US Congress.

    Comment by Rod B — 29 Oct 2007 @ 6:56 PM

  437. re: 385. First of all, the ACE is an estimate of strength *and* duration of tropical systems. Secondly, named storms absolutely are what matters and they certainly are not arbitrary simply due to the fact that there are specific criteria that must be reached for a storm to be named. Duration is not one of them. Regardless of the NOAA ACE seasonal outlook, the outlook for the season was 13-17 named storms. As of today with TS Noel, I believe there have been 14 named storms. As such, this is certainly not a “major forecasting failure for a second year in a row”. In fact, it is spot on. The ACE is a separate outlook criteria.

    Comment by Dan — 29 Oct 2007 @ 7:34 PM

  438. Rod B. Essentially that is correct. Are you familiar with the moments of a distribution. The first moment is the mean–it tells where the distribution is centered. The second moment is the variance (the square of the standard deviation) and measures the width. The third moment is related to the skew–which way the distribution leans, or whether there’s more probability to the right or left of the mean. The fourth moment is related to the kurtosis, or the relative amount of probability that is in the peak and the tails of the distribution. Anyway, bottom line is that you have to look at the shape of the distribution in order to see whether you’re more likely to be above or below the mean.

    On models: The models are about the only way we LIMIT our estimates of how bad things will get. Without such limits, we have unlimited risk. Unlimited risk is when insurance companies say “Thanks, but no thanks.” It scares them even more than high risk.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 29 Oct 2007 @ 8:11 PM

  439. re: 438 Ray
    yes, and I haven’t yet had time to study the Science article in detail, but when I looked at the curves, by eyeball, most of them look ~lognormal, with the characteristic right skew, and if such, one would expect to find a distribution generated by some multiplicative product of independent factors, whose logs were normally distributed.

    Usually, if a distribution looks lognormal, one would expect to find some real-world rationale for the multiplication, but that wasn’t obvious. Maybe there’s just something inherent in the math, or maybe I’m just seeing lognormals because I’ve found them useful elsewhere for modeling such right-skewed distributions.

    Can anyone explain this simply? (I’ll go look at the math & the SOM, but I can’t for a couple days).

    Comment by John Mashey — 30 Oct 2007 @ 12:31 AM

  440. Re 439. Well, it seems to me that since most of the feedbacks will be thermally driven, a small delta in the sensitivity of the feedback will produce a larger delta in its forcing, and that could lead to the positive skew. That’s just a SWAG. In effect, I think what it’s telling us is that most of the feedbacks are positive and that the uncertainty favors increased positive feedback over negative. This is of course not what you want to see in a system you are trying to stabilize. On the other hand, it argues that additional research could pay some serious dividends in telling us how to allocate mitigation efforts.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 30 Oct 2007 @ 7:44 AM

  441. Very amusing indeed Rod. The nie was not created for the administration, fyi, which you’d know if you had the gumption to inform yourself of the basic details, (wheat from chaff is lesson 2, btw). If you want to know who it was for, why it was created and what accounts for its content, it’s not a mystery- just click a link. Of course, informing yourself may make it difficult to rationalize closely held beliefs, which is probably what this is all about in the first place. In any case, according to the blog hosts this needs to move somewhere else, and any good vantage point for winged swine will suit me fine.

    439, I think it comes down to the fact that the initial forcing and net of feedbacks are positive. The physics supported by the paleoclimatic record do not foresee the potential for getting the sign of these wrong, which yields a bounded left hand side with the significant uncertainty and non-linearity of the feedbacks yielding a highly thickened right tail. The implication for appropriate allocation to mitigation efforts of this thickened right tail turns out to be massive, (not to mention is illuminating of asset return puzzles).

    Comment by Majorajam — 30 Oct 2007 @ 11:59 AM

  442. NIEs are created directly and explicitly for the Administration. This is downright silly. There’s no hope. I’m tired! Aloha.

    Comment by Rod B — 30 Oct 2007 @ 12:40 PM

  443. Silly is asserting something false with righteous indignation when the facts are a mouse click away. Or a highly generous term describing such. I have provided a source for my claim, (a Foreign Affairs article no less. Fyi, Foreign Affairs like Science or Econometrica is a rather high profile publication in its field). By contrast, you haven’t sourced a single silly claim. Indeed, there is no hope. Which is why pointing you to this detailed information about the nie has more to do bystanders than anything else. Bon voyage Rob.

    [Response: no more wmd stuff - it will just get deleted. -gavin]

    Comment by Majorajam — 30 Oct 2007 @ 2:05 PM

  444. From that: “Sen. Bob Graham — to his credit — wondered why no National Intelligence Estimate had been prepared. He was on the Senate [Select Committee on Intelligence], and he was told that no one asked for a National Intelligence Estimate. So Graham said, ‘Well, I will.’”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Oct 2007 @ 2:40 PM

  445. In casse anyone doubts that it is warmer now than anytime in the past 7,000 years: Melting Glacier Reveals Ancient Tree Stumps

    http://www.livescience.com/environment/071030-tree-stumps.html

    Comment by David B. Benson — 30 Oct 2007 @ 6:00 PM

  446. I don’t think the tree stumps being revealed now rules out the possibility of some period as warm as the present within the period the glacier existed — any intervening warm period could have melted the glacier partway back, but it took all the warming til now to melt it back.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Oct 2007 @ 8:47 PM

  447. My! Oh! My! So, Hank you assert that the OCT02 (or MAR02 for that matter) NIE 1) does not exist, or 2) was not given to the Administration, or 3) both?

    Comment by Rod B — 30 Oct 2007 @ 9:41 PM

  448. Rod B., Marjorajam, et al

    Can’t stop, can’t just walk away and let it go, can you?

    Ironic, if you take a moment to really think about it…

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 30 Oct 2007 @ 11:59 PM

  449. Apparently my comment got deleted and I’m not sure why. This is a great resource and the world owes it’s contributers a debt of gratitude. RC’s ability to stick to the science and avoid throwing little green footballs makes this website truly unique. However, I’m still rather puzzled with the placement of the Bushism at the end of this article. Normally Bushisms are used as a quick and dirty way to bring derision to those who despise the President. And this President has surely made many enemies among scientists and environmentalists. I’m simply curious if the quote, which seems unrelated to the article, was a wanton revilement of a man with an obvious speech impediment or if there was some other purpose unbeknownst to me.

    Comment by Sparrow (in the coal mine) — 31 Oct 2007 @ 12:12 AM

  450. J.S., fair critique. I try, but then at the last moment have an uncontrollable urge to get one last shot in. Once, I thought we were done, then Hank strolls in from nowhere to try a last second fieldgoal!

    OOPS! Now Sparrow joins with a reasonable comment. No room for that here [:-}. INCOMING!

    Comment by Rod B — 31 Oct 2007 @ 3:41 PM

  451. I don’t assert, unless I’m slipping. I quote and cite. It’s all I have to offer, the attempt to read what’s there and point to it.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 31 Oct 2007 @ 5:26 PM

  452. I’ve read about the 3 phases of skepticism:
    1) Denial of the problem
    2) Minimalisation of its consequnces.
    3) Fatalism – we can’t do anything about it and in any case it’s too hard.
    The WS Journal has got to phase 2.

    Comment by Bruce Tabor — 8 Nov 2007 @ 6:24 AM

  453. I find it interesting that a rag dealing with investing theories (Wall Street Journal) is accusing other sciences of being inaccurate. Forgot Malkiel already? Remember how the monkeys throwing darts were almost as good as your million dollar financial analysts in picking stocks?

    Comment by addicted — 14 Nov 2007 @ 11:20 PM

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