The IPCC isn’t perfect, but it’s certainly doing a good job. Nevertheless, improving the process is always a good idea. There was a paper in Nature regarding IPCC reform which was pretty interesting, I discussed it here: http://climatesight.org/2010/02/24/ipcc-reform/
Generally, this sounds like a good approach to increase the IPCC’s credibility.
However, in my opinion, there is a very large risk that the next IPCC will understate the high-end risks, especially anything where the state-of-the-art is even the least bit fuzzy.
The big one that comes to immediate mind is the risk of runaway methane & CO2 release. The current measurements and state of knowledge here are still at an early stage, so it may get short-changed.
“The Committee concludes that the IPCC assessment process has been successful overall and has served society well. The commitment of many thousands of the world’s leading scientists and other experts to the assessment process and to the communication of the nature of our understanding of the changing climate, its impacts, and possible adaptation and mitigation strategies is a considerable achievement in its own right. Similarly, the sustained commitment of governments to the process and their buy-in to the results is a mark of a successful assessment. Through its unique partnership between scientists and governments, the IPCC has heightened public awareness of climate change, raised the level of scientific debate, and influenced the science agendas of many nations. However, despite these successes, some fundamental changes
to the process and the management structure are essential, as discussed in this report and summarized below.”
Seems to have been ‘missed’ by most of the early reports in the media.
‘Report slams IPCC’ appears to be the preferred slant.
A quick scan of the headlines at Google News is depressing…
Review Finds Flaws in UN Climate Panel Structure (New York Times)
Pachauri-led IPCC needs fundamental reforms: UN panel (Times of India)
Flawed science (Telegraph)
Pachauri escapes indictment (Hindustan Times)
Independent Audit Panel Slams U.N.’s Climate Group (FOX News)
U.N. climate body needs ‘fundamental reform,’ says report (CNN)
Report: Climate Science Panel Should Be Better Run (CBS News)
I hate to say this, but I find the coverage and spinning of this event not the least bit surprising. (As Lily Tomlin once said, “I grow more cynical every day, but it’s still hard to keep up”.)
Hansen, Schmidt, Mann, Alley, et al. could hold a news conference and announce that they had found a cure for all forms of cancer that had zero side effects, cost the patient a grand total of $10, and was already approved by the FDA, and the contrarians would lambaste them for  not making the breakthrough sooner, and  not warning the world in advance so that many people undergoing cancer treatment could be spared the additional pain and expense of now-useless treatments while waiting a couple of weeks or months for this new therapy to become available.
” … when people had their misperceptions challenged certain people, at least, were more likely to become more firmly entrenched in that belief.
BRENDAN NYHAN: That’s right. People were so successful at bringing to mind reasons that the correction was wrong that they actually ended up being more convinced in the misperception than the people who didn’t receive the correction. So the correction, in other words, was making things worse….”
It is of great concern that so much misconception remains about the IPCC and its processes, and that the media create and perpetuate non-existent issues. For example, some web reports suggest the following:
“The IAC report makes several recommendations to fortify IPCC’s management structure, including establishing an executive committee to act on the Panel’s behalf and ensure that an ongoing decision-making capability is maintained. To enhance its credibility and independence, the executive committee should include individuals from outside the IPCC or even outside the climate science community.”
Now, who are individuals “outside the IPCC”? IPCC members are the world’s governments, ie those that have ratified the UN Framework Convention. That leaves a handful of states “outside the IPCC”. Searching the IAC report, I found no suggestion of including individuals “outside of the IPCC”, but rather the inclusion on a proposed Executive Committee (to act on IPCC’s behalf between plenary sessions) of 3 independent members, including some from outside the climate community. So the media in this case are falsely promoting this idea of an “in-group” and an independently minded “outside-IPCC” grouping. Weird and wrong.
The IAC report itself has some very penetrating criticisms about IPCC processes, including response to reviewers, role of review editors, level of engagement and expertise of developing country scientists, confusing use of uncertainty language, including diverse conventions between working groups and even between chapters in the same working group. There is much worthy of careful discussion in this report, and its key recommendations seem set to strengthen this critical process on the whole.
The principal criticism should not be of the IPCC, but of governments, for failing to take up the findings and acting on them.
Comment by calyptorhynchus — 30 Aug 2010 @ 5:12 PM
I don’t have time to read the entire report, but from the link that Hank provided, I spotted the following two recommendations:
- “strengthen and enforce its procedure for the use of unpublished and non-peer-reviewed literature” [pdf] and
- find ways to better ensure the “full range of thoughtful scientific views” (including those that disagree with the reports’ conclusions) are included and documented.
In other words:
- you must tighten the rules regarding the use of non-peer-reviewed material, in order to avoid embarrassing mistakes
- you must relax the rules regarding the use of non-peer-reviewed material, in order to give more attention to the contrarian arguments
Hmm, how will the IPCC comply?
[Response: You are overreaching. These two issues have come up as potential issues, and the advice is to act in order so that they not be issues in future. Seems sensible enough to me. It certainly doesn't mean that IPCC is going to let people who think that the greenhouse effect doesn't exist run the show. - gavin]
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 30 Aug 2010 @ 5:31 PM
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It is journalism that is failing this country, not science. Thirty years from now people will look back and ask where the h*ll all of the real, professional journalists were hiding, and how they got the story so very wrong.
OT: Realers might be interested in yet another ancient AGW told-you-so. One of the Australian public broadcaster’s longest running programs, ABC Radio National’s Science Show celebrated its 35th aniversary this week. Veteran presenter and science journalist Robyn Williams chose to re-run this piece from his very first show, all those years ago.
Peter Ritchie-Calder: In the course of the last century we’ve put 360,000 million tonnes of fossil carbon into the atmosphere. On the present trends the accumulated requirements between now and 2000 AD will come out as something like 11,000 million tonnes of coal a year, 200,000 million tonnes of crude petroleum and liquid natural gas, and 50 million million cubic metres of natural gas. Remember, this is coming out of the bowels of the Earth, and now we are taking it out and we’re throwing it back into the atmosphere, and into the climatic machine, into the weather machine, where it is beginning to affect the climate itself. Now this is a very serious matter, and to me there is no question that our climate has changed.
Robyn Williams: Lord Ritchie-Calder in Science Show number one, 35 years ago. Will it take another 35 years to tackle the problem?
Sadly, for Americans generally, anything that smacks of “global government” is condemned out of hand and the slightest mention of changing it can only be interpreted as “it’s a shambles and a scam, get rid of it” – and that’s the sentiment the US media pander to.
You said ” . . . for Americans generally, anything that smacks of “global government” is condemned out of hand . . .”
I think you are on to something there. As an American, I support that view. : )
If someone wants America to do something then all you got to do is convince enough of the electorate, and, Voila . . . it is done. Global government? What is that? Is it people outside of America voting on what Americans must do? Ha Ha Ha.
Actually, flxible, the term Americans isn’t the best terminology to use, although most everyone would clearly understand what you mean. More accurately we are citizens of the USA. Americans can also imply, in a geographical sense, the people in North America or Latin America or South America. In some broader geographical sense they might be considered Americans. Just as a European isn’t quite accurate if you are specifically talking about Germans.
Bob (12) my thoughts exactly. Journalism is failing I just read most of Jane Mayer’s piece in the New Yorker on the Koch brothers and their massive funding of disinformation and propaganda. What can realclimate do to counter this right-wing noise machine? All we have here are facts and the mathematics and physical principles to interpret them. :-(
Re #14: “anything that smacks of ‘global government’ is condemned out of hand”
George Bush almost certainly contributed to that. Withdrawing from the United Nations is part of the Texas GOP’s official party platform:
“United Nations – We believe it is in the best interest of the citizens of the United States that we immediately rescind our membership in, as well as all financial and military contributions to, the United Nations.”
[Go to http://www.texasgop.org/inner.asp?z=6, click "2010 Republican Party of Texas Platform"]
Similar text appears in previous years’ versions of the official Texas GOP platform. I don’t know whether it’s ever been part of the Republican platform at the national level, but Bush is from Texas, so surely the Texas platform at least had some influence at the national level.
Comment by Gerry Beauregard — 30 Aug 2010 @ 7:41 PM
If you want to see the black helicopters fly, just wait until climate changes enough to make the situation dire. This is something the denialists have not figured out
A lot of comment here has been about the spin on the report. But overall the recommendations strike me as professionalizing and institutionalizing the IPCC in the sense that there will be much more paid staff and a much larger budget and more hierarchy. Presumably some scientists would be employed by the IPCC and get to focus more closely – exclusively? – on the various processes that now they do in addition to the other things on their plate.
It seems that to the degree there has been difficulty, particularly in WG II and II, with keeping strictly to some guidelines, this would help. But I wonder what the IPCC participants at RC think about such a process. A good thing definitely, or does such a process come with risks? Or am I reading this aspect wrong?
As an “American” living in Canada, I well understand the use of the name, and that a pretty sizeable portion of the populace in the USA would totally agree with the Texas GOP – many “USians” see the UN as a big problem rather than a step toward a solution, and would happily help them pack up and move out. Note that the IPCC is effectively a “branch” of the UN, and so is considered as an attempt [by some evil overlords] to trump the “freedoms” of the US.
I feel a little better havibg read this, and Gavins positive take on it. I had only seen media headlines, and BBC America, which is only marginally better than the US press. So I was concerned that it was about allowing denialist groups the ability to gum things up.
I think another area that is going to be very important for estimating the cost of inaction, but which is not likely to be pinned down with any degree of certainty, is just how much the high precipitation events are likely to increase given X for CO2 equilivalent. I am certainly under the impression, that the high end events have increased in frequncy by 20% to 100%, which is pretty extraordinary given a 4% increase in atmospheric moisture. I imagine any high end predictions will be very contentious.
Of all those headlines, only the one from CBS got the essence of the report (NB: I’ve only read the executive summary) correct. Basically the reforms proposed were pretty minor, with the exception of the executive committee and executive director positions, which seem like a good idea.
Comment by Rattus Norvegicus — 30 Aug 2010 @ 9:29 PM
thanks for all your great work to state and re-state the science.
A news report on the ABC in Australia suggested that the IPCC was in need of reform. OK, that is basically correct.
However, what is not clear in the report is that the report does NOT undermine the integrity or the basic message of climate change: that it is happening and our GHG emissions are the primary cause.
Can RC please make a strong statement to the effect that the conculsions of the AR4 are NOT under question!
Re #25, yeah, journalists are again making a mess of it.
Actually I wouldn’t call most of the reforms proposed minor; they are pretty radical (and correspond to process criticisms that I have heard a lot, also from scientists involved). But, they mostly concern the presentation, not the science.
You will hear the usual suspects whine that “the science” was not reviewed in this report. And they are damn right, it wasn’t, because the science is not the problem — it’s doing just fine. The problem is presentation and communication, image and appearance: the perception of credibility — things that scientists have traditionally been weak on. I expect that the changes proposed will help a lot here.
Note the language on the need for a communications strategy and a “media-relations capacity”. In plain English, arm for battle against the liars. Some lessons clearly have been learned.
I think the BBC report was better than most. One major role of the media is, after all, to be the government watchdog and as such it’s understandable to usually focus on lackings and suggested improvements.
The troubling thing, though, is that constant reporting on shortcomings without much attention given to the big picture will leave most people (including decision makers!) with a false understanding of reality, and this is where even the serious media organizations have much to improve.
Here in Australia, our second government channel SBS reported it as flaws in the IPCC and one of the things noted was the way ice melts are contributing to sea level rise. They failed to mention that the 2007 report understated those. Oh well. I need to write more article like this.
I was really hoping to see a LOT more support of the IAC’s recommendations in the comments here. Instead, the comments which have been posted by Gavin seem to be more directed at how others (MSM, et al) are characterizing the report.
I see the IAC’s recommendations to be something which can be support by ALL parties who have an interest in increasing human’s understanding of the earth’s climate, the drivers, and future possibilities.
The one thing I have learned, science is always refining current understanding of nature and history. That which we believe to be true today, could quite possibly be proven to be wrong “tomorrow”.
What we all must support is improvements to processes which will lead to improved understanding.
I am pleased to see the recommendations of the IAC and hope that ALL of the recommendations get implemented in time to affect the release of AR5.
Ken Rushton says: Comment 2.
‘….. there is a very large risk that the next IPCC will understate the high-end risks, especially anything where the state-of-the-art is even the least bit fuzzy.’, and
‘The big one that comes to immediate mind is the risk of runaway methane & CO2 release. The current measurements and state of knowledge here are still at an early stage, so it may get short-changed.’
Ken, isn’t that precisely the point? If ‘the state of knowledge’ is ‘still at an early stage’ what is it you want the IPCC to do? Speculate (for that is what it would be given early state knowledge) on the high-end risks?
I’m not sure you’ve understood that what is losing the IPCC public credibility is a perceived tendency to exaggeration, and a perceived tendency to one-sidedness in impacts, as per the Dutch report.
The suggestions made here will mostly strengthen the credibility of the next IPCC, particularly working groups 2 and 3, though whether it will make the conclusions less contentious is unclear.
(My italics). My knowledge is a decreasing function of the trend from wg1,through wg2,to wg3. As a guess wg3 in particular, will always, by its very nature, be partly contentious. In principle pure climatology should be free of all ideology except that of respecting the truth. That is not so obvious for wg3. Apart from the problem of excluding ideology , the goal of being rigorous may perhaps be harder to achieve for wg3?
Perhaps Ike Solem might have something to say on this?
“Doug, global government is condemned out of hand because almost by definition it is a despotic, inefficient, bumbling, axiomatic pipe dream.”
Well, global action on climate change is not the same as global government, thankfully.
However, without global action on climate change, there isn’t any hope of addressing the issue.
We’ve been able to agree global rules that deal with trade, patents, human rights (to some degree), war etc.. We’ve even agreed global rules on how countries report their GHG emissions. A global approach to reducing emissions should not be beyond us.
One good approach is for countries to be bound to emissions reductions targets, and make up their own minds as to how they meet them. Like Kyoto, but with China having a target.
While scientists should not be saying: “Here is what your government’s climate change policy should be” they should definitely be saying: “Here are the plausible consequences of the policy you are pursuing now, and they don’t match with the outcomes you say you want to achieve (like avoiding over 2°C of temperature increase)”. They could also very legitimately say: “If you want to avoid handing a transformed world over to future generations, here is the minimum that must be done”.
Thanks to those who have taken the time and trouble to weigh in over at DotEarth. Please note that he highlighted my recommendation to get the history of the IPCC from Stephen Schneider’s Science as a Contact Sport, which I am reading with fascination.
I was thinking about this, and got depressed because I realize the recent change in the noise about the IPCC and Pachauri is the outcome of the largely successful campaign to demonize the state of the art in climate science starting just before Copenhagen. I’m not saying it wasn’t going on before that, just that the concerted and well organized campaign to make things appear different has now built up such a head of steam that no amount of truth or consequences will stop it.
However, one must live, and since our very lives depend on it, I still thank those who join in the complicated and perhaps future effort to stem the lies with truth.
Eli Rabett wrote: “If you want to see the black helicopters fly, just wait until climate changes enough to make the situation dire.”
I think helicopters are a pretty welcome sight in Pakistan right about now.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 31 Aug 2010 @ 10:54 AM
It would be nice to see the IPCC make projections for atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations over the next 100 years based at least in part on carbon/nitrogen cycle models, hydrology/permafrost models, and so on.
It’s true that the main uncertainty there is human behavior, but at least the IPCC could attempt to answer questions like “Given such-and-such human behavior, what is the expected global carbon cycle response to that behavior?”
For example – all fossil fuel combustion is eliminated within 50 years – how does the carbon cycle respond? If fossil fuel emissions remain at today’s levels, will the carbon cycle response be greatly different?
If the IPCC is unwilling to include a scientific discussion of renewable energy and “clean coal” claims, then they should stay out of policy decisions entirely and just focus on climate science, along with the rest of the climate science community. Well-meaning suggestions based on ignorance about energy science do more harm than good.
Perhaps we can get this Virginia prosecutor to go after the clean coal sector’s research records on zero-emission clean coal projects, now that the persecution of Michael Mann has been suspended by a Virginia court? .
“I’m very pleased that the judge has ruled in our favor,” he [Mann] said in a statement. “It is a victory not just for me and the university, but for all scientists who live in fear that they may be subject to a politically-motivated witch hunt when their research findings prove inconvenient to powerful vested interests.”
I’d like to see a zero-emission coal researcher say that with a straight face, however. If there’s anything in the government science sector that needs external investigation, this is it:
Of course, if you think it’s no big deal that the head of science programs at the DOE is also BP’s Chief Scientist, that’s your right – but isn’t there a little conflict-of-interest there? Certainly a much greater conflict-of-interest than anything involving IPCC members, isn’t it?
BP is relying heavily on CCS claims as justification for tar sand developments in Canada, too – along with the U.S. State Department, which is blocking the EPA from having any say in tar sand imports to the United States.
In other words, what you are seeing is massive hypocrisy and double standards in government science and corporate science, depending on whether the science supports the fossil fuel lobby’s agenda or not. This has been going on for some time, but is getting ever-more-flagrant as the media backs off from covering these issues under pressure from their own ownership.
Susan Anderson — “just that the concerted and well organized campaign to make things appear different has now built up such a head of steam that no amount of truth or consequences will stop it.”
Oh yes it will, you just have to get stuck in. One thing I’ve realised is that the more faux arguments the plastic sceptics regurgitate then the more I actually learn, because I find myself toddling off to check out what they’re saying and stumble across things I’d have never found otherwise. Every cloud has a silver lining I guess.
Pre-HTML formatted lists of papers help as well ;)
“… global government is condemned out of hand because almost by definition it is a despotic, inefficient, bumbling, axiomatic pipe dream.”
Yes, that graphically summarizes a drive to establish such a one by a fairly recent U.S. administration, backed by its neocon ideologues… my idea of global governance is a little more modest, the kind that prevents you from finding the strontium-90 from Syldavia’s latest atmospheric test in your morning coffee.
Comment by Martin Vermeer — 31 Aug 2010 @ 12:41 PM
Eli Rabett wrote: “If you want to see the black helicopters fly, just wait until climate changes enough to make the situation dire.”
I think helicopters are a pretty welcome sight in Pakistan right about now.
I think that’s the point. The coming disasters make you want the helicopters, and then the next thing you know, they’re not going away (“What if it happens again? The people want and need us to control all traffic through helicopter gunships, so we can guarantee the safe flow of food products… it’s in their best interests…”).
I mean, imagine what would happen if there was a huge terror attack, and the government used it as an excuse to extend wire tapping efforts and suspended habeas corpus and opened special prisons and such. You could never do anything like that without such a traumatic experience. Of course, in that case, we’d quickly rein in such excesses because our freedom is so important to us, and losing it to our own government would be as bad as the threat of losing it to terrorists. No black helicopters there…
You are overreaching. These two issues have come up as potential issues, and the advice is to act in order so that they not be issues in future. Seems sensible enough to me. It certainly doesn’t mean that IPCC is going to let people who think that the greenhouse effect doesn’t exist run the show. – gavin]
Hmm I would have thought that Science would run the show, no matter where it lead, my bad.
[Response: if you think that science and the existence of the greenhouse effect are somehow opposed, that would indeed be 'your bad'. -gavin]
Eli Rabett says:
30 August 2010 at 8:29 PM
“If you want to see the black helicopters fly, just wait until climate changes enough to make the situation dire. This is something the denialists have not figured out.”
JonP: In case Gavin’s inline was too cryptic, I’ll restate the point in paraphrase: if you want science to run the show, wherever it leads, you don’t put the show in the hands of people who have demonstrated a blatant contempt for scientific evidence. At this point, anyone who doesn’t “believe in” the greenhouse effect is demonstrating a blatant contempt for scientific evidence.
From: Jon Morrow
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 2010 11:14:38 -0400
Subject: Tea Party Voter Guide and Questionaire…get your candidates on it
2. The regulation of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere should be left to God and not government and I oppose all measures of Cap and Trade as well as the teaching of global warming theory in our schools.
could someone explain the implications of this statement?
“The committee also called for more consistency in how the Working Groups characterize uncertainty. In the last assessment, each Working Group used a different variation of IPCC’s uncertainty guidelines, and the committee found that the guidance is not always followed. The Working Group II report, for example, contains some statements that were assigned high confidence but for which there is little evidence.”
[Response: To give an extreme (made up) example, I can say with high confidence that tomorrows temperature will not be more than 200 deg C and not less than -100 deg C, but it isn't very useful. Saying something will be affected by climate change (which can be trivially true) can be said in high confidence, but is not really worth making a point of. There were some of these kinds of statements in WG 2. - gavin]
I guess the one positive that could come out of this would be a framework/way of working that other scientific groups that work in contentious areas might find useful to copy/adapt. My feeling though is that it probably won’t, or at best piecemeal, and most of the same mistakes and process improvements will be reinvented.
Eli Rabett, #20 If you want to see the black helicopters fly, just wait until climate changes enough to make the situation dire. This is something the denialists have not figured out.
Absolutely spot on. Eli’s a smart bunny. When food starts to seriously run out, when mass work conscription is needed to build sea defenses, when hordes of desperate, hungry people start moving, that’s when governments are going to start seriously clamping down on people. And I’m not talking about some conspiracy on the part of government–in a real and ongoing emergency, governments will have to use emergency powers, or there will be no government. Or governed. That’s what the denialist ding dongs don’t get. If the government really wanted to have an excuse to suspend all our civil liberties and didn’t care about the cost, they’d let business as usual go on until they had to suspend our civil liberties.
Wait a minute…
Comment by Antiquated Tory — 31 Aug 2010 @ 6:48 PM
This report is about the process, not the science. WG1 seemed to be well behaved as far as I can tell. It’s the climate impact people who went off the rails, and continue to do so. This is what is responsible for a large amount of the loss of trust by the public. How many weeks in a row can you hear “it’s worse than we thought” and a “cataclysm is certain and imminent” before you just stop listening?
The standardization of statistical backed statements and the requirement for traceability on these claims are definitely a step forward.
It was a good reaction to problems that were found.
As for the news coverage, it is very curious how much stressing and hand ringing that goes on here because you cannot control the media. Since when was that an option? The MSM makes a living off of building things up, and then tearing them down. It’s a pattern, deal with it.
This report is about the process, not the science. WG1 seemed to be well behaved as far as I can tell. It’s the climate impact people who went off the rails, and continue to do so. This is what is responsible for a large amount of the loss of trust by the public. How many weeks in a row can you hear “it’s worse than we thought” and a “cataclysm is certain and imminent” before you just stop listening?
The standardization of statistical backed statements and the requirement for traceability on these claims are definitely a step forward.
It was a good reaction to problems that were found.
As for the news coverage, it is very curious how much stressing and hand ringing that goes on here because you cannot control the media. Since when was that an option? The MSM makes a living off of building things up, and then tearing them down. It’s a pattern, deal with it.
Comment by Tom Scharf — 31 August 2010 @ 7:04 PM
—– Excellent comments, I agree entirely!!
Add a little data to the discussion here. They made very specific recommendations to deal with uncertainty that ought to be welcomed by all. Right?
Recommendation: Chapter Lead Authors should provide a traceable account of how they arrived at their ratings for level of scientific understanding and likelihood that an outcome will occur.
In addition, IPCC’s uncertainty guidance should be modified to strengthen the way in which uncertainty is addressed in upcoming assessment reports. In particular, quantitative probabilities (subjective or objective) should be assigned only to well-defined outcomes and only when there is adequate evidence in the literature and when authors have sufficient confidence in the results. Assigning probabilities to an outcome makes little sense unless researchers are confident in the underlying evidence (Risbey and Kandlikar, 2007), so use of the current likelihood scale should suffice.
In the Committee’s view, assigning probabilities to imprecise statements is not an appropriate way to characterize uncertainty. If the confidence scale is used in this way, conclusions will likely be stated so vaguely as to make them impossible to refute, and therefore statements of “very high confidence” will have little substantive value. More importantly, the use of probabilities to characterize uncertainty is most appropriate when applied to empirical quantities (Morgan et al., 2009). The following statement may be true but should not be assigned a probability of occurrence:
Nearly all European regions are anticipated to be negatively affected by some future impacts of climate change, and these will pose challenges to many economic sectors. (Very high confidence; IPCC, 2007b, p. 14)
“There is high confidence that the rate of observed sea-level rise increased from the 19th to the 20th century” (IPCC, 2007a, pp. 5-7). This may be contrasted with the use of the likelihood scale to make a similar statement: “. . .losses from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica have very likely contributed to sea level rise over 1993 to 2003” (IPCC, 2007a, p. 5).
It should be emphasized that without complementary evidence such as confidence intervals and probability distributions, the use of the phrases in Table 3.4 would be an incomplete characterization of uncertainty. In other words, the quantitative scales used by Working Group I are appropriate only because they are supplemented by quantitative measures.”
Now coupled with the ANDRILL work, can we better say how fast ? or is the time resolution on spread of bryozoans not fine enuf ?
PS: the captchas are really hard… for example i have no sign for the english pound currency unit, on this US keyboard, and i dont feel like remapping keys. but more important, i can barely see some of the letters. i hope i have typed this one correctly
@44 & 64 re the DOE second Undersecretary for ScienceDr Steven Koonin, who WAS chief scientist for BP when nominated to the DOE position – as well as a distinguished and publishing physicist. Not sure changing jobs constitutes a “conflict of interest”, especially when it may also involve “changing sides”, or at least recognizing the error of a previous choice. . . . Just sayin’ ;)
While you might believe otherwise, climate scientists back in the 1980s did not get together and decide “let’s create the IPCC and investigate the evidence for and against manmade climate change”. Instead, politicians and politically savvy opportunists saw global warming as the perfect excuse for instituting policies that would never have been achieved on their own merits.
but offers absolutely no evidence to support it.
also take a look at the disgusting picture he added to his article. the IPCC is a panel made out of humans. i think the grave rhetorics are a little bit out of line!
While the report makes excellent suggestions designed strengthen the IPCC reports and methods, the newspapers, journalists and other media continue to mine every comment for negative, sensationalist content. It becomes fodder to the denialists and continues to cloud the issue in the public perception of AGW. The media continues to assign science the lowest of priorities and continues to skew science and science related stories through its journalistic parsing. Again, very few journalists have any idea of science nor are interested in science. An interesting development is the education of science undergraduates in journalism, a major change from ‘give a journalist a science course and they become experts’ approach. Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax Canada has undertaken a science communication undergrad degree programme designed for BSc students called Science Communications. It is only one of two offered in Canada. As these new grads come out and enter the science comm world, perhaps they will better be able to relate science to the public and provide an interface between scientists and the media.
True, but one used for vetting candidates. If you answer no, you don’t get the Tea Party vote there. How many more of these are out there? I think it’s a pretty fine indication of what goes in the heads of the Tea Party organisation.
“These answers will be put into our voter guide and allow us to rate, recommend, and endorse candidates. Without these questions being answered we cannot give a full endorsement of your candidate.”
I’ll put it this way; until the Tea Party comes out with a statement correcting the Erie County list, stating CO2 regulation should not be left up to God, etc, then it stands as what they truly think as far as I’m concerned.
Gavin I don’t understand your example/answer to Jason above, comment 54
His partial quote: “…. The Working Group II report, for example, contains some statements that were assigned high confidence but for which there is little evidence.”
Your Response: To give an extreme (made up) example, I can say with high confidence that tomorrows temperature will not be more than 200 deg C and not less than -100 deg C, but it isn’t very useful. Saying something will be affected by climate change (which can be trivially true) can be said in high confidence, but is not really worth making a point of. There were some of these kinds of statements in WG 2. – gavin
There is plenty of evidence that tomorrow’s temperature will be so bounded – but the committee were, in that segment, being specific about high confidence statements for which there is little evidence.
[Response: Fair point. They quote two specific statements in WG2 on this, specifically: "Towards the end of the 21st century, projected sea-level rise will affect low-lying coastal areas with large populations. The cost of adaptation could amount to at least 5-10% of GDP. (High confidence)" and the quote about African agriculture. In the SL statement, I would agree that there is indeed high confidence that projected SLR will affect low-lying coastal areas (how could it not?), but the costs of that are not easy to quantify (it will vary greatly depending on location, scenario, preparedness, etc.). But the use of 'could' in the costs statement makes the confidence placed in the last part of the statement valid in all sorts of contexts, and so is less informative than it might at first appear. This is on a par with the useless temperature forecast I gave above. The IAC are correct in pointing out that the costs part would have been better flagged with a 'low level of understanding', even while the potential for sea level rise to be a major problem can in fact be acknowledged with high confidence. I think the problems here are those of disaggregating different kinds of statements and different kinds of confidence clearly so that people don't overinterpret. - gavin]
I like their recommendations for communicating uncertainties. As a lay reader I think taking an axe to the current thicket of likelihood/confidence/understanding scales would be a real improvement.
The recommendations on management seem fine enough. (Except the bizarre passing mention of including persons unconnected with the IPCC on an Executive Committee of the IPCC: huh?) Seems to me, though, that the recommended reforms are likely to require an expansion of IPCC staff and budget, not just a free-lunch reshuffle of responsibilities, and governments need to be told so.
I know I will regret making this comment and poor association. I am no fan of Ayn Rand, HOWEVER :-) it has occurred to me that all of these very good, honest and truthful climate scientists are being ignored and truly mistreated and should follow the advice of Ms. Rand and “Shrug Atlas”. Maybe the only thing that will work at this point is to simply let the chips fall where they may and let the world collapse under the weight of the ignorance of humans. Such a depressing thought however. But some days it is very difficult to continue to battle the ignorance, lies, attacks and meanness. Sorry for the downer.
Here in Brazil, one major newspaper had the headline “Experts point out flaws in the IPCC”, including in the text a reference to Climategate, where “scientists were discovered to distort the [IPCC] report figures”. Of course, the sentence is a distortion itself.
It’s interesting how the figures themselves (e.g. the amount of warming or climate sensitivity) are seldom mentioned or debated. They would have to notice the huge unbalance of evidence, then.
Not to worry, though. If even Lomborg is coming around, they will too eventually…
“Towards the end of the 21st century, projected sea-level rise will affect low-lying coastal areas with large populations. The cost of adaptation could amount to at least 5-10% of GDP. (High confidence)”
On a re-reading it is not clear to me that the ‘High Confidence’ refers to both sentences, or just the latter – I assume just the latter, since as you say applying it to the former is trivial. If it applies to the latter, then I agree the ‘could’ word, especially when combined with an ‘at least’, renders the High Confidence irrelevant at best, misleading and contradictory and certainly prone to over-interpretation at worst.
Your new ReCaptcha spam stopper is incredibly hard to read for a human btw.
RandyL #74, cheer up! It’s perfectly possible to believe that climate scientists are ‘good, honest and truthful’, and yet still think that cap n’ trade and solar feed-in-tariffs are a ‘solution’ that makes no difference, and malaria is a bigger killer. Have a beer.
As much as I’ve expressed my anger at the journalists for how this story has been misreported, I think in the long run all will be well. The next IPCC report has a new layer of Kevlar as a result of this “adjustment.” It will be harder for opponents to call it out. They will try, and they’ll have some traction with the denier crowd in simply claiming that the recommendations weren’t followed, just by making stuff up (which is what they always do, pretty much).
In the end I think this will add gravity to the next report, especially when its arrival in 2014 is almost certain (barring something bizarre like a severe 4 year La Nina) to be accompanied by even more visible evidence of climate change (4 more years of Arctic melt, severe weather anomalies that could be a result of climate change, and clearly growing temps), as well as probably a quite noticeable contradiction to the “it hasn’t been warming/has been cooling for the past decade” rant.
re: 62 “As for the news coverage, it is very curious how much stressing and hand ringing that goes on here because you cannot control the media”
I don’t know what media you listen to. Other than that disaster movie, what are you talking about? You sound as if there’s saturation. Unless I go to a web site where I know such things are discussed, I don’t see any discussion of the consequences of AGW at all.
BTW, you ought to see someone about those ringing hands. A relative of Maxwell Smart?
Captcha tip, for those who may not have discovered it (eg.@ #65, #77):
In case of an unreadable/untypeable Captcha, you can get a new Captcha prompt by hitting the top panel on the red control bar to the right of the type-in box. (The panel with the “Ourobouros” tail-chasing arrows.) You can (apparently) get as many as you want, as on occasion I’ve probably sorted through as many as a dozen before I found one I was certain of.
(The present one, though, seems “mostly harmless:” “plaintively tencerry”)
Ike Solem (44), I would prefer the VA prosecutor pursue Obama’s unconstitutional actions rather than start another witch hunt. I agree with everyone here that his pursuit of Mann, et al was a silly-assed witch hunt, and am glad to see it end. But I abhor witch hunts of any kind.
The use of the phrase “fundamental changes” seems to be causing some, erm… misunderstanding about the report in certain circles. Are these really fundamental changes being proposed? Significant, certainly, but fundamental?
Have the authors deliberately made no concessions to the potential for septic interpretation?
Bob (Sphaerica) wrote: “… I think this will add gravity to the next report, especially when its arrival in 2014 is almost certain … to be accompanied by even more visible evidence of climate change …”
I find it rather surrealistic not to mention unspeakably depressing, given the extreme and rather terrifying things that happening to the Earth right now, right before our eyes, that we are still talking about whether the 2014 (!) IPCC report may finally motivate real, meaningful action to start reducing GHG emissions.
It seems to me that what needs “reform” is not the IPCC process, but the governments that have consistently ignored and refused to act upon what the IPCC — and every other major scientific organization in the world that has anything to do with climate — have been telling them for decades.
Frankly, I think that the very existence of the IPCC is somewhat problematic. By its very nature, the IPCC provides a single target on which denialists can focus criticism and disinformation. And its association with the UN makes it irresistable to wingnuts. The IPCC does not define the consensus. Its sole purpose is to summarize the consensus. If it were not there, the consensus would still be the same if not even stronger.
Having the IPCC allows the denialists to ignore the consensus and focus solely on discrediting the instution–a sort of argumentum ad institution, if you will.
The association with the UN means that the wingnuts can simply attach all the paranoia they feel about the UN to the IPCC rather than actually addressing the difficult problem at hand.
What is really missing is a coherent plan to address what is beyond doubt a real threat. OK, so you don’t like global government. Fine. Find a solution that allows you to address a problem that has inherently global aspects without instituting global government. If you cannot, and if there is clearly a problem that requires global action, are you not admitting that your approach is a failure? Or you can go on and continue to simply attack physical reality…your choice.
The association with the UN means that the wingnuts can simply attach all the paranoia they feel about the UN to the IPCC…
I have to admit I’ve thought the same thing, and have wondered why individual governments don’t have their own, well funded, self-serving versions of the IPCC (or do they?).
I mean, I do understand why the Bush administration ignored it, and I’m sure that intelligence and defense agencies are quietly but realistically considering it in all strategic planning (you have to know, as a country, if you’re going to need to worry about a need for intervention into food and grain wars between Russia and satellite countries, or whatever).
But at this point, I actually think there are multiple reasons for individual countries, in particular the U.S., to have their own, partisan version of the IPCC, with the same eye toward the science, but with a self-serving, domestic outlook on how climate change will affect U.S. interests in particular (economic, strategic, social, etc.).
It’s sort of time for more detailed planning to begin, too. It’s too early to be certain of the details, but a few sober hit-home insights (like “well, Houston, Texas will possibly only be able to support half of the current population by 20xx”) will mean a lot more than comments on the future of the Amazon or Himalayan glaciers.
And a partisan report would carry more weight with a lot of people, for the reasons you stated… that some people don’t trust the U.N.
Meanwhile, a series of reports, from different countries, that all basically agree on the main points, would be a lot harder for the denial camp to argue against (although admittedly, they’ll hunt and peck for contradictions between reports and use that to their advantage).
In medieval times, the feudal lords had the inquisition, and both Hitler
(“german physics” against Einstein theory) and Stalin (Trofim Lysenko against darwinsm) and their likes had their ways to suppress unpleasant scientific knowledge.
Nowadays the oiligarchy and the financial mafia have the global media corporations.
Therefore, nobody is mentioning that IPCC 2007 has underestimated the consequences and speed of ongoing global warming, fx. by saying that the north polar sea-ice will be gone in the summer by 2080, while leading scientists in this field now are saying this will happen by 2015-2035.
The problem with the IPCC is almost exactly the opposite as propagandized by the global media machine.
This summer the surface melting of Greenland icesheet in western parts was
in some places (Kangerlussuaq area fx.) as much as six meters. Russia, Ukraine and Central Asia had theworst drought in 1000 years. Hundreds of millions of people in China and Pakistan are suffering severely from gigantic monsoon floooding.
A “tiny” question: What will happen next year? And the next?…
>>Ike Solem (44), I would prefer the VA prosecutor pursue Obama’s unconstitutional actions
These boards are reserved for comments about AGW and not for throwing out baseless, off-topic political claims. Your comment about malaria killing more people makes no sense. So far as I know, no one has claimed that AGW has killed many people; it only has the possibility of doing so.
Tempest in a teapot.
I did not bother to read the IPPC’s report about the IPPC’s report but I did manage to read the “Nature” magazine’s comment about the report on the report of the report…
One example Nature provided was the potential disappearence of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035. This is supposedly incorrect. Under any number of scenarios it could very well be true or untrue. Given the current knowledge it is not very likely because the winter will still occur and rebuild the glaciers to flow downhill some other day.
I cannot find any problem with the IPPC’s original report in the first place other than any arguments relating to semantics, probabilities, details and confidence levels.
This does not apply to WG1 at all on first appearance but does apply to WG2 and 3. Of course WG2 and 3 are at a disadvantage from the start. Given the science provided in WG1 just about any consequence of global warming could be assigned in WG2 and subsequent actions in WG3.
Ironically, What is missing is the totality of the “possible” science in WG1. This is not some perverse plot or yet another hoax but the reality of our present and eternal conumdrum. We lack, as always in things scientific, the complete picture.
The only thing I know personally is that the WG2 report is totally inadequate not because the good people who worked on it are in any way deficient but only because they could not possibly complete their work in any meaningful sense of the word “complete”.
Let me give some examples.
I lived for the last 10 years at latitude 51 degrees,longitude 10? , altitude 1350 meters in the shadow of the rocky mountains to my west.
I am totally botanically challenged.
There is a plant somewhat akin to a rhubarb plant that has seeded or perhaps similar to a tobacco plant. This particular plant has multiplied a thousand fold in my area in the last 5 years. This should not be possible. Given the normal local climate of extreme temperatures and very mercurial behaviour this broad leaved plant should not have a chance in hell to proliferate to this extent and yet it has.Is that a sign of global warming? Was it reported in WG2 ??
I am totally zoologically challenged.
Here is a subterranian rodent(?) probably some kind of mole which I have never seen but I know it is here because of the mole hills it produces. The number of mole hills has increased in almost astronomical fashion, allowing for poetic license. Is that a sign of global climate change? Was it reported in the WG2 report?
I could mention any number of facts or incidents or changes in my local environment that I construe to be the result of global warming either partially or totally but does not make a proper scientific statement because the scientific effort has not and cannot be done.
The good WG2 people do not have a chance to properly evaluate and report on such things.
SO. Is there anything “wrong” in their report? Almost certainly. Does it matter? NO.
Whatever they reported is at best a subset of what they could have reported on. That subset was very good indeed.
“I’m beginning to think this problem may be deeper than just a need for fine tuning communications…” – 56
You have to be living on planet dumb as a rock if you think that willful ignorance supported and enabled by well financed campaigns of lying will be solved with some nice, polite, and well reasoned logic.
The truth is not relevant to the American Conservatives.
Ray Ladbury (86), viewing it as if I was an objective outsider, I partially disagree. I think the UN sanction gives it much more inherent credibility around the world than would a lot of splinter groups. The one exception, as you imply, is the U.S. where the UN does not get automatic credibility — often just the opposite (and not totally without cause, BTW.) So it is a double-edged sword, but on the whole I think AGW proponents are better off with it.
This does not mean that individual countries shouldn’t have their own large-scale AGW research and development going on; I strongly think they should.
No UN, just go straight to global government, you think??!!? I think you’re confusing global government with a global wide treaty. True, treaties can always be broken, and a properly constituted global government (this is hypothetical as global government will never be willingly instituted) could enforce AGW mitigation on everyone. Though it would also force a pile of other stuff on everyone, some of which would be worse that AGW itself.
Bob (Sphaerica) @ 6:06pm said, “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It is journalism that is failing this country, not science. Thirty years from now people will look back and ask where the h*ll all of the real, professional journalists were hiding, and how they got the story so very wrong.”
You’re right, and that’s because they are paid by corporations. Maybe what this country needs is a mass news daily that is paid for solely with donations like Public Broadcasting. No donations from business groups that are more than a certain uniform dollar amount. Then journalists would finally be free to say what they really think, to tell the truth. Then they could also have experts in the field write and review pieces as well. Of course in the interests of democracy dissenting voices would need to be aired, but now their errors (in the case of climate skeptics or other right-wing disinformers) could be immediately answered.
No doubt the daily would be smeared as a leftist rag by all the usual suspects but it would gain a readership just like CPB has.
Perhaps something along the lines of The Huffington Post. I really hate to encourage another paper daily because it really is a terrible waste of trees, but maybe one of the corporate dailies that are currently struggling might consider this suggestion.
You can pick all manner of groups and say “They failed us”, but the bottom line is that we failed ourselves for myriad reasons.
I was talking with a friend the other night about the study decline in the quality of manufactured goods. And that turned into a discussion about imports. And =that= led to a discussion about Wal-Mart and how the American consumer is shopping themselves into unemployment by buying from Wal-Mart. Everyone wants to pay less, and earn more. There’s a major disconnect in there somewhere.
If you look at the “successful” journalists they are mostly successful because their message is one that the lazy masses want to hear.
“You’re right, and that’s because they are paid by corporations.” – 96
The failure of American Journalism is not a result of corporate ownership as much as it is a result of competition. There has always been corporate ownership, although certainly the [edit-lets avoid partisan politics] move to de-restrict limits on media ownership has done quite a bit of damage.
The majority of the damage however has come from the rise of near content free, or content negative “infotainment” in place of news.
Infotainment is based on telling people what they want to hear rather than what is true. Journalists begin to slant their stories to make them more palatable, and editors begin to limit what is said to what will please the audience, even when that news pleases the audience by supporting their world view while at the same time angering them by the world daring not conform to their ideological preferences.
In a nation like the U.S. where money grubbing is considered by many to be the ultimate good, and an end unto itself, the rise of the news for profit infotainment industry, combined with the ideology of self deceiving  kooktards, the  Lying machine has found very fertile soil.
To the vast majority of , truth is now irrelevant.
Maintaining and promoting the growth of  ideology is all that matters.
Comment by Vendicar Decarian — 2 Sep 2010 @ 1:08 AM
The media tells stories to fit their political bias (so called braodsheets) whilst the red tops (alleged newspapers) dont really know what to say on the matter of science.
We need to be clear here about science and the media, until now science and technology has only enriched our lives (societally that is as I am sure individually it has wrecked many) especially in terms of travel – the car and aircraft especially, in goods and services (freight via road and sea and air), in medical science, in work and play and in energy provision via fossil fuels which could scale and was available in solid, liquid and gas form. Its just perfect.
Now comes payback but the media loved to report the moon landings as it was optimistic and full of human endeavour along with all other technologies especially IT related ones, billionaire bill gates etc. ACC/AGW is not somehing they want to report on. The scale of change is distressing, the change of lifestyle even worse and the reduction in easy to obtain growth another.
Fossil fuels have given us everything and now its potentially going to take it all away especially free market economics which in some peoples eyes made all of this possible.
Nowhere did I advocate anything approaching global government. I do however think that a global treaty must have enforcement mechanisms in place.
Really, my post was intended as a challenge to those on the political right to start thinking in terms of solutions to the problem that are in concert with their ideology rather than automatically denying reality when it does not suit their ideology. Denial of physical reality doesn’t particularly make a good advertisement for an ideology.
I wrote: “It seems to me that what needs ‘reform’ is not the IPCC process, but the governments that have consistently ignored and refused to act upon what the IPCC [has] been telling them for decades.”
Veidicar Decarian replied: “Meanwhile in Yankville the highly intelligent electorate is about to give the house and the next presidency to the Global Warming Denailists. You seem to be in deep denial about the lack of intelligence of Joe American. You people just don’t get it do you?”
With all due respect, your response to my comment seems to be a non sequitur.
I opined that governments have failed to act on the scientific assessments provided by the IPCC.
I said nothing at all about the upcoming US elections or the “intelligence” of American voters, so you have no idea at all of what my views may be on those subjects.
So where do you get this “you seem to be in deep denial” business?
With all due respect, you seem to have some preconceived ideas of what “you people” think, leading you to post a flurry of comments bellowing about what “you people” think, rather than addressing what anyone actually wrote.
Ray Ladbury: you said: “Nowhere did I advocate anything approaching global government. I do however think that a global treaty must have enforcement mechanisms in place.” I read it differently, but at the time didn’t really believe it — so my question with incredulity.
You said: “Really, my post was intended as a challenge to those on the political right to start thinking in terms of solutions to the problem that are in concert with their ideology rather than automatically denying reality when it does not suit their ideology. Denial of physical reality doesn’t particularly make a good advertisement for an ideology.”
That sounds like it might be instructive, but I can’t make heads nor tails out of it. Are you saying the political right has a common characteristic — and maybe an exclusive one at that — of denying physical reality??
>>Paul Tremblay, my comment was in direct response to a comment on the prosecution of Mann re his AGW scientific efforts. Where the hell did “malaria” come from?
Sorry, I mixed you up with HotRod. However, why are you throwing out political bombs about “Obama’s unconstitutional actions,” a statement completely off topic and utterly devoid of content? Are you just trying to push peoples’ buttons?
What does the best evidence now tell us? That man-made global warming is a mere hypothesis that has been inflated by both exaggeration and downright malfeasance, fueled by the awarding of fat grants and salaries to any scientist who’ll produce the “right” results.
The warming “scientific” community, the Climategate emails reveal, is a tight clique of like-minded scientists and bureaucrats who give each other jobs, publish each other’s papers — and conspire to shut out any point of view that threatens to derail their gravy train.
Such behavior is perhaps to be expected from politicians and government functionaries. From scientists, it’s a travesty.
“If someone has an actual antidote to the epidemic wetware malfunction, please administer it now.” – 103
In order to develop a solution one must first identify the problem.
My earlier comments were edited in a manner that kept the problem hidden in order not to be political.
Well guys… Guess what…. The problem political. So by ignoring that fact, or by preventing dialog on that topic you are essentially preventing the problem from being identified and hence preventing it from being solved.
Lets not mice words. The problem is Conservatism, particularly American Conservatism, both traditional and neo. The movement has become an ideological cult that ignores evidence and facts where those things conflict with the official Conservative dogma.
We see the same thing in biology with the Conservative opposition to the theory of Evolution, in history with the Conservative view that the world is only 7,000 years old, with paleontology with the Conservative view that man lived along side dinosaurs. We even see it in the area of Economics where the overwhelming Conservative view is that 30 years of borrow and spend Conservative economic policies haven’t bankrupted the nation.
The problem is Fundamentalist Conservatism and it’s eagerness to reject reality, it’s willingness to engage in deceit and self deceit, and it’s need to destroy anything and everything that challenges that ideology.
The solution is to stand up to it, to stare it down, to shout it down, to minimize it, to marginalize it, and to do so in any and ever way possible.
And if that is not sufficient to destroy the Conservative movement in the U.S. then the alternative is to destroy the U.S. itself in order to limit the damage it will do to the rest of the world.
If you don’t like that solution… Too bad for you. Reality has this nasty habit of limiting your options.
Feel free to provide some alternatives that will produce the desired result in the time remaining.
[Response: OK, I just wandered in here and I'm not going to wade through the comments to find out who threw the first, second or nth egg. Just stick to the climate science and save the rest for somewhere else. And please calm down--Jim]
The Senate has all but ruled out moving on greenhouse gases this year, even though the House of Representatives passed a bill last year. In late July, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stripped climate provisions out of an energy bill, saying he could not get one Republican vote for them.
“We see the same thing in biology with the Conservative opposition to the theory of Evolution, in history with the Conservative view that the world is only 7,000 years old, with paleontology with the Conservative view that man lived along side dinosaurs. We even see it in the area of Economics where the overwhelming Conservative view is that 30 years of borrow and spend Conservative economic policies haven’t bankrupted the nation.”
Yeah OK no one challenge him on this BS, how typical.
Vendicar Decarian (109), I’m really hesitant to play in your sandbox, but…. balderdash, hogwash, bull Shiite. And as we watch the liberals work to destroy the U.S. right before our eyes… Actually, in a weird sort of agreement, liberals do not deny reality. Can’t deny anything you have no concept of…
VD 113: And if that is not sufficient to destroy the Conservative movement in the U.S. then the alternative is to destroy the U.S. itself in order to limit the damage it will do to the rest of the world.
BPL: Right. That’ll just leave China and India. No environmental damage there!
Rod Black: generally, I think you are a liberal. If I read your posts correctly in the Monckton thread, you were claiming that any refutation of the straw-man argument re. string theory is not fully understood, therefore global warming is not well understood, refuted by outing the straw man, which you then refute by claiming that refuting the straw-man argument is a straw man argument? Geez, I think you just won the Platos Wall Shadow Construction Award. The liberal construction of shadows is a dead giveaway.
Vendicar Decarian: Fundamentalist Conservative seems appropriate as it entails ideological vs. the pragmatic.
Personally, I’m a conservative (which I now define as Centrist). I see we are risking our standards of living that exceed consumptive rates and capacity. So I highly recommend we get very conservative, very quickly.
To moderators, if the above is just too silly feel free to delete :)
However, something I think everyone needs to look at is the primary subject of Net Primary Production
If this trend bears out, the ‘meaningful’ policy schedule needs to be ramped up fast. I can see no reason why this pattern will not bear out at this time. Of course this is a complex mess of stuff including natural variation and global warming, but probably the best way to describe current analysis is natural variation and results that are the combined net effect of global warming and natural variation, which culminates into a new climate path, that of warming out side the natural cycle path, and its’ resultant ramifications.
There are plenty of other sites where “conservatives” and “liberals” can scream at each other. I am grateful to the moderator for cautioning both Vendicar and Rod B, and I don’t intend to add to that noise.
However, I would like to point out that Rod B’s contributions to this thread exemplify the character of the so-called “conservative” approach to AGW. We have heard from him that:
1. AGW is a conspiracy to establish “world government” (accusing Ray Ladbury of advocating such a thing, which he did not in fact do).
2. “Liberals” are engaged in a conspiracy to “work to destroy the U.S. right before our eyes”.
3. When asked directly by Ray Ladbury to suggest solutions to the AGW problem that are consistent with “conservative” principles, Rod pretended that he didn’t understand the question.
These attitudes are not those of a principled economic or political ideology of any kind — they are nonsense concocted by the fossil fuel corporation-funded denialist propaganda machine. They have as much to do with “ideology” as does “things go better with Coke” or “have you driven a Ford lately”.
Rod, let me ask you even more directly than Ray did: give us some solutions to the problem of AGW that are consistent with “conservative” principles.
I can think of several, and I’m not even a “conservative”.
Lets focus on what we have in common here. We need rapid transition to a low carbon economy. Whatever side of politics you are on, it is clear that the extreme right are being influenced by the fossil fuel industry to throw dust in our eyes and prevent action at any cost.
When any ideology is under pressure, the crazies come out of the woodwork and the fossil fuel, reap any benefit at any cost is definately under increasing pressure.
We need to keep our eyes on the prize and focus on repeating the message. Many people out there have still not understood that each new paper indicates things are worse than we thought just a few weeks ago. We have to keep going and keep our hopes up.
I think FCH’s comment at #101 is pretty apt, for the most part–”we” continue to fail ourselves. I put scare quotes on “we” because that seems to be part of the problem: “we” often seems defined in quasi-tribal ways inappropriate to optimal human management of reality.
Anonymous Coward (118), Bob Altemeyer’s description of tendencies is correct, IMO. Problem is you could substitute “left wing liberal” for “right wing conservative” and not miss one thing. Virtually everyone is an authoritarian at the core. Why is it that some “warmists” (sorry, I dislike cutsey handles, but…) want a global government? So they can insure all sides have their democratic say??? Reread Animal Farm.
Why is the panel review being treated as though it only made cosmetic criticisms? Didn’t anyone read Section 2 of the review? In it, the panel states:
Another concern of respondents to the Committee’s questionnaire was the difference in content between the Summary for Policy Makers and the underlying report. The distillation of the many findings of a massive report into the relatively brief, high-level messages that characterize the Summary for Policy Makers necessarily results in the loss of important nuances and caveats that appear in the Working Group report. Moreover, the choice of messages and description of topics may be influenced in subtle ways by political considerations. Some respondents thought that the Summary for Policy Makers places more emphasis on what is known, sensational, or popular among Lead Authors than one would find in the body of the report.
Differences in content between the Summary for Policy Makers and the underlying report? Loss of important caveats? Influenced by political considerations? Emphasis on the sensational? These are important issues. Ignoring them only plays into the paranoid accusations of a white-wash by the climate community.
It is certainly understandable to wonder whether an ideology precludes the ability deal with complex global threats when half of the political spectrum would rather deny the threats than develop effective solutions.
RodB, can you name any particular “warmists” desirous of a “global government?” For that matter, what constitutes a “global government?” Is the Geneva Convention a feature of “global government?” Do international treaties in general represent global government? If by “government” we mean organization under agreed principles of law, are we not already operating under a loose form of global governance? Could we say that nearly every U.S. President has actively participated in helping to construct a “global government?”
SecularAnimist (121), in deference to everyone I’ll try to be very brief — my responses:
1) Don’t believe that and never said it; never accused Ray of it (I wondered about his statement, asked a question, got a satisfactory answer.)
2) No conspiracy: being done entirely in the open and in our face.
3) Don’t recall the exact question, but rashly assuming your characterization is close, I can not see how solutions to AGW can be either conservative or liberal. If a solution is needed and is effective and works, it ought to be done — conservative or liberal. Though I suppose most conservatives would not favor solutions that aren’t helpful, aren’t effective, and/or cost more money than exists.
Other) I’ve never received a penny, a pamphlet, a direction, or nothin’ from the oil companies. Something is evidently askew within the mad-dog conspiracy.
Let’s try to phrase this more clearly. My concern is that I see no solutions coming from the political right–only denial and obstruction. The right has thus provided folks like Vendcar Decarian with a mighty big ugly stick for whacking them. The objections from the right to solutions that have been proposed to date (e.g. carbon taxes, cap and trade, tax and dividend, increased funding for alternative energy, etc.) are that they a)require world government, b)require big government, c)require more taxes, d)hurt economic growth….
The objections of the right are sufficiently strong that they would question the science before accepting the mooted mitigation.
OK, so if those are your objections, can you name a mitigation measure that you support that would be 1)effective, 2)consistent with your values and 3)not engender a, b, c or d?
If you cannot, and if the problems of climate change are real and significant (which we know at the 95% CL), what does this say about said ideology?
John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) (120), not sure if your “Rod Black” statement refers to me but it rings a bell. However, I can’t fully decode your entertaining (really) assertion enough to respond. If you are accusing me of claiming that an objective solid confidence level can not be irrefutably assigned to statistical projections with limited physical basis (choosing my modifiers carefully), I plead guilty. On topic, it’s nearly in the vicinity of what the Inter-Academy Council said.
The only straw man I attacked is the one when a skeptic expresses a disagreement with a particular piece of AGW science, often the retort is “you refute all (that’s every little or big piece) of climate science, you heretic??!!?” And it is a straw man argument.
Some time back I gave you my full real name, and, IIRC, that gave me an “always accurate” license from you.
134 Rod asks, “Why is it that some “warmists” (sorry, I dislike cutsey handles, but…) want a global government? So they can insure all sides have their democratic say??? Reread Animal Farm.”
How is a world government intrinsically different from the US federal government? That’s easy. A world government would probably be based on the premise of one person one vote, which means US citizens would lose power. Stupid references to Animal Farm don’t change the theories of democracy. And this is on topic as global warming and the IPCC are more expansive than any single country so the question of how to deal with that – do we need a global government? Are treaties enough? Those are the next big questions.
Comment by David B. Benson — 3 Sep 2010 @ 12:51 PM
Rod B says “No conspiracy [that liberals are trying to destroy the govennment]: being done entirely in the open and in our face.” And earlier you you refer to “Obama’s unconstitutional actions.” And then you further refuse to answer the question: what exactly do you propose to do about AGW?
So I get it, Rod B. You have nothing to contribute to the discussion except unfounded generalizations. Here I thought this site was about the science of AGW.
[Response: It is. I have cleaned up some of the more overt political stuff above, but this is all now off-topic. There are plenty of other places to have political discussions. - gavin]
Trying to bring this thread back on topic, I’d like to ask a few quick questions about the recommendations.
1) Is there any examples of the “Level-of-understanding” scale that the recommendations suggest, in order to give an overview of how many studies there are and what the agreement is? Does someone care to suggest this could be implemented?
2) Can someone explain what “elicitation procedures” means in this context? (I must plead ignorance on this point as I didn’t read the references given, although they might have been behind paywalls). My intepretation is by getting a group of experts (eg Amazon forest experts) and interviewing them either individually or in groups in order to determine what is likely to happen on a specific point (eg. Reduction in Amazon area/ desertification).
3) How do all these recommendations (I’m thinking in particular about the uncertainties recommendations) get implemented? Is there an uncertainties pamphlet that will be handed around in order to clarify these types of issues, after which it will be the authors job to ensure it is followed? Will there be more formal implementation, for example tasking some reviewers with specifically looking at how uncertainty is presented?
Hopefully this helps bring the discussion back to substance.
I have read the executive summary of the Inter-Academy Council and seen some of the reactions in the popular press. It seems some of the contrarian sites are not impressed, but that isn’t too surprising.
I am going to second Gavin and David B. Benson and hope the off-topic stuff is reduced, either through moderation or through self-control. I used to comment frequently on RC, but most of my comments were just adding to the noise. RC is at its best when we stick to the topics.
Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 3 Sep 2010 @ 3:39 PM
Paul Tremblay (138), I though my attitude toward AGW was kind of known, but it’s a fair question, and maybe even on topic. In a nutshell I want a solid understanding and confirmation of the degree of global warming that might occur in the future (which IS NOT synonymous with “is AGW science valid”), a verification that near future global warming would be predominately man-made (though this is not a big hurdle in my mind), and a solid cost analysis (of societal things in addition to monetary considerations) of the different scenarios. Secondly, I’m fully in favor of quickly developing and implementing alternative energy, at a minimum for electric and similar power, because 1) it is inherently not a bad business case, 2) we’ll have to wean ourselves from massive use of fossil fuels sooner or later, and 3) doing #2 sooner buys some insurance against potential future AGW. It would be most desirable to have near global support and cooperation for any mitigation actions (and of course research — pretty much have that now).
A nutshell misses a bunch, but in deference to RC that’s all I can do.
It strikes me that climate scientists and websites like this are caught in a classic double bind–
if they completely ignore politics, they stand by quietly while politicians and others ignore, misrepresent, our outandout lie about their findings, and their crucially important findings become merely academic debates about the mechanisms and timing of our plunge into catastrophe;
if they involve themselves more directly in the political fray, they lay themselves open to the charge that political ideology had influenced their research (a claim, one might point out, that gets made anyway, of course, by the unscrupulous).
Damned anyway you go on that one, as are we all, it seems.
Anyway, since the Arctic thread was shut off for comments, and since we are in the final weeks of the melt season, I was wondering if I could get any experts (or thoughtful amateurs) to discuss the significance of what is looking to be the third or second lowest sea ice extent in September.
Do we have new projections on when the Arctic will be ice free (or nearly so–well below a million sq km…)?
Is there any new understanding of what the consequences of this development will be for the climate of the northern hemisphere?
Are there any accurate, up to date readings on rates of methane release from tundra and sea bed…?
Willi, here is a non-political scientific perspective [edit of tiresome juvenilia]
There are less than 17000 temperature stations situated across 30-40% of the landmass of the world. 70% of the world is covered by water. Temperature stations are only about 1-2 square ft in area for a total of, at best, 34000 square feet. The surface area of the earth alone is ~59 million square miles. This means that even at their peak if you spread all the temperature stations evenly across the Earth’s landmass this would place one every 41 miles from the next. Currently this would represent 1 temperature station every 82 miles. To put it in perspective, this would mean the entire state of Ohio would only have 3 extrapolated temperature readings indicating the temperature at every point in the state at a given time. Do you think this is an accurate assessment? Gavin does.
[Response: Funnily enough people have actually looked into this - and you know what? it is sufficient to get an accurate measure of the global mean temperature anomaly. Try looking at the actual evidence - from satellites for instance - that indicate that monthly anomalies are highly correlated, not just over 82 miles, but over hundreds of miles. But if you prefer arguing by assertion, please continue. - gavin]
Now as sad as this is, even in this best case scenario, we would only be getting these highly inaccurate readings for the 30% of the globe covered by land. There historically have been no temperature stations in the ocean.  you are looking at temperature stations covering about 9% (30% land times 30% covered by temp stations) of the Earth’s surface extrapolated into one “Global Total” that Gavin’s crew assures us is accurate to within .5k out of the roughly 328k it represents or 0.1%
[Response: You really need to think about this. Sub-sampling indicates that current measures of global mean temperatures are accurate to about 0.1 deg C. Again, if you think this is wrong, show some evidence. Making up meaningless statements about the percentage change measured in Kelvin is just dumb. - gavin]
Let me repeat that. [edit - don't bother]
Even more fantastically, he can tell us that any change in this value observed over time is caused not just by the CO2 that constitutes just 0.04% of our atmosphere, but the meager 3% of that that is contributed by human activity. I know its cliche but I am LOL right now just thinking about the absurdity of this.
[Response: The only thing that is absurd is your complete ignorance. Human contributions to atmospheric CO2 is now ~30% of the total and growing every year. And CO2 might be 0.04% of the atmosphere, but some 20% of the greenhouse effect. PS. leave the histrionics at home, I edited to try and highlight any actual substantive point you were trying to make, but I won't bother in the future. -gavin]
Petey is repeating the silly and often-used argument that CO2 cannot be such a big deal since it’s only being only 0.039% of the atmosphere. The ignorance evidenced by such statements is staggering.
Petey, if a low concentration of a substance automatically means their effect on a system cannot be big, how do you explain that hydrogen cyanide will kill you at a concentration of about 1.5mg/Kg, which turns out to be 0.00015% of your body mass?
How do you explain that a concentration of 0.01% of certain molecules called initiators will rapidly catalyze the polymerization of certain substances and turn them from liquids to a solids? This kind of reaction is used all the time to make plastics and other polymers.
Go check the concentrations of certain hormones in your blood, like insulin, without which you would die or get seriously sick.
Nature is full of examples of large effects caused by very small concentrations of certain substances. Go learn some real science.
We should be the ones laughing out loud at your crass ignorance and the absurdity of your comments. Unfortunately, this matter has become too serious and threatening to everybody’s well-being to be funny any more.
Comment by Rafael Gomez-Sjoberg — 3 Sep 2010 @ 8:10 PM
It’s not appropriate for the formal documents produced by the IPCC, but I think a simple set of indicators on certainty for journalists and educators is already available.
The traffic light system for labelling foods might come in handy. Red for high certainty – high impact. Amber and green on other criteria.
Don’t know if it’s a double bind or just a line that can be hard to define on occasion. If a group of people have organized to disrupt the science, it seems to me to be fair to target the disruption and antiscientific thinking in general, but tricky to attack the source.
Ideally there should at least be a firewall around the science that’s respected by all partisan parties, making it a shared resource and disentangling it from other issues. Allowing attacks against scientific principles is just unhealthy on so many levels. As it is, there may be frustratingly little anybody can do to reverse the collapse of such a large society anyway, if that is in fact what we’re now witnessing (talk about your entropy!).
Interesting. Here’s a comment from a Vanity Fair article the next day: “The New York Times really thinks it’s the BBC”—or, more aptly, “the PBS of newsprint.” He goes on: “So, that’s what gets Murdoch’s juices going. He sees”—and here Neil pauses for emphasis and speaks the following words slowly and pointedly—“a fat pig there for the taking.”
So since Media Monopolist Murdoch (whatever happened to anti-trust laws?) has his sights set on the NYT, and since, according to the article the NYT is now a “financial drain” maybe now would be a good time for them to consider a change from private to public ownership? I’d hate to see them become just another Murdoch Mouthpiece. Another (ugg) Fox News.
note: I submitted a comment similar to this yesterday but forgot the Captcha. When I tried to resubmit it told me that I’d already submitted. Since my post didn’t show I thought it might be because it’s somewhat off topic. Then I saw Barton Paul Levenson’s comment on the same subject so I thought I’d try again. If it is too off topic just delete.
[Response: Captcha is indeed problematic, but this is OT nevertheless.--Jim]
“Anyway, since the Arctic thread was shut off for comments, and since we are in the final weeks of the melt season, I was wondering if I could get any experts (or thoughtful amateurs) to discuss the significance of what is looking to be the third or second lowest sea ice extent in September.” – Wili
There is very little difference between the 2007 and 2008 melts, and unless something truly spectacular happens, the current melt will exceed both. There is still 1.5 weeks left in the average melt season, and the ice is still melting very rapidly.
“I don’t vist here to read your rants.” – 137
[Response: You're been warned and admonished, and not just by me. Discuss the science, or topics directly germane to the posts, or discuss nothing. I won't allow denigration of the work of scientists by you or anyone else, and your politically-based rhetoric accomplishes nothing.--Jim]
I’m curious, Petey. What source do you trust so much that you are happy to repeat what they say verbatim, without digging deeper? There are plenty of candidates, but in the interests of communicating science, I think it would be valuable to know where people actually get their disinformation from.
This is a source you rely on so absolutely that you are prepared (even eager) to go face to face with a a professional scientist, and tell him that everything he thinks he knows is wrong, because you know better. Probably you wouldn’t do anything so rude in the real world, but I can’t see why a different standard should apply.
I know you didn’t come up with these “facts” you quote yourself, we see them far too often for that. So, please tell: who are you quoting?
I have completed the first draft of The Case For Global Warming. Would any scientist be interested in looking it over before I try submitting it to a publisher? Any recommendations for where to publish it?
Petey, gotta hand it to you. You sure crammed a whole helluva lot of ignorance into a single statement–and that’s after Jim edited out the really stupid parts!
So, Petey, Let’s take two thermometers in opposite corners of a room. Both read 27 degrees C and do so for over an hour. What do you think the probability is that the temperature in the center of the room is, oh, say, equal to the temperature of the solar corona? Ponder this.
93 Paul Tremblay “So far as I know, no one has claimed that AGW has killed many people; it only has the possibility of doing so.”
AGW has killed many people; it is just that we haven’t counted them because we don’t know how many would have died without AGW. Counting them would be a good idea.
100 Ron R.: Journalists fail to report science correctly because journalists don’t know science and math AND because advertisers include the fossil fuel industry and the advertisers pay more of the cost of newspapers than the subscribers do AND because the readers in general aren’t even as smart as the journalists, ETC.
108 Secular Animist: I have to agree with Veidicar Decarian that nobody ever went broke by underestimating the intelligence of, not just the US electorate but, Homo Sapiens in general. Rapid climate change has driven the evolution of intelligence in the past. That is how we got from Australopithecus to Homo Habilis. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/becoming-human-part-1.html We have chosen to avoid driving our own evolution [let's not go into that] so Nature will do it for us.
109 Rod B: “Denying physical reality” is a common problem with Homo So-Called Sapiens. Very few of us hominids are capable of getting passing grades in college level science courses.
Jim: I forwarded an email from Cognitive Policy Works to RealClimate. There really is a problem with the average “human” mind/brain. Whether Cognitive Policy Works [http://www.cognitivepolicyworks.com/] can help or not I don’t know. I would be willing to give it a try. I don’t think it is a matter of commenters throwing “eggs.” They really are concerned or terrified because of the prospect of GW. There doesn’t seem to be a good path forward. What we are actually doing is spinning our wheels and letting the climate speak for itself. RealClimate is neither read widely enough nor believed. We [scientists and engineers] don’t happen to have the wealth or the authority to do anything effective about it. So politics becomes the scapegoat.
123 Ricki (Australia): Just keeping on and keeping our hopes up and repeating the message isn’t enough. Perhaps the message will seep through eventually with the help of increasingly bad agricultural reports and rising food prices.
The IPCC has decided to reorganize to improve its ability to advertise and some other things. They didn’t use that word, but I think that is what is really intended/needed. The IPCC needs an advertising budget of many billions of dollars per year. It can’t get that. Will the new IPCC result in legislation being passed in the US? Did they make enough changes? I think that they made the changes that are possible at this time. Could they have found a way to add “public relations” people? That isn’t in the mandate.
Well, either I assigned you the simile of Joe Black from the movie, or I was just taking a shot in the dark :)
Glad the last was entertaining. The concern remains in the area of uncertainty. You don’t think there is enough certainty in the science, but it’s so darn solid that I find it awfully strange that you don’t see it yet.
If a skeptic disagrees with a piece of AGW science he has to have a basis other than his opinion in order to refute the findings. I don’t ever recall a skeptic overturning a piece of truly relevant science in the AGW chain of understanding. I will grant that Steve McKintyre actually did help inconsequentially with his statistics argument. But it remains that the correction pointed out in the Hockey Stick debate was statistically insignificant.
So, I’m not sure how to attribute his contribution, and because of his apparent motive via association as inferred. I don’t know if he meant to add anything other than to simply add to the noise and confuse people.
If a skeptic has a problem with a piece of science and has nothing that actually refutes that science, then that skeptic is presenting either a new straw man, a red herring, or simply noise.
As to your name, I forget why you don’t put it in your signature, but I wish you would. You could be Rod B (realname) so people can still find your moniker.
As a conservative, that was raised in the military, I learned from the culture, you never misrepresent yourself, you never shy away, and you stand tall and stand by your words and actions (right or wrong). And when you’re wrong, you stand corrected and move on. Anything else, and your in the wrong place, join the civilians, so the culture bespeaks.
Thank you, Gavin and others, for taking the time to formalize the “Attribution” paper. The resource will be effective and often used by the “lay field workers”, as they attempt to communicate greenhouse science.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again — I think the IPCC is way too reticent and conservative. I think it underestimates the problem. And if it does, then that’s a MUCH more serious problem than making a few mistakes in WGII in the other direction.
I know science is reticent and conservative, needing 90-95% confidence to make a claim. I call that the SCIENTIFIC MODEL. Scientists cannot afford to be the boy who called wolf and have their reputations harmed; they have to avoid the FALSE POSITIVE of making untrue claims. That’s fine for them.
However, policy-makers and laypersons concerned about life on earth would be interested in avoiding the FALSE NEGATIVE of failing to mitigate true and very serious problems. You’d think. I call this the MEDICAL MODEL — we’d feel shocked and upset if the doc came back and told us the test was only 94% confident the lump was cancerous, so come back in a few years to see it if it couldn’t get up to 95% so he could operate. We the villagers cannot afford to be eaten up by the wolf. The the real moral to that story is the villagers were pretty stupid not to heed the boy’s warning, even if he did make a couple of mistakes.
Now when you get a bunch of reticent scientists together drawing up a report like the IPCC, having to come to agreements, it’s bound to be more conservative than single studies in erring on the side of avoiding false claims.
And there is another issue — the way the wind is blowing. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice the general trend over the past 20 or so years in AGW studies is “it’s worse than we thought.” So even as each IPCC report comes out, they seem already to be dated and underestimating the problem.
It would be really fine, AOK if the IPCC OVERESTIMATED the problem. (Please do not listen to a bunch of howling denialists on this.) We’d only have things to gain, if we mitigate an untry AGW, like the money saved thru mitigation, and the mitigation of many many other problems (and $billions saved that way), like reducing local pollution, acid rain, ocean acidification, oil wars, you name it. Not to mention the lives saved….
OTOH, if AGW is underestimated, we have everything to lose. I mean EVERYTHING.
Good point, LV. I’m afraid that, by intention or not, the IPCC has had the effect of slowing down accurate information on global warming. It has had to wait for scientists from countries whose main export is oil and who inevitably have pressures to be “skeptical” to come around before it could say something accurate. This may have been necessary politically, but I’m not sure it expedited accurate scientific information in every case.
AGW has killed many people; it is just that we haven’t counted them because we don’t know how many would have died without AGW
Wrong, we know that every single one of them would have/will die, regardless of the temperature, and saying any individuals life was been or will be “shortened” by anything such as smoking, train wrecks, or AGW is hand waving, none of us have the ability to live indefinitely.
The question isn’t what change of temperature or climate will cause the “premature” deaths of how many, but what is the carrying capacity of the planet, how much must the population be reduced to be sustainable? And it does have to be reduced, or at the very least, contained.
I had a weird thought just now reading in the 120s or so, reading RB and responses, as well as the comments about the IAC review of the IPCC, and in the context of reading Stephen Schneider’s Science as a Contact Sport (quite a juxtaposition, what what!?).
Schneider’s work, as he describes it, cobbling together the work and trying to get a consensus from the wild and unwieldly consortium that was the IPCC (2 and 3, I think mostly) was to bring a broadminded, brilliant, interested human perspective to accomplishing the impossible.
The problem with the IAC review is that it takes criticism, mostly from a group who overtly or covertly is more interested in undermining than elucidating, and puts it into the mainstream. It fails altogether to acknowledge the miraculous accomplishment of the IPCC in professionalizing the statement of truth in the face of and apparently with the approval of governments overinfluenced by industry: an industry mostly hostile to things that apparently diminish their influence and ability to acquire more wealth, beyond dreams of avarice, you might say.
By couching this is reasonable and rational terms, as if from the “inside”, it requires the structure to be codified in such a way that original thought and progress are largely stifled.
Then there’s this business of world government. It is truthfully stated, as if this was something evil, that in the face of an escalating planetary crisis, it will be necessary for all the world’s entities to find a way to work together.
It will just be much more expensive and controlling to wait; mitigation is always more expensive than prevention.
John P. Reisman (162), there are about four areas of the science that I think are less than robust enough to not “upset the fruit basket,” some less of a concern than others. My most salient relates to the process of molecular absorption as CO2 concentration increases from the level where we are currently, with the process of CO2 leading temperature. This is tied to the “saturation” question: I’m not satisfied entirely with the explanation that saturation is not a factor.
A skeptic need only a reasonable possible explanation for his skepticism. Having to disprove that what he questions is too great a hurdle and nonsensical: 1) if one could scientifically prove his skepticism is correct, by definition it is no longer a skepticism — it’s the science. 2) the proof requirement is a non-starter which says a credentialed scientist can assert anything he wishes, and it must be accepted until proven otherwise. An astronomer can say the moon is made of cheese and no rebuttals would be allowed unless the skeptic can scientifically prove it is not — which he can hardly do without going there. I’m not pulling my skepticism above out of thin air, but do have reasonable scientifically based “curiosities.” I’m not prepared to debate because I’m still studying (very excruciating and complex it is too) but two of my curiosities: 1) by my so far rudimentary physics and math the pressure broadening assertion seems lacking. I calculate the half width half max absorption bandwidth of CO2 at 1 atm to be roughly 0.05 to 0.2 cm^-1 which amounts to about 0.04% of the center “freq.” of 667cm^-1. I don’t yet know what intensity this represents, but it sure doesn’t seem like much. 2) While the physics of absorption and broadening is proclaimed to be rock solid, all five of the partial texts I’m studying say something like (paraphrasing), “This is a fairly difficult subject….,” “The theory of this. .. is complex, and. .. incomplete,” there is at present no general theory for the far-tail shape….” All of this doesn’t prove or disprove anything but it is at least curious.
Sorry, the above is too lengthy for what it is.
There are many here that use pseudonyms or partial names and this does not affect my view of their credibility one iota. But to each his own.
Lynn Vincentnathan (164), I think your suggestion is not, on the whole, helpful to you. Some of the more shrill of my fellow skeptics can take the slightest exaggeration that didn’t prove to be exact and beat the living hell out of you with it — and win more converts in the process. Look how a couple grew the process suggestions of The Inter-Academy Council, as serious as they were, into virtual Armeggedon. I understand your concern and rationale, however. Maybe you can’t win for losing, but being more accurate and less histrionic works better for your case, IMO.
166 flxible: What do you call the genocide in Darfur? It was caused by drought in a region where the Sahara is growing.
What do you call the diminished wheat harvest in Russia? Who will have no food as a result?
What do you call the “500 year” floods in Nashville and Pakistan if they happen again next year?
What do you call the growth of the Gobi desert in China?
This list could get long. Any one event isn’t attributable to GW, but the longer the list gets the harder it is to say none of them are linked to GW.
We have a law against murder in spite of the fact that everybody dies eventually anyway.
[Response: Great care (and good data and models) is required in addressing these kinds of questions, which involve chains of attribution, and are frequently nonlinear and noisy. Your first (over) statement is easily shot down, because genocide always has some social/cultural element to it, and proving that it was “caused” by drought is, as Eric said, essentially impossible. Your last statement is much more accurate (and also MUCH less likely to be quote mined by deniers).–Jim
“We [scientists and engineers] don’t happen to have the wealth or the authority to do anything effective about it” – 160
Collectively you do.
Some might suggest that someone write a paper and then it could be circulated within the scientific community. Ya, that will show them anti-science denialists. NOT!
The collective action must be in the public arena.
I have repeatedly recommended a work stoppage, to bring public attention to the problem, but those recommendations have repeatedly been deleted.
Three are other alternatives
Nowhere do I see a discussion of what can be done in a pro-active manner.
[Response: Then you're not looking, because proposed solutions are all over the place--Jim]
And that is why science continues to lose ground not only on this issue, but in the area of evolution, as well.
[Response: If you think science is "losing ground" in either of these areas, then you simply don't understand the science. You seem not to understand that science and political/social action and change are two very different things, accomplished largely by two separate groups of people. Scientists primary job is to get the story right, and if you don't think that's a big enough job in itself, then why don't you just give it a try before you fly off with your self-righteous accusations of our effectiveness--Jim]
Edward : “93 Paul Tremblay “So far as I know, no one has claimed that AGW has killed many people; it only has the possibility of doing so.”
AGW has killed many people;”
As Eric pointed out, it is almost impossible to quantify such a number. Especially if you want to evaluate the net>/i> number, subtracting number of people whose deaths didnot happen thanks to GW – for instance during mild winters or through better crops. And finally, if you estimate the net change of lives, or better of “QUALY”, due to the use of FF, it is certainly positive (just correlate the life expectancy with the use of FF). Do you think that “advertising” will hide that ?
Rod B @168 — It is enough to recall that (i) during the Eemian interglacial the global average temperature was about 2 K warmer than even now and the sea highstand was a few meters higher than current sea levels,while (ii) during the Miocene, with CO2 concentrations about the same as currently, sea levels were several tens of meters higher than curently.
So indeed, the Aarhenius approximation is once again shown to be satisfactory.
Jim 171: I don’t disagree with you, but when will we be able to say: “This is GW”?
[Response:Attribution will always have a probabilistic element to it, but that probability will be highest when (1) the cause and effect chain/web is relatively short (thus minimizing the number of variables that have to be accounted for), (2) the spatio-temporal quality and extent of the data and models is highest, and (3) the signal:noise is relatively high, given the state of the first two conditions. What is "relatively high" is case specific. There is no simple, one-size-fits-all answer; each question must be addressed one at a time, given the state of relevant knowledge. If we take the recent Russian fires as an example, the possibility of attributing the weather conditions over this summer to climate change is simpler (possibly much so) than is attributing the cause, extent and intensity of the fires themselves, which are influenced by things such as the past history of vegetation/fire management, the state of the Russian fire fighting force, the weather conditions during the fires, etc. --Jim]
Rod B. says, “A skeptic need only a reasonable possible explanation for his skepticism.”
No, Rod, a true skeptic needs to be familiar and understand the evidence sufficiently to posit plausible alternative mechanisms/theories. There is nothing at all in question about the fact that CO2 does not saturate. If you are truly skeptical, then present an argument supporting your position.
There is nothing at all ambiguous about the levels of CO2 sensitivity supported by evidence. Skeptical? Then present evidence that convincingly favors a lower sensitivity.
Skepticism is not mere personal incredulity. It requires understanding and evidence of its own. The denialists have neither.
David B. Benson, I’m not sure what to make of the Eemian or Miocene environments. One of my question marks comes from the temperature change looks to be leading CO2 concentration change as opposed to today’s vice versa. Doesn’t prove anything one way or another but does offer a reasonable curiosity that so far is answered with a surmise. The chart I have of the Miocene shows temp and CO2 almost in lockstep; but the temp was calculated from determined CO2 concentration per current models (the study I have wasn’t looking for temp/CO2 correlation). Again, nothing conclusive in my mind though your points are worth pondering.
Since we are on the topic of the IPCC, what is the best way to read the IPCC for a non-scientific person such as myself? I have read 2 very basic books on AGW. I see that I can by the 2007 IPCC report but it is more than I can afford. A commentator noted that one can benefit from reading the summary of the IPCC rather than the whole thing. Of course, I know it is optimal to read the entire work, but I can see some arguments for reading the summary or getting more background info first.
Unfortunately, my local library does not have a copy, even though they have several good books on Climate change, including Gavin’s (which I also intend to check out). I know I can get the PDF online, but I don’t relish the thought of reading a thousand pages on a computer screen, and I especially like real books with paper. I think I will ask my library to purchase the IPCC, full version–after all, I don’t have to make much of an argument for the publication that represents the winners of the Nobel prize!
I know I might be asking an obvious question, but I thought some experts out there might have some useful tips before I launch into a long reading project.
EG@171 – I call those things life on this planet. I don’t have any issue with the fact that the climate is changing, I’m aware of direct effects on my own life, but when any of us die it’s from “natural causes”. Many of those situations you cite have been long ongoing, there have always been droughts affecting desert area dwellers, deserts have always been shifting, crop failures have always occured – those folks who are starving in some areas have always been barely scratching out survival. A more prime reason for any increased death rate anywhere [if there is one] aside from the nature of mammalian physiology, is the unsustainable size of the population, including the portion in the “developed world” that insists on operating on principles of self aggrandizing entitlement. Aside from Jims explanation of the uncertainties of attribution wrt AGW, I think it’s pretty plain we can attribute the lions share of any “premature” deaths to unsustainability, of both total numbers and individual consumption.
Rod B @180 — Sigh. Wrong again. Temperature/sea levels is determined from the d18O proxy; CO2 for the Eemian from Antarctic ice cores and for the Miocene from leaf stomata counts.
Over the long term, Miocene to present, CO2 concentration decreases have been leading temperatures down. Except of of course the mid-Miocene temperature increase, due to some natural source of CO2 producing a substantial excess.
This bit about “temperatures leading CO2″ holds for temperatures being forced by orbital variations, but orbital variations didn’t trigger glacials during the Miocene (or the later Pliocene), only during the Quaternary with its low levels of CO2.
I suggest you actually bother to learn some (more) geology; it all fits together.
Jim 171: I don’t disagree with you, but when will we be able to say: “This is GW”?
I believe the question you want to ask is “when will most people instinctively feel, without need for further justification and beyond any claims to the contrary, that at least some, though perhaps not all, of a number of seemingly anomalous and dangerous events are a result of GW?”
The points being that (a) any connection of any individual event to climate change can be easily denied or dismissed and (b) a fair number of anomalous events cannot all be denied and (c) for all intents and purposes, it is the belief of the common man that matters, not scientific proof. To misquote Abe: “You can deny some of the events all of the time…”
The only thing that I can think of that might some day be incontrovertibly be attributed to climate change would be the nearly complete lost of Arctic summer ice for successive years, or perhaps the loss of large tracts of the Amazon to something other than human deforestation.
I do also think that temperatures are still a little too low to begin to do much in the way of event attribution. I think a favorite denial tack, in fact, is to imply that because we don’t see killer storms and complete loss of Arctic ice now that this means that climate change isn’t happening, which completely ignores the main point, which is that the CO2 we’re pumping out now will commit us to a temperature which, in the future, when it is reached, will cause such events.
But I’m afraid that trying to pin any events today on climate change is actually playing into their hands.
It will be an interesting (and sad) day, however, when an IPCC ARx comes out with an entire section (“Possible Climate Effects To Date”) that assigns a statistical probability to some percentage of a series of events (droughts, storm and wild fire frequency and strength, expanding/changing ecosystems, etc.) as being a result of climate change (based purely on an analysis of what tended to happen in the past, to what degree and how often, compared with the “present world” of ARx).
Jim and Bob (Sphaerica): Thanks. Yes, I am trying to figure out how to get our message into the heads of difficult persons. These are the same problems that the IPCC encountered that lead to re-organization. The problem is as Bob (Sphaerica) said; that will be a sad day.
can I point out that post #128 contained a very valid question about the IPCC, that seemed to me to be on-topic, and we completely ignored it.
Does anyone want to touch on that? My personal experience of the IPCC SPM process is that it is a very unsatisfactory process, since it is inherently political. The SPM must be agreed by politicians, rather than scientists. However, in my experience this also means that things get watered down, rather than watered up, if you see what I mean.
Admittedly my experience is limited. I only attended one SPM meeting.
Some posters here bash “conservatives,” but I don’t see the attack on well-established scientific government institutions, the defamation of our greatest scientists, and the endangerment of our nation and the world as conservative. The denialists are radicals who have kidnapped this conservative label.
Some posters here bash religious people for opposing global warming, but the Holy See (Vatican) says there is global warming and has asked the UN to solve this problem. I wrote about this here.
The persecution of Galileo happened a long time ago.
In the Catholic school I know about, there are US government posters about global warming on the walls in the science classes, and the books discuss global warming. Catholics teaching is that people should be “stewards of the earth.” Catholic students are encouraged to learn about environmental issues and climate change.
Virginia’s Attorney General Cuccinelli and his wife went to Catholic high schools in Washington D. C. and Virginia, but he is not on the same page as the Vatican or even some older Catholic sisters who teach science.
I don’t know the details, but I believe Cuccinelli’s father–also named Ken Cuccinelli–worked for the American Gas Association, which is a lobby.
If you google Cuccinelli “American Gas Association” you will see some information about this, but the dates suggest that this is the father. Maybe Attorney General Cuccinelli has some relationship with this natural gas lobby because of his father, who seems to have worked in the Division of Marketing Services of the American Gas Association.
I think the denialists endeavor to coopt less educated religious people because cynical demogogues do that and because it deflects attention from the real culprits–fossil fuel companies.
Sometimes denialist politicians also suggest that the scientists are “commies,” but is the Vatican a nest of commies?
A Russian named Andrei Illarionov works for the Libertarian Cato Institute; but he used to work for Putin and Chernomyrdin, the head of the Soviet gas company. Some of these former “commies” became billionaires because they ended up owning every methane molecule in Russia and they don’t want any regulation or competition.
Until the fires this summer, the Russian government media sponsored denialist propaganda, but it got a little “tricky” to accuse those crafty US scientists of plotting hoaxes while NASA scientists were pointing out where the fires are. Still, one PhD in history managed to accuse US scientists of CAUSING global warming by beaming climate weapons at certain unnamed countries. It’s kind of funny that our scientists are accused of perpetrating the “hoax” of global warming last winter and of causing global warming this summer.
According to Newsweek (8-2-10):
“Broadly speaking, the Russian position has always been that climate change is an invention of the West to try to bring Russia to its knees,” says Vladimir Chuprov, director of the Greenpeace energy department in Moscow [More here]. Case in point: when Medvedev visited Tomsk last winter, he called the global-warming debate “some kind of tricky campaign made up by some commercial structures to promote their business projects.”
Doesn’t this sound just like Inhofe and Cuccinelli? Pravda, which carried denialist articles by 9-11 truthers also sounded like FOX, Inhofe, Cuccinelli, and the “scientific” front organizations. Sometimes Pravda even cited FOX as their source.
Denialists simply want to deflect attention from the truth. To paraphrase President Medvedev: denialism is “some kind of tricky campaign made up by some commercial structures to promote their business projects.”
I think it is really divisive and provocative to bash religious people and conservatives. The Bible says Christians should be “stewards of the earth.”
“Conservative” means saving something–like our climate, our civilization, and the reputations of our greatest scientists.
Attorney General Cuccinelli is not on-board with the teachings of his Catholic Church. He is not protecting our country or the world from climate change. He is not protecting our greatest scientists from defamation.
His RADICAL policies are not ONSERVING anything. They are destructive.
When the Russians spread destructive propaganda that our Pentagon scientists developed AIDS to genocide blacks, this made sick people in America and abroad distrust our government’s health programs.
The Republican US Secretary of State George Schultz told the Russians to “stop selling bad dope.” If they didn’t stop their destructive lies, the US was going to stop helping Russia with their AIDS problem. The Russians got the message, and the KGB even admitted they were behind that propaganda. The Russian scientists and doctors wanted our help so they could help their people.
That’s what real American conservatives should do: protect our most valuable scientists and the health and welfare of the whole world.
Instead, some of them are “selling bad dope.”
During the fires in Russia, our NASA scientists were helping find the fires, according to the official RIA Novosti press. NASA was CONSERVING the Russian forests. That is good for the whole planet, not just the Russians.
These fires were made worse because Putin cut the funding to government forestry agencies that had trained people to fight forest fires in the past.
The logging companies and local officials were put in charge of fighting fires, and look how that turned out. There were no people who were trained in fighting forest fires. I think the Russians are learning that there is a role for the federal government in fighting hundreds of forest fires.
Putin’s policy turned out to be penny-wise and pound foolish, or as the Russians say, “A Miser Pays Twice.”
Neither of the following two suggestions = IPCC AR4 but both are based on it so may be useful to read them first.
Dire Predictions by Mann & Kump
You can compensate for its lack of references by using Google Scholar or the full AR4 on line. You may not like the print over pictures but the quality of the text and organisation of the arguments make up for it.
John Haughton’s ‘Global Warming’ is also based on IPCC; is different, so worth having both.
Even when “temperature changes lead CO2 changes” it remains true that there is a feedback loop which means that the temperature changes should be written as the sum of two terms T(orbital), for example, and T(greenhouse-forced). The fact that the ‘lag’ tends to decrease over say 800 years is consistent with the growth of the second contribution relative to the first.
I don’t have a climate model to play about with to test this. If true it means that a high proportion of the temperature follows the CO2 , even in such examples.
Fox News Channel had a disinformation full-length show last night attacking the IPCC, Pachauri, publishing scientists, mainstream science, etc. using Michaels- whose work does not stand up, Lindzen- whose work does not stand up, Monckton (a non scientist who was labeled an “expert”, etc).
I can’t believe a major (arguably the highest rated news channel) can get away with this when the mainstream science is so sound, so thorough and dating back to the 1800s on climate change. Every country on Earth as well as the conservative US military, thinks human-caused climate change is a problem.
This is, in my opinion, becoming a national security issue.
One of my question marks comes from the temperature change looks to be leading CO2 concentration change as opposed to today’s vice versa.
A common, repeated flaw in the approach of many skeptics is to focus on correlation with no attention to causation, possibly starting from one of three points of view. The first is that the problem is simply too complex, so no one can know. The second is a predisposition towards the (incorrect) belief that science does not know, so there’s no need to look for the information. The third is the belief that the individual himself doesn’t know, but doesn’t have the time to learn, and doesn’t need to do so, that correlation is all one needs to use conduct science and make decisions.
These beliefs all allow the skeptic to “play the game” using very narrow and limited rules, i.e. with the ability to dismiss out of hand the knowledge and understanding that helps one to interpret apparent correlations, and to tease out actual cause and effect instead of leaping to conclusions based on assumed cause and effect.
The physical understanding of how and why CO2 impacts temperature exists, and clearly explains the CO2-lags-temperature-in-the-historical-record argument. To dismiss that understanding out-of-hand is a non-skeptical approach.
I would suggest that the best use of your time would be to out a lot more effort into researching and understanding the physics behind CO2.
Ray Ladbury (179), well, my assertion of “is not” is on equal par with your simple claim of “is so.”
More direct, for just example, how do you answer that collision broadening at 1 atm is about 0.04% bandwidth around the center absorption frequency of CO2; and here absorbing 50% of the center frequency’s intensity. And at less than 1% of the intensity absorption it has probably spread out almost to the 1st rotational energy state (although scientists say we know little of the precise far spreading function.) Scientists say CO2 absorbs 100% of its primary IR radiation within 10 meters (though that doesn’t address the repeated transfer of energy back and forth): how does that fit with unsaturated?
I’m using these real questions rhetorically here for discussion (but it is what I’m currently trying to learn, so if you have some answers, or better yet references, I’m very interested). From a logical point of view, a claim that the absorption is unsaturated can only be questioned with the thought that it is to saturated. I still maintain that a skeptic need not have an alternative proof but simply be ‘familiar and understand the evidence’ enough to pose credible questions.
can I point out that post #128 contained a very valid question about the IPCC, that seemed to me to be on-topic, and we completely ignored it.
I agree, and it’s one of the few on-topic posts on this thread of late.
To repeat the relevant section of the IAC report, from that comment:
Another concern of respondents to the Committee’s questionnaire was the difference in content between the Summary for Policy Makers and the underlying report. The distillation of the many findings of a massive report into the relatively brief, high-level messages that characterize the Summary for Policy Makers necessarily results in the loss of important nuances and caveats that appear in the Working Group report. Moreover, the choice of messages and description of topics may be influenced in subtle ways by political considerations. Some respondents thought that the Summary for Policy Makers places more emphasis on what is known, sensational, or popular among Lead Authors than one would find in the body of the report.
To repeat the Thomas Giammo’s take on this:
Differences in content between the Summary for Policy Makers and the underlying report? Loss of important caveats? Influenced by political considerations? Emphasis on the sensational? These are important issues. Ignoring them only plays into the paranoid accusations of a white-wash by the climate community.
Like you, I’m also unqualified to comment, as I haven’t even read the full SPM or the full report, so addressing this in a thoughtful manner is difficult.
I would, however, argue that Thomas’ interpretation of the passage is extreme, and purposely colored in a bad light. He’s quote-mined it for things that sound nasty and presented them as such. [I'm getting soooo tired of the quote mining game.]
The original is right there for everyone to read, and compare.
For example, he starts with “differences in content” as if this a horrible breach of trust, implying that the main report says one thing while the SPM says something else. Well, obviously, this is the case because they have different words in them, and have different purposes. In particular, the SPM is a “distillation” of the main report. How can it not have “differences in content?”
Thomas then quotes “loss of important nuances” all by itself, when the actual statement says that by it’s very nature such a distillation “necessarily results” in such a result. No evil, nefarious intent is stated or even implied, and in fact it says quite the opposite. It says that such losses of nuance and caveats are unavoidable.
He also quotes “influenced by political considerations” when the actual statement is prefaced “may be” and qualified by “in subtle ways.” Again, it’s not assigning guilt in any way, or saying that such abuse is evidenced. I will repeat, with emphasis, it’s not saying that such abuse is evidenced as Thomas quote-mining implies. It’s just saying that by it’s nature the process is open to such abuse.
He quotes “emphasis on the sensational” while leaving out “Some respondents thought” (emphasis mine), and that what was emphasized was the “known” and “popular” as well as sensational. Obviously, out of any group in such a highly charged issue, some people will feel this way, so the statement does not say what Thomas implies, i.e. that the report said that the SPM tended toward the sensational. And obviously, there will be a tendency toward the known and popular, and by human nature, even toward the sensational.
Thomas’ post is an egregious misrepresentation of on paragraph in the IAC report, and is every bit as bad as the misrepresentations elsewhere. I’m tired of quote miners.
With that said, I do believe that the paragraph from the report, interpreted as it was meant to be interpreted, is worth of intelligent discussion. The question is, how can the SPM be written and policed in such a way as to guarantee that it will not be subject to the abuse which is possible (but not necessarily yet evidenced) in that section of the report.
Maybe it bears repeating: It takes years of dedicated effort and study just to get up to speed on the science at a professional level. It’s not like phil. 101 where you can sit around and endlessly debate the nature of free will and get pats on the head for being an intellectual.
Anybody with a little effort and not much thought can turn themselves into a wind-up objection factory. It’s a trivial, time wasting exercise.
Apologies. I suggested you put your time into learning the physics of CO2, which you are clearly attempting.
To the saturation argument… I cannot find the explicit reference (apologies, I’ll keep looking) but the IR energy absorbed by a CO2 molecule (and “held” as vibrational energy) is in turn very, very, very quickly transferred to other molecules in the atmosphere (O2, N2) through collisions (heating the surrounding atmosphere), and thus becomes translational energy imparted to those molecules, leaving the original CO2 molecule free to absorb more IR. Broadening helps to expand the range of IR absorption, making CO2 an even more effective GHG, but has little to do with saturation. The narrow range in which CO2 absorbs IR has little to do with saturation (because of the rapid transmission of that energy through collisions), and so is not a valid argument at its very core.
Beyond this, we are talking about layer upon layer (an abstract, not physical, separation of the atmosphere into layers) of atmosphere. Radiation at each layer can be re-emitted (as IR) back down, or up to a higher layer. So any saturation would also depend on the depth of the atmosphere, and is a convergent series problem… it’s not like filling a bucket with water, where a smaller bucket gets filled proportionally faster. It’s more like filling a bucket rocking around on the back of a pickup truck on a bumpy road where some of the water keeps sloshing back out. The fact that you’ve already poured more water than the bucket can hold doesn’t mean the bucket is full, and in fact it’s almost impossible to fill the bucket, because no matter how close you get to full, some water always keeps sloshing out.
Dr. Shapiro, the Chair of the IAC review panel, gave an interview on Thursday that essentially shot down the press reporting that this report somehow savaged the scientific basis of the IPCC assessments
QUESTION: If your panel concluded generally that the IPCC’s procedure is reasonable, even if it could use improvement, doesn’t that implicitly suggest that the science is sound?
HAROLD SHAPIRO: Yes, I think that’s fair. It suggests that it was convincing enough — this organization is not a fraud, this organization wasn’t perpetuating some sort of criminal act on us all — in fact, it’s extraordinary the number of scientists who participated. I know of no other comparable situation.
The ozone situation might be comparable in some ways. It was a big, worldwide problem, not understood very well at the beginning. It took them a decade or two before they could come to the Montreal Protocol and begin to solve the problem. It wasn’t easy. Because even if you convinced every scientist in the U.S. and Great Britain and western Europe that this was a problem, it was a worldwide problem: you had to convince a lot of people and a lot of governments.
There is no problem with the IPCC. It continues to do it’s job exceedingly well.
This introspection is nothing but an attempt to appease the denialists who will never be appeased.
The scientific community is allowing the denialists to control the agenda. In this case is is the credibility of the IPCC.
The proper course of action is simply to state that the mistakes are minor, and then state that they will be removed in the next iteration of the report.
The only failure here is the continued failure of the insular Scientific Community at large to take on the core, corporate origins of this denialism.
As I have repeately stated, and which has repeatedly been deleted, science has virtually of the battles, and in fact the Conservative American public are so opposed to the reality of Anthropogenic Climate Change that there is now a strong trend in Cosnservative ideology toward abandoning all science when it produces bad news.
Scientists are generally isolated from these kinds of irrational behaviours and hence are generally incapable of comprehending and hence countering this form of self imposed ignorance and deceit.
The corporate PR groups, and ideologically driven think tanks who are behind this denialism are very aware of the underlying motivation and are adept at using it to manipulate the ignorant conservative public to further their own ideological ends.
You can have all the scientific evidence you like. You can whine and moan and scream at the top of your lungs, but when the general public prefer to remain willfully ignorant, you will always remain impotent, and will always lose.
You can’t win by simply being reactive.
You can’t sway an ignorant public with technical arguments.
The cowardly response of the scientific community to current denialism has already committed the failing American State to another 10 years of inaction on climate change.
How many more decades must pass before you learn from your continual failure?
Geoff Wexler @192 — Yes, on millennial scales you have it about right. Using linear systems thoery and a one reservoir model with (small) positive feedback one doesn’t need more than pencil & paper to illustrate what is happening.
On longer time scales, millions of years, temperature follws CO2 concentrations; something which needs to emphasized to the contrarians (who fail to learn enough geology).
Remove everything except CO2. Then, try a doubling of CO2, and a re-doubling. See what it does to the absorption band profile. Remember, what counts, what tells you how much energy is not getting to space, is the area contained in the profile, not what’s happening in the core. Look at the number Iout on top.
#203, is there a bug with the calculations on that page – the Iout changes, but the Ground T, K value stays the same no matter what input parameters are used (apart from changing the location, which changes to a different fixed value for each location)?
Bob #198, seeing that you’ve chosen to waste your time :-) …
[Rod B, please don't take this the wrong way... even though I know you'll eventually bring up the Medieval Warm Fantasy and tick me off by doing it...]
I believe that some serial deniers, like serial killers, actually commit their crimes as a plea for help. Deep down, they want to be stopped, but they can’t help themselves.
So I see Rod B’s persistent presence here as a cry for help.
And, to paraphrase Blanche Deboise, from that famous Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Deniers, “I’ve always depended on the climate of skeptics.”
Anyway, it’s a slow day at work (since I’m the only one working today). I’m trying to debug a batch script that takes 20 minutes to run through and reveal the sixteenth bug that was lurking behind the last fifteen of them. Seventeen. Eighteen…
That, and I really, really like the molecular level aspects of GHE. It’s cool, and once someone really understands it, I think they start to take the other stuff with a much larger grain of proverbial, IR absorbing salt.
I know you said you stated your last name in the past. if it’s not to terribly inconvenient, can you refresh my memory again.
Also, I think there are so many tired old arguments out there that it is really hard for people to cut through to the good stuff. But you are here with some truly knowledgeable people and they have been directing you very well.
It seems you keep digging for gold in the wrong places and end up finding fools gold. Try to remember, just because it’s shiny, does not mean it’s valuable.
Stuart #206, no, you have to manually change the “ground T offset” to restore equilibrium, i.e., bring Iout back to the same value. How much, tells you what the surface temperature effect of a given atmospheric composition change is.
This is a very simple, 1-D model: don’t take it too seriously. E.g., the effect of humidity on the lapse rate seems to be lacking. But the radiative transfer code is used by remote sensing folks including the military, and if there is anything wrong with it, climatologists aren’t the only ones in trouble ;-)
185, Bob (Sphaerica): It will be an interesting (and sad) day, however, when an IPCC ARx comes out with an entire section (“Possible Climate Effects To Date”) that assigns a statistical probability to some percentage of a series of events (droughts, storm and wild fire frequency and strength, expanding/changing ecosystems, etc.) as being a result of climate change (based purely on an analysis of what tended to happen in the past, to what degree and how often, compared with the “present world” of ARx).
You have introduced a concept like “attributable deaths” in epidemiology: granted that a 10% gain in weight increases heart attack risk by 10% (that’s neither exact nor very far wrong), how many of the heart attacks among those who were 10% overweight at the time of their heart attacks might reasonably be said to have been caused by their excess weight?
David B. Benson (184), I may be a bit confused, but did you say that the study I referenced did not determine temperature in the miocene by using current general forcing and sensitivity equations in models, even though that’s what the authors said? Or did I miss your point?
I simply overlaid Vostok graphs from NOAA since 450,000 bp and in many obvious areas temperature is leading CO2; in some areas it looks like it might be the other way, and in many areas eyeballing isn’t sufficient given the granularity and sharp variations.
You’re correct that I need more geology. And I can see how your conclusion might be drawn. But to move it to a class of irrefutable a fait accompli (“That’s it! Game over! We won! No more questions!”) is grossly unwarranted.
Richard Ordway, a minor clarification: while you will find high-ranking and mid-ranking individuals on both side of the AGW question, the military does not have a position on whether AGW is true (Commander-in Chief not withstanding). They do have (or are making) contingency plans to respond to AGW caused conflicts.
Bob (Sphaerica) (198), good points. I have always felt that CO2 molecule acting as a bucket brigade, while having its own problems, is better argument in support of unsaturation. My reaction was to a plethora of responses that said/say broadening does it.
Your second point has long been at the forefront of my mind. I am not able to reconcile the different radiations between the layers with specific narrow band radiation being absorbed by CO2. Just one question: you say “re-emitted” — what exactly is the emission, from what gas at what frequency, in what you call re-emission? (I’m not sure of the “re” part.) (With apology for getting into detail on the wrong thread.)370020 robils
Martin Vermeer, well I am studying — I’m just slow, though as you know climatology is very tough. You’re confusing what looks to you as my not learning with my unacceptance of the “scientific” statement that basically says, “Is too!” or something akin. Or my not accepting a true scientific assertion because maybe that same person recently asserted something that was way off the chart hyperbole and has lessened credibility.
Plus, as I said a couple of years or so ago, I have the responsibility to dig it out as best I can with maybe a scattering of help here on RC (which is the only blog I spend more that trivial time on). Bottom line, the RC posters and moderators have no responsibility to teach me; most have more important things to do.
Scientists need to directly confront the liars where they are. There should be a coordinated attack on Fox News, Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, etc. because that is where the majority (of Americans) gets their disinformation from. It is not enough to respond with intellectual arguments on a blog. Polls of Americans show that fewer and fewer people accept global warming. Murdoch is winning and you are losing.
The forces of Murdoch aren’t going to stop until they defund your research. Scientists need to fight back much harder in order to prevent this from happening.
Just listen to what Glenn Beck says on Fox News on a weekly basis. He’s not simply a denier. He wants to take down science itself.
“Rod B., First, there is absolutely nothing controversial about the fact that CO2 absorption is not saturated. You will not find any serious paper in the past 20 years that argues for saturation.”
It is obviously saturated in the most intense lines – now of course in any spectrum there are unsaturated weak lines and the wings are – by definition- not saturated.
Second, even a small broadening of the spectral absorption lines represents a very large amount of energy absorbed.”
huuh? small broadening represents a small amount on energy absorbed, of course ! just the extra fraction of power absorbed, which can be nothing but small if the broadening is small.
Third, even if all the energy from the surface were absorbed in the first 10 meters, you would still have the energy radiated by the atmosphere.”
The energy is *never* absorbed, or almost not. It is absorbed and reemitted, that is eventually transmitted. It is true that if you increase the concentration, the equilibrium temperature at a given height will slightly increase because the height of the last scattering surface will increase (and the TOA temperature must keep approximately constant, barring effects of sphericity), but this corresponds only to a small amount of energy absorbed, and most important, it does not increase indefinitely. Meaning that this small amount of energy, once absorbed, gives a vanishing *power* (energy absorbed per unit time) when averaged over the new steady state equilibrium (i.e. infinite time). So the net absorbed *power* is actually, strictly speaking, zero.
John P. Reisman #209, I know Rod B’s longer (real?) name; Prof. Google never forgets. But if he wants to be semi-anonymous, grant him that. Reputation attaches to the handle…
Vendicar #210, it may well be true that the path length of an IR photon in the core of the absorption band is 10 m. CO2 is extremely absorptive there. What it means is that the level that radiates directly to space at that wavelength is very high up in the stratosphere, where it is very cold (which is why we see an absorption band looking down from space).
But there are many other wavelengths, and then there is convective heat transport: the atmophere is three-dimensional.
Meanwhile, Monbiot is back on form. I haven’t had time to keep up so I don’t know how widely his defence of Pachauri has been seen, but it’s pretty good.
This all arises out of the Sunday Telegraph article by Christopher Booker and Richard North, “Questions over business deals of UN climate change guru Dr Rajendra Pachauri”, that made sweeping unsubstantiated claims of how Pachauri is making millions out of climate change hence the IPCC must be a fraud.
It turns out the only fraud is that they get away with writing rubbish like this. More detail here.
Fox News is the propaganda arm of the Republican Party. This isn’t liberal paranoia. The CEO of Fox is Roger Ailes, and before he did that he was an electrion strategist for the GOP. When congressmen or senators are interviewed or are guests on Fox programs, 90% of the time they are Republicans.
Again, I renew my plea for anyone who has published peer-reviewed journal articles to look over my article before I submit it, and/or read over my book, The Case for Global Warming. If someone doesn’t answer on this blog, I will start individually emailing climate scientists. I need help, guys, and so far I’m not getting it.
Gilles, Do the math. You will find that energy absorbed does not saturate, but increases roughly logarithmically–as does temperature. This ain’t hard. The saturation argument does not even qualify as a zombie argument–it’s an ex-parrot argument in that it wouldn’t “voom” if you put 4 million volts through it. It’s a stiff, bereft of life. If it hadn’t been nailed to the perch, it would have been pushing up the daisies…It is an EX-argument.
Your second point has long been at the forefront of my mind. I am not able to reconcile the different radiations between the layers with specific narrow band radiation being absorbed by CO2. Just one question: you say “re-emitted” — what exactly is the emission, from what gas at what frequency, in what you call re-emission?
First, the phrase “specific narrow band” isn’t really accurate. CO2 absorbs in a range which can be termed “narrow” or “wide”, depending on your point of view. Narrow as compared to H2O, yes, but it is significant in relation to the range of IR emitted by the surface of the earth, at least in terms of being able to interfere with cooling. And it’s not just one exact wavelength, but rather a range (or, rather, a collection of specific wavelengths within that range, due to various combinations of vibrational and rotational energy resulting from the geometry and bonds of the CO2 molecule).
Re-emission: In a nutshell, IR absorbed by a CO2 molecule causes it to vibrate (and maybe spin, but ignore that). This won’t last for very long (microseconds) before the molecule either collides with another molecule (most likely O2 or N2) and passes the energy to that molecule as translational energy (like a vibrating spring hitting a marble), or it re-emits that energy as another photon (in the same wavelength as the original).
Thus, the original photon emitted from the earth’s surface gets absorbed by the CO2 molecule, but then for all intents and purposes it either instantly heats the surrounding atmosphere, or else the CO2 molecule “shakes the photon loose” again.
That photon is then free to go in any direction: up or down or sideways, to go through the exact same process with another CO2 (or H2O) molecule, and eventually to either heat the atmosphere, hit the ground again (and start all over), or to escape out into space.
Your “bucket brigade” analogy works well here, with the exception that the guys in the line are really, really sloppy, so they may pass it backwards instead of forwards, or to another bucket brigade right next to theirs, and as often as not they spill it on the ground (an O2/N2 molecule gets accelerated/heated instead).
So it wouldn’t matter if every single photon got absorbed within 1 cm of the earth’s surface. It’s still heating the atmosphere, and step by step (bucket brigade) working it’s way up with a chance to escape. At some point, more CO2 is going to have an effect on this.
It should be pointed out that if this weren’t the case, if the first 10 meters simply went on absorbing all of the IR with nothing else going on, then that 10 meters of air would quickly have to heat up to the point where we all burst into flame. I haven’t actually seen a paper on the subject, so I can’t be sure, but I’m pretty sure it hasn’t happened yet. :)
> Gilles says: 7 September 2010 at 1:55 AM
> … energy is *never* absorbed …. TOA temperature must keep
> approximately constant, barring effects of sphericity) … small
> amount … does not increase indefinitely…. a vanishing *power*
> … new steady state equilibrium (i.e. infinite time)….
> actually, strictly speaking, zero.
Rod B #218, surely you’re joking… the readership here may not know your long history of studiously ignoring learning opportunities. From your debating skills you’re way too clever to be as slow as you claim ;-)
Because that will mean that that day will expose measurable, negative impacts on individual human lives, and it will mean that the selfish/ignorant delay that we engage in now will have made us all accomplices to unnecessary human suffering.
The energy is *never* absorbed, or almost not. It is absorbed and reemitted, that is eventually transmitted… So the net absorbed *power* is actually, strictly speaking, zero.
The problem being that it is not always transmitted in the same form. In the stratosphere it is more likely to be transmitted as IR, and so eventually escape into space. In the troposphere it is more likely to be transmitted as translational energy to O2/N2, thus raising the temperature of the atmosphere. In the end, no matter now you slice it, more CO2 = more chance for IR to be passed into the atmosphere as heat than for it to escape into space.
So the net absorbed power by CO2 (as one component of the atmosphere) is actually, strictly speaking, zero, but the net absorbed power by the atmosphere, and evidenced as heat, is very definitely positive.
Whether the absorption band is wide or extremely narrow is a subjective judgement. From a simple broadening process I’d say the 15um line that extends from roughly 14.985um to 15.015um is very narrow. A back of the napkin calculation says within this band the earth emits about 0.00056 watts/m^2 — not a helluva lot of intensity even if all was absorbed. Though the vibrotation lines (bands) are another story.
However, the so-called bucket brigade greatly mitigates the above. some follow up on that: a CO2 molecule that absorbs a 15um photon is overwhelmingly likely to transfer that energy to kinetic (heated) energy through collision — mostly with N2 or O2. Very little will be re-emitted (btw, after a longer interval thereby slowing the bucket brigade — though not by much…). I agree with most of your qualitative description, but the re-emission seems very sparse with only half of that returning to the earth.
It is an EX-argument, dead, bereft of life, deceased, not resting, not stunned. It’s not tired, sleeping or pining for the Fjords. It’s bleeding demised, it’s passed on, it is no more, it has ceased to be, expired, gone to see its maker, a late argument, it is an EX argument.
Now I’m hoping you are not about to inform us the reason that you have brought it up has nothing to do with anything you do or do not understand and that the only reason you have done so is because you actually always wanted to be a lumberjack in British Columbia.
“. . .if the first 10 meters simply went on absorbing all of the IR with nothing else going on, then that 10 meters of air would quickly have to heat up to the point where we all burst into flame. I haven’t actually seen a paper on the subject, so I can’t be sure, but I’m pretty sure it hasn’t happened yet. :)”
Whew–for a moment, you had me all het up worried there.
Rod B @14 — I don’t doubt somebody has run climate models for the Miocene; I haven’t read that (those) paper(s). What is easily located, and to which I referred, is a paper comparing d18O with leaf stomata counts for the Miocene. The former is a proxy for temperature and the latter a proxy for CO2 concentrations. The results are as I state.
There are many aspects of climate, especially paleoclimate, which deserve further study; the role of CO2 is not one of them.
The case was already closed by Bob Callendar’s 1938 paper, but if more is actually required, all the spectral lines were resolved in the 1960s (see the Modtrans data, for instance). So it looks to me that you a seriously behind the times.
Comment by David B. Benson — 7 Sep 2010 @ 12:16 PM
234 (Rod B.)
…but the re-emission seems very sparse with only half of that returning to the earth.
The point is not that 1/2 is returning to earth (which, BTW, is an inaccurate generalization). The point is that substantially less is escaping into space (i.e. exiting the system) until the temperature of everything (ocean, land, atmosphere) warms to the point that it emits IR at a rate that overcomes the effect (i.e. the new equilibrium).
Quantifying that equilibrium point is the goal of a whole lot of climate science.
But you should notice that you’ve fallen into a deep “feels like” trap. You said:
…is a subjective judgement…
I’d say…is very narrow.
A back of the napkin calculation says…
…not a helluva lot…
…Very little will be re-emitted…
…seems very sparse…
All of these generalities are unnecessary. The math exists and has been done. If you don’t trust it, you should work out the math yourself, not stop there because “it feels wrong.” There’s no reason to work based on how it feels. Work with actual numbers, and complex systems, and a final result, rather than eyeballing it. Of course, that’s where things start to get way more complex…
But, I think you should at this point be willing to accept the premise of this discussion, which is that the “saturation” argument is silly.
I’d then hope that this recognition would lead you to begin to treat other denier claims with a little more skepticism (i.e. don’t start out assuming the denial to be correct, until proven otherwise).
While I’m linking to my own stuff, I have a new “Thumbnail History of Global Warming” out today. It contains little that will be new to most here, but it may be useful as a very succinct summary of the the history of the science and politics prior to 1992. With fear and trepidation I broke Hank’s rule against citing to refute, structuring the thing in the context of Walter Cunningham’s (mis)understanding of the history. Check it out at:
“but the re-emission seems very sparse ” Rod B — 7 September 2010 @ 11:57 AM
Don’t forget that the energy absorbed by the CO2 (into molecular excitation modes), transferred into thermal energy of N2, O2, H2O, CO2, Ar, and whatever else is rattling around in the atmosphere, will also sometimes get transferred back into excited modes of other CO2 molecules, along with energy from other thermalized sources (H2O absorption, heat of condensation, convection, etc), and these “buckets” of energy will sometimes get radiated, in random directions – even back to the warmer surface where they originated. If the bucket of energy is the same size as a radiative mode of GHG excitation, it can get absorbed (if it’s a photon), radiated, or transferred kinetically. Your qualitative “sparse” is quantitatively about 33 degrees Kelvin greenhouse effect.
John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation), I’ve been working through a half dozen or so texts, partial texts, or lecture notes, and some papers. Almost all of the textbook type stuff talks of the difficulty and uncertainty to some degree of pressure broadening. A couple of examples: Zender, Tatum, Pierrehumbert.
> Rod B says: 7 September 2010 at 10:47 PM
> I’m just not as easily and quickly satisfied.
Without doing the math, or trusting those who can, you can’t ever be satisfied; your feelings will guide you toward what you can grasp and hold onto firmly, in the absence of knowing or trusting the science.
For most people that’s their wallet or their politics, which may differ but often don’t.
Bob (Sphaerica) (238) you say a large band, I say a narrow band. That strikes me — no — rephrase — That is precisely a subjective judgement, either way. I can’t see the sin.
Pieces of the science ought to be explainable for the most part in simple rough understandable terms. If my question, isn’t the re-emission from an absorbing CO2 molecule very little, is not precise enough, what would be precise enough? The percentage of absorbing CO2 molecules within a square meter column of air at an altitude between 0 and 100 meters at a pressure of 1 atm at zero altitude but changing only every 10 meters (left in one less than exact calculation) at 296K (we’ll fudge that for the whole 100 meters) that are emitting a photon from their vibration energy (at what frequency and intensity) in the direction of the surface, per second? Do you know anyone who has calculated that with zero margin accuracy? (Good trick; if nothing else it is partly based on quantum mechanics which only gives probabilities.) You think the climate models do this? If the climate models didn’t make a rash of assumptions, averages, and groupings and the like, they probably (oops! there I go again!) could never complete a run, at least for a number of years.
A shorter simpler example: show me the precise math and physics that the forcing on a global average (I’ll even give you that) over the next few decades starting today will be exactly the natural log of the concentration ratio raised to the 5.35rd (if memory serves) power.
Bob: “In the stratosphere it is more likely to be transmitted as IR, and so eventually escape into space. In the troposphere it is more likely to be transmitted as translational energy to O2/N2, thus raising the temperature of the atmosphere. In the end, no matter now you slice it, more CO2 = more chance for IR to be passed into the atmosphere as heat than for it to escape into space.
So the net absorbed power by CO2 (as one component of the atmosphere) is actually, strictly speaking, zero, but the net absorbed power by the atmosphere, and evidenced as heat, is very definitely positive.”
I’m sorry, but this is definitely wrong, although it seems a very widespread idea. In a steady state energy transfer, there is nothing absorbed anywhere, and there is no change (statistically speaking) of anything, neither the number of photons, nor the translational or vibrational or internal energy. The only effect of increasing the CO2 concentration is to slow down the energy transfer rate, which at turn causes the ground temperature to be higher -but it is still steady. The net absorbed power absorbed by the atmosphere is zero, and its heat content doesn’t change. The effect of the IR absorption and reemission is just to hinder the propagation of energy, which
You probably all built once a small dam on a creek with small stones, when you were a child. When you add a stone, it slows down the flow of water, which raises the level above, because the water must flow at a constant (incoming from above) rate, and as the dam hinders the flow. So the water level need to be higher for the same result. Nobody says that the stones “absorb” the water, or produce it. The increase of the level is not due to an “increase” of the quantity of water. That’s the same with the energy output throughout the atmosphere, CO2 molecules are just “small stones” in the flow.
The argument that a CO2 molecule, after having absorbed a photon, will transfer more often its energy by collision than by radiative deexcitation is true on a microscopic level, for a single molecule, but wrong on a statistical one, for a large set of molecules : because you forget that this is compensated by the fact that CO2 molecules are *also* more often excited by collisions than by radiative absorption , and some of them will deexcite by emitting a photon (at least when you are close to LTE). And the number of photons reemitted after a collision compensates exactly the number of photons that “disappeared” because of a collisional deexcitation. Statistically, the number of excited molecules at LTE depends only on the temperature, and the number of absorbed and reemitted photons must be strictly equal (and determined only by the temperature).
Actually I agree that because of the temperature gradient, the troposphere is not strictly at the thermodynamic equilibrium, and so with the decrease of temperature , there is a decrease of excited molecules. So the different excitation and deexcitation process do not exactly cancel, and there is a small “transfer” between various degrees of freedom. But this is only a residual effect that adjusts spontaneously to adjust the required thermodynamic balance, and its magnitude is much lower than the number of primary “absorbed” photons : it is just a small difference between two much larger rates (absorption and reemission) that almost cancel.
actually I realized that what I say is not contradictory with what Bob said, because the atmosphere is optically thick only inside the saturated lines, and thus the radiation is thermalized only in these lines. In the transparent part of the atmosphere, IR photons escape freely without being coupled with the atmosphere translational temperature. So the real issue (and I agree with that) is that the increase of CO2 photons decreases the amount of energy that is directly transferred, without absorption, and increases the part that is transferred by thermal energy. However, it doesn’t change what I said, that the number of absorbed photon is almost equal to the reemitted ones, even if a single photoexcited molecule will more often loose its energy by collision. Increasing CO2 concentration increases the total number of absorbed AND reemitted photons – that is, increases the part of the spectrum that is thermally coupled with the atmosphere, because it broadens the absorption lines- but the two numbers remain very close.
Rod B 246: A shorter simpler example: show me the precise math and physics that the forcing on a global average (I’ll even give you that) over the next few decades starting today will be exactly the natural log of the concentration ratio raised to the 5.35rd (if memory serves) power.
BPL: Does anyone remember the long, long discussion we had with Rod B a couple of years ago, trying to explain that the 5.35 in the Myhre et al radiative forcing relation was NOT an exponent? Either he didn’t get it back then, or he’s reviving that red herring anyway. How many times do we have to answer the same verdammte question?
Gilles 247: The only effect of increasing the CO2 concentration is to slow down the energy transfer rate, which at turn causes the ground temperature to be higher -but it is still steady. The net absorbed power absorbed by the atmosphere is zero, and its heat content doesn’t change.
BPL: Wrong. The atmosphere heats up as well. That means its heat content is higher.
But the question isn’t how we feel about it. We’re not buying shirts, or picking our favorite flavors of ice cream.
The question is whether or not the band is thick enough to have a substantive impact on the earth’s temperature. To determine that you have to do math, and when you do, you find out that it is thick enough. You can describe it as narrow if you wish, I don’t care, because those are just words. It’s “narrow,” if you like, but it is thick enough to impact the earth’s temperature, and everyone agrees on that point except for a handful of fringe Internet crackpot Galileo wannabees.
Pieces of the science ought to be explainable for the most part in simple rough understandable terms.
For the sake of understanding, yes, and that’s what I’ve done for you. But for the sake of quantifying a problem (not precisely, just enough to know if “it’s enough”), for instance to determine if CO2 is going to be a problem in the earth’s climate, that’s not enough. But you do now have enough understanding of the mechanics of the situation to understand what’s going on, and the fact that, no matter what the numbers, 100% absorption within X meters of the earth’s surface is irrelevant (or, rather, by itself, insufficient) to the problem and saturation can’t happen at any depth.
A shorter simpler example: show me the precise math and physics that…
Now you’re playing games by changing the subject by leaps and bounds, and moving the goal posts. Let’s stick to the one, basic, issue at hand, the “CO2 is saturated” argument. Let’s summarize what we’ve settled on.
We’re discussing one very simple problem which does not (at first) require math. You felt that because CO2 in a column of air 10 meters long absorbed 100% of the IR shot through it (an as yet unsubstantiated claim, but since the values turn out to be irrelevant, we’ll accept it as a premise) that the greenhouse gas effect cannot possibly raise the earth’s temperature.
It has been pointed out to you that, because the “residence time” of the absorbed energy in a single CO2 molecule is very short, and because that energy is quickly translated either into heat in nearby, non-GHG molecules, or else is re-emitted in many directions out of that column, including being passed either up (“to the next column”) or down (to the lower column or earth’s surface), but in any event possibly out of the column, that it is very, very difficult to saturate that column.
It’s also been pointed out that even if you did saturate that column, the effect is to raise temperatures in that column, proportional to the amount of IR, so if IR increases, temperatures in that column increase.
Lastly, it’s also been pointed out that even if you did saturate that column, because some IR is then passed on up to the “next” column, eventually you will reach a column which it is not saturated, and so, at that point, adding more CO2 will have a noticeable impact.
These factors, combined, without math, demonstrate that the “CO2 is already saturated in X meters” argument is false.
And this is without even getting into the other important atmospheric concepts, such as advection, convection, latent heat, and other factors which will also affect the process and further marginalize any possible “saturation.”
The only reason we got into math, is because you said:
I agree with most of your qualitative description, but the re-emission seems very sparse…
This says, to me, that you understand the reasoning, and it’s still not good enough, that you want to see the math. You brought it up, not me.
But that statement is not relevant, since we have resolved the problem based on pure logic which, in your words, has explained matters “for the most part in simple rough understandable terms”. But you apparently feel that someone needs to prove that the values being discussed are relevant because it “seems sparse.” In that case, then you have to either trust someone else who has done the math, or else do it yourself.
You can’t listen to all of these arguments, say you understand, then say “it just doesn’t seem like enough, but I can’t be bothered to do the math, and I don’t think I should have to, there you haven’t convinced me and I refuse to believe it.”
So, I’ll put it to you again. Please say, categorically and without obfuscation, that you understand and agree that the CO2 saturation in X meters argument is completely, indefensibly flawed.
[And please don't turn this, at this point, into a tiring game of semantics. The scientific discussion has reached it's conclusion, unless you have more, specific questions to ask, which I will answer. Please don't at this point perform the Internet comments equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and running around the room singing "Nah nah nah! I'm not listening! Nah nah nah! Medieval Warm Period! Nah nah nah!"]
re: 252. “…or he’s reviving that red herring anyway.”
And that’s just it. He has been here for several years, yet makes little effort to learn the science nor is able to admit when he is flat out wrong. What a *classic* example of a denialist, regurgitating issues that were addressed long ago either here, in the IPCC reports or other peer-reviewed journals. But he is still not “satisfied”.
So I guess he knows something other than what all the climate researchers and every professional climate science organization in the world do, right? ;-)
There really is no excuse to not making a concerted effort to learn the science, especially after two years of essentially repeating the same, worn-out anti-science talking points. After this long, it is safe to say he has no interest in learning the science. He, like all denialists (who also pretend to call themselves “skeptics” but are no such thing since they never change their position), just wants to stir the pot as if that has not already been done through peer-review conferences and journals.
I’m sorry, but you have a habit of using a whole lot of words without ever clearly stating your point, so I’m not sure how to respond. I’m not even sure if you’re agreeing or disagreeing with the “CO2 is saturated” premise.
Just a quick, incomplete, rundown:
In a steady state energy transfer, there is nothing absorbed anywhere, and there is no change (statistically speaking) of anything, neither the number of photons, nor the translational or vibrational or internal energy. The only effect of increasing the CO2 concentration is to slow down the energy transfer rate, which at turn causes the ground temperature to be higher -but it is still steady.
For a system in equilibrium (steady state), yes. When we reach the new equilibrium temperature, commensurate with the change in CO2 levels, this will be true. But for an interim period there is a change. You said it yourself… “increasing the CO2 concentration is to slow down the energy transfer rate, which at turn causes the ground temperature to be higher…”
So what are you saying? It will raise temperatures, but without raising temperatures? You contradict yourself, so I don’t know what your point is.
Nobody says that the stones “absorb” the water, or produce it.
Of course not… the pool behind the dam absorbs the water (and grows), not the stones themselves. Your analogy is flawed unless you use sponges instead of stones (still not a good analogy, though), and you further obfuscate things by misapplying the components of the analogy. The point is that the water (IR) rises until it overflows the damn (CO2), and the damn is only “saturated” until the water reaches a level to overflow it. The argument in this analogy is that adding more CO2 (stones) can’t possibly block any more IR (water), because the dam is already so high that you can’t get enough water flowing in.
And that’s ridiculous, both in reality (CO2) and in your analogy of a damn with water.
But the real flaw here, and in the “saturated” argument, is that CO2 is somehow equivalent to stones in a damn. They’re not. Flawed analogy.
The reason the word uncertainty comes up so often is because there is and always will be uncertainties. The role of science is of course to reduce the uncertainties to a point where the signal can be identified by separating the signal from the noise (and in the process reducing the uncertainty).
Just because it may be difficult to climb a mountain does not mean a mountain can not be climbed.
Just because you have not yet climbed a particular mountain, does not mean that others have not climbed it already.
Just because you are not sure if you can reach the top does not mean the top has not already been reached.
Just because you don’t understand ‘yet’, does not mean that others don’t already understand.
Just because you are not confident enough yet, does not mean that sufficient confidence levels to institute action have already been reached and are reliable.
For anyone who is too lazy to read Spencer Weart’s excellent layperson-level explanation of why the atmospheric CO2 greenhouse effect is *not saturated, and will never be*, I have lifted out the relevant wording from the summary of the first article John Reisman linked to just above:
What happens if we add more carbon dioxide? In the layers so high and thin that much of the heat radiation from lower down slips through, adding more greenhouse gas molecules means the layer will absorb more of the rays. So the place from which most of the heat energy finally leaves the Earth will shift to higher layers. Those are colder layers, so they do not radiate heat as well. The planet as a whole is now taking in more energy than it radiates (which is in fact our current situation). As the higher levels radiate some of the excess downwards, all the lower levels down to the surface warm up. The imbalance must continue until the high levels get hot enough to radiate as much energy back out as the planet is receiving.
Any saturation at lower levels would not change this, since it is the layers from which radiation does escape that determine the planet’s heat balance.
My emphasis added. And remember, a warmer atmosphere can retain more water vapour, which further exacerbates the greenhouse effect. Q.E.D.
Both Arctic passages are open, all time low ice extent record is approaching (despite famous TV accu weather meteorologist calling it back to normal in March).
And there is literally a vast area of open water near the Pole as seen on satellite pictures. So here, from an Observer on site, in the field to all IPCC participants:
keep it up, we must cooperate together to stop this warming before it gets too serious. To the Monkton’s of the world: Congrats your assessment and predictive powers score a perfect 0!
Someone can credibly question the science as long as he has at least a basic knowledge but not know all of the gory detail. Someone can credibly accept the science with a basic personal knowledge but not know all of the gory detail. It boils down to a matter of credibility of the scientists. (I prefer “credibility” over “trust” — trust improperly sounds too all encompassing.) One does not have to be able to do all of the detailed math and physics to be either a skeptic or a proponent. I doubt many exist that can and have done it all.
I do not know all of the precise detailed physics behind the fundamental concept of GHGs, but given what I do know and assessing what I am told I have no significant disagreement or skepticism. This positive assessment results from a blend of what I do know (always striving to improve on this) and the credible acceptance of what I am told. When my knowledge indicates that some part of the science seems lacking and I question how it works, and the answer comes back either 1) that I am a “denier” and reject the whole field of climatology (a non sequitur strawman), or 2) that I am just a dummy for questioning whatever the fraternity has determined, adding often that unless I have my own supercomputer, written my own model, and already know all of the physics (which btw probably none of the answerers can say) I’m don’t have license to ask, answering simply, “it just is,” there is frankly little credibility that I can rely on.
When I know, e.g., that molecular collision absorption broadening has a noticeable degree of uncertainty and inexactness, and a retort comes back that this is the best known part in all of climatology, well, it just doesn’t play in Peoria.
On the other side, there is a partial excuse: fully answering some of these questions is way beyond comments in a blog, even one as scientific as RC.
252, Barton Paul Levenson: How many times do we have to answer the same verdammte question?
If you want to demonstrate your dedication to science and win the argument over a 10 – 20 year span, then you have to answer each verdammte question each time. Each time, answer in succinct language and supply a reference.
That is not the strategy of Marc Morano, to pick just one. Morano wants to get under your skin, make you angry, and make you wander off-topic. But in politics and science, endless repetition of the facts (or point of view) is what wins in the long run.
There will be a long run. The debate about AGW and appropriate policies has just begun. If you are right (unlike Paul Ehrlich who has always been wrong), you’ll be able to show a consistent record of having been right and reasonable, and people will rally to your cause. If you say that 20 years is too long because civilization (or agriculture) will have ended by that time, then you’ll be ignored.
Gilles (247,8), I like your explanation, but have a minor clarification/question. I think in LTE the percentage of vibrationally excited molecules, which depends on the temperature of the whole population (can’t say am bi ent) per Boltzmann distribution (mostly) is sans any radiation field. When a radiation field is applied and some gets absorbed, that absorption, I think, takes it out of LTE. This “incents” the molecule to de-excite — mostly through collision — with no following “desire” to get a photon back. Ergo, I don’t think emitted photons necessarily equals absorbed photons — at least in a transient condition. ???
“BPL: Wrong. The atmosphere heats up as well. That means its heat content is higher.”
Bob :”So what are you saying? It will raise temperatures, but without raising temperatures? You contradict yourself, so I don’t know what your point is.”
Of course, if the atmosphere has got a little bit warmer , its heat content has increased a little bit – what I say is that it is totally insignificant with respect to the total energy budget, first because it is only an average temperature and of course each part of the atmosphere has got much warmer and much colder many times, with a relaxation time of a few days, so it has nothing to do with anything “stored” because of CO2 absorption, and second because this amount of energy is a constant and the average power (after division by time) vanishes. So actually CO2 has not “heated” the atmosphere : it has slowed down the energy transfer, which has led to an increase of the ground temperature, until the energy budget is again exactly balanced. May be it’s only a question of word and you agree with that, but I think we must be accurate with the whole picture. Insulating your house doesn’t “heat” it – what heats it is your heater, and insulation insures a higher temperature for a given heating power. It’s a little bit different.
Bob (Sphaerica) (255), you’re correct with the meaning of wide vs. narrow. But then it still ends up with a subjective judgement. You say spreading a 666.7 1/cm frequency by about 0.1 1/cm on either side is optically thick and significant. I say otherwise.
I think 100% absorption within X meters IS relevant, though I agree with you in part that it can not and does not answer the saturation debate by itself; I didn’t mean to imply that. But it can play a small part. I think the saturation question is still worthy of discussion (and much more complex than just the absorption within X meters) and has not been answered unequivocally. I don’t disagree with GHG physics per se — we don’t have snowball earth primarily because of GHGs — but it is not obvious (and not been proven) that continued increases produce the forcing and sensitivity professed.
My “sparse re-emission” comment was partially orthogonal — sorry about that. I’m still trying to account for the 333 watts/sq.m of IR radiation hitting the earth from the atmosphere.
Over the long term, Miocene to present, CO2 concentration decreases have been leading temperatures down. Except of of course the mid-Miocene temperature increase, due to some natural source of CO2 producing a substantial excess.
I’ve wondered about this. The global average temp of was supposedly something like 18.4 degrees C., 3 degrees hotter than today, with a peak at about 17 Ma and lasting 4 my. The Mid-Miocene Climate Optimum occurred at roughly the same time as two asteroid strikes at Steinheim and a much larger one at Nordlinger-Ries Germany. There were also some very large and rapid fluid basalt lava flows in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. There are other interesting happenings at the time. It was the beginning of the Clarendonian Chronofauna (Hemingfordian to Hemphillian) and the greatest burst of mammal evolution on record. I wonder if and how all these things are related?
At the end of the Hemphillian around sixty two mammal genera became extinct (corresponding to the Messinian Salinity Crisis around 6 Ma which created a drought-like condition worldwide ending in the Great Zanclean Flood – that would have been something to see!).
The Mid-Miocene is called analogous to today’s climate change. I wonder how hot it would have felt to us? I’ve read varying thoughts on the conditions in California from dry and desert like to very wet. There was a large inland sea that probably mitigated things a bit.
There are very well laid out criteria for determining whether an effect is significant or not. I will stick with the criteria the scientists have laid out (e.g. how much does it increase the energy absorbed) rather than your criteria, if it is all the same to you.
Really, Rod, we’ve been through this, and we cannot redefine scientific consensus to include only that which the slow students have grasped.
Think of adding pepper to your soup; the recipe suggests one or two shakes. You experiment with one shake, two shakes, four shakes, eight shakes, sixteen shakes, thirty-two shakes. You go beyond what makes sense physically fairly quickly. You don’t reject the recipe because you can extend it to absurdity. Recipes don’t describe what happens outside the range of reasonable likelihood. This illustrates how “all models are false; some models are useful.”
“Rod B @267 — It may not be obvious, but the main point is that in science (as opposed to mathematics and logic), nothing is ever proven. Learn more about the scientific method.”
Indeed, that point has been made and posted here many times over the past few years and he has been told that explicitly. Yet he does nothing to learn about it. Apparently because it does not “satisfy” him even though he does not know or make an effort to understand it. That is what denialists do. They bury their head in the sand when something comes up that does not agree with their preconceived and usually anti-science notions.
I’m ‘pretty sure’ Mr. Einstein had some mathematics and evidence to back up his claims, and I’m also ‘pretty sure’ Mr. Limbaugh isn’t of that kind of scientific caliber. But the minute he, you, or anyone else, manages to overthrow an existing scientific paradigm, do be the first to let us know. I’m still trying to prop up a rapidly collapsing Younger Dryas impact hypothesis, with evidence, but I’m not averse to bailing out on a failed hypothesis, if that is what it turns out to be. Planetary science isn’t a failed hypothesis, despite your wish that things be the way you think they ought to be, and not the way they are, or were. I can just see a bunch of Intel engineers sitting around in the late 60s saying that things need to be ‘simplified’, because that’s the way things ought to be. NOT.
Classic xkcd. Glad to know someone else has good taste. Thanks!
Comment by Daniel "The Yooper" Bailey — 8 Sep 2010 @ 8:54 PM
What mathematics and physics could possibly be used in support of the statement that things out to be able to be described simply?!!? And where did ‘things ARE simple’ come from? You tap dance way too fast for me.
Hiding behind the smug canard that science can’t prove anything is getting trite. (Not to mention doing you all no favor in the striving for men’s minds — as others have pointed out.)
I know that the fact that n[ln(A] equals [ln(A)^n] just drives some of you crazy. As I implied above, I tap dance too slow to be of any help.
Though they were a bit faulty and far from perfect, I found the referenced articles and comments interesting and helpful. But, much to your all’s chagrin, nobody has yet shown a scientific proof (or for some of you, a detailed solid physics justification) beyond an albeit reasonable surmise (“surmise” is not quite strong enough but I can’t find the right word; I’m talking way beyond just guessing or such) and projection that 5.35[ln(C/C_0)] is a highly accurate formula for determining future CO2 forcing starting today with C_0.
And as many people here have already pointed out to you numerous times, there is no such thing as a ‘scientific proof’. Once you get wrap your mind around that, you might start to learn something more specific in science. But you don’t even have the fundamentals of science understood well enough to understand the nuances of its various results and ramifications. Sad, but true. So don’t be surprised when many here understand the failure of the ‘ROD B’ hypothesis and begin to bail out on you, and start ignoring you.
You assert that \a basic knowledge but not know all of the gory detail\ is sufficient to attain credibility in a question. But in fact, if the basic knowledge is insufficient to address the scope of the ‘reasonable grounds’ of the science; then it is in fact, not a credible question.
Your usage of english and inference is not credible in the formulation of succinct points that have reasonable grounds. Therefore your statements are not credible pertaining to your inferred points.
I also prefer credibility over trust. What does that have to do with the price of global warming in China?
Your posts appear sophist in motive. Merely new renditions of the hey you guys are rude because you won’t kindly accept my obtuse, red herring arguments that we still don’t know enough.
In some parts you say, yeah i agree with some stuff and then say I don’t agree with this important stuff even though people much more qualified (credible) than myself have already qualified it.
HUH? Is that a new twist on the statistical rankings backwards logic construct of Lomborg?
It does not matter how sophisticated you present your argument, nor how subtle your connotation. The physical world absolutely does not care about how great is your inability to understand its’ processes.
If you don’t fully understand Bernoulli’s principle does that mean you never get on an airplane?
I can only say what it looks like and it looks like either, you are unable to understand relevance, in which case I would not want to drive in a car with you; or you are intentionally obfuscative and obtuse. In which case I would not want to drive in a car with you.
Of course these are two entirely different reasons for wanting to not drive in a car with you. One is for safety and the other is to avoid ending up in the kingdom of boredom.
You’re not looking for the emissivity. You’re possibly looking for the absorption cross section (Number density of particles x cross section, integrated over all wavelengths = absorption coefficient). This represents a probability that it will absorb a passing photon.
Or, in the atmosphere, either its absorption coefficient (related to the distance taken for an initial intensity of wavelength to fall to 1/e of its initial value) or the total absorption.
The change in heat flow by increasing CO2 can be approximated by 5.35ln(C/C0), that’s this: http://texify.com/?$\Delta RF = 5.35 ln( C/C_0 )$
Where RF is the change in heat flow per metre squared, ln is the natural logarithm, C is the new concentration of CO2 and C_0 is the initial concentration. ie an instantaneous doubling of CO2 causes about 3.7W m^-2 of extra heat flow.
EDIT: I’m off to labs right now, when I come back I’ll give some rough calcs.
What do GW skeptics mean when they say that “the CO2 is saturated” so there is no additional impact from more?
Best Answer – Chosen by Voters
The only sensible argument is that CO2′s radiative forcing is approximately logarithmic with concentration at these levels.
But I don’t see whether they’re trying to argue anything here, except to fully agree with the scientific community that already says this (hell, iirc the IPCC includes this in its summary with RF = 5.35 ln (C/C_0) where C_0 is the reference concentration of CO2)
Some people believe that this means that more CO2 will do absolutely nothing. These people are just ignorant because they haven’t realised that objects emit light too. There’s nothing wrong with being ignorant about something; but the arrogance that goes with assuming the entire scientific community is wrong when you write an article about this surprises me.emphasis added
Inre: Rod B./Rod W. Brick (comments beyond number)
I am one of the last people to ever give up on someone, but seriously!
It is patently obvious by now, after who-knows-how-many comments posted by who-knows-how-many kind-hearted posters that this person has NO intention of learning from you.
His claims to the contrary, he is far from slow; he is well-spoken and often displays well-reasoned discourse and he knows how to get under your skin with aplomb. He has considerable oratorical skills, when he chooses to exercise them. So we are to believe that such an individual still is an innocent lamb?
All of you can recall helping even the most obdurate person learn faster with less effort that has been put into this person. How many comment threads have been taken up by so many people all trying to help one person for so long…for naught?
It pains me to say it, but he is here with but one intent: To waste as much of all of your time as he can, for as long as you enable him.
I will not enable him.
Comment by Daniel "The Yooper" Bailey — 9 Sep 2010 @ 2:14 AM
Rod, Science is about proof, not evidence. There is LOTS of evidence for the logarithmic dependence of CO2 forcing on concentration–
1)it is physically reasonable, and indeed expected, given the shapes of the lines
2)it fits the data (spectroscopic as well as climate)
3)And PHYSICALLY, the 5.35 is a coefficient, not a power of the log. Your still do not understand the fact that just because an expression can be written MATHEMATICALLY, does not mean it should be written that way PHYSICALLY. The equations should reflect, not obscure the physics.
So, Rod, how about it. Start talking in terms of EVIDENCE rather than like a 5 year old saying “Well, it could be…”
Agree with Mr. Bailey (288). Seeing the thread hijacked by this determinedly obtuse individual is tiresome and frustrating. Some, unfortunately, will have to be left behind — such is the case with this person. I’m looking forward to moving on to the next new post and the next, more lively and substantive discussion.
I wonder if you could send it to some secure site * from where it could be emailed to potential reviewers? That would give the latter the chance to decide whether to review it. It would also keep the email addresses private. This would be a bit similar to what is done by an editor except that you could decide whom you want on the potential reviewers list and their comments would go only to you.
* E.g. One of the Institutes of Physics (US or UK versions), who have the email addresses of their members or perhaps you could persuade someone here to act as forwarding editor.
That is all very true, except that whether Rod B knows it or not, he’s helping to educate people who start from his same position, but unlike him, do not wind up in the same spot at the end. Quite the opposite, if they are sensible, they not only learn from the posts, but also recognize the infantile and indefensible obstinacy of his position. Anyone with any sense will not only learn about the current issue, but also see something they don’t like in denial taken to a ridiculous extreme, and so try to avoid being a Rod B.
I agree. I am one of those non-scientific people who has learned a bit of science from the exchange with Rod W. Brick. It amazes me at this point that Rod still won’t concede the point. When he says things like “Someone can credibly question the science as long as he has at least a basic knowledge but not know all of the gory detail,” my jaw almost hits the floor. All that gory detail happens to be called science. I guess Rod thinks he can make a judgment on a Tolstoy novel by just reading the cliff notes, because why let that bothersome “gory detail” stand in the way? While we’re at it, can we just get rid of all the hard math that underpins science; it would certainly make it easier to make shallow, sophist arguments.
I certainly understand your perspective. My perspective derives from the following:
1. If this is Rod W. Brick from Austin, Texas: The place with many HQ’s for the fossil fuel industry, then there is the possibility that he may be a paid shill? If not, then all I have to say is ‘truly amazing’! Ironic and oxymoronic do not begin to describe the capacity of such meanderings to reach such heights of ineptitude in claims and consideration while illustrating, purposefully or not, apparent willful ignorance, avoidance of relevance, and diversive word crafting, all while illustrating obvious intelligence and capacity.
2. If answering his obtuse meanderings helps others learn that such assertions, claims and perspectives truly are silly, then we are helping those that read RC to see which arguments hold up, and which don’t.
3. As long as the moderators allow him to post, I for one, will answer as able in order to help those that may just be googling around for answers on the saturation argument.
I agree with #293 Bob (Sphaerica)
Those that have been around in the thread for more than a few years have had this discussion before. With the likes of the Rod B’s that visit here, we know we are here, more to help others than him. It really is his choice to remain ignorant, whatever his motive, or incapacity to comprehend reality.
Whether he realizes it or not, he is helping to educate others about just how ridiculous, uneducated, and in fact often moronic (regardless of his clever word crafting), his points actually are.
People are motivated to learn in all sorts of ways, but if you’re truly dedicated yet nevertheless going around in circles, you should probably reevaluate your situation.
I once had a teacher who commented that some students seem to resist learning. If you’re starting from a point of view that there’s something inherently wrong with the field and that it has to prove itself ‘not guilty’ to you, then you have some internal resistance that’s going to forever work against you. This is not healthy skepticism.
If you are afraid to give up your ideological underpinnings, I would suggest that you do what scientists go through. Actually I’d suggest it in any case. That is painful as it sounds, go back and start from scratch and either take the absolutely necessary background courses of study, or review them if it’s been awhile. These, as it happens, shouldn’t be at all controversial to you: chemistry, physics, calculus, etc. Soak them up with an open and enthusiastic mind, make them part of your intellectual reflexes. Don’t be afraid to stand on the shoulders of giants. Develop a passion for accuracy, precision, and logic and you will no doubt make progress elsewhere.
Save the creative interpretations for your dance recital.
Age and health are also issues that you may have to come to terms with. If you are over 40, good luck–especially if you’re a relative novice at math and science. You might as well try out for the NFL. Some fields just have a sell-by date. Deal with it. I’m not saying this to be mean. I’m an old guy myself. Some things will forever be beyond one’s grasp. That’s life kiddo.
None of this is to say that there’s anything unusually controversial, in a scientific sense, about the science of climatology, anymore than there is about evolution. There is however a lot of external noise and interference you have to cut through. I believe anyone can learn to recognize noise. Do so and you will have less trouble dealing with the actual substance.
John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) (286), there have been jillions of precise physical experiments and testing done on Bernoulli’s principle and the flyability of airplanes. There have been NONE of my assertion above.
I’m avoiding your other points — your (and others) mantra is getting old… or as you say boring.
re #287, your retorts are interesting, but if you are countering me you might try countering things I actually said, which are not in 287.
You do realize that the chiseled in stone forcing equation has been changed over the years? They probably had to hire a stone mason.
Daniel “The Yooper” Bailey, I really don’t set out to get under your (all’s) skin, but it is so damn easy. I know my not drinking the kool-aid pisses you (all) off something fierce. Sorry.
John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) says in 295, “If this is Rod W. Brick from Austin, Texas: The place with many HQ’s for the fossil fuel industry, then there is the possibility that he may be a paid shill?”
Jumped right into the deep end, eh? Jeeze, where did you find the ‘must be a shill for big oil’ attack? That’s about as old and worn as being way beyond trite and ignorant. Where is the scientific retort that my mother eats grass? BTW, Austin is NOT HQ for many fossil fuel companies; but don’t let simple facts get in your way. And you (all) wonder why I’m often skeptical of your words?
Epilog: In deference to most, I keep trying to end this, but I keep getting slow ugly softballs that demand swinging at.
Barton Paul Levenson- I’ll review the title for you. If you title your book/article The Case for Global Warming, people will think you are one of those nuts who say global warming will benefit humanity by extending growing seasons, reducing snow-shoveling etc.
Having looked at the science viewgraphs at http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/csi/meetings/attrworkshop_2010/
I see that connecting weather and climate is even harder than I thought it would be and the method I was thinking of is maybe not such a good plan. I was thinking that large groups of extreme weather events, each being slightly more probable with GW, would add up to show a higher probability of GW. That wouldn’t help anyway because it is the individual events that individual persons interact with. It doesn’t help the IPCC’s communication problem.
The sound track is omitted from the viewgraphs, making them harder to understand.
I have to thank you all once again for your constant efforts, but agree with both sides on Rod B. His stubborn resistance to learning real science and insistence that he is trying to learn is monotonous and irritating, but the superb patience and detailed explanations exhibited by those who respond to his stubborn insistence on ignorance are informative to the rest of us. However, I think it’s time, this time, to move on. There is so much else that is fascinating here.
Edward Greisch, thanks for your efforts on DotEarth. And I do keep soldiering on when I have time, but it is discouraging how much encouragement disinformationalists get there and in many other public fora.
Re methane, while the article about the Antarctic was fascinating, does anyone have current info on the north?
BBC Radio 4: Roger Harrabin’s ‘Uncertain Climate’ part 2.
I was once advised to start a short talk by describing what you are going to say (preferably restricted to one point); then say it and then round off by saying what you have just said.
Harrabin began promisingly by announcing that he was going to talk about uncertainty. But then that he was going to delve deeper into the science and then again that he was going to talk about climate models. But what we got instead was a series of chats with contrarians ‘balanced’ by what he described as establishment climatologists.
1. An improvement. Moving on from Emailgate with its attacks on the integrity of climatologists. Better late than never.
2. For once, there was a criticism of the fundamentalist contrarians,who claim that extra CO2 does not warm at all. None of these (such as Piers Corbyn) were named, because they were not to be part of his account.
3. Lindzen’s estimate of very low climate sensitivity was presented clearly but never countered. It is based on post-industrial warming of the surface. Harrabin has obviously never read RC where Gavin argued that the 20th. century warming is not a good way of getting such an estimate because of the major uncertainty in the forcing (caused by aerosols). He has also not read Schlesinger who comes up with a wide range of possible sensitivities governed by a probability distribution. He has also never read Tamino on simple climate models which include inertia, probably ignored by Lindzen.
Harrabin did not think of asking Lindzen for some details or for asking some mainstream climatolgists to comment, beyond asserting that he was in a minority. What did Lindzen assume about aerosols and climate inertia? (probably that that they could be ignored !)
Harrabin preferred to use up the time describing how he (Harrabin) had been reporting on this subject for 25 years. So the listener might be forgiven for thinking that Harrabin had not missed anything of substance, (s)he might conclude that Lindzen has a very serious point which his numerous critics were ignoring out of wilful irrationality.
Lindzen’s other assertion was that “the vast majority of climate models assume” that the feedbacks are positive thus leading to dangerous climate change. This is a common assertion by contrarians but I thought that feedbacks are not assumed but emerge from the models. This too went unchallenged in the programme.
As for his central theme , Harrabin claims to have just discovered the topic of uncertainty. I find this hard to take since it is discussed on almost every page of the AR4 and TAR reports. He partly blames the BBC for ignoring the science in the past but I don’t believe that they could have censored his reading.
There is more that can be said but it might still be on i-player so you can judge for yourself.
re #284 Rod B,
Hi Rod, just a pedantic point: n[ln(A)] = [ln(A^n)]
as n[ln(A)] is not equal to [ln(A)^n].
Comment by Lawrence McLean — 9 Sep 2010 @ 10:45 PM
Comment by Daniel "The Yooper" Bailey — 9 Sep 2010 @ 10:47 PM
#263 : Rod, true LTE means that all degrees of freedom are locally populated statistically at the same temperature, including radiation field, that is the photon field must be very close to the Planck distribution. This is well verified in very optically thick media like the interior of stars, but not fully in the atmosphere because of its semi-transparency – which is of course the main reason for the complexity of radiation transfer. But I share the opinion of other posters : it’s useless to criticize the basic ideas of radiation transfer. Even if the center of IR lines is saturated, the wings are (by definition) not, and increasing the CO2 concentration will broaden these lines. This means that the effective temperature in this wings will be lower , since the last scattering surface that controls the emerging intensity is higher in altitude, so colder in temperature. Since the radiative budget must be balanced, this implies that the transparent continuum must carry away more power, so that the ground must be at higher temperature – but only if the incoming SW radiation to the ground is constant . And that the key point, in my view, and the main reason of criticism by Spencer and Lindzen for instance : That they may well be non linear retroactions that make the albedo larger (through clouds) and that diminish the impact of increasing GHG. Only the exact amount of negative retroaction is an issue : the basic greenhouse effect is well understood.I’m not a climatologist so I can’t say how important is this effect – I just have the feeling that the question is not settled and that there is still room for questions about it.
Radge Havers @ 296, excellent advice for Rod B. It’s true that coursework in basic physics, chemistry and calculus will give anyone the ability to grasp the foundations of AGW, and that “a passion for accuracy, precision, and logic” will help them discriminate signal from noise in any scientific discussion.
If Rod B. doesn’t trust the whole field of climatology, however, he has no choice but to become an expert himself. He has to do work equivalent to a post-graduate degree in the field, then join the community of professionals as a peer. He has to absorb all the classic and current literature, attend the same conferences, publish in the same journals, and submit his arguments to the unsparing scrutiny of those who’ve been working in the field for longer than he has.
Otherwise, he’s just a conspicuous victim of the Dunning-Kruger effect.
I’ve always thought the best book titles come from picking a short phrase from the actual text, something that is cleverly vague with enough implication to make the reader think “I wonder what that means?” This also leads to an epiphany when they stumble across the phrase when reading, leading to an “ah ha” moment, and adding emphasis to the whole thing.
Of course, what you pick has to also serve the purpose of letting people know what the book is about, although you can put something more plain in a subtitle.
As far as something equivalent to “The Case for Global Warming,” either as a main title or a subtitle, how about:
QED: Global Warming
The Only Logical Conclusion
or, taking from the famous (at least to me) Sherlock Holmes quote (and it’s many variations, as Doyle used it repeatedly) “We must fall back upon the old axiom that when all other contingencies fail, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”:
The Old Axiom
When Contingencies Fail
Must Be The Truth
I don’t like “however improbable” because it can too easily be mocked by deniers, although separate from such inanity, it works well, and really is the right message (i.e. no matter how much people don’t want to believe, no matter how many false alternatives or flawed arguments they come up with or how improbable they think AGW may be, it is “the truth”).
Another Holmes quote of value might be “Any truth is better than indefinite doubt.”
Of course, using the Holmes quotes requires that you add a clarifying reference somewhere in your text.
There’s another wave of half-baked news reports bouncing around today, which is being aimed to denigrate IPCC in part. First, isn’t glacial rebound a well-known phenomenon? I know point estimates of local sea level in Massachusetts figure it in. Second, the time constant for rebound is very long, so it seems to me unlikely that the Greenland sheet would respond to unloading quickly with respect to the recent melt. The last possibility is (sorry, I have not been able to find a copy of the original paper) that the mass estimates of Greenland melting missed isostatic adjustment — which is hard to swallow — or got it wrong, which is always possible. Thoughts? A post coming on this subject?
Gilles (307), I’m not convinced that broadening per se is that significant, though it is certainly not zero. Using only the basic level math and physics, pressure broadening bandwidth is roughly +/– 0.1 cm^-1 at half (0.5) the peak intensity absorption. This spreads a 667 cm^-1 band by 0.03%. And since pressure broadening is proportional to total pressure, doubling CO2 makes virtually no difference. [This doesn't apply forever: a 100% CO2 has larger wings but still not major.] Doppler broadening adds a minuscule amount to this. At 0.1 peak intensity absorption the band has only spread roughly +/– 0.3 cm^-1. (Doppler adds virtually zero at the wider band wings.) This is 0.09%, call it 0.1% which is a noticeable spread, but it is absorbing very little radiation. [Spectrocalc gives slightly larger spreading.]
On the other hand, again using just sandbox-2 math and physics (the actual detail gets very messy, but the basic-plus is fairly accurate ballpark), the first vibrotational line is maybe 0.4 to 0.5 cm^1 away. The absorption of vibrotational lines vary, the 1st being very little, but around the 5th line or so it gets to be 70+% of the centerline max; and there are a pile of these lines, though the absorption per line decreases rapidly the further out one goes. This seems to me to be the effective “spreading,” not the increasing pressure from increasing concentration. Though there will be more minor “spreading” with each vibrotational line, somewhat similar to the center line pressure broadening. The intensity absorption of each vibrotational line also increases slightly as concentration increases — varies a bit per line. This is where I contend there is the most absorption increase for larger concentrations, though it is not obvious at all that the marginal increases continue with the same degree as concentration gets larger.
I need to work on the radiation part of your post.
I don’t think I have seen anyone else in the RC history so entirely dedicated to avoiding relevance. You are truly impressive.
Your hypocrisy also shines like a beacon of silliness. First you say I am not addressing what you said; Well, that’s an easy call on your part, since what you say is often ambiguous.
But then you illustrate your spin skills by twisting my words around. Point of fact:
You say I said: “chiseled in stone forcing equation”, though no one claims science is chiseled in stone.
You say I said: “you must be a shill for big oil”, though I said “there is the possibility that he may be a paid shill?”
You say “Austin is NOT HQ for many fossil fuel”. I say, follow the money and who is paying for the nice green energy companies in Austin, who are the investors? Check the owners of the stocks. The surface may look green, but money did not grow on trees.
I know how business works. I’ve worked wall street and I have friends in the energy business, no not the green energy business. But Rod, by all means, “don’t let simple facts get in your way”.
Well, regulars here are well aware that the specific “uncertainties” in AR4 the story you linked mentioned basically cut one way–AR4 explicitly did not consider possible nonlinearities in ice sheet response in the projection of SLR to 2100. But those nonlinearities would increase SLR, not inhibit it.
From the story, a less-informed reader might assume that the “uncertainties” could cut both ways. In fact, the interim Copenhagen report raised the maximum projection to 1.3 m–the story could have mentioned that as well.
Rod Brick keeps repeating the steps up to about the 1930s, then stops, illustrating how those who do not remember history repeat it over and over.
See Weart’s book (first link under Science, in the sidebar) on the history. Read that chapter closely enough to notice the typos, and you’ll get the basic idea and understand why Rod’s simple arithmetic gets him only as far as what was known in the 1930s.
“(… there is no saturation. The primitive infrared techniques of the laboratory measurements made at the turn of the century had given a midleading result. Studies from the 1940s on have shown that there is not nearly enough CO2 in the atmosphere to block most of the infrared radiation in the bands of the spectrum where the gas absorbs it….)
If anyone had put forth these simple arguments in the 1950s, they would not have convinced other scientists unless they were backed up by a specific, numerical calculation. The structure of the H2O and CO2 absorption bands at a given pressure and temperature did need to be considered in figuring just how much radiation is absorbed in any given layer. Every detail had to be taken into account in order to calculate whether adding a greenhouse gas would warm the atmosphere neglibly or by many degrees.”
There is absolutely room for questions about it. I would prefer to see credible, or at least more credible questions though.
My own ‘feeling’ is that we need to add the other feedbacks anyway before we get a better picture of the actual sensitivity. The earth itself is part of the sensitivity puzzle, from a general view of the system, it seems to me that the system can swing rather widely based on small positive and negative forcings that are sustained form relative equilibrium.
Of course we are no longer in equilibrium but rather strongly biased in one direction. So I expect the dynamics to be different now. There is something to be said for reasonable consideration. I’m looking forward to deeper scientific investigation of these considerations.
John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation), to counter me you said,
“Some people believe that…. more CO2 will do absolutely nothing. These people are just ignorant because they haven’t realized that objects emit light too. There’s nothing wrong with being ignorant about something; but the arrogance that goes with assuming the entire scientific community is wrong when you write an article about this surprises me.[your] emphasis added”
So you are refuting what (you think) I said that ‘more CO2 will do absolutely nothing.’ Problem is I have never said, implied, ambiguously suggested, or thought that. So why are you blaming me of being ambiguous? What I said was [emphasis in original quote, "nobody has yet shown.... that 5.35[ln(C/C_0)] is a highly accurate formula for determining future CO2 forcing starting today with C_0.” Seems pretty clear and succinct to me. Tell me you’re not going to hide behind the plausibly deniability of “some.”
Is “Austin, Texas the place with many HQ’s for the fossil fuel industry” or not? Which is it?
So you looked straight at me, wondering out loud if I was from Austin Texas (place of devils) and therefore possibly a paid shill for oil companies. But you wern’t accusing me of that — just philosophizing about it Even though you would be “truly amazed” if I wasn’t….. Right. You’re good at that plausible deniability thing.
You are correct: you never used the words “chiseled in stone forcing equation.” Though when I suggested a formula even a teensy different from today’s accepted one, you unleash your hydrogen bombs. So it’s not chiseled in stone, but evidently one had best not mess in the slightest with this part of the litany. [I know. You never actually unleashed even one real H-bomb. Just offering you some cover, free gratis.]
Rod, this is about science. Merely saying “I have doubts” or “I’m not convinced” isn’t sufficient. What part of the equation do you doubt?
The logarithmic dependence? If so, propose an alternative and test it against the data–which we have in abundance. What you will find is that the log dependence is the best approximate fit to the data of any simple form (and be careful using complicated forms as they can actually decrease your predictive power). What is more, in terms of consequences, any other approximation you use will yield MORE warming in the long term.
The coefficient? Then your argument is with the data. Good luck with that.
More to the point, if you actually DO THE MATH, you find that any uncertainties in either the form or the coefficient are insignificant in terms of how they change the consequences of climate change.
My problem with your position is that you are using uncertainty as a justification for inaction–an unsound and unscientific practice, not to mention lazy. I criticize you harshly for this because I know you are smarter than that. So I would urge you, Rod, to move beyond your mere rationalization and look at what the relation could be and how that would affect the conclusions. In other words, be more scientific.
So you’re saying that the dead chickens you are waving around the room are credible, while scientists, physicists and mathematicians are saying that your arguments, WHEN PLACED IN THE RELEVANT CONTEXT OF GLOBAL WARMING, INCLUDING CO2 IS A SERIOUS ISSUE AND WE NEED MEANINGFUL POLICY QUICKLY are not credible.
You truly are a master of obfuscation.
Okay, let’s play it your way. The formula is not highly accurate.
But let’s lay down a little more context. Let’s say it ridiculously inaccurate. Let’s say that the evidence indicates that the sensitivity may be 30 to 50% off from the current Charney estimates, or worse!
Let’s say Charney and Hansen are both way off!!! Highly inaccurate doesn’t even begin to describe the problem, not even close.
Okay. Now that we are saying they are way off. What might be the reality?
There’s a lot of discussion that from the evidence and the considerations of feedbacks that are not included in the sensitivity estimates yet. The situation might be worse than previously thought.
Oh! So it looks like you are right maybe? The sensitivity might be way off. Well that sucks.
But that’s not your point is it. Your point is that we don’t know enough to take any action on CO2, right?
The in-credible challenging the credible with what? Dead chicken waving. Does that fly in Peoria?
Comment by Susan Anderson — 11 Sep 2010 @ 11:30 AM
Ray, I have a minor secondary skepticism with the continuing log relation, but not a major trouble. My main question is with the coefficient/power. I don’t see any solid physics behind it, other than manual curve fitting of other environments (as you say) and then projecting that mainly on a pure numerical statistical basis. There is, IMO, too many approximations, surmises, averages, and uncertainties with the whole business of molecular absorption and de-excitation to take it in its entirety on face value (the loud protestations not withstanding.) [A caveat, as you guys deal only in black and white: I purposefully use 'strong physics' and 'mainly on' because I am NOT saying that there is NO science and physics and math behind it; there is and some of it is pretty good. So don't retort with the meme that I say scientists are totally wrong.] First, within my scenario, there is NO DATA behind the projection; only surmises based on possible roughly similar proxies from periods with granularities of, at best, many thousands of years. Second, just for fun, explain why the extremely high confidence coefficient has varied since first proposed a couple of decades back.
The IAC says the IPCC is not justifying the certainties well enough. [It was a stretch, but something on topic! Yea!]
I know; you’ve said it before: I am not permitted to question if the moon is made of cheese if an astrophysics guy says it is unless I’ve been there and done a geological assay. Handy rules if you can make them stick.
I am using my position to maybe justify major, global-wide, cultural-upsetting inaction, which is not the same (by a long shot) as your simple bimodal “inaction.” You have never heard me say I’m in favor of inaction — period. But it is a good sounding black-and-white meme strawman — and very popular I might add. And, I know there have been a couple or a few economists who have said ‘no problem; probably going to be economically good for everyone.’ I find it strange that scientific people can readily accept projections based on almost no direct data in a field that is notorious for its inability to project with anything near accuracy (can’t accurately predict the national deficit six months out with solid real time data), and which has as many naysayers. Is this the lack of skepticism that pervades climatology?
John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation), Are you saying that a scientist who comes up with a formula for something believes it strongly and supports it against anyone who disagrees? Well! Duh! I certainly hope so, and would expect nothing different. Would some scientists counter by saying the aginers dress funny and have bad table manners? Or are a paid shill? Sure. But, while I can understand their argument, it is neither relevant nor supportable.
As you say, the situation might be worse than previously thought. Or, on the other hand, it might be better than previously thought.
You say, “….don’t know enough to take any action.” See above.
304, Geoff Wexler: He has also never read Tamino on simple climate models which include inertia, probably ignored by Lindzen.
In analysis of energy flows, what is “inertia”? Paraphrasing Trenberth and Pielke Sr., the energy at all times has to be somewhere.
Even in mechanics the vague concept of “inertia” is replaced by Newton’s first and second laws (where the word does not appear); in the second law, there is no lag between the application of the force and the resultant acceleration, only that higher masses imply (for equal force) lower acceleration.
If there is a lag time between the accumulation of heat by the earth system and the increase in temperatures at some sensing stations, it merely means that the energy flow is not completely, not that there is inertia.
Hence my question: In analysis of energy flows, what is “inertia”?
Comment by Septic Matthew — 11 Sep 2010 @ 12:44 PM
SM, climate model contains more than “energy flows” — your question is based on a mistaken assumption. Surely you knew better?
“it seems to me unlikely that the Greenland sheet would respond to unloading quickly with respect to the recent melt.” Jan Galkowski — 10 September 2010 @ 10:03 AM
The basis for this new work is that the isostatic rebound(up) of North America and Northern Europe from the loss of their ice caps has caused Greenland and the area around it to move down, and prior methods have underestimated the amount of this displacement. It’s not a response to the recent melt.
Wu et al combine GRACE, GPS, and sea floor pressure measurements to more accurately model what’s happening. Dr Vermeersen(one of the et al) is quoted at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100906085152.htm “We have concluded that the Greenland and West Antarctica ice caps are melting at approximately half the speed originally predicted.”
The Register(UK tabloid) headlined this as “Greenland ice loss rates ‘one-third’ of what was thought”, despite quoting Vermeersen saying “half the speed” in their article – apparently in some circles, “one-third’ = “half”, along with “not knowing everything” = “knowing nothing”.
Cryosphere losses that are better quantified show increasing rates over time, and Greenland ice melts at the same temperature as other ice, so it’s probably accelerating as well. Starting with half a lentil on the first square of the chess board, instead of a whole lentil doesn’t make much difference in the long run.
Isostatic rebound won’t affect measurements over short spatial distances, and laser altimetry clearly shows that the ice is declining preferentially around the edges of Greenland and Antarctica, where the elevations are lower and temperature higher.
I think it’s also worthwhile to point out to those who’ve gotten their panties in a twist (knickers in a knot, for you UK & Aussie? blokes) that Dr. Vermeersen also said “”For Greenland in particular, we have found a glacial isostatic adjustment model that deviates rather sharply from general assumptions. But at present there are too few data available to verify this independently.”
@ Septic Matthew — 11 September 2010 @ 12:44 PM – Hence my question: In analysis of energy flows, what is “inertia”?
World English Dictionary, Harper Collins
a. the tendency of a body to preserve its state of rest or uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force b. an analogous property of other physical quantities that resist change: thermal inertia
For example, the daytime peak temperature lags the peak diurnal solar forcing; the longest day in the NH is June 21, but the warmest months are July and August: although Fossil fuel emissions began around 1850, Arctic summer sea ice decline didn’t start til about 1950.
Rod B. makes an apparent argument from incredulity:
> I don’t see any solid physics behind it, other than manual curve fitting
> of other environments (as you say) and then projecting that mainly on a
> pure numerical statistical basis. There is, IMO, too many approximations,
> surmises, averages, and uncertainties with the whole business of molecular
> absorption and de-excitation to take it in its entirety on face value (the
> loud protestations not withstanding.)
Do you use an infrared remote control? A CD, DVD or Blu-Ray player?
Do heat-seeking missiles exist? Thermal imaging? Spectroscopy?
What about Martian and Venusian climate?
Are those validations of the underlying physics ‘solid’ enough?
If not, what do you need?
> First, within my scenario, there is NO DATA behind the projection; only
> surmises based on possible roughly similar proxies from periods with
> granularities of, at best, many thousands of years. Second, just for
> fun, explain why the extremely high confidence coefficient has varied
> since first proposed a couple of decades back.
The proxies, observational record and a physical model aren’t sufficient? What else can we base projections on?
As for why the coefficient changed, generally that’s due to new evidence being discovered that pushes it in one direction or another – hopefully towards reducing uncertainty.
Rod, how do you get from:
> I have a minor secondary skepticism with the continuing log relation,
> but not a major trouble.
> I am using my position to maybe justify major, global-wide, cultural-
> upsetting inaction, which is not the same (by a long shot) as your
> simple bimodal “inaction.”
If there are going to be no bad climate effects, how can inaction be ‘culturally upsetting’ except to a few stereotypical environmentalists?
How certain are you that there are going to be no (or few) adverse consequences to continued ‘business as usual’? Why?
The balance of evidence would suggest that you’re betting on a long shot.
You seem to recognise this with ‘maybe justify’. Why should everyone else indulge your bet?
> And, I know there have been a couple or a few economists who have said
> ‘no problem; probably going to be economically good for everyone.’
The spread of economic opinion runs the gamut from the cornucopian (no climate problem, no resource limitations) to the catastrophic (business as usual will have dire climate effects, severe resource limits).
The science suggests that there’s going to be a climate problem with business as usual, and the earth is finite.
So to me the balance of evidence makes me lean towards the catastrophic side of the economic projections – policy needs to be informed by what science finds out about the world, and being ready to deal with or prevent worst-case scenarios seems prudent.
RB 325: My main question is with the coefficient/power. I don’t see any solid physics behind it, other than manual curve fitting of other environments (as you say) and then projecting that mainly on a pure numerical statistical basis.
BPL: It’s not a power!!! It’s a proportionality constant!!! If it were some other molecule the figure would be different!!! Stop thinking of it as a power!!! IT’S NOT A POWER!!!
Rod says: “My main question is with the coefficient/power. I don’t see any solid physics behind it, other than manual curve fitting of other environments (as you say) and then projecting that mainly on a pure numerical statistical basis.”
Do you realize that if you don’t take issue with the logarithmic dependence but still reject the conclusion, this means that you are taking issue with the empirical data, don’t you? OK, so come up with some data that supports your position. Go ahead. We’ll wait.
You are failing to understand the system being modeled. When there is an energy imbalance in the climate, the system must warm until the energy radiated (blackbody(T) minus ghg absorbed) again equals energy incident. The “system” in this case includes the atmosphere and surface, which respond relatively rapidly and the oceans, which equilibrate on a timescale of decades. It’s the oceans that provide the inertia, since they are the majority of the mass of the climate system. Small changes in the rate of warming can result in very large changes in the rate at which the surface warms–and then throw in variability of energy input, and you have a recipe for LOTS of variability.
Just for the record, I’m not asking that you trust what I say. I’m saying trust those that actually have the credibility. And don’t trust those that don’t.
Those that have scientific published material that has survived peer review and peer response.
You can listen to those with less credibility of course, but why would you place higher levels of trust in those without credibility?
You for example, like myself, have less credibility in the scientific understanding. So don’t listen to me, and don’t listen to you. We are not credible.
I trust those that have greater credibility than I to describe the circumstance and likelihood of the data and what it does and even might mean. Why? Because they have more credibility in knowing what it all is and what it means.
Don’t trust me. Don’t trust you. Place more trust where it is deserved, with the credible scientists, mathematicians and physicists that live eat and breath the physics, maths, and observations on a regular basis.
Rob O’C., join the choir. Where/when did I ever say that infrared radiation does not exist or can’t be detected?
The ‘culturally upsetting’ comes from actiom against presumed climate catastrophe that does not materialize.
You say, “The balance of evidence would suggest that you’re betting on a long shot.“. That’s an exaggeration, but, oddly, a logical and reasonable retort/question on my position. I am not claiming that serious AGW will not happen. I would put it at about 50-50 — mostly because I don’t know enough to make more precise odds. There are a bunch of smart learned folks that say it will happen, and that counts for something even if the current science is less than fairly precise (in some areas). If we knew what mitigation would cost and it was minimal, I’d likely say go for it: the risk-reward-cost analysis would favor it. But we don’t know what it will cost, and it might be gargantuan — even maybe culture destroying. Given the current (un)certainties of the science I come down on holding off (except for some of those things that are relatively not so hard and don’t cost gigantic resources) and tripling or so our scientific endeavors. It is a judgement call.
BPL, IMO you (et al) would appear far more credible if you responded with a quiet simple rationale rather that a shrill dogmatic retort over something that’s a nit-pick. The irrefutable fact of the matter is that it is a POWER. It simply does a better job of picturing the physical (as opposed to math) if presented as a coefficient.
“Petermann Ice Island (2010) has now broken into two parts.
The importance of the Petermann Glacier calving to climate science is not so much that it happened, but that it was predicted to happen. Quite a few predictions were made by people working independently as individuals or groups and using different techniques for prediction.
The incontestable fact that the calving was predicted using the scientific method – and that it happened – is a public demonstration of the power of science to predict the future. This evidence of the validity of the scientific method should be enough to convince any rational person that when climate scientists from the world’s nations agree that the world’s climate is changing, then it is changing.”
Re: ice sheet loss, sea level rise, isostatic adjustment, Wu et al.
(Jan Galkowski #311, Kevin McKinney #315, Brian Dodge #329)
If news reports on the Wu et al. paper are slanted against the the IPCC, as Jan indicates, that’s pretty strained. After all, Wu et al. report that the ice sheets have been losing mass faster in recent years than the last IPCC assessment (2007) reported for the preceding decade — though only half as fast as in a couple of studies published last year. For Greenland, the figures are:
- IPCC (*): 50–100 Gt/yr between 1993 and 2003
- Wu et al.: 81–127 Gt/yr between 2002 and 2008
Also, as Kevin noted, since the IPCC chickened out of quantifying the uncertain ice-sheet contribution to sea level rise, there is nothing to adjust downward in the IPCC sea-level rise projection.
However, last year’s Copenhagen Diagnosis (a non-IPCC update on the science since IPCC 2007) did cite the twice-as-high ice-sheet figures from recent studies. That makes me wonder about the implications, if any, of Wu et al. for the Copenhagen projection of sea-level rise that Kevin mentioned.
I’m hoping for a post by Stefan R. on this, eventually.
Rod B.@338, NO, IT IS NOT A POWER. Rod, the determination of a power of the concentration would be motivated by the physics–e.g. by the shape of the wings of the absorption lines. Thus, if the power changes, it implies that the physics is changing.
The coefficient of the log term is determined by a fit to empirical data–and we expect the data to shange at least slightly as we add more data.
By saying that the coefficient is a power, you are saying that the data change the physics–and that isn’t correct. That is why we are adamant on this point.
Rod says, “I would put it at about 50-50 — mostly because I don’t know enough to make more precise odds.”
Yes, but others do. The question is whether you learn why thay say your position is a worst than 20:1 longshot or do you persist in the silly position that the odds are 50:50. If the latter, then let’s play p-o-k-e-r sometime
325 (Rod B.)
You have never heard me say I’m in favor of inaction — period.
If we knew what mitigation would cost and it was minimal, I’d likely say go for it (…..) Given the current (un)certainties of the science I come down on holding off ….
There’s a difference between after the fact mitigation and active avoidance Rod, I’ll vote for avoiding the risk, you can take care of mitigating the damages when folks like you have helped “hold off” the avoidance until you’re “certain” the cost will be “gargantuan”.
You have never heard me say I’m in favor of inaction — period.
If we knew what mitigation would cost and it was minimal, I’d likely say go for it: the risk-reward-cost analysis would favor it. But we don’t know what it will cost, and it might be gargantuan — even maybe culture destroying. Given the current (un)certainties of the science I come down on holding off
Nothing is more pleasing than a sweet contradiction, is there?
Rod W. Brick — Learn some physics, as in dimensions and units. The coefficient has dimension of power per area and (SI) units (W/m^2). However, x(ln y) = ln(y^x) applies to pure numbers, without dimension.
Comment by David B. Benson — 12 Sep 2010 @ 6:00 PM
Rod B., I’m struggling a bit here to imagine a scenario where the cost of mitigation is “culture-destroying.” After all, mitigation is anything but an all-or-nothing proposition (think of the multifarious SRES scenarios for a second.) And it’s not as it’s a once-and-for-all commitment to spend x trillions in y period of time: if the cost becomes too steep, the option always exists to back off the spending over the next few years.
But the really ironic part is that I just heard an interview with one of the economists Lomborg used in the research for his latest book: that fellow made the point that maximum benefit comes from the initial mitigation. You’d think that would make us–and by “us” here I mean “you”–eager to get going.
Rod B, you seem to not trust what the professional scientists are saying about our climate. I do, but you also express concern that we (world society) should be careful that costs of dealing with AGW are not greater than just depending on the traditional fossil fuel sources. Presumably, what you object to are the costs of switching over to renewable energy. If this is the case, I am puzzled.
The costs of fossil fuels are going to be increasing as the world economy (especially China and India) require more. Further, the increase in these costs will accelerate dramatically as the sources are depleted. What to do about this? Switch over to renewables, the same solution as for warming.
CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing and this is likely to accelerate, and nobody disagrees with this. The effect of this is ocean acidification that will strongly affect ocean ecology, and the human food sources that depend on this, and will greatly add to the costs of increasing fossil fuel use. The solution to this, like the above, is to switch to renewable energy ASAP.
So I have a question for you. Because experts say that increased CO2 is going to affect global society because of both an increase in temperature and ocean acidification, and we all are running out of fossil fuels anyway, at what time in the future do you think it would be appropriate to develop new energy sources? I agree that making the switch will be expensive, but don’t you think that we should do it before fossil fuels become too expensive? We will need inexpensive fossil fuels to make the change with a minimum of disruption. Steve
Steve Fish, Bob (Sphaerica), et al, briefly and generally I’m in favor of ongoing research and development of alternative electric sources and the continued and, if reasonable, enhanced implementation of viable alternative sources (wind mostly). The research needs to look at reliability and availability, and the critical hard nut, storage. Development of electric storage for transportation ought to be done, though (so far) electric powered vehicles, in the end, will be dependent on electric generation and distribution.
I appreciate the patience that folks have had with Rod B for several years. I guess they enjoy the bantering with a contrarian.
A neighbor of mine (now deceased) was a paleobotanist who argued for decades that the theory of continental drift and sea-floor spreading was bogus. All of his colleagues moved beyond him, but it didn’t stop him from raising his objections to a theory that everyone else accepted.
So is Rod B a real global warming denier, or is he a bit of an enigma who just wants to test the arguments of those who understand the horrific problems we face? To some extent, it is amusing to see his posts, followed by detailed responses showing why his views are wrong. Perhaps his role is to strengthen the arguments used to portray global warming as an incredible life threatening issue.
“If we knew what mitigation would cost and it was minimal, I’d likely say go for it: the risk-reward-cost analysis would favor it. But we don’t know what it will cost, and it might be gargantuan — even maybe culture destroying. Given the current (un)certainties of the science I come down on holding off (except for some of those things that are relatively not so hard and don’t cost gigantic resources) and tripling or so our scientific endeavors. It is a judgement call.”
We don’t know what it what CLIMATE IMPACTS will cost, and it might be gargantuan — even maybe culture destroying.
A lot of smart people have looked at this. Economists, physical scientists, actuaries etc.
The people have concluded that the risks OUTWEIGH the costs of the actions needed to mitigate the risks. (And they admit the the benefits of taking the actions are under-estimated, because we don’t know how much air quality would improve as a result of these actions, and poor air quality kills thousands and costs the global economy, quite literally, billions)
Furthermore, the people who understand the science know that this problem is TIME CRITICAL
You say “Wait and see”
I say “We might wait another 15 years, find that, yeah, climate change is going to be every bit as bad as we thought it was, and the intevening 15 years have completely buggered us”
This is not some mere academic issue. This is probably not the survival of the human race, but could well be the survival of human civilisation as we recognise it. And the efforts we take over the next 10 years will be critical is preventing it.
For every year we delay action, the International Energy Agency estimate the costs of dealing with the (mitigation) problem increase by $0.5 trillion, globally.
So the argument for inaction has to be a lot more rigourous than “I’m not convinced yet. Try me this time next year”
I resent the fact that business as usual is happening, and screwing my future prosperity, and that of my children, and I get no say in the matter because the people doing the damage are rich, and will die, fat and healthy, in 50 years time.
And /I’m/ the one who has to provide more proof, despite the fact that the science academies of all the major nations recognise climate change as a real and urgent problem?
You aren’t going to land on the right side of history on this one, Rod. Right now, you’re the Catholic Church, and Hanen and co. are Galileo. The only difference is that the church didn’t kill millions of people by refusing to recognise that Mr G. was correct. Whereas those who refuse to accept the reality of climate change, and the myriad brilliant ways in which we can mitigate it (and afford to do so) will kill (prematurely) millions, and probably destroy the global economy in doing so.
We have two eventualities which may be “culture destroying.”
One is AGW, which you put at a 50-50 chance, and a large body of very intelligent, educated and professional scientists put the odds a lot higher.
Our only control over AGW is to mitigate CO2 generation, soon. If we wait too long, and AGW comes to pass, then the damage done to people, nations, and economies, as well as the cost of efforts to adapt to the changed climate and to more rapidly mitigate further CO2 generation, will in fact be “culture destroying.”
The other eventuality is that too much, too aggressive CO2 mitigation will be “culture destroying.” Our only control over that is the economic and political systems of the world, and human decision making processes and their limits, whereby a vast number of invested parties (peoples, governments, national economies, corporations) have an influence over what is done, when and how.
Governments can choose to act rationally or reasonably, or rashly and wildly. People in democracies can vote out ineffective or dangerously irrational governments.
Corporations can participate in the process, or cheat and fight using lobbyists and propaganda, moving operations to other countries, etc.
People, in addition to voting, can influence events with their own behavior and purchasing choices.
Economies will react as they always do, putting pressure on governments, nations, and peoples by making goods more or less available, and expensive.
So we have a huge number of ways of controlling the mitigation effort, and all evidence points to the fact that it will be very, very difficult, even if the AGW problem is properly acknowledged, to take effective action.
Here we have two culture destroying propositions, one (AGW) over which we have very little control, particularly if we don’t begin to mitigate now, and one (mitigation efforts) over which we have almost too much control, and so really isn’t a problem at all.
You are really saying that we should hold off on mitigating CO2 because the mitigation could be culture destroying, even though we have complete control over that outcome, while failing to mitigate CO2 could also be culture destroying, and we have no control over that except for mitigation?
Jim Eaton, the difficulty is, rather than detailed responses showing why my views are wrong, I get mantra memes wrapped in rage over anyone who doesn’t roll over and accept their judgement. I occasionally raise rather specific scientific questions and the response is usually (though certainly not always) along the general vein of ‘who the hell are you to be questioning all of us smart guys? Whatever you implied or said is wrong (usually followed by a couple of textbook ad homs). The science is whatever I said it is.’
On the other hand, as I have said many times, they really don’t have to answer the specific scientific question in detail. That would likely be too long an effort, not appropriate of blog comments, and honestly not their responsibility. A response along these thought lines would be understandable. But what I usually get is a simple frustrated angry inquisition attacking my heresy.
Jim Eaton wrote: “So is Rod B a real global warming denier, or is he a bit of an enigma who just wants to test the arguments of those who understand the horrific problems we face?”
I think that Rod B’s comment (#117 on this thread) in which he wrote “as we watch the liberals work to destroy the U.S. right before our eyes … ” (emphasis added) says everything that needs to be said about his game.
It has nothing to do with science and everything to do with fear and loathing of “the liberals” who he believes are “working to destroy the US”.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Sep 2010 @ 11:46 AM
#354…No, what I see are very detailed, reasoned answers, which grow more strident in proportion to your unreasonable obstinacy.
At the same time, your refusal to answer many of the questions directed your way is telling…
David Benson, Barton and I have all provided detailed reasons why your insistence on incorporating the 5.35 into the exponent of the concentration ratio is flat-assed wrong. Do you not understand them, or are you simply playing a game? We’ve also repeatedly pointed you to analyses that detail the rationale for CO2 forcing.
Again, simple incredulity is not science. You need to support your position with evidence and analysis.
Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Sep 2010 @ 1:17 PM
Ah, this is really all about the so called culture wars isn’t it? If the ‘culture’ is so fragile that it can’t adapt to climate change, maybe it’s not worth keeping around as it is.
Reminds me of that South African creationist who went around destroying fossils because they were evidence of evolution.
By the way, where is the evidence that AGW won’t cause any harm? It’s not enough to sit around trying to pick holes in AGW because it’s scary, or even coming up with new rhetorical tricks (no bad effects of AGW = Intelligent Design for climate deniers?). Even if you were to actually find a problem, you’d have to show that it that it means something, otherwise you’re either arguing in a vacuum or we might as well consider it a trivial matter; fix the error and continue on model intact.
I’ll give the creationists this much, at least they have an alternate model of how things work –albeit a magical nonsensical one.
For those of us who look for mitigation in ways that look possible and even beneficial in our economic ecosystem, perhaps some consideration might be given to a proposition not much discussed as of yet. The IPCC seems to generally endorse things of this sort, but there has not been anything discussed of a scale that could get the job done.
I particularly react to the ill founded plans emerging from the EPA to require CO2 (they think it is carbon) to be captured from power plant stacks and pounded into holes in the ground. Thus motivated, the following seems interesting:
Barely noticed, if at all, the Chinese showed intention of significant action against CO2 emissions in their forestation plan. We in the USA could take a hint about how to actually accomplish something without wrecking our fundamental industrial base.
President Hu said, “— we will energetically increase forest carbon — we will endeavor to increase forest coverage by 40 million hectares (2.5 acres) and forest stock volume by 1.3 billion cubic meters by 2020 from 2005 levels.” This was reported by Joe Romm at his ‘climateprogress’ web site. See – http://climateprogress.org/2009/09/23/are-chinese-emissions-pledges-a-game-changer-for-senate-action-president-hu-un-speech/
This part of the speech went un-noticed on the particular Joe Romm discussion. However, it seems to contain the critical answer regarding ‘carbon’ capture and sequestration. For us to do it here in the USA it could turn out to costing less than nothing, and IT COULD ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISH THE FULL SCALE TASK.
A clue about how China might accomplish might be seen in the water policy behind their construction of the world’s largest dam.
In the USA we could establish on barren desert lands, standing forests with massive ‘forest stock volume’ which would capture CO2 from coal on a roughly ton of forest stock for a ton of coal basis. (Powder River Basin coal is the reference here.) I point out, we are talking about standing forest. It would only require water and a little good sense.
Good sense is necessary to negotiate North American water distribution that would bring excess water from the far North, yes Canada, down through the USA and Mexico. Yes, Canada would get a share of the productive benefits of this new water arrangement, and it goes far beyond forest establishment.
Of course Canada would get credit toward their green pledges, and to sweeten the deal, we could tell the EPA to leave off haranguing them about their oil sands CO2 emissions.
And certainly there would be a need for due consideration for the balance of the things in the Arctic region; shifting water away from Hudsons Bay would mean less heat would be carried there by north flowing rivers, and more salinity would develop in those waters. The net effect would no doubt be unresolvable, so perhaps the water would better come from watersheds that open to more open ocean regions.
Bob (Sphaerica), it sounds as if you are saying that my judgement to hold off on (excessive) mitigation is specious and academic, as all of the natural and economic forces won’t let it happen anyway. Those forces will only allow such efforts that are, well, almost effortless. That’s actually not as much as I would favor, and certainly doesn’t describe the desires of AGW protagonists that I have heard..
Ray Ladbury, of course. I’ve said so. 5.35 is more instructive as a coefficient. But saying 5.35 can not be an exponent in the equation is the equivalent of loudly saying the emperor is dressed just fine and 2+2 does not equal 2-squared, and anyone disagreeing deserves burning at the stake. Out of curiosity, what are the units of log[P_out/P_in]?
“Good sense is necessary to negotiate North American water distribution that would bring excess water from the far North, yes Canada, down through the USA and Mexico. Yes, Canada would get a share of the productive benefits of this new water arrangement, and it goes far beyond forest establishment.”
Less likely in the future than it’s been in the past, you’re not the first to imagine the US water supply shortage could be made up by wasting Canadas, we’re doing fine on that score, supplying you petro fuels from the oil sands. ;)
1 – It’s not a power. This should be obvious, because you can express the forcing in log base-10, rather than natural log, and you get a different coefficient. I think we can agree that changing log powers doesn’t change physics!
2 – #362 is unitless, of course
3 – I really don’t understand your obsession with this issue. You /cannot/ mathematically prove the forcing of any GHG. What you have to do is measure the spectra as accurately as possible (done – see HITRAN), come to some conclusions about the make-up of the vertical column between the point of interest and the earth (clearly an experimental, not mathematical, problem) and work out what the impact of adding an incremental amount of that gas to that column will be.
If you are /really/ interested in this topic, then I suggest you look at the IPCC AR3 (I’m sure AR4 touches on this, but I’ve got AR3 in front of me) Working Group I report, pages 356 and 357, and references therein.
This sets out how you go about doing it, in some considerable detail.
If you don’t trust the models that have been used to do this work, then it should be reasonably simple for you to write your own model that calculates what the radiative impact on going from 350ppm to 550ppm CO2 would be, for example.
If you don’t trust HITRAN I pity you, but any undergraduate chem. student can go into the lab and measure the spectrum of CO2.
And before you jump to any conclusions, note that the mathematical models used to calculate the increase in forcing in a real world system are in agreement with observations.
Yes, and you can transliterate English into Chinese characters or fricking Egyptian heiroglyphics as well. It just won’t mean anything to anyone else. The physics matters! And to express the equations in manners that contradict the physics is just flat WRONG!! I have to agree with Barton: The fact that you persist in doing so is an indication that you really aren’t serious about learning.
Bob (Sphaerica), it sounds as if you are saying that my judgement to hold off on (excessive) mitigation is specious and academic, as all of the natural and economic forces won’t let it happen anyway.
That is correct.
Those forces will only allow such efforts that are, well, almost effortless.
That is unnecessary hyperbole.
That’s actually not as much as I would favor, …
And yet your (and others) repeated effort are having exactly that effect, to, combined with the natural friction and checks and balances in the system, totally and completely stall any mitigation, to the point that the problem will be uncontrollable by the time action begins to be taken.
…and certainly doesn’t describe the desires of AGW protagonists that I have heard.
More hyperbole, wrapped in “I have heard.” Please provide a citation. Exactly what actions have you “heard” that AGW protagonists “desire,” at what cost, and which protagonists?
This last to me seems to be a constantly propped up denier strawman, equivalent to the claims that the real goal is a new world order/government, or that Obama is Muslim and wants to make the U.S.A. communist. It’s fun to say, and no one can challenge it or change your mind because you “have heard.”
But in the end, it’s an excuse to add even more friction to the process, and so completely stall all efforts. Then you get to have your cake and eat it, too. You get to say that you want to mitigate climate change, while making sure that not a single thing is done to actually do so.
Where in the world does the idea that Canada’s water contains an “excess” come from? Is the implication that direct human need defines sufficiency?
Canadian water represents a relatively large proportion of the national surface relative to other nations, true–but lakes are dynamic bodies, depending upon the balance between input and output. That means if you start withdrawing the “excess,” the lake in question will eventually disappear (something we in Georgia have noticed repeatedly in the last few years.) So, unless you define “excess” in terms of precipitation increases resulting from AGW, I think there is a real problem.
Those lakes contain functioning ecosystems (well, most of them, anyway!) and also are very, very important for the terrestrial ecology surrounding them, not to mention to the existing culture and economy.
These proposals to sell “excess” Canadian water en masse surface from time to time, but I don’t think they’ve ever convinced many that they are either workable, fair or desirable. It does seem that the slow-motion American water crisis is apt to get worse, and it does seem quite possible that it could shape American perceptions of the desirability of buying water, whether from Canada or somewhere else. But that is as much an illustration of the conflict-inducing potential of ACC (as in “Anthropogenic Climate Change”) as anything else.
334, Ray Ladbury: When there is an energy imbalance in the climate, the system must warm until the energy radiated (blackbody(T) minus ghg absorbed) again equals energy incident.
I think that you mean “energy flow imbalance”, not “energy imbalance”. Anyway, “inertia” is not defined technically, and Trenberth’s comment that where the energy all is isn’t known should be taken more seriously. Temperature is the aggregate effect of the average kinetic energy; some energy resides in the higher energy levels of the CO2 and CH4 bonds, some resides in the evaporated water and melted ice at constant temperature, some is reradiated outward to the universe, some resides in the chemical bonds of complex structures, and some resides in the increased kinetic energy of the water in oceans. There is a time lag between the change in the CO2 and the predicted increase in measured surface temperatures, but in each interval of that time lag, the energy is potentially measurable. Some resides in the higher potential energy of the evaporated water.
Comment by Septic Matthew — 14 Sep 2010 @ 10:33 AM
oops, In my last comment, add “energy levels of electrons in H2O bonds” to CO2 bonds and CH4 bonds.
Comment by Septic Matthew — 14 Sep 2010 @ 10:54 AM
Rod B wrote: “… it sounds as if you are saying that my judgement to hold off on (excessive) mitigation is specious and academic …”
As far as I can tell, you define “excessive” mitigation as any government action that places a price on carbon pollution (e.g. carbon tax or cap-and-trade), or that directly limits carbon pollution (e.g. EPA regulation), or that in any other way directly reduces the consumption of fossil fuels and thereby reduces the profits of the fossil fuel corporations.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Sep 2010 @ 11:16 AM
Bob (Sphaerica), well, I can cite 80-90% of the comments in RC on the subject of mitigation: hardly any are only in favor of mitigation efforts that can only be done with personal ease and very little cost. “I have heard” is predominately from reading RC threads.
When I say I am in favor of some mitigation efforts, why do you assert that I am in favor of doing nothing? If someone else wants to do nothing, go fuss at them, please. (…this point is getting tiresome…)
Thanks for the link to the news on water in Canada.
But you seriously have to be kidding to call yourself ‘flxible’.
It is always good to be reminded that I am not the first to think of something when I bring up a topic. Actually, I thought of water re-distribution around 1975 when people were talking about towing icebergs to Saudi Arabia. But then, so did a lot of others then as well. And there was a similar outcry from the North country environmentalists; and not much from the three inhabitants that would be affected, but would probably be delighted at a settlement that would enhance their life style, disruptively of course.
But I am not talking about water to alleviate drought. I am talking about something far bigger than that, which would be of extent to enable re-establishing deciduous forests in the lower parts of North America.
Of course there will be a lot of problems with water distribution that is not already happening.
So as I look at the link about water situation by some statistician, I see a problem that needs fixing, not a problem that needs to be exacerbated to alleviate minor complaints.
From my way of thinking, the problem that needs fixing is the CO2 problem first and foremost. And I would rather see it fixed with our engineering capabilities than by reversing 200 years of the industrial revolution by clobbering the energy usage system that keeps us going, though the standing threat to impose a cost burden on electric power of $95 per ton of CO2 to capture said CO2. (For those who do not know that CO2 weighs 3.6 times as much as the carbon element that it contains, please hold the discussion about how cheap this is until giving some thought to how this loads the cost for using coal — don’t feel picked on, our EPA seems to not know this elementary chemistry.)
SM is forgetting about feedback effects and trying to limit climate models solely to energy flows (the forcings, which give the very low base number for climate sensitivity considered apart from feedbacks).
I’m sure this is a repeat of a previous digression on the same byway.
You misunderstand. Water from Canada would not be for the purpose of alleviating our water problems in the USA, though it might spill off a little in that direction. I am talking about vastly more water than you are imagining. Had you noticed there is CO2 problem? — and here is a fix. Now get a grip and think about priorities.
I said elsewhere that Hudsons Bay should be treated carefully so as not to disturb salinity in a significant way, and maybe we could go easy on the Great Lakes. But for water now going into the ocean, a hard look should be given to diverting it in a southerly way.
Are we worried enough about global warming to actually try to do something rather than clamboring for a flogging of those who keep things moving.
I hope I made it clear that I was not talking about draining lakes, and not even lakes in particular, but instead there needs to be a well considered plan to balance the needs of the smelt etc. with the needs of the planet.
The trade-off that will result in an actual accomplishment is a trade-off between environmental priorities.
As I understand the prognosis for global warming, the smelt will not be any more happy with that than they will be if the water flow slows somewhat.
Rod W Brick asks what are the units of log[P_out/P_in]? @362. It is a pure number, dimensionless as is the argument which is a ratio.
It is the case that the value of the coefficient changes as the base of the logarithm changes.
Did you never study any chemistry, physics or even \algebra\ in high school? Never do any elementary interest calculations?
Comment by David B. Benson — 14 Sep 2010 @ 2:34 PM
Silk, I appreciate your response. Sorry for my wordy answer.
1) 3.7 = 5.34ln2 = 12.30log2. What’s the problem?
2) The units of log[P_out/P_in] is the bel — because we said…
3) I assume you’re questioning my “obsession” with the general question of molecular radiation absorption, and not the silly coefficient-power thing. It’s not an obsession; it’s simply the biggest area of the science where I have skepticism and want to understand — so it’s where my primary focus is at the moment. I am not trying to prove/disprove forcing with the mathematical formula. I agree almost 100% with your #3 of #367.
I think the possibility of error in the forcing projection is significant. Essentially they have done a laborious curve fitting with numerous assumptions and averages and uncertainties built on top of one another and then projected the resultant mathematical formula into a different environment with its own assumptions and uncertainties. This is not to be critical of the effort. The work that went into this analysis is very impressive and clearly scientifically cogent and diligent. I think the collective scientists made their best (and it is good) judgement and conclusion. But it is not irrefutably 100% accurate and precise. Just as a couple of examples: there is a degree of uncertainty (error) in the forcing variance with different mixing ratios (also one of the variances in HITRAN, btw), with the effect of clouds, with the effect of stratospheric radiative function, with one-dimensional vs three-dimensional analysis, with global- vs regional-wide analysis. All of these are (IIRC) readily admitted — properly so — and taken into account (quite commendably IMO).
These are in the curve fitting effort of the past environments. They get magnified when projected blindly (an exaggeration to make a point) into the unknown future of atmospheric physics. Was the effort credible? It was more; it was/is commendable. I think one can come away that their best “guess” has significant scientific support and learned judgement, and has a decent probability of being accurate. But there is some probability that it is significantly inaccurate.
You have incented me to reread the pertinent TAR and AR4. Thanks.
HITRAN is very impressive, but, again, not perfect. As minutely detailed as it is, it still uses assumptions and averages to assess physical experimental results and to collate with the basic physics math. One example: the usable base pressure broadened half-width factor for CO2 is averaged (weighted) over the different vibration absorption frequencies and is listed as between 0.008 and 0.11; the temperature dependence exponent [ (T_0/T)^n ] as between 0.49 and 0.78 (might have been updated since). There are many similar. I’m greatly oversimplifying HITRAN database, but my point remains. The highly detailed HITRAN is not fully usable (or accurate) as the models have to take averages, assumptions, and approximations. A model using every line and every parameter and their variances might not ever complete a run!
I have more to say, but am already too long and have long since worn out my welcome on this topic. Thanks for the opportunity.
Epilog: The ‘write your own model” smart-a–’ meme is getting old. O.K. My forcing formula is F = 0.02ln[CO2/CO2_0]. That was easy.
The Harris graph in skepticalscience doesn’t prove much either way. Though it likely shot down the hyperbolic American Thinker assertion. BTW, my skepticism says CO2 absorption could be close to saturation, not is saturated; and there will always be some marginal absorption, even if very tiny.
SecularAnimist, Stupid carbon tax or cap-and-trade, or stupid regulatory limits carbon pollution would be excessive and should be avoided. Stuff that reduces the consumption of fossil fuels can be O.K… or maybe not. Oil Co. profits are a non sequitur.
Comment by David B. Benson — 14 Sep 2010 @ 3:43 PM
378, Hank Roberts: SM is forgetting about feedback effects and trying to limit climate models solely to energy flows (the forcings, which give the very low base number for climate sensitivity considered apart from feedbacks).
SM, you replied to mention of “simple climate models which include inertia” by posing your question that began “In analysis of energy flows” — and have gone on since trying to talk about energy flows, as though only the forcings (energy in from outside) mattered and needed to be tracked. This is ignoring the feedbacks (which are part of the inertia, the slow responses over time that contribute to climate sensitivity).
387, Hank Roberts: about energy flows, as though only the forcings (energy in from outside) mattered
“as though only the forcings … mattered” is something that you inferred.
I was referring to Trenberth’s model of all energy flows — I repeat, all energy flows. The things that children can understand are mostly irrelevant here, which was why I asked if there was a technical definition of inertia in this field.
Seems to me you leaped from mention of simple climate models to the notion that someone has a comprehensive model of all energy flows including the lag times so you could define a specific number for each lag time?
That would be great, but I think it’s a bit early to have it all nailed down from what the modelers are telling us.
“But I am not talking about water to alleviate drought …” No, just about water to grow trees where the natural cycle can’t support them because of permanent natural drought. And spending a few kings ransoms to do it. How about planting the trees where the water is? Many acres of beetle killed trees in western Canada that need replacement.
You were apparently thinking about water “redistribution” around the same time that the Governor of Arizona was proposing to “redistribute” the major rivers of British Columbia to his desert using our “engineering capabilities”. That didn’t fly either. My flexibility involves focusing on the cause of the real climate change problem, unsustainable consumption by an unsustainable population that feels entitled to “redistribute” the planet. The global hydrologic cycle and patterns are already being disrupted enough.
Not kidding at all, Flxible.
“Good sense is necessary to negotiate North American water distribution that would bring excess water from the far North, yes Canada, down through the USA and Mexico.” Jim Bullis, Miastrada Company — 13 September 2010 @ 4:31 PM
http://www.water.ca.gov/swp/ (California State Water Project)
Annual SWP payments $600 million/yr 32 % power costs(~$192 million dollars) 70% urban 30% agricultural, 750k acres agricultural use.
8.7e9 kwh generation, 5.1e9 kwh net use, California has high mountain reservoirs to collect the water, and generates power from this head to offset the energy require to pump the water So -> 13.8e9 gross kwh to pump the water.
“Pine plantations in the Southeast can accumulate almost 100 metric tons of carbon per acre after 90 years, or roughly one metric ton of carbon per acre per year (Birdsey 1996).
Carbon accumulation in forests and soils eventually reaches a saturation point, beyond which additional sequestration is no longer possible. ”
Edmonton to Juarez ~ 3000 km
Redding to Tijuana ~ 1000 km
CA SWP 1128 km total aqueducts pipelines etc
New Mexico area 121412 square miles, or ~7.77e7 acres, Arizona 7.3e7 acres, and Chihuahua Mexico 6.1e7 acres
I plugged this data into a spreadsheet and calculated that if water could be collected in Canada as efficiently as California, and discounting the likely additional distances involved, it would cost about 45 billion dollars per year to pump the water required to grow enough trees in the Southwest to sequester 10% of US 2007 emissions. If all the power had to be purchased, and grew proportional to the longer distances, it would cost $364 billion per year. it would also require ~7.5 times the area of New Mexico, 8 times the area of Arizona, 9.7 times the area of Chihuahua, Mexico, or 2.76 times the area of all three.
As a point of reference, duckweed, one of the fastest growing plants in the world, can produce about 30 tons of dry matter per acre per year, when fertilized with N & P at rates equal to about half the concentration found in US municipal sewage, about 175.0 mg/L Total Available N and 65 mg/L PO4-P.
“Epilog: The ‘write your own model” smart-a–’ meme is getting old. O.K. My forcing formula is F = 0.02ln[CO2/CO2_0]. That was easy.”
At this point, I give up.
You don’t give a damm about understanding whether or no CO2 is saturated, or what it would even mean for the climate. You merely want to cling onto the notion that it ‘might be’ because that enables you to hold the political views you hold, which would be otherwise indefensible.
That would be great, but I think it’s a bit early to have it all nailed down from what the modelers are telling us.
The authors agree with you that it is not all nailed down. They report some of the flows with 3 significant figures, which is nice if it is accurate.
Comment by Septic Matthew — 15 Sep 2010 @ 11:05 AM
re #392 Thanks Brian Dodge for some interesting comparisions, and you provide a start for a lot of thought. And I do not pretend that I have completely digested all you said; though I would like to give some quick response on some of it.
Some of what you say seems a little biased.
Not to trivialize cost, but it has not cost a lot to pump water down the Mississippi for some millions of years. And I read recently that it takes about 20% of the hydro power in California to pump water, so that is not such a big chunk of the total electricity output of the state. Compare that with the EPA plan to put a factor of ten increase in the cost of using coal, with the threatened imposition of ‘carbon’ capture costs on the power industry.
Cost is also something that gets much reduced by productivity, not just forests, that come from water supply.
As to the area required, I think a ton of trees roughly matches a ton of coal. And lets not sandbag the whole thing by requiring the entire US CO2 tonnage has to be captured; I would be satisfied with capturing just the CO2 from coal in power plants. (I have cars and trucks under control with other plans, but that is a different big plan and different discussion.) On the other hand, I would not use ‘duckweed’ as an example since that seems not to be the kind of permanent capture I am talking about; growing fast is good but if it just gets turned back into CO2 by rotting or being used in fuel, it gets us nowhere.
Anyway, I appreciate your input, but wonder if the numbers would change much if you actually wanted the scheme to work. And maybe the same goes for me where I am trying to make it work, that is, my numbers might be overly optimistic as I think yours seem overly pessimistic.
I estimate that an acre can support 50 to 100 trees and that these can reach a weight, easily more than 10 tons in 25 years. So I would say the Birdsey reference is off by about a factor of 20 to 40 or so.
In an effective harvesting program, where wood is permanently used, and old growth root structures are preserved, the rate could be far higher.
Jim Bullis, Miastrada Company @395 — Preserving old growth root structures (and truck) is called coppice culture. Suited to several tree species, but not all.
Comment by David B. Benson — 15 Sep 2010 @ 2:39 PM
394 (Rod B)
when did Captcha start using Greek symbols?!? That seems beyond the pale…
The Google re-Captcha system is actually one that combines and effort to digitize documents through OCR with the need for captcha mechanisms. It is purposely, randomly giving you snippets of text which were not able to be perfectly read by a machine. Usually, these include arcane words (“techno-speak” in various specialties), as well as mis-spellings, blurred words, and other unexpected items like special symbols such as (R) and (TM)… or Greek letters. I’ve even seen one where the text was a word turned 90 degrees counterclockwise, and shrunk about 400%.
Anyway, what you get is random, and they don’t know what they’re giving you. They only know that the computer couldn’t reliably read it. It’s just any old snippet that the OCR program couldn’t handle. If you can’t handle it either, use the circling-arrows button to get something easier.
“Subtropical Plantations: 2.4 metric tons (Mg) of carbon per year with soil carbon.” [per hectare - 6 tons per acre] http://www.rff.org/documents/RFF-DP-00-35 Forestry Sequestration of CO2 and Markets for Timber R Sedjo – 2000 – Cited by 23
“How fast can a tropical tree plantation absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide? Through photosynthesis a plantation can accumulate between 15 and 25 t of dry biomass per hectare per year, with a working mean figure of 20 t (Evans, 1982, 1987; Pandey, 1983; Tang et al., 1988; and Zsuffa, 1984; see also Brown et al., 1985, and Cropper and Ewel, 1987). As a measure of the conservative nature of these figures, note that eucalyptus plantations in southern Brazil have been regularly averaging over 30 t/ha/yr (Brandao, 1985). Roughly half the plant growth is made up of carbon, so a plantation can assimilate 10 t (a mean working figure) of atmospheric carbon per hectare per year.” [~ 4 tons per acre per year] http://www.ciesin.columbia.edu/docs/002-163/002-163.html
I used duckweed as an example of high growth rates for plants in the real world; because it doesn’t make cellulose, it doesn’t directly sequester CO2 long term like trees. It would require processing to separate the nutrients from the carbohydrates, recycling the nutrients (N is in protein, so preferably through the food chain) and sequestering/charring? the carbohydrate parts. The nitrogen content of wood is about 0.2-0.5 percent, depending on species, so every ton of wood ties up a couple of kg of fixed nitrogen; wood is hard to separate from its fixed nutrients because cellulose is so stable. Many species of trees & shrubs fix nitrogen (alders; see also http://www.winrock.org/fnrm/factnet/FACTPUB/AIS_web/AIS10.html), but the energy diverted to this reduces the creation of cellulose(fixed carbon).
Most waste water treatment plants in the US are designed to convert the fixed nitrogen in the influent to nitrogen gas, because its presence in the effluent, usually dumped into the nearest stream, causes eutrophication. We currently convert atmospheric N plus methane into NH3 plus CO2, at a cost of about $1000/ton. Apply the NH4 to crops, eat (or feed animals & eat them)the crops, pee and poop (animals and people) a significant fraction of the fixed nitrogen into waste streams, and convert it back into nitrogen gas if it doesn’t go directly to eutrophying the environment. Seems to me it would be smarter to recycle nitrogen once it’s fixed – it might make more sense to pipe pretreated sewer effluent instead of Canadian fresh water to the Southwest.
Tube grown algae under optimum small scale trials has reached ~200 tons/acre per year(I vaguely remember 220 or 280 tons/acre in lab scale trials, but haven’t found the specific reference again) , so I suppose that genetically engineered nitrogen fixing frankentrees might someday approach that, and we’ll probably need them sooner than we would like. These extremely high growth rates have only been achieved with high CO2 levels, and have been done in anticipation of using the technologies in conjunction with concentrated sources of CO2 – e.g. high tech greenhouse/algae tube growth chambers next to a coal power plant or cement plant. At 400 (or 500 or 600 ppm CO2) atmospheric diffusion will rate limit even the best biosequestration schemes, if everything else is optimized (Liebig’s Law).
In the short term, there are other water problems looming –
“Drought-stricken Lake Mead has dropped an additional 10 feet since last summer, and now, Arizona and other Colorado River users are scrambling to keep the reservoir full enough to avoid water rationing.
Before year’s end, the lake will likely sink to within 9 feet of the level that would trigger the first round of restrictions – and the first such restrictions ever on the river. They begin with a reduction in water deliveries to Nevada and Arizona, where farmers would be affected first.” http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2010/08/12/20100812lake-mead-low-water-level.html
” Challenges to our water supply system
Though this system has served California well in the past, it faces a number of challenges that threaten the reliability of its water supplies.”
California is feeling the effects of multiple dry years. Water Year 2009 was the third consecutive dry year, and many key reservoirs were far below normal at the beginning of 2010. Though rain and snowfall have been closer to normal in early 2010, state water managers say it is not enough to overcome the string of dry years. Water deliveries are expected to be significantly reduced for many areas of the state.”
“Ecological problems in the Delta
…is in an ecological collapse that has triggered major cutbacks in water deliveries….”
“Growing pressure on our water delivery system
…the state’s water infrastructure is struggling to keep up …”
” Climate change
Experts agree that long-term climate change is occurring and that it is already affecting California’s water resources.”
… an $11.14 billion water bond slated for the November 2010 ballot … …many of its elements will take years to implement.” http://www.acwa.com/content/water-information
IMHO, the problems facing our (modern, industrial, fossil fuel dependent, large corporation dominated)civilization from CO2 emissions and other causes of global warming are, unfortunately, too large and too expensive to have simple solutions. Yes, we need to do (expensive, massive, global, government mandated) sequestration projects; there will be political and economic winners and losers. And we must rebuild our energy infrastructure – peak oil, and national security reasons, and global warming; even if one discounts global warming, it’s still necessary. There will be winners and losers in this. We don’t have much time left before we reach political and economic tipping points – the transition will haver to be fueled by coal and oil, and they are rising in price; when we can’t afford to pay for the fossil fuel necessary to build the solar, wind, biofuel, geothermal infrastructure, if we don’t have enough renewable replacements on line, we’re done. If China, India, Pakistan, Saudia Arabia (or their proxies) are fighting over water, territory, and political power, they aren’t going to be interested in supplying us with wind turbines, or solar cells.
Thanks Brian Dodge for helping the discussion along so effectively. I think there are numbers that can be worked with here.
For my understanding a little clarification is needed. Reading the Columbia reference in particular, it seems that they jump from ‘carbon’ to ‘CO2′ without noticing the factor of 3.6 difference in weight for the same amount of the carbon element involved. Our EPA seems to be talking in terms of tons of CO2, not carbon, though they seem to think it is carbon. (Embarrassing huh?)
Next point, the duck grass is not interesting except as a general bound of possibilities since it has no long term existence. As to eucalyptus, this is not a good choice, though they grow fast and provide shade, since the forests it creates are problematic and the wood is useless for permanent structures. (We have them here in California due to a plan to use them for railroad ties a hundred years ago, but that turned out to be a poor wood for that purpose.)
Choice of wood is subject to expertise from forestry folks, but I would favor redwood since the wood is amazingly self preserving and useful for permanent construction.
I hope to get back to this soon, but thanks for now.
Thanks for that point. Preserving old growth root structures has worked extremely well for redwood trees, and Christmas trees, though the latter are not much use for CO2 capture in the way it is done when I saw it.
The whole field of forestry is applicable in the management of the standing forests that would be useful in CO2 capture and sequestration.
Adding the water and using otherwise unproductive land would have the potential of matching CO2 from all North American coal fired power plants, and the net long term cost could well be zero or less. That is really my point, and when compared to summarily executing the industrial economy as the EPA is suggesting, it looks quite good.
Since I rather appreciate the benefits of our developed world, it looks very good to me. Of course it would involve some serious rethinking of water policy in North America, but considering the serious alternatives such as wrecking the industrial revolution or living with global warming, this might be a real option.