Edwards’ book is brilliant – a must read for anyone interested in appreciating the complexities of the data collection and analysis systems that underpin weather and climate prediction. He makes use of some interesting metaphors, including ‘data friction’ and ‘computational friction’, to point out that there are many places in the global observing systems where data has to be transferred from one format to another, and in each case, such changes require effort, and generate wastage (hence the ‘friction’ analogy). And he has an interesting take on the difference between ‘observational data’ and ‘models’ – basically, there’s no clean distinction – models are empirical summaries of the observational data, and observations are processed through models before they become usable data.
However, the intro is a little heavy going as he draws a lot on the terminology of infrastructure studies. Here’s a short explanation of what he means by ‘infrastructural inversion’: http://www.easterbrook.ca/steve/?p=1868
Stick with it, as his histories of the data collection systems are fascinating!
As Myles Allen says in his review: “A Vast Machine […] should be compulsory reading for anyone who now feels empowered to pontificate on how climate science should be done.”
UAH temps for August has tied the 1998 record and current La Nina cooled SSTs are rapidly approaching the 2009 El Nino fueled SSTs, so it looks like 2010 could break the record in all the datasets.
Didn’t the retreating Alpine Ice of the European Summer of 2003 reveal human remains and artifacts from earlier warmings hidden by the more recent ice?
[Response: Well, the ‘ice man’ you are thinking of was discovered in 1991, not 2003, but in any case, it was about 5000 years old. This implies the ice has been no smaller than it is now for 5000 years.–eric]
A request: provide a summary conclusion for these articles. I appreciate that RC is intended to provide a more technical analysis than other blogs, but I skimmed that article once and then read it properly and I’m still not certain what conclusion I’m supposed to draw – or even if there is one.
To reach as wide an audience as possible, a ‘plain English’ summary would be very useful. TIA.
Could the comparison include 1930’s as well? At least in Scandinavian countries, summers during 30’s were as warm as or warmer than 2000’s. Also, there shouldn’t be a major gap in the temperature history between 1930 and 2010.
I’m a bit confused, was the question ever answered here? I was not able to decode it, if it was. You may want to summarize it better at the end.
I don’t understand why the temperature record, as is, is not adequate to perform this type of analysis. Can you not get a reading on heat and cold waves from daily temperature records? Does the “official” temperature record support this assertion about more frequent extremes? What exactly does it show?
[Response: Read Rasmus’ linked paper.–Jim]
I confess I become immediately skeptical once an analysis begins by performing a “reanalysis” of an existing data set. This suggests data mining techniques are being used and is a clear path to confirmation bias. This is the same thing as testing many different statistical signal extraction techniques, picking the one you “like”, and then finding reasons to justify the selection after the results are known.
[Response: This is completely wrong. The term ‘reanalysis’ comes from the weather forecasting groups. Their current forecasts – always made with the most up-to-date model – are called the analysis. They give integrated snapshots (every 3 hours) of the current weather patterns using as much data as was then available. However, as time goes on, models improve, and so just by looking at the time series of ‘analyses’ you would get differences that are simply due to the model getting better. Additionally, sometimes new data can be added to the mix, and other data might needed to be corrected or thrown out. Thus the weather forecasting centers started to do ‘re-analyses’ in the 1990s – which involved going back over the older data and running it with the most up-to-date forecasting model. These reanalysis timeseries are homogenous in that the model is the same all the way through (which is not the case for the analysis), however, they may still have residual problems because of data source changes through time (particularly at around 1979 when a lot of satellite data started to become available). Nonetheless, the reanalysis projects (and there are a number of them – ERA, NCEP, MERRA, JAXA) are probably the best assessment of what the historical weather was like (back to around 1957 – though there are efforts to go back further), as long as it is understood that trends might not always be what they seem. – gavin]
“record-breaking monthly mean temperature have been more frequent that they would have been if the climate were not getting hotter” – I don’t think this is very surprising.
[Response: And just to add a point here — not it isn’t surprising at all. If the climate is getting hotter. Which some people seem to continue to believe it isn’t. That’s the point.–eric]
Does anyone know where I can find the outputs of various climate models, particularly over the satellite era and ideally with runs showing with and without anthropogenic influences?
[Response: Yes. There is a list of sources in the ‘data sources’ ‘Climate model output‘ section. Not all sources are very user friendly, but some are and you should be able to find anything you want. – gavin]
However, I am going to put on my mathematician’s hat to quibble about what appears to be the use of the term \smooth function\. Here is the definition: http://mathworld.wolfram.com/SmoothFunction.html
A smooth function, even C-infinity smooth, can change value rapidly over a short interval. For example, a step function, not even continuous much less smooth, can be approximated as closely as desired by an S-shaped function such as the error function. So to say \spatially smooth\ doesn’t describe what I think is happening, namely a function which changes slowly over extended intervals (as well as being smooth).
I suggest defining \slow function\ and then \spatially slow function\ appears, to me at least, descriptive.
[Response: Thanks! You are of course right. -rasmus]
Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Sep 2010 @ 1:45 PM
Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Sep 2010 @ 1:48 PM
One of the ironic facts connected to this is the popularity of the DMI arctic temperature data among certain denialists, who are in all other cases most disdainful of climate models. (DMI bases its data upon ECMWF re-analyses.)
It was really interesting to get some background to “re-analysis” generally in the inline response at #6.
I agree to Gavin’s response to Tom Scharf (#6), but it needs a minor correction. The Japanese effort of reanlysis is not JAXA, but JRA. In the “data sources” page here, it is correctly listed as “JRA-25”.
To explain “reanlysis” to people outside of the community of meteorology is not easy, since we need to explain how weather prediction is made routinely. Edwards’ book “The Vast Machine” is very welcome as it explains the historical context from the beginning of exchanges of weather records to modern reanalyses.
I was hoping that you could shed some light on the assimilation they use for 2-m temperature in the ERA. Originally I thought that they did not assimilate the SYNOP data, but then I went to ECMWF and read in the link below that they do have a function for 2-m T:
But then in another section they say in chapter 5.2.2 that:
“It was found that 2-metre-temperature data could not be satisfactorily used in the absence of surface skin temperature as part of the control variable, as unrealistic analysis increments appeared in the near-surface temperature gradients.”
UAH on which measure? The maximum on global LT5.3 was +0.77°C in April 1998; August 2010 was +0.51°C. See monthly plot here.
BTW, any one know what’s up with Roy Spencer’s Discover series? (Click Redraw, check all the boxes, then Redraw again.) The Ch04 “near surface layer” behavior there seems to be way out of whack with everybody else lately (plot).
“Didn’t the retreating Alpine Ice of the European Summer of 2003 reveal human remains and artifacts from earlier warmings hidden by the more recent ice?” -Orkneyga
The Holocene maximum was a period about 5,000 years ago when global temperatures were about 1’C above the recent historical norms. Currently temps are about .7’C above those norms.
The difference between then and now of course, is that that Holocene temperature was a maximum, while the current temperature rise is increasing and projected to be 3’C +- 1’C or so within the next 90 years, and with greater warming following that.
From the opinions you have expressed on other web sites, you are a denialist who really isn’t interested in the answers provided to you. Often repeatedly provided to you.
Comment by Vendicar Decarian — 14 Sep 2010 @ 1:31 AM
As someone who works to communicate climate change to the public, I’m afraid over 99 per cent of the public wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails of this – even some of your sophisticated readers say so in the comments above.
And this is a crucial topic, because the vast majority of the public will understand and care about climate change in proportion to how much they understand that it can and will increasingly affect all weather, including theirs. You’ve often demonstrated that the scientists publishing here can communicate well to the public, and this is a topic that deserves the most clear communication possible.
So I’ll make some statements and I’d appreciate hearing if you think I’m wrong:
2010 has the warmest January-August on record, and 2010 has a good chance to be the warmest year on record. This was predicted in January, 2009 by James Hansen and his NASA-GISS group.
This comes at the end of the warmest decade of global average temperature on record. Beginning in the 1980s, every decade has been warmer than the decade before, with the average for the last three decades each being higher than the record year global average temperature during the previous decade.
Because it is getting warmer and especially during a record warm year, one would expect more record high than record low temperatures. That’s exactly what we’ve seen in 2010, with 19 nations setting their all-time record high temperatures, and Pakistan’s record high was also Asia’s all-time record high of 128 degrees Fahrenheit.
The nations with record-high temperatures range over much of the globe and include nations in South America, Africa and Asia.
In the U.S. the National Climatic Data Center keeps the most dependable temperature records back to 1880 (thermometers were developed more than a century and a half before this, and through the 1800s and often before it was common practice to hang thermometers in the shade).
In the contiguous 48 states there were slightly more cold records than heat records in the 1960s and 1970s, but from January 1, 2000 to now there have been over twice as many heat records as cold records. According to a paper by Gerald Meehl at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, models show that if human burning of fossil fuels is not curtailed there could be 20 heat records for every cold record by 2050, and by 2100 the ratio could be 50 to 1.
There are many other well-documented and consistent effects of climate change including the significant melting of 90 per cent of the world’s glaciers, increased melting of summer and early fall ice throughout the Arctic Ocean, increased severity of droughts and more dramatic precipitation events of all kinds (including snow where it is cold enough to snow) because warming causes increased evaporation that has led to a 4 per cent increase in water vapor since 1970, with about another 4 per cent added for every degree in Fahrenheit increase.
According to the 2007 IPCC Report, the global average temperature could increase by 3 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. An atmosphere with 40 per cent more water vapor than now would be unrecognizable to any human, with frequent storms of all kinds on scales we can’t imagine.
Climate looks at the averages of weather, and climate scientists don’t claim to know what will happen in any given time and place in the months and years ahead, just like actuaries don’t know what will happen to any individual, but they’ve studied the average of things like life expectancies among various large groups. Climate scientists don’t know where and when temperature and precipitation records will be broken, but they are confident that the next decade and especially century will have more records of all kinds broken than the last decade and century.
Any comments or additional points made for the other 99 per cent of the public will be greatly appreciated! – Richard Brenne
[Response: There’s nothing wrong, that I know of, in what you’ve written, but you’re missing the point that the reanalyses provide additional support to straight met. data. Rasmus provided a large number of links to additional material to explore that topic in more detail.–Jim]
Orkneygal (3), David Benson (9); it is important to be clear that the examples of human artifacts covered by ice and now being revealed where typically dropped on snow (and ice covered slopes); and have been covered by ice ever since. Had they not been – had they been exposed on ice free slopes for any significant interval they would have rotted away and not been their to be discovered. As such they are clear evidence that these sites (variously in the Rockies and Alps) are now warmer than they have ever been for the last 4 to 5 thousand years.
just to play devil’s advocat:
The current temperature measurements/rercords to not disqualify a model that is based on a strong sun effect + a 60 year Atlantic cycle (with a maximum surface temperature in the 1940ties and the beginning of this century) + an underestimated UHI effect or other measurment issues +
a CO2-effect which is only 1/10 of obove statement -> close to 0.3K per doubling.
[Response: Uh huh…. And it is also not inconsistent with many another deus ex machina. The question is, what is the basis for your ‘strong sun effect’ , implied ‘weak CO2 effect’ and ‘ 60 year Atlantic cycle’?-eric>
Regarding the level of communication, and whether people can understand it: Realclimate was never the place to go for simple explanations. Maybe that’s unfortunate, but the “debate” is quickly driven to that level. It’s important that highly competent people can go in-depth somewhere, for the especially interested.
I recommend John Cook’s Skeptical Science site (it’s in the blogroll here) for the basic explanations. Recently he and his many contributors have started a project to write basic, intermediate and advanced replies to all the common anti-climate science talking points. They are really good, IMO.
Comment by Harald Korneliussen — 14 Sep 2010 @ 8:24 AM
Yes, Tamino has remarked on this somewhere on his “Open Mind” blog, to the effect that he doesn’t trust the Discover data for the last year or so.
And Spencer apparently doesn’t see to Discover personally, so he actually doesn’t know, either–there was a discussion on this on his website somewhere–sorry I don’t have the link to either discussion.
But the discrepancy is quite noticeable, all right–looking at Discover, you’d think that 1998 was left in the metaphorical dust. Although over the last week or so the Discover ch. 4 numbers have dropped some–the value for 9/12 shows -.28 relative to 2009 (though this point in 2009 was part of a sizeable uptick.)
“Laws of Nature”,
Actually, one might be able to come up with all sorts of unlikely, mysterious scenarios that account for the current level of warming (including a heat gun weilded by invisible Martians, CIA/UN/Mossad experiments…) if the temperature were the only data set that had to be explained. Throw in the distribution of the warming, stratospheric cooling…, and I think you might have a wee problem.
“Climate change projections suggest that European summer heatwaves will become more frequent and severe during this century, consistent with the observed trends of past decades.”
If you stop and write down all the factors that influence heat waves in continental interiors, you come up with a long list – but here are some central ones:
1) Soil moisture trends in a given region. If surface temperatures spike, and the ground is wet, evaporation rates increase, reducing the temperature by latent heat transfer. If dry, the temperature change is much greater. This can be considered a background climate condition that could very well contribute to the intensity of a heat wave, and is linked to precipitation, snowpack, etc.
A Google Scholar search for “soil moisture” and “heat wave/s” (since 2000) turns up some 1,920 references. Include a specific region – such as Mediterranean – brings the number down to 600 or so. Generally, the conclusion is that if soils are unusually dry in southern Europe in late spring/early summer, the chances of intense heat waves in northern Europe are increased. Note also that wildfires and soil moisture are closely associated, and the global warming effect is clearly seen with intensified wildfire occurrence in many regions.
2) Researchers studying European heat waves point to additional influences, particularly that of sea surface temperature – which also influences continental precipitation, and hence soil moisture. Apparently, warm SST anomalies help reinforce the atmospheric conditions that lead to persistent heat waves (in the Mediterranean).
SST influence makes sense in other regions as well; the Pacific’s La Nina has lead to cooler SSTs off the western U.S. coast, with associated weather/climate effects to follow. This is a good topic for denialists, who refuse to associate “extreme weather” with fossil fueled-global warming, while happily associating ENSO with extreme weather – they don’t claim that pineapple express storms are “weather, not climate.” However, if global warming induces permanent regional shifts on similar scales…
Note also that under hot conditions a stream of water vapor may not form clouds, but will instead act as an infrared blanket that amplifies the heat wave (this kind of heat wave is seen in California, fed by marine moisture from Baja).
3) Larger-scale effects can play roles too. Here we are talking about modification of atmospheric circulation – poleward expansion of the dry, descending portion of the Hadley Cell circulation by a few degrees, associated shifts in the jet stream. Oceanic circulation also plays a role – not that the Gulf Stream would ever shut down, but the warm core rings shed into the North Atlantic could become bigger and warmer, affecting regional SSTs, and hence precipitation and soil moisture.
For example, see Baldi et al 2006 “Heat waves in the Mediterranean: a local feature or a larger-scale effect?” or Ballester et al. 2009 “Future changes in Central Europe heat waves expected to mostly follow summer mean warming.”
So, if the data trend up to now and the models agree, then the projections – region by region – should be fairly robust, at least over the next century. If you want a similar answer for your own personal region, you have to do the same regional analysis – but hopefully, some state university has already done some of this work.
Essentially for lay persons and those who doubt some of the climate science attribution: this RC entry basically shows increasing amounts of evidence and more compelling evidence to support that the recent heat waves may have some real involvement from AGW. It also clearly states more research and analysis is needed over time and that the claim is not being made with certainty. However, the heat wave and other findings are in line with projections and some predictions and the GCM’s model these phenomena pretty well. The IPCC report discusses this stuff quite extensively as well in terms of projections and liklihoods/probabilities. And of course Ray’s comment in post # 23 on stratospheric cooling.
Tom Curtis @17 — Quite so, except for the being dropped on ice or snow bit. The requirement is simply a significant snow coverage soon after the material has stationary in those locations.
Comment by David B. Benson — 14 Sep 2010 @ 2:17 PM
@stephane #22… you’re correct, but here is the conundrum. Good scientists try to remove themselves from their work, and especially, their writing. The writing required by most peer-reviewed journals disallows even using the word “I” or “we” or “our group” when writing about the findings of their research (which can really make the process difficult, I’m learning). This becomes habit. It’s also often the case that when someone becomes very impassioned about a subject, they can either increase the chances of being biased, or at least can be perceived as doing so. This is why there really need to be intermediaries to the public, especially ones who aren’t political lightning rods, like Al Gore. We need some Carl Sagans.
Comment by Shirley J. Pulawski — 14 Sep 2010 @ 2:38 PM
Since the recent heat wave and peat bog fires in Russia this summer have been used as evidence of an extreme weather event in response to global climate change, I thought a llterary reference to such events occurring periodically at least to the 12 th Century would be informative. The literature is in Russian although there is a translation of part of the list. For those interested in outcomes, the rain in mid-August quenched the fires, cleared the air within 24 hours, washed the landscape, buildings & roads. Tourists with allergies and asthma who came to Moscow the day after the first rain, developed no symptoms from the previous week’s air pollution. http://therese-phil.livejournal.com/171196.html
[Response: Well then, all well and good, eh?!!! Jim. p.s.–I don’t believe you]
1298: There was a wholesale death of animals. In the same year there was a drought, and the woods and peat bogs burnt.
1364: Halfway through summer there was a complete smoke haze, the heat was dreadful, the forests, bogs and earth were burning, rivers dried up. The same thing happened the following year . . .
1431: following a blotting out of the sky, and pillars of fire, there was a drought – “the earth and the bogs smouldered, there was no clear sky for 6 weeks, nobody saw the sun, fishes, animals and birds died of the smoke.
[Response: Fishes died of the smoke eh?]
1735: Empress Anna wrote to General Ushakov: “Andrei Ivanovich, here in St Petersburg it is so smoky that one cannot open the windows, and all because, just like last year, the forests are burning. We are surprised that no-one has thought about how to stem the fires, which are burning for the second year in a row”.
1831: Summer was unbearably hot, and as a consequence of numerous fires in the forests, there was a constant haze of smoke in the air, through which the sun appeared a red hot ball; the smell of burning was so strong, that it was difficult to breathe.
The years of 1839-1841 were known as the “hungry years”. In the spring of 1840, the spring sowings of corn disappeared in many places. From midway through April until the end of August not a drop of rain fell. From the beginning of summer the fields were covered with a dirty grey film of dust. All the plants wilted, dying from the heat and lack of water. It was extraordinarily hot and close, even though the sun, being covered in haze, shone very weakly through the haze of smoke. Here and there in various regions of Russia the forests and peat bogs were burning (the firest had begun already in 1939). there was a reddish haze, partially covering the sun, and there were dark, menacing clouds on the horizon. There was a choking stench of smoke which penetrated everywhere, even into houses where the windows remained closed.
1868: the weather was murderous. It rained once during the summer. There was a drought. The sun, like a red hot cinder, glowed through the clouds of smoke from the peat bogs. Near Peterhoff the forests and peat workings burnt, and troops dug trenches and flooded the subterranean fire. It was 40 centigrade in the open, and 28 in the shade.
1868: a prolonged drought in the northern regions was accompanied by devastating fires in various regions. Apart from the cities and villages affected by this catastrophe, the forests, peat workings and dried-up marshes were burning. In St Petersburg region smoke filled the city and its outlying districts for several weeks.
1875: While in western europe there is continual rain and they complain about the cold summer, here in Russia there is a terrible drought. In southern Russia all the cereal and fruit crops have died, and around St Petersburg the forest fires are such that in the city itself, especially in the evening, there is a thick haze of smoke and a smell of burning. Yesterday, the burning woods and peat bogs threatened the ammunitiion stores of the artillery range and even Okhtensk gunpowder factory.
1885: (in a letter from Peter Tchaikovsky, composer): I’m writing to you at three oclock in the afternoon in such darkness, you would think it was nine oclock at night. For several days, the horizon has been enveloped in a smoke haze, arising, they say, from fires in the forest and peat bogs. Visibility is diminishing by the day, and I’m starting to fear that we might even die of suffocation.
1917 (diary of Aleksandr Blok, poet): There is a smell of burning, as it seems, all around the city peat bogs, undergrowth and trees are burning. And no-one can extinguish it. That will be done only by rain and the winter. Yellowish-brown clouds of smoke envelope the villages, wide swaithes of undergrowth are burning, and God sends no rain, and what wheat there is in the fields is burning.
[Response: Cherry picked quotes from the Russian literature in lieu of modern and historical met information. Beautiful. Thanks for the glimpse of the future.–Jim]
MapleLeaf @13 – For ERA40 2m-Temp is assimilated in a post-process method. During the atmosphere-land model run the SYNOP observations are NOT used.
However, to make their 2m-Temp product ground based observations are later combined with the model estimate of 2m-Temp using an optimal interpolation scheme (you can find details in the ECMWF pages). Does that make sense?
ECMWF is the only reanalysis to use the observed 2m-Temps in this way. All other RA’s (as far as I am aware) do not use these observations in their output data.
Thanks. Not wanting to harp on, but the Climate Progress piece clarifies little. The UAH data link there is the same one I quoted and plotted at #14. It has UAH LT global at +0.77°C in April 1998, and +0.51°C in August 2010 – i.e. not even close to a record. Incidentally, RSS concurs (+0.86 and +0.58). Month to month comparison like this are pretty dopey I know, but hey, you started it (☺).
On Spencer’s plot, I agree with CP:
…I no longer think that the UAH satellite dataset (Spencer’s daily plot?) should be relied on for monthly comparisons. Roy Spencer et al. are simply rejiggering and adjusting the data too much. This might all be legit, but if NASA or NOAA tried something like this, Watts and McIntyre and Spencer would be trashing them daily. And Spencer and Christy simply have not earned anybody’s trust about this sort of thing.
RiHo08 says (28) “Since the recent heat wave and peat bog fires in Russia this summer have been used as evidence of an extreme weather event in response to global climate change, I thought a llterary reference to such events occurring periodically at least to the 12 th Century would be informative.”
While I don’t agree with Jim’s dismissive responce, the detail of your translations does not support your implied claim. In particular, one translation reads,
“1868: the weather was murderous. It rained once during the summer. There was a drought. The sun, like a red hot cinder, glowed through the clouds of smoke from the peat bogs. Near Peterhoff the forests and peat workings burnt, and troops dug trenches and flooded the subterranean fire. It was 40 centigrade in the open, and 28 in the shade.”
While 28 C is a substantial heatwave for Moscow (Average July high: 23.2 C), it is hardly comparable to the 38.2 C July maximum recorded in the most recent heatwave. As the 1868 anecdotal description is hardly less apocaplyptic than your other examples, your anecdotal evidence only goes to show that there have been heatwaves typical of the region through out history; ie,
” Typical high temperatures in the warm months of June, July and August are around 23 °C (73 °F), but during heat waves (which can occur between May and September), daytime high temperatures often top 30 °C (86 °F) – sometimes for a week or a two at a time.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moscow
Even your longest recorded peat fire (6 weeks in 1431) pales compared to the 12 weeks duration of the current peat fires, which are still ongoing. (The Aug 13 rains only extinguished fires in the vicinity of Moscow.)
Admitedly, you do have anecdotal evidence of a longer drought than the current one (which is only the worst drought in 50 years, though the worst heatwave known in Russia); but that is equivocal evidence at best. The longer the drought, the lower the temperature needed to dessicate the peat bogs and allow fires to start.
[Response: Thanks for those good points, but more generally, it’s a complete rubbish argument. I read historical accounts of fire all the time and you can paint any picture you want with historical anecdotes, especially if they did not arise with the express intent of an unbiased characterization of the environment of the time, which they mostly do not. Furthermore, the entire argument falls squarely into the “X happened repeatedly before, therefore it cannot be caused by greenhouse gases” fallacy. I have no problem reminding people that other factors besides AGW are at work in most ecological happenings, but I won’t let that argument be used to imply that AGW is not also at work (leaving aside for now the question of the role of AGW in this summer’s events).–Jim]
David Benson @26 – While conceding your point as technically correct, the actual examples of artifacts being uncovered by recent snow melts are almost all examples of artifacts originally dropped on snow or ice cover. Let’s consider the examples from your links in order.
First we have an example of caribou dung preserved between ice layers, and hence necessarily deposited on ice. The caribou dung included one 4,300 year example exposed by melting, which given known caribou habits may also have been deposited on ice. In any event, at this site, the persistant summer temperature is now warmer than it has been at any time in the last 4,300 years.
Second, we have the famous Schnidejoch glacier, whose oldest artifacts are 6,500 years old. Necessarilly, the many more recent artifacts were dropped on ice (or else the oldest artifacts would have rotted away), so this shows the southern Alps are now experiencing the warmest persistent summer temperatures in at least 6,500 years. It is of course, possible, that even the oldest artifacts were also dropped on ice, and were certainly covered with ice very shortly after being dropped.
Third, we have a plant that has not been exposed for 5,500 years showing temperatures have not persistently exceded modern temperatures in that location in the Andes for that period of time. (A second nearby plant shows temperatures approached modern values 2,200 years ago.)
Fourth, we have Otzi who is known to have either died on ice, or been buried by it within hours of his death, due to the excellent preservation of his stomach contents. He shows temperatures in the southern alps have not persistently exceded modern values for 5,300 years.
These finds consistently contradict claims of a MWP hotter than current temperatures; and are consistent with and 20th century temperatures on a par with those of the Holocene Climactic Optimum.
And as Vendicar points out (15), we are nowhere near the peak of the modern, anthropogenic warming.
RE #3 & “Response: Well, the ‘ice man’ you are thinking of was discovered in 1991, not 2003, but in any case, it was about 5000 years old. This implies the ice has been no smaller than it is now for 5000 years.–eric”
I remember that. Everyone was elated about how much they could learn about people’s way of life back then, and I was thinking, “OMG, AGW is really happening” — Despite the fact that as an anthropologist, I should have been excited about the find itself.
[BTW, it’s possible that it was NOT warm when the ice man died…maybe he even died from the cold & there was ice and snow on the ground then…and then layers of snow and ice piled on top of him.]
The fact that they found (if I remember) a similar “ice woman” in the Andes some years later, was just more proof of AGW for me….
Jim, I don’t agree that the argument is completely rubish. Anecdotal evidence is still evidence of climate variation, although evidence (I would agree) that should be treated with the greatest caution. Of course, RiHo08 didn’t use any caution in his treatment, and had he done so he would have seen the evidence does not support his point.
Further, I take RiHo08’s point to have been that the evidence showed the 2010 Russion heatwave was not atypical, and that therefore the heatwave was not, by itself, evidence of Global Warming. Had his evidence supported the first point, it would have established the second. It is a “rubish argument” to argue that because there were warmings in the past, the current warming is not primarilly due to increased greenhouse gas concentrations, but that is a different argument from that which RiHo08 implied.
[Response: Sorry, but I don’t follow that. Your first and second statements above are one and the same, and are exactly what he was trying to argue. We have all kinds of evidence of pre-human climate changes, and it doesn’t negate that AGW is the cause of this climate change we are now in.–Jim]
Of course (as I’ve learned here over the years), one record-breaking weather event, perhaps even a string of them, does not climate change make. It is the total stats — climate, not weather, that tells the story.
This is how I understand it (correct me if I am wrong): It’s like with increasing GHGs in the atmosphere the dice are increasing loaded for such record-breaking events, but under the null hypothesis (that increasing GHGs have no effect) there is this very long long tail of possibility. So even if there is only a .00001 prob that such events could happen without increasing GHGs having a warming effect (and no other warming forcing), there is still that remote possibility of such an event happening under a no warming scenario. I don’t think now or in the next few decades or perhaps longer (under worst case scenarios) we would reach a point where a single very extreme weather event is a total impossibility under the null (no warming forcings).
But the increasing amount of record-breaking events (as an aggregate) would be another indication of the warming trend (just as the increasing average world temps are). That’s more at the climate, statistical/aggregate level, beyond single weather events.
22 stephane: So we have to make science a central cultural value for everybody. Would making all high school students take 4 years of physics, 4 years of chemistry and 4 years of biology do it? Or is there something deeper, like the authoritarian personality thing? The article seems to say so. An article or book on this subject [ making science a central cultural value] would be most welcome.
Comment by Edward Greisch — 15 Sep 2010 @ 12:18 AM
For unusual sun and Atlantic activity in the last century start looking at wiki under sunspots (the 400 year history) and AMO for the peak in 1940 and after 2000.
About the stratospheric cooling (Re #23), well you must be aware that any warming of the ground would have that signature in the stratospere, almost regardless of the reason.
So, well, thank you for your try to answer, but I don’t think #18 is completly answered yet, sorry..
Regarding the use of 2m temperature observations in ERA-40 and ERA-Interim reanalyses: Response #30 is close to correct. A clear and more detailed explanation can be found in Section 2.1 of the Simmons et al 2010 JGR article “Low-frequency variations in surface atmospheric humidity, temperature, and precipitation: Inferences from reanalyses and monthly gridded observational data sets” (doi:10.1029/2009JD012442).
yes we need figureheads able to bridge the huge gap (and widening I think) between the usual world and style of the scientists and the others (even politicians).
And I do feel people must have more scientific education than now (at least in france) and a more rationnal approach.
without this, most discussions grow sterile quickly because belief is stronger than knowledge due to the natural approach use by our mind : it’s emotions who stress what is important and when absent, it means that’s what we are considering is not important….
there is profound repercussions to school and teachings which are mostly ignored.
I must thank laws of nature for his suggestions (#45). Having looked at the relevant charts and can see clearly how the AMO and sunspot activity between them explain why Global temperatures in the 1880’s were so high, why the peak global temperature in the 20th century was in the 1960, and why global temperatures fell so precipitously for the two decades following 1970. Of course, in the real world, the 1880’s where exceptionaly cold, peak 20th century warmth was in the 1990’s (which in turn were cooler than the first decade of the 21st century), and the 1970’s and following decades were characterised by an ongoing rise in temperatures.
Why is it that denialists insist that the imperfect correlation of CO2 concentrations and global temperatures is a clear disproof of any causal connection between the two; while insisting that even worse correlations between solar activity (and various oceanic oscillations) are proof that they are the drivers of global temperature?
And Laws of Nature, for the record, and increase of solar activity will warm the stratosphere proportionally more than it warms the surface and troposphere. In fact, only warming by an enhanced greenhouse effect will warm nights more than day, polar regions (and especially the arctic*) more than tropical regions, and cool the stratosphere while warming the troposphere – all of which are features of the current warming.
*this is not special pleading, the anctarctic will not warm as fast as the arctic because there is a negative lapse rate (the temperature gets warmer as you get higher) over the antarctic.
Laws of Nature:
Methinks maybe you haven’t thought through the issue of stratospheric cooling very much. Prove me wrong: Propose a warming mechansim other than greenhouse gasses that would cool the stratosphere.
As to the rest of your appeal to AMO and solar activity
1)solar irradiance has been pretty flat for 50 years.
2)AMO is an oscillation–care to suggest how that produces steady warming?
RiHo08, the other problem with your anecdotal “evidence” is that it is ridiculously limited in terms of geographic area. These aren’t claims about all of Russia, or even a large part of it. No, they each refer to the personal experience of one commentator, or second-hand accounts. And forest fires are perfectly natural, and very common, as are most of the other phenomena you mention.
So, in summary:
1) Unqualified hyperbole.
2) Even if we believe it, it’s nothing unusual.
3) Even if we decide to make something of it, it only applies to small areas and can’t possibly be extrapolated to a large region.
This isn’t to say that Russia has never experienced such a severe heat wave. It may have done. But you haven’t even made the first step in demonstrating anything of the kind.
If you think this is a harsh criticism, think how often modern commentators are totally wrong, extrapolating local temporary weather events into grandiose claims about the coldest winter ever, or whatever. Modern commentators are unreliable even with objective measurements to aid them. Think how unreliable your sources must be, basing their narrative on subjective experience and word of mouth!
I’m personally not aware that the stratosphere cools regardless of the warming scenario. Please explain the mechanism involved for, say, the case of increased solar output. This is why it’s best to stick to the standard script and simply deny the existence of stratospheric cooling.
Tom Curtis (49), you are certainty correct that imperfect correlation of CO2 concentrations and global temperatures is NOT a clear disproof of any causal connection between the two. On the other hand, the out of sync correlation begs more specific answers than the hand flip of ‘natural inertia’ or ‘non linear response’ or ‘it’s all aerosols.’
Increased insolation will warm the stratosphere more that surface or troposphere?? Really? What do you mean with “proportionally”?
Well, Propose a warming mechansim other than greenhouse gasses that would cool the stratosphere. . . I think any will do it!
The CO2-effect in the Stratosphere has little to do with the feedback for the warming . . But here is the shortest explanation for it I could find:
In Ramaswamy (2001):
“For carbon dioxide the main 15-um band is saturated over quite short distances. Hence the upwelling radiation reaching the lower stratosphere originates from the cold upper troposphere. When the CO2 concentration is increased, the increase in absorbed radiation is quite small and the effect of the increased emission dominates, leading to a cooling at all heights in the stratosphere.”
Do you see the lack of a reference as to the source of any surface warming?
> As to the rest of your appeal to AMO and solar activity
> 1)solar irradiance has been pretty flat for 50 years.
The sunspot numbers (which serve as an example only, the sun effect is for experts to discuss) are pretty high in the 2nd half of the 20th century,
if that has any indcation for the temperature (wheat prices!), the sun may contribute to the warming .. Scarfetta estimates up to 30%
> 2)AMO is an oscillation–care to suggest how that produces steady warming?
Ever looked at an periodic sine-oscillation? It’s on the rise half of it’s time, that’s 30years for a 60year period ..
+ you forgot to take the possible effect from measurement imperfection aka UHI into account.
> So far, I’m not to impressed with your reasoning.
Who’s fault might this be?
Re #49:So 1880 was cold and right after the Dalton minimum, does that weaken or strengthen my case that the sun might play a role here?
I am worried that with all this sidestepping you somehow still manange not to address my question back in #18.. there must be a better answer!? Anyone? Please?
Comment by Laws of Nature — 15 Sep 2010 @ 10:09 AM
Post #45 is one of the most laughable attempts at ‘science’ I think I’ve ever read on Readclimate
A +12C (+22F) anomaly over a region roughly 1000-1500 km per side (a million square kilometers) – that’s rather impressive, but not atypical for heat wave intensity – California heat waves can hit similar peaks – but the persistence is a major issue. A month-long heat wave is unusual; a few days is more typical. The persistence is what destroys agricultural crops (as well as humans and animals).
Not all parts of the Russian Federation experienced unusual warmth on July 20–27, 2010. A large expanse of northern central Russia, for instance, exhibits below-average temperatures. Areas of atypical warmth, however, predominate in the east and west. Orange- and red-tinged areas extend from eastern Siberia toward the southwest, but the most obvious area of unusual warmth occurs north and northwest of the Caspian Sea. These warm areas in eastern and western Russia continue a pattern noticeable earlier in July, and correspond to areas of intense drought and wildfire activity.
Denialists will want to focus on the anomalously cool region of northern Russia – not record-breaking, but taking about anomalous cooling can help to introduce doubt into the decision-making process, which is helpful when it comes to blocking climate and energy legislation, preventing federal and state shifts in energy policy, providing talking points for Inhofe & Barton, etc.
“…. the stratosphere …. cooling trends are exactly as predicted by increasing greenhouse gas trends …. The higher up one goes, the more important the CO2 related cooling is. It’s interesting to note that significant solar forcing would have exactly the opposite effect (it would cause a warming) – yet another reason to doubt that solar forcing is a significant factor in recent decades.”
This isn’t easy to understand. That’s a recent one from a series of posts about upper atmosphere cooling as a distinctive fingerprint of greenhouse gas warming; they chronicle how our hosts have worked hard to understand and explain this. You’ll find pointers to further sources in that post.
There’s a pertinent paper by Ummenhoffer et al “What causes southeast Australia’s worst droughts?” GRL 2009 doi:10.1029/2008GL036801. It addresses the droughts of South East Australia and finds that the occurence of droughts appears to be related to the Indian Ocean Dipole. However figure 1 shows that the Palmer Drought Severity Index for the most recent droughts (since 1995) is exceptional in the record and this appears to be because of “large increases in air temperature”, nudge, nudge, wink, wink…
So as in Australia:
Russia has had droughts in the past.
But this drought may be extreme in the historic record.
I only say “may” because I’ve not read any research on this drought …yet.
If I had to bet – I’d bet that a thorough scientific review of 2010’s heatwave will back up Alexander Frolov head of the Russian Meteorological Center who said: “We have an ‘archive’ of abnormal weather situations stretching over a thousand years. It is possible to say there was nothing similar to this on the territory of Russia during the last one thousand years in regard to the heat,”
Ed, I believe in science literacy as much as the next guy, probably more, but you can’t persuade people by forcing them to undertake tasks they don’t believe in and will likely come increasingly to resent.
Moreover, you are underestimating the amount of time and effort required to master other disciplines: my area is music, and the undergrad curriculum is already so stuffed full of really necessary fundamentals that many necessary areas only get covered by such makeshifts as “one credit hour” classes which nonetheless require three “contact hours.” (And which require much more time commitment for many students to pass than many a full-credit course in the general curriculum.)
Music’s worse than many other areas, largely because so much of the material involves complex cognitive and/or physical skill-building in addition to knowledge acquisition–developing musicians literally have a whole lot of brain “re-wiring” to do. But all kinds of modern disciplines have seriously large curricula that need big chunks of time to absorb.
So, IMO, appropriating 27 or so additional credit hours for mandatory science education over the undergrad degree would really hurt my discipline, and probably most others, and would have as its main result the creation of a whole lot of frustration and resentment.
Comment by David B. Benson — 15 Sep 2010 @ 2:34 PM
57 Kevin McKinney: In a technological civilization, the things a citizen needs to learn are science and math. Some other courses need to be dropped: gym, English literature, etc. Those who can’t pass the Engineering and Science Core Curriculum [E&SCC] shouldn’t get degrees at all. Part of the purpose is to prevent lawyers and judges whose undergrad degree is music. Judges and lawyers NEED contact with reality and the only place to GET contact with reality is science and engineering laboratory. Judges and lawyers also need a laboratory course in probability and statistics. Our “justice” system is totally nonsense and needs to be replaced completely by something more like science. Just look at how many death row inmates are later found innocent.
But that is college. My comment was about high school, where courses are necessarily watered down. There is always frustration in learning. So what? As Bart Levenson has said, we have 41 years until agriculture and civilization collapse. Civilization collapse has a survival rate of 1 in ten thousand OR LESS. What about that frustration? Preventing that frustration requires voters who are not fooled by fossil fuel company propaganda. Can music education accomplish that?
Reference: “Science and Immortality” by Charles B. Paul 1980 University of California Press. In this book on the Eloges of the Paris Academy of Sciences (1699-1791) page 99 says: “Science is not so much a natural as a moral philosophy”. [That means drylabbing [fudging data] will get you fired.]
Page 106 says: “Nature isn’t just the final authority, Nature is the Only authority.”
Reference: “Revolutionary Wealth” by Alvin & Heidi Toffler 2006 Chapter 19, FILTERING TRUTH, page 123 lists six commonly used filters people use to find the “truth”. They are:
4. Mystical revelation or religion
Music is not there. The Tofflers go on to say that science is the only one that works reliably.
[Response: Hold on Edward, you’re over the top here. I for one, would go stark-raving mad–moreso that is–were it not for music and physical activities, the latter of which formed a huge part of my identity when I was growing up (and still does). Some of my favorite classes in high school and college were language classes, history, and art. You can’t shove math and science down people’s throats if that’s not where they’re at, and people have a right to follow their interests and aptitudes–Jim]
Recently David Appell (Quark Soup blog) posted this statement from Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis branch at NCAR (emphasis added):
The “stalled jet stream” or really the so-called blocking pattern is merely a description of the atmospheric state or phenomenon, not a cause. The question is why is it like that? For that we seek to find systematic influences (what we call forcings) on the atmosphere that tends to lock it into one state. The main sources of such forcings are the mountains, land vs ocean, and the heating of the atmosphere. Only the latter changes. With El Nino or La Nina, the changes in sea surface temperatures change the areas where convection, thunderstorms, tropical storms etc, occur systematically. The heavy rains in those phenomena produce large heating of the atmosphere through the latent heat release: the release of the heat that went into evaporating the moisture in the first place is given up when the moisture condenses. It is that heating pattern that sets up unusual wave patterns and teleconnections in the atmosphere. It acts a bit like a rock in a stream of atmospheric air, with ripples up and downstream. In the case of the very active monsoon, there tends to be generally rising air and a lot of heat released in the rains, and some of that air was coming down over southern Russia. “What goes up, must come down”. We can demonstrate a direct link between the anticyclone over Russia and the monsoon rains over southeast Asia. This is in addition to the waves in the jet stream.
Under normal circumstances, it is not unusual for this pattern to develop over Russia, but it normally lasts only a week or so. What is unusual is the persistence and duration of this, so that it lasted 5 weeks or so. Weather systems tend to wax and wane but the anticyclones that move through stall and strengthen systematically in the same region because of the influence from SE Asia through the overturning monsoon circulation and the associated wave patterns.
In this way, we can assign blame for the atmospheric pattern to that of the sea surface temperatures, and the current La Nina. The latter determines the pattern. The elevated SSTs in the Indian Ocean and Indonesian region arise because of global warming and the effects of the last El Nino, and bolster the amount of water vapor available for all the storms, resulting in the excessive rains and flooding.
So there is a chain of events here, and several things have come together to make it record breaking. But it is not unexpected, even if it is not predictable more than a couple of weeks in advance.
Global warming plays a role by 1) elevating the SSTs in the Indian Ocean and Indonesian region, where it contributes to the excessive moisture and rains that gave the flooding over Pakistan, India and China; and 2) In Russia by adding to the heat and drying, making the drought more intense, longer lasting, and with stronger and record breaking heat waves. These events would not have happened without global warming.
Trenberth’s related recent slide show (h/t CEJournal blog) is a must-see. Also, Weather Channel head meteorologist Stu Ostro shows here how blocking highs are indeed becoming more common over Russia.
Let me answer with this google-quote:
“IT is now more than 200 years since the great astronomer William Herschel observed a correlation between wheat prices and sunspots. When the latter were few in number, he noted, the climate turned colder and drier, …\
So it might not be a direct forcing, but there is a measurable correlation between the sunspot number and the climate on the ground.
Independent from that is the fact you seem to be picking on:
That with the sptatospheric CO2-concentration a cooling effect up there occurs (which has at first little to do with the surface temperature).
So we still dancing around .. (re)established in this blog we have:
– there is an Atlantic oscillation, which might produce a 30 year long rising surface temperature trend
– the sunspot number had some (positive) correlation with the climate in the past and is unusual high for the last 50 years
– there might be uncertainties in the temperature measurements (UHI for example)
– specially for Tony: around 1880 it was cold most likely because of the sun! (Dalton minimum)
Re #55 Your competend answer speaks for itself!
Where are the triggerhappy moderators when you need them?
Edward Greisch (#62), I disagree with your argument, if only because most published AGW denialists, creationists, and even geocentrists could pass the Engineering & Sciences Core Curriculum.
The justification and purpose of public education is to enable our youth to undertake their duty as citizens. For that purpose, and understanding or calculus or physics is largely irrelevant. What our future citizens do need is a thorough grounding in logic, in statistics, and in rhetoric. Courses in the later should included thorough rebutals of popular pseudo-sciences such as creationism and AGW denialism both to show the rhetorical tricks used, and how they use similar tricks.
I do not expect such educational reforms at any time, however, as all major parties (in all democratic nations so far as I can tell) rely on fooling most of the people most of the time for their chance for power.
Nor are such educational reforms a useful responce to AGW. AGW denialism will be rendered ridiculous in the public mind long before the graduates of any educational reforms will be influencing policy by the summer shipping lanes across the North Pole.
Like some other commentators here, I really struggled to grasp the upshot of this blog. A plain language statement at the start and the end would certainly have helped those of us with precious little climatological training.
>>The sunspot numbers (which serve as an example only, the sun effect is for experts to discuss) are pretty high in the 2nd half of the 20th century,
if that has any indcation for the temperature (wheat prices!), the sun may contribute to the warming .. Scarfetta estimates up to 30%
Sun spots do not explain the rise in temperature. See
for a discussion on how bad Scarfetta’s analysis is.
>>> 2)AMO is an oscillation–care to suggest how that produces steady warming?
Ever looked at an periodic sine-oscillation? It’s on the rise half of it’s time, that’s 30years for a 60year period ..
Are you just posting nonsense, or really trying to argue? The temperature has steadily risen; if a sine cure is on the rise half of the time, it is on the decline the other half, yet during that decline, temperatures continue to rise.
>>you forgot to take the possible effect from measurement imperfection aka UHI into account.
The UHI is well understood and taken into account.
“A recent peer-reviewed paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research looked at data from 114 weather stations from across the US over the last twenty years and compared measurements from locations that were well sited and those that weren’t.”
I’d hesitate to stand in the way of students attaining certain specialized skills that are time intensive (like music). But requiring the core science and engineering curriculum for business and law degrees might not be a bad idea along with courses for all along the lines that Tom Curtis suggested. It’s not just about rhetoric but habits of thinking and also becoming familiar with and part of the culture of science. You listen to people talk about scientists and you’d think they were talking about martians, even when they’ve had some of those science-for-basket-weavers courses.
As to practical implementation, all I can say is that the need for an overhaul is overdue and should be pursued however untimely.
Radge Havers @70 — Rhtoric, 0properly done, is \habits of thinking\. Properly done been a study of logic as a major part.
Comment by David B. Benson — 15 Sep 2010 @ 8:04 PM
>>Let me answer with this google-quote:
A google quote does not count as science. You yourself admit that sunspots “might not be a direct forcing.” Indeed, a review of science indicates that solar activity alone cannot account for the increase in warming. If you think the Atlantic oscillation accounts for the rise in temperature, why don’t you cite some science that supports this statement, rather than relying on speculation, which you pass off as some type of genuine argument? As others and myself have pointed out, when the effects of the Atlantic oscillation are declining, the temperature is still rising.
The same is true of the sun activity; when solar activity increases, so does the temperature; when solar activity decreases, the temperature likewise increases. Solar activity simply can’t account for the rise in temperature.
Statements like “there might be uncertainties in the temperature measurements” show that you are simply grasping at any argument to prop up your position. Even the hard core deniers admit that the temperature is rising.
Silk wrote @ #55–“Post #45 is one of the most laughable attempts at ’science’ I think I’ve ever read on Readclimate.”
And then there was #54.
Ed wrote: “the only place to GET contact with reality is science and engineering laboratory.” Well, I do agree that science and technology are highly important in today’s society, and decry the low levels of scientific literacy that often seem to prevail. However, I would argue that there is rather a lot of reality to be met with outside the lab–and more than you might think on stages and in rehearsal rooms.
And the “frustration” I wrote of was not the occasional frustration that comes with serious attempts to learn (and which, I’d bet, musicians are much better able to tolerate than the average bear–we get a lot of practice tolerating that sort of frustration), but rather the frustration of forced labor which is taking you farther and farther from your personal goals. You can’t force understanding, and attempting to do so in this instance will–or shall I say, would–create resentment and ill will where we need it least.
So, Ed, if you’re venting, fine, I understand. But if you’re serious at all, please reconsider–do you want to divert all your passion and energy from the immediate goal of convincing the electorate and authorities that AGW is the threat you believe it to be, into the decidedly secondary goal of reforming the American (global?) curriculum in higher education? I think you’ll find it no less obdurate than the primary goal!
If I can inject myself into the science education discussion. What is needed by general non-technical citizens (the vast majority I would suppose), is basic knowledge of the philosophy of science, and good epistemological skills. Current science teaching both for “basket weavers”, and science majors is all about the needed background material, especially tons of math. So even scientists and engineers, don’t get much in the way of learning how good science (or truth determination) is done, but spend an enormous effort learning detailed math and scienec. The survey courses tend to be dominated by gee whizz results, with little attention to the question “how do we know nature does it is this way, and not that way”. All would benefit from being exposed to this stuff. Also a bit of a course on an owners manual to the human brain, which would provide a means of defense against emotional based advertising. But forcing the general public to take lots of science course -especially about the same science, which means deep understanding is totally out of the question. As a astrophysics major, I did not take any biology beyond the two years I had in high school, similarly for Chemistry. I can’t imagine even hard core science students being able to do this, let alone those with other interests/talents.
Thanks to everybody who commented on my comment. Let me go at it from another direction: I know who is telling lies and who is telling the truth because I understand Tyndall’s experiment on the infrared optical properties of gasses. How do we give Joe Sixpack an equal ability to tell the scientist from the fossil fuel company shill? That is my goal. I would also like to give college grads a stronger ability of the same sort.
A person told me that she saw 2 scientists on TV. One said there is GW and the other said there isn’t. She had no means whatever to tell them apart. Given that her education ended with high school and that she isn’t her best on IQ tests, how do we give her the ability to tell who the liar is? Your answer has to be limited to what less than average students can do in high school.
My answer is to fill them up with all the science they can take. It is true that we don’t have time to do so, but it is also true that we don’t have the few billion dollars that we need for advertising. We are stuck, and we are trying to avoid doom.
If you want to play sports, music, learn foreign languages or whatever, that is fine. It isn’t the school’s job to teach whatever happens to be fun. It is the school’s job to turn out good citizens. Good citizens don’t allow civilization to end.
What does this have to do with “Warmer and warmer?” The whole point of RC is to stop GW before GW stops us. What we need is votes on November 2. We get votes by having an informed electorate.
Comment by Edward Greisch — 15 Sep 2010 @ 10:45 PM
“Jones, Hansen, et al and their running dogs are committed to making every year warmer, damn what the thermometers say.
The biggest nonsense is Hansen’s claim that most of the NH warming he claims is happening in the high Arctic, with not a thermometer anywhere to justify his claims.” – Orkneygal
The melting permafrost and record sea ice extent and volume and yes the thermometers tell me that it is rapidly warming in the Arctic.
Your reliance on the Idso brothers and their CO2 science website doesn’t give your opinions much scientific validity.
I agree but I have to say, pounding through the basic science program was a life altering experience for me in a way that exposure to other courses, including critical thinking, wasn’t.
For example, it’s one thing to read about box scores and the physiology of playing ball, and another to do some of the exercises and hang out with the players.
Moreover, and I know it’s not true for everyone, but when faced with the difficulty of some of the concepts combined with awesome organizing power of math, it’s a small epistemological step to appreciating the handling of complexity and nuance in general. Maybe it’s an illusion, but it seems to me you can pretty much tell whether someone expounding at length has had a good grounding in calculus at sometime in their life, whatever the topic– though I admit it’s often harder to tell once they’ve gotten a graduate degree.
Anyway, I’d probably want at least a good heavy chapter on peer review thrown in there somewhere, and a conference trip just to see the science critters in their element…
Edward Greisch (#75): “A person told me that she saw 2 scientists on TV. One said there is GW and the other said there isn’t. She had no means whatever to tell them apart. Given that her education ended with high school and that she isn’t her best on IQ tests, how do we give her the ability to tell who the liar is? Your answer has to be limited to what less than average students can do in high school. ”
I’m sorry, but it can’t be done. Whenever your simplify the explanation of a significant theory sufficiently to make it understandable to high school graduates of average education, you also make it misrepresent the science sufficiently that unscrupulous people can make a plausible case that you are wrong. This is particularly true of descriptions of complex systems such as climate.
You can educate them enough so that if they take a bit of time and effort, they can find out who is lying; but I suspect they are already sufficiently educated for that. What we are combating is not a lack of education per se, but an unwillingness to take the effort required to understand the issues (in some) coupled with a variety of ideological blinkers that make the truth unpalatable (in others). As the examples of Plimer, Pielke, and Curry demonstrate, no amount of education will overcome these impediments.
In the short term, you would do more to persuade the uncommitted undereducated citizens by establishing prestigious awards for science writing. You can make it prestigious by having it administered by the NAS, and by having a prize pool sufficienty large that the award ceremony is newsworthy across all mainstream media. At least that way your friend will know that one of the scientists is an award winner for clarity and accuracy of their scientific understanding; while they will also know that they other recieved a dishonourable mention as a purvayer of disinformation.
Tom Curtis: “Whenever your simplify the explanation of a significant theory sufficiently to make it understandable to high school graduates of average education, you also make it misrepresent the science sufficiently that unscrupulous people can make a plausible case that you are wrong. This is particularly true of descriptions of complex systems such as climate.”
Well – ask any young person if smoking cigarettes leads to cancer? The explanation can be simplified: chemicals in tobacco smoke form adducts with DNA and other cellular components, increasing the risk of cancer, heart disease and lung disease. Yes, the human body is very complex – but that doesn’t rule out simple convincing explanations.
However, if every single news outlet in the U.S. for the past two decades had “balanced” every story on tobacco and cancer by inserting the denialist claims of a tobacco-industry sponsored “independent scientist” – who knows what young people would believe? Likewise, if science shows like PBS NOVA started relying heavily on Exxon and Koch Industries funding – if the American Petroleum Institute started dictating policy to the National Science Teachers Association – if BP got to play a role in drawing up science curricula at California schools – well – the tobacco/fossil fuel comparison is fairly valid, isn’t it?
Maybe the problem is not with scientific explanations of phenomena, but rather with the dishonest and deceptive practices of media institutions, corporate holding companies, think tanks, and public relations agencies? Too many of the media institutions are controlled by holding companies with large interests in fossil fuels – hence, the real solution to the problem might be something like antitrust regulations for media corporations.
Good idea Tom. Having good science writing for non-scientists would be a great boon, mainly because it’s about science well beyond the reach of most people’s education.
And I should throw in a thought about high school science education. Rigour is not a high requirement – just as well because all English speaking countries are far, far short of the number of qualified science teachers we’d need. And the content of some teaching about science is just horrible.
Apparently the scientific method involves some clever clogs person coming up with an idea, and then finding a way to test it to prove or disprove it. Think isolated, inspired genius, don’t think about hard work, never, never think about careful, detailed observations or exacting precision in record-keeping.
The idea that most scientists just *work* at tasks that fill in the detail of a larger picture is absent. Let alone that science work is work within a team. I know the curriculum is changing here, but a lot of it will be taught by non-science qualified staff and there’s a long way to go.
Re #68 and #72
– Herschel found a correlation with the weat prices and sunspot number
– The Atlantic AMO correlates resonably well for example with the North American temperature (1940ies almost as warm as 1990)
For a further random example Goosse, H., M. M. Holland, 2005 J. Climate, 18, 3552–3570 model the effect of various parameters on the Artic and “..the variability of the AMOC plays only a modest role in the changes in SAT in the Arctic” .. this indicates a non-zero effect (and the artic is only weakly connceted to the Atlantic)
– Every morning I pass by a temperature station with a Stevenson screen and see how wrong is placed (inside a hedge, near 3 concrete streets) and I see the new houses built there over the last 30 years!
(It’s true, I can upload photos)
So, you are not answering my question, whereas I am fairly certain, that my cited effects are real (they might be small, but that is for you to answer, since you seem to be sure of that) and there might be more.
May I summarize, that I do appreciate your attempts to find a weak spot in my question (which was the idea of asking such a provocative question), you so far fail!
Herschels is still valid, the AMO does exist (and influences the climate), the stratosphere cooling has little to do with the value of CO2-feedback on the ground and there are issues with the temperature measurement . .
Time to either bring new arguments or answer my question in #18 with “We really don’t know . .”
#40: “Response: Sorry, but I don’t follow that. Your first and second statements above are one and the same, and are exactly what he was trying to argue. We have all kinds of evidence of pre-human climate changes, and it doesn’t negate that AGW is the cause of this climate change we are now in.–Jim”
I am sorry that I was insufficiently clear.
At the crudest level, if you have two contradictory theories, A and B, and an event, E; then clearly each theory may predict E, fail to predict either E or not E, or predict not E. Equally clearly, should the event E occur, it would be evidence for one of the theories in prefference to the other only if that theory predicted the event more strongly than did the other. Thus, if theory A predicted E, and theory B did not predict E, or predicted that not E, and E occured, then the occurence of E would give us reason to prefer A to B. But if both A and B predict that E, then the occurence of E gives us no grounds to prefer one to the other (though we may have independant grounds for such a preference).
As I understand it, RiHo08 claims to show that events like the 2010 Russian heatwave are commonplace in Russia, occuring 2 or 3 times a century even in the absence of Global Warming. Implicitly, that is a claim that the theory that AGW does not exist predicts that events like the heatwave will occur. If he had substantiated that claim, then both AGW and not AGW would have predicted events like the 2010 heatwave; which would then have been evidence for neither. That is what I take to be his implicit claim.
The rubbish argument which I contrast with that claim is the argument that because A predicts E, and E occured, therefore not B; where A is the theory AGW is false, and B is the theory AGW is true. That is an argument so absurd that it should not need mentioning; but you like I have seen it many times before in the writings of denialists. It is certainly the argument you take RiHo08 to have been implicitly making; but on that we disagree.
78 Tom Curtis: I don’t think prestige is the right answer. Prestige is not what science is all about. Science is about laboratory experiments. If we cannot give them enough laboratory experiences and tell them enough times that the experiment is the thing, we have lost. If you are right, Mother Nature will drive evolution by means of a mass death event. We are not smart enough yet, and we are at a crisis point. It is either up or out.
Spilgard 52: The balance of energy in the stratosphere works as follows, minus minor details.
The main energy input is solar ultraviolet light absorbed by ozone.
Much of this energy is transferred to carbon dioxide by collision.
The main energy output is infrared emission by the CO2.
So when CO2 rises, there’s more cooling in the stratosphere. The CO2 isn’t absorbing much IR because there’s very little that makes it all the way up through the troposphere. But absorptivity = emissivity at any given wavelength (Kirchhoff’s Law), so a good absorber is also a good emitter.
Ozone depletion has also contributed to the cooling, but not as much.
Laws of Nature
OK, so let me get this straight. You say that CO2 explains the stratospheric cooling, but you want to invoke some mysterious, unknown mechanism for explaining the warming. Riiiight!
Scafetta’s “theory” has been addressed here. It is a rather underwhelming tour de farce. He poses no mechanism for all his climatic epicycles, and more and more he is veering off into astrology. Probably the most amazing thing is that he seems to have arrived at his theory without the use of mind-altering substances.
And sunspots… Well, we’re a year or two into the weakest solar max in a century and will likely have the hottest year on record.
The thing is, dude, it’s really NOT that hard. We have a theory that does a really good job of explaining the climate AND the paleoclimate. Now why would it be that you refuse to look at that theory?
I just noticed your update (www.climate.gov link), because I read Warmer and Warmer as soon as it was posted, and from then on just jumped to the comments.
In the future… can you/RC put such updates at the top, near the title, rather than at the end of the article? Or at least put a note at the top, that there’s an update embedded somewhere in the text, be it at the end, or in the middle near a related section.
My answer is to fill them up with all the science they can take. It is true that we don’t have time to do so, but it is also true that we don’t have the few billion dollars that we need for advertising. We are stuck, and we are trying to avoid doom.
If you want to play sports, music, learn foreign languages or whatever, that is fine. It isn’t the school’s job to teach whatever happens to be fun. It is the school’s job to turn out good citizens. Good citizens don’t allow civilization to end.
I grew up in a house of teachers. Dad was a mathematics professor. Mom taught English and Latin. Mom would have won $50,000 easy on Jeopardy. She knew everything about everything. Dad left books on differential equations lying all over the house.
In my house you learned everything, whether you were good at it or not. Math and science were important, but so were piano lessons, even if I sucked at it and I hated it because The Amazing Spider Man was on during my lessons. My mom could draw, and so could I, so I worked at that, too. History was hugely important. I learned Latin for a lot of reasons, but I regret not having learned at least two other living languages in my life, and hope to do so before the end.
My point is… a single minded focus on math and science isn’t just inappropriate for most people, but wrong for everyone. There is history in science. There is music and art in math, and vice versa. Everything is interconnected, and everything gives you a new view or insight into everything else.
Making all of the connections, and having all of the various tools at your disposal, is what being human is all about.
At the same time, math and science are not the only fields of value. If all people studied were math and science, we’d exterminate ourselves through war, or failed economies, or pure, draining ennui and apathy.
You will not accomplish your goal by either forcing or enticing the population to learn as much science as they can. Some people will still fall far short of where they need to be, and others will still learn a lot and find ways to believe what they want to believe, and to disagree with you.
The problem of the two TV presenters comes down to the battle, not the argument. It happened not because people couldn’t distinguish, but because the failure of journalism inappropriately gave both positions equal footing; one expert for each side of the debate.
You will never accomplish the goal of activating the populace through better science and math education. I’m all in favor of that, but not at the expense of other, equally important spheres of interest. There’s no such thing as useless or unimportant knowledge. And in the end, it’s really not even an attainable goal. Too much to learn, too little time, too complex a society, and too immutable an educational system.
It’s not a reasonable strategy.
More education is useful, but what is really needed is trust. And the FF interests know this, which is why their focus is on seeding doubt. You don’t have to battle the misinformation (which is the scientist’s instinctive response). You have to battle the distrust of the true experts, and the promotion of the false prophets (i.e. the false experts).
Laws of Nature is a prime example. This entire Warmer and Warmer post is about improving the instrumental record (or our interpretation of it), and yet in post 64 he said:
there might be uncertainties in the temperature measurements (UHI for example)
Which means he didn’t even get the point of the whole post. He didn’t hear a word, and his level of understanding of math and science is obviously, while deeply flawed, in advance of much of the population. But he came in, guns blazing, not because he didn’t understand, but because he won’t, and he won’t trust the experts to teach him.
>>Herschel found a correlation with the weat prices and sunspot number
Wheat prices have nothing to do with AGW. Stop playing games and cite some real scientific literature. However, humorously, you do cite a study to support your theory on AMOC–only, the study completely undermines what you claim, by your own quote! Further, scientific studies show the urban heat islands have little effect on the accuracy on the accuracy of the temperature record. You counter this with a personal anecdote of driving past a weather station? Personal anecdotes don’t count as a serious argument.
>>you so far fail!
Could you please take your nonsense elsewhere? These boards are not a place for trash talk; they are reserved for serious science discussion. If you think you can cite a bunch of nonsense, stick to that nonsense, and then pretend you have won an argument or made a serious point, you have come to the wrong place. Take to free republic or wherever you get your info.
On the science education discussion, a couple of cents, though at the moment I don’t have much time, could say more.
I have a lot of science background including not only some education (nothing like those stringent recommendations) but acquaintance with scientists and scientific thinking, so as far as the average person goes, I’m way ahead.
What I like to do is to encourage people to think for themselves. Remind them that skepticism means checking everything. Observe for themselves. Don’t trust third-hand sources, but where links are provided go to the originals.
I do think encouraging even those you regard as below par to respect their own mental abilities and think for themselves is helpful in the long run.
BPL (84) you say that most of the energy leaving the system via IR emission (from CO2 in your example) is sourced from insolation, which would mean that only a small portion of the escaping CO2 radiation energy originates from earth’s IR. Is this what you mean? Or did I interpret it wrong?
Ed, #75–This comment seriously misunderstands the reality:
If you want to play sports, music, learn foreign languages or whatever, that is fine. It isn’t the school’s job to teach whatever happens to be fun.
Studying music isn’t just about “playing music”–you’ve got to learn theory, history, and a whole raft of perceptual/cognitive skill. While there can be joy in doing those things, I can assure you that learning to part-write decently or to parse the technicalities of pitch-class set theory (to name two examples) is not perceived by any but a tiny majority as “fun!” (No more so than memorizing conjugations of different verb forms, or case endings, for that matter.)
The humanities are disciplines, not diversions.
And proceeding from my own experience, I’d argue that–although I am woefully underequipped in math, particularly–the serious scholarly training I did receive through three degrees has done a lot to help me do exactly what you want people to be able to do–ie., pick out the “liar,” as you put it, or as I would say (because I think it’s more general) the “bogus argument.”
So I think that serious scholarly training in any discipline is potentially helpful–though as noted above, no training assures uniform application of the tools learned.
Based on my experience as a teacher, I’d say, too, that there is not going to be a “silver bullet” solution in understanding GW, either. For some, better science education will help. For others, training in what we might called “applied epistemology”–AKA honing the BS detector–might assist. (A couple of folks suggested this upthread, and I think they are right, FWIW.) For some, it’s just going to have to get warmer for a while longer. For still others, our insistence, sincerity and integrity in presenting the message of climate realism is going to be the necessary piece of the puzzle.
One suggestion, perhaps a little “off the wall”: encourage participation in debate clubs. ‘Cause in that setting, everybody cherry-picks and spins. And once you’ve done that enough times yourself, and had to demolish the other guy’s efforts in that regard, recognizing the hallmarks becomes pretty easy. That doesn’t assure integrity, of course. But it does lay necessary groundwork.
“Laws,” you evidently feel your point at #18 is being “side-stepped” because it is such a devastating argument.
Speaking for myself, I ignored it because it was so completely lame (and the reasons for thinking that were well-summarized in the original inline response.)
It didn’t persuade me then, and your responses since do nothing to help. You can insist, if it pleases you, but until there’s some solid evidence to support your point, I’ll be no more persuaded than I’ve been so far.
What would “solid evidence” look like? Well, peer-reviewed studies–especially those that have withstood the test of prolonged scrutiny, or which have generated new insights and new investigations–are the gold standard. Failing that, well-organized propositions buttressed with well-attested fact will work for me.
Hand-waving about the ability of a 60-year cycle to account for a much longer trend doesn’t cut it, I’m afraid.
I was enjoying your post, especially ‘Whenever your simplify the explanation of a significant theory sufficiently to make it understandable to high school graduates of average education, you also make it misrepresent the science sufficiently that unscrupulous people can make a plausible case that you are wrong. This is particularly true of descriptions of complex systems such as climate.’……
….. but I baulked a bit at the next para:
‘…….. a variety of ideological blinkers that make the truth unpalatable (in others). As the examples of Plimer, Pielke, and Curry demonstrate, no amount of education will overcome these impediments.’
Gosh that’s quite strong isn’t it? Pielke (either one?) and Curry are so ideologically blinkered that they cannot see truth? My word. Are you sure they are the only ones with blinkers?
And re your next para, prizes of great standing, Al Gore won one, but I’m not sure it had the effect you suggest?
Right on, I agree with you 100%. I’m not a scientist, I actually majored in history in college. But I have a great curiousity about a huge number of things in the world, and it is curiousity and the need to ask questions, to ask the “when, where, why, who, how” questions that is to me the real basis for what we need to instill in students. If we teach them to think critically about what they see and hear in the world, everything else flows from that. Yes, give them a solid grounding in the necessary subjects of science and math, but also subjects like history and English (or whatever their native language – this isn’t a concept bound only to English-speaking areas). But the key is to try to instill the curiousity to remain a life-long learner and provide them sufficient tools to accomplish that life-long learning, wherever it takes them in life. Not an easy task, but that, above all else, should be the true goal of an education.
Eric asked ‘Laws’ for sources (inline response at 18)
[Response: Uh huh…. And it is also not inconsistent with many another deus ex machina. The question is, what is the basis for your ’strong sun effect’ , implied ‘weak CO2 effect’ and ‘ 60 year Atlantic cycle’?-eric]
To “Laws of Nature”, your repeated argument that 1880 was cold due to the Dalton minimum shows two things:
1. You are ignorant of the Dalton minimum (and of solar activity in general).
2. You are determined to make the data fit your theory, not the other way around.
The Dalton minimum ended in 1830 — half a century before 1880. And by the way, detailed study indicates that it had little effect on global temperature.
Your pontifications on other topics (solar activity in the latter half of the 20th century, stratospheric cooling) are likewise so ignorant that you have seriously embarrassed yourself. But you’re ignorant of that too — in fact you parade your errors like a peacock. You will never be able to discuss climate science intelligently until you admit your own ignorance to yourself. We don’t expect that to happen.
And by the way — the current data do disqualify a model that is based on a strong sun effect + a 60 year Atlantic cycle.
Had to smile at Edward Greisch’s take on education and its connection to grave matters in public life. In a nutshell, his proposals are useless to even think about except from a perspective that includes a good dose of those slippery, almost ungraspable things we call wisdom and judgment. Yet the proposals themselves are so lacking in wisdom and judgment that the only really good response is either the best writing you have ever read in your life (I’m all out today, sorry) or a rollicking satire.
> but you want to invoke some mysterious, unknown mechanism for explaining > the warming.
The effect of the sun variation on the climate is known for hundreds of years. Just because you cannot explain the correlation between sunspots and the climate and some of your friends are not aware of the Dalton minimum, does not mean, that this effect does not exist or my question in #18 is not legitim.
I asked a question, nothing more, nothing less.
However the accusations coupled with a lack of answers/knowledge are quite puzzling. Did someone just post here that the temperature anomaly in the last 40 years cannot be related to the Atlantic AMO, because the recent warming trend is longer? Well I just point out that there still is a positive correlation indicating that this effect indeed is relevant, apparently just not the only one . . LIKE I INDICATED AT MY QUESTION AT THE VERY BEGINNING!
> We have a theory that does a really good job of explaining the climate
> AND the paleoclimate. Now why would it be that you refuse to look at
> that theory?
Where would I have left that impression?
I just dared to have asked the question, why another theory based on some measurements/correlations is not possible?
Apparently I am deeply misunderstood .. I think the 3-5K/doubling CO2-model is entierly possible (while it maybe not explain all of R. Spencers measurements), but dared to ask about the validity of another explanation,
based on a presumed effect of ocean oscillations on the climate (it’s not just me who assumes this exists!) + the well known assumption, that the sun variation affects the climate + others (including issues with the measurement of the temperature record),
frankly I am a little shocked about the lack of a solid scientific reply!
Comment by Laws of Nature — 16 Sep 2010 @ 11:39 AM
“Laws” — there _has been_ a correlation.
The sun has always had an effect on climate.
It made a big difference when only solar orbital changes did anything.
The sun still has its effect — and it’s not been changing very much for quite a while. Look at the numbers.
The ups and downs attributable to the sun’s effect are not very big compared to what’s happening now.
Yes, if you took the sun and cranked it significantly down or up, say a whole percentage point, it would make a huge difference.
Nobody’s arguing with you about that. That’s not what’s happening now.
“It seems likely that changes in solar radiation, linked to long-term variations in solar activity, may have been the dominant climate driver in the period between about AD 1600 and 1850. As discussed earlier, the explanation of trends in global surface temperature since that time is not as simple, when both the positive and negative impacts of fossil fuel consumption are added to the picture.
Since 1850, variations in global surface temperature appear to track changes in the level of solar activity at least as well as they track increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. At the same time, when probable energy inputs are taken into account (as in Fig. 4), solar effects can account for only a fourth of the net change in climate forcing in this 140 year period….”
That’s from 14 years ago. You can find more — but the sun hasn’t changed much since they wrote that.
Regarding the (off-topic?) discussion of science education, and putting aside Edward Greisch’s denigration of the humanities, and putting aside the fact that among the most ardent and activist proponents of action against AGW there are many musicians, writers, artists and filmmakers, and putting aside the fact that among the most obstinate and willfully ignorant denialists there are a considerable number of engineers and other technical types who have exactly the sort of educational background that he suggests as an antidote to denialism:
The real problem is that we simply don’t have time to address AGW by making changes to fundamental institutions of human cultures, whether those be education, or religion, or government, or economics, or the pathological anthropocentrism that at present pervades them all, and then waiting for a few generations for those changes to transform all the various human societies around the globe into ones that are prepared to fully recognize and deal with the problem.
I don’t doubt that improving science education would improve human societies in many ways. But I don’t see how it will produce steep reductions in GHG emissions within 5-10 years, and a nearly complete phase-out of fossil fuel use within 10-20 years at most, which is what is needed to avoid catastrophic warming, if indeed it is not already too late to do so.
To paraphrase a former US government official, you have to address global warming with the level of public scientific literacy you have, not the level of public scientific literacy you wish you had.
Comment by David B. Benson — 16 Sep 2010 @ 5:41 PM
Laws of Nature: “Frankly I am a little shocked about the lack of a solid scientific reply!”
Really? When I pointed you to peer reviewed studies that show the urban heat islands had no effect on the accuracy of the temperature record, you replied with a personal anecdote. We’ve pointed out logical reasons why AMO and solar activity cannot account for the warming trend, and you ignore our responses and more doggedly repeat your own assertion.
The answers to your so-called questions (which, by the way you defended them, were really arguments), especially on solar activity, can easily be found anywhere on the web. Obviously, you are not trying too hard to find a real answer. Nor are you trying too hard to actually understand the responses here.
based on a presumed effect of ocean oscillations on the climate (it’s not just me who assumes this exists!) + the well known assumption, that the sun variation affects the climate +others (including issues with the measurement of the temperature record),
That’s a nice summary of your proposition that you’re giving there. In other words: I have these two oscillations that could cause the rise in temperatures, and if they don’t then it’s the UHI that can explain the difference.
And then you are amazed that people get irritated and don’t take you seriously? And then you start playing the victim.
I asked a question, nothing more, nothing less
However the accusations…
Apparently I am deeply misunderstood ..
frankly I am a little shocked about the lack of a solid scientific reply!
You gotta be kidding me. You must have more social intelligence than that.
Your ‘hypothesis’ is utterly boring and whether you’re playing the devil’s advocate is irrelevant. It is, so to speak ‘from page 1 of the Denialist Handbook’:
1. Find some correlation (not necessary to offer any supporting evidence or mechanism, just the suggestion of a correlation will suffice) and suggest it explains the warming
2. Lay the burden of proof with them. They are so smart, they have to disprove it
3. Reject any evidence that they might bring up out of hand. If they get you in trouble, invoke the hockey stick or urban heat island or start complaining about how nasty they are.
Laws of Nature, if you are not getting out of this discussion what you are looking for, don’t automatically assume it’s the others’ fault. It takes two to tango and by invoking the UHI, you have disqualified yourself from deserving any serious answers. The UHI is the single most debunked denialist talking point in existence. It is tiresome and very offensive, as if the scientists working on those datasets haven’t got a clue about what they’re doing. As such, it’s a huge red flag.
You’ll need to start asking solid scientific questions if you want a solid scientific reply.
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 16 Sep 2010 @ 6:29 PM
I’ve worked in public education for 15 years, and there exists a huge gap between what the public thinks goes on in high school, and what really goes on. Let’s take an average high school of 400 students that offers 1 AP (advanced placement) physics class. Let’s say it is a good high school, so 30 students take that class.
Of those 30, I would say that only 15 would ever care enough about the details of global warming to try to find out more information, including reading a blog like Real Climate. The other 15 students are simply taking the class to get into a better college, and have no interest in detailed abstract thinking, and would be happy if they never had to pick up a physics book again.
So far we have 15 students even willing to engage their minds in this problem. Now what about the students in the other classes? Forget it. I mean, really, really, forget it. Most of these students couldn’t even tell you what AGW is, and grow very hostile if you even gently tried to explain it in the simplest terms. Just to give you an idea of the level of these other students, many (perhaps 50%) lack the reading skills to comprehend a book like *Walden* or *A Tale of Two Cities.* Shakespeare mind as well be written in Greek.
So why do high schools teach Shakespeare when most of the students can’t even comprehend the actual language? Mostly because no one wants to admit the problem, and it looks good to say that such and such a high school has the students read a play by Shakespeare each year.
Consider what this means if we start mandating that students take more science courses. Yes, the students will take them because they have to. And yes, they will pass, because the teachers will dumb down the material. But the students won’t be one iota smarter for these mandated courses. As it stands now, because of absurd pedagogy, many school require special ed students to take algebra. I remember teaching one, sweet, lovable girl who literally had the development of a 5-year old. “Okay, Ashly, X + X = 2x. Now what does X + X =?” Response: “100?”
I say this only to try give a picture of how futile a pursuit it would be to try to educate the public through the education system. I am not trying to denigrate our education system as a whole, or the students. The reason for the lack of learning has partly to do with our culture, which also has a hostility to real critical thinking; but it also has to do with the fact that many students simply can’t think on the abstract level.
I suspect that many will think I exaggerate my claims about the lack of learning that occurs in high schools. However, my current job involves scoring the standardized tests high schoolers take. The other scorers constantly express their amazement at how bad the tests are, at how little the high schoolers know. I get bored with this amazement because I have seen it for 15 years.
Also, here is an example of where our high school students stand:
Admittedly, that’s not much in the way of evidence, but I personally think it should at least give a snap shot.
Again, I am not saying we need to give up on educating people about AGW. Even simple-minded people who don’t have a high school diploma can understand the dangers of it, if they get a clear message, rather than the mixed message put out by our media. Likewise, as another poster astutely pointed out, simply having a good grounding in science does not mean you won’t be a denier, as we we not only in some excellent climatologists, but even some posters on this board.
Given their respective qualifications and academic experience, we cannot attribute these gross errors to incompetence or lack of intelligence or education. So what do you attribute it to; deliberate dishonesty, or as I do, to some combination of laziness and/or ideological blinkers? And to avoid misunderstanding, the problem in each case is not that they made mistakes, but they way they responded to criticism of their mistakes and evaded admission of error.
“And re your next para, prizes of great standing, Al Gore won one, but I’m not sure it had the effect you suggest?”
It is precisely because Al Gore has been so effective a persuader that he has been subject to so much unwarranted criticism by AGW denialists; and you can be sure his receipt of a Nobel Prize will have increased his persuasiveness to uncommitted readers.
However, my claim is not that introducing science writter awards sufficiently prestigious that the general public know of thier existence will be some sort of silver bullet. Nor even is it that it would be preferable in general terms to improving education (which ought to be done for its own sake). Rather, it is that such awards would be one of the few things we can do to influence the balance of the “debate” in favour of science in a time frame short enough to accelerate effective policy responces to AGW.
It is my belief that AGW denialism will be rendered ridiculous in the public mind within 10 to 15 years as glaciers melt and the North Pole becomes icefree in September. Education reforms will not have an appreciable effect on public opinion till well after that. Changing the media so it reports on AGW opinions in proportion to how many experts hold those opinions (or better yet, how well founded those opinions are) rather than in inverse proportion as is now the case cannot be achieved by legislation with a free press, nor by public pressure without first massively changing public opinion. So unless your of the Forbes 100 list, and plan to buy out Newscorp, changing media reporting is not on the cards (although competition by reporters for the award might have some effect).
I do think theory/explaination wise straospheric cooling and surface warming are largely separable effects. Stratospheric cooling can be simply explained by two things, (1) constant UV heating of the stratosphere, coupling with more IR opacity (due to increasing straposheric CO2), and (2) the fact that if we posit the atmosphere is in thermal equlibrium (i.e. net energy in equals energy out), then the net upward IR flux through the stratosphere is unchanged, but the greater level of CO2, means that less of it will be in the CO2 bands, so the stratostrophic CO2 molecules will also see slightly less IR inputs as well as less (per stratospheric CO2 mlecule) less UV inputs. To understand the surface warming, one has to create and solve for atmospheric temperature including both radiation and convective effects. So at least in terms of theory development they can be separated. Of course a good model for solving for the atmospheric temperature profile, will also predict straosheric cooling, but a rather simplified model can explain the straospheric cooling.
@107 Paul Tremblay says:
“I say this only to try give a picture of how futile a pursuit it would be to try to educate the public through the education system. I am not trying to denigrate our education system as a whole, or the students. The reason for the lack of learning has partly to do with our culture, which also has a hostility to real critical thinking; but it also has to do with the fact that many students simply can’t think on the abstract level.”
There is insight in what Paul has written, in his entire comment.
I do not believe a change in the policies and practical efforts (wrt AGW mitigation and adaptation) in this country will come about just by diddling with the curricula of our schools. If there is to be a change, the education system may have not much to do with it.
Public opinion polls have shown consistently that the majority of the American public accepts that there is at least some evidence for AGW, yet lifestyles on the whole are not changed by that belief.
For 3 decades I’ve dealt off and on with creationists and their denial of science, and what I’ve learned from that experience has shown me that people believe what they have to in order to make sense of their lives. What they believe doesn’t have to be true (in a scientific sense), it just has to work for them.
The attribution question is a very interesting one to watch as an outsider to the climatology community, as I see that community wrestle with how to influence the public and answer very thorny questions. Upstream someone mentioned tobacco, and there are parallels to the tobacco-science wars of a few decades ago. Attributing death due to lung cancer was important in turning the tide against unfettered tobacco use in this country. However, the policy success of attribution was helped greatly in the public’s mind by seeing actual lungs from dead people cut open for them to see. Unfortunately for the AGW community there are no similar visual, visceral, smoking guns. Sorry, but cute polar bears swimming in the open sea just isn’t equivalent.
So the attribution issue is important, no doubt. I’ll watch and see over the next few years how much progress, if any, is made.
As far as lit goes I really, really agree with you. I did the obligatory Shakespeare and Melville in High School. Wrote the necessary papers. Found both boring beyond description.
Funny thing is that I never really got the stuff when I was an adolescent. 15 years later, watching “Ran” I finally got Shakespeare. When I read “Moby Dick” at age 40+ I finally appreciated it and understood how brilliant it was. The atheist theme (preaching to the sharks, the best scene for this one, but there are others) completely passed by me.
Looking back sometimes I think that high school is the wrong time to introduce deep thinking. Crikey during most of that time I was thinking about sex (and not getting any, either…), not to mention drugs and rock ‘n roll. I did get interested in biology (marine) and chemistry (physical, well and darkroom…) so I suppose my science teachers were not completely unsuccessful…
“The sunspot numbers (which serve as an example only, the sun effect is for experts to discuss) are pretty high in the 2nd half of the 20th century,
if that has any indcation for the temperature (wheat prices!), the sun may contribute to the warming .. Scarfetta estimates up to 30%.”
Laws of Nature — 15 September 2010 @ 10:09 AM
for Sunspot number versus temperature anomaly I got
Result: y = -2.229690534·10-4 x + 1.801811457·10-1
Correlation Coeficient: r = -5.143542793·10-2
Residual Sum of Squares: rss = 24.67434614
for CO2 concentration versus temperature I got
Result: y = 1.014357422·10-2 x – 3.427986543
Correlation Coeficient: r = 8.457180975·10-1
Residual Sum of Squares: rss = 7.044927084
I’m well aware that a correlation of 0.85 for CO2 to temperature doesn’t necessarily prove causation, but conversely the lack of correlation, -0.05, of SSN with temperatures is a strong argument against the influence of sunspots on the recent increase in global temperatures.
#97 “You are ignorant..” then citing a study which links the temperature changes of the 19th century mostly to vulcanism drawing the conclusion,
that the 19th century would have been warmer without it
=> that would strengthen my case for the Atlantic oscillation
#100: “solar effects can account for only a fourth of the net change in climate forcing in this 140 year period”
#103 gives a link, which interpret that the Atlantic AMO might contribute about 0.1K to the warming?
Which of them is right
On top of that a lot of accusation that I would come in “guns blazing, not because he didn’t understand”
Actually I thing we are slowly starting into a serious discussion . .
Up there are at least soemthing like a basis..
So if I would take the statements above serious, I would conclude that from 0.8K warming (or less according to Tamino’s study)
about 0.2K could be from the sun (or less according to Tamino’s study), about 0.1K in the recent 40years could be from the Atlantiv AMO and perhaps 0.1K due to UHI
(I know that we would ignore some peer reviewed studies saying there is no UHI this way) or other measurement issues
Leaving about 0.4K measured warming (with perhaps more in the pipe) which can be attributed to CO2+feedback.
Yes, the AMO does affect the year-to-year variation. When I regress NASA GISS temperature anomalies on ln CO2 and the AMO, CO2 accounts for about 76% of the variation, and the AMO accounts for another 12%. Solar effects are minor and usually not statistically significant.
…you say that most of the energy leaving the system via IR emission (from CO2 in your example) is sourced from insolation, which would mean that only a small portion of the escaping CO2 radiation energy originates from earth’s IR.
This isn’t an entirely wrong interpretation, but there may be things you are misunderstanding behind this. I think the source of your confusion may be in not realizing that “the system” in this case is the stratosphere alone, not the entire earth.
I’m still not with you – you link to a couple of Tim Lambert’s Deltoid blog posts on Pielke and Curry, and I followed the Curry Hockey Stick episode here and on other blogs at the time. (I think Zorita is more or less right on that one).
Apart from the irony of using a Deltoid blog to try and show that those two suffer from ‘ideological blinkers’ (don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Deltoid, in good part because he is so honest about where he is coming from that I know where I stand), the posts you link to in no way show an inescapable conclusion of ideology as far as I can see, and I stand by my position of incomprehension that you would discount anything those two say on grounds of proven ideological bias. Not being rude, but I get the feeling that the conclusion is more that you don’t agree with them, and don’t understand how they can hold some of the views they do, which is not the same thing as ideological bias.
‘And to avoid misunderstanding, the problem in each case is not that they made mistakes, but they way they responded to criticism of their mistakes and evaded admission of error.’ – that did give me a good laugh! Can you see the irony?
As it says in the Lambert post, Pielke immediately admitted error (the issue was counting stories on a particular subject, hurricane papers, presumably using Google – not exactly the most critical climatological skill), calling himself ‘sloppy’.
re Gore, you say ‘….you can be sure his receipt of a Nobel Prize will have increased his persuasiveness to uncommitted readers.’ – not by much imho, if at all, it was the movie that had the effect. So promoting movies might be more effective than science prizes.
The AMO flipped from negative to positive around 1995, so by your logic, it was holding temperatures down and masking the effects of CO2 prior to then, perhaps as far back as 1965. At a minimum, the net contribution of AMO to global temperature increases from 1980 to the present is zero (15 years of cooling from 1980 to 1995, 15 years of warming from 1995 to 2010), meaning that all of the warming over that 30 year period is attributable to CO2. And at worst, it also cooled the globe from at least 1965 to 1980, which means that CO2 warming in that period was actually much greater than is evidenced by the current temperature record, but will not measurable until one full cycle of negative/positive AMO plays out.
– are you saying there is no effect for example when you watch a thermometer at your car and drive from a counrtyside into a city
The fact that cities may be warmer does not necessarily mean that this effects the trend, any more than a thermometer that reads 1 degree high at all ties doesn’t effect the *trend*, which depends on changes in temperature, not the actual indicated temperature.
– are you doubting that the growing of cities automatically puts measurement stations into a different environment (improper to the rules the stations were built)?
This is an unsubstantiated claim. A guess on your part which you’re parroting after having read climate denialist sites which put forward this guess as being an undisputed fact.
There’s plenty of reason to doubt this.
And your argument totally ignores the question as to whether or not it is possible to *compensate* for any such UHI.
I understand that you can cite studies which do not find any UHI, but wonder where precizely we start to disagree on this effect.
To my knowledge, there is no credible peer-reviewed study that shows any statistically significant effect on trend due to UHI.
People have computed trends using raw data, adjusted data, rural-only data, Anthony Watts “best stations only” data, etc etc including several reconstructions by people with at least one foot in the denialist camp and the same trend pops out.
When many groups of people treating various subsets of adjusted and raw data using a variety of statistical approaches all come up with almost exactly the same trend, the evidence is strong is that such reconstructions are robust.
The only significant difference lies in how one treats the arctic, i.e. ignore it or extrapolate station data.
And the topper, of course, is that satellite reconstructions show the same bleeping trend.
If you want credibility, you’re going to have to drop the “world is not warming” crud. Even Anthony Watts has apparently shelved the statistical analysis based on his surface stations photography project, which is a year or more late, presumably because he gets the wrong answer … others *have* done the analysis and have shown that slicing the dataset using Anthony’s razor shows no statistically different trend.
Law of Nature @121:
“I understand that you can cite studies which do not find any UHI, but wonder where precizely we start to disagree on this effect.”
Just a bored bystander here, but it seems that where you start to disagree with Anne and Silk is that you want to rely on personal anecdote and thinking about things while they are relying on published scientific evidence.
Paul Tremblay, your description of high school and its students in #107 is diametrically opposed to my observations. Though it’s possible my experience is limited to what might be a public school different from the “norm”.
re education (and those are excellent points) I observe that when it comes to sports statistics or the details of American Idol, the American public has no trouble at all keeping track.
Somehow the prevailing prejudice against learning and lack of respect for teachers must be bypassed and people taught that they *are* capable of connected thought.
One possible route is the article above, where people need to learn that when clusters of weather events over time point in the direction of climate change, they are to stop denying the evidence of their own senses. I know the caveat about single events not being due to global warming is distracting and easily exploited, but I do think it is possible to get people to broaden their horizons to include decades and the whole globe. Reporters could help by covering more international news.
While the fake skeptics will keep exploiting local short-term events, the confused recipients of this information can’t help but notice the increase and clustering of extreme weather of all kinds in their own and their family’s lifetimes. Gardeners cannot help but be a good resources. While every time I mention some oldster’s comment about how much more bays used to freeze over some denier sneers at me with some historical event that shows I’m full of it, I think ordinary people are capable of taking it in. Perhaps at some point they will begin to notice that they are being fed by the “side” they’d like to believe in favor of inaction, and begin to distrust their political “friends” a bit less.
As an artist I taught drawing for many years, and would speak as strongly in favor of the truth in drawing (a lie there is soooo obvious!) as so many here do about truth in science. It’s a matter of abandoning preconceptions and trusting your own eyes, giving up props and getting on with doing the best one can. The result is almost miraculous.
119: Thanks for the link on stratospheric cooling. It may not have helped its target but did help me!
Human evolution and mental lack of same may contain the seeds of its own demise. My thoughts turned to Attila the Hun and other barbarian invasions lately as a metaphor for our current political situation: invasion of the barbarians in the form of charismatic people like Palin, O’Donnell, and Paul! Lately I’ve been longing for more Mike Huckabee, whose remarks about science are very sensible – now if he would just abandon his regressive tax ideas, but I’m wandering …
Comment by Susan Anderson — 17 Sep 2010 @ 11:21 AM
You’re conflating fluctuations arising out of fluid dynamics with periodic mechanical driving forces, Bob. (#122)
For example, if you go to the Arctic Ocean you will observe daily and yearly fluctuations in temperature that are directly linked to Earth’s spin on its axis (time of day) and the axial tilt relative to the sun (time of year). Both of these processes – orbital and rotational movement – are clearly periodic. The actual driving force is the amount of sunlight received at the Earth’s surface. You’ll also notice a periodic rising and falling of the ocean surface – the tides, which are also generated by orbital forcing.
Now, you will also notice that winds and currents in the Arctic Ocean and overlying atmosphere are not constant, either in strength or direction. There is no apparent direct link to any periodic physical process, but there is the appearance of periodicity – it goes one way, it goes another. This oceanic counterclockwise / clockwise rotation shift, along with the atmospheric pressure differential between midlatitudes and polar regions, cannot be directly linked to any mechanical oscillator.
In contrast, the ocean tides are clearly linked to orbital mechanics. One can’t create a projection of future changes in the Arctic oscillation with any confidence, but tide charts can be drawn up years in advance. Winds can shift tides a little, but the fundamental factor is the position of the moon, earth and sun.
As with the AO, with El Nino and the Southern Oscillation there’s no mechanical oscillator. Studies of the initiation and termination of El Ninos point instead to a series of positive feedbacks that build up and eventually get quenched – a buildup of energy leading to a structural reorganization, then a collapse back to the earlier state, then a buildup of energy.
Similar processes might include the vegetation growth/wildfire cycle in semi-arid ecosystems, or rock avalanches in mountain zones with a strong freeze-thaw cycle. Notice here that nobody talks about the “phase” of the cycle – although an accumulation of dry brush does point to a higher likelihood of fire, you can’t draw “fire charts” the way you can with tide charts. Project the fire season intensity in California in 2015, please? Not likely.
Going back to tides and orbital mechanics, you can indeed get an alignment of the various orbital cycles that maximizes or minimizes the tidal change. “Hmmm,” says the denialist – “We can work with this.” Alan Watts seems particularly enamored of this approach – make the temperature increase the result of cycle alignment.
This is where the claim that global warming is due to an alignment of all these ‘natural’ ocean basin and atmospheric fluctuations originates – but it doesn’t work. Such mechanical analogies are not representative of the behavior of internally generated fluctuations in fluid dynamical systems, and this is clearly seen by comparison with externally generated oscillations like the tides.
To conclude: You cannot claim that natural cycles are responsible for global warming while maintaining any scientific credibility. The fossil CO2 hypothesis is simpler and more plausible, and the behavior of the climate matches projections made in the late 1970s on the basis of that hypothesis.
“Laws of Nature”: your big, big error (the one that makes everything else nonsense) is thinking that we think that the Urban Heat Island effect does not exist.
We know it exists.
We have known for rather longer than you have.
And it is of no consequence. No matter what method is used to correct for UHI (including completely ignoring every weather station that just even might be affected) – every method comes to the same conclusion.
>>invasion of the barbarians in the form of charismatic people like Palin, O’Donnell, and Paul! Lately I’ve been longing for more Mike Huckabee, whose remarks about science are very sensible – now if he would just abandon his regressive tax ideas, but I’m wandering …
I happen to be sympathetic to your views, but I really think it is a bad idea to bring politics into the debate. That just encourages people on the other side to make their own attacks, and makes me want to respond, and pretty soon we have another (meaningless) political online debate, not why I come here. I kept criticizing Rod W. Brick for making politically charged statements, and feel I would by hypocritical to not criticize my own side.
AMO, AO, PDO and NAO etc, have been played by contrarians, especially Accuweather types, as a means
to dismiss AGW, which for them is a mere inconsequence of Oceanic temperature fluctuations. All and usually without a clue about what causes a Pacific decadal oscillation, and so its easy to blame the great sst cycles for everything.
THis sort of argument is met 101 childish. Its been my observation that these oscillations are caused by planetary wave wind inducements, namely the greatest cycle; ENSO is purely triggered by a planetary wave causing favorable winds which bring up or not colder Pacific equatorial waters. The same goes for all the other Ocean temperature cycles. Therefore the atmosphere plays a huge role with them, one cycle is not possible without the atmosphere being in a certain systemic pattern. Therefore there are variations in GT’s caused by the interfacing between ocean and air, always changing, but when they become more stable, a cycle starts or ends. So I find it particularly interesting when a meteorologist blames a cycle for everything, since this cycle depends on climate nearly totally. It is possible to consider that a planetary wave may be influenced by a cycle, but it is equally true that this cycle is started by planetary waves. Therefore the complexity of GT variations is exploited by means of simplifying explanations away from a far more complicated world wide climate system. AGW is observed though, including temperature oscillations, and that is what we are observing here, especially me, in front of the NW passage, passable by Paul Allen Microsoft Owner luxury yacht, or simple explorer ships a la Ousland http://www.ousland.no/ , modern shade of Amundsen, he will be successful by
the grace of AGW no less. An accomplishment we dare not think about.
Paul Tremblay (133), just for the record my political commentaries are always a response or at least related, not original. None-the-less, thanks for bringing me back to reality after nearly charging Susan’s red flag.
Paul Tremblay, quite right, my sincere apologies. Nobody, please, get going on politics.
I hope some will take my serious remarks about telling the truth and mental growth arising out of disciplines that are not science seriously, though. We need to get past thinking we can’t talk to intelligent people not trained in science, and assuming that people can’t grow, or that intelligence is only measured in limited ways. That’s why I mentioned sports statistics which are spouted by otherwise supposedly mathematically illiterate people.
By the way, I have not yet had trouble with captcha. look at it as a xerox of a xerox of a xerox and assume it’s the alphabet.
Ummm… yes, that was my point, without getting into all of the details… that while AMO is on the upswing, it appears to raise temperatures, but on the downswing, it lowers them, and in effect, isn’t actually changing anything except the observations (i.e. it’s not adding or subtracting heat from the system, just shuffling it around). A pendulum that swings steadily back and forth, in the end, changes nothing. The net of the full 60 year cycle is a wash. The fact that there is a clear underlying positive signal (CO2) is what matters.
What is confusing about Law of Nature’s stance is that he’s ready to pounce on the recent fifteen years of positive AMO while ignoring the previous 30 years of negative impact. Rather selectively convenient.
Very true. Guy Callendar was correcting for it in 1938 by classifying the stations he used to construct temperature series according to the characteristics of the “built environment:” rural, small town, urban.
Certainly one has to be cautious about single events. England suffered a record drought and heatwave in 1976, when global temperatures were at a postwar low. there is a theory that they become more likely in global cooling phases because of sluggish pressure systems.
Susan Anderson wrote: “… invasion of the barbarians in the form of charismatic people like Palin, O’Donnell, and Paul …”
Paul Tremblay wrote: “… I really think it is a bad idea to bring politics into the debate …”
It is of course up to the moderators of this site to decide what is and is not appropriate to bring into the debate where “the debate” is defined as the comments that are posted on this site.
With regard to the wider public “debate” about AGW, though, I don’t see how it is a “bad idea” to name names of politicians who deliberately and aggressively LIE to the American people about the reality of anthropogenic global warming and climate change, and who engage in vicious and dishonest attacks on climate scientists.
It’s rather silly to talk wistfully about improving scientific education and literacy in schools and universities, while ignoring the obvious fact of a multi-million-dollar, generation-long campaign of deceit and sophistry that uses the mass media and bought-and-paid-for politicians to relentlessly hammer the American people with the message that AGW is a “hoax” perpetrated by “liberals” who are (in Rod B’s words) “working to destroy the US”.
And that is exactly what the individuals that Susan Anderson named bring to “the debate”.
[Response: This site is not a proxy forum for arguments about politics – there are plenty of places to do that. If you want to discuss specific issues related to climate science that come up in political races, you can – but keep issues specific. If this morphs into a general political food fight, then it will be shut down. Sorry. – gavin]
I usually haven’t resurfaced on blog sites as I usually say what I have to say and exit. But here I am again. I also keep on reading nevertheless. The site seems to have wandered from the “global warming is causing more extreme events” theme and if the monitor is interested, maybe another run at going back to the central theme is worth while. This time it is not wind, or fire, but rain. Modern day Pakistan has had monsoon induced flooding of the Indus River causing all sorts of headline grabbing and global warming attributed death and destruction. Yet, as a boy, I had read to me tales by Rudyard Kipling describing the monsoon rampages of the Indus River carrying her cargo of silt to the farmlands and deltas below. Those events, chronicled more than 150 years ago were equally impacting the lives of that area now called the Swat Valley. Isn’t 150 years long enough to call “climate?” It seems to me that the arguement that global warming is prompting extreme; ie, never been seen before, events, smacks of a historical myopia and ignorance. Maybe those expousing such beliefs need to go back to high school as they seem to have missed something in 9th grade history, or at least that is when I learned of such “extreme weather events.”
>>There is an article at dotearth blogs that desperately needs answering by RC right now.
Indeed! What an infuriating stupid article. One thing that journalists love to do is exonerate themselves for their malfeasance, and this article proves no exception. Revkin wants to excuse himself from the misconceptions surrounding global warming pointing to a rather pointless study. The study shows that ideological bias determines what science we trust, especially with global warming. Wow. Who knew? Next up: new study shows that parents root for their own kids in sports and aren’t objective when judging them against other kids. Ground breaking stuff!
Anyway, Revkin then produces the same dumb article that has marred American journalism, covering climate change as if it were a horse race. When covering political races, newspaper invariable take this approach. Who is ahead? By how much? How can candidate A catch up to candidate B, and how will the endorsement of Y help or hurt him; how will his controversial economic policies help him get elected? Yet, hardly ever do you see any detailed analysis of the actual positions, and what they will mean for different Americans. We saw this with health care, and we saw it with the war in Iraq. In both cases, studies showed most Americans didn’t understand the basics behind the issues.
Now we have Revkin committing the same stupidity. He uses Nobel Prize winners to show that opinions on AGW differ according to an ideological bias. After reading the article, one would come away with the feeling that there is a lot of controversy about AGW, that experts come to two different conclusions.
But no science is determined by the opinions of Nobel Prize winners outside of the field in question! As a science writer, Revkin should know this. The consensus is determined by the actual science, by the evidence. And the evidence points to something quite different than the article implies.
So here is Revkin trying to exonerate his profession, at the same time producing a shallow, misleading article. Irony is certainly not dead.
I’m a novice at this stuff. But it seems to me that cherry picking a single story about a single event 150 years ago is hardly what one would call a \trend\. If one could produce evidence that these events were of equal magnitude *AND* frequency when compared to recent times, then you might have something worth studying.
You said \…never been seen before…\. I agree with your sentiment here. I’m not surprised anymore when I see this type of misinformation written by people that wish to sensationalize (and sell more papers/books/articles). It would be nice if we could hold them to the same standards that we hold our scientists, but we can’t now, can we? Attempts to do so might be considered censorship. But I must also say that I do not remember seeing the operators of RealClimate ever behave in this fashion.
I consider WUWT to be all about sensationalism. They’ve gone so over-board that it has become a waste of time to read anymore. But in light of the fact that WUWT is the livelihood for those operating it, they appear to be very successful in selling their product.
The state of Texas today sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a federal appeals court in Washington DC, claiming four new regulations imposed by the EPA are based on the ‘thoroughly discredited’ findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and are ‘factually flawed,’ 1200 WOAI news reports.
“The state explained that the IPCC, and therefore the EPA, relied on flawed science to conclude that greenhouse emissions endanger public health and welfare,” Abbott said. “Because the Administration predicated its Endangerment Finding on the IPCC’s questionable facts, the state is seeking to prevent the EPA’s new rules, and the economic harm that will result from these regulations, from being imposed on Texas employers, workers, and enforcement agencies.”
#150–Hopefully another dumb lawsuit that will result in another bloody nose for those bringing it.
Wait, let me rephrase that:
Another dumb lawsuit that hopefully will result in another bloody nose for those bringing it.
RiHo8 @ #145–It’s hard to find weather that has never happened before. But it’s not hard, today, to find evidence that distributions>/i> of extreme weather events are shifting. There have been a number of attribution studies dealing with various extremes. Some quasi-random gleanings:
RiHo08 — 17 September 2010 @ 5:05 PM puts up a straw man and tells us:
The works of Kipling are science. Comments of some imagined opponent “smacks of a historical myopia and ignorance.” Imagined opponents “need to go back to high school as they seem to have missed something in 9th grade history.”
It seems to me that the arguement that global warming is prompting extreme; ie, never been seen before, events, smacks of a historical myopia and ignorance. Maybe those expousing such beliefs need to go back to high school as they seem to have missed something in 9th grade history, or at least that is when I learned of such “extreme weather events.”
Or maybe your personal bias has led you to believe that those reporting that such an extended event hasn’t been seen before are ignorant, when they really aren’t. Making hand-waving assertions of this sort without any reference to sources (any source, much less any credible source) simply makes you look foolish ’round these parts.
People have been making the same claims about the Russian heat wave earlier this summer, yet the Russians insist that nothing like it has been seen for at least 1,000 years. Now, that’s a country in touch with its history.
It is interesting in fact that the UHI trend is flat to slightly negative, yet the cities are growing. At the size of a city, I would like to use the term milli-climate to describe the delta between the local conditions and the broader regional climate. As a city is bigger than a typical microclimate, but a lot smaller than a climate I think it is desciptive. I can think of some plausible reasons why the urban milliclimate at a given point might be cooling (relative to the climate it is embedded in). The first is the growth of vegetation, which has a local cooling effect. Secondarily white roofs are becoming more common, as the benefits of less demand on cooling systems, and a cooling effect on the urban environment are become more noticed. So it may not be surprising to see the UHI effect waning as time (and microclimate intervention) go by.
As a first point, I object to being verballed. I presented Curry and Pielke as examples of well qualified people whose expressed opinions have been non-factual because of either laziness or ideological blinkers. You are persistently attributing to me a view that both or either have ideological blinkers (a view I am not defending, and don’t have enough information to hold). The disjunction is important.
Further, you claim that I “…would discount anything those two say on grounds of proven ideological bias.” I do not discount anything anyone says, even geocentrists. Rather, if they are making a novel argument, I check the reasoning to see if it holds up; as ,for example, in my responce to RiHo08 (@34 above). If they are regurgitating something I have seen refuted several times before, then I ignore it.
You may be misrepresenting me because you have over interpreted my actual statements, in which case I ask that you reread my posts and acknowledge the error. Alternatively, you may be trying to get me to defend an extreme and untenable position for rhetorical gain. That would reflect very poorly on you.
As to Judith Curry, my take on her was based on my originally reading her comments here at RC, which were simply incredible. Tim Lambert merely provided a convenient and accurate summing up. I have not read Zorita on Curry, so I cannot respond to his opinion. However, surely you don’t want to argue that Curry’s posts here at RC demonstrated carfull consideration of the issues and reasonable discussion?
As to Pielke, you only responded to one of the two examples provided. With regard to the one you did respond to, are you sugesting that quoting a google search as indicating 1.264 notices of a Mann paper in news without checking the search data sufficiently to notice that only 2% of the search results actually mentioned Mann’s paper was not lazy? Or are you suggesting that “correcting” the over statement of notices of Mann’s paper from 1,264 to 27 when in fact there were only 11; or “correcting” the understatement regarding notices of Landsea’s paper from 1 to 3, when in fact there were 5 such notices represents an adequate responce? Doing so suggests that you think accusations of media bias are acceptable so long as the accusers bias their reporting of the actual numbers by no more than 50%. Is that a position you wish to take?
Re comment #6. Gavin and Eric answered it completely but I will just add that the reanalysis have been used widely by forecasters. The numerical weather prediction models used in the day to day forecasting by myself and others use these same data assimilation techniques and they have vastly improved the forecasts.
I am not surprised you do not wish to defend your earlier post. Citing examples of heatwaves at least one of which was 10 degrees Centigrade cooler than that which recently struck Russia (and the others show no evidence of being any warmer than that) hardly challenges the notion that the 2010 Russian Heatwave surpassed all others in at least the last thousand years (as declared by the Russian Meteorological office).
Frankly that compares poorly with a flood well over 6 miles wide (and much wider in the Sindh), deep enough to flow through third story windows of a hotel on the river bank (in one location) and which is still ongoing a month and a half after the initial flooding. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pakistan_2010_Floods.jpg
So far, for those who look a little further, your anecdotal evidence is ony showing how exceptional the events in Russia and Pakistan have been. That your cherry picking excercise is so unsuccessful should, however, give you a clue. You cannot find anecdotes of truly comparable incidents because truly comparable events have not occured in at least a thousand years.
Susan # 155 good link, so thanks for that! It is quite true that different scientists ‘frame’ findings differently. I like how the late Stephen Schneider explained the science and the judgment calls, especially those of the IPCC in 2007.It is also true that a background in physics alone does not make one an epxert on climate.
“It seems to me that the arguement that global warming is prompting extreme; ie, never been seen before, events, smacks of a historical myopia and ignorance. Maybe those expousing such beliefs need to go back to high school as they seem to have missed something in 9th grade history”
“never been seen before” = UNPRECEDENTED, not extreme.
Perhaps someone needs to go back to grade school, as he or she seems to have missed some vocabulary lessons.
Comment by Jerry Steffens — 17 Sep 2010 @ 11:27 PM
“I usually haven’t resurfaced on blog sites as I usually say what I have to say and exit.”
Pretty lame. Psychologically incapable of engaging in dialogue but still wants a reaction. An individualist who secretly pines for social contact but can’t handle the implications of such contact.
All that science claims with high probability, RiHo08, is that there is increasingly more energy in the system. It might mean nothing, but I think even you would agree that if there is an increase in the energy of a highly complex, highly dynamic system that has a great number of energy-sensitive elements, abnormal events will be observed.
> Yet, as a boy, I had read to me tales by Rudyard Kipling describing the
> monsoon rampages of the Indus River carrying her cargo of silt to the
> farmlands and deltas below.
Indeed, one can learn much about the natural world from reading Kipling. For instance, the fact that wolves sometimes adopt human children and teach them their language. But instructive as this individual case report may be, it does not help answer the questions I am sure are on all our minds: How large is the population of feral, wolf-raised children? Is it growing or declining? What is the chance of finding an animal-tongue interpreter in a hundred square miles of Indian forest? For this we need systematic observations and statistics. Anecdotic evidence, even from such reliable witnesses as novelists and poets, is of limited worth. Still, it’s noteworthy that in Roman times, wolves would suckle twins at the same time, while Kipling reports a single child. Do a linear fit to those data and draw your own conclusions, say I.
Dan @160, isn’t reanalysis essential in order to remove non-physical modes from the input daya sets? I think it was developed by the forcasting community, because it is an essential part of making weather models useful.
It will be interesting (and sad) to see when fossil fuels no longer have the value they do today (because of their unintended damage to the earth’s climate), and when at the same time they turn out to be the cause of Texas’ downfall as a wealthy and powerful state, i.e. when unrelenting water resource issues (and here and here) drive half the population away, and leave the state a shell of its once arrogant self.
I wonder what sort of legislation the Texans will pass when their state is crumbling around them, having lived and died at the heart of both sides of the fossil fuel equation, economic boom and climate/water bust.
I’m not wishing anything ill on the people of Texas, mind you, or anyone for that matter, but we can all see this coming, so why can’t they? One merely wishes that they took their own self interests, as well as those of the nation and planet as a whole, more to heart, with a less short sighted approach. A selfish “but we love fossil fuels because they make us rich” approach now is not going to win much pity, let alone many friends and allies, in a future where they suffer even more than others for their greed.
I ran my calculations in the ’70’s and concluded two things:
1. It’s a political problem rather than an Engineering Problem and I don’t do those.
2. The threshold/tipping point is about 1985. The people are choosing these crazies to represent them. Nothing to be done.
I’m working on carrying capacity of the planet given non-distribution.
There is actual merit to the Texas v. EPA law suit. It addresses EPA rules that are near-draconian, maybe schizophrenic idiotic, and potentially illegal per the Clean Air Act. But, from a scientific view I do not condone or support Texas’ argument regarding the validity of climate science in general, the IPCC, etc. However, from a legal view, it is common practice for both parties in any law suit to throw everything in, including the kitchen sink, and exaggerate the hell out of most of those things. That’s how the legal system works.
but we can all see this coming, so why can’t they?
Reminds me of a humorous saying a Texan once told me, “Ya can always tell a Texan, but ya can’t tell ’em much!”
As to the oil industry, well arrogance is intoxicating. The problem is, there tends to be a down side to intoxicants, and inventing a culture that makes a virtue of that particular flaw is just asking for trouble. Hard to worry about problems if you can invent your own reality.
Pity the Texas bar hasn’t caught up with Oklahoma, among others — yet.
“… even if the duty of “zealous” representation had not been replaced by the duty of “diligent representation” in the current Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct, ‘zealous” advocacy would still not authorize … misrepresenting the facts or law in pleadings, briefs and letters whether in litigation or in transactional law.
“Professionalism standards by bar associations have begun to address such professionalism abuses by aspirational standards conveying that the local bench and bar do not condone such behavior. A number of recent professionalism codes have come out specifically against lawyer conduct which interferes with the truth seeking mission of the justice system….”
62, Edward Greisch: 57 Kevin McKinney: In a technological civilization, the things a citizen needs to learn are science and math. Some other courses need to be dropped: gym, English literature, etc. Those who can’t pass the Engineering and Science Core Curriculum [E&SCC] shouldn’t get degrees at all. Part of the purpose is to prevent lawyers and judges whose undergrad degree is music. Judges and lawyers NEED contact with reality and the only place to GET contact with reality is science and engineering laboratory.
I wonder if a group of people trained as you recommended could write a Constitution as good as what the US has, or if it would even occur to them to write a Bill of Rights. Could they even imagine a free market? Checks and Balances? My guess is that they’d control all communication, and stifle free thinkers like Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Rachel Carson and Florence Nightingale.
“It is a mistake to think ‘scientific consensus,’ of its own force, will dispel cultural polarization on issues that admit scientific investigation,” said Kahan. “The same psychological dynamics that incline people to form a particular position on climate change, nuclear power and gun control also shape their perceptions of what ‘scientific consensus’ is.”
“The problem won’t be fixed by simply trying to increase trust in scientists or awareness of what scientists believe,” added Braman. “To make sure people form unbiased perceptions of what scientists are discovering, it is necessary to use communication strategies that reduce the likelihood that citizens of diverse values will find scientific findings threatening to their cultural commitments.”
“I wonder what sort of legislation the Texans will pass when their state is crumbling around them, having lived and died at the heart of both sides of the fossil fuel equation, economic boom and climate/water bust.” – 169
Impossible to say, but I would bet that Climatology and most other ideologically challenging science will long before then, have been defunded in order to reduce the state and federal deficits.
“One merely wishes that they took their own self interests,” – 169
Like U.S. Bankers do?
1. Are you making the same error that Alan Greenspan made when he presumed based upon his Randite Ideology that it would be impossible for a deregulated banking industry to work against it’s own self interest?
2. One component of the denialist opposition results from that aspect of human nature in which a higher value on immediate benefit is perceived compared to a greater benefit at some time in the future. A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.
“… we can all see this coming, so why can’t they?” – 169
Because it is more comforting to them to believe liars who will tell them what that which does not challenge their conservative faith based liedeology.
Remember, they were promised by Free Market Economists that the Earths resources are “essentially infinite.”.
God will provide.
They are two of the prime components of their Liedeolgy.
Is it even possible to be more detached from physical reality?
You can not reason with the unreasonable. Rational argument doesn’t work. Only time and death will correct their ideologically driven divergence from reality.
If change is to occur faster than the death rate, the underlying political ideology of their denialism has to be defeated.
Since scientists are not doing this, science has so far lost the battle.
[Response: And just what are you doing about it (except consistently bitching) mr big talker?????? And do try to get a clue about the roles of different elements of society in effecting change–Jim]
There is actual merit to the Texas v. EPA law suit. It addresses EPA rules that are near-draconian, maybe schizophrenic idiotic, and potentially illegal per the Clean Air Act.
The Supreme Court previously ruled that CO2 regulation falls under the Clean Air Act umbrella. W’s administration lost that little lawsuit. With the Supremes ruling hanging over their heads, on what basis do you believe the relevant US Court of Appeals might rule EPA rules regulating CO2 are illegal?
Of course, RodB’s a bit … hazy … on well-established science, so it’s not unlikely he’s equally … hazy … on the legal implications of a sweeping Supreme Court ruling.
BTW Texas appears to be attacking the science, which they claim has been proven “fraudulent”, rather than storm the Supreme Court ruling castle directly. They have a chance with that argument given the current make-up of the Supreme Court.
Rod W. Brick writes: “Paul Tremblay, your description of high school and its students in #107 is diametrically opposed to my observations. Though it’s possible my experience is limited to what might be a public school different from the ‘norm'”
Do you care to elaborate? I believe I stand on firm ground, having worked in the school system for 15 years in all types of classrooms. In my current job, I have seen and scored tens of thousands of tests from all over the country.
This is to tell everyone about an important initiative being undertaken in just a few short days because yes, it is getting warmer and warmer and we need to take urgent action to do something about it.
Parvati, a Canadian musical artist and yoga instructor, is taking a courageous journey to the most northern Canadian soil: a small, desolate island in the Arctic Ocean known as Ward Hunt Island. The location is just kilometres from the Magnetic North Pole and 200 kilometres from 90 degrees North.
Parvati’s mission is to bring awareness to the urgent ecological effect of melting polar ice caps. Charged with purity of heart, clear intention, and the willingness to serve, Parvati will become the first artist to ever perform this far North. There she will offer her songs to help raise awareness of just how quickly the ice caps are disappearing and the devastating effect this is having on the entire planet.
Born in Montreal and now living in Toronto, Parvati is an internationally acclaimed singer, songwriter, performer and producer of electronic dance pop. Her music celebrates the gift of life and her debut album and multimedia show, Yoga in the Nightclub, has had people from Toronto to Berlin shaking to its joyful rhythms. After a summer of increased signs of environmental distress, Parvati decided to postpone her Canadian tour to trek to the North Pole. She says she simply cannot turn away from the effects climate change is having.
“I feel the global ecological crisis is a wake up call for us all, a call to awaken I AM consciousness, the magnificence of who we are,” says Parvati.”The planet reflects how we collectively treat ourselves, each other and our environment. A collective is only as strong as its individuals. If we want to change our environment, we need to transform ourselves.”
Parvati will be joined on the trip by Satish Sikha (www.ourearth-wewill.com), another environmental activist. In Resolute, Canada’s most remote city, Satish will unveil the world’s longest piece of woven silk. Each segment is signed by a celebrity, politican or international dignitary who shares their thoughts on climate change.
Parvati leaves Toronto on September 23, 2010 to meet with city council in Iqaluit andperform for school children in Nunavut. She will singat the top of the world on September 26th.
The timing of Parvati’s trip is significant. Recent news reports that many ice shelves in Greenland and Canada have cracked. At the end of August, NASA reported an ice crack on Ward Hunt Island that is 40 metres deep and the size of Bermuda. Meanwhile, the sea ice levels are at an unprecedented low land as such wreaking havoc on our fragile ecosystem.
Comment by David B. Benson — 18 Sep 2010 @ 5:18 PM
Here’s some partly OT. On a listserve someone mentioned how GISS has reported that this is the warmest year (I thought they did that after the year’s end, maybe she mean warmest summer).
To which another replied:
For those who want to pursue this issue of 2010 being the warmest in
131 years, check out the articles by Steve Goddard regarding the huge
discrepancies between GISS and three other outfits that measure global
temperature here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/29/gisstimating-1998/
and in an earlier article that caught this as well.
It seems that NASA Goddard is not consistent with measurements taken elsewhere.
To which I replied (just let me know if what I said is correct enough…):
No time to read (esp “wattsupwiththat”), but my meager understanding is that there are areas for which there are no data (e.g., areas in the Arctic Ocean, etc.). GISS extrapolates from the closest areas that do have data and fills those areas in, while Hadley, I believe, does not, but just leaves them blank. Considering that there were places in the Arctic this summer that were 7 to 10C warmer than average this past winter, while some of us in the eastern and southern US froze our tails off — we got a very unusual freeze in S. Texas — due to the strongly negative arctic oscillation (weather patterns go north to south instead of west to east), and considering that the data gaps are more in the Arctic and inaccessible places, not here, one would expect GISS to come up with a somewhat warmer average than Hadley & others this year.
There are other minor differences as well. This makes for slight differences in their global average temps year to year, but they are ALL showing a clear warming trend over many decades. That’s the important point.
If one has Qs about climate change and wants the most credible answers possible, I would suggest blogging them over at http://www.RealClimate.org — even contacting the scientists who host the site (one is at GISS) — and NOT at the various denialist sites like wattsupwiththat that have agenda to disprove AGW, not do good science.
“I had read to me tales by Rudyard Kipling describing the monsoon rampages of the Indus River carrying her cargo of silt to the farmlands and deltas below. Those events, chronicled more than 150 years ago were equally impacting the lives of that area now called the Swat Valley.”
But Eugene O’Neill didn’t write “Oetzi the Iceman Thaweth”, nor did Hemingway pen an ode to “The Vanishing Snows of Kilimanjaro”; Tennessee Williams “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” wasn’t about 53 degrees centigrade in the shade in Mohenjo-daro. The Joads weren’t fleeing expanding Hadley cells, or falling rice crops, in Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”.
I just measured to confirm unusual warm waters in the NW passage as well. The sea here has huge influence when devoid of ice, winter is 3 weeks late , it usually started at end of August in the not so distant past, So for the large part of the Arctic, its all time record high temperatures. All of which properly considered, sparsely measured with surface stations, not considering this region of the world like Hadley does ultimately lead to unbalanced arguments between GT institution results.
Will post on my website a blue sun at sunset, which largely means weakly distorted sun disk. This never happened not so long ago, sea ice causes more refraction and the colours were usually more red due to scattering of red by the greater length of air at more tardy sunsets.
dhogaza, I believe the Supreme Court could have their ruling reversed (just an opinion — not very likely, though), but that is not what the Texas lawsuit was about. So that would be OT#2 here…. from the OT#1 about Texas. Getting way too complicated for me!
This is a response to Edward Greisch: I am a very well-trained pianst/composer/music theory teacher/performer who follows science closely.
Did you know that teaching a child to sight-read music between the ages of 3 and 10 will raise that child’s IQ by an average of 10 points by the time they are an adult? Did you know that sight-reading music is the only known human skill that will do that? So why aren’t all American schools teaching children how to read music, instead of cutting music programs?
Because too many people are ignorant of the benefits, I would assume.
It seems to me that if we want voters to have a better understanding of complex science so that they might make informed choices, at least some music training (as opposed to no music training, which you appear to advocate) would be valuable.
Its a pity. He is a really good scientist.Furthermore I think that he represents the tip of an ice-berg.
… background in physics alone does not make one an expert on climate.
All too true. That needs echoing around the echo-chamber. It is also true for chemistry, biology, statistics etc. and it often applies to the distinguished, because they have given themselves less time to read widely.
I must say that Rod B’s comments about the Texas lawsuit are among the most incoherent things I have ever read. Not to mention disingenuous.
The whole and entire basis of the lawsuit is the claim that “the IPCC, and therefore the EPA, relied on flawed science to conclude that greenhouse emissions endanger public health and welfare”, and Texas is seeking to block the EPA regulations explicitly and solely “Because the Administration predicated its Endangerment Finding on the IPCC’s questionable facts.” (Emphasis added.)
The Texas lawsuit is not arguing that the regulations should be overturned merely because they are inordinately burdensome or costly to certain economic interests — it is directly attacking the legitimacy of the science that the EPA relied on to reach an endangerment finding (which the Supreme Court declared the EPA was not only authorized, but obligated to do).
Without that attack on the science underlying the endangerment finding, there is no lawsuit.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 19 Sep 2010 @ 10:39 AM
SecularAnimist, I don’t know what filing you’re reading but what you write in 194 has virtually no resemblance to the Texas filing. You have to get almost half-way through it before IPCC is even mentioned; when it is mentioned, it is mostly administrative and procedure commentary. Assessing the science is only indirectly referred to by citing the IAC report. There is no “flawed science” phrase. Your quoted phrase, “Because the Administration predicated … ” ain’t there either.
Before you lambaste me for being disingenuous you might try checking out the stuff I’m commenting about. It probably seemed incoherent because it resembled nothing that you were dreaming up.
“The paper’s clear conclusion is that the primary claims of the skeptics do not undermine the assertion that humanmade climate change is already happening and is a serious long term threat. Indeed, the recent publication on the State of the Climate by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), analyzing over thirty indicators, or climate variables, concludes that the Earth is warming and that the past decade was the warmest on record.”—Deutsche Bank Whitepaper Addressing the Climate Change Skeptics
EPA’s reliance on the IPCC’s assessment to make a decision of this magnitude is not
legally supported. Since the Endangerment Finding’s public comment period ended in
June, 2009, troubling revelations about the conduct, objectivity, reliability, and propriety
of the IPCC’s processes, assessments, and contributors have become public. Previously
private email exchanges among top IPCC climatologists reveal an entrenched group of
activists focused less on reaching an objective scientific conclusion than on achieving
their desired outcome. These scientists worked to prevent contravening studies from
being published, colluded to hide research flaws, and collaborated to obstruct the public’s
legal right to public information under open records laws.
“SecularAnimist, I don’t know what filing you’re reading but what you write in 194 has virtually no resemblance to the Texas filing.”
Maybe the Texas State Attorney General’s website? (Not that I’m suggesting that a government agency might misrepresent their own actions for political reasons.)
“The State explained that the IPCC – and therefore the EPA – relied on flawed science to conclude that greenhouse emissions endanger public health and welfare. Because the Administration predicated its Endangerment Finding on the IPCC’s questionable reports, the State is seeking to prevent the EPA’s new Rules – and the economic harm that will result from those regulations – from being imposed on Texas employers, workers and enforcement agencies.”
I think the net energy stored in surface gravity waves is not very large. As an example, half the energy in a wave field should be graviational potential energy. So if I take as an example, a square wave 2M high (+/- 1meter over/under mean sea level), I calculate 19.6e3 Joules per meter squared of ocean. Now how many joules are needed to heat a column 1 meter squared that is 100 meters deep by say 1C? I’m getting something like 4.e9 (if I did my back of the envelope right). Wave energy should go as wave height squared, so a modest increase in average wave height (if it really checks out) might bea bit greater than that, but it will still be orders of magnitude lower than the thermal energy change. Wave energy, if it is increasing will be important for such things as beach erosion, ocean mixing, and marine safety, but it doesn’t represent an important sink of excess energy.
Professor Benestad, R. E.: “An analysis I published in 2004, looking at how often record-high monthly temperatures recur, indicated that record-breaking monthly mean temperature have been more frequent that they would have been if the climate were not getting hotter.”
Your link leads to only the abstract. Please give us the whole paper. I was thinking that there had to be a way to do that and I think I am too rusty in statistics to do it right. It has been 40 years since my last statistics course.
Comment by Edward Greisch — 19 Sep 2010 @ 10:50 PM
@180 – Wow. This trip is incredible. I am in awe of your courage and commitment to the issue of the melting polar ice caps. I have seen so many stories about this over the summer. Baby walruses and baby polar bears even drowning because there is not enough ice for them to find a resting place. It blows my mind. And everything that is happening there will have a ripple effect on the rest of the planet.
But the thing I really like about this particular campaign is that it is based on the fact that we can create positive change. It is not doom and gloom and focused on the negative. Your approach is hope-based. I really resonate with and respect that.
Thank you for doing this.
Comment by AmmasRajeswari — 19 Sep 2010 @ 10:52 PM
Republican Plan: Deprive Dem Programs of Cash…
– Wall Street Journal –
“Eyeing a potential Congressional win in November, House Republicans are planning to chip away at the White House’s legislative agenda—in particular the health-care law—by depriving the programs of cash.”
“However, the Senate can make another attempt with an appropriations rider that would defund the EPA’s global warming efforts. A vote on just that was expected in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday, but the Democratic leaders — who feared it would pass — have now delayed it indefinitely. We need to keep the pressure on.”
However, it turns out that there are many filings. The major Texas filing made in FEB10 was indeed to overturn the EPA’s finding of GHG endangerment and called the science into question very strongly. I suspect some of the comments here were referring to this Feb filing, and would guess that their comments and quotes were accurate to that. My comments were accurate to the SEP10 filing.
As it once again be International Talk Like a Pirate Day , here be the latest scuttlebut on pirate change , freshly forked out o’ Cap’n Watts crows nest and translated by a smart as paint computer model :
McKitrick: Understandin’ th’ Climategate Inquiries
Posted on Septembree 15, 2010 by Anthony Watts
By Commodore Ross McKitrick, Ph.D Professor o’ Climate Piracy, Guelph of’ Canada
News broke on or around 19 Novembree 2009 that a large archive o’ emails an’ semaphores from th’ Climatic Research Unit (CRU) in th’ UK had been released on th’ internet. Th’ contents o’ th’ files be a wee bit disconcertin’ t’ th’ public, governments an’ university administrations that a number o’ inquiries be established. Several o’ me research projects be discussed nay only in th’ so-called “Climategate” emails they’s self, but also in th’ investigations, an’ I made detailed submissions o’ evidence t’ three o’ th’ panels.
Consequently me takes considerable interest in th’ outcome o’ these inquiries, especially wi’ regards t’ whether they approached th’ issues impartially, investigated thoroughly an’ drew valid conclusions that fully reflected th’ Code of the Coast .
As o’ 30 Augst 2010 all five had issued the’r affadavys. Th’ overall impression that be created be that th’ scientists an’ the’r work be all Bristol fashion. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Cap’n Rajendra Pachauri declared in a recent interview1
“th’ doubts raised be havin’ proved t’ be unfounded.”
Considerable reliance be bein’ placed upon th’ outcome o’ these investigations. As I will show, fer th’ most part th’ inquiries be flawed, but ‘ere they actually functioned as proper inquiries, they upheld many a Black Spot. But a surprisin’ number o’ issues be sidestepped or hook snagged. Th’ world still awaits a proper inquiry into climategate: one that be nay stacked wi’ global warmin’ advocates, an’ one that be prepared t’ cross-examine evidence, interview critics as well as lubbers aboard o’ th’ CRU an’ other IPCC players, an’ follow th’ affadavys ‘ere ‘they clearly leads.
Altogether thar be five inquiries or Cap’ns Masts , conducted by, respectively, Th’ UK House o’ Commons Science an’ Technology Committee, Th’ Oxburgh panel, th’ Independent Climate Change Emails Review under Sir Muir Russell, Penn State University an’ th’ InterAcademy Council. Th’ first three be established in th’ UK an’ focused on scientists at th’ CRU. Th’ fourth be focused on Michael Mann o’ Penn State University, a major correspondent in th’ Climategate archive. Th’ fifth be commissioned by th’ IPCC itself as a review o’ its policies an’ procedures.
Many accusations an’ t’windward pissings began flyin’ around durin’ th’ uproar after th’ climategate emails be released. I would distill th’ main concerns down t’ th’ followin’ questions.
1. Did th’ scientists involved in th’ email exchangesrun up false flags in IPCC or World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reports so as t’ mislead readers, includin’ policymakers?
2. Did th’ scientists involved delete emails or other documents related t’ th’ IPCC process in order t’ prevent disclosure o’ information subject t’ Dead Man’s Chest laws?
3. Did th’ scientists involved in th’ email exchanges express greater doubts or uncertainties about th’ science in the’r own professional writings an’ in the’r interactions wi’ one another than they allowed t’ be stated in reports o’ th’ IPCC or WMO that be intended fer Admiralty?
4. Did th’ scientists involved in th’ email exchanges take steps swabbiely or in collusion t’ block access t’ data or methodologies in order t’ prevent holystoning o’ the’r work?
5. Did th’ scientists involved in th’ email exchanges take steps swabbiely or in collusion t’ block publication o’ papers, or make to flog or keelhaul journals, in order t’ prevent rival scientific evidence from bein’ published? ( Cap’n Wegman being excepted, as papers are piped aboard his flagship by invitayshun only)
Me examination o’ th’ Climategate inquiries centers on th’ extent t’ which they succeeded in providin’ credible answers t’ th’ above questions. As be shown, th’ various inquiries reviewed evidence that leads t’ an affirmative answer in each case, an’ in many cases th’ inquiries they’s self report affirmative answers, yet they bunked such conclusions in terms that gave th’ opposite impression. In other cases they simply port th’ questions unanswered. In some cases they avoided th’ issues by lookin’ instead at irrelevant questions.
Two further questions follow from these, pointin’ t’ issues larger than Climategate itself, which many swabbies be havin’ asked in th’ wake o’ th’ inquiries.
6. Be th’ IPCC a reliable source o’ sailin information ( never mind them anecdotal hurracanoes ) ?
7. Be th’ science concernin’ th’ current concerns about trade wind change sound?
I will return t’ these questions in th’ concludin’ section t’ show that th’ inquiries support a negative answer t’ th’ former an’ be uninformative on th’ latter.
Jack Tar can read th’ complete report nary t’be confounded with the TAR them lubberly IPCC scriveners scrimshanded here (PDF)
Tom, I’m utterly lost – maybe I’ve over-interpreted as you say, maybe you weren’t clear, maybe I’m thick, I have no idea, but you can’t say that you WEREN’T suggesting at least a strong possibility of ideological blinkers for Pielke Jr and Curry can you? That, imho, is the only ‘natural’ reading of what you wrote.
I meant Zorita on the Hockey Stick, as per his review of McShane and Wyner, I think on Klimazwiebel, not on Curry, apologies not clear.
Taking Curry as a whole, ie her past posts as well as her comments, and her own blog website, yes I would say that she demonstrates ‘… careful consideration of the issues and reasonable discussion’; I don’t think you should base your opinion on her on either the comments thread at RC on a Hockey Stick post, or on a Deltoid summing-up of that.
‘As to Pielke, you only responded to one of the two examples provided’ – I wrote a previous longer reply, but it vanished or was moderated.
‘With regard to the one you did respond to …..’ – I just think it’s a trivial issue, and he corrected it, at least according to Lambert he did.
151 Kevin McKinney: Thanks for those URLs. I downloaded papers. I see that one is by a statistician, so we do have statisticians working on the climate problems.
I just read Rasmus Benestad’s paper “A Simple Test for Changes in Statistical Distributions”. I liked it. His i.i.d.-test looks very good for detecting these changes in climate. Is “proving” too strong a word? The paper is short and easily readable. I could wish for a clickable application software, but that would be too much to ask for. Application of the i.i.d.-test to many cases around the world should be very useful in showing people that they are experiencing GW.
174 Septic Matthew: Yes, I think people who are better educated in science could write an equal or better constitution and bill of rights. I didn’t say students shouldn’t study history and social sciences. Sociobiology will eventually write ethical equations.
English Literature has saddled itself with Freud and Freud fudged his data. English Literature is as wrong as Freud was.
190 Craig Nazor: I have no objection to children studying music and I didn’t say anything about dropping music. I advocated ADDING a lot more science to the curriculum. I would lengthen the school year and air condition the schools to make it possible. English Literature was the only course I ever took that interfered with my learning science. I found gym class to be a source of allergens. Students prove they can communicate by texting each other. I would drop Literature and Gym. I assume laboratory classrooms would have to be built. Whatever else must be changed I did not say.
Re Hank, #200–Yes, I hear the author interviewed on NPR’s “Living On Earth,” and pricked up my ears a bit. I was thinking about the potential value of wave heights as proxy for temps, not the energy stored–is it really possible that that’s significant relative to the thermal energy?
On the former point I note this bit in the NYT story:
“She pushes the scientists on the big question: Will global warming lead to stormier oceans and bigger waves? With varying degrees of hesitation — because the data is not in to confirm a long-term trend, not because they are global- warming deniers — the answer is a resounding yes. (Though, as one attendee pointed out, “you’re not going to be able to prove it until it’s too late.”)”
My search happened to bring me in at Ch.10, on ship safety–an interesting discussion relevant to trends in ship losses–but the index and TOC are functional (in Safari at least) so you should be able to navigate pretty well–to use an apropos metaphor.
And this report on the regional (ie., South African coast) impact of climate change on wave height is interesting. A quote:
“Although ships are generally well-equipped for the severe wave conditions of the southern Atlantic, damage to ships does occur, especially on the South-east coast where the South-westerly waves interact with the strong, opposing, South-west flowing Agulhas current (Figure 3). The wave-current interaction result in an amplification of the waves, which infrequently leads to the creation of a gigantic or freak wave. This wave consists of a long trough, followed by a steep wave front, which can damage vessels severely. From the available literature it appears uncertain at this stage whether climate change effects will significantly strengthen or reduce the Rossouw and Theron: Port and maritime climate change impacts – SA coast Agulhas current (or increase storminess off the SA southeast coast), and thereby reduce or increase the risk “freak” waves pose to shipping.”
Ah, caveats! They also find that so far, mean wave heights for their study region are not increasing–though there is a weak indication that storms may be increasing in wave intensity.
Another, previous book–Extreme Waves, by Craig Smith–available online deals with most of the same issues as the one reviewed. I found this passage interesting:
“Today, satellite observations of the oceans are leading to improved understanding of swell patterns throughout the year. By using satellite-based altimeters to measure wave height and by making simultaneous satellite determinations of wind speed, global swell probability maps can be constructed. These maps indicate a northward trend in ocean swell patterns in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. This is thought to be due to the northward propagation of strong swells produced by winter storms in the southern hemisphere during the austral winter. Meanwhile, the swells in the Indian Ocean tend to extend southward in spring and westward in winter, but diminish in area during the summer.” (p. 125)
(Unfortunately, the link to the reference wasn’t working, so I didn’t find the source for that info.)
Hadley Cell expansion, anyone?
Extreme Waves also has a good discussion of the physics & math of ocean waves, nicely pitched for the average RC reader, IMO. Beware, though; the susceptible may spend way too much time checking it out, as I did!
Oops–in a bizarre cut-and-paste accident, what should have been my final paragraph plus the link to Extreme Waves got transposed.
“My search happened to bring me in at Ch.10, on ship safety–an interesting discussion relevant to trends in ship losses–but the index and TOC are functional (in Safari at least) so you should be able to navigate pretty well–to use an apropos metaphor.”
Misplaced, this paragraph now separates “you’re not going to be able to prove it until it’s too late” and my reaction to that thought: “Well, damn.”
>>English Literature has saddled itself with Freud and Freud fudged his data. English Literature is as wrong as Freud was.
My background is in literature, and I can tell you you don’t know what you are talking about. It is such a bizarre statement I don’t know where to begin. How exactly has literature “saddled” itself, whatever that vague phrase means?
Do you realize the absolute wide range of literature written since the 20th century, most of which doesn’t even bother with Freud, for very good reasons–and if you don’t know why, you shouldn’t be posting with the authority that you do. I have read every Pulitzer novel in the last 40 years, and off the top of my head I can’t think of a single one based on Freud’s theories.
Then there is the literature written before Freud, a great deal in fact, and a lot of still good and relevant. Is this somehow “saddled,” too?
Then there is the problem of trying to reduce literature down to a single idea. For example, much of Shakespeare concerns itself with the divine right of kings. But no one speaks of Shakespeare being “saddled” with this idea. Instead, we read it for the totality of the ideas, the characters, the character development, etc.
(As a side note, I wasn’t aware that Freud “fudged” his data–I thought he really didn’t have much data to begin with?)
You might want to learn and think about the things you criticize, especially if you are going to make such sweeping judgments on their value.
205, Edward Greisch: “An analysis I published in 2004, looking at how often record-high monthly temperatures recur, indicated that record-breaking monthly mean temperature have been more frequent that they would have been if the climate were not getting hotter.”
At the 2010 Joint Statistical Meetings in Vancouver, B.C. there were two sessions of invited papers on this topic of modeling and judging extremes. The papers will be published online eventually at this web site:
FWIW, I attended the sessions and I think that the papers represent a substantial advance over what has been done to date. However, they suffer from the same problem as everyone else: namely, the recorded data of the past is usually not sufficiently accurate to determine what the extremes were.
Comment by Septic Matthew — 20 Sep 2010 @ 12:03 PM
Edward Greisch @210 — i.i.d.?
Comment by David B. Benson — 20 Sep 2010 @ 2:23 PM
#211 and #217
Freud fudged his data.
I thought he really didn’t have much data to begin with?)
The only way these remarks are remotely relevant is that they show that anti-climatologists are not the only people capabable of coming to sweeping conclusions about an area they know very little about. End of topic.
I also believe that the wide public won’t examine all numbers and statements in details. Many people can feel the differences in climates by sudden weather changes. The temperature rises since 1950 and it is culminating now. We should have to try to mitigate the impact on the nature caused by human’s activity.
EPA Proposes Rules on Clean Air Act Permitting for Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Release date: 08/12/2010
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing two rules to ensure that businesses planning to build new, large facilities or make major expansions to existing ones will be able to obtain Clean Air Act permits that address their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In the spring of 2010, EPA finalized the GHG Tailoring Rule, which specifies that beginning in 2011, projects that will increase GHG emissions substantially will require an air permit. Today’s rules will help ensure that these sources will be able to get those permits regardless of where they are located.
The Tailoring Rule covers large industrial facilities like power plants and oil refineries that are responsible for 70 percent of the GHGs from stationary sources. The proposals announced today are a critical component for implementing the Tailoring Rule and would ensure that GHG emissions from these large facilities are minimized in all 50 states and that local economies can continue to grow.
The Clean Air Act requires states to develop EPA-approved implementation plans that include requirements for issuing air permits. When federal permitting requirements change, as they did after EPA finalized the GHG Tailoring Rule, states may need to modify these plans.
In the first rule, EPA is proposing to require permitting programs in 13 states to make changes to their implementation plans to ensure that GHG emissions will be covered. All other states that implement an EPA-approved air permitting program must review their existing permitting authority and inform EPA if their programs do not address GHG emissions.
Because some states may not be able to develop and submit revisions to their plans before the Tailoring Rule becomes effective in 2011, in the second rule, EPA is proposing a federal implementation plan, which would allow EPA to issue permits for large GHG emitters located in these states. This would be a temporary measure that is in place until the state can revise its own plan and resume responsibility for GHG permitting.
States are best-suited to issue permits to sources of GHG emissions and have long-standing experience working together with industrial facilities. EPA will work closely and promptly with states to help them develop, submit, and approve necessary revisions to enable the affected states to issue air permits to GHG-emitting sources. Additionally, EPA will continue to provide guidance and act as a resource for the states as they make the various required permitting decisions for GHG emissions.
EPA will accept comment on the first proposal for updated state implementation plans for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. EPA has scheduled a hearing on the second proposal for the federal implementation plan on August 25, 2010, and will accept comment for 30 days after that hearing. The agency is working to finalize these rules prior to January 2, 2011, the earliest GHG permitting requirements will be effective.
218: Paul said something about something that Ed said:
You’re familiar with Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox? There are A LOT of tar babies on the internet. Even on RC. There are tons of tar babies posted by various denialists on RC. (NB: EG is NOT a denialist.) My guess is that the moderators, in the interest of “balance” allow the tar baby posters to post their tar babies no matter how idiotic. Or perhaps they only allow a small fraction of the tar babies through and delete that vast majority of them. Who knows?
Comment by John E. Pearson — 20 Sep 2010 @ 7:35 PM
Damn. I meant to post only this front page above the fold article in the NYT but instead got sidetracked into posting about brers rabbit and fox. Anyhoo climate science above the fold:
Extreme Heat Puts Coral Reefs at Risk, Forecasts Say
Comment by John E. Pearson — 20 Sep 2010 @ 7:39 PM
In 212 Edward Greisch replies to Sceptic Matthew in 174 about the writers of the US Constitution. However both make a major mistake in believing that the people who actually wrote the US Constitution had no experience of science. A major counter-example that springs to mind is Benjamin Franklin. Another turns out to be Hugh Williamson. It would be surprising if many of the others had not at least read a few science books and discussed them. OTOH, Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford was a scientist and a Tory.
Very informative article! The article makes it clear that the temperature across the globe is rising. As said by NCAR scientist John Fasullo “Global warming at its heart is driven by an imbalance of energy: more solar energy is entering the atmosphere than leaving it..” Melting of ice sheets & glaciers, heavy rainfall, rising sea-levels across the globe are some of the examples of impacts of raising temperature.
I think it is high time we started taking nature and our planet earth seriously and do our bit about environment, sustainability, climate change, biodiversity, clean energy, green living and so on. One great place to start would be http://www.elpis.com. Elpis is an online community focused on responsible living and sustainable growth. You can measure, reduce and offset your carbon footprint; set up petitions, volunteering and fundraising projects for your favourite causes; help create action plans for sustainable communities; buy a range of eco friendly products and services; and network with other people who share a common interest in a low carbon, responsible lifestyle.
Ed, I appreciate your comments on AGW, but please stay off English lit. My wife has an M.S. in the subject, and is a published poet as well. There’s a lot of good English lit and a lot to say about it, even if the course you took wasn’t enjoyable.
A notice of all what can increase the progress of human knowledge?
Climate Under the latitude of this query, I will presume it not improper nor unacceptable to furnish some data for estimating the climate of Virginia. Journals of observations on the quantity of rain, and degree of heat, being lengthy, confused, and too minute to produce general and distinct ideas, I have taken five years observations, to wit, from 1772 to 1777, made in Williamsburgh and its neighbourhood, have reduced them to an average for every month in the year, and stated those averages in the following table, adding an analytical view of the winds during the same period.
The rains of every month, (as of January for instance) through the whole period of years, were added separately, and an average drawn from them. The coolest and warmest point of the same day in each year of the period were added separately, and an average of the greatest cold and greatest heat of that day, was formed. From the averages of every day in the month, a general average for the whole month was formed. The point from which the wind blew was observed two or three times in every day. These observations, in the month of January for instance, through the whole period amounted to 337. At 73 of these, the wind was from the North; at 47, from the North-east, &c. So that it will be easy to see in what proportion each wind usually prevails in each month: or, taking the whole year, the total of observations through the whole period having been 3698, it will be observed that 611 of them were from the North, 558 from the North-east, &c.
Though by this table it appears we have on an average 47 inches of rain annually, which is considerably more than usually falls in Europe, yet from the information I have collected, I suppose we have a much greater proportion of sunshine here than there. Perhaps it will be found there are twice as many cloudy days in the middle parts of Europe, as in the United States of America. …. http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/jefferson/VII_1.jpg
In an extensive country, it will of course be expected that the climate is not the same in all its parts. …. In the summer of 1779, when the thermometer was at 90 degrees. at Monticello, and 96 at Williamsburgh, it was 110 degrees. at Kaskaskia. Perhaps the mountain, which overhangs this village on the North side, may, by its reflexion, have contributed somewhat to produce this heat. The difference of temperature of the air at the sea coast, or on Chesapeak bay, and at the Alleghaney, has not been ascertained; but cotemporary observations, made at Williamsburgh, or in its neighbourhood, and at Monticello, which is on the most eastern ridge of mountains, called the South West, where they are intersected by the Rivanna, have furnished a ratio by which that difference may in some degree be conjectured. These observations make the difference between Williamsburgh and the nearest mountains, at the position before mentioned, to be on an average 6 1/8 degrees of Farenheit’s thermometer. Some allowance however is to be made for the difference of latitude between these two places, the latter being 38 degrees.8′.17″. which is 52′.22″. North of the former. By cotemporary observations of between five and six weeks, the averaged and almost unvaried difference of the height of mercury in the barometer, at those two places, was .784 of an inch, the atmosphere at Monticello being so much the lightest, that is to say, about 1/37 of its whole weight. It should be observed, however, that the hill of Monticello is of 500 feet perpendicular height above the river which washes its base. This position being nearly central between our northern and southern boundaries, and between the bay and Alleghaney, may be considered as furnishing the best average of the temperature of our climate. Williamsburgh is much too near the South-eastern corner to give a fair idea of our general temperature.
But a more remarkable difference is in the winds which prevail in the different parts of the country. The following table exhibits a comparative view of the winds prevailing at Williamsburgh, and at Monticello…..
Clearly, more history study would be appropriate.
Eli Rabett wrote: “Edward Greisch replies to Sceptic Matthew in 174 about the writers of the US Constitution. However both make a major mistake in believing that the people who actually wrote the US Constitution had no experience of science.”
Regarding the “experience of science” that the authors of the Constitution had, it is worth noting that the very word “scientist” did not even exist at the time — that term was not coined until decades later. According to Wikipedia:
English philosopher and historian of science William Whewell coined the term scientist in 1833, and it was first published in Whewell’s anonymous 1834 review of Mary Somerville’s On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences published in the Quarterly Review. Whewell’s suggestion of the term was partly satirical, a response to changing conceptions of science itself in which natural knowledge was increasingly seen as distinct from other forms of knowledge. Whewell wrote of “an increasing proclivity of separation and dismemberment” in the sciences; while highly specific terms proliferated — chemist, mathematician, naturalist — the broad term “philosopher” was no longer satisfactory to group together those who pursued science, without the caveats of “natural” or “experimental” philosopher. Members of the British Association for the Advancement of Science had been complaining about the lack of a good term at recent meetings, Whewell reported in his review; alluding to himself, he noted that “some ingenious gentleman proposed that, by analogy with artist, they might form [the word] scientist, and added that there could be no scruple in making free with this term since we already have such words as economist, and atheist — but this was not generally palatable”.
Whewell proposed the word again more seriously (and not anonymously) in his 1840 The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences: “We need very much a name to describe a cultivator of science in general. I should incline to call him a Scientist. Thus we might say, that as an Artist is a Musician, Painter, or Poet, a Scientist is a Mathematician, Physicist, or Naturalist.”
The Wikipedia article goes on to note that the term “scientist” only “became a common term in the late 19th century in the United States and around the turn of the 20th century in Great Britain” — a century after the Constitution was written.
At the time the Constitution was written, what we think of today as “science” was still regarded as “natural philosophy”, and its subject matter and methods were not yet as distinct from other realms of human thought and experience as is the case today.
Dan sums up the current EPA-GHG situation pretty good, though it has an expected spin that implies the EPA really knows what it’s doing — which begs reality. Just for the record:
The “Tailoring Rule” is how EPA gets around the Clean Air Act (CAA) which requires permitting for any stationary source that emits 100 or 250 (depending on class) tons of a pollutant each year. When GHGs were thrown in, the sites requiring permits went from maybe a couple hundred to maybe tens of thousands each year (with each permit requiring 12-18 months to process.) The tailoring rule boosts the limit to (most cases) 100,000 tons/yr. This might alleviate some of the administrative burden. However, it is patently illegal, as the 100-250 numbers are explicit in the CAA.
The Tailoring Rule itself is an outgrowth of CAA requirements (like Prevention of Significant Deteriation) that regulations from one source must be applied to other potentially “harmful” sources. EPA made their (so far) Endangerment finding only for new mobile motor vehicles, and BTW, they met their desires with the new (joint) NHTSA mileage standards. But…., OOPS… turns out it applies to any GHG emission source.
Then there is the neat ‘timing’ issue. It seems the EPA is proud that they will “…finalize these rules prior to January 2, 2011,” ignoring that States can take up to two years to change their procedures — some of which are law and require legislative action (like Texas’ permitting fee of $34/ton of pollutant per year) — though by ruling they have to be in effect by 1-2-11 — the date picked for new tailpipe standards (though with those it actually refers to a model year.) EPA’s arithmetic needs work.
There is a question (to be sorted out some way) over whether these new permits can be issued at all in areas that do not have EPA established air quality standards. Most geographic areas do not have such standards; no area has GHG standards.
This is just some of the morass, but other stuff hasn’t been mentioned and is OT.
@Vaibhav, you’re better off focusing on political efforts to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, than on “offsetting your personal carbon footprint.”
The reason is that the fossil carbon that’s causing the problem is produced by the global and national fuel & electricity system, which currently relies mostly on fossil fuels to meet those needs.
Taking those global and national systems off fossil fuels requires providing a renewable alternative, and that’s technically feasible. The only reason it hasn’t happened already is because of the coordinated political activity of fossil fuel interests.
The mechanisms such interests use are many – influencing election outcomes by injecting huge sums of money into them (see the NYT editorial on the KOch Brothers and AB32, for example), installing fossil fuel employees in government bureaucracies (BP’s ex-chief scientist is currently Head of Science at the DOE, one Steve Koonin, also of Caltech – welcome to the fossil fuel-academic complex), and distorting science to fit their agenda (witness the endless fraudulent claims about zero-emission combustion, despite the persistent absence of any stand-alone prototypes.)
Hence, if you want to change directions, you have to influence the politics – you have to work to prevent the Koch Brothers from destroying California renewable energy initiatives, you have to work to eliminate federal subsidies and liability caps for fossil fuel projects (which would mean that oil drillers would have to post $10 billion bonds for every deepwater project they initiated), and – for academic scientists – you have to lobby your academic administrators to cut their ties with shady fossil fuel interests like BP and Exxon, and work to open renewable energy research institutes at America’s leading universities.
Your best partners in this effort are likely clean-tech energy companies. A few university engineering and ecological experts may be willing to help, but most university administrators are still dead set against renewable energy. In California, this is seen in the close ties between Stanford and Exxon, and the University of California and BP. Even state universities like CSU Bakersfield are pushing nonsense on behalf of the fossil fuel lobby:
You really have to wonder what about the state of American academics when that kind of fraudulent garbage is promoted at leading universities – universities that persistently refuse to install their own renewable energy systems, solar panels, or biofuel transportation.
Of course, planting an vegetable garden and installing solar panels on your roof is a great idea, but that alone will do nothing at all to change global fossil fuel consumption – someone else will burn your share.
Your other recommendation, purchasing bogus “offsets” for your fossil fuel emissions is worse than useless – that’s just a smoke-and-mirrors game – the fossil CO2 isn’t removed from the atmosphere because you bought into a artful scam. That’s been shown for sulfur too – they just dumped the sulfur into the ship bunker fuel fraction, is all. However, there’s nowhere to dump the fossil CO2 but the atmosphere. Capturing it and pumping it into the ground costs too much energy – quite a bit more than the fuel itself can generate.
Thus, if you’re not willing to publicly admit that fossil fuel combustion will have to be eliminated and replaced with renewable energy, then you should do some more thinking and reading. Falling for clean coal, carbon offsets, and similar implausible approaches only sabotages real efforts at making such a transition.
229, Eli Rabett: However both make a major mistake in believing that the people who actually wrote the US Constitution had no experience of science.
Most of the people who wrote the Constitution had little education in science: Madison, Hamilton, Jay et al. Franklin contributed little to the discussions and writing, as did Washington. Jefferson and many others were voracious readers of contemporary fiction. What they really knew a lot about were the European philosophers of government, European history, law, business, war, farming, finance, and American government at all levels.
More pertinent to the Global Warming debate, some of the opponents to the Kerry-Lieberman legislation are MDs, who certainly have studied more science than most of the writers of the Constitution.
[Response: Not comparable in the least to Jefferson’s broad, synthetic understanding of the natural world, for which he is justly famous and highly regarded. You don’t learn that in med school–Jim]
The real question is whether a particular course of education for elected representatives would work out better than the free-form system that democracies have.
It seems to me that as Edward Greisch modified his points, he came to emphasize elimination of fiction over any particular positive requirement.
Comment by Septic Matthew — 21 Sep 2010 @ 12:19 PM
234, Ike Solem: Your other recommendation, purchasing bogus “offsets” for your fossil fuel emissions is worse than useless – that’s just a smoke-and-mirrors game – the fossil CO2 isn’t removed from the atmosphere because you bought into a artful scam
Not all of them are “scams”. Some of the companies that sell CO2 offsets invest the money in reforestation. Some also invest in renewable energy. I don’t want to name any particular company, but interested people can find lots of them on the web. Then perform your usual due diligence to separate the good from the bad. In my opinion, everyone who recognizes the risk of AGW ought to buy personal CO2 offsets, as a part of leading by example.
Comment by Septic Matthew — 21 Sep 2010 @ 12:27 PM
Yeah, and Newton was a natural philosopher. Try again
Ike, do you mean all combustion of fossil fuels? That is not possible. Jets are still needed and they are not going to be electric powered nor are alcohol powered or H202 engines as efficient for one.
There is no way we can provide the Earth’s eletrical needs with renewables alone.
Are you suggesting building and updating more nuclear power plants?
Wind mills are terribly inefficient and solar panels do not work well worldwide.
Hydroelectric is good but it too destroys ecosystems and the building of new applications displaces indigenous tribes in third world countries and elsewhere.
I am all for using more renewables but when anyone states get rid of all fossil fuels, I chuckle to myself and get then feel sad because there is no engineering or science currently in place anywhere in the globe that can do such a thing. And I gurantee there will not be in the next 100 years either.
Eli Rabett wrote: “Yeah, and Newton was a natural philosopher. Try again”
Not sure what your point is.
Isaac Newton’s best known work is the 1687 Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica — “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”. Newton certainly thought of himself as a “natural philosopher”.
Jacob Mack wrote: “There is no way we can provide the Earth’s eletrical needs with renewables alone … Wind mills are terribly inefficient and solar panels do not work well worldwide.”
With all due respect, both of those assertions are false, and display an ignorance of the current state of technological development and ongoing deployment of both wind and solar power technologies — as a lengthy, detailed, voluminous and utterly off-topic comment citing numerous sources would demonstrate, if I were inclined to test the patience of the moderators with such a post.
The Guardian reports that Dr. Abraham, Dr. Mann and other scientists have sent a paper to Congress disputing Lord Monckton’s May testimony. I can’t get the PDF to work. It just goes back to the Guardian article, but maybe someone can post the 48-page document here.
“Journals of observations on the … degree of heat, being lengthy, confused, and too minute to produce general and distinct ideas, I have taken five years observations …, have reduced them to an average for every month in the year, and stated those averages in the following table ….” — Thomas Jefferson
In an email exchange with Alex Gabbard I later learned that my comment would have no effect because of a 1984 ruling that coal ash is not hazardous in spite of containing many tons of uranium, thorium, arsenic, etc. I am therefore encouraging the same organizations that sued EPA over CO2 and the clean air act, to sue 3 federal agencies to overturn the 1984 ruling.
[The average concentration of uranium in coal is 1 or 2 parts per million. Illinois coal contains up to 103 parts per million uranium. A 1000 million watt coal fired power plant burns 4 million tons of coal each year. If you multiply 4 million tons by 1 part per million, you get 4 tons of uranium. Coal ash could supply all of our needs for nuclear fuel.]
I think CO2 from coal can be attacked from the “back door,” by making it difficult to deal with the ashes and cinders. Of course they could use coal ash as an ore for about 25 elements, assuming the volatile ones like mercury would have boiled off.
Comment by Edward Greisch — 21 Sep 2010 @ 10:39 PM
“I am all for using more renewables but when anyone states get rid of all fossil fuels, I chuckle to myself and get then feel sad because there is no engineering or science currently in place anywhere in the globe that can do such a thing.” – 239
Today I used 6KwH of electricity, and every year that figure is declining. 1KwH of that is for water heating, which I will soon replace with solar.
At somewhere around 4 to 5KwH per day I will switch to strictly PV generated solar.
At that point, for transportation, I will still consume around 1.5 gallons of gasoline per week, and that will probably drop to 1.5 gallons per month within the next two years.
I still burn about 3m**3 of natural gas per day during the coldest winter months, but anticipate that will drop by at least 50% once I have the passive heat exchangers in place.
I have no plans past that point. My fuel consumption will be a little over 10 gallons of gasoline and 240m**3 of natural gas per year.
I doubt if it would be much of a burden to produce that small amount of fuel from biomass.
Perhaps a personal fermenter to convert wood pulp and leaf litter to ethanol.
My understanding is that such personal fermentation systems already exist.
When it comes to increasing the consumption of coal and oil, some U.S. senators will stop at nothing…
This American Senator (Joe Barton) (the former chairman of the energy and commerce committee) has vowed to bring back the incandescent light bulb. CF bulbs – he claims – when broken necessitate a HASMAT team to clean them up, in addition to a potential emergency situation where a visit to a hospital for mercury decontamination is necessary.
234 Rod B: I think your comment is ON topic, which is warmer and warmer [and what to do about it]. Thanks for that information. It is more complicated than you imagine. Coal ash is under the joint jurisdiction of 3 agencies: EPA, NRC and RCRA. All federal agencies are under the jurisdiction of every Congressman and Senator in at least the following way: An agency has a certain number of hours to answer a question from an elected official, depending on the elected official’s “rank.” Individual congressmen can have a large influence on the decisions of an agency.
The EPA DOES know what it is doing, but that doesn’t mean what YOU think it is doing. It is obeying the law and its charter to the letter while also obeying higher HQ [the president]. Major amounts of time are spent figuring out how to obey all of the conflicting constraints. [A great deal of cleverness is required of federal officials at times.] The CAA gives EPA the Authority to regulate air pollution. That authority includes the authority to make regulations to carry out the law. The law is much too vague without the added regulations. The EPA has the authority to tailor how it regulates under another law. At my level in the government, I sometimes had to wait a few months for some higher level to figure out what to tell me to do.
You could sue the EPA to get them to follow your interpretation of the CAA. In fact I recommend that somebody should, but wait a few years. Also, this is not a do-it-yourself project. What you should do now is put the comment URLs for that subject in a comment to RealClimate, and make comments to the EPA yourself. There will probably be public hearings. Go to a public hearing and make your speech.
Comment by Edward Greisch — 21 Sep 2010 @ 11:21 PM
Eli, I assume you’re referring to Newton’s publication, Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica.
JM 239: There is no way we can provide the Earth’s eletrical needs with renewables alone.
BPL: Sorry, that’s just wrong. We get 75 times as much solar energy at Earth’s surface as ALL our energy use. Four or five times with wind. Denmark gets 20% of its electricity from wind and is aiming for 50% by 2020; Portugal gets 45% of its electricity from renewables.
Look, I’m leaving RealClimate. I just had another long, careful post–the second in a row–fail on CAPTCHA, and every time that happens and I resubmit, I get a “duplicate message” error and nothing gets posted. It’s just too bloody difficult to post here. Sorry.
[Response: In those cases, it just needs to be fished out of the spam bucket (as I have done). – gavin]
OT, but not without interest on the historical comments: Jefferson was personally acquainted/engaged with researchers of his day. An example would be Joseph Priestley, generally credited with discovering oxygen (and who certainly did isolate it in the lab.) Priestley is an important figure in the history of chemistry, as I suppose many readers here will be well aware. (Although he never abandoned phlogiston theory, which made him much less relevant from a theoretical perspective toward the end of his scientific career.) Less well-known is that he emigrated to the US in 1794 due to political/religious pressure. He was a friend and correspondent with Jefferson and they consulted with each other on their respective educational ventures.
Of course–though I write it regretfully–by concentrating on Jefferson, we’re essentially engaging in a form of cherry-picking; he was a serious “outlier,” as President Kennedy’s famous quip during the 1962 Nobelists’ White House dinner dramatizes.
We have about 9GW nameplate capacity of wind turbines sticking out of the ground here in Texas and solar is cropping up like mad. We’re plenty capable of being however arrogant we need to be in order to get the job done. Which is the real natural resource of Texas — not oil, gas or water.
Re: reCaptcha (#252),
FWIW, I don’t have that experience. If I run into “duplicate message”, it usually gets posted. If reCaptcha turns me down, a click on the “back” arrow brings up my text again. It’s a minor annoyance for commenters that probably saves the moderator a major spam-shoveling effort.
That being said, it does seem as if reCaptcha has largely exhausted its store of decipherable texts, with diminishing returns. I used to enjoy the serendipitous mottos it turned up, and I was happy to help out digitalizing old books by deciphering hard-to-write text. But now it hardly ever seems to come up with any real words anymore, only typos too strange to even guess the intended meaning. Right now, for instance, I’m looking at “apoldly left,” and typing in “apoldly” feels like purposely misleading the OCR program. (Wiki informs me that Apold was Peron’s propaganda chief, so it’s not totally un-serendipitous, but I doubt that was the intended word.) Hitting the “recycle” button gives me “refolf blood”. What’s that, they’re scanning the original Beowulf manuscript? And so on.
I’m not calling for it to be scrapped, though, as long as it keeps the spambots out and doesn’t prevent commenting altogether.
(At “winiting everyday” I felt lucky enough to hit submit…)
Arrogance is absolutely a valuable commodity, one to be admired, and one not to be taken lightly. It’s part of how one gets from here to there, when no one else things that getting there is even possible.
And I have no doubt that there’s a can-do cultural component to Texas that will eventually help them out of their predicament.
The problem is, there’s also a fat-cat “don’t wanna listen” attitude that will not only slow down response to the problem, but also hurt a whole lot of people other than Texans. “Can do” is admirable. “Screw the rest of you because we can,” not so much.
Americans take a lot of pride in their role in WW II, but tend to forget that leading up to WW II the country was a very isolationist, with an “it’s not our problem” attitude. If we hadn’t had our own interests in the Pacific and conflicts with the Japanese, who in turn allied themselves with Germany and Italy and pushed things toward open conflict, all of Europe might be speaking German today… or have been overrun by the Soviets and still be communist. [Not to mention the value in having a leader, FDR, who was willing to actually lead, rather than kowtow to public opinion.]
Fifty years from now you may well see the same thing, people taking immense pride in the way that America tackled the issue of climate change with innovation, and vim and vigor… and they’ll forget that in the early twenty first century, a population of “haves” fought tooth and nail to resist doing the slightest little thing about the problem, merely to protect their own particular, personal interests and standing in society, and so making the problem that much worse and the solutions that much later in coming.
BPL: Sorry, that’s just wrong. We get 75 times as much solar energy at Earth’s surface as ALL our energy use. Four or five times with wind. Denmark gets 20% of its electricity from wind and is aiming for 50% by 2020; Portugal gets 45% of its electricity from renewables.
Not to be a party-pooper, but please remember that both Denmark and Portugal and very small countries. There are a lot of people on the planet who get 100% of their energy from renewables. If you want to use a good example, pick Germany. Or Texas — wind turbines are the new “cash crop” in many parts of the state, and Texas isn’t small.
BPL: Sorry, that’s just wrong. We get 75 times as much solar energy at Earth’s surface as ALL our energy use. Four or five times with wind. Denmark gets 20% of its electricity from wind and is aiming for 50% by 2020; Portugal gets 45% of its electricity from renewables.
Sorry it is just plain right.
Not to be a party-pooper, but please remember that both Denmark and Portugal and very small countries. There are a lot of people on the planet who get 100% of their energy from renewables. If you want to use a good example, pick Germany. Or Texas — wind turbines are the new “cash crop” in many parts of the state, and Texas isn’t small.
Germany does not get 100% of its energy from renewables. Who told you that lie? Texas has winds and therefore they can use wind turbines.
The Earth will NEVER be 100% powered by renewables; absolutely impossible. Windmills are too inefficient and solar panels cannot be used efficiently everywhere. Solar boilers are a big help to be sure but they are not going to solve all the energy problems. We will still need: natural gas, some coal, hydro-electric etc…
In regards to Germany is this what you meant to say:
“Berlin, Germany [RenewableEnergyWorld.com] Germany’s Reichstag in Berlin is set to become the first parliamentary building in the world to be powered 100 percent by renewable energy. Soon the entire country will follow suit. Germany is accelerating its efforts to become the world’s first industrial power to use 100 percent renewable energy — and given current momentum, it could reach that green goal by 2050.”
It is not 2050 yet now is it? Germany has quite a few people to be sure but 82 million and change is no where near the population of the US, India or China… even with efforts by China and India in ‘geern tech’ there are great limitations.
Jacob Mack wrote: “Solar boilers are a big help to be sure but they are not going to solve all the energy problems.”
Multiple studies have found that concentrating solar thermal power plants (which I assume is what you mean by “solar boilers”) on only five percent of the USA’s desert lands could generate more electricity than the entire country uses.
Multiple studies have found that the commercially exploitable wind energy resources of only four midwestern states could generate more electricity than the entire country uses.
Add to those the huge potential of distributed PV, plus the onshore wind energy resources of the rest of the country, plus the vast offshore wind energy resource, and our “problem” becomes having more electricity than we know what to do with.
With all due respect, your assertion is ill-informed and simply wrong, no matter how many times you repeat it.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 22 Sep 2010 @ 12:17 PM
The anti-spam filter is out of hand. I just spent 5 minutes composing a short message which might’ve had the word “p r e s c r i p t i o n” in it and the message was lost.
Comment by John E. Pearson — 22 Sep 2010 @ 12:23 PM
Jacob, Germany’s population may not be near US, let alone China levels, but don’t forget that it’s relative energy use does not match it’s comparatively low population (although it’s still the most populous cuntry in Europe!) – it is, after all, one of the biggest nations worldwide in terms of it’s industrial output. It’s energy need is massive and in that sense, and compared to the paltry efforts of the US, a goal of near 100% renewable energy use in a bare four decades is VERY remarkable indeed.
Jacob Mack (261) says: “The Earth will NEVER be 100% powered by renewables; absolutely impossible. Windmills are too inefficient and solar panels cannot be used efficiently everywhere. Solar boilers are a big help to be sure but they are not going to solve all the energy problems. We will still need: natural gas, some coal, hydro-electric etc…”
That’s a rather grandiose position statement that seeks to put the kibosh on any progress in sustainable energy use. But it is also incoherent and shrill. It implies many assumptions many that must be addressed, such as:
1. Human population cannot be controlled and will only increase.
2. The consumer culture of use and dispose is a necessity.
3. The ability to travel far and wide at ever faster speeds is a requirement.
4. The environment will be conducive to the continual exploitation of fossil-based fuels.
5. An endless supply exists of such fuels.
6. His personal comfort level is a priority for all of us.
I don’t believe those assumptions can be supported. To settle on technologies that are at least 100 years old in the face of all the accelerating progress since then seems blind. There are many ways out of this mess. If we can’t find some soon that maintain a pleasant standard of living for all of us, then many, if not all, are bound to suffer lives of desperation as the forces of entropy overtake us. Jacob’s attitude is a barrier that must be overcome. And it will, for good or bad.
Edward Greisch (249), a government with agencies that have to report to no one is called tyranny. A government that has no check and balances and is designed for fully efficient operations soon becomes a fascist tyranny. Desiring a tyranny is your right (until of course we actually get a tyranny — then not so much unless you’re lucky enough to be one of the boots.) Don’t get me wrong: I’m aware you do not desire this cognitively but just want to accomplish something that you are convinced is important (and it could be — but that’s not the point.) It is almost serendipity re other OT here, but it is that attitude, well-intentioned as it is, that was the number one fundamental factor our forefathers had to insure could not be.
What we have is (mostly…) a government of laws. What you want is a government of men/women. Let’s let Carol Browner or Obama decide everything for us without restraint? Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, et al would vomit.
You are fully accepting of the EPA’s legalities because they think they have found a “clever” (your description) loophole. The CAA explicitly has the 100/250 ton permitting requirement. The EPA has no authority to unilaterally change that without going through the full analysis and hearings process (maybe not even then). Yet they did with their Tailoring Rule. How? By employing the clause that allows them to make some changes that are “non-substantive,” meaning not much different from a typo, or “an interpretive document” in their words, which they declared much of their GHG regulations to be.
I think you are probably right in that the EPA does know what it’s doing. No way to know for sure, but I think they knew precisely that they could get the mobile source regulation through without too much fuss and — surprise (‘we didn’t know that!’) — “find” it has to cover stationary sources too, which otherwise might have given them grief. Efficient? Yes. Legal? Probably in the exact meaning of the term. Appropriate? Ethical? Following the spirit of the law? Not even close!
Me sue or talk to the EPA? Do you believe they give a tinker’s damn what a lowly member of a democratic populace thinks about anything?
Somone posted a while back about the rather warm 2003 European summer revealing some ancient artifacts in the Swiss Alps. Realclimate responded that the writer was mistaken, and that they really referred to the “Ice man” discovered in 1991. I finally found the link to the 2003 event, which details finds in several distinct time periods, with the most recent about 600 years ago.
Jacob Mack: I found your comment hilarious, thank you for the amusement.
Perhaps you are unaware of the humour. You point out that Denmark and Portugal are very small countries. And you are absolutely right. They have very limited space, and relatively high population densities. Far higher than the US, for example.
But land is one of the biggest limitations when relying on renewables. If these little countries can fit it in, think how much easier it will be in the US’s “wide open spaces”.
And that’s just considering wind and sun, both of which can be found in most temperate areas. There are all sorts of other options available beyond that.
Now, do you have any arguments that actually make sense?
PS: Even countries with really, really limited space, such as islands like the UK can theoretically supply all their energy needs from renewables. However, under such circumstances, nuclear power or importing solar power become reasonable options. I think importing solar power is a bit “out there”, but we may end up doing it before we reach the end.
270 Rod B: \a government with agencies that have to report to no one is called tyranny.\
ALL government agencies have to report to multiple elected officials, as I said: The president, congressional oversight committees, individual congressmen and senators. They are also overseen by the courts, which means the public and NGOs that watch them constantly. Also, the bureaucrats are us, ordinary Americans who are ready to waltz anything unconstitutional to the House to begin impeachment hearings.
[We bureaucrats include ALL federal employees. Most federal employees do not call themselves bureaucrats, but if you get your paycheck from any government, you are either a politician or a bureaucrat. Working bureaucrats get bad press that we are not allowed to answer until we retire. Politicians need to blame their mistakes on federal employees, so they passed the Hatch Act.]
Your  rant is outside the pale, inflammatory, borders on political and should have been edited. It has no place in any discussion of the US government. American federal employees will not put up with tyranny.
Federal agencies are required by law to promulgate regulations so that the law can be carried out. The law cannot be long enough all by itself if congress is to ever get anything done. I’m sorry that you don’t understand the system, but that is for you to learn about. You could get yourself a degree in government.
Didactylos Quote: “Jacob Mack: I found your comment hilarious, thank you for the amusement.” Thank you, as I found your unfounded response equally amusing.
El Wyatt quote:
“That’s a rather grandiose position statement that seeks to put the kibosh on any progress in sustainable energy use. But it is also incoherent and shrill. It implies many assumptions many that must be addressed, such as:
1. Human population cannot be controlled and will only increase.
2. The consumer culture of use and dispose is a necessity.
3. The ability to travel far and wide at ever faster speeds is a requirement.
4. The environment will be conducive to the continual exploitation of fossil-based fuels.
5. An endless supply exists of such fuels.
6. His personal comfort level is a priority for all of us.”
No matter what the future holds fossil fuels will play some role if human civilization is still here. Grandiosity is a whole other point of contention. I wish we could be completely divorced from fossil fuels but not peer reviewed article or accurate textbook in the world says we can nor can we expect all other countries to comply with demands the US makes that we do not even follow.
SA, I will simply ask you for links on such research and how it it be transported. High power lines, yes ok to a point but to everywhere, how?
Those arguing both sides of renewable energy, with plenty of flat-out mistakes to go around, first ought to read David McKay’s “Sustainable energy — without the hot air”. It is available on-line.
Comment by David B. Benson — 22 Sep 2010 @ 4:21 PM
SA Newton was a scientist no matter what he saw himself as and a mathematician. The philosophy of science shows us that at times even Newton did not understand himself and adding to Eli’s point that the terminology was a little different then does not bar the fact that Newton was a scientist anways.
flxible, inverters at midnight are about as useful as you-know-what on a boar. My main question was and is: do you really think 150 million or so drivers can get to 20 gal. of gasoline per year? (Or are you thinking 90 years from now?) …the average home owner cut electricity usage from 2000 more or less kWhr/month to 150 kWhr/mo (though it wasn’t clear if Vendicar’s usage was including his PV)? I was also just asking about batteries: if Vendicar’s 5kWhr/day determines his nighttime battery requirement, that’s fairly easily managed; 50-75kWhr/day gets tough — not too bad if sized for overnight use, not very good if you want the recommended 3-day/24-hr capacity.
El Wyatt, “…If we can’t find some soon that maintain a pleasant standard of living for all of us….” so long as, as you imply, we stop having kids (#1), quit buying stuff (#2), cease traveling to Grandma’s house (#3), and stop being comfortable (#6)??
Jacob Mack @276 — Don’t know for sure about Newton, but his contemporary Robert Hooke, now known as the first professional scientist, thought of himself and his fellows in the Royal Society as Baconists; a form of natural philosophy.
Comment by David B. Benson — 22 Sep 2010 @ 5:03 PM
Edward Greisch, but the government you defend in 273 is precisely what you implied in 249 was screwing up the works and should be “fixed.” And if you think the laws passed actually and legally say, “Agencies! Go do whatever you think best!” you’re the one in need of government lessons.
Miscellany: if one reads reCaptcha words only three letters at a time — not whole words — and squink your eyes, it’s not bad.
Hank, Jefferson didn’t have anything to do with the Constitution. He was in France during the Convention and denigrated the delegates that did attend.
The main architect of the Constitution was James Madison who mainly studied Political Philosophy and Hebrew.
Regarding Newton, it is best to remember that what appears to be science in one era may not look like it in another. He spent much of his life dabbling in alchemy and trying to calculate the date for the end of the world. Good news for us – it won’t come earlier than 2060 despite global warmists predictions to the contrary :).
Nobody should read David MacKay’s “Sustainable energy — without the hot air” unless they understand that David MacKay does not accept the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and basically states this on page 27 of that referenced book.
Many of us are lazy louts when we take freshman physics and thus are happy to take the easy path when doing energy conversions, where the lure that a kWhr is a kWhr alleviates a need to understand the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Through the diligence of Prof. Eck at Case, I was treated to the opportunity to show my true nature on a pop quiz. Fortunately, it shaped me up in time for the real tests that counted.
Apparently Dr, Prof, Chief Advisor to the UK DOE and Climate David MacKay did not have the benefit of having a teacher like Prof. Eck. Thus he states, he states that it is “time honored” to hold a kWhr of heat to be equal to a kWhr of electrical energy. Yes, he goes through a discussion that supposedly justifies this nonsense which I paste as a quote here:
“In this book, however, I will usually use a
one-to-one conversion rate when comparing different forms of energy. It
is not the case that 2.5 kWh of oil is inescapably equivalent to 1 kWh of
electricity; that just happens to be the perceived exchange rate in a worldview where oil is used to make electricity. Yes, conversion of chemical energy to electrical energy is done with this particular inefficient exchange rate. But electrical energy can also be converted to chemical energy. In an alternative world (perhaps not far-off) with relatively plentiful electricity and little oil, we might use electricity to make liquid fuels; in that world we would surely not use the same exchange rate – each kWh of gasoline would then cost us something like 3 kWh of electricity! I think the timeless and scientific way to summarize and compare energies is to hold 1 kWh of chemical energy equivalent to 1 kWh of electricity. My choice to use this one-to-one conversion rate means that some of my sums will look a bit different from other people’s. (For example, BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy rates 1 kWh of electricity as equivalent to 100/38 ≃ 2.6 kWh of oil; on the other hand, the government’s Digest of UK Energy Statistics uses the same one-to-one conversion rate as me.) And I emphasize again, this choice does not imply that I’m suggesting you could convert either form of energy directly into the other. Converting chemical energy into electrical energy always wastes energy, and so does converting electrical into chemical energy.”
Prof. MacKay thus attempts to set a basis for energy conversions in a future world of sustainable energy as he expects it, where in that circumstance the Second Law would not apply. But the logic of this is absurd, since in that future world there would be no basis for conversion of any kind.
But the rest of his book rests on the one to one conversion, so the entire book turns out to be bogus. And in fact makes the electric vehicle look three times better than it is, when compared with cars that carry their own engines.
I conjecture that the quoted passage was written by a staffer who was determined to promote electric vehicles, and MacKay let it go by. No real physicist would go for this, which amounts to a repeal of the Second Law of Thermodynamics by a government authority. (MacKay need not feel bad about this; there seem to be abundant counterparts to him throughout the world.)
# 280 David B. Benson: Certainly of interest and I am not denying they all may have thought of themselves in different terms and for obvious reasons but at the time they were certainly the scientists in my opinion. Thanks again for the information though.
— it is not clear whether the EPA is aware that a ton of CO2 is 12/44 real carbon.
Their analysis concludes that capturing a ton of CO2 will cost up to $95. The fact that they do not relate this finding to the cost of using a ton of coal, suggests that they are trying to obfuscate the impact of this cost on users of a ton of coal. On the other hand, it seems possible that they do not know that carbon is not CO2.
The impact of course is that burning 12/44 ton of carbon produces a ton of CO2 and burning about 24/44 ton of Powder River Basin coal produces a ton of CO2. Thus the capture cost is 44/24 times $95 which is added to the roughly $20 per ton that is now the cost of that coal including an estimate for transportation. We are talking roughly $200 per ton versus $20 per ton. Does anyone think this is encouraging of business expansion?
You completely misunderstand the import of the paragraphs you quoted. But, of course, you can always redo his figures your own way; whatever, those numbers have to add up and you’ll surely come to essentially the same conclusions. Not quite the same since you can make some assumptions about hydrocarbons from fungi, for example, as long as you use realistic numbers regarding the (future) ability of the GM fungi or even algae to do their thing. Oh yes, also look at STEP technology; maybe that is an actual winner.
Comment by David B. Benson — 22 Sep 2010 @ 7:12 PM
I conjecture that the quoted passage was written by a staffer who was determined to promote electric vehicles, and MacKay let it go by No real physicist would go for this, which amounts to a repeal of the Second Law of Thermodynamics by a government authority
I think you will find out that the book came out before David M had anything to do with government. I don’t see what is so wrong with the quoted paragraph which explicitly discusses the 2nd law and also anticipates a time when electricity would no longer be made from fossil fuel. This would immediately give all electrical machines a relative advantage (from the CO2 standpoint) which they don’t have at present.
You are aware that MacKay released his book (off his own bat, online, for free) long before he became an advisor to DECC?
It is true that heat is a lower-grade form of energy, but when talking about renewables this is not particularly relevent since the main sources of renewable energy produce electricity directly without running an intermediate heat engine – think wind power, photovoltaics, hydroelectric, tidal. This is in contrast to our current methods of using gas or coal to create heat and subsequently electricity at ~40% efficiency or less. (Possible exceptions are solar thermal, either in a solar tower or in direct water-heating, and geothermal. You will notice that he does comment on solar heating being lower-grade energy, e.g. on page 53.)
In any case, it is ridiculous to write off the whole book on the basis of one flawed critique. And as an aside, one suspects Prof MacKay, as a Cambridge physicist, has a rather deeper grasp of thermodynamics than yourself.
Jacob Mack – MacKay calculates that UK cannot produce enough renewables to power itself without borrowing other countries renewables OR using non-renewables. Now read the chapter for the US or the world as a whole.
Jim Bullis – I am quite sure that MacKay unders 2nd Law but as he points out there is a difficulty in absolute energy calculation. If you generate electricty for cars from chemical reaction, then yes, you need 3 times the input for each kilowatt, (though the efficiency of electric vehicles in converting electrical to kinetics still makes the electric vehicles look slightly better). However, if you produce the electricity from say hydro, then you need way less hydro than a straight conversion of litres petrol used x kWh/litres would tell you. Since this is the focus of the calculations, then it looks valid to me.
261, Jacob Mack: The Earth will NEVER be 100% powered by renewables; absolutely impossible.
Production (or perhaps “harvesting”) is growing exponentially. Computations (based on measurements) show that the energy is there. Costs are declining. Technologies (emphasis on the plural) are being improved.
“a government with agencies that have to report to no one is called tyranny.”
I trust the professionals agencies a lot more than the politicians who are getting money from the fossil fuel interests.
Some politicians serve the fossil fuel interests that give them money, and money is even coming from outside the country disguised as payment for professional services. Congressman Weldon’s daughter got 500,000 dollars for “consulting” for a Russian/American gas company–Itera. Really this was payment for Weldon’s political advocacy.
Governments have always had agencies whether they were called that or not.
They answer to an elected government.
All this Ayn Rand stuff is coming from the Cato Institute, and their global warming person, Andrei Illarionov, “used to” work for the head of the Soviet gas monopoly, Chernomyrdin, and for Putin.
The monopolies just don’t want any rules or competition from renewables. They pay the politicians to stomp out competition and to persecute scientists.
Someone must have missed a few zeroes “We get 75 times as much solar energy at Earth’s surface as ALL our energy use.”.
If I plug in the radius of the earth squared times pi times a tousand watts per meter squared I get 127000 Terawatts of incoming solar energy. It is closer to ten thousand times our current usage than a hundred.
And we get the usual overwhelming fear of letting government do anything, “that would be tyranny”. The key to government, and just about anything is moderation. We give government some power, because society has agreed that the tradeoffs are worth it. Government will get on my case if I try to drive 100 miles per hour on the wrong side of the road! Oh, the horrible tyranny, of having traffic enforcement! Any suggestion of any sort of regulation is always met with the same hysterical kneejerk response.
Don’t mistake the first signed text for a foundation cornerstone that, if shaken, would shake everything built afterward.
Important early work gets amended and improved; that’s Jefferson’s explicit contribution there.
Yes, there are people who think a “founder” or a “foundation document” is something to defend unchanged — or to attack. Notice how that same idea comes up in climate, from people who don’t understand science.
“But, do you have any reason to believe everyone in the country could do the same, even if they wanted to? Curious: what will you do for night electric power?” – 260
At night I light with CF and now some LED lighting. The LED lights are 1 watt and are fine for the front hallway. I keep one of them on all night, because, well why not? They provide enough light to navigate but you wouldn’t read there.
The light in this room is from a single 26 watt CF, the lights in my kitchen which are also on are from 3, 16 watt CF and in the dining room I have a 18 watt florescent fixture.
I also use 1, one watt bulb for the porch light. It is enough to illuminate the house number and front door.
All of the other lights are CF and are off until I need them.
Wall transformers add up to 18 watts now – some are on switches. They used to add to more than 100 watts.
TV went into the dumpster when George Bush was elected.
PC is constantly on, and pulls 120 watts approx.
Electric water heating 1KwH per day, refrigeration similar.
Ceiling fans in the summer are about 60 watts while they are on.
I’ve just purchased an additional thermal blanket for the hot water tank. It will be interesting to see how much energy is saved. I suspect no more than 1/4 of a Kilowatt hour per day.
The passive heating system will consist of a series of 3 x 8 boxes hung on the south facing wall. That wall is 16 square meters in area, and I figure I should get at least 11,000 watts of solar thermal during the daylight hours, which should be enough to keep the house warm for half the day.
So that should reduce my natural gas consumption to 1.5 or maybe 1 m**3 per day. I know I lose a lot of heat through the floor of this single story house, and multiple issues have to be resolved in order to insulate the crawlspace below, but I anticipate I should be able to reduce the heat loss through the floor by at least half. So I am expecting a final fuel consumption rate of under 1m**3 of gas per day when all of the easy stuff has been done.
Can other people reduce their consumption like this?
Absolutely, although depending on the situation with varying degrees of success.
My lifestyle has improved by going this route. While other people bitch and moan about the cost of gasoline, I couldn’t care less. Heating fuel costs going up 20 percent? Yawn, Electricity rates are doubling? Who cares I pay $10.00 a month for the energy component of the bill.
Plus the house is warmer in winter, cooler in summer, etc. etc. etc…
281 Rod B: You are very good at intentional misinterpretation. Congratulations. No law ever said ““Agencies! Go do whatever you think best!””. The agencies, as I said, do their best to obey the law to the letter. I know where you are getting your nonsense. I would like to get on national TV and say: “Senator McConnell, I did exactly what you said to do, exactly the way you said to do it; and if you wanted me to do something different some other way, you should have written the law that way.” Since Mitch McConnell is a senator, if Senator Mitch McConnell doesn’t want the agencies to write regulations to implement the laws that Senator Mitch McConnell writes, Senator Mitch McConnell can change the law. Congress is in charge. When an elected official says: “Jump!” the appointed official says “How high?” on the way up.
The result of agencies not writing regulations would be that laws would have to be millions of pages long. Laws are already too long at thousands of pages. Not even a SuperSenator like Senator Mitch McConnell can accomplish writing laws that are millions of pages long. That is why Congress ordained that agencies shall write regulations to implement laws.
As I also said, there are a lot of inputs to the process of writing and carrying out regulations. Since we live in a form of a democracy called a republic, one of those inputs is via the courts. Another input is via public comments and public hearings. From time to time, regulations implementing one unchanged law must be changed. Such is the change required when the conservative Supreme Court of the US declared that CO2 is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. I am hoping that there will be another such time when the same court says that the EPA erred when it declared coal ash to be harmless. It is very likely that some previous senator, if not Senator Mitch McConnell himself, pressured the EPA into making that erroneous determination in 1984. Since 1984, it has become common and scientific knowledge that CO2 production by humans is and will have disastrous consequences. That is new information not available in present form to the EPA in 1984. A change in the regulation is called for, but there is no need to change the law.
“flxible, inverters at midnight are about as useful as you-know-what on a boar.” – 277
You had better have one if you intend to run a 120 volt AC appliance from batteries. A dozen batteries equivalent in energy capacity to deep cycle marine batteries are all that are required.
“My main question was and is: do you really think 150 million or so drivers can get to 20 gal.” – 277
A very large number could. Absolutely. Done either through the conversion to 60+ mpg cars and/or electric vehicles powered by renewables of course.
But what makes you think that 150 million drivers all need to consume less than the 20 gallons per year that I consume in transportation fuel?
American society must reduce and will reduce it’s carbon based fuel consumption by 80% to 90%. Who gets to burn the remaining 10% or 20% and for what purpose is up to you.
“the average home owner cut electricity usage from 2000 more or less kWhr/month to 150 kWhr/mo (though it wasn’t clear if Vendicar’s usage was including his PV)?” – 277
I have no PV system installed. But when my consumption drops to somewhere around 4 to 5 Kwh per day, I will switch to PV and batteries.
“50-75kWhr/day gets tough — not too bad if sized for overnight use, not very good if you want the recommended 3-day/24-hr capacity.” – 277
50KwH of storage would represent 12 days of standby power. I don’t need that much. A dozen deep cycle marine battery equivalents are all that are needed. And if they are out, there is always the grid to fall back on.
I look forward to installing 12V LED lighting panels in the ceilings and walls so that the lighting can be directly run directly from DC battery power.
Currently the lighting in this house is consuming 60 watts of power. So for lighting at least, I need only 1 or 2 PV panels and two marine batteries. Those same batteries will provide 1 day of full reserve power for lighting.
LED will be slightly more efficient, and OLED significantly more efficient, and should reduce the battery requirements and PV panel requirements by about half.
“Those who [advocate] reformation of institutions pari passu with the progress of science [maintain] that no definite limits [can] be assigned to that progress. The enemies of reform, on the other hand, [deny] improvement and [advocate] steady adherence to the principles, practices and institutions of our fathers, which they [represent] as the consummation of wisdom and acme of excellence, beyond which the human mind could never advance.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1813. ME 13:254
The following is a post I made to Judith Curry’s discussion of the Pakistani floods on Climate Etc in responce to this post: http://judithcurry.com/2010/09/20/pakistan-on-my-mind/#comment-1714
I say I posted it, but it has not appeared on Curry’s blog afer several hours, even though it is definitely on her system. As it is OT here, I thought I would cross post:
Jim, the Pakistani floods exceded the previous highest known flow rates by 15%. They have the second highest deathtoll known of any flood of the Indus (although secondary effects – disease, and famine- of the flood may soon change that). They have flooded more provinces of Pakistan than any flood in the last 80 years. That suggests that in the last 110 years, there have only been three floods of comparable magnitude on the Indus – one in 1901, one in 1929, and the current flood. Durring that period there have been 64 floods, sufficient to provide a reasonable statistical sample. From this data, this flood is certianly more than a 1 in 22 event (2 sigma on a normal distribution), but probably less than a 1 in 81 event (2.5 sigma on a normal distribution). That is not enough, on its own to attribute the destructiveness of the floods to global warming.
However, the Pakistan floods are linked to the Russion heatwave. If the Russian heatwave must be significantly attributed to Global Warming, then so also must the Pakistani floods. The floods, in that context, do not stand as independant evidence of Global Warming, but rather as evidence regarding the potential economic and human cost of Global Warming.
Having mentioned Motl, I must criticise his post as it contains several, to my mind, significant misunderstandings. To start with, he assumes that temperature variation follows a normal distribution, instead of just approximating to one over a limited range. To illustrate my point, consider a series of throws of two six sided dice, which will approximate to a normal distribution. If we assume it is a normal distribution, however, we will conclude that once in a great while, a throw of two six sided dice will give a result of 13. Motl makes an equivalent error.
We know temperatures do not follow a normal distribution, because if they did then occassionally we would see temperatures 25 or even 50 degrees above the mean – something we never see. At some point above and below the mean, temperatures must cease to approximate to the normal distribution. The question is, at what point? My guess is it is somewhere above 2 sigma, but not above around 2.5 sigma; in which case any temperature extreme 2.5 sigma or more above the mean would be evidence that the climate is in fact shifting. Of course, my guess is a guess.
Motl also makes a guess (though he does not describe it as such) that the point above which temperatures no longer approximate to a normal distribution is above 4 sigma. That is a significant difference. If my guess is correct, then the Russian Heatwave is significant evidence that the climate is shifting (and hence the Pakistani floods evidence of the likely costs of that shift). If Motl is right, than the Russian Heatwaves may just be an artifact of normal variations in the weather. Fortunately, Motl provides us a simple test (although he does not describe it as such) as to who is correct. He calculates that if 4 sigma lies within normal variation, then ,b.on average two 4 sigma events will occur somewhere in the globe each year.
That is a bold prediction, but SFAIK it fails spectacularly. In fact, SFAIK, the Moscow heatwave is the only 4 sigma event to have occured anywhere in the globe in the last 50 years. Of course, I may well be wrong about that, due to limited knowledge, and still more limited statistical analysis. If Motl is correct, however, it should be easy to prove me wrong. Just list the approximately twenty 4 sigma temperature events we should have expected over the last 10 years. Absent such a list, I must operate on the best of my knowledge and conclude that the Russian Heatwave lies outside the range of normal variation and hence is evidence of a warming globe.
The second point on which Motl is misleading is his claim that “nothing detectable is changing about statistical distributions”. In fact, something is transparently changing about statistical distributions – specifically, the ratio of record hot events to record cold events is increasing. That is clear evidence of a warming climate. Tamino gives an example of this, with 17 new national high temperature records set this year, to one low temperature record. (National records are not the best for this type of analysis because of the great variation in size, but it is illustrative.) Grouping these records by time and geography shows that 2010 has had 6 record hot weather events, and only 1 record cold weather event.
Jacob Mack, I see you found my comments unanswerable. Are you going to examine the holes in your theory, or are you going to continue making unsupportable claims?
David B. Benson and Phil Scadden, I don’t know about others in this thread, but I have read “Without Hot Air”. One important distinction he makes is between the theoretical and the practical. It is theoretically possible to cover the UK with enough wind turbines and solar cells to power the country. However, it is not practical (something which BPL refuses to accept). Talking about purely theoretical possibilities is a fool’s game, which is why this conversation with Jacob Mack is supremely silly.
Jim Bullis, I suggest you actually read the material you directly quote, otherwise you will just look like an idiot. “Converting chemical energy into electrical energy always wastes energy, and so does converting electrical into chemical energy.”
[inserted to appease reCAPTCHA]
For those wishing to save electricity, it’s really wasteful to have a PC which burns 120W constantly like Vendicar’s.
If you have a real need for a powerful PC, you can either take steps to make sure it’ll boot fast and turn it off when you’re not using it or get a PC which has a standby mode in which it consumes a small fraction of its regular wattage.
But most people don’t need such workhorses. There are plenty of PCs which consume 40W or (much) less. These days, one can easily obtain cheap and unobtrusive general-purpose computers which average around 20W.
Most displays consume quite a bit of power but they all have standby modes and it’s easy to find a display which consumes less than 2W on standy (be careful though: some consume a lot more).
Comment by Anonymous Coward — 23 Sep 2010 @ 7:18 AM
Tom @ 303:
Variation from the mean is the wrong measurement for exactly the “dice” reason you gave, and using “number of record highs versus lows” is likewise the wrong approach for the same reason.
What you want is the change in the mean. If the average September temperature goes from 29C to 28C, but there was a new record high in September, what’s going on? And if there isn’t a new high (or better yet, a new record low), but the average goes from 28 to 29, then what?
You also have to look at longer term than one Russian heatwave. We’re having our second September in a row of below-average sunshine — is that a trend, or is it just two years of poor September sunshine, on account of August wasn’t half bad?
FurryCatHerder (@307), change in the mean is, in this case, the hypothesis that is being tested. Clearly, measured changes in the mean are evidence as to whether the mean is changing or not; but other, less direct measurements can also be evidence that the mean is changing. For example, the global retreat in glacier lengths in evidence that the mean temperatures are rising around the globe.
Can a single cluster of temperature records represent significant evidence of a changing mean? Trivially, any temperature recorded above the mean is evidence the mean is increasing. It is just very weak evidence, and weak because if it lies well within one standard deviation, it is a very probable event on the null hypothesis (no change). That follows directly from Bayes theorem. But equally, from Bayes theorem, if an event is very improbable on the null hypothesis (say a 3.5 sigma event), then it’s occurence is significantly stronger evidence for the hypothesis (that the mean is changing).
Now, without going to the trouble of a Baysian probability analysis (which would just be putting numbers to educated guesswork), I think there is good reason to consider the Russian Heatwave sufficiently improbable on the assumption of no warming (relative to its probability on the assumption of GW) that it is worth independant recognition as evidence of the warming globe instead of just being burried under a mob of other statistics. My belief in that regard is defeasible by evidence; but it is not rebutable my failing to consider the distinction between what constitutes evidence, and what constitutes the hypothesis being tested.
Thomas (294), I’m talking about unrestrained “regulation.” While you might pooh-pooh it at the moment, I can guarantee you would strongly dislike a highway patrol that had no government-imposed limitations.
Vendicar Decarian (297), as I said earlier (and meant), this is admirable. But to expect everyone in the country to duplicate your efforts is whistling Dixie or a pipedream (though pissin’ in the wind is probably a more apt metaphor here…).
I generally agree with Rod (#312). Not that what Vendicar did is sufficient anyway. Regulation is sometimes efficient but I don’t think regulating everything is the answer. That way lies five-year plans and the like.
So if you don’t believe either individual responsibility or regulation are the answer, what is? The answer, dear Rod, is of course taxation. Market-friendly, small-government carbon taxes schemes have been proposed such as Hansen’s fee and dividend.
The point is indeed to stop the expansion of the coal business (see Jim Bullis’ posts) and generally get rid of such destructive enterprises. $200/ton is dirt cheap as a price to demand for burning coal and dumping the toxic fumes and ash on the public. The point is to enable businesses which contribute to the public good, not to wreck civilization as Jim would have us believe. Industrial civilization doesn’t need to burn that much coal, as has been demonstrated for decades in nuke/hydro country. Some of the richest and most pleasant places out there have <10% fossil fuels in their generation mix.
Any material objections? But spare us the FUD please.
Comment by Anonymous Coward — 23 Sep 2010 @ 10:09 AM
No, Rod, Ven D is doing what he does as an individual because the infrastructure doesn’t offer him any other way. In a power network where we can generate our own power and use the network as the ‘battery backup’ for the times when our local solar or wind is inadequate, we don’t have to go to those lengths.
Domestic solar is good, but a large solar-thermal power supply is better. Wind power is good, but being part of a distributed network where the wind is always blowing somewhere is better. The whole lot is better again and a constant supply from a geothermal plant somewhere in the network makes it unbeatable.
309, Tom Curtis: I think there is good reason to consider the Russian Heatwave sufficiently improbable on the assumption of no warming (relative to its probability on the assumption of GW) that it is worth independant recognition as evidence of the warming globe instead of just being burried under a mob of other statistics.
Can you do the same for the Mongolian, Andean, and New Zealand cold waves? As a Bayesian problem, it is a very high dimensional Bayesian problem, with the covariances among the many measures provided how? By the diverse GCMs would be one possibility.
Comment by Septic Matthew — 23 Sep 2010 @ 12:28 PM
Certainly, individual efforts, no matter how heroic or effective in their own terms, seem unlikely ever to be enough in themselves; those efforts will still be embedded in assumptions, procedures, built environments and social constructs that require the use of energy in ways that aren’t sustainable.
But people have changed their ways of life drastically in the past, and seem likely to do so in the future–in ways either relatively benign or relatively disastrous. Usually this happens as part of an economic restructuring, often related to new technology, as when whale oil was abandoned as a lamp fuel, as when farmers mechanized operations, or for that matter when the transition to agriculture occurred. I suppose changing life ways was stressful then, too; but people managed.
The same will occur as we transition away from fossil fuels; and my guess is that the “end game” of that process will be surprisingly sudden. One of the amusing facets of reading RC over time is the recurring pattern of comments whereby some “renewables skeptic” says “Renewables will never exceed benchmark X,” whereupon someone else generally pops up to say either a) “Wait a sec, I do that at home all the time; it’s saving me Y dollars per year,” or b) “Nation Z achieved that benchmark last year.”
It reminds me of Simon Newcomb, justly renowned as a mathematician and astronomer, whose “airplane skepticism” continued for three years following the Wright brothers’ first flights. My conclusion is that in general the only thing sillier than denying the real difficulties in a given technological development, is the a priori assumption that those difficulties can’t be overcome.
If I may be permitted to recommend a commercial website, I would encourage readers interested in keeping track of current developments in renewable energy, efficiency, smart grid and related technologies to keep an eye on CNet.com’s Green Tech news page at http://news.cnet.com/greentech/.
There is a whole lot going on in the real world that people who make sweeping pronouncements about what renewable energy can “never” do seem to be blissfully unaware of.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 23 Sep 2010 @ 12:50 PM
To Septic, Tom, Furry and others,
While the Russian heat wave was beyond two standard deviations, that does not necessarily prove that the mean is increasing. The U.S. heat wave of 1936 was similarly high, came near the end of two decades of warming, but temperatures starting falling shortly thereafter. Many states reached temperatures of 120F, which have not been witnessed since. Even at three standard deviations from the mean, the probability is still 1%, which could happen once every century.
IF the mean is changing, then the probability of this type of event increases. Just because it occurred, does not necessarily mean that the mean increased. Likewise, the Southern cold snaps have a small, but non-negligible probability of occurance.
#305 Didactylos: you can keep making things up and not doing your homework to see wht we will not power the world on renewables alone but if you are sincere at all in preserving the environment and reducing GHG emissions you really ought to stop deluding others and state the actual facts.What I am stating is not a theory it is just plain old truth.
Many of my fellow posters really do need to study physics, math and consult engineers about the many problems not being addressed in this thread at all.
1.)Collection, storage and transmission problems.
2.) Electricity generated by solar power stations is intermittent which cannot be handled by out current power grid.
3.) Solar cells are far too expensive. The average citizen cannot afford them and to build such a large scale project in the desert would be immensely costly in terms of engineering, materials and labor. Who is going to pay for that largescale of a project.
4.) 1 KW-h of energy generated from solar cells costs about 35 cents where the same energy produced through combustion of fossil fuels costs about 4-5 cents.
5.) Theory and application have not and are not the same thing in terms of producing energy and energy conduits.
Now, having said all of that I do support the use of more solar panels, some wind tubines, carbon capture, hybrids even with their limitations as wellas EV development even with their drawbacks as well.
Chemists specifically and engineers along with marketers of the solar product lines have a lot of work ahead of them and the reference is thus
I also spoke with 4 engineer friends of mine and 3 out of the 4 support more reliance upon renewable energy but none of them think they can power the world and that there remains many technical hurdles as well, not just for now but well into the future.
Other issues include: falling fossil fuel prices, in 2004 solar derived energy only provided 0.01% of the world’s energy and serious research has been going on since the 1970’s so where is the big global change?
Again I support Germany’s efforts and other countries where it is viable but you have not as of yet answered my questions regarding collection, storage and transport. How the heck are you going to do it? When world class engineers are stumped and countries like Spain are having such poltical and economic fallout what can be done?
I wish I could have the rosy colored glasses on and see the future as a bright renewable energy utopia but that is not the harsh reality.
Quote #305 Didactylos: I see you found my comments unanswerable. Are you going to examine the holes in your theory, or are you going to continue making unsupportable claims?
Apparently I find your comments very answerable. What holes do you refer? Do you have any evidence to support your claim that my “theory” as you claim, has holes? How are my claims unsupportable when I just supported them? You need to re-think your position I think, based upon: data, logic and reason alone.
AGW is real. It has serious current consequences. One of those is the current shift in weather extremes, though not 100% provable, the attribution studies and predictions of the IPCC are very robust and compelling.
I wanted to make sure to use several science book references as well as several blogs and several news media outlets as well. We each have different ways and manners in processing and accepting information.
I am encouraged to see new developments unfolding. This hardly means that the world will be powered on renewables. The site also fails to mention the many economic and technological challenges. That scooter: where is the electricity coming from in the first place and what kind of emissions are involved in its manufacture?
Anonymous Coward (313), I might strongly disagree with the specifics of your solution, but if it is put in place by a duly elected congress in a republic government that understands its #1 priority is preserving individual liberty, as I assume from your post, then I would succumb. I don’t disagree that coal is the worst polluter and ought to be addressed strongly. But, 1) it should not be addressed with malice, which it sometimes sounds like, and 2) particular care of the transients need to be a factor: good board design can make a CPU hum, but if transients are not considered the wrong change can blow up a CPU in a microsecond. Change the cost of coal from $20 to $200 next month and there is a fair chance society might blow up.
Did I spare the FUD, whatever that (or just D?) is.
Kevin McKinney (317), your point has merit, but, in your two examples, the paradigm change was almost immediately recognized by individuals as a solid tangible immediate benefit. Even then the timing was almost entirely a function of individual demand. As desirous as AGM mitigation might in fact be, it is not of the character described above. Explain to any one of the 200 million average Joes how their life will be so much better if he/she just cuts his electric usage by 80+%, rides a bike instead of a car for 95% of his transportation, and throws out his TV, and your well-being could be in immediate danger.
You’re right that just because something looks extremely difficult at the moment doesn’t mean it should be concluded it can’t be done or we shouldn’t try. On the other hand trying to convince the same Average Joe that this very difficult effort is a piece of cake and right around the corner will lose all of your credibility.
Jacob, most of your questions and assertions in the above post already have topics. You can’t discuss everything in every topic and insist others answer you where you want. This is impractical; have you considered starting a blog?
Jacob Mack: Really, your posts are so incoherent and illogical that I think you’re not even a troll – you’re just confused. For example, you didn’t notice that the links you supplied did not support your argument, nor that your posts are riddled with errors. You didn’t notice that people are not saying what you think they said. You didn’t notice the problem that I highlighted in one of your earlier posts – I’m not sure you even grasped my reasoning, and you certainly haven’t acknowledged your error.
Is there any reason anyone should waste time discussing anything with you at all? Spend a little time reading what others wrote, and trying to understand it before you write a completely irrelevant essay.
To be honest, I’m not at all sure that you even grasp the difference between “will not” and “can not”. There is absolutely no doubt that you have failed to understand that if something can be done, then it isn’t reasonable to claim that it will never be done.
We can power the world with renewables. Will we? Well, we have a big job to do, don’t we?
You “support” Germany’s efforts which have essentially yielded nothing so far in terms of lowering CO2 emissions. Yet you do not acknowledge the numerous countries which are using very little fossil fuels for generation.
You have arguments against solar and wind for baseload. Well, duh! Solar and wind aren’t a plug-in replacement for coal. But that’s not an argument for the use of fossil fuels.
As has been demonstrated, the share of fossil fuels in the generation mix can be brought down close to zero with boring old tech… and price hikes in many cases. It’s not a technological problem. The technological challenge comes in when people ask for the moon or are simply looking for an excuse to delay economic change.
All I hear from these new responses is a bunch hot air. That means even Hank has not addressed one single issue which is a rarity. Thus I digress after this response post since no one can even answer one of my questions or support the claim that we can power the globe with renewables. I had a blog once but no time to maintain it much like I do not have time to go in and edit a wiki article on global warming. Hank, all of these questions need to be answered before such an ambitious claim can be made: “we can power the world with renewables alone.” Unfortunately Didactylos cannot even answer one of my questions. Oh and yes I understand the difference between can and will. We cannot in terms of technology and we would not even if we had the technology due to political and economic issues.
SA I think you are a very hopeful but naive person in these terms.
AC we cannot completely stop using fossil fuels. I wish we could but we cannot.
RC has not threads where these issues are anywhere near solved. Nor does any site on the internet or any science or engineering textbook anywhere. How do I know? I checked. RC does not give solutions as so much discussed the science behind AGW and some theoretical solutions not yet materialized along with some regional alternative energy found to be helpful.
Hank, with all due respect not one person in this thread could even answer one question like: how to store the energy or transport it.
Didactylos it is you who are confused and it is a shame since you seem nice enough.If you actually bothered reading my references instead of skimming a quarter of a page you would have seen all of my claims asserted and echoed from them… so much for actually reading anymore… you seem to me to be in denial among others about the limitations of renewables…
I was hoping someone could actually show I was wrong:)
AC Most everyone here floats freely twixt “banked” technology and social issues such as governance and tribal influence. This is not to say this is wrong, but it begs for a cleaner dialogue. Jacob has some points to make that are of course annoying to some who would support an all renewables economic and social structure. Well “duh”.
One cannot argue the practicals and play the purist; this is not helpful, and lengthens the time it takes to engorge the vast architecture of the well meaning and those who consider themselves to be somehow above what they might call “dross”.
It occurs to me that between trying to sound smart and rubbing one’s imagined ‘wounds’, the baby is in the gutter with the bathwater.
I’ll check back in another two years to see if this place has gone anywhere.
Jacob, if you look at the evidence here you will see that incident solar irradiance alone is already many order of magnitudes higher than what is required to power civilization, and with the exception of geothermal and nuclear energy, incident solar irradiance already powers agriculture, weather, hydrology etc. It’s already a done deal.
So please enjoy you dinner in a warm habitat tonight, brought to you by the sun and the insulating properties of greenhouse gases.
SM 328, There are many technical matters to be faced to get renewables more widespread, not to a global level, powering everywhere, as that will “NEVER” happen. I support continued spread of renewables. SM also, thank you for the references. I will be reading them to be sure and getting back to you. I have read many technical reviews from Science so I may have already read them but I will check to be sure.
This discussion in comments has gone, once again, way off-topic for RealClimate. There are many another blog for discussions about energy solutions. Kindly take it to one or another of those.
Comment by David B. Benson — 23 Sep 2010 @ 5:11 PM
Tom Curtis @ 309:
Uh, no. It is possible for the mean to decline while there are still events in the +2 or +3 sigma range. All that is required is enough events below the mean to counteract the above mean events — and that gives you a declining mean =with= events +2 or +3 sigma greater.
Pace David B. Benson (who is basically correct, as usual–we are OT here) two quick responses before I drop the topic.
1) Jacob Mack–I don’t see anything in your sources (and yes, I read most of them through–NOT the history of PV tech!) that justifies (or, to me, even suggests) “never.” Rather, they support “later rather than sooner.” Spain will sort out their energy policy sooner or later. Efficiencies (both in the manufacturing and the energy-harvesting senses) will continue to improve. Wind will continue to be installed and supply an increasing percentage of electrical generation in suitable places. But though current growth rates continue to be pretty spectacular, it’s true of course that renewables are still a small percentage of the mix in most countries.
2) Rod B., you’re right that individuals change in response to perceived benefit–though also to economic competition; it’s on record (anecdotally at least) that a lot of folks hated to give up their horse! That’s why one of the keys to the current dilemma is honest pricing for fossil fuels; eliminate tax breaks to fossil fuel producers, let them raise prices, and see what happens to the renewable market! Of course, it’s politically much more palatable to do it the other way round and hand out money to renewables instead; hence all the grumbling that they “can’t survive without subsidies.”
But “you can’t railroad til it’s time to railroad,” which I take to mean that technical and economic tipping points have their own logic. Oil is going to get very price sometime relatively soon. When it does, an opening will be created. We’ve had a couple of false starts on that; but it will happen for real one of these times. And it looks increasingly to me as if some of the alternatives are going to be ready for the big time when their shot comes.
Jacob and Rod: Of course, nothing guarantees that this will happen–or especially that it will happen in time for us to avoid the 2C “bumper.” The timeline for that has grown quite short, it would appear.
While you’re absolutely correct, “energy solutions” is where most of the debunking has to be done in order to get past much of the resistance to dumping fossil fuel sources. One solution might be a thread dedicated to the existing state of the art as well as developments that are in the pipeline.
Many of the “it can’t be done” comments are based on studies from the 1990’s and early part of the 2000’s. The chief problem was dealing with up and down regulation — how to manage the changes in renewable energy production. A study out of the University of Michigan, as I recall, said that “Balancing Energy” and “Regulation” costs were going to make renewables cost-prohibitive above about 10% penetration (though others put that at 20%). The primary solution has been “Demand Response” loads where utilities send signals to consumers to curtail consumption in exchange for reduced rates. As I understand it, ERCOT — Energy Regulation Council of Texas — has managed to get “Demand Response” loads certified as “Spinning Reserves” and often the amount of “Demand Response” load that is on-line exceeds the required amount of ready reserve by a factor of two or three.
The other major argument is “it isn’t being done (therefore it will never be done)” and that’s just because there’s no point in building a power plant if there is already plenty of power. Where there is demand for new capacity, renewable plants =are= being built. When you consider that no power plant has an infinite life expectancy, those non-renewable plants that are leaving service present a perfect opportunity for renewable plants to take their place.
The final argument is “it costs so much!”, and the only response to that is that the prices are continuing to fall, and in many cases the costs are now very competitive. At $4 / watt installed, solar is price competitive with “The Grid” where I live. If commercial quality wind (Class 3 or better) is available, wind has been competitive for a while.
To give the nay-sayers an idea how far things have progressed, I now routinely see =negative= prices for energy in some markets. That’s a market waiting to be exploited the heck out of — especially as I’ve seen negative prices as high as $500 / megawatt-hour. The grid pays you to take the energy, then pays you when you give it back. It’s a racket, I tell you.
“That scooter: where is the electricity coming from in the first place and what kind of emissions are involved in its manufacture?” – 322
Not much useful info regarding that electric scooter, but in my area there is an ever increasing number of e-bikes – speed limited, battery powered scotoers. They are powered by roughly the equivalent of 2 car batteries, and have a typical range of about 35 kilometers.
The primary impediment to motorcycle efficiency is wind resistance – motorcycles have drag coefficients as high or higher than automobiles, So they need disproportionately powerful engines to push them through the air. But still, a 150 CC gas powered engine can propel a motorcycle over any road, up any hill and in any weather, at speeds of 100km/h.
At that speed a well tuned engine will get 60 mpg. Motorcycle hybreds are doing 160 mpg or more.
Significantly higher efficiency is quite possible by simply providing an enclosure for the driver. Trikes of that nature are already available.
I appreciate that discussion of renewable energy is off-topic, but if the moderators will permit, I would recommend to interested readers a resource I have linked to before: the Renewables 2010 Global Status Report published by WorldWatch Institute and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21).
Comment by SecularAnimist — 24 Sep 2010 @ 11:45 AM
Kevin McKinney, while I respect your opinions I think it take too much faith to believe that the globe will completely powered by renewables. That is all, but you are another I have immense respect for as state over in Tamino.
while I respect your opinions I think it take too much faith to believe that the globe will completely powered by renewables.
Jacob, let me reiterate, with the exception of a small amount of geothermal energy and nuclear power, the world already is powered by renewable energy. Unfortunately, human beings are using the energy stored in carbon – coal, gas and oil, at a rate that far exceeds nature’s (through the benevolence of a star called the sun) timescale for renewal. The same reasoning applies to nature’s timescale for removing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Now one can make the argument that nuclear and thus geothermal energy drives the processes (plate tectonics) that drives the sequestration and storage of that stored solar energy into reservoirs for our future use, but the energy stored is solar energy, and it is indeed renewable.
Thomas Lee: #345 as a biologist and chemist I can appreciate your comment.
Indeed the energy we need on the Earth comes from the sun. And it is equally true that we are using fossil fuels at an ever increasing rate due to higher energy needs in part due to over-population and of course fossil fuel lobbyists as well. Soalr energy comes in as short wave and gets converted largely to long wave. Green house gases hold more IFR within the earth-atmospheric system. I am not arguing that the sun does not provide for our energy needs as Gibbs and bio-energetics clearly shows us in specific detail as does solar physics.
I am discussing the: storage, transport, and continued large scale supplying through technology such energy the world.
I did read through the Science reference given to me among many others and the problems are not solved currently and in the long term there are known unknowns and unknown unknowns. This is not to say that we cannot, are not and will not make progress but no one has supplied evidence or a compelling argument that we can and will supply clean energy to the whole world. Oh and we have more than a century of natural gas left, quite a bit of coal and we have not reached our total peak oil reserves as of yet either… Sceintific American has a recent issue discussing all of that though.
It might help to clarify if I asked how you intend to measure the energy that went into establishing the potential energy that hydro depends on? The answer is of course that most of us have no idea how to do that, and Dr. MacKay does not pretend to either. Lacking a number, he simply makes up a number when he decides to use a one to one conversion.
Whether or not we know the efficiency of the heat engine that makes water settle at a point above sea level, does not change the fact that there is such a heat engine operating in nature. If anyone knows how to make this calculation it should be someone at realclimate, but barring that, they certainly know about that heat engine of nature.
I felt I should add that we would have to replace those panels in the desert often and figure out how to dispose of all those wastes and the emissions given off producing those panels. Organic panels only last a day or two. The poorer you are too the less carbon neutral you are as well.
Right now raising taxes is not good for our economy either so tech needs more private investments, however, there are efforts being made by both corporations and government in investing in such green tech.
FurryCatHerder (@335), it is certainly possible for a +2 or +3 sigma range event (or a +3 or +4 sigma range event, which is what we are realy talking about) to occur with an opposite sign to the change of the mean over a given period. This just shows that “…is evidence for …” is an inductive relationship, not a deductive relationship; which we already knew. We should never confuse the “… is evidence for…” relationship for the “… is proof that …” relationship, although it is evident that many people do so. Even the proof relationship (as in, proof on balance of probability, and proof beyond reasonable doubt) can be an inductive relationship, and hence we can be in the unfortunate situation of having proof beyond reasonable doubt of a proposition which is in fact false. In any such case, however, there will be other evidence available (though not necessarilly available to us) that will defeat our “proof”.
#305 Didactylos, and re mine of #283. Benson’s of #286, Alex’s of #288, Phil Scadden’s of #290, and mine of #349,#350, #351, and #352
Also see mine of #285 where the real point might become clear.
Wellington just called and said I should pay attention to you (Didactylos) since to not do so would be a tactical mistake. He consoled me that having made myself to look like an idiot is not the same as being an idiot.
And since I had already confessed to the character flaw of being a lazy lout (#283) I should use that as a defense.
But Wellington then got to his real point of advice which was that a major campaign could not be won without seizing tactical opportunities when they came up, and of course, “That Didactylos fellow was really telling you a further aspect of corruption in MacKay’s position.” He went on, “Now old Jim, don’t just focus on the heart of the matter, like that stuffy old Kelvin would do, but parry and thrust at all the logical nonsense hanging about.”
So the business about converting electricity to fuel shows further absurdity of MacKay’s system of energy conversion. While rather irrelevant to the business of heat engines, yes indeed, it is possible to convert electricity into hydrogen and oxygen, say by electrolysis for example. MacKay asserts that this would be also a way to waste heat energy, and the efficiency of conversion would also be abysmal. But here is the ultimate nonsense: The fact that there is great inefficiency in this process is somehow a justification for ignoring the heat loss of any conversion. So this justifies somehow that a one to one conversion is appropriate and even ‘time honored.’
So now to the point that MacKay is a physicist. I contend that a physicist is as a physicist does. Case closed?
Do you hear Lord Kelvin rumbling with rage? I think he is saying something about canceling diplomas of those who read this and don’t get it.
Septic Matthew (@316) writes, Can you do the same for the Mongolian, Andean, and New Zealand cold waves? As a Bayesian problem, it is a very high dimensional Bayesian problem, with the covariances among the many measures provided how? By the diverse GCMs would be one possibility.”
The Andean cold wave recorded temperatures not seen “for thirty years”, or since 1991. That would appear to make it around a 2 to 2.5 sigma event. (The same is also true of the cold wave in Europe at the start of the year.) The Mongolian cold wave was more intense, with at least one site recording a record low temperature. But, by comparison, Ulan Bator (the capital of Mongolia, located in the center of one of the most effected provinces) had colder Januaries in 2008, 1957, and 1958 (and possibly others, I did not search all the records). That suggest it was not more than a 2 sigma event. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find comparative data to even guess at the status of the New Zealand cold wave of 2009. May was the coldest May on record, and October the coldest since 1945, but August was the hottest on record. Presumably the May cold wave was at least a 2 sigma event, and probably a 2.5 sigma event – but I have no information that suggests it was a 3 sigma event, let alone a 3.5 sigma event. For comparison, in 2010, in addition to the Russion heatwave, there was a heatwave setting national records across much of North Africa and the Middle East, and another setting national records in south Asia (Pakistan and Burma). There is no more reason to think that these were 2.5+ sigma events than there was for New Zealand. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_wave http://bimchat.wordpress.com/2010/07/24/south-america-cold-wave-brings-rare-snow-freezing-deaths/ http://www.tutiempo.net/en/Climate/Ulan_Bator/01-2010/442920.htm
This is not, of course, a Bayesian problem. Rather, using Bayes theorm we can determine certain rules of thumb so that we can determe whether a particular event will increase our confidence in an hypothesis, or decrease it should we actualy (be able to) perform a full Bayesian analysis. Although these rules of thumb can determine the sign of the change in confidence from particular events, and even the relative size of the change, it certainly cannot tell us the absolute value of the change in confidence. Such rules of thumb are, despite their deficiencies, very usefull where the circumstances are too complex for us to do a proper Bayesian analysis.
#353 ‘The poorer you are too the less carbon neutral you are as well.’
How does this work? The poorer you are the more likely you are to use carbon cycle fuels rather than carbon sink fuels. There are all sorts of nasty consequences from using dung or charcoal or even wood in primitive stoves. Mainly if an area is under population stress it will be denuded of trees if people use wood for building and for fuel there will be a local climate effect quickly and a larger climate effect from the land clearing.
Solve the problem with better stoves with better fuel economy and you reduce lung cancer, deforestation, particulates and black soot. I don’t see the link (apart from land clearing) on the global climate.
Massive Arctic ice island drifting toward shipping lanes The biggest Arctic “ice island” to form in
nearly 50 years — a 250-square-kilometer behemoth described as four times the size of Manhattan —
has been discovered after a Canadian scientist scanning satellite images of northwest Greenland spotted
a giant break in the famed Petermann Glacier.Canada.com – Aug 07 10:16am
In another research, using Autosub, an autonomous underwater vehicle, researchers led by the British Antarctic
Survey have captured ocean and sea-floor measurements, which revealed a 300 meter high
ridge on the sea floor. Pine Island Glacier was once sitting atop this underwater ridge,
which slowed its flow into the sea. The warm water, trapped under the ice, is causing the
bottom of the ice shelf to thaw, resulting in continuousthinning and acceleration of glacial
melt. Lead author Adrian Jenkins said, The discovery of the ridge has raised new questions
about whether the current loss of ice from Pine Island Glacier is caused by recent climate
change or is a continution of a longer-term process that began when the glacier disconnect
from the ridge. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100620200810.htm
Not only warm water, but also concentrated Magnesium Chloride =7,100 p.p.m & Sodium
Chloride= 31,000 p.p.m. (de-icing agents) trapped under the ice, is causing the bottom of the
ice shelf to thaw, resulting in continuous thinning and acceleration of glacial melt
(under water glacier cutting). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-KU_s9tjE4&sns=fb
Last Winter, Australian Glaciologist, Neal Young, declared that more than 300 icebergs are
floating in the East Antarctica.
DISINTEGRATED ICE SHELVES DISINTEGRATION DATES
Worde Ice shelf March 1986
Larsen A Ice shelf January 1995
Larsen B Ice shelf February 2002
Jones Ice Shelf 2008
Wilkins Ice shelf March 2008
If the Ice shelves are disintegrating during WINTER, it is not SUN or CO2.
U.N. Secretary General, BAN KI-MOON recently declared that Let me be clear, the thread of
Climate Change is real .
The Climate is changing said JAY LAWRIMORE, Chief of Climate Analysing at the National
Climate Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Extreme events are occuring with greater frequency and
in many cases with greater intensity.
The current Climate Change is due to the following:-
1. Mushrooming of Sea water desalination systems in the Middle East: Discharging of desalination
& Cleaning chemicals & Concentrated brine into Oceans & Seas.
2. Artificial Island developments in the Arabian Gulf since 1985: dredging, drilling, dynamiting &
excavation of sea floor shifted Magnesium Chloride, Sulfur & Sodium Chloride.
The geographic position of the Arabian Gulf, Ocean circulations bringing it to Arctic & Antarctic Oceans
during Monsoon seasons along with hot water of the Middle East.
Those who are having the Oceans water Analysis since 1980 will WIN the Climate WAR. Concentrated
7,100 p.p.m. of Magnesium Chloride & 31,000 p.p.m. of Sodium Chloride are detected in the Arabian Gulf.
These are De-icing agents which are helping to disintegrates the Arctic & Antarctic Ice shelves. Now
International Desalination Association (IDA) formed a committee to investigate about it.
If we enforce strict Environmental regulations, recover MgCl3 and NaCl3 at Straight of Hormosa and
Straight of Gibraltar and recover those at closed eddies of Baffin Bay & Green Land Sea. Sea ice & Ice
shelfs in Arctic & Antarctic are Natural Air Conditioners of the Planet EARTH. When more ice in both
Poles, the third Pole, as Scientists described, Himalayas will have abundance of ice and Snow & Bolivi
will have more Glaciers & water.
Book releasing soon in USA Environmental Rapes & H. R. abuses Lead to Climate Change Control.
(Full color 450 pages) by Raveendran Narayanan also visit: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=358564892147&ref=ts SARVA KALA VALLABHAN
GROUP in Face book.
Raveendran Narayanan, U.S.A.
E- mail : firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
356 RAV said, \7,100 p.p.m. of Magnesium Chloride & 31,000 p.p.m. of Sodium Chloride are detected in the Arabian Gulf.
These are De-icing agents which are helping to disintegrates the Arctic & Antarctic Ice shelves. \
Average sea water has 35,000 and I’d expect the Arabian Gulf to be higher so I’m not convinced that it is a catastrophe for one area to be at 38,000.
Worde Ice shelf March 1986
Larsen A Ice shelf January 1995
Larsen B Ice shelf February 2002
Jones Ice Shelf 2008
Wilkins Ice shelf March 2008
If the Ice shelves are disintegrating during WINTER, it is not SUN or CO2.”
Some simple fact checking can avoid egregious errors. In this case, the simple fact that needed checking is that the southern hemisphere and hence antarctic summer coincides with the northern hemisphere winter. The ice shelves, therefore, disintegrated in summer, and early autumn. The lag in the disintegrations is because of thermal buffering by the ocean, with maximum sea temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere found occuring in February (maximum air temperatures occur in January). http://www.aviso.oceanobs.com/en/newsstand/newsletter/newsletter05/sea-surface-data/index.html
Okay, I couldn’t stay away. I’m addicted to RealClimate.
JM: It is theoretically possible to cover the UK with enough wind turbines and solar cells to power the country. However, it is not practical (something which BPL refuses to accept).
BPL: Let’s try it for the globe. We now use about 16 terawatts of all kinds of energy.
The solar flux at the surface averages 161.2 watts per square meter (Trenberth et al. 2009). The Earth’s surface area is 5.1007 x 10^14 square meters. Therefore the available raw solar energy is 8.222 x 10^16 watts.
Earth’s land surface is 29.2% of the area. Let’s say solar energy conversion averages 10% efficiency. The available solar power is then .0292 * 8.222 x 10^16 watts or 2.4 x 10^15 watts. Assume only up to 50% of land surface can ever be used. The available solar energy is then 75 times human energy usage.
Or, to put it another way, we could provide all our energy needs from 0.67% of Earth’s land surface.
JM: Collection, storage and transmission problems.
BPL: Solar thermal plants store excess daytime energy in molten salts, then use that heat to run the turbines at night and in cloudy weather. Some plants already beat coal-fired plants for on-line time.
JM: Electricity generated by solar power stations is intermittent which cannot be handled by out [sic] current power grid.
BPL: Right, so we need to build new power grids, right away. Smart grids with HVDC lines, I’d say.
JM: Solar cells are far too expensive. The average citizen cannot afford them and to build such a large scale project in the desert would be immensely costly in terms of engineering, materials and labor. Who is going to pay for that largescale of a project.
BPL: Try solar thermal, which is already competitive. And if solar cells go into mass production it will bring down the price, just as happened when the Pentagon bought semiconductors en masse in the ’60s.
JM: 1 KW-h of energy generated from solar cells costs about 35 cents where the same energy produced through combustion of fossil fuels costs about 4-5 cents.
BPL: Solar thermal. Wind. Geothermal. Biomass. Ocean thermal. Tidal, wave. Are we learning yet? And the price of fossil fuel energy does not factor in the environmental damage, which is a real cost to the community, is it not?
JM: Theory and application have not [sic] and are not the same thing in terms of producing energy and energy conduits.
BPL: The theory that humanity can never run 100% off renewables and will forever need fossil fuels strikes me as particularly unsupportable.
Hoshiyar rehiyay. There are people here who are professional scientists and can poke holes in your assertions with little effort. This isn’t really the place for crackpot theories, other than to have them destroyed.
RE: 361, Hank, the statement probably means the local water temperature at the discharge site, else I have the same response as you. I wonder if that article was translated to English. Still, the effluent is damaging to the local marine enviro, and surely there’s a better way to handle the mineral discharge. At 7 bucks a kilo, the copper alone should be worth addressing.
#357… okay but you need to lower the prices of such better stoves so they can afford them.
# 364: I read your previous post and you still have not really answered the questions. No solar or wind mill based application can store enough power in those salts you mentioned to power the world or even an entire large country. You know I have been posting here for a few years and we rarely disagree but here you have no evidence to support your statement. Where are the links and textbook/peer review journals that have been validated regarding your statements in the previous line to line post you wrote? Try again.
Sum: The greate thing is we do not need to power the world on clean renewables alone anyways. If we can power 50-65% of the globe on renewable and use carbon capture and other cleaner methods with what we have then we can do very well with the anthropogenic global warming issue.
There is of course research that shows we may be heading into a far more polluting future so we ought to be cautious and get close to the 65% number if we can but we are not going to power aircraft on solar, wind or beet juice in any kind of mainstream manner. How do I know? I talk to aircraft engineers pilots and so forth on PPRUNE and I keep up with the tech and engineering journals as well.
We are not at peak oil yet but if we do not use more renewables we could be there within the next few decades so clean renewables are and will be very useful tech speaking and economically speaking but they will not replace all fossil fuels and not should they…
BPL wrote: “And if solar cells go into mass production it will bring down the price, just as happened when the Pentagon bought semiconductors en masse in the ’60s.”
And in fact, this process is already occurring.
According to WorldWatch Institute, in 2009, “Nearly 11 GW of solar PV was produced, a 50-percent increase over 2008. First Solar (USA) became the first firm ever to produce over 1 GW in a single year. Major crystalline module price declines took place, by 50–60 percent by some estimates, from highs of $3.50 per watt in 2008 to lows approaching $2 per watt.”
Comment by SecularAnimist — 27 Sep 2010 @ 11:12 AM
Oh, I’m itching to jump into the renewables debate, perhaps by pointing out that the US DOD is testing (expensive) non-fossil jet fuel already–but David B. Benson’s impassioned plea is still in my mind, so I’ll refrain from tootling off to find a link to that particular story.
Before getting back on topic, let me mention this retrospective of the melt season this year. Hopefully, it will move a few skeptical hearts to take another look a climatological reality–and maybe even get Ed Greisch to consider whether the literary essay might not have some redeeming value after all. ;-)
your first link only lends an abstract that makes claims without data but I will find the full article on my University account.
The second link again supports the need for conservation which is always good to stress. We do not us an AC in our home, we do not own a car anymore by choice and we are lookins at solar panels for our home in the near future. All of that is good stuff but making claims we can power the world with wind needs to be verified and validated. I do see, however, they do discuss those high power lines I have been promoting here at RC almsot since I arrived here under my less than mysterious pseudonym.
I still like the idea of solar boilers the best. Windmills are still in need of back up generation powered by fossil fuels, but again thanks for the links.
Okay Hank I fully read and went over the calculations from:
Operation and sizing of energy storage for wind power plants in a market system
Magnus Korpaas, , a, Arne T. Holena and Ragne Hildrumb
a Department of Electrical Power Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 7491, Trondheim, Norway
b Statkraft SF, P.O. Box 200 Lilleaker, 0216, Oslo, Norway
Available online 22 April 2003.
This paper presents a method for the scheduling and operation of energy storage for wind power plants in electricity markets. A dynamic programming algorithm is employed to determine the optimal energy exchange with the market for a specified scheduling period, taking into account transmission constraints. During operation, the energy storage is used to smooth variations in wind power production in order to follow the scheduling plan. The method is suitable for any type of energy storage and is also useful for other intermittent energy resources than wind. An application of the method to a case study is also presented, where the impact of energy storage sizing and wind forecasting accuracy on system operation and economics are emphasized. Simulation results show that energy storage makes it possible for owners of wind power plants to take advantage of variations in the spot price, by thus increasing the value of wind power in electricity markets. With present price estimates, energy storage devices such as reversible fuel cells are likely to be a more expensive alternative than grid expansions for the siting of wind farms in weak networks. However, for areas where grid expansions lead to unwanted interference with the local environment, energy storage should be considered as a reasonable way to increase the penetration of wind power.
I read the whole article in my science direct account through my University.
The models are far too simplistic in this case and P1 in the real world as well as: Pw, Pdev, and potentially S exist. For those who cannot see the full PDF P1= load demand in terms of MW. Pw = output of of wind power plant (MW) and Pdev is the deviation between actual and scheduled power.The article mentions other aspects as well like: Pe which is output of wind power plant, Ps which is power output of energy storage and so forth.
While the symbols and math are of some use and the theory is not totally debunked, this method and methods like it remain non-viable even after billions upon billions of dollars invested into this type of infrastructure. Here lies the second class of problems besides technical engineering: the costs associated with getting it off the ground and working well. This article is far too theoretical, and in fact when engineers and construction professionals get together to work out problems associated with the aforementioned issues with windmills, improve storage, transport and efficiency, these types of claims quickly fly away like a kite. If any of you also have full text access we can work out the calculations in some considerable detail via email if you wish.
The assumptions arise from what they keep referring to as a “simple algorithm.” While I like parsimony this is not an elegant answer that works. GCM’s do better than this and they are not simple with all of that data and math:)
Oh and in my previous post I meant to say the second link.
is again encouraging but nothing stated, currently developed or in the works even puts a dent into the energy needs of the US alone whether it is 200 MW or 54,000 + 6600 MW which = 60,600 MW. The US on the other hand needs far more than that. Of course then there is the fact that at whatever MW a windmill is rated at is in consideration at peak times so the rest of the time it can slightly to far lower.
“The world’s largest wind turbine is now the Enercon E-126. This turbine has a rotor diameter of 126 meters (413 feet). The E-126 is a more sophisticated version of the E-112, formerly the world’s largest wind turbine and rated at 6 megawatts. This new turbine is officially rated at 6 megawatts too, but will most likely produce 7+ megawatts (or 20 million kilowatt hours per year). That’s enough to power about 5,000 households of four in Europe. A quick US calculation would be 938 kwh per home per month, 12 months, that’s 11,256 kwh per year per house. That’s 1776 American homes on one wind turbine.”
You referenced a seven year old paper from Norway and proceed to talk about how this or that is mere theory would be impractical. Please look up how much fossil fuel Norway uses for generation. How is it impractical to stop using fossil fuels again?
Norway has long had the means to store massive amounts of energy: hydro. We’re not talking about theory as you would have us believe but about what’s been powering Norway for years!
This post is brought to you by pumped storage by the way. My utility says there’s 0% fossil in my mix (and we have way less hydro than Norway).
Comment by Anonymous Coward — 28 Sep 2010 @ 7:15 AM
JM 375: Now you are being theoretical. Show this can be done now or in the immediate future.
BPL: Obviously I can’t prove it until such a system is, in fact, built. So you’re asking for something which you know I can’t provide. One more form of trolling.
We know the engineering works. There’s no reason to think something unexpected will prevent it from working on a large scale. Prove your thesis that something will. Or demonstrate it theoretically. I have lower standards than you; I’ll take a sound argument as sufficient.
BOSTON, Sept 28 (Reuters) – The densely populated U.S. East Coast could meet close to half its current electric demand by relying on offshore wind turbines, a study by an ocean conservation group found.
North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey and Virginia offer the most potential for easily captured wind energy, according to the Oceana study, which estimates that the 13 coastal states could together generate 127 gigawatts of power.
That represents the potential for far more wind power than the United States currently generates. At the end of 2009, the nation’s land-based turbines were capable of producing some 35,000 megawatts of power — enough to meet the needs of 28 million typical American homes.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 28 Sep 2010 @ 12:09 PM
“Choosing shorts or long underwear on a particular day is about weather; the ratio of shorts to long underwear in the drawer is about climate.”
— Charles Wohlforth, “The Whale and the Supercomputer”
hat tip to Reddit
AC: the Norway paper that was 7 years old was Hank’s reference.
BPL: you cannot prove the enigineering exists because it does not exist at all.
Hank Roberts: I have often benefitted from your references but none of these has shown currently working engineering.
RC: I agree we need to continue to use wind mills and solar cells along with: hydroelectric, natural gas and combinations derived thereof, and biofuels where applicable.
My fellow posters in general: when one cannot provide sufficient evidence to support their claims or states they “know” something without any analytical and credible discussion or evidence, they often resort to name calling. I have read all of the start here links and worked with many of the models and I have read the RC archives and I keep up with current and recent threads:) Clearly I am not a troll. I even linked older RC links regarding the renewable energy debate.
I clearly think AGW is serious and is currently affecting the global climate system and the attribution to current crazy weaher patterns also has me 99% convinced AGW is messing up weather NOW.
I support clean energy, just not too much more nuclear power. I support bringning alternative energy costs in a more competitive range across the board.
What I do not support are: lies, exaggerations, twistings of the truth, and bad physics/engineering from anyone.
Fact: Wind mills are still very inefficient and will be in the forsseable future.
Fact: Solar panel costs are still very high, the maintenance is very expensive and the organic developed here in CA only last 1 or 2 days.
We can,we must and we will do better with clean tech.No argument there but we will not be powering the world on solar, wind and biofules alone. Nuclear widespread is very bad: Chernobyl et. al. Many people across from Russia like Scotland got sick, gave birth to sick children linked to ionizing radiation.
Norway has a population of 4.6 million or so. What does Norway have to do with the US with a population of over 305 million? How about China or India, etc…
Norway has a lot of natural resources due to its location and oil supply. They are the 6th largest exporter of oil in the world. Thay drive 99% of their electricity from hydroelectric and not wind mills. The paper is very theoretical that Hank gave me as a reference.
Norway has a higher per capita than the US and universal healthcare. The suicide rate is higher in Norway than the US. Depression is common in Norway.
The state of Massachusetts not a partucularly populated state has more people than Norway let alone CA and NY. Try again.
Copenhagen was almost a complete failure. That proposed plan was rejected, so there is the political resistance.
As I write this I am stopping to look at the supplemntal material with the full paper by Jacobson and Delucchi. I will not comment on it until tomorrow the earliest and after I have read it 4 times and asked some questions of my engineer friends. I will go over every calculation as well prior to my commenting tomorrow… I hope I am shown to be wrong and not right.
Lynn Vincentnathan @386 — The solar cycle produces a most modest 11 year, approximately, variation in solar irradiance. See Tnug & Cabin (2008?) for an interesting attempt to determine its contribution; not large.
I just picked up on your comment about the EPA and ‘stationary sources.”
Having been recently involved in a search for small engines, I ran into the curious situation that in California, the ‘CARB’ regulations for NOx from stationary sources is significantly easier than it is for mobile sources. Thus, there were no real diesel options in the low horsepower range for use in cars, but there were such engines available for use in ‘stationary’ installations such as for auxilliary generators in Recreational Vehicles. Thus, Cummins makes an auxilliary power generator with a Kubota diesel engine in it, but the Kubota diesel could not meet the requirement for use in a car. Silly as this is, if the EPA makes the same rule generally applicable, watch out when manufacturers figure this out.
Scorching Heat Wave Waylays East Coast States | PBS NewsHour | July 7, 2010 | PBS
Latest heat wave could set records
Perhaps you prefer FOX:
FOXNews.com – Sizzling Heat Wave Tightens Grip on Northeast
Or USA Today with commentary from the weather channel:
18 states dealt heat advisories – USATODAY.com
Or the Week:
The 2010 heat wave: 7 excruciating climate records – The Week
1. A record high in Los Angeles
For the first time ever, downtown L.A. registered at 113 degrees on Monday, besting the previous mark of 112 set in 1990.
2. Houston’s hottest month ever
While Houston’s residents are used to hot days, they’ve never seen heat like this, with an average temperature of 87.8 degrees in August, a new record for the hottest month in the city’s history.
3. A new all-time high in Asia
Temperatures in Pakistan’s ancient city of Mohenjo-daro reached a scorching 129 degrees on June 1, marking the hottest weather ever recorded in Asia, and the fourth highest temperature in history.
4. An unprecedented heat wave in Russia
With smoke from burning peat-bogs clogging the muggy air, the heat in Moscow on August 6 broke the “psychological barrier” of 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Record heat in Sudan
While searing weather is common in Sudan, the 121-degree temperature recorded on June 25 in the city of Dongola was the hottest the country has ever seen. The previous record was set in 1987.
6. New all-time highs in the Middle East
U.S. troops in Iraq endured some of the most intense heat of the summer. The mercury hit a blistering 125.6 degrees Fahrenheit in July, the highest temperature ever recorded in the country.
7. The hottest month in world history — four times in a row
June 2010 was the warmest month ever recorded on planet Earth. The previous mark had been set in May. The mark before that had been set in April. The one before that in March. Sense a trend?
Not indisputable proof but all of these things occurring now and over the past 3 decades or more and espcecially the past 10-15 years were well predicted prior to their occurrence.
Next the attribution studies will need to be discussed in greater detail; see right back on track with the thread topic:)
(I also posted this elsewhere where people deny AGW too)
BPL just saw your new post. I of ocurse acknowledge that there are all you mention: “working windmills, solar power plants, geothermal power plants, biomass producers, or smart grids?”
To state that there is none would be far worse than being wrong and would be either insane or 100% dishonest sir:)
BPL you are either not getting the engineering or you are deliberately exaggerating in hopes we can pull this clean energy off 100%. Even the references left for me to read discusses the need of some natural gas, some back up generation even when nuclear and coal are rules out, which thus far is only Hank’s more recent homage to Copenhagen. The primary article at lower right does mention (except jets) which is what I have been saying all along too by the way. I support the smart grid and so forth as well. But do you realize how much energy the US and the rest of the world really need? I know you have a degree in physics, perhaps a master’s? The physics alone is not enough and postulating formulas to represent how it is all going to be done is not an exact translation in the real world of construction technology to say the least. Many of these papers get too hypothetical and theoretical which may pave the way to improvements but not global clean energy at 100% or > 90%.
I despise offshore drilling. It can be done safely but it will not be due to corporate greed and we do need to rely less on oil and all fossil fuels.
Do you realize that 2% of the global energy is not even a drop in the bucket? Neither is 10%. We are nowhere near 10%.
Look, I want to discuss this further too but the best way to go over calculations and long discussion in a fruitful manner is to just email me:
I have said something like this before, so I’ll be as brief as I can, but given the discussion here it is worth repeating:
Yes, we are starting to get wind and solar on a fairly large scale, though still small compared to FF’s. Yes, there is a gargantuan amount of incoming solar radiation (some of which turns into wind, waves, etc). But this is only a small part of the engineering/economic story, since the fact of life is that this energy is very dilute compared to FF’s, and hard (=expensive) to concentrate usefully, and to store.
The other fact of life, fundamental but seldom discussed in these pages, is that the windmills and whatnot we want to scale up are, today, utterly impossible to make without FF’s. The feasibility of gradually scaling down FF use while gradually transforming our infrastructure (virtually ALL of it) to renewables, cannot be assessed merely by extrapolating percentages, costs, market penetration, and so forth into the future. The feedbacks in the relevant economic and human systems are so daunting as to make estimating climate sensitivity look easy. What is the cost of building a big factory for steel, or cars, or computer chips, without moving anything around using an internal combustion engine? (Not to mention all the other deeply embedded FF uses.) Too far from today’s state to say. (The same goes for producing liquid fuel for that IC engine without resort to FF’s.)
Even if all that can be done (most of us hope yes), merely falling behind the 8-ball in scaling up renewables would result in a self-reinforcing downward spiral in industrial civilization.
They have reasonable detail about California generation and use of electricity. The other day when the temp (hence A/C use) around here peaked at nearly 110F, renewables contributed about 6% of total. As solar installation continues, that will eventually be 8%, 12% etc. But Californians continue to block, by court action, wind and solar installations in the desert, thus thwarting California’s goal of getting 20% renewables by 2010.
Just a few details of interest, the Sturm und Drang, so to speak, of implementing the renewable economy.
Comment by Septic Matthew — 29 Sep 2010 @ 12:00 PM
One brief comment about renewable energy tech:
“Windmills” grind grain.
“Wind Turbines” generate electricity.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 29 Sep 2010 @ 12:41 PM
Septic Matthew wrote: “But Californians continue to block, by court action, wind and solar installations in the desert, thus thwarting California’s goal of getting 20% renewables by 2010.”
Problem is the 20% of energy needs met by renewables will most likely not be met by this year.
Let’s do it by the numbers:
First Quote from your link:
The solar farms, which concentrate the sun’s power on mirrors to produce heat used to generate electricity, could eventually produce enough electricity to power 675,000 homes.”
There are 39,961,664 people in the state of California. Now 20% of 39,961, 664 is: 7,992,332.8. by simple caluclation of 39,961,664 * 0.20. By that metric we are no where near 20% in 2010 and at this rate or even a significantly higher rate over the next few years either.
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By Julie Schmit, USA TODAY
California is on track to approve a wave of solar farms this year that will more than double the state’s ability to generate electricity from solar power.
Since August, four major solar projects — including one on 7,000-plus acres billed as the world’s largest — have won state approval. The California Energy Commission is expected to OK two more this week. The solar farms, which concentrate the sun’s power on mirrors to produce heat used to generate electricity, could eventually produce enough electricity to power 675,000 homes.
“No other state is moving as aggressively as California to add solar. Its embrace of big-scale solar may inspire other states, boosters say. “These are the first projects of this size in the U.S.,” says Rhone Resch, CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “They’re a sign to the rest of the country that solar is here, not a technology of the future.”
Okay the first sentence is correct but look at CA’s natural exposure to the sun and all of the empty land mass. I may have only been living here for 3 years at this point but I was born here and my dad lived here for a couple of decades. This type of discussion is not all that new, although the smog issue in LA was well reduced among other areas. The windmill and solar issue is quite another story. What sign is there? I am confused by this statement. CA is not even at 10% yet as one can see here:
0.10 * 39,000,961,664 = 3,996,166.4. Basic elementary school math. This stuff is tested again on the GRE and the CBEST as well. Okay moving on to the next quote (and do not worry we will explore other metrics for that so called 20% and 33% discussed later on too, in terms of Kwh and what not).
“California, the nation’s largest solar producer, has ample sunshine and big renewable-energy goals. Last week, state regulators passed rules requiring that one-third of electricity sold in California come from renewable sources by 2020.”
CA is the nation’s largest solar producer and it does have ample sunshine so why is is taking so long to get to 30-50% of the electricity from clean renewable? Why has it not reached 20% now? The goal is not backed by solid data and real world current construction. There are a few “engineering” papers floating around stating “es we can!” These papers to date have more holes in them than swiss cheese.
“California’s push for solar is also being driven by a federal deadline for stimulus funds. Projects must be underway by Dec. 31 to get federal cash grants in lieu of tax credits equal to 30% of the projects’ costs.”
Ah political $$$ funding. I like that CA is trying to get these projects off the ground but as we will later this article discusses poor siting and ovwersight of ‘ind turbines’placement.
Late last year, California and federal regulators agreed to expedite projects that were on track to meet the stimulus deadline. The federal Bureau of Land Management has fast-tracked the large California projects, four large solar projects in Nevada and one in Arizona.”
Ditto on deadlines. What does “large” mean? In a research paper or design paper in engineering this is far too vague a terminology. Even for a news report, do we know anything specific about these land projects?
“We’ve made significant progress without cutting corners” on environmental protections, says Michael Picker, renewable-energy adviser to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.”
Lies. Wind turbines kill a heck of a lot birds. A heack of a lot means: 15,000 (conservative end) to 40,000 a year (liberal end).
“By year’s end, California’s energy commission is expected to rule on nine solar farms that could produce 4,300 megawatts of power. One megawatt produces enough electricity for 225 California homes, the industry estimates. Some projects also need federal approval because they are on federal land.”
If 1,000,000 watts =(1 MW) 1 home then 4300 million watts = 4300 homes.
“Along with the solar thermal farms, California has more than a dozen large solar photovoltaic and wind projects trying to meet the stimulus deadline”
How large are these projects? How man MW of power? How man KWh can be provided?
“Environmentalists, who are largely supportive of solar, sought changes to some thermal farms to lessen damage to wildlife and plants.”
Yes, as the materials needed to build solar panels and such are easier to come by than the materials used that are critical for wind turbines.
Future farms should be more carefully sited on already degraded land and less on desert wilderness, says Kimberley Delfino, a program director for Defenders of Wildlife.”
Yes of course!
Okay so let us look at this from other perspectives:
Now I refer to Daniel Sadi Kirschen and Goran Strbac in: “Fundamentals of Power System Economics starting on page 49, available on Google Books.
Electricity in general is a commodity and is therefore itself not only a source of money but also something that acts as form of currency or barter.
The physical system, however, of electricity as the authors directly phrase it is one that operates at a much faster rate than any other market.Therefore in this physical power system the supply and demand = generation and load must be balanced second by second or else there is collapse. What fail safes are currently operating, how much of this smart grid is constructed how many high power lines are up and running, how much theory has translated into actual construction, and how much time has there been spent on quality testing of such infrastructure?
This by no means should suggest we should close down shop or stop all of the current engineering and manufacture of such assets to the environment either. I never implied or stated we should so such a thing.
And finally for many hours now since I am posting a heck of a lot:
“How many homes can one megawatt of wind energy supply?
An average U.S. household uses about 10,655 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity each year. One megawatt of wind energy can generate from 2.4 to more than 3 million kWh annually. Therefore, a megawatt of wind generates about as much electricity as 225 to 300 households use. It is important to note that since the wind does not blow all of the time, it cannot be the only power source for that many households without some form of storage system. The “number of homes served” is just a convenient way to translate a quantity of electricity into a familiar term that people can understand. (Typically, storage is not needed, because wind generators are only part of the power plants on a utility system, and other fuel sources are used when the wind is not blowing. According to the U.S. Department of Energy , “When wind is added to a utility system, no new backup is required to maintain system reliability.” Wind Energy Myths, Wind Powering America Fact Sheet Series, http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy05osti/37657.pdf .)”
“By year’s end, California’s energy commission is expected to rule on nine solar farms that could produce 4,300 megawatts of power. One megawatt produces enough electricity for 225 California homes, the industry estimates. Some projects also need federal approval because they are on federal land.”
If 1,000,000 watts =(1 MW) 1 home then 4300 million watts = 4300 homes.”
Meant to say 225 * 4300 = 967,500. So 1MW = 225 homes. Not terrible but not 10%.
Jacob Mack @404 — As long as we are treating this off-topic, here in the Pacfic Northwest (BPA’s 147+ utility districts only), BPA has made it abundantly clear that their hydro resources (almost all the hydro in the region), can only act as backup for wind power for wind up to 20% of total installed capacity, not more.
The point is that substantial wind requires new backup, the amount being location dependent.
Comment by David B. Benson — 29 Sep 2010 @ 4:39 PM
Lest anyone misunderstand:
39,961,664 not 39,000,961,664. That is million and not billion. Other than that and my usual typos (due to little time and PhD dissertation work and being “uppidy,” and sticking keys) I am correct.
Also my apologies to RC for some excess. I will not answer Hank until tomorrow then.
Hydroelectric power supply = 24% of the world’s electricity supply and 12% of the United States’. Hydroelectric also relies upon large turbines. That 24% translates into a very impressive number: 675,000 MW or more than 2.3 trillion KWh per year globally which services more than 1 billion people or about. If one billion is 1/6 of the Earth’s population. 1/6 = 0.166666667 * 100 = 16.7% rounded up. Thus we need to add about 7.3% to that figure. Norway and the Democratic Republic of Congo get 99% of its electricity from hydroelectric, Brazil 92%. The US has over 2,000 hydropower plants which supplies a 96% share (in total) or about 50% from clean usage (or a tad higher) of the total US renewable energy sources making it the largest. Not all steam generation is done cleanly, though it can become cleaner.
However only around 10% (or a tad higher by some estimates) of the total US electricity supply comes from hydroelectric plants.
Washington received 80% in 2002 of its electricity from hydroelectric while Ohio received 87% from the burning of coal due its abundance there.
In 2003: 3.1% from petroleum, 7.8% from hydroelectric, 11.7% from gas, 22.7% from nuclear, 55.4% from coal
Yesterday CAISO delivered 821,653 megawatt-hours of electricity in 24 hours, of which 50,088 was from renewables. Wind energy practically disappears by about 11am, whereas solar peaks in the daytime when it is most needed.
SecularAnimist, what part of my progression (6%, 8% etc.) do you dispute? Daily peak CA demand in summer exceeds 40,000 megawatts. What looks like a large solar farm will supply less than 1% of demand. Solar supplied 3,316MWh yesterday; if that doubles in 2 years (as I anticipate) then it will supply perhaps 6,632MWh out of 821,653MWh. Five doublings gets to about 100,000 MWh, or about 1/8th of demand.
Very little of the hardware is manufactured in CA, but that is a detail for another time. CA can not meet its renewable energy standard with present efforts.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy , “When wind is added to a utility system, no new backup is required to maintain system reliability.” Wind Energy Myths, Wind Powering America Fact Sheet Series,
You can not really believe that.
Of course no new backup is required if there is an abundant amount of peaking generators sitting by, or there is hydro that is not being fully tapped out, and the governing forces that be will allow it to be used as a peaking source. But that will work out only for a small amount of wind energy capacity being in the mix.
I often point to the Ontario Power Schedule to show how things work out where a large system strongly promotes wind, though the problem there seems to be more that there is not much that should be expected from wind in general, even though the ‘nameplate’ capacity is significant.
Windmills versus wind turbines get you guys excited? But you care not a whit that CO2 is called carbon. I demonstrated this to be a chronic source of error somewhere on these pages, but the moderator stopped me from declaring victory.
I guess I was too rough in sarcastically congratulating the perpetrator for having redeemed his credential in advanced chemistry, for having corrected his error himself.
I even can show that the EPA gets tripped up on this; though they might escape if they are willing to admit that they are simply trying to be misleading with their analysis about the cost of CO2 capture.
But I still like windmills as a name, partly because it suggests a degree of futility in the push for this often failed type of apparatus. I go back some: farmers in the midwest used windmills to pump water, not grind grain. And everyone called them windmills. There must have been one heck of a windmill promoter in 1930s, having managed to get a large percentage of farmers to put these up, and though I saw many, I don’t remember ever seeing one actually working.
Jacob, look again at the Scholar results page. Don’t take only take the first one off the stack; results vary from day to day. Point is, it’s not impossible, and people are working on what you say can’t be done. There’s a proverb about that.
“But to expect everyone in the country to duplicate your efforts is whistling Dixie” – 310
The primary impediment for radically improvements in U.S. patterns of consumption is the ignorance of the American public, and a ineptly designed infrastructure that makes it more difficult than necessary to change.
Homes continue to be built that are inadequately designed to capture sunlight for heating, inadequately designed to provide shade for cooling, inadequately coated to provide summer reflectivity in order to reduce cooling requirements, inadequately wired to provide for flexible and efficient lighting, and support for alternate power systesms.
Homes are located too far from the workplace. Automobiles are made to large and inefficient for the task of moving individuals to and from work.
Work is inadequately constructed to take advantage of working at home which negates the need for commuting at all.
Retail delivery systems are inadequate, forcing customers to purchase larger vehicles for transporting goods that are better delivered as a retail service.
The list goes on and on and on.
American society is a legacy of 18th century thinking and has only managed to survive to this century because of it’s massive compensating overconsumption and the result of the competitive economic advantage it gained by having geographic isolation from the destruction of the last two world wars.
Even now when the writing is on the wall for the Climate system and the collapsing American State, the state is addressing none of it’s structural problems, and in fact is actively taking steps to delay their solution.
The time to hit the American Reset Button is fast approaching.
JM 404: Wind turbines kill a heck of a lot birds. A heack of a lot means: 15,000 (conservative end) to 40,000 a year (liberal end).
BPL: Source? And compare that to the tens of millions which break their necks smacking into buildings every year. And wind energy means less environmental degradation and less habitat loss, the biggest killer of birds (and other life-forms).
# 410: Jim, Of course I do not believe that. They do need massive back up generation.Wind turbines are horribly inefficient. I was merely quoting the link.
Part of your quote Jime:
“404 Jacob Mack,
Bad physics, bad!
According to the U.S. Department of Energy , “When wind is added to a utility system, no new backup is required to maintain system reliability.” Wind Energy Myths, Wind Powering America Fact Sheet Series,
You can not really believe that.”
No I do not believe that. It is funny what many of my fellow posters do believe though and leave unchallenged.
# 411 Jim: I guess I was too rough in sarcastically congratulating the perpetrator for having redeemed his credential in advanced chemistry, for having corrected his error himself. A pot shot at..?
# 413: Vendicar, on organic panels just go to Stanford or UC Davis links to see how the newly developed organic solar panels must be replaced each day or so.
# 415: Hank You should know better than that. I did look at all of the entries offered from your link and I am checking them daily as well. I just do not have time to comment on them all. It is not possible to provide energy to the entire world using clean renewables alone.
# 417: BPL, It is very easy to find that reference on birds and windmills, turbines on Google. TO date you as of yet have not offered even one reference to support your claims regarding battery performance and the engineering you “know,” is true.
# 418: Hank, two wrongs do not make a right. Your statement is the equivalent to saying that there are more murders in Iraq than in Brooklyn so it is all relative and fine. I thought we had die hard conservationsists here as well.
One more comment to Hank: the Stanford article was abysmal. Those engineers who wrote it should lose their license. Okay, well I am saddended to see that the weight of evidence was in my favor, but I did read all those references those who did provide them. I spoke with my green engineer friends, spoke with a few former professors, dug through my textbooks and so forth. It is with a heavy heart I admit I am correct in my assertions following the data, the current projects and future planned ones as well.
“Grameen Shakti won a first prize Ashden Award in 2006 for providing photovoltaic (PV) solar-home-systems through affordable lo ans to 65,000 households in Bangladesh. Its work has expanded rapidly and diversified. With 2,000 staff now operating from 400 local offices, a total of 150,000 solar-home-systems have been installed. In the past two years Grameen Shakti has also sold 14,000 cheap, efficient cooking stoves and 3,000 biogas plants.”
I just saw a pbs tv story about this. An enterprising Bangladeshi woman who raises chickens and produces eggs installed a biogas plant to handle the waste from her farming. She discovered that the addition of cow manure increased gas production so much that she could sell excess to several neighbors, including the local tea shop – 9AM to 10PM continuous stovetop brewing of tea – and paid off the lo an for the biogas plant in 9 months. Business is booming at the tea shop since it doesn’t smell like kerosene (former stove fuel) anymore.
JB 411: I still like windmills as a name, partly because it suggests a degree of futility in the push for this often failed type of apparatus.
BPL: 20% of Denmark’s electricity comes from wind; they’re pushing for 50% by 2020. Portugal now gets 45% of its electricity from renewables–mostly wind. Indonesia gets 18% of its electricity from geothermal, for that matter.
Jim Bullis wrote: “I still like windmills as a name, partly because it suggests a degree of futility in the push for this often failed type of apparatus.”
According to WorldWatch Institute, in 2009 “wind power additions reached a record high of 38 GW. China was the top market, with 13.8 GW added, representing more than one-third of the world market — up from just a 2 percent market share in 2004. The United States was second, with 10 GW added. The share of wind power generation in several countries reached record highs, including 6.5 percent in Germany and 14 percent in Spain … Wind power received more than 60 percent of utility-scale renewables investment in 2009 (excluding small projects), due mostly to rapid expansion in China.”
WorldWatch also notes that “during the past five years from 2005 to 2009 … wind power capacity grew an average of 27 percent annually”.
“Lies. Wind turbines kill a heck of a lot birds. A heack of a lot means: 15,000 (conservative end) to 40,000 a year (liberal end).” Jacob Mack — 29 September 2010 @ 3:51 PM
“Recent studies and interviews with experts indicate that the impacts of wind power facilities on birds and other wildlife vary by region and by species. Wildlife mortalities in two locations in particular have elicited concerns from scientists, regulators, and the public. Specifically, a recent study shows that over 1,000 raptors are killed by wind power facilities in northern California each year. Many experts attribute this large number of fatalities to unique aspects of wind power development in northern California, such as the unusually large number of turbines (over 5,000), the type of turbines in the region, and the presence of abundant raptor prey in the area. On the other side of the country, a recent study estimated that over 2,000 bats were killed during a 1-year period at a wind power facility in the mountains of eastern West Virginia. Studies from these two locations stand in contrast to studies from other wind power facilities. These studies show relatively lower bird and bat mortality.”
“Large solar panels were constructed from polymer solar cell modules prepared using full roll-to-roll (R2R) manufacture based on the previously published ProcessOne.”
“Cells lacking a R2R barrier layer were found to degrade due to diffusion of oxygen after less than a month, while R2R encapsulated cells showed around 50% degradation after 6 months but suffered from poor performance due to de-lamination during panel production.[Problem!] A third generation of panels with various barrier layers was produced to optimize the choice of barrier foil and it was found that the inclusion of a thin protective foil between the cell and the barrier foil is critical.[Problem solved!]”
I believe there is a typo in the following excerpt. My guess is that the “97 to 976 million” should read “97 to 97.6” but otherwise, it is quite clear that windmills killing birds is a non-issue, at least at this time. I would argue that naively it will always be a nonissue. If we increased our wind capacity 100 fold over current assuming linear scaling windmill caused bird mortality would still be a drop in the bucket compared to other human causes.
Collisions. Building window strikes may account for 97 to 976 million bird deaths each year. Communication towers conservatively kill 4 to 5 million birds annually (possibly closer to 40 to 50 million; a nationwide cumulative impacts study should help resolve this question). Strikes at high tension transmission and distribution power lines very conservatively kill tens of thousands of birds annually. Taking into account the millions of miles of bulk transmission and distribution lines in the U.S., and extrapolating from European studies, actual mortality could be as high as 174 milliondeathsannually. Electrocutions probably kill tens of thousands of birds but the problem is barely monitored. Cars may kill 60 million birds or more each year, private and commercial aircraft far fewer, while wind turbine rotors kill an estimated 33,000 birds annually.
Comment by John E. Pearson — 1 Oct 2010 @ 11:27 AM
“Wind turbines kill a heck of a lot birds.”
Only if you have no clue what you are talking about, Jacob.
“Building window strikes may account for 97 to 976 million bird deaths each year. Communication towers conservatively kill 4 to 5 million birds annually (possibly closer to 40 to 50 million […] Cars may kill 60 million birds or more each year, private and commercial aircraft far fewer, while wind turbine rotors kill an estimated 33,000 birds annually.”
And that’s just in the US. So where did this scaremongering nonsense come from? Oh yes, the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Are they wrong? Doubtful. All the studies I have seen indicate that building strikes kill many orders of magnitude more birds than wind turbines.
Should we be complacent about this? Of course not! Turbines should be (and are) designed with avoiding bird strikes as a high priority. The same should apply to buildings. Newer turbines have lower blade speeds, and are typically larger.
Now, Jacob: are you going to continue to misuse the bird strike statistic? Looking at your subsequent posts, it seems you are sticking to your guns. Again. The world won’t end if you admit you are wrong, you know.
419, Jacob Mack: According to the U.S. Department of Energy , “When wind is added to a utility system, no new backup is required to maintain system reliability.”
When wind is added to a utility system, the backup is already in place. The CAISO web site shows that CA wind-generated electricity is available mostly at night, which reduces the consumption of fossil fuels by the corresponding amount and prolongs the life of the fossil-fuel plants. The “backup” is already there.
Vendicar: obviously you are right that most organic solar cells last more than “a day or two”. However, I’m fairly certain that organic solar cells are very rare outside the lab – and it is low efficiency that is stopping them from taking over the world.
I’m also fairly certain that solar cells on people’s front lawns are almost universally silicon. The first two products that I found were both crystalline, not thin-film.
John E. Pearson: I don’t think so. There is an order of magnitude uncertainty in the communication tower figure, too. I think it’s just really hard to model exact numbers, and out of 20 billion birds – well, a large proportion of them die every year, otherwise we would be up to our eyeballs in birds.
And yes I read that one too where there is still uncertainty and the scientists doing the research are still fairly small in number. It does raise some qiuestions though even as wind turbines become more silent.
You’re probably right. Then the original text is an example of how not to write:
“Building window strikes may account for 97 to 976 million bird deaths each year.”
They should have said something like: “Building window strikes account for somewhere between 100 million and 1 billion bird deaths each year.” Using two and three significant figures in the mantissa when they’re not sure of the exponent is a little silly.
Jacob Mack: your approach is wrong. Instead of implying that wind turbines are bad, you should be looking for solutions. They aren’t far away.
And if I may add to 431: again, your approach is wrong. Yes, currently we rely heavily on coal for baseload power, and gas for peak power. But nobody is proposing a grid that only relies on wind. There are many other forms of power: pumped storage turns wind and solar power into hydroelectric power, where it can be used later as baseload or as peak power. Nuclear is a plug and play replacement for coal baseload. Other forms of renewables are chosen as is suitable for the region and the local energy demands.
All these problems you are finding: you are making them yourself. They are already solved. You are quite literally creating your own misery.
Nobody says renewables are a panacea. But we do have pragmatic, workable solutions if we can only be bothered.
Nobody says renewables have no cost. All energy comes at a price. Do you have any idea how many fish and birds are killed every year by oil production? Do you know what the environmental impact of hydroelectricity is? These are subjects that deserve thoughtful consideration, not casual dismissal.
437 (Bob (Sphaerica) No. Who says this is so? Certainly not the GCM’s, Spencer Weart, or Realclimate as a whole. I am not saying that either. Now, in 100 years if emissions are not curbed we may be heading into a hell of a lot of turbulence/rough ride. People should still be here unless GHG’s exacerbate say an asteroid crashing or a bunch of volcanoes tearing apart the San Andreas fault line or something. It will get warmer though I think and various animals will be extinct etc… I am an optimist for humanity actually and the planet but that does not mean we should be blind about our future. By all means use solar and wind as we can.
Historically, wind apparatus has disappointed massively. I think I mentioned before all the windmills sold across the Midwest and the rest of the country as well. Most ended their days sitting idle, most for a long time.
The same is true of the windmills of the 1970s. Until a recent upsurge in attention many if not most were sitting idle. These enjoyed a huge subsidy, as seems to be necessary for the projects today. Name one deemed to be a good investment such that investors were induced without subsidies.
I also call attention to the difference between capacity and production. Look at the Ontario Power schedule, day by day, to see that actual power produced is around 20% to 30% the ‘nameplate’ capacity. When advocates talk without distinguishing the difference, one should become suspicious of their motives or good sense.
My point was that if, as you say, “renewables … cannot provide for all of the globe’s power” and fossil fuels are necessarily finite (with 100 years supply being, quite probably, a huge overestimation), then the world will soon (in the timescale of civilizations) be left without all of its power needs, and so civilization must necessarily collapse.
The only solution to this is a world where renewables can, in fact, supply all of the world’s power needs. But if that can be done after fossil fuels run out, why not before? Why not relatively soon (i.e. 20-50 year time frame)?
# 440 I am not opposed to well sited wind turbines, well designed solar panels that require less maintenance, tidal wave energy, and biofuels. I want to see the price on solar panels come way down with lower cost maintenance. Even if the price is cheap per KWh the start up costs are very high as are maintenance. Organic solar panels are the wave of the future since they are biodegradable and thin panels will be able to absorb more energy and be more viable for mass productiin than silicon based thick panels:
People have been putting in efforts to improve a different source of energy by harnessing the sun’s potential, all while continuing the fight against the bad effects of global warming. To be able to produce electricity for their homes and offices, people are using a particular type of solar panel called crystallin silicon. It is very unlikely for crystalline silicon to go into massive production due to the high cost of having this type of solar panel installed. Hence, people living in remote areas will not be able to benefit from this source of renewable energy. But worry not, for various technological advancements have geared towards developing a cheaper line of solar panels.
“Thin solar panel film is the new trend in the solar power industry today. This new type is believed to be the gateway for a more competitive solar panel industry, especially in the domestic range. Thin solar panel film consists of one micron thick of light-absorbing layers, as compared to silicon-wafer cells. Compared to other solar panel types, this type is lightweight, easy to use, and very durable.”
“Today, thin solar panel film consists of three basic sub-types. The types include amorphous silicon thin-film, cadmium telluride thin-film and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film. Obviously, the subtypes of thin-film solar cells depend on the semiconductor used to create the solar cell. The amorphous silicon type makes use of the same science as the traditional solar cells. Their only difference is that the silicon used to create solar panels is deposited onto flexible plastic or metals. This subtype of thin-film is known to be less efficient despite being more cost-effective.
The second type of thin-film cells is known as the cadmium telluride thin-film cells. Compared to the other subtypes, those type is less known. Although it is the most affordable among the three subtypes, it is the least efficient. Another reason why it is not popular is that the substance used to create this solar cell is toxic. More researches are being undertaken to study the effects of this material when used for a long period of time. The efficiency of this type of thin-film cells only hits 15%.
Copper indium gallium diselenide is the third type of thin-film cells. In terms of cost-effectiveness and energy efficiency, this subtype is known to be the most promising. It stably converts electricity even for a long period of use and it absorbs 99% of sunlight shone on it.”
Obviously silcion will still play a role in both thick and thin solar panel production too, but the future requires bigger risks in terms of technology and $$$ investment which is fine. Just know that these great developments will probably not make it to stop a 2 times C02 increase.
“Optically thin AlGaAs/GaAs/AlGaAs double heterostructures, (5000 Å), are floated off their substrates by the epitaxial liftoff technique and mounted on various high reflectivity surfaces. From the absolute photoluminescence intensity, we measure internal and external quantum efficiencies of 99.7% and 72%, respectively. High spontaneous emission quantum efficiency, is important for photon number squeezed light, diode lasers, single‐mode light‐emitting‐diodes, optical interconnects, and solar cells.”
Thus: there are newer technologies based largely on past findings making thin solar panels more viable. This does not mean there is no future in thick panels but mass production for both are still major issues.
443: (Bob) I take your point with serious consideration but the claim about 100 years is not true of natural gas and peak oil is not for at least another 50-60 years as discussed in last month’s SA. Even if by then peak is met that does not mean we will not have enough oil. Thus, if we supplement considerably with solar, wind, water/tidal, some biofuels, etc… we will significantly improve the longevity of fossil fuels we need while reducing their combustion by an amazing percentage of total energy source use. We will not, however, eliminate their use or get to near zero C02 emissions in the next 100 years. The good thing is we do not need to.
We do need fossil fuels to make: plastics for example though chemists are getting better at developing alternative starting materials we are not there yet in practical applications from the lab. I think we will supplement some of that production though from what I see in the lab.
Organic chemists can certainly do a lot as can the phsyical chemists who work on many projects with them in teams.
I do need more time to get into the chemistry of materials which is one of my areas of expertise but that takes some time to get into. For that to be done properly I will need a break from my PhD dissertation and hectic schedule. I do not want to make even the slightest nuanced error when I discuss that subject since I take pride in it but that will most likely be in a future thread when that is relevant despite what happened to this thread. I believe Eric form RC is a chemist.
Most claims about peak oil over the past 150 years were proven wrong despite the fact oil supply is finite.Despite some of Hubert’s correct claims his assessment that 2000 would bring the peak was shown to be wrong.
Yet a recent study published in the UK predicts a peak of oil prior to 2039 and perhaps even 2020 but their methods are somewhat questionable, though not 100% impossible either.
I think if we use more clean remewables and another rise in fossil fuel prices which it looks like we will according to most economists, then we will hold off such peaks for a awhile longer.
Norway is in a good position as are other smaller Scandinavian countries to not have to worry about such issues with so many rewable sources but their economy may falter due to a drop in oil exports.
This article is of interest:Global energy crunch: How different parts of the world would react to a peak oil scenario
References and further reading may be available for this article. To view references and further reading you must purchase this article.
Jörg Friedrichsa, b, ,
a University of Oxford, Department of International Development, Queen Elizabeth House, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3TB, United Kingdom
b St Cross College, 61 St Giles, Oxford OX1 3LZ, United Kingdom
Received 15 February 2010; accepted 7 April 2010. Available online 24 April 2010.
\Peak oil theory predicts that oil production will soon start a terminal decline. Most authors imply that no adequate alternate resource and technology will be available to replace oil as the backbone resource of industrial society. This article uses historical cases from countries that have gone through a similar experience as the best available analytical strategy to understand what will happen if the predictions of peak oil theorists are right. The author is not committed to a particular version of peak oil theory, but deems the issue important enough to explore how various parts of the world should be expected to react. From the historical record he is able to identify predatory militarism, totalitarian retrenchment, and socioeconomic adaptation as three possible trajectories.
I am hopeful for the future. My point is I personally know a lot of engineers here in CA, a few in NY and I speak to others online and they have grave concerns about such widespread renewable energy being tenable.
My physics and math background is quite good too, as it needed to be to complete my coursework. I think we will make it but not with 95-100% powering from clean renewables.
I do know that many of my fellow posters also have considerable backgrounds but I do notice those I respect the most who have done some engineering work other continents have yet to enter this conversation. I would be interested in what they have to say as well.
I think, Bob synthetic chemicals based somewhat on the structure of fossil fuels will hit the scene over the next 10 years and that is all I can say about that info. I also think that fossil fuels can be preserved by using these renewables too. I wanted to add this to be clear.
I see that the “greenhouse effect” assumes that incoming solar radiation heats the atmosphere and the surface.
Looking at the surface, the surface heats, and then radiates LR heat radiation. A percentage of this escapes to space, and a percentage is absorbed by the “greenhouse gas.”
When the greenhouse gas reradiates this LR radiation, some radiates back towards the surface which then heats up – to a higher temperature than caused by the initial insolation, and an increase in the thermal energy within the surface.
My problem is this – it seems that the OLR from the surface could only come from the lowering of the surface temperature, otherwise the laws of thermodynamics (as I understand them) would be broken. If the surface temperature did not fall, the surface would have lost no thermal energy, and the radiated OLR would be “created”.
So, the “back radiation” from the greenhouse gas can only heat the surface (at best) to less than the surface radiating temperature which “warmed” the greenhouse gas.
In fact, the greenhouse gas lost some of the energy received from the surface to outer space – so the net thermal energy of the surface has decreased. The temperature drops.
I’m sure that some of the physicists here can calculate the surface temperature of the Earth assuming no atmosphere, and solar insolation. If I am correct, it should be a lot higher that what is actually observed. So, the atmosphere acts to cool the surface by absorbing and reradiating energy from the Sun, with the attendant losses, as energy is converted from one form to another, and some escapes as waste to outer space.
So I am rather forced to the conclusion that the Earth (as a whole) has been cooling for some billions of years.
Given the somewhat erratic more or less elliptical orbit of the Earth around the Sun, the non spherical shape, the precession of the axis, the bulging of the atmosphere at the Equator and a raft of other oddities, it is not surprising that the weather, and hence the climate exhibits variability.
So, just to ask again, when the surface radiates OLR, does its temperature drop, or not?
JB 442: When advocates talk without distinguishing the difference, one should become suspicious of their motives or good sense.
BPL: But are you not yourself an “advocate” for the cogeneration machinery you are pushing? Which require fossil fuels? And would that not tie in with your beliefs that A) renewables can never replace fossil fuels completely, B) any taxes on CO2 emissions would ruin the economy, and C) windmills are useless?
I’m afraid I agree with Didactylos. The approach we need to take is to dedicate ourselves to finding solutions. It is pointless to wring our hands about birds dying due to windmills. Windmills are going to be built, and siting will not always be ideal. Could we keep birds away from the area by broadcasting the calls of birds of prey?
Likewise, it is pointless to speculate whether peak oil is now or in 60 years, because we can’t afford another 60 years of fossil fuels, AND we can’t afford to run out of oil in another 100 years as it will likely remain essential to feeding people and providing feedstock for chemicals and carbon-based materials. Oil is simply too valuable to burn.
The ultimate problem is that within a few decades, global population will peak (we hope) at about 10 billion people. This will happen just as the effects of climate change really start to be felt and as we start to severely damage the productive capacty of the planet. Somehow we must feed all those people and keep them out of misery without irreparably damaging the global ecosystem. We must then adjust our economy to cope with the demands of a decreasing population, inverted age pyramid, resource depletion, etc. Finally, we must develop a sustainable economy, including a sustainable energy infrastructure, that remains dynamic and vibrant.
In short, we must not only utterly change te way humans live, we must do so while negotiatin a population, economic, resource, ecological and climate crisis that poses an unprecedented threat to human civilization. We have to negotiate that crisis while keeping the Earth a place where future generations can and would want to live. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the only relevant work of our generation and the next. If we fail, then everything humans have done is irrelvant.
I rather think that your depiction of the heating and back radiation problem overlooks the basic problem. Solar irradiation never, ever stops.
Your scenario might look OK for a particular spot on the surface which is only heated for half a day. But the earth is a sphere and _half_ of it is being heated by the sun all the time, and _all_ of it is receiving back radiation all the time. One is due to the earth’s rotation, the other to the well-mixed atmosphere.
The fact that these factors vary a bit from place to place or time to time doesn’t change the overall picture. The earth as a whole never gets the chance to cool in the way you suggest.
Mike Flynn(450): Incoming solar radiation heats the surface in the first instance. OLR radiation cools the surface as does convection and evaporation. Back radiation (that atmospheric radiation that goes to the surface) then heats the surface. The back radiation comes from a return of some of the original OLR, re-radiation of some of the solar radiation that got absorbed in the atmosphere, and a little inherent radiation. This back radiation is in part dependent of the “initial” surface temperature and OLR, but it is not limited by it.
My parents own a 22-acre forest in South Dakota. I just walked the property. There are dead birds – mostly robins, blackbirds, and pigeons – all over the place. There are no windmills at all. My sister speculates that the birds, which appear to be perfectly good birds that seemingly have just dropped dead in flight, are being killed by a fast acting virus – maybe West Nile.
Now, if there was a handy windmill, perhaps we could blame it.
Ray # 454 you word things quite differently and while you and I are not in 100% agreement, I agree far more with you.Oil is too precious to use up and windmills need to be built. Since solar panels int he desert will get damaged by wind gusts of dirt and debris and the high temps make them less efficient that is not a complete option. Since windmills are horribly inefficient they need back up generation and for hydroelectric to work you need the water supply based upon location for that to work. I am not just concerned about burds and infrasound with windmill siting but also with getting maximum energy conversion and staying away from compost piles as New Scientist reported on.
All in all I am hopeful but these technologies are not going to phase out all fossil fuel burning. Overpopulation is a huge issue Ray, I definitely see the need for clean alternative energy sources to be sure.
I am hopeful too for future organic solar panels even with their current energy inefficiencies. Silcon based inorganic panels are not nearly viable but some bugs in the organic based ones makes them about 10 years off from mass production.
BPL: we cannot because we do not have the technology to store and transfer the energy needs of the world. The geopolitics, socio-economics and the fossil fuel lobby are other reasons. You need around 1500 MW of power supply from windmills to power around 400,000 homes. A 7 MW turbine is huge but we really need like 10-12 MW turbines and lots of them plus a lot of hydroelectric and solar. Even then the rising global needs are not going to be met with such large projections for future population growth.
We need to balance renewables with carbon capture, re-forestation, cleaner burning fossil fuels, and cutting back on new population growth.
JCH the bird issue was more as an aside and one of not small sarcasm. Since the serious issues of the windmills, solar panels, (inorganic and organic based) hydroelectric and such were largely ignored I brought up the birds:)
To my surprise no one has brought up the Weibull model, Betz law and the drawbacks of back up generation for these wind turbines.Well Betz was hinted at by disucssion of back up generation.
The links I provided show why we cannot power the whole world onn renewables alone. The links provided for me do not solve all of the problems they claim to.
Surveillance page — worth checking, by state and by county.
It’s a serious concern, worth reporting. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/surv&control.htm
“Data are being collected on a weekly basis and are reported for the following five categories: wild birds, sentinel chicken flocks, human cases, veterinary cases, and mosquito surveillance….”
Any bats? They also show up under windmills; procedures to tell what killed an animal found near a turbine are worked out pretty well. Some die not from striking the blades, but from pressure changes around high speed vanes.
“So, just to ask again, when the surface radiates OLR, does its temperature drop, or not?”
RodB answered that well, I thought, and Adelady had an elegant comment, too. But let me say it another way.
“So, just to ask again, when the surface radiates OLR, does its temperature drop, or not?”
Yes. But without a “greenhouse capable” atmosphere that OLR is immediately gone for good. With one, a portion of it is received back as downwelling IR, sky radiation, call it what you will. Hence, the surface cools *less* with an atmosphere, not more.
In other words, our atmosphere doesn’t cool, as you think, but rather moderates cooling. (cf. Hank’s post re the mean surface temp of Luna.)
And building the damns necessary for backup generation through hydroelectric leads to: cutting down many trees, (deforestation) disrupting local animal and aquatic life, displacement of indigenous peoples like the Kayapo in Brazil for example, and people in India during the implementation of the Sardar Sarovar too.
Deforestation leads to erosion of the soil and less natural carbon capture.
Now on the plus side hydrolecric has a life expectancy of 100 years compared with 20 for a wind farm and 30 for a coal plant.
Three kinds of hydroelectric applications exist:
Large Hydroelectric Power (LHP) Small Hydroelectric Power (SHP) and non-renewable pumped storage plants.
SHP is the most applicable and it has a low ecological impact profile but it also is limited to geographical availability to actually implement.
LHP is more grand scale with more potential but greater risks and concerns like:
stopiing nutrient rich silt from getting to the downstream land, like in Egypt with the Aswan dam which has led to havign to use far more fertilizer in river based agriculture. Aroudn 25% of sediment flux that should be transported to coastal areas is kept behind the dams which results in more coastal erosion.
Another issue is that the viability of hydrolectric power is dependent upon the local environmental climate. Vast changes can reduce the water supply significantly.
Most locations that are acceptable for hydroelectric are in very remote areas and therefore the power needs to be transmitted over long distances.
LHP apps do impact the environment and they do this in one manner as so: the lack of sediment, rotting vegetation making the water more acidic, too much aeartion or too much C02 or CH4 in the water.
LHP’s can bring about economic growth and also death to indigenous cultures.
Oof course these conversations are important. Another issue is the damns may last far less time than the predicted 100 years or so due to silting which causes a reduction in the volume water available which can block the turbine intakes.
Further deforestation is produced by displaced people who need more grazing land.
These are not hard things to find out. Many if this is taught in elementary school.
\Even if the solar cell market were to grow at 56 percent a year for the next 10 years—slightly higher than the rapid growth of the past year—photovoltaics would still only account for about 2.5 percent of global electricity, LBNL researcher Cyrus Wadia says. \First Solar is great, as long as we’re talking megawatts or gigawatts,\ he says. \But as soon as they have to start rolling out terawatts, that’s where I believe they will reach some limitations.\
Even the current rate of growth won’t be easy to sustain. Despite the buck-per-watt announcement, First Solar’s share price plummeted more than 20 percent on Wednesday, thanks to warnings from CEO Mike Ahearn about the effect of the credit crisis on potential solar customers—as much as 10 to 15 percent of current orders might default. He recently told analysts in a conference call that \as good as things look for the mid-term and beyond, the short-term outlook for the solar industry in our view has never looked more difficult.\ (A transcript is available at SeekingAlpha.)\
You keep getting lost in the details and missing the point. You seem to spend a lot of time lecturing other people on your knowledge of things, without recognizing that others may easily know as much or more than you, and you have no way of knowing whom you are talking to.
Don’t for one moment assume that you are smarter or more educated than others here.
Beyond this, the 100 or 200 years or 500 years, supplemented or not by synthetics, is not the point.
The point is that even without climate change, fossil fuels will eventually run out. If your position is that fossil fuels are necessary to civilization, since they will run out, then civilization will end in some relatively finite time frame. There’s no getting around it by spending two dozen paragraphs avoiding it with details.
If civilization must have fossil fuels to survive, then civilization is doomed. If fossil fuels are not necessary, then there is no reason to put off the pursuit and introduction of renewable energy sources.
This, of course, all goes back to climate change. You seem to say “we must have fossil fuels” and therefore we shouldn’t waste time with renewables and therefore climate change is an insurmountable problem. But that argument is DOA because fossil fuels must run out, in which case there’s no reason not to aggressively pursue renewables today, as a cure for the climate issues caused by fossil fuel use.
But many projects are proposed for prime bird habitat including ridge tops and on the coast all the way from Rhode Island to Maine. And that could impact more birds.
“We know that there is potentially large mortality,” said Ken Rosenberg, Director of Conservation Science at the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology.”
People seem tp forget about ecology and biology and to think I was only half serious about the birds but thanks to Hank we see some very experienced experts are concerned. Thanks Hank for the references.
And yes Hank I see that they are changing the blade speed 
[Response: Sorry folks. This particular discussion thread is now closed. Way OT. Readers interested in discussing the relative merits of various alternative energy sources can find plenty of other sites to discuss this at. Not here please, and certainly not in the comment thread of this article. -mike]
[Response: Looks like Mike just beat me to it by a moment but… Please stop wandering over every conceivable topic under the sun and focus on the topic of this post, only.–Jim]
You are looking at longwave radiation in isolation. If that were the only process operating, the surface would steadily cool. But it isn’t. Incoming and outgoing energy balance over the long run–to be precise, you have 161 watts per square meter of sunlight and 333 of atmospheric back-radiation warming the Earth, while 397 W/m^2 of outgoing longwave and 97 W/m^2 of convection, conduction and latent heat transfer cool it.
Speaking of “warmer”, I don’t suppose RealClimate could do a post on the differences between RSS, UAH, and the Q. Fu work at U Wash regarding tropospheric temperature trends? Perhaps with some references to radiosondes, the Douglass-Santer debate, and such thrown in?
I notice that my last post to “Warmer and warmer” didn’t make the grade, and was moderated out of existence as far as I know.
It was flagged as awaiting moderation, so I am assuming it got past the spam filter, which caught me in the past.
I was merely responding to people who either misunderstood what I was trying to say, or put expressed their views in a manner which I failed to understand. Possibly my observations about rapid desert cooling and ice formation when the atmosphere is above freezing on a clear night met with scepticism, or even outright rejection.
These are personal observations, and I wonder what the causes are. As you are aware, I didn’t finish secondary school, so I would appreciate physical explanations of some things that don’t appear to follow from some of the statements of posters who claim to be more knowledgable than I.
The problem is that comments such as “Crack a book”, “Puh-leaze”, “flat-out wrong”, “nonsense” and all the rest, don’t tell me how a cooler atmosphere can heat a warmer surface. Even ice at 20deg K radiates heat, as far as I know. However, it can’t add heat to ice at 250 deg K as I understand it.
If my solar hot water collector is at 70deg C, surely it would heat the atmosphere above it, not the other way round. I am going mad here. If you don’t want to help, that’s fine.
Maybe my post went astray for some other reason, in which case could you let me know.
Actually, I probably haven’t got many years left, so it is relatively unimportant. I remain curious, nevertheless.
[Response: Don’t know what happened there Mike but sometimes posts do apparently vaporize. There are a number of people here who can answer your questions. One point though wrt your question is that it’s not so much an issue of a cooler thing heating a warmer thing, but rather of the warmer thing not losing as much heat as it otherwise would if the cooler thing weren’t there.–Jim]
Mike Flynn (478) — a little twist on Jim’s comment. I think you might be confusing heating with net heating. If a body A at 20C radiates energy, cooling itself, and that energy is absorbed by body B which is at 100C, it is going to heat body B. But body B is radiating out more energy and cooling itself more than body A is heating it. So body B is cooling but not as much if body A is in the picture. The two radiation signals do not collide and net out in the path between the bodies.
For fun body A is probably absorbing body B’s strong emission and, even though cooling in its own right, is in net, with absorbing B’s radiation, heating up. Eventually, if all there is is body A and body B, and there are no other heat sources, they will get to the same temperature — though continue to exchange radiation, more or less.
Some of the escaping infrared radiation from earth will make it to the sun and heat it — just not very much (actually damn little, but some.)
Calculating the precise amount of heating/cooling is considerably more complicated than the above describes, but the idea is correct.
You should read our paper on this subject of hot-cold radiative heat flows. We provide some basic examples to show that cold objects can in fact heat warmer ones with emphasis on the sometimes cited “colder atmosphere cannot warm the warmer surface” line of reasoning in connection with the greenhouse effect.
It would appear that you are identifying an “object” and noting correctly that it radiates blackbody or thermal radiation. However, you are neglecting that the “environment” in which the object is found also radiates. If the object radiates more energy than it receives from the environment, the object cools. If the reverse, it warms. If energy in equals energy out, we have equilibrium (e.g. constant temperature). Does this make sense?
Note that the Universe itself radiates at its characteristic temperature o 2.7 Kelvins.
Thank you. I will repost the missing post. WRT your comment about warmer/colder, I have no problem with insulation, or “cold” bodies radiating heat. Everything above absolute zero radiates heat, as far as I know.
Many apologies in advance if I appear dense, but the surface can only warm by receiving heat (I think). I believe heat flows from hotter to cooler — not the other way round (net energy transfer — I am aware that gas molecules have different energies, and Maxwell’s demon is happily asleep.)
Correct me if I am wrong, but the surface warms due to radiation from the Sun. The general atmosphere not nearly as much (being much less dense, (even if some gases may have a higher specific heat than water, say), at least in the troposphere.
So, in general terms, excluding fluke weather conditions, the atmosphere above the surface is cooler than the radiantly heated surface. My question remains — how does any part of the cooler atmosphere warm the warmer surface?
If the CO2 in the atmosphere has a temperature of say 35 deg C (my locality daytime screen temp.), how does it reradiate heat to the bitumen road out front with a temperature of 50deg C? By the way, my solar hot water system collector gets far hotter — so the temperature differential is even greater.
Can I point out that every place on Earth receives very nearly half the available insolation during a complete orbit round the Sun, because the Earth is more or less spherical and rotates around 365 times during its elliptical (more or less) orbit round the Sun. Hence night/day, diurnal variation etc.
Can I ask you to explain in fairly simple terms how heat flows from a cooler point (the atmosphere) to the hotter surface — say my solar hot water collector (above 80deg C AFAIK)?
In relation to a cooling Earth, I believe the Earth stated life as a fiery ball. It is quite a lot cooler now — understandable, as it sits in the near absolute zero of space cooling down. The best efforts of the Sun to maintain the molten state appear to have failed.
@ Hank Roberts 456
Thanks for the link. No thought experiment needed. That’s what I thought, but sorry if I expressed myself poorly. Maximum temperature observed on Earth (Wikipedia) 57.8 deg C. Maximum possible using Moon as proxy — around 100deg C, according to your link.
Can you assist in pointing out to me how I have misunderstood the laws of thermodynamics. I thought heat flowed from warmer to colder — otherwise you could suck the considerable heat energy out of an iceberg, and use it to boil water for your cup of tea.
@457 Rod B.
Yes, I think I understand the mechanism. My question remains as to how the raised CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase temperatures at the surface. If the CO2 was warmer than the surface, then the surface would warm. But the CO2 seems to be at the same temperature as the other gases with which it is mingled — around 1 CO2 molecule to 2,000 other gas molecules (apologies if I got it wrong). So how do the CO2 molecules transfer heat from themselves to a warmer body (the surface)? I obviously don’t understand something.
Just talking about the CO2 radiation component — this is what is supposed to causing increased temperatures, above those that would otherwise be the case.
And yes, I have read Weart’s summary. You might like to point out where he refers to heat being radiated from a colder object to a warmer one (and actually raising its temperature). I seem to have missed that bit.
@464 Kevin McKinney.
Thank you for confirming my thought that when an object loses heat energy by radiation, it cools. I also agree that without anything to stop it, the OLR is gone for good (ie flowing from warm to the near absolute zero of outer space, never to be seen again). Hence, very rapid cooling in desert regions away from the sea on cloudless nights, during the appropriate season.
If the atmosphere doesn’t cool, as you tell me, then the desert surface couldn’t drop below zero at night, after reaching “bloody hot” temperatures during the day.
I see even NASA have 117% of incoming solar radiation leaving the earth. Yes I know, I’m stupid — well, I never finished high school. I just can’t see how you can radiate away 117% of the radiation you receive. I also can’t understand the “colder atmosphere” warming the “warmer surface” during the day to “create” the extra energy.
I understand the atmosphere acting like a blanket — slows both the cooling and heating of the surface, to “smooth out extremes”. But a blanket contributes precisely zero heat energy. A corpse or a block of concrete wrapped in a blanket eventually reaches thermal equilibrium with its surroundings. No different from without the blanket, given time.
I understand that GHGs can absorb IR radiation, and warm up. However, as soon as they are warmer than their surroundings, they radiate heat, until they achieve thermal equilibrium with their surroundings. Bearing in mind that the heat energy they absorbed never hit the ground, the surface did not get as hot as it would have without the atmosphere. Look at the moon.
“Aha”, you say, “but the GHGs reradiate the incoming radiation to the surface.” Yes, if you can overcome the problem of moving heat from a colder object to a warmer one, and assuming 100% efficiency, the surface would receive as much energy as it would have without the GHGs interfering.
Alas, entropy increases. Energy conversion inevitably involves inefficiency AFAIK.
So, the GHGs don’t warm the surface quite as much as if they weren’t there. The waste heat is at a lower temperature than the radiantly warmed surface, so it can’t go there. I guess it winds up eventually in outer space.
I understand the concept of radiation “windows”. But if you block any type of radiation, you are transmitting less than 100%. Retransmitting it later won’t help.
I understand the concept of insulation. Once again, it doesn’t work to provide any additional energy. And by the way, the best insulator I know of is a vacuum surrounded by shiny surfaces — Dewar or vacuum flask. Maybe there are better ones, but I don’t know about them.
I seem to have agreement that the OLR lowers the surface temperature, as it flows to a cold sink. How does the radiation from the CO2 in the atmosphere raise the temperature of something warmer than itself?
Sorry, but all my searches have proved fruitless in respect to heat moving “uphill”.
Live well and prosper.
Addendum — sorry but post apparently vanished for a while.
@479 Rod B
I agree. The warmer body does not get any warmer due to the cooler body’s heat radiation. And yes, they both reach the same temperature — at which point they will both be radiating equal amounts of heat.If your bodies have the same mass, and are enclosed by a perfect insulator, I figure that the final equilibrium temperature would be (293 + 373)/2. No energy change in total, no gain in energy (net) by the warmer body at any time. Pardon me for assuming a perfect insulator, and no losses on the energy exchange.
@480 Chris Colose.
Thank you. In your paper I saw some infinite planes, infinitesimally thick surfaces and so on. Your statement “. . . examples to show that cold objects can in fact heat warmer ones . . .” seems to relate to the fact that a body will cool slower if insulated, repeated in different guises. I agree that colder bodies will radiate heat, which will reach warmer bodies. I have yet too see an example of the temperature of the warmer body rising, as apposed to cooling more slowly. Could you please direct to the example in your paper that supports this? I seem to have missed it.
@481 Ray Ladbury.
Thank you for your post. My point precisely. So if my solar hot water collector is at 70 C +, it has received (obviously) energy from a warmer object, not a colder one. The only object that I can observe that might do this is the Sun, and lo and behold, when a cloud obscures that source, the collector surface temp starts to drop, and stops when the incoming energy equals the outgoing energy again.
When the Sun is switched off at night, the temperature starts to drop, and continues to drop (on a clear, windless night), until the Sun provides more energy, and the temp starts to rise.
And so on. What people seem to forget is that any energy absorbed by the atmosphere, is energy that didn’t reach the surface directly. This insulating effect probably explains why the maximum temperature on the earths surface is demonstrably less than that of the Moon. The reverse would apply at night, which is why the dark side of the Earth doesn’t lose its heat more quickly than it does, like the Moon.
I’m sorry, but your granite blocks thought experiment seems a bit odd. You have a six sided cube emitting 221.5 W per side (m2).
That would appear to be radiating 6×221.5 W or 1329 W for an internal input of 221.5 W. Maybe I missed something. In any case, if you heat up two objects by supplying energy (say internal heating elements) it is likely that both will increase their temperature, given enough heat. If you turn them both off, they will both cool. My guess is that it will take a bit longer than a single block, because they are radiating at each other that radiation that hasn’t escaped to another energy sink (insulation, outer space whatever). However, I note that your granite blocks also may have been transmuted into infinitely thin 1 m2 surfaces, which would explain the heat discrepancy. In this case, however, it is probably better to have a perfect mirror on the ‘back” side.
Now you might care to examine what will happen if you turn the “internal” electrically powered heat source of A, B, or both off. Infinitely thin means infinitely small thermal mass. Turning both heat sources off will result in absolute zero temp for both plates in an very short length of time. Turning one or the other off will reduce the temperature of the one without internal heat to that resulting from the radiation of the heated plate. In no circumstances can the colder “heat” the warmer (that is increase its store of internal heat energy).
If you have two objects being heated internally, the temperature of each will rise until the net radiation of each equals the net energy input of each. The fact that both of your objects increased their temperature, and thereby the total heat energy, would indicate that external energy was supplied — and indeed that seems to be the case. So, sorry Barton, but it seems that you have increased the energy in both blocks by some method that gets around the concept that energy can neither be created or destroyed.
Many apologies. However, all posters who responded seemed to be saying different things. I was just trying to make the point that heat radiation seems to reach the surface and heat it without more than about 30% being “delayed in transit”. The same for outgoing radiation from the surface on a clear night. Such “net” radiation surface vs atmosphere etc., seems to explain simply why things (the Earth, the Moon) warm during the day, and cool at night.
One last observation. The sky is blue, and clouds are white, and if I move into the shade I cool down somewhat, if the Sun is too bright. These three facts should indicate whether cloud emit or reflect IR, what wavelengths are absorbed by the atmosphere, and what wavelengths allowed through, and whether IR radiation from the Sun reaches the ground without the assistance of the atmosphere.
Obviously, the Earths surface will warm after glaciation. If another glacial period comes, the Earth will have cooled. In the meantime, the Earth continues to cool overall. No longer molten. So I can accept simultaneous cooling and warming — it’s pretty obvious.
I’ll take a stab at answering your concerns. But for full disclosure, I am an engineer, not a physicist or climate scientist, so I hope you and the excellent cadre of regular commenters will be gentle if I write something really boneheaded.
In understanding the physical processes of climate it is important to keep in mind the distinction between energy and heat. The terms are not synonymous. An object can absorb radiant energy and heat up, or radiate energy and cool. Radiative heating and cooling is a different process than heating or cooling through conduction or convection.
A simple example that probably everyone reading this is familiar with is a microwave oven. Ask yourself – how can this room temperature appliance heat food without heating up itself? And without violating the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Even a small microwave oven can heat things to the point of combustion (sadly, I speak from experience). Unlike a conventional oven which heats food through conduction and convection, a microwave oven generates radiation at a frequency strongly absorbed by water and organic molecules. That energy doesn’t become heat until it’s absorbed by what’s being cooked. But put an empty coffee mug or glass into a microwave and they won’t heat up – because they don’t absorb the energy being radiated by the magnetron in the oven.
I believe that we are all on the same page that ALL objects radiate energy at their blackbody value. The earth radiates LWIR so let’s follow a photon after it is radiated by the ground. I believe that we also all understand that if there were no GHGs or water vapor in the atmosphere that photon would keep going until it disappeared into space because non-GHG components of the atmosphere are transparent to LWIR.
But in the real world that photon would travel some distance and then be absorbed by a GHG molecule of, say, CO2 thus raising its energy level, i.e. its temperature. That molecule can do one of two things, it can re-radiate that energy as another photon, or it transfer that energy to other molecules through collisions, thus raising the aggregate gas temperature. If that re-radiated photon reaches the earth it is absorbed and the process starts over with no net cooling of the earth.
Please note that the GHG molecule doesn’t know or care what the aggregate temperature of the surrounding gas is. If it absorbs a LWIR photon it is likely to re-radiate a LWIR photon. So when the earth radiates LWIR energy into a cold sky containing GHGs, a percentage of that energy is going to return as re-radiated LWIR, warming the earth as it is absorbed. There is no violation of the 2nd Law in this process.
Mike Flynn seems (TLDR) to be conflating energy and causality.
When I cook, one might say I’m causing the temperature of my natgas oven to increase even though I am colder than the oven. And that’s not simply because I’m dissipating electrical energy as in Philip Shaw’s example (cheater!). Energy flows from the burning gas to the oven to me. Yet, if I wasn’t there, the oven would be colder because it’s in my nature to cook and it’s not in the nature of the oven to turn itself on.
Energy flows from the Sun to the surface to the CO2 (on average). Yet the CO2 can be said to be causing the surface to warm because it would be cooler if the CO2 wasn’t there. The reason is that it’s in the nature of the CO2 to radiate IR in all directions while it’s not in the nature of the surface to emit at wavelengths as short as the Sun.
Phenomenons can have any number of causes without contradiction. That’s because causality is derived from counterfactuals. The Sun is warming the earth and so is atmospheric CO2. But the net flow of energy only goes one way because it’s derived from a comparison: only one of two flows can be larger than the other.
So, while you can infer the direction of a causality from the net flow of energy (the surface warms the CO2 because it’s hotter and hotter objects radiate net energy to colder ones), you can not infer that no causalities are flowing in the opposite direction.
Comment by Anonymous Coward — 7 Oct 2010 @ 8:49 PM
> GHGs can absorb IR radiation
> Bearing in mind that the heat energy they absorbed never hit the ground,
That’s one place you went wrong
Most sunlight is in the visible range.
Sunlight hits surfaces (water or earth) and warms them.
The energy of all those photons of visible light becomes heat.
The surface radiates photons at that temperature; those are infrared.
So — incoming visible; outgoing infrared.
The visible coming in goes through the atmosphere.
The infrared from the surface gets absorbed, warming the atmosphere.
Not at all. You may not have understood me when I said that all objects above absolute zero radiate energy as heat.
If they didn’t they would be at absolute zero — that may even be the definition of absolute zero (haven’t looked it up).
My response to some later posts has definitely been caught by the spam filter, so I will reiterate for you.
Net heat energy exchange proceeds from the warmer object to the less warm (or if you like from the less cold to the more cold) – until thermal equilibrium obtains. I agree that having an atmosphere (whether it contains CO2 or not) causes the surface to warm up more slowly and cool more slowly than would otherwise be the case.
Your statement that surface would be cooler if the CO2 was not there, doesn’t seem to agree with the observation that the surface of the moon, without the assitance of CO2, gets hotter than that of the Earth.
I suppose you are going to tell me that my solar hot water collector temperature of 70C plus, would be cooler if there was less CO2 in the atmosphere.
Now maybe you can deconflate energy and causality for me, and provide me with the counterfactuals from which I can infer the causality that removing heat energy from the Earth to warm the CO2 leave the energy content of the Earth unchanged. My understanding is that if you remove energy, the body will cool.
If, as you state, a phenomenon such as the Earth cooling over the last 4.5 billion years or so, can have any number of causes without contradiction, I suppose I will have to accept an assertion that the Earth has been bathed in negative heat energy for that time. If the energy changes to positive, and you can’t contradict this, according to you (as it is a cause), then you have global warming.
I certainly haven’t said that a cooler body is not radiating heat — I’m just saying that the cooler body cannot increase the net energy of the warmer. No how, no way, not ever.
A perfect insulator would radiate back to the emitter 100% of the emitted radiation of all wavelengths. And the emitter’s temperature will rise? However, I will not contradict you if you prove with a computer model (or by any other means) that a perfect insulator can radiate more than 100% of the radiation it receives.
Good luck with your cooking. I am glad you have realised that it is not in the nature of ovens to get any warmer than the surrounding environment by themselves.
I wonder if you can quote a source for the percentage of energy for the various wavelengths emitted by the Sun?
My information is that less than 50% is emitted as visible light.
If you follow what I have been trying to point out, it doesn’t matter what the relative energies or wavelengths of the insolation are, as long as we both accept that a body emitting energy has its temperature lowered.
Go and stand in bright sunlight, and you will notice that quite a lot of IR seems to travel in a straight line from the Sun. Stand in the shadow of the top of a tall flagpole (or similar) on a cloudless day, and you will notice that the incoming IR reduces, regardless of the fact that you are still being bathed in radiation from the blue sky.
I hear what you say. I am not sure how the atmosphere blocks outgoing IR during the day, but not at night.
Or does all the CO2 in the atmosphere only absorb LWIR in the presence of sunlight?
You might also like to give a reference that shows that IR radiation leaving a body doesn’t lower its temperature.
You say “…I certainly haven’t said that a cooler body is not radiating heat — I’m just saying that the cooler body cannot increase the net energy of the warmer. No how, no way, not ever…”
I won’t even try to pretend I’m not over my head, BUT, I used to believe:
A radiated photon has no memory of its radiator’s temperature. A photon radiated from an atmospheric molecule can go in any direction, including down (back to earth). If a photon is absorbed wherever, it will increase the internal energy of the absorber – until the absorber gets rid of (some of) its energy by radiation of photons and/or transfer of mechanical internal energy by conduction. Heat is not energy, it is the transfer of energy.
Given all my listed beliefs, I can not understand your “no way” statement.
I expect my biggest problem is that (to me) heat is not energy, it is the transfer of energy.
You might want to reword your “no way” to distinguish between say “heat” and internal (e.g.mechanical) “net energy”. In my world, confused though I may be, there are many internal forms of mechanical energy. I know of no particular restrictions (laws) constraining internal mechanical energy.
If this is any help, you are welcome. If it is not helpful, I apologize for any waste of your time.
I am sorry to don’t want to provide me with a reference for your statements. Where did you get your percentages — Weart or the FAQ’s? Where?
1. I am aware the surface radiates heat day and night. My point exactly.
2. You tell me to find out the information about the percentages of different wavelengths of light myself. “How do you know how much? You can find this kind of information for yourself.” I know about school librarians, reference librarians — I asked you. If you don’t want to tell me, fine. I understand.
3. @492, 493,494
I don’t believe I’m confused about the laws of thermodynamics to the point where a cooler body can heat a warmer body (in any meaningful sense above the quantum level).
And yes, I have read some of the “references” that you have tossed at me. You might have the courtesy to establish what I have read, and what I have not in future.
Just to have a tiny nit pick at Forrest Mims, I suggest you conduct the following experiment. Obscure all the glass on your motor vehicle with aluminium foil. Park car in blazing sun. Ensure all windows up, doors closed. Should be totally dark inside. Take temperature readings until the rising temperature forces you out. Repeat experiment without the foil.
Now tell again why I should believe the statements on the web site to which you referred me are believable.
But thanks for your efforts.
I cut and pasted this from Wikipedia
“One study showed that several popular textbooks used language which implied several meanings of the term, that heat is the process of transferring energy, that it is the transferred energy, i.e. as if it were a substance, and that is an entity contained within a system, among other similar descriptions. The study determined it was not uncommon for a combination of these representations to appear within the same text. They found the predominant use among physicists to be that if it were a substance.”
Obviously, we differ in our usage of the term “heat”. I must admit I assumed that others would adopt what appears to be “ . . .the predominant use among physicists.”
Given your definition, I will restate, slightly differently, my statement.
A body at a given temperature cannot transfer energy to a body at a higher temperature in such a fashion as to raise the temperature of the warmer body in any meaningful way.
Does this suit you in your endeavour to transfer your beliefs to me?
I am aware there are many forms of energy. Even matter is merely concentrated energy — hence e=mc2 and nuclear power. I am not sure what you mean about no particular restrictions (laws) constraining internal mechanical energy.
I consider that the “Laws of thermodynamics” apply to all forms of energy.
Please excuse me if I wasn’t clearer originally. I am talking about “real” objects, no “Maxwell’s Demon” and so on. Obviously, it is possible for all the high kinetic energy molecules in a container of gas to simultaneously rush to one end, and all the low energy molecules to rush to the other.
Now we have a local decrease in entropy – and the “hot end” could transfer heat to the “cold end” of another such container. However, I repeat “No way.”
Heat travels from hot to cold. Or so I believe, until you can demonstrate otherwise.
I await a convincing demonstration (real rather than hypothetical).
Mike Flynn’s error is more simple than that. In order to understand it, you must take your attention away from what the illusionist is pointing to. Look at the implied counterfactual, not at the thermodynamics involved.
A body has no “net energy” of course. It has energy. Net energy refers to the difference between two (or more) flows. But let’s not be pedantic.
What’s important to understand is that any insulation, even 1% “efficient”, causes what it insulates to warm after application. While net energy flows from the object to its insulation, some energy flows from the insulation to the insulated object, causing it to warm.
Mike is correct that, on average, the energy flows from the surface to atmospheric CO2. At night, in the absence of solar radiation, the surface cools. But, if you take away the CO2, the surface would cool even more.
Mike’s implied counterfactual is that the surface would not radiate the energy it transfers to the CO2 if the gas wasn’t there. This is of course unphysical. The surface would radiate energy towards space anyway. The CO2 only beams some of it back towards the surface.
The surface of our moon is on average colder than the surface of the our planet. Some of the difference is caused by non-radiative processes (a transparent atmosphere would cause the surface to be somewhat hotter than in the no-atmosphere counterfactual) and some of it is due to the so-called greenhouse effect.
Comment by Anonymous Coward — 8 Oct 2010 @ 5:32 AM
You need to look at this in terms of the physics of what is actually occurring. Yes, a warmer body will radiate more energy than a cooler one. However, in the climate system, how much heat a particular component radiates is not the relevant quantity. The relevant quantity is how much of the radiated energy escapes to the inky blackness of space. If the radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere, it stays in the climate. Moreover, because the atmosphere is relatively cooler than the surface, more of the energy absorbed by CO2 gets transferred to nitrogen molecules when the CO2 collides with the nitrogen. What matters is net energy flows. Keep your eye on that. Diagram it out for yourself. Don’t let yourself be fooled by an overly simple model that is after all a product of your own thinking, not a reflection of reality.
Jeez. Mike FLynn: “I don’t believe I’m confused about the laws of thermodynamics to the point where a cooler body can heat a warmer body”
You are confused if you think that has anything to do with why CO2 is warming the planet. What does your knowledge of thermodynamics tell you will happen if you’re lying in bed shivering. You have a blanket in your closet. The blanket is initially cold since it is in equilibrium with the air temperature in your room. You put it on top of all the other blankets on your bed and climb back in. Will you be warmer or colder after the new steady state is reached? Or does your knowledge of thermodynamics tell you not to put on extra blankets when you’re cold?
> aluminum foil
Right experiment. Wrong conclusion.
Compare the result if you use a “cool roof” white paint instead.
The difference is “emissivity” of the material — how effectively it radiates away absorbed heat as infrared, compared to transferring it into the surface. http://www.google.com/search?q=emissivity+polished+aluminum+sunlight
Thanks for your very courteous reply to my ramblings @495. I believe I am struggling with a concept like maybe the laws of Thermodynamics only apply to transfer by conduction where there is thermal equilibrium or for conductive part of convective transfer.
For the bulk motion part of convection transfer(advection) the material itself moves, more governed by Newton’s law, than by thermodynamics. You might get around this explanation by claiming, well there is no equilibrium when matter is being moved. IMO, this is unwise because it sets up an attempt to apply thermodynamics to radiative transfer where equilibrium or non-equilibrium is more difficult to imagine.
Radiative transfer is governed by the laws of electrodynamics, not thermodynamics. Whether you choose to describe the behavior by Maxwell equations (wave theory) or photons (quantum theory) is up to you. In either case I don’t see how thermodynamics is of much use for the transfer.
All that said, I still cop-out; I realize I am, at best, a tyro in these areas.
However, I notice no one has yet tried to answer my question @496 as to how a micro-wave oven works.
I can see how cooking with gas or electricity could be explained by conduction. If one cooks very slowly, thermal equilibrium is pretty close and thermodynamics probably would apply. The heating elements are slightly warmer than the dinner, so energy, in fact, moves from the warmer to the cooler.
But how about a microwave oven? The heating element radiates to the meal, whatever, which is most certainly soon warmer than the “heater”. How does Mike explain that?
It’s not that I disagree with the climate scientist’s explanations, they are most certainly correct. I was hoping to address Mike’s “cold to hot” problem in what I hoped would lead to a simpler explanation, blame it on the transfer type – radiation.
Mike Flynn, you sure are having trouble with this. I’ll confine my comment to your response (@484) to my previous post on the topic. I had said that “the atmosphere does not cool–rather, it moderates cooling.”
“If the atmosphere doesn’t cool, as you tell me, then the desert surface couldn’t drop below zero at night, after reaching “bloody hot” temperatures during the day.”
Untrue. Take away the atmosphere, and it would cool yet faster than it does now, since there would be zero back radiation to offset the radiated heat.
In fact, that is precisely what happens on the Lunar surface. (A contrasting case would be a situation with a clear sky, but very high humidity; cooling will be much slower, since water vapor is a potent GHG.)
Think hard about that, and most of your troubles understanding this topic will go away. (Not all: you remark to Ray that: “What people seem to forget is that any energy absorbed by the atmosphere, is energy that didn’t reach the surface directly.” But I’ll leave you to ponder why that is also incorrect.)
You are restating my experiment and changing the inputs. The granite blocks effectively only have ONE side, not SIX. The backs have zero emissivity. The sides are too thin to matter. I said so, did I not? Read it again.
A colder body can indeed warm up a warmer body. The second law of thermodynamics says that NET heat cannot be transferred from cold A to warm B. It does NOT say that NO heat can. Have warm B with nothing around it, then introduce cold A which is giving off infrared near B, and B will warm up. Period.
To think otherwise is to think that an inanimate object can somehow tell whether the IR photon it is receiving comes from a warmer or a cooler object. It can’t.
MF 489: Your statement that surface would be cooler if the CO2 was not there, doesn’t seem to agree with the observation that the surface of the moon, without the assitance of CO2, gets hotter than that of the Earth.
BPL: Not on average, it doesn’t.
Flux density absorbed by a planet is
F = (S / 4) (1 – A)
where S is the solar constant and A the bolometric Russell-Bond spherical albedo. For the Moon, we have S = 1366.1 watts per square meter, and Bonnie Buratti’s group says A = 0.11. That gives F = 304 Watts per square meter. Inverting the Stefan-Boltzmann law:
Te = (F / σ)^0.25
where σ is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant (5.6704 x 10^-8 W/m^2/M^4 in the SI). This gives the Moon a radiative equilibrium temperature of 271 K.
For the Earth, A = 0.306, F = 237 W/m^2, and Te = 254 K. Colder! But at the SURFACE, the Earth averages 288 K.
I notice you haven’t deigned to my answer my question. I understand. I see your response was to advise John Peter about my “error”. Maybe John Peter will read what I said, and ask me to respond. He, of course, may choose not to.
[Response: OK, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. I see that you’re interested in word games and arguing with everyone in sight, and we don’t have time or patience for that, sorry.–Jim]
at a given frequency and direction (and polarization, if necessary), the intensity of radiation can be ascribed a brightness temperature, that corresponding to a blackbody which would emit such an intensity of radiation and thus be in equilibrium with that radiation.
Even when the (non-photon) matter is not in equilibrium with the radiation (photons), so long as the matter, or some subset of it, is at LTE, then in a sufficiently small volume (to be approximately isothermal over space) that subset of matter has an energy distribution characteristic of a temperature
for a given frequency, direction, and polarization, it will absorb (over a given path length) some fraction (absorptivity) of incident radiation intensity and emit some intensity (from along the path length that reaches the end of the path length) into that direction that is the same fraction (emissivity) of the blackbody value for the temperature of the matter; thus,
emissivity = absorptivity, and if the temperature of the matter is greater than, equal to, or less than the brightness temperature of the incident radiation, it emits more, the same, or less of that type of radiation into that direction than it absorbs from that direction.
for (non-photon) matter at LTE (and setting aside relativistic effects, and assuming photon energy is conserved upon any scattering/reflection),
considering the contributions of emission from different places (see ’emission weighting function’) that add up to the incident radiation arriving at any one location, one can find that the fraction of radiation emitted from one place that reaches and is absorbed in another is the same as the fraction of radiation that is emitted in the second place which reaches and is absorbed in the first (for conditions that are not changing over the time it takes for the radiation to get from one place to another, which is a safe approximation for exchanges within the climate system); thus, the net radiant heat flux (the difference between fluxes in opposite directions), from emission to absorption, exchanged between two volumes of matter, is from a warmer volume to a colder volume; and the emission and absorption of that radiant heat contribute to the radiant cooling and heating of non-photon matter.
Of course, the laws of thermodynamics do not by themselves simply dictate what fraction of radiation from point A reaches point B, or what the emissivity and absorptivity are (except that they are equal to each other for particular circumstances). That is where optical properties and the physics of electromagnetic radiation come in to it.
PS refraction can concentrate or expand radiation to a narrower or wider range of directions, thus changing the intensity. However, blackbody radiant intensity changes the same way, so brightness temperature is conserved absent emission, absorption, or scattering/reflection, and the net flow of radiation is still from warmer to cooler material (for the conditions mentioned above).
The flow of heat carries energy and entropy, where the flux of entropy = the flux of energy (in the form of heat) divided by the temperature. Thus when the same net flux of heat leaves a warm body and enters a cooler body, the entropy gain by the cooler body is larger than the loss from the warmer body; there is a net gain of entropy associated with such spontaneous flow of heat (not surprisingly).
heat that carried with a flow of matter tends to be toward a lower concentration of matter; aside from convection across a temperature gradient within the material, such a flux of heat may occur due to effusion or diffusion (as with latent heat of some substance), in which case it is possible for heat to flow toward higher temperatures, because the entropy gain from the mixing of material may offset the loss from the flow of heat to higher temperature.
Aside from that,
conserving entropy would require a flow of heat from/to a warmer material to be larger than that entering/leaving a cooler material, and the difference is what is available to be converted to work in a heat engine, or what is the minimum amount of work required to run a corresponding heat pump.
radiation carries entropy according to it’s brightness temperature (energy/temperature); radiation from the sun has less entropy (per unit energy) than radiation emitted from the Earth. There is entropy gain when solar radiation is absorbed by the cooler Earth, when radiation is exchanged among layers with different temperatures,
when convection occurs (with some heat (in the form of available potential energy (internal energy + gravitational potential energy (which is associated with heat because of thermal expansion in a hydrostatic fluid)) converted to work when warm air rises and cooler air sinks (thermally-direct convection), and some of that work converted back to heat by the reverse type of motion (thermally-indirect convection); heat can also drive motion by altering composition (phase changes of water and associated concentration of impurities in the ocean (important), changes in air density (minor effect), to supply available (gravitational) potential energy that can be converted to kinetic energy, which can be converted back to graviational potential energy; and then (covering almost all the bases, though this is quite minor relative to the total fluxes) there’s conversion to chemical energy (ozone, photosynthesis, some geochemical stuff (involves geothermal energy too, which also is converted to graviational potential energy via raising mountains, etc, which then is converted to kinetic energy during erosion, which then…) – this is quite minor relative to the kinetic energy production, which is a small fraction of the total energy flux through the climate system –
anyway, all that kinetic energy which doesn’t get converted back to heat energy in another way is converted to heat by viscosity (friction).
To sum up, in equilibrium, the energy fluxes in and out are balanced; the entropy fluxes in and out are different but are balanced by entropy production.
Regarding microwaves: I don’t know all the details but there is a device which converts electrical energy (work) to electromagnetic radiation. I would presume, in analogy to radio antenna, that the radiation has very low entropy. Work can in principle be converted to heat (directly 1-to-1 conversion, as opposed to a heat pump) at any temperature or radiation at any brightness temperature; any temperature less than infinity involves some entropy, so such a conversion always involves some gain in entropy.
PS Laser radiation has very low entropy because a flux of energy is concentrated into a narrow range of directions (high intensity) and frequencies (high spectral intensity, therefore high brightness temperature) and phases and (I would guess) polarizations (coherent vs incoherent radiation, polarized vs unpolarized; how hot would blackbody radiation have to be to have the same intensity within any such narrow range of phases and polarizations – I presume that is the true brightness temperature of such radiation).
Radiation from a single antenna is not concentrated in direction but is (or can be) concentrated in the other ways (polarized, monochromatic, coherent). Although in a microwave, I think the waves are scattered a bit before entering the food, so it may not be polarized and coherent at that point, but still monochromatic?). It only takes concentration to a single value in any one dimension to produce zero entropy, as I understand it (am I wrong?).
(PS if my understanding is correct, a range of frequencies of radiation may be absorbed by a fluorescent material with some of that energy emitted nearly monochromatically; such nearly monochromatic radiation (if of significant intensity) could have a very high brightness temperature, and thus some entropy must be left behind in the material in order not to violate the second law of thermodynamics (it is applicable even in non-LTE conditions). Flourescence as a heat engine? or maybe heat pump?)
So most of the energy in such radiation is available to do work. But it can also simply be absorbed as heat. Microwave radiation is at a frequency that can easily excite water molecules in particular, giving them kinetic energy.
“one can find that the fraction of radiation emitted from one place that reaches and is absorbed in another is the same as the fraction of radiation that is emitted in the second place which reaches and is absorbed in the first”
As stated this isn’t correct; it just needs a little adjustment. (to be cont.)
Mike Flynn (489): “…the cooler body cannot increase the net energy of the warmer…” tis true. But it can add gross energy to the warmer body.
A perfect reflector, (not an insulator), would radiate back to the emitter 100% of the emitted radiation of all wavelengths. True again, this would not make the emitter hotter than it was originally. But it will make the emitter warmer that if the reflector wasn’t there.
Polarization has nothing to do with infrared. Polarizers are very sensitive scientific instruments. We do not have KCL windows for the planet. Blackbody temperature is not helpful in this particular topic. In pyrotechnics brightness temperature is used like in comparing sparks; the darker the sparks the lower the temperature.
The physics of temperature is not so convoluted as that.
Viscosity has nothing to do with it. Heat goes to a cooler body.
BPL your physics discussion has nothing to do with this discussion or any of the off topic ones precisely either so it is very off topic.
BPL: That is exactly what you’re confused about. A colder body CAN heat a warmer body. You still confused net heat with heat.
No this is false. You are making a statement that violates the first law and parts of the second too.
We need energy to compress a gas or heat energy to drive a cooling process. In an air conditioner or refrigerator you need electrical energy to perform the work. You cannot move in the opposite direction of thermodynamics. You can have adiabatic expansion moving the molecules farther apart to cool and then it draws the heat out of the refrigerated space. Compression does not occur by itself. In statistical thermodynamics even if go below aboslute zero we are not at equilbrium so we do not violate thermodynamics. Caloric theory is false so heat cannot go from a cooler body to a hotter body.
Actually in this case your statement violates all 4 laws of thermodynamics.
Recommended reading, from before the politicalization of climate change:
Steiger, Brad, “A roadmap of time: How the Maxwell/Wheeler weather-energy cycles predict the ‘history’ of the next 25 years” Prentice-Hall, 1975
If Steiger’s analysis is right, we are at the peak of a “warm-dry” phase (and that produced the measurements under discussion), but we should be shifting into a cold-dry phase this decade. Please consider.
None of this discussion makes any sense without reference to heat flux. Reducing the flux of heat out of a heat producing body will generally result in a temperature increase unless the body can control the rate at which it produces heat. In short; insulators decrease heat flux and raise temperatures. Essentially all of the discussion above applies equally well to thermal conduction as to radiation. Most people put on more blankets when they’re cold. If the blankets are initially cold they will still warm the person up but first the blankets will be warmed up. The blankets themselves will remain cooler that the person’s skin temperature. Is this an example of a cooler object warming a warmer object? Not really. Only a person who was being deliberately obfuscatory would make such claims.
Here is a simple model for conduction of heat away from a human covered by blankets.
T_body = person’s internal body temperature
s = the thickness of the person’s skin
ks = thermal conductivity of human skin
T_skin = temperature at the surface of the person’s skin
B = thickness of the blankets the person is using
kb = thermal conductivity of the blankets
T_room = temperature of the room the person is sleeping in.
Heat_flux_skin = heat flux through the skin
Heat_flux_blankets = heat flux through the blankets
The body controls the body temperature through metabolic processes and it fair to assume it is constant under healthy conditions. The room temperature is similarly controlled by thermostats and the temperature outside, etc. What isn’t controlled is the skin’s surface temperature: T_skin. Normally T_room < T_skin < T_body .
At steady state the heat flux through the skin equals the heat flux through the blankets. When you pile on blankets the skin temperature will increase until these fluxes are equal. It doesn't matter if the blankets were initially cold. The steady-state skin temperature is given by:
T_skin = T_body / (1 + R) + T_room R /(1+R)
where R = kb s /(ks B)
As more and more blankets are piled on B gets larger and larger so that R becomes smaller and smaller and the warmer the person gets. The best they can do is to lose zero heat to conduction by using a very thick pile of blankets.
The temperature profile in the blankets is given by:
T_blanket(z) = T_skin – (T_skin-T_room) z/B
where z is the distance from the skin (z=0 is at the skin, z=B is at the room). The blanket is lower than the skin temperature everywhere. Yet increasing the the blanket thickness results in increasing the body temperature. I don't know how to make this any clearer (although I'm sure someone can).
Comment by John E. Pearson — 10 Oct 2010 @ 1:06 PM
Re 514 Jacob Mack Polarization has nothing to do with infrared.
I was just covering my bases.
So far as I know (?) you can pretty much ignore polarization for LW (terrestrial) radiation (wavelengths longer than about 4 microns, in constrast to SW radiation) for Earth’s surface and atmosphere without much error, because LW scattering is minor and emission and absorption by randomly-oriented gas molecules and spherically-symmetric cloud droplets will be unpolarized. However, cirrus ice crystals sometimes float in preferred orientations, so…? Of course, if a process emits polarized radiation or scatters radiation in different directions depending on polarization (thus able to produce polarized radiation from unpolarized radiation) or absorbs or reflects or transmits depending on polarization (thus able to produce polarized radiation from unpolarized radiation), but then the subsequent interactions (to the point of absorption or escaping the system) is independent of polarization, then the polarization can be ignored.
Blackbody temperature is not helpful in this particular topic.
Are you talking about the original topic of extreme weather. Okay (although in the context of climate change, it could still come up). But it certainly is helpful – is key – in discussing thermodynamics of radiation.
In pyrotechnics brightness temperature is used like in comparing sparks; the darker the sparks the lower the temperature.
The physics of temperature is not so convoluted as that.
Well, if you have a process that is not sensitive to any other characteristics besides whole-spectrum radiant intensity, than you could assign a brightness temperature for that intensity for that context. Likewise if a process is not sensitive to polarization, one can take the intensity summed over all polarizations, etc.
Viscosity has nothing to do with it. Heat goes to a cooler body.
That came up because I went on to discuss the entropy production of the climate system. Some heat is converted to kinetic energy via heat engines (thermally-direct motions); some is converted back to heat via heat pumps (thermally-indirect motions), but some is converted back to heat by friction.
Actually in this case your statement violates all 4 laws of thermodynamics.
BPL was not asserting that *the* (ie net) flux of heat was up-gradient, or that energy was being created, or that conversion efficiencies of either heat engines or heat pumps (or any radiant, electrochemical, etc, process with the same effect) could exceed those limits determined by the inability to destroy entropy. He was stating that a cold body can keep a warm body warmer than it otherwise would be by hiding the warm body from an even colder body or something equivalent (the darkness of space) – ie
a winter coat or blanket will generally be colder than human body temperature (even just at the skin) but still slows the rate of heat loss (impeding radiation, conduction, and convection (sensible and latent)) from a human body to a colder environment, allowing the heat output from metabolism to build up more near the skin and thus raising skin temperature.
The greenhouse effect of the atmosphere works the same way on LW radiation, which is, in the global time average, the way nearly all heat leaves the surface+troposphere (as a single unit) and the only significant way heat escapes to space.
Jacob Mack, I fear I have to agree with BPL, because the “doing work” thing is a side issue in his example. (And his example is quite instructive, IMO.)
If you have a body A at 400 degreesK and it is radiating away the S-B calculated energy, and say there is a body B that, by our experiment, is radiating a narrow beam of energy at A exactly equal to A’s emission, then A remains at its thermo equilibrium 400 degrees.
Now move body C at 200 degreesK into the two-body system. (And the work involved with moving body C or heating it up earlier is not relevant.) It is also radiating energy per S-B. Some of 200-degree C’s emitted radiation will be absorbed by 400-degree B, and B’s temperature will rise. B will emit no more radiation than it was in the first instance, i.e. its radiation will not change one iota at time zero when C enters the picture — its radiation is determined entirely by its own temperature. Then after B’s temp begins to rise because of cooler C’s radiation, it will increase its radiation because it is now getting warmer from cooler C’s emission.
516 Patrick 027: As you can see we are in complete agreement (see pearson 516) regarding the physics. That being said I think Barton used a poor choice of words when he referred to \net energy.\ Rod B used excruciatingly bad terminology in his post (512) in which he stated that a cooler body can \add gross energy\ to a warmer body. These discussions can be made with precision. Precision requires explicit mention of heat fluxes. ( I know you know all this but I thought it worth saying anyway.) The earth can be considered a heat source. It can be considered a heat source because the atmosphere is transparent to short wave length radiation which comes from the sun. Sunlight passes through the atmosphere hits the surface and is re-radiated at much longer wavelengths (and cooler temperatures). This is exactly analogous to a person who is in bed and metabolizing and producing heat and using a blanket to stay warm.
There is an outward flux of long wavelength light called \infrared radiation\ emitted by the earth’s surface just as their is an outward flux of heat from a person. The greenhouse gases (CO2 and water vapor) in the earth’s atmosphere absorb the outward long wave radiation emitted by the earth’s surface. The absorbed radiation is re-emitted by the greenhouse gases uniformly in all directions. Half of that radiation goes down. Half goes up. Estimation of the surface temperature requires consideration of all heat fluxes in and out at the surface. On average, the gases in the troposphere (where we live and where weather happens) are cooler than the earth’s surface. The heat fluxes at the surface include not only the primary radiation coming from the sun but also the radiation that is re-emitted by the earth’s atmosphere. The proper conclusion is that increasing the thickness of the blanket of gases surrounding the planet results in a warmer surface temperature exactly analogous to the way that a blanket functions to keep a person warmer. In both cases the blanket and the blanket of gas are cooler than the surface temperature and this is all in accord with physics that has been understood for nearly 200 years. There are lots of details regarding the best estimates of how much the temperature will increase from a given CO2 increase but the basic physics is beyond dispute.
Comment by John E. Pearson — 10 Oct 2010 @ 7:04 PM
BPL: That is exactly what you’re confused about. A colder body CAN heat a warmer body. You still confused net heat with heat.
JM: No this is false. You are making a statement that violates the first law and parts of the second too.
BPL: I always like it when an amateur scientist says that I, a guy with a degree in physics, got the elementary physics wrong. Read and learn, JM:
John E. Pearson, I was trying to explain a limited simple concept to Mike Flynn about heat transfer from a cooler body to a warmer body. I made no attempt to explain molecular absorption or all of climatology. In that context “added gross energy” is not a faulty phrase and describes the limited process aptly.
I have some criticism of your words in #520, though they’re probably not helpful in the context of your overall thought. However, I am curious: what is meant by “exactly analogous?” Also, I think the inside of the blanket equalizes at the body temperature.
522 Rod B: Please don’t start with another one of your tarbabies. I don’t know if it was deliberate but your discussion regarding gross and net energy was obfuscatory.
The temperature near the outside of your skin in contact with air is lower than body temperature. Get a thermometer and try it yourself. If you put the thermometer under your arm and mash your arm down on the thermometer you can get it up to body temperature. If you stick the thermometer on your leg under a blanket it will show a lower temperature. Try it. If you’re using so many blankets that the temperature inside the blanket is body temperature you’re going to be VERY uncomfortable.
Comment by John E. Pearson — 11 Oct 2010 @ 8:57 AM
John E. Pearson, “gross” and “net” are pretty rudimentary and simple concepts to most. Nothing obfuscating about them though might not be pedantic enough for you. I meant “gross” as the total energy entering a body; “net” as the total energy entering a body less the energy leaving the body. I am simply supporting BPL with what might be terms easier for MF to grasp. I didn’t start it; go fuss at MF or BPL for generating tarbabies.
Is the temperature of the inside of the blanket warmer, cooler, or the same as the “surface” temperature of the body? You initially said cooler. Sticking with that?
Rod please do not try to obfuscate. I did remark that Barton used poor terminology. Your terminology was worse than Barton’s.
I don’t know what you mean by the “temperature inside of the blanket”. Here I will once again try to make the discussion precise. At steady state the temperature at any point in a blanket will be cooler than the body temperature of the person beneath the blanket and warmer than room temperature. If that is what you’re asking me if I am sticking with the answer is; “Yes. I am sticking with it.” Get a thermometer and try it. I did. I put the thermometer in my mouth. It read 98.6F. I put it under my arm and it read 95F. I pressed the thermometer against my bare leg which was covered by my blanket. It read 90F. I put the thermometer on top of the blanket and the temperature (probably 65-70F) was below the bottom scale on my oral thermometer so it didn’t register. I took the blanket off and felt chilly. I pressed the thermometer agains my bare leg and it didn’t register because the temperature was below scale. I put the blanket back on and waited until I warmed up again. I pressed the thermometer against my bare leg. it read 91F. Learn a little physics (transport theory). Make some measurements. Think. This really needn’t be complicated.
“The temperature profile in the blankets is given by:
T_blanket(z) = T_skin – (T_skin-T_room) z/B
where z is the distance from the skin (z=0 is at the skin, z=B is at the room). The blanket is lower than the skin temperature everywhere. Yet increasing the the blanket thickness results in increasing the body temperature.”
the final “body” (second to last word) was a typo and should’ve been “skin” meaning the temperature measured at the skin. The temperature measured at a person’s on the surface of a person’s skin is not generally body temperature. It is cooler. Don’t take my word for it. Measure it. If you don’t like my model of how a blanket functions to keep a person warm that is fine. There are some quibbles that could be raised but the physics is essentially correct and stated with reasonable precision. If you insist there is a major flaw then state what the flaw is. Be precise. Do try not to obfuscate.
Comment by John E. Pearson — 11 Oct 2010 @ 12:15 PM
Re Rod B , John E. Pearson – you might not be aware of the history of the term ‘tar….’ – I’d advise not using it; maybe use the phrase ‘glue ball’ ?
I thought Rod B’s 518 was good.
The temperature may vary continuously through the blanket-skin contact (where they are in contact); anyway the blanket on average is colder and removing colder layers of the blanket will result in a decrease in temperature of the rest of the blanket and then of the skin as heat is lost faster.
PAtrick 027 526: Rod’s 518 was ok. It wasn’t as bad as the post that I was discussing which was 512. Regarding tar babies I’ve used that phrase for 50 years and am well-aware of the history. “Tar baby” is an expression meaning something you get stuck in and the more you struggle to free yourself the more stuck you get. In my view Rod is a master of internet tar babies. In any event I see no reason to stop using that phrase now. My guess is that you’re not as aware of the history of the phrase as I am. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joel_Chandler_Harris I grew up in the south. Not the deep south but northern Virginia. Mrs Squires, our librarian (at Stonewall Jackson Elementary School) read Harris to us from kindergarden on. She explained the history and how it was that a white man had archived these stories that had been passed down by slaves. I read Harris to my two older children before I read them Mark Twain. I will read him to my youngest after she is born. I would no more dismiss Harris than I would Mark Twain. I know there were movements to have both of them removed from public libraries and school libraries starting at least by the mid 1970’s, maybe even earlier. In my view these movements were misguided.
Comment by John E. Pearson — 11 Oct 2010 @ 4:56 PM
Re 520 John E. Pearson –
The absorbed radiation is re-emitted by the greenhouse gases uniformly in all directions. Half of that radiation goes down. Half goes up.
Yes, for a sufficiently thin layer; when that radiation can be absorbed again before escaping the atmosphere, the emissions from different parts of the atmosphere don’t all reach the surface or space equally; the downward flux from the atmosphere will tend to be larger than the upward flux from the atmosphere to space because of the general decrease in temperature with height (in particular as measured by optical thickness).
The proper conclusion is that increasing the thickness of the blanket of gases surrounding the planet results in a warmer surface temperature exactly analogous to the way that a blanket functions to keep a person warmer.
In the global average that’s how it works above the tropopause to a good approximation, convective fluxes being almost zero. OLR at TOA is reduced by increased greenhouse forcing, and warming must occur somewhere below TOA to restore OLR to balance solar heating. The same (for OLR) is approximately true for net upward LW flux at the tropopause or anywhere above that (to balance the forcing remaining after stratospheric adjustment plus any feedbacks). Below that, convection can respond to changes in radiation. Generally, convection tends to maintain a particular lapse rate (which itself is climate dependent) which determines where how the warming is distributed below the tropopause. Of course, in some conditions and locations (nocturnal inversions, high latitudes – winter in particular), surface temperature may respond to radiation without such a convective response – though there is still horizontal transport locally that is connected to the larger-scale overturning of the troposphere. And then there’s changes in soil moisture and winds, etc, that can affect the relationship between surface and near-surface air temperature, etc. But that’s more ‘second-order’ stuff, as I understand it. (While the radiative forcing at the tropopause level is key to large scale warming of the surface and tropopshere in general, the effect of radiation at the surface is important to the diurnal temperature range over land.)
There are lots of details regarding the best estimates of how much the temperature will increase from a given CO2 increase but the basic physics is beyond dispute.