Wonderful post, I particularly like the itemised nature – very helpful. Have you (or anyone else) considered a Climate equivalent of the excellent “Index to Creationist Claims” page (which deals with a wholly different topic of course but requires some of the same methodical taking down of pseudoscientific claims) ? For reference, it’s here:
I dont follow with the CO2 per capita, the value that I use is 6.3, UK 9.2 and USA 20 and Sweden 5.9 metric ton CO2? And these value is exluding CO2 in importgoods and international shipping and flight. For Sweden the value is ca 5,9+7+4 ~17 ton CO2 per capita. http://timeforchange.org/CO2-emissions-by-country
[Response: This is a perpetual source of confusion. Like many people doing carbon accounting, I was quoting values as tonnes carbon, not tonnes CO2. If I multiply your 9.2 number for the UK by (12/44) -- the ratio of molecular weight, I get 2.5 which is about the same number I quoted. The issue of where to allocate emissions attributed to import goods and international flights is a very important one, but the standard accounting I've used still gives a good indication of the relative contribution of the various countries to the rise of atmospheric CO2. --raypierre]
Not mentioned in your list of the wonderful things France is doing to have such a low per capita emissions is the reliance on nuclear energy for electricity. Why is there a consistent reluctance in the scientific community to put forth nuclear energy as an option to mitigate AGW?
[Response: Why is there such a consistent tendency for people like you to assume that I would object to some expansion of nuclear energy. Socolow openly includes it as one of his "wedges." The economics of nuclear vs. other carbon free energy, in the absence of the kinds of subsidies nuclear receives, needs to be examined, of course, but nuclear is definitely one of the options that needs to be on the table. --raypierre]
A wonderful cautionary tale about why a scientist’s claims of expertise must be taken with a veritable salt mine outside his or her specialized realm. It is a pity that Allegre’s scientific reputation should suffer for his foolishness, but as both he and James Watson show, scientists are human. That is precisely why consensus is so important. Any of us can be wrong. We are less likely to persist in our error if we listen to the real experts–the ones who actively publish in the field.
The rest of us can attempt within our abilities to independently assess the science, but you had better be awfully sure of yourself to assert your expertise outside of your field of study. “Common sense” refutations are often based simply on misunderstandings. The really sad thing is when a scientist is too arrogant his error.
[Response: With regard to scientists speaking outside their realm of expertise, I wouldn't want to over-generalize from the examples of Allegre, Courtillot and Watson. Generally, many aspects of the scientific method transcend field, and so when a very bright scientist turns his or her attention to something novel, important new insights can be turned up. We can all think of examples where scientists have made important contributions to discussions bearing on public policy, which take them outside there own fields. The contributions of Linus Pauling to the Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty are one case in point. This is why it is particularly reprehensible when a scientist like Allegre puts aside the scientific method and makes use of his reputation to promulgate ideas that wouldn't pass muster on their own. It is an abuse of the public trust in that scientists' hard-won reputation. --raypierre]
As Tamino said in #1, obviously a lot of work (and there is a Part II to come!). Thanks, it is really useful for non-scientists like me (I am a lawyer) to see the arguments raised against AGW dissected with so much detail (and humour). The fact that there is no convincing counter-theory or contradictory evidence presented by other scientists should be an important point for any critical thinkers in government, economics, and other fields.
Nuclear energy. Hmm. Could it be because we have no idea what to do with the extremely toxic & long-lived waste products? Could it be that it can be used for making bomb material & is a target for terrorists? Could it be that solar & wind alternatives (as well as others) are better?
But congratulations to France’s government. Too bad these 2 scientists are so wrong.
Interesting article, but isnt there something missing here. Although France only uses approx 9% fossil fuels at source for energy production, France still uses almost 30 million tons of coal, and 45000 million cubic meters of natural gas. These two items must have some effect on CO2 emissions. How can it be that France has such a “low footprint” of 7.27.
Perhaps someone can enlighten me about the figures
Comment by George Robinson — 18 Nov 2007 @ 5:43 PM
Nikolas Sarkozy’s efforts are to be commended. Some of our state governors like Gov. Schwarzenegger of California have taken leadership positions as well, proposing that heat trapping emissions be cut 11% by 2010 and to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 80% below that by 2050. By contrast Sarkozy’s counterpart in the White House would allow national emissions to grow 31% by 2012.(Union Of Concerned Scientists Vol 4,No 2 Fall 2008)
What is to be made of such (in)action in Washington? Honi soit qui mal y’pense.
S. Molnar, Gee, I guess it’s too late to say “I meant to do that…” I’ll happily share credit. It’s a very convenient scale, as one’s credibility declines exponentially with each outrageous position one adopts.
Johnathan #5 asks why the scientific community doesn’t recommend nuclear power. Actually, I think that the scientific community is divided on nuclear power, just as the larger community is. Many here are proponents and several are vehemently opposed. While a proponent, I caution that it is a big mistake to underestimate the very serious technical and security issues proposed by reliance on nuclear power. While I think that technical answers can be found to these (involving reprocessing of spent fuel, actively monitored storage, different fuel cycles, etc.), these are still unproven. Having said this, my reservations about nuclear power are less than my reservations about a much warmer world, and my confidence in our ability to meet the energy needs as we transformt to a sustainable economy is much greater with nuclear power than without. There are no perfect solutions.
Great, I enjoy reading your paper as a French connaisseur of such polemics (albeit on the other side of the public debate). Allègre is here well-known as an isotrope provocateur and for sure, his climatic arguments are partly unsound. Not so much to object to the 1st part of your text sur le fond comme sur la forme. (I give up many rhetoric details of your indictment presenting climate modelling as a robust exercise or IPCC communication as a fair process, which is of course du grand n’importe quoi) :D
There are no perfect solutions, indeed. France’s nuclear park is in serious need to evolve. A significant number of reactors are close to decomission, I believe that some had their service life extended because convenience demands it and the maintenance and safety are quite good. New designs fall short of showing a notable evolution (I’m not so convinced by EPR). The waste is still as much of a problem as ever. In my opinion, they are too bound by their comfort zone and I would like to see them explore more eagerly the kind of solutions discussed in the January 03 (I think) of SciAm.
Comment by Philippe Chantreau — 18 Nov 2007 @ 7:21 PM
Just as long as the French keep up with their plans of reducing GHGs, shaming fuelish Americans into doing the same….
I’m so glad you real scientists are here to refute these charletans. Keep up the wonderful work.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 18 Nov 2007 @ 8:15 PM
is the antarctic a good proxy for what the greenhouse effect would be without water vapor?
the reason I asked is because I was looking at a graph in Principles of Planetary Climate on page 46 (figure 3.7)
while the gap between surface and erbe is smaller, it’s not as small as the decrease in water vapor.
basically what I’m asking is can you use the difference between the surface energy and ERBE on different parts of the planet to determine the role of water vapor vs long lived green house gases
Thanks Ray, a very thorough demolition. But, with respect (and, be sure, it is great respect), haven’t you missed something? Um, guys, you’ve won. You really don’t need to do this any more. Quite suddenly, no one is listening to these turkeys. The tipping point was somewhere back in September when the sea ice all but vanished. It’s time to move on … to what we do about it.
As usual, Hansen is way ahead. We need a post here discussing his three point (or is it four point) plan … 1. No new coal fired plant without capture and storage. Hmmm.
Very good comment and well done for pointing out France’s efforts in mitigation.
I dont believe that M. Allegre and co. have done much damage in France except to themselves and I dont believe that their combined contribution has made a jot of difference to the public’s perception of the problems.
For some years now France has been gearing up to bite the bullet of global warming. Public opinion is well behind mitigation and adaptation measures and barely a day goes by without someone on the TV, mainly the weather forecasters, reminding people to leave the car in the garage or whatever. The Minister of Economy etc, Madame Lagarde, is even famous for reminding people that if they have a problem with petrol prices they should get on a bike : not very helpful for fishermen, but the principle is a good one and she seems to be on record not to do anything to keep petrol prices down, by reducing taxes for example, as the UK Chancellor did a few years ago. But where there is a significant problem like the fishermen, the way to solve it is through temporary transfer payments, which has been done.
M. Sarkozy and his government know that the solution to kick start everything is to tax carbon and he has offered to lead in Europe on this if other states follow. At the moment there is a deafening silence from the rest.
When I was struggling to understand the RC comment on the ‘tail’ a few weeks back, I needed to check up on my stats and what did I discover? A host of French mathematicians contributing to and leading in the development of many branches of maths : a great shame that M. Allegre does not feel the need to follow their example.
OK. I posted (somewhat controversially) on one of the other threads and this particular post has given me food for thought. And it has brought up a question which I think is important but to which I can’t find a huge amount of solid information on.
It concerns the biosphere and its potential reaction to the increased levels of CO2. I realise that some work has been done to look at how plants react to increased levels of CO2 and other gases (notably ozone) and some large scale experiments are being done. My question goes back to models yet again. I’ve noticed that most of the climate model focus very heavily on the physics of the situation but there seems to be less focus on the biosphere and what it does. So my question is how do the models cope with the biosphere? Are they weighted for a specific total amount of photosynthesis per year or do the models take into account seasonal variation and so forth? This information might be out there but it was rather difficult to gauge what was real and what was simply junk science.
The reason this came up was that I was thinking of the sheer complexity of the issue and how things might be expected to progress over the coming decades. There are calculations for the total amount of chlorophyll on the planet and thus one can do a calculation but my expectation would be that this would be quite a simplification. The potential complexity might be as follows. There is seasonal variation in photosynthesis as a result of day length and tree type (evergreen versus Deciduous). This would also be affected by latitude. Then there are the various species variations which would mean that some carbon would locked in decaying biomass on a yearly basis whilst on others it would be locked only in the growing tree. Then there’s water availability since this is the key component to in photosynthesis. This, too, is in effect being pulled out of the system to the same degree (if one looks at the balanced equation that is). But, can this all be modelled with a good level of accuracy?
Then, however, it gets interesting. Biology can react stupendously quickly to the environment and plants can populate areas that should be dead; trees going out of walls next to railway lines, on solidified volcanic rocks etc). I’d expect the biosphere to react quite quickly and perhaps unpredictably. I’ve noticed that some plants grow more quickly with high CO2 whilst others do not (US forestry service info). Under evolutionary pressure you’d expect those with that advantage to take over a particular area. It might give evergreens and advantage and so forth. Which migth lead to substantial changes to the amount of CO2 being removed (or not?). It does looks quick difficult to predict.
So the next question is how the models deal with that level of variation? Or is it too small an effect to have much influence (I suspect not, which is why deforestation worries me so much) over the physical forcing. In some ways I’d expect it to be quite important but I’m not sure which is why I ask the question(s).
What a brilliant piece! It’s nice to see a thorough rebuttal to the typical mishmash of obfuscation, incorrect arithmetic, and misleading rhetoric of the climate skeptics. I think that you’ve done a service to the community, putting this all in one place where you can send the skeptical out there… who are still a significant (and vocal) minority in North America. I foresee that one societal benefit of this debate, 50 years out, will be that the public will realize that the Earth being round means that a fourth of the sunlight hits it. Victory over the flat-Earthers at last! :)
Comment by Steffen Christensen — 19 Nov 2007 @ 6:28 AM
France has a low co2 economy anyway but China, India and the USA do not. As the IPCC summary released at the weekend shows us, the global economy has to be tackled globally. France, Germany and the UK could cut their CO2 emissions significantly and still make no real impact globally as they are not major manufacturing powers any more. India, China and the USA are and as they are vying for superpower status and are scheduled to being onlint 1000 coal fired power plants in the next 5 years with shelf lifes of 50 years I would suggets that these documents and simply that nice documents.
The refutation you reference, while mostly doing a good job, includes this phrase:
[[ ~117 W/m^2 of thermal radiation is emitted from the earth, ~111 is absorbed by the atmosphere and ~ 96 is reradiated to the ground,]]
This looks way wrong. A surface at 288 K radiates about 390 watts per square meter, not 117. I tried to point this out in the blog but was unable to figure out how to subscribe; could you possibly pass my observation along?
Ref 26. Glen writes “The tipping point was somewhere back in September when the sea ice all but vanished. It’s time to move on … to what we do about it.”
I wonder whether you have kept up with what is happening in the arctic since September. Just about all the extra ice that melted has reformed, and there is now just about as much ice there this year as there was last. In the part most affected by the melt, where the Arctic Ocean meets the Bering Strait, there is less ice this year than last. But on the Canadian side, in the Davis Strait and northern Hudson Bay, and also on the east coast of Greenland, there is more ice this year than last. Anyone want to make wagers as to how much ice there will be first at maximum next March, and then at minimum next September?
In respect to Johathan’s jibe (#5) and Raypierre”s response, I think an already complicating process has begun to endanger the French reliance on nuclear plants. As I understand it, most are watercooled and must now contend with the threat of drought widening in the course of climate change around the Mediterranean littoral.
Comment by Juola (Joe) A. Haga — 19 Nov 2007 @ 8:09 AM
RE 12 Bird Thompson: We DO know what to do with so-called nuclear “waste.” Recycle it. Make it back into fuel. We even have a type of reactor that uses it for fuel without reprocessing. Israel’s nuclear power plants run on stolen nuclear “waste.” We used to recycle “spent” nuclear fuel until Israel stole it from recycling plants. Terrorists can’t get fuel out of a reactor, it just isn’t possible. Terrorists can’t compete with Israelis in stealing from the recycling process. I have a longer article on this subject, but it is too long for here.
Solar & wind alternatives are neither adequate nor available at night when there is no wind nor environmentally sound. See:
[Response: Any mention of nuclear energy anywhere on any thread sparks the same discussion, so let's please not go off on a general discussion of the issue. On the other hand, if anybody has specific information about the French experience with nuclear energy, how they handle waste, how the reactors are managed, plans for the next generation, that would be entirely appropriate, even welcome, on this thread. --raypierre]
Re: 12 While wind and solar appear to be better, our current level of ability to use these options simply does not make a dent in the current energy needs of the planet. Without nuclear, we simply cannot make the goals of Kyoto (or its successor since Kyoto is fundamentally flawed). I believe that Ray in 17 is closer to correct “there are no perfect solutions” http://www.globalwarming-factorfiction.com
“On the other hand, if anybody has specific information about the French experience with nuclear energy, how they handle waste, how the reactors are managed, plans for the next generation, that would be entirely appropriate, even welcome, on this thread.”
I don’t have any specific info myself, but I would recommend this article that Jerome Guillet wrote for the Daily Kos a couple of years ago as a good starting point for an overview of the French civil nuclear programme:
Regardless of which side of the AWG fence one stands, this statement is wrong. Science demands that we keep trying to improve our understanding. Everyone here recognizes that the current models have weak areas and if we stop studying those areas because we’ve “WON”, then there’s a better than average chance of doing more harm than good in the future.
In other words, science isn’t about winning and loosing, it’s about understanding.
Ref 26. Glen writes “The tipping point was somewhere back in September when the sea ice all but vanished. It’s time to move on … to what we do about it.”
I wonder whether you have kept up with what is happening in the arctic since September. Just about all the extra ice that melted has reformed, and there is now just about as much ice there this year as there was last. In the part most affected by the melt, where the Arctic Ocean meets the Bering Strait, there is less ice this year than last. But on the Canadian side, in the Davis Strait and northern Hudson Bay, and also on the east coast of Greenland, there is more ice this year than last. Anyone want to make wagers as to how much ice there will be first at maximum next March, and then at minimum next September?
In my recollection there is a 2-year interpolar cycle with strong effects on such things as arctic/antarctic ice. An article on that and its effects might be welcome. I wonder whether there has been any change in its effects over the last century?
As a minor aside, if 93% of your electricity comes from low-to-zero carbon sources (I.e. Nuclear and Hydro), then how does changing lightbulbs to CF help?
[Response: It frees up electricity production that can be used to substitute for things currently using fossil fuels (e.g. providing charging capacity if electric cars or plug-in hybrids start taking over the personal transportation fleet). It also frees up production that can be sold to countries that currently use more fossil fuels to produce electricity. --raypierre]
Ref 37. I would be extremely grateful if you would give me a URL where I can get arctic sea ice volumes on a daily basis. I might well be confusing area with volume. Can you give me the difference in volume between September 2006 and September 2007, preferably with a URL? Approximately 9 million sq kms melt each year, and the same amount refreezes. Why this year should be any different from any previous year, I have no idea.
The IPCC modellers are trying to incorporate biosphere in their models (more or less) correctly before the next Assessment 2013.
Comment by Timo Hämeranta — 19 Nov 2007 @ 11:27 AM
Re #28 Keith:
I got this kind of question asked on another list last summer, and here is some of what I answered (forgive the not very scientific language — I’m just an amateur):
“A typical boreal (and probably temperate or tropical as well) forest binds 10 tons of CO2 per year per hectare. Over 30 years that makes 300 tons, equivalent in mass to a layer of water 3 cm thick.
“For comparison, the whole Earth atmosphere has a mass equivalent of 10 m water. And the atmosphere’s CO2, some 300 ppm IIRC, thus is equivalent to 3 mm water.
“Conclusion: if we would plant 10% (more) of the Earth’s surface with forest, and let it grow for 30 years, it would suck all the carbon out of the atmosphere!
“Crazy idea of course, but it shows that forestation/deforestation is a major player… It is right that forests aren’t true ‘sinks’ of carbon: cut the trees down and the CO2 is released again. But irrelevant they are not.
“Yes, a one-time shot. But it stays out of the atmosphere indefinitely if the forest goes into a steady state, which I assumed would happen after 30 years.
“And no, the 10 tons/year/ha refers to what gets permanently bound as biomass — I found these numbers on the Internet so they must be true :) Until the wood is burned or decays, of course.”
It is true that biology is studied less than physics — probably because it is harder. E.g., the CO2 variation due to the glacial-interglacial cycle isn’t well understood, and it is presumably mostly biology too.
BTW I don’t think it is very useful to study photosynthetic activity, if the carbon balance sheet is what you’re interested in. It’s more useful to look at net storage and release of carbon in biomass, soil etc. This is because the streams of carbon going into and out of plant life are large, but they seem to pretty exactly cancel over the long run (but there is a clear annual signature on the atmospheric CO2 curve). So you would be subtracting some large and not-so-precise numbers to get at a small number.
Ramblings of an amateur, who may well be holding the wrong end of the stick :-)
“We report the laser-driven photo-transmutation of long-lived 129I with a half-life of 15.7 million years to 128I with a half-life of 25 min.”!!!
I ponder: As far as I can see, one of the strongest arguments against nuclear power has been the half-life of nuclear waste (buried somewhere). With this new invention this scare is blown away. Economically feasible during next decades or hundreds/thousands of years? Mankind has no hurry.
Comment by Timo Hämeranta — 19 Nov 2007 @ 11:37 AM
re ray-pierre’s response on 35:
“… if anybody has specific information about the French experience with nuclear energy, how they handle waste, how the reactors are managed, plans for the next generation, that would be entirely appropriate, even welcome, on this thread.”
I can’t speak to the model fidelity question generally, but afaik the biosphere isn’t typically modeled in any detail. We certainly are observing changes in the biosphere which probably fit your intuition, e.g., rapid incursion of boreal forest into areas that were recently tundra; continuous decline of primary production by phytoplankton in the southern ocean; rapid desertification of recently productive land.
In the case of forest advancing into higher latitudes, I’ve seen a recent study that claims this will darken the albedo and accelerate warming.
Given the controversy over the future of nuclear power worldwide, the United Nations should commission—as soon as possible—a transparent and objective re-examination of the issues that surround nuclear power and their potential solutions. It is essential that the general public be informed about the outcome of this re-examination.
So it would be good if we all push for this report, and help publicize the results.
I know little authoritative about French waste, though we all know that Greenpeace requires more than a bucket of salt. I posted on links to American analysis of Yucca Mountain, but learned afterwards that 260 mrem is a tad less than the yearly exposure due to a one cigarette/day habit (not pack/day).
Re France, Areva and Mitsubishi have created Atmea to build advanced Gen III reactors, see here and here. A Physics Today article says the French are building a 1600 MW PWR (2012 due date) and that Chirac announced plans for a pebble bed reactor by 2020. Note, any 2006 report on the future of nuclear power is dated. I read elsewhere that AREVA plans to take a stake in PBMR development.
From David Bodansky’s Nuclear Energy, 2nd edition on French nuclear waste plans:
France is pursuing a program in which the high-level wastes are the vitrified residues of reprocessing, currently in the form of boroslicate glass. They are to be put in a deep geologic site after several decades of cooling. The expected date for this placement is about 2020. Sites in clay and in granite are being investigated. Representatives of the French Commission for Atomic Energy have spoke with great confidence of the efficacy of their program: “…vitrification offers a stable and safe solution, long-since mastered, to produce high-activity waste. The behavior of this embedding…lead to predict a minimum lifetime of 10,000 yr without significant change. The man package integrity lifetime will most likely reach a million years….” Nevertheless, despite this apparent confidence, the French authorities plan prior tests in underground laboratories before proceeding with the final repository.
Re #42, if you use less nuclear + hydro to light your bulb, more of that power is available to sell to Germany.
Re #12: [Could it be because we have no idea what to do with the extremely toxic & long-lived waste products?]
You do realize that statement applies equally well, if not more so, to CO2 produced by fossil fuel power plants, don’t you? Extremely toxic (in mass quantities), long-lived, but dumped into the atmosphere regardless.
“Ice which has survived one or more summer seasons of partial melt is called multi-year ice. In the Arctic, sea ice commonly takes several years to either make a circuit within the closed Beaufort Gyre surface current system (7-10 years) or else be transported across the Arctic Basin and expelled in the East Greenland Current (3-4 years). More than half of the ice in the Arctic is therefore multi-year ice. Growth continues from year to year until the ice thickness reaches a maximum of about 3 metres, at which point summer melt matches winter growth and the thickness oscillates through an annual cycle. This old, multi-year ice is much fresher than first-year ice; it has a lower conductivity and a rougher surface. The low salinity of multi-year ice makes it much stronger than first-year ice and a formidable barrier to icebreakers.”
“As of November 1, Environment Canada analysis indicates sea ice over the Northern Hemisphere is recovering rapidly from its spectacular collapse in the summer and, except for the Chukchi Sea and Barents Sea, ice cover is near normal. However, much of the thick multi-year ice in the eastern and even central Arctic Ocean has been lost and is now covered with thin newly formed ice….”
I’ve given examples of how to search, you can work out other search terms, narrow the time covered, and as Coby reminds us there’s no “wisdom” button — you have to read.
Remember also to do the same searches in Google Scholar of course.
Look at http://psc.apl.washington.edu/zhang/IDAO/summer2007_arctic_seaice.gif very carefully and you will see that some of the sea ice area recovery in Oct 2007 was the result of thick ice breaking up into thin ice. Thus, even after freeze-up started and the sea ice area was increasing, some sea ice continued to thin. This continuted thinning will affect next summer’s melt.
Note too. that the Antartic ice is back to near normal, after haveing been slightly above normal for the last couple of months.
Your link is apparently incorrect. I’ve included the correct one below. However, a quick perusal of the article will reveal that what they are doing is using the lasers as an accelerator–kind of a laser wakefield approach. This is not going to be energetically feasible on a large scale. The article you posted was from 2003. They’ve had 4 years to make this work if it was in fact feasible. The fact that we still have tons of nuclear waste and that no government is seriously pursuing this option argues that it is not in fact energetically feasible. No free lunches. http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/0022-3727/36/18/L01/d3_18_L01.pdf?request-id=ppCsos2W3BG0ZZEg3Ai7Kg
James, You needn’t stop with coal-fired plants. Semiconductor fabs on the scale needed to make solar power economical will likely produce quite a bit of toxic waste as well. Wind and solar both require energy storage–and most storage technologies–from batteries to reservoirs–have adverse environmental consequences. No matter what option we choose, we will have to mitigate adverse consequences.
Karen–borosilicate glasses are quite hard, durable and inert–but do they stay that way. Radiation damage over time could change the structure considerably–and in some cases, the thermal effects are sufficently great to cause contact metamorphism in the surrounging rock. And all of this does not take into account seismic disturbancs, changes in precipitation… It is a daunting problem.
France, Germany, and the U.K. are relatively minor contributors to GHG’s, compared to the U.S. and, soon, India and China, as Pete says in comment #30, but they are going in the right direction. They’re also making themselves more independent of the unstable(to put it mildly) oil supplies coming from the Middle East. In addition by developing alternative energy supplies these countries are contributing to new technologies in these areas to diminish drawbacks and make them more economical. As things stand now, China has more stringent fuel efficiency standards than the U.S.
As far as these European nations are concerned, they’re apparently adhering to the old saw that it’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. Much better. Our own policy from on high, here in the U.S., is apparently to let the inmates run the asylum.
Adding 260 mrem is adding it to existing background.
But transuranics don’t behave the same as natural elements.
People trivializing the serious, thoughtful effort being made to contain and manage fission plant waste really insult the people who are trying to do that competently and professionally. We can argue over whether it’s smart to cause the problem. But arguing over whether the problem is real is a complete waste of time. It’s real.
It’s hard work being done with great effort. Outcome yet unknown.
To concur with writer Nr 27th
On Allegre and Co, yes, this will not do much damage in France. Allegre has sold lots of his books. He is a king of institution here. With a bunch of other “new reactionaries” he is holding a position in the media as “oppressed by the conformist scientists in the line of IPCC”. This does work with less litterate press writers and their bosses. But has little impact on policy and none on climate science.
There is no funny “creationist” factions here but we have “extreme rationalists” such as Allegre and Petit. The French Academy of Science is full of this breed. It recently issued a report by Allegre-like old guys explaining that no cancer comes from the Environment (only in the end it said that most cancers come from unknown causes). The same batch recall regularly that low radioactive dose have no impact, and they even said once that dioxin was never a problem.
Part of the explanation for these strange reports come from their defective governance where consultants to the chemical industry can at the same time chair subgroups that issue this crap. When Georges W. Bush was rebuffed by the US Academy of Science in his first term, we kept on thinking this could not happen in France where this institution is not very respectable as such (many individual members are nice people and good scientists).
More recently, another “Academicien” of similar lines, Mr Petit -who was involved in the TAR- wrote that (‘Quelle bonne méthode contre le réchauffement climatique’, M. Petit, La Tribune, November 5th, 2007) it had never been scientifically proven that energy efficiency saves carbon emissions, and that he would prefer more nuclear reactors and less wind turbines. But his text showed also that he felt betrayed by the part of the speech of Sarkozy defending a 40% decrease in energy bills for French households in 2020″, and other radical statements on the side of energy savings. As for the real world policy towards efficiency, you can have a doubt or two wether our President will deliver.
As a former chair of CAN-France and a reviewer in FAR WG III, I feel entitled to give some ideas on “how we did it” and “where we are going”.
[Response: I can't speak to the issue of whether Allegre is in a position to influence policy. I'm quite aware that nobody in climate science in France takes him seriously or is taken in by him. This post wasn't written for those. It was written for scientists (and I've met a few) outside the climate area, who have heard that Allegre has been casting doubt on anthropogenic global warming, and -- knowing of his general reputation -- think there must be something to it. This post is just to provide a convenient place to point such people to, in order to learn why Allegre and company shouldn't be taken seriously. There have also been rumors that Allegre was being considered for a cabinet-level position in the Sarkozy government. Maybe these rumors have mainly been spread by Allegre himself; I don't really know. Nonetheless, even the possibility means that any effort to get out the word on the utter intellectual bankruptcy of Allegre's stance on climate is worthwhile. Besides that, Allegre is often held out among the US denialist crowd as a prime example of a prominent scientist who changed his mind on global warming. Some people -- the sorts who get their information from Fox News or from the Heartland Institute -- will not be swayed no matter what, but I think there are a certain number (perhaps a large number) who have been misled by Allegre's reputation but who are nonetheless amenable to persuasion. Any help the readers can provide in making this post known to such people would be much appreciated. --raypierre]
In the waning days of the Fast Flux Test Facility (at Hanford), some of the research engineers in the facility performed some ad hoc experiments whereby high-level waste from plutonium production was “burned”. The result was a material that had no half-lives longer than 300 years. These were pretty smart guys, and they said the concept had real potential for radioactive waste treatment. However, US DOE middle management felt that, at that time, there was no political appetite for new reactors, and they did not even want to spend the money to keep the FFTF open for another year for additional research. No request for funding was made to senior DOE management, thus no request for funding was made to congress. The FFTF was closed on schedule.
When I left Hanford (1996), the *only* copy of those research reports was in the US DOE-RL reading room.
There are no free lunches, but if you are open to options, you can have a nice healthy lunch for the same price as the greasy burger and fries that will eventually give you a heart attack. I have had lunch with some DOE middle managers. Often, we ended up in restaurants that offered unlimited “free” seconds on greasy fries.
I’ve got two question regarding the atmospheric carbon drawdown scheme: “Conclusion: if we would plant 10% (more) of the Earth’s surface with forest, and let it grow for 30 years, it would suck all the carbon out of the atmosphere!
The first is how many percent of the Eart’s surface is desert and the second, do you think it would be possible to reforest the entire Sahara ?
Many thanks for all the comments, and suggestions. Apparently no-one wants to make a wager on the surface area of arctic sea ice in March and September 2008. Probably because, like me, they are certain that the 2007 extreme ice minimum in the arctic was a one of a kind anomaly, which, like the hurricane season in the North Atlantic in 2005, is unlikley to ever be repeated. It was not a “tipping point”.
Burying vitrified nuclear waste in salt deposits, well below the waterline in Arizona would solve all but the political problem.
Pollyanna. That’s me.
[Response: "Pollyanna-ism," now there was a case where there was no adequate translation into French. I don't even know if the novel is at all widely read in French. I toyed with something involving Dr. Pangloss, but the idea of Hayley Mills (who played Pollyanna in the Disney flick) as Pangloss was just beyond bearing. But for the record Pollyanna-ism doesn't refer to optimism in general. It refers to unreasonable or unrealistic optimism that flies in the face of evidence that optimism isn't warranted. It amounts to putting an optimistic or favorable light on whatever is coming at you, regardless of what the data actually say. That's why I think Lomborg (esp. in "Skeptical Environmentalist") is well described by the term. There are other cases in which optimism is quite justified. --raypierre]
Re#65, I’d be inclined to suggest that the maximum sea ice as shown on Cryosphere today is unlikely to exceed 13 million sq km and the minimum to be around 3 million sq km, perhaps less.
Notable has been the loss of multiyear ice over the last decade, although the area will go back up to 13 million most of this will be single winter ice unlike say 15 yrs ago, consequently it will disappear rather quickly in the summer leaving us with the multiyear residue by september. As a result more solar absorption by the ocean and more heat storage.
Check out the following particularly the figure on the Disappearance of multiyear ice.
Re #61: [False comparison; radioactivity in cigarette smoke is a minor part of the total risk...]
I missed seeing anything at that link about radioactivity levels in tobacco smoke. I do realize that there are other risks from tobacco smoke that greatly outweigh the risk from radioactivity, but that might apply elsewhere as well.
[People trivializing the serious, thoughtful effort being made to contain and manage fission plant waste really insult the people who are trying to do that competently and professionally.]
One problem is that the criteria for containment are primarily political. There may be people that trivialize the problem, but there are as many or more that greatly exaggerate both the level of containment needed, and the difficulty of attaining any given level. Demonstrate that wastes could safely be contained for a billion years, and they’d immediately start demanding two billion.
The second problem is the difference in the way nuclear & fossil fuel wastes are regarded. A high level of safe waste disposal is demanded of nuclear, while fossil fuel plants simply get to dump their waste into the atmosphere, despite the problems that those wastes are creating.
Looking at nuclear in isolation is not the way to get reasonable answers. We need to look at the amount of waste created in the process of generating some unit of power, quantify the harm that might be caused by that waste (with various risk scenarios &c), and figure in the cost of adequately disposing of that waste. As it is, too many of those factors are arbitrarily set to either infinity or zero, so we never get a meaningful answer.
Re growing more trees to mop up carbon, there are indeed companies who are planting trees and selling the carbon credits — Planktos, for example, is planting forests in Hungary.
Unfortunately, it’s not entirely clear that this is an effective mitigation strategy. There was a recent study that showed the amount of carbon sequestered in a new forest varies greatly depending on inputs like nutrients and water. Afforestation at high latitudes can actually cause increased warming by contributing to “albedo flip.”
For my money, the biggest bang for the buck to reforest tropical zones. Healthy tropical forests will cause clouds to appear above them, increasing albedo.
2. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Background_radiation
The exposure for an average person is about 360 millirems/year, 80 percent of which comes from natural sources of radiation. The remaining 20 percent results from exposure to artificial radiation sources, such as medical X-rays and a small fraction from nuclear weapons tests.
I’d just like to point out that reforestation is not the inverse of deforestation. When a native forest is stripped from the landscape (as is tragically occurring here in Australia at an alarming rate in North-west Tasmania – see here) you lose an incredibly complex and diverse ecosystem and all the associated flora and fauna that are dependent on it. You also release huge amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere, much of it stored in the soils and in peaty deposits. When companies replant forests you generally get monocultures, often in rows. Often these are effectively biological deserts from the point of view of the flora and fauna that once lived there. And it is likely to take hundreds or even thousands of years for the amount of carbon stored in soils and peat deposits to approach the pre-clearance levels. Even if an area is clear-felled and immediately allowed to regrow from the natural seedbank in the soil, the resultant forest will be a pale shadow of its former self.
Edward, re 72, I’m not doing any hard work!
I’m just reading along here.
I was referring to the work being done by the people working on solving the problem of storing waste from fission piles – a real problem now, that has to have real solutions that stand up over a very long period.
“I know little authoritative about French waste, though we all know that Greenpeace requires more than a bucket of salt. ”
I made the comment originally re appropriate amount of salt because Greenpeace doe have an obvious bias that is going to color what they have to say.
That said, “we all know” is a bit of a jump. Like them or dislike them, Greenpeace has been in many ways the little yappy dog that has often caused people to pay attention to issues revolving around the presevation of what remains of the biosphere.
I’m not particularly fond of some of their methods; I ooften think they are their own worst enemy. But that is a far cry from suggesting they deserve to be hand-waved off in such a dismissive fashion.
[Response: Greenpeace does occasionally tend toward stating extreme consequences without all the necessary qualifications as to chance of occurrence, but when it comes to climate, they stay much closer to real science than organizations like Heartland Institute which occupy the right of the political spectrum. At a talk a Heartland "climate science advisor" gave to the U. of C Republicans last week, it was confidently stated that most of the IPCC were Greenpeace members, and that solar variability accounted for global warming. These aren't exaggerations or minor bendings of the truth; they're outright lies. --raypierre]
This is essentially how I look at nuclear waste disposal. It needs to be unmade. #58 Ray objects that this is not energetically feasable, and I do agree that we need to look for the lowest energy methods. There have been some interesting low energy nuclear reaction experiments in Japan that appear to transmute Cs and not too long ago there was a report that half-life could be reduced in very cold metals. Those things are a little far out, but hopeful. But, for now, I think of nuclear energy as energy that must be payed back. The recent article in Philosophical Transactions by Hansen et al. makes me think that part of our fossil fuel energy use may need to be payed back as well.
On the other hand, I am not nearly as pessimistic as the IPCC about how much that might cost.
Regarding #65 quote: “Apparently no-one wants to make a wager on the surface area of arctic sea ice in March and September 2008. Probably because, like me, they are certain that the 2007 extreme ice minimum in the arctic was a one of a kind anomaly,…”
Not really Jim. It’s because it’s not one occurrence that counts it’s the trend over a number of years. Every summer for the past several years, the sea ice in the arctic has been declining. Maybe it will rebound some in the next year or the year after.It’s like losing weight the trend isn’t straight down but moves in a wavy pattern on its way down. Basing a conclusion on what happens in any one year is
inclusive in itself.
Re tamino (#44): “In large part I agree; the people who are still listening to the turkeys are those whose disbelief is ideological, and no amount of reason will persuade them.”
Unfortunately this is not entirely true. My brother (who is a smart guy not entirely driven by ideology) has come to believe the McIntyre stuff. He knows that I have a background in this. So he is always poking me about the latest ClimateAudit wondering whether I have seen the light yet…. I’m sure it’s not generally interesting but perhaps amusing for people here to know that my homework this week is showing him (with code included) that red noise does not make hockey sticks (yes, we return again to hockey sticks….). It’s like going back to grad school except with politics and family added.
Apparently no-one wants to make a wager on the surface area of arctic sea ice in March and September 2008. Probably because, like me, they are certain that the 2007 extreme ice minimum in the arctic was a one of a kind anomaly
Or, more likely, people understand that volume, not area, is the most important statistic.
Good luck, it sounds like you’ve got quite a challenge. Unfortunately, denialists make it *easy* for their adherents; you really don’t have to study hard, think hard, or know anything, to buy into their arguments. In some cases you actually have to be *ignorant* (like believing that red noise makes hockey sticks). It’s all too easy and comfortable to accept their drivel.
Trying to be brief on several issues:
Carbon is permanently sequestered as: fossil fuel or limestone or dolomite? During the last 3 million years CO2 has been unusually low because of sequestration due to unusual ??? I think I got the wrong answer last time on this one.
In 1968 I almost got a job at a company named Numec at Apollo PA near Pittsburgh. The job was designing nuclear batteries for heart pacemakers. The batteries used nuclear “waste” to generate heat. Numec was in the nuclear fuel reprocessing business. Numec “lost” half a ton of nuclear fuel that it was reprocessing. The lost fuel somehow found its way to Israel. Numec went out of business, and the US quit reprocessing nuclear fuel. The real issue is not waste but keeping Israel and other countries from stealing the “spent” fuel to reprocess back into fuel. You can skip the expensive centrifuging step that way. My solution is to do the reprocessing in government owned government operated [GOGO] plants. Free enterprise can be too free. Yucca mountain must be guarded because the so-called “waste” is very valuable.
Coal fired power plants, besides burning 4 Million tons of carbon per 1000 megawatts per year, also put out 4 tons of Uranium with each 4 Million tons of carbon. Average coal contains 1 part per million uranium. Illinois coal contains up to 103 parts per million uranium. We could fuel our nuclear power plants from coal smoke and cinders. Thorium from coal can be bred into uranium. Industrial grade Chinese coal contains so much Arsenic that families who steal it for cooking, die of arsenic poisoning. Coal contains so much of so many elements that coal smoke and cinders should be considered ore and perhaps nuclear “waste.” We don’t treat coal waste that way because familiarity breeds contempt???? Coal is almost pure carbon, except for the URANIUM, ARSENIC, LEAD, MERCURY, THORIUM, Antimony, Cobalt, Nickel, Copper, Selenium, Barium, Fluorine, Silver, Beryllium, Iron, Sulfur, Boron, Titanium, Cadmium, Magnesium, Calcium, Manganese, Vanadium, Chlorine, Aluminum, Chromium, Molybdenum, Zinc and so on that are coal’s impurities. See: http://www.ornl.gov/ORNLReview/rev26-34/text/coalmain.html
Natural background radiation is 1000 times what you get from a nuclear power plant or 10 times what you get from a coal fired power plant of the same capacity. Radiation is a “Greenpeace” or propaganda or phony or Allègre/Courtillot issue. We date ancient mummies with the radioactive carbon they ate thousands of years ago. NOW can we get back to the climate?
Jim Cripwell, I’m very happy to take your money on 2008 arctic sea ice area. Sorry not to respond earlier but work pressure has prevented me from keeping up with RC threads lately.
As I have mentioned in other threads in the past, the early November re-freeze this year was predicted by the sea ice experts. I had an email exchange with Bill Chapman at CT in October on this exact subject, in which he said (26th October): “I fully expect the extreme anomaly to reverse course very rapidly any day now. During the severe melt back this summer, I was expecting the anomaly to really get severe this autumn as the climatological ice growth season kicked in and the excess heat absorbed by the ocean delayed the refreezing. So far, it has played out just as expected.” I hope he doesn’t mind my posting this small quote from private email.
To run quickly over the physics of this: the arctic winter is very cold and very long, because of the earth’s axial tilt. Any open water in the arctic which is not warmed by currents will freeze during the winter. Last winter, next winter, every winter; the axial tilt isn’t changing. The only way this could be prevented would be for the water to start the winter so warm that six months of arctic night is insufficient to freeze it. The arctic ocean is very far from being this warm yet: we will enter the 2008 melt season with the arctic ocean entirely frozen, as always (although total arctic sea ice is likely to be lower than the 1979-2000 average, because there will be less ice on the arctic periphery – in the North Atlantic, North Pacific, Greenland Sea, etc – partly because of warmer water, partly because there has been less ice in the arctic ocean to drift into peripheral waters).
However, the arctic climate is strongly warming, and arctic weather (wind patterns) and decadal climate systems (the AO) have also been in a warming state. Models provide good evidence that the overall warming trend of the arctic is CO2 driven. Whether or not the weather patterns and AO are also driven by CO2 is (as I understand it) an open question. Regardless, the most dramatic effect of all these warming systems is the reduction of the summer ice area minimum, and the opening up of a huge anomaly at and after the minimum. Any effect on the winter ice area maximum is bound to be smaller, because of the simple physics of the system, as explained above.
Various posters have said that volume is more important than area. Volume is very important, because of the latent heat, and the steady loss of ice thickness over several decades is striking, as is the recent loss of multi-year ice, to which 2007 adds a huge contribution. But area is also important, because the loss of sea ice area drives the albedo feedback, and for a number of other reasons (wave-mixing, sub-ice systems, etc). One could reasonably say that volume is important in the winter (when the whole ocean is frozen anyway, and albedo is less relevant, and the increase in volume of ice shows the latent heat flow), but that area is important in the summer (when albedo is critical).
Now, on to the important business at hand. I’m not a rich man, and I have many other things to do with my money, so shall we say 50 Euros? Odds complicate things, so let us construct a bet which we are both happy to take at even odds. For the reasons outlined above, I don’t think a bet on the 2008 maximum area is an interesting one. So let us bet on the 2008 minimum area.
The 1979-2000 average minimum is a little over 5 million square kilometres. 2005 was a record low of 4.01 million square kilometres; 2006 was not quite so low; 2007 was around 3 million square kilometres. I propose a cut-off number of 4.01 million square kilometres: the 2005 number. That is, I’ll put money on the 2008 minimum being lower than any previous record except 2007.
If Cryosphere Today reports a 2008 minimum area of more than 4.01 million square kilometres, I’ll pay you 50 euros. If Cryosphere Today reports a 2008 minimum area of less than 4.01 million square kilometres, you’ll pay me 50 euros.
Do we have a bet?
PS to Jim: I would also be prepared to bet 1 euro per ten thousand square kilometres either side of 4.01 million, up to a maximum of 50 euros (e.g. if it’s 4.45 million, I pay you 44 euros, if it’s 3.85 million, you pay me 16 euros).
@ Edward Greisch Natural background radiation is 1000 times what you get from a nuclear power plant or 10 times what you get from a coal fired power plant of the same capacity. Radiation is a “Greenpeace” or propaganda or phony or Allègre/Courtillot issue.
I take it you mean that a nuclear power plant delivers 1000 times the natural background radiation and a coal plant 10x?
Apart from that – yes, familiarity breeds obliviousness, not contempt. Owners of coal fired plants would like us to not think of the byproducts being released, I think.
Next question: Is there any other economic reactor type?
Comment by Florifulgurator — 20 Nov 2007 @ 6:21 AM
Ref 71 Jim Galasyn writes “Is your claim that this curve will reverse its trend and start heading back to 0 next summer?” The answer is not necessarily. One year, the trend will reverse, but not necessarily next summer. It depends on when the earth starts cooling down, instead of it’s temperature not increasing. And this depends on when solar cycle 24 starts, and how active the sun is going to be at maximum. If 2007 is a tipping point one would expect there to be less ice in September 2008 compared with September 2007. What I expect is that September 2008 will have about the same amount of arctic ice as September 2006. However, I would not be surprised if there was considerably more ice than this.
I agree that reforestation isn’t as effective a carbon-trap as old-growth, nor is it biologically diverse. But it sure beats doing nothing!
One post earlier talked about reforesting the sahara. You don’t have to. The weather patterns there may not support reforestation, but IIRC, the famines in ethiopia during the 80s were caused almost entirely by deforestation. The story was that the area cut down all the trees during a time of drought and that all the nutrients in the soil blew away (very similar to how plowing the fields at the beginning of the dust bowl contributed mightily to the resulting devastation). to get that land to produce again will be difficult, but it is possible. man screwed it up, man can fix it.
It’s also possible to have a coherent lumbering strategy that doesn’t wipe out the underlying biosphere. It’s just a matter of leaving enough old growth forest around as seed for the new growth. That amount, obviously, changes depending on what’s living in the old growth.
[The issue of where to allocate emissions attributed to import goods and international flights is a very important one, but the standard accounting I’ve used still gives a good indication of the relative contribution of the various countries to the rise of atmospheric CO2.}
In my opinion, emissions attributed to import goods should be listed to the country of origin (place of manufacture), and emissions attributed to international flights should be listed to the departure point (more fuel needed for takeoff than landing).
Re Greenpeace: I can’t find it in Science, so it must be in Nature, to which I no longer subscribe. Robert May talked about the benefits that accrued from a discussion on transgenic crops??, even though the discussion occurred after people from Greenpeace knowingly lied (it might have been knowingly made statements they knew to be untrue). Can a Nature subscriber look this up?
If you find statements from the anti-nuclear community, check to see if the nuclear community has a response. (Or even better, start with reliable sources.) Re are we going to run out of uranium soon, that is easy to check. Back to David Bodanksy, Nuclear Energy, 2nd edition:
Adopting the probably conservative resource estimate of 20 million [metric] tonnes … A resource of this magnitude could sustain four times the present rate of generation for 80 years.
He then looks at research on extracting uranium from seawater, in very early stages yet, as it will be decades before this source is important. At current costs of $700/kg U, an order of magnitude more than uranium costs today, nuclear power costs would increase by 1.5 cent/kWh. Any kind of technology improvement, as one would expect if the uranium from sea water were actually valuable, should bring down the price.
Re how much radiation power reactors add to the environment, er, #87, it’s not more than background. Coal power adds 4 times the radiation while the coal is burning as nuclear will add during the entire life cycle from mining to waste, but neither adds significant radioactivity until far in the future. About 300,000 years from now, exposure to any one person from Yucca Mountain is expected to peak at 260 mrem/person. This is high compared to natural background radiation, 300 mrem/year, but small compared to naturally occurring radiation many places in the world (Ramsar, Iran is most extreme, at 26,000 mrem/year, with no apparent health effects due to the extra radioactivity), comparable to the exposure to flight crews (360 mrem/year for 720 hours in the air), and small compared to smoking, which exposes a 1.5 pack/day smoker to 8,000 mrem/year (yes, the radiation is not the largest cause of harm to the smoker).
Hank, what is so technically difficult about nuclear waste that the experts have to work hard? This isn’t to say that all the t’s have been crossed and i’s dotted on Yucca Mountain, or the French plan, but are the biggest difficulties technical or societal?
Jim, thank you for the signal analysis and prediction in 89. To my naive eye, it looks like the curve in the ’00s departs significantly from the linear downward trend of the previous decades. The dynamics seem to have changed around 1999, with a new higher frequency component. If I were to pick a tipping point year, I’d call it around 2002 — that’s when it all seems to start going south.
Can you post a sketch for me of what your recovery curve looks like? Is there a particular reason why you suspect September 2007/8 to be the inflection point?
Re nuclear, the InterAcademy Council report, Lighting the Way: Toward a Sustainable Energy Future, recommends:
Given the controversy over the future of nuclear power worldwide, the United Nations should commission—as soon as possible—a transparent and objective re-examination of the issues that surround nuclear power and their potential solutions. It is essential that the general public be informed about the outcome of this re-examination.
So it would be good if we all push for this report, and help publicize the results.
A report along those lines was already produced four years ago.
In July 2003, a team of researchers from MIT and Harvard published a report entitled The Future of Nuclear Power which advocated an expansion of nuclear electricity generation as part of the overall approach to reducing carbon emissions.
The report looked at a scenario under which worldwide nuclear electricity generation would be approximately tripled from current levels by 2050, eg. by deploying 1000 new 1000 MWe reactors, thereby keeping nuclear’s share of electricity generation approximately constant (actually, increasing it from 17 percent to 19 percent), which the report said would “displace a significant amount of carbon-emitting fossil fuel generation”, approximately 1,800 million tonnes if all the displaced generatin was coal-fired.
The report identified four key “unresolved problems” as obstacles to an expansion of nuclear power:
1. High cost. For example, nuclear power plants have not been built in the US in recent decades simply because they are not cost-competitive with coal or natural gas fired generation. The report suggested that steps towards raising the cost of fossil fuel generation, eg. through carbon taxes, could make nuclear more competitive (this of course is also helpful to wind, solar and other forms of clean renewable electricity generation). The report also recommended hundreds of billions of dollars of government investment, subsidies and insurance for nuclear-generated electricity.
2. Safety, including public safety and adverse environmental and health effects, and “growing concern about the safe and secure transportation of nuclear materials and the security of nuclear facilities from terrorist attack.” The report asserted that “we know little about the safety of the overall fuel cycle, beyond reactor operation.” The report recommended that the nuclear industry should “maintain today’s standard of less than one serious release of radioactivity accident for 50 years from all fuel cycle activity”, noting that maintaining this standard for an expanded nuclear power industry implies a “ten-fold reduction in the expected frequency of serious reactor core accidents” (emphasis added).
3. Nuclear weapons proliferation risks, eg. “misuse of commercial or associated nuclear facilities and operations to acquire technologies or materials as a precursor to the acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability.” The report asserted that “the current international safeguards regime is inadequate to meet the security challenges of the expanded nuclear deployment contemplated in the global growth scenario” and that “the reprocessing system now used in Europe, Japan and Russia … presents unwarranted proliferation risks” and advised that “nuclear power should not expand unless the risk of proliferation from operation of the nuclear fuel cycle is made acceptably small.”
4. Nuclear waste. The report stated that “The United States and other countries have yet to implement final disposition of spent fuel or high level radioactive waste streams created at various stages of the nuclear fuel cycle [...] management and disposal of high-level radioactive spent fuel from the nuclear fuel cycle is one of the most intractable problems facing the nuclear power industry … no country has yet successfully implemented a system for disposing of this waste” (emphasis added) [... ] implementation of [geologic repositories] is a highly demanding task that will place great stress on operating, regulatory and political institutions”. The report said “we do not believe a convincing case can be made, on the basis of waste management considerations alone, that the benefits of advanced, closed fuel cycles will outweigh the attendant safety, environmental, and security risks and economic costs.”
These sobering observations — in a report that recommends a threefold expansion of nuclear electricity generation — are in contrast to the comments of too many nuclear proponents who tend to dismiss concerns about nuclear power as the emotional imaginings of anti-nuclear zealots. The problems are real and the concerns are well-founded.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 20 Nov 2007 @ 12:13 PM
No he means a coal plant produces more air-borne radiation than a nuclear plant but background radiation dwarfs both. The real radiation issue is about the liquid and solid waste though. However some reactor designs can burn the waste so that issue should die off. But since Uranium is rather scarcer than coal, it’s likely we’ll soon need to use Thorium fuel. Perhaps even Greenpeace might eventually accept Thorium, since it seems quite harmless stuff.
With regard to the nuclear power discussion: the immediate and urgent problem is that, per the IPCC, in order to avoid the worst outcomes of global warming and climate change, worldwide carbon emissions must peak and begin a rapid decline within seven or eight years.
It is difficult to see how any plausible expansion of nuclear electricity generation can make a significant contribution to that urgent need.
And indeed, although wind and solar electrical generation are already growing very rapidly (30 to 40 percent per year), because they are currently a very small part of the world’s electricity supply they are also likely to only modestly reduce the expected growth in emissions from electricity generation in that seven to eight year time frame.
And while electricity generation is certainly a major source of carbon emissions it is not the only one — emissions from the mostly petroleum-fueled transport sector, as well as from animal agriculture, are also major components of the problem. Electrification of the transport sector is another long-term project.
The challenging fact is that the only way to meet the goal of stopping and reducing the growth of emissions within seven to eight years is for humanity to use less energy. Quite a lot less energy.
Which makes it very interesting that virtually all of the discussion of solutions on this site, and other forums where intelligent and well-informed people comment on this issue, is focused on various reduced-carbon supply-side technologies, and very little discussion addresses the much more urgent need for reducing energy use through conservation and efficiency.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 20 Nov 2007 @ 12:30 PM
Ref 85 Nick Barnes says “If Cryosphere Today reports a 2008 minimum area of more than 4.01 million square kilometres, I’ll pay you 50 euros. If Cryosphere Today reports a 2008 minimum area of less than 4.01 million square kilometres, you’ll pay me 50 euros.
Do we have a bet?” We could have a bet, but not with money. This implies exchange of snail mail addresses, etc. However, what I suggest is a mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa message on RC. With the figures you present, if you win I will post such a message. If I win, you post the message. I will give you the benefit of equal to 4.01. How is that?
Ref 97 Jim Galasyn writes “Is there a particular reason why you suspect September 2007/8 to be the inflection point?”. Please read my 89 “One year, the trend will reverse, but not necessarily next summer.” As you probably realise the data is very “noisy”. It is going to be tough to be exact when the reversal starts. I suspect that when we look back from about 2014, we will be able to see when the reversal actually started. I have no idea how rapid the reversal will be. It depends on solar cycle 24.
[Response: An increase in solar forcing going into cycle 24 is going to make the ice regrow? You are posting on the right thread. - gavin]
Re #94 (Karen Street) “Re Greenpeace: I can’t find it in Science, so it must be in Nature, to which I no longer subscribe. Robert May talked about the benefits that accrued from a discussion on transgenic crops??, even though the discussion occurred after people from Greenpeace knowingly lied (it might have been knowingly made statements they knew to be untrue).”
So, you don’t actually know which publication it was in, what the topic of the discussion was, or (I assume, since you don’t tell us) what the alleged lies were? And you’re relying on one person – eminent scientist though he is – to tell us what was in the minds of the Greenpeace people concerned (how does he know they “knowingly lied”?), without actually checking whether they might have anything to say in response? Excuse me if I’m somewhat underwhelmed – I thought you must have clear documentary evidence that Greenpeace is systematically dishonest or reckless in what it says.
“Adopting the probably conservative resource estimate of 20 million [metric] tonnes … A resource of this magnitude could sustain four times the present rate of generation for 80 years.”
Given that, according to the IPCC, nuclear power accounted for 16% of global electricity generation (note: not energy production) in 2005, while demand for energy is rising fast, this doesn’t suggest it is anything near a complete solution for AGW, even if all this uranium could be extracted at reasonable cost and energy expenditure. And are China and India, both without much uranium but with lots of cheap coal, really going to be keen to make themselves dependent on an imported resource?
RE #100 (Secular Animist) “The challenging fact is that the only way to meet the goal of stopping and reducing the growth of emissions within seven to eight years is for humanity to use less energy. Quite a lot less energy.
Which makes it very interesting that virtually all of the discussion of solutions on this site, and other forums where intelligent and well-informed people comment on this issue, is focused on various reduced-carbon supply-side technologies, and very little discussion addresses the much more urgent need for reducing energy use through conservation and efficiency.”
Well said. The same was true at a recent conference on the “post-carbon society” I attended in Brussels, even though the conference focus was, supposedly, on the “demand and social sides” of the issues.
#98 appeared after I posted. That report is odd because it concentrates on light water reactors and almost completely ignores the rather more sensible heavy water designs (because CANDU is a Canadian design perhaps?) – which can burn natural Uranium instead of enriched (solves problem 3) and also nuclear waste (solves problem 4). Also, I live in France where it is widely known that our electricity is cheaper precisely because it is mostly from nuclear power, which doesn’t square with the reports’ conclusions about nuclear being more expensive than coal (so much for problem 1). In fact new reactors have not been built because of 3 mile island and Chernobyl, not because of cost. Most concerns could be solved by the advent of Thorium fuel (solves problems 1,2,3,4) which the report doesn’t even mention. As for safety, I worry more about the safety of chemical and petrochemical plants which have hugely worse safety and pollution records than nuclear plants. What a cockeyed report – grade F – redo it properly.
It seems that “common sense” has replaced patritotism as the last refuge of scoundrels judging by Allegre’s comments about the non-importance of CO2 re global warming. Presumably, Allegre would not
object to having a few crystals of cynanide in his coffee as “common sense” would dictate that such a small quantity could cause no harm. I find it almost incomprehensible that a “scientist” could peddle such arguments, but I guess it shows the catotonic level to which some contrarians have sunk (eg. the fable about a Chinese fleet sailing around the North Pole in the 1400s. Keep up the good work.
for more details. The community is evenly split on whether it will be a moderately strong or moderately weak cycle, but either way, it is expected to be weaker than had been predicted during Cycle 23.
[Response: Regardless of whether 24 is big or small, solar forcing will be growing for the next 5 or so years, not decreasing (we are already at a minimum!). There is zero chance of this making sea ice regrow. - gavin]
Well, yes, as a matter of fact it does. Particularly in this area (east side of the Sierra Nevada), where the typical pattern is calm to light breeze until after noon, then moderate to strong winds until 10 PM or so. Of course this varies depending on local conditions, but in my experience most areas have a daily pattern of this sort.
[Response: Regardless of whether 24 is big or small, solar forcing will be growing for the next 5 or so years, not decreasing (we are already at a minimum!). There is zero chance of this making sea ice regrow. - gavin]
While true technically over the very near term, it could have significant impact on the icepack development throughout the entire cycle, especially when compared to what have been very strong solar cycles over the past century. If cycle 24 is weak and cycle 25 is also weak, the solar forcing function that has been apparent over the last 200 years or so could be disappearing.
Re #107: [Presumably, Allegre would not
object to having a few crystals of cynanide in his coffee as “common sense” would dictate that such a small quantity could cause no harm.]
Ever eaten an almond, or swallowed an apple seed? These, and many other plants, contain small quantities of cyanide.
This is another example of the linear dose response fallacy. The assumption is that if a large quantity of something causes harm, then a small quantity causes a proportionally smaller harm, even if that harm is below the threshold of detection. In the real world, though, we can find many examples where the response is not linear: low doses cause no harm, and may even confer a benefit, as with some vitamins & minerals, or even exposure to sunlight.
RE #106 [JamesG] “That report is odd because it concentrates on light water reactors and almost completely ignores the rather more sensible heavy water designs (because CANDU is a Canadian design perhaps?) – which can burn natural Uranium instead of enriched (solves problem 3) and also nuclear waste (solves problem 4).”
CANDU reactors produce both plutonium and tritium, both of considerable proliferation concern. And although they can use the waste from some other reactors as fuel, they still produce nuclear waste of their own. They take longer and cost more to build than most designs.
“Most concerns could be solved by the advent of Thorium fuel (solves problems 1,2,3,4) which the report doesn’t even mention.”
If thorium is such a wonderful fuel, one has to ask why no-one is yet using it. And potential thorium reactors have their own proliferation problems.
91. emissions attribution would depend on context. for example, a law suit brought against a company for failing to reduce embodied and embedded emissions within goods it places on market and services delivered into market may not necessarily be concerned with geographical labels for physical points of emissions. emissions liability may encompass both direct and direct-by-proxy emissions. thus, if a company imports goods made in another country, the company placing the goods on market (depending on jurisdictional framework) may be the liability carrier.
Timo, Re 92. It would appear that you are a believer in Disney’s first law: Wishing will make it so.
I have worked enough with technology that I am not such a technological optimist. Some things (e.g. space travel) are hard. Some (e.g. faster than light space travel) are impossible.
Moreover, given the complacency toward the problems we face and the (exponential) pace at which they are worsening. I see no reason for optimism re: the fate of human civilization.
People who use one dimensional models should think twice before making flat earth jokes .
[Response: People who can't understand the difference between legitimate simplifications that preserve essential physics and geometric errors that introduce factors of four mistakes in energy conservation shouldn't be so eager to parade their ignorance in public. --raypierre]
Re #64 Per: No, that was tongue-in-cheek. Deserts are deserts for a reason. It was just meant to visualise order of magnitude. That said, trying to roll back desertification in areas affected by is a very worthwhile effort.
the climate sensitivity range narrowed from 1.5-4.5ºC previously to 2-4.5ºC now
Shouldn’t this say 1.5-6ºC previously (as it is quoted earlier in the same point)?
[Response: No. The difference is in that the first number is the sensitivity to 2xCO2 at equilibrium, while the second range is the expected temperature range at 2100 given all the scenarios. The latter is much more uncertain than the former. - gavin]
Re tamino: “Good luck, it sounds like you’ve got quite a challenge. Unfortunately, denialists make it *easy* for their adherents; you really don’t have to study hard, think hard, or know anything, to buy into their arguments. In some cases you actually have to be *ignorant* (like believing that red noise makes hockey sticks). It’s all too easy and comfortable to accept their drivel.”
I think the real problem is that people of certain political views (and not just one) want to fit the world into a political narrative that they have invested too much of their self in to back out.
As far as convincing him that red noise doesn’t make hockey sticks, it shouldn’t be too hard. He has read Carslaw’s book on Fourier series within the past decade. It’s not like when my grandmother sat me down and required me to explain my dissertation to her. (“I’ve never been able to understand what your father does with his, and I won’t let that happen again….”)
so far, nothing exceptional, and although the IPCC predicts
“For the next two decades a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected for a range of SRES emissions scenarios.”
Smith, Doug M., Stephen Cusack, Andrew W. Colman, Chris K. Folland, Glen R. Harris, and James M. Murphy, 2007. Improved Surface Temperature Prediction for the Coming Decade from a Global Climate Model. Science Vol. 317, No 5839, pp. 796-799, August 10, 2007, online http://www.precaution.org/lib/warmer_after_2009.070810.pdf
“…It is very likely that the climate will warm
over the coming century in response to
changes in radiative forcing arising from anthropogenic
emissions of greenhouse gases and
aerosols (1). There is, however, particular interest
in the coming decade, which represents a
key planning horizon for infrastructure upgrades,
insurance, energy policy, and business development.
On this time scale, climate could be dominated
by internal variability (2) arising from
unforced natural changes in the climate system…”
Explained: “Although average global temperatures have been relatively flat in recent years, the model says they will start rising again next year.”
“…The results show a reduced dispersion of the estimated sea-level trends after application of the GPS corrections. They reveal that the reference frame implementation is now achieved within the millimetre accuracy on a weekly basis. Regardless of the application, whether local or global, we have shown that GPS data analysis has reached the maturity to provide useful information to separate land motion from oceanic processes recorded by the tide gauges or to correct these latter. ….We obtain a value of 1.31 ± 0.30 mm/yr, a value which appears to resolve the ‘sea level enigma’…”
It seems to me, Climatology is not at all settled the way certain scientists try to argue.
I see no (exponential) pace at which our problems are worsening.
I do know scepticism prevails, but only optimism is the way to win the problems.
Ahhh… but *cherry-picked* red-noise can! All you have to do is generate red-noise ensembles until you get a hockey-stick-shaped leading principal component with an associated singular value magnitude of 0.02 or so. Throw out the rest of the data and voila! A red-noise hockey-stick!
Gavin comment (108) Regardless of whether 24 is big or small, solar forcing will be growing for the next 5 or so years, not decreasing (we are already at a minimum!). There is zero chance of this making sea ice regrow.
Of course, but would you say for example that a delayed effect of the ending cycle 23 weaker than previous 21 and 22 has zero chance of contributing to a sea ice recover ?
That is : is there any reason to believe direct and indirect effects of solar forcing are instantaneous, whereas direct and indirect effects of CO2 forcing are not (because of thermal inertia of oceans) ?
[Response: Actually the long term solar trends averaging over the cycles are likely to have some small impact - but given that those trends in recent decades are an order of magnitude (at best) smaller than GHG trends, it's unlikely to be detectable. But any short term predictions for sea ice (i.e. over less than a solar cycle or two) doesn't have anything to do with that - and that was what Jim was taking about. - gavin]
(Of course, Rasmus or any other RC contributor may answer my questions).
Ref 121 Jim Galasyn writes “Don’t you find that sudden downward slope the least bit worrying?” Not in the least. The world got warmer at the end of the 20th century. So it is to be expected that odd things will happen. Like the 2005 hurricane season in the North Atlantic. This has been followed by two seasons of abnormally low hurricane activity. The sudden decrease of ice in the summer of 2007 will be seen to be just such a one time only affair.
[Response: Again. Please think about your statements. The long term average hurricane tropical storm number is 10 per season, and we had 14 this year - this is not abnormally low - unless of course you think that 2005 is now 'normal' (let's hope not!). - gavin]
Ref 108 Gavin writes “Regardless of whether 24 is big or small, solar forcing will be growing for the next 5 or so years, not decreasing (we are already at a minimum!). There is zero chance of this making sea ice regrow.” We obviously have different ideas as to how the sun may affect the earth’s climate. The key is not the sunspot activity per se, but the activity at the maximum of the sunspot cycle. Yes, the sun is blank right now, and has been virtually so for some months, but this does not mean a cold earth. We dont really understand the physics, but whatever it is that makes the maximum sunspot number to be low, also makes the earth cold. What the sunspot number will be at the maximum of solar cycle 24, indicates how rapidly the earth is cooling.
Hank, I live in Berkeley, where a number of transuranic elements were created. It’s the creation of transuranic elements that leads to maximum exposure to radioactivity due to nuclear waste 300,000 years from now. More information please! The word transuranic does not alone explain why nuclear waste is so difficult.
Re #99 Interestingly, I read this report through a different lens than did you, though I would guess that the report was considerably more pessimistic in 2003 than it would be today.
Actually, the report envisioned by the InterAcademy Council report, Lighting the Way, differs from the MIT and other similar reports. The report, as I understand it, wishes to change public opinion:
In the case of nuclear power it is fair to say that understanding of the technology and of the potential developments that could mitigate some of the concerns reviewed above—both among the public and among policymakers—is dated. A transparent and scientifically driven re-examination of the issues surrounding nuclear power and their potential solutions is needed.
Estimates of electricity costs differ, here is a more recent one from EPRI. All estimates for all power plants will be out of date next year as the cost of construction continues to rise. I think that it’s fair to assume that most readers would like to see a GHG policy that raises the cost of coal to make it less attractive than other options. According to EPRI, that occurs at as little as $10/metric tonne CO2 for nuclear, and as little as $45/tCO2 for wind. Also, re #106, I think that nuclear is probably cheaper than coal in countries that don’t have large coal reserves, also it depends on whether you calculate costs over 30? years of amortization, or the life of the nuclear power plant — since these last many decades, the price/kWh for new nuclear over its lifetime may be cheaper than new coal even in the US.
Re safety: The next sentence after the ten-fold reduction in the MIT report is this:
This reactor safety standard should be possible to achieve in new light water reactor plants that make use of advanced safety designs.
Re proliferation: I believe that many people would like to see no increase in the number of countries reprocessing unless some way of preventing the use of weapons usable (not weapons grade) plutonium.
Re waste: Again, the reprocessing option is unattractive. But are the problems technical or societal? Does nuclear waste have to have a solution today for technical or societal reasons?–a permanent solution is better than dry cask only so that people will feel solutions exist?
Re #101, same author, it is important that efficiency be mandated and otherwise encouraged. Two friends in lower elementary and I just returned from distributing CFLs at a senior center, and we will visit another tomorrow.
#104 Nuclear is not even close to being the only solution needed. I’m sorry if I gave the impression that I believed that. Where I live, solar is being heavily funded, also the local lab is researching both cellulosic biofuels and better solar through nano. Also better windows, etc. Re China and India, the fuel cost for nuclear is considerably less than construction costs, and considerably less than the oil they are importing. It is not my impression that most world legislators are particularly concerned about uranium costs and source as they are about the same for oil.
There was a discussion of thorium reactors, one version of which is used in India. There is more thorium than uranium, and according to Socolow at the 2007 AAAS meeting, there is more U+Th than coal (measured in units of electricity potential).
Karen, I’ve read your work in the Daily Planet and other places.
Gavin’s said this isn’t the right forum to go on about nuclear.
This may help on the current approach to safe handling of transuranics, it’s the most recent standard I know of.
Note I’m just another reader here, not an expert in anything.:
“ABSTRACT The DOE Office of Environmental Management (EM) observed through onsite assessments and a review of site-specific lessons learned that transuranic (TRU) waste operations could benefit from standardization….. This paper recounts the efforts by the DOE and its contractors to bring consistency to the safety analysis process …. These efforts culminated in the preparation of DOE-STD-5506-2007, which was released in May 2007.”
My point’s simply that people saying it’s simple need to read up.
In #130 Hank says-”I’m just another reader here, not an expert in anything.”
Adam was a gardener, Joseph, a carpenter,Lincoln a railsplitter, Faraday a bookbinder’s apprentice…..well you get the point.
Raypierre’s original post says:
“Allègre says that under an increase of CO2 there would be no warming at the equator, whereas the predicted warming at the equator is in fact only somewhat below the global mean warming. He states correctly that the warming is strongest at the poles, but states without support that a 10ºC warming would be no big deal (p.122). This is quite a startling statement,……..”
It sure startled me!.This sounds like something out of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. 10 degrees C is a very big deal, especially considering that the average difference for the planet(the global mean), between the last ice age and now,is about +6C. It doesn’t take a large difference to radically change global climate. It’s hard to comprehend why a reputable scientist like Allegre can make such obvious incorrect statements.
Allègre says that under an increase of CO2 there would be no warming at the equator, whereas the predicted warming at the equator is in fact only somewhat below the global mean warming. He states correctly that the warming is strongest at the poles, but states without support that a 10ºC warming would be no big deal (p.122). This is quite a startling statement
Re. #65, Jim Cripwell, did you read the articles Hank and others pointed you to? Do you still not understand the difference between area and volume? As for your 2008 bet, don’t you know the difference between weather and climate? The 2008 figure will be weather. The trend is climate. I think a lot of people here would be happy to bet you that in ten years times, the trend will show that 2007 was not simply an anomaly but was a clear indication of a big increase in the trend.
The talk of environmental groups using propaganda reminds me of the false balance in the popular press. Just because one side is being disingenuous it doesn’t mean their opponents are doing the same thing.
Greenpeace out of the major environmental groups does push the envelope, but on the global warming issue they don’t push clearly false positions. Greenpeace is probably the most extreme of the major enviro groups, so they are used to make a strawman argument that Grteenpeace represents all environmentalists.
As far as the nuclear issue goes, to summarize enviro groups’ position the problems are with disposal of waste that will be toxic for hundreds of thousands of years, indeed a threat longer than humans existed. The other is transporting fuel and waste over unprotected roads and railways. After 9/11 the issues of terrorist attacks on unprotected nuclear facilities and conversion of civilian nuclear energy into military programs (like Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, India, Israel) are also important.
Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 21 Nov 2007 @ 12:12 AM
Presumed roots of Allègre’s vehement opposition to Climate Change were once disclosed by an oceanographist (Bruno Voituriez) : Allègre used to be heading research in what used to be the queen of disciplins at the time : geophysics. But together with rising climate concerns and the need to understand the earth’s climate mechanisms, arose the need to understand the role of oceans, which was widely unknown at the time. Therefore lots of research credits usually dedicated to geophysics went to his rival and traditionnally disregarded discipline, oceanography…
Could Courtillot, also a geophysicist, be Allègre’s companion of misfortune, and animated by the same feelings ?
By the way, I attended the IPCC event at the French academy of sciences mentioned in the article. I left the conference convinced that this body (the French academy of sciences) was full of logorrheic dinosaurs using science to fulfil the needs of their over-inflated ego.
Comment by Jean-Pierre Moussally — 21 Nov 2007 @ 12:38 AM
I think a lot of people here would be happy to bet you that in ten years times, the trend will show that 2007 was not simply an anomaly but was a clear indication of a big increase in the trend
A ridiculous assertion and I’ve got $500 to bet you are wrong. All we have to do is define “increase in the trend”. Or did you mean to say “a clear indication of the trend”? That’s possible, but you are suggesting 2007 suggests a tipping point. Is there any literature to support that wild contention?
Re #111 (James) “Re #96: [The wind stops blowing at night???]
Well, yes, as a matter of fact it does. Particularly in this area (east side of the Sierra Nevada), where the typical pattern is calm to light breeze until after noon, then moderate to strong winds until 10 PM or so. Of course this varies depending on local conditions, but in my experience most areas have a daily pattern of this sort.”
Such daily patterns are one reason why the unreliability of wind, and other renewable sources, is less of a drawback (requires less backup capacity) than is often claimed. See for example:
Sinden, G. (2007) “Characteristics of the UK wind resource: Long-term patterns and relationship to electricity demand”
Energy Policy 35,1,112-127
[[Current solutions and new inventions will solve the problems arising in near future, i.e. before 2030.
Myles Allen correctly stated recently in Science how futile are 50 or 100 yr scenarios, and something like “our grandchildren will solve their problems”, i.e. after 2030.
I do agree. Human ingenuity will solve all the problems ahead.
Our Future is Bright.]]
Yes, and nuclear power will provide energy too cheap to meter. Space travel will be common and cheap by the year 2000, and there will be a base on the moon and manned expeditions to Mars. Everybody will own a flying car. And a small pill will provide all the nutrition of a full meal.
Comment by Antonia Geraldi — 21 Nov 2007 @ 5:49 AM
Joe Duck @139: I’ve got $500 to bet you are wrong.
After my exchange with Jim Cripwell earlier in this thread, I have 50 euros ready to bet. Come up with a reasonable bet, with an unambiguous result, at even odds, and I’ll think about it.
Is there any literature to support that wild contention
There’s a lot of literature about the albedo feedback, which is certainly one mechanism for 2005/6/7 to have formed a tipping point.
It doesn’t seem possible to get anyone to bet that arctic sea ice in the next few decades will resemble that in the last few. There are some who appear to believe it, but none who will put his money where his mouth is.
You make the mistake of extrapolating from current trends, as though they cannot be changed.
It is certainly true that at current rates of growth renewable sources of energy generation (wind, solar et al) cannot hope to lead to a decline in carbon diioxide emissions. However, can you honestly say that they have been pursued with vigour? With the urgency that our predicament demands?
Even the best countries in this regard, such as Germany, have relied primarily on arms-length methods to encourage renewables growth, in their case by insisting an excess is paid for electricity delivered to the grid from renewable sources. This falls a long way short of what could be achieved were the full weight of the German state thrown behind efforts to reduce GHG emissions.
It brings to mind stories of the approach towards the Second World War. British industrialists resisted demands that their factories were turned over to armaments production, arguing that the government could tax their profits from producing vacuum cleaners to pay for the war effort. Clearly this fell far short of the measures ultimately taken to reconfigure the whole economy onto a war footing.
We face the challenge of converting nearly all of the energy infrastructure of the entire world to a very low carbon basis. The faster the better. So we need solutions that are robust, fast, scalable and global. Cheap would help.
Nuclear is neither a fast nor a global solution. The consequences for nuclear proliferation of having nuclear powere plants in every country of the world… and it takes a long time to build and comission a nuclear power plant.
Energy efficiency is also problematic as a solution. There was an excellent letter in the Guardian on this topic. They wrote: As elderly but committed environmentalists we dutifully turn our thermostat down every time we are told to (Letters, October 30). We are currently shivering at seven degrees. Do you think it might be more helpful if someone could recommend a specific temperature?
Peter and Vera Hall
Most of the people who are ever going to take energy efficiency seriously, are already doing everything they can. With what net result? It’s true that you could design devices to be inherently more efficient, but you then suffer from the counter-intuitive feedback effect, whereby increasing energy efficiency leads to an increase in energy usage.
The scale of the problem is so large that there is no single cure that would be sufficient, but I think that the key focus and challenge has to be on beginning the task of installing renewable electricity generation capacity that is perhaps three times current electricity generation, so that it can also be used for surface transport and space heating.
This is going to take nothing less than the lion’s share of the world’s manufacturing capacity, no?
There are no corners that can be cut on this one, unless we are prepared to accept impacts such as Greenland melt.
[Response: Energy efficiency is not primarily a matter of turning the thermostat down. Ask Amory Lovins whether he is shivering in the dark. His house in the Rockies is so well insulated that he didn't need a furnace anymore. He estimates that on the very coldest days, he's about 50 watts short of what's needed to keep the temperature comfortable without a sweater -- and he can make up the difference needed basically by playing ball with his dog, so as to keep the dog's energy output up a bit. --raypierre]
Ref 132 Dave writes “As for your 2008 bet, don’t you know the difference between weather and climate?” As I explained many weeks ago, I come to RC to learn. And I acknowledge that there are many things I am ignorant of. When this thread started, #26, we were talking about a “tipping point”. Now I am convinced that tipping points are a figment of the imagination, so I am totally and utterly ignorant of their characteristics. I simply dont know whether a tipping point is a weather related phenomenon or a climate related one. If tipping points are weather related, then presumably my discussion was in order. If, however, tipping points are climate related, that is a different matter. Do we have to wait the mandatory 30 years until the “sweet spot” arrives before we can conclude that this year’s ice melt was a tipping point? Or how many years do we have to wait for data, before we can come to a definitive conclusion?
Regarding the hurricane season, the Accumulated Cyclone Energy index is well below average for the year. The ACE index accounts for storm strength and duration and is a more comprehensive measure of hurricane activity than the number of named storms or hurricanes.
RE #145 (Timothy) I agree with most of what you say, and your WW2 analogy is spot on, but there’s surely something you’ve missed here:
“Most of the people who are ever going to take energy efficiency seriously, are already doing everything they can. With what net result? It’s true that you could design devices to be inherently more efficient, but you then suffer from the counter-intuitive feedback effect, whereby increasing energy efficiency leads to an increase in energy usage.”
Energy derived from carbon-intensive sources has to become much more expensive – at a rate at least matching the rate at which efficicency improves. This could be done at a national level by setting an annual national CO2 (or CO2 and other GHG) emissions ceiling, and giving everyone an equal share of GHG credits. When you buy carbon-intensive energy, or services directly using emissions-producing technology (notably transport), you use some of your quota. If you have extra left over, you can sell it; if you go over, you have to buy extra. Industry has to buy quota, they of course pass on the cost to their customers – when you buy most goods, you don’t have to pay GHG credits, because their cost is embedded in the price. At international level, all (!) that have to be agreed are the global ceiling, how it should be divided between states, and how the agreement should be enforced.
#149 Nick Gotts: Energy derived from carbon-intensive sources has to become much more expensive – at a rate at least matching the rate at which efficicency improves.
Terrapass today is selling carbon credits for about $10/ton. It costs $80 to offset a year of driving a Hummer. At $100/ton, it would cost $800. Still not causing pain to a driver dropping $3500 a year on gas. At $1000/ton, CO2 offsets would cost twice what gas for the car cost.
Perpaphs that is starting to hurt at that point.
Industry has to buy quota, they of course pass on the cost to their customers – when you buy most goods, you don’t have to pay GHG credits, because their cost is embedded in the price.
But what target are you hoping to acheive? If we need to reduce per-capita CO2 output to under 1T/person to account for the rest of the world coming on line, the even France is looking at needing a 90% reduction.
If we’re relying on fossil fuel, then reducing our fuel consumption by 90% will be impossible and taxing won’t make that pill any easier to swallow.
If instead we’re relying on some alt energy that doesn’t produce CO2 and is “just” 20-30% more expensive than fossil fuel today, then taxing isn’t required because we have all the energy we need for just 20-30% more. And in 10-20 years, as improvements come and scale kicks in, then alt energy is likely cheaper than fossil fuel. At that point, there is little incentive to save. Drive your electric car wherever you want. Leave lights on all night. If you have the money, you can get the energy.
And yes, you can bet there will still be massive electric SUVs…
Staying on fossil fuels is really the only path that requires extreme conservation in the long term. The alt energy path, once solved, means everyone consumes more than ever before.
[Response: This comment brings out the important point that a carbon tax of any likely magnitude would have only minimal effects on driving habits. The main impact of a carbon tax would be on coal, and that's perhaps as it should be. --raypierre]
Jim Cripwell, If you have a physical system with both positive and negative feedback, it is possible that it may be relatively immune to small perturbations. However, if you push beyond a certain amount, the positive feedback kicks in with a vengeance–a tipping point.
Climate has both positive and negative feedbacks, and albedo effects due to polar ice, emission of ghg from peat bogs, etc. are among them. The fact that you don’t believe in “tipping points” is irrelevant. They exist and they are important.
Re the Accumulated Cyclone Energy index, iirc there was a recent study out of MIT’s Earth and Planetary Sciences department that showed a strong upward trend in the ACE curve over the last few decades.
I’m a bit confused on how GHG’s actually warm our atmosphere. I am fairly educated in thermodynamics and have a decent understanding of radiation, the confusion lies in the amount of GHG’s compared to total mass of the atmosphere. Perhaps someone here can help make things clear.
A few givens. CO2 in our atmosphere has a mass of about 750 billion tons. Water vapor at any given moment is about 13,000 billion tons, and the whole atmosphere’s mass is about 5,000,000 billion tons.
How do GHG’s warm the air surrounding them? How can 750 billion tons of CO2 have so much influence on 5,000,000 billion tons of N2 and O2?
I have heard that without CO2 and Water vapor our atmosphere would be 30 C cooler. Is this true and how? It does not make sense that a fraction of a percent of the atmosphere has so much influence.
Comment by Natural GW Steve — 21 Nov 2007 @ 12:09 PM
Barton Paul Levenson wrote: “And a small pill will provide all the nutrition of a full meal.”
I am reminded of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode in which the crew of the Satellite of Love encountered “advanced” space aliens who boasted that they no longer needed to consume food, having developed a pill that provides perfect nutrition.
Wow, exclaim the SOL crew — so you can just take one little pill instead of eating three meals a day?
Are you crazy? You’d starve that way! reply the aliens — as we see them holding big overflowing bowls from which they are shoveling hundreds of pills into their mouths.
A lot of proposed silver bullet techno-solutions to global warming remind me of this.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Nov 2007 @ 12:24 PM
Re #154: [It does not make sense that a fraction of a percent of the atmosphere has so much influence.]
Do you perhaps have low-E windows on your house? That coating is a tiny fraction of the mass of the glass, but changes the energy balance dramatically.
GHGs act somewhat like that coating. They let in visible light from the sun, but block infrared. The visible light hits the ground, warms it up, and the energy’s re-radiated in the infrared. But the GHGs don’t let the infrared out, so it gets warmer. Think of it as wrapping the planet in one of those lightweight space blankets.
However, to summarize, once a CO2 molecule absorbs an IR photon, it is much more likely to relax collisionally than radiatively. You have energy that stays in the atmosphere, so Earth must warm until its temperature rises sufficiently to radiate away enough energy to reach equilibrium again.
Regardless of teh trend over the last two decades, the last two seasons were extremely quiet on the ACE front. 2005 was extremely strong. 2006 was predicted to be above average and wasn’t. 2007 was predicted to be above average and was a dud. only 1977 was lower than 2007. This again says something about the ability to model the strength of a season.
As for number of storms, there’s a serious discussion ongoing about just how accurately storms were counted in the past. The number of storms that have made landfall is unchanged. but more non-landfalling storms exist now (which could be due to better tracking capabilities and not an increase in storms).
Looking at this year’s list of storms, i have serious doubts about whether the first storm would have been included in previous years. it was classified at the time as a sub-tropical storm (a cold front that’s moved off land and strengthend a bit), but was given a name. In years past, when the number of storms had no political implications whatsoever, i doubt that would have happened. But people now have an investment in having as many storms as possible.
[Response: Where is the evidence for such a ridiculous claim? Storm names are assigned by NHC and I think that they would take great offense at being accused of doing it for any non-scientific reason. - gavin]
[Response: This is off topic, and mostly nonsense. Take it elsewhere. - mike]
So is it only IR radiation being trapped that causes the temps to rise? I ask because CO2 only makes up 750 billion tons of the 5,000,000 billion tons of atmosphere.
That seems like a very small amount of mass that “traps” IR radiation and then warms the mass around it. It takes huge amounts of energy to raise 5,000,000 billion tons of N2 and O2 one degree, that amount of energy cannot come from such a small amount of CO2 unless the temp of the CO2 is millions of degrees.
We know this is not the case. How is 5,000,000 billion tons of N2 and O2 warmed? Does radiation striking the molecules create kinetic energy that is transferred into heat energy? Do GHG gasses simply add to that energy?
I’m not asking these questions because I am clueless, the coatings on windows act more like aerosols than CO2 reflecting energy not trapping it.
I’d like to know how 5,000,000 billion tons of N2 and O2 is warmed by 750 billion tons of CO2.
[Response: The atmosphere is warm because of all the IR absorbers (incl CO2, but also water vapour, clouds, aerosols, ozone and CH4). Your premise that small things can't have big effects is a fallacy as has been pointed out. - gavin]
Comment by Natural GW Steve — 21 Nov 2007 @ 1:44 PM
“However, to summarize, once a CO2 molecule absorbs an IR photon, it is much more likely to relax collisionally than radiatively. You have energy that stays in the atmosphere, so Earth must warm until its temperature rises sufficiently to radiate away enough energy to reach equilibrium again.”
Just to clarify Ray’s comment what he describes is what happens near the surface, the higher up in the atmosphere the CO2 is, the higher the probability that it will radiate rather than collisionally transfer. In the upper Stratosphere mostly radiation takes place which is why the upper stratosphere has cooled as [CO2] has increased.
Fallacy? Can you tell me why or point me to a source of information? No need to dumb down for me, I have a decent understanding of physics and will be able to understand your response or papers that reflect your argument.
Okay, so how does ~750 billion tons of CO2, ~13,000 billion tons of Water vapor, and less than 15 billion tons of CH4 warm 5,000,000 billion tons of N2 and O2?
Ozone cannot play a significant part in warming the troposphere in such small quantities and it’s half life is severely degraded in the presence of water vapor.
Even in the Stratosphere, where the top layers approach 0 C, the amount of energy “trapped” by O3 is quite low due to very low amounts of mass to absorb it.
[Response: The comment boxes are not a good place to make up for the deficiencies in your education. For one thing, it's hard to put in the needed equations and figures. If you are sincere about learning this basic material, buy a copy of Dave Archer's book (if you want the non-calculus version of the explanation) or read the online draft of my own book (follow the ClimateBook link on my home page; look at Chapters 3 and 4). This is all very well established stuff, explained adequately in readily accessible textbooks. --raypierre]
Comment by Natural GW Steve — 21 Nov 2007 @ 2:24 PM
Hi Nick: I’ll put money on the 2008 minimum being lower than any previous record [2007 is excluded].
OK, there is enough variability that I think this is a good bet and I’ll take it at 50 euros. I do want to make it clear I’m not doing this to challenge the virtual certainty of GW and high probability of AGW, rather I think most here at RC exaggerate the implications of measurements to think we are at tipping points and are approaching catastrophic conditions that are not suggested by the data. I apologize to Dave for being so snippy above but it’s frustrating when you suggested I was a troll who does not follow up, only to hopelessly misquote the paper you cited for me to check out. Bets like this are a *great way* to see what people really believe. Dave – I’ve got another 50 euros to bet you as well.
I think there are escrow things for this, though I’m also willing to do a virtual “handshake” here in public with you with the bet to be settled next year as soon as the data is in.
The Stratosphere has cooled not because of increased CO2 but rather decreased O3.
[Response: You are wrong. Changes in O3 have played a role, but so has increase of CO2. The relative roles of the two depend on which altitude you are looking at.--raypierre]
Comment by Natural GW Steve — 21 Nov 2007 @ 3:23 PM
#159 & (re hurricanes) “Regardless of the trend over the last two decades, the last two seasons were extremely quiet”
I’m no meteorologist or climate scientist, but my understanding has it this way: warm waters are a necessary, but not sufficient cause for hurricanes, and likewise warmer waters are a necessary condition for greater hurricane intensity. It is accepted that global warming is warming the oceans, so the conditions (necessary causes) for hurricanes and more intense hurricanes are increasing. Now, if the other factors that would amount to sufficient causes are not present (and I frankly don’t know about these very much), then a hurricane will not happen. GW is just making them more likely to happen and to become more intense, assuming the other (sufficient causal) factors kick in beyond this necessary cause of warm water. I know it’s a lot more complex than this….
Another way I look at it is that there are 2 forms of energy — kinetic and heat — and hurricanes sort of take that heat energy and turn it into kinetic energy. You might expect under some conditions that heat from the ocean could be translated into the action of hurricanes (I guess that’s also the principle of our internal combustion engines).
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 21 Nov 2007 @ 5:36 PM
RE # 156 & 158, I say we keep the space blanket analogy, not for the daytime when the sun is shining, but for the nighttime. We could call it the “blanket effect.” And I think that’s why the nights are warming somewhat faster than the days (please correct me if I’m wrong on this). Also this is why heat deaths tend to soar up during heat waves — people are not able to recouperate from that day’s heat during the nights as much anymore, since they are not as cool as they used to be. That’s what I read somewhere. And are winters (when there’s less sunshine) warming somewhat faster than summers??? I’m not sure.
[Response: The space blanket analogy is no good for two reasons. The first is that space blankets block both infrared and visible. To get a greenhouse effect you need something that lets most of the sunlight in but affects the rate at which infrared is going out. The second problem with the space blanket is that it works (insofar as it works at all) by reflecting infrared whereas greenhouse gases work by absorbing and re-emitting. For that matter, it's never been all that clear to me that the infrared reflective aspect of space blankets is all that important in typical survival conditions. That's because evaporative and turbulent sensible heat loss is the main energy loss for a person on the surface of the Earth. The space blanket does nothing for sensible heat loss since its temperature is more or less the same as the body. The space blanket eliminates evaporation, but a plain sheet of saran wrap would do that as well. I suppose a space blanket could be useful on a cold, very calm night out in the desert, where IR loss is a bigger part of the total.
On the other hand, if the only point of the example is to answer Mr. Steve's query about how a very small proportion of mass can strongly affect infrared, either the space blanket or low-E window example does nicely. If an individual atom has a sufficiently high cross-section for infrared absorption, an infrared photon only has to encounter two or three molecules on its way out through the whole depth of the atmosphere in order to be strongly effected. ]
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 21 Nov 2007 @ 5:48 PM
“Re # 162
The Stratosphere has cooled not because of increased CO2 but rather decreased O3.
[Response: You are wrong. Changes in O3 have played a role, but so has increase of CO2. The relative roles of the two depend on which altitude you are looking at.–raypierre]
Thanks raypierre, I specifically said ‘upper stratosphere’ for that reason.
Re #161 and Steve’s incredulity:
A molecule of CO2 absorbing a single ~15micron photon will be rovibronically excited by ~1×10^-20 J, or about 6 kJ/mole. That excited molecule will undergo about 7 collisions with N2 & O2 per nanosec and so very rapidly be quenched and be able to absorb another photon (lets say 10ns). Consequently a single mole of CO2 (44 grams) has the capability of pumping a huge amount of energy into the atmosphere without being excited beyond the first vibrational level.
Joe Duck @165. Right then, we’re on. If Cryosphere Today reports a 2008 minimum area of more than 4.01 million square kilometres, I’ll pay you 50 euros. If Cryosphere Today reports a 2008 minimum area of less than 4.01 million square kilometres, you’ll pay me 50 euros.
Nick re: sea ice wager:
A bet is a bet and I’ll stick to it but you were tricky here as we are not going to be measuring the very questionable “tipping point” hypothesis at all. 2007 ice was so low that the 2008 extent is very likely to be below 2005 as well. Not because of any “tipping points”, but simply because the refreeze this winter is expected to be low following the record thaw. Tipping points are discussed often here very speculatively – it would be nice to have some testable hypotheses.
I’ve several times challenged people to well-crafted bets for around 2020, particularly those who think that the next sun cycle will make it all go away, even chasing people across several blogs … and somehow, the bet never happens, but the beliefs remain…
Re #63: Is there a generally accepted 95% or 90% lower bound on warming over the next 20 years?
The 90% or 95% lower bound would be roughly the trend warming we’ve had from 1970 to 2007, assuming business as usual emissions. The bounds are placed in the IPCC report and it explains it in far more detail. The upper bound is also pretty tight.
However, for the skeptics to be right (about their claim that humans are not effecting climate), not only could there not be any further warning, but the temperature would have to return to near pre-industrial levels. There’s a 10% chance that the 90% bound will be passed. There’s a far lesser chance that we will see pre-industrial climate in our lifetimes.
PS: There’s also a 10% chance that the other 90% bound will be exceeded and that we will get warming far worse than we expect. The bounds work both ways.
Steve, Re:161,164. You seem to be ignoring that CO2 is a gift that keeps on giving. It absorbs heat now, and every moment for several hundred to a few thousand years. And, since energy can leave the climate system only by LWIR radiation, there’s nowhere for that energy to go. It stays in the system. So, yes, a small amount of gas can warm the entire atmosphere by continually absorbing IR and transferring that energy collisionally to the rest of the molecules.
Re #164: [Okay, so how does ~750 billion tons of CO2, ~13,000 billion tons of Water vapor, and less than 15 billion tons of CH4 warm 5,000,000 billion tons of N2 and O2?]
Just like the low-E & space blanket analogies I tried to use. The CO2 warms the Earth by trapping more of the sun’s heat.
The point of the analogies, of course, was not that they use exactly the same mechanism. It was to illustrate how a relatively small amount of material can produce large effects by selectively blocking energy from another source. Though I suppose one could design a space blanket-like film that would act much as CO2 does in the atmosphere…
[Response: Indeed, back when I was working on scattering greenhouse effect by dry-ice clouds on Early Mars, some terraforming types got in touch with me about how to use designer clouds to go nature one better. Metallic conductors are really good reflectors, and to make them wavelength selective, you just need to use the same principle that allows you to build radio-telescopes with chicken wire. Designer-cloud particles made of bits of conducting screen with a mesh size of 10 microns would reflect infrared very well, but let a great deal of shortwave solar spectrum light through. For warming a planet, the scattering greenhouse effect has some advantages over the conventional emission-absorption greenhouse effect. But I digress... --raypierre]
Re 7,29, 84 and doubtless many others that I missed: hear, hear, a brilliantly written as well as an eminently educative (for us non-scientists)contributution.
For real Panglossian ‘deniers’, these must be bad times….
[Response: For those who may not know what we are talking about, the required reading is Voltaire's "Candide." (perhaps read in conjunction with the earlier "Zadig"). It would be an interesting literary exercise to write a sequel to Candide in which Pangloss takes on global warming. --raypierrre]
According to the Google, this is not the first website on which “Natural GW Steve” has spouted this sort of gibberish while ignoring corrections. It seems to me that enough effort has been expended on educational attempts. Raypierre (as usual) got it right by pointing to some basic texts and refusing to engage further.
[Response: Thanks. While I think that "Natural GW Steve" has reached the point where he should put up or shut up, by actually reading the references I gave him, I do think that having one-paragraph answers to common-sense questions like "how can something with such low concentration have such a big effect on climate" is worthwhile. Not everybody will have the time or inclination to read Dave Archer's book, still less mine. Finding a way to communicate some kind of understanding to such honestly curious folks is worthwhile. I notice that part of the problem with the way many lay people approach this problem is that they tend to confuse transient response issues -- the notion that the little bit of CO2 has to "heat up" all the rest of the mass of the atmosphere -- with equilibrium. All this (admittedly interesting) discussion of just how CO2 transfers its heat to the rest of the atmosphere is largely irrelevant. The CO2 doesn't have to "heat up" the atmosphere. It just has to impede the leakage of energy to space sufficiently that the atmosphere and surface need to warm significantly in order to radiate away the energy imbalance. From there, it's just a matter of noting that even a monomolecular layer can absorb everything trying to get out, provided each individual molecule is good at capturing infrared light. CO2 isn't quite that good, but it's good enough, especially when bolstered by water vapor feedback. The issue of how long it takes absorption by CO2 to warm up the rest of the atmosphere is quite distinct from the question of equilibrium warming, but for the record, the real delay in the system isn't the atmosphere (which only takes ten days to a month to reach equilibrium) but the ocean (a decade to centuries, depending on the depth involved). --raypierre]
[Response: Yes, I was aware of the earlier version but I focused on the 1827 publication because that was more widely available and seems to have gotten more attention. It's also the version that appears in Fourier's collected works. Still, I wouldn't object if people preferred to say that the work on planetary energy balance goes back to 1824 rather than 1827. The translation I did, and my essay, was based on the 1827 document. --raypierre]
Comment by Richard Ordway — 21 Nov 2007 @ 11:56 PM
If you have a pump, it can’t hold much water.
But it can transfer a whole lot of water.
Greenhouse gases can absorb photons and turn the energy into vibration and motion.
Greenhouse gases can’t hold heat as vibration or motion above that of the surrounding atmosphere long — they bump into nitrogen or oxygen and transfer the heat.
At very high elevations, greenhouse gases don’t bump into surrounding molecules as often, and with that extra time, can more often turn the vibration back into infrared photons that shoot out in random directions. Some of those exit the planet, removing energy.
At those high elevations, there isn’t much water, because water condenses and falls out as rain or snow, so it’s mostly CO2 and chlorofluorocarbons at the upper edge of the atmosphere that can emit infrared photons, some of which go out to space.
Add more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, that’s like you’ve added more bumpers and paddles to your pinball machine — the heat energy stays in play longer — goes back and forth and round and round longer — before some of it gets to the edge of the atmosphere and leaves the planet. While it’s here the planet warms.
Raypierre can correct me (grin) if I’ve oversimplified a bit.
[Response: I appreciate the help, but I think that you've made it all more complicated than it really is. There may be some sense in which phrases like "heat stays in play longer" have some bearing on what's going on, but if so it's a pretty complicated way to look at it. The warming due to CO2 is really just a matter of planetary insulation. You put on a blanket, and that allows the planet to stay warmer with the same input of (solar) energy. The only problem with the blanket analogy is that for warm-blooded creatures, putting on a blanket doesn't actually make you warmer, but reduces the metabolic energy needed to maintain a fixed body temperature. We've been through that a few times before in comments elsewhere. --raypierre]
[Response: By the way, the pumpkin pies just came out of the oven, and the cranberry sauce just went into the refrigerator. Time to bid goodnight and Happy Thanksgiving to all. I'll be back with Part II sometime next week. --raypierre]
@raypierre (your comment on 177). I sometimes explain it like this: Imagine it’s getting hotter and hotter in your house. You’re looking for the cause and a scientist tells you this is caused by the mouse that lives in your house. That sounds pretty weird: how could such a small animal produce so much heat? It would, if the mouse had to do this with his body heat. But actually, the mouse is gnawing at the wire that connects your thermostat to the heating boiler.
Joe Duck @171: I’ve never proposed a bet about tipping points.
I proposed a bet with Jim Cripwell at 85, because of his expressed belief that the recent re-freeze shows that arctic sea ice will recover in 2008, which I find very unlikely. That makes him and myself a good match for betting on 2008 sea ice.
As I said @144, on the subject of tipping points, if you come up with a reasonable bet at even odds, I’ll consider it. You said @165 that you’d take 50 euros of the bet I proposed with Jim Cripwell, and that’s how come we’ve ended up in this bet.
I don’t think I’ve expressed an opinion on tipping points in this thread, although as it happens I suspect the years 2005-2007 have been a tipping point in arctic sea ice.
If you’d like to also bet on tipping points, then come up with a reasonable bet at even odds and I will consider it. It’s bound to be a longer-term matter. We could base it on the projections of sea ice decline which were made in 2004/5/6 (which I vaguely recall were suggesting we might see an ice-free summer arctic by 2050 or so): perhaps if the five years 2008-2012 show a decline steeper than the projections. I’ll leave it to you to come up with some numbers.
Whilst I agree with the views put forth in this article, I only wish you’d written it from a less biased stand-point. This whole debate is becoming increasingly us-and-them, and I don’t think good things can come of that.
[[How do GHG’s warm the air surrounding them? How can 750 billion tons of CO2 have so much influence on 5,000,000 billion tons of N2 and O2?]]
When the greenhouse gases absorb infrared light, they heat up, which means their molecules move faster. Collisions with other molecules transfers most of the energy, so after a while the atmosphere, at least locally, is at a uniform temperature.
[[I have heard that without CO2 and Water vapor our atmosphere would be 30 C cooler. Is this true and how?]]
Yes. The Earth’s emission temperature, the temperature as seen at some distance from the planet, is about 255 degrees Kelvin, but the surface averages 288 degrees Kelvin. That 33 K difference is caused by the greenhouse effect. With greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the surface would also be at 255 K. (Actually, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but that gives the essential point.)
[[It does not make sense that a fraction of a percent of the atmosphere has so much influence.]]
It doesn’t seem to, but note that that 384 parts per million by volume amounts to almost six kilograms of CO2 over every square meter of the Earth’s surface. That’s more than enough to affect the transfer of different wavelengths of light.
> When the greenhouse gases absorb infrared light, they heat up,
> which means their molecules move faster. Collisions with other
> molecules transfers most of the energy, so after a while the
> atmosphere, at least locally, is at a uniform temperature.
That’s what I was trying for, when I overcomplicated it.
The greenhouse gases don’t just hold the heat in themselves, in their relatively few molecules; the hold it for the whole atmosphere.
Since my posts seem to get lost between the “post” button and the blog, I’m going to try again…
First, in response to the note on 159, many people here use the number of hurricanes as an indicator of the strength of the season. This is patently misleading when comparing current seasons to past seasons because the NHC has changed the criteria for what gets to be a named storm. Specifically, in 2002 the NHC started including sub-tropical storms in the list of things that get names. that will lead to an increase in “named storms” over previous years. While i’ll apologize for implying that the NHC did it for political claims (that’s not what i meant to say), I will not back away from the position that the numbers are being used for political purposes because they are. Even Gavin used the number of storms as an indicator of season strength. As a specific example of this happening, the first storm this year never exhibited tropical characteristics and in years past, it never would have been given a name. In all, 3 storms this year started out as sub-tropical in nature (which adds to the “number of storm days” metric many people like to use to describe the seasonal strength). Again, great care must be used when comparing these numbers to past years.
Second, on solar forcing. THere is no question whatsoever that we are near the peak of solar forcing when compared to the last 400 years. While the forcing function has backed off from the peak in the 1950s, we are still well above the 400 year average. There are two currently accepted proxies for solar forcing: the number of sunspots and tracking Carbon-14. Both of these proxies show that we’re living during a period of strong solar activity. If you look at the Carbon-14 record over the last 1000 years, the maximum forcing function was in the last 50 years.
Those points are not debatable. They are simply facts.
now to the debateable items:
one post said that GW should result in an increase in the number of storms. But there’s been no significant increase in the numbers, so would that then mean that there’s no GW?
On solar forcing, do we know that the climate has actually equalized from the forcing of the first half of the century? think of it as an oven, but instead of being controlled by a thermostat, it’s controlled by a timer. every 11 years the “heating element” turns on. Eventually the oven will stabilize at a new temperature, but what is that temperature and how long will it take to get there? I don’t know the answers to that but understanding that is critical to understanding how the sun affects the climate.
Ref 167 Lynn writes “Now, if the other factors that would amount to sufficient causes are not present (and I frankly don’t know about these very much), then a hurricane will not happen. GW is just making them more likely to happen and to become more intense,”. You are absolutely correct, but you have left out an important letter; A. We are arguing about AGW, not GW. I claim the data shows that, while the earth warmed up at the end of the 20th century, this warming has ceased. Hurricanes are merely one aspect of this, as arctic sea ice will be in the future. While CO2, according to the IPCC, has continued to increase at unprecedented levels, hurricanes have not increased in intensity in the last 2 years. The key is, what will happen in the future. The proponents of AGW need to pray to whatever gods they believe in, that sometime in the very near future, the signs of GW are going to reappear. If they dont, the whole case for AGW is going to fall apart.
[Response: Let me try and understand your point: despite more evidence of global warming happening - clearer trends in sea ice, snow cover, temperatures, water vapour etc. , a track record of decades of successful predictions, and multiple lines of direct physical evidence that GHGs are causing the warming - it is the proponents of AGW who need to be praying for more evidence? This is offensive on multiple levels. It is an offense to basic logic, it is an offense to the scientific method, and it's offensive personally as if people who have concluded the AGW is happening actually want more hurricanes or more droughts or more heatwaves. The whole point of science in this is precisely to prevent things getting worse. Enough. - gavin]
Those points are not debatable. They are simply facts.”
Actually this one is not a fact and certainly is debatable!
The graph of C-14 you link to shows no data after 1890, by which time it was already being contaminated by combustion of fossil fuels and therefore becoming useless as a proxy for solar activity. C-14 did peak within the last 50 years but not because of solar effects (and not shown on your graph) but due to atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons!
How to deal with curious people who may or not be contrarians (like #177) is a tough issue. Taking some time to engage them is a good idea but don’t get too caught up. Lots of fence-sitters have heard much of the contrarian talking points and aren’t sure what to think.
I recall a year or two ago seeing on an environmental group blog where environmentalists commented that they were 100% for reducing emissions even though they expressed more uncertainty about the science than was warranted.
Joseph O’Sullivan: “How to deal with curious people who may or not be contrarians (like #177) is a tough issue. Taking some time to engage them is a good idea but don’t get too caught up.”
It’s one thing for someone to honestly and in good faith ask a “commonsense” question, or even a question that arises from having been exposed to deliberately misleading climate change denial propaganda, and it is generous and helpful of the RealClimate moderators and other knowledgeable commenters to answer their questions.
But commenters who repeat blatant falsehoods even when they have been repeatedly and patiently shown that their statements are wrong, probably know very well what they are doing and have no other purpose in posting here than to impress themselves with their ability to waste people’s time.
RE reply to #168: Well, I don’t even know what a space blanket is, but is it true that night temperatures are warming somewhat faster than day temperatures?
I think I read that somewhere. At least it makes sense with more GHGs in the atmosphere — which I’m imagining would be letting out less of Earth’s reflective heat during both the day and night, than previously, when there were less GHGs in the atmosphere (while, of course, light waves would not be striking the earth during the night — or that portion of the earth turned away from the sun, so there wouldn’t be incoming light/heat). Or is this too simplistic, or just wrong an idea.
Or does the whole GHG effect shut down altogether at night, bec we’re talking light waves, not heat. I’m thinking infrared waves (which is what I think are being reflected from earth??) are heat waves, but, of course they are also light waves. I obviously don’t know much, just trying to understand.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 22 Nov 2007 @ 6:26 PM
Re #171 (Joe Duck): It’s not at all established that Arctic sea ice is likely to set a new minimum in 2008. In fact, RC co-author (and sea ice modeler) William Connolley is taking bets that it won’t. While on some level whether it does or doesn’t set a record is just weather, if it does we will want to see to what extent the unusual atmospheric conditions that assisted the 2007 record melt repeated themselves in 2008. If they do, nobody will be surprised at a new record, but a question will be raised about the extent to which the sea ice reduction might be linked to those conditions. If they don’t and a new record happens anyway, that will mean that retained heat in the Arctic Ocean is starting to drive the sea ice reduction. If so, that probably would meet the definition of a tipping point since absent other factors (big assumption there) we would expect such a feedback to lead to an ice-free summer rather quickly. All of that said, while the modelers may hope for unambiguous results from the 2008 melt season, they are unlikely to get them.
I should mention that William’s stated reason for offering the bet is the undisputed fact that even in the context of a sharp trend climate records don’t tend to happen in consecutive years. I’m well aware of that, but took the bet because 1) we have an increasing long-term trend that the modelers admit they don’t yet have a handle on, 2) there was a record set in 2005 and 2006 would have set a new one were it not for a last-minute cold snap, so there’s a bit more to look at then just a single year record. Anyway, such a bet is by definition just for fun, although since the bet is in pounds for William versus U.S. dollars for me the relative pain of the payout is starting to look pretty imbalanced.
Re 32 and 201.. et al. Surely its not so much the extent as it is the mass of the ice. The fact that it came back so fast suggests that it’s a very thin veneir, and that will take only a whiff of heat to melt it, and a puff of wind to move it. We’re not out of the hot water yet!
Infrared (IR) is just next to visible light on the spectrum, but is not visible itself. They both behave as waves, although of a different frequency. Most of the sun’s energy arrives as visible light (that is why plants use visible light to fuel photosynthesis). There is no incoming energy from the sun at night (i.e. the half of the planet which is turned away from the sun) but the greenhouse (GH) effect operates constantly because GH Gases are well mixed in the atmosphere. The ground reradiates some of the energy it received during the day as IR during the night. So basically your middle paragraph (1st suggestion) was correct – the professionals might like to correct me on this but I would expect warming to be most noticeable at night, in winter, and near the poles. There are obviously other factors to take into account – this only explains part of what we see in the real world.
Nick: Fair enough on our initial agreement which is based on the 2005 minimum as outlined above.
In terms of tipping point – would you be willing to repeat our same bet for 2009, using our same 2005 standard of ice extent?
Steve (200) It’s not at all established that Arctic sea ice is likely to set a new minimum in 2008
Steve – right, my understanding is that it almost certainly will not. I’d love to take that bet at up to $2500 via an escrow service. Unfortunately I foolishly bet Nick using the 2005 minimum not realizing that the hugely anamolous 2007 will make it harder for the ice to gain normal thickness. So, a fun wager but it has little to do with a key issue in climate science – are we going to have gradual changes along the lines of the past, or more dramatic changes as we reach tipping points that may lead to abrupt climate change.
Timo in his Comment 48 makes reference to iodine-129 as if, because of its long half-life, it has some relevance to the safety of nuclear plants or the danger of nuclear waste.
This is a mistake that is fairly common among people who don’t know much about health physics.
The half-life of a radionuclide is only one of the factors that determine whether it is a threat to humans and the rest of the biosphere.
Iodine-129 has a half-life of approximately 16 million years. If I have 129 grams of it (Avogadro’s number of atoms), half of it will decay away in 16 million years. Iodine-131 has a half-life of approximately 8 days. If I have 131 grams of it (Avogadro’s number of atoms), half will decay away in 8 days. Note that there’s a lot more going on with the iodine-131. It’s specific activity — that is, the rate at which atoms are actually decaying — is approximately 800 million times greater than the activity of iodine-129.
Both isotopes of iodine are produced in a significant fraction (a few percent) of uranium or plutonium fission events. If the iodine-131 gets into the human thyroid, while it’s still around, it can cause thyroid cancer and other thyroid pathology. It is so good at that that it is actually used to “kill” the thyroid in treatment of Graves disease. On the other hand, the folklore/joke here on the Hanford site (where we have a fair amount of I-129 in the waste tanks, the ground, and the groundwater) is that the carcinogenic dose of I-129 is 28 pounds of it in the thyroid (as opposed to a few micrograms of I-131). Because of the widespread use of iodine-131 diagnositically and therapeutically and study of Hiroshima/Nagasaki/Chernobyl populations, we have a pretty good idea how much radiation is required to produce thyroid pathology.
The bottom line is that because of its long half-life, and its relatively weak beta decay energy, it is simply not one of the radionuclides that is a human/animal health issue.
The problem radionuclides are the middle-half-life ones, like 25-30 year cesium-137 and strontium-90, with energetic decay particles, that have an affinity for some body tissue, and a tendency to hang around in the body long enough to do damage.
The half-life of iodine-131 is short enough that the simple expedient of taking the cow/goat/etc. milk (the main exposure pathway), making cheese, and aging it for three months before consumption will reduce the iodine-131 levels by roughly a factor of 5000.
Just read a report from the BBc ‘http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6665147.stm‘ That says that te oceans are becomming saturated with CO2 especially the upper levels of the ocean and when that occurs the oceans ability to soak up as much as 50% of our emitted CO2 becomes less and less efficient. The theory most scientists had before is that the CO2 would be concentrated at the lower regions of the ocean and not to be detrimental to the biology of the oceans..but recent reseach shows that the majority of CO2 is trapped in the upper layers and do not permeate lower. Another factor is of the CO2 actually trapped at lower levels the increased winds over the ocean have had the effect of stirring up the water and causing CO2 to be mixed at the uppper levels thus compounding the problem. They state that when the concentrations at the upper layers increase beyond a certain point which we are rapidy reaching the ocean will no longer be able to absorb 1/2 our CO2. Not helping matters is the destruction of our forests in Borneo, SE asia, amazon etc. Thus the IPCC forcasts need updating yet again. Has anyone heard of this fact? It’s the first time I’ve heard of it, but if it’s true we need to take very aggressive action indeed to slow down our emissions.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 23 Nov 2007 @ 8:03 AM
Ref 202 Nigel writes “Surely its not so much the extent as it is the mass of the ice. The fact that it came back so fast suggests that it’s a very thin veneir, and that will take only a whiff of heat to melt it, and a puff of wind to move it. We’re not out of the hot water yet!” I was going to stay out of this, but this cannot be ignored. Let us get the facts straight. In 1979, when records began, there was approximately 16 mil sq kms of arctic sea ice at maximum, 9 mil sq kms melted, leaving approx 7 mil sq kms of old ice at minimum. Had things remained static there would be 9 mil sq kms of annual ice frozen and melted each year. But things have not remained static. Over the last 30 years or so, approx 2 mil sq kms of old ice has turned into open ocean. This year another 1 mil sq km + did the same thing. In the eastern part of Canada, south of, say, Prince Charles Island, the only ice we get is annual ice. What are the characteristics of this annual ice? It is the ice that polar bears hunt from in Hudson Bay; the ice that harp seals have their young on in the Gulf St. Lawrence, and is used by seal hunters. It is the ice that stops ferries running between New Brunswick and Newfoundland. It is the ice that can cause havoc in the Northumberland Strait, and made the engineers building the Confederation Bridge to take very special precautions. On the other side of the Atlantic, in the Baltic Sea, it is the reason Russian engineers have designed a completely revolutionary type of oil carrier/ice breaker. To describe annual ice as “a very thin veneir”, is, to say the least, being very economical with the truth.
See the sunspot record? very high compared to the 500 year average. Look at the 10-Be measurements. Rising over the entire time period with a very high rate of climb in the early 1900s.
The only area that doesnt’ seem to fit the trend is the time period from the 50s through the 70s. So why couldn’t aerosols have been the cause of this cooling and by removing them, we’ve reinstated the natural heating period caused almost solely by the sun?
Comparing that to global temperature plots results in a very strong correlation.
In light of the various wagers that have been proposed on this thread, I’d like to suggest one: in what year will global anthropogenic carbon emissions peak and begin to decline?
I believe that mainstream climate scientists, eg. the IPCC, are saying that emissions must peak and begin to decline no later than 2015 to avert “dangerous” climate change. On the other hand, projections from the International Energy Agency are that emissions will increase by 50 percent or so by mid-century. In recent years emissions have been not only increasing but accelerating.
Does anyone believe that emissions will peak by 2015? When do you think they will peak?
Of course this is not a wager about climate science itself, since the outcome depends on human behavior.
A separate note — I just listened to an hour long lecture by “Australian Of The Year” and author of The Weather Makers Tim Flannery, on the Pacifica radio program Democracy Now.
He was actually optimistic that humanity will not only dramatically reduce — to near zero — our carbon emissions within the necessary timeframe through conservation, efficiency and alternative energy technologies, but will use measure like tropical reforestation and agricultural char techniques to draw down atmospheric CO2 to pre-industrial levels by mid-century. I must say that I was not convinced but nonetheless that was encouraging to hear.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 23 Nov 2007 @ 10:11 AM
quote To get this figure, though, Courtillot evidently assumed that all the Earth’s albedo is due to clouds, and moreover neglected the cloud greenhouse effect. When properly calculated, the net cloud radiative forcing is more like 20 Watts per square meter, so a 3% change gives you only 0.6 Watts per square meter, well below the greenhouse gas radiative forcing to date, to say nothing of what is in store for the future. unquote
I wonder if someone would be kind enough to walk through the maths (simply!) on this. In view of Palle’s Earthshine project, I’m very interested in the physics of albedo change.
What are the characteristics of this annual ice? It is the ice that polar bears hunt from in Hudson Bay; the ice that harp seals have their young on in the Gulf St. Lawrence, and is used by seal hunters.
Best not to use the harp seal nursery to support your claim:
[[The only area that doesnt’ seem to fit the trend is the time period from the 50s through the 70s. So why couldn’t aerosols have been the cause of this cooling and by removing them, we’ve reinstated the natural heating period caused almost solely by the sun?]]
Because the sun wasn’t heating up over that period.
[[I wonder if someone would be kind enough to walk through the maths (simply!) on this. In view of Palle’s Earthshine project, I’m very interested in the physics of albedo change.]]
The amount of Solar energy received by the Earth system, measured by net flux density, is
F = (S / 4) (1 – A)
where F is in watts per square meter, S is the Solar constant at Earth’s distance from the Sun, and A is the Earth’s bolometric Bond albedo. From F we can estimate the Earth’s effective emission temperature:
Te = (F / sigma)0.25
Inverting, and assuming a 0.95 mean emissivity for the Earth’s surface, we can find the flux density emitted from the ground:
Fs = 0.95 sigma Ts4
The net radiative forcing is then
RF = Fs – F
For the reference case, I assume
S = 1366.1 W m-2 (mean from Judith Lean’s figures for 1951-2000).
A = 0.306 (NASA)
This gives F = 237.0 W m-2, Te = 254.3 K, Fs = 371.4 W m-2, and RF = 134.4 W m-2.
If we then increase S by 1%, RF changes by 2.37 watts per square meter. We have never observed a change in the annual mean this large in recorded history. The sun at the Maunder Minimum was only about 0.2% below the present figure.
If we decrease the albedo by 1%, RF changes by 1.05 W m-2.
For clouds, I assume mean cloud coverage of 61.7% (Kiehl and Trenberth’s 1997 figure). If the average albedo of the surface is 0.05, then clouds must have a mean albedo of 0.465 to reproduce the observed planetary albedo. If we then decrease cloud cover by 1%, RF changes by 0.96 W m-2.
The work of Palle et al. with Earthshine estimates of Earth’s albedo is very interesting, but not everybody buys his figures yet, much less the big annual changes. There may be some problems with his methodology.
Secular Animist: Does anyone believe that emissions will peak by 2015? When do you think they will peak?
Given China’s rapid development I’d guess 2015 is way too optimistic, but I’d guess by 2025 we’ll have nuclear going full bore in most countries, much better sequestration, and many new technologies.
What I don’t understand is how a this likely scenario of a large “spike” in CO2 over the industrial period interacts with the C02 to temperature lag time of hundreds of years. ie assuming we bring GHG emissions to old historic averages by 2025 what are likely global temperature implications?
Secular Animist, Re: bets on peak Carbon emissions.
I see no point in betting on this as I expect it will not happen until long after I am dead, and I have no heirs to collect on my behalf. Human beings have proven entirely too stupid to grasp the risks we face, so I expect that carbon emissions will continue to increase until we start to exhaust coal reserves. Then we have all that lovely wood in the rainforests and temperate forests. But why stop there–the subcontinent sure didn’t–we can burn all the animal dung. In short, I do not expect carbon emissions to peak until Earth looks like a cinder–sometime in the middle of the next century.
“Actually, the last C-14 measurement on the chart was 60 years ago, and it was clearly higher than any point in the last thousand years.”
No the last measurement was 60 years BP (Before Present: which in C14 dating terminology is years before 1950) therefore the last data on that chart is from 1890 as I posted earlier. Any C14 data since that time would be meaningless as a solar proxy as it was contaminated by fossil C14 and during 1950-70 by nuclear testing.
Re # 183 Steve ” I only wish you’d written it from a less biased stand-point.”
Less biased? Do you mean not given credence to the scientific views of mainstream climatology? If that is what you meant, I hope you were joking.
Re# 177 dean “one post said that GW should result in an increase in the number of storms. But there’s been no significant increase in the numbers, so would that then mean that there’s no GW? ”
No- that would be flawed logic. It simpl ymeans that the predicted relationship between AGW and frequency of tropical storms has been based on one or more incorrect assumptions – I seem to recall reading that wind shear is higher than expected, and this alters the transfer of energy between the atmosphere and water (http://www.wunderground.com/education/shear.asp).
Lastly, I thought I posted this last night, but I don’t see that the post appeared (perhaps there is a conspiracy to silence my mainstream views on AGW?):
Yes, there seems to be no change in solar output over the last 50 years or so. The temperature drop of the 50s to 70s therefore cannot be attributed to the sun. So it has to be attributable to something else. that ‘something’ is most likely aerosols.
Every criticism of solar output says that the current warming period can’t be due to solar output because solar output since the 50s has been constant. That is ONLY true if we were at thermal equilibrium in 1950. IF the introduction of aerosols kept us from reaching solar equilibrium (or better stated, resulted in a lower equilibrium temperature), then removing the aerosols would result in a higher temperature. That is exactly what we’ve seen since the 1970s.
So where is the evidence that we were at equilibrium in 1950?
dean (222,224) — I am but an amateur at this, but I am quite convinced that there was no quasi-equilibrium of the global climate in 1950. Irrespective of the effect of aerosols, etc. The quasi-equilibrium CO2 concentration, taken as that in 1750, was 280 ppm. This value is in good agreement with the concentrations of prior interglacial periods. But in 1950, the CO2 concentration was about 315 ppm. Thus my opinion that the climate was in the lengthy process of seeking a new quasi-equilibrium then.
Comment by David B. Benson — 23 Nov 2007 @ 3:56 PM
#207 Lawrence Coleman: Yes, this past weekend on Living on Earth
transcriptions and podcast available at LOE.org
see ‘max capacity’ segment with Dr. Inez Fung Berkley Institute of the Environment
Joe, assuming you’ve read “start here” and the AIP History, the IPCC scenarios answer your question while making a large number of unstated assumptions explicit. If there’s a more recent page someone will correct me: http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc/emission/115.htm#52
Dean, for God’s sake, please read Spencer Weart’s history of global warming: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html
Most of your questions have already been answered there. Most of the forcings are pretty well constrained by multiple lines of evidence. Some still have considerable uncertainty–but future changes are unlikely to affect well constrained forcers–such as CO2.
So go read the science. If you have questions about it, come back and ask them. But don’t think you can approach this with a bunch of qualitative arguments (that incidentally have already been flogged to death).
There is a simple two part answer to the ‘it must be the sun’ argument. First, there has been no increase in measured solar activity since the ’50s. Second, current warming follows a linear-to-accelerating path. If the earth were merely catching up with past solar increases, the curve would be assimtotically approaching the equilibrium value.
# 168 Lynn: . . . And I think that’s why the nights are warming somewhat faster than the days (please correct me if I’m wrong on this). . . .
Lynn, I’m not going to presume to correct you, and I surely don’t want to contribute anything that will provide aid and comfort to dean as he pursues an obviously flawed argument. However, several comments here and elsewhere have stated that nighttime temps are rising more quickly than daytime. Here’s what I find in the IPCC reports (AR4 WGI Tech. Summ., p. 36).
“The global average DTR [diurnal temperature range] has stopped decreasing. A decrease in DTR of approximately 0.1°C per decade was reported in the TAR for the period 1950 to 1993. Updated observations reveal that DTR has not changed from 1979 to 2004 as both day- and night time temperature have risen at about the same rate. The trends are highly variable from one region to another.”
If someone can help me understand how to interpret this, I’d be grateful.
This quote from the excellent Spencer Weart history mentioned by Ray in 231 really hits the nail on the head:
The import of the claim that solar variations influenced climate was now reversed. Critics had used the claim to oppose regulation of greenhouse gases. But what if the planet really did react with extreme sensitivity to almost imperceptible changes in the radiation arriving from the Sun? The planet would surely also be sensitive to greenhouse gas interference with the radiation once it entered the atmosphere.
Re #216,– Thank you Barton Paul Levenson, and all the rest of the correspondents and of those who maintain this enlightening seminar. Joe Haga
Comment by Juola (Joe) A. Haga — 24 Nov 2007 @ 4:41 AM
Cheesh Jim 209! Take it easy mate! The point I’m making is that ice that is one year old is not very thick – just like the pack around Antarctica it will melt faster than older ice, and so any older ice remaining in the ‘core’ of the Artic will probably become exposed to surface water effects ever faster than before.
I wasnt suggesting that a slab of it wouldnt poke a hole in your corricle if you were passing by!
Next spring will be interesting – as others have said it will give us a good indication of where we are in relation to a tipping point – bearing in mind that randomness may ensure it takes a few years before the new age settles into its routine.
Emissions scenariois at currently worse than worst case IPCC predictions and now we have the long term climate feedbacks to endure to as well as the short term ones that give us our 3C mean for a preindustrial doubling of CO2.
1 degree above year 2000 levels and we are doomed. Well we already have 0.6C in the pipeline and 0.8c in reality so another 0.6 and we are going to be poorer for it. 1000 coal fired power plants to be built globally in the next 5 years with 50 years shelf lives and the world scratching around for Oil rather than sustainable alternatives (first generation ethanol is not sustainable) makes you realise that there are plenty of people talking the talk for votes especially in the EU and even plenty of people investing in sustainables but at the same time carbon levels are increasing and not falling.
James Lovelock might be right after all, Hansen seems to be cautioning us Lovelocks way.
Long term climate feedbacks are adding to the arctics woes and possibly causing Greenlands ice to literally slide off into the Ocean. Its all happenning much faster than projection by even the most pessemistic IPCC scenarios.
http://www.carbonequity.info/ the report the BIG MELT found here shows some disturbing Arctic ice data and has viable and valid quotes and links to climate science work although James Hansens recent work is quoted most due to his recent dire forecasts.
Joe Duck, I am not suggesting that Earth will be incinerated by rising temperatures, but rather by human stupidity. Have you been to India? It once had vast forests. They were all cut down–to the point where now the fuel of choice for cooking among the poor is animal dung. I have seen the same thing happen in Niger, and I’m seeing it happen year to year in Brazil. It is not that the people involved didn’t know what they were doing would have long-term consequences. Rather their immediate needs took precedence and chopping up the forests was the easiest way to satisfy them. It appears that the only benefit we derive from the bulge of neurons on the end of our spinal chord is that we know we are rendering our environment uninhabitable.
Re 209 Jim Cripwell, I think Nigel is right. Quite a lot refreezes each year but the density of that refrozen ice is nowhere near as dense as permanent ice that has been sat on and squashed by 1000′s of tonnes of newer ice for thousands of years. So in that exent it is a thin veneer indeed. The blue ice is the dense stuff with very little O2 bubbles within it. That ice takes a lot longer to melt than does the annual ice with a high concentration of O2 bubbles throughout it. What is happening now is each year all of the annual ice melts exposing the permanent ice the warmer elements for more & more days/year, warmer water/warmer wind and even rain; so that’s why you see these huge high chuncks of blue ice coming away and crashing into the ocean. I don’t know but it could well be a blue ice iceberg that broke away from the rest months ago that holed that passenger ship near antarctica a few days ago instead of the annual ice which I would say is too fragile to cause that much damage.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 24 Nov 2007 @ 8:47 AM
Re 227 catman306. Read the article you mentioned..but rather now wish I hadn’t..wish I could be an ostrich..under the sand looks pretty good!
Do you know if Gavin has raised this issue? We have just got a new gov in Australia whoi promises to be a lot tougher on climate change namely by ratifying kyoto before xmas and setting a 20% emissions reduction taget by 2020..but if Dr Fung is correct the world needs massive emmissions cuts immediately, forget 20% in 13 years..all of our top engineers and scientists have to be mobilised to work together in unison of getting all of our households as carbon neutral as possible immediately and geosequstration has to be developed for factories or industry not just as an academic theory but as working models asap. It doesn’t take a genious to realise that very soon indeed the sea will no longer be albe to absorb CO2 especially at the equatorial regions and the trees ability to transforn CO2 is being impaired already. Only thing that might possible buy us a bit more time is that as the oceans get hotter the incidence of super storms over the seas increases and that hopefully will act to mix the thermal stratas of the ocean and bring more of the cooler water to the top.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 24 Nov 2007 @ 9:15 AM
“I know it’s flawed logic. I just wanted to see what the replies would be”. This is just juvenile. Is the goal to pollute the comment thread to the point where it becomes unreadable?
Ref 234 and 236. Again I was going to stay out of this, but let me just say a couple of things. There is general agreement that the sun affects climate, but there is disagreement as to how the sun affects climate. Solar cycle 24 has not yet started. Many very competent organizations, e.g. NASA, have computer programs which accurately hindcasted solar activity, but which failed to forecast when solar cycle 24 would start. I know of forecasts between “before Sept 2008″ and “not until Nov 2009″. If Dr. Clilverd is correct in his forecast of maximum sunspot number for cycle 24 of 45 +/- 34 is correct, then we will not have seen the sun this “quiet” for between 200 and 300 years.
RE # 189 (& 167), “We are arguing about AGW, not GW. I claim the data shows that, while the earth warmed up at the end of the 20th century, this warming has ceased. Hurricanes are merely one aspect of this…”
Aside from Gavin setting the record straight, even if hurricanes had become less frequent or intense over the past several years, the point of my #167 post, is that it would not disprove GW or AGW.
I’m thinking that while one could somewhat more successfully use increasing hurricane intensity to support the idea of AGW, the converse just doesn’t work, since there are various non-AGW-related factors that are needed to produce hurricanes, any one of which could be absent, leading to no hurricane that day, despite the presences of the AGW factor of warmer oceans, which favor hurricanes.
The more important point to me regarding hurricanes is that increasingly intense hurricanes viewed as a whole are likely effects of global warming, and are one of many many good reasons to put forth all our efforts to mitigate AGW (so as to reduce this hurricane destruction and many many other harms in the future).
I think while hurricanes could be used in conjunction with other more important proof (such as rising air and sea temps) for GW, they cannot be used (by their absense) for disproving GW or AGW. At that point you’d have to go into looking at whether or not the ocean temp is cooling.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 24 Nov 2007 @ 11:38 AM
Reply to Nick (149) – the problem is: Cap and Trade doesn’t actually REDUCE CO2 production. It shifts it and masks it. I would rather solve the problem than make me feel good about doing something futile.
“When you buy carbon-intensive energy, or services directly using emissions-producing technology (notably transport), you use some of your quota. If you have extra left over, you can sell it; if you go over, you have to buy extra. Industry has to buy quota, they of course pass on the cost to their customers – when you buy most goods, you don’t have to pay GHG credits, because their cost is embedded in the price. At international level, all (!) that have to be agreed are the global ceiling, how it should be divided between states, and how the agreement should be enforced”
Ref 246. I have read this several times, and I just dont understand what you are getting at. The hypothesis for sun controlled climate is as follows. The later the cycle starts, the lower the expected maximum sunspot number during the cycle is likely to be; the lower the maximum sunspot number the cooler the earth. So if solar cycle 24 has not yet started, it is getting later, the maximum sunspot number is expected to be less, and the earth is expected to be cooler.
RE #246 & 249, I’ve mentioned several times here that the solar increase is a serious consideration, esp in conjunction with the warming we are causing. It would require us to reduce our GHGs all the more, so as to not only reduce the warming we’re causing, but also the extra warming the sun is causing.
Luckily the scientists here have assured me that such increase in solar warming is not expected for a long, long time.
Still I think it best to reduce our GHGs ASAP AMAP (as much as possible), because you never know when other forcings, like volcanic emissions, or feedbacks (like GHGs released by nature due to the warming) might surge up greatly.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 24 Nov 2007 @ 9:07 PM
Now the U.S. will be all alone as a Kyoto spoiler.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 24 Nov 2007 @ 10:28 PM
Have a quick question about the greenhouse effect if anyone can help. Im just confused about some simple part of it. I can sum it up as one question – is there backradiation from nitrogen and oxygen molecules? My confusion is because I think they must radiate energy in some form, and some must go down and be absorbed by the surface. But wouldn’t that mean non-greenhouse gases were contributing to the greenhouse effect?
Ref 251 Hank writes “That assumes that the Earth’s temperature varies along with the sunspot number. This hasn’t been true for decades.” I am lost. It does NOT assume “that the earth’s temperature varies with sunspot number.” It assumes that the earth’s temperature varies with the MAXIMUM sunspot number during each sunspot cycle. Each sunspot cycle lasts about 11 years, which is about one decade. During the 20th century, there have been about 9 solar cycles. Each of these cycles has had a maximum sunspot number above average for the time since sunspot numbers have been measured. The earth’s temperature has sort of risen during the 20th century. I think people are confusing sunspot number, which varies in a sort of regular way over each 11 year cycle, and maximum sunspot number during the cycle. There have only been 9 such numbers for the whole of the 20th century.
The french have always been ahead of the race in terms of the environment, they championed the adoption of nuclear power as their main source of energy, they built a highly efficient transport system and their latest proposals are yet again examples of their forward thinking and awareness of issuses most americans brits and australians are soo painfully slow at grasping and/or accepting. See they chose to accept what the scientists were saying well before the rest of us and rather than hope that the problem will go away they chose to tackle the problem head on. Actually France and Germany are champions in this regard. The Germans pay net energy producers a dividend whether they are a a nuclear power plant or a suburban house with solar cells on it’s roof. Now with solar cells becomming more and more efficient and no doubt subsidised heavily by the gov france can indeed afford to become a role model for all other countries to follow. In regard to incandescent lighting I have written to the management of our largest chain of supermarkets to phase out the sale of incandescents..response…”when the gov subsidises Compact fluoro lights to the point that they are a comparable price to incandescents”..Great leadership??
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 25 Nov 2007 @ 8:06 AM
Re Lynn Vincentnathan @ 254: “Now the U.S. will be all alone as a Kyoto spoiler.”
Not quite. Unfortunately Canada’s conservative government, also a minority, btw, is still advocating only voluntary carbon “intensity” reductions, and just this week managed to prevent the Commonwealth nations from adopting binding mandatory cuts.
Jim, you’re saying that with a low maximum sunspot number the Earth cools.
I’m pointing out that the change is heat from the Sun between peak and minimum is so slight — compared to the trend now — that it makes only a slight reduction in warming, not cooling.
It’s a factor. It’s a very minor factor compared to the current rapid increase in greenhouse gases, and the warming already built in by those that will go on for some centuries til a new equilibrium is reached. Then only very slowly CO2 will get removed by natural processes, once we quit overwhelming them by adding it so very fast.
Yes the Sun makes a difference. No, not a very big one compared to human activity this century.
Re #255: apparently not… searching for the thermal infrared spectrum of N2 and O2 came up empty-handed. Even listings of IR spectra of atmospheric constituents don’t include them.
I have heard that symmetric diatomic molecules of this kind don’t have the kind of band spectra that the greenhouse gases have. Being transparent to IR means according to Kirchoff-Bunsen also that they do not radiate in the IR.
I remember from my glass-blowing course that glass, which is transparent to visible light, doesn’t glow in visible light either when heated up in the gas burner. A painful demonstration of Kirchoff-Bunsen if you’re not careful :-(
Comment by bobn ” I can sum it up as one question – is there backradiation from nitrogen and oxygen molecules? My confusion is because I think they must radiate energy in some form, and some must go down and be absorbed by the surface. ”
Ref 263. Hank, I agree with you that “I’m pointing out that the change is heat from the Sun between peak and minimum is so slight — compared to the trend now — that it makes only a slight reduction in warming, not cooling.” However, the reason the earth is going to cool, as I have stated before, is because of changes in the sun’s magnetic and electrical properties, and has nothing to do with heat. Precisely how the changes in the sun’s magnetic and electrical effects causes the earth to cool down or heat up, we do not understand. But the correlation is such, that I for one, believe it will happen.
[[Have a quick question about the greenhouse effect if anyone can help. Im just confused about some simple part of it. I can sum it up as one question - is there backradiation from nitrogen and oxygen molecules? My confusion is because I think they must radiate energy in some form, and some must go down and be absorbed by the surface. But wouldn’t that mean non-greenhouse gases were contributing to the greenhouse effect?]]
Nitrogen and oxygen are very poor absorbers of infrared radiation, and therefore very poor emitters of IR. Most of the back radiation from the sky is from greenhouse gases.
[[ However, the reason the earth is going to cool, as I have stated before, is because of changes in the sun’s magnetic and electrical properties, and has nothing to do with heat. Precisely how the changes in the sun’s magnetic and electrical effects causes the earth to cool down or heat up, we do not understand. But the correlation is such, that I for one, believe it will happen.]]
WHAT “correlation?” The biggest solar-Earth temperature correlation matches total solar irradiance, not something magnetic or electric. If you throw out TSI because it doesn’t match the recent rapid warming, you have to focus on things that match Earth’s temperature history even less. Sorry, you’re just not going to convince anybody that way.
To echo Paulina in 203, I would also like to thank the people who contribute to this site. You are doing the world a great service, and as someone who has read the comments for some time, your patience with, ahem, people who do not do their homework is extremely admirable.
Comment by bobn, “I can sum it up as one question – is there backradiation from nitrogen and oxygen molecules? My confusion is because I think they must radiate energy in some form, and some must go down and be absorbed by the surface.”
I hope you don’t mind if I give you the long answer rather than the short one. In all honesty I think your question requires it as I believe there are other questions behind it. But before getting into this, I should let you know that I am not an expert — just a computer programmer working in a completely different field. What follows is simply what I have learned while participating here. And I must admit that I am essentially going off memory, and sometimes my memory doesn’t serve me quite as well as I might like.
What is the difference between line radiation and blackbody radiation?
The absorption spectra of gasses are the same as their emission spectra. Or at least that is a good approximation. Essentially, what you are dealing with at that point is the fact that a good absorber is also a good emitter — for each wavelength. We refer to this as Kirchoff’s law. This applies to gasses, liquids and solids.
In fact, the blackbody emission spectra is only an idealized case. Something which cannot exist in reality, although some substances are better at it than others. In all cases, you have bands, lines, band widths, line widths. Higher pressures will cause the bands to become wider, higher temperatures will cause the lines to widen, but the bands to become more narrow. And the lines and bands themselves are where the substance emits as the result of the decay of excited states.
Water vapor isn’t linear, so you will have an electric dipole. As a result, you will have vibrational excitation and rotational excitation as well as states involving both vibrational and rotational excitation — refered to as rovibrational states. Carbon dioxide is however linear and symmetric. As such it has vibrational states, but no pure rotational states. However, as the result of assymmetric vibrations it can have rovibrational states.
For each state, in the spectra you will see a series of lines representing the different points in the spectra where absorption and emission can occur. Some look like symmetric dampened oscillating curves if you look real close.
However, the more interactions there are between the different molecules, the more the number of excited states which become available, and as such the spectra will come closer to the kind of continuous spectra than we normally associate with liquids and solids. But even in the case of solids you are actually dealing with spectra which ultimately are composed of lines and bands — if you look closely enough.
With some solids you don’t have to look quite so closely. Dusts and crystals come to mind — as do various alloys. And typically, even with liquids and solids, the spectral emissivity (which is essentially a measure of how well the substance absorbs or emits at a given wavelength) will vary over the spectrum. We recognize this by says that there are no true black bodies, but there are also no true grey bodies — where the spectral emissivity would be constant over the entire spectrum.
As such, I prefer to avoid speaking of line radiation and blackbody radiation. It is all realistic body radiation.
But typically I will avoid even the phrase “realistic body radiation.” After all, gasses aren’t normally thought of as bodies, are they? Instead I will generally use the term “thermal radiation.”
It is, afterall, thermal energy which is being gained when the substances absorb and thermal energy which is being lost when they emit. And above roughly 10 mb for gasses, the temperature at which the substance emits will be the same as the temperature of the substance itself. At each point in the spectra where absorption and emission takes place, there will be a brightness temperature which is the same as the Maxwell collisional-temperature of the substance itself.
But why will the temperature of the spectra be the same as the collisional temperature?
Each excited state is subject to quantum decay. This is a form of exponential decay over time such that an excited molecule has no memory of how long it has been excited, and for each unit of time that it survives, the probability that it will survive the next unit of time will be the same as all of the units before it.
However, above 10 mb, there will tend to be a great many collisions, more than a million collisions taking place in the time that it would take the molecule’s excited state to decay — at least within the near infrared spectrum for temperatures found on earth. As such, the molecule which absorbs a photon will typically lose its energy to the surrounding gas.
To a first approximation at least, the major constituents of our atmosphere (nitrogen and oxygen) will not emit. They are symmetric diatomic molecules, and as such any vibration which might exist will not be quantized any more than the translational energy that exists when molecules travel in a straight line is.
However, they will collide with greenhouse gas molecules. Energy will be lost and gained during such collisions. And as such, all of the molecules which constitute the atmosphere will be at the same temperature.
But this temperature will also extend to the excited states of the greenhouse gas molecules themselves. A certain percentage will be in an excited state at any given time — even when the energy associated with that excited state is considerably greater than the average kinetic energy of the molecules. Afterall, the Maxwell distribution of kinetic energy has a very long tail.
As long as a certain percentage of greenhouse gas molecules are in an excited state at any given time, over a given unit of time, there will be a certain percentage that will undergo spontaneous decay. As such, we will say that the vibrational temperatures, rotational temperatures, and rovibrational temperatures of any given greenhouse gas will be the same as the translational temperature of the gas itself.
However, these do tend to diverge below 10 mb — as there aren’t enough collisions to equalize the different temperatures. Above 10 mb, you will have a local thermodynamic equilibria where the temperature of the radiation field is the same as the temperature of the substance which is emitting thermal radiation, but below 10 mb, the temperature will begin to fragment into different temperatures for different states, resulting first in a partial-LTE, then a non-local thermodynamic equilibrium as the temperatures associated with different states all begin to diverge.
But is it actually the case that oxygen and nitrogen do not emit? Well, oxygen is an interesting exception. It will emit very weakly as the result of a small magnetic dipole. But both will emit very weakly as the result of multiple collisions resulting in excited states. Now how exactly that works I do not know. But it is something which Hank Roberts brought up at one point.
Incidentally, my apologies for not including the references for the above material. There are simply too many points. But if you have a few specific points that you are really interested in, I or others can probably find the literature readily enough.
Re 266. Jim Cripwell, OK, now let me get this straight. You admit you have no model–hell, not even a glimmer of an idea that could one day become a model. You don’t even know if it is “electrical” or “magnetic”. In effect, you want to explain the unknown in terms of the unknown. But you want us to scrap a perfectly good theory that explains the data in terms of well understood physical processes known to be occurring. Uh, Jim, ever hear of science?
bobn, re:255. People seem to get wrapped around the axle when it comes to “blackbody radaition” versus quantum radiation. A blackbody radiation distribution is just the energy distribution a gas of photons in equilibrium would have at a given temperature. It’s a property of the spin-1 particles we call photons. However, photons don’t interact with each other very much, so how do they come to equilibrium? They do so by interacting with matter. If the matter were a perfect black body, it would absorb perfectly at all wavelengths. Know such a material? Neither does anybody else. Real materials can only absorb photons where they have energy transitions that correspond to the photon wavelength. So, to first order, O2 and N2 do not radiate or absorb in the IR (no transitions corresponding to that energy difference). In reality, as molecules interact, the bonds get stretched, bent, bruised and otherwise tortured, and you get nonzero magnetic moments so you may get some weak absorption/emission at high densities.
To understand blackbody radiation, I recommend the treatment in Landau and Lifshitz “Statistical Mechanics” book–it’s pretty clear. To understand the role of ghgs in climate, I recommend Ray Pierrehumbert’s book. Hope this helps.
So, to first order, O2 and N2 do not radiate or absorb in the IR (no transitions corresponding to that energy difference). In reality, as molecules interact, the bonds get stretched, bent, bruised and otherwise tortured, and you get nonzero magnetic moments so you may get some weak absorption/emission at high densities.
Thank you, Ray.
That was the bit I was missing. Didn’t know that it was the same explanation as what I gave in terms of O2 for N2, but it makes sense. Meanwhile, I will have to get the Statistical Mechanics when I’m a little more sure about the finances. Already have Raypierre’s book, though.
Ref 274. Ray writes “But you want us to scrap a perfectly good theory that explains the data in terms of well understood physical processes known to be occurring.” Correction. All you have is a hypothesis. You cannot possibly call it a theory. There is absolutely not one single scrap of hard measured independently replicated experimental data that connects the recent rise in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, with an alleged recent rise in the earth’s temperature, or anything else for that matter. I suggest you read “The Chilling Stars”. I dont want you to scrap you ideas. But I do wish you would stop pressuring our politicians to waste billions of dollars in an unnecessary attempt to reduce the emission of CO2.
Re 216: http://isccp.giss.nasa.gov/climanal1.html is interesting. Looking at the cloud cover graph, the cloud amount rose up to 1987, then fell by 4% to 2001. That’s a lot of forcing. It then recovered slightly.
quote For clouds, I assume mean cloud coverage of 61.7% (Kiehl and Trenberth’s 1997 figure). If the average albedo of the surface is 0.05, then clouds must have a mean albedo of 0.465 to reproduce the observed planetary albedo. If we then decrease cloud cover by 1%, RF changes by 0.96 W m-2. unquote
So for 14 years we had up to an extra 4 watts/m^2. Comparing the graph with Hadcrut3 looks promising.
quote The work of Palle et al. with Earthshine estimates of Earth’s albedo is very interesting, but not everybody buys his figures yet, much less the big annual changes. There may be some problems with his methodology. unquote
Re “an alleged recent rise in the earth’s temperature” in 278: Jim, this is an odd qualification, given that you’ve admitted the existence of a warming trend in other posts. Why is it suddenly “alleged” in this one?
[[Ref 268 Barton writes “WHAT “correlation?”. I am not sure why I bother. The coincidence of the Maunder minimum with the Little Ice Age.]]
The Maunder Minimum was in TSI, Jim. TSI in the mid 1600s was around 1363 watts per square meter compared to the present 1366. TSI and sunspots tend to go together. Again, there’s no mysterious electric or magnetic force involved that correlates with climate history. It’s a simple matter of more or less sunlight.
[[There is absolutely not one single scrap of hard measured independently replicated experimental data that connects the recent rise in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, with an alleged recent rise in the earth’s temperature, or anything else for that matter.]]
What part of “the basic lab work was done in 1859″ do you not understand? Or do you think the CO2 measurements from Mauna Loa are faked? I’m at a loss to understand your repeated statement that there’s no evidence. Are you just unaware of the evidence?
All of these changes characterize a carbon cycle that is generating stronger-than-expected and sooner-than-expected climate forcing.
Comment by David B. Benson — 26 Nov 2007 @ 4:48 PM
L’objection d’Allègre sur la domination écrasante de l’eau (par rapport au CO2) peut-elle être balayée au seul nom de “plus d’un siècle de physique méticuleuse qui remonte à l’époque de Tyndall”? Si j’en crois Weart(http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm#N_10_) la majorité des météorologistes pensaient encore en 1950 que le CO2 était trop dilué pour jouer un rôle. Quant aux physiciens, quand ils avaient une opinion, c’était souvent la même (depuis Angström en 1900). Si je comprends bien, il y a essentiellement 3 raisons qui expliquent l’importance du CO2: 1) il y a amplification par la vapeur d’eau (par un facteur entre 1 et 5). 2) les bandes d’absorption de H20 et CO2 ne se recouvrent pas tout à fait. 3) Au dessus de 7000m environ, il y a plus de CO2 que de H20, et à plus basse altitude la chaleur se propage surtout par convection. Y a-t-il des analyses plus précises ou faut-il se résigner à croire les ordinateurs (ce que je fais volontiers, mais il est agréable de comprendre)?
Comment by Jacques VILLAIN — 21 Dec 2007 @ 12:14 PM
Jim isn’t reading, but for others, see the links posted earlier.
Quoting from the first of the three, from William Connolley’s blog:
2005-03-31 Solar errors.
For those of you interested in solar-climate connections, I strongly recommend reading DamonLaut2004.pdf from which one may quote gems such as: Analysis of a number of published graphs that have played a major role in these debates and that have been claimed to support solar hypotheses [Laut, 2003; Damon and Peristykh, 1999, 2004] shows that the apparent strong correlations displayed on these graphs have been obtained by incorrect handling of the physical data. The graphs are still widely referred to in the literature,and their misleading character has not yet been generally recognized. Readers are cautioned against drawing any conclusions, based upon these graphs ”
For those of you who continue to try to refute the mindless statements of Jim Cripwell, you need to understand that he is following the well-established principle that “a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth.” (courtesy of Joseph Goebbels) That is why he keeps repeating nonsense that has been refuted multiple times in these threads. I really object to allowing him to continue to clutter up the discussions. If he has something new to offer, then fine.
De toute façon, il y a “domination” (terme impropre) du H2O sur le CO2 puisqu’une bonne part du réchauffement attendu provient de la rétroaction H2O, pas du CO2 lui-même. (Y compris “au-dessus de 7000m”, car la rétroaction de la vapeur d’eau est surtout sensible en haute troposphère et sur les Tropiques, du moins dans les modèles, voir ici la discussion récente du Douglass 2007). Sinon, je pense qu’il faut passer par des modèles (ordinateurs) pour calculer tout cela au-delà de la physique de base – cette dernière nous dit simplement que le CO2 absorbe et émet dans l’IR lointain, comme d’autres espèces H2O, CH4, etc.
Comment by Charles Muller — 21 Dec 2007 @ 10:54 PM