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  1. William,

    That’s really bad news for climate science, but I am sure you are doing what is best for you. I wish you all the best of luck in your new endeavors and thanks again for all your kind help with my post on realclimate.

    Comment by Figen Mekik — 1 Dec 2007 @ 4:21 PM

  2. Best of luck.

    Comment by uBeR — 1 Dec 2007 @ 4:24 PM

  3. William, on behalf of everyone at RC I, and I expect many of the readers, would like to extend a heartfelt thank you for your contributions to RC – both in your postings and in our internal discussions. Your cyber-shoes will be hard to fill.

    We wish you all the best in your new career.

    Gavin

    [I'd like to second that (enthusiastically). -mike]

    [Me too --eric]

    Comment by gavin — 1 Dec 2007 @ 4:46 PM

  4. William -

    Thanks so much for your many contributions in many areas to “the commons” – that body of knowledge here, on Wikipedia, and in the many other places you have contributed that exists alongside the science itself and serves so well to explain it people like myself.

    Comment by John Fleck — 1 Dec 2007 @ 5:05 PM

  5. William, thank you for your volunteer efforts to improve the general understanding of climatology! And also what Gavin said…

    Comment by David B. Benson — 1 Dec 2007 @ 5:18 PM

  6. William,
    Best of luck and success in your endeavors and thank you for your energy and contributions on RC and in your work.

    Wishing you well,
    John

    Comment by John P. Reisman — 1 Dec 2007 @ 5:22 PM

  7. Cyber-shoes?

    I suppose Stoats have short legs.

    Best of luck.

    Comment by Gareth — 1 Dec 2007 @ 5:36 PM

  8. William, I just wish I had gotten to know you a little better. From what I can tell, you have helped to keep us a little more level-headed than we might be otherwise.

    Best wishes in the software industry. From over here it doesn’t look quite as exciting as climatology, but perhaps you will enjoy the change. In the meantime I will undoubtedly take time out for looking up some of your technical papers — and then reading them, to the best of my ability.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 1 Dec 2007 @ 5:44 PM

  9. http://www.interfauna.co.uk/mall/InterfaunaLink/customerimages/products/STOASDOW.jpg ?
    Nope.
    http://www.stuffemal.com/store/images/product/Stoat_4843_1.jpg ?
    Nah.

    Please keep your blog up for reference and, from time to time, continue to ‘take science by the throat’ — it looks unlikely you’ll be replaced anytime soon.

    http://www.thinkgeek.com/geektoys/plush/778d/zoom/ ?
    Nope, not quite.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Dec 2007 @ 5:46 PM

  10. Thank you for all of your calm replies and comments in the area of climate science. I really appreciated your technical expertise and clarifying discussions.
    I wish you the best.
    Ray

    Comment by Raymond Johnson — 1 Dec 2007 @ 5:49 PM

  11. William, I don’t know you, but I have been a regular reader and occasional contributor to this site for a while now. I appreciate the efforts that you, and all your now former colleagues have put into this site to make it an invaluable tool for those who need the very best information to guide them, and to help them guide others. I have always felt that when I quote the opinions of realclimate, of which you have been a part, I will never have any need to doubt what I am repeating is accurate and relevant. So thank you, all the very best for your future.

    Comment by John Monro — 1 Dec 2007 @ 6:26 PM

  12. The Robert Graves (no relation) memoir of the same title as your post was published when he was 34–and he lived to be 90. So, long life, best of luck, and thanks for your contributions to the dialog, here and at Stoat.

    Comment by David Graves — 1 Dec 2007 @ 7:22 PM

  13. William,
    I had this same realization and made this same move in 1995. RealClimate’s made me a little wistful that maybe I could have stuck it out and made a difference by using the internet to patiently and factually counter all the lies bouncing around.
    But, personally I’m a lot less frustrated. And much better remunerated! It’s good to have money. Welcome to software engineering!
    RFM

    Comment by Rionn Fears Malechem — 1 Dec 2007 @ 7:53 PM

  14. Thanks William – I’ve enjoyed, and been informed by your posts here, and at Stoat for quite a while now.
    As you say things may have moved more solidly into the political arena, but then that’s due in no small part to scientists like you who have made efforts to effectively communicate your knowledge to a wider audience..

    Thanks..

    Comment by Dean Morrison — 1 Dec 2007 @ 8:00 PM

  15. Well, congratulations on your extensive contribution to a real issue of social policy and science communication. All the best for the future.

    Comment by John S. Wilkins — 1 Dec 2007 @ 8:22 PM

  16. The very best of luck to you. While notable uncertainties remain in climate science, I agree that, with respect to public policy, we have more than enough scientific knowledge to proceed, but we’ve barely started. So, I hope you will keep the conversation going in helpful ways such as your blog and your Wikipedia contributions.

    Meanwhile, RealClimate will remain essential for getting new science out and shining sunlight on pseudoscience.

    Comment by Ric Merritt — 1 Dec 2007 @ 9:51 PM

  17. Dr. Connolley,

    It is unfortunate to see your departure as you are one of my favorite bloggers. I hope you do well and are happy in your new career. I hope to see Stoat remain active.

    -You will be missed,

    Sparrow

    Comment by Sparrow (in the coal mine) — 1 Dec 2007 @ 9:53 PM

  18. Sad news indeed William. Keep up the vigil at Wikipedia. The cyberworld needs qualified experts to monitor the kids! Good luck.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 1 Dec 2007 @ 10:26 PM

  19. WELL GOODBYE THEN, and may you someday find the truth.

    Comment by DemocracyRules — 1 Dec 2007 @ 11:33 PM

  20. “the obstacles to progress are now very obviously political not scientific.”

    I guess it depends on what kind of progress one is looking for in the first place ;)

    Comment by Frank R — 2 Dec 2007 @ 12:02 AM

  21. William,

    Thanks so much for your work here, at wikipedia, and on the models themselves. Best of luck to you in your new endeavor.

    Comment by Lance Armstrong — 2 Dec 2007 @ 2:23 AM

  22. William, good on yer mate.

    Now since you’re into software I’m sure you will continue to be the bane of your family’s night-life as you sit up late “..just tweaking this little bit of code..” until the wee small hours! The ancient alchemaeic art of the Distillation of Vapourware is a sometimes-fraught but very rewarding process, and no doubt fragments of work on ever-more disaggregated climate models will occupy key spots on your hard drives for many years to come.

    All the best.

    Nigel

    Comment by Nigel Williams — 2 Dec 2007 @ 4:18 AM

  23. William Connolley, I hope your next project is getting search engines to sort fact from propaganda. I think “political” is the wrong word to describe the problem we are having with the ignorant masses and the greedy psychopathic rich. I would describe the problem as one of religion or education or the klugey “design” of the human brain or the requirement for further evolution. I wonder if Google’s foray into the green energy field will result in coal company shill web sites being displaced by truthful information in Google searches? Freedom of speech is a two edged sword. It gives the ignorant, the insane, the propagandist and the scientist equal ability to publish. Most people can’t sort it out. The propagandist is by far the better financed and the ignorant and the insane are far more numerous, so the truth is buried in millions of pages of nonsense.
    William Connolley working on artificial intelligence could be the best thing that ever happened to Real Climate.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 2 Dec 2007 @ 5:08 AM

  24. Thank you so much for the work you and your RC colleagues have been doing over the last few years. It is really really appreciated.

    Comment by Matthew L — 2 Dec 2007 @ 7:04 AM

  25. Good luck, William.
    Nevertheless, I do believe, that the main obstacles for climate science remain scientific rather than political. Not to figure out, that there is AGW but to develop mid-term prediction systems for disastrous weather events. In my book, climate science is not over but just beginning to become really necessary. Lets face it. Even IF politicians accept AGW and start doing something about it, it won’t be enough and it won’t be in time to prevent all but the worst.

    Comment by henning — 2 Dec 2007 @ 11:01 AM

  26. To William Connolley, thank you and best wishes.
    Re 23 comment by Edward Greisch,
    Maybe William could devise an artificial intelligence that would be able to pass a kind of Turing test able to distinguish denialism from true and legitimate skepticism and save us from having to wade through millions of words of illogic.

    Comment by Fernando Magyar — 2 Dec 2007 @ 11:07 AM

  27. Re: 26. Perhaps a test for cyclicity of argumentation:
    Step 1. The warming isn’t occurring
    Step 2. It’s all natural and we’re not responsible.
    Step 3. OK, we’re responsible, but it will actually be a good thing (yeah, that’s the ticket.
    Step 4. Go back to Step 1 and repeat.

    It would be interesting to see whether there is actual periodicity to the denialist arguments or merely quasi-periodicity.

    Best of luck, William. We will miss you, but we hope you will not return occasionally so as no to allow yourself to be missed too much.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 2 Dec 2007 @ 12:15 PM

  28. Best of Luck and thanks for Stoat, your work in the climate related pages of Wikipedia, and your page on the 1970s Ice Age.
    http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/iceage/

    Regards

    Cobbly

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 2 Dec 2007 @ 12:27 PM

  29. Good luck William. Thanks a million or at least some quantity ~=O(10^6) for all your input. I may have to get back to watching Wikipedia more closely. Whenever all this crazy world of high-speed misinformation gets me down, I just think of all the folks like you and the gang here at RC, and Andrew Dessler, and Joe Romm. None of us has to struggle alone.

    Anyway you’ve done yeoman’s work on this for so long you’ve more than earned a break. I wish you the best and I hope the change brings you greater well-being all around.

    Comment by Jim Prall — 2 Dec 2007 @ 1:00 PM

  30. William,
    Thanks for all your contributions, and especially thanks for taking the time to respond to my emails. Good luck.

    Comment by crotalus — 2 Dec 2007 @ 1:16 PM

  31. Good luck in your new field. Just out of curiousity, and to refute those denialists who claim climate scientists are just in it for the money, could you perhaps give us an estimate of the percentage increase in your expected income?

    Comment by James — 2 Dec 2007 @ 1:31 PM

  32. William,
    You have always been a voice of reason in a debate often characterized by extremes. Your work here at RC, at Stoat, at Wikipedia, and at globalchange has been an excellent resource for all of us lay folks trying to obtain a working understanding of an oft-complex field. Here’s to hoping that your change of vocation won’t put an end to your participation in the online dialogue; after all Deltoid, Tamino, and others are not strictly climate scientists but certainly have contributed a lot.

    Ray: I’d suggest relabeling step 4 to “Ok, we are responsible, and climate change will probably be a bad thing, but its too late to do anything about it”.

    Comment by Zeke Hausfather — 2 Dec 2007 @ 2:37 PM

  33. William, it is sad to see you leave RC. I enjoyed your contributions and wish you well. I hope you have enough time to continue Stoat and your work on Wikipedia, because they are meaningful contributions.

    Take care and all the best!

    Comment by Stephen Berg — 2 Dec 2007 @ 3:01 PM

  34. William -
    Yours has always been one of the most perceptive, richly informed and good-humored viewpoints on the subject of climate. You have generated a lot more light than heat, and you will be sorely missed. Here’s wishing you a long, happy and rewarding career. And give our best to all the little mustelids.
    - Jim

    Comment by jre — 2 Dec 2007 @ 5:57 PM

  35. my best wishes
    may you have fair winds and following seas

    Comment by sidd — 2 Dec 2007 @ 6:07 PM

  36. Get in touch and I’ll buy you a beer in the Carlton the next time I’m in town (every 3/4 weeks).

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 2 Dec 2007 @ 8:10 PM

  37. Thanks, William, for all your climate science contributions.

    Now I’m thinking if people step down from being climate scientists, they can if they wish take on the role of environmental advocate in their communities and on the internet. Which means they don’t need to reach .05 p significance (or 95% confidence) to make claims anymore. They don’t have to follow scientific caution or worry about avoiding false positives, but only worry about the fate of the world.

    It could be a liberating experience, and we do need more environmentalists advocating for life on earth, inspiring people to enact solutions.

    Still I feel a bit sad that you are leaving RC and climate science.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 2 Dec 2007 @ 8:19 PM

  38. RE #13, Roinn, that was the year — 1995 — that I stopped most my primary source reading on climate science (not that I understood a lot). That was the year I came to realize we had enough proof re global warming and it didn’t have to be debated any more — only the details had to be filled in and ironed out in my estimation.

    However 1990 was the year I felt we had enough evidence to vigorously pursue mitigation and solutions. And the only reason I was a bit late (I could have come to that conclusion sooner, say in 1980 or 1985), was that I didn’t know much about global warming.

    Thank goodness we have scientists to inform us about this problem. I hope it’s not the case that 100 years from now scientists will be documenting our abysmal failure to mitigate global warming adequately to avoid the worst. I’ve always told the denialists and contrarians that their best strategy would be to reduce GHGs so low that there’s no more evidence for the scientist to work with. That would be one way to show the world how lacking in certainty this global warming thing is :) .

    We humans were smart enough to have created the technology that led to global warming; let’s just hope we’re wise enough to mitigate it.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 2 Dec 2007 @ 8:33 PM

  39. I don’t like your politics or your admining/moderating. But I wish you the best as one human to another with your new plans.

    Comment by TCO — 2 Dec 2007 @ 11:06 PM

  40. Is that Cambridge MA or Cambridge UK I wonder ?

    Comment by pete best — 3 Dec 2007 @ 5:09 AM

  41. Sorry to see you go William.

    Perhaps slightly off-topic, but emphasising your point that progress in climate change now needs to be in the realm of politics rather than science, Australia today signed the Kyoto protocol. It was our new Prime Minister’s first action after he was sworn in.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/12/03/2108345.htm

    Climate change was one of the 3 big issues that determined the election outcome – the biggest was industrial relations. I probably don’t need to mention that this leaves the US as the only hold-out in the developed world with respect to signing up for Kyoto.

    Comment by Bruce — 3 Dec 2007 @ 5:50 AM

  42. Goodbye and Goodluck. Now something different for a change. Communicating with friends I’ve refered to climate change as a fast moving monster and decided it needs a name. Please forgive me but I’ve named it ” GODZILLA “

    Comment by Crusty — 3 Dec 2007 @ 8:35 AM

  43. RE #39, I don’t really know what you and others mean by politics, except I think you mean beliefs/values & ideology.

    To me politics has to do with power and influence — whether on the national level, such as that exerted by a dictator, or in the family, like the wife bossing the husband around.

    We’ve heard the adage “knowledge is power” and the term “technocracy” (experts being the powerful controllers of the society), but Micchel Foucault made the amazing claim that “power is knowledge.” He should have lived to see just how true that was, how the powerful can actually obfuscate science or reality-based knowledge into their fantasyland what-they-want “reality,” and then hoodwink a lot of others. I think what the postmodernist Foucault actually meant was that the powerful (mainly government) grantors of universities and science institutes can skew the science, or teach the students to be compliant to their system. And, of course, that’s also true. But it’s very shocking that the frank knowledge produced by scientists striving for objectivity can be then altered by unlearned bureacrats with red pencils.

    Just attended the American Society of Criminology conference. A critical “green criminologist” presented a paper on this very topic: “Global Warming: A State Crime Against Humanity.” Of course, it’s also against other forms of biota, as well, and we discussed that.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 3 Dec 2007 @ 10:24 AM

  44. I have admired your contributions to Wikipedia on the various global warming web pages. I thank you for your diligent defense of science and your clear prose.
    I hope you can continue your internet activities, at least occasionally. Good luck and success in your new field

    Comment by veritas36 — 3 Dec 2007 @ 1:29 PM

  45. Cambridge’s gain is RC’s loss. That includes those of us who log on to learn, share gems of wisdom :), or just to vent our spleen.
    Job opportunities have come from an unexpected quarter, recently. Would you believe the clothing industry? This from yesterday’s front page in the “NY Times”:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/02/business/02weather.html?_r=2&hp&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

    Best of luck to you and your family.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 3 Dec 2007 @ 4:54 PM

  46. William, thanks for your work, best wishes for the future.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 4 Dec 2007 @ 5:03 AM

  47. Thanks, William, for helping to make RC a place to direct climate change skeptics and denialists for real climate information.

    Off topic but possibly important:

    Tropics expanding faster than predicted:

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/12/071203-expanding-tropics.html

    Comment by catman306 — 4 Dec 2007 @ 6:40 AM

  48. Another thank you from an appreciative lurker, William. I’d imagine there are a lot of folks like me who owe you a debt.

    Comment by Carter O'Brien — 4 Dec 2007 @ 10:45 AM

  49. Good luck William. Thank you for all of your hard work and insightful posts. I have enjoyed, and will continue to enjoy, readuing and learning from them.

    Comment by Ktc — 4 Dec 2007 @ 11:04 AM

  50. good luck William, i’ve been an interested reader of your blog and will continue to do so, but i must join in the thanks for your contribution to RC.

    RC has been by far the best source of info on AGW for me, on this often spun subject. It has kept me from despair or panic, on various occasions, whilst helping me resist the twin sirens of lazy denialism or alarmism.

    I think the warmth of the response in this thread demonstrates how influential you have been. A loss to us all on RC.

    Respect, Mark S

    Comment by mark s — 4 Dec 2007 @ 1:59 PM

  51. RE the theme here that the major part of the CC science has been done (more than enough to support vigorous action to mitigate CC), and the work now is on the details…and brushing away those pesky denialist arguments and theories…

    Here’s a recent detail that surprised me: harm to agriculture from GW may have been underestimated because studies failed “to account for seasonal extremes of heat, drought or rain, multiplier effects of spreading diseases or weeds, and other ecological upsets” (see http://www.climateark.org/shared/reader/welcome.aspx?linkid=89060 )

    It surprised me because I’ve been arguing for over 15 years it’s these extremes we have to keep our eyes on, not the averages — as in an extreme heat wave over several days can kill almost an entire crop, while the average weather conditions over the entire growing season may even look ideal. Or a deluge over a few days may do a lot of damage, while the same amount of rainfall spread more evenly over a few months may help crop production.

    I studied some ecological anthropology decades ago, and we were taught that when looking at the carrying capacity of, say, a pastoral tribe’s land, we had to look at the carrying capacity during that once in a hundred years drought, not the carrying capacity of the average year or the most productive year.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 4 Dec 2007 @ 4:41 PM

  52. I also want to thank William for his work.

    BTW, there is an interesting sea ice bet on Williams’s blog:
    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2007/12/betting_on_sea_ice_following_t.php

    I’m curious if anyone here thinks arctic sea ice will be below 10% by 2020.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 4 Dec 2007 @ 7:00 PM

  53. Best wishes. I hope you will take part in the politics in your spare time and perhaps appear in the media sometimes. I agree with George Marshall that many people don’t seriously really believe scientists although they may pay lip service to what they are told.

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 4 Dec 2007 @ 8:25 PM

  54. Best of luck!

    I’ll continue to look forward to your posts on Stoat. It was nice to see your continued ability to offer some alternative opinions to the more political/ideological aspects of the discussion while maintaining confidence in what I suppose could be called the “mainstream” of the science itself.

    Comment by Jon — 4 Dec 2007 @ 8:43 PM

  55. Best of luck! A 90% reduction in fossil fuel use is indeed technically and scientifically possible, and so is halting the destruction of the world’s forests and other carbon stores. The lights will stay on (but the cars will all be smaller). Getting from here to there is the problem – but you’ve certainly contributed to the process. Congratulations. (Maybe you can help make some more positive contributions in the computer world” as well!)

    Comment by Ike Solem — 4 Dec 2007 @ 9:01 PM

  56. http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2007/11/ca_climate_variability_ladochy.pdf

    Is this paper OK?

    If so, this paper really reopens the UHI effect question. I would welcome comments on it.

    [Response: What UHI question? The issue is not whether it exists, but whether it contaminates the global temperature reconstructions despite, for instance, the avoidance of urban trends sites in GISTEMP. This paper doesn't address this. - gavin]

    Comment by joel — 4 Dec 2007 @ 9:11 PM

  57. Its sad to see you leave RC, I hope you keep posting on stoat. At least you’re not becoming a fashionista i.e. comment #45 ;)

    I did get an undergrad degree in marine biology, but the career choices in a very crowded field and my time as a lab tech persuaded me to take a different career path. I never got to the point where I was a scientist, but I understand the urge to find a new path.

    Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 5 Dec 2007 @ 1:45 AM

  58. All those years ago, it seems, I sent you an e-mail to ask where I should start to understand climate science better. I tracked you down after reading some of your stuff on the exchanges on the wikipedia pages. I quite liked your style : you seemed to be knowledgable honest and dogged.

    You were kind enough to put me on the right path and from there, which included IPCC, to RC and to a large number of links provided by the posters here.

    I now feel very comfortable with the science and I can hold my own in conversations with the sceptics more often than not.

    It wouldnt have happened without you, so thanks and good luck for the future.

    Comment by Eachran — 5 Dec 2007 @ 7:00 AM

  59. A report today in the Independent makes some statements about our local star (the Sun) and cycle24 and how in the coming decades there is a strong possibility of a 1.5C temperature drop in earths (it does not say global) temps which would give us more time to deal with CO2 emissions. Apparantly the Sun was very active during the 20th century but far less so now.

    I am presuming that this would not necessarily be a good thing as it if was colder in Europe and the USA then more fuel would be used to keep warm and keep pur industry moving.

    Comment by pete best — 5 Dec 2007 @ 9:13 AM

  60. CS-SE101: “Leading a team of programmers is like hearding cats” – But I can understand why it’s appealing… :)

    Comment by Alan — 5 Dec 2007 @ 10:15 AM

  61. Luft. 0,81Kg/m3 og inneholder 0,038% CO2

    Propan. 1,83Kg/m3 legger seg i bunnen av båtskrog ved lekkasjer og er eksplosjonsfarlig.

    CO2. 1,98Kg/m3 stiger til “himmels” og danner varmeskjold og global oppvarmning.

    Hvor er logikken? En gass som er over dobbet så tung som Luft, stiger i luft, men Propan stiger ikke

    Comment by Decca — 5 Dec 2007 @ 12:27 PM

  62. Hi Pete,
    The idea is that we’re due for a decrease in solar activity, leading to lower temperatures. The thing is there’s no model for predicting how much or how long it will last. The longest grand minima last of order 200 years, while the effects of CO2 persist for centuries to millennia. Moreover, historically, given the nearness of peak oil, we are currently deciding on infrastructure for the future. If we opt for coal (the cheapest option) we will manage to restore Earth to a Jurassic atmosphere, completely different from the one we know today. There seem to be some who are confident of our ability to put the carbon back in the ground after we release it. All I can say is that if we have done as poorly with mercury as we have, it doesn’t inspire confidence.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Dec 2007 @ 2:25 PM

  63. #61 decca

    Hvor er logikken? En gass som er over dobbelt så tung som Luft, stiger i luft, men Propan stiger ikke

    At snakke Norsk gør ikke logikken betre… ;-)

    So the question asked is, how can CO2 being twice as dense as air, nevertheless go up to the heavens, when also heavy propane leaking inside a boat, stays on the bottom of the hull.

    I think it is simply a matter of the speed of becoming “well mixed”. Inside the boat, the air is standing still. The only process to mix the propane with the air is gas diffusion, which is slow. The CO2 however becomes part of atmospheric circulation. And even then, full mixing takes a little while (months). CO2 released in stagnant air also stays at the bottom and may become a lethal suffocation trap.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 5 Dec 2007 @ 3:17 PM

  64. > CO2 being twice as dense as air

    According to what source? Why do you consider this reliable information?

    I’m always interested in where people get their beliefs underlying their reasoning. This has fooled some well known people.

    But you can look it up, for example http://www.uigi.com/air.html

    the molecular weight
    -of dry air 28.98
    -of nitrogen 28.01
    -of oxygen 32.00
    -of argon 39.95
    -of carbon dioxide 44.01

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Dec 2007 @ 8:32 PM

  65. > CO2 being twice as dense as air
    According to what source?

    Good point! I didn’t even see anything wrong with the figures :-)

    (You don’t happen to have propane do you?)

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 6 Dec 2007 @ 2:16 AM

  66. Re #62, I sent the article off to realclimate and Gavin informed with with a nice reply (thanks for that btw Gavin) that it was nigh on impossible for the Sun to cause a temperature drop by 2020 of 1.5C so either the journalist got too excited when interviewing the astronomer or the astronomer was exagerating. But it just goes to show the need for RC and I for one am very glad that they are here and that why its a shame that someone is leaving the field to do software development although I am sure that it will be some decent scientific related development and not business related .NET or JAVA.

    As for mitigating CO2, 1000 coal fired power stations are slated to be built globally in the coming 5 years. CCS will not be available by then and it is difficult to retrofit to I have read. As Kyoto will not run its cause until 2012 and has been a failure anyway due to the fact that economic growth is more important that climate security and Bali talks and any decisions will more than likely meet with the same results.

    IF 400 ppmv does turn out to mean a 2.0C rise in global temps then James Hansen has it right. bulldoze all coal fired power stations not fitted with CCS.

    Comment by pete best — 6 Dec 2007 @ 4:50 AM

  67. Carbon dioxide doesn’t stay near the ground because Earth’s air is turbulent. Convection mixes it. If it were stratified by layers, we’d all suffocate, since CO2 and Argon would hug the ground.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 Dec 2007 @ 6:49 AM

  68. RE #65, I did look up propane molecule (3 Cs & many Hs) and totalled the atomic weights yesterday, and I believe it came out about the same as CO2, but I can’t find those webpages again.

    I’m also thinking that those Hs didn’t seem strongly bonded, not nearly as much as O in O2 or CO2. So it really does seem CO2 can persist a lot longer.

    Well folks, that’s the extent of my chemistry knowledge :)

    Thank goodness for William and all the real scientists to do the work and summarize the results for us!

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 6 Dec 2007 @ 9:25 AM

  69. Google propane “molecular weight”
    * Molecular weight : 44.096 g/mol

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Dec 2007 @ 11:13 AM

  70. I think you’re right Lynn, it is 44 just like carbon dioxide.

    Barton #67: turbulence mostly only makes it go faster. In a stagnant atmosphere, every gas would eventually be distributed exponentially with height, according to its own scale height (inversely proportional to molecular weight). But it would take a lot of time to get there. In the real (turbulently mixed) atmosphere, there is only one scale height (only water vapour is special) related to mean molecular weight.

    The explosiveness of propane is precisely due to its diffusive mixing with air: a pure layer of the gas overlaid by air would burn at the interface, just like a liquid fuel.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 6 Dec 2007 @ 11:28 AM

  71. Propane is a hydrocarbon, C3H8, with an atomic weight of 3×12 + 8 or 44. It does, coincidently have the same atomic weight as CO2 (12 + 2×16).

    Thanks William, and sorry for all the distractions in the emails.

    Comment by Tom — 6 Dec 2007 @ 12:20 PM

  72. Students of rapidly melting Arctic Ice and the shutdown of the Atlantic currents will want to take a peak at this:
    http://environment.newscientist.com/article/dn13013-ancient-flood-brought-gulf-stream-to-a-halt.html

    [Response: Oh dear. A perfectly good scientific study (appearing in Science Express this week), ruined again by the headline writers. The Gulf stream did not grind to a halt, not even the thermohaline bit. This might be useful background: http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/legrande_01/ - gavin]

    Comment by catman306 — 6 Dec 2007 @ 6:55 PM

  73. Ref 66 Pete writes ” I sent the article off to realclimate and Gavin informed with with a nice reply (thanks for that btw Gavin) that it was nigh on impossible for the Sun to cause a temperature drop by 2020 of 1.5C so either the journalist got too excited when interviewing the astronomer or the astronomer was exagerating.” This statement is absolutely correct, if the table of forcings in the IPCC SPM AR4 WG1 is correct. That is, only TSI affects climate, and is the only extraterrestrial forcing. Proponents af AGW are unwilling to accept the idea that the sun affects climate in ways which we simply do not understand.

    [Response: Why do you persistently invoke such ridiculous straw man arguments? Think about what it would take in terms of radiative forcing to cool the planet 1.5deg in 13 years. Pinatubo remember only managed 0.5 deg C for a couple of months, and so you'd need at minimum a sustained Pinatubo for years - and that is around -3 to -4 W/m2 of forcing - which is more than an order of magnitude larger than anything even the most far out solar enthusiast has suggested. And in a decade! The statement was/is/remains ridiculous - and it has nothing to do with my lack of an open mind. - gavin]

    Comment by Jim Cripwell — 7 Dec 2007 @ 7:47 AM

  74. All —

    Ross McKittrick appears to have just published a study saying urban heat islands account for the surface warming trend — in JGR-Atmospheres!!! How did that happen?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 Dec 2007 @ 8:17 AM

  75. Re Jim Cripwell @ 73: “Proponents af AGW are unwilling to accept the idea that the sun affects climate in ways which we simply do not understand.”

    Without compelling evidence that these “ways which we simply do not understand” even exist or how they work, why would they?

    Why would ANYONE accept the idea that UNKNOWN solar forces that “we simply do not understand” are the cause of the current observed warming when the KNOWN physics of greenhouse gasses explain it perfectly well?

    Unless they have already decided that AGW is not happening and are desperately searching for some other–ANY OTHER–explanation for the observed warming, that is.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 7 Dec 2007 @ 8:53 AM

  76. Re: 73. Gavin, I think that you have hit the problem squarely–most people have no idea of the actual numbers involved. It is easy for them to think that somehow we’ll get a big cooling from solar fluctuations because 1)they don’t understand how much TSI fluctuates, 2)They don’t understand how much this is modulated by clouds and how much that fluctuates (and is uncertain), 3)They don’t understand how much energy would be involved in a 1.5 K temperature change.
    This also makes it possible to suggest that 1)Warming is occurring due to massive outpourings of magma hidden beneath the oceans (yes, I have seen this in the denialosphere), 2)Ocean circulation drives climate change, and so on and so on. What all of these fallacies have in common is that they appeal to ignorance–that there must be something we don’t know or that we must not know what we in fact do know. Science is the activity of gaining knowledge; anti-science is the activity of preserving ignorance.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Dec 2007 @ 8:54 AM

  77. Re #67
    “Carbon dioxide doesn’t stay near the ground because Earth’s air is turbulent. Convection mixes it. If it were stratified by layers, we’d all suffocate, since CO2 and Argon would hug the ground.”

    Not to mention diffusion (although convection certainly speeds things up).

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 7 Dec 2007 @ 9:05 AM

  78. Indeed, and it must account for glacier melt and ocean temperature rise and TOA radiative imbalance as well. I do think gavin and Ray Pierrehumbert are on to something in the “phenomenlogical sequel” thread- something fishy going on with peer review

    Comment by Chris C — 7 Dec 2007 @ 9:49 AM

  79. Jim Cripwell wrote: “Proponents af AGW are unwilling to accept the idea that the sun affects climate in ways which we simply do not understand.”

    It strikes me that this brief comment perfectly encapsulates an entire line of denialist argument:

    “Proponents of AGW — who can point to a mechanism that we do understand, namely the well-established basic physics of greenhouse gases, the indisputable anthropogenic increase in the atmospheric concentration of these gases, and the empirically observed warming of the Earth that is entirely and sufficiently explained by the increase in greenhouse gases — are unwilling to accept the idea that the warming might be caused by some unknown, unobserved, entirely speculative agency such as [fill in the blank with any of several notions that are not even established to exist, whose effects would not well explain the empirically observed changes if they do exist, and are moreover unnecessary to explain the observed warming which is entirely and sufficiently explained by the anthropogenic increase in GHG concentrations].”

    Why do denialists ask the entire scientific community to throw out well-understood and empirically validated science and turn instead to entirely speculative notions about unknown phenomena that have no empirical basis … and expect to be taken seriously?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 7 Dec 2007 @ 11:28 AM

  80. Barton and Chris, Not to worry. Peer review is a threshold. I would imagine that the reviewers merely thought it was not so flawed that it was completely uninteresting, and so acquiesced to publication. I’d be interested in the “date received” and “date published” difference as well, as this might indicate how many cycles the manuscript went through. Now that it has been published, it can be given the reception it deserves (Pull!) and then sink into the obscurity it so richly deserves.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Dec 2007 @ 12:27 PM

  81. I hope Gavin will allow this lengthy post in answer to Ref 75 by Jim Eager. So far as I can see the case for AGW rests on two pillars. First, that the characteristics of CO2 explain the correlation between the rise in CO2 concentration, and the recent rise in temperature. This argument has been done to death, and I cannot contribute anything new to it. The second pillar is that there is no other explanation for the recent rise in temperature. I think this is false, but if I put my ideas on CS all I get is “Jim, you are preaching to the choir”. Here on RC, any post like this one is looked at in detail, and if there are any mistakes, they are, quite rightly, exposed, and the logic torn to shreds. That way, I learn.
    I am writing this from memory, so I hope you will forgive any errors in minor details. The case that nothing else can affect climate seems to be based on the table in IPCC SPM AR4 WG1, which details all forcings. There is only one extraterrestrial forcing, TSI, or solar constant. When the text of the report is read, Chapter 2.7, one finds two and a half pages of discussion. Two of these pages are devoted to the solar constant, and conclude, with conviction, that the solar constant is indeed constant, and cannot possibly explain the recent rise in the earth’s temperature. The other half page deals with all other extraterrestrial effects. I find this discussion to be totally inadequate and an example of sloppy science. Merely half a page out of thousands of pages, on this absolutely vital issue. There are relatively few citations, and those that are there seem to fall into two categories. Those that support the idea there are no other extraterrestrial effects exist, and those that oppose the idea, but can be easily disregarded. In this latter category we find Svensmark and Marsh 2000, and 2001. However, Svensmark et al Proc. Roy. Soc A October 2006 is omitted; As is any mention of Rhodes Fairchild. I simply cannot be convinced by this part of AR4 that no other extraterrestrial forcings exist. I am no expert on this issue, but if I can easily find relevant citations that are omitted, it is understandable that I find myself unconvinced. Please note I am not claiming that there are unknown extraterrestrial forcings; merely that the IPCC claim that no such forcings exist is totally inadequate,
    We know that in past history, the earth’s temperature has changed markedly; e.g. LIA and MWP. When one asks what caused these periods, the answer seems to be changes in the solar constant. If true, this really does explain everything. Since the solar constant has not changed in recent times, it cannot explain the recent rise in temperature. But if it changed in the past, it explains everything. Is there any evidence that the solar constant has changed sufficiently to affect the earth’s temperature in past times? When I read how the solar constant is measured, I find that earth based measurements are not sufficiently accurate to do the job.. Changes in the earth’s atmosphere have too much effect. One needs satellite observations to do the job. So it was impossible to measure the solar constant prior to satellite technology with the required accuracy. So we have no measurements of what the solar constant was in past eras. Only the usual computer simulations.
    So we have the usual problems with AGW. There is no experimental data, and no convincing arguments that there are no other extraterrestrial forcings except for TSI. Add to this that on a routine basis satellite and other observations are producing more and more solar effects we knew nothing about. We don’t understand how the solar wind, etc. produces aurora. Our models of how the sun works are in disarray, with none of them accurately forecasting the start of solar cycle 24. Dr Hathaway states that the sun is sending “mixed signals”, which really means that his idea of how the sun works is not right. So I am simply not convinced with the IPCC claim that there are no other extraterrestrial forcings except for TSI. Until there is solid scientific information as to what caused the earth’s temperature to vary in past history, and an adequate

    Comment by Jim Cripwell — 7 Dec 2007 @ 12:51 PM

  82. Pete Best, whos this guy James Hansen, who has got it right, got what right??

    Comment by George Robinson — 7 Dec 2007 @ 12:59 PM

  83. RE #81 (Jim Cripwell) “I hope Gavin will allow this lengthy post in answer to Ref 75 by Jim Eager.”

    But Jim, your subsequent long post does not even attempt to answer the points made by Jim Eager.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 7 Dec 2007 @ 1:35 PM

  84. Models underestimating the problem?

    Elements; June 2007; v. 3; no. 3; p. 171-178; DOI: 10.2113/gselements.3.3.171 © 2007 Mineralogical Society of America
    Confronting the Climate-Energy Challenge
    Daniel P. Schrag, Harvard University

    … A brief review of the history of Earth’s climate puts the next hundred years in its natural context, suggesting that most predictions based on climate models may be underestimating the problem. Reducing risks of future climate change requires changes in existing energy systems.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Dec 2007 @ 2:52 PM

  85. Jim Cripwell wrote: “The case that nothing else can affect climate …”

    There is no “case that nothing else can affect climate” nor does anyone contend that “nothing else can affect climate”. Why do you keep bringing up this strawman?

    The well-understood physics of atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and the indisputable empirically observed anthropogenic increase in atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases, are sufficient to explain the current, ongoing, empirically observed, rapid warming of the Earth. There are no other known, observed mechanisms to account for it, nor is there any need to invoke other mechanisms since the well-understood, empirically verified anthropogenic GHG mechanism is sufficient to explain it. There is certainly no need to invoke the various speculative, unobserved “something elses” that you keep handwaving at to explain it.

    You are asking the entire community of climate scientists — hundreds of scientists who have studied this issue for decades — to throw out well-understood, empirically validated and very successful science in favor of hypothetical, speculative, unknown “something elses” … which, moreover, you yourself say you are “not claiming” even exist although you keep talking about them.

    It is remarkable that you receive polite, patient and informative responses to this sort of thing from the climate scientists who post here.

    Jim Cripwell wrote: “So we have the usual problems with AGW. There is no experimental data …”

    That is false no matter how many times you repeat it.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 7 Dec 2007 @ 2:52 PM

  86. Jim C,

    Let me see if I have this straight. On the one hand you have a known, experimentally demonstrable radiative forcing increasing in measurable quantities commiserate with the temperature record, and on the other you have mystical, unobserved, unexplained and unidentifiable cosmic forces, and you’re undone because the mainstream scientific community doesn’t assign each causal explanation the same credibility? One wonders how you get out of bed in the morning, what with all we don’t know about potential consequences.

    Comment by Majorajam — 7 Dec 2007 @ 3:36 PM

  87. Jim Cripwell – You don’t by any chance drive a Prius do you? How big is your footprint? What social and global outcome are you striving for with your proselytising?

    George 82. Please Google Dr James Hansen to check his creds;
    Then:
    http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/
    Then:
    Go quite for a few weeks while you read and digest.
    Then:
    Come back soon y’hear!

    Pete Best 66, Yes bulldoze the CO2 emitters. Agree but only after they have powered the production and distribution of five square metres of photovoltaics per person on earth; only after they have run the motors at the cement plant to build the foundations of the wind turbines; only after we have extracted enough copper for wires and windings stored in the shed on the top of the hill to last us a thousand years; only after they have powered the crushers and conveyor at the mines for the steel to build the new harbours and factories above the 100 metre line..

    We need our present global production capabilities to build our life-boats – only then can we afford to transition to the new way. It’s going to get very messy.

    Any other approach will see a total collapse. No CO2 emitters = No food distribution, no food production, no people, no emissions. Problem solved, mother nature’s way. CO2 trundles up to a peak someplace through 500ppm as we fade away, and Earth swings on thru space unobserved and uncaring. All sorted.

    I cannot see any way ‘economic forces’ are going to solve this – its going to take top-down decision making. The assumption of war-powers on all production. The conversion of plants making TVs to making PVs; making toys to making domestic-scale wind turbines; from golf-links to intensive hands-on efforts – possibly using un-employed professional sports people! ;) to make food grow on unsuitable soils under elevated CO2 and low water regimes; from Christmas lights to solar-powered farm robots – what ever it takes but the entire focus has to change to building Life-Boat Earth or we are gone.

    Only when we have our new world floating safely along side the old can we afford to blow out the smoking stacks of CO2 emitters and jump for our lives!

    Comment by Nigel Williams — 7 Dec 2007 @ 3:48 PM

  88. Re: # 81 Who is Rhodes Fairchild?

    Comment by Paul Middents — 8 Dec 2007 @ 12:14 AM

  89. William, I remember you from years ago at sci.environment. Along with others: Halpern, Ball, Taylor? Lloyd? etc. You were right in the thick of it and you’ve fought well. But often it’s just hard to keep fighting the same old battles day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. I myself gave up around 2002. On the other hand the forces of disinformation never seem to tire. Why should they, it’s their job. Anyway, take a break long as you need, you’ve earned it.

    Comment by Ron R. — 8 Dec 2007 @ 1:48 AM

  90. Re #75: Jim Eager

    “Without compelling evidence that these “ways which we simply do not understand” even exist or how they work, why would they?

    Why would ANYONE accept the idea that UNKNOWN solar forces that “we simply do not understand” are the cause of the current observed warming when the KNOWN physics of greenhouse gasses explain it perfectly well?”

    In the history of science and philosophy, there have been numerous cases where claims that something was NOT the case turned out to be false due to the lack of understanding the complete mechanism or the consideration of other concurrent factors.

    On July 15, 2007, during a discussion of (the lack of) solar effect on the current temperature in a paper by Lockwood et al., I posted a comment about the substantial changes in global cloud cover over the past several decades.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/12/goodbye-to-all-that/index.php?p=459#comment-37275

    This comment contained a link to a graph on the giss nasa web site:

    http://isccp.giss.nasa.gov/zD2BASICS/B8glbp.anomdevs.jpg

    To my knowledge there was no reply to that post. Since you seem to think that the resultant modulation of solar insolation had no role in the rise in global temperature over this period, perhaps you could point me to an analysis in the climate science literature of how much (if any) of the increase was due to the cloud cover changes.

    Comment by RomanM — 8 Dec 2007 @ 9:39 AM

  91. Jim Cripwell,
    You claim we have no evidence that the current warming epoch is greenhouse driven. Well, let us review: We have the very deep absorption line at the CO2 absorption band, which interestingly enough actually radiates about at the temperature you’d expect for a greenhouse mechanism. We have the fact that a greenhouse mechanism can explain the qualitative aspects of the current warming–shorter Winters, warmer nights… We have the fact that we know it is operative. We have the fact that it can be explained in terms of known and understood physics. We have multiple, independent lines of evidence that fix CO2 forcing at its current level. Shall I continue? What exactly are you looking for in the way of evidence? If you don’t know what specific piece of evidence would convince you, how can you consider yourself a skeptic and not a denailist?
    In contrast, you posit some unknown forcing that may or may not be operative, that depends on unknown physics and that even if present and significant probably would not affect our estimates of greenhouse gas forcing, since this would require radical explanations of the multiple lines of evidence that fix that quantity. GCMs are not a Chinese menu. It is not a menu where you pick one from column A… Rather, anthropogenic ghg forcings are your vegetables. You can’t leave them on your plate and expect to get dessert.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Dec 2007 @ 10:03 AM

  92. Re Jim Cripwell@ 81: “The second pillar is that there is no other explanation for the recent rise in temperature.”

    Jim, aside from the fact that you’ve left out several other “pillars,” this particular one is not quite correct as you’ve written it.

    To make it correct you would have to change it to read: “No other physical mechanism has yet been shown to be capable of explaining the recent rise in temperature.”

    Elsewhere, you have it backwards when you write that there are “no convincing arguments that there are no other extraterrestrial forcings except for TSI.”

    It’s not up to anyone to offer convincing arguments that there are no other extraterrestrial forcings except for TSI. It is up to those who contend that there ARE other extraterrestrial forcings to not just offer convincing arguments, but to offer convincing EVIDENCE that said extraterrestrial forcings exist and are capable of explaining the recent rise in temperature in whole or in part.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 8 Dec 2007 @ 10:32 AM

  93. Ref 91 Ray writes “You claim we have no evidence that the current warming epoch is greenhouse driven” Wrong. I claim there is no EXPERIMENTAL data. There is no hard, measured independently replicated experimental data that shows a connetion between the increased level of CO2 in the atmosphere and the global temperature warming in recent times; i.e. since 1979.

    [Response: Last chance. Describe the experiment that you think will satisfy you. - gavin]

    Comment by Jim Cripwell — 8 Dec 2007 @ 10:37 AM

  94. Re RomanM @ 90: “In the history of science and philosophy, there have been numerous cases where claims that something was NOT the case turned out to be false due to the lack of understanding the complete mechanism or the consideration of other concurrent factors.”

    Please note that I did not assert that there are NO unknown solar or other extraterrestrial forces that “we simply do not understand.”
    What I asserted is that there is as yet no compelling evidence that these unknown solar or other extraterrestrial forces are capable of explaining the current warming in whole or in part.
    It is up to those advocating these unknown solar or other extraterrestrial forces as climate forcers to provide that evidence for verification and debate.

    Furthermore, the existence of these hypothetical unknown forcings will in no way negate the physics of known greenhouse gasses.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 8 Dec 2007 @ 10:50 AM

  95. [Response: Last chance. Describe the experiment that you think will satisfy you. - gavin]

    What about the ongoing experiment? Should be very satisfactory from an evidential viewpoint if nobody stops it :-(

    Last chance indeed.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 8 Dec 2007 @ 11:17 AM

  96. Jim Cripwell: I’ll add that whatever else than GHG forcing is causing the warming would have to also explain the stratospheric and tropospheric changes that have been observed. From what I read, the tropospheric changes correspond exactly to what atmospheric physics says would be expected from GHG warming. So not only would you have to find another plausible source of warming, but you would also have to find one that is going to mimic “side effects” of GHGs.

    Comment by Philippe Chantreau — 8 Dec 2007 @ 12:34 PM

  97. And also: Good Bye, good luck and thanks to William. Just looking at how this thread has drifted, perhaps he won’t miss it all so much…

    Comment by Philippe Chantreau — 8 Dec 2007 @ 12:36 PM

  98. Jim Eager@94

    “What I asserted is that there is as yet no compelling evidence that these unknown solar or other extraterrestrial forces are capable of explaining the current warming in whole or in part. It is up to those advocating these unknown solar or other extraterrestrial forces as climate forcers to provide that evidence for verification and debate.”

    You are right in saying that the onus is on anyone advocating a specific hypothesis to provide scientific evidence and justification for the truth of that hypothesis. However, in this thread, there seems to be a tendency for some posters saying solar forcing is not active to be very dismissive of a possible effect when it is not clear that they have considered those possibilities in sufficient depth. That was the point I was making in the statement that you quoted. I raised the cloud issue whose possible ramifications on temperatures by varying the amount of solar insolation reaching the earth’s surface, IMO, do not need a “theory”, even though the causes for the formation of those clouds at present do not seem to be well understood, as an example of a reasonable possibility which seems to be a counterpoint to the posters I refer to above.

    “Furthermore, the existence of these hypothetical unknown forcings will in no way negate the physics of known greenhouse gasses.”

    It won’t “negate the physics”, but if such forcings exist, they could certainly affect our knowledge of the quantitative level of the effect of greenhouse gasses. If, as you say in #75, that “… the cause of the current observed warming when the KNOWN physics of greenhouse gasses explain it perfectly well?”, then it would indicate that the amount which now works perfectly well must be an overstatement.

    Comment by RomanM — 8 Dec 2007 @ 12:45 PM

  99. Gavin writes “Response: Last chance. Describe the experiment that you think will satisfy you. – gavin]” This is the equivalent of the classic “When did you stop beating your wife?” What I was taught when I studied science, was that experimental data and theory were one ball of wax. In true science, experimental data and theory are inseperable. Experimental data by itself is all well and good, but if you dont have a theory or hypothesis to explain it, you dont make progress. By the same token, having a hypothesis or theory with no experimental data to support it, is simply not science; it is at best, pseudoscience. To me the onus is on the proponents of AGW to provide the experimental data to support their hypothesis. How this is done is not my problem. But until it is done, AGW has no scientific basis; it, quite simply, is not science. I am reminded that when I first read about AGW I was amazed to find that the measure of greenhouse effectiveness, namely radiative forcing, can never be measured, and the main greenhouse gas, water, can never be ascribed a value.

    [Response: Thank you. You make it abundantly clear that no amount of evidence will satisfy you. Conversation over. - gavin]

    Comment by Jim Cripwell — 8 Dec 2007 @ 1:23 PM

  100. RomanM–another advocate of the Chinese menu school of Global Climate Modeling? Many have pointed out repeatedly that ghg forcing is constrained by multiple lines of evidence independently of the current warming. It’s not a matter of fitting the forcing to the effect. Rather, it is a matter of fitting the forcings independently of current trends and seeing how well the models do at reproducing them. Since GHGs are among the best known forcings, it is unlikely that they would move much if another mechanism were magically to appear. Rather, if cloud trends were to be responsible for more forcing, aerosols (equally uncertain) would likely change in response.
    This is quite independent of the problems your pet theory would face–like how you can get a cosmogenic forcer to be operative during the day to warm Earth, but not at night, when decreased clouds would tend to cool things.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Dec 2007 @ 1:38 PM

  101. Jim Cripwell, Well, thank you for your your fascinating thoughts on the scientific method. [edit]
    However, that was not what I asked. Those who actually understand science find the mountains of evidence quite convincing–as evidenced by the fact that not a single professional society of scientists now dissents from the scientific consensus on what is causing the current warming epoch. What I asked is what evidence it would take to convince YOU. If YOU cannot name an experiment that can be accomplished that would convince YOU, you are saying climate science (as well as Geology, Astronomy, Paleontology…) cannot be science. Yet the success of the field belies your assertion.
    Oh, and by the way, we can measure forcing–the difference between the energy radiated from Earth and captured by CO2 and the amount finally radiated away by the much cooler upper atmosphere. We also deal just fine with water vapor, despite its variability.
    Science works, Jim. And it doesn’t have to take place in a test tube to be science.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Dec 2007 @ 1:49 PM

  102. re: #99 Gavin
    Your patience is amazing.

    As I once pointed out in here in July, Cripwell thought Kristen Byrnes’ “ponderthemaunder” so credible to publicize it around bulletin boards where it was *rather* off-topic :-)

    “Her” latest effort, dated today, concludes:

    “The comparrison of this data is compelling evidence that increasing atmospheric CO2 does not cause global warming.”

    [Response: Oh good. We can all go home then. - gavin]

    Comment by John Mashey — 8 Dec 2007 @ 4:03 PM

  103. Correction: on that post 96, I meant tropopause changes rather than tropospheric

    Comment by Philippe Chantreau — 8 Dec 2007 @ 4:56 PM

  104. Re 99 Gavin, it is good to know that you are not going to continue to waste time trying to respond to the nonsense that Jim keeps posting. I hope Ray and others will follow your example. This post in particular is simply gibberish. He is cluttering up the threads with this stuff, making it difficult to maintain a coherent flow of information and (rational) ideas. You have been more than patient and enough is enough.

    Comment by Ron Taylor — 8 Dec 2007 @ 5:47 PM

  105. John Mashey,
    Jim serves a vital purpose here–reminding us that the denialophere is alive and well, and that they not only are not evidence based, they don’t even know what constitutes evidence.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Dec 2007 @ 5:49 PM

  106. Re Philippe Chantreau (#96, #103)

    I agree on both counts…

    There is a variety of evidence which the view that greenhouse gases are currently the single greatest forcing of the climate system explains which other views would find difficult or impossible to explain, either qualitatively or quantitatively.

    1. Polar amplification – the poles warm more quickly than the more equatorial latitudes;
    2. The cooling of the stratosphere;
    3. The fact that winter has shown a greater warming trend than other seasons;
    4. The fact that nights have warmed more quickly than days;
    5. The duration and timing of the warming – given the fact that other forcings are typically cyclic or flat — when the greatest correlation of a forcing to the trend in temperature is roughly at the ten-year;
    6. The rise in the tropopause; and,
    7. The expansion of the Hadley cells.

    *

    More importantly, our understanding that greenhouse gases are the greatest driver responsible for the trend towards higher temperatures and that they have been so for quite some time isn’t simply a matter of the evidence but of well-established physics. If one were to find an alternative explanation of all the above evidence, one would also have to explain why greenhouse gases weren’t having this effect — given that physics shows they must. And this would be made all the more difficult insofar as we are able to take satellite measurements of their emissions over many different altitudes on over 2000 different channels.

    Of course, one might attempt such an explanation of the inefficacy of greenhouse gases in terms of, for example, the reduced formation of clouds resulting in negative feedback to greenhouse gases. But then one would have to be able to show why this negative feedback does not occur in the case of the forcing (e.g., solar insolation) that one is proposing as the alternative major forcing.

    Greater positive feedback for one forcing typically implies greater positive feedback for other forcings. Likewise, greater negative feedback for one forcing typically implies greater negative feedback for other forcings. And the paleoclimate record strongly suggests that climate sensitivity of 2.8 K per CO2-doubling is correct, but if there is any substantial error in this, we are far more likely to be underestimating the sensitivity rather than overestimating it.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 8 Dec 2007 @ 6:49 PM

  107. Re RomanM @ 98: “I raised the cloud issue whose possible ramifications on temperatures by varying the amount of solar insolation reaching the earth’s surface, IMO, do not need a “theory”, even though the causes for the formation of those clouds at present do not seem to be well understood, as an example of a reasonable possibility which seems to be a counterpoint to the posters I refer to above.”

    But that would assume that clouds are a net positive forcing. As Gavin and others have pointed out, repeatedly, clouds have both a positive forcing (insulating and radiative) and a negative forcing (higher albedo) at the same time. The net forcing would be the excess beyond cancelation of these opposed forcings. It is premature to conclude even what sign the net has, let alone its magnitude.

    RomanM: “It won’t “negate the physics”, but if such forcings exist, they could certainly affect our knowledge of the quantitative level of the effect of greenhouse gasses. If, as you say in #75, that “… the cause of the current observed warming when the KNOWN physics of greenhouse gasses explain it perfectly well?”, then it would indicate that the amount which now works perfectly well must be an overstatement.”

    And, as Gavin and others have pointed out, again repeatedly, greenhouse gas forcings are fairly tightly constrained by the known physics, so it will not likely be greenhouse gas forcings that will have to be reduced to offset any net cloud forcing, but rather other less constrained forcings.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 8 Dec 2007 @ 7:09 PM

  108. Not sure if this was moderated out, or failed to be submitted, but here goes again (hint…I’m just joking below, but one way to look at what we’re doing to earth is a “natural experiment”)…

    RE #81, I guess, Jim, that you didn’t hear about the great multi-multi-trillion dollar experiment being conducted on global warming, and whether or not GHGs are the cause.

    It’s called appropriately “EXPERIMENT EARTH.” They were hoping to have a control planet, one exactly like earth, like Planet Gork from Galaxy Zork, but just didn’t have the funds. So they did the O X1 X2 X3… type of experiment: initial observation before treatment, then do the treatment (emit GHGs) in increasing increments, observing the effects along the way.

    It’s been very interesting to the scientists, and even a few of the public who’ve been able to tear themselves away from tabloid TV. By 1995 they began to get results, with the first studies reaching the .05 significance level that GHGs were indeed increasing the warming of earth. And since then the experiment-based evidence just continues to strengthen as GHGs are increased.

    Of course, there were some naysayers even earlier than 1995 saying we shouldn’t do such an experiment because it’s too risky, but the scientists said it would be just too expensive to go over to Planet Bork in Galaxy Zork to do it there. This earth of ours was the only place we could feasibly do such an experient, though it’s been very expensive indeed, even here. I mean, you have to get people to drive their cars thousands of miles on frivolous trips to nowhere, keep their lights on even when they leave the room, overdecorate at Xmas, jetset around the world, consume all sorts of products they don’t really need or even want, esp those shipped in from overseas (a few patriotic people have questioned this policy), refuse to buy energy/resource efficient products, refuse to buy the cheaper wind-generated electricity (well, I sort of caved to this one, but don’t tell anyone). And people for the most part have really have cooperated in all this. But it would have been really too expensive to ship all the people and their cars, etc from Earth to Gork.

    Now we have a bunch of naysayers saying we should terminate Experiment Earth, because we have plenty of evidence — you know, the way they say we should terminate medical experiments early because they’ve either been found to be exceptionally helpful…or quite harmful.

    But for the most part people are very cooperative and want to continue the experiment. I guess they think it’s kinda fun being involved in a scientific experiment, though it has been found that there are some side effects from emitting GHGs. Pollutants harmful to health also get released, causing for instance 60,000 deaths here in the U.S. alone each year from the small particulate matter (that’s like a Viet Nam each year), not to mention dying lakes and corroded forests, property, and lungs from acid rain.

    So the amazing thing is the people could be saving lots of money and improving their health and living standards by ending this experiment — by opting for energy/resource efficient/conservative products and meausres, and alternative energy — but they’re pretty good sports about wasting their money and health, all in the name of this great scientific experiment.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 8 Dec 2007 @ 7:51 PM

  109. Jim Cripwell writes:

    [[I claim there is no EXPERIMENTAL data. There is no hard, measured independently replicated experimental data that shows a connetion between the increased level of CO2 in the atmosphere and the global temperature warming in recent times; i.e. since 1979.]]

    Just because you happen to BELIEVE that when a grocery item goes through the line, the checker puts it in a plastic bag, does not prove that the checker put the item into the bag. There is no hard, independently measured EVIDENCE that the checker put the item in the bag. Until you produce some, I will continue to believe that presently unknown solar influences caused the item bagging.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 Dec 2007 @ 5:58 AM

  110. #100 Ray Ladbury
    What “pet theory” are you referring to? Is it the radical idea that decreasing cloud cover might be able to have a role in increasing temperatures by allowing more direct insolation on the surface? I can’t take any credit for making that one up. I presume you don’t think that to be a possibility to be investigated. Your science may be settled, but mine is not. As well, pejorative personal labeling of people who don’t subscribe to all of one’s beliefs is not conducive to an honest discussion of intellectual ideas.
    #106 Jim Eager
    If you recall, my original point was that it is not usually simple to show that something is NOT true since that can only be done if ALL reasonable alternatives are eliminated. The example of the clouds modulating the effect of the sun was simply one possibility that seems to be rarely mentioned and whose effects are not fully understood. Although it appears to me that a natural consequence would be an increase in surface temperature, I did not advocate any specific viewpoint.
    I AM genuinely curious about the effect of clouds. The first time I encountered the data on the decrease in cloud cover was after I was looking at the record April temperatures in Britain this year. A press release from Met Office
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/2007/pr20070427.html
    went into great detail on how it was the warmest on record and included the statement
    “Recent temperature rises are in line with recent findings by Dr Peter Stott of the Met Office Hadley Centre and Professor David Karoly of the University of Oklahoma. Their research showed the recent rapid warming of the CET is almost certainly due to human influence – the first time this has been rigorously identified on such a small geographic scale.”
    However, the web page
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/2007/april.html
    describing the weather at the time also shows that that month was the SECOND SUNNIEST ON RECORD with total sunshine that was 143% of the 1961-1990 average. Curiously enough, this did not deserve ANY mention in the press release.
    Yes, there are many factors which affect our climate and their relationship is complex. Leaving any of them out when modeling runs the risk of invalidating results, particularly when trying to quantify those factors. Because of the profession of my day job, at the present state of climate science, I would rather trust results from properly collected and analyzed data than from deterministic models based on “first principles” which do not necessarily take second principles (feedbacks and other factors) properly into account. Greenhouse gas forcings may be “fairly tightly constrained by the known physics”, but to produce a substantial effect, they also require feedbacks which may be altered or subsumed by other factors. However, that is a different issue.

    Comment by RomanM — 9 Dec 2007 @ 10:57 AM

  111. Re # 10 Romanm: “…there are many factors which affect our climate and their relationship is complex. Leaving any of them out when modeling runs the risk of invalidating results, particularly when trying to quantify those factors.”

    Why do you assume that climatologists haven’t considered cloud cover?

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 9 Dec 2007 @ 12:53 PM

  112. #109 Chuck Booth

    I don’t assume that. However, if someone could provide me with some references to what they would consider as good recent papers of the analysis of real data (not model results)of cloud cover in relation to temperatures, I would genuinely appreciate that. Relying on Google and sifting through what it finds is time consuming and hit-or-miss at best.

    Comment by RomanM — 9 Dec 2007 @ 2:26 PM

  113. Re RomanM @ 110: “Relying on Google and sifting through what it finds is time consuming and hit-or-miss at best.”

    Try Google Scholor: http://scholar.google.ca/

    Comment by Jim Eager — 9 Dec 2007 @ 9:30 PM

  114. Thanks for the suggestion. I was hoping for something more specific, but at least this is may be better than straight Google.

    Comment by RomanM — 10 Dec 2007 @ 2:11 PM

  115. RomanM, You evidently did not read my post very closely. My point was that climate modeling is not just a matter of selecting the forcings you like and allowing their magnitudes to vary until you match the data (the Chinese menu approach: one from column A…). Yes decreased cloud cover could play a role in climate. However, it could also lead to increased cooling, since clouds block both incoming light and outgoing IR. Second, the magnitudes of the various forcings are constrained to the degree possible by independent data–not fit to the trends being modeled. GHG forcing is quite well constrained. Other forcers–clouds, aerosols, etc.–are not. Now if you were to find that one of your ill-constrained forcings was important, would you expect it to affect your estimate of a well constrained forcing or another forcint that is ill constrained? There are a lot of things we don’t know about climate. The fact that anthropogenic CO2 is responsible for the current warming epoch does not fall into that category.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Dec 2007 @ 2:35 PM

  116. Ray Ladbury Says:
    8 December 2007 at 10:03 AM
    Jim Cripwell,
    You claim we have no evidence that the current warming epoch is greenhouse driven.

    Uh, huh. This is a fact.

    Well, let us review: We have the very deep absorption line at the CO2 absorption band,

    Relevance?

    which interestingly enough actually radiates about at the temperature you’d expect for a greenhouse mechanism.

    This statement is rather obvious nonsense. Support your argument. Show us supporting data (fat chance).

    We have the fact that a greenhouse mechanism can explain the qualitative aspects of the current warming–shorter Winters, warmer nights…

    Nonexistent evidence. There has been no change in night lengths, etc.

    We have the fact that we know it is operative.

    Obvious BS.

    We have the fact that it can be explained in terms of known and understood physics.

    If you believe this then you should do it. Go ahead. Show us.

    We have multiple, independent lines of evidence that fix CO2 forcing at its current level.

    BS. CO2 Forcing is immeasurable, undefinable!

    Shall I continue? What exactly are you looking for in the way of evidence?

    You don’t know?

    If you don’t know what specific piece of evidence would convince you, how can you consider yourself a skeptic and not a denailist?

    Are you not a cultists?

    In contrast, you posit some unknown forcing that may or may not be operative, that depends on unknown physics and that even if present and significant probably would not affect our estimates of greenhouse gas forcing, since this would require radical explanations of the multiple lines of evidence that fix that quantity. GCMs are not a Chinese menu. It is not a menu where you pick one from column A… Rather, anthropogenic ghg forcings are your vegetables. You can’t leave them on your plate and expect to get dessert.

    Comment by Claudius Denk — 11 Dec 2007 @ 1:24 PM

  117. Wait, you need a sanity check here. You quote Ray as writing:

    >> shorter Winters, warmer nights…

    And you reply:

    > There has been no change in night lengths

    This does not compute. You won’t get a change in the length of the night without changing the rotation of the planet. This is not the same as warming it up.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Dec 2007 @ 3:05 PM

  118. Claudius Denk writes:

    [[CO2 Forcing is immeasurable, undefinable!]]

    It’s measured in watts per square meter, and is related to the amount of CO2 present relative to a reference level by

    RF = 5.35 ln (C / Co)

    where Co is usually taken to be the 280 ppmv preindustrial level.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 11 Dec 2007 @ 3:30 PM

  119. Re Claudius Denk @113: “Uh, huh. This is a fact.”

    This from the same person who wrote: “Support your argument. Show us supporting data (fat chance)” and “If you believe this then you should do it. Go ahead. Show us.”

    And Claudius Denk: “Nonexistent evidence. There has been no change in night lengths, etc.”

    This from the same person who wrote: “Relevance?” and “This statement is rather obvious nonsense.” and “Obvious BS.”

    Enough said.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 11 Dec 2007 @ 6:00 PM

  120. Ref 115 Claudius Denk is wrong when he said radiative forcing, as a measure of greenhouse effectiveness, cannot be defined. He is right when he said it cannot be measured. The formula you quote comes from Myhre et al, Geo. Res. Let. Vol 25, No. 14 July 15 1998 Table 3, and has quite clearly been calculated.

    Comment by Jim Cripwell — 12 Dec 2007 @ 10:56 AM

  121. Actually, Jim, you can measure it. If you look at the IR emission spectrum from Earth, it ought to look like a blackbody at the effective radiating temperature of Earth’s surface. However, there are big holes in the wavelengths corresponding to ghg absorption lines. In fact, in these bands, it looks like emission is occurring at a much lower temperature, and that is in fact what is occurring. Guess what, Jim! Physics works!
    BTW, still waiting on you to tell us what evidence you would need to see to convince you. Even Thomas the apostle said he’d believe if he touched the wounds on Jesus’ hands–he was a skeptic; you are in denial.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Dec 2007 @ 11:41 AM

  122. Ref 118. Fine. Can you give me the refernce where the radiative forcing of CO2, as a way of specifying it’s greenhouse effectiveness, has been measured.

    Comment by Jim Cripwell — 12 Dec 2007 @ 12:20 PM

  123. Jim:
    http://www.google.com/search?q=radiative+forcing+of+CO2%2C+as+a+way+of+specifying+its+greenhouse+effectiveness

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Dec 2007 @ 5:52 PM

  124. Ref 120. That is NOT a reference to a scientific study that MEASURED the radiative forcing of CO2. In fact, no such reference exists, or can exist. The definition of radiative foring is the INSTANTANEOUS increase of CO2, with ALL other factors being UNCHANGED. This is IMPOSSIBLE to do in practice. You cannot inject billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere instantaneously; and if you wait until the concentration increases “naturally”, other factors will have changed.

    Comment by Jim Cripwell — 13 Dec 2007 @ 7:11 AM

  125. Jim, the argument you are voicing could be levied against all of stat mech and thermo–in fact any field where quantities are defined in terms of partial derivatives. Absurd positions like that are indefensible. Actually, the accompanying chart tells you pretty much all you need to know:
    http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Atmospheric_Transmission_png

    Earth radiates as a black body atit’s radiating temperature. Yet the temperature in the CO2 band is much lower–indicating that a lot of energy is not managing to escape. What must that energy do? It has to heat the climate. Conservation of energy, Jim. Oh, but wait, you probaly don’t believe in temperature, since that’s defined as a partial derivative.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Dec 2007 @ 9:06 AM

  126. Ref 122. This is Real Climate, and I am a denialist. In a “scientific” discussion, I am never to going to have the last word. I have never read any previous case in the whole history of science, where the “science is settled”, and there is no experimental data to support that position.

    Comment by Jim Cripwell — 13 Dec 2007 @ 11:28 AM

  127. #108 Ronan M,
    Two small points with regards our sunny April in the UK.

    1)
    Weather is not climate. Just look at April 2007′s CET figure abd it’s notably warm. Stott/Karoly are not claiming every warm month is due to anthropogenic forcing, but the overall trend is.

    2)
    This week it’s been below 10degC here in Lancashire, last week it was above 10degC. Yet last week it was cloudy and wet (wet implies heat “lost” from the surface as it’s converted to latent heat by evaporation), and this week it’s been sunny but dry.

    The answer is that direct insolation doesn’t have the effect you’re ascribing to it. Here in the UK our climate is dominated by the activity of air masses. In winter we get low pressures and they bring warmer maritime air with them, we get high pressure and it gives us continental/northern cold air.

    The Stott/Karoly study used a GCM, when they find an anthropogenic linkage they’re also considering wider regional climate systems like the Arctic Oscillation/North Atlantic Oscillation.

    For what it’s worth: As far as I’m concerned it’s settled.
    1) Strato and above cooling.
    2) Diurnal range behaviour.
    3) Continued warming.
    YET
    No trend in GCR – which would explain any cloud-albedo cause for the warming (without an external cause any trend in clouds could itself be due to AGW so you’d be confusing phenomenae and epiphenomenae).
    No trend in total solar irradiance.
    AND
    At the same time we have a rise in CO2 which theory predicts will cause observations 1, 2, & 3.

    Perhaps it’s because my degree’s in electronics, so I’m more of an engineer than a scientist as such. But from my point of view: If it walks like a duck, it swims like a duck and it quacks like a duck. Then it’s a duck.

    #113 Claudius Denk,
    Thanks for giving me a laugh.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 13 Dec 2007 @ 2:59 PM

  128. Jim, so, you don’t believe the science is settled with regard to that whole pesky inverse square distance dependence for gravity? How about the round Earth hypothesis? The thing is that there are some things we KNOW. Evolution? And we know them by virtue of multiple independent lines of evidence. CO2 forcing is such a case. Proving we’re significantly wrong about it would mean explaining away mountains of evidence. Better get cracking, huh?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Dec 2007 @ 10:09 PM

  129. [[I have never read any previous case in the whole history of science, where the “science is settled”, and there is no experimental data to support that position.]]

    No matter how many times you repeat “there is no experimental data,” you will still be wrong. We have experimental data and we have observational data, and they both say CO2 is a greenhouse gas, there’s more of it in the atmosphere, and the surface is warming. We have measured the back-radiation from the atmosphere — hell, you can measure it yourself, if you can buy or rent the equipment. We have measured the radiation coming from the Earth by means of satellite instruments. The science is settled.

    What experimental data do you require? What finding would make you admit you were wrong? If you say, “there isn’t any,” then you’re just a troll wasting everybody’s time, and Gavin et al. ought to stop printing your posts.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Dec 2007 @ 8:13 AM

  130. Welcome to the real world, Dr. Stoat. Incidentally, does your new job involve actually doing something about AGW, instead of just studying it? That was one of the attractions that drew me to industry…
    -Dr. Lemming

    Comment by Lab Lemming — 15 Dec 2007 @ 11:47 PM

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