# RealClimate

1. It would be terrible if real life relationships would be treated with similar rigour that scientists treat each others’ papers and theories. ‘Bold and the Beautiful’ comes to mind. :-)

Comment by jyyh — 3 Nov 2010 @ 6:29 PM

2. Nice article Gavin. But a bit round-about way of talking about and to Dr Curry, no?

With Dr Curry’s Italian flag analysis, although one would be hard-pressed to impugn her of novelty, the real value in her approach lies in the mere fact that, within the IPCC frame of evidence evaluation, there is no concept whatsoever of how to handle evidence that goes against a certain hypothesis.

[Response: I have no idea why you say that. There are many issues in the IPCC report where the evidence for one effect or another was ambiguous – cosmic ray effects, the magnitude of cloud feedback or indirect aerosol effects etc. The solution is to have to try and constrain the pdf for the magnitude of the effect. If that pdf includes ‘0’ then you are obviously including evidence that something is a positive or negative effect, or even that it is not much of an effect at all. However, such a pdf might still be predominantly weighted on one side or another, and that is still useful information. Very few issues are binary (yes/no) – almost everything in climate is a continuous variable. The question is not “is climate sensitive to CO2 change?’ but ‘how sensitive is climate?’, so the language of distributions and Bayesian probability is the natural way to be looking at issues of uncertainty, and of how much confidence can be given to specific statements.

An example: for the IPCC statement that P(AGW > 50% of 1955-2005 trend) > 95%, the situation is best visualised as a Gaussian of the total AGW trend of that period. This is uncertain of course (dependent on the forcings, magnitude of internal variability, sensitivity of the model, ocean heat uptake etc.), but based on the AR4 modelling is something like N(0.6,0.1) (i.e. the forced trend estimate is centered around 0.6ºC, but with 0.1ºC standard deviation in the estimates) (numbers reasonable, but not precise). The actual trend 1955-2005 was 0.63ºC, so given that distribution, the probability of more than 50% being related to AGW is P(Z> -(0.6-0.315)/0.1) = P(Z>-2.85) > 95%. If you had greater uncertainty in the forcings, or you thought the internal variability was underestimated, you could work that into the calculation. But no flags are required. – gavin]

Comment by Anand — 3 Nov 2010 @ 6:30 PM

3. The most telling thing to me about the band of outsider deniers is that their new “unorthodoxy” is just the old orthodoxy. AGW is the heresy. The denier are just trying to mount a counter-revolution. It’s as if the people who backed Anastasia as the lost Romanov heir had tried to paint themselves as revolutionaries.

Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 3 Nov 2010 @ 6:42 PM

4. An oldie but goodie:

“But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”
–Carl Sagan

I can’t tell whether the shift to story telling over reporting in the news is more about laziness or contempt for the audience, or if it’s just a concoction foisted on the world by MBAs just out of school.

Comment by Radge Havers — 3 Nov 2010 @ 6:50 PM

5. “It is clear that scientists’ obsession with clear thinking over narrative handicaps our attempts to communicate the seriousness of the climate change challenge.”

I agree but I’d also say it’s not the scientist’s job to do so. We’re all competent in some areas but less so (or much less so!) in others. Scientists have all the skills and abilities for doing science but many of those run contrary to running a good media campaign.

I understand scientists are human and it’s difficult to sit idly by when looking at the problems we face but scientists can’t also be activists or be perceived to be advocating a particular type of action. Otherwise it makes the issue look as if there’s just one set of people with an opinion on one side and another set of people on the other with no objective facts in between.

“But since the media will continue to favor compelling narratives over substance, that is the method by which this debate will be fought.”

At some point we have to either hope or have faith in the fundamental reasonableness of the human race and say that some issues (e.g. “climategate” or a cold winter) will shift the public perception in the short term but good science will always win. If critics are gaining a foothold then the solution is more science not for scientists to get down in the pit with them.

[Response: I could not agree more that ‘getting down in the pit’ is pointless. What I object to is equating *any* effort — such as that we make at RC — at talking directly to people with ‘activism’. If that’s activism, then all educators are activists, and the word loses its meaning. –eric]

Comment by sharper00 — 3 Nov 2010 @ 6:57 PM

6. I like this piece. It fits with my mental map of science and its progress.

The science landscape is like a glacier landscape (an old-fashioned one with lots and lots of ice, that is). The glacier moves through the landscape and all the abandoned or foolish proposals just finish up as moraine littering the sides and the dead-ends. Some people might try and throw it back onto the body of the glacier, but it just moves on, always shifting the useless stuff to the sidelines.

7. Excellent, thought-provoking post. It’s quite true that the impulse to use narrative (which, trust me, was not invented by MBA’s) can force substance into second place. But must it always? Can anyone here think of an example of writing that’s both narrative AND faithful to the science?

[Response: Maybe I shouldn’t jump in here, but I can think of dozens of examples. Try Gavin Schmidt’s book “Picturing the Science” for a start, David Archer’s “Understanding the Forecast” … !–eric]

[Response: Don’t forget, Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe – gavin]

Comment by Mike Lemonick — 3 Nov 2010 @ 7:55 PM

8. Anand says: “With Dr Curry’s Italian flag analysis, although one would be hard-pressed to impugn her of novelty, the real value in her approach lies in the mere fact that, within the IPCC frame of evidence evaluation, there is no concept whatsoever of how to handle evidence that goes against a certain hypothesis.”

This is complete, utter horse pucky. Evidence is evaluated probabilistically–regardless of its implications. All Curry–and you, for that matter-does in her criticisms of the IPCC is demonstrate her ignorance not only of climate science, but of scientific method in general.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Nov 2010 @ 7:57 PM

9. Mike @ 7

..both narrative AND faithful to the science…

‘Narrative’ may be a somewhat loaded term as it apparently opens the door to telling fairy tales along with everything else. How about just communicating clearly with pleasing style to a clearly identified audience? Why is it always necessary to narrate at people? I was just watching Charlie Rose and panel dissecting Obama and the election. If I only had a nickel for every time they used the word ‘narrative’ or one of its variants…

Re: MBAs. Fair enough. Eyeballs to advertisers is no doubt part of the equation, though.

Comment by Radge Havers — 3 Nov 2010 @ 8:19 PM

10. Great post.

Yes, Gavin’s “Picturing the Science” is indeed an excellent example. I find it endlessly frustrating that that book doesn’t get much more attention than it has.

As for denier tactics, let me be the 10,000th person online to recommend “Merchants of Doubt”. One warning: If you’ve lost relatives to smoking-caused cancer, as I did (my parents), the opening section in which Oreskes and Conway detail with clinical precision the way the tobacco companies lied to lawmakers and the general public will be tough to read. When you see the connections between that effort and climate deniers, you’ll be left speechless.

Comment by Lou Grinzo — 3 Nov 2010 @ 8:32 PM

11. I am using this post for my Chemistry class. We are always discussing the importance of reliable sources but sometimes arguing the definition and identification of \reliable\. The \Galileo\ complex has come up several times, or as Sagan has addressed, the Galileo v Bozo the Clown analysis.

Comment by Mary Ellen Cassidy — 3 Nov 2010 @ 8:47 PM

12. “Narrative” is a useful word that has been overworked lately. Much pure science is narrative:

Methods: this is what we did: step 1, step 2, step 3 etc;

Results: our instruments gave us the readings summarized in tables 1, 2, 3, etc.

Conclusions: (pending replication), we have shown that A makes B more frequent and C more intense; then C feeds back to increase A, which makes B even more frequent and C even more intense; etc.

Policy implications: this is happening (we believe, pending replication and survival of detailed professional criticism), and if it continues this way, we’ll be able to observe the following in the upcoming 20 years: forecast 1, forecast 2, etc.

The tv drama E.R. portrayed scientific narratives along with narratives of interpersonal conflict and personal development. Most of the narratives of climate science can’t be presented as the medical narratives were, and the common attempts to try to mix the climate science narratives with the personal and interpersonal just do not work as well; the drama clouds the science.

Comment by Septic Matthew — 3 Nov 2010 @ 8:48 PM

“Eyeballs to advertisers is no doubt part of the equation, though”

Yes, a big part. When publishers realized narratives attracted more eyeballs which in turn attracted more advertisers, they suddenly fell in love with the genre

Comment by Mike Lemonick — 3 Nov 2010 @ 9:02 PM

14. Gavin
You say:
“An example: for the IPCC statement that P(AGW > 50% of 1955-2005 trend) > 95%, the situation is best visualised as a Gaussian of the total AGW trend of that period. This is uncertain of course…but based on the AR4 modelling is something like N(0.6,0.1).”

What you say can hold true, only if “measured temperature record” and “model projected temperature for 20th century” are mathematical equivalents which are inter-comparable.

To reach “N(0.6, 0.1)”, assumptions are required and JC’s assessment pertains to the level of confidence that can be placed on the very process of doing so. In other words – she is putting forward a meta-analytic principle, and not a internal analytic one.

Specifically, the passage relevant is:
“Global climate model simulations that include anthropogenic forcing (greenhouse gases and pollution aerosol) provide better agreement with historical observations in the second half of the 20th century than do simulations with only natural forcing (solar and volcanoes). Italian flag analysis: 30% Green, 50% White, 20% Red (JC Note: all climate models produce this result in spite of different sensitivities and using different forcing data sets; the models do not agree on the causes of the early 20th century warming and the mid-century cooling and do not reproduce the mid-century cooling.)”

Thus, JC provides her evaluation of 30:50:20 for where the models fall, when then in turn relates to the >95% confidence assessment. This is, going by her framework.

[Response: MIchael Tobis and James Annan are absolutely correct – this is incoherent. First, issues of the early century cooling are irrelevant. Second, the models *do* span a range of sensitivities and aerosol forcings and so include most of the structural uncertainty, and yet they still support the IPCC conclusion. They also have a range of natural variability that seems to span the observed range (some models have less, some more – Santer et al (2005)). So they can be used as the basis for the construction of the relevant pdf. Third, the ‘ambiguous evidence’ category is irrelevant – something usuful either supports a contention, or goes against it. Something ‘ambiguous’ is just irrelevant and orthogonal to any decision, thus it leaves the Bayesian probability unchanged. The fact that we are unsure about the nature of dark matter is an uncertainty that doesn’t have anything to say about recent temperature trends, and so shouldn’t be counted in any assessment of that. But JC’s framework provides no reason why it shouldn’t be in the white area. I would argue that any uncertainties or ambiguous evidence that doesn’t affect the Bayesian probability of a proposition should just be set aside, like the dark matter. -gavin]

Comment by Anand — 3 Nov 2010 @ 10:26 PM

15. Gavin:
Whether to view different model outputs as representing a range, and therefore amenable to be arrayed along a pdf, or not, is a question of perspective ( believe the rift lies here). There can be 20 different models, but only one ‘real climate’. In other words, there can be only one correct model output (if any), and 19 wrong ones.

This is especially true seeing as we declare a priori that climate models as being deterministic. Going by what you suggest, a set of models will _always_ produce a pdf that will span observed climate.

Are climate models which consistently produce outputs completely at odds with observed temperatures reported in the literature?

[Response: None of the climate models are ‘right’ – all are approximations, and some of them may be useful. They are also only an input into the pdf I mentioned. It would not be defined solely by looking at the individual simulations, but by using the individual simulations to help define acceptable ranges for transient climate sensitivity, the magnitude of internal variability etc. As new information comes to light, or there are other constraints on each aspect, one would update the pdf accordingly. If some models were shown to systematically underweight internal variability for instance, they would be downweighted in the assessment of the magnitude of internal variability. Climate models which were ‘consistently at odds’ with reality would get repeated downweighted and end up not contributing much to the pdf. – gavin]

Comment by Anand — 3 Nov 2010 @ 11:06 PM

16. The carbon fuel industry sees climate science as a business impediment. Attacking science is just a business decision. Nothing personal.

Comment by Richard Pauli — 3 Nov 2010 @ 11:12 PM

17. Great post, Gavin! Thanks.
Re ‘narrative’ @ 5 et seq.: perhaps ‘narrative’ is the word the media tend to use but what they really mean is more like ‘human drama.’
If the story hasn’t got real people (cute animals are next best) and, preferably, interpersonal conflict or love in it, the media are not very interested. Reasonably so, from their point of view, since they know that people are more interested in people than in things. The media know it and advertisers know it, so the question of who drives it is pointless. A story of flooding therefore focuses on victim impact, not meteorological causes or river flow rates, and a story about a novel often focuses on the writer, not the book.
Apply that model to climate science reporting and you get stories about scientists – especially if a feud can be drummed up – not about the science. At best, you get stories about likely AGW impacts on people. Science per se will be often be described as ‘too abstract’ or simply ‘boring’ but what they really mean is that it has no human interest.
That’s the problem. Perhaps someone can find a simple solution that I haven’t seen.

Comment by MalcolmT — 3 Nov 2010 @ 11:39 PM

18. To reach “N(0.6, 0.1)”, assumptions are required and JC’s assessment pertains to the level of confidence that can be placed on the very process of doing so. In other words – she is putting forward a meta-analytic principle, and not a internal analytic one.

True, in that it’s meta-something, and not analytic-something else.

Here is JC’s meta-argument, which will undoubtably serve to move science forward (cough, cough):

However, at the heart of the IPCC is a cadre of scientists whose careers have been made by the IPCC. These scientists have used the IPCC to jump the normal meritocracy process by which scientists achieve influence over the politics of science and policy. Not only has this brought some relatively unknown, inexperienced and possibly dubious people into positions of influence, but these people become vested in protecting the IPCC

That’s you she’s talking about, Michael Mann. Though I’m sure she believes that “possibly dubious” should probably be shortened by one word …

When I refer to the IPCC dogma, it is the religious importance that the IPCC holds for this cadre of scientists; they will tolerate no dissent, and seek to trample and discredit anyone who challenges the IPCC. Who are these priests of the IPCC?

No creationist could argue against biology with more skill (sic) than JC argues against climate science.

Creationism isn’t religion, it’s science that’s religion! Right wing politics aren’t dogmatic, it’s science that’s dogmatics!

Comment by dhogaza — 4 Nov 2010 @ 12:23 AM

19. Oh, and just one other thing …

With JC now proclaiming that mainstream science is nothing other than religious belief …

Has she burned her last bridge, now?

Are there any other bridges left for her to burn? Hard to imagine.

I’m assuming that she’s heartened by 1) her being embraced by the right-wing anti-science camp and 2) the reality we’ve all known for the last few weeks that the Dems were going to be flushed down the toilet.

(other than, of course, california’s attempt to repeal climate change legislation going down by 21%)

Comment by dhogaza — 4 Nov 2010 @ 12:28 AM

20. I agree with Mike Lemonick — this is an excellent, though-provoking post. (So much so, it’s actually bugging the crap out of me, in a good way.) And I also agree that good narrative and accuracy do not have to be mutually exclusive. Quite the opposite, in fact.

But there is another issue here: Journalists’ predilection for writing about people who question orthodoxy, many of whom often turn out to be colorful, compelling characters in one way or another. I’m going to think long and hard about this, and I’ll probably write about it in my own blog. But my first reaction is that our job as journalists (those of you who don’t know me: I teach science and environmental journalism) is not just to report what science is saying about issues like climate change. Our job is also to reflect in our writing the triumphs, foibles, failures and fascinating if flawed aspects of humanity. (And also to do so with as much ridiculous and exaggerated alliteration as possible.)

I found Freeman Dyson to be a fascinating and worthy subject for a profile, however flawed his perspective on climate change might be. The real question is whether the profile does a nuanced job, and brings out legitimate and revealing insights about the human condition.

Comment by Tom Yulsman — 4 Nov 2010 @ 12:36 AM

21. Gavin uses “pdf” inline replying at 2 and 14.
That’s “Probability Density Function”
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/acronym-index/
Pictures of PDFs for climate change, explained well, here (try Fig. 3):
http://www.skepticalscience.com/detailed-look-at-climate-sensitivity.html

Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Nov 2010 @ 12:45 AM

22. I can’t tell whether the shift to story telling over reporting in the news is more about laziness or contempt for the audience. – 4

It is neither. Rather it is the natural consequence of the explosion of news media outlets, and the corporate decision to view the news as a means of making profit rather than a solemn public service.

Journalism is gone for the most part. Replaced with for profit reporting

When you have for profit motivated reporting productivity increases come from staff reductions, reductions in staffing, replacement of investigation with regurgitation, etc. etc.. etc…

Comment by Vendicar Decarian — 4 Nov 2010 @ 12:45 AM

23. Ah Moynihan! Rest in peace. Don’t forget this one, “Secrecy is for losers. For people who do not know how important the information really is.”

But any talk of outsiders like this should include John Baez’s crackpot index. (Yes, he’s Joan’s cousin.)

http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/crackpot.html

I think climate science could learn a lot from physicists – no, not about clouds – about crackpots! After all, try to find a single physicist who has not had a crackpot idea hurled at them by a later-day Galileo claiming that the speed of light isn’t a constant and that their theories are being suppressed by the mainstream establishment.

Comment by Andy — 4 Nov 2010 @ 1:03 AM

24. Anand, I would go further than Gavin on this (or be more explicit).

Specifically, coming from this from the perspective of philosophical training, when I think of \unknown unknowns\ the first thing I think of is the question of the reality of the external world. Put in popular terms, what is the probability that we are all in a Matrix like construct, in which all data (scientific or otherwise) are just constructs of a supercomputer? The only things we know definitively about this possibility is that it is not a logical impossibility, the probability of its being true is unknowable in a strict Bayesian term, but that it is probably very low. \Probably\ very low because the argument that demonstrates that is not deductive.

Now, that possibility may be very interesting to philosophers, but do the IPCC really need to take it into acount in their probability assesments? What about the Humean possibility that the world is entirely random, with no fundamental forces or masses, or energys, but by coincidence it has till now appeared to be a coherent world? Again, this is logically possible – but does that matter to the IPCC?

These may seem absurd possibilities (in many ways they are), but the point is that there is no in principle way to exclude them from the range of possibilities in the white section of the flag. What is worse, for any finite set of data, there is an infinite number of theories consistent with that data whose predictions going forward vary arbitrarilly. In other words, the white section of the flag must allow for literally an infinite number \unknown unknowns\. Contrary to Gavin, these alternative theories all have a non zero probability (they are not logically contradictory) and so they do effect Bayesian probability calculations. But because there are an infinite number of them, it is literally impossible to define the probability of their disjunction, ie, the probability that at least one of them is true.

The white section of the flag, then cannot be delimited. We simply cannot know what portion of the flag should be white, if we were to allow that into our calculations.

For that reason, all science procede by the pairwise comparison of theories. We cannot know the absolute probability that any scientific theory is true. What we can know, or at least place a range on, is the relative probability that one of a group of known theories is true compared to the others. We cannot know that the probability of AGW (or any other scientific theory) is 95% given the evidence; but we can know that the probability of AGW being true, given the evidence is at least 20 times larger than the probability that any one of the known alternatives to AGW is true.

The most important point, however, is that this restricted knowledge is not a limitation on science. So long as we always go with the better theory in our pairwise comparisons, science will always, advance. The information content of our scientific theories will always continue to approach the information content of the universe. This fact has been known since at least Karl Popper made it clear (ie, over 70 years).

Furthermore, it is irrelevant to policy. In fact, outside of science the same problems of radical uncertainty hold. The only difference is that outside of science, we are often unable even to distinguish which is the better of two theories. So, if the white in the flag in science were a problem for policy, it would stop the rational development of policy in all cases.

In fact, the best we can do, in policy and science is quantify the uncertainties we can quantify; ignore those we cannot; and then procede on our best available theory. And that, of course, is what the IPCC has done. In fact, it has quantified the quantifiable unknowns far more extensively and rigourously than Dr Curry has in her ramblings

Comment by Tom Curtis — 4 Nov 2010 @ 1:06 AM

25. Anand @15, a climate model is a mathematical procedure that makes predictions about emperically observable effects – in short it is a scientific theory. You are correct that out of 19 different models (theories), at most one can be true. What you should notice, however, that of all attempts to develop a scientific theory of climate, there are no such theories which are:
1) Consistent with known physics and observations;
2) Exclude anthropogenic forcings; and
3) Can reproduce the warming from 1955 to 2005 (or a host of other observations).

That does not mean the models are evidence for AGW theories, or against anti-AGW theories. But it does mean that there are no viable anti-AGW theories in the field at the moment. At best there are a few hints as to where we might look for such a theory, and none of the hints look promising.

Now, that fact should concern any sceptics. The news that they have no viable theories in play should make them rethink, if not their opinion, at least the wasy they suport it. The proponents of AGW have already gone to great expence to develop your anti-AGW theories for you, and not found a suitable candidate. If you still think they are wrong, isn’t it about time you put in the legwork and developed a viable alternative yourself.

Comment by Tom Curtis — 4 Nov 2010 @ 1:23 AM

26. The white section of the flag, then cannot be delimited. We simply cannot know what portion of the flag should be white, if we were to allow that into our calculations.

Oh, but JC knows.

This is the eventual evolution of the Italian flag, when it comes to what she believes climate science should adopt:

Her goal is for climate science to raise this one …

Comment by dhogaza — 4 Nov 2010 @ 1:33 AM

27. dhogaza, rofl.

It had occured to me that JC’s flag should be a white flag with some green and red embroidery on the edges.

Comment by Tom Curtis — 4 Nov 2010 @ 2:49 AM

28. Just wanted to say thanks. This is the great article and deserves to be published a lot more widely.

Comment by Paul A — 4 Nov 2010 @ 4:42 AM

29. Anand, the problem with Curry’s analysis is that she is equating the skill of the models with evidence favoring anthropogenic causation–and by extension, their shortcomings as evidence against. This 1)utterly ignores the fact that there is absolutely nothing that a model without anthropogenic forcing predicts better than one with it; and 2)the fact that the purpose of scientific models is insight into the physical system rather than matching the data to the last tenth of a percent.

Both mistakes are frankly surprising for a scientist of her experience. The most charitable interpretation I can come up with is that Judy is at heart a small “d” democrat. Her inclination is compromise. That is a noble goal, as is her attempt to reach out to some of the more reasonable among the dissenters. Where Judy fails is in not being familiar enough with the evidence or the theory to avoid compromisint the truth. Nor does she seem to be honest enough to admit her mistake even when it is pointed out to her. I’m sorry, but there’s only so far science can go in reaching out to dissidents–and reaching out to those who have no evidence for their position crosses that line.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Nov 2010 @ 5:00 AM

30. Having done science journalism in the past, I do realize that narrative is essential. Hell, it’s reaaly essential in a good scientific paper. The narrative, however, must remain subservient to the facts and the science. Frankly, I think science journalism is in an abysmal state–in part because there are so few reporters assigned to the beat and in part because their readers don’t understand how science works.

It’s like TV reality shows–they all write from the same script: emphasize conflict and the triumph of the lone maverick. Man against man.

But there are other narratives: Man against nature, for instance. Scientists face a challenging problem. They slowly expose the facts from a reluctant physical reality and arrive at insight into the phenomenon. Maybe science journalists could learn something from studying Hemingway or Faulkner or even Mark Twain. Good science writing is at its heart good writing, and what makes good writing is ultimately strict adherence to the truth.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Nov 2010 @ 5:19 AM

31. ” I could not agree more that ‘getting down in the pit’ is pointless. What I object to is equating *any* effort — such as that we make at RC — at talking directly to people with ‘activism’. If that’s activism, then all educators are activists, and the word loses its meaning. –eric”

By “getting down in the pit” I mean “respond with the same tactics”. I very much advocate scientists talking with people directly in order discuss and explain science.

A good consistent example of this is Julienne Stroeve. She comments on a wide variety of blogs and sticks pretty much to the science and her area of expertise. She does a great job of bringing the science into the debate without appearing to advocate anything in the realm of politics or policy.

Certainly some would call RC an activist effort but those same people would probably call Dr Mann’s published work an “activist” effort just as a creationist would call all of evolutionary biology “religious dogma”.

Comment by sharper00 — 4 Nov 2010 @ 5:24 AM

32. I do not believe that scientists cannot make more noise on the dangers of climate change. The fear of the spotlight has something to do with it.

The fact remains that you guys are the best qualified to tell the public what many just don’t want to hear. I applaud RC for what you are doing. We need more of it.

Just how we get more of the media to pay attention I don’t know. I try to talk to people. Many times they just don’t want to know but I keep trying.

A lot of those who deny the evidence secretly know it is happening but are too afraid to admit it to themselves. All we can do is keep trying and shout out when new reports are published. For example, the report of the Geological Society (http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/gsl/views/policy_statements/climatechange). This one says if we stay with business as usual the climate might take 100,000 years to recover – far too long for humanity and its civilisation wouldn’t you say?

Comment by Ricki (Australia) — 4 Nov 2010 @ 5:51 AM

33. Re: the Galileo syndrome

A narrative:

A thousand years before Galileo, there lived another man who challenged the received wisdom of the ancients and the orthodox consensus. On a fundamental question of earth science, he argued a position contrary to that of Ptolemy and the other established authorities, and contrary to contemporary mainstream opinion in the Christian Church. He may not have been branded a heretic, but he certainly was an outsider. Our lone hero was not a theorizer, a product of the ivory tower. He was a latecomer to academia, having first made his career a businessman, a traveler, and an observer of rare value: Where the scholars might discuss the marvels of farflung lands based on the fanciful writings of Pliny, this Greek based his book on direct experience, having earned his nick-name “the India-Farer”. A large part of his justly famous topographical work, however, concerned the shape of the Earth, about which he went on at great length.

His name was Cosmas Indicopleustes, and he argued that the world was flat.

(ReCaptcha is on topic: “insistence Painally”)

Comment by CM — 4 Nov 2010 @ 5:56 AM

34. Possibly the rise of narrative and the declining respect for scientific thinking are also linked with a more general shift from a modern/enlightenment/scientific world view to a post-modern worldview in which all claims to absolute truth and claims to authority are suspect. I’m not a sociologist though, so hopefully someone can else can provide a more useful opinion.

If this is right however, then scientists need to understand the sociological shifts in order to effectively communicate to the outside world. Unfortunately I haven’t found anyone writing about sociological postmodernity (rather than philosophical postmodernity, the Sokal affair, etc) for scientists. And the sociology texts are a little impenetrable for the non-scientist.

Comment by Kevin C — 4 Nov 2010 @ 6:31 AM

35. Vendicar Decarian (22) writes:

“I can’t tell whether the shift to story telling over reporting in the news is more about laziness or contempt for the audience. – 4

It is neither. Rather it is the natural consequence of the explosion of news media outlets, and the corporate decision to view the news as a means of making profit rather than a solemn public service.

Journalism is gone for the most part. Replaced with for profit reporting

When you have for profit motivated reporting productivity increases come from staff reductions, reductions in staffing, replacement of investigation with regurgitation, etc. etc.. etc…”

Storytelling is ideally a different way of presenting the information one has reported–it’s not one versus the other. We do it because storytelling is an ancient, familiar and compelling mode of human communication. The dry recitation of facts is much less so. Even some scientists, I’m guessing, will choose a novel over a textbook for recreational reading. It’s true that if more people read our stuff, the publisher makes more money and is happy. But from the reporter’s point of view, that’s hardly the only motivation, or the prime one.

Furthermore, staff reductions leave reporters LESS luxury to write in a true storytelling mode. It’s not easier–unless of course you make up the facts. I’m sure that’s done sometimes, but it’s quite frowned upon.

The problem arises, as I think I’ve said before, when the urge to tell a story leads one into distorting the facts–by, for example, playing up the clash of personalities, or suggesting a cause-and-effect relationship between facts where none exists.

But the fact that this is a danger hardly makes storytelling inherently evil, unless you’re prepared to argue that it’s impossible to tell science stories without significant distortion. And perhaps it is. But I don’t think that’s been demonstrated yet

Comment by Mike Lemonick — 4 Nov 2010 @ 6:37 AM

36. Ricki (Australia) @ 32,

I do not believe that scientists cannot make more noise on the dangers of climate change. The fear of the spotlight has something to do with it.

How about the fear of being burned (literally) at the stake. It seems there may be a concerted effort in the works to resume the witch hunts.
I think (not that I count for much)that the current anti science climate is about much more than simple ignorance and denial.

Cross posted to http://www.theoildrum.com

According to Newsweek, the White House plans to aggressively enforce environmental regulations as they anticipate efforts from Republicans to strip authority from the EPA. Compromise on renewable energy standards is possible, but the posturing between Rep. Joe Barton, the chairman of the energy committee, and the administration, may make this terribly difficult. The GOP plans to hold high profile hearings examining the alleged “scientific fraud” behind global warming, a sleeper issue in this election that motivated the base quite a bit.

Perhaps the GOP is mostly backed by big oil and coal, or is that just a coincidence, eh?

Comment by Fred Magyar — 4 Nov 2010 @ 6:51 AM

37. In defense of Indocopleustes, he didn’t argue that the Earth was flat per se. He argued that it was a half-cylindrical prism.

Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 4 Nov 2010 @ 6:51 AM

38. Sorry, I meant “Indicopleustes,” of course.

Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 4 Nov 2010 @ 6:51 AM

39. As a consumer of scientific outputs, this discussion is fascinating.

You write:

“For working scientists, the priority in any discussion about science should be accuracy. Methods, results, and interpretations must be clear, logically connected and replicable by others.”

and

“The fact remains that science is hugely open to new thinking and new approaches. Indeed, it thrives on novelty.”

but it sounds like you really mean “new data”:

“New data from new platforms, new calculations enabled by the increases in computing power and new analyses of the ever-increasing amount of observed data, each have the continual potential to challenge previously held ideas – if that can be demonstrated logically and with evidence to back it up.”

Actually only new ideas really have the “potential to challenge previously held ideas”.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but you have reinforced some of my impressions of the scientific process. My interest is primarily in promoting better policies in the energy-economy-environment domain, so perhaps you should think of me as a consumer of what you produce. As such I don’t generally require nth decimal point accuracy, but I do need analyses that are complete and logically consistent.

My observation is that in order for scientists to be heard, they need to publish papers containing data-driven arguments. They need either new data, to bring together existing data in a new way or a new method of analysis. This has several consequences:
– there is usually no prior public discussion of the correct general method of analysis – the “design” stage, if you like. An analogy may be to the software development process where it’s often a good idea to produce and review a high-level design before diving into the code.
– the general consequences of the findings appear as discussion usually towards the end of papers.
– maybe the discussion of implications of findings receives less attention from reviewers than the more quantifiable parts of the paper (though I can only speculate as no audit trail of review comments is made public).
– the conclusions often overemphasise the importance of the data which is the subject of the particular paper.
– theoretical models implied by the discussions and conclusions often ignore rather than estimate factors that have not been quantified or are difficult to quantify.

In short, my impression is of too much reliance on “bottom-up”, rather than “top-down” processes. Incidentally, maybe this has something to do with the frequent sceptic claims that errors in, for example, the detail of statistical analysis overturn the conclusions of papers, even the whole vast edifice of climate science, when this clearly is not the case.

Putting it another way, climate science is at the stage of what Kuhn would call “normal science”, putting flesh on the bones. But whilst that may be justified at a high-level maybe we should conceive of the science relevant to climate change as a complex structure, relying on interdependencies between numerous different domains. Some aspects of climate science, then, are still in flux. I’d argue that the methodology doesn’t always reflect this. Sometimes details are being filled in before the picture is clear.

Climate science is obviously a domain of study that has real-world consequences. The goal of much science funding is to produce results that can inform policy decisions. It is obviously therefore important that analysis is complete, and as accurate as policy-makers require. My impression on those occasions when I take the time to study scientific papers is that the balance is usually towards less completeness and more accuracy.

An example I have in mind is the effect of biofuel production on atmospheric carbon levels. I recently became aware of a paper Fargione et al, 2008, which discussed the carbon debt of land-clearing in order to produce biofuel feedstock. To be honest, the paper represents some progress, but nevertheless exhibits the flaws I describe.

If scientists are to become involved in testing the claim that biofuels reduce atmospheric carbon levels, then at least two major issues need to be tackled:
– the unsound implicit assumption that biofuels “displace” fossil fuel emissions. Over decades this is an absurd argument. No mechanism for keeping fossil fuels in the ground is implied, so we are just as likely to burn more carbon, i.e. the biofuel and the fossil fuel. You can’t “displace” the same fossil fuel year after year.
– the opportunity cost in carbon storage terms of the land you’re growing the biofuel feedstock on.

I’ve discussed the issue on my own blog in more detail than I can here.

In sum, Fargione et al and similar papers present a great deal of more accurate data than is really needed at the expense of a complete and logically sound argument. It seems to me that scientific papers on other topics exhibit similar symptoms.

Comment by Tim Joslin — 4 Nov 2010 @ 7:13 AM

40. Narrative is indeed a powerful tool for understanding the world. For those of us who have difficulty holding onto a mass of detail, it’s nearly indispensible. (I’m taking “narrative” in a pretty wide, inclusive sense here.) And neuroscientists have been known to argue that meaning arises in the first instance from emotion, rooted in the “old brain,” and secondarily from the newer structures of cortex and neocortex.

So its probably not just futile but mistaken to equate “story-telling” with distortion–note Ray’s statement that even a good scientific paper needs a “storyline.”

(As an illustration, I’d say from my professional background that a good musical composition does, too–but that narrative need not be “literary”–ie., it can exist purely in terms of the musical materials, such as low/high frequencies, rhythmic or harmonic structures and the like, as opposed to literary terms such as emotional or (verbally-oriented) conceptual storylines such one finds in the famous examples of “program music”–say, Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique,” which “tells” a quasi-autobiographical fantasy story.)

What is essential, as several commenters have already said, is that the storyline not be at odds with reality. The ground of any narrative may be the old-brain self, but the neo-cortex can still choose among many narrative possibilities–say, on one hand that current BAU is not sustainable and must change, or on the other that thousands of scientists are conspiring to falsify data and suppress “dangerous” ideas because they are victims of “groupthink.”

The key is thorough reality-testing of alternatives by the “new brain.” This is most commonly short-circuited by an excessively narrow focus–“hockey stick” or “UHI” obsessions, anyone?–characterized by the self-censoring of relevant knowledge. IMOl, that’s one of the hallmarks of denialist discourse, and one of the ways in which you can assess an argument even when you don’t have the ability or background to deal directly with all the technical aspects of that argument. That’s important for layman trying to educate ourselves, and deciding just which apparent expert we can actually trust.

Comment by Kevin McKinney — 4 Nov 2010 @ 7:40 AM

41. “If that’s activism, then all educators are activists,”

Well, yes, at least if they are honest and competent. Why do you think the radical right is so determined to control education?

I think, though, that scientists are about to experience another version of martyrdom. The radical right faction which controls the House is talking about holding hearings in Yet Another Attempt to discredit climate scientists. I wonder what narrative the media will construct from them?

Comment by The Raven — 4 Nov 2010 @ 8:04 AM

42. Tim Joslin, thanks for a thoughtful and substantive comment. My reaction–and I’m also in some sense a “consumer” of scientific information, but have also been at least a wannabe (non-“scientific”) scholar–is that you’re not taking fully into account two things.

One, the “bigger picture” is held mostly within the ongoing subculture of those doing the science–especially in the case of highly technical papers, as opposed to, say, review papers assessing the state of knowledge.

An illustrative example occurred a few years ago when I was teaching at Georgia State; in the course of some research I found that the journal issue I needed was out of the library. I wasn’t dismayed, though; I knew immediately, without asking the librarian, just who had it out: of the tens of thousands associated with GSU who had access to that journal, there was just one besides me who would conceivably want or need that particular journal. . . While it may be a good idea to give more of that “big picture” more often within papers, I don’t think that the “insider” orientation of technical papers can really be abolished. To a degree, it’s irreducible. (Or so I think.)

Two, it doesn’t sound as if you’re distinguishing clearly between policy papers and technical ones. I haven’t read the Fargione paper you use as an example, so I may be off base here. But more often than not, “scientific” papers, so-called, are going to leave policy to those (such as yourself) whose expertise is in that area. Maybe, in a sense, you’re selling your own expertise a bit short.

As a sidebar to that thought, I’d disagree that new data can’t challenge established thought. It’s happened many times in science history; one of the late Isaac Asimov’s best examples were the Michaelson-Morley experiments. They weren’t even intended to make any big points; they just wanted to get a good, precise value for the speed of light. But the precision they achieved was sufficient to show that light wasn’t behaving the way anyone expected. The result was an overthrow of the concept of the luminiferous ether, a huge conundrum for contemporary theoretical physics, and the setting of the scene for Albert Einstein’s work. In climate science, improvements in infrared spectroscopy in the first half of the twentieth century had a large effect upon the viability of “the CO2 theory”; yet they weren’t even made with that theory in mind at all. And the field wouldn’t be what it is without the drive of Keeling to get really, really good data on airborne CO2 concentrations.

Comment by Kevin McKinney — 4 Nov 2010 @ 8:10 AM

43. The 2 Kevins,34 & 40.

I’m afraid I agree with the post-modern analysis, with a strong dose of trivial individualism reciting the everyone’s-entitled-to-their-opinion mantra. As for assessing an argument, I despair at times. Educating the year 9 resistant to the idea that maths has to be done in a logical way and that the logical thoughts involved must be displayed is hard enough – until you try to convince the student’s parents of the same thing.

I’ve never tried to convince any such clients of a scientific argument, but I’m pretty sure that Kevin (@40) is right about the emotional trumping the logical. In fact, it’s probably closer than that. When parents get protective about their children it’s very often defensiveness about their parenting that’s driving it.

So for a newer ‘narrative’ to prevail, we need somehow to affirm a person’s faith in their reasoning and logical sense (their parenting skills) while getting them to face the uncomfortable truth about their mistaken denialist ideas (their uncooperative or not-too-bright offspring).

Any undiscovered Mark Twains in the assembly here?

44. Re my last comment–note what an example of the power of scientific narrative it contains, in the Asimov “speed of light” essay I referred to. The story of an experiment was told by Dr. A with such clarity and force that it was recalled quite effortlessly several decades after (rather casually) reading it–and that from a rather “memory-challenged” individual. (Hopefully without too much inadvertent distortion!)

Comment by Kevin McKinney — 4 Nov 2010 @ 8:20 AM

45. 4;
It is cautionary that given space in a policy journal and a first-rate PR firm, Carl’s powers of comic invention could put Bozo’s to shame.

The grimmest lesson of ‘nuclear winter’ remains largely unlearned– as a matter of cynical praxis, all that extraordinary claims require is access to advertising talent.

Comment by Russell Seitz — 4 Nov 2010 @ 8:23 AM

46. BPL,

Good of you to come to Cosmas’s defense (I didn’t mean to scoff, I appreciate his historical eyewitness accounts). Actually, I thought he argued for Earth as an oblong plane, shaped like the table in the Tabernacle, vaulted by more or less semi-cylindrical heavens… but in any case, not round.

The moral of the story, I trust, was clear: The lone maverick defying the scientific orthodoxy of his day is sometimes right, like Galileo, and sometimes… not so much.

Not so much, especially, when the heretical conclusions are based on ideology (in Cosmas’s case, the authority of a particular reading of Scripture) rather than on observations (as in Galileo’s case). Climate contrarians who have replaced Genesis and Exodus with Atlas Shrugged might want to take heed of the difference.

Comment by CM — 4 Nov 2010 @ 8:25 AM

47. “Can anyone here think of an example of writing that’s both narrative AND faithful to the science?”

Storms of My Grandchildren by James Hansen

Comment by Maya — 4 Nov 2010 @ 8:43 AM

48. Seems to me that you described the scientific process according to what it theoretically should be while describing the news process according to how you see it from the outside.

A news person could do the same thing from the opposite perspective and it would be equally uninformative.

I think it is disingenuous to claim that any scientific field functions so closely to the theoretical ideal. Every book on the history of any science is filled with stories of clashing personalities impeding the progress of science. It’d be nice to believe that science today is different, but I don’t see a justification to do so.

[Response: Not sure why you assume that I think science today is ‘different’. It is not. Scientists are, and will likely remain, human – with all that entails. But to go from accepting that humans have flaws is a long way from proving that science is corrupt. – gavin]

Comment by vboring — 4 Nov 2010 @ 9:27 AM

49. I commend to everyone’s attention a relevant essay by Richard C. J. Somerville, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, published in October by the journal Climatic Change, entitled “How much should the public know about climate science?” [PDF].

Excerpt:

the world needs to take firm action about the threat of manmade
climate change within the next decade. Figure 1 summarizes recent research
showing that global emissions of greenhouse gases must peak and decline within the next decade if global warming is to be limited to a level that avoids severe climate disruption.
Realistically, there may be no chance to educate the general public in depth about the science so quickly. Meanwhile, a well-funded and effective professional disinformation campaign has been successful in sowing confusion, and many people mistakenly think climate change science is unreliable or is controversial within the expert community. Thus, the more urgent task for us scientists may well be to give the public guidelines for recognizing and rejecting junk science and disinformation. If students today, who will be adults tomorrow, can understand and apply these guidelines, they may not need a detailed knowledge of climate change science. To that end, I offer the following six principles.

1. The essential findings of mainstream climate change science are firm. The world is warming. There are many kinds of evidence: air temperatures, ocean temperatures, melting ice, rising sea levels, and much more. Human activities are the main cause. The warming is not natural. It is not due to the sun, for example. We know this because we can measure the effect of man-made carbon dioxide and it is much stronger than that of changes in the sun, which we also measure.

2. The greenhouse effect is well understood. It is as real as gravity. The foundations of the science are more than 150 years old. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere traps heat. We know carbon dioxide is increasing because we measure it. We know the increase is due to human activities like burning fossil fuels because we can analyze the chemical evidence for that.

3. Our climate predictions are coming true. Many observed climate changes, like rising sea level, are occurring at the high end of the predicted range. Some observed changes, like melting sea ice, are happening faster than the anticipated worst case. Unless mankind takes strong steps to halt and reverse the rapid global increase of fossil fuel use and the other activities that cause climate change, and does so in a very few years, severe climate change is inevitable. Urgent action is
needed if global warming is to be limited to moderate levels.

4. The standard skeptical arguments have been refuted many times over. The refutations are on many web sites and in many books. For example, the mechanisms causing natural climate change like ice ages are irrelevant to the current warming. We know why ice ages come and go. That is due to changes in the Earth’s orbit around the sun, changes that take thousands of years. The warming that is occurring now, over just a few decades, cannot possibly be caused by such slow-acting processes. But it can be caused by man-made changes in the greenhouse effect.

5. Science has its own high standards. It does not work by unqualified people making claims on television or the Internet. It works by expert scientists doing research and publishing it in carefully reviewed research journals. Other scientists examine the research and repeat it and extend it. Valid results are confirmed, and wrong ones are exposed and abandoned. Science is self-correcting. People who are not experts, who are not trained and experienced in this field, who do
not do research and publish it following standard scientific practice, are not doing science. When they claim that they are the real experts, they are just plain wrong.

6. The leading scientific organizations of the world, like national academies of science and professional scientific societies, have carefully examined the results of climate science and endorsed these results. It is silly to imagine that thousands of climate scientists worldwide are engaged in a massive conspiracy to fool everybody. It is also silly to think that a few minor errors in the extensive IPCC
reports can invalidate the reports. The first thing that the world needs to do to confront the challenge of climate change wisely is to learn about what science has discovered and accept it. The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report at http://www.ipcc.ch is a good place to start.

Comment by SecularAnimist — 4 Nov 2010 @ 9:46 AM

50. vboring@48,
The truly remarkable thing about science is that it yields reliable results even when practiced by fallible humans. As such, I would suggest that until humans become perfect beings, we should rely on science to guide policy. Tell ya what: you work on perfecting humans and I’ll stick to science. We’ll see who makes more progress.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Nov 2010 @ 9:55 AM

51. Gavin’s response in 48 is of course absolutely correct. I was once forced by an editor to do a favorable review of a book about an eminent scientist which suggested he was dishonest. As far as I could tell, all the writer had shown was that the scientist was imperious and not a very nice person. Not the same thing at all–and to me, not a particularly astonishing or important thing to talk about.

On the other hand, the competing efforts to sequence the human genome, and the clashing personalities of Craig Venter and Francis Collins, added what I considered a useful narrative element to get readers interested in the science. I’ve also used more benign personal narratives in service of getting the readers engaged. As long as it’s accurate, it’s reasonable to use human narrative and details of personality to pull in the reader. Nothing wrong with that.

Comment by Mike Lemonick — 4 Nov 2010 @ 10:00 AM

52. > all educators are activists

Tom Paine agreed. So did the hereditary rich of his time. So do they now.
I’ve been _amazed_ nobody at dot.earth liked this quote, from Paine:

Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Nov 2010 @ 10:43 AM

53. SA, too bad that list didn’t get printed on the front page of every newspaper in the country instead of as an editorial in a scientific journal that the general public doesn’t read.

Comment by Maya — 4 Nov 2010 @ 10:56 AM

“Two, it doesn’t sound as if you’re distinguishing clearly between policy papers and technical ones”

The trouble is that the boundary has become blurred – very frustrating if you’re interested primarily in influencing policy. The paper I referred to in my earlier post (#39) was brought to my attention specifically because it was “peer-reviewed science”. A policy paper wouldn’t carry the same weight, even though, as I argued before, it would be likely to give a more complete picture. Like it or not, scientists have to accept that policy is being made by direct reference to their outputs.

Tony Blair is famously fond of saying that the media are like the weather – you just have to live with it. (Actually, maybe that’s not quite so appropriate in this context – note he wasn’t thinking about climate change when he said this!). The narrative interpretation of specific scientific findings stems from what is in effect a weekly science reporting news cycle, based on when the most influential journals are published. Presumably Nature and Science even issue press releases to try to move product and these are picked up by New Scientist, daily newspapers and so on. Scientific orthodoxy does not in fact usually change a great deal from week to week.

Collaborative processes like the IPCC operating over a longer timescale therefore make a lot more sense as ways of resetting public opinion – especially if they can become more than the sum of the disconnected papers that they rely on.

Which brings me to your first point:

“the ‘bigger picture’ is held mostly within the ongoing subculture of those doing the science”

Indeed it is, and therein lies the problem. There is no one single bigger picture, so different disciplines, sub-disciplines, sub-sub-disciplines and schools or institutions within the same sub-sub-discipline can have different views of the world.

As a result, contradictions are legion all over science. For example, the black hole “event horizon” concept is entirely inconsistent. On the one hand I’m told you wouldn’t notice anything if you travelled across the “event horizon” of a black hole – in which case the event horizon as far as you are concerned is actually nearer the black hole than the “event horizon”. Yet for the purposes of Hawking radiation the “event horizon” is actually at a fixed point (OK, plane) in space. Most writers on the topic treat the “event horizon” as fixed in space, except when they’re pointing out you wouldn’t notice crossing it. [The only way to reconcile all this is that the “event horizon” is where light can no longer escape to infinity, whereas a given observer’s event horizon w.r.t. a black hole is relative – where this leaves Hawking radiation beats me].

Sorry, that took longer to explain that I anticipated. I won’t even start on whether an asteroid or the effects of flood basalt eruptions killed the dinosaurs (answer: IMHO the former caused or at least massively exacerbated the latter, so both the warring schools of thought are right).

The point is the problem is with science, not just climate science. Collaborative exercises should overcome some of these differences in understanding and the IPCC succeeds in some places and not in others. One area it seems to me is riddled with inconsistencies is oceanic circulation and its effect on the carbon cycle (and Arctic sea-ice melt). For example, I think the consensus is that carbon entering the deep ocean via the biological pump is balanced (or would be were the system in equilibrium) by carbon brought to the surface by THC processes. This would imply that more circulation would increase atmospheric carbon levels. But some passages seem to suggest the opposite.

Further, warming due to elevated GHG levels would be expected to strengthen the circulation as more heat is gained in equatorial regions than at the poles. Yet we hear more often about the danger of the circulation shutting down. This confuses policy-makers. Al Gore, for example, perhaps understood that the mechanism for slowing the circulation was a fresh-water injection. I guess he trusted that the scientists wouldn’t worry about a THC slowdown in the North Atlantic without that cause, so famously pointed to Greenland as the only source of sufficient fresh water he could see.

What the IPCC process perhaps needs is independent moderation to ensure that each explanatory chapter is based on a single consistent high-level model of how an aspect of the climate system operates. Dissenters from such a model would have to go home or provide one or more alternative models. Maybe we’d end up with majority and minority reports with lists of supporters, but at least we might be clearer as to where we stood. Most importantly, the various findings quantifying and elaborating aspects of the model would be set in the only context in which they make sense – a logically consistent structure.

I’d disagree that new data can’t challenge established thought.

My point is that new data on its own is insufficient. It’s only because the boy Einstein proposed an alternative theoretical framework that the problem of the Mitchelson-Morley results was resolved.

As we see in modern physics, more common reactions to anomalous results are either to hope they’ll go away – as in the case of the Pioneer anomaly, for example – or to tweak the theory to “save the appearances” as in the introduction of the “dark matter” and “dark energy” concepts. Meanwhile we await the new ideas that’ll show the current consensus to be complete twaddle. What a hoot it would be to repeat that History and Philosophy of Science course in 50 years time!

Climate science doesn’t really have the luxury of decades in which to play glass bead games with string theory, M-branes and 10- (or is it 11-?) dimensional hyperspace. Hence I suggest it’s important to look at the processes and organisational structures that slow progress.

Comment by Tim Joslin — 4 Nov 2010 @ 11:18 AM

55. TJ 54,

If you don’t like dark matter, how do you explain the fact that the rotation of galaxies is non-Newtonian when you count only the visible matter?

[Response: Enough dark matter thanks. Back to climate science please. -gavin]

Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 4 Nov 2010 @ 11:45 AM

56. TJ 54:

The rotation of galaxies is non-Newtonian if you trace it using only the visible matter. If you don’t like “dark matter” as an explanation, how do you explain it?

Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 4 Nov 2010 @ 11:46 AM

57. BPL @55:

The following note is actually relevant to the subject of climate science because it highlights a genuine scientific controversy that is alive and active at this very moment. Real research is being conducted and published in the peer-review literature that poses real challenges to the majority position in gravitational cosmology. These challenges come from a variety of places, but the most notable ones have to do with galactic rotations and the proposed explanations for observed phenomena.

Dark Matter and Dark Energy are are purely ad hoc hypotheses introduced to save the Standard Model rather than engage in substantive revision to account for observations. However, these proposals have themselves proven to be egregiously unobservable, and exist only to save the existing theoretical structures of the Standard Model. Functional alternatives to the Standard Model already exist, however, and while they comprise a very small part of gravitational cosmology, they are robust scientific proposals that can be found in the peer-reviewed literature.

To begin with, the rotation is much more Newtonian than not; it is the Einsteinian driven Standard Model that has all of the difficulties. Thus MOND — “MOdified Newtonian Dynamic” — theories readily account for this rotation without the introduction of gratuitous and grotesquely unobservable etities. Closely allied to the MOND family of proposals are the bimetric ones, which separate the contingent relations of physics from the necessary ones of geometry. These are distinguished from Einstein’s monometric general relativity, which collapses physics and geometry together and thereby fabricates an insupperable problem with the logic of measurement. While Nathan Rosen is commonly credited with the first bimetric theory, it was in fact Alfred North Whitehead who produced the first such in 1922.

Finally, there is a third family of proposals based on the Tensor-Vector-Scalar approach called “TeVeS” for short. I am not familiar enough with this method to do anything beyond mentioning it.

By entering the following string into the search window at http://www.arxiv.org, you’ll get some idea just how much work has been done in this area:

(mond OR bimetric OR teves) AND (gravity OR gravitation)

Again, these alternatives are thoroughly scientific in character, and provide a strong comparison with the denialist proposals which fail on so many accounts to constitute legitimate scientific challenges to the main threads of current climatology.

Comment by Gary Herstein — 4 Nov 2010 @ 12:14 PM

58. Gavin, firstly, JC’s so-called flag analytic framework is an attempt to bring a certain tool – which can certainly be used in assessment of evidence by non-probabilistic means (i.e., author expertise, attribution of distal outcomes in multifactorial systems to climate, e.g., malaria) – into evaluation of the main IPCC formulation about anthropogenic global change. The assessment process stands and operates outside the evidence.

The main IPCC formulation in question, however, is derived from climate models – which are, as Tom Curtis points out, full-fledged and self-contained scienctific theories themselves. All variations in output – which are deviations from the aforesaid hypothesis – can be completely ascribed internally, because the model is inclusive of its underlying uncertainties.

No wonder then, that applying another layer of meta-logic doesn’t seem to make sense but I think it needs to be done.

Comment by Anand — 4 Nov 2010 @ 12:15 PM

59. Tim Joslin @ 54,

As we see in modern physics, more common reactions to anomalous results are either to hope they’ll go away – as in the case of the Pioneer anomaly, for example – or to tweak the theory to “save the appearances” as in the introduction of the “dark matter” and “dark energy” concepts. Meanwhile we await the new ideas that’ll show the current consensus to be complete twaddle.

Dark matter and dark energy are tweaks for the purposes of saving appearances?
You might enjoy listening to ‘A Universe From Nothing’ by Lawrence Krauss, AAI 2009

Comment by Fred Magyar — 4 Nov 2010 @ 12:16 PM

60. 14, Gavin: First, issues of the early century cooling are irrelevant.

You need to provide some good reasons for why an inability to account for early century cooling is not evidence for important factors omitted from the model.

Newtonian mechanics provides an excellent model for interplanetary travel (moon landing, etc); but the previous inability to accurately model the precession of the perihelion of Mercury, and the current mismatch between observed mass and observed acceleration are both taken as evidence that the model omitted something serious.

It is a point on which climate scientists (Gavin Schmidt, Judith Curry) disagree.

[Response: Read what I wrote on the C-a-s thread. Some periods/events are easier to attribute than others: factors include the accuracy and distinctivness of the hypothesized forcings, the breadth of evidence for climate changes, the distinctiveness of the fingerprints of the drivers in the data that is available. On all counts, the modern period is an easier case. So why our inability to attribute cleanly a difficult case undermines our ability to do it for an easier case is supposedly a problem, is a mystery to me. There are lots of other events that are easier, and the models do good jobs there. – gavin]

Comment by Septic Matthew — 4 Nov 2010 @ 12:39 PM

61. 53, Maya: SA, too bad that list didn’t get printed on the front page of every newspaper in the country instead of as an editorial in a scientific journal that the general public doesn’t read.

Not to worry: the editorial has been discussed, with links, in the denialosphere. For example, Marc Morano’s Climate Depot

Comment by Septic Matthew — 4 Nov 2010 @ 12:43 PM

My thoughts are: let’s get over the word “narrative”. It trivializes the issues, and if scientists are trapped into counternarratives the public will lose. It reminds me of my short and failed attempt at writing a screenplay- all the books and advisors said “Think less about character and scenery; it’s all about the story”. By definition, a story, or narrative, confirms either imaginary or entrenched emotional needs, and usually includes straying from the evidence as a result of these needs. That’s why movies tend to be three act plays designed to masturbate theatergoers.

My other thought is that, while scientists will give a nod to reporters’ tendencies to create conflict and popularize their results, too little attention is paid to the darker influences behind the scenes. These of course include oil and coal companies, banks, and timber companies. It is quite stressful and often futile to confront these forces, but scientists are going to have to step up and do it in public a lot more, including outreach in the mainstream media. Hansen is way too out on a limb here.

Comment by Mike Roddy — 4 Nov 2010 @ 12:46 PM

63. Tim Joslin, I’m afraid I have to take issue with your depiction of how science works–or at least with the motivations behind why it works the way it does. First, I think that you need to realize that the IPCC is not primarily concerned with cutting-edge science. It is concerned with uncertainties of maybe 30-50%, not orders of magnitude or even factors of 2. Most of the most interesting research in climate science is irrelevant to the IPCC’s mandate. I mean, really, if you showed current CO2 levels to Arrhenius, he would have expressed concern! The only questions left to answer wrt the “science” of anthropogenic climate change are
2)what will be the consequences

In general, though, the reason one tweaks a theory when observations disagree with it is not because you hope the observations will go away, but rather because usually the theory has already proved its worth, and so minor tweaks or incorrect data are more likely to be the answer than is a “revolution”. Most scientists I know would love to live in a time of scientific revolution. They’re exciting, and they give young turks an opportunity to distinguish themselves as “brilliant”.

The IPCC is a political body. Its conclusions are mainly looked at as old news by the scientists, who wonder how they can be at all controversial. The chances of the consensus being found to be “twaddle” are nil.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Nov 2010 @ 12:51 PM

64. Tim,
Oh, btw, String theories differ. Some require 10 spatial dimensions (also the number in Kaluza-Klein theories), while others require 26. Coincidentally (?) the dimensionality of the largest of the extraordinary groups is also 26. The significance of this is left as an exercise to the reader. ;-)

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Nov 2010 @ 12:53 PM

65. Hope you don’t mind, I am copying almost the entirety of this article into DotEarth. I can “get away” with this as a commenter rather than owner/author, in a way that professionals can’t, but hope you don’t mind my presumption in doing so (with proper attribution).

Others might like to weigh in, as DotEarth often provides quality reporting, and Andy Revkin, even if you are annoyed with him, is involved in an uphill battle with a dedicated cadre of people we are not allowed to say are professional denial experts.

It may be a while before my comment(s) show up, as as noted, it is almost a total borrow.

Comment by Susan Anderson — 4 Nov 2010 @ 1:01 PM

66. 1) “Heretical” ideas that actually work out, or might, normally arise from experts, not amateurs.
I’ve met Jo Haigh and thought she was good.

Bill Ruddiman’s hypotheses on early anthropogenic effects were strikingly outside the mainstream view, but no one would ever mistake Bill for a whacko heretic and he’s followed up with much careful work.

2) Ray Ladbury notes that science works despite imperfect humans.

Folks expect modern computer hardware to work reliably. It does, despite the fact that individual components are not perfectly reliable. Some systems (like telephone switches) have long had elaborate hierarchies of fault-recovery software. Memories, disk and communication channels use Error-Correcting Codes … or else none of this would work for more than few seconds.

Science is the ECC of human discourse, it tends to detect errors quickly, fix some and keep them from propagating too far. However, it runs slightly slower as a result.

Sadly, some other areas of human discourse seem to lack even simple parity bits.
They can be cheaper and faster, but then they crash.

Comment by John Mashey — 4 Nov 2010 @ 1:05 PM

67. BPL 55:

Quantum Physics is non-Newtonian, too. Dark Matter may simply be a convenient definition for something that is undefined – like the square-root of negative 1. Just because someone gave it a name, doesn’t give it any more validity than something which simply doesn’t exist. I’m all for making guesses by defining unknowns (I couldn’t have finished my Linear Algebra homework without that method), but I wouldn’t invest any tax money on a guess. Where is the predictability? There lies the problem. How else to explain it? The number of possibilities are infinite.

Comment by Alex Katarsis — 4 Nov 2010 @ 1:07 PM

68. DotEarth link (and the more recent article that follows it):http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/02/girding-for-a-republican-gavel-at-climate-hearings/

I don’t think this particular article needs your time, which I know is valuable, but the overall slant is being biased by the dedicated fake skeptic effort over time as are all public largely unedited blogs on the subject. Lubos Motl, for example, is very busy there and everybody “loves” him. sigh …

sorry, will desist on re captcha, luscious: confessio bruther

Comment by Susan Anderson — 4 Nov 2010 @ 1:17 PM

69. My previous post was in reply to Kevin’s #42, sorry. His #44 was a shorter addition.

Re. #55 and #58 replying to my #54, we’re going too far off-topic – I didn’t realise I was being controversial. ;-) Of course dark matter and dark energy are concepts invented to “save the appearances”, just like Ptolemaic epicycles before heliocentric Copernicanism came along. They introduce more complexity into the theory, i.e. more “theory points” that have to be proved, without any additional concomitant experimental verification (“data points”). The theory is logically weaker than before. History tells us that such “tweaks” rarely survive the test of time and more usually indicate the imminent (or at least eventual) breakdown of a theoretical paradigm. But hey, maybe this time is different!

All this is fairly tangential to my argument – I was merely substantiating a subsidiary point – so feel free to try to convince me of the existence of your dark materials without fear of me replying again on this point.

Though perhaps the state of modern physics – “Not Even Wrong” according to Peter Woit – does bolster my argument that scientific discussion might sometimes benefit from tough, independent mediation.

Comment by Tim Joslin — 4 Nov 2010 @ 1:18 PM

70. Comment by Susan Anderson — 4 Nov 2010 @ 1:18 PM

71. Tim Joslin: “Not Even Wrong” according to Peter Woit – does bolster my argument that scientific discussion might sometimes benefit from tough, independent mediation.”

Actually, no. It bolsters the argument that Peter Woit could benefit from learning about string theory. Some types of string theory are on the threshold of being testable using astronomical observations.

Rumors of the death of science are greatly exaggerated.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Nov 2010 @ 1:47 PM

72. Mike Roddy @ 62

“too little attention is paid to the darker influences behind the scenes.”

I tend to agree. The current environment certainly offers succor to those darker influences. The media are now saturated with the incessant gabbling of confabulation artists.

Comment by Radge Havers — 4 Nov 2010 @ 1:49 PM

73. Alex Katarsis says

“Dark Matter may simply be a convenient definition for something that is undefined – like the square-root of negative 1. Just because someone gave it a name, doesn’t give it any more validity than something which simply doesn’t exist. I’m all for making guesses by defining unknowns (I couldn’t have finished my Linear Algebra homework without that method), but I wouldn’t invest any tax money on a guess. Where is the predictability? There lies the problem. How else to explain it? The number of possibilities are infinite.”

The need for dark matter arose when astroners studied the mechanics of galaxies. We have a very good understanding of gravity, either from the earlier point of view of Newtonian mechanics or more recently through general relativity. These theories are consistent, and, within the domains to which they are applicable, they make very accurate predict ions, which are verified by observations. For example, our system of GPS satellites depends on applying general relativitic considerations.

The square root of -1 is not undefined. It is defined (up to a sign) as a (complex) number whose square is -1. It exists as part of a mathematical system which is employed in many, many application. Schroedinger’s equation, in quantum mechanics, can’t be stated without it. Needless to say, our enitre information cociety would be next to impossible without using quantum mechanics. Of course the square root of -1 is not something which you can hold in your hands, but without it as a concept we would be out of luck.

Many concepts in physics are abstractions, e.g., energy and entropy. Dark matter was invented to explain observable effects. To do without it, we would have to decide instead, that gravity doesn’t operate on the scale of a galaxy as it does, for example, in the solar system.

Finally, I’m not sure what tax dollars have to do with the matter. It is true that tax dollars are spent to fund astronomers, to put telescopes in orbit, etc. But that money is necessary if we want to learn more about how the world is. The US decided after World War II to fund science. Were we to stop now, or base it on politiacal considerations, we would fall behind the rest of the world in doing science, and ultimately, that would make us a second class nation.

Comment by Leonard Evens — 4 Nov 2010 @ 2:07 PM

74. Dark Matter was added in astronomy to account for gravitational effects; rotation curves of spiral galxaies (as BPL notes) and observed radial velocities of galxies in clusters. It was not (then) something exotic – it was simply matter (something with mass) that we couldn’t see visually (hence dark) was required to explain the observed velocities. Over time, as various proposed ideas (such as WIMPS and MACHOS) could not account for all the observations without causing problems for the standard Big Bang model it developed exotic overtones. To get back on the topic of this thread – in science Dark Matter is an interesting problem to be solved, but it is reported to the public as a mysterious and exotic form of matter that science has discovered.

Comment by BBP — 4 Nov 2010 @ 2:10 PM

75. Ray #63: my “tweak” point is not really relevant to climate science at present, I was speaking to a point made by Kevin in #42 which itself responded to what I thought was a gimme point in response to a passage in Gavin’s original post. He wrote:

“New data from new platforms, new calculations enabled by the increases in computing power and new analyses of the ever-increasing amount of observed data, each have the continual potential to challenge previously held ideas – if that can be demonstrated logically and with evidence to back it up.”

to which I replied:

“Actually only new ideas really have the ‘potential to challenge previously held ideas’.”

This itself relates to a passage in a previous Realclimate blog entry by Gavin, Climate code archiving: an open and shut case?, which has been bugging me:

“First, the practical scientific issues. Consider, for example, the production of key observational climate data sets. While replicability is a vital component of the enterprise, this is not the same thing as simply repetition. It is independent replication that counts far more towards acceptance of a result than merely demonstrating that given the same assumptions, the same input, and the same code, somebody can get the same result. It is far better to have two independent ice core isotope records from Summit in Greenland than it is to see the code used in the mass spectrometer in one of them. Similarly, it is better to have two (or three or four) independent analyses of the surface temperature station data showing essentially the same global trends than it is to see the code for one of them.”

This is fine as far as it goes. The problem comes when you’re trying to explain an anomalous finding, one that doesn’t fit in with the theory you espouse. Then you need repeatability and not replicability.

If you’re a naive falsificationist you’d have to reject a theory in the face of a contradictory result, but luckily that’s not the way the world works. Science usually progresses when one theory explains the limitations of another, e.g. Einstein explained why Newton was right as far as he was, and wrong outside certain parameters. (This is why we should keep pointing out to the denialists that they need to prove, for example, why elevated atmospheric GHG levels wouldn’t cause the warming predicted).

In order to show where incorrect conclusions have been drawn and thereby make progress, it’s vital to be able to reproduce results as well as replicate them. This may mean delving into the detail of precisely why a researcher has reported a particular anomalous result. This introduces a need for the storage of code and data additional to published results and Gavin made some sound suggestions in that regard.

My point is that scientific progress doesn’t rely on more scientists saying one thing than another at a given point in time. It relies instead on a communal understanding of the validity of a complex set of conjectures and refutations. A lot of the knowledge used to assess this body of information is tacit – the general understanding in people’s heads – and perhaps more of this could potentially be made explicit.

I take your point that the IPCC doesn’t do cutting-edge science, rather it takes stock of science that has already been done. My argument, though, is that the IPCC reports are more valuable to the policy process than series of independent papers which tilt the media this way and that over a short timescale. The IPCC reports might be more valuable still if ways were found to explicitly, rather than implicitly, bind different pieces of research together.

Sometimes I find myself musing that the way science works is a case of “I wouldn’t start from here”. Comparing the scientific process to that of software development, for example, suggests to me that the balance needs to be shifted to more generalists and more high level work ensuring the consistency of aspects of the science and if necessary allocating resources to fill in the gaps.

I mentioned before the scientific evaluation of the worth of biofuels which I have found less than totally satisfactory. If I was given the task of reporting to decision-makers as to the effectiveness of a policy of promoting the use of biofuels to reduce atmospheric GHG levels, I wouldn’t, as I say, start from here. I’d hope I’d identify any implicit assumptions, look at the issue on a global level, not from the point of view of an individual field, making sure all impacts – water use, biodiversity and so on – had been accounted for. This would mean identifying a number of topics for research and parameters for quantification. Teams would then be tasked with finding the answers to these detailed questions. This is not how science usually progresses. It is much more a “bottom-up” than a “top-down” process.

Maybe I should give an example of a pure climate issue that bothers me. The dominant idea in climate science is (if I may deliberately simplify) to add up the forcings and make long-term climate predictions on that basis. It seems to me, though, that the internal variability of the system may obscure the warming signal over timescales that are politically important. I’d personally like to see more emphasis on understanding that aspect of climate and at least more clarity as to when it is being ignored and when it isn’t. And more accurate near-term (months to years) predictions would of course bolster the standing of the climate science community.

Comment by Tim Joslin — 4 Nov 2010 @ 2:38 PM

76. 60, Gavin. What is the C-a-s thread? It should be obvious to me, but I can’t think what it is.

[Response: Here. – gavin]

Comment by Septic Matthew — 4 Nov 2010 @ 3:10 PM

77. RE: AGW not Possible.

Here is a comment that I posted over at Joe’s Place, a trendy climate bar in downtown Manhattan.

[Response: Might it not have been more effectively placed in an oscillatory climate bar? Mind you, I’m no expert on climate bars, whatever those be.–Jim]

After studying a recent atlas of the earth I have concluded:

1. There are few humans on the earth.

2. Humans occupy are small portion of the earth’s surface.

3. Humans have irreversible changed a even smaller portion of the earth’s surface by construction of cities and urban areas.

4. About 50% of humans live in urban areas.

5. Humans are migrating in ever increasing numbers from rural to urban areas, i.e., they are abandoning the countryside.

Humans living in urban areas experience an apparent “global warming” due to UHI effect.

There are vast areas of the earth that are unpopulated by humans such as Siberia, Canada. Alaska, the polar regions, the surface of the oceans,etc.

The earth appears to be over populated because most televisions broad casts orginate in cities and urban areas. That the earth seems small and there seems to be more extreme weather events is due to instant world wide communications systems in particular satellite TV.

Humans have modified portions of the earth’s surface for agriculure. For example, much of the Great Plains have been modified for farming. Where there was once native grasses and wild animals, there are modified grasses such cereal grains and domesticsted animals but this appears not affected climate much In the Northern Great Plains, the temperature still drops down to -30 to -49 deg C and the summers still heat to +35 deg C on occasion.

For today,

RE: What Climate Change?

After watching weather reports on the TV and reading numerous articles in newspapers and magazines (e.g., Sci. Am., Nat. Geo., etc) for about 60 years and more recently on the web, I have concluded that there has been little climate change. That is to say, the pattern of weather and the magnitude of various weather events in most all regions of the earth are more or less about the same. In any region weather can be very variable from year to year and there can be extreme weather events that persists for an long periods suchas droughts. Over time, however, climate and weather patterns usually settle down and return to normal

Gavin et al: why don’t you guys go to a nearby Amish settlement and ask the elders about climate. They have no TV’s and radio’s to influence thier views on climate.

[Response: Harold, why don’t you go to small settlement in Arctic Canada (as I have) and ask the elders about climate?–eric]

Comment by Harold Pierce Jr — 4 Nov 2010 @ 3:19 PM

78. Tim Joslin @68: “scientific discussion might sometimes benefit from tough, independent mediation.”

One problem with such a notion is that the only way such mediation can be of any real service is if the mediator(s) are as competent in the subject at hand as the mediated. Otherwise, alll you have is an outside influence peddaling argumentum ad vericundiam conclusions in a manner not unlike the politically motivated activists attempting to legislate climate science while wrapping themselves in the flag of “skeptic” or “heretic.”

On the other hand, if they DO have the requisite level of expertise to make a meaningful judgment, then they are not “independent;” they are, in point of fact, members of the scientific community they are supposed to mediate. But then, you have exactly the situation we have now, in which the broader peer-review system plugs along and corrects its errors by the built in feedback loops of the system.

The point you seemed to miss in your discussion @54 are exactly the challenges to the Standard Model of cosmology that are so ready to hand in the peer-review literature. When I first began looking into this subject in 2004, the number of articles that would come up using the search string I gave in my @57 was in the neighborhood of 75. When I did that same search just a few minutes ago, I came up with 1545 independent hits. John Moffat (from U. Toronto, I believe) just published a book on alternatives to the SM.

There is pretty obvious tension in the ranks of gravitational cosmologists. The system is doing what it is supposed to do.

Comment by Gary Herstein — 4 Nov 2010 @ 3:25 PM

79. One of the problems for scientists in entering public debates is we do not operate on a level playing field. Scientists strive for honesty (or at least try to present data which is accurate). To falsify data is to commit scientific fraud – a crime which usually (quite rightly) leads to the end of a scientists career. In public discourse people are not held to the same level of honesty. This has implications well beyond the issue of global warming. How can democracies function if the public is lied to or miss informed. I would be interested to know what readers here think. Do we need enhanced defamation laws to prevent the distortion and misrepresentation of scientific research?

Comment by Sean Hutton — 4 Nov 2010 @ 4:05 PM

80. The last few lines from the documentary “Out of Thin Air” (http://www.learner.org/vod/vod_window.html?pid=77) mentioned in Richard Somerville’s recent piece in Climate Change summed it up nicely: “Knowledge is power and we have got to find a way to empower every one of our citizens. If they understand the basic principles about the world, they will manage their lives better.” To which I would add, the ability to see through emotive advertising designed to manipulate economic, social and political choice. Reason and reasonableness are under assault in the US. It started with public education being denied sufficient funding, introduction of mindless standardization, and fear to teach subjects such as evolution. It has now gotten to the point where the willfully ignorant can not only run for political office, but have a good chance of winning.

Comment by Mike Palin — 4 Nov 2010 @ 4:56 PM

81. Oops, got the documentary title wrong. It is “Minds of our Own—Lessons from Thin Air.”

Comment by Mike Palin — 4 Nov 2010 @ 5:01 PM

82. I just read that Victor Chernomyrdin the former head of the Soviet Gas Ministry and its post-Soviet reincarnation Gazprom has died.

The Koch-funded Cato Institute denialist Andrei Illarionov used to work for Chernomyrdin. And Putin.

Did you scientists know that during Stalin’s time the father of the Koch brothers helped Stalin build oil refineries in the Soviet Union?

Greenpeace wrote that.

I added these two bits of information onto my latest post.

http://legendofpineridge.blogspot.com/2010/10/attorney-general-cuccinelli-ties-his.html

You scientists don’t say much at all about the Russian role in denialism.

Here is a good quote that explains a lot in a nutshell.

“In Western Europe, Moscow has operated by making lucrative arrangements with foreign energy companies that become de facto lobbyists for the Kremlin within their own countries.”—“Why The Russia Spy Story Really Matters” (RFE/RL, 7-9-10)

Comment by Snapple — 4 Nov 2010 @ 5:23 PM

83. Harold Pierce Jr. wrote: “That the earth seems small and there seems to be more extreme weather events is due to instant world wide communications systems in particular satellite TV.”

So, when the World Meteorological Organization stated in August that “diverse extreme weather events are occurring concurrently around the world, giving rise to an unprecedented loss of human life and property … all the events cited above compare with, or exceed in intensity, duration or geographical extent, the previous largest historical events … The occurrence of all these events at almost the same time raises questions about their possible linkages to the predicted increase in intensity and frequency of extreme events, for example, as stipulated in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report published in 2007”, it is your view that the scientists of the WMO said this because they watch too much TV?

Comment by SecularAnimist — 4 Nov 2010 @ 5:59 PM

84. Harold Pierce Jr @77 — That’s the funniest thing I’ve read all day.

Thanks for the chuckle.

Comment by David B. Benson — 4 Nov 2010 @ 6:50 PM

85. Bet ya \$50 {Australian,its worth more} that this comes out as

“Gavin backs down”

Comment by John Byatt — 4 Nov 2010 @ 7:23 PM

86. Eric says: Harold, why don’t you go to small settlement in Arctic Canada (as I have) and ask the elders about climate?

Good idea. If I ever win the BC 6/49 Lotto for megamillions, I’ll lease a really big cruise ship for trip up the Inside Passage from Vancouver to Alaska. I’ll invite all the regulars from the blogs that I visit everyday. All expenses paid including first class air travel to and from Vancouver.. Even Joe and Rommans will get an invite

This would have been a great year for such an event. A near record-breaking 35 million salmon returned to the Fraser River. This is the biggest run since 1913. So much for the claims that the plankton populations have been reduced by ca 40% due to “global warming”.

RE: Cryoconite Dust in Greenland.

There is an interesting artice in the June Nat Geo that has pictures of cryoconite, a brown mineral dust that orginates from NA continents and is carried by wind currents and is deposited on the ice sheets on Greenland.
This causes the ice to melt at an accelerated rate.

I ask this simple guestion: Since 1900, where have all the many billions of pounds of rubber and asphalt dust gone? The short simple answer is anywhere and everywhere like the snow in Arctic.

Comment by Harold Pierce Jr — 4 Nov 2010 @ 7:41 PM

87. 76, gavin

Thanks again.

Comment by Septic Matthew — 4 Nov 2010 @ 8:01 PM

88. Tim Joslin,
I’m not sure where you are getting your ideas of how science works. They don’t bear much correspondence with my experience as a scientist. First, when looking at repetition vs replication, you have to look at the errors you are trying to minimize/estimate. It doesn’t matter whether the data favor the theory or not. You still treat them with the same probabilistic techniques and models.

And your characterization of scientific consensus as “more scientists saying one thing than another at a given point in time” is simply naive. The understanding I’ve arrived at of scientific consensus is that it consists of those ideas, techniques, theories… without which one cannot make progress in a field. Science is hardly democratic. One Enrico Fermi trumps hundreds of also-rans.

Finally, I’m glad you want to see scientists looking into natural variability–because that is precisely what they are doing. It is one of the most active areas of research AT THE CUTTING EDGE of climate science.

I’m not sure where you are getting the idea that science is broken. It is working just fine–it’s the politics that are jamming up the works.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Nov 2010 @ 8:32 PM

89. @SecularAnimist #83

While I’m sure you’re no Pielke Jr fan he had a post about that back in August, it’s kinda his forte.

http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/08/it-has-been-foretold.html

Comment by Menth — 4 Nov 2010 @ 8:57 PM

90. John Massey@66:
I love your analogy about scientific method as ECC code, and much current public debate as not even have a parity bit. I fear the later is a design feature, not a bug.

Comment by Thomas — 4 Nov 2010 @ 9:18 PM

91. #77 Climate bars, eh? Personally I prefer to patronize error bars. Unfortunately, they’re always screwing up my drink orders, and the best ones are so small I can’t even fit inside.

Come to think of it, “Box & Whisker” would make a great name for a bar.

Comment by John N-G — 4 Nov 2010 @ 9:24 PM

92. To 73, 74

Yes, I know.

I guess everyone missed that I was using Dark Matter as a metaphor for AGW – as have others before me. In my case, it began with BPL’s question, “…how do you explain” it? To which I answer, “The number of possibilities are infinite”. Scientists hate saying “I don’t know”, so they take the undefined and define it. E voila, credibility where there was none!

I don’t have to discover a better solution than the vaguely defined “Dark Matter” abstraction (or some imaginary number for that matter). I just have to watch for predictability and consistency – because i’m the one you’re asking to fund the research.

And Schroedinger’s equation is the antithesis of all this. Boundless application, high predictability and, as yet, no logical explanation, beyond…”it must BE, because…there it is”. Just try saying it once in a while. It will make you all feel better. “We don’t know.”

Comment by Alex Katarsis — 4 Nov 2010 @ 10:20 PM

93. Dear Climate Scientists. Just call out the climate denial what it is: an advertising campaign…thats it. Don’t waste your time with numbers…the denialists are doing that to drain your energy.

The choice to the public is between a group of intelligent people who work hard for most their lives looking at millions of data points….and something some guy posted up on the internet.

We the public don’t have to believe the denialists…its just one of the millions of internet conspiracy theories posted up there.

Make your arguments simpler, don’t let the denial crowd tie you up in knots. This is more about standing up to the school bully than it is about putting out good numbers. All you have to do is pop them a few times and they’ll leave you alone.

Comment by Matt Camp — 4 Nov 2010 @ 10:46 PM

94. Harold Pierce:

This would have been a great year for such an event. A near record-breaking 35 million salmon returned to the Fraser River. This is the biggest run since 1913. So much for the claims that the plankton populations have been reduced by ca 40% due to “global warming”.

Cherry pick much? Or only always …

But I am curious, on the one hand you argue that global warming isn’t happening, but on the other hand, you seem to be gloating over the fact that non-existent global warming has led to (in your pinhead mind) a large salmon run in the Fraser River this year.

Comment by dhogaza — 4 Nov 2010 @ 11:28 PM

95. Gavin : “An example: for the IPCC statement that P(AGW > 50% of 1955-2005 trend) > 95%, the situation is best visualised as a Gaussian of the total AGW trend of that period. This is uncertain of course (dependent on the forcings, magnitude of internal variability, sensitivity of the model, ocean heat uptake etc.), but based on the AR4 modelling is something like N(0.6,0.1) (i.e. the forced trend estimate is centered around 0.6ºC, but with 0.1ºC standard deviation in the estimates) (numbers reasonable, but not precise).”

as far as I understand, this probability is deduced from a statistics over a sample of models : do you mean that it depend on this sample? for instance, it would change if you added a number of wrong models in the sample, and if these false models would overestimate the real CO2 sensitivity, P(AGW > 50% of 1955-2005 trend) > 95% would actually increase, the more wrong models you add ?

[Response: If you widened the spread of sensitivities you would be increasing the sd and so you will reduce the the confidence. -gavin]

Comment by Gilles — 5 Nov 2010 @ 1:46 AM

96. This is why I still enjoy reading RealClimate…always an education.

In Australia our media – print media that is – are too obsessed with political mileage in a story, and consequently the facts are only incidental to the narrative, as they refer to it. Now and then a really good piece of science journalism slips by the chief editor, fortunately. These days, I usually google a story’s quoted sources in order to get to the scientific source: if google() is a function it sometimes feels like google(google(google(source))) is necessary, in order to get past the layers of PR and Media Release variants and to the scientist(s) at the other end of that piece of string!

Comment by Donald Oats — 5 Nov 2010 @ 1:53 AM

97. Don’t let the denialists get away with the “Galileo was a heretic” argument for spouting nonsense. The proper response is: “Video proof David Koch, the polluting billionaire, pulls the strings of the Tea Party extremists”
http://climateprogress.org/2010/10/14/video-proof-david-koch-the-polluting-billionaire-pulls-the-strings-of-the-tea-party-extremists/
or
The Koch brothers own Koch Oil Company. Each of the Koch brothers, David H. and Charles, is worth \$21.5 Billion.

Koch Inc. also deals in coal. My second ex-wife/girlfriend was involved as a negotiator in a \$6 Million deal where Koch sold a shipload of Chinese coal to Italy. She is a native speaker of Chinese. She quit working for Koch a long time ago.

Of course you want to shoot down Potemkin heresies. But like all propaganda, the soldier-words are intended to be killed. They are there to keep you from targeting the real enemy, just as Potemkin’s village was a decoy. My suggestion is that you should ignore the decoys and direct your attention to the perpetrators.

Comment by Edward Greisch — 5 Nov 2010 @ 3:09 AM

98. Snapple: We hear you and the government hears you. My guess is that your information will hit the fan at a time determined by a politician.

Comment by Edward Greisch — 5 Nov 2010 @ 3:23 AM

99. There are three issues which need to be addressed when talking about the media and science reporting. The language (Lakoff does a wonderful job in in defining its importance of in the media), consolidation of the news sources (means shorter stories and manufactured consent) and the type of medium. The upshot of this is that there is no escape for scientists. We have to become involved in the mainstream media and understand its workings as a visceral extension of our normal scientific work. The media interface to the public, whether we like it or not is there and without scientific participation, we leave it to the hacks and vested interests. Though there are now science courses available for the media to “brush up” on science so to speak, it is not enough. However some post secondary institutions have realized (like Mount Saint Vincent University) that training scientists to communicate through the media is a major step in the right direction. It doesn’t matter that we don’t like the current state of affairs and silliness that is the media. We have to set about taking control of the messages we send out, not only for our own purposes, but also for media purposes.

Comment by Richard Zurawski — 5 Nov 2010 @ 3:38 AM

100. Gavin – A great article that could not be written without a deep understanding and passion for science. Sagan himself could not have done a better job.

Comment by Alan of Oz — 5 Nov 2010 @ 3:39 AM

101. Matt Camp,
You’re almost right. It’s an advertising campaign telling people something they desperately want to believe. The messengers carrying good news rarely became martyrs–whether the news was true or not.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Nov 2010 @ 4:03 AM

102. Alex Katarsis,
We do know what is causing the climate to warm–with 90% confidence. Maybe you should look into it.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Nov 2010 @ 4:05 AM

103. I’ve heard and read people who explicitly claim that they always back the ‘heretics’ because ‘all new ideas start out as heresies’. I always wonder what such people would do if the heresy overturned the orthodoxy, and became the new orthodoxy. Wouldn’t they be forced by their own logic to reject the very idea they’d supported, and look for a new heresy to champion?

Comment by MrHenderson — 5 Nov 2010 @ 4:47 AM

104. Secular Animist #49:

Thanks for drawing attention to that paper. I think you’ve highlighted a bigger point too though.

Gavin’s done a good job of raising a different perspective on the climate issues in this post, but a lot of the content is not climatology, but sociology, with a bit of political science and epistemology thrown in.

Which highlights a problem. We’re now blundering about in someone else’s field making assertions all over the radar.

There seems to be an active literature of the sociology surrounding climate science. Is now the time to look for some guest authors to put together a series on the issues? A better understanding of how different groups of non-scientist think and how they perceive climate may also give us a better perspective on how to communicate science effectively.

Comment by Kevin C — 5 Nov 2010 @ 6:06 AM

105. I would really appreciate it if some climate scientists who run this blog could read my article and the supporting links and tell me if I got this right. I can’t tell if some of the science makes sense or is pseudoscience.

But one thing stands out.

An RIA Novosti article Cuccinelli supposedly “cites,” in his brief to the EPA (“Russia affected by Climategate”) claims:

“Climategate has already affected Russia. On Tuesday, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center…had probably tampered with Russian-climate data.”

Cuccinelli found it necessary to “fix” the “proof” he “cites” from his RIA Novosti article (RIA Novosti is the official press agency of the Russian government):

Cuccinelli’s brief claims:

“On December 15, 2009—the very day that EPA announced the Endangerment Finding—the Russian Institute of Economic Analysis (“IEA”) reported that CRU probably tampered with Russian climate data and that the Russian meteorological station data do not support human-caused global warming. ”

Cuccinelli is mischaracterizing his official Russian “experts.” He changes Hadley to CRU. Novosti says Hadley “tampered.” Cuccinelli says CRU “tampered.”

So why would he quote a Kremlin mouthpiece as “proof” that scientists are cooking the books and then find it necessary to “fix” what his “experts” wrote?

I think he probably did this because Hadley is responsible for sea-surface temperatures and the accusation was that Hadley ignored temperatures from weather stations (on the land).

Cuccinelli is such a tool. He accuses scientists of fabricating but he mischaracterizes the sources in his own footnotes.

Here is how it seems to me, but maybe you understand some of the Novosti article that I don’t understand. Or maybe the “science” in the RIA Novosti article Cuccinelli cites is just garbage.

http://legendofpineridge.blogspot.com/2010/10/attorney-general-cuccinelli-ties-his.html

I was a Republican for 40 years, but now I voted Democrat because I saw that these people are mouthpieces for the Russian petrostate.

They only want smaller government so that these big companies and their bought politicians can rule over us and not have any rules. At least with government, you can vote them out. We can’t vote out Koch or Cuccinelli’s father the gas lobbyist with “European clients.”

Corporations have to be good citizens and think of the good of society and the world. I think they are just collaborating with the propaganda of the Russian petrostate.

Cuccinelli’s observation here about the “very day” actually suggests that Illarionov is a Kremlin mouthpiece, in spite of his “falling out” with Putin:

“On December 15, 2009—the very day that EPA announced the Endangerment Finding—the Russian Institute of Economic Analysis (“IEA”) reported that CRU probably tampered with Russian climate data and that the Russian meteorological station data do not support human-caused global warming.”

The IEA is Illarionov, although RIA Novosti just refers to “experts.”

Illarionov used to be an adviser to Putin. He also worked for Victor Chernomyrdin, who was the head of the Soviet Gas Ministry and its post-Soviet reincarnation as a stock company, Gazprom. The government owns more than half the Gazprom stock. They are glad for you to invest, but they will control things.

Illarionov is also a denialist for the Koch-funded Cato Insititute. Koch built the Russian oil refineries during Stalin’s time.

It seems to me that the Cato Institute is an outpost of the Russian petrostate’s propaganda apparatus.

I wonder if the Tea Party rank and file who think that their leaders are for states’ rights and smaller government know who is behind their movement.

Comment by Snapple — 5 Nov 2010 @ 6:45 AM

You wrote:

“And your characterization of scientific consensus as ‘more scientists saying one thing than another at a given point in time’ is simply naive.”

whereas what I actually said in #75 was:

“My point is that scientific progress doesn’t rely on more scientists saying one thing than another at a given point in time.”

Note the use of the word “doesn’t”.

Comment by Tim Joslin — 5 Nov 2010 @ 6:57 AM

107. I find the most compelling argument against the denial case is that the fossil fuel industry (the most profitable in the world though Apple is catching up) could easily afford to fund real science to take down the mainstream if it were seriously flawed. Instead, they give relatively minor funding to lobbyists, cranks, amateurs and retired scientists to confuse the media and hence the public. Why? Because they asked their own world-class scientists, who told them they don’t have a case. A NY Times article April 2009 reported that exactly this has happened. More here.

Repeating this line is a stronger argument than trying to educate the public about the science. It’s easy to understand than any scientific argument.

A first for me: Captcha has one of the words upside down.

Comment by Philip Machanick — 5 Nov 2010 @ 7:56 AM

108. Mr. Machanick (106)–I apologize for mentioning this here, but are you aware that your blogspot site is running Google ads for the Heartland Institute?

Comment by Walter Pearce — 5 Nov 2010 @ 8:53 AM

109. I read a lot of the “C-a-s” thread alluded to above. For as long as I wanted to read, Curry never acknowledged that her position was based on a non-sequitur. In the face of every objection, she just repeated her point.

That’s good old science like Grandma used to make.

Why is Curry considered a good critic?

Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 5 Nov 2010 @ 9:01 AM

110. Snapple, you’re on to something with the Russians.

Climategate was a joint operation of the Koch brothers and KGB remnants, acting in concert with Russian oil interests. CRU emails were loaded onto a Russian server. The CIA, with its own ties to the oil industry, has shown little interest in investigating. Russian and US oil companies have many common interests, especially including denying global warming and retaining their markets.

We’ll never be able to prove this. If a reporter even looked into it in detail, he would be murdered. If somehow the truth emerged, our newspapers and TV outlets would not broadcast the information.

Look what they did a year ago. It’s as if the Washington Post reported the Watergate breakin like this: “Phone conversations and meeting notes have proved that Larry O’Brien and Democratic Party leaders are saying bad things about the Republicans. These snarky scientists need to be investigated”.

Scientists are not going to be inclined to run with our even ponder this theory, which is logical but impossible to prove. But somebody should.

Comment by Mike Roddy — 5 Nov 2010 @ 9:02 AM

111. Gavin,

Am I the only one no longer permitted to post about dark matter? Because there seem to have been about 20 posts on the subject since you warned me.

[Response: I’m currently a long way away from my office, and with only intermittent access to the net. Thus, I am just trying to shepherd discussions, rather than actively manage them. Please, let us not get further involved in a discussion of dark matter here. There are other places for that. – gavin]

Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 Nov 2010 @ 9:15 AM

112. Gavin,

This is a well written and interesting piece, much of which makes a great deal of sense. I only comment on one part:

“It is clear that scientists’ obsession with clear thinking over narrative handicaps our attempts to communicate the seriousness of the climate change challenge.”

It seems to me that attempts at narrative have caused climate scientists some problems. I just don’t think scientists in general are good at a narrative, and attempts at narrative are often counterproductive. Narrative is just too political; rightly or wrongly, narrative makes people question the science.

[Response: But if the media don’t use narratives, no-one ever gets to hear about the science in the first place. You see the problem. – gavin]

Comment by Steve Fitzpatrick — 5 Nov 2010 @ 10:26 AM

113. Snapple,
Talk about disinformation. While the Koch brothers indisputable started and continue to fund the Cato Institute. Claiming that they are an arm of Russian propaganda is ludicrous.
Let me see if I follow your logic. Koch funds Russian oil refineries, Koch fund Cato. Therefore Russian propaganda runs Cato. Something is missing here. Maybe we should add that atmospheric CO2 is not really increasing, but is just Russian propaganda.

Comment by Dan H. — 5 Nov 2010 @ 10:44 AM

114. Dan, I wouldn’t say I thoroughly “believe” all of Snapple’s conclusions. However, I think your summary (currently #113) rather understates his points.

He’s provided facts–I haven’t checked them but will provisionally call them that–that would reasonably suggest a long-term relationship between the Koch family and the Russian oligarchy (or some subset thereof, at least.) He’s demonstrated the existence of a Russian denialist effort, though he may be overstating its pervasiveness–maybe not, too, Russia is clearly a petrostate par excellence and has a huge stake in the status quo. He’s pointed to Illarionov contributing denialist talking points to both Cato and IEA.

I don’t think this proves that Cato is just “an outpost of the Russian petrostate’s propaganda apparatus,” as Snapple puts it. It seems more likely to me that it’s more a case of entities with common interests sharing resources/personnel, despite the existence of significant differences in other areas. In other words, my guess would be that it’s more a case of Cato playing footsie with the Russians than anything else.

But either way, it makes a pretty piquant narrative–especially WRT those denialists who consider themselves to be uber-patriots.

Comment by Kevin McKinney — 5 Nov 2010 @ 11:16 AM

115. Alex says

“And Schroedinger’s equation is the antithesis of all this. Boundless application, high predictability and, as yet, no logical explanation, beyond…”it must BE, because…there it is”. Just try saying it once in a while. It will make you all feel better. “We don’t know.”

I’m not sure what he would accept as knowing something.

Schroedinger’s equation was derived from the idea that there was some sort of wave controlling behavior at the atomic and subatomic level, which developed by analogy with the behavior of light which in some ways seemed a particle (photon) and other ways a wave (interference). But like any other basic equation used in physics, it can’t be derived by purely logical deduction from something “we know”. Newton’s first law of motion F = ma is similar. It was postulated by Newton, not derived logically from something else. In logic, you have to start somewhere, i.e., with what are often called axioms. In Physics the starting points are justified, not by applying pure logic, but because logical deductions from them correspond to observations. The human brain arose by a complex evolutionary process during our prehistory. It helped us as a species survive, at least for a time. It was not formed through direct experience with atomic and subatomic level processes. So that our intuition fails when we study such processes is not surprising.. Fortunately, mathematics gives us a mechanism for doing so. Why that is so is not clear, and there are lots of theories about it. It could be said that we don’t really know. But that doesn’t mean we can’t use what it tells us profitably. The hope in physics is to derive a one set of “equations”—actually mathematical structures—from which all phenomenon can in principle be derived. At present it is not clear if that will succeed. But in any event, physics will continue to use “equations” and mathematical derivation in order to study physical processes.

Comment by Leonard Evens — 5 Nov 2010 @ 12:07 PM

116. Re Snapple. I am not defending Koch’s politics, but I believe that the reason the Koch family became supporters of right wing causes was the elder Koch’s experience in the Soviet Union in the ’30s. Yes, Koch worked for Stalin, but it didn’t make a fellow traveller (to use an antique term) of him; rather, it made him a founding supporter of the John Birch Society.
The more time Real Climate spends on science, and the less on ad hominem arguments/discussions, the better, because there is no shortage of ad hominem argumentation in our public discourse, but there is an acute shortage of science education and argumentation.

[Response: Well stated. Back to the topic at hand everyone.–Jim]

Comment by richard french — 5 Nov 2010 @ 12:14 PM

117. Steve Fitzpatrick @ 112

Just my two cents here. There are techniques of presentation that borrow from the arts which scientists could use effectively with the general public. That the proper application of them is a slippery work in progress shouldn’t discourage efforts in that direction.

Personally I’d just caution against blindly accepting all the grotty baggage that comes with current media culture as–for example–in certain circles ‘narrative’ seems to have become a life-sucking buzz word and a way to avoid expending mental energy.

Comment by Radge Havers — 5 Nov 2010 @ 12:23 PM

118. “In Western Europe, Moscow has operated by making lucrative arrangements with foreign energy companies that become de facto lobbyists for the Kremlin within their own countries.”—“Why The Russia Spy Story Really Matters” (RFE/RL, 7-9-10)

My question is not about Russian “active measures” against climate science.

My question is about the accuracy of my interpretation of the reason that Cuccinelli changed Hadley Center into CRU when he “cited” the RIA Novosti article in his EPA brief.

Why does Cuccinelli change Hadley Center “probably tampered” with data to CRU “probably tampered” with data.

If a scholar did this, it would be called mischaracterization. He would have to explain himself.

I would like a scientist who runs this blog and is an expert on what Hadley and CRU do with their data to read the RIA Novosti article and explain what it is saying and why it is nonsense.

Why did Cuccinelli cite this official Russian source and then change what it said–or so it seems to me.

Comment by Snapple — 5 Nov 2010 @ 12:46 PM

119. Jim-

I am trying to get my science question answered.

Comment by Snapple — 5 Nov 2010 @ 12:50 PM

120. I love reading these articles and the comments, which when I have time I go through in detail, including looking at links. Due to some difficulties with a new favorite over at DotEarth, Lubos Motl the string theorist from Czechoslovakia the “Marc Marono of Cz.. I’ve been closing following the Russian side with its links to the original hack, not established I know, and some of you have helped with info.

I think the facts about multi-denialist think tanks includew deep roots in the decades, back to big tobacco and the Luntz doctrine “create doubt”. Russia has only emerged in the light as a kind of uncontracted partner recently.

However, this is way too political and mostly what I wanted to say was thanks.

Comment by Susan Anderson — 5 Nov 2010 @ 1:38 PM

121. Snapple,
Hadley and CRU are the same entitiy, often abbreviated HadCRU. It is a research unit of East Anglia University in the U.K. I would not read any more into the change.

[Response: Total nonsense. They are two entirely separate entities. It really isn’t that hard to check these things. “HadCRU’ refers to a joint product based on the combination of CRU (part of the University of East Anglia, in Norwich UK) and Hadley Centre (part of the UK Met Office, in Exeter UK) products (historically, CRU has produced the land air temperatures, while the Hadley Centre has processed the ocean SST data. The global combined land+ocean product is HadCRU). –mike]

Comment by Dan H. — 5 Nov 2010 @ 1:41 PM

122. Snapple, I might suggest going over to Deepclimate. He and John Mashey have found some rather interesting connections and might be able to help provide insight and context.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Nov 2010 @ 1:47 PM

123. Climate scientists have, in fact, about the most gripping and compelling “narrative” one can imagine:

Our carbon pollution is destroying the capacity of the Earth to support life and if we don’t do something about it fast, we are going to face horrific consequences ranging from (at a minimum) human suffering on an unthinkable scale, to a worst-case scenario of the mass extinction of most life on Earth.

That’s a pretty powerful narrative, and it elicits very powerful responses, from an urgent desire to address the problem, to spontaneous “denial” in the psychological sense of that term.

The problem is not that scientists don’t have a good “narrative” on which to hang the details of climate science.

The problem is two-fold.

First, wealthy and powerful corporations with a billion dollars per day in profit riding on continued business-as-usual consumption of fossil fuels are flooding the mass media, the political process, and the public discourse in general, with a phony, deceitful “counter-narrative”, namely that scientists are corruptly perpetrating a massive hoax and/or are incompetent idiots.

Second, scientists are unwilling to forthrightly state their own powerful “narrative”, preferring to dispassionately and — sorry to be blunt — rather boringly and pedantically lecture the public about the nuances of the scientific process.

When asked, “is this most recent unprecedented, highly destructive extreme weather event a result of anthropogenic global warming”, the RIGHT answer — the “narrative” answer — is “This is exactly the sort of event that theory predicts will result from global warming, and just as predicted we are seeing unprecedented, increasing numbers of such events all over the world, and if we keep going as we are, it’s going to get a whole lot worse.”

The WRONG answer — the “non-narrative” answer which scientists love to give — is “Well, you can’t attribute any individual weather event to AGW. Now let me explain to you how science works …”

Nobody has a clearer view of the actual ongoing planetary catastrophe that is unfolding before our very eyes than do climate scientists. That’s what they need to bring to the public discourse.

People don’t need to “understand climate science”. They need to understand that terrible things are happening to the Earth, right now, which will impact their lives in hideous ways.

Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 Nov 2010 @ 2:08 PM

124. Jim: I think you are wrong on Snapple in 116 richard french. It isn’t about ad hominem arguments/discussions. And the Kochs are not “conservative” in the sense of American patriotism or anti-communism. Communism is long since dead.

It is that corporations are QUASI-GOVERNMENTS. RealClimate is a “revolutionary” society that “is trying to take power” away from the billionaires. Corporations are multi-national and loyal to no national government. The billionaires want to shrink the national governments to zero so that the corporations will be the only government. If that happens, the rest of us will be slaves. Already the top 1% has more money than the bottom 95%. The US already has as much inequality as some third world countries.

You, Jim, are a “subversive.” You need to realize this so that you can plan your life realistically. Koch, Inc. tried to tell my wife how to vote, saying that voting for Democrats would cause the Koch employees to be unemployed. She was a new citizen at that time and didn’t understand how wrong that is. I wouldn’t put it past Koch to use their employees to create Tea Party rallies.

Comment by Edward Greisch — 5 Nov 2010 @ 2:21 PM

125. SA, wow, that’s a VERY good distinction between answers. Both of them are correct, both of them (eventually) give you the same information, but one of them 1) sounds a lot more urgent than the other, and 2) fits in with the 144-character attention span of most of the public.

Climate science needs a really good marketing campaign…

Comment by Maya — 5 Nov 2010 @ 2:23 PM

126. My thanks for addressing this subject here. Recent events have been disturbing to say the least. I always believed that “at the length, truth will out,” but we may not have the luxury of waiting.

I went to a college that required study in depth outside the school your major was in. Perhaps there needs to be a movement to not only get nascent climate scientists to study communications and politics, but to get journalists and politicians to study science. Oh yeah, and a way of traveling back in time 50 years to start it when it could have some effect today.

Comment by Paul Melanson — 5 Nov 2010 @ 2:36 PM

“[Response: But if the media don’t use narratives, no-one ever gets to hear about the science in the first place. You see the problem. – gavin]”

Exactly! Many scientists don’t appreciate this at all. Doesn’t mean it’s always, or even usually, done properly, but the principle is important to keep in mind

Comment by Mike Lemonick — 5 Nov 2010 @ 2:36 PM

128. Snapple,

Whether ‘CRU’ or ‘Hadley’ isn’t the point, and it really isn’t worth the scientists’ time. What matters is whether the allegations of ‘tampering’ with Russian met station data make sense — they never did, as was plain from the Russian think-tank’s own report.
http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/12/russian_analysis_confirms_20th.php
But the “narrative” did get a lot of traction, unfortunately.

Comment by CM — 5 Nov 2010 @ 3:28 PM

129. Menth, I don’t think the average person thinks the politics precede the science. The average person doesn’t think about it at all, and wouldn’t have any idea what preceded what, even if they did.

I fail to see your point, so I guess I’ll never understand, either, but you could at least TRY to explain it?

Comment by Maya — 5 Nov 2010 @ 4:00 PM

130. “menth” — which “this way of thinking” do you mean?

Is this (edited) part understandable to you?

“This is the sort of event predicted with global warming.
As predicted we are seeing more such events.
If we keep going as we are,
it’s going to get a whole lot worse.”

Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Nov 2010 @ 4:05 PM

131. @Menth #123:

If you can’t bother to explain what you think is wrong with what you think I think is some “way of thinking” then why should I bother to read your comment?

And I understand quite well what is “wrong with climate politics”. It’s not hard to understand:

The fossil fuel corporations have have spent many tens of millions of dollars over the last three decades to buy off politicians and deceive the public about the reality of anthropogenic global warming.

That’s what’s “wrong with climate politics”.

Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 Nov 2010 @ 4:11 PM

132. Worth a look for perspective, I think:
http://www.nature.com/embor/journal/v3/n8/full/embor093.html

Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Nov 2010 @ 4:15 PM

133. 129

Er, if you can’t be bothered to elaborate then you will never, ever understand why the average reader would think your comment puts political posturing before contributing to the discussion.

Comment by Radge Havers — 5 Nov 2010 @ 4:16 PM

134. 123 SecularAnimist is correct. The “scientific” answer causes the average person to turn off and never hear the second sentence. Sorry, but perfection is the enemy of communication. I agree with RC that the more scientific answer is better and is required if you are talking to scientists. Sorry again, but we live in the age of sound bytes. We live in the world of Twitter. I don’t use Twitter, so I must be anti-social.

The average person doesn’t think and doesn’t read. The average reader is NOT the average person. People who think RC is doing political posturing do so because that is what the Koch brothers told them, not because they did any of their own thinking. Much of the hassle you get is probably from paid disinformers. Do you realize how many people you can buy for a billion dollars?

IF anybody is still listening for a second or third sentence, THEN is when you can add the caveats.

Comment by Edward Greisch — 5 Nov 2010 @ 4:49 PM

135. SecularAnimist said “the RIGHT answer — the “narrative” answer — is …”

Of course it is. The problem isn’t the question or the answer, but the follow-up question which completely ignores the helpful answer and shrilly insists, “But what about this specific event? Was global warming to blame?”

And at some point, the scientist’s brain explodes, and the journalist gets their soundbite. Even if the scientist stays completely level-headed, unethical journalists are quite able to spin (lie and misquote) the scientist’s answers to suit whatever narrative the journalist favours.

I think the RIGHT right answer must focus on probability. People like hearing the odds, and journalists love that sort of stuff. “This sort of storm used to be a 1 in 100 year occurrence. Thanks to global warming, it is now a 1 in 5 year occurrence.” The problem is that such attributions are terribly difficult to calculate, and if events are unfolding, scientists are unlikely to have the right numbers to hand.

Comment by Didactylos — 5 Nov 2010 @ 4:49 PM

136. Edward Greisch @ 135

Just for the record, I mostly argree with Secular Animist and was responding (@134) to Menth’s criptic stub @129.

If I had to quibble with SA’s comment, I’d say that both examples are ‘narrative’, just that one is better than the other for certain audiences.

Comment by Radge Havers — 5 Nov 2010 @ 5:09 PM

137. Hank @ 133

Government organization hasn’t kept up with advances in science and technology. Maybe something like adaptive management writ large is needed. A better informed public would help too.

=====

Re my previous comment: that should read ‘cryptic’ not ‘criptic’.

Comment by Radge Havers — 5 Nov 2010 @ 5:23 PM

138. Starting in 1966, packs of cigarettes sold in the USA were required to have a warning message from the US Surgeon General printed on them.

The original warning read “Cigarette Smoking May be Hazardous to Your Health”.

In 1970 the required warning was changed to “The Surgeon General Has Determined that Cigarette Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health”.

In 1985, the required warning was changed to “Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, And May Complicate Pregnancy”.

Would it have been better if the warning had read “No individual case of lung cancer, heart disease or emphysema can be proved to be caused by smoking cigarettes”?

Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 Nov 2010 @ 5:35 PM

139. Ray says, “We do know what is causing the climate to warm–with 90% confidence. Maybe you should look into it.”

Evidence that global warming is an actual crisis gives us nowhere near that level of confidence. Now the MWP is getting increasing hot and sticky in the Southern Hemisphere as well – thanks to some very solid peer-reviewed evidence coming from Peru, Brazil, South Africa, and soon Australia. 
With what level of confidence do you “know” why that period was as warm as it was?

Of course, the new thorns in your side are probably from fossil Larch stem fragments found in Piancabella Rock Glacier in the South Swiss Alps. It puts the tree line 200 meters higher than the mid 1900s. The calculations indicate that the mean summer temperature in the Southern Swiss Alps, between 1040 and 1280 AD, was 1.2 degrees Celsius warmer than the same area in 1950. 

In terms of Quantum Mechanics, which are becoming increasingly macroscopic by the day, we don’t know with a 90% surety that the moon is actually there when we no one is looking at it – let alone can we attribute GW primarily to human activity within a similar level of confidence. Pardon me for having little faith in modern science’s ability to fully comprehend something as complex as Earth’s Climate within that narrow margin. I just find that attribution to be evidence of bias.

Comment by Alex Katarsis — 5 Nov 2010 @ 5:54 PM

140. Evidence that global warming is an actual crisis

Since you don’t actually define ‘crisis’ in this case, I find your scientific reasoning to be poor. I define crisis as any disruption of global or regional agricultural production, that puts further strain in the global economic system, which is demonstrably already very close to its own ‘tipping point’. Thus I find few problems with the concept of global climate disruption driven by physical weather changes as reaching a ‘critical transition point’, as a viable hypothesis well supported by the evidence.

Pardon me for having little faith in modern science’s ability to fully comprehend something as complex as Earth’s Climate within that narrow margin. I just find that attribution to be evidence of bias.

Science isn’t about faith, with the exemption that is we can’t continue to design and construct instruments which give us useful results, then the entire house of cards still hasn’t fallen, we just need to work on the precision and reproducibility of the results. I find it remarkable that you think you can bring down the house of cards with such weak evidence.

Yes, science deals with evidence, not faith, so your faith is irrelevant. Good luck with bringing down the house of cards that you think is science. Even after civilization collapses, the methods of science will endure.

Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 5 Nov 2010 @ 6:33 PM

141. We’re in a fight for the health and safety of the world.

The best defense is a good offense.

Comment by tamino — 5 Nov 2010 @ 6:40 PM

142. SecularAnimist on 5 November 2010 at 5:35 PM

I have walked twenty miles a day for over 40 years, have throughly enjoyed every step of the way, and my blood pressure is 110/70.

The incident of disease from smoking is low for consumption of less than a pack day. Increased consumption of more than one pack (e.g., two packs per day) results an very large increase of the incident of disease.

Comment by Harold Pierce Jr — 5 Nov 2010 @ 6:41 PM

143. Re: #140 (Alex Katarsis)

I’ll bet you also have “little faith in modern science’s ability to fully comprehend something as complex” as the effect of cigarette smoking on the human body. What’s more complex than that? Perhaps you find the attribution of lung cancer to cigarette smoking to be evidence of bias.

Comment by tamino — 5 Nov 2010 @ 6:43 PM

144. I’m glad to see I’m not the dumbest one on this blog.

Comment by Snapple — 5 Nov 2010 @ 7:04 PM

145. Snapple @145 — :-)

Comment by David B. Benson — 5 Nov 2010 @ 8:15 PM

146. Alex Katarsis says, “In terms of Quantum Mechanics, which are becoming increasingly macroscopic by the day, we don’t know with a 90% surety that the moon is actually there when we no one is looking at it – let alone can we attribute GW primarily to human activity within a similar level of confidence.”

You know, I was going to go through your whole argument and shred it, but the above statement illustrates your astounding ignorance better than any argument I could ever make. Dude, do you even know what quantum mechanics is?

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Nov 2010 @ 8:35 PM

147. The fine editor will publish comments such as 145 and 146, while similarly ing my own sarcastic remarks. So here is a truthful opinion (which like my faith in climate science, is personal): blogs such as this one, while powerful devices for intercommunication in many fields of study, create worrisome currents of group thought which adversely bias the advancement of science. By tuning in so regularly to a blog in which only dissenting points of view are allowed to be casually demeaned, each scientist learns very quickly which “what-ifs” are fair game for discussion and which are not. We would do well to remember that many heroes of science from the past have been dissenters – not from the opinion of the public or clergy alone, but from their own peers.

As for the evidence of our smoking problem causing cancer, I personally refer back to the Medieval Smoking Period, where literally thousands of people were coughing and keeling over in the grape vineyards. Apparently, it was an uncomfortable time to be an agriculturalist – let alone a human.

Comment by Alex Katarsis — 5 Nov 2010 @ 9:30 PM

148. > I have walked twenty miles a day
Mail carrier?

Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Nov 2010 @ 9:37 PM

149. Ray.. I aced the class…as well as Special Relativity. A course you apparently did not ace was Elements of Poetry. I know precisely how successful the mathematics behind Quantum Mechanics has been. I am also well versed professionally in its application, and therein lies my point. I also know that well-buried behind it is a skeleton in the closet of science. I wasn’t the first to use that phrase by the way. Let me think…who was it? Oh well…we may yet “mathematically” unify Quantum Mechanics and Newtonian Physics. We probably just need to eliminate a couple of troublesome variables first – mostly notably Space and Time. It’s much easier to solve the equation without that pesky pair. Now feel free to shred the argument. The editor will likely cover your back.

Comment by Alex Katarsis — 5 Nov 2010 @ 10:25 PM

150. 138 Radge Havers: The government would have trouble with adaptive management because adaptive management requires continual change. Bureaucrats [federal employees] are required by law to do exactly what the law says to do exactly the way the law says to do it. Change is always in steps determined by congress and the election cycle. Elections cause changes in ideology and massive forgettings. You just can’t put continual change into a law.

Comment by Edward Greisch — 6 Nov 2010 @ 12:27 AM

151. Re: #150 (Alex Katarsis)

When you make statements like “we don’t know with a 90% surety that the moon is actually there when we no one is looking at it,” you reveal your ignorance.

When you make statements like “Pardon me for having little faith in modern science’s ability to fully comprehend something as complex as Earth’s Climate,” either you’re foolish or disingenuous. If you think we can’t attribute specific effects to specific causes even for unimaginably complex systems, you’re a fool — the attribution of lung cancer to smoking contradicts you. If you realize how false such an implication is, then you’re dishonest.

Either way, I doubt you’re interested in learning anything. More’s the pity, since you so desperately need to.

Comment by tamino — 6 Nov 2010 @ 12:39 AM

152. Alex K – “Now the MWP is getting increasing hot and sticky in the Southern Hemisphere as well”

Or not:

Post-glacial regional climate variability along the East Antarctic coastal margin – evidence from shallow marine and coastal terrestrial records

Verleyen 2010

“Nearly all records show a neoglacial cooling from 2 ka BP onwards. There is no evidence along the East Antarctic coastline for an equivalent to the Northern Hemisphere Medieval Warm Period and there is only weak circumstantial evidence in a few places for a cool event crudely equivalent in time to the Northern Hemisphere’s Little Ice Age

Comment by Dappledwater — 6 Nov 2010 @ 2:53 AM

153. #140 Alex Katarsis
I’m interested to know on what basis you may may decide it’s safe to cross a busy road? After all, how certain are you that the car you may see coming actually exists? Or if you do believe it exists, how do you evaluate it’s trajectory to determine that there’s no risk of it hitting you? And what degree of probability do you accept as NOT LIKELY TO BE CATASTOPHIC for you?
That is: I’m sure you don’t confuse human constructed abstract philosophical theory with practical reality when you may be strongly motivated by intentional desire to cross a road?

Comment by Hugh Laue — 6 Nov 2010 @ 3:17 AM

154. HP 140: The incident of disease from smoking is low for consumption of less than a pack day.

BPL: Therefore smoking is good for you.

Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 Nov 2010 @ 4:19 AM

155. Re #150, only if your nature is seemingly paranoid does RC appear this way. A website about a 3c temperature rise for a pre industrial doubling of Co2 is both scientific orthodoxy and a valid arguments. What is your counter argument I wonder Mr cosmology?

Comment by pete best — 6 Nov 2010 @ 6:27 AM

156. Dan H writes:

“Talk about disinformation. While the Koch brothers indisputable started and continue to fund the Cato Institute. Claiming that they are an arm of Russian propaganda is ludicrous.
Let me see if I follow your logic. Koch funds Russian oil refineries, Koch fund Cato. Therefore Russian propaganda runs Cato. Something is missing here.”

I will explain what is missing from what you wrote: the Russian political operative Andrei Illarionov.

Illarionov is an adviser for Putin, Chernomyrdin (the head of the Soviet Gas Ministry and its later reincarnation as the behemoth Gazprom), and now for the Koch-funded Cato Institute. Illarionov is also the founder of the Russian IEA. It’s telling that the denialists all quoted the RIA Novosti article so quickly and never mentioned that the IEA is a denialist at the Cato. The English Novosti article is based on a Kommersant article in Russian that notes the “expert” making these allegations is Illarionov and notes he is the founder of the IEA and a “former presidential adviser.” Plus, Illarionov made his allegations in the official media right when the EPA made its finding about the danger of CO2.

Kommersant is a Russian business magazine, not a Russian science publication.

CM-

Thanks for the interesting link to Deltoid. From there I went to S. Mcintyre’s site, and he wrote hilariously that the IEA “may be akin to the Cato Institute.” Since IEA and the Cato have the same person writing about global warming, I guess that’s true! Doh!

Quote
[Note: The Institute for Economic Analysis is not the Russian equivalent of the UK Met Office; the Russian Met Office may have a different view.] [Further note: maybe even akin to Cato Institute or CEI. Comments on data need to be cross-examined before relying on them.]

Mr. McIntyre wants everyone to read the IEA site. He really promotes it.

Russian scientists do study climate change, but it is very notable that Russian scientists aren’t quoted much in the Russian media on this topic. Especially during the Copenhagen summit.

The American denialists don’t quote working Russian scientists, either. They quote an economist who is very tight with the rulers and the Gazprom.

Real scientists in Russia recognize what this is. It would damage their reputations with the other scientists if they denied climate change.

OR perhaps they can see Russia from their windows, and while they are looking the permafrost is thawing and ships can travel to China through the Arctic. Maybe the ships are not really making it to China unless they are looking, but I never took quantum Physics.
I read one ship got to China, however.

The Russian propaganda is quoting American and British non-scientists, too. The scientists aren’t collaborating with the disinformation. The government is reduced to putting Monckton on the Kremlin-financed Russia Today satellite TV and a guy from the Cato named Michaels.

Comment by Snapple — 6 Nov 2010 @ 8:32 AM

157. Eric Steig,

A suggestion I made at James Annan’s blog regarding how the IPCC deals with “dissent”, and your comments on JC’s hyperbolic depiction of that process…

Maybe you and Steig could collaborate on a post… detailing your critical comments… how professionally they were dealt with… what if any changes were made (presumably) as a result… and how satisfied you were with the outcomes…

I think that would provide useful data on how the IPCC process works, warts ‘n’ all, to outsiders… so we’re not taken in by the hyperbole…

[Response: This is an interesting idea, and I will consider it.–eric]

Comment by Lazar — 6 Nov 2010 @ 8:55 AM

158. In Russia people can’t just start an organization, a church, a political party, a newspaper, a TV channel, or a business. People have to have a government license–a registration.

This is not a formality like a driver’s license. This is very arbitrary.

You heard about the purges? All that was is that they revoked your registration, took you over, or closed you down.

If you don’t play ball with the government, they find some fault with your registration. A big purge is when everyone has to re-register and lots of people don’t get the permission.

The ruling party now is called United Russia. Medvedev is President, but Putin is the chairman of the party and Prime Minister.

Medvedev is the former CEO of Gazprom. Putin is a former KGB official who decided who got the permission to export precious metals from Leningrad/Petersburg at one point.

An official who has this job gets very rich because people who want to export pay for the permission/registration.

Maybe under communism you wanted to have a butcher shop. You have to pay an official tens of thousands of dollars for the permission. Those people kind of owned a business because they somehow got money to buy the permission.

Those businessmen lived in very nice homes in secluded communities even under communism, but they always have to watch out for the registration to get yanked.

After communism, the officials started to pull the registration of public schools in pricey downtown places because they were good real estate. A lady official who was in charge of school properties in Russia resisted the de-registration, so they shot her.

What they did to the public schools was the same thing the communists did to the churches and other organizations when they took power.

Now these new people use the same tactics. They aren’t called communists, but they are thieves and killers just like the communists.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Comment by Snapple — 6 Nov 2010 @ 9:12 AM

159. 123, Secular Animist: When asked, “is this most recent unprecedented, highly destructive extreme weather event a result of anthropogenic global warming”, the RIGHT answer — the “narrative” answer — is “This is exactly the sort of event that theory predicts will result from global warming, and just as predicted we are seeing unprecedented, increasing numbers of such events all over the world, and if we keep going as we are, it’s going to get a whole lot worse.”

I am glad that you picked up the theme that science includes narration. The best narration of the processes in world is usually a scientific narration, a result of careful investigation and debate, and the other features of science.

That the current warming is “unprecedented”, or that the effect of clouds can not be a negative feedback, are parts of the narrative that are debated.

Comment by Septic Matthew — 6 Nov 2010 @ 11:03 AM

160. Edward Greisch @ 159

Yes, the Office of Technology Assessment being a good example of that problem. The idea seems mostly suited for local and regional governments, and is hard to implement. Event there, the devil is in the details and in strong and lengthy diplomacy with a large spectrum of stake holders.

Much in the current (political) climate may be inimical to a similar impulse taking root at the federal level. But in a way, if I may wax gassy for a moment, adaptive management is already how things are done; only it is as a nameless, unconscious, chaotic, habitual, knee-jerk adaptation to difficulties. The trick obviously is to institutionalize and safeguard methods of filtering out the crazy–a truly thorny problem.

Nevertheless, AM is one good example of a kind of mindset that would address the problem as described in the article Hank pointed to, is all I’m saying (as opposed to simply throwing up one’s hands and going tsk, tsk.)

I’d be curious about other approaches. Maybe on the unforced variations thread.

Comment by Radge Havers — 6 Nov 2010 @ 11:16 AM

161. Septic Matthew said: “The best narration of the processes in world is usually a scientific narration, a result of careful investigation and debate, and the other features of science.”

And yet, despite saying this, his head did not explode from the sheer irony. Amazing.

He also said: “That the current warming is “unprecedented”, or that the effect of clouds can not be a negative feedback, are parts of the narrative that are debated.”

…thus immediately contradicting his earlier statement with a vague and careless characterisation of the science. Much less amazing.

So, “Septic”: at what other period in the earth’s history did human activity increase atmospheric CO2 so much so quickly?

And nobody claims that clouds cannot be a negative feedback. The current understanding is that they may be both negative and positive, but it seems very likely that the total effect is small, despite the large uncertainty.

Finally, is it possible for someone to name themselves “Septic” and not be a Poe? You’re a parody of a denier. It’s not funny.

Comment by Didactylos — 6 Nov 2010 @ 11:33 AM

162. 138, Secular Animist: Would it have been better if the warning had read “No individual case of lung cancer, heart disease or emphysema can be proved to be caused by smoking cigarettes”?

That is an interesting question. Such a warning would probably have reduced the number of futile lawsuits against the tobacco companies. But maybe not.

Tobacco is not the only substance ever declared by government or academic scientists to be dangerous when used as designed: alar, acrilonitrile, aspartame, saccharine, fluoridation, powerlines, cell phones, caffeine, etc. There is always a stentorian scientific voice warning of great public harm. With tobacco the warnings were accurate, with some others not so much. Merely being wrong (even repeatedly, as with Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren) doesn’t induce any sense of humility.

Tobacco was bad, aspartame wasn’t; both have been topics of massive campaigns, and neither is relevant to the warnings of global warming.

[Response: Your examples are a little bizzare. I’m aware of no claims in mainstream science about any of the others you list, *other* than tobacco.

Certainly, the claims about fluoridation do not come from science, they come from the anti-science crowd, on both the ‘left’ and the ‘right’.

I’m not saying ‘mainstream’ science is always right. But to claim that it tends towards alarmism is bizarre. If anything — including the global warming case, as many have argued — it is too conservative. As for Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren, please stick with the facts. Claims of their ‘errors’ are almost always a miscontruing of what they actually have said.–eric]

Comment by Septic Matthew — 6 Nov 2010 @ 11:40 AM

163. Snapple,
I think the research you’ve done is very interesting and persuasive. However, it would be more on topic and better received over at Deepclimate. My concern is that 1)it will get lost here; and 2)it will add fuel to the fires claiming RC is political. This is not intended as a critique of you or of your information. I think it’s very important. There just might be places where it is better received.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Nov 2010 @ 11:43 AM

164. Tamino, you’re absolutely right- the best defense is a good offense. And this forum is great, but with a small enough circulation to be harmless to the oil and coal companies. I’m glad we finally have a specific focus on public outreach with this topic, and let it fly, Jim and Gavin.

Hollywood couldn’t have devised a more predatory and crazed group of villains than the fossil fuel companies. What people don’t realize is that the studio chiefs won’t go after them either, except as allegory (Avatar).

About eight major corporations own Hollywood studios, so there are ties to oil and banking companies. The days are gone when we could see movies like The China Syndrome or Three Days of The Condor.

That leaves the internet or maybe HBO, since not enough people read anymore. And whoever pulls this off- maybe not so much as narrative but as exciting investigative journalism- will become very wealthy. Look what Gore (too stiff and sonorous) and Michael Moore (too polemical and frumpy) accomplished.

Comment by Mike Roddy — 6 Nov 2010 @ 12:04 PM

165. > SM’s list
Mostly from a school o’ red herring.

It’s worthwhile to actually read about the controversies–most between people advocating precautionary delay to allow time for study, versus corporate urgency to market and see if any evidence of problems emerged.

Uses of science in politics have changed — dramatically — over the last few decades (I cited one paper way back in the thread, I recommend it). Another good one:
http://global.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?56+Duke+L.+J.+1541+pdfp
” … the year 1990 was a crossroads in environmental and regulatory policy …. two different narratives capture the competing regulatory choices presented at that crossroads.”

Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Nov 2010 @ 1:34 PM

166. The meta-analysis Curry is presenting, hardly original to her, is itself bad. Climate science is irrelevant, the argument is basically mathematically malformed, and equates elements of inference that aren’t equivalent.

Read this, aimed at getting students up to speed in things they could learn in high school, and come back to the Italian flag.

The over-arching meta-analysis is also flawed, and again, that has nothing to do with the context – climate change. It’s the sort of analysis that justifies ignoring the results of the filters to becoming an established scientific fact or theory – peer review, success or failure at replication, etc. That’s just a general argument that justifies crankery and penalizes rigor.

That said, the Curry scandal is not in a vacuum. It’s a partisan campaign on her part, and should be recognized as such. If I did a website like ClimateAudit, but the other way, claiming that science was understating AGW under corporate pressure – the vastly more likely possibility by the way – and explaining what in my opinion was the actual case, a Dr. Curry or even an Andy Rivkin would NOT give me equal time with the IPCC, e.g. It’s really clear that there’s a huge double standard out there.

Her nonsense about giving equal time to citizen scientists and working establishment scientists is REALLY “give equal time to right-wing critics of science and scientists. Give equal time to anti-environmentalist science denialists wherever you mention environmentalists and ecologists. Though not the reverse.”

To which anyone who cares more about the world than about the profitability of large multinational corporations should not even give a polite nod. At the time Curry did her insanely Republican, childish, solipsistic defense of the Heritage Foundation’s attack on science, she became a partisan political figure and ceased being, in her public actions, a scientist at all. Go and re-read it. You won’t be able to get through it without cringing.

Comment by Marion Delgado — 6 Nov 2010 @ 1:37 PM

167. In the above, replace “Heritage” with “Heartland.” (though both are tobacco-funded denialist organizations).

Comment by Marion Delgado — 6 Nov 2010 @ 1:47 PM

168. In #162, “Septic” is confusing tabloid ravings with an imaginary “stentorian scientific voice warning of great public harm”.

When people get their science from the tabloids, it is really no wonder they end up confused.

It was painfully noticeable that “Septic” didn’t mention any of the genuine health concerns about certain substances: asbestos, mercury poisoning, cholesterol…. the list is long, and doesn’t need confusing with sensationalism from the penny press.

Comment by Didactylos — 6 Nov 2010 @ 2:07 PM

169. #139
Alex Katarsis

I would suspect that the MWP produced a warming trend due to slow feedbacks such as changes in the ice albedo and seasonal shift affecting vegetation.

I’ll wait until the scientific analysis locates the substance to the argument before assigning confidence.

As to current warming, the divergences are reasonably attributable to the quantitative changes in land use and added GHG’s pertaining to the fast feedbacks.

Re. your Swiss Alps concern: I don’t know why you would think that a general warming would not produce altitudinal changes though?

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Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 6 Nov 2010 @ 2:52 PM

170. > That the current warming is “unprecedented”
Since when?; rate of change, amount of change, peak, or predicted?
Strawman

> that the effect of clouds can not be a negative feedback
some clouds at some levels increase albedo
Strawman

> are parts of the narrative
Not the science narrative; that’s PR narrative

> that are debated.
There’s your problem. Debate isn’t science.

Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Nov 2010 @ 3:06 PM

171. 153 Hugh Laue saidsomething about abstract philosphy:

Hugh L: only an idiot alarmist would do other than shut their eyes as Alex advocates. I mean imagine you are driving down a really busy freeway. The idiot alarmist looks at all the traffic and gets a little freaked. There are cars passing on the right, cars passing on the left, they’re all speeding. Some of the drivers look intoxicated. They’re changing lanes without signaling. It’s freakin’ scary. Level headed guys like Alex simply close their eyes thus rendering all those dangers nonexistent. Problem solved. You see a plane heading up the Hudson river towards the WTC? Close your eyes and stick your fingers in your ears. He advocates using the same sort level-headed intelligence to solve global warming. Pure genius.

Comment by John E. Pearson — 6 Nov 2010 @ 6:28 PM

172. Oh, SM fell for a debating trick worth noting, wherever he got his list:
> dangerous when used as designed … acrilonitrile

“designed” is a trick there: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijheh.2009.01.002
Nothing is “designed” to bioaccumulate faster than natural processes can break it down in the environment. Many things do. Greenhouse gases included.

Another trick–evaluating one substance in isolation and declaring it safe–is part of the old narrative.
That’s busted; one recent widely known example:
http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/content/106/1/251.abstract
http://jvdi.org/cgi/content/abstract/19/6/616
Was that one predictable using precautionary thinking?
Yes: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja00173a046
http://ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/reprint/64/2/155.pdf

It’s clear the problem is not simple. Anticipating problems does cut into marketability. Not anticipating problems doesn’t prevent them, but it often makes them someone else’s problem. Nothing goes away.

Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Nov 2010 @ 6:51 PM

173. 170, Hank Roberts: Debate isn’t science.

Words to remember.

Comment by Septic Matthew — 6 Nov 2010 @ 10:53 PM

174. > “debate isn’t science”
Google: about 5,640 results; lessons to be learned in many of them.

Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Nov 2010 @ 12:55 AM

175. #139 Alex Katarsis

Actually I think Alex may very well have demonstrated the point that there may be cause for some alarm regarding climate shift.

He acknowledges the WMP and the altitudinal shift.

Although his intention is to say ‘nothing two worry about’. back-casting the energy involved gives at least a view into sensitivity if one can constrain the feedbacks to changes in energy flux pertaining to sensitivity issues.

This, then combined with modern infrastructure gives one an idea of the amount of shift that may occur, and from that, one might extrapolate the costs of infrastructure shift. Then of course one needs to calculate supply and demand capacities of course.

It’s also a truly excellent example of facts out of context usage contrary to ones own point. It’s not even circular reasoning though? Maybe we can call it ‘repetitive left-turn’ reasoning?

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Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 7 Nov 2010 @ 1:39 AM

176. #173 Septic Matthew says:

170, Hank Roberts: Debate isn’t science.

Here, here. Eloquently said Hank.

Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 7 Nov 2010 @ 1:41 AM

177. Walter Pearce #108: Google places ads by keyword and I deliberately use some to attract deniers to my blog. A price of this is getting Google ads inappropriate to my content. If you see an objectionable ad there, click it so they get charged :)

Comment by Philip Machanick — 7 Nov 2010 @ 4:37 AM

178. Kevin C (#104):

There seems to be an active literature of the sociology surrounding climate science. Is now the time to look for some guest authors to put together a series on the issues? A better understanding of how different groups of non-scientist think and how they perceive climate may also give us a better perspective on how to communicate science effectively.

I think I found your spokesperson:

Bob Altemeyer’s – The Authoritarians

Comment by Steve Metzler — 7 Nov 2010 @ 5:59 AM

179. According to a big law firm, the Department of Justice is going to audit entities registered as foreign agents under the FARA.

Here is some information about that.

http://legendofpineridge.blogspot.com/2010/11/doj-dusts-off-foreign-agents.html

Comment by Snapple — 7 Nov 2010 @ 7:32 AM

180. Alex Katarsis @149

Oh well…we may yet “mathematically” unify Quantum Mechanics and Newtonian Physics. We probably just need to eliminate a couple of troublesome variables first – mostly notably Space and Time. It’s much easier to solve the equation without that pesky pair. Now feel free to shred the argument.

Why not let 2004 Nobel Physiscs prize winner Frank Wilczek shred the argument for you…
http://fora.tv/2008/09/25/Frank_Wilczek_The_LHC_and_Unified_Field_Theory

Comment by Fred Magyar — 7 Nov 2010 @ 7:54 AM

181. Philip Machanick (177). Recognizing it’s your blog, not mine, I disagree with the approach — you’re exposing the open-minded to some very slick denialist advertising. At best, your site sends mixed messages.

The latest ad I saw on your site was from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, ostensibly congratulating the just-elected crop of denialist GOP senators.

Ultimately, these sorts of campaigns are evaluated by their advertisers on specific metrics. If you find that your site is a go-to destination for denialist advertising, you should question which narratives you are actually promoting.

Comment by Walter Pearce — 7 Nov 2010 @ 10:36 AM

Good comment.

I think you should start an “alarmist” website, showing what the science is actually saying these days with regard to reasonably likely worse case scenarios. There is one already called http://www.desdemonadespair.com, but it’s a very part time hobby run by a brilliant nonscientist engineer. I’m part of a cabal of “doomers” in the Northwest- we’re actually a jolly bunch, strangely enough.

I may be able to help introduce you to people who could make this happen. My email is mike.greenframe@aol.com.

Comment by Mike Roddy — 7 Nov 2010 @ 11:21 AM

183. correction:

Comment by Mike Roddy — 7 Nov 2010 @ 11:22 AM

184. Debate isn’t science.

Debate is one of the many methods of science.

Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 7 Nov 2010 @ 11:32 AM

185. Alex Katarsis,
Gee, try as I might, I can’t seem to find any publications that detail your “professional application” of Quantum Mechanics. Perhaps you are publishing under another name. Or perhaps you are just an ignorant wannabe.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Nov 2010 @ 11:50 AM

186. This is controversial, and sounds somewhat alarmist, but, put simply, I think that both science and rationality are under attack by… the rivival of superstition, and a belief in something that I’ll call “witchcraft.”

This is a significant cultural shift, the origins of which are complex, as are the myriad ways they are manifested.

This doesn’t mean that all is lost and we’re doomed, only that it’s important, no, vital, to understand and realize, that we involved in tremendous cultural conflict, a historic conflict, about how we see the world, what the world is, and how we explain it.

In a way, the rise of neo-superstition, is an alternative world-paradigm, an alternative cultural narrative, and though it seems absurd, when looked at rationally, one underestimates this cultural shift at one’s peril.

Various cultural, political, social, movements, are questioning the very basis and basic tenets of the modern world and enlightenment principles, preferring the comforting alternative of “fairy stories.”

There is, I believe, a definite trajectory which is moving away from rationality towards the irrational in popular culture, and this is a significant move.

On the contrary, it’s all about choosing what “facts” fit one’s world view, regardless of whether they are “true” or not, Faith is what matters in the new, neo-superstitious world, not facts. Facts which may be the Devil’s work.

Comment by Michael K — 7 Nov 2010 @ 12:09 PM

187. 180: Would you like a list of eminent scientists who change space and time to constants in order to further their theories for unification?

Comment by Alex Katarsis — 7 Nov 2010 @ 1:21 PM

188. 185: “I’ve worked in the private sector, they expect results” Dr. Ray Stanz.

“Dude”, are you not aware of how we apply quantum mechanics in today’s world? Hint: it’s pervasive.

Comment by Alex Katarsis — 7 Nov 2010 @ 1:45 PM

189. 171: Your insinuation that I encourage that we “do nothing” is unfounded.

Comment by Alex Katarsis — 7 Nov 2010 @ 1:50 PM

190. #187 Alex Katarsis

Hey Alex, was wondering where you went. Thank you for helping to substantiate the antithesis to your thesis :)

It’s good to know that people like you are helping people understand how serious global warming may very well prove to be.

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Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 7 Nov 2010 @ 1:53 PM

191. Science does involve debate, but in nearly every case public debates have only education as their science component. If there are any economic or political stakes to such debate, controversialism has been so professionalized and commercialized that they don’t usually have even an educational function.

Also, specialization is real. The opinion of a watching audience of non-experts is irrelevant to most real scientific controversies.

Comment by Marion Delgado — 7 Nov 2010 @ 3:14 PM

192. How the colleges train students for debate competitions:
http://austinmatzko.com/2006/03/22/liberty-ethology-pathology/

Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Nov 2010 @ 4:02 PM

193. Marion,

Feel free to use my very unbusy blog. Happy to give admin access. I’m pretty much immune to criticism, if someone wants to ghost write and remain anonymous. Or, I could just start blogging again.

aperfectstormcometh.blogspot.com

Cheers

Comment by ccpo — 7 Nov 2010 @ 4:18 PM

194. Marion,

I sort of already do( did) that on my old aperfectstormcometh.blogspot.com blog. Happy to have a regular contributor or ghost writer, if the person wishes to remain anonymous. I eat denialists for lunch; am immune to criticism, so would be fun to get back to it. I mostly do this stuff on facebook now.

Cheers

Comment by ccpo — 7 Nov 2010 @ 4:21 PM

195. @Michael K #186

Couldn’t have said it better myself

Comment by Menth — 7 Nov 2010 @ 5:45 PM

196. I’m pretty sure cutting edge scientists don’t model their debate of the nuances of hypothesis, evidence, observation and theory on Liberty college debate team techniques, Hank, or even if they consider debate to be competitive.

Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 7 Nov 2010 @ 6:53 PM

“I can’t tell whether the shift to story telling over reporting in the news is more about laziness or contempt for the audience, or if it’s just a concoction foisted on the world by MBAs just out of school.”

Reporters have always told stories. It’s not a matter of shifting to narrative over reporting facts; it’s a matter of shifting from choosing complex narratives that can get closer to connecting facts recognizable to scientists, to lazily choosing simple narratives that are easy for a low-information & low-attention public to swallow.

Comment by Steve R — 7 Nov 2010 @ 7:42 PM

198. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-climate-scientists-20101108,0,545056.story

Climate scientists plan campaign against global-warming skeptics
The American Geophysical Union plans to announce Monday that 700 researchers have agreed to speak out on the issue. The effort is a pushback against congressional conservatives who have vowed to kill regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

:-)

[Response: That article’s a mess unfortunately, mixing up apparently different efforts. The AGU effort is simply round 2 of something that was tried as a pilot for about 2 weeks during Copenhagen last year to answer journalists’ climate questions, and is thus not a response to the recent elections, and is separate from whatever it is that John Abraham is reportedly trying to organize (AFAIK).–Jim]

Comment by ccpo — 7 Nov 2010 @ 7:43 PM

199. Some of the AGW deniers sound like the artists C. S. Lewis caricatured “All great artists are persecuted and ignored, I am persecuted and ignored; therefore I am a great artist.”

Comment by Don Gisselbeck — 7 Nov 2010 @ 7:56 PM

200. Thank you, Alex. I’m very aware that quantum theory is useful. I’m just not aware of your having contributed jack to its utility. Perhaps you would care to enlighten us.

Uh, you do realize that many of us here are actual scientists, and so not likely to be impressed by technogibberish.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Nov 2010 @ 8:03 PM

201. Got a new article out, this one reviewing “Keeping Our Cool,” by Dr. Andrew Weaver, of U. Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. He’s a multiple AR lead author, and one of the few to sue denialists for lying about his views. (Suit pending in the Canadian courts.) An interesting writer & book. It’s here:

http://hubpages.com/hub/Keeping-Our-Cool-a-review

Comment by Kevin McKinney — 7 Nov 2010 @ 8:09 PM

202. There is an exciting news in the LA Times about a coalition of climate scientists who are going to take on the denialists. John Abraham has even got a “‘Climate Rapid Response Team,’ which so far has more than three dozen leading scientists to defend the consensus on global warming in the scientific community.”

The article says:

“On Monday, the American Geophysical Union, the country’s largest association of climate scientists, plans to announce that 700 climate scientists have agreed to speak out as experts on questions about global warming and the role of man-made air pollution.”

It’s great that our scientists are fighting for scientific truth and the future of our people.
They remind me of the brave scientists who spoke up for the truth in the USSR.

Climategate made me see that the politicians and the fossil-fuel companies were lying to me.
It really opened my eyes.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-climate-scientists-20101108,0,545056.story

http://legendofpineridge.blogspot.com/2010/11/climate-rapid-response-team-to-defend.html

Comment by Snapple — 7 Nov 2010 @ 8:24 PM

203. “Further, warming due to elevated GHG levels would be expected to strengthen the circulation as more heat is gained in equatorial regions than at the poles. ” Tim Joslin — 4 November 2010 @ 11:18 AM

” A very important secondary elevation of the effect will be produced in those places that alter their albedo by the extension or regression of the snow-covering, and this secondary effect will probably remove the maximum effect from lower parallels to the neighbourhood of the poles[12].” Svante Arrhenius “On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground”, Philosophical Magazine 41, 237-276 (1896), reprinted at http://web.lemoyne.edu/~giunta/arrhenius.html

“Rises in surface air temperature (SAT) in response to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) are expected to be amplified in northern high latitudes, with warming most pronounced over the Arctic Ocean owing to the loss of sea ice.”
“Essentially all global climate models predict Arctic amplification, and most agree that SAT changes will be especially large over the Arctic Ocean during autumn and early winter owing to sea ice retreat and thinning.” http://courses.eas.ualberta.ca/eas570/arctic_amplification.pdf

One might want to consider the possibility that Tim’s source, who got polar amplification exactly ass backwards, might not know what they are talking about or are lying, or both.

Comment by Brian Dodge — 7 Nov 2010 @ 11:05 PM

204. Walter #181 — go back and peruse my content. I would give better odds of a slightly confused person looking for assurance that the far right anti-science bunch are fruit loops would take comfort from the content than the opposite. If someone is so confused that after reading my content they are suckered by Heartland et al. I doubt I can make much difference. In any case, thanks for the heads-up. I get to see different ads in my part of the world.

Comment by Philip Machanick — 8 Nov 2010 @ 5:07 AM

205. THE LA Times has clarified that Dr. John Abraham’s effort is separate from the Geophysical Association’s.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-climate-scientists-20101108,0,545056.story

Here is the AGU site:

http://www.agu.org/

I wish some scientists would run for the Senate instead of people who just want handouts from corporations.

Nobody voted for Koch and we can’t vote them out, but those kinds of people seem to be ruling us because they buy the politicians.

Comment by Snapple — 8 Nov 2010 @ 7:02 AM

206. Snapple,
I’m afraid you won’t see many scientists running for public office any time soon. Frankly, unless you can get the backing of some special interest, trying to run these days is probably pointless. What is more, scientists would have trouble securing support from the crucial idiot vote, which seems to dominate the election cycle more and more.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Nov 2010 @ 8:25 AM

207. Scientists… are… after a fashion, the high-priests of rationality, something that’s close to a religion, and became the new orthodoxy in the new, and modern world that was created during the blossoming we call the Enlightenment.

However, I argue that things are changing now. The “rational concensus” is breaking down, and the “religion of science” is being challenged. There’s a cultural shift in the air.

This is, of course, a massively complex subject and I’m only attempting to scratch the surface, and I’m intentionally simplifying. Touching on historical and social mega-trends is notoriously difficult and fraught with danger and absurdities, not to mention mistakes, and the chance that one is getting everything completely wrong!

But I do think there is another “layer” of change that is pushing at the borders of the “rational consensus” and that’s the dire economic situation the advanced, western nations find themselves mired in, especially the Great Motor, the United States.

I believe the US risks entering a new political and economic paradigm, which actually pushes neo-superstition forward as an alternative to old-school rationality/science, as the grand narative for our civilization. Wow! That sounds pretty, weired. Sorry. I don’t know how else to say it.

All is not lost, but I believe there is a struggle going on in society which is of real, historic, importance. Not so much a clash of civilizations, but a clash of rationalities, or should that be faiths?

Put simply we’re appear to be entering a new economic paradigm, a new, different form of “Capitalism” which I call “neo-fuedalism.” And fuedalism was a form of society where, for many and complex reasons, superstition, faith, and a strong belief in the supernatural, and witchcraft, were core beliefs for most people, core explanations about how the world, the visible and invisible… worked.

So, one can observe two, twin, strands of cultural change moving throughout society, sometimes in parallel, sometimes one in front of the other, one working primarily on the “material” level; the economy and how it’s structured; the other on the “cultural” level; core concepts of who we are and how the world works. Both “levels” interract with one another in myriad ways too complex to address here and now.

Now, this could all be complete rubbish, and we are not in any kind of cultural flux period, and our civilizaiton is progressing along just fine and our technology is anything but infused with the corrupting influence of “witchcraft.”

The current crisis, both economic and political, let’s leave the environment aside, is only a temporary hickup, and soon, magically we’ll all be back on the high road towards ever greater wealth, prosperity, full-employment… and hapiness for all.

Comment by Michael K — 8 Nov 2010 @ 9:19 AM

208. Michael K.,
It is a mistake to call science a “religion” be it of rationality or anything else. Religion has dogma. Science has evidence. Religion has faith. Science has nothing of the sort. Religion promises certainty. Science delivers reliable understanding.

Not every belief system is a religion.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Nov 2010 @ 9:39 AM

209. Bear in mind that whatever argument you make, if it’s any good in a day or three it will be turned upside down and made to sound like its opposite.

I remember when this happened with “true believers” a few years back, but have since made a study. If, to be egotistical, I make a good point, I can be sure to find its distorted mirror within hours.

darn it, can’t resist this nonsense: captca: the ruction

Comment by Susan Anderson — 8 Nov 2010 @ 10:15 AM

210. Speaking as a journalist, let me clarify something: It’s not merely that we’re “mostly fascinated by the strength of the narrative.” It’s our *job* to find and create strong narratives — that is, to tell a good non-fiction story.

For most journalists, the main flow — the strongest narrative — of the AGW story lies in the intersections of the scientific facts with conditions on the ground, and with society and politics.

Now, you can say that journalists and assigning editors are making poor story choices, when they highlight figures like Curry and Dyson. Framing them as hero-scientist “heretics” to some sort of orthodoxy implies that this orthodoxy will eventually be debunked, a la Galileo vs. the Church. These editorial choices mislead the public, and could be called bad journalism however well-reported and written, because they fail to inform the public of what it needs to know most urgently, which might fall more along these lines:

“Will AGW-driven climate conditions get worse, or will they get a lot worse?”

“Did walrus pups die in Alaska this year because of the low sea ice, and what does that mean for the species?”

“Why do politicians who mislead the public on global warming continue to command attention? Who’s backing them, and for how much?”

“What might be the most effective steps to cut GHG emissions? How much will they cost us and save us, and in what order should we take them?”

So, please don’t shoot the messenger for looking for strong stories. That’s our job. But the stories we choose to tell, and how well and accurately we tell them? Fire away.

Comment by Emily Gertz — 8 Nov 2010 @ 11:03 AM

211. I’m the founder of a new religion. We worship YAD06. Sun worshipping is so last century.

Comment by Alex Katarsis — 8 Nov 2010 @ 11:10 AM

212. Michael K (180, 207):

Absolutely agree that scientific / enlightenment values are under attack.

An excellent book about this: How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World: A Short History of Modern Delusions (Francis Wheen, 2004).

Another excellent book which throws some light on the reasons why humans are capable of such irrational behaviour: The Decisive Moment (Jonah Lehrer, 2009).

Comment by David Griffiths — 8 Nov 2010 @ 11:39 AM

213. Emily,
The problem is not looking for narrative. The problem is emphasizing a fictional narrative. Why mention paricle theorist Freeman Dyson in a story about climate science at all? Why mention Judy Curry, whose output–even before she “went emeritus”–is at best mediocre?

And why ignore the epic quest of climate science itself–trying and succeding to understand a complicated system? There is plenty of meat for a story there, and yet we get nothing but manufactured conflicts and at best the discovery du jour.

So, after the messenger gets the message wrong time and time again, it becomes hard to ignore the possibility the the messenger may have a recto-cranial inversion.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Nov 2010 @ 12:08 PM

214. Re #170, Hank Roberts: Debate isn’t science.

: a contention by words or arguments: as
a : the formal discussion of a motion before a deliberative body according to the rules of parliamentary procedure
b : a regulated discussion of a proposition between two matched sides

I don’t have a collegiate dictionary here in Basel but the Webster online does seem to hold up the contention.

Debate revolves around words arguments and procedures whereas science revolves around knowing, knowledge, systematized, general laws, testing, scientific method, systems and methods.

These seem to be two very different categories. Now of course you can debate the science, which brings us right back to our topic of “Science, narrative and heresy”.

Economics: Balancing Economies
The Leading Edge: The Cuccinelli ‘Witch Hunt\

Fee & Dividend: Learn the IssueSign the Petition
A Climate Minute: Natural CycleGreenhouse EffectClimate Science HistoryArctic Ice Melt

Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 8 Nov 2010 @ 12:36 PM

215. 162, Site Monitor: Your examples are a little bizzare. I’m aware of no claims in mainstream science about any of the others you list, *other* than tobacco.

All of the examples that I presented included mainstream scientists who published results in peer-reviewed journals and wrote opinion pieces for scientific journals such as Science. There was an outrage of sorts when the Reagan administration permitted the selling of aspartame. EPA ruled on acrilonitrile, then later reversed its ruling. As frequently happens, commercial interests also clashed: sugar and corn syrup interests clashed with other interests over saccharine and aspartame. We see a similar clash nowadays over AGW, with manufacturers (Siemens, GE, Sharp), sellers (SoCal Edison, PG&E, SDG&E) and rent-seekers (CCX, Generation Capital Management) opposing California Prop 23 and oil producers (Valero) supporting it.

My point is not that advocates for control are never right (or that commercial interests always right), but that they are not always right. Each case has to be judged independently of others. There are some consistent party lines: the Cato Institute always opposes the expansion of government power, even when the claimed motivation is public health; their opposition to tobacco control is of a piece with their opposition to alcohol control. To them, your freedom includes your freedom to harm yourself; and well-motivated government power will eventually be used against the public interest. Their positions do not depend on who funds them, but the other way around.

Comment by Septic Matthew — 8 Nov 2010 @ 1:34 PM

… the crucial idiot vote, which seems to dominate the election cycle more and more.

I have read, but certainly not verified, that the young and minorities voted in much lower numbers in the recent midterm than in the latest presidential election, so much so that in the midterm, about 50 percent of the electorate was old and white, compared to about 25 percent in the presidential election.

Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 8 Nov 2010 @ 1:50 PM

217. Another crucial area, which many scientists find themselves entangled in, (let’s stick to climate science,) is conflict between what science is telling us about the “threat to our civilization” that uncontrolled global warming presents; and the view of large sections, apparently the majority, of the “ruling elite” in the United States, that the science is not only a “joke” and totally wrong, but that it’s actually a form of Leninist, leftwing, political conspiracy to undermine the leading role of the United States in the world, by forcing Americans to cut their consumption of energy and thereby lower their standard of living, and non-negotiable way of life.

This means that the ruling economic dogma of the age, neo-liberalism, trumps science. That science and scientists should serve the economic dogma, or “faith” loyally, or shut up.

This is why powerful individuals and groups within the US are spending big bucks to trash the science which threatens the foundations of “Liberalism.” Because if the idea that our economic model, let’s call it “Capitalism”, (though some would prefer to use the euphemisms, “freedom ‘n’ democracy” instead) is incompatible with the health of environment, and might be an unsustainable system, well, this idea, (if backed by science,) could prove somewhat awkward to just brush off as the usually leftwing ranting and raving.

What if “capitalism” is incompatible with the health of the biosphere? It’s a complex area, highly controversial, and explosively political. But if “capitalism” was the Big Problem, what could be done about it? Would we really expect the elite that owns the world to just accept that their era had passed its sell-by date, and now it was time to evolve and try something new? Would it, in theory be that easy, rational and calm? The peaceful changeover to another era where GDP and growth, were surplanted by new values based on what was best for the environment and the world’s climate?

I am not specifically saying that “capitalism” is an “evil” and we are doomed if we continue down the current exponential growth pathway, and isn’t it simply great that Brazil, India, and China have joined the club too, I’m just interested in the thought experiment. Do people really believe that, in practice, we could put the breaks on and alter course, just like that, and in time, and despite the opposition of entrenched and vested interests, sometimes referred to as the “Capitalist Class.”

I’m sorry this sounds so political, but I often get the impression that many Greens and scientists, who have a great deal of knowledge about climate change and the environmental challenges we face, seem to more-or-less ignore political reality and the logical consequences of their arguments, as they relate to fundamental power relationships in society, which one would be foolish to underestimate.

Comment by Michael K — 8 Nov 2010 @ 2:02 PM

218. Pete,
That is correct. Young people were down by over a factor of 2 in this election.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Nov 2010 @ 2:27 PM

219. Emily Gertz @ 210

Seems to me a strong story might be how journalists get things wrong. There ought to be a way to narrate that without without stopping short of presenting information that might lead the reader strongly in the direction of reality.

I mean is it just me, or is there a bias in mass media toward pandering to Received Middle Brow Conventional Wisdom which, by the way, is becoming increasingly lunatic by the day?

Comment by Radge Havers — 8 Nov 2010 @ 2:32 PM

220. From the LA Times story quoting Scott Mandia:

“This group feels strongly that science and politics can’t be divorced and that we need to take bold measures to not only communicate science but also to aggressively engage the denialists and politicians who attack climate science and its scientists,” said Scott Mandia, professor of physical sciences at Suffolk County Community College in New York.

“We are taking the fight to them because we are … tired of taking the hits. The notion that truth will prevail is not working. The truth has been out there for the past two decades, and nothing has changed.”

“…aggressively engage the denialists and politicians who attack climate science and its scientists…”
HOORAY!

“This group feels strongly that science and politics can’t be divorced…”
Ooops. Narrative malfunction.

Comment by Radge Havers — 8 Nov 2010 @ 3:05 PM

221. Speaking of putting captivating “narrative” above accuracy of fact, the AGU today had to issue this statement to correct the misinformation introduced yesterday by Neela Banerjee in major newspapers, then repeated by Andrew Revkin et al.:

http://www.agu.org/news/press/pr_archives/2010/2010-37.shtml

Comment by Jim — 8 Nov 2010 @ 3:46 PM

222. 162, eric

I wrote a response to the part of your comment that is in green, but I didn’t notice that you had written the entire post in square brackets. I called you “Site Monitor”. Sorry.

Comment by Septic Matthew — 8 Nov 2010 @ 4:18 PM

223. I guess next time I will not rely on what a newspaper claims a scientific organization is going to say tomorrow.

Comment by Snapple — 8 Nov 2010 @ 5:47 PM

224. It seems to me that a movie could tell the combined story of the development of the actual science and the political and behind-the-scenes theater. Maybe something in between Ken Burn’s series on the Civil War and “The Smartest Guys in the Room” – though I confess I haven’t ever seen any of the later so I’m not sure…

Comment by Patrick 027 — 8 Nov 2010 @ 6:38 PM

225. Michael, if you’re really interested in the intersection between how politics, the public and community activity or cohesion degenerates into the trivial individual notions that my opinion is as good as anyone else’s, read John Ralston Saul. Especially The Unconscious Civilisation (though my personal favourite is Voltaire’s Bastards).

I’m not entirely convinced by his arguments about how democracy ‘should’ work, but his analysis of the stated views of corporate supporters and how they actually work is terrific. It’s a good background for my continuing amazement at the failure of entrepreneurship to seize the opportunities in renewable energy and modern technologies and make megabucks doing it. In his view there is no ‘entrepreneurship’ at the large corporate level.

And all of this impacts on the (lack of) education and involvement of citizens in considering and deciding the best outcomes for their societies. Anti-intellectualism and mindless entertainments are a natural partner in the process.

226. Re 217 Michael K –

That’s an interesting thought, but capitalism, at least in general, really is not the enemy. Capitalism can be green, it can provide safe products made by workers who don’t get injured at high rates, etc. Unless perhaps capitalism, when not farther specified, implies a complete laissez faire approach. Capitalism can be publically managed without being extinguished – in fact it (thus far, and perhaps always, as private police forces might just be mafia?) requires some public management, in particular, to protect basic rights – property rights, etc. (Capitalism has a ready way to deal with scarcity – prices increase, economies evolve. Thus, aside from externalities et al, capitalism can in principle be sustainable – it’s just that it may sometimes require change, not necessarily without pain or even death; of course, a shock or stress so severe that it rips society apart could end the system.)

In the frame of market efficiency and price signals, pollution is an externality – one could argue we should just accept such externalities – in some cases that could be true, but in others not; in the frame of rights, pollution is/can be an infringement of rights, which might require legal action if beyond the margins of error we allow (it is benificial to have allowable margins of error); however, I think addressing this particular problem from the efficiency standpoint is a better approach, and would itself address the issue of rights as well as anything realistically could. Externalities could be addressed in the courts, or they could be privatized, or they could be taxed or otherwise publically managed. For CO2 emissions, taxation makes the most sense to me. Although I’m curious how a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all future people for the next x centuries would play out. Privatization would somehow require ownership of the climate system or it’s components, which seems impractical, and even if it could be done, I would argue, it would be aesthetically and perhaps scientifically undesirable – which segways into a discussion of why having some public property/space is good (1. nature is often appreciated for it’s quality of being natural; ownership could detract from that in principle if not also in actuality; 2. I think it could be argued that humans pychologically suffocate if every single thing is privately owned; we need public spaces. 2b. The concept of fair use, a sort of safety valve in intellectual property rights, with value to individuals, and also to democracy and society and their benificiaries)…

Of course, the efficiency-maximizing market is only an approximation of actual behavior, and might fail to capture some interesting things (convoluted PPCs, bubbles (tulips!), negative sum games, issues affecting choice and competition). And even if we tax CO2, it may yet make sense to have some public investment of the R&D (and D and D) sort and some planning, mandates/building codes, targetted incentives, etc. We have urban planning. Even in a free market, somewhere at some time, a human has to actually make a decision about something, and it will often benifit that human to make plans, or to have a plan. If you throw resources together without a larger plan than you might not get the best use out of them (Pizza – yum. French toast – yum. French toast pizza – well to each his/her own). Also, if you can plan on a future, you have more choices that may include making investments for future rewards; expectation of the future affects interest rates; they say live everyday like it’s your last, but that can only be taken so far, or else obesity rates would soar, plus you could only have your favorite meal and thus never have your second favority meal…

One could say that we sacrifice some liberty and efficiency for the benifits of the public policies we have; one could say that those benifits, folded into the whole, increase the efficiency… (But didn’t Benjamin Franklin say (paraphrasing) that those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither? Well I don’t think he meant that in every possible way it could be taken. We have to sacrifice the right to own another person in order to have the right not to be owned by another person (social contract). Not quite the same thing, but we ‘sacrifice’ some freedom of choice every time we choose – it’s a resource that gets converted into the results of our choices (to some extent that resource gets used up by time if we don’t use it))

Comment by Patrick 027 — 8 Nov 2010 @ 8:03 PM

227. One could say that we sacrifice some liberty and efficiency for the benifits of the public policies we have; one could say that those benifits, folded into the whole, increase the efficiency… and maybe also give us new, better choices for use of our liberty

Comment by Patrick 027 — 8 Nov 2010 @ 8:05 PM

228. David B. Benson says on November 2010 at 6:50 PM:

Harold Pierce Jr @77 — That’s the funniest thing I’ve read all day.

Thanks for the chuckle.

Why are my observations “funny”? I would really like to know.

As a reminder, I pay a carbon tax of Can \$0.9932 per GJ of nat gas which costs Can \$4.976 per GJ in British Columbia. That is a tax rate 19.96%, And that is not funny!

Comment by Harold Pierce Jr — 8 Nov 2010 @ 8:34 PM

229. The Guardian’s take:
US researchers fight to reclaim climate science message “Two initiatives will provide information for journalists as elections bring strong sceptic presence to new Congress”

And:

“We are both scientists and human beings. As scientists, we need to find ways to communicate accurate scientific information to a wider audience in a way that is policy-neutral. As humans, we are concerned not only for ourselves, but also for our children and for people in the world who don’t have the necessary resources to adapt to the coming change. As a human, I have an obligation to speak up for them.
It is a shame that scientists have to take personal and professional risks in order to be good citizens of the planet. It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Comment by Radge Havers — 8 Nov 2010 @ 8:50 PM

230. Patrick 027 @ 226

Although I’m curious how a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all future people for the next x centuries would play out.”

FWIW, there’s this contract curiosity: Consumers’ right to file class actions is in danger.

Comment by Radge Havers — 8 Nov 2010 @ 9:02 PM

231. I was just looking at Climate Progress. In the comments someone suggested a major demonstration by climate scientists to shut down the senate for 10 days or so. Is this and idea that might find support within the community?

Comment by Kevin Norman — 8 Nov 2010 @ 9:58 PM

232. Michael K (217), what economic system would you think might replace capitalism?

Comment by Rod B — 8 Nov 2010 @ 11:17 PM

233. Rod, I don’t think it’s about replacing capitalism. It’s about how we fit capitalism into the larger society. My view is that we allow corporate interests to have too much say in setting values and priorities in our societies – in exactly parallel ways that some societies allow (if they have a choice) their military forces too much say in the society at large.

I am absolutely certain that the countries I have in mind would still have armies after their societies reorganise to make the military the servant of the larger polity rather than its master.

I am also certain that my own and other countries could reorganise themselves to make the corporate sector a better fit with the needs and priorities of the society at large, rather than forever threatening to deprive of us of their investment for special privileges in tax or zoning or pollution or employment laws.

234. Just wanted to thank RC crew for a solid performance on Swedish Tv. It turned out really well :)

Comment by Magnus Westerstrand — 9 Nov 2010 @ 2:46 AM

235. Just wanted to thank the RC crew for a solid performance on Swedish TV. It turned out really well :)

Comment by Magnus Westerstrand — 9 Nov 2010 @ 2:48 AM

236. > what economic system would you think might replace capitalism?

I have no idea what it will look like, but it will also be called ‘capitalism’

Comment by Martin Vermeer — 9 Nov 2010 @ 3:27 AM

237. Rod B. asks, “Michael K (217), what economic system would you think might replace capitalism?”

Right now, it’s looking like a hunter-gatherer subsistence society.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Nov 2010 @ 5:40 AM

238. Kevin Norman,

Nope.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Nov 2010 @ 5:41 AM

239. Michael K 217,

Please don’t forget that the USSR thoroughly trashed its environment. They weren’t capitalist.

Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 Nov 2010 @ 6:07 AM

240. Rod B @ 232,

what economic system would you think might replace capitalism?

Perpetual economic growth is neither possible nor desirable. Growth, especially in wealthy nations, is already causing more problems than it solves.

The steady state economy should be based on biophysical or thermoeconomic principles.

THE NEED FOR A NEW, BIOPHYSICAL-BASED
PARADIGM IN ECONOMICS FOR THE SECOND HALF OF
THE AGE OF OIL

My personal take on this issue can be seen here:

http://i289.photobucket.com/albums/ll225/Fmagyar/ExponentialFunction2.jpg

Comment by Fred Magyar — 9 Nov 2010 @ 6:59 AM

241. Patrick,
Nice post. I agree that some individual liberty needs to be sacrificed, but that it will provide greater liberty (preventing someone from polluting your land or public land infringes on their right, but enhances yours). Capitalism has worked to remove dangerous or polluting products from the marketplace. However, this generally works when a suitable replacement is available. The internal combustion automobile will only be replaced when a suitable replacement (read economical and reliable) can be obtained. If the vehicle is taxed too highly, then people will look for alternatives.
In general, people will spend more for products that are safer, less polluting, etc.. The amount that they will pay will differ, depending on their wealth and philosophy. Philosophy can be changed by greater education and experience. Changing wealth may take longer. Worldwide, people turn to the environment only after their basic needs have been met (and a few wants). Increasing world wealth is a necessary step towards protecting the world’s environment. China was not antagonistic at Copenhagen because they were necessarily anti-environment. Rather, they did not want regulations that would impede their progress towards greater wealth (greater meaning closer to Western standards).
That is my favorite quote from Ben Franklin.

Comment by Dan H. — 9 Nov 2010 @ 7:13 AM

242. Replacing capitalism is irrelevant, nor is there any realistic possibility that replacing capitalism or making any other sort of fundamental change to human society can be accomplished quickly enough to have an impact on AGW even if it were relevant.

The companies that are manufacturing wind and solar energy technologies are not social-ist collectivist projects, they are for-profit capitalist enterprises just like ExxonMobil and Koch Industries. They just have a different business model — one that happens to be more compatible with a sustainable human civilization that won’t destroy itself with global warming in the next few decades.

And there will be “giant energy corporations” in the clean energy future — but they will be technology companies, not extractive industries. They will more closely resemble Intel and GE than ExxonMobil and Koch Industries.

You don’t eliminate GHG emissions with the socio-political-economic system you wish you had, you do it with the socio-political-economic system you have.

Comment by SecularAnimist — 9 Nov 2010 @ 7:34 AM

243. Dan H @240,

Your view of the world seems to be based the experience of one who has lived a sheltered life in a wealthy OECD country within the business as usual paradigm. There is very little guarantee that past performance will be anything resembling what is coming down the pipeline in the near future. My guess is that we are in for a very rough transitional period into a drastically different paradigm.

Comment by Fred Magyar — 9 Nov 2010 @ 7:35 AM

244. I’m so glad to see the questions of economics, growth and (thanks, Fred Magyar!) the steady state economy come up. True, it’s not the main purpose of RC, and I suppose at some point we’ll need to get back to the main focus. Yet these issues are certainly tightly coupled to the question of mitigation in general. And steady state economics is not something I’m knowledgeable about at all, so I welcome the chance to learn a little more.

I think that the current state of the “climate debate” is quite revealing. I know a lot of us regularly take time to try to communicate the reality of our predicament to the public at large, by blogging, commenting, writing letters to newspapers and by raising the topic in social settings, by setting examples of conservation in our own lives, or by educational outreach of various sorts. How many times have we encountered what I call “I’m all right, Jack” comments–you know, the “they’ll pry my SUV/mega-burger/large-screen TV from my cold, dead fingers” kind of thing?

They come in various guises, of course, many of them at least somewhat less crass than that. Often they’re couched at the national, rather than the individual level–a variant I see a fair amount is “Canada’s emissions are less than 2% of total global emissions, what difference does that make?” (That one conflates IAJ with “It’s so small, it can’t matter” innumeracy.) Presumably it’s more socially acceptable to be selfish on behalf of one’s country than one’s individual self–for some reason!

What it indicates to me is that there’s a huge job of imagining, thinking through, communicating and educating before there’s any hope of creating a steady-state economy, or challenging the idol of Growth. It’s probably OK in a way, since the technical economic challenges must surely be very sizable indeed. But the implication would be that we’re going to have to mitigate before this task is complete, that there will have to be a messy process of changing economic and technical realities on the ground even as the system is reimagined.

And of course, there will be very fierce resistance indeed. One think I think I do understand about growth is that it serves as a bandaid to tamp down concern about economic inequity. The young put up with poor economic conditions, often, because they expect a better future. Ditto with developing nations. Yet “haves” don’t want to give up what they have, which in many cases they’ve worked hard and sacrificed to acquire. That’s a circle much easier to square–approximately!–if the overall pie is at least growing.

So if growth is constrained by ecological limits, we’re forced to confront issues of economic equity and the distribution of wealth much more directly. Issues of justice and fairness. Issues of responsibility–since if no-one’s in charge, it’s no-one’s fault.

But sometimes somebody has to take charge (adopting President Obama’s metaphor here) or else the car goes into the ditch. Accepting blame is then just part of the job description. But that’s getting off onto yet another (off)-topic.

[I try not to mention Captcha much, since I regard it as pure coincidence–but this time it’s “leader, basencs.” Whatever “basencs” might be.]

Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Nov 2010 @ 7:54 AM

245. Oh, and thanks to everyone who took time to check out my article on Dr. Weaver’s book“Keeping Our Cool.” I was really gratified by the positive response, and appreciate it highly!

Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Nov 2010 @ 8:08 AM

246. The socio-political-economic system we have is not on its way to eliminate GHG emissions. Emissions are still growing. Something’s gotta change for something to change. Get real and lay off the big words. Cutting emissions has nothing to do with arguing about the proper definition of “capitalism”. And this is definitely off-topic.
I hate to play the moderator but, if you have anything worthwhile to say about how a future society might reduce emissions, take it to the open thread or to another site (and show your numbers).

Comment by Anonymous Coward — 9 Nov 2010 @ 8:15 AM

247. Capitalism need not be abandoned. It does what it does well – allocating resources efficiently. But there are different flavours of capitalism – instead of unfettered capitalism, we need fettered capitalism. Capitalism should be fettered by the long term external costs that are a consequence of each business activity so that price signals work properly. If the market then determines that the wealth generated now more than covers the costs of clean up later, then so be it. Though I suspect in nearly all cases a gram of prevention earlier will be worth a kilo of cure later.

Comment by SoundOff — 9 Nov 2010 @ 8:17 AM

248. Or put another way: we have to assign a tangible cost to certain things, to avoid a tragedy of the commons. Only then can capitalism be effective.

The actual mechanism isn’t so important.

Comment by Didactylos — 9 Nov 2010 @ 9:03 AM

249. I think Didactylos “cut to the chase” pretty effectively with current #47.

And SA made good points, IMO, with #241. Such considerations are part of my continued interest in GRT–now Kilimanjaro–and their air-capture scheme, as the original impetus was Klaus Lackner’s concern about AGW and his effort to do something constructive about it, but the model they are working with is a for-profit company. Apparently with some success, too, though there are still many hurdles for them to clear. (Especially if the strategic goal remains scaling up sufficiently to actually impact concentrations–not just to make money selling CO2, which is the current proximal goal. A & E is a cautionary tale about the shifting of goalposts in a commercial environment.)

Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Nov 2010 @ 10:01 AM

250. A question for the scientists. With commodity prices rising and potentially ready to explode, and according to National Geographic, nearly half of the earth’s surface now related directly or indirectly to agriculture, are there problems on the horizon involving modern “miracle” ferlizer use world-wide? As you all would know, most fertilizers release a large amount of carbon dioxide as well as being rich in Nitrogen emitting chemical processes. The recent studies i’ve read indicated that modern fertilizers have up 250 times greater destructive potential as generators of GHG’s than carbon dioxide alone. As one example, there have already been battles over whether to subsidize (even charitably) increased fertilizer use in Africa. This particular climate “threat” has no easy enemy to blame. It seems to me that these problems are becoming less and less about the science and more about politics and the engineering required to find real world practical solutions. Regardless of the causes of climate change, wouldn’t engineering based on existing technology be best applied directly to human’s adapting to their environment, rather than attempting to reduce the GHG generation upon which a large portion of the modern world depends? (and I’d answer the other questions if they’d get printed). It has to be a valid concern, because the middleground is probably agreeable, even among skeptics. Clean air, abundant food, clean water, reduce dependence on oil. The coming commodity surge will exacerbate the problem.

Genuinely curious.

Comment by Alex Katarsis — 9 Nov 2010 @ 2:14 PM

251. It is kind of obvious that mr McIntyre and others of the skeptics mob are spreading uncertainties and lies for political and social-economical reasons (extreme republican-inspired anti-tax-policy for an example). What they do has nothing to do with science at all.

Their job is to undermine scientific work, and cowardly assault scientists and distract them in work in the name of greed and perversion of human kind. With other words, the truth is not interesting for them.

If you don’t believe me, watch what happens next time an important climate- decision are on the global agenda or in (especially) USA. New attacks will immediately come with much greater intensity than normal from the sceptics. So if you are going to present something very important to the public, be ready with a “loaded gun”. Because you will need it and don’t be afraid. There are still a lot of people out there that see through the sceptics lies and sees their true agenda.

So Mr Sceptic. Would you really trade the earth for a few percent lower taxrate? You morons!

Comment by Johan B. — 9 Nov 2010 @ 3:04 PM

252. Ray, I assume the hunter-gatherer subsistence society would be an outcome, not by design…

Comment by Rod B — 9 Nov 2010 @ 3:54 PM

253. James Hansen’s two “Notes of optimism”, from his Blue Planet acceptance speech: 1) China’s enormous investments in clean energy and 2) Legal enforcement of climate policy: http://bit.ly/ChiLeg

Comment by Kees van der Leun — 9 Nov 2010 @ 4:02 PM

254. Here is the latest about the Florida criminal Bobby Thompson. He gave a lot of money to Cuccinelli.

http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/navy-veterans-likely-used-phony-names-to-send-cash-to-political-campaigns/1132957

http://www.tampabay.com/specials/2010/reports/navy-veterans-association/

Comment by Snapple — 9 Nov 2010 @ 4:04 PM

255. Meanwhile, here is the latest World Energy Outlook.

http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/docs/weo2010/weo2010_london_nov9.pdf

Comment by Septic Matthew — 9 Nov 2010 @ 4:34 PM

256. Some discussion of it here:

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7100#more

Comment by Septic Matthew — 9 Nov 2010 @ 5:19 PM

257. Rod B.@251

You would be correct. It would be the product of human stupidity.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Nov 2010 @ 6:01 PM

258. Harold Pierce Jr @228 — Your prior comment @77 was so completely wrong that I was sure it was intended as a joke.

Comment by David B. Benson — 9 Nov 2010 @ 6:31 PM

259. David Benson, Harolds comment, regardless of intent, was a joke. The only question is whether he’s in on it.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Nov 2010 @ 8:51 PM

260. Ray Ladbury @258 — :D

Comment by David B. Benson — 9 Nov 2010 @ 9:12 PM

261. SoundOff: “we need fettered capitalism”

Ethical capitalism is a difficult prospect, since the fundamental value of capitalism is the generation of capital. It may seem like a efficient system at allocating resources, but this is only on the production side. On the consumption side it’s a total nightmare of waste. Efficiency, despite the claims of pro-capitalists, is not necessarily valued. Capitalist entities have shown a ready willingness to kill for the sake of profit. Destruction is, after all, opportunity (see Halliburton). A warmer world with a rising sea level offers a great deal of opportunity for those with the means to take advantage of it. Worse yet, the private property system that is part and parcel of the current economic mode does not recognize the dynamic earth system. How can we expect anyone who believes that real power–economic power–should be concentrated in the hands of the few to also believe that becoming less profitable for the sake of the many is the right thing to do? Remember that capitalism requires both poverty and unemployment, both for the sake of driving down the cost of labor. And it is currently driving toward the requirement of a highly-mobile labor force (highly-mobile = wasteful). There are economists on record saying that eventually air itself will enter the commodity system. That’s not a joke. See the wonderful activities of the Bechtel corporation.

The current economic mode is part of the problem, but modifying it should not be thought of as a replacement for other climate-mitigating actions. It’s all of a piece. It’s possible that ethical gains in one area might lead to ethical gains in other areas. Humans are a messy business.

captcha: totemic cuprot (wha? sounds like a paper that needs to be written)

Comment by DSL — 9 Nov 2010 @ 9:49 PM

262. Harold Pierce Jr @228 – As a B.C. resident and owner of a small business that uses natural gas, I find your statements baffling – the B.C. carbon tax is currently \$20 per tonne CO2e, NOT anything “per GJ” – your cost for gas is also a puzzle, mine is \$16.940/GJ, and the carbon tax on that works out to about 9.5% [current statement right in front of me], absolutely bizarre that your claimed gas charge is less than 30% what I pay and the carbon tax over twice the rate of mine … Are your eyes brown or are you just a little confused about the world around you? Oh, I see. You’ve forgotten to include the the actual cost per GJ in your coagulating. Maybe you also forgot to look out the window the past “60 some years” watching those TV weather reports, and haven’t noticed the changes ongoing with B.C.s climate and glaciers . . . pity, but as Jim said @77, you really do need to get out more.

Comment by flxible — 9 Nov 2010 @ 10:20 PM

263. We spend a lot of time and words in disagreement, so I thought that I should add that I agree with Secular Animist in 242.

A major improvement would be to internalize the otherwise external costs of coal. An additional improvement would be to eliminate the subsidies for fossil fuel.

Comment by Septic Matthew — 10 Nov 2010 @ 1:22 AM

264. To be perfectly honest, I’m actually quite shocked at the primative level of some of the comments regarding my little thought experiment relating to “Capitalism.”

I wasn’t attacking Capitalism, or defending it. I was only asking a question. It’s surprising that so many people apparently assume that I’m not a supporter of Capitalism, just because I ask a very basic question.

That so many people automatically launch into defence mode when one has the temerity to ask a question, is surprising and a bit sad.

It really must be true, the idea that faith, dogma, and ideology, trump the rational view every time.

That people believe what they are required to believe in order to fit the world into their ideological framework.

It almost seems that even mentioning the word “Capitalism” is close to a form of thought crime, and that raising the idea, however, meekly, that our current socio/economic model might be the root cause of many of our problems, is wrong, even on the threoretical, abstract, level.

That asking the question, is in itself, seen as tantamount to treason and heresy rolled into one.

The attack on climate science isn’t neutral, or primarily “scientific” in nature. It’s glaringly politica, dogmatic and partisan. To ignore the socio/economic framework we live in, in this context, is strange, though understandible.

Comment by Michael K — 10 Nov 2010 @ 4:09 AM

265. Been reading science daily about the relative ocean convective threshold over the last 30 years. Not so sure I understand it completely? They say the convective threshold has been rising at the same rate as the ocean surface temps..to me that would indicate a net zero increase in the quantity and strength of hurricanes and ocean storms..but they also state there would be less hurricanes because of this? Also the temps (a few kms above the surface) in the upper atmosphere is rising..that to me would seem to say that the relative difference between the sea surface temps and the upper atmosphere where the water vapour condenses is less and that would support the theory of less hurricanes as the temp gradient is slightly less pronounced. Does this mean that the upper atmosphere temp is the primary driver for hurricanes and storms? As sea temp rise is practically locked in for the next few hundred years..if the upper atmosphere temp change tracks that of sea temps there will be no increases in atmospheric convection?. Am I on the right track guys? Thanks!

[Response: Yes, but there is at least one problem w/ the argument. We know that the lower stratosphere is cooling. This is in part due to GHG increases (its part of the vertical fingerprint of GHGs–warming troposphere, cooling lower stratosphere), though other forcings (e.g. Ozone depletion) may be playing a role. Kerry Emanuel has shown that the lower stratospheric cooling is playing a major role in the observed increases in Atlantic hurricane potential intensity over the past two decades. If that trend continues, so will the positive trends in various metrics of Atlantic hurricane activity–that appears to be ignored in this latest study. -mike]

Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 10 Nov 2010 @ 6:29 AM

266. Alex Katarsis @250: “adapting to the [changing] environment rather than attempting to reduce the GHG generation”

Adaptation will mean uprooting, moving and resettling large numbers of people in some of the most densely populated parts of South Asia due to sea level rise, a region where Partition didn’t go at all smoothly.

Adaptation will mean making up the shortfall in rice production as several major Asian production regions become untenable due to rising sea level and heat stress.

Adaptation will mean making up the shortfall in protein as the marine food chain at least partially collapses due to falling ocean pH.

And lest you start to think the toughest problems of adaptation will befall those living elsewhere, adaptation will mean the drought-driven depopulation and abandonment of several large urban centers in the American Southwest and possibly even the curtailment of agriculture in parts of the Midwest.

Comment by Jim Eager — 10 Nov 2010 @ 9:54 AM

267. Jim,
Maybe we can move them all to Russia. The climate will become much more hospitable as temperatures rise, and there are vast stretches of land for them to farm. Granted, them may have to farm wheat instead of rice. Of course, if we stop dredging those areas along the coast and allowing more seawater to enter, then the amount of land lost to the sea would be small.

The Amercan Midwest should prosper as the growing season continues to lengthen and precipitation increases. This area will include Canada also. The American Southwest has already grown mcuh faster than the area can support, and they probably should move out. There is a reason that the population remained low for centuries, it is a desert.

Comment by Dan H. — 10 Nov 2010 @ 10:28 AM

268. Alex Katarsis asks: “Regardless of the causes of climate change, wouldn’t engineering based on existing technology be best applied directly to human’s adapting to their environment, rather than attempting to reduce the GHG generation upon which a large portion of the modern world depends?”

The first step in mitigating or adapting to any problem is bounding the risk it poses. At present, we can’t even get there. If climate sensitivity is higher than we now think it is (which it would be if the MWP were a global phenomenon), warming and the damage it does will be commensurately greater. Basically, no one has produced a convincing analysis that demonstrates that climate change does not mean “game over” for human civilization.

What that means is that if we follow normal risk-reduction protocol, we have no choice but to do everything we can to avoid realization of the threat. That means reduction of carbon consumption. Perhaps if we hadn’t wasted 2 decades arguing over settled science, we might have had sufficient time to develop mitigation strategies. As it stands now, stringent reduction measures will be needed just to buy time.

And you are right, it is not just climate change we face. In our need to supply 6 billion people with the wherewithall to survive, we are already doing damage to the carrying capacity of the planet. Environmental degradation, aquifer destruction, collapse of fisheries. All will be exacerbated as human population crests at ~10 billion around 2050.

The problem is not just climate change, but rather developing a sustainable civilization–but climate change is one of the most severe threats we face.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Nov 2010 @ 11:16 AM

269. Dan H., Spoken like a man who hasn’t looked into the problem much.

Russia. Hmm, wonder what happens when all that permafrost melts. I don’t think you’re going to be running heavy machinery on that terrain any time soon.

The US Midwest…well, except 1)it’s already dry and slated to get drier; 2)agriculture is already dependent on irrigation from the Ogalala aquifer, which is drying up and soon will be lost forever; 3)Much of the Midwest will soon be too warm to grow crops like winter wheat

Canada…ever hear of the Canadian shield? It’s the bedrock that is left in much of Canada after the last ice age scraped away the topsoil (which wound up in the US Midwest until the dustbowl winds blew it into the Gulf.

You know, you can look this stuff up yourself.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Nov 2010 @ 11:21 AM

270. 264, mike: Kerry Emanuel has shown that the lower stratospheric cooling is playing a major role in the observed increases in Atlantic hurricane potential intensity over the past two decades.

Has an increase in Atlantic hurricane potential intensity actually occurred over the past 2 decades? This looks like a topic that could deserve its own thread with a review of all the evidence.

[Response: Yes–there is a great review by Kerry Emanuel in this BAMS article, a couple years old but still a pretty up-to-date assessment. -mike]

Comment by Septic Matthew — 10 Nov 2010 @ 11:40 AM

271. Why on earth do people assume a country like Russia is going to allow 100s of millions of climate refugees to enter Russia. They’re not going to do that. Most likely, they will nuke the exodus. I think the vast majority of the losers of climate “r*o*u*l*e*t*t*e” are most likely going to live in misery/die in place.

And Dan H., unless you’re a migrant farmworker, I don’t think Canada will let you in.

Comment by JCH — 10 Nov 2010 @ 12:12 PM

272. Ray Ladbury wrote: “All will be exacerbated as human population crests at ~10 billion around 2050.”

I doubt that the Earth’s human population will reach 10 billion around 2050. I expect there will be major ecological crashes resulting in global famine and a large die-off well before then.

Comment by SecularAnimist — 10 Nov 2010 @ 12:43 PM

273. Ray,
I see a little bit of sarcasm is lost on you.
At the current rate of sea level rise, ~2.5 mm/yr, significant populations will not be displaced. Do you have any evidence that the midwest will get drier or too warm to grow wheat? Precipitation increased during the 20th century warming, which is expected to continue. Temperature increases occurring primarily during the winter which resulting in a one week longer growing season.
Of course, you could have looked this up yourself.

Comment by Dan H. — 10 Nov 2010 @ 1:30 PM

274. Dan H. @266 — The entire continguos US is scheduled to dry up. See
http://climateprogress.org/2010/10/20/ncar-daidrought-under-global-warming-a-review/

Comment by David B. Benson — 10 Nov 2010 @ 1:59 PM

275. Dan H. said (of South Asian climate refugees):
> Maybe we can move them all to Russia.

Dan, does it occur to you how callous and arrogant that sounds? What, just crate’em up, ship’em out, and plonk’em down in Siberia, problem solved? Why would Bangladeshis cheerfully adapt to their country drowning, when Americans can’t even adapt to a watered-down cap-and-trade bill?

Comment by CM — 10 Nov 2010 @ 2:02 PM

276. How many people do really expect to be displaced by a 2.5 mm/year sea level rise? The world’s oceans rose by about 20 cm in the 20th century. How many people were displaced then? This century should be no different. Relax, no one will be crated up and moved.

Reports saying that the entire U.S. will dry up are humorous at best. The farm belt in the midwest should continue to see increasing precipitation in the future as long as temperatures continue to rise (10-20% 20th century increase), and an increased growing season due to shortened winters (one week 20th century increase). Throw the increasing airborne carbon into the mix, and farmers should continue to reap record harvests. There are some places which are using more water than is being replenished. These people will have difficulty continuing to cultivate a dry area.

Comment by Dan H. — 10 Nov 2010 @ 2:23 PM

277. Dan H.

Why on earth do people assume a country like Russia is going to allow 100s of millions of climate refugees to enter Russia. They’re not going to do that. Most likely, they will nuke the exodus. I think the vast majority of the losers of climate “r*o*u*l*e*t*t*e” are most likely going to live in misery/die in place.

And Dan H., unless you’re a migrant farmworker, I don’t think Canada will let you in.

Some folks claim to worry that adaptation is preferable to mitigation because mitigation isn’t possible without the imposition of “world-wide government”. Which is baloney, but … can one imagine a scenario where Russia and Canada allow millions of climate refugees into their country without there being some sort of world-wide government making the imposition on them (or at minimum, funding it?).

Of course, one wonder if Dan H., so smitten with the amount of potentially arable land up north, besides being perhaps a bit naive of soil composition in the far north, is also staring at a Mercador projection of the globe?

Comment by dhogaza — 10 Nov 2010 @ 2:28 PM

278. Further to #273–

Yes–as curious as it sounds, people the world over have strong feelings for their home and their country.

And just how the bloody hell are the Bangladeshis supposed to get to the steppe, even saying the Russians would welcome them? There’s currently about 160 million of them; that’s a lot of trains/buses/donkey carts. And would they be stuck waiting behind 180 million Indonesians?

I’m exaggerating? Well, yes, perhaps I am–but by how much? Isn’t it a tad troubling that we can’t yet define just what the extent of the problem would be?

It’s certainly troubling that most of the prime growing lands are expected to get much, much dryer. The PDSI values shown in the graph DBB pointed to are far in excess of those experienced during the “Dirty Thirties.”

Comment by Kevin McKinney — 10 Nov 2010 @ 2:44 PM

279. Dan H @266: “Maybe we can move them all to Russia.”

Don’t you think that “we” would have to consult the Russians about that first?

In any case perhaps you might want to talk to an agronomist: it will take a lot more than a warmer climate and ample precipitation to remake the Siberian and Canadian boreal forest and permafrost muskeg into productive farm land capable of growing wheat.

Ray mentioned the inconvenient fact that Precambrian shield covers more than half of the Canadian boreal forest, but in Russia there is the vast Siberian Traps flood basalt, laid down by what may have been the largest volcanic event in geologic history. Keep in mind that the map is not the territory.

Dan H: “The Amercan Midwest should prosper as the growing season continues to lengthen and precipitation increases.”

Assuming that the precipitation continues to fall in the right amount where and when needed, a tenuous assumption since one thing that we can expect in a warmer world is dryer conditions in continental interiors, and since we know that the western portion of the American Midwest has in fact been a semi-desert at times in the past.

Comment by Jim Eager — 10 Nov 2010 @ 3:13 PM

280. It is not 2.5 mm per year. In the year 2100 – 75 (I think) mm to 179 mm of sea level rise. Look at 100 X 2.5 mm. Cross your eyes and squeeze. Let’s see what comes out.

See why I was asking? Dummies like me can’t figure it out without a great deal of help. I’m off to the open thread, where I belong.

Comment by JCH — 10 Nov 2010 @ 3:22 PM

281. Dan H, you really should try to keep up with the current state of physical reality.

Sea level rise accelerated to over 3mm/year in the mid-1990s, which was before accelerated ice mass reduction was observed and measured in Greenland and West Antarctica, which suggest further increase in the rate of sea level rise is in the future, yielding at best a 1 meter rise by 2100, while 2 meters can not be ruled out.

Now consider the area currently under rice production in the deltas of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Irriwaddy and Mekong rivers, and the total population dependent on that production. You seem to be blissfully unaware that Bangladeshi farmers are already suffering from increasing salinity of the water table and building dikes and flood barriers by hand to keep the sea out, and that temperatures in some parts of South Asia are already at the upper limit for the successful germination of rice.

And your assertion that the US Midwest will see increasing precipitation in the future flies in the face of what happened in the 1930s and what paleoclimatology shows happened during the MWP. Similar to the situation with rice, the climate zone suitable for growing wheat is steadily moving northward, where it is constrained by the shield granite and the boreal forest.

Comment by Jim Eager — 10 Nov 2010 @ 3:41 PM

282. How many people do really expect to be displaced by a 2.5 mm/year sea level rise? The world’s oceans rose by about 20 cm in the 20th century. – Dan H

The rate of sea level rise accelerated during the 20th century. The current rate of rise is 3.2mm per year. Why did you not even bother to research this stuff before commenting on a blog run by climate scientists?????

Comment by Dappledwater — 10 Nov 2010 @ 4:16 PM

283. Dan H wrote: “The Amercan Midwest should prosper as the growing season continues to lengthen and precipitation increases.”

There is no reason to expect that to happen.

On the contrary, it is expected that droughts — including unprecedented, extreme and prolonged droughts — will increase; rainfall will be concentrated into extreme precipitation events (floods); and much of the “growing season” will be too hot for crops to thrive.

Comment by SecularAnimist — 10 Nov 2010 @ 4:19 PM

284. 269, mike,

Thanks.

I followed the link, and the first proposition, right under the author list, is this: A new technique for deriving hurricane climatologies from global data, applied to climate models, indicates that global warming should reduce the global frequency of hurricanes, though their intensity may increase in some locations.

In the text of the paper they write that the apparent warming of 1980-2005 (confirming your assertion that I questioned) must be due to something other than global warming, unless the models are wrong. Maue’s web page (and peer-reviewed paper) shows declines in total energy dissipation (he uses ACE) since 2005, and there seems to be little change throughout the whole 20th century.

In another place I expressed a doubt that the climate models actually make clear predictions about changes in intensity/frequency of tropical cyclones. This Emanuel et al paper tends to reinforce my doubt.

Comment by Septic Matthew — 10 Nov 2010 @ 4:22 PM

285. Dan H,

I’ve often seen people act like we can just shift agriculture north with warming temperatures, but I think it’s interesting to note that photosynthesis/growth relies on three rate limiting factors; temperature, CO2 and light. While temperatures may get warmer, it will not change the length of the day, or the angle of incidence of sunlight at certain times of the year, not to mention other concerns like the fitness of the soil, water availability, and the typical onset of the first crop killing frost (which, even in a warming world, may not change as much).

I’m certainly no expert, but I don’t think there are many crops that will be productive the vast stretches of open land in Siberia, no matter how warm it gets.

Scroll down and look at the measures of insolation at different times of the year in Demoines (Iowa), Winnipeg (Canada), and Ukhta (Siberia).

Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 10 Nov 2010 @ 4:35 PM

286. I find it amusing that people can talk of blithely moving millions of people to Siberia etc. Apart from the logistics and legal issues involved in such a mass migration, where is the infrastructure for them to live: the roads, railways, towns etc? Who’s going to pay for building all that?

Comment by turboblocke — 10 Nov 2010 @ 5:51 PM

287. Alex Katarsis says:
9 November 2010 at 2:14 PM

A question for the scientists. With commodity prices rising and potentially ready to explode, and according to National Geographic, nearly half of the earth’s surface now related directly or indirectly to agriculture, are there problems on the horizon involving modern “miracle” ferlizer use world-wide?

Yes. 1. They come from fossil fuels, which will eventually run out. Literally. 2. They are part of the 10 calories to get 1 problem. 3. They destroy soils by “burning” them, leaving them devoid of organic matter and life. 4. Stop the fertilizer, stop the food. 5. They are killing the oceans. 6. They prevent people from going to regenerative agriculture, which needs no tilling (millions of acres in the US currently not being tilled) and rebuilds carbon and biota in the soil, i.e., creates soil/humus. 7. Eliminate the ability of soil to hold water due to loss of organic matter in the soil. 1% organic matter will old 30-some litres (gallons?) of water, 5% will hold 130-some. Need I clarify further?

BUT!!!! We don’t need them. Simply returning all non-consumed matter back to the soil it came from, directly or by composting or mulching, reduces losses to about 2.5 percent according to Fukuoka. Closing the cycle with animals and humanure can prevent virtually all loss and even allow building of soil via use of accumulators, etc., and non-food waste streams (grass cuttings, tree leaves, animal manure, etc.) or business waste streams (cafeterias, restaurants, etc.)

As one example, there have already been battles over whether to subsidize (even charitably) increased fertilizer use in Africa. This particular climate “threat” has no easy enemy to blame.

Of course it does: Big Ag. Do you think it accidental GMO seeds exist, that huge CAFOs and corporate farms exist? As well as out own mis-steps intentional and unintentional. Our society and economic system is the problem. Al Bartlett likes to say the greatest failing of human being is our inability to understand the exponential function.

It seems to me that these problems are becoming less and less about the science and more about politics and the engineering required to find real world practical solutions.

It always has been.

Regardless of the causes of climate change, wouldn’t engineering based on existing technology be best applied directly to human’s adapting to their environment, rather than attempting to reduce the GHG generation upon which a large portion of the modern world depends?

No. How does more of what caused the problem fix the problem? Ask Tainter, Catton and Diamond about the success rate of increasingly complex solutions to increasing complexity. And ask the IEA about their statement published yesterday that peak crude oil production occurred in 2006. (2005, actually.)

If one wishes to engage in informed discussion of solutions for the Perfect Storm, I don’t see how a person can do so without some understanding of all of the following:

Embedded energy (what did it take to make X?)

non-linear systems (the bigger they are, the harder they fall… tipping points)

chaotic systems (the bigger they are, the harder they fall… tipping points)

Dunbar’s Number (cohesion lies in knowing people)

resource limits (oil, water, phosphorus, plutonium, rare earth metals, fish…. (really a population and consumption issue)

EROEI/EROI (Energy returned on energy invested > crude was 100:1, now may be as low as 11:1; biofuels 3:1 or less; essentially, increasingly less energy available for work needed for a rising population. Per capita energy in the US has been falling for a couple decades. No surprise we are declining at the same time… thermodynamics rule.)

thermodynamics (need energy to do work. less work, less energy.)

Jeavon’s paradox (increasing efficiency = greater consumption due to better access and perceived affordability, etc. Efficiency cannot trump increasing population. period. since 1950-ish to 2000-ish pop up 2+x, but consumption rose 11x. In US, oil consumption rose 5 million barrels a day from 1980-ish to 2005-ish even as efficiency rose 33%-ish.)

collapse of complex systems (Um… they break. More is not better. History says best choice is managed decline in the face of breaking systems and/or reducing resources)

economic and social cycles (They exist. Hard to override. Exacerbate crises. Can lead to tipping points being crossed.)

Climate

Food

So the proper response is to organize into sustainable, better yet, regenerative social structures that, by definition, conserve, preserve and actually improve natural services upon which we depend. This cannot be done in a system that works under assumptions of unlimited growth, imbalance in capital, finance, energy, food, water; i.e., a discussion about The Commons must ensue. A system of private ownership may be possible, but not based on a fractional reserve system (inherently requires growth, is essentially a Ponzi scheme -> deflation scares the bejeezus out of governments for this reason.)

The energy for more and more to solve larger and larger problems simply will not be there until our “renewable” (lots of non-renewables in renewables… shhh… don’t tell anybody) energy systems are much more advanced and/or we power down by a factor of, off the top of my head, 8 to 10. To illustrate, Europe uses 1/2 the energy the US does, but is still very far from sustainability.

I see a potentially much higher quality of life in the end, tough it will look a lot less technological, but not necessarily be. think of it as a hobbit with internet, a community tractor, community vehicle (if not close to the light rail system/electric bus route, connected to the high speed backbone, etc.)…

But technology? No. The time lines are far too short. Systems are already failing. And no amount of technology can grow food for 9 billion in a world 5 or more degrees hotter than today. Well, I have actually designed a semi-subterranean green house for full sun and automatic heat control from the temp of the surrounding soil.

Cheers

reCAPTCHA: the feretar… is that fer(al) tar(sands)?

Comment by ccpo — 10 Nov 2010 @ 6:18 PM

288. got my bold tags messed up… oops..

Comment by ccpo — 10 Nov 2010 @ 6:19 PM

289. Bob (Sphaerica) says:
10 November 2010 at 4:35 PM

Dan H,

I’ve often seen people act like we can just shift agriculture north with warming temperatures, but I think it’s interesting to note that photosynthesis/growth relies on three rate limiting factors; temperature, CO2 and light.

Forgot:

Liebig’s Law of the Minimum. Basically, weakest link. We currently have a long list of potential limiters to civilization growth and development, but it only takes one to bring it all down via cascading failures. That there are so many should scare the bejeezus out of everyone.

Black Swan events (but I did mention tipping points, non-linear and chaotic systems) which are qualitatively different in that they simply aren’t seen to be possible. They’re not on the horizon. This is different from just discounting possibilities via risk assessment; we can’t know a Black Swan is coming, but we can know *something* might, so need to build very resilient systems that can absorb shocks.

Anywho… engineering won’t cut it.

reCAPTURE: pharke not

Indeed.

Comment by ccpo — 10 Nov 2010 @ 6:34 PM

290. If “Septic” Matthew didn’t stop reading every time he sees the word “model”, he might be better informed.

But then, he says insane things like “declines in total energy dissipation … since 2005”. Maybe reading the whole paper really wouldn’t help him. Certainly in the far too long time he has been commenting on this site, he has not learned anything.

It’s an interesting paper, though. Well worth the time.

Comment by Didactylos — 10 Nov 2010 @ 6:38 PM

291. Dapple,
ARgo measured have shown that the rate has decreased since the 3.2 mm/yr. The centruy long average is about 1.8, while the near term is closer to about 2.5. If you are going to criticize someone for not using updated research, maybe you should look into the most recent work, as someone may know more than you.
Secular, do you have any evidence that the precipitaion increase witnessed recently will suddenly reverse dramatically?
Bob, you left out the frost/freeze aspect. The growing has increased due to earlier planting and later frosts.

Comment by Dan H. — 10 Nov 2010 @ 6:50 PM

292. turbobloke@285

But the mass migrations worked so well during the India-Pakistan partition…
Oh, wait. No they didn’t

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Nov 2010 @ 7:11 PM

293. Jim,
If you are going to criticize someone for being out of date, then you should really keep abreast of the latest technology. Using the latest Argo measurements, the most recent calculations (including the 3.2 mm/yr rise since 1979) is about 2.5 mm/yr. This is still above the long-term rate of 1.8 mm/yr. This is after the decelleration in Greenland and Antarctic ice mass lost. You need better clues.
Maybe if midwestern temperatures rise to the levels seen in the 1930s, drought-like conditions will return. However, research has shown that the drought led to the large temperature rise, not vise versa. Maybe you should get two clues.
For many Midwestern crops, the main limiter is the frost/freeze timeline. Temperature, precipitation, CO2, and fertilizer all play a role also, but if any of you were farmers, you would know to plant after the last freeze in spring and harvest before the first frost in fall.

Comment by Dan H. — 10 Nov 2010 @ 8:33 PM

294. Dan H. @291 — US and many other regions dry up:
http://climateprogress.org/2010/10/20/ncar-daidrought-under-global-warming-a-review/

Comment by David B. Benson — 10 Nov 2010 @ 9:20 PM

295. In the “your worst fears” department, Judith Curry is going to be testifying to congress as the sole minority witness.

Comment by Rattus Norvegicus — 10 Nov 2010 @ 10:34 PM

296. Thank you for the responses. What about the Nitrogen issue? 250 times more damaging than C02? We are talking about 50 percent of the land on earth (according to N.G.) being dedicated to agriculture – and poorly planned agriculture being responsible for 80 percent of tropical deforestation (less than 14 percent being due to sprawl). The nearly silent but forceful protests over subsidizing modern fertilizers in famine stricken areas of Africa for example, seems ridiculous. I am encouraged that genetically modified seeds are helping in some rough areas, there, and that the fertilizer issue has become complex due to cost, but should we continue to deny the farmers of Africa the benefits of increased output per acre due to this problem? Starve them now instead of drowning them later, so that activists can feel better about themselves? If I were president of the US (god forbid) I would encourage the subsidies, help enrich their soil now, increasing the output of agriculture in those areas which will benefit most due to poor irrigation and strengthen the self-sufficiencies of areas which immediately surround some of the places you are most concerned about having to evacuate later. Of course, this means letting the nitrogen do the massive damage that it will apparently do – according to the theories of AGW. It’s hard to find a bad guy to blame when it comes to nitrogen.

Comment by Alex Katarsis — 10 Nov 2010 @ 11:04 PM

297. Dan H @291: “Using the latest Argo measurements…”

You might want to at least try using the correct names of the sea level measuring systems, which would be TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason.

Free clue: the Argo float system measures ocean temperature, salinity and pressure, not sea level.

Comment by Jim Eager — 10 Nov 2010 @ 11:05 PM

298. And you guys never look on the bright side. We’ll all be enjoying fine Reykjavik Chardonnay.

Comment by Alex Katarsis — 10 Nov 2010 @ 11:08 PM

299. We can all relax, and forget about the global warming problem.

John Shimkus, Republican congressman from Illinois, assures us that the planet won’t be destroyed by global warming. Why is he so sure? Because God promised Noah.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1328366/John-Shimkus-Global-warming-wont-destroy-planet-God-promised-Noah.html

Comment by tamino — 10 Nov 2010 @ 11:57 PM

300. Oh nice work, Dan. Farming would be a dead set money spinner if last freeze, first frost were the only issues.

What do you do when the precipitation you rely on comes in 2 or 3 devastating, soil and seed washing away downpours rather than the frequent but less damaging rainfall that actually helps crops. Grow wheat in Australia, fine. If the rain comes at the end rather than the early or middle part of the season, your lesser, thirsty crops get wiped out by the rust that thrives in the warm, wet conditions. How do you harvest or sow seed when the soil is so waterlogged the machinery sinks in the mud?

Of course when it’s drought you do what I watched many mid-north (of SA) farmers do last year. You “harvest” your sparse, barely kneehigh sticks halfway through the season and sell the feeble result as hay.

301. >Dan H.
>latest Argo measurements

Dan, again, cite a source please.
Where did you read the information you rely on for that?

“The global Argo dataset is not yet long enough to observe global change signals. Seasonal and interannual variability dominate the present 6-year globally-averaged time series….”

The numbers for sea level come from looking at a large variety of source material. “Sea level is rising at an accelerating rate of 3 mm/year ….”
http://www.argo.ucsd.edu/

So — what’s your source, Dan?

Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Nov 2010 @ 1:09 AM

302. Nope, looked further, can’t find Dan’s source. Dan, where’d you get it?

Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Nov 2010 @ 1:14 AM

303. ccpo: Great post! Lots of great material for me to research. It is evident that you have given it a great deal of meaningful thought, and I appreciate it.

[edit–please try to keep it at least quasi-marginally, peripherally, tangentially, obliquely related to climate science. No political discourses. Thanks ]

Comment by Alex Katarsis — 11 Nov 2010 @ 1:41 AM

304. Alex Katarsis,
I was in the Peace Corps in West Africa. And I’ve traveled in East Africa. Suffice to say that lack of access to modern fertilizers is not the main problem with agriculture there. Use of buffalo to plow the field was considered a radical strategy. Most of the agriculture is slash and burn–not because farmers don’t know any better, but because it is the most economical and effective way to control weeds and pests.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of agriculture in Africa is the small size of the farms. In many cases you will have less than a quarter acre to support an entire family. Under such conditions the area must be farmed intensively to support the family, and depletion is a serious risk.

I had a friend who used to grow vegetables for the ex-pats (no interest in most veggies from the Africans, although African kids eat carrots like candy). He had to tend his crops and deliver his vegetables by bicycle over an area of about 100 square miles. He’d managed to more than quadruple production with the addition of a water pump to his operation. Prior to that, he’d had to irrigate everything by hand. He was prospering and ambitious, but probably working himself to death!

One reason why development has been slow is because it is a very difficult problem.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Nov 2010 @ 5:50 AM

305. Dan H – This is after the decelleration in Greenland and Antarctic ice mass lost

If your intent is to demonstrate you have no idea what you are talking about, you are succeeding spectacularly.

http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/greenland.html

“Greenland climate in 2010 is marked by record-setting high air temperatures, ice loss by melting, and marine-terminating glacier area loss. Summer seasonal average (June-August) air temperatures around Greenland were 0.6 to 2.4°C above the 1971-2000 baseline and were highest in the west. A combination of a warm and dry 2009-2010 winter and the very warm summer resulted in the highest melt rate since at least 1958 and an area and duration of ice sheet melting that was above any previous year on record since at least 1978.”

Comment by Dappledwater — 11 Nov 2010 @ 6:18 AM

306. Some poster was saying that people from Asia could be moved to Siberia.

The Chinese are already moving into Eastern Russia.They may outnumber Russians before too long, and the Russian government is nervous about that.

Russia is 60% permafrost. Much of Russia is a huge frozen bog, basically.

Some of the permafrost is thawing, which causes the land to become lakes. The thawing releases methane, a very powerful greenhouse gas, which accelerates global warming (postive feedback).

Even though propagandists for the the Russian petrostate try to discredit Western climate science in their English-language propaganda (Which Cuccinelli and other subversives cite in their complaints to the EPA), the thawing of the permafrost is something that the Russians could hardly fail to notice and that Russian scientists are paid to study in state universities.

One expert on the Russian permafrost is named Sergei Kirpotin, a Professor of Botany in Tomsk. He was the only Russian scientist who was quoted saying that Climategate was a provocation to wreck the Copenhagen meeting. This was quoted the Russian Greenpeace site, but not in one Russian paper. A lot of the media is owned by Gazprom.

Obviously, it is not a normal situation when all those scientists are quiet, and the media only trots out some 90-year old scientists to debunk global warming.

It’s not clear to me who the propagandists “belong to,” as the Russians say. Maybe Gazprom. Maybe the Kremlin. Maybe the ruling Russia United party. Maybe the state security.

Even the analytical side of the state security has hired outside experts to study the consequences of global warming, just as the Pentagon and CIA do.

Russian scientific orgaizations also note the fact of global warming.

The gas companies also have to know about the thawing permafrost because it will cause their infrastructure to sink. Still, they may feel that thawing will also have some benefits because gas may be easier to get to.

It’s funny that Cuccinelli quotes the IEA (Andrei Illarionov) in his brief to the EPA. Instead of the propaganda, he should have read what Russian scientists, Gazprom, and the state security say.

Even a Russian ship can go through the Arctic to China now, and the Russians are wanting to claim the Arctic for Russia.

These things are all happening because of global warming, but these Republican conspiracists don’t read anything but the most transparent petrostate propaganda.

Comment by Snapple — 11 Nov 2010 @ 7:10 AM

307. Comment by Dan H. — 11 Nov 2010 @ 7:14 AM

308. I have a lot of respect for real Russian scientists. Mostly, they try to be honest scientists.

I have a lot about Kirpotin on my site.

Russian politicians have to really dig deeply into a barrel of rotten apples to get Russian scientists to say there is no global warming. Actually, they got mainly an economist, Andrei Illarionov, to make their propaganda. He worked for Chernomyrdin, the head of the Soviet Gas Ministry, and subsequently created Gazprom. Illarionov was also a Putin adviser.

Now Illarionov works at the Cato with some guy named Michaels and at his fake “think tank” the Institute for Economic Analysis.”

I think he makes Libertarian propaganda because he wants our federal government to be weak so they can’t protect us. I read that the father of the Koch brothers was associated with the John Birch society and that they actually wanted to disband the FBI and CIA.

Sounds like a plan…if you are a Russian propagandist for the gas industry.

Still, when the fires came, the Russian “leaders” needed NASA to help them spot the fires. They were too cheap to have a government with federal agencies that could protect their people. Even their nuclear facilities were threatened by the fires. They were penny wise and pound foolish, or, as the Russians say, “a miser pays twice.”

I find it incredible that Cuccinelli’s brief to the EPA and some of the earlier petitions to the EPA cite IEA (Illarionov) propaganda from RIA Novosti (Russia’s official press agency) as scientific evidence that Western scientists are fudging their science.

Perhaps this is because Cuccinelli’s dad is a gas lobbyist with “European” clients.

It’s kind of funny the denialists cited RIA Novosti because the party line changed on them briefly during the fires. RIA Novosti cited Medvedev confirming global warming. RIA Novosti was even quoting US scientific agencies, mainly NASA.

One article in RIA Novosti even blamed global warming on the “secret climate weapons” of American scientists.

I think this moron embarrassed the Kremlin while NASA was helping them, so they started writing informative information based on NASA.

Now Putin says they have to be “realistic.” Probably this means to shut up about global warming. Putin is the head of the ruling Russia United Party.

Comment by Snapple — 11 Nov 2010 @ 8:00 AM

309. [edit – too far OT]

Comment by Snapple — 11 Nov 2010 @ 9:11 AM

310. #307–Thanks for the references, Dan; looks like good information.

You do realize, though–don’t you?–that it applies to a specific 3-year period, and doesn’t necessarily imply that the longer-term trend has changed? In fact, the error bars on the value you cite comfortably encompass that longer-term number.

And AFAIK, no-one knowledgeable expects SLR to be linear over time; so there’s really little reason to think that SLR will be limited to 20 cm, as you suggested way back when.

Comment by Kevin McKinney — 11 Nov 2010 @ 9:29 AM

311. Should have written “specific 4-year period.”

Sorry. . .

Comment by Kevin McKinney — 11 Nov 2010 @ 9:30 AM

312. Dan H 267: Maybe we can move them all to Russia. The climate will become much more hospitable as temperatures rise, and there are vast stretches of land for them to farm. Granted, them may have to farm wheat instead of rice. Of course, if we stop dredging those areas along the coast and allowing more seawater to enter, then the amount of land lost to the sea would be small.

The Amercan Midwest should prosper as the growing season continues to lengthen and precipitation increases. This area will include Canada also. The American Southwest has already grown mcuh faster than the area can support, and they probably should move out. There is a reason that the population remained low for centuries, it is a desert.

BPL: The problem with that idea is that if we don’t control AGW, by the end of the century, everywhere will be a desert as well. Including Russia and the US midwest.

Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 11 Nov 2010 @ 10:38 AM

313. Dan H 276: Reports saying that the entire U.S. will dry up are humorous at best.

BPL: Listen, friend, I just sent a paper on this subject to Journal of Climate. You’re wrong. Most of the US will be desert by 2100 if we don’t reverse global warming. Want the numbers?

Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 11 Nov 2010 @ 10:41 AM

314. Thanks for this question on the narrative or story and how it relates to weak public understanding of AGW.

Stories are how most people relate to their world. It is stories that give their life meaning. In the classification schemes of Northrup Frye (“Anatomy of Criticism”, 1957) and James Hopewell (“Congregations – Stories and Structures”, 1987) as told by Gil Rendle and Alice Mann (“Holy Conversations”, 2003, pages 113-118), there are four basic narratives and associated religious perspectives.

The narrative polarities are portrayed on the compass. The first polarity is the familiar Comic (Gnostic) as East vs. Tragic (Canonic) as West. The second polarity is less well known: Romantic (Charismatic) as South vs. Ironic (Empiric) as north.

Only the empirical narrative (the cold North) is part of the scientific paradigm. This narrative, as the most common narrative on RealClimate, resonates most favorably with intellectuals [I confess I am one, and an economist as well].

The other narratives are already part of the AGW “story” in the press. The narrative of James Hansen is of the romantic hero surviving inside the evil bureaucracy headed by Cheney and G.W. Bush. The story of ClimateGate is largely one of tragedy and perhaps resurrection. Tragedy is also the coming story of the Republican “investigations” (witch-trials) of AGW scientists by U.S. House committees. Of the comic stories of transcendence and victory by the right-hearted, these stories are not much in evidence in the AGW arena; although the thumping and bumping of some climate deniers on this site does trend in that direction.

Comment by Phil Carver — 11 Nov 2010 @ 10:41 AM

“What do you do when the precipitation you rely on comes in 2 or 3 devastating, soil and seed washing away downpours rather than the frequent but less damaging rainfall that actually helps crops.”

“Bob, you left out the frost/freeze aspect. The growing has increased due to earlier planting and later frosts.”

To add a little bit to adelady’s post, the western Canadian wheat failure experience this year ties the frost/rain Scylla/Caribdys together. The (probably El Nino-influenced) rains that bedeviled the Olympics persisted long enough to prevent 8-12 million acres of wheat ground from being planted this spring. It was too wet to even plant, let alone allow decent germination/seedling survival. So, goobers who think food begins and ends in their grocery store say ‘why couldn’t those lazy farmers just plant later, instead of holding out for a government handout?’ That’s where crop insurance and the average frost date comes into the picture. After a certain date, crop insurance coverage drops a large amount, maybe 50%, for a few days, then goes to zero for then-unplanted crops. Insurers do that because the odds that the immature crop will be destroyed by frost converge to an unsatisfactory point. Regardless of the financial risk, money doesn’t trump nature. A prematurely frozen wheat crop is no crop.

Now, add in the probability that Arctic climate change perturbs the weather enough to produce rogue early frosts, even in generally longer growing season conditions. Further add the possibility that AGW compresses grain production into the northern latitudes, and reduces production elsewhere, so that there isn’t adequate production elsewhere to offset localized losses. Consider further that the northern lats are cereal grain country; corn production on a mass scale is unworkable there now, and it’s a question whether the problems can be overcome even with warmer conditions there. Finally, add the real probability that warmer conditions widen/deepen the prevalence/threat of wheat crop-ruining rust (let alone insect issues), and you begin to get the picture. Losing 10 million acres of production, plus the climate/weather-related Russian losses this year, and other supply factors puts wheat at around \$7/bushel now. Do that year over year, and it doesn’t take long for the world to run low. Running out might not be the question–running low enough/raising prices high enough to cause unrest on top of a climate-stressed world is enough.

If that’s not uncomfortable enough for you, consider the protein situation when (a) climate-limited corn production no longer can support sufficient confinement livestock production; (b) ocean acidification, ocean hyperthermia, and overfishing combine to drastically reduce marine protein production; and (c) climate-impaired soybean production is inadequate to fill the protein gap. Think that’d bring out the pitchfork-and-torches crowd, or the cruise missile crowd, as the case may be? The best comparison for the average no-idea-where-my-food-comes-from American might be the comparatively very short term disruption experienced during/after hurricanes. Expand that to a years-to-decades timeframe or to an annual event, and then check the Rolaids supply.

Comment by ghost — 11 Nov 2010 @ 11:17 AM

316. With sea level as with temperature, accounting exercises can help explain the observed rise, but the trends obtained this way don’t trump the actual observed trends.

How can they? We see this kind of model-abuse from deniers quite frequently, but I think this is the first time I have seen someone argue that the sea isn’t rising as fast as it is because the budget adds up to a different number!

Do you think Dan H. noticed that two of his links are to the same paper?

More evidence that he is simply confused and out of his depth. I really honestly have no clue what point he was actually trying to make and he has neither clarified it nor backed it up.

I wonder what his real (third hand, predigested) source was?

Comment by Didactylos — 11 Nov 2010 @ 11:43 AM

317. 290, Didactylos: But then, he says insane things like “declines in total energy dissipation … since 2005″. Maybe reading the whole paper really wouldn’t help him.

The ” … ” displays omission of useful information. Is that your way of saying that you dismiss Maue’s data presentations out of hand?

What parts of my summaries of the paper’s findings are you disputing? Their models predicted declining cyclonic energy dissipations with global warming, and they explicitly wrote that their model results do not conform with the increase in energy dissipation through 2005.

Comment by Septic Matthew — 11 Nov 2010 @ 12:17 PM

318. 304:

I’ve spent years overseas myself, living in poor areas of Asia. I understand that we’ve had bad luck with foreign aid to some of these areas – with corrupt governments diverting funds meant for good purposes, but these subsidies were being blocked because people claimed the fertilizers were dangers to the already famine stricken environments (as well as generators of GHGs). I think the conservative elements are right on this issue. We should support development of modern highways in Africa and subsidies for fertilizing well organized farmland. It is politically-correct to oppose highway development, because people are mistaken in the belief that the laying of asphault is the primary cause of deforestation. The truth is, land clearing for inefficient farming is the main cause. Those little family farms that clear land immediately between two forested areas and a river or stream is precisely what begins the deforestation process. If we do those two things now, we will improve access to health care in Africa, stimulate trading intercontinentally and increase the food output in famine stricken areas. Concerns over GHG’s should take a back seat. It seems we are dodging the nitrogen issue anyway. Making these danger zones more self-sufficient, will provide funding for infrastructure later (even in Bangladesh). The best part is, we can do it immediately.
[edit – debating made up stuff about DDT is best done on other blogs. It is very OT here]

I truly hope that some of you see why it could be argued that fighting carbon dioxide and nitrogen may actually be damaging, more immediately, to the poorer people of earth? In fact, it’s more than just an argument. Fighting against these actions to “save the earth” is demonstrably damaging in the short term.

Comment by Alex Katarsis — 11 Nov 2010 @ 1:57 PM

319. Funny Didactylos,
I was being polite to those who might not have a subscription. Apparently you prefer rudeness based on your last post. Do you always blindly accept that which supports your own beliefs, but vehemently deny that which does not? Did you even notice that there is no significant different between the two values. Maybe with a little more research, you can clear up your confusion.
Barton,
The NCAR is one prediction for the future. Here is another which shows a significant increase in precipitaion for the U.S. by 2100. Both of these prediction lie within the uncertainty for 90 years in the future. I would not bet on either.
http://www.ornl.gov/sci/knowledgediscovery/WarGaming/

http://www.ornl.gov/sci/knowledgediscovery/WarGaming/

Comment by Dan H. — 11 Nov 2010 @ 2:07 PM

320. BPL (#313)

I thought the precipitation variation from the GCM weren’t clearly indicating more or less, just greater frequency of extremes. I understand increased area of desert, however I don’t understand how you saw with certainty that it’s going to cover most of the US. Can you explain how the argument supports that statement (or provide a link to your paper)?

Comment by sambo — 11 Nov 2010 @ 2:36 PM

321. #319–

I don’t think cumulative July precip is that useful a metric, I’m afraid. It ignores 90%+ of the year (obviously) and also the effect of temperature on drying–also important for drought conditions.

This one’s a “fail.”

Comment by Kevin McKinney — 11 Nov 2010 @ 2:51 PM

322. A few comments on the farming thing. I’ve posted before about the water retention capacity of soils with good organic content. This is a key metric in keeping soils in place even in heavy downpours. A second key metric is keeping the ground covered. ALL farming/gardening land/plots should be heavily mulched. This is as simple as chopping and dropping the remains where they grew or returning them after processing. If you do the second you get the first and many heavy rains will simply add to your aquifer.

If water starts to run regardless of organic content, then you need to plan in earthworks to deal with this. Like the first two, this should be done, anyway. Any good land management/development project starts with water, soil, sun and wind. The earthworks manage water (energy) flows on your land and, except in very wet environments, should be keeping every drop that falls on your site on your site. Overflow is always accounted for and planned in.

You’ll note the first comments take care of sun, too, by keeping the soil/humus covered up preventing drying, which also takes care of wind blowing away your soil.

3 and 4+ standard deviation events occur. There’s nothing we can do about that other than attempt to stabilize the Greenhouse effect and hope that gives us a climate that stays within the range we grew up in. But, the very, very simple steps above take us very far into sustainable, efficient and resilient food systems.

Oh, and your weed problem is essentially non-existent with all that ground covered up thus are very easy to keep up with.

As for bugs, much is dealt with via compost teas, organic sprays as simple as garlic and pepper, the mulching, co-planting to attract beneficial, and repel unwanted, insects, animals (ducks and chickens, e.g.,), hand removal and simply acknowledging bugs are people too and if your system is well-balanced will not overwhelm your system, so simply account in 10% losses for bugs and fauna.

The negatives of chem fertilizers and insecticides are just too obvious to even bother addressing, but here’s a simple list:

destroy soil
poison food chain, people, environment
expensive
create dependencies
create super bugs and weeds
allow and promote massive monocultures
allow and promote dissociation from natural systems

Funny thing about saving the planet? Could not be simpler.

Comment by ccpo — 11 Nov 2010 @ 3:32 PM

323. Dan, I’m aware of the uncertainties — click on the “cited by” links for the papers you came up with, and you’ll find more recent papers too, e.g.

What you posted earlier is not in the papers you cited.

I’m curious where you got the specific claim about ARGO you first posted — that ARGO is the most up to date source. Memory play you wrong? No worries, that happens. But if you got it from some other blog or source — where? And why do you consider it reliable?

Watch out for one easy pitfall — posting a claim then going to look for support afterwards. That’s a debate tactic. But it’s not a research approach in science — it’s called “retrospective citation” nowadays because it’s so easy to do. But it only gets you what you want, not what you need.

Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Nov 2010 @ 3:33 PM

324. A few comments on the farming thing:

I’ve posted before about the water retention capacity of soils with good organic content. This is a key metric in keeping soils in place even in heavy downpours. A second key metric is keeping the ground covered. ALL farming/gardening land/plots should be heavily mulched. This is as simple as chopping and dropping the remains where they grew or returning them after processing. If you do the second you get the first and many heavy rains will simply add to your aquifer.

If water starts to run regardless of organic content, then you need to plan in earthworks to deal with this. Like the first two, this should be done, anyway. Any good land management/development project starts with water, soil, sun and wind. The earthworks manage water (energy) flows on your land and, except in very wet environments, should be keeping every drop that falls on your site on your site. Overflow is always accounted for and planned in.

You’ll note the first comments take care of sun, too, by keeping the soil/humus covered up preventing drying, which also takes care of wind blowing away your soil.

3 and 4+ standard deviation events occur. There’s nothing we can do about that other than attempt to stabilize the Greenhouse effect and hope that gives us a climate that stays within the range we grew up in. But, the very, very simple steps above take us very far into sustainable, efficient and resilient food systems.

Oh, and your weed problem is essentially non-existent with all that ground covered up thus are very easy to keep up with.

As for bugs, much is dealt with via compost teas, organic sprays as simple as garlic and pepper, the mulching, co-planting to attract beneficial, and repel unwanted, insects, animals (ducks and chickens, e.g.,), hand removal and simply acknowledging bugs are people too and if your system is well-balanced will not overwhelm your system, so simply account in 10% losses for bugs and fauna.

We used co-planting, mulching and compost teas and had no problem until we simply stopped paying any attention to our garden. We did not till, used no chem fertilizers or insecticides, used lasagna beds (sheet mulching). We had the best-tasting tomatoes I’ve ever eaten and some read and white potatoes up to 1lb., 3 lbs. per plant, e.g.

The negatives of chem fertilizers and insecticides are just too obvious to even bother addressing, but here’s a simple list:

destroy soil
poison food chain, people, environment
expensive
create dependencies
create super bugs and weeds
allow and promote massive monocultures
allow and promote dissociation from natural systems
allows communities to be dissected into constituent pieces, reducing health, wellness, resilience, community

Etc.

Funny thing about saving the planet? Could not be simpler.

Comment by ccpo — 11 Nov 2010 @ 3:41 PM

325. I wrote some things about the importance of the narrative in conveying the science:

http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/what-we-know-is-most-important/

Comment by Bart Verheggen — 11 Nov 2010 @ 3:44 PM

326. Alex Katarsis says, ” Concerns over GHG’s should take a back seat.”

Actually, no. Climate change is already affecting African agriculture adversely, and if we ignore it, then all of our investments and good intentions will come to naught.

Ultimately, all the problems we are talking about fall under the heading of sustainability. We cannot ignore climate change to concentrate on development when both must be considered to achieve sustainability.

Now perhaps you are sincere in your concern for the poor. However, if that is true, then you need to realize that the burdens of climate change will fall heaviest upon them. I’m sorry. Saying “It won’t be that bad” is denial, and it is shortsighted.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Nov 2010 @ 3:49 PM

327. For Dan:

It’s worth finding the actual paper at its origin, not second-hand descriptions of it.

Cazenave for example — Lots of people have posted the same link you did, on, well, the kinds of blogs you’d expect people who know what they want.

But if you instead look it up yourself, you can give people the link to the original without having to say where you first read it, if you don’t want to — and you and others can then read the papers citing it:

Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Nov 2010 @ 3:51 PM

328. P.S, also for Dan — did you look at that link I gave you already?
Then you noticed this update by Cazenave:

http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-marine-120308-081105?journalCode=marine

Surprised? Don’t just read that one though.

Posting real primary sources, or at least being willing to say where you get your information, is going to be helpful to everyone.

This isn’t debate.

Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Nov 2010 @ 3:54 PM

329. Dan H at 319: did you read the tutorial associated with those maps?
Mean Summer Precipitation: The average summer (July) rainfall appears higher in most
of the Eastern US (other than Florida and southern Georgia) as well as in the Midwest,
parts of central US and parts of New Mexico and Texas. In the Western US, there is
significant reduction in summer rainfall. Roughly speaking, the rainfall shows an
increasing trend for July in areas which get more rainfall compared to other parts of the
US, and a decreasing trend in areas which get less rainfall in July. This may exacerbate
existing problems related to both floods and droughts (or water scarcity), although more
detailed study on extremes must be performed before any conclusive assessments.
Annual Stream flow: Significant reduction in annual average stream flows is projected
for all rivers by 2100. The most notable are the major rivers, namely, Columbia,
Colorado, St. Louis and Mississippi. This suggests a major stress on the water resources.
Mean Summer Wetness: The eastern USA will experience more significant changes in
summertime (P–E) than the western USA. The tip of the Florida peninsula exhibits the
greatest likelihood of drying (up to 7 cm reduction in July P–E), which will likely
increase the strain on already overdrawn fresh groundwater supplies. West of the Rocky
Mountains, minimal decreases in P–E of about 1 cm will occur. There will be some
slight increases in wetness of about 1 cm along the eastern portion of the Rockies
extending down into central Texas. A roughly triangular area of increased wetness of up
to 2 cm can be seen stretching from Tulsa, OK in the west to Sault Saint Marie, MI in the
north to Virginia Beach, VA in the east. Within this moisture triangle, particular wetness
increases of 2-3 cm in net P–E are projected over the Mississippi River area north oMemphis, TN and over the center of North Carolina. The north-south trending portion of
the wetness triangle appears to reflect the presence of the Appalachians. The east-west
portion of the wetness triangle may result from frontal precipitation patterns in the region.
The heavily populated northeast (New Jersey and portions of New York), will experience
decreases in P–E of up to 2 cm/month.

Comment by turboblocke — 11 Nov 2010 @ 5:02 PM

330. Dan H. @319 — The ORNL authors specifically state that the r3esults presented are exemplary rather than definitive. Dr. Dai’s recent paper is a survey in which he writes “This is very alarming because if the drying is anything resembling Figure 11, a very large population will be severely affected in the coming decades over the whole United States, southern Europe, Southeast Asia, Brazil, Chile, Australia, and most of Africa.”
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wcc.81/full

Comment by David B. Benson — 11 Nov 2010 @ 6:29 PM

331. Dan H.: Maybe I am wrong about you. Maybe you understand everything but simply have a communication problem.

I doubt it, though. You make too many fundamental errors for that to be the case. Which makes your personal attack an example of the rudeness you pretend to be offended by.

It is clear that you failed to understand my post, which doesn’t surprise me since the thrust of my post was your failure to understand anything. Congratulations, Dan. You met expectations.

“Septic” Matthew. Please don’t be obtuse. My complaint about your “since 2005” comment is simple. You know that such a short period is meaningless. It means nothing, yet you trumpeted it as vindication of your lazy ideas.

As for the body of your argument, you seem to be misinterpreting the section that discusses the disparity between observed and modelled power dissipation, while blithely ignoring sections such as

It is noteworthy that simulated global tropical cyclone power dissipation increases by more than 60% in simulations driven by NCAR–NCEP reanalysis over the period of 1980–2006, consistent with deductions from best-track data

Your interpretation of this and the related text was “the apparent warming of 1980-2005 … must be due to something other than global warming, unless the models are wrong.” This is so clearly not what it says that I really, really weep for your reading comprehension skills.

Nobody expects models to be perfect, particularly in a field such as this where data is so sparse and unreliable. You are just using it as an excuse to bash models, without paying any attention to the paper’s actual results.

Comment by Didactylos — 11 Nov 2010 @ 6:30 PM

332. Dr. John Abraham has an op-ed in the Guardian.

Comment by Snapple — 11 Nov 2010 @ 8:20 PM

333. I have from time to time felt like a broken record for saying that the accumulation of heat due to excess CO2 will probably not significantly cause the atmospheric temperature to increase because the heat will be taken up in the oceans. I say it again based on Argo data I just ran into:

http://www.argo.ucsd.edu/Research_use.html

I have also tried to explain that there is no such thing as a mixed layer that permanently, or long term even, traps heat based on:

Physics of Sound in the Sea, National Defense Research Council 1946 (reprinted as NAVMAT P-9675) (Last time I was away and could not completely cite, but I have it in hand at this moment)

But it is not necessary to read Physics of Sound — when we have the Argo data above cited.

Clearly, the phenomenon known as a mixed layer occurs about once a year and in this area shown here goes very deep. It does not seem to ever get colder than the coldest part of the ocean, and in fact the minimum surface temperature seems to be set by deep water temperatures. This seems to suggest that there is vertical mixing of significance involved in forming of this mixed layer.

But most importantly, this Argo data seems to bear out that the deep ocean is indeed taking on a great deal of heat. This certainly supports the radiative imbalance theory, but it should tell us that the supposed atmospheric warming of the climate will not be that significant, since the deep oceans appears both large enough as a reservoir for heat and the mechanism of heat getting there seems to be strongly functional.

This is actually worse because the globe will be warming and nobody will notice; except over the long term the sea level will rise. That will be slow so not much will be done about it for some time.

I realize this is all based on a history in only one spot, and it is in a place where great ocean systems interact, but being a picture that goes very deep and shows such strong trends over the last decade, I would look for it to be somewhat similar elsewhere.

As near as I can tell, the vertical mixing in the ocean has not been well handled in the climate models.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 11 Nov 2010 @ 8:27 PM

334. Here is another quote from the aforementioned Kerry et al:

It is noteworthy that simulated global tropical
cyclone power dissipation increases by more
than 60% in simulations driven by NCAR–NCEP
reanalysis over the period of 1980–2006, consistent
with deductions from best-track data, while global
power dissipation increases somewhat more than
that over the next 200 yr in simulations driven by
climate models undergoing global warming. This
suggests either that the greater part of the large
global increase in power dissipation over the past
27 yr cannot be ascribed to global warming, or that
there is some systematic deficiency in our technique
or in global models that leads to the underprediction
of the response of tropical cyclones to global
warming.

The paper also notes inconsistencies in the model predictions.

And now that the record is longer, we know that there has been no net increase in ACE over the past 31 years. Emanuel et al just happened to be written at the end of a transient increase.

290, Didactylos is right about one thing: in the last few months, I have become more skeptical.

Let Emanuel et al have the last word: A new technique for deriving hurricane climatologies from global data, applied to climate models, indicates that global warming should reduce the global frequency of hurricanes, though their intensity may increase in some locations. Right or wrong, that’s their summary of their work.

Comment by Septic Matthew — 11 Nov 2010 @ 10:30 PM

335. 313 BPL: Keep up the good work. Hoping to read your paper soon.

315 ghost: Thanks. Exactly. And combine that with BPL’s paper. Mitigate NOW!

Comment by Edward Greisch — 12 Nov 2010 @ 2:24 AM

336. Jim@333, you can’t be serious! Where were you during 1998?

When the deep Pacific gets its chance to release absorbed, accumulated heat during an El Nino, those of us stuck between the Pacific and Indian Oceans fail to understand the term ‘warming’ – the correct Australian expression is bl**dy hot. And dry, and dangerous.

I am not in the least reassured by heating oceans, dying corals, disappearing fish.

337. Dan H 319: The NCAR is one prediction for the future. Here is another which shows a significant increase in precipitaion for the U.S. by 2100. Both of these prediction lie within the uncertainty for 90 years in the future. I would not bet on either.

BPL: I’d bet on both. More precipitation and more deserts are entirely compatible if the precipitation is concentrated more on the coasts and less on the interior.

Sambo: My paper hasn’t been published yet. I took the Dai et al. drought database and derived a global time series, F, of the fraction of Earth’s land surface in severe drought or worse (“severe” = PDSI <= -3.0). That fraction was 6% in 1870, 12% in 1970, and 21% in 2005, after peaking briefly at 31% in 2003–it's a very variable series. I used statistical analysis to tie F to past F, temperature anomaly, the *square* of temperature anomaly, and the SOI index. With 72% of variance accounted for 1870-2005, I used the IPCC AR2 "business as usual" scenario and a Monte Carlo numerical simulation of the ENSO cycle to show that F always hits 70% by 2050-2055, with a mean of 2052 sd 0.6. I ran the simulation 10,000 times to get a good sample.

Drought is increasing in continental interiors, as predicted long ago by the GCMs. Dai et al. have just published a paper coming to the same conclusion I got by a different route (they used a GCM, I used statistics). Drought is a more immediate problem than sea-level rise or other bad side-effects of AGW. And it will very definitely bring down human civilization in this century unless we act very, very soon.

Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 12 Nov 2010 @ 5:52 AM

338. [edit – OT]

Comment by Snapple — 12 Nov 2010 @ 6:55 AM

339. #333–

Jim, I’m skeptical of your contention. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I do know that the critical role of the ocean in responding to radiative forcing has been well-known for a long time. (As has its role in sinking CO2.)

Coincidentally, I just posted a question on Open Mind about a graph showing Ocean Heat Content–essentially, I have trouble imagining any physical basis for the variability it showed. (Conservation of energy, and all that.) So it’s not a closed question in my mind, but I’m positive that there’s been *lots* of folks looking at this stuff. (And as positive that I know very little about it!)

Maybe this is a good topic for a future RC essay?

I did find this note by Dr. Trenberth:

http://acacia.ucar.edu/cas/Trenberth/trenberth.papers/NatureNV10.pdf

Comment by Kevin McKinney — 12 Nov 2010 @ 8:04 AM

340. “It is clear that scientists’ obsession with clear thinking over narrative handicaps our attempts to communicate the seriousness of the climate change challenge. But since the media will continue to favor compelling narratives over substance, that is the method by which this debate will be fought.”

On December 29, 1972, an Eastern Airlines Lockheed L-1011 which had taken off from JFK was in the landing pattern for Miami when the warning light that indicated if the nose gear was down and locked failed to illuminate. The pilot and co-pilot began a series of procedures intended to determine the nature of the malfunction – whether the gear was down and locked, whether the indicator light had burned out, etc. In the process of focusing on this issue they failed to realize they had inadvertently disengaged the autopilot and, as they obsessed over the indicator light, they flew the plane into the ground and 101 people died.

On August 6, 2001, a Presidential Daily Brief titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” that had been prepared by the best intelligence wonks in the US failed to capture the attention of the country’s top political and national security leaders. Thirty six days later, over 3,000 people died in an event that subsequently precipitated two wars, added trillions to our financial burdens, and has cost tens of thousands of additional lives – most of them innocent bystanders.

Admitting you have a problem is the first step on the road to recovery. Stop obsessing – or, at the very least, redirect your fixation toward winning the larger argument – eliminating fossil fuels as sources of energy.

Comment by UnReal2r — 12 Nov 2010 @ 9:03 AM

341. UnReal2r @ 340

“failed to capture the attention of the country’s top political and national security leaders”

Communication is a two part problem. There are limits when people just won’t listen or are perhaps too incompetent to comprehend for whatever reason.

Coming up:

“Of the four Republicans vying for chairmanship of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee – which oversees health care – Fred Upton sees “no real science” supporting climate change; John Shimkus says there’s no global warming ’cause God promised Noah there wouldn’t be; Cliff Stearns boasts a 96% rating from the right-wing American Conservative Union; Joe Barton, the only guy to apologize to BP, loves Davey Crockett, sees the repeal of health care reform as his Alamo, and vows to protect the “traditional, incandescent light bulb” against attacks by “the little, squiggly, pig-tailed ones”; and all four have gotten huge donations from the health and energy industries.”

Abby Zimet

How fossil fuels are dealt with is a very thorny policy issue. Climate scientists can inform the process, but by and large, they aren’t in a position to actually fly the plane, so to speak.

However, if you have a good way to get through to the lunkheads, now might be a good time to speak up.

Comment by Radge Havers — 12 Nov 2010 @ 10:38 AM

342. UnReal2r … with all due respect, your comment is utterly incoherent. Do you have a point?

Comment by SecularAnimist — 12 Nov 2010 @ 10:47 AM

343. Jim@333 – I’m sorry, I’m not understanding how the deep ocean warming keeps the atmosphere from warming, if you’re increasing the heat of the whole system? If I were to take a closed flask and somehow manage to layer warm water on top of cold water, with air layered on top of that, and then warm up the air layer, the cold water at the bottom would eventually get warmer, yes. It slows down the warming of the air, but it doesn’t stop it – the whole flask just gets warmer, all the layers. That’s a simplistic model, I know, but it seems like the principle is the same.

Comment by Maya — 12 Nov 2010 @ 11:11 AM

344. Jim Bullis says, “I have from time to time felt like a broken record for saying that the accumulation of heat due to excess CO2 will probably not significantly cause the atmospheric temperature to increase because the heat will be taken up in the oceans.”

And we will continue to correct your misunderstandings of the greenhouse effect. There are only two relevant places where the energy can go. It can escape to the inky blackness of space, or it stays in the climate system. Period.

If more energy goes into the deep oceans, that merely means it takes longer to reach equilibrium–because it is the temperature rise that provides the main negative feedback to the energy captured by greenhouse gasses. We don’t reach equilibrium until energy_out equals energy_in, and energy_out is determined by the temperature at the radiating surface.

Even if you were correct (and you aren’t), all it would mean is that it takes longer to reach equilibrium and longer to recover. Of course it would also have some pretty serious implications for the paleoclimate that haven’t been observed. Maybe you want to think this through again?

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Nov 2010 @ 11:24 AM

345. Barton,
Where do you get data that drought is inreasing? Most of what I have seen have shown decreasing drought in the recent decades. The worst droughts were the U.S. dust bowl in the 30s, the African Sahel in the 70s & 80s, and China in the 60s. These also pale in comparison to some of the mega-droughts of previous centuries.

Comment by Dan H. — 12 Nov 2010 @ 12:00 PM

346. The whole discussion of hurricanes is horribly tedious. The uncertainties are so large that it gives huge scope to people like “Septic” or Judith Curry to bloviate almost indefinitely.

Anyone seeking solace in our ignorance deserves some kind of ostrich award.

The efforts of those people seeking to increase our understanding, our power of explanation and our predictive ability should be applauded, and the results should not be prematurely judged.

It could turn out that in a warming world, hurricanes will stop completely*, but that won’t change the problem that faces us, with increasing drought, rising seas, and climbing temperatures threatening civilisation. There is an equal chance that current science severely underestimates the increase in hurricane frequency and intensity, and that doesn’t bear thinking of.

* Not a chance in hell.

Comment by Didactylos — 12 Nov 2010 @ 1:14 PM

347. Jim, nobody claims a “mixed layer” somehow segregates heat permanently.

You write

> there is no such thing as a mixed layer that permanently, or long
> term even, traps heat…

Is that the definition from your 1940s source? That may be the source of your confusion.

The climate papers don’t claim the surface water permanently or longterm traps heat separately. You’re looking at up and down mixing; they’re looking at sideways mixing– thermohaline circulation.

Surface currents move poleward; deep ocean currents move toward the equator.
Thermohaline circulation. It’s the same water, it moves sideways more than up and down. It takes years for heat to move through the system.

> Clearly, the phenomenon known as a mixed layer occurs …
> … there is vertical mixing of significance involved …
> the deep ocean is indeed taking on a great deal of heat.

When the atmosphere warms, so does the upper ocean

Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Nov 2010 @ 1:21 PM

348. Visit to the comment section of Dr. Abraham’s Guardian OpEd is depressing.

Ignorance and citation of the plethora of denialist canons dominates by a considerable degree. And I thought DotEarth was bad. Shows how a small number of dedicated (and in many cases well paid, though it does not do to presume that all the also-rans are also in the toils – most are just deluded and/or ill-informed) advocates can bias public perception.

I don’t think most people are interested in knowledge. They get all the prepackaged information they need from the media, and they no longer have to listen to anything they don’t want to hear, and this is starting younger with all the social media and reality TV providing fake models for fake skeptics to grow up with. Time to stop being avatars and be real people, but what a hope!

Comment by Susan Anderson — 12 Nov 2010 @ 1:26 PM

349. For blackish humor and a novel approach to communication, I strongly recommend this, which I’ve been following for years. The text accompanying the visual commentary is also full of excellent links.
http://www.marcrobertscartoons.com/index.php?globalid=2077

(I’ve referenced the most recent because it is so on topic but there’s a whole lot more – almost all significantly on point – if you arrow through previous images. I met the guy recently – pleasant, unassuming – and he has a day job which indicates he’s not making his fortune and can use a wider audience for this funny clever stuff.

Comment by Susan Anderson — 12 Nov 2010 @ 1:40 PM

There are three places for energy to go: the inky space, the atmosphere, and the oceans. You must have missed the discussion some time ago about the large capacity of the oceans to take up heat. The issue seemed to be how fast could the heat get mixed into the ocean. Equilibrium involves flow in three directions. I was trounced by the consensus that seemed to believe that something like a hundred or more years would be necessary for meaningful heat uptake by the world oceans, such that it would matter much. Popularized portrayals of the process seemed to often ignore the heat flow into the oceans, as you would seem to agree.

The Labrador Sea data show that a lot of heat did get into the deep ocean at that site over a period of less than a decade. The particular chart from Argo data, referenced in my #333, shows much heat increase in deep water and also gives a lot of insight into how the convection process would cause vertical mixing of the sort that I postulate.

The Argo data shows how vertical mixing by convection is a powerful process that occurs on an annual basis when heat is removed from near surface water, thus establishing a condition where the colder, heavier water is above the warmer, lighter water; thus unlocking the convection process. This convection process establishes a mixed layer that goes very deep. (This should not be confused with a shallow, day long cycle that can not be seen in this particular data.)

It is not clear how this relates as a feedback process, since the greatest mixing occurs when heat is being removed from the surface water, thus it would seem that warmer air would cause reduction in mixing rate. A simple story would say that the deep water should hold its cool water better as air became warmer, but the fact that the deeper water got noticeably warmer on a steady basis means it will be necessary to look further into the process.

However, if climate effects due to general warming included greater swings of atmospheric temperature, as I think some have said, then the colder winter events would cause greater rate of convection mixing which would serve to move heat downward. Under this more complicated story, the greater instability in atmospheric temperature would be the cause more upflow of cold water whereby warm water could be drawn downward, although the up and down flow of water would have to be on a larger regional basis. If this were the case, a negative feedback process would be in existence, whereby the overall climate temperature would be moderated and the local instability would also be reduced.

For this specific Labrador Sea location, it looks like there is a vertical mixing, pump-like process for cold water to be moved upward by the convection on an annual basis. I look for more on the thermo-haline circulation as related to this process, since the supposed regional picture may be far too simplistic.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 12 Nov 2010 @ 2:44 PM

351. UnReal2r @ 340

To continue the theme, what are we (scientists and interested parties) to do when the plane (=science and policy of climate change) is in the process of being hijacked by anti-science fundamentalists bent on our destruction?

Comment by Mike Palin — 12 Nov 2010 @ 2:45 PM

Sorry for the climate instability. But I seem to remember there was a post by the knowledgeable folks here that explained that El Nino etc. had nothing to do with global warming.

We in the USA had a dust bowl in the 1920s that was thoroughly cussed out also.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 12 Nov 2010 @ 2:50 PM

“all it would mean is that it takes longer to reach equilibrium and longer to recover”. And might we here be talking about decades, centuries or millenia?

Comment by simon abingdon — 12 Nov 2010 @ 2:52 PM

354. sigh: intelligent commentary needed for DotEarth Lomborg puff (well, Andy as usual is on the fence and not altogether “wrong” but the headline makes it promotion in my book).
http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/12/cool-climate-film-takes-on-truth/

Comment by Susan Anderson — 12 Nov 2010 @ 3:08 PM

355. #301 Hank Roberts,

The Argo reference in my #333 came up by following your link. Thanks.

I am surprised we have not heard more about Argo data analysis. Though I am not in the right circles.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 12 Nov 2010 @ 3:23 PM

356. re mine of 2:44 PM

Correction to:—–consensus that seemed to believe that something like a hundred or more years would be necessary for meaningful heat uptake by the world oceans, such that it would matter much ————

That should have been:——consensus that seemed to believe that something like a hundred or more years would be necessary for meaningful heat uptake by the world oceans, such that it would not matter much—–

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 12 Nov 2010 @ 3:47 PM

357. Aside — anyone have a guess how big climate blogging would be on this map?
http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/online_communities_2_large.png

Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Nov 2010 @ 3:56 PM

358. Jim Bullis (current #333) said:

> I have from time to time felt like a broken record

Trust your feelings. – Obi-Wan Kenobi

> for saying that the accumulation of heat due to excess CO2 will probably
> not significantly cause the atmospheric temperature to increase

> heat will be taken up in the oceans.

What else is new? Anything you’d care to quantify?

> I say it again based on Argo data I just ran into

What exactly in this Argo data do you believe supports your claim?

> Clearly, the phenomenon known as a mixed layer occurs about once a
> year and in this area shown here goes very deep. (…)

Just checking: are we looking at the same picture? The one of the Labrador sea in the 2000s?

Comment by CM — 12 Nov 2010 @ 4:32 PM

359. Barton,
I would be curious as to how you have determined that droughts are increasing. What I have read so far indicates that droughts have been less prevalent in recent decades, and much less than those of previous centuries.

Comment by Dan H. — 12 Nov 2010 @ 6:02 PM

360. “What I have read so far indicates that droughts have been less prevalent in recent decades”

Really, Dan H? Then why not just tell us where you read this, so we can set you straight? Unless you just made it up.

Forgive us for not believing you, but you have a really bad track record when it comes to saying things that are verifiable.

Comment by Didactylos — 12 Nov 2010 @ 6:48 PM

361. Susan Anderson wrote “Visit to the comment section of Dr. Abraham’s Guardian OpEd is depressing. Ignorance and citation of the plethora of denialist canons dominates by a considerable degree.”

Susan, I wouldn’t judge opinion by the comments section, often dominated by the worst fanatics looking for an argument. For example, after a Democrat won the local election here, the comments were dominated by mean-spirited partisans on the other side. (“How can people be so dumb…” etc.) If you were to judge by the comments, you would think our city was heavily Republican; the election said much differently.

That’s not to say there isn’t a lot of ignorance out there. Just don’t take comments too seriously.

(A notable exception being the comments section here, moderated to avoid the stupid and ugly.)

Comment by Paul Tremblay — 12 Nov 2010 @ 7:22 PM

362. Mike Palin @ 351

“To continue the theme, what are we (scientists and interested parties) to do when the plane (=science and policy of climate change) is in the process of being hijacked by anti-science fundamentalists bent on our destruction?”

That’s the question. Unfortunately, where the analogy breaks down, there doesn’t seem to be a hatch you can open to just pitch the crazies out.

You could argue that the denial is so intense precisely because the denialist lunkheads are afraid that the science warning about AGW is compelling. In which case, keep up the good fight!

One of the reasons this particular article is to the point is that it addresses what may be the most pernicious of the denialist devices, the phony expert. Most of the other tactics are pretty transparent if you think about them in a moment of dispassion. But fake experts really catapult the FUD. And they’re hard to take down as they are embedded in our cultural mythology and enabled by our disfunctional, so-called watch dog press.

Comment by Radge Havers — 12 Nov 2010 @ 7:49 PM

It has to radiate more IR, right? How is it going to radiate more? The radiating surface has to heat up.

If more heat goes in the oceans, it just takes longer to reach equilibrium–and it takes longer once the CO2 goes away to dissipate all that heat from the deep oceans.

The energy is either in the climate, or it’s not (i.e. it’s in space).

In any case, we know from the paleoclimate that the planet has warmed in the past and cooled in the past. This suggests you are wrong.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Nov 2010 @ 7:56 PM

364. #358 CM

I don’t know what you are looking at, but the link I offered took us to the Labrador sea data for the 2000s.

My #350 might have provided more detail, though if there is nothing interesting for you in what I am saying here, that would not be useful for you to read.

I guess you are agreeing that heat will be taken up by the oceans so that the atmospheric temperature will not increase significantly, and you are saying that this is old stuff.

Let’s just define ‘significantly’ as something noticeably less than the consensus models would predict when not accounting for deep vertical mixing in the oceans. But you seem to have already formed a definition of ‘significantly’ since you already conclude it is nothing new.

On the other hand, maybe we should just try to have a conversation.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 12 Nov 2010 @ 8:17 PM

365. Dan H @ 345 & 359 – Pay attention, try investigating desertification a bit, you’re obviously thinking dry periods come and go.

Comment by flxible — 12 Nov 2010 @ 8:33 PM

366. Ray: how can you keep supporting ideas like:
a) Conservation of energy
b) Quantum mechanics, i.e., including absorption/emission spectra of GHGs.

Since AGW depends on those, and some people know that wrong, they often say so, using semiconductor-based computers and fibre-optic-based Internet, all powered by various energy conversions to electricity.

There might be a slight incongruity :-)

Comment by John Mashey — 12 Nov 2010 @ 8:39 PM

367. Mike Palin @ 351

I feel your pain. But I also think much of it is self-inflicted.

On one hand, the community of scientists seems to think its job is to report the latest findings, uncertainties and all, and allow nature to take its course among the firmament of media, politicians, and “lunkheads”.

On another, the community of concerned and putatively enlightened citizens believes the world is just one chorus of Kumbaya away from a cosmic epiphany.

I think Gavin alluded to the problem – perhaps somewhat defensively or apologetically – by describing disconnects between scientific thinking and the narrative milieu. But his observations may lead to yet another cul de sac if proves to be just more form-over-substance bickering.

AGW cognoscenti have been telling the world – for decades now – that an important idiot light is blinking red. They’ve also spent a lot of time telling us how fast it is blinking, what shade of red it seems to be, where it falls in the constellation of idiot lights on the dashboard, what might happen if we don’t find and fix the cause of the blinking, and so on.

That’s all interesting and important and thanks very much. But it’s also indicative of cognitive tunneling – or something like it. Gavin called it obsession. Insightful, perhaps, and also indicative of something being fundamentally – and I think dangerously – wrong.

Comment by UnReal2r — 12 Nov 2010 @ 8:41 PM

Thanks for helping to clarify.

The incoming radiation would cause the climate temperature at the earth surface to rise until outgoing radiation matched the incoming, unless there was some heat flow away from the earth surface in the downward direction. In this case, the total of heat flow outward would add to the heat flow downward and the temperature would rise until this sum came to zero.

Heat goes beneath the ocean surface rather directly and as heat transfer from air to water. One could include the shallow ocean depths as part of the atmosphere and then your expectation would come to pass. However, if convection is significant, the heat will be transferred downward from the near surface regions.

There are dynamic factors in all this, where convection downward would seem likely to lag the heat accumulation in the atmosphere.

We do not have a lot of knowledge about the deep ocean temperatures or the thermo-haline circulation in the paleoclimate; well not that I have heard about anyway.

No, the energy is not ‘either in the climate or space’. It is also in the ocean, and the deep ocean has a lot of cold water to soak up spilled heat.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 12 Nov 2010 @ 8:47 PM

369. Jim, ocean heat content:
http://www.skepticalscience.com/La_Nina_cant_erase_warming.html

Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Nov 2010 @ 9:07 PM

370. Hank,

I would guess that it is about the size of Tuvalu.

Comment by Rattus Norvegicus — 12 Nov 2010 @ 10:51 PM

371. Drought not increasing, Jim. Have a look at this map for annual total rainfall trends in Australia for 1971-2009.

http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/climate/change/trendmaps.cgi?map=rain&area=aus&season=0112&period=1970 The really disturbing patch is the deep brown over Victoria shading up through the middle of NSW – a pretty good match to our major food-producing Murray river system.

Then look to the box on the upper right where you can choose to show the same map for the whole period 1900-2009. Before you choose that option and click to see the result, remember this. The data for that map _includes_ the 39 years displayed in the first map.

372. Didactylos,
DO you think Barton made his statements up, or are they okay because you happen to agree with him. Can you say double standard.

Comment by Dan H. — 13 Nov 2010 @ 12:15 AM

373. This post complains that journalists are shallow and “favor compelling narratives over substance” and even concedes that compelling narratives trump substance; but it seems to me that the substance is not really about the science, and you don’t have a compelling narrative, either.

You scientists seem to think this is about science, but sometimes you remind me of a nun who pulls out her rosary instead of a cell phone while she is being assaulted in an alley.

The other guys are winning, and you may notice they are not really talking about science.

When researchers tell scientists about the elephant in the room, the scientists don’t seem to even consider what they are being told. Maybe this is because of their political biases, but I don’t know.

Politicians are betraying the people for money, and I think that a lot of that money is coming from the lucrative collaboration of Western energy companies with government-controlled Russian energy companies.

This is nothing new. As Lenin rightly observed, the capitalists donate the rope.

It’s not like the Russians haven’t noticed global warming and aren’t researching it, in spite of what Cuccinelli’s and Inhofe’s so-called Russian “experts” say.

Who is the big global warming “expert” of the politicians and the Cato Institute? Who does the Russian business daily Kommersant and the official press agency RIA Novosti quote about global warming when the EPA comes out with its finding about CO2?

They cite an ECONOMIST, Andrei Illarionov, who was Putin’s adviser and who worked for Chernomyrdin, who ran the Soviet Gas Ministry and set up Gazprom.

Has any scientists written that in an op-ed?

Cuccinelli is attacking Dr. Mann and climate science. Has any scientist written an op-ed that observes that Cuccinelli’s dad is a career gas lobbyist who gives to his son’s campaign? Has any scientist written an op-ed that asks who the dad’s “European” clients are?

Since he won’t tell, we are entitled to our speculation.

I have not seen one newspaper ask if the fact that Cuccinelli’s dad is a gas lobbyist might have something to do with his son’s persecution of climate scientists. It’s really kind of creepy that nobody even asks the question.

These denialists hypocritically accuse government scientists of blogging during working hours.

That is such a joke. The denialists are blogging on the government’s dime, too. It’s just not OUR government.

Comment by Snapple — 13 Nov 2010 @ 4:47 AM

374. Dan H 345: Where do you get data that drought is inreasing? Most of what I have seen have shown decreasing drought in the recent decades. The worst droughts were the U.S. dust bowl in the 30s, the African Sahel in the 70s & 80s, and China in the 60s. These also pale in comparison to some of the mega-droughts of previous centuries.

BPL: Dai’s team, in a 2004 paper, described how they broke the world from 75 degrees north to 60 degrees south (91% of the Earth’s surface) into 2.5 x 2.5 degree grid squares and accumulated measures of temperature and rainfall for each, for each month from January, 1870 to December, 2002. This allowed them to calculate the PDSI for each grid square. I took their data and derived global annual averages and total fraction in severe drought. They recently extended their time series to 2005; I used the updated data.

Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 13 Nov 2010 @ 5:56 AM

375. JB 368: the energy is not ‘either in the climate or space’. It is also in the ocean

BPL: The ocean is part of the climate system. And heat going into the ocean is not somehow lost forever.

Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 13 Nov 2010 @ 6:01 AM

376. “DO you think Barton made his statements up, or are they okay because you happen to agree with him. Can you say double standard.”

Neither. I criticise BPL when I think he is wrong, but in this case there is plenty of evidence to support the claim that drought has increased in recent decades. Google is your friend.

Try Dai et al (2004).

adelady, I don’t really follow you. Drought can be described as a function of precipitation and temperature. Precipitation alone doesn’t tell the whole story. Even if it did, a developing regional inequality in precipitation puts great stress on water management.

Comment by Didactylos — 13 Nov 2010 @ 9:54 AM

377. Jim Bullis @ comment 368: what BPL said. The ocean is most definitely an integral component of the climate system.

Comment by Xavier Onnasis — 13 Nov 2010 @ 10:22 AM

378. Hope RC has a post on “Cool It!” which is coming out soon. A Bjorn Lomberg docu — apparently saying we can solve AGW without reducing our GHG emissions…

Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 13 Nov 2010 @ 10:39 AM

379. Snap, “donate”??

Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Nov 2010 @ 10:44 AM

380. 346, Didactylos: It could turn out that in a warming world, hurricanes will stop completely*, but that won’t change the problem that faces us, with increasing drought, rising seas, and climbing temperatures threatening civilisation. There is an equal chance that current science severely underestimates the increase in hurricane frequency and intensity, and that doesn’t bear thinking of.

You have restated my earlier conjecture that AGW does not make clear and consistent predictions that tropical cyclone frequency and intensity will increase with global warming.

Comment by Septic Matthew — 13 Nov 2010 @ 11:19 AM

381. > drought
Remember, don’t rely on anything til you look up the followup papers, e.g.
http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2010GL045530.shtml

Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Nov 2010 @ 11:20 AM

382. Yes, “Septic”. But my problem with what you say is the way you use uncertainty as an excuse for inaction, and to fuel your denial.

Even in the studies that predict a negligible global trend in tropical storms, they do show significant regional changes. The way you gloss over these details is inexcusable (and part of the reason you aren’t a sceptic).

Comment by Didactylos — 13 Nov 2010 @ 11:46 AM

383. Re. Drought

As with all things climate there are complexities

Drought has to do with lack of precipitation. But that can also contain a timer component as in lack of precipitation when it is needed vs. when it used to happen, which may then relate to current infrastructure for agriculture.

Then of course you also have soil moisture content.

Generally, pretty much all the evidence points to climate change combined with natural variability producing increasing drought trends based on pre existing agriculture as well as general trends pertaining to the net primary production as well as certain latitudes losing moisture content, which is shall we say problematic.

Economics: Balancing Economies
October Leading Edge: The Cuccinelli ‘Witch Hunt”

Fee & Dividend: Our best chanceLearn the IssueSign the Petition
A Climate Minute: Natural CycleGreenhouse EffectClimate Science HistoryArctic Ice Melt

Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 Nov 2010 @ 12:58 PM

384. > Jim Bullis
Please. Isn’t that why you’re here?

Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Nov 2010 @ 1:09 PM

385. 382, Didactylos: you use uncertainty as an excuse for inaction,

I use uncertainty to support some actions (afforestation, fossil fuel tax, measured investment in water control projects and alternative fuel development) instead of other actions (rapid elimination of the American coal industry and the businesses that depend on their electricity.)

Even in the studies that predict a negligible global trend in tropical storms, they do show significant regional changes.

I was examining the claim that global warming would lead to increased total cyclonic activity. Now that we are agreed that there is no basis for the claim, we can go to the next step of examining claims about particular regions. But first we had to examine the widely reported claim that AGW would lead to greatly increased total global cyclonic activity.

You seem to have changed your mind about total global cyclonic increase in the course of about 36 hours. Is that so? You wrote that I have learned nothing, but I have learned that there is no basis for the claim that AGW will cause a global increase in total cyclonic activity. I await more studies like Emanuel et al.

Comment by Septic Matthew — 13 Nov 2010 @ 1:19 PM

386. OK, not “donate,”–sell.

“Капиталисты продадут нам даже веревку, на которой мы их повесим”.

It means sell, but possibly in the sense of “put up” for sale/auction. Maybe it’s a bit of a pun, like “putting up the rope that we will hang them from.”

Hard for me to say.

Comment by Snapple — 13 Nov 2010 @ 1:42 PM

387. 375 Barton Paul Levenson

I said that some heat goes to the atmosphere and some goes to the oceans. Of course it is not lost forever. Being in the ocean does not mean anything like being lost. However, net heat that goes in the deep ocean and causes the deep temperature to go up is heat that does not cause the atmospheric temperature to go up. Thus, even though there is an imbalance in the radiative heat transfer the heat that remains on the globe does not necessarily cause a hotter atmosphere.

The calculation that determines how much the atmosphere rises in temperature compared to how much the deep ocean rises in temperature is not something to do in a comment box.

It seems important though to note that a heated deep ocean is not a factor in climate events or weather. So the more heat that is held there, the less blame can be fixed on global warming for bad weather.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 13 Nov 2010 @ 1:56 PM

Thanks for that most interesting presentation.

Clearly, I need to be careful in choice of words.

But notice, in my last, I said that heat ‘held there’ in the ‘deep ocean’ is not so relevant to weather.

Your rainfall data is profoundly shocking, and more relevant to ocean heat is the trend in sea temperature surrounding Australia. This is not directly a matter of deep ocean temperature, but it is still connected by the flow process of the thermohaline circulation. That is, it is perfectly reasonable to expect that the surface waters in the far southern latitudes are ultimately influenced by the deep temperatures in the Labrador Sea. This would follow from Rahmstorf’s description of that thermohaline circulation, which showed vertical water movement in the Southern oceans.

My last line of my last comment is still valid; it only refers to heat held in the deep. However, that heat which is drawn out by whatever means then does get back into the climate event processes.

BUT HOLD ON!!!

That rainfall trend that you illustrate for us is not all drought. Almost half of Australia in the West seems to be awash, while the Eastern bigger part is parched. This is not a drought, it is a water distribution problem not too different from that of North America. Why would anyone try to fix this by desalination, as the most expensive of possible choices. Moving water is not that expensive, and we even know how to do it from experience in the great California Central Valley.

Just as we need a canal, running generally from North to South in North America, Australia needs a canal running from the near coastal North-North-West to the Eastern coast down to the South-Eastern coast.

Australia needs the same continental tree and water project that we do in North America. And, in the same way as it could function on our continent, the canal would enable establishment of standing forests to capture the Australian share of CO2 from fossil fuels while it also enabled vast irrigation systems. The mechanism for establishing a financially viable project would exist there also, since the irrigated crop values as well as the longer term forest product harvests would payback upfront financial arrangements.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 13 Nov 2010 @ 2:46 PM

389. 385 (Septic Matthew),

I … support … measured investment in water control projects and alternative fuel development…

Please quantify “measured” in either dollars or %GDP per year?

…instead of other actions (rapid elimination of the American coal industry and the businesses that depend on their electricity.)

…widely reported claim that AGW would lead to greatly increased total global cyclonic activity…

Please provide a list of citations which support the adjective “widely reported.”

Please specify the time frame, in decades, that corresponds to the predicted “greatly increased total global cyclonic activity” that allows you to declare at this point in time that there is “no basis for the claim.”

Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 13 Nov 2010 @ 3:42 PM

390. 384 Hank Roberts

Note in the article at the above link:

Not coincidentally, the Charney sensitivity corresponds exactly to the sensitivity one gets with a standard atmospheric GCM with a simple mixed-layer ocean, while the Earth System sensitivity would correspond to the response in a (as yet non-existent) model that included interactive components for the cryosphere, biosphere, ocean, atmospheric chemistry and aerosols. Intermediate sensitivities could however be assessed using the Earth System models that we do have.

Then a discussion ensued, beginning with #11:

Jim Bullis says:

7 April 2008 at 11:20 AM
Do you mean by, “simple mixed layer ocean” that the variations of ocean temperature with depth are not part of the analysis?

[Response: In the standard estimate of the Charney sensitivity. no. Using fully coupled OAGCMs takes much much longer and has not yet become standard practice. In the GISS models, the difference in eventual temperatures (after hundreds of years) is on the order of a few tenths of a degree. – gavin]

I was surprised by this characterization of the climate models, and have made a number of attempts to explain that such models will over-predict temperature. I have not fully understand all the possible mechanisms for vertical mixing, but there seem to be many, and this would make the model results invalid.

The comments here began again based on the Argo data which happened to show a strong vertical mixing process.

By the way, I have repeatedly said that this does not mean that the global warming problem is lessened by the fact that the models overpredict atmospheric temperature. The inexorable fact of sea level rise is a broad measure of the process of heat intake in the oceans, though confused by ice melting effects. And sea temperature increase should accelerate sea ice melting.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 13 Nov 2010 @ 3:58 PM

391. “I have learned that there is no basis for the claim that AGW will cause a global increase in total cyclonic activity”

No, it turns out you have learned nothing. Oh well.

You are confusing the possible and the probable. It is very probable that there is a significant link between sea surface temperature and power dissipation. This directly implies “a global increase in total cyclonic activity” (global power dissipation) under a warming scenario. It is not, of course, certain.

But you seem to enjoy trying to use the limitations of models to conclude silly things.

To be frank, I think you are still confusing frequency and power dissipation. It doesn’t help that you seem to use these terms (and others) interchangeably. Please be very aware that some studies only look at frequency or storm category.

Comment by Didactylos — 13 Nov 2010 @ 4:30 PM

392. Didactylos@376. Oh OK, I thought it was more or less understood about Oz evaporation rates. Though the details are sometimes surprising. Adelaide’s rainfall is much the same as Rome or Berlin and a lot less than Perth – the results are very different.

393. UnReal2r @ 367

You said, “On one hand, the community of scientists seems to think its job is to report the latest findings, uncertainties and all, and allow nature to take its course among the firmament of media, politicians, and “lunkheads”.”

Yep, that’s probably the best scientists can do as individuals. It doesn’t prevent us from being policy advocates, but, if we are, we must clearly distinguish that we ware a different hat while doing so. And of course we should always be willing to provide expert testimony during policy development. In this regard, I think professional scientific organisations have a vital role in formulating and distributing position statements on public policy in accordance with the views of their membership.

Opinion polls have repeatedly found that the public has a very high regard for scientists. IMO, this is principally because scientists are generally not seen as advocates, but as unbiased providers of information. This well may be a fantasy, but, if scientists want to use this standing to influence policy, we need to be very careful how we proceed, particularly as individuals.

Comment by Mike Palin — 13 Nov 2010 @ 6:26 PM

394. Jim Bullis, you still are not thinking about this clearly. Energy going into the oceans merely is stored. It does not change the outgoing radiation. That is determined entirely by the temperature of the radiating surface and the greenhouse gas content of the atmosphere.

Temperature rise IS the main negative feedback against increasing energy in the atmosphere. If some heat goes into warming the briny depths, that merely means that the radiating surface takes longer to heat up. It does not change the amount it must heat up to restore equilibrium. Think about it.

[Response: Well and clearly (and correctly) said.–eric]

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Nov 2010 @ 7:33 PM

395. John Mashey, Sigh. Yeah, I often wonder how people got the idea that science could be taken cafeteria style–only the bits you like. Actually, it’s most important contribution is forcing us to pay attention to the things we don’t like.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Nov 2010 @ 7:42 PM

So how about a North to South Canal, aquaduct or whatever you want to name it? Right down through Alice Springs. It looks flat as can be, all the way, though someone who has seen it there would know better than me.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 13 Nov 2010 @ 10:20 PM

397. So how about a North to South Canal, aquaduct or whatever you want to name it? Right down through Alice Springs. It looks flat as can be, all the way, though someone who has seen it there would know better than me.

If it’s truly flat, it takes energy to move it …

You seem to constantly ignore the energy trap …

[Response: Along with a number of other components of reality.–Jim]

Comment by dhogaza — 14 Nov 2010 @ 12:29 AM

398. 396 Jim Bullis

Schemes to transport water from Australia’s “wet” (part of the year) north to the dry (all the time) interior of the south and east have been proposed before. Open canals would be subject to massive evaporation so that the water delivered could be saltier than sea water. A closed pipeline would have to be massive to transport enough water. Bottomline – not a goer.

Comment by Mike Palin — 14 Nov 2010 @ 12:38 AM

399. Never fear Jim, a lot of people have already looked at that and similar notions. Remember that vast portions of the Oz inland are below sea level so it looks logical and achievable. Lake Eyre only fills once every 10 or 15 years usually. I know a couple of people have suggested cutting a ‘channel’ from Port Augusta northeast across towards the salt flats below Lake Eyre. A v.e.r.y bad idea.

Check out the map of the Artesian Basin. http://www.environment.gov.au/water/locations/gab/pubs/gab-map.pdf That water collection system provides much of outback pastoral Australia, and some agricultural areas, with groundwater. The danger of letting seawater into that huge reservoir is tremendous, much of the water extracted is pretty salty anyway. Why anyone would bother trying to collect water from Alice Springs with mean annual rainfall of 283mm, less than a foot, is a mystery to me, and everywhere south of Alice gets that or less until you get south of the Goyder Line. (Coober Pedy gets a miserable 30 days a year of recordable precipitation for a measly total of 156mm, 6 whole inches.)

Evaporation rates on the Australian mainland are so high that the only feasible way to change the hydrology would be to restore the scrub and woodland that used to cover vast swathes of SA, WA and inland areas of Queensland and NSW. The land is so poor and so salty /alkaline/ horrible in many places that carbon sequestration would be a very slow business. And the effort involved is unbelievable.

400. “So how about a North to South Canal, aquaduct or whatever you want to name it? Right down through Alice Springs. It looks flat as can be, all the way, though someone who has seen it there would know better than me.”

I suppose it depends upon your definition of “flat.” Alice Springs in at about 580 meters, and having backpacked in the MacDonnell Ranges near Alice, I recall the higher peaks being about 1500 m.

Kinda reminds me of the Army Corps plan for the North American Water and Power Alliance (NAWAPA) to dam the Yukon and other Alaskan Rivers to bring water to California and other western states. That was a very bad idea, too.

Comment by Jim Eaton — 14 Nov 2010 @ 2:26 AM

401. #394 Ray Ladbury “Temperature rise IS the main negative feedback against increasing energy in the atmosphere. If some heat goes into warming the briny depths, that merely means that the radiating surface takes longer to heat up. It does not change the amount it must heat up to restore equilibrium.”

Ray, I should like to repeat my earlier (#353) question “…might we here be talking about decades, centuries or millenia?”. What in other words does ocean heating imply for the urgency of the atmospheric warming issue?

Comment by simon abingdon — 14 Nov 2010 @ 4:35 AM

402. Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. says:

“Moving water is not that expensive, and we even know how to do it from experience in the great California Central Valley.”

While we do move water from north to south in California, it should be pointed out that the California State Water Project is the largest single user of energy in California. It takes a lot of energy to pump water uphill.

Aside from the water project’s destruction of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Rivers Delta ecosystem, the looming issue is what will happen with rising sea levels. The pumps sending water south are at the current sea level. It will not be too many years in the future before the Delta is part of San Francisco Bay. Finding a way to transport fresh water around this expanding sea of salt water will prove to be quite expensive.

Comment by Jim Eaton — 14 Nov 2010 @ 5:23 AM

403. Kommersant in the News Again!

The Russian business daily Kommersant trashed the British climate scientists last December and now they are trashing Russia’s foreign intelligence service (SVR).

I just want you to appreciate the power of your adversaries. This is a very important battle for the scientists to win.

The Russian business daily Kommersant attacked the British climate scientists on 12-16-09. This attack happened nanoseconds after the EPA finding about CO2.

Cuccinelli’s brief to the EPA is off the Richter Scale for unintentional irony:

“On December 15, 2009—the very day that EPA announced the Endangerment Finding—the Russian Institute of Economic Analysis (“IEA”) reported that CRU probably tampered with Russian climate data…”

Doh!

This “science” story was originally reported in the Russian language, but some information in the article was translated into English by Russia’s official press agency RIA Novosti and widely cited by climate denialists in legal attacks on the EPA. Kommersant claimed that the British scientists dropped many Russian temperature stations.

Libertarians are sometimes not very sincere. They don’t like American government agencies, yet they seem quite dazzled by agencies of the Russian petrostate.

Are Libertarians are being activists on the Russian government’s dime? How very naughty of them!

Kommersant is in the headlines again because they attacked Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR. This is not really hard-hitting, independent, investigative reporting. Those writers had never written on intelligence issues.

Dimtry Sidirov, Kommersant’s former Washington bureau chief, says the paper “is very close to the Kremlin.” (Wash. Post)

A Guardian reporter called Kommersant something like “respected” or “reliable” when he reported the latest wrinkle in the Russian spy story. The media often use the stock epithet “respected Kommersant.”

I want to tell you about the so-called “respected” Kommersant, because I remember how they attacked the British climate scientists in an article that claimed the science was fudged because not all the climate stations were used.

Kommersant’s source was the ECONOMIST Andrei Illarionov of the Institute for Economic analysis (IEA). He is also at the Cato. He is a “former Putin adviser and also worked for Chernomyrdin, who ran the Soviet Gas Ministry and its post-Soviet reincarnation, Gazprom.

Supposedly Illarionov had a falling out with Putin, but still manages to spread denialism from “think tanks” in Russia and America. He also gets quoted in a “reliable” Kremlin mouthpiece–Kommersant—right after the EPA finding.

This Kommersant (12-16-09) article about the British climate scientists was recycled by RIA Novosti. That article dropped Illarionov’s name but cited his IEA.

Some of those organizations who petitioned the EPA cited the NOVOSTI article in their briefs.

Do you think the Tea Party rank and file knows this?

I doubt the Tea Party’s proletariat know that Attorney General Cuccinelli also cites the Novosti article that was based on the Kommersant article in his suit against the EPA. The funny thing is that Cuccinelli actually mischaracterizes what the Novosti article says. Why quote the Russians and then “fix” what they said?

Novosti said that Hadley dropped some of the weather stations. Cuccinelli claims that Novosti said that CRU dropped some land temperatures.

I think Cuccinelli probably had to “fix” the Novosti article because someone might notice that Hadley is responsible for sea-surface temperatures. I’d love to hear him explain that.

Here are two posts that will take you to all the links that provide the evidence.

http://legendofpineridge.blogspot.com/2010/10/attorney-general-cuccinelli-ties-his.html

http://legendofpineridge.blogspot.com/2010/11/why-is-kommersant-attacking-russias.html

Comment by Snapple — 14 Nov 2010 @ 6:45 AM

404. It is possible there is some undisclosed connection between the Russian spy story and Russian corruption of the energy industry because last July Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty wrote an article titled: \Why The Russia Spy Story Really Matters.\

Interestingly, this article—supposedly about those Russian spies, who seemed to have wandered off the set of \The Coneheads\ and ended up pruning hydrangeas in suburbia—actually all about corruption in the energy industry.

\In Western Europe, Moscow has operated by making lucrative arrangements with foreign energy companies that become de facto lobbyists for the Kremlin within their own countries.\—\Why The Russia Spy Story Really Matters\ (RFE/RL, 7-9-10)

http://www.rferl.org/content/Why_The_Russia_Spy_Story_Really_Matters/2095515.html

Comment by Snapple — 14 Nov 2010 @ 7:30 AM

405. Jim Bullis,
Regarding your can idea: Bad idea. Canals wind up being wonderful for transporting invasive species, they lose lots of water due to evaporation, they irreversibly alter extant ecosystems, and mostly they wind up being welfare projects for civil engineers.

Jim, I intend this criticism in a friendly manner. You have a tendency to draw very strong conclusions about a subject before you have a thorough understanding of it. I realize you are busy and may not have time to study in detail, but that is what we have experts for.

As an illustration, your conclusion that we don’t have to worry about warming because all we’ll do is heat the briny depths reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of radiative physics. It’s an esoteric subject, so I don’t fault you for that. I would suggest though that you might get into fewer flame wars if you listened a bit more to the moderators.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Nov 2010 @ 8:04 AM

406. Snapple – perhaps you can help me find out the identities of these Spanish hydrologists:

http://english.pravda.ru/science/earth/12-11-2010/115753-global_flood-0/

Comment by JCH — 14 Nov 2010 @ 11:01 AM

“As an illustration, your (Jim Bullis’s) conclusion that we don’t have to worry about warming because all we’ll do is heat the briny depths reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of radiative physics.”

Ray, what can I say? If a cold ocean is in contact with a warm atmosphere, heat will flow across the surface (by whatever means) until an equilibrium is reached. Given the thermal sluggishness of the oceans and the immensity of their volume such equilibrium may be a long time coming. If idealized equations and GCMs say otherwise, then so much the worse for them. They cannot properly be accounting for something that is obvious. (But I’m not surprised. Given previous exchanges I sometimes suspect there may be some out there who really do believe that a blanket will keep a corpse warm at night!).

Comment by simon abingdon — 14 Nov 2010 @ 11:44 AM

408. Simon,
The exact time to equilibrium depends on how much of the deep oceans must also reach equilibrium. Best estimates are ~90% equilibrium on a timescale of 3-5 decades.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Nov 2010 @ 12:09 PM

409. Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Nov 2010 @ 12:31 PM

410. “Suppressing dissenting views.” Mud is sticky:

“Public support for climate scientists was also harmed, with polls showing that trust in them dropped to 40%, from around 60%, in the UK….

Among those who had petitioned the EPA to change US environment regulations, using the East Anglia emails as evidence of meteorological fraud and manipulation, was Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private coal company. Its executives were so confident that climategate could be exploited as a global scandal that it even sent a memo to the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee when it began to deliberate the affair this year, accusing the unit’s scientists of “suppressing dissenting views”. (The committee disagreed and vindicated the unit.)

The fact that companies like Peabody have exploited the East Anglia emails is revealing. As Bob Ward, policy director at the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, pointed out: “It is clear the leaked emails have been used by companies and groups with large financial interests in oil and coal production in order to oppose the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions”. The reverberations of climategate run deep and hard.”

Climate change: science’s fresh fight to win over the sceptics at The Guardian.

Comment by Radge Havers — 14 Nov 2010 @ 1:05 PM

411. That story is all over the Internet, but Pravda is a really pretty lowbrow publication unless you like the girlie pictures.

Perhaps there was a recent meeting of hydrologists and this was a paper they presented.

I used to work for a hydrologist during the summer in the antedeluvian Age. I had to record all the water levels measured on paper graphs that were attached to wells all over the state.
This was done with a pencil and plotted on a new graph. there were no computers in those days for this sort of thing.

Pravda writers don’t understand anything they read, so everyone else is stupid.

I looked over the Russian version, and they didn’t identify their sources.

I will try to locate something similar, but you could try writing Pravda.

On Climategate Pravda was citing Fox News. That was pretty jaring.

Comment by Snapple — 14 Nov 2010 @ 1:40 PM

412. JCH,
Find the differences:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101103141541.htm
(only paper I can imagine)

Comment by Marco — 14 Nov 2010 @ 2:04 PM

413. 398 Mike Palin

Water without salt in it does not get salty by evaporation.

Something like a third of Los Angeles drinks water from the California aquaduct, which comes from the Sacramento river delta, before it becomes salty. The path to Los Angeles is about as hot and dry as anywhere.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Nov 2010 @ 2:06 PM

One slug of energy into the oceans will have the effect you describe.

A steady flow of energy into the deep ocean will function just like outgoing radiation. And the three flows, incoming, outgoing, and sinking all have to be balanced to reach equilibrium at the surface.

The ocean is really big. Think about it.

The interesting point is what the sinking flow rate is and its dynamic characteristics. If one were looking at a transient response, as in feedback theory, there would be an integrator function in the loop. However, it appears that this is not an issue given the time rate of change of climate, in general.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Nov 2010 @ 2:31 PM

I recommend a drive down Interstate 5 from Sacramento to Los Angeles. You can do it on Google Earth.

If you took that trip 50 years ago, it would look like Australia around Alice Springs. Now, you will see the most productive agricultural region in the world. Google Earth will not help you see 50 years ago.

[Response: Oh is that a fact?–Jim]

Yes, there are ecological issues. There are a fair number of parched fields with signs saying ‘Dust Bowl Created by Congress’. I think that means that the concern for smelt in the Sacramento River delta has over-ridden the need to produce food for millions. Yes, there are issues to work out.

[Response: I’m curious as to what it is that makes you repeatedly spout complete nonsense on topics which you know nothing about and expect that people will just accept it uncritically. You convince no one but yourself with your assertions–Jim]

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Nov 2010 @ 2:39 PM

416. Jim (#333, 350, 364),

Thanks for clarifying in #350, which wasn’t up yet when I sent my #358.

To your #364: No, of course I wasn’t agreeing that atmospheric temperature will not increase significantly. We all know the ocean takes up heat, and that’s factored into the projected temperature increase. If your point is that the models would have projected even faster surface warming if they had failed to take vertical heat transport into account, sure.

You think the models haven’t handled vertical mixing well; I don’t know about that, but my layman’s impression is that ocean vertical (diapycnal) mixing is difficult to handle: that a variety of processes are involved, not all of them at all well understood, and that we lack the grid resolution to simulate them. My impression is that the parameterization of vertical mixing has indeed been a significant source of uncertainty in ocean GCMs, and hence in the determination of the transient climate response. (As opposed to the equilibrium sensitivity, which is not reduced by greater ocean heat uptake, cf. Ray’s comments.) So I’m not dismissing it as a factor.

However, it’s also my understanding (corrections welcome) that the current uncertainty range in the AR4 estimate of a transient climate response (1-3 ºC) already includes the uncertainty due to a range of different parameterizations of vertical mixing. (If I understand Dalan et al. 2005 correctly.) So if you have new insights about vertical mixing that will give us a TCR of less than 1ºC, please show your work. Also, I think you may get into trouble reconciling this with observed warming.

In your #333, you seem to be drawing general conclusions about the ocean mixed layer and downward heat transport from a graph of potential temperature and salinity in the central Labrador sea. But that is one of the few and narrow regions in the world where open-ocean deep convection takes place (along with the Greenland and Norwegian Seas, the Weddel and Ross Seas, a spot in the Mediterranean). And you’re claiming “strong trends over the last decade” from eyeballing a graph that covers a little over six years, and that is dominated by a 2008 event that the caption describes as “spectacular.” I don’t see how the view through this very special little window in space and time supports any conclusion about the mixed layer elsewhere and how climate scientists have got it wrong (and as Hank pointed out at #347, your remarks about the mixed layer seem to be directed at a strawman).

Comment by CM — 14 Nov 2010 @ 3:02 PM

417. [edit-OT]

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Nov 2010 @ 3:10 PM

418. [edit. Please stop driving these posts continually off topic, it’s a waste of everyone’s time]

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Nov 2010 @ 3:28 PM

419. This Kommersant newspaper that attacked the British Climate scientists last December about the ignored temperature stations is owned by a Russian named Alisher Usmanov.
He is tight with Putin.

The Kommersant article was adapted by RIA Novosti (English) and the NOvosti article is cited by denialists who petitioned the EPA. Cuccinelli also cites the Novosti rewrite in his EPA suit.

Usmanov owns a conglomerate of Gazprom metal companies and is the 100th richest person in the world.

He is chairman of Gazprominvestholdings, the investment holding subsidiary of Russia’s Gazprom, where his role is to manage what Gazprom delicately calls its “most difficult and sensitive financial transactions.” (Wikipedia)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alisher_Usmanov

They say a lot of very bad things about him on the Internet that make me feel ill, so I stick to what is pretty much true.

Comment by Snapple — 14 Nov 2010 @ 3:30 PM

420. simon 407: I sometimes suspect there may be some out there who really do believe that a blanket will keep a corpse warm at night!

BPL: It will keep it warmer than if it had no blanket.

Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Nov 2010 @ 3:45 PM

421. Re moderator Jim response to my #415

Critical discussion would be welcome.

What is it about the California Central Valley that you dispute?

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Nov 2010 @ 3:55 PM

422. #415 Jim Bullis

You seem to not have all the facts in a row. The issue of the delta smelt, if yo draw the teleconnections likely, or very likely, is attributable to global warming along with land use changes, such as the impressive agricultural growth in the San Joaquin Valley.

When you combine all factors and the loss of water coming from the sierra, you end up with upset farmers that say we want water.

The environmental laws are not unimportant. But no one was expecting that much water loss this quickly either.

So while it is convenient to blame environmentalists, the real culprit is likely or very likely the combination of land use changes (agricultural growth), drought, environmental laws and global warming.

The fact that people are upset that some water is being held back does not address the real issues here. We’ve got a lot of people to feed and the precipitation trends are shifting away form existing infrastructure.

You can blame the crazy environmentalists but that would be short sighted. if your going to have a trial and find someone guilty. Make sure you’ve got all the evidence. The modern day lynch mobs blaming environmentalists for degradation that comes from the fossil fuel industry and expansion beyond capacity is more than ironic, it’s bizarre.

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Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 14 Nov 2010 @ 3:56 PM

423. Jim, the distance between Alice Springs and Coober Pedy is about the same, 596 km or 370 miles. Might I point out that the only civilised way to live in Coober Pedy is in a dugout. A house blasted out of the opal bearing rock beneath the searing desert surface. I even attended a wedding in the dugout catholic church there. Alice Springs, Uluru, Coober Pedy, Woomera rocket range, – all these places are totally unsuitable for any major water infrastructure.

As for salts in water. Rivers have to flow over _something_ to get from place to place. Different rocks and soils will give up different soluble compounds in this process. The further the water travels the more soluble compounds the water will acquire. The further the water travels the more of it will evaporate thereby increasing the concentrations of dissolved materials. Is that simple enough?

424. 416 CM

My information on how the models handle the ocean interface references a quote from our host gavin, who I fully believe has solid knowledge of the models.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Nov 2010 @ 4:49 PM

I have discussed this further on the “open thread” at:

presently “awaiting moderation”. Hope to hear from you there.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Nov 2010 @ 4:59 PM

426. Re simon abingdon, Jim Bullis

There is an upper layer of ocean water (which I’m not saying is sharply defined) which tends toward equilibrium with the atmosphere on short time periods, under a few years. Greater amounts of the ocean interact flow are processed through this mixed layer over longer time periods. The heat capacity slows the decay of radiative disequilibrium (ie the approach to climatic equilibrium) but doesn’t generally halt it, so for global warming, the warming continues but more slowly. Eventually the atmosphere and upper ocean will be near equilibrium with radiative forcing, not when the oceanic heat sink has adjusted completely to the new surface conditions, but when the the remaining unused oceanic heat sink is in those parts of the ocean which are only brought to the surface at a very slow rate; at this point one can consider the upwelling of colder water (colder than what it would be in full equilibrium; there generally still can be cold upwelling water in a full climatic equilibrium state) to provide an external forcing to the surface environment, keeping the surface colder than otherwise by a small amount; this forcing decays over time.

Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 Nov 2010 @ 5:05 PM

427. Jim Bullis @ 413

“Water without salt in it does not get salty by evaporation.”

Hmm, all natural waters have dissolved constituents – they give “fresh” water its flavour.

“The path to Los Angeles is about as hot and dry as anywhere.”

I’ve lived and worked in California and Australia long enough to tell you you have absolutely no idea what you are writing about. You need to spend more time reading and less time typing!

Comment by Mike Palin — 14 Nov 2010 @ 5:10 PM

428. 424 Patrick 027

Exactly, except I do not at all see things like simon abingdon seems to see things.

You and I quibble about degree of how much colder the ocean makes it, and how long this ‘forcing’ lasts. And I only say it would seem to be something that will make a significant difference.

My biggest concern is that the temperature of the atmosphere will turn out to be enough less than predicted that the whole science will get thrown out. Then try to get anything done to fix things.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Nov 2010 @ 5:20 PM

429. 427 Mike Palin

I was talking about the kind of salt that comes in sea water. That was the context of the conversation. We also have discussed previously a need to pay attention to accumulation of various mineral ‘salts’. And that has been a significant issue in the California Central Valley.

I will check the data, but I would be surprised if Death Valley, China Lake, etc. and the Central Valley are not at least in the same climate league with much of Australia. Are you really saying otherwise; and people and sheep live there?

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Nov 2010 @ 5:30 PM

430. Mike Palin @427 — That would be a good idea. Somehow, however, …

Comment by David B. Benson — 14 Nov 2010 @ 6:53 PM

431. Jim, do you understand how the greenhouse effect works? Do you understand the how the energy balance works? Where do we need to start, because unless you think ALL the excess energy goes into the ocean, I can’t see how you are claiming the oceans will prevent climate change. Indeed, if the oceans are sucking up a significant amount of energy, that would likely require a higher climate sensitivity–and we’re even more in the soup.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Nov 2010 @ 7:10 PM

432. Jim #424, I’m glad we can finally agree on something: our host knows the models. So I’ve gone back and read your quote, in which Gavin was specifically talking about models used for the standard estimate of Charney sensitivity as opposed to fully coupled models (and how they don’t differ much in the long run anyway). An out-of-context Gavin quote, a Labrador Sea event, and a 1946 paper on ocean acoustics — and you’re able to convince yourself the surface won’t warm much? I must be crazy, wasting sleep on this.

Comment by CM — 14 Nov 2010 @ 7:16 PM

433. Simon Abingdon, Ah, but the warm atmosphere is not in contact with the cold briny depths, is it? There’s a layer of warmer water on top, isn’t there? Are you really this thick?

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Nov 2010 @ 7:16 PM

I most assuredly never said heat going into the oceans would prevent climate change. I have repeatedly said that it would reduce the increase in temperature in the atmosphere, relative to what is predicted by models that do not consider heat going into the oceans. That is somehow different.

Are you thinking that deep ocean temperature is part of the climate?

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Nov 2010 @ 8:23 PM

Water flows over concrete in the California Aquaduct.

Maybe you could suggest a better water route than the most direct path through Alice Springs.

You might recall, I first mentioned a Northern water movement. You seemed to prefer debating about Alice Springs. Might this be a tactic to avoid discussing anything involving water distribution?

Water distribution seems to rank higher than global warming as something to be defeated.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Nov 2010 @ 9:00 PM

436. 430 CM

Interesting how things are reframed here.

The compendium of knowledge acquired during WWII by all the labs in the country published in 1946, you reduce to a paper on ocean acoustics.

An inline response written by Gavin, the very one himself, becomes a quote out of context.

I took the actual Gavin words to mean that the models are not coupled, though he maintains it would not matter much. That is my point of contention.

[Response: You have misunderstood the comment completely. I was referring to a specific calculation which requires an fully equilibriated simulation. Most experiments – and this includes all transients for the next few decades – do not require this and so coupled models are routinely used. – gavin]

The ‘Labrador sea event’ was a nine year record of temperature as a function of time and depth to a depth that is ignored in the models.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Nov 2010 @ 9:01 PM

437. Jim said “I have repeatedly said” – yes, we noticed. Thank you.

Your mistake is twofold: first, you are thinking that nobody has noticed this extremely obvious fact. Second, you are insisting that it is significant. You even go so far as to say “this would make the model results invalid”.

Possibly you are making another mistake: you say “relative to what is predicted by models that do not consider heat going into the oceans”, but all models consider heat going into the oceans – it’s just that they don’t all model the ocean as the complicated system that it is. Instead, they use a very simplified model.

And the simple model produces (as has been explained) very similar results to full earth simulators.

I hope you realise that you sound a lot like those tiresome deniers who claim that since models are simplifications, and thus “wrong”, then they are useless.

Comment by Didactylos — 14 Nov 2010 @ 9:28 PM

438. adelady (423), IIRC that was one of the major problems with the canal built to deliver drinking water to Tucson from the Colorado. Totally busted when completed.

Comment by Rod B — 14 Nov 2010 @ 10:18 PM

439. 433 Didylos

Perhaps you would identify which climate models are the simplified models and which are the complicated models. Then explain the differences.

At one time I was told that all the modeling depended on the “Monterey Model” to some extent or other. Then it turned out that the “Monterey Model” considered the heat to be trapped in the ‘Mixed Layer’. Thus none of the models are valid, no matter how complicated they are.

The Labrador data was particularly illuminating about the ‘mixed layer’ and how it decidedly did not trap heat.

Since you are aware of these obvious facts, I am counting on you to fill me in correctly, where I make my many mistakes.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 Nov 2010 @ 10:24 PM

440. “Thus none of the models are valid, no matter how complicated they are.”

You are inching towards truth. Just think, eventually* we will have models that are so complicated that they are, in fact, a planet. And then it will be valid. And it *still* won’t duplicate Earth.

“I am counting on you to fill me in correctly”

Gavin has already explained all this to you. I’m just moving the pieces around trying to find an angle that will fit inside your head.

This isn’t rocket science. It’s straight from the Climate Model FAQ.

* That is to say, never.

Comment by Didactylos — 14 Nov 2010 @ 11:32 PM

441. Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. @439 — I reply on the Open Variations thread, where this exchange belongs.

Comment by David B. Benson — 15 Nov 2010 @ 12:18 AM

442. > none of the models are valid

“Spencer Weart’s Discovery of Global Warming features two chapters on the history of climate modeling: Simple Models of Climate Change and General Circulation Models of Climate …. ”
http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-models.htm

Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Nov 2010 @ 12:54 AM

443. “Something like a third of Los Angeles drinks water from the California aquaduct, which comes from the Sacramento river delta, before it becomes salty.” Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 14 November 2010 @ 2:06 PM

“Currently, water salinity in the California Aqueduct and the Delta-Mendota Canal ranges between 300 and 350 mg/l of total dissolved solids (TDS).” The Economic Effects on Agriculture of Water Export Salinity South of the Delta, Josué Medellín–Azuara, Richard E. Howitt, Jay R. Lund, Ellen Hanak; http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/other/708EHR_appendixI.pdf

Comment by Brian Dodge — 15 Nov 2010 @ 2:33 AM

444. #405 Jim Bullis

“I recommend a drive down Interstate 5 from Sacramento to Los Angeles. You can do it on Google Earth.

“If you took that trip 50 years ago, it would look like Australia around Alice Springs. Now, you will see the most productive agricultural region in the world.”

I am old enough to have explored the San Joaquin Valley in my youth (no I-5 back then, just county roads). I also have spent time in and around Alice Springs, Australia. I can assure you that they did not look the same.

The Central Valley Project brought water to the San Joaquin Valley, allowing landowners to convert agricultural lands already in production (dry farming, livestock) to irrigated crops and orchards. Runoff from those fields was sent to Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge, but in a few decades the selenium and salts in the runoff water caused such horrendous mutations in the wildlife that the refuge now is closed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kesterson_National_Wildlife_Refuge

In the Westlands Water District, 90,000 acres of irrigated land has been “retired” and allowed to be returned to dry farming. Many folks agree that the most cost effective solution to the selenium and salt problem will be to stop irrigation of most all of the lands in the Valley. Pouring fresh water on arid lands may allow one to grow crops in the short term, but without considering soil chemistry and environmental conditions, this may lead to costly unintended consequences that can be difficult — if not impossible — to mitigate.

Comment by Jim Eaton — 15 Nov 2010 @ 2:36 AM

445. 436 inline by Gavin

Compare to see how things could be misunderstood.

7 April 2008 at 11:20 AM
Do you mean by, “simple mixed layer ocean” that the variations of ocean temperature with depth are not part of the analysis?

[Response: In the standard estimate of the Charney sensitivity. no. Using fully coupled OAGCMs takes much much longer and has not yet become standard practice. In the GISS models, the difference in eventual temperatures (after hundreds of years) is on the order of a few tenths of a degree. – gavin]

#436 today

I took the actual Gavin words to mean that the models are not coupled, though he maintains it would not matter much. That is my point of contention.

[Response: You have misunderstood the comment completely. I was referring to a specific calculation which requires an fully equilibriated simulation. Most experiments – and this includes all transients for the next few decades – do not require this and so coupled models are routinely used. – gavin]

This is all just a confusion arising in trying to get to the real issue, which is how the ocean model works. That is the ‘mixed layer’ issue. We also discussed that previously, and in looking for that discussion I picked up the April 2008 discussion.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 15 Nov 2010 @ 2:54 AM

446. Countercurrents thinks it can solve the Science, narrative and heresy problem with a web wiki:

“Building Climate Change Consensus:
Mann Vs McIntyre, For Example
By Bill Henderson

http://www.countercurrents.org/henderson131110.htm

Climate change is but one of the global scale ‘Bottleneck’ problems threatening our continuing evolution. A science-process, controlled-access wiki could be a key tool in looking down the road, quantifying dangers, and acting with due diligence to future generations”

I doubt it.

Comment by Edward Greisch — 15 Nov 2010 @ 3:09 AM

447. Andy Revkin has dubbed himself “senior fellow for environmental understanding”

:) :)

Dr. Hansen deserves a title like that.

Comment by Edward Greisch — 15 Nov 2010 @ 3:24 AM

448. It seems there is lots of advice and scorn, but never a comment on the meaning of the data at:

http://www.argo.ucsd.edu/Research_use.html

Half a degree increase in seven years at 1000 meters seems interesting to me.

My original interest was whether there was more like this over a wider region. Dare I speculate that the implications of heat being taken into the deep ocean are significant.

Ah the scientific method; how sweet it is.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 15 Nov 2010 @ 4:42 AM

449. OK, Jim, you ‘splain to me, if the oceans reduce the temperature of the radiating surface from what it would otherwise be, then how does the planet return to radiative equilibrium.

And if it does not return to equilibrium, what keeps the surface temperature from rising?

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Nov 2010 @ 5:36 AM

450. Jim Bullis @ 429

“I was talking about the kind of salt that comes in sea water.”

And where do you suppose the “salt” in seawater comes from?

Comment by Mike Palin — 15 Nov 2010 @ 9:38 AM

451. Ray (431), I know it is a hypothetical and can’t really happen, but I have a theoretical question. If ALL the excess heat went into the ocean wouldn’t you still get global warming just slower and years/decades/centuries or maybe even longer delayed? You say the oceans sucking up a significant amount of energy would likely require a higher climate sensitivity: Require?? Can you explain the thought process of that?

Comment by Rod B — 15 Nov 2010 @ 10:19 AM

452. Jim Bullis,
No one is disputing that the result is interesting. The problem is that you are drawing absurd conclusions from the result–namely that heat transport to the deep oceans prevents serious warming.

First, as I’ve pointed out, warming would at most be slowed, not prevented.

Second, we know that the planet can and does warm on much shorter timescales than would be implied by a significant global mixing below 1000 meters. Your contention would require a very high climate sensitivity–one that would really put us in the soup.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Nov 2010 @ 10:20 AM

453. Rod B. The requirement of a high sensitivity arises from the fact that we still see warming on annual and decadal timescales despite the putative mixing deep into the ocean. This would mean that the energy imbalance is in fact huge, and once the ocean heat reservoir begins to saturate, we’d have rapid heat rise and very slow recovery even once CO2 levels begin to diminish. This is not what we see in the paleoclimate.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Nov 2010 @ 10:24 AM

454. Skeptical Science today has a piece on what I consider to the most important narrative in which we should engage… what is the real cost of mitigating climate change.

I’m often quite annoyed at the skeptics who like to use the “alarmist” label against those that understand the implications of climate change, when in fact the label is far more appropriate to their absurd presentations of the economic impacts of reducing our fossil fuel dependence. Phrases like “destroy the economy” are quite common, or things like Septic Matthew’s “rapid elimination of the American coal industry and the businesses that depend on their electricity.”

But while we all spend time arguing the science, the real argument, the question of “but why not just mitigate?” is rarely mentioned. Of course, the science is far more interesting than economics, certainly, but is not really the important point at this point in time, and hasn’t been for at least three years. Or rather, the deniers make it the focus, to avoid the painful reality that there’s just no reason in the world to avoid mitigation (except for the fact that it will “steal” outrageous, planned on profits from an entitled minority in the fossil fuel industry, such as the Koch family).

Anyway, the Skeptical Science piece is an example of something that should be discussed more often, and brought to the public’s attention, more and more. I think the debate should be shifted from “why?” (it is/isn’t happening) to “why not?” (it is/isn’t expensive to mitigate).

Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 15 Nov 2010 @ 10:28 AM

455. Brian Dodge (443), I didn’t read your reference, so maybe they just misspoke, but salinity and total dissolved solids (TDS) are not the same thing. TDS is not or a minimal negative effect on agriculture; often it’s a positive effect.

Comment by Rod B — 15 Nov 2010 @ 10:34 AM

456. #444 Jim Eaton

Just for fun a little trivia:

I was driving up to San Francisco with a friend of mine who happened to be an old timer engineer that helped build a lot of San Joaquin infrastructure.

As we’re driving past Coalinga, he asks, do you know why it’s named Coalinga?

No says I.

He said that used to be Coaling Station A. The sign at the station was ‘Coaling A’

The railroad no longer stops for coal, but the sign remains and eventually the locals just called the place Coalinga.

I thought that was interesting, but then again, I’m easily entertained ;)

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Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 15 Nov 2010 @ 11:29 AM

457. 451 (Rod B),
453 (Ray),

I actually see the idea of the oceans acting as a damper to be a huge problem. That is, if the oceans absorb far more heat than expected, this does not change the earth’s equilibrium temperature, but does greatly change the amount of time required to reach that temperature.

What this does in the real world is to provide the “look, there’s barely any warming” argument to deniers, along with “look, it’s happening so slowly, why should I care?” argument. The end result could, of course, be to continue burning fossil fuels until the equilibrium temperature is dangerously high, but not actually experienced until it is far, far too late to do anything about it.

My favorite analogy is one of cranking the thermostat in your house way, way up, then breaking it. Five or even thirty minutes later you’re saying “see, that’s not so bad,” because no heating system will take effect that quickly. But many hours later you’re sweltering in unbearable temperatures, and there’s nothing you can do about it, because you broke the thermostat after turning it up (i.e. you dumped the CO2 into the atmosphere with no way to remove it).

Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 15 Nov 2010 @ 12:00 PM

458. Jim Bullis, I can find answers to these questions with Google. Why can’t you?

You keep wondering why you don’t get answers that please you. How could you? There is a vast array of information about ocean models used in coupled models. Gavin isn’t your personal tutor. Go and read about it if you want to learn. If you don’t want to learn, then stop asking irritating questions and implying silly things.

Comment by Didactylos — 15 Nov 2010 @ 1:53 PM

To the extent that heat is flowing into the ocean, the planet does not return to radiative equilibrium.

The surface temperature does not rise due to an equilibrium of the three heat flow processes, incoming radiation, outgoing radiation, and ocean heat intake rate.

The ‘overturning’ rate of the oceans (studied more with the capability to take up CO2 than heat) has been determined to be slow enough that the ocean heat intake rate is negligible compared to the rate of warming that would come from radiative imbalance. I raise the question if that is true, in light of the referenced Argo data.

And I mean by ‘ocean’ to refer to deep oceans.

I also question if the mechanisms that drive the ‘overturning rate’ will change as atmospheric temperature increases, thereby causing a greater rate of heat flow into the oceans.

And again, the referenced Argo data shows a surprising change in temperature over 7 years time. Yes, it is a single site in the Labrador Sea. So the current question is whether there is processed data like this for a wider set of samples.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 15 Nov 2010 @ 1:56 PM

If I ever said that warming would be prevented, that was a mistake for sure.

Why I would have said that I can not imagine, since my general premise is that as global warming happens, some, mechanisms to increase flow of heat into the ocean are strengthened. Thus, there would be a moderating effect.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 15 Nov 2010 @ 2:02 PM

461. 454 Bob (Sphaerica)

I agree with you about mitigation, but get thoroughly trounced, often moderated off, for proposing such things.

The “Skeptical Science” that you linked is a little behind for not including the EPA discussions on ‘carbon’ capture, transport, and sequestration. They mostly studied the capture part and made statement that the cost per ton of CO2 would be up to \$95.

Specifically on page 9 we find:

Exact paste follows————————

Though CCS technologies exist, “scaling up” these existing processes and integrating them with coal-based power generation poses technical, economic, and regulatory challenges. In the electricity sector, estimates of the incremental costs of new coal-fired plants with CCS relative to new conventional coal-fired plants typically range from \$60 to \$95 per tonne of CO2 avoided (DOE, 2010a). Approximately 70–90 percent of that cost is associated with capture and compression. Some of this cost could be offset by the use of CO2 for EOR for which there is an existing market, but EOR options may not be available for many projects.

End paste —————–

In reaction to this I opened the subject of creating new standing forests using re-distributed water on a continental basis. While the new forest could cost nothing in the long run, this could go far to balance use of coal in making electrical power.

This encountered violent objection from established, pre global warming type, environmentalists, who seemed to care not a whit about global warming where there was a threat to the old environmental order, where the main course of affairs is to harangue the old industrial order.

I had been hoping for rational discourse on how to give due consideration for the old environmental situations, but instead got heavy rocks rained down.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 15 Nov 2010 @ 2:19 PM

462. I’ve got to say, as a former student of marine biology and fisheries, that the idea of a lot of heat entering the ocean worries me, especially if accompanied by flatter thermoclines. If you look at some of the most productive areas of the ocean from a fisheries perspective, they take place where upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water intersects with surface layers. Can you imagine losing the Clupeid fisheries off the west coast of South America? I shudder at the prospect.

Comment by MartinJB — 15 Nov 2010 @ 4:05 PM

463. > Can you imagine losing the Clupeid fisheries
> off the west coast of South America?

swfsc.noaa.gov/publications/CR/1992/92104.PDF
The rise and fall of the California sardine empire

“Global climate change is likely to cause diverse alterations and changes in fisheries around the world….. The historical collapse of a major fishery like the California sardine fishery provides a number of lessons on how the local society and the national and international fishing industry may be expected to respond to these changes.

Some of those lessons were postulated by Radovich (1981). ….

Lessons drawn by Radovich regarding within-fishery dynamics include the following: ….
— Research can be used to delay solutions as well as to provide solutions.

We would offer a fifth lesson on the internal dynamics of fishery collapse:
— Overfishing is a natural consequence of institutional (government as well as industry) momentum ….

These lessons clearly indicate the path that a new industrial clupeid fishery may be expected to take. More importantly, they indicate that strong management is necessary to counter these destructive tendencies.”

Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Nov 2010 @ 5:11 PM

464. Bob (Sphaerica),
I agree that a climate system with a significant amount of deep mixing would be more treacherous. However, we do know that the planet is warming at near the expected amount (~0.2 deg C/decade), so for this to be true AND for there to be a significant amount of deep mixing would imply a sensitivity far higher than currently envisioned. It would require a huge energy imbalance.

Jim Bullis, It is likely a mistake to extrapolate a local measurement globally. It is an even bigger mistake to make such an extrapolation and draw conclusions based on it when you don’t fully understand it. The planet IS warming. Ice IS melting. And the models are getting things mostly right. The biggest mistake of all is assuming the errors will all go your way. Think “inside straight”.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Nov 2010 @ 8:27 PM

465. “…but salinity and total dissolved solids (TDS) are not the same thing. TDS is not or a minimal negative effect on agriculture; often it’s a positive effect.” Rod B — 15 November 2010 @ 10:34 AM

http://www.salinitymanagement.org/Salinity%20Management%20Guide/ls/ls_3d.html

“Measures of salinity
For water at Earth’s surface — rainwater, snow, lakes, streams, and shallow groundwater — the solute load typically consists mostly of inorganic ions and compounds.” In other words, salt.
“If a sample of such water is filtered to remove suspended solids, then stored in a low-humidity environment long enough to evaporate completely, a residue of solid material will remain in the sample container. Dividing the mass of that residue by the volume of solution originally present yields a parameter known as total dissolved solids (TDS). TDS is expressed in milligrams per liter (mg/L).”
“The electrical conductivity of water, or ECw, is the principal parameter used nowadays to measure a solution’s salt content. ”
“EC works well as a proxy for total dissolved solids because a water’s ability to conduct an electrical current is directly related to the concentration of salts in solution.”
“An ECw of 3 dS/m (equivalent to a TDS of about 2000 mg/L) is the upper limit for nearly all landscape plants. (Most plants cannot tolerate salinity higher than that.) Therefore, avoid using for irrigation any water that approaches or exceeds that level of salinity.”

“Estimating TDS from EC
A mathematical relationship between ECw and TDS has been devised, making it easy to correlate one type of measurement with the other. For most water, TDS, in milligrams per liter, is equivalent to approximately 640 times EC, in deciSiemens per centimeter.

TDS (in mg/L) = ECw (in dS/m) × 640

The coefficient of 640 in the equation above is appropriate for a fairly wide range of conditions. For waters of mixed composition, consider using a factor of 735 instead, and for concentrated solutions with EC exceeding 5 dS/m, consider using a factor of 800.”

If you start with low TDS/salinity water, and increase its TDS by adding appropriate amounts of ammonium nitrate and potassium phosphate, it can be good for plants, but naturally occurring solutes in high levels don’t have ” a minimal effect on agriculture”.

In areas with high evapotranspiration, like the arid regions of the southwest, salts accumulate in the soil as the irrigation water evaporates. see Figure III.A.1. “Typical salt accumulation patterns in soils irrigated by sprinklers or surface flooding, border check irrigation, furrow irrigation, and drip irrigation (Ayers and Westcot, 1985).” from Salt Management Guide for Landscape Irrigation with Recycled Water in Coastal Southern California – http://www.salinitymanagement.org/Literature_Review.pdf

Comment by Brian Dodge — 15 Nov 2010 @ 8:32 PM

466. “I also question if the mechanisms that drive the ‘overturning rate’ will change as atmospheric temperature increases, thereby causing a greater rate of heat flow into the oceans.” Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 15 November 2010 @ 1:56 PM
IMHO, The delay in fall freeze of the Arctic ocean, plus the addition of ever increasing amounts of fresh water from Greenland melt may slow the AMOC. On the other hand, the decrease in Northern Hemisphere snow cover and consequent spring melt would tend to offset Greenland melt. Arrhenius figured out that the poles would warm more than the equator, and their difference in temperature is one of the drivers of AMOC as well as the large scale atmospheric circulation. Slower moving weather systems (and more extreme rainfall events) may be correlated with slower AMOC. Maybe I should do a little googling.

Comment by Brian Dodge — 15 Nov 2010 @ 9:30 PM

467. Brian Dodge (465), TDS equals “salts” only in the chemical purist context. In the common and scientific field of water analysis, “salinity” refers only to ionic compounds of sodium and potassium (and a couple trivial ions) of which sodium (salt to everyone else) is the only one detrimental to agriculture and horticulture (depending on the concentration). In addition to the salinity of Na and K, TDS consists of predominately calcium and magnesium ionic compounds along with sometimes noticeable ions of selenium, silicone, and iron, and some (many) others in tiny amounts. TDS means one concentration thing; salinity means a different concentration thing. Your reference would equate salinity and TDS for only four reasons that I can think of: 1) they misspoke; 2) they’re being excessively pedantic; 3) they don’t know the difference (hard to believe); 4) they’re deliberately misleading.

Sometimes “salinity” is used for everything in ocean studies; but in those cases “TDS” is not used.

Comment by Rod B — 15 Nov 2010 @ 11:05 PM

468. Rod B., where do you get your information? Got a source you can cite?

The irrigation site Brian points to is consistent with other sources.

Here’s another: “Total dissolved solids (effectively dissolved salts) is a measure of salinity. Dissolved salts conduct electricity in relation to their concentration, so electrical conductivity is another measure of salinity. Water salinity is derived primarily from the ions of calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride and bicarbonates.” http://soilplantlab.missouri.edu/soil/waterirrigation.aspx

More chemical purists around than you can shake a stick at, seems.

Rather than a prolonged digression about opinions on this, a simple pointer to sources would suffice.

Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Nov 2010 @ 1:11 AM

469. Jim, you knew the answer to that question months ago.
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/05/ocean-heat-content-increases-update/
The “scientists don’t know” sites have been all excited about it off and on for several years, e.g.
You’ve been repeating yourself, e.g.
Nobody’s trying to shut you up; people are trying to encourage you to get it together and make it coherent.

Apparently you know a great deal about a huge database of ocean acoustic work that you think isn’t appreciated.
If you got a blog, made a list of the sources after actually looking them up for yourself so you could point to available copies, whether in print or online, and summed up your ideas with reference to both what you know and what’s else published in the field, people would be able to give you useful feedback to get it together and publish it or encourage others to do so.

Scattering the same material through many topics, and asking very simple questions easily answered by looking, isn’t helping.

Nor is going from one broad area to another — cars on chicken legs, new forests, ocean temperature — over and over.

Best of luck, I’d encourage you if you put it somewhere in coherent form, but, egad, I’m done with it here.

Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Nov 2010 @ 10:03 AM

470. Here is another story about the relationship of climate science to big money, this one involving Munich Re:

http://www.munichre.com/en/media_relations/company_news/2010/2010-06-24_company_news.aspx

Comment by Septic Matthew — 16 Nov 2010 @ 1:48 PM

14 November 2010 at 2:03 AM

Evaporation rates on the Australian mainland are so high that the only feasible way to change the hydrology would be to restore the scrub and woodland that used to cover vast swathes of SA, WA and inland areas of Queensland and NSW. The land is so poor and so salty /alkaline/ horrible in many places that carbon sequestration would be a very slow business. And the effort involved is unbelievable.

And yet, were it to be determined to be useful and necessary, likely could be done… including dealing with the salts.

Greening the Desert – Masanobu Fukuoka
http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC14/Fukuoka.htm

Greening the Desert – Geoff Lawton video of Jordan project:

Maybe you should give Geoff a call. (Tell him I sent you, and I’m still waiting for my 40 students.)

Comment by ccpo — 16 Nov 2010 @ 3:03 PM

472. #470 Septic Matthew

I would not worry about Munich Re trying to distort the science. From what I’ve seen, their ‘big money’ is trying to get companies to understand the risk ratios, which by the way, they are very well aware of (my perspective).

There are few companies in the world that take risks as seriously as insurance companies.

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Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 16 Nov 2010 @ 5:42 PM

473. 472, John P. Reisman: I would not worry about Munich Re trying to distort the science.

I don’t think your worries are exactly the topic, but do you worry about other insurance companies? Other companies?

Comment by Septic Matthew — 16 Nov 2010 @ 8:53 PM

474. ccpo Fukuoka is my hero.

I’m also pretty keen on Peter Andrews “Back From the Brink” approach. Using environmental weeds, proscribed in practically every jurisdiction, to revive and regenerate water flows and retention gets him into trouble, but he’s been very successful. I’m sure that a modified approach using more “suitable” indigenous plants could be put together for various locations. He’s cantankerous, he’s not a scientist and he loathes permaculture, but he’s worth his seat at the table.

475. 469 Hank Roberts

Here I am in my glass of wine condition and I see your #469.

Uh, no I am honest, I hope beyond anything else, 1.6 glasses.

Not in coherent form. Yup. I am afraid you got me there.

What I want to show is that there are real answers to global warming. And I have to admit that I have not done that as well as I would like.

Slowly and not surely, I plan to show that a car can be built that will use 80% less energy, trucks can be built that use 70% less energy, maybe more, coal fired electric power can be defeated gradually by distributed cogeneration – and yes – we might even do this using hybrid systems in the self-same cars of the first part as the equipment that would partially serve to reduce need for coal power. That being not quite enough, I thought hard about other ways to reduce CO2 from coal, but then the move to force power producers to carry out ‘carbon capture’ has offended sensibility so extremely I worked to find analternative, that being a water-forest plan which seems actually to have possibilities.

That last paragraph can’t possibly be clear.

[Response: To the contrary, it is Jim, and I for one appreciate your efforts to explain where you’re coming from. Most of us here are on the same page in terms of our desire to see GHGs limited, though we may well differ in how that’s best accomplished. If you can come up with a vehicle that is far more efficient, then the world is the better place for it. I couldn’t begin to address an issue like that–because I don’t know jack about the technicalities involved–I only know it’s a good idea overall. Conversely, I know things about forest ecosystems (as do some other folks around here) that you don’t. Doesn’t mean your broader goal isn’t a good one–it is–it just means that you may not be aware of some of the many less-than-obvious problems that can arise in trying to implement some of your ideas. We would be remiss if we didn’t bring these things up, as you would be if we said we had a good plan to build a car that gets 100 mpg and has no drawbacks or difficulties attached with accomplishing this.–Jim]

Anyway. I find the business of climate science generally valid, but still it is confusing, perplexing and not at all satisfactory in the way it is handled.

Cars on chicken legs? Now that is the unkindest cut of all. But still, it is fair. But going from one broad area to another? Nope. This is not something off the top of my head. Based on several years of detailed study, it seem it would actually solve a significant fraction of the energy use problem. Does anybody care? Not yet.

And one thing leads to another. I bet you have not expected that the same principles involved in the chicken legged car apply to trucks. Wow, would that ever be silly.

Look for more at http://www.miastrada.com as I try to get it together. Coherenet form? Maybe.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 17 Nov 2010 @ 12:06 AM

476. #471 ccpo:

“One thing the people of the United States can do instead of going to outer space is to sow seeds from the space shuttle into the deserts.”

Forgive me for being skeptical without any reason, but I don’t think there is a lot of science behind his proposal.

Comment by Jim Eaton — 17 Nov 2010 @ 1:58 AM

477. Re: 461, Jim Bullis”

This encountered violent objection from established, pre global warming type, environmentalists, who seemed to care not a whit about global warming where there was a threat to the old environmental order, where the main course of affairs is to harangue the old industrial order.

Jim, I think there are a lot of environmentalists who fully understand that all they have worked for to protect the native flora and fauna of our planet may be in jeopardy if we do not deal with global warming.

But some of your suggestions are questioned because you seem to have no understanding how ecosystems of the world work. There is a reason redwoods aren’t found in the Mojave Desert, just like why Joshua Trees aren’t found in Oregon. You don’t simply add water to a desert and convert it to a temperate forest. You are ignoring the millions of years of evolution that has shaped where and how various plants and animals live, and also that evolutionary changes do not occur overnight.

It makes far more sense to reestablish forests where they once flourished and were extirpated. And you are getting some objections from those of us who do not think Earth is a place where humans can wipe out plants and animals at will for whatever objectives the humans have. This is a wonderfully biodiverse Earth, and we should do everything we can to work towards a future where our species can thrive along with our fellow travelers on this planet rather than at their expense.

Comment by Jim Eaton — 17 Nov 2010 @ 2:24 AM

478. #473 Septic Matthew

Would not worry does not = worry. I’m not sure why you translated my saying “I would not worry” in “worries”? Please don’t misunderstand what I said about Munich Re. I am ‘not’ worried about them.

I don’t know about other insurance companies, or other companies, as I have no direct experience with all the companies, but my general feeling is that we still have a long way to go on educating the public about the nature and risk of human caused global warming.

I still strongly believe that it is not about believing global warming is happening. If we leave it at that we have a high risk of ending up with less meaningful policy.

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Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 17 Nov 2010 @ 4:41 AM

479. Jim Bullis, I understand your motivations, and I applaud them. However, I would urge that you. I would give you the counsel of H. L. Mencken, “For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.”

You are talking about very complicated systems, that themselves will be changing due to warming. We’re not going to be able to turn the Sahara into a tree farm even as Subsaharan Africa dries out. Planting trees is a part of the answer. I’ve planted about 1500 in the past decade. But it’s a palliative, not a solution. First we have to fully understand the problem, and that will take time–time we’ve wasted and now must borrow back by slowing the burning of carbon.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Nov 2010 @ 5:12 AM

480. Jim Bullis linked again to his website, so I had another look.

I was curious to see whether he had addressed any of the problems with his “big idea”.

He hasn’t.

He hasn’t even acknowledged that any problems exist.

Instead, I found the same wild claims as before, seemingly unchanged.

Jim, if you have no time for the flaws in your own plans, don’t expect anyone else to waste time on them, either.

Comment by Didactylos — 17 Nov 2010 @ 9:26 AM

481. I may have said this before, but the real irony of Jim Bullis’s proposal for creating a mammoth continent-wide irrigation system to redistribute vast amounts of water so as to grow new “standing forests” in what are now arid regions, is that existing natural forests are being cut down and/or dying all over the world.

It seems bizarre to talk about massive geoengineering projects to create huge monoculture tree plantations, when real forests — whole complex ecosystems — are being rapidly destroyed, taking a great many species along with them when they go, forever.

Wouldn’t it be better to focus the effort that Jim envisions on stopping and reversing deforestation?

Comment by SecularAnimist — 17 Nov 2010 @ 11:17 AM

482. 478, John P. Reisman: I still strongly believe that it is not about believing global warming is happening.

There are actions that we should take whether we do or do not believe in global warming, such as replacing oil and cleaning or replacing coal.

I think you are quibbling meaninglessly over the use of “worry” as a verb vs “worries” as a plural noun. The potential for an insurance company to hype threats so as to drive up premiums and profits is no less real than the potential for an energy company to promote its ideas (petroleum is good, from an oil company; wind is good, from a manufacturer of turbines) in order to sell its goods and increase its profits. Insurance companies have also been known to keep their premiums low in order to attract customers, and then to go bankrupt when nature proves their folly. The people in the insurance companies have the same fallibilities as the people in all other companies. It is a clear conflict of interest to have insurance company employees be lead authors on an IPCC report, as clear a conflict of interest as if they were employees of a carbon trading company or an energy company (Peabody Coal or GE.) The conflict is clear whether you do “worry” or have “worries”, or not.

Comment by Septic Matthew — 17 Nov 2010 @ 12:23 PM

483. Septic Matthew says, “The potential for an insurance company to hype threats so as to drive up premiums and profits is no less real than the potential for an energy company to promote its ideas…”

Well, except in one case the insurance company is basing its claims on science, while the oil company is just flat lying. See the difference?

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Nov 2010 @ 2:49 PM

A meteorologist and two engineers check in with a comprehensive review of the current state of knowledge climatology, vindicating McKittrick’s overthrow of the dominant paradigm. Or something.

It’s worth turning Google Ads back on if you’re ignoring them, to see how effectively the advertising medium is being used to hype the hype.
Or something.

Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Nov 2010 @ 3:08 PM

485. 480 Didactylos
477 Jim Eaton
Hank Roberts

Fair enough on the shortcomings of the Miastrada website. Maybe I should have added the recent developments on that subject rather than getting on a campaign to support our energy infrastructure.

My chicken legged car concept is a right answer, with significant changes (patent progress has been made), to a large sector of CO2 emissions. There is no rush about that since the perception has been put out that by simply changing to electric cars we will get CO2 from cars eliminated; you know, ‘zero emission vehicles and MPGE?” So why worry mate? Markets forces do not change without some compelling reason.

Strangely enough, the compelling reason might come to bear if the economy goes into deeper failure. But I would rather have the car be delayed than see that happen. Thus my priorities shifted to finding an alternative to ‘carbon’ capture, as it is now being planned by the EPA.

I believe that government policy must be more supportive of the industrial system that makes our world the ‘developed world’, if we are to avoid sinking to a third world status. Thus, I argue for the new big thinking that could lead us in that direction, that being new standing forests.

It seems that new standing forests could balance the CO2 from coal fired power plants, or much of it at least. Putting a serious plan in place to do this would give a new confidence to industry that could reverse our ever decreasing industrial productivity rate.

It is necessary to discuss the broad general picture and the absolutely insurmountable flaws that may be therein. Then the real work begins, of designing the project and solving the vast problems that would obviously be encountered.

Nobody has come up with insurmountable flaws. Big problems, yes, but not insurmountable in light of the fact that there is such a big problem.

By the way, the most important feature of the tree project is that it might actually be politically possible in the real political world we live in. Not much else fits that requirement.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 17 Nov 2010 @ 4:19 PM

486. 481 Secular Animist

Whatever effort we can muster to stop deforestation, that needs to continue. Much of this is beyond our reach, and I do not believe in global bossing.

I have vague thoughts about how water might be used to provide agricultural alternatives to the agricultural reasons for deforestation. If water distribution could help in the countries that control rainforests, there might be some opportunities of that sort.

In this vague way, I think we could see complementary efforts, not exclusionary.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 17 Nov 2010 @ 4:30 PM

487. #482 Septic Matthew

I’m afraid I’m still not following you? In my post #473 I did not say ‘worry’ or ‘worries’ regarding your post? So how am I quibbling between the two? You introduced the word worries in #473 saying I had ‘worries’.

Then in #478 I tried to make a point that our decisions should be based on understanding, not beliefs.

In #482 you say there are actions we should take whether or not we believe in global warming? Sure. But that is an idealistic view. We wont get the actions we need until people really understand the nature of the problem. That’s just the way the world works. I’m not disagreeing with your ideal, I’m just saying that’s not the way the world works.

We don’t get what we need because of hope, or should, or any other ideal. We get what we need when people and politicians understand.

Your concerns about Munich Re are unfounded. They are a reinsurance company. The only people they can be alarmist to would be other insurance companies, so it’s not about hyping to jack up rates.

I can make guesses about what I think too, but I don’t make claims based on my guesses. It is not a “clear conflict of interest” to have insurance companies working on IPCC reports. In fact they are the companies that you want in the middle of the data analysis. They have, in some ways, the greatest potential to inform the business world.

#483 Ray Ladbury – Thanks for your exceptional common sense, as usual.

Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 17 Nov 2010 @ 4:40 PM

488. #484 Hank Roberts

Wow! I gave that paper a scan. They sure did dress that pig with a lot of layers.

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Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 17 Nov 2010 @ 4:41 PM

489. 483, Ray Ladbury: Well, except in one case the insurance company is basing its claims on science, while the oil company is just flat lying. See the difference?

That comment is just plain naive.

Comment by Septic Matthew — 17 Nov 2010 @ 5:45 PM

490. Septic Matthew, here is a news flash for you: It is possible to represent one’s own interests without lying. One way to do this is by basing one’s position on the best science available.

I realize that this may come as a bit of a shock to you. However, it is not particularly revelatory to the adults among the readers.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Nov 2010 @ 6:57 PM

491. @485:

“By the way, the most important feature of the tree project is that it might actually be politically possible in the real political world we live in. Not much else fits that requirement.”

Jim, you’re dreaming. There is no conceivable way that your proposal will ever, ever be politically salable. Not funding-wise, not national sovereignty-wise, not water allocation-wise, not environmental-impact-wise.
Folks have been trying to explain this to you.

Now I’ll shut up on this topic again.

Comment by Kevin McKinney — 17 Nov 2010 @ 8:12 PM

492. Jim – ditch the water park; stop jumping to conclusions about climate models. Consider things that grow in the SW, like cactus and ironwood, maybe mesquite. Ironwood sinks in water, and probably doesn’t need much water to stay alive. I don’t know, maybe it contains more carbon.

Comment by JCH — 17 Nov 2010 @ 8:23 PM

493. 489 Septic Mathew

You say sensible things and they should be carefully considered.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 17 Nov 2010 @ 10:06 PM

494. 491 Kevin McKinney

I gather you are not in favor of the forest and water concept.

492 JCH

I haven’t come to any conclusion about much of anything. Well, except maybe that there is a National reading problem, not to mention that sometimes there is even a writing problem…..

That would be dishonest. I have come to believe that there is a National understanding gap in basic physics. It even seems that this problem pervades the developed world.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 17 Nov 2010 @ 10:17 PM

495. I had 5 minutes free, so I gave Jim Bullis some help.

I estimated the drag area for his vehicle, using a few estimations from his drawing. I assumed a drag coefficient of 0.05 for the “aerodynamic” section.

The total drag area is 1.02 sq m.

That’s about the same as a Ford Escape or Jeep Grand Cherokee. (A Prius has a drag area of 0.58 sq m.)

And this simply highlights the importance of doing the maths before making absurd claims. Due to the shape, the cross section is surprisingly large, making the contribution from the supposedly aerodynamic body a full quarter of the drag area. Using Jim’s “logic”, this means his vehicle will be half as fuel efficient as a normal car.

I suspect that the actual drag may be worse, because I neglected parasitic drag and modelled the wheels as an ideal object. At the speeds needed to get any benefit from reduced form drag, parasitic drag will be a factor – and Jim’s wheels make no attempt to be remotely aerodynamic. So, Jim: view this as a lower bound.

Comment by Didactylos — 17 Nov 2010 @ 11:29 PM

496. #494–“Not in favor?”

I would be, if I thought it were workable. I’m deeply unenthusiastic about some of the alternatives–aerosol injection, etc.

But my judgment–based on what I’ve seen you write–is that the difficulties and downsides are much larger than you’re accounting for. And let me assure you (leaving anything else aside), any proposal for massive diversions of Canadian water would be cause for a political firestorm–itself of massive proportions.

Comment by Kevin McKinney — 17 Nov 2010 @ 11:43 PM

497. Just noticed there are a few people who have plans to plant forests all over Australia. Australia is the second driest continent after Antarctica. Where do these people propose to get the water from? Desalination plants all around the coast plus carting, or cart it from another continent, or maybe cloud seeding plus a giant wind machine to blow the clouds over the desert?

There is already a ‘canal’ running down from the tropical north to the temperate south, down the eastern side of the country. It’s known as the Murray-Darling. Sometimes the rains from the north even make it as far as the sea in the south. Often, the water evaporates along the way. Now most of that runs through more temperate climates.

Lake Eyre is sometimes converted from a giant salt pan into a salt lake, when the north gets enough water.

I realise most people don’t know much about Australia – even those of us who live here! However, it might pay to stick to more realistic ventures than clog up realclimate.org with bizarre fantasies. (And the desert plants and animals will thank you – they deserve a life as much as anyone.)

Comment by Sou — 18 Nov 2010 @ 5:26 AM

498. OK, Jim and SM, put up or shut up. Produce the scientific evidence on which the energy interests are basing their contention that
1)there’s no warming
2)Ok, there’s warming, but it’s not significang
3)Well, all right, it’s significant, but it’s all natural
4)OK, it’s not natural, but it’s anything but CO2 (despibe nearly 200 years of evidence to the contrary)
5)OK, it’s CO2, but it’s all good. It will turn the planet into a cornucopis.
6)Ahhh! Too late to do anything about it. Oh well, it was a nice planet.

Sorry, but I don’t see much of a coherent scientific position there.

OTOH, if I were an insurance company, I think I could find plenty of evidence that would make me want to raise my rates.

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Nov 2010 @ 5:47 AM

499. The Judith Curry Testimony Highlight Reel

In a rational discussion of climate change, the question needs to be asked as to whether the framing of the problem and the early articulation of a preferred policy option by the UNFCCC has marginalized research on broader issues surrounding climate change, and resulted is an overconfident assessment of the importance of greenhouse gases in future climate change, and stifled the development of a broader range of policy options.

The IPCC/UNFCCC have provided an important service to global society by alerting us to a global threat that is potentially catastrophic. The UNFCCC/IPCC has made an ambitious attempt to put a simplified frame around the problem of climate change and its solution in terms of anthropogenic forcing and CO2 stabilization polices. However, the result of this simplified framing of a wicked problem is that we lack the kinds of information to more broadly understand climate change and societal vulnerability.

I figured Curry would raise the uncertainty flag and wave it around the room. This I’m sure pleased the Republicans. She also spent some energy on defending herself and her position as well as saying that

“My own experience in publicly discussing concerns about how uncertainty is characterized by the IPCC has resulted in my being labeled as a “climate heretic”6 that has turned against my colleagues.”

Nice narrative for/from her.

The she goes into the benefits of climate change!!!! And shows off how much she has no clue about:

“A view of the climate change problem as irreducibly global fails to recognize that some regions may actually benefit from a warmer and/or wetter climate. Areas of the world that currently cannot adequately support populations and agricultural efforts may become more desirable in future climate regimes.”

Then she talks about water resources. hmmm. . . maybe she should get together with Lomborg, they might make a good obfuscation team as they dance between the pluses and minuses as ‘they’ interpret them to be true. . . still of course lacking expertise in the subjects to which they claim to be advantageous.

On page 3 she focuses on the Himalaya IPCC mistake and the states:

“The lack of veracity of the statement about the melting Himalayan glaciers has been widely discussed, and the mistake has been acknowledged by the IPCC. However, both of these statements seem inconsistent with the information in Table 10.2 of the IPCC AR4 WG II and the statement: . . .”

So not she has found an inconsistency between AR4 and AR2.

Page 5:

“Climate scientists have made a forceful argument for a looming future threat from anthropogenic climate change. Based upon the background knowledge that we have, the threat does not seem to be an existential one on the time scale of the 21st century, even in its most alarming incarnation.”

Page 6:

“At this point, it seems more important to explore the uncertainties associated with future climate change rather than to attempt to reduce the uncertainties in a consensus-based approach.”

And finally:

And finally, climate scientists and the institutions that support them need to acknowledge and engage with ever-growing groups of citizen scientists, auditors, and extended peer communities that have become increasingly well organized by the blogosphere. The more sophisticated of these groups are challenging our conventional notions of expertise and are bringing much needed scrutiny particularly into issues surrounding historical and paleoclimate data records. These groups reflect a growing public interest in climate science and a growing concern about possible impacts of climate change and climate change policies. The acrimony that has developed between some climate scientists and blogospheric skeptics was amply evident in the sorry mess that is known as Climategate. Climategate illuminated the fundamental need for improved and transparent historical and paleoclimate data sets and improved information systems so that these data are easily accessed and interpreted.

Blogospheric communities can potentially be important in identifying and securing the common interest at these disparate scales in the solution space of the energy, climate and ocean acidification problems. A diversity of views on interpreting the scientific evidence and a broad range of ideas on how to address these challenges doesn’t hinder the implementation of diverse megaton and kiloton solutions at local and regional scales. Securing the common interest on local and regional scales provides a basis for the successful implementation of climate adaptation strategies. Successes on the local and regional scale and then national scales make it much more likely that global issues can be confronted in an effective way.

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Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 18 Nov 2010 @ 6:34 AM

500. I see Jim Bullis has been polluting yet another thread with the same material he already posted on many other threads.
For the people who haven’t read the other threads, the way Jim Bullis gets his “new forests” in currently arid areas of the United States to have a meaningful impact on atmospheric CO2 concentrations is to assume that they will be as productive as some of the best equatorial eucalyptus plantations. I think the problems associated with operating 60’000 square kilometers of eucalyptus plantation in arid aeras of the US are obvious enough but Jim Bullis’ plan is more ambitous that that: these “new forests” are actually supposed to keep accumulating carbon at this rate for decades without the wood being harvested! These forests are obviously “new” in the sense that they would require some as yet unforeseen genetically engineered super-tree species.

Comment by Anonymous Coward — 18 Nov 2010 @ 7:49 AM

501. Curry neglects to enumerate all the players. The blogosphere and denialists such as Attorney General Cuccinelli and others attacking th EPA actually quote a slightly edited RIA Novosti version of a December 2009 article that appeared in Kommersant (Businessman) which accuses British scientists of fudging data from Russian weather stations. RIA Novosti is the Russian government’s official press agency.

Kommersant is owned by Alisher Usmanov, a Gazprom-connected gangster.
He is one of the richest men in the world. Cuccinelli actually cites the RIA Novosti version of Kommersant as evidence that the British scientists are fudging data. This may be because Cuccinelli’s father is a career gas lobbyist with “European” clients. I want transparency about that; I believe the so-called “greedy” scientists, are honest.

The “expert” Kommersant quoted was a Russian ECONOMIST named Andrei Illarionov who advised Putin and Chernomyrdin, the head of the Soviet Gas Ministry and its later reincarnation Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled gas company. Illarionov is a Libertarian, which supposedly means that he doesn’t like all these AMERICAN government agencies. Favors from RUSSIAN government agencies seem to be ok.

Kommersant is close to the Kremlin and so powerful that it not only mounts kompromat operations against climate scientists but is currently trashing the Russian foreign intelligence service because the SVR Colonel who headed the division that runs Russian “illegals” in the US turned out to be working for the USA. Allegedly.

A Washington law firm recently noted on its website that the office of the DOJ Foreign Agents Registration Act is going to become more active.

Perhaps this is because the Americans know who the Petrostate’s lobbyists are.

Comment by Snapple — 18 Nov 2010 @ 8:53 AM

502. 493, Jim Bullis, thank you.

498, Ray Ladbury: OTOH, if I were an insurance company, I think I could find plenty of evidence that would make me want to raise my rates.

Your position seems to be that since the insurance company agrees with your assessment they have no conflict of interest. I have maintained that the conflict of interest exists. Did I deny that the coal companies have an interest (i.e. profit motive) in lying? No. Did I assert that every company has an interest (i.e., profit motive) in lying? Yes.

(To clarify, I think that self-delusion and exaggeration are more prevalent than outright lying, but”lying” is a nice short word.)

In California, the companies that expect to benefit from the energy subsidies support AB32 and opposed the recent initiative on Proposition 23 to repeal AB32. The companies that expect to pay the subsidies or otherwise suffer from them oppose AB32, and supported Prop 23 to repeal it. The Anti-prop 23 forces outspent the Pro-prop 23 forces by perhaps 3:1. Is that a reliable guide to whether Prop 23 (or AB32) is a good idea? No way. Both sides backed their commercial interests.

If you can imagine why companies who disagree with you might be tempted to lie (and exaggerate, and give in to the temptations), but you can’t imagine why the companies who agree with you would not, then you are naive.

Comment by Septic Matthew — 18 Nov 2010 @ 12:47 PM

503. SM, Again you fail to understand that it is one thing to support ones interests based on the best science available and quite another thing to lie.

Self-interest is not necessarily wrong. Indeed, it is to the advantage of bothe insurer and insured that the insurer make an accurate appraisal of the risks. And as long as there is competition.

It is interesting to me that you see a moral equivalence between a position that says:
1)I want to avoid an ecological catastrophe because that would be bad for my business

and one that says

2)I’m going to keep hauling in money hand over fist and so I will lie about the consequences of my actions and devil take the hindmost

Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Nov 2010 @ 1:39 PM

504. Came across this today, checking to see if NCDC’s October report is out (it isn’t, or not completely, anyway.)

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130811996

Another exceptional weather event costing human communities a lot of time, trouble and money–one we can’t attribute, but the odds of which would be augmented by climate change–as NPR and the Brazilian weather service note.

And interesting in terms of the IPCC AR4 item–disputed as “Amazongate” and subject of a couple of posts here–dealing with Amazonian drought. Let’s hope *this* drought doesn’t continue too long, or we may find out whether Rowell and Moore were correct via an “admiral’s test.”

http://climatesafety.org/swallowing-lies-how-the-denial-lobby-feeds-the-press/

Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Nov 2010 @ 3:13 PM

SM seems to have a valid sense of the industrial world.

However,I speak for myself here.

As near as I can tell you made up the points (1) to (6) that you ascribe to me.

Assuming you read above the third grade level, this looks like a tactic to defeat a slightly moderate position relative to how action should be taken, and this moderate action would accomplish the same thing you seem interested in.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 18 Nov 2010 @ 3:14 PM

506. 500 Anonanon

When you seek to characterize what I have said, I request that you read more carefully that material.

You are right about ‘ambitious’ but for those who are concerned about global warming, maybe ambitious is called for.

Yes, there is a need for continuous accumulating of wood mass in standing forests. Eventually there has to be adaptation on the other end; that is we would need to find rational ways to get away from using coal. That is another subject of my polluting comments all over the place.

“New forests” does not mean “genetically engineered super-tree species.” You made that up.

You also made up the eucalyptus thing, since I specifically put such species low on the list of possibilities.

I believe I once mentioned giant redwoods as a possibility, and then pointed to the variety that grows in relatively dry areas such as Sequoia National Park. They would do nicely. Apparently there were once giant cedars growing in Lebanon. Selection of tree type is not a closed subject.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 18 Nov 2010 @ 3:30 PM

507. Looks like the October NCDC report is coming out; Global Analysis, Hazards (of course, since they are near-realtime) and Snow & Ice are out; Upper Air is still apparently coming.

Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Nov 2010 @ 3:36 PM

I’ll leave the last word to you.

Comment by Septic Matthew — 18 Nov 2010 @ 3:36 PM

509. 466 Brian Dodge, (for others, this is a discussion of how things might work, not a position paper of any kind)

Thanks for putting my question on a more complete framework.

It is my understanding that the AMOC operates to ‘charge’ the cold of the deep oceans, among other things. A higher water surface temperature at the poles would seem to charge that deep ocean faster, and with warmer water. So it could work to move heat into the deep ocean?

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 18 Nov 2010 @ 3:47 PM

510. Jim Bullis – Sequoiadendron giganteum grows in “relatively dry areas”??? You really don’t have a clue about forest ecology do you? Both Giant Sequoia and Lebanon Cedar are adapted to elevations that favor precipitation as winter snow, NOT arid conditions.

Comment by flxible — 18 Nov 2010 @ 3:58 PM

511. 495 Didactylos

I am glad that you perceive the aerodynamics as being quite simple, and that a drag coefficient of the main body is expected to be about .05.

The main body is about 1.2 meters in diameter so the actual projected frontal area is 1.13 sq meters. 1.13 x .05 = .056 sq meters (effective drag area).

Your .58 for the Prius sounds about right. Compare .056 sq meters to .58 sq meters.

There is a rule in analysis: When there is a multiplication to do, do it. Failure to multiply .05 times the 1.13 (or the 1.02 which you came up with for actual projected frontal area of the Miastrada concept car) makes your result 20 times what it should be, thus the Ford Escape comparison.

Ten times better than the Prius is a neat result, though that would not take into account the undercarriage. Five times better than the Prius looks possible. That would suggest 250 mpg rather than the already good 50 mpg of the Prius.

This does not account for rolling resistance which is more important at low speeds, but it would probably only cut the mileage to about 125 mpg at high speeds.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 18 Nov 2010 @ 4:13 PM

512. 510 flxible

Who said ‘arid’ conditions?

But even so, are you telling me that coastal Northern California is ski country? Or Sequoia National Park? (They might get some snow in Sequoia National Park).

But for those who do have a clue about forest ecology, such as yourself, who might be able to spell ‘Sequoiadendron giganteum’ (I can’t), perhaps you will be willing to help select the right trees as the route for the canal is being planned.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 18 Nov 2010 @ 4:21 PM

513. 499. John P. Reisman:

Shorter Judith Curry: bring on the age of the armchair scientist! Everyone’s opinion is equally valid! Peer reviewed papers, who needs em’? Wiki-science FTW!!!

This whole Web 2.0 thing has obviously gone to her head.

I tried listening to to the science panel’s testimony last night on C-SPAN. Problem was, it started off with… Lindzen. I turned it off after groaning through 5 minutes of his usual spiel. You have to stop when what someone is saying is compelling you to put your fist through the monitor. But I’ll try to sit through the third panel (the one Judith was on) testimony tonight, just to see if the other participants managed to produce a meaningful counter-dialogue.

Comment by Steve Metzler — 18 Nov 2010 @ 4:29 PM

514. 495 Didactylos

That 125 mpg, of my prior of 4:13 PM, is for a diesel hybrid form, but for electric drive only it would go to about 375 mpge according to the proposed new EPA method of figuring for electric vehicles.

I am interested in real progress, so the 375 mpge is pure blither (people should be told this). However, a real 125 mpg would cut oil use 80% compared to conventional gasoline cars, for this particular example of high speed driving.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 18 Nov 2010 @ 4:34 PM

515. 510 flxible, and my 512

Yes, the ‘Giant Sequoia’ of Sequoia National Park is indeed at snow elevations. And the Coast Northern Redwood, whatever it is called requires a lot of moisture from damp air.

Wikipedia, which might or might not be correct, tells us that the Giant Sequoia of the Sequoia Park is crummy wood that splinters easily. (I added the crummy.)

So these might not be good choices after all. Though for parts of the forest that would never be harvested, splintering would not matter, and would ease pressure from logging interests that would eventually be an issue.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 18 Nov 2010 @ 5:00 PM

516. Jim Bullis,
I mentionned eucalyptus since that’s what people use when they want yield. Tree plantations are a business. They know how to select tree species. If you know better, perhaps you ought to run tree plantations.
We could select tree species for you but I for one don’t know how to get close to the 40tC/ha/yr yield you specified. Normal forests do not yield anywhere as much. And without that stellar yield you scheme doesn’t sequester enough carbon to be an alternative to taxing coal very heavily.
That will be my last post about super-forests in this thread because it’s off-topic. Perhaps the moderators could send Jim Bullis repetitive off-topic posts to the open thread so that we wouldn’t have to debunk the same stuff over and over again.

Comment by Anonymous Coward — 18 Nov 2010 @ 5:02 PM

517. OK… I viewed the testimony of the third panel. Hmm. Judith did start off the canned part of her testimony enthusiastically waving the Italian uncertainty flag. In isolation, ignoring her rather bizarre… posturing of the past year or so in the blogosphere, what she said made a certain amount of sense.

In the final part of her testimony, which was interacting with the house energy sub-committee chair, she came down off her high horse and was even putting in a fairly big push for developing renewables. Didn’t seem to be all that worried about mitigation so much though, definitely more emphasis on adaptation. Dunno. I have mixed feelings now. For those that haven’t watched it yet, definitely worth a gander:

Global Climate Change, Panel 3

Comment by Steve Metzler — 18 Nov 2010 @ 6:04 PM

518. Doh. Developing renewables is mitigation. Logic fail, Steve.

Comment by Steve Metzler — 18 Nov 2010 @ 6:18 PM

519. 515 anonanon

Why did you bring up eucalyptus here? I did not.

See you at the open thread, Unforced Variations 3 I think.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 18 Nov 2010 @ 7:15 PM

520. Jim Bullis@512:

Who said ‘arid’ conditions?
But even so, are you telling me that coastal Northern California is ski country? Or Sequoia National Park? (They might get some snow in Sequoia National Park).

Jim Bullis@506:

I believe I once mentioned giant redwoods as a possibility, and then pointed to the variety that grows in relatively dry areas such as Sequoia National Park. They would do nicely. Apparently there were once giant cedars growing in Lebanon.

Pardon me if I equate “relatively dry areas” with your constant nattering about foresting “arid areas” /”deserts”.
As it happens the Sequoiadendron only occurs in limited specific areas and elevations, at [3,000-8,500′ of the Sierra Nevada mountains [Sierra Nevada in Spanish= “snowy mountain range”], NOT in “coastal Northern California”, and in fact almost all of them are at 5-6,000′.

And Lebanon Cedars have similar habitat requirements, found in the mountains at about 3,300–6,500 ft, not simply “in Lebanon”, which you obviously visualize as an arid desert environment, although in fact it is a “mediterranian climate”, rainy in winter, humid in summer.

The reason no one can “help select the right trees” is because there are no right trees to plant in the desert, other than the scrub varieties that already exist in that particular ecological niche.

Comment by flxible — 18 Nov 2010 @ 8:01 PM

521. 520 flxible

And I never said deserts either. I think that was a supposition by someone, used as a trick to make the whole concept sound bad. Was that you?

Neither the tree type nor the canal pathway has been settled. Does that give anyone a chance to make things work?

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 18 Nov 2010 @ 10:22 PM

522. Jim, why are you persisting in ignoring the undercarriage? It accounts for the majority of the drag.

Possibly I can give you a better estimate with proper dimensions. Note also that the maximum diameter of the body isn’t the same as the projected area, because of the inclination.

1.02 was the drag area I calculated, not the estimated area. You lack basic reading comprehension skills. I did not say the aerodynamics were simple – I assumed a simple model because I have absolutely no intention of doing any complicated calculations. If a simple model shows that your advantage is purely illusory, then going further down the rabbit-hole is a waste of time.

You need to start from square one.

I’m wasting my time, aren’t I? You are going to ignore me and remain in your fantasy world.

Comment by Didactylos — 18 Nov 2010 @ 10:48 PM

523. #517 Steve Metzler

Actually, Curry has selected words that in balance sound somewhat reasonable. In fact she may, through her establishment of herself as a tribal leader, provide some value to the skill through focus on the uncertainty, much like McIntyre added to the quantification skill by nit picking at the statistics (even though it was statistically insignificant).

What I question is her method and possibly her motive(?), same as I question McIntyre and Lomberg in these areas.

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Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 19 Nov 2010 @ 8:48 AM

524. 522 Didactylos, (Referring to vehicle shown at http://www.miastrada.com)

I did not ignore you. I pointed out that you failed to multiply by .05 in the calculation using your own numbers. That was clearly a simple error on your part, but it gave a factor of 20 error in your results.

Such a simple error can happen, and it is not necessary to try to amplify other aspects of the analysis to save face. By announcing in this last comment of yours that the undercarriage is the ‘majority of the drag’, you are shifting your original focus which was then on the main body.

The undercarriage is approximately a fifth the frontal area of the main body. Budgetary estimates are all that there is right now, since the final shaping has not even been done.

When I went from 10x better than the Prius to 5x better than the Prius, that included allowance for the undercarriage and attachment parts. I think this reasonably accounted for expected outcome, but you are free to announce otherwise.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 19 Nov 2010 @ 1:45 PM

525. Jim Bullis said “I pointed out that you failed to multiply”

No. I multiplied by 0.05. But that only applies to one part of the whole vehicle. You have to ADD the drag area from the rest of the vehicle.

My figure was for the whole vehicle, not just an imaginary, fantasy, wishful thinking, nonsense number like yours.

“you are shifting your original focus”

Are you really so dense? I specifically mentioned the wheel assembly in my original post.

But let’s recalculate, using the dimensions you have provided. This time, I will show my working so you don’t get confused.

You claim a body diameter of 1.2m. Clearly your human figures aren’t to scale, but I will humour you and use your number. The perpendicular body cross-section is 1.13 sq m. Taking into account the body inclination, the front profile of the body is roughly 1.2 x the cross-section. That’s 1.36 sq m.

Thus the body drag area is 0.07 sq m. (Using your fantasy drag coefficient, but I stipulated that at the beginning.)

Then the wheels. I estimated 0.6 * 1.2 = 0.72 sq m for the front profile.

I assumed a drag coefficient of 1 for the wheels. It is probably worse than this. There is no chance it is better, given the complicated articulation. That gives a total drag area of 0.72 + 0.07 = 0.79 sq m.

See? Using your dimensions, it has a lower drag area than my first estimate! (Not by much. Maybe equivalent to a Volvo 740.) So, if you can really make it this small, it is as good as a car from 20 years ago.

Well done! Progress!

Oh wait. I still neglected the parasitic drag, didn’t I? I will leave that as an exercise for the reader. A clue: in modern car design, aerodynamic flow *under* the car is as important as over and around it. Jim’s “great idea” has to contend with flow *through* the vehicle, as well as under it. The “airship” design is only a benefit for airflow over the top.

I explained a while back that I don’t understand how to deal with cranks. I keep treating them as rational people. You, Jim, are a crank.

Comment by Didactylos — 19 Nov 2010 @ 2:51 PM

526. Jim, if you’re going to complain about people’s reading comprehension you ought to first look in the mirror.

In #495, Didactylos said:
I estimated the drag area for his vehicle, using a few estimations from his drawing. I assumed a drag coefficient of 0.05 for the “aerodynamic” section.

The total drag area is 1.02 sq m.

IE, he calculated the total drag of your design to have a drag area of 1.02 m^2. He didn’t forget to multiply by .05 as you suggest. He gave the body a CoD of .05, then calculated the drag for the undercarriage.

If there was any doubt, you could have read the end of his post where he says:

I suspect that the actual drag may be worse, because I neglected parasitic drag and modelled the wheels as an ideal object. At the speeds needed to get any benefit from reduced form drag, parasitic drag will be a factor – and Jim’s wheels make no attempt to be remotely aerodynamic. So, Jim: view this as a lower bound.

IE, he modeled the actual drag of the wheels as a best case estimate and neglected additional real world drag.

You simply refuse to accept that the drag of your undercarriage could be as much or more than a normal car. Having read about airplane aerodynamics years ago, I find it quite easy to believe – the struts and unfaired landing gear can easily be half the total drag of the plane.

This trait seems obvious to everyone else, Jim. I’m sorry to say it, but you’re not taking constructive criticism constructively. I’m sorry to say that because – as Jim the moderator pointed out – we do have the same goals.

Moderators, I’ll add my voice to the call for your restricting Jim’s off topic posts to the most recent open thread so that we don’t end up with every thread going as far off topic as this one.

Comment by David Miller — 19 Nov 2010 @ 3:12 PM

527. 516 David Miller

Didactylos opened the subject of aerodynamic drag.

[Response: Enough on this, thanks. – gavin]

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 20 Nov 2010 @ 12:44 AM

528. 525 Didactylos

You have been helpful in drawing out detail, but you have been hasty about interpreting incomplete information. A more satisfactory discussion would have come about if we had discussed details before you volunteered and provided your analytical support.

According to wind tunnel tests of the USS Akron model which is approximately the size unscaled, as the vehicle body I am working with, the inclination I used has minor effect on the drag force. They actually used a drag coefficient referenced to volume to the two thirds power so the frontal area change as they pitched the model does not matter. Thus, it is appropriate to stick with the original area and accept the drag force that was measured as a function of angle. Accordingly, this is all referred to the reference area of 1.13 sq meters. And we have agreed that the drag coefficient is .05, though that is higher than the actual measured results. .05 x 1.13 = .0565 sq meters (effective drag area)

So let’s consider the under-carriage, calculating drag only for the big parts of that. You made decisions based on simplified drawings, though you might have looked further to see that there is more to the wheel system to consider. However, for clarification, the wheels on each side are contained in horizontal tubes having a shape based on airship shape function. And the frontal area of each tube is about .75 sq ft. or .07 sq meters. For planning purposes I am using .2 for the drag coefficient of such an arrangement, so the total effective drag area of the big lower parts is .03 sq meters.

The total of the three big parts is thus, .0865 sq meters.

You said the Prius was .58, so .58 / .0865 = 6.7.

Thus, the sum of the large parts as individual entities results in an overall drag force result that is 6.7 times better than the Prius. Maybe this would be 15 times better than your examples.

Allowing for struts and straps and mutual interactions of parts, and ground surface effects, brings me to the budgetary estimate that the Miastrada will be about 5 times better than the Prius in aero drag. That seems like a good place to start.

In the articulation shown, an elaborate fairing system was involved to make the lower columns function in a trainlike manner. Later results have shown that the full articulation is probably not necessary. I simplified this in present designs, and have not yet changed the general picture on the website; so you might have been unduly weighing this in your assessment.

There are still some patent issues that cause me to be a little reticent about providing complete details.

Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 20 Nov 2010 @ 1:28 AM

529. Speaking of narratives, I thought Ben Santer’s rebuttal to Pat Michaeils’s Congressional testimony was terrific. Certainly Santer is someone who can think on his feet (or on his seat, as it were).

Also, this is the one-year anniversary of some “gate” and what is remarkable to this reader is the tremendous effort by Gavin (and others) to put the hack into context and to moderate and contribute to the exploding discussion here. Much appreciated.

Comment by Deech56 — 20 Nov 2010 @ 6:42 AM

530. “In Western Europe, Moscow has operated by making lucrative arrangements with foreign energy companies that become de facto lobbyists for the Kremlin within their own countries.”—“Why The Russia Spy Story Really Matters” (RFE/RL, 7-9-10)

Cuccinelli’s brief to the EPA cites an RIA Novosti article that was an English language version of a Kommersant article. They aren’t exactly the same. For example, RIA Novosti just mentions the IEA. Kommersant notes Illarionov’s name and that he is a former Putin adviser.

The Kommersant article that claimed British scientists fudged Russian weather-station data http://www.kommersant.ru/doc.aspx?DocsID=1293467

tells the reader to check out an article from November 24, 2009.

I think this is that article, and it discusses the Wegman report. Google translation is not terrible.

If you want to know anything exactly, ask me. Usually I can figure it out.

http://www.kommersant.ru/doc.aspx?DocsID=1280039

This article was written by Dmitri Butrin, who was also a contributor to the first article.

I have links to their archives here.

http://legendofpineridge.blogspot.com/2010/10/attorney-general-cuccinelli-ties-his.html

Cuccinelli’s father is a career gas lobbyist. His site says he has “European” clients. I want to know if the father is providing his clients with the services of our attorney general. Cuccinelli works for the government, so we should know who his buying him.

Much of this propaganda is being spread by Kommersant, and that paper is owned by Alisher Usmanov, a very powerful Gazprom gangster.

It is really hypocritical to call scientists greedy liars when the other side is Gazprom and the Kremlin.

Maybe the scientists should be saying where Cuccinelli gets his(dis)information that he uses against the EPA.

Comment by Snapple — 20 Nov 2010 @ 7:24 AM

531. Jim Bullis: pure fantasy.

Comment by Didactylos — 20 Nov 2010 @ 8:30 AM

532. Conservative Commentator Brent Bozell is giving propaganda about Climategate on FOX. What a moron. He doesn’t try to find out anything for himself. He just believes the propaganda.

Google Ed Wegman in Russian “Эд Вегман”. The Russians are writing about this professor as if he is some expert, but he is being investigated by his peers for academic misconduct.

Dr. Michael Mann is in that 11-24-09 Kommersant article, too. He is described by this Gazprom/Alisher Usmanov mouthpiece as the ringleader of the whole network of fighters for global warming!

Any minute I expect to see his face in a cartoon at the center of a spider web.

I hope Dr. Mann will keep fighting for us.

Usmanov is Gazprom. He is the 100th richest person in the world, and his newspaper is attacking college professors who get government grants.

I don’t think it is the scientist who are greedy liars.

Kommersant is now trashing the Russian foreign intelligence agency which shows that Kommersant is an extremely powerful Kremlin/Gazprom mouthpiece.

Alisher Usmanov would lose his newspaper and be arrested for some crime if Kommersant were really independent.

If we do actually have the guy who ran Russian illegals for the SVR, as Kommersant claims, maybe he will even know about the “Climategate” campaign.

Wouldn’t that be great!

It was the head of the KGB foreign intelligence service who exposed the AIDS campaign. Izvestia (3-19-92) reported:

“The head of the Foreign Intelligence Service [KGB General Yevgeni Primakov] made a number of really sensational announcements. He mentioned the well-known articles printed a few years ago in our central newspapers about AIDS supposedly originating from secret Pentagon laboratories. According to Yevgeni Primakov, the articles exposing the U.S. scientists’ ‘crafty’ plot against mankind were fabricated in KGB offices.”

I believe the scientists are real American heroes, not greedy liars; and I think that we need to know who the elder Cuccinelli’s “European” clients are.

Cuccinelli says he is “conservative,” but he isn’t conserving anything. He is on the same page as Gazprom and the Kremlin.

The Kommersant author says Wegman is at “John Mason University,” but it is George Mason. This error may suggest that the author may not be very familiar with the Wegman Report and that he is relying on what someone else fed him. This same author was one of the co-authors of the article that Cuccinelli cited in his suit to the EPA.

Here is what Kommersant (11-24-09) says about Wegman.

Руководство и партнеры CRU вчера отвечали на многочисленные вопросы, связанные с письмами, лишь ответными обвинениями неизвестных “хакеров” в тенденциозности подборки писем. Так, Боб Уорд из Лондонской школы экономики, участник переписки, заявил Guardian, что “гораздо более важно то, что скептики не смогли опровергнуть хорошо обоснованный физикой эффект глобального потепления”. Признания в письмах манипуляции данными он объясняет “кампанией скептиков”, с которыми были вынуждены с 2004 года (наиболее откровенные письма датированы 1999-2003 годами) бороться господа Манн и Джонс. Отметим, письма подтверждают выводы доклада 2006 года группы статистиков под руководством Эда Вегмана из университета Джона Мэйсона конгрессу США, которые указывали и на существование “социальной сети ученых-борцов с глобальным потеплением” во главе с господином Манном, и манипуляции этой группы при обработке климатических данных.

“Leadership and partners CRU yesterday responded to numerous questions related to letters only response accusations unknown “hacker” in the tendentious selection of letters. So, Bob Ward of the London School of Economics, party correspondence, said Guardian, that “much more important that the skeptics could not refute the well-established physics of global warming.” Confessions of a letter of data manipulation, he explains, “a campaign of skeptics, which were forced in 2004 (the most candid letters dated 1999-2003 years) to fight gentlemen Mann and Jones. Note letters confirm the conclusions of the 2006 report of the group of statisticians led by Ed Wegman of the University of John Mason to the U.S. Congress, which points to the existence of “the social network of scientists, athletes with [fighters for] global warming,” headed by Mr. Mann, and manipulation of this group in the processing of climatic data.”

It is easy to see that this Gazprom mouthpiece is saying what the denialists say.

Comment by Snapple — 20 Nov 2010 @ 8:45 AM

533. Oops! that was the Capticha word. Here is what I was trying to say.

Here is a 12-9-09 Russian article from Tomsk that writes about Wegman. The article compares the climate scientists to Lysenko, the Russian peasant agronomist.

They say Dr. Mann’s hockey stick “Mannovskie constructions” (for Dr. Mann) is not worth a dime. They call Wegman a congressional expert for a moment.
They say that paleontologists all disagree with AGW.

If you google NEWS for “Эд Вегман” the Russians don’t say anything. They don’t seem to be reporting the GEORGE Mason investigation into Wegman’s academic misconduct.

Often the Russians cause articles to be printed in foreign media so that they can quote them in the domestic media. This was the case with the KGB campaign to blame the AIDS virus on the plots of crafty Pentagon scientists.

Sometimes the line changes and the Russians throw their own propagandists under the bus, as Primakov did.

http://gorod.tomsk.ru/index-1260183974.php#loop

It says:

Консенсус в научном сообществе – штука тонкая. Вон, Майкл Манн рисует компьютерную модель своей “клюшки”, а статистик Эд Вегман (эксперт сенатской комиссии, на минуточку) доказывает, что все Манновские построения гроша ломаного не стоят. Кто прав? – я не спец по матстатистике и компьютерному моделированию, и судить не берусь. Среди климатологов (и особенно обслуживающих их мат-модельеров) АГП, как я понимаю, является вполне себе мэйнстримом; однако у этой гипотезы имеется ряд следствий, которые вполне проверяемы на палеонтологическом материале, и в результате этих проверок палеонтологи (опять-таки довольно единодушно) находят, что модель АГП основана на недопустимых упрощениях и неадекватна реальности. Мнение климатологов, вроде бы, должно иметь тут больший вес – но и солидарное мнение палеонтологов со счетов тоже не сбросишь, нес па? Эт сетера.

Consensus in the scientific community – a piece thin. Vaughn, Michael Mann paints a computer model of its “stick” and statistician Ed Wegman (Expert Senate committee, for a minute), proves that all Mannovskie construction of a dime is not worth it. Who is right? – I’m not special for matstatistike and computer modeling, and I can not judge. Among climate scientists (and especially serving their math modelers) AGW, as I understand it, is quite a mainstream, but in this hypothesis has several consequences, which are completely verifiable by paleontological material, and as a result of these checks paleontologists (again, quite unanimously) find that the model of AGW is based on inadequate and unacceptable simplifications of reality. The view of climatologists, like, should be here more weight – but also solidarity opinion of paleontologists from the accounts is also not reset, bore na? At setera.

Comment by Snapple — 20 Nov 2010 @ 9:29 AM

534. The Tomsk article seems to be a reprint of an earlier article. Maybe this Dec 1 2009 article, which was all over the Russian sites:

http://afranius.livejournal.com/93360.html

Note that the author admits he is not a scientist. I don’t think real Russian scientists are on board with denialism, because the Russian media didn’t quote their great scientists.

Some Russian scientists are studying the thawing of the permafrost and wondering about the positive feedback of methane being released.

I read one Russian scientist speak up about Climategate. His name is Sergei Kirpotin, and he is a professor in Tomsk at TSU. In Russian Greenpeace Kirpotin criticized Climategate as a provocation to wreck the Copenhagen climate meeting.

I write about Professor Kirpotin on my site.

Comment by Snapple — 20 Nov 2010 @ 10:03 AM

535. Regarding the live journal article I cited above that discusses Ed Wegman:

The Gazprom mogul Alisher Usmanov “personally owns…shares in the company SUP, which controls Internet website Livejournal.com.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alisher_Usmanov

I have not seen Gazprom-owned media or any media mention that Dr. Wegman is being investigated for research misconduct.

Try googling “Эд Вегман”.

Comment by Snapple — 20 Nov 2010 @ 12:07 PM

536. 529 – “Speaking of narratives, I thought Ben Santer’s rebuttal to Pat Michaeils’s Congressional testimony was terrific. Certainly Santer is someone who can think on his feet (or on his seat, as it were). …” – Deech56

I watched that live and immediately thought something fairly significant was happening, but I’m totally unqualified to judge who was right or wrong . Initially there were a lot of comments on blogs suggesting Santer had done very well, but Curry came out right after the hearings closed and said she thought Michaels had come out on top. If I had to guess, after a lengthy exchange of comments on the issues between Michaels, Curry, and assorted scientists, I would guess she still does.

[Response: Not sure what she was seeing or listening to, but Santer’s points were all spot on, delivered clearly, and right. Michaels was wrong on the science even at a very conceptual level. Curiously, Crichton used this same argument too. – gavin]

Comment by JCH — 20 Nov 2010 @ 12:41 PM

537. Bob (Sphaerica) – yeah, I know I singlehandedly made you feel better about yourself ;)

Anyway, I recently tried turning the alarmist around on deniers and it works well. Thanks.

re waste on comments, yeah. Spend too much time there myself …

Comment by Susan Anderson — 20 Nov 2010 @ 12:51 PM

538. JHC @ 536 wrote, “Initially there were a lot of comments on blogs suggesting Santer had done very well, but Curry came out right after the hearings closed and said she thought Michaels had come out on top.”

Here’s what I saw – Michaels made a point, but instead of letting that point stay out there as the final word, Santer challenged the point in strong words (“That is wrong.” or words to that effect) and explained clearly why it was wrong. To these informed, but non-expert eyes, Santer’s point was that Michaels was using the net increase as a sum of all positive effects. In Curry’s second thread (it’s so bizarre, I find it difficult to read), gryposaurus and John N-G try to set the record straight.

Of course, being a non-expert and only seeing the relevant portion once, I could be wrong.

Comment by Deech56 — 20 Nov 2010 @ 2:54 PM

539. Oh, and Curry appears to praise Michaels for trying to sow reasonable doubt into the EPA endangerment finding. I would think truthfinding would be the highest calling, but there seems to be mantra that describing increased uncertainty is the worthy goal.

Comment by Deech56 — 20 Nov 2010 @ 2:57 PM

540. For the record:

http://judithcurry.com/2010/11/18/michaels-controversial-testimony/

Michael’s controversial testimony
Posted on November 18, 2010 by curryja| 225 Comments

by Judith Curry

Pat Michael’s testimony has been generating significant controversy, both in the hearing and in the blogosphere.

Michael’s Objective #2 relates to the attribution of climate change

Michaels concludes that:

“Consequently EPA‘s core statement (as well as that of the IPCC and the CCSP), “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG [greenhouse gas] concentrations”, is not supported.”

My quick take on this is that I like the kind of approach he is using, as a complement to the model-based attribution of the IPCC. With regards to Michael’s specific analysis, since he introduced one anthropogenic factor (black carbon), he was obliged to use sulfates, also.

What we really need to do is look at the range of datasets of solar, sulfate, black carbon forcing, plus the multidecadal modes of natural internal variability.

On this thread, lets discuss the different observational forcing datasets for the period 1950-2010 in the context of the global average surface temperature anomalies and also the various statistical attribution studies. I will leave it to the commenters to introduce the relevant studies.

Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 20 Nov 2010 @ 4:23 PM

541. For the Record – Part II:

http://judithcurry.com/2010/11/19/michaels-controversial-testimony-part-ii/

Michael’s controversial testimony: Part II
Posted on November 19, 2010 by curryja| 129 Comments

by Judith Curry

Here is further explanation why I think Michael’s testimony is significant, and why I think the issue of the attribution since 1950 will be the battleground in U.S. CO2 policy. Michaell’s stated purpose for conducting this analysis was:

demonstration that the Finding of Endangerment from greenhouse gases by the Environmental Protection Agency is based upon a very dubious and critical assumption.

Michaels’ is seeking to establish reasonable doubt to the EPA’s CO2 endangerment finding, which is based on the statement (very similar to the IPCC’s statement):

Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG [greenhouse gas] concentrations.

There are two main elements to Michael’s argument regarding the trend in global surface temperature anomalies and their attribution: the global surface temperature anomaly data record 1950-2009, and forcing. The analysis focuses on new research since the IPCC AR4:

1a. Adjustments to the global surface temperature anomalies prior to 1965 (following Thompson et al. 2008) reduces the total temperature increase by 0.15C, and the trend by about 20%. Thompson et al. (2008) state:

The adjustments immediately after 1945 are expected to be as large as those made to the pre-war data (,0.3C; Fig. 4), and smaller adjustments are likely to be required in SSTs through at least the mid-1960s.

While it is my understanding that this temperature correction has not yet been applied to the CRU data set, Michaels’ application of this seems consistent with what Thompson et al. recommend. Thompson et al. state that:

Corrections for the discontinuity are expected to alter the character of mid-twentieth century temperature variability but not estimates of the century- long trend in global-mean temperatures.

The net effect of this correction is to make the mid century trend more continuous and reduce the appearance of the 1940’s “bump” that was followed by cooling. This also serves to increase the average global temperature ca. 1950 (the beginning point of the mid century in the attribution statements.)

1b. The second point considers “non climatic” trends over land associated with data quality and land use changes (McKitrick and Michaels, 2007), which they argue account for 0.08C of the global warming trend from 1980-2002 (which is completely independent of the ocean adjustment.)

If these two temperature corrections are correct, then the decadal rate of change in the period 1950-2010 is now probably slightly less than the decadal rate of change in the period 1910-1940 (which is unchanged in the Thompson et al. analysis.) Further, it is in principle easier to explain a smaller rate of temperature increase due to natural variability.

JC comments: I have no idea whether these adjustments to the temperature record are correct, but they certainly reflect the overall uncertainty in the data. This analysis indicates a 33% discrepancy in the size of the trend, which reflects uncertainty in data itself. The actual uncertainty, if a comprehensive error analysis was done, is possibly larger than this. Note, errors in surface temperature data will be subject of a future series.

2. The second part of the argument is forcing, and Michaels only includes two issues: stratospheric water vapor forcing, and forcing from black carbon (two factors that are almost certainly independent of each other.)

Here is where Michael’s argument becomes confusing. Michaels’ attempts to explain the 0.7C trend by saying the observations are wrong and the trend is less, and then finds a residual trend (reduced further by stratospheric water vapor and black carbon) to claim that he has explained more than half of the 0.7C trend without CO2.

Here is how I think he should proceed with his argument: If the observed temperature increase between 1950 and 2009 is 0.468C (trend 0.078C), then the challenge is to explain more than half of that trend with natural forcings. According to Michael’s analysis, black carbon and stratospheric H2O account for 34% of the 0.468C trend. So technically, Michael’s argument has not refuted the foundation of EPA’s endangerment finding (more than half of the observed warming, the magnitude of which has now been reduced). Adding uncertainty associated with solar variability may possibly make his argument work, but the argument as it stands, doesn’t hold up in my opinion (and not for the reason that Santer gave, in terms of including sulfate.) On the other hand, the original concern was raised over the magnitude of the original warming (0.708C), so Michaels’ broader argument does raise reasonable doubt (and would we be so worried if the observed trend was 0.47?)

IMO, the more significant thing that Michaels did was in adjusting the surface temperature time series, which may result in the rate of warming in the latter half of the 20th century being smaller than that between 1910-1940 (somebody needs to do the calculations, I don’t have time right now.)

In any event, I think this overall line of argument presented by Michaels is a very significant one in terms of the EPA CO2 endangerment issue. However, the logic of the argument needs refining and it needs extending before lawyers can use this as “reasonable doubt” in challenging the EPA endangerment ruling. And those defending the science the behind the EPA endangerment ruling (which is basically the IPCC) need to shore up their arguments. I think that this is the coming battleground issue in U.S. policy on this topic.

Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 20 Nov 2010 @ 4:26 PM

542. I wonder if she will do any posts on any of the science based counter arguments to Michaels testimony that Ben Santer, Richard Alley, or Richard Feely pointed out?

Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 20 Nov 2010 @ 4:29 PM

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