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  1. “The Northwest Passage has certainly opened up before.”

    The better “skeptic” argument in this case would be that the Northwest Passage is open for the first time in recorded history, which is a rare good thing that helps commerce. But such an acknowledgement is an admission that Arctic sea ice is decreasing. Can’t have that.

    Comment by MarkB — 6 Jan 2011 @ 5:43 PM

  2. This is not new, and ocne upon a time, Forbes magazine was a favorite of mine. Sigh.

    Here is Steve Fores in 2007, Fantasy Fears. A big chunk of that is based on Mary Ellen Tiffany Gilder’s Diagnosing Al Gore: Truth in the Balance. She was at the time a medical student. Note that is posted at OISM.

    She of course is the daughter of Forbes’ colleague (and contributor to magazine) George Gilder, who cofounded the Discovery Institute (i.e., Intelligent Design, among other things).

    See Gilder’s Telecosm 2007 conference.

    href=”″>Global Warming Myth by Noah Robinson (OISM), and entity with several long-deceased board members, 2 of whom are shown in the picture at that web page.

    Put your coffee down, then watch the first 2 minutes as George extols the virtues of the great Arthur Robinson and then introduces Noah.

    For those readers unfamiliar with Arthur, he ran for Representative, unsuccessfully (but with mysterious financing), and did provide a legacy of an amazing interview with Rachel Maddow. Be careful with coffee there also.

    Comment by John Mashey — 6 Jan 2011 @ 5:54 PM

  3. I do not know what Mr. Larry Bell’s motives might be in writing this article, but I know what the results will be: many Forbes readers will take away the idea that the conclusions of climate science are spun to further a leftist agenda. The particulars of his arguments are irrelevant; doubt, as always, is the product.

    Comment by Adam R. — 6 Jan 2011 @ 5:56 PM

  4. Thank you all for the analysis placing this article in context. Sounds like more of the same distraction game away from the facts. Simple known non-controversial scientific observations and facts that point out the huge risk of hydrocarbon dependent business as usual: pesky one’s like the known energy properties of greenhouse gases, the accurate temperature observations of the lower and upper atmosphere, and a careful analysis of the protracted paleoclimate history.

    The sleight of hand illusion, prevalent in this article and similar, that plays to the ignorant is immoral lying at best, and really rather criminal in the context of humanity.

    Comment by Jim Redden — 6 Jan 2011 @ 6:00 PM

  5. Big Oil is THE most powerful corporate force in America, and perhaps the world.

    There are many only too happy to do their bidding – like writing this Forbes article.

    Comment by William P — 6 Jan 2011 @ 6:07 PM

  6. Gosh… I went to read the article in Forbes… – and was first confronted by a full screen splash page advertisement by Microsoft.

    Strange, because Microsoft is a product line that depends on rigid application of logical expression. And I KNOW that advertisers like to shy away from controversy. I hope Microsoft notices what they are doing.

    The phrase “don’t be stupid” seems to fit capitalism quite well these days.

    Comment by richard pauli — 6 Jan 2011 @ 6:10 PM

  7. Nice article.

    Here’s another memorable quote from Bell, from the Oct 28 Forbes article “It’s time to pardon carbon“:

    “It’s high time we recognize that carbon dioxide has been treated unfairly. Not only have the good deeds of that wonderful molecule so essential to rain forests, begonias and plants that feed God’s creatures been ignored, it has even come to be demonized as an endangering pollutant and climate-ravaging menace. What real evidence has been offered up to support these defamatory charges? Absolutely none.”

    Bell is weekly editor at Forbes for some months now, let’s see what else he’ll come up with.

    Comment by Peter Hartmann — 6 Jan 2011 @ 6:26 PM

  8. Mr. Bell obviously could not even get the name of Amundsen right.
    He forgot to mention that it took Amundsen 3 years to get through the Northwest passage back in 1903-06, while another great Norwegian polar explorer, Børge Ousland sailed through both the Northeast and the Northwest passage in a few months last fall.

    Comment by Esop — 6 Jan 2011 @ 6:27 PM

  9. the link “recent publication by Wu et al” is empty.

    Comment by Peter Hartmann — 6 Jan 2011 @ 6:31 PM

  10. The group wrote: “Ultimately, though, the criticism of the press is ludicrous. The naysayers ought to be thrilled at the lack of interest in climate change shown in the press, at least in North America.”

    There is a recent article by Joe Romm at ClimateProgress that is very relevant:

    Silence of the Lambs: Media herd’s coverage of climate change “fell off the map” in 2010

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Jan 2011 @ 6:41 PM

  11. The link “an instrumental glitch that lasted a few weeks” is also self-referential.

    Comment by S. Molnar — 6 Jan 2011 @ 6:49 PM

  12. This was flagged as spam; let’s try again:

    Forbes also ran with a ridiculous piece of nonsense about how Obama learned his hatred for America from his father’s cancerous postcolonialism.**lism-capitalism-private-enterprises-obama-business-problem_print.html

    There’s a whole lot of lib-hating going on in that site!
    * Replace the asterisks in the address with the correct letters. For some reason, soc**lism is flagged as spam. Laugh!

    Comment by pointer — 6 Jan 2011 @ 7:10 PM

  13. Bell’s errors extend beyond his treatment of the science into his descriptions of media coverage and my book on the changing Arctic, as well, as described here:
    He did backtrack a bit:

    Comment by Andy Revkin — 6 Jan 2011 @ 8:01 PM

  14. The tag line on the article makes it pretty clear what we’re dealing with here:

    “Weekly columnist Larry Bell is a professor at the University of Houston and author of ‘Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax’, which will be released on Jan. 1, 2011.”

    He is a professor of Space Architecture. No doubt this makes him eminently qualified to analyze climate science. Being in Houston, I would have guessed he had something to do with oil.

    Comment by Bill Walker — 6 Jan 2011 @ 8:08 PM

  15. You know, when I read something like this in a journal that purports to give me advice on financial matters, it discredits everything the journal says about any subject. If there is nothing else one learns from being an expert in a subject matter, it is the value of expertise. If you are truly an expert, then you will have had the experience of coming into a room of people running around like decapitated chickens and being able to provide critical pieces of information that allow the activity to become productive.
    That Bell and the rest of the Forbes staff can so cavalierly dismiss the expertise of the worlds scientists suggests to me that theyve never possessed any expertise…in any subject matter. They think one can simply come in and bullshit one’s way through…that bluff and bluster will carry the day. All I take from this and the other pieces Forbes has run on climate is that it is yet another journal that should come printed on 4-inch squares and wrapped around a cardboard tube.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Jan 2011 @ 8:54 PM

  16. Let’s not forget another “underlying strategy” also prevalent for most “bottom line” (not triple) media companies… publish articles on “controversial hot topics” for the mere sake of increasing ad revenue.

    Note the irony of’s bread crumb navigation trail leading to Bell’s “The Climate Crisis Hoax” article, categorized under “Opinions -> Fact & Comment”. Plenty of ads; plenty of opinion; plent of comments; light on Fact. Oxy”morons”.

    Comment by Earth & Economy — 6 Jan 2011 @ 8:59 PM

  17. It would be nice to know more about Larry Bell’s business interests. Also, I don’t think this article is published in the Russian Forbes, at least not so-far.

    I read Bell’s book promotion site because he is something to do with space exploration and NASA. He is an “endowed professor of space architecture.” What is that all about?

    Comment by Snapple — 6 Jan 2011 @ 9:11 PM

  18. Groovy man. The long-hair, anti-establishment radical hippies at Forbes finally have have uptight establishment suits at GISS up against the wall.

    Comment by JiminMpls — 6 Jan 2011 @ 9:25 PM

  19. Wasn’t there a paper recently that just counted the research papers with good news vs bad new, and bad news won by about ten to one?

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 6 Jan 2011 @ 9:51 PM

  20. Just a little proofreading here: The sentence that begins \Berk is so happy\ should start \Bell is so happy\.

    Comment by GFW — 6 Jan 2011 @ 9:56 PM

  21. Great job, and thanks to all five of you, who don’t fit the stereotype of scientists who are content to put on their white coats and retreat to the laboratory. I hope that the next time you make this effort it will be about a general interest magazine article or TV show segment. It’ll probably be futile, but, as Gandhi said, you still have to do it.

    John Mashey- thanks for the Maddow link. You guys all deserve a laugh today, so check this out- the first three minutes of this segment also summarizes the bizarre mental architecture of Larry Bell and his sources:

    Maybe you will also discuss the recent horrendous articles in Nature and Scientific American (with sage commentary from Joe Bastardi). It’s a never ending battle, unfortunately. When I was a kid we had the Bell Science Hour, still better than anything on TV today, even with 200 cable channels.

    We need a You Tube show featuring people like the five of you, which could unscramble the truth for a lot of people pretty quickly.

    Comment by Mike Roddy — 6 Jan 2011 @ 9:58 PM

  22. I hope, Larry Bell will defend his paper if he can, but there are at least two points were I think, he is right. The number of land falling hurricanes were indeed low, which is the metric commonly used since nobody has any idea about the number of hurricanes forming over the oceans before satellite era. Comparing 1887, 1969 and 2010 is mixing apples and oranges.

    This commentary might be right about the that “global warming” might be rare in NSF and other solicitation, but “climate change” is almost mandatory. Even in NASA solicitation (which are expecting the use of their satellite assets), addressing climate change is a must, which is a non-sense, given the short life-span (couple of years) most the NASA satellites.

    I keep testing the idea of submitting proposals, without touching climate change without much success so far. I guess, I will need to write better proposals.



    Comment by Balazs — 6 Jan 2011 @ 10:17 PM

  23. The caption to the sea level rise figure states it shows 30 years but only shows approx. 18 years.

    [Response: Our bad. The caption has been fixed. – gavin]

    Comment by plonkerinn — 6 Jan 2011 @ 10:18 PM

  24. Great piece. Have you asked Forbes to print it? Forbes readers should be shown just how sloppy their expensive magazine can be when dealing with topics outside its sphere of expertise.

    But … how does a graph of sea level rise from 1994 to 2010 show “30 years of sea level rise”?

    Comment by Geoff Russell — 6 Jan 2011 @ 10:38 PM

  25. E&E: “Let’s not forget another “underlying strategy” also prevalent for most “bottom line” (not triple) media companies… publish articles on “controversial hot topics” for the mere sake of increasing ad revenue.”

    Agreed. This is why I have been describing some (but by no means all) of the traditional media outlets fighting for survival (including many newspapers and magazines) as being arms merchants in the war of words over climate change or any other topic they can use to whip their readers into a frenzy. I would contend that most of the people involved don’t actually know enough to hold an informed opinion of CC; they simply see it as a means to an end. As long as they’re filling pages with lots of “controversial” material and it draws paying readers/viewers, they’re happy.

    Comment by Lou Grinzo — 6 Jan 2011 @ 11:20 PM

  26. re: #24 I believe that Forbes is as likely to print this as the WSJ.

    Houston? Aerospace? [Jastrow/Baliunas; Seitz is cited in Bell’s book); Intro by Singer; at Amazon, first review by Jay Lehr (Heartland). Astronauts?
    Finally, there’s the continuing SoCal Aerospace connection exemplified by ex-JPL/(USC) Wegman’s correspondent, Donald Rapp.
    Greenleaf Book Press is a new one on me., but doesn’t look like Regnery, so maybe they didn’t know better. It seems different from their other material.

    Not a positive pattern. You won’t turn Bell around. Someone might take on the project of:
    a) Getting the book.
    b) Analyzing it for errors and [possible defamation].
    c) Letting Greenleaf know and see what they do.
    d) Of course, it may be a fine book they can be proud of, but if not…
    [People go off and write these things, and some publishers are tipoffs and hopeless, but others might be.]
    Presumably thintkanks will appear and buy some to give away.

    NOTE: as far as I know this is a tiny fraction of aerospace people. The JPL folks I know tend not to do this.

    Comment by John Mashey — 7 Jan 2011 @ 12:36 AM

  27. That Justin Berk, a TV meteorologist, would be an unreliable source for climate science information should be no surprise to residents of the Baltimore/Washington area.

    Comment by CapitalClimate — 7 Jan 2011 @ 1:01 AM

  28. Great rebuttel of an insideously deceiving forbes article. In relation to the ice caps..area does not tell the story it’s more the internal structure of the ice..the average density across the plate and vertically down the sea. The arctic regions have the highest rate of warming of any latitute and that tends to not just melt the ice around the edges as is happening but actually permeate deep into the frozen substrate and erodes the crystalline swiss cheese. Thus polar ice mass decline is not a linear process, it will no doubt happen in sharp a simulataneous sudden massive splitting of a number of antarctic ice sheets which could well occur tomorrow, in x months or in few years time. The only way to get a real handle on what is actually happpening is to invest in researchers to take thousands more ice samples in as many places of the poles as humanly possible. When sea level suddenly goes up by a foot overnight due to a number of gigantic ice shelf breaking free maybe the likes of Bell will reexamine his fallicious standpoint..then maybe not?

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 7 Jan 2011 @ 1:43 AM

  29. I note a possible good-news story – bacteria bloom found to have consumed methane released in Deepwater Horizon disaster, suggesting that methane release may be less of a threat than anticipated.
    Maybe this can be a test case for how much attention the main-stream media gives to good-news stories on climate?

    Comment by Heraclitus — 7 Jan 2011 @ 2:23 AM

  30. As a former Forbes columnist I second the notion that the editor ferguson should provide a link to this

    Bell , whose current metier is space advertising- placing corporate logos on Proton rocket boosters declined to identify his favorite climate science textbooks, if any, and said instead that Fred Singer urged him to write his new book. It’s really sad to see Steve Forbes being snookered by Gilder and various escapees from the Abramoff law firm.

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 7 Jan 2011 @ 3:22 AM

  31. Bell’s article reads like an article in Christianity Today. It sounds great until you go back to look for a fact. You find that there are no facts. You very soon tire of reading such articles because they accomplish nothing but a waste of time. The more you read to try to find out what they are talking about, the more frustrated you get because they aren’t talking about any real thing.

    In order to see what is going on, you have to leave their level and learn some science. When you look back, you will see that they are generating nothing more than hot air. That is the nature of propaganda: Soldier words meant to die, preventing you from thinking by wasting time; generating interminable pointless arguments.

    Again, an intelligent person must leave their level and get an education in reality, by which I mean science. Most people cannot do so on their own or at all. That is why we are stuck where we are. It takes many years for a good student, born into such a muddied thinking family, to work his way out of it. A good university and isolation from the previous culture are necessary to break free.

    The whole point of Bell’s article is to prevent readers from breaking free to think for themselves. He is succeeding in many cases.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 7 Jan 2011 @ 3:30 AM

  32. To follow up on Balasz’s comment:
    The global cyclonic activity for 2009 and 2010 is at its lowest for 30 years, which is what Larry Bell writes. You counter that argument by giving numbers regarding the North Atlantic cyclones; this is disingenuous, to say the least. Pointing out a few specifics (2 cyclones) for the rest of the world is irrelevant; again, the overall activity is clearly what matters, not one or two cyclones.

    Regarding storms and hurricanes that have made landfall on the USA, it is a subset of all North Atlantic storms, and therefore of lesser value in general. But when you compare storm count today with a century ago, where many storms and hurricanes that did not make landfall were not counted, the best way to compare such count is to restrict it to this subset, where the comparison is much more valid.
    That said, the fact that there were no hurricanes making landfall in the US in 2010 is not that important (except for those living on or near the US coast of course); it’s only one year. What is relevant is the general trend over several years, or decades.

    Comment by Simon Matthews — 7 Jan 2011 @ 3:57 AM

  33. Balazs@22
    Landfalling Hurricanes? Hell, why not just limit it to Hurricanes that hit North Carolina or Florids or Miami for that matter. Somebody needs to understand Poisson statisitics and what happens when your mean gets too small.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Jan 2011 @ 5:09 AM

  34. The salient point in all of this is that he (Bell) has a venue for misinformation that reaches a very large audience. It is a mass media problem and no matter how good the arguments are in dispelling and correcting his false and misleading statements, we are stuck with speaking to the converted since the corrected manuscript will never see the light of day other than on this web site. It is also equally unlikely that the B&B would ever respond, recalibrate any of what they have said. In the media…ALL attention is good and the fact that your comments and corrections are volumous and well researched plays into their hand, since in this day and age of media consolidation and manufactured consent they know full well, short and pithy beats out correct by a long shot. Yes indeed we are stuck between a rock and hard place. The solution? Education of scientists on all media. Every peer reviewed paper should also be prepared for media interpretation in advance, before the mass media hacks it apart themselves.

    Great analysis and dissection. Too bad it has to be done.

    Comment by richard zurawski — 7 Jan 2011 @ 6:45 AM

  35. It might be good to look at some of the business interests that own/control publishers/magazines. They probably become gatekeepers.

    Sometimes it’s pretty involved. The Russian Forbes is reportedly owned by a Russian-owned subsidiary of a German company called Axel Springer.

    Rapp’s publisher is Praxis/Springer.

    I don’t know if these two publishers are connected, but I know that in Russia the major media is often owned by fossil-fuel interests.

    Comment by Snapple — 7 Jan 2011 @ 6:53 AM

  36. > The JPL folks I know tend not to do this

    Same for the JPL folks I know…

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 7 Jan 2011 @ 7:06 AM

  37. @19: Academic journals are not generally in the habit of publishing good OR bad news. They are in the habit of publishing peer-reviewed data and hypotheses about that data.

    Comment by jgarland — 7 Jan 2011 @ 7:47 AM

  38. A pretty minor quibble in this warmed-over denial-fest, but does the idea of a negative (“reversed”) *melt* rate seem a bit conceptually dubious to anyone else?

    Anyway, I think the bit about “cyclonic activity” probably goes to the posts by Ryan Maue throughout the hurricane season, which crowed about “record low” global values, IIRC. Ah, yes, here is his end of year update:

    I’m guessing that an active Atlantic and quiet Pacific/Indian Ocean scenario would probably be what you would expect in a La Nina-dominated hurricane season. And the bigger point would be that the hurricane trend would be observable over multi-decadal timescales, not just a few years. So this would be just another cherry-pick–but if Dr. Maue’s data are correct, Bell’s point would not be technically wrong.

    By the way, finding this took me by WUWT (a place I generally avoid) and they include a crow about “RC owing Bell an apology” on this subject–apparently referring to this very post. Watts remains consistent in logical inconsistency by adding a sneer that “nobody pays attention to RC anymore.” How can anyone take notice of a post in less than 24 hours, “refute” a claim, then say they (as a subset of “everybody”) aren’t paying attention? Oh, well. . . self-reflectivity has never been one of his strong points, has it?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 7 Jan 2011 @ 8:09 AM

  39. @Esop #8

    “Mr. Bell obviously could not even get the name of Amundsen right.
    He forgot to mention that it took Amundsen 3 years to get through the Northwest passage back in 1903-06, while another great Norwegian polar explorer, Børge Ousland sailed through both the Northeast and the Northwest passage in a few months last fall.”

    Amundsen undertook that task without the aid of gyroscope, GPS, radar, detailed and accurate marine charts, and daily/hourly satellite weather and ice updates. Modern conveniences are great enablers. Last year, a lone, 17 year old Aussie girl did non-stop what Magellan couldn’t do: circumnavigate the world. The impact of technological advancements on Northwest passage navigation has been greater than reduced arctic Ice extent.

    Of course, whether Northeast and Northwest passages are navigable is not the issue, but whether they are open for business is. So far the navigation has remained at proof of concept level.

    One day, perhaps, convoys of specially designed cargo ships led by powerful ice-breakers will make the navigation routinely for one or two months of the year.

    For that to happen, Arctic ice has to melt well below 2007 level every northern summer. Until then, Northwest passage remains closed for anyone but adventurers.

    Comment by sHx — 7 Jan 2011 @ 9:13 AM

  40. @39 : you missed the memo :

    Northeast passage is open for foreigner commercial ships.

    Comment by bratisla — 7 Jan 2011 @ 9:51 AM

  41. sHx

    Nix on the High Tech navigation factor- a century after Amundsen two guys sailed a Hobie 16 through the NWP !

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 7 Jan 2011 @ 10:21 AM

  42. I’m sure Larry Bell is tickled pink that you chose to respond even if it was by your third string. One likes to know they have pushed the right buttons.

    Comment by Mike Mangan — 7 Jan 2011 @ 10:22 AM

  43. #39–Just wrong. The first commercial operation to use the Northwest Passage was in 2008:

    On November 28, 2008, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the Canadian Coast Guard confirmed the first commercial ship sailed through the Northwest Passage. In September 2008, the MV Camilla Desgagnés, owned by Desgagnés Transarctik Inc. and, along with the Arctic Cooperative, is part of Nunavut Sealift and Supply Incorporated (NSSI),[65] transported cargo from Montreal to the hamlets of Cambridge Bay, Kugluktuk, Gjoa Haven and Taloyoak. A member of the crew is reported to have claimed that “there was no ice whatsoever”. Shipping from the east is to resume in the fall of 2009.[66] Although sealift is an annual feature of the Canadian Arctic this is the first time that the western communities have been serviced from the east.

    IIRC, that pattern continued this year, for three consecutive years now. If you count cruise ships, the first trip actually goes back to 2006:

    “In recent years at least one scheduled cruise liner (the MS Bremen in 2006) has successfully run the Northwest Passage. . .”

    Moreover, while the term “adventurers” for recreational sailors of the Northwest Passage is still appropriate, the level of difficulty today is nothing like what it was for Amundsen, nor for the St. Roche.

    Meanwhile, the Northeast Passage, AKA the Northern Sea Route, has had several commercial transits, the first coming in 2009 with icebreaker-escorted ships of the Beluga group. Beluga claimed to have saved about 600,000 Euros.

    As far as we know, the opening of deep-water routes on both sides of the Arctic is strictly a phenomenon of the present decade, and no amount of satellite imagery, radar, or high-tech gear would have enabled the many transits we’ve seen without that. So I’d have to regard the claim that “The impact of technological advancements on Northwest passage navigation has been greater than reduced arctic Ice extent,” as deeply mistaken.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 7 Jan 2011 @ 10:32 AM

  44. Further to the last comment, this link might be of interest:

    And on the Russian side:

    This was an ice-capable vessel, but not escorted by an actual icebreaker.

    As for 2011 plans:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 7 Jan 2011 @ 10:43 AM

  45. I can’t go into everything in this post, but the 2010 global ACE is definitely very low:

    NOAA records and predictions are set as a % of mean, rather than actual numbers, so it is a bit of a dig to get a comparable graph. But, given the fact that hurricane/tropical storm activity varies a lot from year to year 2010 is definitely on the low side of recent levels. As best I can figure, worldwide 2010 was at about 95% of the NOAA median, compared to an August prediction of 170-190% of median. The Atlantic was at about 80%. Obviously, as you say, not a record low, but also nothing at all exceptional to get excited about.

    Hurricanes and tropical storms don’t seem to track global CO2 rises very well, if at all. Too many other factors stir up the storms to lay the blame on any simple correlation with temperatures or CO2 levels.

    Comment by George — 7 Jan 2011 @ 10:44 AM

  46. Responding to post 32 and 33, I went back to the article, and I have to admit, that I am not sure, how to decode this paragraph:

    “But there was a problem. Christopher Landsea, a top U.S. expert on the subject, repeatedly notified the IPCC that no research had been conducted to support that claim–not in the Atlantic basin, or in any other basin. After receiving no replies, he publicly resigned from all IPCC activities. And while the press conference received tumultuous global media coverage, Mother Nature didn’t pay much attention. Subsequent hurricane seasons returned to average patterns noted historically over the past 150 years, before exhibiting recent record lows with no 2010 U.S. landfalls.”

    The only clear statement here is 150 historical record (that is normally limited to land falling hurricanes as far as I know). I am not a hurricane expert, but I read a lot regarding climate change (both pro and con). I understand that the number of forming hurricanes is a more relevant number, but our records over the oceans is limited to satellite era. Land falling hurricanes might not be a good metric, but it definitely will coincide with public perception better than the number of hurricanes seen by a handful of experts at NOAA’s hurricane center. For the same reason, I hoped that NASA-GISS would not claim 2010 the hotest year on record even if it was true according to some creative calculations. This is simple PR. If the hotest year keeps coinciding record cold weather (from Englad to Florida), the public will rapidly loose interest.

    My biggest problem with climate alarmism is that it will totally erode the trust in science and people won’t listen even if climate scientist really have the answer. I don’t think the current level of uncertainties in climate science are acceptable for policy making. Those, who keep pointing fingers to Big Oil are welcome to turn off the heat and walk bare foot (which is about the level of energy conservation needed for carbon free economy).

    Comment by Balazs — 7 Jan 2011 @ 11:08 AM

  47. Kevin,
    I strongly suspect that Bell was referring to Maue’s work. During a strong La Nina, as recently observed, a more active Atlantic and less active Pacific cyclone season occurs. Since the Pacific produces significantly more storms than the Atlantic, an overall decrease would be expected. Based on Maue’s work, cyclonic activity has decreased in recent years, but not outside of natural variability. This is accurately portrayed in the Forbes piece. The idea that cyclonic activity will increase in a warming world has generally been dismissed anyway.
    Comparing recent events, like the Norwest passage, to historical events makes for nice reading, but does not necessarily have any meaningful scientific results unless direct comparison can be made. Do we know how the opening compared to Amundson’s traverse, no, but he still should have gotten his name right.
    Comparing the growth or recession of an individual glacier, especially over a very short time frame, is nice, but tells us little about the local climate. Many factors affect the growth or recession of the glacier which may or may not be attributed to local temperatures.
    As mentioned in the rebuttal, Bell does have a point with the GRACE measurements from Greenland and West Antarctica. The Wu paper, which is one of the most recent, did make the claim that the previous GRACE reports overstated the glacial recession by double.
    He raised some legitimate points. I do not see why so many people have been so quick to dismiss the entire article. It seems to me that they are the ones who wish to ignore scientific data, instead of looking for answers.

    [Response: Why does Bell feel the need to make up so much rubbish in order to include one vaguely interesting point? Compare the reaction to a couple of errors in the IPCC report (out of thousands of pages), do you not see somewhat of a double standard here? Mainstream science has apparently got to be perfect before it’s worth listening to, while ignoramuses like Bell only need to 1/11 points right before they are worthy of respect. Sorry, that doesn’t cut it. – gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 7 Jan 2011 @ 11:15 AM

  48. To the posts saying that the claims about record low cyclonic activity were right – given that there is no explanation of where he got the values to support the claim, how do you know he is right? He has set up the classic ability to continually shift the goal posts. When you point out that certain facts don’t match what he has said, then he can say that set of facts was not what he was referring to and then avoid stating what specifically he was referring to.
    If all he is referring to is US landfalls and using that as some measure of global cyclonic activity, it takes about two secs for the problems with doing that to leap out of you.
    I also consider it interesting that this is used to give his credentials as it were – “Larry Bell is a professor at the University of Houston” – it’s very interesting that it doesn’t say professor of what. I guess for some, they see professor and think he must know what he is talking about. I see that he left the discipline off and instantly figure that the reason is because it is in a field outside what he is commenting on. Just because you are a “professor” hardly means that you are an expert in what you are writing about.

    Comment by Donna — 7 Jan 2011 @ 11:25 AM

  49. One has to wonder why a presumably busy Professor of Architecture spends all that time and money to self-publishes a book on climate change? (Green Leaf Publishing looks to be a pay-to be published outfit).

    And why would Forbes give a weekly column slot to Bell ?

    Just wondering how all this has come to pass at this point in time.

    Comment by Stephen Leahy — 7 Jan 2011 @ 11:28 AM

  50. re: #35
    One never knows with big media entitities, but Springer Verlag (of which Springer/Praxis is part) and Axel Springer have no obvious connection I could see.

    Comment by John Mashey — 7 Jan 2011 @ 11:29 AM

  51. In #39 sHx writes:

    One day, perhaps, convoys of specially designed cargo ships led by powerful ice-breakers will make the navigation routinely for one or two months of the year.

    That day has already arrived. There’s no doubt that pretty small icebreakers could have made it through the thin ice for at least the months of August and September the last three years. Whether and when they’ll do so with freighters following is a business decision for the shipping companies to make.

    Hell, it’s January now, and according to anything that could go through a meter of ice could go through right now.

    For a stark illustration of how much ice we’ve lost in the last few years, compare that image to one two years ago ( and note the near complete loss of ice more than a meter and a half or so.

    Comment by David Miller — 7 Jan 2011 @ 11:31 AM

  52. I read the Bell article when it was published and wanted to look up the references but who among us can take a day off to do the work you have done in this review? Thanks to the real climate people for that. My reactions were almost exactly the same as Ray Ladbury’s (15, above). If Forbes is willing to tolerate and publish flawed analyses like Bell’s, what does that say about the rest of the magazine. Will Forbes publish a retraction or at least require Bell to explain himself?

    Comment by Tony Loman — 7 Jan 2011 @ 11:41 AM

  53. “For the same reason, I hoped that NASA-GISS would not claim 2010 the hotest year on record even if it was true according to some creative calculations.”

    [edit – no criticism of grammar or spelling please – stick to substantive points]

    Secondly, arguably the most complete dataset of global temperatures in the world is not “some creative calculations.”

    “If the hotest year keeps coinciding record cold weather (from Englad to Florida), the public will rapidly loose interest.”


    As for the “record” cold weather, really now, it’s been discussed to death already. Meanwhile, where I live, it was recently thirty degrees (F) warmer than average, and nearly every day in the past year has been warmer than average. That didn’t make the news, but it’s about as relevant as any other weather event that does.

    I’m being relatively nice, but if you persist in acting like a troll, other posters here won’t be. It gets in the way of any productive discussion. Just saying.

    Comment by Maya — 7 Jan 2011 @ 11:55 AM

  54. #46 brought this to mind

    Comment by Nick Dearth — 7 Jan 2011 @ 11:56 AM

  55. The substance of the criticism regarding the Forbes piece is on target.

    Not so much the charge that the media shows a lack of interest in climate change. Despite most daily journalism being event driven (politics, sports, etc), I see a remarkable variety of climate change-related reportage and commentary every day.

    But anyway, so let me get this straight: when the media isn’t generally screwing up the climate change story, it’s ignoring it?

    Comment by Keith Kloor — 7 Jan 2011 @ 11:59 AM

  56. Great piece! I saw the original on another blog and did some fact-checking myself and determined it was bologna.

    Comment by Jathanon — 7 Jan 2011 @ 12:11 PM

  57. It’s possible that Bell is referencing a specific metric of hurricane activity (Accumulated Cyclone Energy), but that does not give a full story, nor does it show ‘record lows’.

    Aha! Thanks! I’ve ended up rubbing my stubbly chin over that a number of times.

    Comment by J Bowers — 7 Jan 2011 @ 12:17 PM

  58. I ran across that article a few days ago and quickly blew it off as another puff piece from the deniosphere. However, it does appear in “Forbes” which is still a somewhat widely read publication. Thanks for the excellent point by point rebuttal. I will be offering this link to many deniers in the upcoming months (I say “offering” not “directing” because rank and file deniers almost never venture away from denier blogs).

    Another thing about “Forbes”: they are pretty much complete deniers in their purported field of expertise, namely, economics. Despite the proven abject failure of supply side economics, Steve Forbes is still a vociferous supporter of that failed paradigm. These deniers, almost to a person, deny that the world came to the very edge of another full fledged Great Depression in the same manner that they also deny ACC. They have no facts to back them up and plenty of facts that destroy their contentions yet they still cling to their unsupported positions. Supply siders and AGW deniers are often one in the same. They also have firm belief that deities actively control the physical world.

    Arguing religion is always a pointless endeavor so it is indeed frustrating that deniers’ positions are ultimately religion based. Remember, it is these people who believe that a deity granted human beings unalienable rights despite the fact that for hundreds if not thousands of years deities granted no such thing. A deity didn’t create the Magna Carta and neither did a deity create the US constitution and bill of rights.

    It might appear that I digress by bringing up religion in a science blog but I’m not. It is this religious sensibility of deniers that make their acceptance of science so difficult for in faith all things are possible when in fact all things are not.

    Thanks again for the rebuttal and keep up the excellent work.

    Comment by M. Joyce — 7 Jan 2011 @ 12:30 PM

  59. ‘Mainstream science has apparently got to be perfect before it’s worth listening to’

    Yes, actually it does.

    [Response: Really? And how many other things in your life do you demand perfection for? – gavin]

    Comment by S Martin — 7 Jan 2011 @ 12:33 PM

  60. Balazs says, “I understand that the number of forming hurricanes is a more relevant number, but our records over the oceans is limited to satellite era. ”

    Not true. Ships were keeping watch as well.

    Comment by RichardC — 7 Jan 2011 @ 12:35 PM

  61. “The traversals prior to 2007 were in very specialized boats and often took years. In 2007 and 2010, genuine shipping lanes opened up for the first time.”

    Sunday, 10 September, 2000, 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK
    The Northwest Passage – without ice

    A Canadian police patrol boat has completed a voyage through the fabled Northwest Passage without encountering any pack ice.

    The Canadian patrol boat the St Roch II – renamed after an earlier Canadian expedition in 1944 – made the journey in nine weeks, less than half the time expected.

    Comment by CMS — 7 Jan 2011 @ 12:41 PM

  62. Will you write to Forbes with a letter to the editor and a request to publish (an edited-for-the-right-audience version of) your scientific rebuttal? I think the continual publishing of these sorts of misleading articles is incredibly damaging, and it can only be stopped by educating the publishing institutions themselves

    If so, I would be very happy to work on it with you.

    You’ve got my email via the comment form. :)

    Comment by Anna K — 7 Jan 2011 @ 12:45 PM

  63. I have a similar reaction to Keith — except more pointed. Michael Tobis and Scott Mandia dishonor journalists who work tirelessly to get the story right.

    Comment by Tom Yulsman — 7 Jan 2011 @ 12:50 PM

  64. Oh crap, my comment at 20 is wrong.

    Comment by GFW — 7 Jan 2011 @ 12:53 PM

  65. @40, 41, 43, 44

    I think I ought to stress this in my original comment: “Of course, whether Northeast and Northwest passages are navigable is not the issue, but whether they are open for business is. So far the navigation has remained at proof of concept level.”

    I am aware of commercial shipping through the NE and NW passages. That’s precisely the ‘proof of concept’ I was talking about. Yachts, Kayaks, Hobie 16s and rubber dingies -presumably all suitably escorted and/or equipped- don’t exactly prove the concept of commercial shipping.

    Many people are under the mistaken impression that Arctic navigation became possible only within the last decade or so. That is not correct.

    For the record, NW passage has been navigated on many occasions since Amundsen’s expedition. And only Russians know how often NE has been used by their navy. Even the planned Russian convoys for the summer of 2011 (how many ships? how many trips? how much cargo? how many escort ships? how much profit? how much interest?, etc) is still at the ‘proof of concept’ level.

    As far as business is concerned, the Arctic waters is still a no-go zone.

    Comment by sHx — 7 Jan 2011 @ 12:54 PM

  66. Heraclitus @29, That is indeed good news…unless you happen to be an oxygen-breathing fish in the vicinity…or anything that depends on those fish for nourishment.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Jan 2011 @ 1:21 PM

  67. MT and SM, in light of complaints from KK and TY, perhaps you should change your description of the US press from “Harmless” to “Mostly Harmless”.

    Comment by Imback — 7 Jan 2011 @ 1:38 PM

  68. “Much global warming alarm centers upon concerns that melting glaciers will cause a disastrous sea level rise.”

    The operable word here is ‘disastrous’. The rate of sea level rise has NOT accelerated at all per the predictions of you alarmists. The graph proves that it just ain’t happening and it’s even slowing down slightly of late, (not surprisingly because so are many glacier melting rates). The rate of sea level rise has varied widely and was MUCH greater many thousands of years ago when we were at a peak warming period coming out of the last ice age, (and CO2 was much lower than now…).

    Trying to discredit Larry Bell for mentioning “sea level” when we all know he means “rate of sea level rise” is awfully cheap.

    [Response: You are misquoting Bell and getting your facts wrong. Bell quoted Morner who really does believe (or claims to) that sea level is not rising at all. It was not a cheap shot to criticise that, rather you are wishfully thinking that Bell is not as dissembling as he actually is. Plus, read Church and White (2006) – there has been an acceleration in sea level rise even if you just stick to the tide gauges. – gavin]

    Comment by Mike M — 7 Jan 2011 @ 1:39 PM

  69. Tom,

    (Speaking for myself)

    Climate change is the biggest story of the century but it is not being treated as such by most. There are a handful of exceptional journalists that do a great job day in and day out but they really are few and far between.

    Astronomers tell us that an asteroid is very likely going to impact earth by mid- to late-century that will cause mass extinctions, fires, floods, food losses, water shortages, mass emigration leading to civil wars, rising seas that will flood millions and millions, etc. Do you think that story would be a headliner for quite some time? In that case, do you think Lindsay Lohan would be front page news or that voting for American Idol would trump voting in political elections? If our politicians were ignoring the coming crisis wouldn’t the press be pounding them daily to “do something and do so quickly”?

    Melodrama aside, it is clear to me that the story of the century is not a priority by most. Please do not take the closing lines personally. As you know, I am very much committed to providing rapid, high-quality information to media and lawmakers. I meant no offense to you.

    As a footnote, I was very disheartened by the massive press that the climategate accusations received vs. the lack of press that the many exonerations received. The whole issue really tarnished the press in general but I still hope that attitudes will change because I believe the press is key to changing the hearts and minds of Americans on the vital issue of climate disruption.

    Comment by Scott Mandia — 7 Jan 2011 @ 2:15 PM

  70. Tom Yulsman and Keith Kloor,
    Maybe journalists are working 24/7 to “get it right”. Unfortunately, the final product in mainstream media presents a picture of science that is unrecognizable to scientists. I am not speaking just as a scientist. I’ve done science journalism of a sort, albeit with the advantage of writing for a monthly that catered to a fairly technically savvvy audience. I know what it takes to get a story right. So I ask you, why does the mainstream media so rarely get the story right?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Jan 2011 @ 2:26 PM

  71. Thanks all for the corrections on the Northwest Passage. We had trouble tracking details down. It seemed very clear that what is happening of late is very different from the historical case and the discussion here remains consistent with that view.

    Regarding tropical storm activity, as I currently understand it the strong global decadal variability is not well understood. It’s my understanding that the prediction is not for more frequent storms, but for more frequent severe storms. Last season was not lacking for extremely impressive tropical storms even if the total count and integrated energy was low.

    [Response: Total count for the Atlantic (19) was among the few highest on record (!), consistent with the pre-season predictions we made using our own statistical model, where a high count was predicted largely on the basis of unprecedented SSTs in the main development region for tropical cyclones. – mike]

    Knutson et al 2010

    ” future projections based on theory and high-resolution dynamical models consistently indicate that greenhouse warming will cause the globally averaged intensity of tropical cyclones to shift towards stronger storms, with intensity increases of 2–11% by 2100. Existing modelling studies also consistently project decreases in the globally averaged frequency of tropical cyclones, by 6–34%. Balanced against this, higher resolution modelling studies typically project substantial increases in the frequency of the most intense cyclones, and increases of the order of 20% in the precipitation rate within 100 km of the storm centre.”

    It’s far from clear that the patterns of 2010 are inconsistent with the above.


    [Response: Michael–one has to be very careful here, in particular to distinguish very different behavior between the different basins. Kerry Emanuel’s work suggests in increase in tropical cyclone frequency in the Atlantic, but not in other basins. – mike]

    Comment by Michael Tobis — 7 Jan 2011 @ 3:09 PM

  72. Both Yulsman and Kloor have made substantial useful contributions to climate science journalism, although both seem to somehow miss the seriousness and urgency of the policy imperative. I should disclose that I have had vigorous disagreements with both in the past.

    Still, I do not understand why they take umbrage at the present piece, which, while it generalizes so far as to criticize the “business press”, does not broadly address the climate coverage of the press in a more general sense.


    Comment by Michael Tobis — 7 Jan 2011 @ 3:16 PM

  73. > dishonor journalists
    Comment left at Tom’s page, but shorter: I don’t think MT and SM dishonor journalists; I think they believe journalists can be more effective. I may be wrong; they may be wrong; the journalists may also overrate their own effectiveness.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Jan 2011 @ 3:23 PM

  74. Scott:

    The fact is that I agree with most of what you say. As I said in my post, I have cancelled all but basic cable service in my home because I cannot stand to watch what passes for “news” on television. The vacuousness of it all is like a mind-eroding prion. I will not have it in my home. I will not have it infect my children. (And so far, so good! They are well on their way to helping make the world a better place!)

    And I am sorry if I gave any offense by reacting so strongly in my post. But you should know where I’m coming from. You and Michael made a black and white statement about journalism that — and I’m sorry to be blunt here — dishonored the hard work of hundreds if not thousands of good journalists who are toiling to get the story right. As I said in my post, there is no one “press.” Especially in today’s fractured media world, there innumerable “presses,” and many of them are doing a darn good job.

    Much of what passes for news in mass media is certainly horrible. We agree! But there is an entire other universe of excellent work that is reaching millions of people. It happens in small ways, such as in High Country News, Climate Central, and The Daily Climate, and in very big ways, such as National Geographic, the New York Times, the New Yorker, NPR, etc.

    So I hope you will excuse me for fiercely defending my colleagues. They deserve vociferous and unstinting support, not the constant, corrosive drumbeat of excoriation and vituperation that is so often the norm.

    Lastly, Michael: Thank you for your supportive words. I do appreciate them! But you did generalize about the press. And that is what I reacted to.

    So for the record, the column in Forbes is a pathetic piece of work. As I wrote to a colleague last night who was attacked in the piece, Larry Bell is not worth the firing of a single neuron. Except for the fact that Forbes reaches so many readers. So correcting the scientific record certainly was called for. I’m just not sure why it had to be accompanied by such an ill-considered, generalized attack on the work of all journalists.

    — Tom

    Comment by Tom Yulsman — 7 Jan 2011 @ 3:26 PM

  75. Ray (70)

    Bryan Walsh at Time (another example of someone doing a great job on the climate beat), had an interesting piece yesterday on the spate of sudden bird and fish deaths that has been widely reported in the media as an unusual phenomena or coincidence.

    It turns out that the events are not at all that unusual.

    Walsh writes that the media played a role in making it seem unusual. The money quote:

    “Scientists know this—if you start looking for something in a large enough data set, chances are you’ll find it. So when one perfectly timed bird death event occurs, it gives the media license to keep looking for similar events—and as a quick trip through the news archives show, it won’t be hard to find them.”

    Here’s the parallel to what’s going on with this incessant, disproportionate criticism of climate change journalism, and it’s exemplified by this post:

    From Walsh’s post: “if you start looking for something in a large enough data set, chances are you’ll find it.”

    Tom Yulsman, in his post that he links to, makes a good argument for the density and variety of climate change reportage and commentary–on a daily basis. (Remember, the Forbes piece discussed here was just commentary, not even a straight news article.)

    Yet the authors of this RC post, as does Joe Romm on a regular basis at Climate Progress, choose to highlight only the stories that advance their argument: that climate journalism sucks and its largely missing the story of the century.

    That’s not my read (and I read a ton of this coverage every day), but because some critics selectively choose the the outwardly bad or partially flawed stories out of a very large data set, the impression is that climate change is either being ignored or covered badly by the media.

    That is not just overly simplistic, it is inaccurate.

    [Response: Hold on a little. It is in the nature of the beast that people are moved to react to either things they like a lot, or that the really didn’t like. Things (and stories) that are ‘ok’ (perhaps not perfect, but not terrible either) are simply not going to get as much commentary. And since this is exactly what the media does as whole (average events are rarely reported, while outliers are), I think it odd that you appear to think blogs should be much different. And it certainly isn’t the case that we never praise good articles (we did very recently on the GIllis Keeling story, and have praised recent Economist coverage as well). But for every egregious mishmash like Bell’s article, there are a dozen more exactly the same, a few mediocre pieces and one or two great pieces. And yet the last time I was on the radio, I was asked what “if” global warming was happening, and for the last TV interview the sub-caption was “Global warming: trick or truth”. It is not churlish of us to want the media to do a better job – regardless of the fact that a few individuals do a great job. The problem is not with the best, the problem is with the worst, or the simply too-busy. – gavin]

    Comment by Keith Kloor — 7 Jan 2011 @ 3:33 PM

  76. B 46: My biggest problem with climate alarmism is that it will totally erode the trust in science and people won’t listen even if climate scientist really have the answer. I don’t think the current level of uncertainties in climate science are acceptable for policy making. Those, who keep pointing fingers to Big Oil are welcome to turn off the heat and walk bare foot (which is about the level of energy conservation needed for carbon free economy).

    BPL: My problem with climate deniers is that the situation is genuinely alarming. What part of “human civilization is going to collapse completely in this century unless we control global warming” do you not understand?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 Jan 2011 @ 3:55 PM

  77. Tom Yulsman wrote: “It happens in small ways, such as in High Country News, Climate Central, and The Daily Climate, and in very big ways, such as National Geographic, the New York Times, the New Yorker, NPR, etc.”

    I would encourage you to read the article by Joe Romm at ClimateProgress that I linked to in a previous comment:

    Silence of the Lambs: Media herd’s coverage of climate change ‘fell off the map’ in 2010
    The NY Times and others blow the story of the century

    There are some good reasons to accuse the so-called “mainstream” media in the USA of a serious, systemic failure to accurately report on the reality of anthropogenic global warming.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 7 Jan 2011 @ 3:56 PM

  78. 71, comment by mike: [Response: Michael–one has to be very careful here, in particular to distinguish very different behavior between the different basins. Kerry Emanuel’s work suggests in increase in tropical cyclone frequency in the Atlantic, but not in other basins. – mike]

    As we noted before, Emanuel wrote that there “might be” increased frequency of major cyclones in some places. “Might be” and “might not be” are denotatively almost synonymous, but have connotatively different emphasis: “might be” is almost “probably won’t be” whereas “might not be” is almost “probably will be.” Your paraphrase “suggests” is close enough, but the main thrust of the Emanuel work is that total blobal cyclonic energy is predicted by the model to decline.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 7 Jan 2011 @ 4:04 PM

  79. ah, nuts! I meant total global cyclonic energy.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 7 Jan 2011 @ 4:08 PM

  80. re Fire cartoon, please provide credits when you copy these: Marc Roberts wants and needs the traffic, and his wonderful humor often hits the spot:

    His “trick” one is wonderful:

    I’d recommend finding the “science” tag and checking all of them (shit hitting fan is hilarious, for example)

    Sorry my web skills don’t allow a copy here.

    61. Tom Yulsman

    On the contrary, we need a lot more from hardworking people who ID common errors and misconceptions and are willing to put their lives and reputations on the line to “balance” (I wish) the flood of misinformation. Kudos to Tobis and Mandia. They’ve had physical and legal threats but persist. They’ve teamed up with the likes of Dr. Abrahams’ who is known for his polite, painstaking, and devastating deconstruction of Lord Monckton’s profitable but inaccurate and biased presentations which were so popular with our science-denying legislators.

    Check it out:

    Not sure about Tobis, but here’s a bio on Scott Mandia:
    Scott A. Mandia

    Scott is Professor of Earth and Space Sciences and Assistant Chair of the Physical Sciences Department at Suffolk County Community College, Long Island, New York, USA. He has been teaching introductory meteorology and climatology courses for 22 years. He received his M.S. – Meteorology from the Pennsylvania State University in 1990 and his B.S. – Meteorology from University of Lowell in 1987. In 1997, he won the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 7 Jan 2011 @ 4:15 PM

  81. shoddy climate reporting isn’t new. You have probably seen this one from about 25 years ago:,5141658&dq=james-hansen+desert&hl=en

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 7 Jan 2011 @ 4:17 PM

  82. Ah, lots of others have weighed in on Tom Yulsman’s comment. I forgot to say I am a loyal reader of his CEJournal and a relatively loyal commenter on DotEarth, and share his concern that attacking our somewhat more neutral friends is a little problematic. However, the problems on the other side are so huge, it is hard not to say at the moment a large body of information is being ignored by those who should be deeply concerned for their own and their families’ futures. I am alarmed, and I think everyone should be.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 7 Jan 2011 @ 4:20 PM

  83. 59
    ‘Mainstream science has apparently got to be perfect before it’s worth listening to’
    “Yes, actually it does.”

    When science gets something wrong, as in melting glaciers in the Himalayas, it is corrected. Deniers never correct even obvious errors when confronted. Deniers on this blog keep harping on a point even after it is shown, with references, to be wrong.

    Comment by Sir — 7 Jan 2011 @ 4:25 PM

  84. Uh, minor correction to clumsy verbiage. In case it’s not clear, in comment #75, I meant to say that the disproportionate criticism of climate journalism is exemplified by this particular post on Forbes article–as an example of looking for something in a large data set that would seem to fit a pattern.

    Comment by Keith Kloor — 7 Jan 2011 @ 4:32 PM

  85. sHx: Beluga Shipping has proved the concept, by bringing home six-figure savings from the northern sea route last summer. We are past proof of concept, into an early-adopter phase. Of course it is a new line of work, in which some companies will thrive while others fail, and some businesses will avoid it to minimise their risk, but it’s not “proof of concept” any more. Questions such as “how equipped” and “how escorted” are easy to answer with Google (for instance, last summer’s two E3-class Beluga ships were escorted for part of their passage by two small ice-breakers).

    One interesting aspect is that the NSR may have ice and weather risks, but unlike the Suez route there is very little exposure to piracy.

    You evidently know little about the many amateur passages by light vessels in the last few seasons if you can suggest “suitably escorted”. Consider Børge Ousland’s circuit last summer, from Oslo along the northern sea route and then the NWP and across the north Atlantic back to Oslo. In a single season, unpowered, in an unescorted regular catamaran (and encountering no large ice at all). Unescorted is part of the point: one could sail a dinghy to the pole “escorted” by a Russian nuclear-powered breaker, but such an expedition wouldn’t demonstrate anything.

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 7 Jan 2011 @ 4:36 PM

  86. Regarding Wu et al’s (2010) paper it should be noted that there was somewhat of a rebuttal posted on skepticalscience.

    I think I brought up some of the important points on the topic in the article.

    Comment by Robert Way — 7 Jan 2011 @ 4:55 PM

  87. The point of the article is about historically responsible business publications like Forbes and the Wall Street Journal publishing grotesque pseudoscience. It seems a shame to divert it to the related but distinct question of the performance of the mainstream press.

    But it gives me an occasion to sneak in a bit of bombast and grandiosity, so I will not resist the temptation.

    The mainstream press in the US is trained and indoctrinated in a belief that politics is a tug of war between two extreme positions wherein the truth lies in between. On matters where this is approximately or arguably true, they do a good enough job. On matters where one (or both) of the two parties is plainly unrealistic, the method rides off the rails.

    In the case of climate, they dutifully represent a position midway between mild, muddled concern as an excuse for WPA-style make-work on the one hand, and derisive dismissal on the other.

    In the case of economics and sustainability, the shibboleths of full employment and perpetual growth, upheld by both parties, are never questioned.

    The press is concerned with next week and the politicians with next year, so these positions are understandable. But they leave us with a dire long term prognosis as long as we lack institutions that are motivated to protect the interests of the coming generations.

    It may be unreasonable to expect this long view of people who call themselves “journalists”; the word “day” appears right in their names. A contributor to my blog suggested “annalists” for people taking the long view. One might even suggest “secularists”. Unfortunately both words are taken.

    But the problem with mainstream reporting on these matters, the point that Joe Romm often makes and that his frequent correspondent Jeff Huggins makes regularly, is a point I’ve seen Andy Revkin make as well. Editors do not see climate change as “newsy” and consequently it is hard enough to get stories into print, never mind onto the front page. The public, not seeing the story on the front page, concludes implicitly that it isn’t very important. Even in the not-entirely-unprecedented but all too rare event that the story is well balanced and appropriate, it generally isn’t given any prominence.

    Comment by Michael Tobis — 7 Jan 2011 @ 4:56 PM

  88. Balazs (46): There is a simple way to deal with climate alarmism. Get your climate information from people who are neither alarmists nor deniers. People who tell you exactly how bad it may or may not be. People like scientists.

    There will always be people running screaming down the street yelling “we’re all gonna diiiiiiie!!!”

    I don’t take them seriously. Neither should you. However, what we have to do here is look at the conservative estimates, the best and worst case scenarios, and apply some judgement. Unless you are elderly and extremely selfish, then action is the only rational choice. If you are young, or have children or grandchildren to think about, or if you just care about the future of humanity – relatively small changes now will have a big impact further down the road.

    Comment by Didactylos — 7 Jan 2011 @ 4:57 PM

  89. So the answer to the mass animal deaths is essentially a statistical version of “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” ??

    Then again – do we now have access to better tools to track these events? Like Google Earth:

    Gosh, the next time we see a mass death of humans from heat – like 35,000 in Europe – do we plot that along with the black birds?

    Comment by richard pauli — 7 Jan 2011 @ 5:07 PM

  90. Fantastic takedown of the Forbes article. Your work here, which must clearly be taking valuable time away from your *real* work, is nonetheless extremely valuable. We can only hope that some small fraction of Forbes readers come here to see it.

    A couple of technical points….

    The paper on the Indian Ocean sea levels by Han et al in Nature Geosci does show falling sea level in a fairly localized region. But this is completely based on models, not sea-level observations, and accounts only for steric and wind-driven effects. They ignore any possible contribution to sea-level rise from ice melt. They acknowledge this in the paper, and they note that accounting for melt could well change their negative to either zero or positive. Since mass-influx and steric contributions to sea-level rise are roughly comparable, this is an important point.

    But Bell refers to the Indian Ocean between 1900 and 1970, so maybe he wasn’t using the Han paper. Who knows. Anyway, there are no good tide gauges in that region that cover the entire 20th century. Han shows one plot of sea levels for Zanzibar, but the time series is really far too short to say much.

    Finally, concerning my good friend Frank Wu’s paper on Greenland ice loss (also in Nature Geosci), there is a great deal of grumbling about that paper going on — the results are so far not widely accepted. I expect a few letters to Nature disputing it. What Wu tried to do is very difficult: separate glacial rebound and ice melt in a simultaneous inversion of gravity and GPS data. It may be that the data simply cannot support doing that, not yet anyway. Time will tell, but my guess is that the Wu numbers are not the last word.

    Comment by Richard Ray — 7 Jan 2011 @ 5:09 PM

  91. More comment on Tom and keiths pov.
    I agree that there are some journalists that are trying to convey a scientifically literate story. But they are overwhelmed by the sheer awfulness of pieces like Bells, which is aided by the editorial policies of a significant part of the media that actually give prominence to this sort of excrement.

    Comment by Michael — 7 Jan 2011 @ 5:10 PM

  92. At SkepticalScience, some context re the Wu et al. study is provided:

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 7 Jan 2011 @ 5:33 PM

  93. Richard Pauli:

    So the answer to the mass animal deaths is essentially a statistical version of “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” ??

    Mass deaths of birds such as the red-winged blackbird/starling incident are uncommon, but not unknown. There’s no reason to invoke global warming or any such thing for these. In fact, the first news story I read about this included a quote from an ornithologist who was looking into the incident, who said exactly that – such incidents are known to happen occasionally.

    Birds of the Great Basin, a book I highly recommend to anyone interested in subject (and not just because I know the illustrator!), includes a section on a variety of mass bird kills in the area. Loons in a storm apparently mistaking the sheen of wet, moon-lit pavement for the surface of a lake and unable to take off again, birds passing low through a town crashing willy-nilly into buildings, etc etc.

    [Response: Part of an outstanding series of Great Basin natural history guides by U Nevada Press I might add…–Jim]

    Comment by dhogaza — 7 Jan 2011 @ 5:48 PM

  94. So throw in a term like “anti-evolutionst” and it’s obvious Larry Bell’s article is nonsense!

    [Response: Pointing out that the rhetorical techniques of multiple anti-science campaigns are similar is a useful point to make. It doesn’t mean that Bell ipso facto is talking nonsense – but examination of the specific cases reveals that, in fact, he was. – gavin]

    Add this to impressive arguements like “they used to believe in a flat earth”. Any post on global warming that mentions the “smoking doesn’t cause cancer lobby” and “big oil” is bound to support the science.

    [Response: No, why should it? But if you don’t think that the tobacco industry was behind the perfection of the ‘merchants of doubt’ technique to avoid regulation, and if you don’t think that oil companies pay people a lot of money to further the same strategy today, you need to get out more. Who is paying CEI to fire off lawsuits left right and center to harass individual scientists? Who funds CFACT and Marc Morano? Who is the biggest contributor to Joe Barton’s and Jim Inhofe’s campaign chest? Scientific arguments can be resolved without discussing any of this (as they are above), but to claim that mention of the anti-science campaigns invalidates correct scientific is equivalent to the ad hom that you are accusing us of. – gavin]

    Comment by System — 7 Jan 2011 @ 5:52 PM

  95. Richard,
    As far as the animal deaths, the fish in Chesapeake Bay have been attributed to a rather sudden cooling of the waters in December.
    Thus far, no solid explanation as been given for the birds, although birds deaths of this quantity are not unprecedented

    Comment by Dan H. — 7 Jan 2011 @ 5:56 PM

  96. #65–

    Sorry, I agree with Nick Barnes. (#85.)

    It’s always possible to define as you wish–but a definition of “open for business” that excludes increasingly frequent commercial tourist cruises (you can book now for 2011), the 2009 600,000 Euro savings realized by Beluga transport, the 2010 transit made by a 70,000 tonner, and three consecutive years of Arctic Canada resupply via NWP, will, I suspect, seem a bit perverse to many.

    And, as Nick said, many of last year’s transits were NOT in ice-capable vessels, not escorted in any way.

    Of course, the environment remains difficult and potentially risky. But what is happening now would have been unimaginable in the 90s, or at any previous time. That is the point here. This really is very, very different.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 7 Jan 2011 @ 6:05 PM

  97. KK, I still don’t know what you mean. Do you mean this RC topic is “disproportionate criticism” of the Forbes article? Or something else?

    “Paul said he would rather speak five words that were understood than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. That hits me. I want people to know what I mean…. I use plain Anglo-Saxon words.” — Billy Sunday

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Jan 2011 @ 6:42 PM

  98. KK, I still don’t know what you meant. Can you be clearer? It sounds on your second try like you think this RC topic is disproportionate criticism — too critical of — the Forbes article. Do you have a less critical view of it?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Jan 2011 @ 6:44 PM

  99. So, Forbes seems to be telling Munich Re, Swiss Re, and the other Res that are pretty worried over AGW that they’re fools, and that Forbes doesn’t want their business? Seems like a queer business strategy to me. Whoops there goes another lost subscriber after that clinker. On the journalist thing, it may be that serious journos work 24/7 to get the climate story correct, but the general perception seems to be that the publication ownership plays 5 minutes each 7 days to quash such serious work in order to placate advertisers.

    Comment by ghost — 7 Jan 2011 @ 6:58 PM

  100. Keith, I don’t go looking for bad climate journalism. It finds me. I hear it on BBC and to a somewhat lesser extent NPR. The 24-hour News channels hardly cover it at all, and when they do, they screw it up so badly, I wish they’d just kept quiet. As to the news weeklies, I don’t even read Time or Useless News and World Report or NewsWeak anymore. I wouldn’t train a puppy on the Wall Street Urinal or Forbes anymore. The Gray Lady is a joke. The Washington Post has fallen victim to the “Fair and Balanced” myth.

    The News agencies (AFP, UPI, Reuters) are staffed by science illiterates.

    Yes, there have been a couple of good pieces in National Geographic, but they stand out all the more against the abysmal background. And The Economist runs an ocasional good piece when they aren’t getting sucked in by pie-in-the-sky techno-fixes. And I still listen to NPR, although their motto might as well be “NPR–it’s not just for smart people anymore!”.

    If it were just climate, I could maybe write it off to propaganda by the Exx-Mob, but the coverage of particle physics, biology, astronomy and especially medicine is equally abysmal.

    I sympathize with the science journalist. I really do. I realize they are writing for a readership with the attention span of a gnat and no understanding of scientific method. However, I don’t think that fully explains the horrendous state of science journalism. Frankly, I don’t remember the last time I read a piece of science journalism in mainstream media and didn’t think, “I’m a stupider person for having read that!”

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Jan 2011 @ 7:15 PM

  101. #22 nobody has any idea about the number of hurricanes forming over the oceans before satellite era

    Poppycock. Extensive shipping records for the Caribbean and tropical Atlantic goes back 400 years.

    Comment by JiminMpls — 7 Jan 2011 @ 7:16 PM

  102. Forbes has an article by S. Robert Lichter, “professor of communication at George Mason University, where he directs the Center for Media and Public Affairs and the Statistical Assessment Service.”

    It is called “What Scientists Really Believe about Climate Change.”

    He cites an organization he runs called Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) that claims to have statistics about this.
    I don’t believe him, of course.

    Comment by Snapple — 7 Jan 2011 @ 7:30 PM

  103. Argh! I couldn’t agree more about how awful the media has been about conveying the AGW argument to the public. It probably doesn’t help that the so-called “skeptics” are ideologically driven and well funded while those who are advocating measures to stop climate change are completely ideologically neutral and probably have little to no funding at all!

    What needs to happen in my opinion would be for a prominent climate scientist to be occasionally given space in the opinion section of a major newspaper (say, the Washington Post or something like that) so they could relay the message directly to the public. Fat chance that would happen but one can dream!

    Comment by Menth — 7 Jan 2011 @ 7:49 PM

  104. @Nick and @Kevin #85 and #94

    The key question is if Beluga Shipping thought there’s money to be made already in Northwest (NWP) and Northeast (NEP) routes, why did it not follow up the ‘proven concept’ and the apparent 2009 profitability with even greater numbers in 2010? Or, why is it that no other shipping lines followed Beluga’s footsteps, so to speak?

    One of the links above crows about 18 ships (what size? how much cargo? what period? which shipping lines?) that passed through the NWP in 2010. By way of comparison, approximately 35 to 45 ships pass through each one of the two great canals, Panama and Suez, each day. Here are the traffic figures:

    Indeed, the two greatest limitations on the size of ocean-going ships, especially tankers, bulk carriers and container ships, are Panama and Suez canals. If you build the ships too big, you have to swing them around Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope. Here is a simple page about the sizes:

    And here is a quote from the same web page about Arctic navigation:

    The consideration of arctic routes for commercial navigation purposes remains a very speculative endeavor, mainly for three reasons:

    * First, it is highly uncertain to what extent the receding perennial ice cover is a confirmed trend or simply part of a long term climatic cycle.

    * Second, there is very limited economic activity around the Arctic Circle, implying that shipping services crossing the Arctic have almost no opportunity to drop and pick-up cargo as they pass through. Thus, unlike other long distance commercial shipping routes there is limited revenue generation potential for shipping lines along the Arctic route, which forbids the emergence of transshipment hubs. This value proposition could improve if resources (oil and mining) around the Arctic are extracted in greater quantities.

    * The Arctic remains a frontier in terms of charting and building a navigation system, implying uncertainties and unreliability for navigation. This implies that substantial efforts have to be made to insure that navigation can take in place in a safe manner.

    In view of all of the above maritime shipping companies are not yet considering seriously the commercial potential of the Arctic.

    NEP and NWP offer unique challenges to large vessels as well as to merchant mariners, who are otherwise very used to warm waters. Merhcant vessels that will be using these routes will have to be purpose built. They need stronger hulls and more powerful propulsion. They need many more tugs and ice-breakers to clear the path and to remain on stand-by. They need many, many trained sea-pilats familiar with the Arctic coastline and waters, not to say ice floes and icebergs. Risks will be very high and the insurance costs much more. Remember the Titanic? And, to top it all up, they will only be useful for several months a year!

    So, folks, to reiterate the point again, the NWP and NEP is closed to commercial shipping traffic and will remain so for the foreseeable future. This doesn’t mean that there is no Arctic warming, or there’s been no navigation through these passages for the enterprising spirit. What it means is that those who keep saying the Northeast and Northwest passages are open to commercial shipping are wrong.

    Comment by sHx — 7 Jan 2011 @ 7:56 PM

  105. Jim:

    Part of an outstanding series of Great Basin natural history guides by U Nevada Press I might add..

    Yes, indeed, I own most of them, but I think the bird volume’s the best :)

    [Response: The reviews are terrific–I’ll have to try to get it. Perhaps it can cure even an ornithological moron such as I…at the very least it should work well as an excuse to explore more of the Basin ;)–Jim]

    … funded by Max C. Fleischmann, and if that last name sounds familiar, yes, he did inherit the yeast fortune …

    Comment by dhogaza — 7 Jan 2011 @ 7:59 PM

  106. #45, #47 It’s worth pointing out that even if the Maue index for global ACE is used, 2009 and 2010 were still not record lows. They were low, but not records (1978 and 1975 were lower). So Bell’s statement is incorrect, regardless of where you think he got his information from.

    Comment by gavin — 7 Jan 2011 @ 8:04 PM

  107. One of the links above crows about 18 ships (what size? how much cargo? what period? which shipping lines?) that passed through the NWP in 2010. By way of comparison, approximately 35 to 45 ships pass through each one of the two great canals, Panama and Suez, each day

    Oh, sHx’s back must ache with the weight of those goalposts he’s been moving.

    First he claims that the NWP has been open many times before, having been thwarted in that false claim, now he’s arguing that there’s something relevant and important about the fact that the NWP and NEP aren’t as buzy as suez or panama…

    18 ships through the NWP and/or NEP is a lot more than the zero that were able to do so two, three, or more decades ago.

    Comment by dhogaza — 7 Jan 2011 @ 8:07 PM

  108. Forbes published another howler today — a post claiming that a “growing number” of climate scientists are promoting Nazi-like authoritarianism as a way to tame climate change. You really cannot make this stuff up. His evidence? A snippet from the jacket blurb of a book co-authored by an Australian MD three years ago. It’s making the rounds of the conservative blogospheric echo-chamber. You really can’t make this stuff up…

    [Response: But they do! – gavin]

    Comment by Tom Yulsman — 7 Jan 2011 @ 8:46 PM

  109. John Mashey at #50–

    Gazprom-affiliated media (surprise! Alisher Usmanov’s business daily “respected” Kommersant) almost bought Russian Newsweek, but then Russian Newsweek just closed. (Official Russian press agency.)

    The Russian Newsweek seems to be owned by Axel Springer.

    Russian Forbes is owned by a Russian-owned subsidiary of Axel Springer (whoever that is).

    The powerful Russian fossil fuel entities have financial ties with Western fossil fuel partners and also own/control a lot of media. The fossil fuel companies own the new information organs of Russia.

    You can own a fossil-fuel company and media as long as you play ball with the Kremlin. They put you in jail and take your companies if you do anything else.

    Comment by Snapple — 7 Jan 2011 @ 8:47 PM

  110. Did I mention that you really can’t make this stuff up? (Sorry, I’m just astonished by it all and that phrase spilled out of me twice.)

    Comment by Tom Yulsman — 7 Jan 2011 @ 8:47 PM

  111. This is a little bit off topic, but I would just like to thank Gavin and the other scientists on here, but especially Gavin for what he is doing. Noam Chomsky was a world renowned linguist before becoming known for his politics. I see two extrordinary skills in what Gavin is doing as well. To be the scientist he is..and I believe he is respected to no end by his peers…AND for him to be able communicate SO EFFECTIVELY on this blog with everyone is truly incredible. I don’t know if you get appreciated enough Gavin..I think you are a genuine hero, and that cannot be stated enough.

    Comment by doug — 7 Jan 2011 @ 9:17 PM

  112. 18 ships through the NWP and/or NEP is a lot more than the zero that were able to do so two, three, or more decades ago.

    Prior to 1953, despite many attempts, nobody succeeded in climbing the Mount Everest. Since 1953, many hundreds have done it. What does this mean? That the Everest is getting shorter? That climate change making it easier to climb? That the atmosphere in high altitude is more breathable?

    What it means is that more people are attempting it. They are better prepared, better equipped and better guided. The territory is well-reconnoitered, marked and charted. Those who have gone ahead have made it easier for those who follow.

    The same applies to the Arctic passages. The melt has certainly made it easier than in the past. But there are many more reasons than that for the sudden surge of ability to traverse difficult waters. And yet, commercial maritime operators are still avoiding the area.

    The Arctic passages are open for adventurous spirits, as it always was since Amundsen opened it up. And the same passages was closed to commerce in the past and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

    Comment by sHx — 7 Jan 2011 @ 9:32 PM

  113. Thanks for taking the trouble to gut the piece in Forbes.

    It is, of course, exactly an example of the journalism one would expect from Forbes. Most of big-business cheerleaders are attuned only to the thunder of the “gallop”; there is either a rational veneer applied to an analysis of the current direction of the thundering herd
    or the application of some sort of ‘barking’ to steer the herd. That is their lot in life. In this case we hear desperate barking. The article you described is all “Bark! Bark! Bark!.”

    I am not sure I ever understood the Maoist epithet from the 1960’s “Capitalists and their running dogs.” Perhaps now I am getting a new glimmer of insight into the implied metaphor through a kind of (disturbing) logic that challenges and muddles climate science.

    Comment by Don Lewis — 7 Jan 2011 @ 11:15 PM

  114. sHx #111 “The melt…”
    Ah, so it is happening, then. The rest of your assertions I can cheerfully ignore.
    “Sherpas say ice melts making Mt Everest more dangerous to climb”

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 7 Jan 2011 @ 11:21 PM

  115. Gavin writes (inline comment, #75):
    “It is not churlish of us to want the media to do a better job – regardless of the fact that a few individuals do a great job.”

    Not, it is not churlish at all, but you’re still missing my point–or you simply don’t agree with it. I’m saying that there’s plenty of good climate change journalism–that’s right plenty. But because critics focus inordinately on stories/commentary they find fault with, the meme has become the media sucks, or the Media “blows the story.”

    As Tom Yulsman says, this has a “corrosive” effect. Just look at Ray Ladbury’s sweeping dismissal of nearly all mainstream media outlets in comment #100. Talk about throwing out the baby with the bathwater, here’s a sample of the journalistic publications he finds without merit:

    “As to the news weeklies, I don’t even read Time or Useless News and World Report or NewsWeak anymore. I wouldn’t train a puppy on the Wall Street Urinal or Forbes anymore. The Gray Lady is a joke. The Washington Post has fallen victim to the “Fair and Balanced” myth.

    This kind of blanket denunciation is akin to someone saying all politicians are corrupt. I just don’t get it. But his attitude is one I see expressed often in the comments at popular climate sites.

    So what I’m saying, Hank (#98), is not that the Forbes is not fair game. I agree with the criticism of it expressed in this post. What I’m saying is that the authors tack-on swipe at the end of the post reinforces the cynicism of people like Ray and others, who already think the media either isn’t covering climate change enough, or is just doing a flat-out bad job of it–or both.

    In my post at my site, I argue this simply isn’t true. And by the way, I also acknowledge in that post that RC periodically applauds excellent examples of climate journalism.

    [Response: Keith. As I understand it, your objection here is strictly to the specific blanket statement referring to “the press”. That’s fair enough. And yes, thank you for acknowledging our highlighting of good journalism, such as my commentary on the Economist. And yes, I agree with you that some commenters here are a bit (!) over the top. At the same time, I actually think the amount of *really great* journalism on climate change is rare. A salient example is Tom Yulsman and Andy Revkin’s reaction to the ‘climategate’ story. I thought what they said about it, in the early stages especially, was startlingly lacking of much thoughtful analysis, and I told them so. Let me be clear, too, that I was *not* talking about the politics here, but about the way they presented the implications of climategate (even if true) on the scientific facts. Since those guys are among the very best, the even they could handle this issue so poorly does not speak very well to the quality of ‘the press’ in general. In short, while I agree with you that Tobis and Scott Mandia’s blanket statements about the press was perhaps a bit over-generalizing, it isn’t entirely off the mark either.–eric]

    Comment by Keith Kloor — 7 Jan 2011 @ 11:26 PM

  116. > (even if all the allegations of wrongdoing were true,
    > which of course they were)

    Er, allegations cited to direct quotes were true; allegations of hidden conspiracy and motivations behind the directly quoted text, not so much.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Jan 2011 @ 11:54 PM

  117. Prior to 1953, despite many attempts, nobody succeeded in climbing the Mount Everest. Since 1953, many hundreds have done it. What does this mean? That the Everest is getting shorter? That climate change making it easier to climb? That the atmosphere in high altitude is more breathable?

    They’re still climbing ice.

    The 18 ships mentioned by you sailed through open water, where open water did not exist before. Analogy fail.


    Comment by dhogaza — 7 Jan 2011 @ 11:55 PM

  118. Not, it is not churlish at all, but you’re still missing my point–or you simply don’t agree with it. I’m saying that there’s plenty of good climate change journalism–that’s right plenty. But because critics focus inordinately on stories/commentary they find fault with, the meme has become the media sucks, or the Media “blows the story.”

    Knowing Keith Kloor to be an honorable man who would never just make stuff up, I’m sure he’s gathered data to support his point, and having done so, will share that data with us?

    Data wants to be free, Keith.

    Presuming you’re not simply waving your hands in an evidence-free fashion, I’m sure you’ll post your supporting data soon…

    Comment by dhogaza — 7 Jan 2011 @ 11:59 PM

  119. “even if all the allegations of wrongdoing were true, which of course they were”
    I think you meant, “were not”.

    Comment by M — 8 Jan 2011 @ 12:00 AM

  120. A salient example is Tom Yulsman and Andy Revkin’s reaction to the ‘climategate’ story. I thought what they said about it, in the early stages especially, was startlingly lacking of much thoughtful analysis

    Let us not forget Monbiot …

    Comment by dhogaza — 8 Jan 2011 @ 12:00 AM

  121. Eric,

    You mention something that I think is influencing this larger discussion –the hangover from the climategate coverage. Fair enough (though I don’t totally agree with your assessment). I can see that it’s going to take time for folks get over that.

    I also don’t think its reasonable to expect “really great” journalism from reporters with fast deadlines. I don’t meant that the marker should be subpar or mediocre. The really great stuff that is deeply reported often takes time to gather and put together. We’ve seen recent examples of it at the NYT, but it’s more the domain of magazines.

    Most journalism is reactive, responding to fast-moving events. So as Tom Yulsman noted (somewhere, perhaps in one of his posts), we’re usually talking about the proverbial first draft of history here. With time, that draft gets improved and yes, corrected. I’m not making any excuses and nor do I suggest that journalists don’t make mistakes and should not be criticized.

    I just think the constant criticism has become disproportionate, to the point where it’s breeding cynicism of all media.

    Comment by Keith Kloor — 8 Jan 2011 @ 12:19 AM

  122. sHx,

    So nice that you ignore the fact that Amundsen got iced in at Goja Haven for 2 f’in winters. In other words, for one entire year he couldn’t move.

    Today yachts (not sealers which were designed for icy waters) can circumnavigate the arctic basin in one f’in year. The whole thing and not just the NW passage (which Amundsen did not do due to excessive ice in the McClure straight). GPS ain’t got much to do with this — if you can get a good noon sight you can find the entrance to the passage. No GPS needed, just a chart and a sextant. Hell, the passages up there are narrow enough that with a decent chart and a compass with which you can make a sight standard coastal navigation techniques plus a little dead reckoning would probably do the trick as long as you can ascertain your position via landmarks or celestial every once in a while.

    Whether or not Beluga thinks they can make money (and their prospectus indicates that they think they will be able to) the fact remains that for the last couple of years anyone with a yacht who wants to try can probably make it.

    Comment by Rattus Norvegicus — 8 Jan 2011 @ 12:47 AM

  123. Keith Kloor #121 “…the hangover from the climategate coverage…”

    The only reason there’s a “hangover” from it is because of sloppy journalism. Sure, some of them were bound to get it wrong from the start, but nowadays there’s no excuse. One might think, “but Big Oil will keep funding them to say it anyway” but that’s half the point: if it isn’t “Climategate” they’re spinning they’ll manufacture something else. I live in a small town. Our local council, regional council, and government are planning for a medium to high level disaster. I keep on scratching my head, and trying to figure out why the countries whose scientists (take a bow RC volunteers) do the best work in the field are the ones dragging their feet the most. Then I remember: “It’s politics”. How can we lobby more effectively?

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 8 Jan 2011 @ 2:08 AM

  124. Anyone who thinks that overall media reporting of climate change in recent years has been good or even acceptable, has very low standards (if a journalist), very poor expectations of the media, is illiterate or is a denier.

    The number of articles on climate change is decreasing despite the increasing signals from extreme weather and other signs. The ratio of denier articles to factual reporting seems extraordinarily high. The tendency to balance scientific fact with denier nonsense shows the laziness and ignorance of many journalists.

    Climate Progress publishes some stats here:

    Comment by Sou — 8 Jan 2011 @ 4:37 AM

  125. talking about howlers, this graph at denialdepot almost as funny as the comments of support

    place head in vice before viewing

    Comment by john byatt — 8 Jan 2011 @ 5:39 AM

  126. A quote about the institute Bell claims to have founded from his promotional website

    “A central priority is to explore and apply sustainable design and living approaches that can prevent unnecessary extreme conditions from occurring everywhere on our planet. In this regard, Larry believes that a “Spaceship Earth” perspective is entirely realistic. Municipalities, states, and nations are beginning to realize that we are all in that tiny fragile spacecraft together. All of us depend upon the same limited support systems and share a vital mission that will determine the future of all life.”

    Yet he appears to understand little about how changing the balance of atmospheric constituents can have detrimental effects on an ecosystem _at_any_scale_.

    It is true that Carbon Dioxide is not a pollutant but you can have too much of a good thing. Ask the astronauts of Apollo 13.

    Climate Change Deniers fail to answer one central question:

    How can you expect a system not to change if you put back into that system in less than 300 years all the carbon that life processes have spent the last 300 million years or more locking away in the rocks?

    Once you accept that, it’s a question of detail. Important details of course. What will the effects be; how will they change the system and what will be the impact for humanity.

    BTW, I for one will not be spending any length of time on a space habitat designed by this gentleman. LOL

    Comment by Philip C James — 8 Jan 2011 @ 7:18 AM

  127. This may give some context about media and climate science, but it’s hard to know.

    A Russian journalist named Oleg Kashin was recently assaulted. He worked for Kommersant–owned by the Gazprom mogul Alisher Usmanov–but he also worked for Forbes Russia. He had been reporting on an evironmental issue.

    I really dislike Kommersant’s owner Alisher Usmanov, and his Kommersant publisher an infamous attack on the British climate scientists which is even cited in Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli’s EPA suit as “proof” that British climate scientists are corrupt. The Kommersant article cited Andrei Illarionov as their expert, but what Cuccinelli cited was a redaction by RIA Novosti that left out that revealing bit.

    It’s interesting that the US Forbes publishes this article by Bell. I wonder if it will appear in Russian Forbes.

    Bell seems to have received some rewards from Russia:

    “two of the highest honors awarded by the Federation of Astronautics and Cosmonautics of the Former Soviet Union – the Yuri Gagarin Diploma and the Konstantin Tsiolkovsky Gold Medal – for his contributions to international space development. His name was placed on the Russian Rocket that launched the first crew to the International Space Station.”

    Comment by Snapple — 8 Jan 2011 @ 7:36 AM

  128. #118:

    In my post, I wrote there was “voluminous reportage and commentary produced daily on an array of sites, from The Guardian and Grist to Scientific American and The New York Times.”

    In his post, Tom Yulsman cites the work of great regional publications such as High Country News (who I am proud to have written for), and the work reporters belonging to SEJ. In his related post, Andrew Revkin cited the fantastic enterprise work by his colleagues.

    I should also point to the collaborative venture by The Climate Desk, of which various outlets (both mainstream and niche) have collaborated. (I’m not sure of the depth of the collaboration, though. It appears the stories are produced independently but the editors confer on coverage. I have no involvement with this).

    Science has Eli Kintisch, Time has Bryan Walsh, the NYT has Dot Earth (which I will note is often featured prominently on the Times’ home page) and the excellent reported blog, Green…and on and on. I could spend the rest of my morning pointing out all the places where climate change journalism appears on a consistent basis.

    People need to rein in their expectations, perhaps. It’s not realistic to have deeply reported stories appear on a daily or even weekly basis.

    Tell you what I’ll do, though. To support my argument, I’ll spend all next week–Monday through Friday (a random week), noting every single piece of climate change-related journalism at mainstream and niche outlets (not sites that specialize in climate blogging). I’ll do this on my blog, using the headline “Climate journalism story,” or some other hed that is catchy.

    It won’t be hard, since I follow the coverage already with various feeds, alerts and my blogroll.

    [Response: Keith, I think this is a good idea. However, let’s be clear what we’re talking about here. This RC post did not take ‘the press’ to task simply for ‘not reporting.’ The reference was to the refusal of the press and policy sector to grapple with the climate issue. I think you will have a harder time finding many examples of that.–eric]

    Comment by Keith Kloor — 8 Jan 2011 @ 8:44 AM

  129. #112–\commercial maritime operators are still avoiding the area.\ (Ie, the NEP and NWP.)

    No. Maybe \most\ are, still, for the reasons the Hofstra site gives. But for several years now there have been commercial operations going on, both transport and touring. This is new and remarkable. And nearly every source–including the Hofstra page sHx cited–expects the activity to increase. Everybody, apparently, except sHx.

    Well, he/she is entitled to an opinion, of course. But dogmatic assertions such as \closed to commerce in the past and will remain so for the foreseeable future\ are not credible.

    sHx’s Hofstra page, linked above, says:

    . . . warming of global temperatures is offering new opportunities for international transportation networks, notably with a trend of receding ice around the North Pole. If this trend continues the Arctic could be used more reliably for navigation, at least during summer months. The Northwest Passage crossing Canada’s Arctic Ocean could become usable on a regular basis by 2020, lessening maritime shipping distances substantially.

    It’s always odd when someone fails to \foresee\ something, then cites folks who apparently have no such difficulty. 2020 is not all that far in the future.

    FWIW, my gut feeling is that we’ll see the first ice-free summer by then–though other projections put it quite a way further out, circa 2050, for instance. For clarity, \ice-free\ uses Dr. Maslowski’s criterion:

    80% drop from the 1979-2000 summer volume baseline of ~200,00 km³.

    We’ll see.

    As to what I think, should any be interested, they can read more here:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 8 Jan 2011 @ 8:58 AM

  130. #128

    And what will that prove, exactly? It might be meaningful if you gave us a ratio of climate news/all news, or perhaps climate news/Lindsey Lohan news. Or a percentage of climate topics that are covered. Or a ratio of well-reported climate news/bogus misleading denialist garbage.

    Comment by tomasyn — 8 Jan 2011 @ 10:00 AM

  131. I for one will be very interested in keiths proposal, as I have the strong impression from my casual comsumption that journalism has failed badly on this. Where Keith sees disproportionnate I see a volume of criticism coming from a deluge of sloppy/lazy/superficial/mendacious reporting.
    However my perceptions are open to correction via objective assesment.

    Comment by Michael — 8 Jan 2011 @ 10:03 AM

  132. Keith, I agree that most of the outlets you’ve cited do a reasonable job, but…

    The Gruniad? They were so far of the mark with the UEA email thefts that they’re still trying to find their ass with both hands, a flashlight, a GPS and the full longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates!

    The NY Times? Good lord. I haven’t seen any good science reporting out of there in a decade. In its effort to be “fair and balanced,” dot Earth has become an anti-science cesspit.

    And the rest? What is their combined circulation? I would suggest that you monitor reporting in the mainstream press/tv/radio, but I am not that cruel a man.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Jan 2011 @ 11:25 AM

  133. While I respect Keith Kloor for hanging in here and trying to make sense of the “argument” the fact that there is this much of an argument is part of the problem. For sure, many of us have watched – appalled and fearful for our futures – as the professional rollout of the climategate attacks and the professional follow-through appeared to derail even the weak attempt to begin to face the future. There are hard decisions to be made and no appetite for them. This campaign has proved a godsend for those who wish to discredit almost all of the work being done to elucidate the world situation. You could argue that Andy Revkin has been asking these kinds of hard questions this week and has tried repeatedly to bring the conversation back to solutions, but the overall picture is bleak. Even he provides a platform for those “centrist” “voices of reason” and a few outliers who have gained credibility out of proportion to their research. To mention an extreme example, every time Monckton is mentioned, no matter how tangentially, it increases his visibility. The Cato and Heartland people, and a raft of others, and even the well respected Lindzen get more than their share of coverage.

    There was a story going the rounds not long ago about how a CNN weather report included words to the effect that this kind of extreme weather was characteristic of what we might expect as climate change due to global warming (GW being the metaphor we use, no matter how incomplete) develops; advertisers complained, and the meme disappeared from the airwaves. No other mainstream weather reports have since been able to make this rather obvious connection. This is likely oversimplified, but if you think about it you can see the problem.

    Ordinary people going about their daily lives are not encouraged to think about how their simplest decisions (bottled water) affect their children’s futures. They can’t be bothered.

    Of course I see Andy Revkin trying to point out the errors in the comment section (which you are mostly so wise to ignore) but the response is solid rubber. Readers are impressed by the unfailing politeness of the principal propagandists, and by the appearance of an argument, and ignorance prevails. Statements like that RealClimate is a solid propaganda site meet with strong approval and belief.

    Judith Curry, for example, seems to be going through, at a higher level of expertise for sure, what I did in the early oughts. She sees the argument and its plausibility and buys the whole story. It will be a while before she takes a good hard look at the bad science and realizes it’s wrong.

    Of course the weather (being incidentally a small piece of climate) is piling on with the evidence and that will be pretty obvious in a few more years to those it hasn’t yet convinced. Unfortunately, the heat exchange and increased moisture look to those of us in the north to be unpleasantly wintry, and people seem to forget the months just past rather quickly.

    To some extent the prevalence of the alternative universe of the virtual world is to blame. The entertainment/advertisement nexus has a firm grip on the general population. Children no longer have to be “bored” in the classroom as they have learned to text in their pockets. Education is being defunded, so the difficult lessons of critical thinking, geography (not difficult) and history are falling off. People don’t have to look at reality any more, they can get their news from people they agree with.

    This rant is getting too long, but the point is that we need those hardworking press people willing to risk the skin they have in the game to be more heroic to make up for the vast history which amounts to a big “fail” for the future.

    By the way, I strongly recommend Climate Central:
    as a source of news that provides lively material.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 8 Jan 2011 @ 12:57 PM

  134. Eric (in response to inline comment at #128),

    I’m glad you think this is a good idea, but I feel you are slightly moving the goalposts. You left out the preceding sentence in that passage:

    “The naysayers ought to be thrilled at the lack of interest in climate change shown in the press, at least in North America.”

    This seems pretty clear to me, and not supportable by daily evidence, which I expect to prove next week.

    Now, the next sentence is an elaboration, but adds another element:

    “The longer we delay, the bigger the topic gets, and the more ridiculous the refusal of the press and policy sector to grapple with it becomes.”

    No argument from me that the policy sector (at least politically) is not grappling with it. But perhaps the authors of the post ought to better define by what they mean by how the press should be “grappling with it.”

    Does this mean the press should be doing more solution-oriented stories, discussing cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, energy policy, etc? Well, again, as I’ve said before the press is largely reactive, responsive to external events, such as treaty negotiations, congressional hearings, legislative bills, etc.

    As has been noted (and should be agreed by all), we have a vacuum now in terms of political and policy action. This means there is much less for the press to report on. So in the absence of policy and political movement on climate change, what you have the press grapple with? Journalists aren’t in the business of creating the news (most of the time), they report it.

    Comment by Keith Kloor — 8 Jan 2011 @ 1:07 PM

  135. Keith, besides Eric’s point (“… to grapple with the climate issue. I think you will have a harder time finding many examples of that.–eric])

    I’d also suggest you need to count attention — clickthroughs, eyeballs captured, pages turned, actual attention by the public readership. Google must know the numbers and a “compared to what” background level of reading.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Jan 2011 @ 1:23 PM

  136. “The NY Times? Good lord. I haven’t seen any good science reporting out of there in a decade.”

    Ray, their piece on Keeling (which went far beyond simply talking about him or rising CO2 levels in its explanation of global warming) was very good.

    Let’s give credit where credit is due …

    Of course, when I saw that piece which began on the front page (above the fold) and continued on for a couple of facing pages inside the A section … I was very surprised. Pleasantly surprised, but still, surprised. Wow, a really good piece by the NYT that barely mentions Lindzen and talks about skeptics in a way that highlights the crankdom factor …

    Comment by dhogaza — 8 Jan 2011 @ 3:02 PM

  137. “You know, when I read something like this in a journal that purports to give me advice on financial matters, it discredits everything the journal says about any subject.” – 15

    And did this journal warn of the imminent danger of a housing market collapse and the bankruptcy of all leading American banks as a result?

    No. I would say that on that basis alone Forbes or any of the other Financial publications have anything of value to offer on Economic matters.

    You will note however, that the systems that lead to the collapse have been re-created and criticism of the structure that caused the decline has been successfully purged from the Business press, now that they have found a chain of improbable events with which to reclassify their own failings as mistakes made by Da Evils Gubderment.

    You aren’t part of the Forbes target audience. The people reading here are a minute fraction of those who might read Forbes. The vast, vast majority are those who have already drunk the Conservative Coolaid, or are not edgimecated enough to find or even follow the counter arguments.

    Thes complaints about the article in FORBES, are arguments without an audience. They are dust in the wind. A rain drop in the ocean.

    And that is why they perpetually amount to NOTHING.

    Traction requires publicity.

    Lets see you get you dissenting opinions published in a mass media business circulation like for example — FORBES.

    Forbes is right on one thing. The Media is Complicit in this conspiracy of ignorance. Media outlets like the Wall Street Journal, the Washington (Moonie) Times, FAUX News, and Forbes itself of course.

    The defense of the truth requires a high profile defender to keep it in public view.

    You (The scientific community) had your chance to strongly back Gore.

    You (The scientific community) blew it.

    Comment by Vendicar Decarian — 8 Jan 2011 @ 3:04 PM

  138. Ray (#132) writes: “The NY Times? Good lord. I haven’t seen any good science reporting out of there in a decade. In its effort to be “fair and balanced,” dot Earth has become an anti-science cesspit.”

    If I thought this comment was not commonly shared by too many denizens of various popular climate sites, I wouldn’t draw attention to it. But I see variations of this sentiment a lot. I can understand that some people take issue with isolated examples of Andy’s reporting or posts (and the NY Times on the whole), but really, this is just beyond the pale. Andy’s output at Dot Earth (often supplemented by actual reporting and interviews) is not only impressive but regularly characterized by an edifying discussion of the complexities of the climate change/energy interface. It boggles my mind that anybody could call Dot Earth anti-science.

    I’m glad to see it put in some context with saner voices like Susan Anderson’s (#133).

    Comment by Keith Kloor — 8 Jan 2011 @ 3:20 PM

  139. I think it is a little unfair to pick on the media’s treatment of climate science. After all, consider a topic on which you are expert (whether it is fly-fishing or quantum mechanics) and cast your mind over the media coverage of that topic. How many times have you come close to apoplexy after reading or hearing complete nonsense mixed with the reporting? How many exaggerations, omissions, half-truths?

    My own experience, on the subjects where I am well-informed, is that the media butchers everything, particularly science. After all, when they screw up arts reporting, it is mostly only a matter of opinion. Science isn’t so forgiving.

    So, I’ve generally given it up as a bad job. These days, I just hope they manage to get the narrative pointed in generally the right direction.

    There is bad journalism and worse journalism. Let’s just try to raise the bar just a little bit, instead of agonising over who is the best or worst.

    Comment by Didactylos — 8 Jan 2011 @ 3:54 PM

  140. 128, eric in comment: [Response: Keith, I think this is a good idea. However, let’s be clear what we’re talking about here. This RC post did not take ‘the press’ to task simply for ‘not reporting.’ The reference was to the refusal of the press and policy sector to grapple with the climate issue. I think you will have a harder time finding many examples of that.–eric]

    That was just one of numerous comments that reminded me of what I took to be the main outcome of the Copenhagen conference, namely the clear emergence of African nations, BRIC nations and other nations as unambiguous opponents of attempts to promote AGW-based limits on fossil fuel consumption. Sure, the African nations want money from the richer EU and N. American nations and they are willing to mitigate CO2 in return; and China and Brazil are building their alternative energy sectors along with their fossil fuel sectors, but that is mostly for future economic growth, and neither nation is reducing CO2 output. With the growth of fossil fuel consumption, and most actual use, outside of the US and EU, “grappling” with the threat of AGW by the US strikes many Americans as Quixotic at best, actually a useless sacrifice of American economic growth. For the time being, this political contest has, in the US, been won by opponents to CO2 controls. Because the press likes conflict, and this conflict has for the time being been decisively won by the AGW opponents, this is simply a less interesting story for most of the press than it was a while ago.

    The only part of the story that still excites widespread interest is the growth of alternative energy supplies, and that is of interest for economic and military reasons.

    Well, maybe. That’s the way it seems to me now.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 8 Jan 2011 @ 4:43 PM

  141. Here’s a speaking event featuring Bell for those in the Woodlands, TX area.
    <a href="; title="Larry Bell, Guest Speaker"

    An internationally recognized commentator on scientific and public policy issues, Larry Bell has written extensively on climate and energy policy and has been featured in many prominent national and international newspapers, magazines, and television programs…

    Time: January 18, 2011 from 6pm to 8pm
    Location: Tea Party Office
    Street: 9391 Grogan’s Mill Suite, A4
    City/Town: The Woodlands, Texas

    One hopes that someone with understanding of the science will appear to rebut Dr. Bell. Come on folks, it’s put up or shut up time. Preaching to the choir is an old problem amongst the educated (elite) greenies…

    Comment by Eric Swanson — 8 Jan 2011 @ 4:59 PM

  142. re: #141 Eric
    If is very difficult to refute a Gish Gallup in front of a live audience.

    The best “debate” I’ve ever seen was Ryan vs Valentine, online, spread over days, so that people could check references/graphs and link to good ones.

    If you were the moderator for this event, at the Tea party HQ, could you manage to assure Larry bell wouldn’t get refuted? I’d be astonished if Bell weren’t practiced at deflecting awkward questions. It’s not like the techniques are unknown. A difficult questioner would get at most one question and no followup. A smart moderator would make sure to know a bunch of people and prime them to ask softball questions and in “fairness” call on them.

    On the other hand, it might be worthwhile for someone to attend and take notes.

    Comment by John Mashey — 8 Jan 2011 @ 5:53 PM

  143. That the business press gets this wrong is nothing new. IEEE Spectrum, the magazine of the world’s larges engineering organisation, regularly publishes reasonably good articles, sadly attracting right-wing diatribes in reader comments. The latest, What to Watch for in the New Year, has mostly attracted denialist comments. I’ve posted a fair number of responses, but a bit of support would be good. The author, Bill Sweet, comes under a fair amount of attack from the troglodyte section of the engineering community.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 8 Jan 2011 @ 7:34 PM

  144. Forbes style themselves as “The Capitalist Tool”. They should look up alternative meanings of the word “tool”.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 8 Jan 2011 @ 7:39 PM

  145. Anonymous domain registration, for the domain.

    Off the topic of climate science, but the late Ryoichi Sasakawa (whose foundation funded Larry Bell’s Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture) seems to have been quite a character; worth looking into, if you’re partial to seamy underbellies. (Not that this has any bearing on the quality of Bell’s climate science, it’s just interesting.)

    Comment by Anna Haynes — 8 Jan 2011 @ 8:51 PM

  146. This Kloor-and-Yulsman “don’t diss journos” flap is silly; let’s get data.
    Who’s interested in setting up readers’ circles from various news outlets, to measure (and compare) readers’ grasp of climate science?

    If journalists are doing a good job, we should be able to see it in their readers’ level of informedness. No evidence-free assertions needed.

    Comment by Anna Haynes — 8 Jan 2011 @ 8:59 PM

  147. John Mashey #142: I dispute your assertion that a Tea Party audience can be described as “live” ;)

    I would have thought the fact that he was reporting back to a Tea Party coven is sufficient evidence that he is not a serious scientific commentator.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 8 Jan 2011 @ 9:53 PM

  148. Didactylos 139 “I think it is a little unfair to pick on the media’s treatment of climate science..”

    It would be difficult to think of a topic on which we have so much reporting which is completely untrue. Occasionally nowadays we get a piece on ‘smoking doesn’t cause cancer’ or ‘bike helmets cause deaths’, but the sheer volume of denialism is incredible. Here in Australia the Australian Broadcasting Commission, terrified of…. something, regularly puts denialist pieces up, none of which have any merit at all. I keep on commenting that the balance between reporting an incorrect view and a correct view is only reporting the correct view (otherwise they would have to put up white supremacist, Holocaust denial &c arguments), but this doesn’t seem to make any difference. Most of the other comments on these pieces that aren’t supportive say the same thing… but still it goes on. If publicly funded broadcasters are so lacking in journalistic nous, how can we expect any private media to be any better.

    It makes you despair.

    Comment by calyptorhynchus — 8 Jan 2011 @ 10:39 PM

  149. I also posted this link in the “Blog updates and suggestions” thread, so it’s possible this comment will end up in the Bore Hole, but I think Potholer54’s (Peter Hadfield’s) Youtube channel is an excellent media and educational resource on science issues including global warming. I’m sure that any efforts to better communicate science to and through the MSM would benefit enormously from his expertise.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 8 Jan 2011 @ 10:48 PM

  150. Here’s something to ponder:

    Nope, that’s not what’s going on here. More likely it’s some sort of giant, oil funded conspiracy; that’s the rational conclusion.

    Comment by Menth — 9 Jan 2011 @ 2:13 AM

  151. SM 140: For the time being, this political contest has, in the US, been won by opponents to CO2 controls.

    BPL: For the time being? It’s been won, period. Human civilization will go down in this century. You simply can’t convince Americans that this is a real problem, and the third world (including China/India) will refuse to move until we do.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 Jan 2011 @ 6:57 AM

  152. I think that the media scientists are equally responsible for reporting changes in the world’s climates and assigning guilt. Mind you, I do not question the validity of concern about climate change; in fact, as a (former) physical oceanographer, my intuition tells me that the system is way out of kilter.
    But many geophysicists and many managers of mass (and local) media ignore results that may support the null hypothesis – it simply ain’t worth reporting – it don’t make headlines.
    Valid studies may fall by the wayside; remember. we are talking about a system that is so complex that we can’t predict the weather with acceptable accuracy more than eight days in advance.
    I say garbage! The real emphasis should be on eliminating the most obvious dangerous compounds that pump into the atmosphere or plann to store underground for, as we have seen, accidents happen.
    Richard Reinert

    Comment by Richard Reinert — 9 Jan 2011 @ 8:26 AM

  153. Richard,
    Why rely on “intuition”? There’s evidence. Lots of it. Go look at it.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Jan 2011 @ 8:55 AM

  154. Keith,
    I did not call Dot Earth “anti-science”. I said that Andy’s unwillingness to take a stand on the science makes the commentary an anti-science cesspit. Andy is a journalist and has fallen victim to the myth that “the truth is in the middle”. It ain’t. The truth is where the evidence is, and Andy has utterly failed to take a stand when commenterd post patent nonsense as fact.

    Fully 97.5% of experts agree that we are warming the planet dangerously. Dot Earth does not come close to reflecting this. Sometimes one must take a stand and label a lie a lie.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Jan 2011 @ 9:08 AM

  155. Susan Anderson,
    While I agree that Andy Revkin sometimes makes an effort to “point out the errors in the comment section”, these are spotty and inconsistent. What is more, it is incorrect to characterize these comments as “errors”. They are lies. Perhaps the poster does not realize they are lies, but a person who propagates a lie without verifying it is still guilty of lying.

    This is not a debate that is isolated to climate science. Science–indeed rationalism, itself–is under attack. We must not coddle to liars. We cannot shrink from confrontation. Percy Shelley told us “The Devil is a gentleman.” The way forward is to cleave to the truth, not to try to fine a middle ground between truth and lies.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Jan 2011 @ 9:23 AM

  156. Anna Haynes, Ray Ladbury, and others:

    I completely agree that the situation is out of control. The thing that passes under the radar of reporters is the level of organization and purposiveness in the organization that rolls out and keeps roiling the likes of climategate. All of us tend to attribute motives to other humans similar to our own, and while schemers think we never stop scheming, we find it hard to believe they scheme as much as they do. I’m not talking about their fellow travelers, but the core people who keep the argument going and develop ever more skilled, technical, changing the subject, personal attacks, and other types of arguments.

    Andy’s problem IMHO is that he is unwilling to censor and unable to deal with the volume and purpose-driven denial movement, as are all the other places where public commentary has been kidnapped. It’s a huge problem. A core of less than half a dozen can “own” any public blog with the support of a slightly larger group and a bunch of “innocent” wannabes.

    Anna, I don’t think it’s much use collecting data on inaccuracy. It’s obvious and measuring it won’t change it. It would be nice if the solution were as simple as measuring and exposing it, but there are none so blind as will not see.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 9 Jan 2011 @ 1:10 PM

  157. The coverage of warming on Mars provides an example of the generally shoddy reporting on Climate Change. I have never once heard or read a reporter actually explain why the Martian climate has warmed. Instead, I have only heard denialists use Martian warming as an mocking example of the alleged absurdity of Climate Change on Earth (most recently by Rep. Sensenbrenner who observed there are no IC engines on Mars). Would it be that difficult to explain in one sentence that Martian warming was a short term phenomenon, effecting primarily the Southern Hemisphere, that was caused by dust storms that changed the albedo of the frozen CO2 icecap and released CO2 in a feedback mechanism? And further, make the connection that increasing CO2 is melting Arctic ice and decreasing albedo in a similar feedback mechanism on Earth. Instead, such nonsense as espoused by Sensenbrenner et. al goes completely unchallenged.

    Comment by LosAngelista — 9 Jan 2011 @ 3:35 PM

  158. OK, everyone knows the rules now. Off topic comments belong in “Unforced Variations mm/yy”. Please either stay ON TOPIC or put your comment there so we don’t have to move them. Thanks.

    Comment by Jim — 9 Jan 2011 @ 5:29 PM

  159. The first explicitly climate related article I’ve seen prominently displayed as a lead article on Stuff for a long time: They’ve got comments switched off, or a whole chorous of the Canutist choir would be there singing away. It says it summarises “research published in nature Geoscience this week…” names the lead researcher as Dr Valentina Radic. I can find not a single mention of her in Nature online – not that I’m a subscriber – and since the whole article seems to have been lifted from The Guardian in the first place, looking there left me none the wiser. One step forward, two steps back.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 9 Jan 2011 @ 7:50 PM

  160. 1) While Forbes is probably not helpable, I continue to suggest proactive measures to help improve scienie reporting.

    2) Unforced variations & the Bore Hole are very helpful starts. Hopefully blog software will generally improve to make it easier for moderators in general to do better moderation if they are so inclined. Experiments with manual methods are useful.

    Comment by John Mashey — 9 Jan 2011 @ 8:04 PM

  161. FYI, in case anyone else was curious – I emailed Larry Bell asking if he’s any relation to fellow (with Steve Forbes) Heritage Foundation trustee Belden Bell – but the emailed reply was “no”.

    Comment by Anna Haynes — 9 Jan 2011 @ 10:21 PM

  162. (clarification, Larry’s not a trustee, Belden & Steve are.)

    Comment by Anna Haynes — 9 Jan 2011 @ 10:25 PM

  163. FYI, the “Unforced Variations” (aka Open Thread, which will make more sense to more people) for Jan 2011 is here (link)

    (perhaps I overlooked it, but I didn’t see a link to the open thread on this page anywhere)

    Comment by Anna Haynes — 9 Jan 2011 @ 10:52 PM

  164. The Northwest Passage has certainly opened up before. Diary entries of a sailor named Roald Amundson confirm clear passage in 1903, as do those of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Arctic patrol crew that made regular trips through there in the early 1940s. And in February 2009 it was discovered that scientists had previously been underestimating the re-growth of Arctic sea ice by an area larger than the state of California (twice as large as New Zealand). The errors were attributed to faulty sensors on the ice.

    Comment by steve — 9 Jan 2011 @ 11:28 PM

  165. “steve”: Are you kidding me? Merely repeating the errors addressed in the post at the top of the page is not a very compelling argument. In fact, it makes us wonder whether you can read.

    Go. Read. Then come back. Only then.

    Comment by Didactylos — 9 Jan 2011 @ 11:51 PM

  166. OneAnonBloke@159 – The article you reference is recapped here, the lead being Dr Valentina Radic a Univ of B.C. post-doc and coauthor from Alaska. One of our poor Vancouver papers was about the first MSM to report on it along with the Guardian.

    Comment by flxible — 9 Jan 2011 @ 11:54 PM

  167. Anna Haynes et al:

    Your link to the January Open Thread (Unforced Variations) is broken. Here’s the actual link:

    FYI: The link can also be found in the right margin in the ‘Categories’ section, 3 above the ‘Bore Hole’ link.

    The Yooper

    Comment by Daniel Bailey — 10 Jan 2011 @ 12:08 AM

  168. The Australian, a national newspaper, is well-known for printing lies and nonsense about climate. I suspect the following article is considered ‘balance’ to their norm, maybe to soften the bad exposure they received after their response to Julie Posetti’s tweet. (Every now and again a more reasoned article on climate does slip by the editors at The Australian.)

    In fact, WUWT was so incensed by the above article it even posted a ‘rebuttal’ by, of all people, Monckton! When an article in The Australian is slammed on WUWT (esp by an idiot such as Monckton) it has to be a good thing!

    Comment by Sou — 10 Jan 2011 @ 12:22 AM

  169. @flxible #166 Thank you.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 10 Jan 2011 @ 1:33 AM

  170. Further to 169 – I now know why I couldn’t find Dr. Radić – I had missed the accent on the ‘c’, which was not present in the Stuff article. So this only counts as a small failure for the MSM, though if I can find the extended character set, why can’t they? It illustrates the issue quite neatly though – without RC I might have simply concluded that the Guardian et al were blowing smoke, and another Canutist meme is born.
    @ Sou #168 – A Monckton rebuttal? Somewhat rarer than a snark I fear.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 10 Jan 2011 @ 2:30 AM

  171. Re Kangerdlugssuaq and Helheim glaciers:

    The “reversed melting rate” probably means advance of the calving front. But that means little for the mass balance of a tidewater glacier in the longer term. Petermann also advanced substantially between the calving of the 2008 and 2010 ice islands. Actually, mass loss continued, but at rates similar to that before the surge. Thickness didn’t recover.

    Howat et al. 2007, Joughin et al. 2008, Howat et al. 2008.

    Nevertheless, looking at the latest Modis images with clearly visible calving front (2010-09-14): Kangerdlugssuaq, Helheim (made from raw Aqua and Terra images). For reference: Kangerdlugssuaq, Helheim (click on “Photos” for 2005 calving fronts; more in Joughin et al. 2008).

    The calving front of Kangerdlugssuaq hasn’t much moved within the last years, but this animation shows a clear retreat between 2009 and 2010; still it seems slightly in front of 2005. Helheim also hasn’t reached the 2005 minimum again, but there’s a large retreat compared to 2006.

    Comment by Andreas — 10 Jan 2011 @ 3:25 AM

  172. Anthropogenic climate change denialist lies. In other news, it has been confirmed that the Pope is a Catholic, and a new scientific study indicates that ursines frequently defecate in forested areas.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 10 Jan 2011 @ 6:07 AM

  173. I’m going to postpone my experiment (tracking news coverage of climate change). The tragic events in Arizona will dominate the national discussion and media coverage this week. I’m not suggesting that other news will not be reported–obviously it will. But I think we all know this is going to be one of those unusual weeks in the nation’s political discourse, where one event overshadows much else going on.

    This tragedy will perhaps trigger a soul-searching debate on the nation’s increasingly harsh and vitriolic political rhetoric, and I’d like to stay dialed into that, rather itemizing climate change stories.

    But I’ll do that next week.

    Comment by Keith Kloor — 10 Jan 2011 @ 6:57 AM

  174. The Australian has fallen into the recent trap as printing recent weather events as evidence of global warming; record heat, cold, flood, drought, etc. One would think that unless the temperature was in the middle of the daily range and the average amount of rainfall fell everyday then it is the result of some change in the climate. In reality, these are just weather events, and WUWT was correct to slam the report, even if Sou think that whoever disagrees with him is an idiot (some of us prefer to think of our adversaries as worthy opponents).

    Comment by Dan H. — 10 Jan 2011 @ 8:00 AM

  175. Forbes was not always thus- a decade ago ,the Editors used to just add a canonical poke at Al Gore, and let the science stand- alas no longer –

    Here’s a link, Wait for the add to pass, then contrast and compare:

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 10 Jan 2011 @ 9:45 AM

  176. FWIW, a short and rather aggressive interview with David Koch, in which he is asked about his opinions on global warming.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 10 Jan 2011 @ 7:40 PM

  177. If I were to give specific examples of how you have ignored or acted as apologists for overzealous AGW activist media, would you publish those? Let alone critique them with equal vehemence? [edited to remove offsensive accusations]

    [Response: Find me *one* good example in a commonly read mainstream newspaper or magazine, and I’ll take you up on it. I agree with you that such examples exist. Send me a personal email — you can find my email address at my University of Washington web site.–eric]

    Comment by Alex Katarsis — 10 Jan 2011 @ 9:19 PM

  178. Bell’s Forbes piece states that:

    “Subsequent hurricane seasons returned to average patterns noted historically over the past 150 years, before exhibiting recent record lows with no 2010 U.S. landfalls.” (“Subsequent” refers to seasons after 2004.)

    What is Bell referring to with regard to “average patterns”? Number, storm tracks, intensity? Similarly, what variable(s) does “recent record lows” refer to? Is he referring to the Atlantic? Or The Global Ocean? The vagueness of this statement makes it difficult to rebut.

    The fact that there were no 2010 US landfalls is irrelevant to the Bell’s basic argument. But it does arguably indicate that he is referring to the Atlantic Basin. (And Bell ignores Hurricane Earl’s near miss in southern New England in late August and its destructive landfall (as a tropical storm) in the Canadian Maritimes.

    The RC post notes that the 2010 Atlantic basin season was extremely active with of 19 named storms.
    In Comment 71 to the RC post, Mann (?) points out how Emmanuel’s and Knutson et al’s research indicates that cyclone frequency may increase in the Atlantic basin due to AGW, but not in other basins.

    Nevertheless, on WUWT, in a 1/6/2010 post, Maue rips into the RC post, and Emmanuel, citing a multi-year decline in his seasonal ACE index values as proof that Bell is “completely right”, insisting that RC “owes Bell an apology”. But Maue’s seasonal ACE index values are global and hemispheric values, contradicting the expected distinctions in ocean basin-level cyclone activity. He assumes that Bell is referring to global values.

    “2010 produced the fewest Tropical Cyclones globally on record — and it has NOTHING to do with global warming. The Team only can look at the Atlantic — but did they talk about 2009 being one of the quietest seasons on record?”

    But given the vagueness of Bell’s statement, why is it a failing that the RC post does not to refer to the 2009 season?

    On Maue’s website that he provides a link to in his WUWT post, he states:

    “North Atlantic TC ACE has doubled since 1995, exactly compensated by a halving of Eastern Pacific ACE. It appears that in the context of global and NH ACE, the NATL increases are at the expense of the other basins, or simply within the common climate framework.”

    Why would one expect that “NATL increases” are to come at the “expense of other basins”? What does he mean by “common climate framework”? That increases in seasonal ACE values in one basin will cause decreases in the seasonal ACE values in other ocean basins?

    The Wikipedia entry on ACE states the following:

    “The ACE of a season is calculated by summing the squares of the estimated maximum sustained velocity of every active tropical storm (wind speed 35 knots (65 km/h) or higher), at six-hour intervals. If any storms of a season happen to cross years, the storm’s ACE counts for the previous year.[2] The numbers are usually divided by 10,000 to make them more manageable. The unit of ACE is 104 kt2, and for use as an index the unit is assumed. Thus:

    ACE = 10**4 ∑ VMax**2

    where vmax is estimated sustained wind speed in knots.

    Kinetic energy is proportional to the square of velocity, and by adding together the energy per some interval of time, the accumulated energy is found. As the duration of a storm increases, more values are summed and the ACE also increases such that longer-duration storms may accumulate a larger ACE than more-powerful storms of lesser duration. Although ACE is a value proportional to the energy of the system, it is not a direct calculation of energy (the mass of the moved air and therefore the size of the storm would show up in a real energy calculation).”

    This last sentence leaves me wondering about the value of seasonal ACE measurements as a means to track changes in storm intensity predicted by AGW science. The Wikepedia entry continues by noting:

    “The term hyperactive is used by Goldenberg et al. (2001) based on a different weighting algorithm which places more weight on major hurricanes, but typically equating to an ACE of about 153 (171% of the current median).” It then provides an Atlantic basin seasonal ACE value for 2010 of *163*.

    As a reasonably informed (alarmed and worried) observer with no particular expertise in the science of tropical cyclones, I am left with the following questions:

    How do seasonal ACE index values relate to predictions of impacts of AGW on hurricane activities in various ocean basins? (The RC post notes that the ACE “doesn’t tell the whole story” but doesn’t pursue this point any further.)

    Given how seasonal ACE index values calculated, how should we expect it to vary in relation to increasing SSTs? Bell seems to argue that they should they should be directly proportional.

    How would current projections regarding the impacts of AGW on storm frequency and intensity in the global oceans be reflected in global or hemispheric seasonal ACE values? In individual ocean basin seasonal ACE values?

    Comment by Sloop — 10 Jan 2011 @ 10:03 PM

  179. Alex Katarsis #177: “overzealous AGW activist media”, at least, have the advantage of having some real world basis for their activism.
    Re: Eric’s response – surely if such examples (of unconcern or ‘apologism’) exist it makes more sense to confront them directly out in the open. Front-foot, as it were. Or is that getting too far OT?

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 10 Jan 2011 @ 10:15 PM

  180. I’m far from one of your denialist enemies. At least I believe the earth is warming and that humans have some impact on that, but the irony of your “editing” is hilarious. OFFENSIVE COMPARED TO WHAT? Care to revisit the names you have let people call me (and other cacaphonous voices) on this blog? If that sentence is offensive, then you have already made my point.

    [Response: OK easy please, editing is a judgment call and we do our best. Regarding your previous comment–we ignore lots of over the top stuff here. The fact that we do doesn’t mean that we approve of it, nor that we never speak up about such things.–Jim]

    Comment by Alex Katarsis — 10 Jan 2011 @ 11:45 PM

  181. Didactylos – so you get your info from Wikipedia, must be correct then. The NW passage was open before the so called AGW. Maybe you should THINK before you write. Go away and think ……… dont bother coming back ……. ever!

    Comment by steve — 11 Jan 2011 @ 12:01 AM

  182. The great Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen clung grimly to the tiller of his little ship Gjoa. Adrift in the remote waters of Simpson Strait, the Gjoa had just spent 2 agonizing weeks in August 1905 avoiding the death grip of the polar ice. Over and over the exhausted crew begged Amundsen to turn back. Haggard and ill, he had not eaten for days and he dared not sleep. He knew that his dream of sailing across the top of the world was within his grasp.

    On August 25 he heard the lookout cry “Sail. Sail ahead!” Amundsen knew instantly what it meant. They were in open water and had spotted a whaling ship from the Pacific. In his diary he wrote: “The North West Passage was done. My boyhood dream was accomplished. A strange feeling welled up in my throat; I was somewhat over-strained and worn, but I felt tears in my eyes. ‘Vessel in sight…Vessel in sight'”!;jsessionid=EEEE5E3A8270E8F628526DEDBD29B4DA.tomcat1

    Comment by steve — 11 Jan 2011 @ 12:12 AM

  183. Steve #182 Oh too funny. An intrepid explorer and his crew almost die making the attempt, and you think this proves your point? I believe the technical term for this is “clutching at straws”.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 11 Jan 2011 @ 1:03 AM

  184. #182–

    Yes, Amundsen’s trip was remarkable. Yes, ONE of the NWP routes–but not the deep-water route–opened enough (just barely enough!) that he made it through–taking three seasons and enduring two winters in the ice to do it. Lucky–well, it was good planning, not luck–that the Gjoa had a specially strengthened hull to withstand the pressure of the ice.

    Now, compare and contrast 2010, when 18 miscellaneous ships and boats made it through in a single season–two of them having also done the NEP in the same season! Some of the boats had plain, ordinary fiberglass hulls. Two Royal Marines made it though in 2 seasons, rowing and sailing an open 17-footer. It was also the third consecutive season of Canadian Arctic resupply shipments being sent via the NWP.

    Notice a difference? On the one hand, a heroically desperate, skin-of-the-teeth success; on the other, what amounts to a combination of “extreme” recreational cruising and incipient commercial exploitation. It matters little whether we quibble over whether the Passage was “open” in 1904-5 or not. What matters is that the environment today is very, very different.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 11 Jan 2011 @ 1:34 AM

  185. Good one steve @182. You quote the dramatic passage about Amundsen’s final escape from the NW passage in 1905. Perhaps you were so caught up in it you failed to read three more paragraphs where you would have encountered “When Amundsen and his little ship the Gjoa set sail on June 16, 1903 . . . ”

    Or perhaps the fact that his traverse took over two years would undercut your fantasy.

    Comment by Rick Brown — 11 Jan 2011 @ 1:38 AM

  186. # 168 Sou

    Tim Lambert, Deltoid keeps an eye on the un-Australian ,number 57

    Comment by john byatt — 11 Jan 2011 @ 6:00 AM

  187. @164. Forgive me, but your comment re. the RCMP schooner St. Roch is either inaccurate or a lie. There simply were no “regular” trips. The first trip took 3 seasons. It did make one trip (1944) in a single season. Even this was hardly “regular” as the St. Roch was specially built to be trapped in ice (round hull). It overwintered a total of 12 winters trapped in ice during its career.

    As for Amundson, it took him from 1903-1906 to make the passage. You present no evidence the whole passage was ever open during that entire time. His ship was specially built to be trapped in ice as well. Finally, Amundson’s route was not a deep water route.

    Comment by jgarland — 11 Jan 2011 @ 8:21 AM

  188. Dan H,
    It would certainly be incorrect to attribute the current flooding in Oz to climate change. It would not be incorrect to say that such events are expected to be more frequent due to climate change. In fact, it would be irresponsible not to point out that fact.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Jan 2011 @ 8:44 AM

  189. @187…The St. Roch only ever made 2 crossings of the NW Passage taking 3 sailing seasons for one voyage and one sailing season for the other. It never made “regular” crossings.

    Comment by jgarland — 11 Jan 2011 @ 10:55 AM

  190. Ray,
    You stated that such events [i.e. flooding] are expected to be more frequent due to climate change. This is not yet a fact, only a prediction assuming that precipitation increases in a warming world. If that does indeed occur, then it would be reasonable to assume that floods was consequently increase. Attributing a particular flood (particularly in regions were flooding occurs frequently) to climate change is irresponsible. If precipitation and flooding were to increase in the future, then you may have a case. That would be more responsible, regardless of what happens in Oz.

    Comment by Dan H. — 11 Jan 2011 @ 10:56 AM

  191. Didactylos

    steve: Wikipedia is useful. I make no claims for its accuracy.

    I pointed you there because you evidently knew so little about any of
    the attempts to navigate the NWP, it seemed quite clear that you
    needed some useful background information. I hoped that you would go
    on from wikipedia to check the references and learn more.

    Did you?

    You managed to find another source, but you only quoted the first
    paragraphs. Did you read to the end?

    “the Gjoa set sail on June 16, 1903” […] “and on December 5, 1905
    reached Fort Egbert. There, by telegraph, Amundsen informed the world
    of his triumph.”

    So, if the NWP was open water all the way, why did it take Amundsen so
    long? No. Accounts of the passage are quite clear. There was lots
    and lots of ice
    , and it took them years, and they very nearly died
    (one of them did).

    Comment by Didactylos — 11 Jan 2011 @ 11:21 AM

  192. While it is no longer surprising, it remains disheartening to see advocacy for climate policy by climate scientists in the business press where they do not belong.

    [Response: You think that made-up ‘facts’ to support Bell’s advocacy ‘belongs in the business press’? Curious…. – gavin]

    Comment by Leonard Weinstein — 11 Jan 2011 @ 11:28 AM

  193. @191 Ft. Egbert is very far inland (800 km straight line distance) on the Yukon River about halfway along the eastern border of Alaska (65N,141W). The reason Ft. Egbert figures into this voyage is that he, a whaling captain wanting to return to San Francisco, and 2 Inuit guides left the expedition and took sleds/skis south to the Army post/telegraph station there while the ship was trapped in the ice for the winter again (knowing that since he had cleared Canadian waters he could get out the next sailing season from the position off Alaska he was in). He sent his message in Dec 1905 and then returned to the Goja before breakup the following spring sailing into Nome in 1906.

    Comment by jgarland — 11 Jan 2011 @ 12:00 PM

  194. Dan H. says,
    “You stated that such events [i.e. flooding] are expected to be more frequent due to climate change. This is not yet a fact, only a prediction…”

    Uh, Dan, you wanna parse that sentence again? Of course its a fricking prediction, what with having to do with the future and all. Or would you prefer that we all throw up our hands like you denialists and say, “Oh, it’s all too difficult to understand.”

    Dan, you can’t have it both ways. Either we use the best theories we have to try and prepare for what is coming or we punt and fall back on risk avoidance–which means pullin the plug on carbon right fricking now.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Jan 2011 @ 12:16 PM

  195. Ray Ladbury: Dan H has made himself quite clear. Noting that happens in the present can be attributable to global warming: only future events will convince him. In other words, he’s moved the goalposts to next week and that’s where they’re staying.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 11 Jan 2011 @ 1:13 PM

  196. Ray,
    Oftentimes, predictions are based on current observations. The recent warming has not yet resulted in increased severe weather events. Since we have not experienced such an increase in the past century, why would we expect one in the coming century?

    Comment by Dan H. — 11 Jan 2011 @ 1:46 PM

  197. #190, Dan H.–

    “You stated that such events [i.e. flooding] are expected to be more frequent due to climate change. This is not yet a fact. . .”

    Correction. It is not yet a measured fact.

    I was looking just the other day for simple timeseries of floods, but only found them for relatively small regions–such as central Germany, or Holland. Creating them was evidently quite challenging; obviously areas more remote would be much tougher, and then there’s the whole issue of geographical weighting, and so on and so on. And it is clear that various atmospheric oscillations strongly affect rainfall, so you have to allow for that.

    But I bet someone’s hard at work on this now. When they’re done, I wouldn’t be shocked to hear that they have identified a signal going back earlier than the present day.

    As to precipitation, I don’t understand this thoroughly, but I don’t think that you’ve posed the question correctly. It’s not just “more precip=more flooding.” Some places will get less precipitation, for example, the Middle East is expected to get less, as is the American Southwest. Relevant for this subthread, the same is true of Eastern Australia.

    But even these areas may get more intense rain when it does rain, even if the total over time is less. Which is kind of what just happened to Queensland.

    By the way, there are archives of precipitation data, but they are presented as maps so that they retain the spatial information showing what’s drying and what’s moistening.

    I do wonder what we’d see if someone wrote a script to sum the monthly totals and create a graph of global totals over time?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 11 Jan 2011 @ 2:30 PM

  198. Dan H wrote: “The recent warming has not yet resulted in increased severe weather events.”

    That’s a blatant falsehood. We have seen a dramatic increase in severe weather events all over the world, which taken together comprise a pattern of increasing severe weather events that is just what the science of anthropogenic climate change predicts.

    Dan H wrote: “… why would we expect one in the coming century?”

    If you are not just trolling with deliberate drivel in order to waste people’s time for the fun of it, and you really, honestly don’t understand why the science of anthropogenic global warming gives us strong reasons to expect increasing frequency of severe weather events in the coming century, then you need to go to the “Start Here” link at the upper left corner of this site, and do a LOT of reading before you post any more comments here.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 11 Jan 2011 @ 2:49 PM

  199. DanH: “The recent warming has not yet resulted in increased severe weather events.

    Your proofs of the total lack of attribute-ability would be welcome, as it’s attribution you argue against. I believe the “prediction” that climate change would take the form of increasing extremes has been around for quite awhile, what level of increase will qualify?

    Comment by flxible — 11 Jan 2011 @ 3:08 PM

  200. Is this not like attempting to point to a single cigarette or pack of cigarettes and saying that it caused a person’s lung cancer or will cause a person’s lung cancer when we know it’s the statistical probabilty of smoking a pack or two a day that causes lung cancer? We can’t point to any particular weather event and link it to global warming but as more energy is put into the climate the probabily of such events increases no?

    Comment by Steve Mennie — 11 Jan 2011 @ 3:56 PM

  201. “The recent warming has not yet resulted in increased severe weather events. ” Dan H. — 11 Jan 2011 @ 1:46 PM

    Not true.
    “In areas where a drought or excessive wetness usually accompanies an El Niño or La Niña, these dry or wet spells have been more intense in recent years.”
    “In some areas where overall precipitation has increased (ie. the mid-high northern latitudes), there is evidence of increases in the heavy and extreme precipitation events. Even in areas such as eastern Asia, it has been found that extreme precipitation events have increased despite total precipitation remaining constant or even decreasing somewhat.” (Last Revised: 11/10/03, so increases had already been observed seven years ago, by people other that Anthony Watts and Steven Goddard)
    “Some regions have also experienced an increase in extreme precipitation events, as predicted in model simulations (Nicholls et al., 1996). Observations for the last 100 years indicate that extreme precipitation events (more than 2 inches in 24 hours) in the United States have increased by about 20% (Karl and Knight, 1998). Increases in heavy precipitation have also been reported for Japan and northeastern Australia.”
    “As the NASH(North Atlantic Subtropical High or “Bermuda High”) intensified and migrated westward, Li’s team’s analysis found that its north-south movement also was enhanced from 1978 to 2007, a period when the frequency of extreme summer rainfall variability in the Southeast more than doubled over the previous 30 years.”

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 11 Jan 2011 @ 3:59 PM

  202. “The recent warming has not yet resulted in increased severe weather events.”

    Just because one cannot claim that a specific event is climate-change-related does NOT logically lead to your stated conclusion. The models show, and the evidence bears out, that severe weather events are *more likely* in a warmed world. See also: and

    “Since we have not experienced such an increase in the past century, why would we expect one in the coming century?”

    Well, part of your premise is faulty, as I stated above. And, you make this statement as if 1) the warming in the next century is expected to be the same as the warming of the past century (it isn’t), and 2) that the damage is only additive (it does not appear so to me, but if you think so, please provide evidence).

    Comment by Maya — 11 Jan 2011 @ 4:02 PM

  203. DanH #196. “The recent warming has not yet resulted in increased severe weather events.” Please go to Brisbane and say that. As a layman I feel quite comfortable drawing a link between such flooding and the predictions of climate scientists. I know that no one event can be linked to AGW with anything approaching certainty, but the stumbling block for humanity isn’t our understanding of the climate system, it’s blind stupidity masquerading as skepticism – politics in other words, and I think the residents of Brisbane have a little more understanding of what’s at stake than you do.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 11 Jan 2011 @ 4:33 PM

  204. Maya,
    My premise may only be slightly faulty. I used the 130 years whn arriving at a 35% increase in atmospheric CO2. At the current rate of increase, CO2 will increase another 35% by 2085, so I would expect to see a 0.6C increase if the observed temperature rise was entirely due to CO2 concentrations. I admit that the values are slightly off, but still in the same ballpark.
    As alluded to by several posters, flood data is not readily available, therefore no accurate conclusion can be drawn from them. Drought data presented on this site earlier shows no major change over the past three centuries, and if anything, has decreased. Tropical activity has shown no major changes in the past century besides natural variability. Much of the data presented has occurred over time intervals much too short to make reasonable assessments.
    Once last comment. If temperatures actually increase significantly more at the polar regions as predicted, that would lessen the temperature and pressure gradient resulting in less, not more, severe storms.
    I do understand all the different theories that stem from increased CO2.

    Comment by Dan H. — 11 Jan 2011 @ 5:13 PM

  205. Oh, Dan will probably agree with the observed and documented facts.
    The changes are widely documented, e.g.
    He’s denying any causal connection.
    No matter how many facts, there’s never any proof.
    Proof, you know — it’s only available in math, not in science.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jan 2011 @ 6:58 PM

  206. It’s not just Brisbane. The most important feature of the current flooding is not just that the levels are breaking 100 year records in some places.

    It is that, despite Queensland areas often experiencing flooding in the wet season, they have never before had all three of those major SEQ river basins flooding simultaneously.

    Comment by adelady — 11 Jan 2011 @ 6:59 PM

  207. The flooding in Quensland can be directly related to the strong La Nina.

    Previosly strong La Ninas have yielded similar results.
    Maybe everyone should tell the residents of Brisbane what is actually causing the flooding. The strong La Nina was forecast several months ago. Were the residents warned?

    Comment by Dan H. — 11 Jan 2011 @ 8:08 PM

  208. > similar

    Similar to the most extreme in the record, is what Dan means to say, from that website he points to: Wednesday 5 January 2011

    “The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) value for December of +27 is the highest December SOI value on record, as well as being the highest value for any month since November 1973…. The current event has contributed to 2010 being Australia’s the third wettest year on record, and Queensland having its wettest December on record ….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jan 2011 @ 9:00 PM

  209. DanH “The flooding in Queensland can be directly related…” How would you know? You have no more basis to trust the information you’ve presented here, than you have to trust the information other climate scientists give you. You have to laugh at the comments section of the first article you link to though – all the Canutist loons are bagging the author, and here you are at RC trying to use him to bolster your credibility.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 11 Jan 2011 @ 9:16 PM

  210. That La Nina sure gets around

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 11 Jan 2011 @ 9:35 PM

  211. Uh, Dan, you do know that energy consumption increases exponentially, don’t you?

    And you do know that while previous La Ninas resulted in flooding that what we are seeing now in Oz is unprecedented in recorded history, right? And you do know that this is precisely what climate models predict, right?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Jan 2011 @ 9:47 PM

  212. According to Dan H, “The flooding in Quensland [sic] can be directly related to the strong La Nina”.

    On the other hand, we are not allowed to attribute any one single weather event to AGW.

    Anyone else see a slight asymmetry here?

    Comment by CTG — 12 Jan 2011 @ 1:27 AM

  213. Dan H, here is Jeff’s take on the QLD flood, at Wunderground

    Deadly flash flood hits Australia
    Flood-weary Queensland, Australia suffered a new flooding disaster yesterday when freak rains of six inches fell in just 30 minutes near Toowoomba. The resulting flash flood killed nine people and left 59 missing. The flood waters poured into the Brisbane River, causing it to overflow, and significant flooding of low-lying areas in Brisbane, Australia’s third largest city with some 2 million people, is expected on Thursday. As I discussed last week, Australia had its wettest spring (September – November) since records began 111 years ago, with some sections of coastal Queensland receiving over 4 feet (1200 mm) of rain. Rainfall in Queensland and all of eastern Australia in December was the greatest on record, and the year 2010 was the rainiest year on record for Queensland. The ocean waters surrounding Australia were the warmest on record during 2010, and these exceptionally warm waters allowed much higher amounts of water vapor to evaporate into the atmosphere, helping fuel the heavy rains. The record warm ocean temperatures were due to a combination of global warming and the moderate to strong La Niña event that has been in place since July.

    Comment by john byatt — 12 Jan 2011 @ 2:03 AM

  214. Global warming is believed to affect the mechanism behind the el nino / la nina cycle, although this mechanism isnt fully understood. However the frequency of these events has altered in the last 50 years, and it may affect the intensity of the events as well. So global warming could be one factor in the Queensland Floods.

    Comment by nigel jones — 12 Jan 2011 @ 2:42 AM

  215. Ray,
    This Brisbane flood is worse than the worst flood of the 20th Century, that of 1974. However it is not as bad as two 19th Century floods, those of 1841 and 1893.

    Comment by Lloyd Flack — 12 Jan 2011 @ 3:00 AM

  216. Ray @ 154:

    I did not call Dot Earth “anti-science”. I said that Andy’s unwillingness to take a stand on the science makes the commentary an anti-science cesspit. Andy is a journalist and has fallen victim to the myth that “the truth is in the middle”. It ain’t. The truth is where the evidence is, and Andy has utterly failed to take a stand when commenterd post patent nonsense as fact.

    Sadly, if the truth isn’t “in the middle” the people reporting “the truth” are doing a very poor job of presenting the risks.

    The IPCC has presented a collection of scenarios, each having some level of certainty, error bars, etc. These scenarios are based on our responses — BAU, etc. Within those scenarios there are still unknowns, such as the behavior of clouds — which I think is a major unknown.

    That’s the state of what’s known and so forth.

    What would be nice is to see Climate Change scenarios laid out such that there is some range of “truth” — below this level of Climate Change is clearly denial, above this level of Climate Change is alarmism.

    What we see instead are “scenarios”, some of which may happen, and some of which may not happen. For example, when I see the “business as usual” scenario, I want to know where all of the liquid fuels are going to come from (in the real world, not the fantasy mouth-of-mine liquification).

    Likewise, I don’t see “this is what happens if clouds go with us, and this is what happens if they go against us”. All I know is that clouds are still a gaping hole in the models. Because there are no models that include clouds.

    Even with the fantasy “no new carbon” types of scenarios the climate sort of flattens out into something that doesn’t resemble the past — that caused the large dips and spikes of the past few hundred years? How can a “no new carbon” scenario be more stable than the last few hundred years?

    So, if I were trying to plan what my business should do, other than “stop producing CO2”, what should I do? And how much of that should I do? And how much are my competitors — that’s the key point, I suspect — going to have to do?

    There is a lot of “middle” in there. Not to say the piece isn’t long on denial, but they are being given a lot of fodder for the grist mill.

    (I blame all typos, omissions, etc. on my broken bifocals.)

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 12 Jan 2011 @ 5:54 AM

  217. CTG,
    If we cannot attribute rainfall to atmospheric and oceanic circulation, then why bother weather forecasting at all?
    Understand that there is a difference between climate and weather.

    Comment by Dan H. — 12 Jan 2011 @ 7:11 AM

  218. In re, flooding — how much of that can be attributed to land use changes as well as efforts at “flood control”?

    I spent 20+ years of my life near the Mississippi River and the #1 contributor to flooding in the Mississippi River area was people trying to keep the Mississippi from flooding.

    Not saying that increased precipitation isn’t a side effect of Climate Change (that bit of science seems pretty solid for some parts of the planet), just saying that without an understanding of why an area is subject to increased flooding, there could be all manner of causes including ill-advise flood control efforts.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 12 Jan 2011 @ 7:39 AM

  219. (I think this and the post it responds to should probably be in the Unforced Variations thread.)

    @207 DanH asks ‘were the residents warned’.

    The people of Australia have been informed for some months about La Nina and the record warm sea surface temperatures. Most people in rural towns are localities would have been aware. Some people in cities might have been less interested in the weather but could hardly have been unaware of the increasingly wet conditions in Queensland in the past few months, particularly after the long drought.

    The Bureau of Meteorology provides regular reports on ENSO, SSTs etc.

    However, even only a couple of days ago, neither Ipswich nor Brisbane was expecting to have floods of this magnitude because of their flood mitigation works. They thought these cities would avoid the devastation that has affected other parts of Queensland in the past couple of months. But the weather was not kind.

    Nevertheless, it’s clear from the excellent response of the government and the emergency services that they have planned very well and been extremely well prepared for an event of this magnitude.

    There is extremely high admiration being expressed by all, no matter what their personal political bent, for the way the Queensland Premier is managing the situation and for the way all those involved have come together to respond. This includes a myriad of government agencies, volunteer organisations and the media as well as the general public, particularly those directly affected. Paid and unpaid volunteers have come together from all states to help Queensland. The emergency response phase will be looked at in future years as one of the models for disaster response in my view. I believe the following phases of relief and recovery will also be managed very well. A person has already been appointed to lead the recovery and the recovery phase has already been started in some areas of the state, even while the disaster is still unfolding in other parts.

    In Australia disaster management has been honed to a fine art. It is rarely perfect, but compared to responses in some other developed nations, it is of a high standard. Very large simulations are done at a state and national level from time to time for many types of catastrophic events, including bushfires, floods, animal disease outbreaks and human health emergencies. There is a major review after each big event with recommendations. Australians often help in or observe major disasters in other countries and the learnings are incorporated into disaster plans. Normally all or almost all of the recommendations of major reviews are implemented.

    There is an agreement between all states and the Federal Government that costs of a disaster will be shared across the nation once a threshold cost has been met. This event will cost well above the threshold so the whole of Australia will come together to share the cost of rebuilding Queensland. In addition to government funding, donations from the public and corporations will go directly to those affected to help them survive in the short term, clean up their homes after the disaster and start to rebuild their lives. Some have estimated this event will cost more than Katrina. It has been estimated that the floods will impact the next quarter GDP of the nation by about 1%, although the estimates for the impact on the annual GDP are much less, as recovery continues during the year.

    You can make a donation here:

    Comment by Sou — 12 Jan 2011 @ 8:46 AM

  220. fch – as far as Brisbane is concerned, remember that much of the land is, literally, floodplain. But that doesn’t help with looking at the extraordinary precipitation – esp the ghastly results in Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley. That quantity of water falling out of the sky in half an hour hasn’t been recorded there, ever. And it was unfortunately onto already sodden soil – though it would probably have run off even very dry soil coming down at that rate.

    The most remarkable thing of all is that there’s no sign of a cyclone anywhere in the vicinity. In the past most of the big sudden precipitation events have been linked to the edges of cyclones affecting these regions.

    Comment by adelady — 12 Jan 2011 @ 9:14 AM

  221. “The strong La Nina was forecast several months ago. Were the residents warned?”

    Yes. Climatologists have been warning people for years that global warming will lead to “increase in extreme precipitation events, as predicted in model simulations (Nicholls et al., 1996).” Did you read my comment – 11 Jan 2011 @ 3:59 PM?
    They were dismissed as “alarmist” (and a lot worse) by WUWT, Heartland, CEI, Australia’s Senator Steve Fielding, Rupert Murdoch’s Australian newspaper, Christopher Monckton(recently on tour in Oz), and a host of others.

    If you roll an honest pair of dice many times, you’ll get snake eyes(you lose) ~1/36 of the time. If the dice have lead filled sixes, you’ll get snake eyes(You Lose) more often, but each individual roll can’t be predicted. If we dump a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere(we have), La Nina will come up snake eyes(QUEENSLAND LOSES) more often, but predicting which roll of the weather dice is a loser is currently almost as difficult as predicting each roll of a pair of loaded dice.

    If the next La Nina isn’t so bad, the suckers will inevitably come back to the table, urged on by hucksters like Forbes, and bet their house(modern technological civilization) against the House(Mother Nature’s Reality), and ignore the warnings from the IPCC about loaded dice.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 12 Jan 2011 @ 10:57 AM

  222. Look at the past 11,000 year record — “Medieval climate anomaly” temperature levels were associated with lots of fires and lots of floods in this study for example:

    Google creates a quickview that can be saved, here’s my copy of that for the moment at least:

    See particularly the chart on p3 of that article. Does it look like we’re returning to that kind of fire and flood regime?

    I’ve repeately mentioned an earlier paper that really impressed me about the erosional events associated with the PETM. The change in intensity of rainfall events associated with warming is — scary.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jan 2011 @ 12:27 PM

  223. 1) Increased energy increases global temperatures
    2) various fluxes and flows causes anomalous regional temperature increases (meaning regionally, the temperature change can be different from the global average.)
    3) on a regional basis a climate change can simultaneously (over a period) cause a large decrease in average rainfall and an extreme increase in the intensity of some rainstorms.

    I have a fairly good idea of the general physics (though maybe not the explicit details) underlying the first two points. Can anyone describe the general physics behind #3?

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Jan 2011 @ 12:37 PM

  224. Brian,
    You have got to be kidding me. That is your idea of warning the residents of Queensland that torrential rains are possible.
    Last I knew, global warming predicted warmer sea temperatures which results in more frequent and stronger el ninos. What we are seeing is a very strong la nina. Check out the graph. The warming from 1980-2000 was accompanied by several strong el ninos and weak la ninas. Recently, the el ninos have weakened and the la ninas have strengthened. This is opposite to the forecasted global warming effect.

    [Response: When looking for references on what the ‘forecast global warming effect’ is or is not, you would do well to stick to the IPCC reports in the first instance. And when we look it up….p751 “Multi-model averages show a weak shift towards … El-Nino-like conditions”, but “there is no consistent indication at the time of discernible changes in projected ENSO amplitude or frequency in the 21st Century” (see also sections & 4)”. That is not in any sense a claim that strong La Nina’s are going to disappear, and indeed, there is still evidence that the AR4 crop of models are not of sufficient skill to have their ENSO projections taken very seriously at all. See also this old post. – gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 12 Jan 2011 @ 12:45 PM

  225. Dan, I’m going to post a reply over in unforced variations. That’s a more appropriate thread.

    Comment by Maya — 12 Jan 2011 @ 12:51 PM

  226. Dan H., 224–

    “warmer sea temperatures which results in more frequent and stronger el ninos”

    Why do you think so? It sounds as if you are conflating different things: “Nino has warmer SSTs, so warmer global SSTs must lead to more Ninos.”

    But ENSO is (in part) a pattern of SST changes with a particular spatial pattern. Those SST patterns are driven by changes in prevailing winds, which in turn are driven by changes in barometric pressure patterns (see “SOI.”) If I have it right, the SST changes are more effect than cause. (Though the chain of causation doesn’t stop there.)

    In short, global SST trend is (as far as I know, at least) utterly unrelated to ENSO in any straightforward way.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 12 Jan 2011 @ 3:24 PM

  227. Kevin McKinney “..utterly unrelated…in any straightforward way.” Isn’t that a bit like saying the hands are unrelated to the feet in any straightforward way? Global climate is one system: it’s the gaps in our understanding that make it look fragmented. Closing the gaps is where the fun is, for scientists at least.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 12 Jan 2011 @ 3:38 PM

  228. Rod, look for the hadley cell changes due to warming. The dry zones outside the tropics expand so previously temperate land becomes desert. Weather, obviously, still happens and the warmer air occasionally dumps more water in a single event. Some places may experience both drought and flooding because of this effect. Hadley cells are at least one key to this phenomena.

    Comment by David Miller — 12 Jan 2011 @ 5:55 PM

  229. Kevin,
    Maybe you should look more closely at the ENSO data. The periods of increasing temperatures (1910-1940 and 1970-2000) were accompanied by stronger and more frequent el ninos. The cooling periods (1940-1970 and 2000-present) have been characterized by stronger and more frequent la ninas. I think you find it considerable more than “unrelated.”

    Comment by Dan H. — 12 Jan 2011 @ 7:57 PM

  230. In #161 I’d said “FYI, in case anyone else was curious – I emailed Larry Bell asking if he’s any relation to fellow (with Steve Forbes) Heritage Foundation trustee Belden Bell – but the emailed reply was “no”.”

    However, I haven’t been able to confirm this yet with Belden Bell – who hasn’t responded to my Facebook query – and it *fits* so perfectly, it’s such a beautiful hypothesis, that I need confirmation before relinquishing it.

    Comment by Anna Haynes — 12 Jan 2011 @ 7:59 PM

  231. For a good discussion of why this is the strongest or second strongest La Nina recorded (it depends on the period used for La Nina), go to this article:

    Prof Nicholls discusses why SOI comparisons (Southern Oscillation Index – a comparison of surface atmospheric pressures between Tahiti and Darwin) are better to compare the strength of the current La Nina across time, rather than sea surface temperature (SST), which is normally used to determine if we are approaching an El Nino or La Nina episode. The two reasons he gives are that firstly, the records of SSTs aren’t available going back as far, and secondly global warming (and increasing SSTs) makes direct comparisons difficult over longer periods of time.

    He further states:

    There is no a priori reason to expect that global warming has necessarily led to long-term SOI changes that would confound our results if we use the SOI to compare historical and recent La Niña events. And values of the SOI are available from the end of the 19th century.

    (If any of the rc experts sees differently to the above, I hope they comment here.)

    To stay closer to the topic, Unleashed is published by the ABC – the government’s radio/television/internet broadcaster. It is a web forum for articles of all sorts from world-recognised experts like Prof Nicholls, to somewhat unhinged persons like Jo Nova. It is often (ab)used by the IPA (a right wing think tank) to promote the ‘teachings’ of the IPA. It is just as often used by individuals of all political persuasions and no political persuasion to express ideas, usually on matters that have become topical in the news. It can be a very good (or woeful) source for a deeper discussion of news items – reading comments as well as the article itself.

    Comment by Sou — 12 Jan 2011 @ 8:15 PM

  232. #229–Dan, maybe you should look more closely at the temperature data; 2000-present is not a “cooling period.”

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 Jan 2011 @ 12:20 AM

  233. @207 DanH asks ‘were the residents warned’.

    Further to my previous response to Dan’s question, in mid-October last year, there was an article warning of possible disastrous weather in the Brisbane daily paper, the Courier Mail (hat tip HumanityRules on

    Supports my previously stated observations about the impeccable preparation that is evident by the response to these floods.

    Comment by Sou — 13 Jan 2011 @ 6:18 AM

  234. #229 The cooling periods (1940-1970 and 2000-present)

    1999 was warmer than 1989
    2000 was warmer than 1990
    2001 was warmer than 1991
    2002 was warmer than 1992
    2003 was warmer than 1993
    2004 was warmer than 1994
    2005 was warmer than 1995 (and tied with 2010 as the warmest year on record)
    2006 was warmer than 1996
    2007 was warmer than 1997
    2008 was COOLER than 1998 (but warmer than any other year in the 1990’s)
    2009 was warmer than 1999
    2010 is tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record.

    What is the correct term for someone who claims that 2000-present shows a cooling trend. Somehow, “denier” just isn’t sufficient.

    Comment by JiminMpls — 13 Jan 2011 @ 7:49 AM

  235. “Somehow, “denier” just isn’t sufficient.” – JiminMpls

    No, but if you say it out loud, with the emphasis very much on the “ier”, the sound is pretty much right.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 13 Jan 2011 @ 8:05 AM

  236. #227–

    “..utterly unrelated…in any straightforward way.” Isn’t that a bit like saying the hands are unrelated to the feet in any straightforward way?

    Well, that’s true for a great many teenage boys, isn’t it? ;-)

    If we’re doing analogies, I’d tweak yours a bit–say, “hands are unrelated to the femoral artery in any straightforward way.” Yes, the entities belong to the same system, but exist at different scales and functional “levels.” Yes, the functioning of one will affect the functioning of the other–but not in an obvious, direct way that we can (at present, at least) articulate. Or, as Nigel Jones put it:

    Global warming is believed to affect the mechanism behind the el nino / la nina cycle, although this mechanism isnt fully understood.

    But I’ll cheerfully admit that I could be totally wrong about this; I’m not an expert and have no qualms about saying so.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 Jan 2011 @ 8:52 AM

  237. Thanks Sou,
    It appears that the Australian weather agency was aware of the impending rains.
    What is your point? I already explained that the 1990s was part of the warming trend. The CRU data from 1970 (when the 10-yr moving average bottomed) until 2002 (when the 10-yr average peaked) was 0.018C / year. Since 2002, the trend is -0.003C / year (not significantly different from zero as Phil Jones would say). Would you prefer the term “lack of warming” as some like to say?

    [Response: I’m baffled. How can a figure which shows a clear warming trend be your justification for ‘a lack of warming’? – gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 13 Jan 2011 @ 10:06 AM

  238. Dan H says:
    “not significantly different from zero as Phil Jones would say”

    Source, please? Perhaps you were referring to this:

    “BBC: Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

    Phil Jones: Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.”

    Comment by Nick Dearth — 13 Jan 2011 @ 10:20 AM

  239. So, has Dan H. got *anything* right yet? Or are his posts all still just recycled ‘skeptic’ bafflegab?

    Comment by Steven Sullivan — 13 Jan 2011 @ 3:08 PM

  240. Wait! Stop the presses!

    2002 gives the lowest temperature trend of any year in the last decade. . . amazing coincidence that that’s been proposed by DanH as proving a “lack of warming.”

    But, gee, more recent trends show we’ll be boiling in no time!

    “Migawd–that’s a degree and a half per decade! We’re all going to die! Some of us more than once!!!”

    I believe that the cure for this rampant madness is a little something called “statistical significance.” Let’s all make it our friend, shall we? Even DanH?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 Jan 2011 @ 3:26 PM

  241. I don’t know about the rest of your rebuttal of the Forbes article, but the item on the North West Passage is misleading and disingenuous.

    You state that “…. traversals prior to 2007 were in very specialized boats and often took years..”

    In fact the passage was successfully navigated, in a single season, during 1944 By the St Roch – 30m wooden hulled RCMP patrol boat crewed by 12 regular mounties. The only specialization was a steel plate covering the wooden bow.

    You go on to say “….In 2007 and 2010, genuine shipping lanes opened up for the first time…”

    You seem to be implying that the passage was then open to regular commercial shipping but that’s simply not true. The first “commercial voyage” was made in 2008 by the 133m MV Camilla Desgagnés, a craft built for arctic waters to the highest ice category 1A Super – and therefore far more “specialized” than the St Roch, as well as being much bigger and more powerful. There was also a Canadian government ice breaker on standby for the voyage.

    Such obvious distortion doesn’t really engender confidence in the rest of the article.

    Comment by David — 13 Jan 2011 @ 4:32 PM

  242. Kevin,
    I have no problem using the statistically significant long-term trend of ~0.6C/century (depending on the individual data set). I just do not understand how some people think it might accellerate to up to ten times that rate.

    [Response: Something to do with exponential increases in CO2 or something… I think I read that somewhere…- gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 13 Jan 2011 @ 5:20 PM

  243. Kevin #229

    Im struggling with your claim its been cooling since 2000. Both the NASA GISS data and the latest Roy Spencer UAH data shows a warming trend from 2000 to december 2010.

    I also note that according to NASA and NOAA 2010 is tied with 2005 as the warmest year on the instrumental record. 2000 is also a meaningless start point you need about 25 years to get a trend that stands out from sunspot cycles etc.

    Comment by nigel jones — 13 Jan 2011 @ 5:48 PM

  244. #229–Nigel, you are confused. It is DanH who claimed it was cooling; I was refuting him. See my comments at #232 and #240 (note the latter has sarcasm mode engaged.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 Jan 2011 @ 7:00 PM

  245. Dan H wrote: “I have no problem using the statistically significant long-term trend of ~0.6C/century (depending on the individual data set). I just do not understand how some people think it might accelerate to up to ten times that rate.”

    The latest from NASA GISS:

    NASA Research Finds 2010 Tied for Warmest Year on Record
    January 12, 2011

    Global surface temperatures in 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest on record, according to an analysis released Wednesday by researchers at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

    The two years differed by less than 0.018 degrees Fahrenheit. The difference is smaller than the uncertainty in comparing the temperatures of recent years, putting them into a statistical tie. In the new analysis, the next warmest years are 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2009, which are statistically tied for third warmest year. The GISS records begin in 1880.

    The analysis found 2010 approximately 1.34°F warmer than the average global surface temperature from 1951 to 1980. To measure climate change, scientists look at long-term trends. The temperature trend, including data from 2010, shows the climate has warmed by approximately 0.36°F per decade since the late 1970s.

    “If the warming trend continues, as is expected, if greenhouse gases continue to increase, the 2010 record will not stand for long,” said James Hansen, the director of GISS.

    The analysis produced at GISS is compiled from weather data from more than 1000 meteorological stations around the world, satellite observations of sea surface temperature and Antarctic research station measurements. A computer program uses the data to calculate temperature anomalies — the difference between surface temperature in a given month and the average temperature for the same period during 1951 to 1980. This three-decade period acts as a baseline for the analysis.

    The resulting temperature record closely matches others independently produced by the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center.

    The record temperature in 2010 is particularly noteworthy, because the last half of the year was marked by a transition to strong La Niña conditions, which bring cool sea surface temperatures to the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

    “Global temperature is rising as fast in the past decade as in the prior two decades, despite year-to-year fluctuations associated with the El Niño-La Niña cycle of tropical ocean temperature,” Hansen and colleagues reported in the Dec. 14, 2010, issue of Reviews of Geophysics.

    A chilly spell also struck this winter across northern Europe. The event may have been influenced by the decline of Arctic sea ice and could be linked to warming temperatures at more northern latitudes.

    Arctic sea ice acts like a blanket, insulating the atmosphere from the ocean’s heat. Take away that blanket, and the heat can escape into the atmosphere, increasing local surface temperatures. Regions in northeast Canada were more than 18 degrees warmer than normal in December.

    The loss of sea ice may also be driving Arctic air into the middle latitudes. Winter weather patterns are notoriously chaotic, and the GISS analysis finds seven of the last 10 European winters warmer than the average from 1951 to 1980. The unusual cold in the past two winters has caused scientists to begin to speculate about a potential connection to sea ice changes.

    “One possibility is that the heat source due to open water in Hudson Bay affected Arctic wind patterns, with a seesaw pattern that has Arctic air downstream pouring into Europe,” Hansen said.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Jan 2011 @ 7:24 PM

  246. For Dan H.:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Jan 2011 @ 8:03 PM

  247. “St Roch – 30m wooden hulled RCMP patrol boat crewed by 12 regular mounties. The only specialization was a steel plate covering the wooden bow. ” David — 13 Jan 2011 @ 4:32 PM
    “Hallidie copied the ship’s lines and several construction details while planning St. Roch. These included a round, egg-shaped hull, thick ironwood planks that formed an extra layer of ice sheathing on the hull, a large cabin aft, a single-screw diesel engine, a rudder that could be lifted up through a special well to avoid being snapped off by ice, and thick beams to brace the hold against the crushing pressure of ice floes.”
    “Length: 31.8 m (104’3”) Beam: 7.5 m (24’7”) Draft: 3.25 m (10’8”) Tonnage: 196.5 t Hull: Douglas fir with Australian gumwood outer hull; rounded hull to allow ice to slide underneath; steel plate covering bow”

    sounds like an icebreaker to me, twice as massive compared to
    “Specifications for Superyacht Diano Crowbridge by Riva Trigoso
    LENGTH OVERALL 31.20 m
    MAXIMUM DRAFT 2.10 m

    dis·in·gen·u·ous (dsn-jny-s)
    1. Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating:

    misleading [mɪsˈliːdɪŋ]
    tending to confuse or mislead; deceptive

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 13 Jan 2011 @ 8:19 PM

  248. Kevin #244

    Apologies, I meant to direct my comments at Dan H. Having read your posts it appears we have much the same issue with his comments.

    Comment by nigel jones — 13 Jan 2011 @ 8:57 PM

  249. Dan H #229

    Im struggling with your claim its been cooling since 2000. Both the NASA GISS data and the latest Roy Spencer UAH data shows a warming trend from 2000 to december 2010.

    I also note that according to NASA and NOAA 2010 is tied with 2005 as the warmest year on the instrumental record.

    2000 is also a meaningless start point you need about 25 years to get a trend that stands out from sunspot cycles etc.

    Comment by nigel jones — 13 Jan 2011 @ 9:02 PM

  250. #247–Thanks for the great detail, Brian. I’d only add that the phrase “regular Mounties” David used is pretty suspect, too; firstly because being a Mountie in the first place is being a member of an elite; secondly because I don’t believe for a moment that they just picked names at random off some duty roster.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 Jan 2011 @ 11:28 PM

  251. Re #2, the Maddow Robinson interview:

    As much as I like Maddow and dislike Robinson, this interview was one of her worst moments, when she allowed her ideology to trump her knowledge/ignorance about various subjects.

    She mischaracterized the active scientific research area of hormesis and never allowed Robinson to talk about the subject. DOE has supported for about fifteen years the BELLE project (Biological effects of low-level exposure), a serious attempt to explore the science around the famous dictum of Paracelsus that “the dose makes the poison”. In fact the scientific evidence for the existence of hormesis (beneficial effects at low levels of exposures toxic at high levels) is pretty persuasive.
    Consideration of hormesis is not limited to radiation; think Vitamin A, necessary in low doses, toxic in polar bear liver.

    Maddow needs to recognize her areas of ignorance and back off of the political correctness. Robinson will never recognize his areas of ignorance, but that’s another topic for another day.

    Jim Dukelow

    Comment by Jim Dukelow — 14 Jan 2011 @ 12:21 AM

  252. Kevin – re “regular mounties” on the St Roch – from current RCMP Services page: “RCMP patrol vessels are staffed by regular members who have had the same training as regular personnel plus additional specific on-the-job training in navigation, seamanship or engine equipment operation. Navigators hold certificates of competency ranging from Watchkeeping Mate with a Command Endorsement to Master 350 Home-Trade.”

    Details of the St Roch voyages, captained by experienced Norwegian mariner Henry Larsen, who realized after the St Roch took 2 seasons for the 1st trip, that the route explored by both Amundsen and Larsen wasn’t useful so his 2nd trip [the “single season” one] used a friendlier route, the one more likely used now by others.

    Comment by flxible — 14 Jan 2011 @ 12:36 AM

  253. Jim Dukelow: I watched the Maddow/Robinson interview a few days ago, and while I agree with you that Maddow was hardly impartial, the interview was very revealing of Robinson’s character. If you ask me, a loony like Robinson deserves hostile journalism, and any other approach to him would be a dereliction of duty. Just my 2c.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 14 Jan 2011 @ 1:56 AM

  254. bafflegab, definitely.

    and on being left behind, since I’m feeling humorous, for those who can decipher French (*very* OT):

    “au secours, au secours, je suis gauche derriere”

    Once someone demonstrates they are uninterested in learning the facts, and continues to reassert the same stale tired stuff, it is time to stop feeding the trolls.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 14 Jan 2011 @ 2:16 AM

  255. Dan H, here are the NASA GISS global land-sea temperature anomalies for the last 13 decades:

    1880s -0.28
    1890s -0.25
    1900s -0.26
    1910s -0.28
    1920s -0.18
    1930s -0.04
    1940s 0.04
    1950s -0.02
    1960s -0.01
    1970s 0.00
    1980s 0.18
    1990s 0.31
    2000s 0.54

    Homework: Perform a linear regression of dT on decade. Follow with a quadratic regression. Use a partial-F test to see if the quadratic term is justified. Is the warming accelerating? Yes or no?

    This will be on the test.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Jan 2011 @ 5:49 AM

  256. @252 Small quibble. The west to east voyage of the St. Roch took 3, not 2, summer sailing seasons. The 28 month voyage encompassed the summers of 1940, 1941, 1942.

    Comment by jgarland — 14 Jan 2011 @ 8:22 AM

  257. #255–Barton, I think you just pulled an Euler on Dan’s Diderot. . . except that this time, statistics are actually the point.

    I do like decadal averages as illustrative, as most folks understand the calculation of a mean fairly well–much better than an F-test, anyway.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 14 Jan 2011 @ 9:11 AM

  258. adelay @ 220:

    I totally understand that extreme precipitation events can seem to be … rather extreme.

    However, many floods in inhabited areas (don’t hear much about tens of square miles / kilometers in the middle of nowhere being flooded in some horrible fashion …) are made worse by land use changes as well as human development. Between impervious cover (roads, buildings, car parks) and changes in whatever is in the soil (monoculture crops, lawns, etc), the ability of the soil to absorb a rain is typically severely compromised. Roads and buildings can act as levees (albeit, low ones) in the worst places, even when there are no other flood control projects.

    The only time flood control projects seem to work near enough to 100% to be truly worthwhile are for sea reclamation projects, or when the area is reasonably near the headwaters of the river.

    The volume of water that even a 100 year flood event can produce is huge and trying to restrain a flood of that magnitude is folly. If the river weren’t so central to New Orleans’ existence, the Atachafalya should have been allowed to capture the Mississippi. But instead, the Old Man River Control Structure was been built, expanded, extended, reinforced, fortified, and a fair number of Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s said. I’m Jewish — I’d say an entire Rosary if that’s what it took. But the reality is that sooner or later, the Mississippi will change its course, and sooner or later Brisbane will discover that living in a flood plain isn’t always a nice idea.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 14 Jan 2011 @ 9:27 AM

  259. Rod B @ 223:

    In addition to Hadley cells (mentioned by another poster), you also have to look at what causes “rain” to happen, and particularly how a storm can intensify once it has begun.

    A warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor at a given temperature. This =lowers= the relative humidity, which is the ratio between what the atmosphere can hold and what it is holding. At the same time, the change in relative humidity per degree C is quadratic, not linear. So a negative change in air temperature results in a greater amount of water vapor needing to condense. Thus a warmer climate will tend to produce greater volumes of rain for a constant decline in temperature.

    [Response: actually it’s exponential, not quadratic, but your basic point is correct. – gavin]

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 14 Jan 2011 @ 9:48 AM

  260. David Miller, FurryCatHerder: thanks for the help.

    Variations in Hadley cells strikes me as too broad, general and high level to explain the regional anomalies. I can see how this might affect the whole of the Arctic for example, but affecting northeastern Australia is considerably more difficult to picture.

    The relative humidity factor doesn’t really explain a region suffering extreme drought for a couple of years and then extreme rainfall the next year.

    On the other hand I’ve wondered how GW by itself might cause heavier rainfalls. So that explanation helps answer a question I’ve had but not asked.

    Comment by Rod B — 14 Jan 2011 @ 11:16 AM

  261. It seems that the Brisbane flood was man-made afterall.

    Comment by Dan H. — 14 Jan 2011 @ 1:56 PM

  262. Information about how the excess water was handled, which is very interesting, does not alter the total amount of excess water. 6 inches in half an hour. No matter how humans handled the excess, the record stands.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 14 Jan 2011 @ 4:35 PM

  263. “…it is time to stop feeding the trolls.”

    Naw, it’s like skeet shooting – the more you practice, the better you get. Plus you learn something new – the “Australian ironwood or gumwood” is probably a hard species of Eucalyptus or Acacia, and the use of the colloquial term “ironwood” likely meant that it is denser than water. But, I agree, potting fish in a barrel can get boring.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 14 Jan 2011 @ 5:53 PM

  264. Dan, man-made? I think the general view that dam management very effectively delayed flooding in Brisbane by at least a week, *and* kept the flood more than a metre below what it would have been without Wivenhoe is the correct view.

    Holding back more water than two and half Sydney Harbours is a pretty good effort.

    Comment by adelady — 14 Jan 2011 @ 5:54 PM

  265. It was a pretty good effort adelady. But was the effort worth it went they had to let loose with all that water. Delaying the flood may have been worthwhile if it allowed residents to evacuate. However, the delay did result in a more severe flood when they did release the water.
    Do you believe the efforst was the wiser choice? This article apparently did not.
    Granted, I am half a world away, but it still sounds like the inhabitants were caught unaware when the high likelihood of heavy rains were known.

    Comment by Dan H. — 14 Jan 2011 @ 10:58 PM

  266. Re #253, Comment by Anonymous Bloke:

    Robinson certainly deserves hostility, but my problem with Maddow in this interview was that she didn’t recognize her ignorance in this area of science, was not prepared, and did not let Robinson state his case. She is very intelligent and I expect better of her.

    Jim Dukelow

    Comment by Jim Dukelow — 15 Jan 2011 @ 3:08 AM

  267. Dan H. #265 If the media reported the science instead of giving column inches to the kind of horse-feathers you’re peddling, Queenslanders might have taken the clear warnings they were given more seriously. Instead they’ve been fed a steady diet of Monckton mendacity, and here you are playing your own tiny little part in that.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 15 Jan 2011 @ 3:11 AM

  268. The \inhabitants\ might not have taken much notice, but the officials were well aware. In the end, only one, just one, man drowned in Brisbane – because he went into flowing waters, alone, and was sucked into a drain.

    In 1974, 14 people died in the Ipswich / Brisbane area. All the other deaths you’ve heard of (and the ones that are not yet confirmed) occurred in different areas (Toowoomba, Lockyer Valley) or in earlier weeks well away from that catchment.

    Comment by adelady — 15 Jan 2011 @ 3:19 AM

  269. #246 Hank

    You must realize that for Dan H and others with freshly laundered gray matter, your graph will be seen as “proof” that CO2 does not cause warming. After all, CO2 emissions and concentrations have increase since 2000, but temperatures have been flat or even cooled slightly!

    Comment by JiminMpls — 15 Jan 2011 @ 6:21 AM

  270. #260 The relative humidity factor doesn’t really explain a region suffering extreme drought for a couple of years and then extreme rainfall the next year.

    Queensland and Victoria are no more the “same region” than Maine and Florida or sweden and Italy are. The droughts and floods did not occur in the same region. Same continent, yes, same region, no.

    Comment by JiminMpls — 15 Jan 2011 @ 6:32 AM

  271. Dan H.,
    Congratulations. You have just discovered one of the limitations of any risk mitigation scenario. It is never possible to design for the absolute worst case. Usually, the planning is for a 100-year event. Unfortunately, hundred year events by definition do not happen very often, so we may underestimate what constitutes such an event, especially if the distribution is thicktailed or the distribution is changing with time (as in climate change). If a 100-year event now occurs every 30 years, we have trouble, and if we are just at the cusp where the frequency is increasing, the now-30-year event will still not have occured in living memory. This is one of the factors that makes the onset of severe climate change a very risky time, even though the worst of it may not occur for a century.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Jan 2011 @ 8:02 AM

  272. Jim Dukelow: hormesis is the basis of homeopathy. I think Maddow was perfectly justified in treating it with contempt, particularly given Robinson’s views on it.

    Due to the low quality of research in the area, I’m not certain why you want to defend it at all. Anyone seriously studying low-dose effects can do so quite happily without ever using the word “hormesis”. They should avoid the term, in my opinion, given its anti-science origins and associations. And in general, I think they do avoid the term.

    Comment by Didactylos — 15 Jan 2011 @ 11:15 AM

  273. Rod B @ 260:

    (Oh, and thanks to Gavin for the correction in re exponential versus quadratic — makes the point all the more valid.)

    What “Global Warming” does is make the atmosphere more energetic with more widely varied conditions. For example, the quadratic exponential increase in water vapor content means you can have more of a drought, if precipitation doesn’t happen (because more water can “stay” in the atmosphere and not on the ground), or you can have more of a torrential downpour (because there is more water to precipitate), if precipitation does happen.

    Drought also isn’t just “no rain”, it can be “not enough rain”. The other thing that happens in a warming atmosphere is increased evaporation caused by a decrease in relative humidity. So an amount of rain that was once acceptable can be unacceptable, simply because of the rise in temperature. Once in the atmosphere that moisture has to go somewhere and it can come down in an area that could handle one amount of rainfall, but not the enhanced amount. Thus, you can get both “drought” and “flood”, in addition to “warmer”.

    (… and for that reason, I prefer “Climate Change” to “Global Warming”)

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 15 Jan 2011 @ 12:01 PM

  274. @ DanH #261 – I’d suggest waiting for the review of the event before believing what you read on a blog. Remember, the authorities had managed to get the flood mitigation portion of Wivenhoe Dam almost all empty even right up to Friday 7 January. (On 30 December it was 20% full, then emptied again. Probably averting at least a minor flood in December/early January.)

    Comment by Sou — 15 Jan 2011 @ 12:34 PM

  275. JiminMpls says:

    After all, CO2 emissions and concentrations have increase since 2000, but temperatures have been flat or even cooled slightly!


    ht: Tamino

    Comment by Adam R. — 15 Jan 2011 @ 2:10 PM

  276. Rod B says in 260:

    Variations in Hadley cells strikes me as too broad, general and high level to explain the regional anomalies. I can see how this might affect the whole of the Arctic for example, but affecting northeastern Australia is considerably more difficult to picture.

    Rod, I see you haven’t changed a bit. Ever the troll, trying to lay low and cast doubt. Always trying to appear to ask penetrating questions, every willfully ignorant of the answers.

    Let me suggest that in the concern you appear to describe above you never did any actual research on hadley cells at all. Had you but gone to the wikipedia page, for example, you’d have learned that hadley cells extend from the equator 30 degrees north and south to the ITCZ (intertropical convergence zone). Beyond the ITCZ, the mid-latitude cells extend to the polar cells at about 60 degrees N/S.

    In other words, expanding the hadley cells by a few degrees North drives the dry belt between it and the mid-latitude cells expand. That makes for a couple hundred miles of additional desert, though those on the southern band of the old ITCZ may realize increased precipitation because they went from being in the dry zone to being in the edge of the hadley cell.

    I have no problem accepting that as a mechanism for increased drought and increased flooding in Australia in varying PDO phases. It’s not necessarily the only mechanism, but no one here has proposed that it was.

    Not understanding what you were pointed to, and casually dismissing it because it doesn’t fit the result you want is hardly the mark of someone trying to understand.

    Comment by David Miller — 15 Jan 2011 @ 2:52 PM

  277. The Murdoch press, Brisbane’s \Sunday Mail\ managed to explain the cause of the floods in Australia as being down to La Nina alone, No statement from either the B.O.M. nor C.S.I.R.O, instead they give us comments from this \reader of gizzards and entrails\ who according to the Mail correctly predicted the event, Ken Ring, predicts cyclones during the cyclone season and always in the middle of the Month. comments at weatherzone

    recycles 18 year old weather maps from the B.O.M.

    Comment by john byatt — 15 Jan 2011 @ 7:08 PM

  278. ” …how the excess water was handled,” Susan Anderson — 14 Jan 2011 @ 4:35 PM
    “This system will provide up to 18 hours advance warning during a flood event
    which allows the implementation of an early release strategy to lower the
    storage of Wivenhoe in the event of an imminent flood.

    Currently the ability to release significant volumes of water from Wivenhoe
    Dam is limited by low level bridges across the Brisbane River at Kholo,
    Savages Crossing and Burton’s Bridge. Savage’s Crossing is cut by a flow of
    around 130m3/s, Burtons Bridge at 430m3/s and Kholo Bridge at 550m3/s. If
    these bridge’s were raised to allow a discharge of 1,200 to 1,500 m3/s to be
    released without submerging them, then the opportunity for early releases
    becomes more attractive.”

    “Currently the flood manual for the operation of Wivenhoe and Somerset has four procedures.
    Procedure 4 marks the change from flood mitigation to ensuring the
    safety of the dam by passing the flood and occurs at approximately EL74. ”

    It’s easy to see in hindsight that protecting the low level bridges as the reservoir was filling to eventually reach Procedure 4 wasn’t the best idea, but the politically imposed rules & regs, plus only an 18 hour warning window required just that.

    for a different take on what human actions, or inactions, contributed to the flooding see
    “A 2007 joint SEQW-government feasibility study recommended options to increase the capacity of the dams at Wivenhoe and Somerset (which feeds into the Wivenhoe), stating that neither dam “currently satisfies the ANCOLD [Australian National Committee on Large Dams] guidelines on Acceptable Flood Capacity (2003)”. If these options had been implemented, the flood disaster could have been mitigated.”
    “In other words, all aspects of water policy are now determined not by social need, but by profit.” It was deemed unprofitable to spring for raising the bridges – a free(ish) market failure.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 15 Jan 2011 @ 7:42 PM

  279. Luckily, the worst political suggestions weren’t implemented –

    “Posted Wed Oct 6, 2010 12:52pm AEDT
    The Queensland Opposition has questioned why water is being released from Wivenhoe Dam in the state’s south-east.
    The dam level has reached 100 per cent of capacity and controlled releases began this week.
    But Opposition spokesman Jeff Seeney told Parliament that the dam is not completely full.
    “Is not this release of water from Wivenhoe Dam, when it is holding only 40 per cent its available storage capacity, a clear indication that the Government has learnt nothing from the water crisis and is still failing to plan for the next inevitable drought,” he said.
    But Natural Resources Minister Stephen Robertson says the extra capacity is needed to prevent a repeat of the 1974 floods.
    “What the Member for Callide [Mr Seeney] – on behalf of the LNP [Liberal National Party] suggests, is that Wivenhoe Dam should not be used for flood mitigation purposes,” he said.
    “As a result of that, puts into jeopardy the very safety of people in Brisbane and surrounding areas?

    “Mr Speaker, this is grossly irresponsible.”

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 15 Jan 2011 @ 8:05 PM

  280. re: Queensland
    Dams can be good for any or all of:

    a) Power
    b) Storing water for release during drought
    c) Holding back water that if released then could contribute to flooding.

    When a place is subject to *both* drought and flood, one needs precognition to always do the exact right thing. If people release too much water in advance of a predicted flood, but then a big drought sets in, there will be complaints. If the dam gets too full, and then big storms come and water has to be released, that’s trouble. Unfortunately, data from the future is unavailable. :-)

    When I lived in PA/NJ, I never encountered this, but areas of California and Australia share the issue of having both b+c, and as a result often display an obsession with hydrology, for good reason.

    CA also has the issue of depending on a big natural reservoir, Sierra snowpack (Queensland doesn’t) to supply the state during the 6 months where there is little or no rain most places. Faster snowmelt is *not* a help.

    Comment by John Mashey — 15 Jan 2011 @ 9:52 PM

  281. California’s worst case is pretty damn bad too:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Jan 2011 @ 12:06 AM

  282. David Miller, it still sounds a bit magical and “It might be…”-like which hardly comes across as a physics hypothesis or theory. What in global warming, even if not uniform, would cause the Hadley cell to shift a few degrees — other than the 20-30 degrees it shifts seasonally anyway? And why would such a shift cause eastern Australia drought one year and deluges the next? (However, it does very loosely match the southwestern drought of last year — though it’s inconsistency doesn’t add up.)

    If my questions annoy you, don’t try to answer them.

    Comment by Rod B — 16 Jan 2011 @ 5:40 PM

  283. Rod B #282 What, uncertainty in science? Who knew. Next thing you’ll be telling us more research is called for, which funnily enough is exactly what “scientists say”.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 16 Jan 2011 @ 6:44 PM

  284. Rod @ 282:

    Go to the kitchen. Get a large pot of water. Fill it.

    Start with a low boil. Observe the patterns. Turn up the heat. Observe the change in patterns.

    The water is still at the boiling point — 212F / 100C — but the circulation pattern of the boiling water is different.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 16 Jan 2011 @ 7:16 PM

  285. On the Australia theme formally drought ridden Victoria is now braced for floods. A few years ago it was predicted that South East Australia would be permanently dry. People should be cautious of making predictions based on current weather events.

    Comment by D. Price — 17 Jan 2011 @ 2:12 PM

  286. @ D.Price #285 said: ” A few years ago it was predicted that South East Australia would be permanently dry.”

    I know of no such prediction from anyone, let alone from anyone knowledgeable about such matters, and I live in south eastern Australia. (I’m not saying no-one made this prediction.) Can you provide a reference including who made the prediction, when they made it, the forum in which it was made (eg newspaper article, blog) and what are their credentials?

    The tentative suggestions I heard from the CSIRO back in the 1970s (based on their analyses at the time), was that human-caused climate change would result in most of south eastern Australia becoming drier, not move to a permanent state of dryness. Even this very tentative expectation is becoming blatantly evident.

    As the analytical capability has improved, the expectations of climate scientists are being refined AFAIK, the expectation for south eastern Australia over coming decades, if we do nothing about CO2 emissions, is that it will continue to have hotter and drier extremes, and when it rains it rains in buckets (like it is now).

    Comment by Sou — 18 Jan 2011 @ 12:12 AM

  287. #286 Sou, The sceptics have been making similar claims here that the scientists told them that it would never rain again in south east Queensland , they just refuse to read the science, Climate change is likely to affect extreme rainfall in SE QLD, Abbs et al (2007}, projections indicate an increase in 2 hour,24 hour and 72 hour extreme rainfall events for large areas of SE QLD especially in the Mcpherson and great dividing range west of brisbane and the gold coast .Projections also indicate that the regions of east Australian cyclone genesis could shift southward by two degrees latitude (approximately 200 km) by 2050, Leslie et al (2007), while the average decay location could be up to 300 km south of the current location. Models estimate that the number of strong cyclones reaching the Australian coastline will increase, and ‘super cyclones’, with an intensity hitherto unrecorded on the Australian east coast, may develop over the next 50 years Leslie et al(2007).Therefore despite a projected long term decrease in rainfall across most of Queensland, the projected increase in rainfall intensity could result in more flooding events.

    Comment by john byatt — 18 Jan 2011 @ 1:31 AM

  288. Rod B My own suspicion is that Perth was the canary in the Hadley cell coalmine 30 years ago. We won’t really see this as a clearly defined system shift for another 10-20 years even though the effect is obvious, but I think that will be the eventual analysis.

    “Rainfall declines have significant implications for water availability. For example, inflows into Perth’s dams averaged 338 Gigalitres per year between 1911-1974 and only 81.8 GL between 2001-2006.” 250GL less in just 25 years. See the last graphic on this page.

    The main reason for my view is that I grew up in Adelaide and I still live here. It used to be reliably predictable that whatever weather Perth had would arrive here 2-4 days later and then move fairly smoothly, and gradually southeast, across to Melbourne. Now, even if Perth gets some rainfall, the weather system often moves sharply southeast so that even the southwest corner of Tasmania can miss out. I knew about these changes. And then I discovered the Hadley cell and the expected poleward movement of weather systems. Hey presto!

    There was also some mention a couple of years ago about Antarctic circulation patterns changing (due to the ozone hole?) and thereby dragging Southern Ocean circulation away from the Australian mainland. Feel free to correct me – I’m working from memory alone just now.

    Comment by adelady — 18 Jan 2011 @ 3:12 AM

  289. D. Price@285.

    Source? I’d be surprised if there were a peer-reviewed paper that predicted this?

    Also, if you’ve ever seen an arroyo in Arizona during the monsoon, you know that drought does not preclude occasional flooding. In fact, the more impulsive the precipitation, the less effective it is at replenishing groundwater.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Jan 2011 @ 6:20 AM

  290. Thanks for the help One Anonymous Bloke, adelady, FurryCatHerder, et al. It still doesn’t address the year switch from drought to deluge. While miles from conclusive regarding the drying in SW Australia, One Anonymous Bloke’s reference supported a bit by the other explanations does pose an interesting physics-based hypothesis deserving of further thought.

    Comment by Rod B — 18 Jan 2011 @ 12:02 PM

  291. Rod B,

    Variations in Hadley cells strikes me as too broad, general and high level…

    That’s fine, but that’s an emotion. That’s eyeballing the problem. Would you send a man to the moon by looking at the rocket and saying “yeah, that looks about the right size, let’s give it a try” and then launching some poor soul into the sky based on how it “strikes” you?

    What in global warming, even if not uniform, would cause the Hadley cell to shift a few degrees — other than the 20-30 degrees it shifts seasonally anyway?

    This is a question you should answer yourself by doing some research. There is a lot of material out there on Hadley Cells and global warming.


    From Lu (2007),

    A consistent weakening and poleward expansion of the Hadley circulation is diagnosed in the climate change simulations of the IPCC AR4 project. Associated with this widening is a poleward expansion of the subtropical dry zone. Simple scaling analysis supports the notion that the poleward extent of the Hadley cell is set by the location where the thermally driven jet first becomes baroclinically unstable. The expansion of the Hadley cell is caused by an increase in the subtropical static stability, which pushes poleward the baroclinic instability zone and hence the outer boundary of the Hadley cell.

    If you don’t understand this, you need to do enough studying of the underlying concepts to do so. You don’t get to just wave your hands dismissively and say “sounds like hooey to me, I can’t understand it, so it’s magic and it’s not true.”

    Separately, look at a globe. The seasonal location of the Hadley Cells is directly tied to the location of the sun (i.e. south in December, north in June). This powerpoint has a few images that make that clear.

    Next look at a globe versus this cut away of the cells. Look at the distribution of arid areas on the globe versus the cells.

    Obviously, there are a lot of factors (ocean circulation, land masses, etc) which go into where precipitation does or does not fall, but it’s also quite obvious after doing the comparison that Hadley Cells have a huge amount to do with precipitation patterns. The middles of the cells tend to be arid, while the edges are wet.

    Now, look at Australia. Notice how it’s mostly desert? Notice how the north is just at the northern edge of the Hadley Cell, where things just start to turn from very, very wet to very, very dry — and they usually get some rain? And then notice how Southern Australia is just on the other side of the cell, where things tend to get wet again, and they get rain? And most of Australia in between is arid desert in the center of the cell?

    So, expand the cell. Shift it a bit. The north could get a lot of rain that previously fell in the ocean to the north. The south could stop getting rain that traditionally does fall. Since the cells shift seasonally, and there will be more moisture in a warmer atmosphere, and more evaporation at the warmer equator, when rain does come (i.e. when the Hadley Cell is in the right position for a region at the right time of year) that rainfall can be markedly greater.

    It’s not that hard to understand… unless you simply don’t try, because you just plain want to look for reasons not to.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 18 Jan 2011 @ 3:40 PM

  292. Rod B,

    Pertaining to that long post…

    Of course, all of this is still just eyeballing it, so it’s not strictly right. Someone needs to put a lot of time into thinking about this and researching it… and what do you know, people have! 5,160 papers/articles worth since 2005!

    And no, this doesn’t mean they can accurately predict where every drop of rain will fall in the next ten years. But it’s not all hand waving, either.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 18 Jan 2011 @ 3:46 PM

  293. Bob (Sphaerica), if a guy shows me a bottle rocket he just bought at the fireworks display and tells me he is going to launch a guy to the moon on it, I most certainly can credibly wave my hands and say “I don’t think so…. it doesn’t look detailed or big enough to me,” after just eyeballing it. Just as I can reasonably say ‘global warming causing changes in tropical winds, convection, and moisture, causing the Hadley cell to shift over 20-50 years’ sounds too broad and general to be an answer why eastern Australia was in a drought last year and had deluges this year.

    Comment by Rod B — 18 Jan 2011 @ 4:17 PM

  294. But Rob, the guy with the bottle rocket was *trying* to explain rocket propulsion to you, and you’re still waving your hands, going “I don’t think so…” Bob’s explanation made sense; what’s the problem?

    Comment by Maya — 18 Jan 2011 @ 5:20 PM

  295. Rod B #293: So you don’t like the short answer, and you don’t like the long answer (thank you very much Bob (Sphaerica), that was fascinating and informative). As far as I can see, your only course of action now is to delve into the science that people have pointed you to, get an in-depth understanding of it, then come up with your own soundbites to explain complex phenomena.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 18 Jan 2011 @ 5:26 PM

  296. One Anonymous Bloke wrote: “… your only course of action now is to delve into the science that people have pointed you to …”

    Well, of course that’s not the only course of action available to Rod.

    For example, he might also ignore the science that people have pointed him to, while continuing to maintain an ideological denial of the real problems of AGW behind a facade of “skepticism”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 18 Jan 2011 @ 6:24 PM

  297. Rod B,

    …if a guy shows me a bottle rocket…

    I wasn’t talking about bottle rockets, I was talking about actually sending people to the moon, as in “you wouldn’t undertake such a venture without getting a lot more specific than eyeballing the capabilities of the rocket.”

    Just as I can reasonably say ‘global warming causing changes in …’ sounds too broad and general…

    So what you are basically doing is equating climate science (the daily labors of thousands and thousands of scientists, over decades and decades and decades) to bottle rockets… because you personally don’t understand it.

    Let’s be clear about this. Climate scientists do not have a problem with this. You do. They understand it. You don’t. It falls to you to educate yourself, not to declare other people ignorant (or flawed in their thinking) because you sort of feel like maybe what they’re saying isn’t, you know, quite right, and all.

    You asked a question. You got a reasonable answer. Now you want to hem and haw and stick to whatever position you very religiously adopted before even asking the question.

    Don’t you see the problem here?

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 18 Jan 2011 @ 7:08 PM

  298. Bob (Sphaerica) #291 Are you saying that GCM’s predicted changes to the Hadley cells, and now we’re seeing those changes? That would be quite an accomplishment.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 18 Jan 2011 @ 7:31 PM

  299. Re: One Anonymous Bloke

    Actually they did:
    Prediction=Quan et al. 2002
    Confirmation=Fu et al. 2006, Hu and Fu 2007

    Source here

    The Yooper

    Comment by Daniel Bailey — 18 Jan 2011 @ 10:09 PM

  300. Daniel Bailey #299

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 18 Jan 2011 @ 11:08 PM

  301. whoever, I didn’t say I didn’t like Bob’s comment. While I can quibble with some of his specifics in the explanation, for his and some other comments and references I said quite clearly that I thought the warming leading to flow changes leading to Hadley shifts leading to changing regions of dryness was a reasonable physics-based conjecture. But many of you painted yourself into a corner by seemingly strongly implying that that hypothesis is precisely the cause of eastern Australia’s drought last year and deluge this year. [The drought part alone might loosely fall in the hypothesis’ ballpark; except the arid zone at the edge of the Hadley cell falls in the mid-eastern region normally during mid-year to 3Q — without any AGW shifts…]. I contend this is nonsense and I can credibly state that without studying hundreds of papers mentioning the Hadley cell thing. That’s the one part of Bob’s comment I did/do refute.

    Comment by Rod B — 19 Jan 2011 @ 12:23 AM

  302. Perhaps dancing joyfully seems an odd response in the circumstances, but I believe that success should be celebrated. These are tall giants we’re standing on.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 19 Jan 2011 @ 12:39 AM

  303. There once was a fellow called Rod
    Who refuted a claim in a blog
    Subject to review
    His claims all fell through
    And he failed to get published that Rod!

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 19 Jan 2011 @ 1:39 AM

  304. Rod B.: “…seemingly strongly implying…”

    Rod, Here in a single phrase is everything that is wrong with your posting and your logic. Vagueness is not a virtue. It is better to be wrong than vague. Wrong can be corrected. Vague is hopeless.

    Remember what Mark Twain said: “If you see an adjective, kill it.” That goes for adverbs, too.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Jan 2011 @ 5:47 AM

  305. Rod has received numerous responses, but I have to say I don’t understand his concern as expressed back in #260:

    The relative humidity factor doesn’t really explain a region suffering extreme drought for a couple of years and then extreme rainfall the next year.

    It seems to me to contain a false assumption, ie., that “drought for a couple of years and then extreme rainfall” is a sequence that demands explanation in terms of climate change.

    Droughts break, eventually, and it’s not particularly unusual when they happen to break with floods. So the sequence of drought and flood appears to me not to be particularly problematic. A potential source of research questions in general, sure, but not really strange, nor really relevant to climate change.

    The only change that’s at issue is that both drought and flood can both be more extreme under climate change. It’s clear that more extreme flooding and more widespread and severe drought are predicted by GCMs; the SPMs lay that expectation out pretty clearly. Are we seeing this in meteorological observations?

    The drought data is pretty clear, from Dai 2010. I’d like to see a comparable review on the flood data, but as I noted in a previous comment, that appears to be a big, big task. But the current instance looks like a piece of anecdotal evidence. (Particularly in a year where we’ve seen some “biblical” flooding elsewhere, too.)

    So, FWIW, I think the incongruity of severe drought followed by severe flood is at bottom an emotional reaction, not a conceptual problem with AGW (or anything else, for that matter.) (Also FWIW, I’m an artsie, so I believe we should probably pay attention to our emotional reactions–but that leads down a whole other path. And we need to distinguish between emotional reactions and actual cognitive issues as clearly as we can.)

    As to why a particular place suffers such events as Queensland has at a particular time, well, that’s a weather question, isn’t it?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 19 Jan 2011 @ 8:02 AM

  306. 301 (Rod B),

    Please note that I was not necessarily attributing the current rain or droughts to expansion of the Hadley Cells. It is possible, but obviously direct attribution is difficult (although someone may well succeed in doing so in the future). As I’ve already said, one can’t eyeball this stuff and draw conclusions with any confidence (as you repeated, incessantly do, seemingly as long as it helps you to arrive at your own predetermined conclusions).

    What I was specifically addressing is this comment by you from post 223:

    3) on a regional basis a climate change can simultaneously (over a period) cause a large decrease in average rainfall and an extreme increase in the intensity of some rainstorms.

    … Can anyone describe the general physics behind #3?

    I think that, putting all the posts together, this question has been more than answered.

    And from post 260:

    Variations in Hadley cells strikes me as too broad, general and high level to explain the regional anomalies. I can see how this might affect the whole of the Arctic for example, but affecting northeastern Australia is considerably more difficult to picture.

    Well, I gave you (I think) a simple and clear enough explanation so that it should no longer be “difficult to picture.”

    You went on in post 282:

    What in global warming, even if not uniform, would cause the Hadley cell to shift a few degrees — other than the 20-30 degrees it shifts seasonally anyway? And why would such a shift cause eastern Australia drought one year and deluges the next?

    I gave you some information to answer that, at least in part, although I believe the extreme La Nina is supposed to be playing a larger role, at least in the current rains. It’s the strongest since 1973, and one of the four strongest in 110 years, with only 1904 an 1917 possibly beating it. And that makes yet another extreme weather event to add to the list of potential, tangible climate change effects.

    Honestly, not everything in the world is going to be as simple as “swans are white, the bird is a swan, the bird must be white.”

    I contend this is nonsense and I can credibly state that without studying hundreds of papers mentioning the Hadley cell thing.

    Yes, well, this comes as no surprise to anyone here. You present no evidence except for gut feel, you ask polite, inquiring questions and ignore the answers, until the end where you dig in your heels and stamp your feet like a four year old and declare unequivocal victory.

    I’m not sure what more you want (except for Al Gore to announce that yes, CAGW really is a hoax, and he was behind it all, so that he could make a killing by investing in solar energy, ha ha ha, you got him, it’s a fair cop).

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 19 Jan 2011 @ 9:00 AM

  307. 305, Kevin McKinney: Droughts break, eventually, and it’s not particularly unusual when they happen to break with floods. So the sequence of drought and flood appears to me not to be particularly problematic. A potential source of research questions in general, sure, but not really strange, nor really relevant to climate change.

    I would say that humans urgently need to improve most of their flood control and irrigation facilities anyway, so that AGW proponents could achieve some progress and gain more friends by backing the projects that will be required whether AGW predictions are true or not. No matter what happens with CO2, California, the Indus Valley, Queensland in Australia, vast areas of Brazil need work in order to preserve human civilization in those areas. If Barton Paul Levenson is correct then the facilities will require larger water storage capacity than otherwise, but they should be built nevertheless, if a goal is to preserve human civilization.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 19 Jan 2011 @ 12:34 PM

  308. “It is true that none of the 12 hurricanes made landfall in the US (though tropical storm Hermine made landfall in US and hurricane Karl made land fall in Mexico but caused major flooding in Texas.”

    Hermine made landfall in Mexico…Bonnie made landfall in south Florida. Cheers.

    Comment by GW Shaughnessy — 19 Jan 2011 @ 2:51 PM

  309. SM,

    I agree that would be a wise course of action, but I doubt it will be happen. You’d need a tremendous investment to fight a problem most people think doesn’t exist.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 20 Jan 2011 @ 5:35 AM

  310. SM,

    I agree with you that that sort of measure would be wise. But a massive investment to counter a threat most people think doesn’t exist just isn’t going to happen.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 20 Jan 2011 @ 5:35 AM

  311. Ray, so how does one describe uncertainty then? Or are you suggesting that one has to offer a cocksure dogma even if the substance doesn’t support that certainty? Frankly, that describes religion, not science.
    Kevin McKinney says, “It seems to me [Rod’s concern] to contain a false assumption, ie., that “drought for a couple of years and then extreme rainfall” is a sequence that demands explanation in terms of climate change.”
    That in fact is the single simple assertion that I was complaining about. Everyone else expanded it.
    Actually your comment (305) summarizes the scientific situation pretty well, IMHO.

    Comment by Rod B — 20 Jan 2011 @ 11:13 AM

  312. Bob (Sphaerica), but kinda like I just commented (before reading your 306), attributing the current rain or droughts to AGW and then in turn to the expansion of the Hadley Cells is precisely what I was questioning. Maybe I confused you with the expression, “simultaneously (over a period).” What I meant to imply was that simultaneously didn’t mean the same hour, but within the same period of a year or two.

    I have learned here that it is possible (though far from conclusive) for GW to affect the size of a Hadley cell and that that shift might affect the climate at the edges of the cell.

    Evidently you too believe that one can not see a big pile of crap and just call it crap without reading all of the analyses that others might have written up. I simply disagree and will dig my heels in and declare that I an unequivocally correct. Sorry!

    I’ll pass on your implied meme of the dogma that anyone who questions any little piece of AGW theory means he refutes and denies 100% of it.

    Comment by Rod B — 20 Jan 2011 @ 11:35 AM

  313. Rod, try “contemporaneous” or concurrent rather than simultaneously (over a period).

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Jan 2011 @ 12:51 PM

  314. Rod, one describes uncertainty with as much precision as possible–both as to magnitude, source, type and consequences. In many ways, specifying your uncertainty is even more important than specifying your result–it’s how we find out if your result is wrong and how you then correct it.

    WRT your previous verbiage, instead of “seemingly strongly implying” how about “seeming to imply”, “suggesting”, “Do you mean…”.

    Nostradamus was not a prophet. Vagueness is never correct.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Jan 2011 @ 1:01 PM

  315. 309, Barton Paul Levenson: But a massive investment to counter a threat most people think doesn’t exist just isn’t going to happen.

    It sounds almost as though you missed my point. Almost everyone already knows that alternations of drought and flood will recur repeatedly: it’s the recorded experience in many, many places. Only the exacerbation by CO2 is disputed.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 20 Jan 2011 @ 1:03 PM

  316. 252 re “regular mounties”

    “RCMP patrol vessels are staffed by regular members who have had… additional specific on-the-job training …”

    Has Snidely Whiplash obtained Northwest Passage railroad track tiedown certification to enliven dear Nell’s polar tourism?

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 20 Jan 2011 @ 4:20 PM

  317. Ray, both of your suggestions are better than the word I went with.

    Comment by Rod B — 21 Jan 2011 @ 12:15 PM

  318. Ray, your second suggested verbiage is better than mine, too. That’s 2 for 2!

    Comment by Rod B — 21 Jan 2011 @ 12:18 PM

  319. Rod B,

    …attributing the current rain or droughts to AGW and then in turn to the expansion of the Hadley Cells is precisely what I was questioning…

    No, actually, as I outlined with quotes of your own questions in my comment 306, you asked a series of leading questions, each one trying again and again to find a way to ignore whatever answers you were given.

    You are welcome to say “we can’t be sure it’s Hadley Cells” or “we can’t be sure it’s La Nina” or even “we can’t be sure it’s AGW.” Those are all perfectly valid and correct points. But the mechanisms by which they could and in fact are expected to work have been explained to you, and they make perfect sense, including in relation to the idea that one could have drought one year in one region and rain another year (in another region, or the same region). This isn’t magic. It all works.

    Your position that you simply will not accept the mechanics as viable explanations is where you run off the rails into Denialville.

    I’ll pass on your implied meme of the dogma that anyone who questions any little piece of AGW theory means he refutes and denies 100% of it.

    Sorry, but this bit of exaggeration is inaccurate. Anyone who makes a valid logical case for an argument or area of doubt is entitled to that position and is not assumed to be in complete denial.

    Simply refusing to listen or to accept logic, on the other hand, is evidence of dogma.

    The problem here is that you, in particular, on every single issue that has come up for the past year (or longer) arrive at the final conclusion of “I won’t accept your position, and I’m right, so there.”

    Not once, in over a year, have you said “that makes sense, yes, I understand, there is something to consider there.” Every single time, without fail, you end in the exact same position you began (in denial). You never grow, and you never change.

    So, to reverse your own hyperbole so that it applies specifically to you and the behavior you have demonstrated repeatedly and without variation at RC: “Anyone who questions every little piece of AGW theory and equates every aspect of it to dogma is, plain and simple, in denial.”

    As a last note, please realize that when deniers use terms like “dogma,” “faith,” “belief,” and “religion” with respect to those who understand the science is when those people that actually understand the science fall off their chairs laughing. It’s sort of like a group of pagans in the Roman Forum in 50 A.D. laughing uproariously at the silly Christians and their bizarre cross worship. “Can you believe it? They’ve only got one god! I mean, how lame is that? And they call that a religion? Lions are too good for them, I say.”

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 21 Jan 2011 @ 12:43 PM

  320. Rod, we at Weasle-words-R-us are happy to help.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Jan 2011 @ 2:36 PM

  321. Bob #219, The answers to RodB’s questions are always worth reading, but it was clear from the beginning that he is not here to learn from them.
    Septic Matthew #315 “Only the exacerbation by CO2 is disputed.” When a well-marshalled argument meets a disorganised bunch of magical thinking, that’s not a dispute, it’s a rout.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 21 Jan 2011 @ 3:56 PM

  322. “If Barton Paul Levenson is correct then the facilities will require larger water storage capacity than otherwise, but they should be built nevertheless, if a goal is to preserve human civilization.”

    No, smaller. Simplification (Tainter, Diamond, Catton), smaller scales, human-sized. The water content of soil rises with the organic content of soil. By building soils over the widest possible areas – and making them productive, too, if you like, you can avoid increasing large structures to deal with this.

    Soil cover in the form of crops and mulch also have a large impact on keeping water in the soil.

    Comment by ccpo — 22 Jan 2011 @ 1:32 PM

  323. Bob (Sphaerica, I said initially, “…Can anyone describe the general physics how on a regional basis climate change can simultaneously (over a period) cause a large decrease in average rainfall and an extreme increase in the intensity of some rainstorms….” That’s what you also quoted in your comment, so why do you say this is not what I’m asking?

    I see no rationale for automatic full acceptance per se of loose conjecture just because you spruce it up by calling it “viable explanations,” though I understand how mad one can get at another who doesn’t just roll over and totally accept whatever is said. Talking “what-ifs, possibles, maybes, or might bes” while maybe interesting in themselves is not “describing the general physics.”

    While I know it is possible, it is hard to accept the likelihood that a shifting hadley cell that pumps down warm arid air at its edge causes in that region drought one year and deluges the next (and we’re not talking about the occasional desert downpour and gully-washes.) The scientists who wrote the referenced paper concluded that the possibility of GW shifting and expanding hadley cells is interesting, could very well be, and deserves more study.

    As to the meme, why would you expect me to want or expect Al Gore to now refute CAGW (read: in its entirety) other than that’s how you would pigeon-hole skeptics? And to reverse it again, one who accuses someone who is skeptical of certain parts of AGW theory of being one “…who questions every little piece of AGW theory…” as you did (a direct quote) is simply demonizing a heretic in his entirety; that’s what priests do.

    In this very thread I got some info that modified my thinking: the very possibility that GW per se can expand hadley cells and that the possible 2-3 degrees of expansion might noticeably alter some region’s climate.

    Comment by Rod B — 22 Jan 2011 @ 2:49 PM

  324. 322, ccpo: No, smaller. Simplification (Tainter, Diamond, Catton), smaller scales, human-sized. The water content of soil rises with the organic content of soil. By building soils over the widest possible areas – and making them productive, too, if you like, you can avoid increasing large structures to deal with this.

    I agree. I meant something like “large scale modular” such that the scale (“total areal coverage”, I am not sure what the exact best expression is) can be increased as needed. My main point is that there is no reason to postpone construction just because AGW might not exacerbate the extreme fluctuations.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 23 Jan 2011 @ 2:38 PM

  325. Rod,
    In addition to the expansion of the Hadley cells, climate change is expected to increase the incidence of severe precipitation events. Period. In a region where it is already dry, severe events may account for the majority of precipitation–ever see an arroyo in the monsoon?

    When you increase the amount of H2O vapor in the atmosphere, you increase the potential for severe events. But these severe events will occur only when the conditions are right–e.g. during La Nina, etc. This is not difficult to understand.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Jan 2011 @ 7:22 PM

  326. Supporting Ray Ladbury’s comment #325 one finds “But just three weeks into the new year, 2011 has already had an entire year’s worth of mega-floods. I’ll recap here six remarkable floods that have already occurred this year.” from

    Comment by David B. Benson — 23 Jan 2011 @ 8:34 PM

  327. I agree. I meant something like “large scale modular” such that the scale (“total areal coverage”, I am not sure what the exact best expression is) can be increased as needed. My main point is that there is no reason to postpone construction just because AGW might not exacerbate the extreme fluctuations.

    One of the primary design considerations for regenerative design is to capture and store energy, including keeping all water in place – allowing for environments of excess and long tail events, of course. Essentially, every home/farm/area should strive to build organic matter in soils to make them abundant, but also to sequester carbon and, in this discussion, water. Given the info I have posted on soils and water, it is obvious that high organic/carbon content soils are significant mitigation elements for flooding events. If you add storage to all homes/buildings, all the more so.

    We can do a lot of climate fixing with very, very simple strategies.

    Comment by ccpo — 23 Jan 2011 @ 11:34 PM

  328. Very interesting.

    I am a lay person who enjoys reading about science. I have read several books on global warming and climate science. A few years ago I read an interesting book called Storm World by Chris Mooney on the ferocious scientific debate on the effect of global warming on the intensity of tropical cyclones. I don’t remember any predictions about global warming making more of them. Perhaps my memory is flawed or perhaps such predictions have been made and were not covered in the book I read. Or is the stuff about the number of hurricanes in the 2009 and 2010 seasons refuting a prediction that hasn’t been made?

    My second question is, has anyone tried to get a refutation op ed into Forbes?

    Comment by Barbara Council — 24 Jan 2011 @ 11:10 PM

  329. Barbara Council (#328),

    Your memory’s fine. As far as projections about tropical cyclones, here’s the developing IPCC consensus over the past 15 years.

    IPCC SAR (1996):

    In conclusion, it is not possible to say whether the frequency, area of occurrence, time of occurrence, mean intensity or maximum intensity of tropical cyclones will change. (WG1 ch., p.334)

    IPCC TAR (2001):

    There is little consistent evidence that shows changes in the projected frequency of tropical cyclones and areas of formation. However, some measures of intensities show projected increases, and some theoretical and modelling studies suggest that the upper limit of these intensities could increase. (WG1 F.5, p. 73)

    IPCC AR4 (2007):

    Results from embedded high-resolution models and global models, ranging in grid spacing from 100 km to 9 km, project a likely increase of peak wind intensities and notably, where analysed, increased near-storm precipitation in future tropical cyclones. Most recent published modelling studies investigating tropical storm frequency simulate a decrease in the overall number of storms, though there is less confidence in these projections and in the projected decrease of relatively weak storms in most basins, with an increase in the numbers of the most intense tropical cyclones. (WG1 ch. 10 ex. summ., p. 751)

    comment #71 above is a window on the current debate.

    People have pointed out here that it’s not at all clear what measure the Forbes article is referring to.

    Comment by CM — 25 Jan 2011 @ 3:43 AM

  330. > no reason to postpone construction

    You appear to have missed, in the comment by ccpo, that what makes sense is to postpone construction permanently, in favor of the alternatives now known to actually work to produce the desired results. You should follow his links and read, the information on what builds and what loses topsoil is increasintly well documented. Most of that was unknown in the era of big construction.

    Construction in this instance isn’t the goal, it’s a way to pass money around while not accomplishing the goal. Methods that work would be better.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Jan 2011 @ 11:03 AM

  331. No discussion of hydro would be complete without a mention of pumped storage.

    But I’m in a rush, so consider that a completely pointless drop-in.

    Good sites for pumped storage are likely to conflict with sites for hydro. And there will be very similar environmental problems. Do the benefits justify it? Wind and solar are much, much more versatile if the energy can be stored or buffered.


    Comment by Didactylos — 25 Jan 2011 @ 11:48 AM

  332. “The Northwest Passage has certainly opened up before.” of course not in record history
    But today Northwest and Northeast Passages are open to normal yacht the 1st race was last summer. BBørge Ousland / “Петр 1”
    Here I suggest to start a Circ Polar Cup as an annual event.
    Nothing Like this Could be dan before.

    “[The] ice cap has been accumulating snow growth at a rate of about 2.1 inches per year”
    Is contradicted by
    “… previous estimates of Greenland and West Antarctica ice melt rate losses may have been exaggerated by double.”
    Double or not it accept ice losses

    It can be useful to have an option to search all the comments to find if someone said the same argument before. Maybe a long page with all the replies ?

    Comment by Eyal Morag — 25 Jan 2011 @ 10:32 PM

  333. 330, Hank Roberts

    I preferred 327 ccpo. Whatever it is that works well, more of that should be constructed now.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 26 Jan 2011 @ 9:23 PM

  334. SM @ 333 & CCPO @ 327:

    The problem with people changing their own local “space” is that there aren’t enough of “us” with “space” to remediate.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 27 Jan 2011 @ 2:51 AM

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