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  1. Good catch Dr. Schmidt. Thanx for this.

    Comment by DeNihilist — 20 Jan 2011 @ 10:31 AM

  2. The second mistake has a bigger consequence: they assumed that the instantaneous response to a forcing is the same as the long-term equilibrium response. This would be equivalent to a planet in which there was no thermal inertia – or one in which there were no oceans. Oceans have such a large heat capacity that it takes decades to hundreds of years for them to equilibriate to a new forcing. To quantify this, modellers often talk about transient climate sensitivity, a measure of a near term temperature response to an increasing amount of CO2, and which is often less than half of the standard climate sensitivity.

    How can this be the case?

    If we assume the temperature records are accurate, what you have just said is that it takes a a long time for the climate to change temperature.

    However, we see large fluctuations up and down that are quite rapid.

    The GW claim is that CO2 causes a rise, so any rise is claimed to be natural variation plus CO2 effect. So for a rise we don’t know whether its CO2 or variation.

    However, for a fall in temperature, it can’t be CO2 since the claim is CO2 causes a rise. So the fall must be all caused by natural variation at the minimum.

    So looking back at falls in the temperature record we see large falls over a short perod of time.

    Thermal inertia is very low, not high as you’ve claimed.

    [Response: I love it when physics is presumed to be subjugated by strident proclamation. Perhaps you would care to calculate how it takes to warm an ocean layer 200 meters thick by 2.4 deg C given a heat flux of 3 W/m2? How about 500 meters thick? Please get back to us when you get it right. - gavin]

    Comment by Lord Blagger — 20 Jan 2011 @ 10:45 AM

  3. “…the IPCC projections… show trends of about 0.2ºC/decade, and temperatures at 2020 of around 1-1.4ºC above pre-industrial.”

    Now I’m confused. I understand we are currently about 0.8ºC above pre-industrial. A mean global surface temperature 1.4ºC above by 2020 implies a 0.6ºC rise over the next decade.

    [Response: The range is just eyeballing the IPCC figure for the year 2020 - so there is some component of internal variability in there as well. - gavin]

    [Response: GISS temperature of 2010 (which happens to be right on the long-term trend) is 0.9 ºC above the mean 1880-1920 (and the latter is probably a bit higher than "preindustrial"). -stefan]

    Comment by Tim Joslin — 20 Jan 2011 @ 11:06 AM

  4. The mistakes in the report are unfortunate. Hopefully people will look beyond that and assess the report for it’s merits.

    Comment by Ron Crouch — 20 Jan 2011 @ 11:23 AM

  5. Thank you for also typing such information. For winning the opinion it is important not to encourage exaggerations but discuss Climate change balanced.

    Comment by KB — 20 Jan 2011 @ 11:35 AM

  6. Quickly picking up on mistakes like this and making it widely known what happened is the only way to defuse the denialists’ rhetoric, well done!

    Comment by Tim — 20 Jan 2011 @ 11:35 AM

  7. [Response: I love it when physics is presumed to be subjugated by strident proclamation. Perhaps you would care to calculate how it takes to warm an ocean layer 200 meters thick by 2.4 deg C given a heat flux of 3 W/m2? How about 500 meters thick? Please get back to us when you get it right. - gavin]


    Perhaps you can tell us why the global average temperature can drop pretty quickly?

    From reading your post, the claim I think you are making is that the ocean layer has a lot of inertia and that this is what is holding back the warming.

    Correct me if I’m wrong in my interpretation of the post.

    However, does the evidence back up this claim?

    If the inertia was there, then it acts as a strong damping effect on global temperatures. However, since we see large rapid falls on the 1-3 year timescale, it can’t be acting as a large damping effect.

    [Response: It is a damping effect for radiative forcings such as CO2 or aerosols or sun or volcanoes. It is not dampening for changes related to ocean dynamics - such as ENSO variability - which involve 'sloshing' of warmer and colder water masses across the Pacific. However, those kinds of rapid dynamical effects can't give you large long-term trends. - gavin]

    Comment by Lord Blagger — 20 Jan 2011 @ 11:40 AM


    For example, look at the rapid response 1990-1993

    A fall of nearly 1C over 3 years.

    How can there be a large inertial effect, and still have such a drop?

    [Response: The drop was more like 0.5 deg C, and was related to an enormous forcing (-3 to -4 W/m2) related to the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. If there hadn't been any damping, the temperature response would have been much, much larger. - gavin]

    Comment by Lord Blagger — 20 Jan 2011 @ 11:44 AM

  9. Two (very) minor quibbles: you say “The second mistake has a bigger consequence”, but following your mathematics, the first mistake accounts for (much) more than half of the error – about 0.75 degrees. You also said “at some point in the next century”, and that can be misinterpreted as 2100-2200.

    Thank you for once again pointing out that we have quite enough to be alarmed about already, without just making stuff up and inventing our own misery.

    [Response: Thanks. You are right, 'next century' is ambiguous. I've edited. I think that conceptually the instant vs. long-term response is the more serious, but you are correct, the forcing error is numerically more important. - gavin]

    Comment by Didactylos — 20 Jan 2011 @ 12:08 PM

  10. Why on Earth would an NGO make their own climate projection, rather than using that provided by the experts (e.g. in the IPCC report)? There is something to be said in favor of expertise – at least experts would not make simple mistakes like forgetting about ocean thermal inertia (except Lindzen perhaps, who performed a similar calculation to prove that observed warming is a lot less than predicted).

    Comment by stefan — 20 Jan 2011 @ 12:16 PM

  11. Pointing out errors and no reaction!
    Well Gavin, at least you now know how skeptics often feel…

    [Response: Not really. This was a real error, not some out-of-context quote related to a barely-comprehended uncontextualised piece of nonsense. - gavin]

    Comment by Knut Witberg — 20 Jan 2011 @ 12:18 PM

  12. I’m flabbergasted that anyone would try to calculate the warming from first principles before (not to say instead of) looking it up. Sometimes you need due diligence, but in this case lazy would have been a good alternative.

    Comment by CM — 20 Jan 2011 @ 12:25 PM

  13. The AAAS featured this story on their website, then pulled it when its “impossibility” was revealed, and apologized for the error.

    Then the next day, Scientific American has the “2 degrees by 2020″ story on their website, too, but pulled it as soon as they realized it was bogus. But they have said nothing about any mistake. The article just “disappeared”.

    Two major scientific organizations publish an absurd paper on climate change, that everyone agrees is wrong. Aren’t scientists supposed to be “skeptical”?

    Now you can see why so many people don’t trust “scientific” articles on climate change.

    [Response: Nice try. But you conflate a press-release forwarding service (Eureka Alert) with no peer-review to speak of, with the Science magazine (which has), and an article from a magazine which did note that the temperature rise was exaggerated. Neither of these things involve 'scientists' - and indeed, scientists pointed out immediately that there was a problem. How this implies that scientists aren't sceptical is a logical leap of the pretzel-shaped variety. We've said many times that the media doesn't always give the full context on climate science stories, which is why you should read more background (such as in the IPCC reports or our books) to get better informed. - gavin]

    Comment by Roberto — 20 Jan 2011 @ 12:32 PM

  14. Seems to me that the double-whammy (conflating different “CO2 eq” uses and figuring on instantaneous changes) wasn’t the major problem here, the problem was not going back and correcting for the mistakes once pointed out.
    Now, even with the rapid response Gavin’s written up, I’ll bet certain parties are going to milk this mistake for all its worth. Nevermind that they won’t be the ones who pointed out the errors in the report, they’ll still treat it like a big scoop where they catch the “alarmists” red-handed in fear-mongering or somesuch.

    Comment by Wheels — 20 Jan 2011 @ 12:36 PM

  15. Could you go over that equivalent thing again? Aren’t aerosols decreasing due to regulations everywhere except asia? Isn’t there a big push to get second and third world peasants to use methane for cooking rather than dried dung directly?

    I understand that ocean heat capacity and the ice on Antarctica and Greenland are keeping the Earth cool, but how do you calculate the equivalent CO2 forcing caused by them? Seems like a hairy mess.

    3*3/3.7=2.4ºC To get degrees C from watts/meter square you multiply by .81. Please show how you got that.

    Sulfates should be decreasing due to regulations. Regulations are dependent on regulators, so finding a smooth curve could be difficult.

    Ozone should be increasing in the stratosphere and decreasing at ground level due to the Montreal Protocol and other regulations respectively.

    [Response: Aerosols and trop/strat ozone may change over the next ten years - depending mainly on clean air efforts in Asia, but they aren't going to suddenly go to zero. The IPCC scenarios do include projections for the relevant emissions, and so that is included in the temperatures in the figure. None of the projections include large changes in Greenland or WAIS, but that is extremely unlikely to have any short term impact. The calculation is 3 (W/m2) * (3 ºC/2xCO2) / (3.7 (W/m2)/2xCO2) = 2.4 ºC. - gavin]

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 20 Jan 2011 @ 12:38 PM

  16. Principles of Planetary Climate [Hardcover]
    Raymond T. Pierrehumbert
    Price: $76.00

    Does this book cover the details of getting the equivalent forcing right? What is the price for a download of the book?

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 20 Jan 2011 @ 12:59 PM

  17. I am very glad the reporter asked you to review the report. I am very glad you caught the error. Nice job! Thanks.

    Comment by RickA — 20 Jan 2011 @ 1:01 PM

  18. Are news organisations completely corrupt? Looking at the headlines, it seems that they each just glanced at the report, then made up their own story – “Climate change could boost crops in US, China”, “Climate change to spur crop shortages, study claims”, “Food prices set to soar as world gets warmer”, “By 2020, world to be 2.4C warmer, India to be hardest hit”. Hard to believe that they are reporting the same thing.

    The Guardian, I felt, hit a little under the belt with its innuendo and guilt by association with the Himalayan error. Then it characterises the report as a “study”, giving it equal weight to a peer reviewed article or major review. Their headline tries to lay the blame with AAAS.

    What a shambles.

    Comment by Didactylos — 20 Jan 2011 @ 1:03 PM

  19. Lord Blagger:

    Contrary to what you may have heard, greenhouse gases aren’t the only influence on global temperature. This may enlighten, especially this.

    Comment by tamino — 20 Jan 2011 @ 1:03 PM

  20. Gee, Roberto@13, and who was it who corrected the error. Let me check. Why, yes, yes, it was the scientists themselves. No matter how you spin this, it’s kind of hard to say the scientists are being alarmist when they’re the ones correcting the garbage.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Jan 2011 @ 1:06 PM

  21. For Edward G:
    The computer stuff you need to install or learn is linked there.
    Once your local library has the book, you’ll be ready to use it.
    Most of your questions will be answered there.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Jan 2011 @ 1:19 PM

  22. I have been arguing this same point for years with denialists. I’ve got tired of the fight due to excessive numbers of them with the inability to grasp thermal inertia.

    So I now just say, 380ppm equals ocean levels 25 metres higher than now. It will probably be the year 4000 before it becomes that high, but that’s the real time period of thermal inertia before the planet stabilises at 380ppm.

    They will not get the point, if the point is against their beliefs!

    Comment by Windguy — 20 Jan 2011 @ 2:01 PM

  23. “To that end the AGU Q&A climate service or the Climate Science Rapid Reaction Taskforce (CSRRT) are invaluable resources for getting some quick scientific peer review.”

    Absolutely. It’s also nice to not have it descend into the “another nail in the coffin of global warming” and “climate science is a fraud” narratives, which is what happens when these sorts of corrections are left to the political crowd. Keep up the good work.

    Comment by MarkB — 20 Jan 2011 @ 2:15 PM

  24. is a logical leap of the pretzel-shaped variety.

    I’m so stealing this phrase.

    Comment by Daniel J. Andrews — 20 Jan 2011 @ 2:22 PM

  25. Having read reactions to this mistake on other blogs, I can very much appreciate your taking the time to not politicize the mistake, but taking us through the steps for how it was made and how it might be prevented in the future.

    Thank you…

    Comment by R. Gates — 20 Jan 2011 @ 2:35 PM


    At least the correction became part of the story. Well done for salvaging something out of this trainwreck.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 20 Jan 2011 @ 2:45 PM

  27. Thanks for providing the needed context here. I am flabbergasted by the stubborness/stupidity of said NGO to let the document go as is even after the error was pointed out to them. Very damaging to an already dwindling reputation of climate information.

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 20 Jan 2011 @ 2:48 PM

  28. Gavin writes: “It has to be acknowledged that people sometimes make genuine mistakes without having any desire to mislead or confuse, and that this is most likely the case here.”

    I beg to differ. Based on my reading of the emerging story (of the fallout), it appears the NGO did knowingly mislead:

    I understand that people want to be sympathetic to the NGO’s larger intentions, but that shouldn’t detract from calling a spade a spade–if at least one lesson is to be learned.

    [Response: You are making the same logical error in attributing motive based on pre-existing bias than all the people who run around claiming fraud whenever some mistake is found in a dataset. I have no idea why you think that any NGO would deliberately sacrifice their credibility in such an obvious error. Inertia and lack of decision-making authority among the people who were at the sharp end seems far more likely to me. - gavin]

    Comment by Keith Kloor — 20 Jan 2011 @ 3:34 PM

  29. EurekAlert, looking duly* embarrassed, puts up email address for people to report errors in their releases.

    *) Sure, peer review isn’t their job, and some dud press releases will slip by, no problem. But with “AAAS” on their letterhead, it would behoove them to take a harder look at a shocking new warming prediction from a PR firm and some NGO (Fundación Ecologica Universal) noone’s heard of.**

    **) Well, perhaps the FEU is well known in Argentina, I don’t know. Anyway, just judging by a quick drive-by at their website, they have more of a track record dealing with the impact of summitry*** and grant allocations**** on NGOs than they have withresearching the impacts of global warming.

    ***) Their last big project looks to have been coordinating some Danish-funded civil-society empowerment stuff to do with the Rio+10 Earth Summit (2002).

    ****) And their most recent big publication (2009, also by FEU-US) was about the impact of the GEF’s RAF on CSOs,***** if you’ll pardon the jargon.

    *****) No, I’m not going to parse those abbreviations to sneak in just another recursive footnote.

    Comment by CM — 20 Jan 2011 @ 3:40 PM

  30. Keith Kloor: The very first quote on your own blog post contains an error*, so maybe you should be a little less hasty to throw stones, hmmm?

    * It confuses CO2 and CO2-equiv.

    Comment by Didactylos — 20 Jan 2011 @ 4:06 PM

  31. Why did you point out the mistake at all?

    You could have simply let them run the story, let the denialists go haywire spotting the errors and then made fun of them?

    Or you could have let them run the story simply because it could have served the larger cause of conveying a sense of urgency?

    IIRC, you did not hesitate to support Ehrlichian alarmism because, paraphrasing your response, Ehrlich’s warnings of dire portents could have galvanized societal responses which in turn helped avert such crises and therefore we did not see them.

    [Response: You are completely wrong. I pointed out the mistake because it is important for scientists to get things right. It's not complicated. - gavin]

    Comment by Anand — 20 Jan 2011 @ 4:27 PM

  32. Their mistake is extra embarrassing as the report states as their first guiding principle:

    “The analysis is based on the scientific evidence and conclusions from the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).”

    My commentary is here:

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 20 Jan 2011 @ 5:00 PM

  33. Why is a small NGO doing these calculations itself anyway? Wouldn’t they be better off just using the IPCC predictions to get a range of possible warmings for 2020?

    [Response: Yes. - gavin]

    Comment by Danny Yee — 20 Jan 2011 @ 5:00 PM

  34. As stefan mentioned in comment #10, Lindzen has made these same errors in order to claim that warming projections are exaggerated (an interesting contrast). Most recently, just 5 days ago:

    This error-riddled article was subsequently re-posted on WattsUpWithThat, to high acclaim, of course.

    Comment by Dana — 20 Jan 2011 @ 5:18 PM

  35. I was probably the first to alert the NGO to their error when I read the embargoed study last Sat. I knew there was no way to get to +2.4C by 2020 and I’m just a journo ;]

    I used the excellent Climate Science Rapid Reaction Taskforce (CSRRT) to confirm and told the NGO they’d got the science wrong. They said no. I got a couple more climate scientists involved. On Monday I suggested they withdraw or delay the report. They said they couldn’t.

    I was pretty pissed off after 2/3 days of this. ‘Good intentions gone bad’ is what I called the story I wrote about all this

    Comment by Stephen Leahy — 20 Jan 2011 @ 5:46 PM

  36. First, very good of Gavin and Stephen Leahy to *try* to correct things before release. However I’m very confused how so many claims this extraordinary could have been missed by Dr. Canziani of IPCC 2 fame. Don’t things like this support the idea that IPCC puts politics ahead of science?

    [Response: No. The IPCC reports are not just one infirm 87-year-old's opinion. - gavin]

    Comment by Joe Hunkins — 20 Jan 2011 @ 6:09 PM

  37. Two responses from you gavin

    1. It is a damping effect for radiative forcings such as CO2 or aerosols or sun or volcanoes. It is not dampening for changes related to ocean dynamics – such as ENSO variability – which involve ‘sloshing’ of warmer and colder water masses across the Pacific. However, those kinds of rapid dynamical effects can’t give you large long-term trends.

    2 .The drop was more like 0.5 deg C, and was related to an enormous forcing (-3 to -4 W/m2) related to the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. If there hadn’t been any damping, the temperature response would have been much, much larger.


    In my original post you gave a slightly sarcastic reply but missed the point.

    I love it when physics is presumed to be subjugated by strident proclamation. Perhaps you would care to calculate how it takes to warm an ocean layer 200 meters thick by 2.4 deg C given a heat flux of 3 W/m2? How about 500 meters thick? Please get back to us when you get it right. –

    You’re not thinking it through.

    Here you have a massive heat store (or cool store), its all relative.

    So, now go and sit in a large room full of ice and water. Add an electric fire for a bit of heat. How quickly does the temperature change?

    Now go and do the same in a room that is empty of water, insulated walls, just in effect the air. How quickly does the temperature change?

    First one changes very slowly, second one is quicker.

    Now how do you measure the inertia of the system? The answer is how quickly it responds to a stimulus.

    The problem with CO2 claims is that you can’t separate out the CO2 effect from a rise in temperature from natural variation. They are added together and its difficult to say what is due to what to give a given rise in temperature.

    However, for a fall, we can measure the response and although the CO2 effect is present, it reduces the fall. So the rates of fall give a minimum figure for the inertia in the system. You can’t do the same for a rise.

    [Response: Nonsense. You've just assumed some magical 'natural variation' that you contend is warming the planet. Cooling or warmings have (to first order) the same inertia associated with them. - gavin]

    So, the 1C drop over 3 years (including Pinatubo) gives a good indication of just how much inertia there is in the earth’s climate. You can include Pinatubo, since its just an effect that causes the climate to change. Why would you leave it out if you want to measure inertia? We have a lower bound.

    Now comes to the contradiction in your position.

    The inertia that is seen in your own temperature record is quite low. Otherwise the rate of change would be much slower.

    [Response: Than what? Where is your estimate of what would happen with a much smaller heat capacity? - gavin]

    However, you’re also saying their is this huge mass of water and ice that must have a lot of inertia, and so the temperature changes must be slow.

    Given the contradiction what could we conclude.

    1. The temperature record is very noisy, and the climate is changing very slowly. Very noisy in the sense of not being errors in measurement.

    2. The thermal mass doesn’t participate that much in the climate. ie. Even though its thermal mass is high, its the atmosphere that has a lower inertia that is significant.

    Comment by Lord Blagg er — 20 Jan 2011 @ 6:16 PM

  38. Lord Blagg,
    Did you know that other people have already worked this out. Yep. They’re called climate scientists, and they get paid to do it, so they’d better be good.

    Tamino did a post on this. You have two components (at least) in the model, the atmosphere and surface, which come to equilibrium fairly quickly, but then exchange heat rather slowly with the oceans, which come to equilibrium on a timescale of ~30 years. It’s a very simple model that reproduces much of the behavior seen in terrestrial climate.

    As to your contention that we cannot separate CO2 from other factors. WRONG!

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Jan 2011 @ 7:10 PM

  39. Gavin, here’s why I’m not as charitable as you in my assessment of the NGO’s conduct in this case.

    We’re not talking about an innocent error that a sheepish NGO was willing to admit (are they even owning up to it now?). Based on what I’ve read at Steven Leahy’s blog and his related quote at The Science Journalism Tracker (which is reinforced by his comment #35 in this thread), it doesn’t seem a stretch for me to think the NGO went ahead fully aware that not all was right with their report.

    Based on Stephen’s comment here, it sounds to me as if he didn’t try convincing them all on his own–he involved a number of climate journalists, as well. Still they balked.

    What does that tell you? Were they just being incredibly obstinate? In denial? Or just maybe…did they think, what the hell. We’re going with it, truth be damned?

    I don’t know what was in their minds, but they got some explaining to do.

    [Response: Sure - they should definitely be called upon to explain their actions. But people can be stubborn - and people who aren't scientists often don't realise the importance of scientific criticism, so given info from people they don't know, while their own reviewer was in hospital and perhaps not completely on top of things, they took the non-decision to go ahead. Institutions often do dumb things like this (especially if they've been working on something for a year). But that is still not deliberately misleading the public. That would be unconscionable for a responsible NGO and goes against all experience I have ever had with groups like this. Any absolute claim to the contrary needs to be backed by more than just your instinct. - gavin]

    Comment by Keith Kloor — 20 Jan 2011 @ 7:11 PM

  40. Gavin,

    I can’t tell you just how disappointed I am that you would betray ‘the team’ in such a way. That press release was a strategic move in implementing our One World Govt agenda and you blew it.

    I hope you are happy when all the WUWT and CA ‘skeptics’ come floding over here to praise you (ha!).

    [Response: Nah, they've already figured out that we climate scientists set the whole thing up from the get-go so that we could use it to bolster our fading credibility. (I kid you not - the conspiracies run deep with those ones...). - gavin]

    Comment by Michael — 20 Jan 2011 @ 7:27 PM

  41. Thanks Gavin, it may also avoid confusion to explain the third use of CO2-eq in the context of greenhouse gas emissions.

    In the context of emissions of greenhouse gases, “carbon dioxide equivalents” refers to the amount of carbon dioxide that would give the same warming effect as the effect of the greenhouse gas or greenhouse gases being emitted. It is normally used when attributing aggregate emissions from a particular source over a specified timeframe. It is used in this way at national and international levels to account for greenhouse emissions and reductions over time. For instance, Article 3 of the Kyoto Protocol states targets for emissions reductions in terms of “aggregate anthropogenic carbon dioxide equivalent emissions of the greenhouse gases”. For example, Canada’s net greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors in 1990 totaled 593,998,462 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents.


    Comment by Chris McGrath — 20 Jan 2011 @ 7:29 PM

  42. Gavin:

    But people can be stubborn – and people who aren’t scientists often don’t realise the importance of scientific criticism, so given info from people they don’t know, while their own reviewer was in hospital and perhaps not completely on top of things

    Or perhaps the lay person who made the decision, being aware that the piece had been previously vetted by their expert, chose not to bother the 80-something scientist due to his being hospitalized, trusting that he had not boo-booed earlier.

    Keith Kloor is quick to assume the worst where an innocent mistake seems likely – what would be the point of the NGO purposefully issuing something so clearly erroneous, knowing that knowledgeable scientists around the world would be quick to shoot it down?

    Keith’s also quick to assume the best when it comes to folks on the denialist side of the fence …

    [Response: Let's try not assume too much please... - gavin]

    Comment by dhogaza — 20 Jan 2011 @ 8:05 PM

  43. #24 above says:

    Daniel J. Andrews says:
    20 Jan 2011 at 2:22 PM

    is a logical leap of the pretzel-shaped variety.

    I’m so stealing this phrase.

    You’ll want a good illustration of the concept.
    Lindzen (linked above):
    “Climate alarmists respond that some of the hottest years on record have occurred during the past decade. Given that we are in a relatively warm period, this is not surprising, but it says nothing about trends.”

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 20 Jan 2011 @ 8:15 PM

  44. Pre-industrial CH4 was 700 pbb. So pre-industrial CO2-eq would be greater than 280. Presumably, this is less important than the other mistakes mentioned and its correction would not have helped much.

    [Response: No. CO2-eq is always with respect to pre-industrial conditions. Only the excess CH4 over and above 700 ppb (or whatever is used as PI) counts. - gavin]

    Comment by Deep Climate — 20 Jan 2011 @ 8:40 PM

  45. “CO2-eq is always with respect to pre-industrial conditions. ”

    Wait a second. That would indicate that one would subtract 280 ppm from the current CO2 concentration when calculating CO2-eq. That doesn’t seem right.

    [Response: No. You are trying to calculate the amount of co2 that would give the same anthropogenic forcing as the basket of gases or other drivers gives. I.e. CO2-eq = 280*exp(RF/5.35), where RF is the net rad forcing w.r.t. the pre-industrial. - gavin]

    Comment by carrot eater — 20 Jan 2011 @ 9:02 PM

  46. #42 writes: “Keith’s also quick to assume the best when it comes to folks on the denialist side of the fence.”

    Nice. Anyone curious if this is true or not is welcome to come over to my site and find an example. It’s easy. I have a search engine. Just plug in some of the most notorious names in the “denialist” hall of fame: Anthony Watts, Marc Morano, and Monckton, to name a few. See what comes up. Fact is, I’m an equal opportunity ballbuster–on my blog. I don’t get a lot of valentines. Oh well.

    As to the rest of your comment, I suggest you reread Leahy at #35.

    Comment by Keith Kloor — 20 Jan 2011 @ 9:15 PM

  47. “The thermal mass doesn’t participate that much in the climate.” Lord Blagg er — 20 Jan 2011 @ 6:16 PM

    This is, um, “refudiated” by the observed effect that ENSO has on global temperature.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 20 Jan 2011 @ 9:24 PM

  48. The impact of AGW on food production is of course important. Therefore I appreciate their purpose. But AGW must be translated into regional weather impacts when one evaluates them.

    I wonder how they could do it without climate models with detailed spatial resolution. If they once looked into the IPCC data distribution center, at least, they could find the errors they assumed.

    Comment by MR SH — 20 Jan 2011 @ 9:34 PM

  49. Sure. But I’m just wondering how 490 CO2e in 2020 was calculated. 410 -> 490 means 80 ppm CO2e from other GHGs. It seems high to me.

    Other estimates I have seen:

    CO2 vs CO2e

    1998: 365 412 (IPCC TAR)
    2008: 385 430 (Tyndall)

    and this latest one:
    2020: 410 490

    Don’t get me wrong. Blasting through 450 CO2e ppm is scary enough. But I do suspect their calculation of CO2e itself isn’t quite right.

    Comment by Deep Climate — 20 Jan 2011 @ 9:56 PM

  50. Lord Blago:
    You need to consider the climate system as a partially buffered system. We have one component, land temperatures that has little intrinsic inertia, and an ocean component with substantial inertia. You could model this with two coupled differential equations, one for land temp, and one for ocean temp. Make such a model, with say .7 weight for ocean and .3 for land, and some degree of coupling. Then add a sudden forcing that would change the long term equilibrium by 1 unit. You will see that there is a short term response on a timescale consistient with the land inertia, and a slower (but larger) movement towards the new longterm equilibrium temp. So a change in forcing is not smoothed over decades, but has some immediate response as well. If you try that simple modeling experiment it should be sufficient for you to understand how the system behaves.

    Comment by Thomas — 20 Jan 2011 @ 10:33 PM

  51. Gavin

    In your formula for the forcing, I think the logarithm function is ln, not log.


    Comment by Girma — 20 Jan 2011 @ 11:05 PM

  52. Gavin’s response to 40: Be careful with sarcasm. Somebody could take you literally.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 20 Jan 2011 @ 11:28 PM

  53. 2020 is now so close that if you wanted a decent temperature estimate, there’s really no need for science. The data are so well behaved that a straighforward trend extrapolation is pretty convincing. That gives about 0.8°C above 1951-1980, or about 1.1°C above pre-industrial.

    Comment by GlenFergus — 21 Jan 2011 @ 12:59 AM

  54. Gavin

    If the global mean temperature anomaly for 2020 is not 2.4 deg C, what is your “unvarnished best guess”?

    Comment by Girma — 21 Jan 2011 @ 2:03 AM

  55. Girma: It’s an insane mess.

    Comment by Didactylos — 21 Jan 2011 @ 3:07 AM

  56. So, just applying the unscientific squint-n-thumb against the IPCC projections chart, the bad stuff they’re talking about would come in as early as 2070 (from the A2 scenario), right?

    Is the bad stuff new in its badness? Because 2070 isn’t that far away either.

    Comment by Andy Gates — 21 Jan 2011 @ 3:13 AM

  57. My own take on this “guilt” issue is that this NGO (the report was written by the Executive Director) are well meaning, and honestly believe (as many do here) that reality will turn out far worse than IPCC projections.

    That’s clearly why they tried to come up with their own estimate, and simple incompetence led them to a number they thought perfectly plausible.

    When the error was pointed out to them, there were a few things holding them back from rushing out and changing it. First, they already distrust IPCC estimates. Being told their calculation is “wrong” isn’t going to be taken on faith, and other reports of the error are nowhere near as clear as Gavin’s explanation.

    Then there’s the purely egocentric dislike of being shown to be wrong. It happens to scientists, too, but so much more to activists driven by a burning internal certainty.

    The simple practicalities are also a problem. If there are paper copies out there, clawing them back isn’t an easy matter. Clawing something back from the Internet is even harder. And this isn’t something that can be fixed with a correction. Even the title of the report is wrong!

    I hope I don’t need to make explicit the dangers of over-egging the omelette. Consider this an object lesson.

    Comment by Didactylos — 21 Jan 2011 @ 3:24 AM

  58. I appreciate climate scientists taking the high road.

    When I was running a conservation organization, I had staff that could not understand why I demanded that anything they wrote was based on solid science. “But the other side constantly lies, so why shouldn’t we stretch the truth since we are on the good side!” I patiently explained that in the long run, good science would triumph over the fabricators.

    Considering the current House of Representatives, my advise might be called into question. But my science background convinces me that good scientists must point out errors that might falsely bolster their case, because in the long run, good science will prevail. I just hope that the policy makers somehow will understand how good science works and make appropriate decisions. These next few years are going to be quite trying.

    Comment by Jim Eaton — 21 Jan 2011 @ 4:18 AM

  59. Lord Blagger

    Here’s a simple (OK, simple minded) thought experiment that might prove useful.

    Take a large bucket of cold water in a cold room and stick a lit candle under it. You might notice that the initial response is an increase in temperature of about 0.02C per hour and that after about 30 hours or more the water in the bucket more or less equilibrates at a temperature a few degrees above what is was originally. You monitor the temperature continuously and you get a nice smooth graph. That’s the earth with just CO2 forcing (OK, strictly the candle should be getting slightly brighter with time, but let’s forget about that).

    Then repeat the experiment, but this time occasionally chuck in a few ice cubes: that’s a big volcano blowing off or a La Nina. Or stick in a small electric immersion heater for a few minutes: that’s an El Nino. You monitor the temperature continuously and this time, of course, the graph is up and down a lot – but you still get eventually to an equilibrium temperature the same few degrees above what you started with.

    Does the fact that the ice cubes and immersion heater cause much more rapid temperature changes than our poor little (but relentless) candle negate the fact that, relative to the candle, the thermal inertia of the bucket of water is enormous? No, of course it doesn’t.

    Comment by Slioch — 21 Jan 2011 @ 5:08 AM

  60. LB 37: The problem with CO2 claims is that you can’t separate out the CO2 effect from a rise in temperature from natural variation.

    BPL: You’ve never heard of “Analysis of variance,” have you?

    P.S. Gavin et al. — the Captcha with some outlined areas is even harder to read than the last one.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 21 Jan 2011 @ 5:37 AM

  61. Getting wrong things corrected: Canada Free Press apologises to Dr Andrew Weaver for Tim Ball’s article entitled “Corruption of Climate Change Has Created 30 Lost Years”.

    Comment by J Bowers — 21 Jan 2011 @ 9:22 AM

  62. [Response: Nonsense. You've just assumed some magical 'natural variation' that you contend is warming the planet. Cooling or warmings have (to first order) the same inertia associated with them. - gavin]

    No. That’s why I focused solely on the cooling periods. I’m not the one putting forward anything about the cause of cooling or warming. You are.

    [Response: Than what? Where is your estimate of what would happen with a much smaller heat capacity? - gavin]


    You’ve put forward the proposition that there is part of the environment that has huge heat capacity. I agree with that part.

    You then say that heat capacity produces inertia in the environment.

    Next in your chain is that because we have warming caused by CO2, that inertia is masking the effect of that warming.

    However, the flaw is that we have periods based on graphs from this blog that show 1C over 3 year falls.

    Now that’s either because

    1. temperature measurements have huge error bars and random measurement errors
    2. The inertia in warming the thermal mass doesn’t have the masking effect that you claim.

    You can’t have a large inertia and rapid variation in temperatures. The two are contradictory.

    A large block of metal will not change its temperature rapidly. Very straightforward physics easy to demonstrate.


    [Response: Go on then, demonstrate mathematically that the rate of change of temperature in a system with a heat capacity is bounded, regardless of the strength of the forcing. It will be fun to see. – gavin

    Comment by Lord Blagger — 21 Jan 2011 @ 9:31 AM

  63. “P.S. Gavin et al. — the Captcha with some outlined areas is even harder to read than the last one.”

    True, that–and the damned thing froze last time when I tried for a new challenge, which is something that never happened before. Luckily, I still guessed right, and had copied the comment anyway just in case, but it was annoying.

    (No Problems this time, though–”seale puticar” it is.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 21 Jan 2011 @ 9:44 AM

  64. Re: [Go on then, demonstrate mathematically that the rate of change of temperature in a system with a heat capacity is bounded, regardless of the strength of the forcing. It will be fun to see.]

    Gavin, that’s not fair! It’s my job to bloviate and toss around false analogies while holding you to a standard of mathematical precision if not certainty.

    Plus, I can’t do the math…

    Comment by Lord Blagger sez — 21 Jan 2011 @ 10:06 AM

  65. As a comparison the Institution of Mechanical Engineers have released a report on feeding the world with 9 Billion people called “One planet, too many people?”.

    The general conclusion is that with current technology, properly implemented, we can feed 9 billion. To me it seems a bit optimistic and does not really address the problems of water and soil fertility problems, for example.

    Comment by MightyDrunken — 21 Jan 2011 @ 10:17 AM

  66. The questions that I keep coming back to are: “What was so important about the date on which the report was released that it could not have been changed in order to allow the author to review the scientists’ concerns?”; “Why did this obscure NGO use a New York PR firm to release its report?”; “Where did the NGO get the funds to pay the PR firm?”; and “How can we get access to their financial reports?”

    Until I see answers to these questions, I guess I’ll just have to suspend judgment.

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 21 Jan 2011 @ 10:29 AM

  67. Dear friends, I think you are missing something important.

    Blagging: “To convince another person that all the stuff you just made up is in fact true and worthy.” [From French blaguer, to talk through one's hat]

    (There are other definitions, but this is the one that is appropriate here.)

    Comment by Didactylos — 21 Jan 2011 @ 10:30 AM

  68. > You can’t have a large inertia and rapid variation
    > in temperatures. The two are contradictory.

    I recommend learning to cook. It will help you more than theory does.
    Or going swimming in a deep lake on the first hot day of summer.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Jan 2011 @ 10:45 AM

  69. Lord Blagger,
    Are you interested in learning anything, or do you simply want to bloviate in ignorance. If you want to learn something, then please, please, please go visit Tamino’s blog. There you will find that different forcings have different lag times and that you cannot treat the climate system as a simple continuous heat reservoir.

    Otherwise, bloviate away. It’s very interesting seeing the Dunning-Kruger effect made flesh.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 21 Jan 2011 @ 11:34 AM

  70. Tenney:

    The questions that I keep coming back to are: “What was so important about the date on which the report was released that it could not have been changed in order to allow the author to review the scientists’ concerns?”

    Stephen Leahy saw it when it was embargoed, i.e. had been given out with a release date a few days in the future.

    The person in charge of the release may’ve simply thought that given the lengthy preparation and review process, and the work having been vetted by their in-house authority, and his being hospitalized and perhaps not available or perhaps simply not wanting to bother him while he was in the hospital, that the criticisms were wrong.

    Or they didn’t want to make an embarrassing decision (chasing down everyone who had an embargoed copy asking them not to publish it).

    “Why did this obscure NGO use a New York PR firm to release its report?”

    Perhaps because they’re from argentina, english isn’t their first language, and they have limited experience dealing with the international press? PR firms aren’t necessarily all that expensive for doing routine stuff like pumping out PRs to the press, it’s pretty much automated these days …

    “How can we get access to their financial reports?”

    If they were a US NGO, their financial reports would be publicly available, by law. I have no idea if that’s true or not in Argentina.

    Comment by dhogaza — 21 Jan 2011 @ 11:42 AM

  71. “The general conclusion is that with current technology, properly implemented, we can feed 9 billion.” MightyDrunken — 21 Jan 2011 @ 10:17 AM
    “In the 1990s, it was calculated that some 4.3 billion large domesticated animals and 17 billion poultry eat 40 per cent of the world’s grain supply.”

    If we all become vegan, feeding us will be a piece of cake, right?

    The phrase “properly implemented” glosses over the political[1], social[2], and economic[3] difficulties facing the world in providing enough food for everyone. The FAO states that in 2010, 925 million went hungry, and that every six seconds, a child dies of a hunger related disease. So far, “properly implemented” isn’t working out so well.

    [1](should the US use its food exports to manipulate world politics like OPEC has used oil exports?)
    [2](“Since higher status conventionally is associated with greater meat and fat consumption, such dietary change challenges traditional social, as well as nutritional, beliefs and practices and may prove difficult.” ibid)
    [3](the US exported $4.3 billion pork, $4.2 billion chicken, and $3.1 billion beef in 2009 –

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 21 Jan 2011 @ 1:41 PM

  72. #69 Ray Ladbury

    Ah yes, the Dunning-Kruger effect. W.B.Yeats put it concisely thus: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

    Comment by simon abingdon — 21 Jan 2011 @ 4:56 PM

  73. Tenney #66,
    following the link from the OP, you’d find that the president of the US branch of the NGO is also the founder of the PR firm, which specializes in this sort of thing, and has a mission statement about improving the lives of the world’s underprivileged etc. It’s not all that suspicious.

    Comment by CM — 21 Jan 2011 @ 5:54 PM

  74. The graph is incomprehensible because none of the alphanumeric-labeled graphics are explained. Why not?

    [Response: Please see the originating page - gavin]

    Comment by intensional — 21 Jan 2011 @ 5:58 PM

  75. @69 ray ladbury
    are you replying to 64 “Lord Blagger sez” or the ‘real’ “Lord Blagger” eg #62 ?
    and please , fake lord blagger ( oh the irony of a fake Pseudonym), grow up. this is supposed to be a science blog.

    Comment by russwylie — 21 Jan 2011 @ 6:36 PM

  76. Girma @54 — If you would actually study this simple model
    your question would be answered.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 21 Jan 2011 @ 7:10 PM

  77. Russ Wylie @ 75

    “this is supposed to be a science blog”

    And how much science has the ‘real’ Lord Blagger brought to the table?! Lighten up.

    Comment by Joe Cushley — 21 Jan 2011 @ 7:40 PM

  78. #75, russwylie: My apologies for the puerile attempt to bait Lord Blagger into actually doing the math. No more false pseudonyms for me!

    Where did the “real” Lord Blagger go, anyway? We await your response…

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 21 Jan 2011 @ 8:03 PM

  79. This is interesting. I just revised & resubmitted a paper on “Food Rights, Food Frugality, and Climate Change.” I threw in a “2.4C” figure (in the mix of many points), but it was from Ramanathan & Feng (2008), about the equilibrium of the GHGs we’ve already emitted, even if we were to stop emitting today. (And I’m thinking that 2.4C seems to not be equilibrium, since it may trigger massive outgassing from hydrates & permafrost — sort of like us poking and waking a sleeping world-destroying dragon with our puny emissions).

    The point is it doesn’t matter WHEN the harms to the poor & our progeny from ACC kick in — I didn’t dwell on time frames — we are guilty and culpable NOW.

    I also discussed rights theory, and how the West (per capita the highest emitters) mainly follows a “rights-based code of ethics,” which privileges one’s own rights and discounts & dismisses duties to others and their rights (as opposed to a “duty-based code of ethics,” which makes others and duties to them paramount), and this causes us a sociocultural blockage to becoming ecological citizens and doing the right things to mitigate climate change.

    I discussed how food production also contributes to ACC, and in line with Marx’s conceptualizing products as containing the workers’ blood, sweat, and labor, I suggested that food contains not only nourishment, and health problems our “food police” family and friends chide us about, but also harm to the environment and the starving peoples of the world on into the future through CC.

    Hopefully the glitch in the Food & CC study referred to here won’t derail my paper’s publication. As it is, I had to include in this last version discussion of the IPCC & its mistakes (which I had not even quoted in my original draft — the 2035 glacier thing on p. 493 of Asia in WGII — bec I thought it too extreme & the sources too weak, even before the error was caught).


    Ramanathan, V., and Y. Feng. 2008. “On Avoiding Dangerous Anthropogenic Interference with the Climate System: Formidable Challenges Ahead.” PNAS 105.38: 14245-14250.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 22 Jan 2011 @ 10:10 AM

  80. Could someone please find the catch in this article :

    Here one very eminent scientist is claiming about 40% contribution of cosmic radiations on global warming. I do understand that this report could be an attempt from the environment ministry of India to reduce the immense pressure on them to act on global warming.

    I am not a climate expert. But I do feel that something is missing in this report.

    – Soumitra

    Comment by S. Majumder — 22 Jan 2011 @ 12:26 PM

  81. Lynn (#79),

    Just curious: Was it a reviewer that required you to discuss errors in the IPCC report, and why? From your description of your paper, it’s not clear that it would be pertinent; one might think the reviewer had a political axe to grind, or understood rather less of the Himalayagate coverage than yourself.

    On a different note [and an off-topic one, but, in the interest of "getting things right", here goes]: The idea that

    a “rights-based code of ethics” … privileges one’s own rights and discounts & dismisses duties to others and their rights (as opposed to a “duty-based code of ethics,” which makes others and duties to them paramount)

    seems conceptually muddled. A rights-based ethics requires that I not only demand my own rights, but by the same token that I also respect yours, that I recognize the limits of my rights when they clash against yours, and that I carry out those duties to you that your rights against me may entail. It’s a hypothesis I think would quickly go “poof” if tested either against actual representative examples of such codes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    But if you have actual evidence for this, or for other arguments to support the proposition that a rights-based ethics is somehow a significant impediment to doing the right thing for the environment, I would be genuinely interested in references [to the extent moderators permit this digression].

    Comment by CM — 22 Jan 2011 @ 3:19 PM

  82. OK, thank you all for the information. I will try to accord the NGO and the PR firm the benefit of the doubt.

    That leaves the amazing behavior of the people in charge of Scientific American, who prominently displayed a very non-scientific report on their website, and who took the report down when informed by a number of people of the glaring error, and then subsequently put the report back up on their site again.

    How weird is that? I am at a loss to come up with a reasonable motive.

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 22 Jan 2011 @ 3:25 PM

  83. Tenney, The Sci Am story by Beillo is a correction of sorts although it contains several errors.

    The original post is a climatewire piece they picked up which now carries a pretty tame editor’s note… It seems because the study wasn’t withdrawn by the NGO, Sci Am isn’t going to drop the story.

    I agree that is weird, and kinda dumb – it’s not like the study was published in a journal.

    Comment by Stephen Leahy — 22 Jan 2011 @ 5:02 PM

  84. Sorry to obsess about CO2e.

    But I think it’s worth setting the record straight there too.

    I’ve looked at the study, and as far as I can tell there is no calculation or reference for how the 490 CO2e ppm level in 2020 was derived from projected 410 CO2 ppm.

    In fact at p. 6 we have:

    The level of concentrations of all GHGs combined reached 375 ppm CO2-eq in 2004. Current
    levels are estimated at 387 ppm CO2-eq.
    Current increase rates of CO2 are about 0.5 percent per year. By 2020, CO2 concentrations would
    reach, at least, a level of 410 ppm. These levels of CO2 would correspond to GHGs concentrations
    above 490 ppm CO2-eq.

    The accompanying chart shows “CO2-eq” and has it rising from 387 in 2008 to 490 in 2020! Massive confusion reigns.

    Anyway, I’d still like to know where CO2-eq is now and how fast it is projected to rise. The information I’ve seen suggests it should be about 45 ppm higher than CO2, and is rising at or a little below the CO2 rate of increase (see #49 above).

    I would think the latest SRES scenarios would answer this question, at least implicitly. (Thanks in advance to Gavin or whoever else wants to take this on).

    Comment by Deep Climate — 23 Jan 2011 @ 11:43 AM

  85. Apart of what had been written here we still don´t understand the real impact on the environment. Any mistakes in scientist’s institutions cannot be forced. We (and scientists as well) don´t know how to treat these information. We are on the crossroad now and have to decide which way to go. And as we don´t have any previous experiences we have to rely on provable research. Let´s stipulate different figures in various models that can bring some scenarios. That is nothing wrong with that.

    Comment by Julie K. — 23 Jan 2011 @ 2:42 PM

  86. Hi CM (#81), both reviewers and the editor actually liked the paper & thought it would be informative to the readers in that social science journal about food (it would be the 1st on CC).

    I think the point is, most people don’t really follow climate change science and skeptic arguments much … they just pick up a few things about it from the media, and the IPCC fiasco was something they picked up. Even though I relied mainly on individual studies (some of which I found thru the IPCC), only quoting the IPCC directly in a few places, they thought for the sake of the readers, who would not be following the science & “counter-science,” that I should make clear the validity of the IPCC & point out any IPCC shortcomings or errors that might impact my study. So I added an endnote referring to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency review of the IPCC, and how it supported the validity of the IPCC. In the process of looking at that report I did find another minor problem in the IPCC re clarity, and reworded a passage in my paper, adding “which in drought years” to:

    With climate change increasing the risk of droughts, some countries in Sub-Saharan Africa — especially in the Sahel, East Africa, and southern Africa –- could face substantial reduction in their rain-fed crops, which in drought years are reduced by up to 50 percent (Parry, et al. 2007: 48).

    RE the rights discussion, this is used more from a social science perspective of how people in societies that have “rights-based codes of ethics” might differ in their thinking & behavior from people in societies that follow “duty-based codes of ethics.”

    Supposedly we (following a rights-based code) would be also concerned about other people’s rights, and many good people are, but we tend more to focus on our own rights. It’s sort of a matter of attribution theory kicking in, a discounting of the other, esp outgroup people.

    A recent example, I was at a religious retreat last week & I told them about another paper I wrote re the much lower crime and recidivism rate in India than in the U.S., in part bec they follow more a duty-based code (dharma), and studies have found that Indian prisoners tend not to know they have rights, and tend not to feel they deserve rights, certainly not at the level as in the U.S.

    Later someone brought up how Brownsville, TX had just instituted a 25 cent fee on all shopping bags (the money to be used for green projects), and the people at the table got all huffy and incensed about it, and told how the residents were really upset about it. To which I mumbled that people should have been bringing their own bags for the past 20 years, and how profligate our society was; I mentioned how local, regional, and global environmental harms are killing people, etc; and that the students in the Environmental Awareness Club would be tickled pink about that new ordinance.

    One lady brought in our earlier discussion….”Yes, see, we are so focused on our own rights; we think we have a right to free shopping bags.”

    Same with people who are working to get institutional menus in hospitals and universities changed to reduce meat or offer vegetarian meals (to help the environment), and how people are resisting this, claiming individual rights violations, etc.

    And we all know the denialists are very concerned that their rights are going to be infringed upon if we do anything to mitigate climate change, without a thought to the harm we are causing others…thereby infringing on their rights. It seem to them other people’s rights aren’t nearly as important as their own rights.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 24 Jan 2011 @ 12:59 AM

  87. RE # 66 and # 67

    Tenny, you asked the right questions. I found it a bit much the group hired a NYC PR firm.

    I wonder if there is a connection between the NGO and Didactylos’ definition of blagging and persons and institutions that blag.

    More questions about the NGO and its motive. But, Gavin asks that we do not attribute motives or suggest motives. Easier said.

    That a colleague was not in a position to give full attention to the content of the report and should have been all over it sounds irresponsible. That something deeper and less charitable may have occurred is worthy of consideration

    John McCormick

    Comment by John McCormick — 24 Jan 2011 @ 10:59 AM

  88. SciAm, as of right now, notes:

    “Editor’s Note: This story from Climatewire is informed, in part, by a press release that was subsequently retracted by the online news service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The study itself has not been retracted. It presents an aggressive scenario for future warming under climate change that many climate scientists question. We will publish an Observations blog post later this afternoon to offer more background on the issues surrounding this story.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Jan 2011 @ 2:17 PM

  89. Good article, but do we need to keep using IPCC IV as the default? Indications are clear that their predictions about sea level, ice, and fossil fuel burning are way too low. The 2020 temperature estimate may not be far off, but at some point more recent work needs to be accounted for in summaries such as this one.

    Comment by Mike Roddy — 25 Jan 2011 @ 12:27 PM

  90. .
    Reading through , three points and one comment spring to mind

    The comment is that even if the authors stuffed it for 2020
    ( and deserve some canning for it )
    the main point remain ,
    what would be the consequences of a global 2Dg rise on world food production .

    First point :
    There is no mention of nutrients , especially the massive emissions of growth friendly chemicals , CO2 , Sulfur and Nitrous oxides

    Second :
    The assumption of the tropics globally drying is suspicious
    a rise in temperature would see higher atmospheric water content
    a global increase in precipitation would be intuitive ,
    Anecdotal evidence certainly would tend this way

    Third : a raising of the permafrost line would free very large amount of arable land in the northern hemisphere

    Comment by jeannick — 25 Jan 2011 @ 4:55 PM

  91. jeannick says:
    25 Jan 2011 at 4:55 PM

    Third : a raising of the permafrost line would free very large amount of arable land in the northern hemisphere

    Where? Certainly not in Canada, where most of the land that is currently too cold for crop growth consists of rock, possibly covered with a few centimetres of soil, swamps and lakes. I suspect the same is true of Russia.

    Comment by Richard Simons — 25 Jan 2011 @ 5:45 PM

  92. Jeannick, where did you find a source saying CO2, sulfur, and nitrous oxide are “growth friendly chemicals” — citation needed. I’d guess your source wasn’t talking about plant growth but about profitability in a business.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Jan 2011 @ 6:04 PM

  93. [edit - please stick to arguments on substance, Thanks.]

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 25 Jan 2011 @ 8:32 PM

  94. Interesting citation, Ray!

    Concerning food production, part of the hazard has to be changing ocean currents and SSTs, due in part to changing freshwater fluxes including melting glaciers. This provides a mechanism for abrupt climate change coordinated by oceanic teleconnections. The YD is a classic example, but there will undoubtedly be some surprises in a warmer world, too.

    Coordinated climate changes imply that farmers in many parts of the world see unusual weather for their area, and have a poor harvest. It would take quite a while to conclude that the old weather isn’t coming back, and the farmers need to make expensive investments in new equipment and seed.
    By then, another change could be on the way.

    It’s not enough to say that when it warms, farmers will just grow soybeans in Manitoba instead of Ohio, even if the soil allows it. They will have to have sufficient confidence that things are reliable enough to plant and harvest soybeans, rather than, say, canola.

    Comment by John Pollack — 25 Jan 2011 @ 9:49 PM

  95. #84

    Still not sure what happened to get from 387 Co2-eq now to 490 CO2-eq in 2020. Maybe they confused the two kinds of CO2-eq (i.e. the first is total forcings and the second is “Kyoto 6″).

    And I suppose it’s the “total forcings” CO2-eq that counts anyway.

    Comment by Deep Climate — 26 Jan 2011 @ 6:05 PM

  96. RE #90 & “CO2 is good for plants,” something from my paper:

    “First we need to address the argument that elevated carbon dioxide levels increase crop production. Aside from this being disingenuous because the CO2 is also causing warming and other effects that could be harmful to crops, there is some evidence that increasing CO2 will not help crops much, and even harm them and sea life, never mind the warming (Cline 2007: 23-26). While earlier enclosed studies showed increased growth with added CO2, recent open field studies show less increase and even a decline of some crops (Long, et al. 2006, Cruz, et al. 2007: 480). Furthermore, crops were found to be less nutritious (Högy, et al. 2009), and had greater pest damage (Hunter 2001). In the real world, crop growth is dependent on and affected by many factors beyond CO2, including other nutrients, water supply, climate, extreme weather events, soil moisture, toxins expected to increase with global warming, and soil acidification from CO2 emissions (Oh and Richter 2004). So while CO2 may moderately enhance crops up to a point, these other factors are expected to limit the potential enhancement and even lead to eventual declines. When the impact of warming is considered, a nonlinear relationship regarding crop productivity has been found for mid and high latitudes — the U.S., Canada, Europe, Russia, Japan and Northern China — with increased yields projected up to around 2050, after which the warming causes sharp decrease (Schlenker and Roberts 2009; Parry, et al. 2007: 74). As for sea life, an important human food supply, CO2-caused ocean acidification is having negative impacts on zooplankton (at the base of the food chain), shellfish, fish, and coral reefs, home to one-fourth of sealife (Doney, et al. 2009; Hoegh-Guldberg, et al. 2007; Munday, et al. 2010).”

    And from an earlier version (I had to cut like crazy): “A study in Japan showed that doubled CO2 could decrease rice yield by up to 40% through floret sterility (Cruz, et al. 2007: 480).”

    So much for “CO2: We call it life.”
    *Cline. 2007. Global Warming and Agriculture.
    *Cruz, et al. 2007. “Asia.” Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contributions of WGII to 4AR of IPCC.
    *Doney, et al. 2009. Ocean Acidification: The Other CO2 Problem. Ann Rev of Marine Sciences 1: 169-192.
    *Hoegh-Guldberg, et al. 2007. Coral reefs under rapid climate change and ocean acidification. Science 318: 1737-1742.
    *Högy, et al. 2009. “Effects of elevated CO2 on grain yield and quality of wheat: results from a 3-year free-air CO2 enrichment experiment.” Plant Biology 11: 60-69.
    *Hunter. 2001. “Effects of Elevated Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide on Insect-Plant Interactions.” Agricultural & Forest Entomology 3: 153-159.
    *Long, et al. 2006. “Food for Thought: Lower-Than-Expected Crop Yield Stimulation with Rising CO2 Concentrations.” Science 312.5782: 1918-1921.
    *Munday, et al. 2010. “Replenishment of fish populations is threatened by ocean acidification.” PNAS 107(29):12930-12934.
    *Oh & Richter. 2004. “Soil acidification induced by elevated atmospheric CO2” Global Change Biology 10.11: 1936-1946.
    *Parry, et al. 2007. “Technical Summary.” In 4AR IPCC.
    *Schlenker & Roberts. 2009. “Nonlinear Temperature Effects Indicate Severe Damages to U.S. Crop Yields under Climate Change.” PNAS. 106.37: 15594-15598.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 26 Jan 2011 @ 6:12 PM

  97. RE #90 & 2nd point, more WV.

    I think this could actually be a problem, because it may lead to more floods, even during droughts. Most plant roots need oxygen, and die in standing water.

    Also this year (I’m in the substropics of South Texas) we are experiencing severe fungal problems on our garden crops & loss of produce….it seems from the increased moisture in the air.

    Don’t know if that’s been studied.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 26 Jan 2011 @ 6:18 PM

  98. It looks like Richard Lindzen makes similar mistakes (confusion between “Kyoto” and “total forcing” CO2-eq, and between current and eventual equilibrium warming) in his piece for the GWPF.

    According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the greenhouse forcing from man made greenhouse gases is already about 86% of what one expects from a doubling of CO2 (with about half coming from methane, nitrous oxide, freons and ozone), and alarming predictions depend on models for which the sensitivity to a doubling for CO2 is greater than 2C which implies that we should already have seen much more warming than we have seen thus far, even if all the warming we have seen so far were due to man. This contradiction is rendered more acute by the fact that there has been no statistically significant net global warming for the last fourteen years.

    Except no one on the contrarian side has bothered to correct him, at least so far.

    [h/t MapleLeaf at DeepClimate]

    Comment by Deep Climate — 26 Jan 2011 @ 6:35 PM

  99. Another problem with growing some plants further north — day length.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Jan 2011 @ 7:17 PM

  100. Hmmm … that Lindzen piece in GWPF (see #98) goes back to 2008. I found this version from February 2008.

    It appears to be pretty well identical and has the same bottom line claim that “we should already have seen much more warming than we have seen thus far, even if all the warming we have seen so far were due to man”.

    Three years on … where are the auditors when you need them?

    Comment by Deep Climate — 26 Jan 2011 @ 8:08 PM

  101. Lynn (#86),

    Sorry, I somehow overlooked your reply when it appeared. Sounds like you made good use of a misconceived request for “balance”.

    As for the rights-based/duty-based hypothesis, I don’t really see any of your points as evidence one way or the other. The anecdotal insight about shopping bags came from someone primed by your presentation of the theory. If we live in a rights-based culture, that may not explain so much why people e.g. demand meat on their plates, as why they fall back on rights language to make their demands. Also, when some opponents of curbing carbon emissions wax noisy about ‘rights’, it seems to be from a very particular ideological perspective — not to say paranoid delusion — that views any government regulation as a potential step toward tyranny. Such a view is not widely held, nor is it a necessary corollary of a rights-based ethic. (I’d argue quite the opposite, in fact, but that’s enough off-topicness from me.)

    Comment by CM — 27 Jan 2011 @ 7:07 AM

  102. Another issue re CC & food that I don’t think has been studied is the effect of strongly negative Arctic oscillations — with freezes coming into the subtropical south in winter (N. Hemisphere), instead of staying up north….which is a natural anomolous event that some years occurs, but some scientists think may become more frequent with CC. Like freezes hitting Florida & S. Texas (killing our garden crops!). We can’t grow anything here in the summer. Too hot. At best we might hope to keep our garden crops alive with lots of watering. So there are 2 growing seasons — fall & spring. And winter crops. But if even one killing freeze hits (as happened about every 10 years in the past, but now seems to be more frequent) the plants die.

    Another recent study points to the increasing minimum diurnal (nighttime) temps being harmful to crops (and these are increasing faster than day temps), such as rice, much more so than the increasing maximal diurnal (daytime) temps at this point, tho in the future with ever higher day temps those are also expected be harmful.

    See Welch, et al. 2010. “Rice Yields in Tropical/Subtropical Asia Exhibit Large but Opposing Sensitivities to Minimum and Maximum Temperatures.” PNAS 107(33):14562-14567.

    That sort of reminds me of how the heat deaths in Europe summer 2003 were more due to the hot nights & people not being able to recouperate from the high day temps.

    So I’ve developed a sympatico for plants — they get the same types of diseases we get (viral, bacterial, fungal, micro-organsims, etc), can “drown” or get water-logged in floods(roots need oxygen), need water & “food,” and are negatively affected by increasing night temps.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 27 Jan 2011 @ 11:41 AM

  103. Where I am from “une blague=a joke” . Draw any conclusions you may think are funny.

    Comment by Joseph Sobry — 27 Jan 2011 @ 12:15 PM

  104. RE CM #101 & “If we live in a rights-based culture, that may not explain so much why people e.g. demand meat on their plates, as why they fall back on rights language to make their demands.”

    That’s the whole point re social sciences — what Joe Schmoe does within his socio-cultural-psychological-biological-environmental complex using sociocultural, etc materials at hand, not what legal scholars come up with. And that’s what I meant by “attribution theory” kicking in — people perceiving & socially constructing things according to their advantage.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 27 Jan 2011 @ 12:37 PM

  105. Hi
    As a biological scientist, having followed this CO2 debate over the past year, this is a first time post

    I’m trying to figure out whether this thread is a political or scientific statment.

    The political argument for remediation of man made generation of CO2, for whatever reason is over. The new world order didn’t happen. So we will see whether ‘CO2 forcing’ or ‘weather as usual’ rules the day, and how humans respond in the future. We have at least 100 years of carbon based energy, and it looks like at leat another 60 years of ‘flywheel’ to consume that carbon based craving.

    Where do we go from here? The same folks advocating ‘clean enery’ seem to be blocking nuclear energy. Human beings seem to thrive on, and crave energy!

    Thanks for the blog and the freedom of speach!

    Comment by Eric Ellison — 29 Jan 2011 @ 2:15 PM

  106. “The same folks advocating ‘clean enery’ seem to be blocking nuclear energy.”

    This isn’t true, Eric. Yes, some environmentalists are nervous about nuclear power (or vehemently against it), while many others would prefer to be able to do without it for obvious reasons. But among those serious about reducing CO2 emissions, most people recognise the advantages of nuclear power, and in some circumstances the necessity of nuclear power.

    James Hansen, for one, has been quoted in favour of nuclear power.

    Comment by Didactylos — 29 Jan 2011 @ 4:04 PM

  107. RE: #99 Hank Roberts

    Day length can be a big advantage up north:

    Comment by Tom Szabo — 19 Feb 2011 @ 3:09 AM

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